TV Battle: Red Bull vs the WSL!

We are the jury! We decide who does professional surfing best!

Today (I think) the Volcom Pipe Pro begins and the surf forecast is very promising. Big and tubes. I think. Etc. The event itself is a Qualifying Series 3000 meaning it is slightly better than Maroubra’s Carve Pro (a 1000) and slightly worse than Merewether’s Maitland and Port Steven’s Toyota Pro (a 6000) but you would not know of its middling placement if you only looked at the participating surfers. It’s a sparkling who’s who feat. Kelly Slater, Joel Parkinson (?), Taj Burrow (?) etc.

To watch this brilliance we shall all go here, to Red Bull TV not the World Surf League, because this is a Red Bull production. Red Bull’s cameras, Red Bull’s announcer team, Red Bull’s roving reporters, Red Bull’s graphics packages, Red Bull’s dance. Of course Volcom, as presenting sponsor, had their say but, for the most part, what we will see over the next few days, is the first clearly distinct vision of professional surfing* since the ASP became the WSL and put everything under one roof.

Which will be fun for us, the viewer, don’t you think? Fun but also a great responsibility. Let us be an impartial jury, deliberate in our assessment. Let us watch soberly, jotting notes on what we like about Red Bull’s production, seeing if there are any nice surprises like call-in guests etc. Let us be open minded and fair and let us, at the end, declare a winner.

Who is better and producing professional surfing, Red Bull or the WSL?

*Red Bull’s production of the Cape Fear event does not count since it was a novelty.

Volcom Pipe Pro: Kelly Slater to win!

Can Kelly Slater crush the burning ember of John John's youth? Let's tune in!

Do you remember Mr. Rielly’s story last week, wherein Justin Jay spilled the beans about la casa de Kelly? How Slater, a 45-year-old conspiracy theorist, felt the need to school young Jackson Dorian on proper chess theory? Not out of patronage, apparently, but for the sheer joy of being right. Of winning. Of publicly demonstrating his unwavering global-competence despite a slowly deteriorating mind and body.

Well it turns out there’s another game he’s unwilling to concede to persons of youth… the Banzai Pipeline!

Today marks the start of the Volcom Pipe Pro waiting period, an event that combines the good waves of the Backdoor Shootout and the production quality of the WSL.

Since it’s inception in 2011 (it was previously the Monster Energy Pro) the VPP has only had two victors — 4x champ John Florence and 2x champ Robert Slater. While Johnny’s got the upper hand in numerical terms, Kelly’s 2016 victory makes him the big swinging dick of the event.

So, what makes an old fart like Kelly so keen to slug it out in a QS 3,000?

Two things: Pipeline and pride

Kelly has long declared his mission to maintain strength and dexterity enough to surf Pipeline into his nineties. Seems far fetched, but Laird says he’ll live forever so I guess anything is possible. That said, Kelly has a deep-rooted passion for Pipe and becomes agitated when others play in the sandbox without him. That’s a feeling I can relate to but imagined would subside by my mid-30s. Kelly was not so lucky in that regard.

The main reason he refuses to miss the Volcom Pipe Pro is the same reason he won 11 world titles. He’s a ruthlessly competitive motherfucker who is driven by an insatiable need to be the best. It’s important to note that Kelly’s not Trumpish in his pursuit of victory. He’s not a win-at-all-costs, shut-down-negative-media-sources, piss-on-Andy’s-grave type. He wants his competitors to do their absolute best, force him to raise his level, and then defeat them straight up.

In that sense, I think a contest like this could be more important to him than another world title. Because of John John.

Kelly’s fascination with simultaneously uplifting and belittling the John is amazing to watch. JJF finally got his title but has also lost most major heats against the King. They had a final at the Pipe Masters and a semi at Chopes that will go down as one of the best evers, and Kelly got him both times. John snuck a win at the 2015 VPP, but the waves were small and tricky, so he likely didn’t feel that was a proper victory.

Kelly wants John in giant, pumping surf. Surely he’d prefer man-on-man, but the four-man Volcom system will have to suffice, as it’s one of only two chances they have throughout the year to share the water at Pipe.

As of now, the forecast looks tricky. North-turning northeast swell for the first part of the waiting period, followed by a solid West-northwest swell, which would typically be perfect for Pipe, were it not plagued by the currently forecasted Kona winds.

Either way, these guys want nothing more than to meet each other in the final. John seeks to take the throne once and for all, while Kelly strives to retain his alpha status into eternity. My mind says John, but my heart adores Kelly’s ageless defiance to no end. Also a Mason victory would be a nice trade off.

Comp’s off today but peep the video below for a proper hype-up!

Mark Zuckerberg seen here throwing happy shakas to his Kauai'i neighbors.
Mark Zuckerberg seen here throwing happy shakas to his Kauai'i neighbors.

Breaking: Hawaiians crack Zuck!

Locals smash the heavy-handed imperialism of world's 6th richest man!

And son of a bitch. Do you think Facebook founder and world’s sixth richest man Mark Zuckerberg woke up this morning, rolled over in his very fine threadcount, sun breaking through the Bay Area’s freezing cold fog, gazed at his wife and said, “Why the FUCK did we ever buy land in Kauai? Southern Florida is nice too, right? Like tropical with warm water and fishes n shit. Pretty flowers. Right? You wanna know one thing southern Florida doesn’t have though? HAWAIIANS!”

If you are new to da drama here’s a quick catch up. Mr. Zuckerberg bought 700 pristine acres of Kauai, built a wall around it and started suing everyone to stay off. (READ HERE FOR FULL RECAP!)

Did the locals like it very much?


Much rage etc. and I’m sure much discomfort when Mark and wife went to their local Foodland and got stuck in line behind Dustin Barca.

Well surprise surprise the locals won! Mark wrote a letter in today’s Garden Isle saying…

A few years ago, Priscilla and I visited Kaua`i and fell in love with the island. We kept coming back with family and friends, and eventually decided to plant roots ourselves. We bought land near Pila’a and our family is dedicated to preserving its wildlife and natural beauty.

We’ve heard from many in the community and learned more about the cultural and historical significance of this land. Over the past week, we’ve spoken with community leaders and shared that our intention is to achieve an outcome that preserves the environment, respects local traditions, and is fair to those with kuleana lands.

To find a better path forward, we are dropping our quiet title actions and will work together with the community on a new approach. We understand that for native Hawaiians, kuleana are sacred and the quiet title process can be difficult. We want to make this right, talk with the community, and find a better approach.

And bravo to all the locals! I wonder what the better approach will actually look like? Do you think it involves Mark Zuckerberg learning much jiu jitsu? Or selling all of his land and moving to southern Florida? Let’s wait and see!

If you can't ride on a great white's back, what useful purpose does it serve humanity?

Sobering: The (real) odds of shark attack!

If you live on the Byron stretch, think… ten percent. Oowee!

First, the numbers. On the seventy-click stretch of coast between Byron Bay and Evans Head, there have been 13 shark attacks since September 2014: an average rate of one shark attack every nine weeks.

Eight of those attacks occurred within 12 kilometres of Ballina, four of ’em happened within one kilometre of the rivermouth.

Despite the high concentration of shark attacks, some people insist that the risk is still extremely low. You might hear, for example, that many more people die on the roads. But, it is not appropriate to compare the rate of shark attacks with the national road toll because practically everyone is at risk of being in a car accident while very few people are exposed to the risk of shark attack.

Unfortunately, we don’t have reliable figures of how many people surf in Australia. But, if we say that one percent of the population surfs, then two shark attack deaths per year is equivalent to 200 road deaths. While this compares favourably with the road toll, which was almost 1,300 last year, the risk of shark attack is not evenly distributed throughout the surfing population. It varies depending on which stretch of coastline is surfed and how long each surfer spends in the water.

As for time spent in the water, this obviously varies a lot from surfer to surfer, but if we apply the 80/20 rule to, say, two percent of Ballina’s total population of 40,000 (800 surfers), approx. 160 surfers (20%) would account for eighty percent of the total time spent surfing.

Since there have been four attacks in two years, the risk would be about 1:20,000 for every hour spent in the water (200 x 200 / 2). The longer you spend in the water, the greater the risk; so if you spend an average of one hour in the water each day, the risk of being attacked in the course of a year would be about 1% or 10% in ten years.

On the basis of exposure, we can then match this subset of 160 surfers with 0.8 x 4 attacks per year, which elevates the risk of shark attack for these surfers to 3.2/160, or 2%. Since 3 of the area’s 14 shark attacks since 2008 were fatal, the risk of being killed by a shark would be almost 0.5%. There would still be variation within this group, so the risk to some could easily be double the average, approaching 1% for death and 3% for injury.

Another way to calculate the risk of shark attack is to consider the total number of hours spent in the water. I would estimate that over the past two years, about 200 days of the year produced surfable conditions at Ballina’s Lighthouse Beach and Shelly Beach, with a total average of about 200 hours spent in the water each day of surf.

Since there have been four attacks in two years, the risk would be about 1:20,000 for every hour spent in the water (200 x 200 / 2). The longer you spend in the water, the greater the risk; so if you spend an average of one hour in the water each day, the risk of being attacked in the course of a year would be about 1% or 10% in ten years.

Of course, the problem with numbers is that they tend to escape people who, deep down, don’t really care about other people’s lives. But, if you take the time to look at the statistics, you really can’t conclude that driving to Lighthouse Beach is more dangerous than surfing there. Sure, more people die on the nation’s roads. But, there are so many cars on the road, all day and every day, that the risk of dying in a car accident is a tiny fraction of the risk of shark attack in Ballina.

Imagine if tens of thousands of people died on the roads each year. Ponder that for a moment and you will get a sense of how it feels to surf around Ballina. The same applies to all the other mortality rates that people insist are worse than shark attacks. The inaccurate use of statistics only shows how little they care about the people affected by shark attacks.

(Note: this story first appeared on the Facebook page Ballina Happens.)

RIP: Another surf site bites dust!

The apocalypse keeps rolling!

I woke up early this morning in typical fashion, eyes blurry, head thick and reached for my phone to see if anything interesting happened in our surf world while I slept.


Ben Mondy wrote about surfing’s 6 hottest power couples for Grind and Venice-adjacent’s alt-right sometime water blog The Inertia posted a story on the hottest surf workout craze sweeping the midwest.

But nothing else. Nothing really new or exciting or even vaguely interesting. My own gossip lines had been relatively quiet and so I clicked over to StackingClips to see if anyone had put out a hot video.

Did you ever visit StackingClips? I was a fan. It had a simple mission, to deliver the day’s best surf videos unencumbered by opinion or text, and a simple, user-friendly layout. Just scroll and watch.

I clicked, anyhow, ready to scroll and watch but was sent to a GoDaddy “buy this domain” splash. What? And so I went to their Facebook and saw RIP.

And for some reason it made me more upset than the death of Surfing. I suppose in some ways I felt responsible. I would go semi-regularly and see if anything was worthy and if it was I would post on BeachGrit. I sometimes mentioned where I found the clip but not every time and I don’t every remember linking over.

I should have done better. Done more. Kicked to their site and socials etc. I suppose my takeaway is that I will do a better job of supporting, at least with mentions and links, the li’l surf things that I love moving forward.

We maybe all should.

And not be miserly with our praise, not forget to shine bright lights on the accomplishments of others in this ever shrinking surf space like those skinflint pussies at Stab.