Slater Pool vs Scientology!

Family enlists Kelly Slater in bid to woo estranged brother away from religion…

About a month ago, our comments moderator Negatron urged me to follow up on an interesting comment left on Chas’ article Awards: Enchantment Under the Sea.

Here’s what the poster had to say, in regards to Chas’ Scientology spiel.

I took Negs’ tip and contacted Brett Reisdorf, who just so happened to live in Encinitas, CA, to see if he’d be keen for a chat. The following conversation was recorded on sunny, if somewhat blustery, afternoon at Seaside Reef.

MC: What’s your family’s connection to Scientology (click here for a brief history of the religion)?

BR: My grandparents (on both sides) were the first generation to get involved with Scientology. L Ron Hubbard was doing lectures at this time – that’s where my Dad’s dad bumped into it in Iowa back in the fifties. This was before it was Scientology, when it was still called Dianetics. My mom’s side of the family got involved a little later, so both of my parents were born into it. Then they met on the ship that L Ron was traveling on. My dad was a deckhand and my mom was one of L Ron’s caretakers.

Have you ever been a Scientologist?

Right before I was born my parents were kicked out by the current leader. When I was born we moved back to South Africa to live with my mom’s parents, who were still very high up in Scientology, and they safe-housed us without the Church knowing, because otherwise they would have made us disconnect (the Church forces parishioners to cease all contact with family members who actively speak against Scientology). So I grew up in the house with it, but I never grew up in the study room.

I watched your episode (click here) on Leah Remini’s show, Scientology and the Aftermath, and found out that your brothers got involved with the organization. What’s the deal with that?

We all grew up in California and were not connected to the Church, but occasionally we’d travel back to South Africa, where my brothers would see the other side of the family who were still Scientologists – my mom’s sisters and stuff. At some point their prodding got into my brothers heads, and it was like this little seed that threatened to grow.

Eventually we went back to South Africa for my wedding, and my youngest brother Craig, who had just graduated high school, was supposed to go from South Africa to Oz and then Indo in order to surf and explore the world. He was 18 and ripping.

At some point my mom’s sister put this guilt trip on him, and it worked. So while I was there from the wedding I was literally watching my brother become a Scientologist. Craig bailed on his trip to stay in South Africa and study the religion.

When Craig came back to San Diego he officially joined the Church then got my other brother to join. My parents saw the writing on the wall that disconnection was gonna happen, so they just started pretending. Their efforts in rejoining were purely to keep the family together.

But you were able to get your other brother, Brandon, back. How?

Someone brought up the HBO show, Going Clear, on social media, and my brother defended the Church. That was an opportunity for us, because we knew the guy he was arguing with, so we actually fed this guy a bunch of info, like, “Say this to Brandon as if it were coming from you.” In Scientology, you’re trained to not look at the media, so this was one of our only ways in. Even if they do see it, they generally don’t believe it because they’re taught that these evil people are just trying to go against what’s right.

Our friend really helped out with that, then we got Brandon a trip to Las Gaviotas, and we brought a few ex-members of the Church to help with de-programming him. We had Brandon down there in Mex and he didn’t really have the ability to get away, so we just kinda laid it on him. Then he finally caught onto all the lies and kinda snapped, and that’s when he went and threw a hammer at the Church (as seen in the Leah Remini episode). He was just yelling like, “I want my brother back!”

But you haven’t had so much luck with Craig?

No. At this point Craig was slowly cutting ties. He wouldn’t answer phone calls or come visit so it was pretty obvious what was happening (disconnection). We’ve tracked him all over southern California. We’ve found him a few times and sent him messages of love, but it’s almost impossible to get a hold of him. We actually need to find him again, because he keeps moving.

We explained the situation to Kelly and asked him to help us get Craig back. I brought up the concept of having Kelly tell my brother he won a ticket to the wavepool through some online drawing, because there was no way Craig would turn down that opportunity. From there, our whole family would be waiting at the pool to meet him.

But you’re thinking that surfing can help lead Craig back home?

We hope! We’ve certainly been trying. For instance, Craig’s allergic to neoprene, so if he gets a new wetsuit he’ll break out in a full-on rash, but if he gets a used one he’s stoked. I’ve been giving him my old suits, trying to remind him that we love him.

And what about the Kelly thing?

I sent a letter to the Kelly that I hoped would help win Craig over, because I know that my brother looks up to Kelly similarly that he would David Miscavige (the current Scientology leader). Basically we explained the situation to Kelly and asked him to help us get Craig back. I brought up the concept of having Kelly tell my brother he won a ticket to the wavepool through some online drawing, because there was no way Craig would turn down that opportunity. From there, our whole family would be waiting at the pool to meet him. The only hitch was the plan included Leah Remini’s camera crew, because they were super interested in that idea for the show.

To my surprise, Kelly responded and was really into the idea. He was like, “Yeah, let’s do this! How do we make it happen?” But when the show’s producer wrote a letter to Kelly’s agent, they unfortunately had to decline. Supposedly ownership of the pool denied it.

And that was interesting to you…

Yeah, well first of all, Chas has often hinted that Kelly has ties to Scientology. I like to think this isn’t true. We’ve talked with a lot of ex-higher-ups, like Leah Remini’s co-host Mike Rinder, who have assured me that if Kelly played any role in the Church, they would know. What’s interesting, however, is Dirk Ziff.

You know how the WSL bought rights to Slater’s pool? Well that makes Dirk Ziff its legal owner. It also turns out that Dirk’s uncle, David Ziff, was/is (there is a discrepancy within the Church over David’s status as alive/dead) a major player in the Scieno community. The only other thing that ties Dirk to the Church is that he’s used the company Gensler for multiple projects throughout his career, and Gensler builds all of the Scientology Ideal Orgs (high-end churches). It’s not much, but it’s something.

All I know is, Kelly seemed really keen on helping out but then his manager got back to me saying ownership of wavepool denied request with no further comment.

Anything else?

I just ask that people are kind to myself, my brother and the rest of my family. This is a very delicate situation and it affects us greatly.


Boy do I love a good conspiracy theory! The Ziff-Scientology-pool thing might be stretching things, howevs.

While this story intrigues, it’s clear we don’t have all, if any, of the answers. Do any of our readers have a connection to the Scientology world? If yes, please share any thoughts and info on the subject!

We wish the best of luck to the Reisdorf family in rescuing their estranged brother/son Craig, and if you feel so inclined to join Brett’s crusade, go ahead and like their Facebook page Surfing to Stop Scientology.

Frederico builds a house.
Frederico builds a house.

Ron Blakey and the magic “R!”

Plus other observations from a fabulous day of professional surfing!

I don’t know how any true surf fan could be frustrated whilst enjoying yesterday’s Round 1 action of the Rip Curl Classic. What was lacking in high risk/high reward was more than made up for by statesmen-like approaches to simple 2-3 foot waves. The true surf fan doesn’t always need to be wowed. He appreciates the subtleties. The “small but sturdy house” to steal a phrase from Matt Warshaw.

Here are my questions:

Is Ron Blakey now your official favorite commentator? Do you think he is more handsome than Turps? More well-spoken than The Condor? Do you love his easy-going Australian flair? His adding the letter “R” to Brazilian names? That’s one of my favorite parts. Gabe Medinar, Ian Gouvier, Adriano de Souzer, Miguel Pooper, Filipe Toleder…  It is good.

Is Ross Williams the best coach ever? John John Florence is fresh of his maiden world title yet is exhibiting zero sophomore slump. His foot, if anything, is pressing even harder on the necks of the competition. At this rate he will have title two wrapped by Fiji and I think we have to credit Ross. Don’t you? Like San Antonio Spur’s coach Gregg Popovich, he digs under what should be complacency and lights a fire.

Will Kolohe Andino someday win a title? He looked good out there. Not John John good but good enough to win if John John got hurt which makes me wonder if Kolohe is currently the second best surfer in the world? What do you think? Do you think he is better, at this moment, than Gabe Medinar?

When will professional surfing finally become what it was built for? I watched many heats with a good friend and it was, as previously noted, enjoyable but it would have been much better in a comfortable velvet chair in Las Vegas beneath a giant screen. Imagine the bets you could make. Obviously which surfer will win each heat but the over/under on, say, Glyndon Ringrose. If Barton Lynch will start his post-heat interview with the word “Mate.” The number of times Gabe Medinar will look back at the judges. It would be the greatest five hours ever spent.

How to: Sue a North Shore Lifeguard!

Almost drown. Get saved. Hire a lawyer…

One of the lesser known treats of being in the life-saving game is the potential for a ruinous lawsuit.

Man goes for swim, gets in trouble, his ass is pulled out of the water, winds up a little brain-damaged ‘cause of the time he spent underwater, hits the lifeguard who pulled him out with court action. Makes a million bucks, spends it on hookers and reefer. (The rest he wastes on nursing care.)

It’s why for the last fifteen years North Shore lifeguards, those studs who’ll drag you off the reef at Pipe or out of the rip at Waimea, have had a state-funded limited liability protection.

However that protection is going to expire in June and hopes that the immunity was going to be extended were squashed yesterday by State House lawmakers.

And, according to Khon2,

The Hawaii Association for Justice does not support immunity for lifeguards. In written testimony, it stated “only lifeguards are allowed to perform at a substandard level by providing them with immunity against their negligent performance of lifeguard services.”

State Representative Scott Nishimoto said in a statement that the amendments created a fair bill that protects lifeguards and the public. He said, “No other first responders, such as firefighters, police officers, or EMT ambulance personnel have statutory immunity to perform their duties at a level below reasonable care.”

Mark Healey, who rides Great Whites and Great Waves, ain’t buying the change in the game.

What’s your take? Should a lifeguard be dragged through a civil court for a rescue that goes wrong? Would the threat of opportunistic lawsuits turn ’em into whistle-blowing-don’t-go-near-the-fucking-water nazis even when it’s three foot, like Australia’s volunteer surf lifesavers?

Watch ’em in action here.

And if you want more, how about the time Ev Geiselman nearly got iced.



Question: Could you win Bells today?

Honestly. Measure your talent against the tableau!

Are you watching the contest? Of course you are and you are seeing those soft little rights working through the “Bells Bowl” and you are thinking, “That looks fun!” Oh I know the contest has just been called off for an hour so they can move the shootin’ match to Winkipop because Kelly Slater threw an absolute fit, but back to Bells. Doesn’t it look fun for you and me?

Of course it does! These are the waves you and I surf fairly regularly! Soft little rights that flatten out and burger yet we feel, in our sinews, “Sick. Just scored the wave of the winter.”

I watched the first five heats of the first round and, truly, honestly, thought “I could put up a 3.75 and a 3.21 on these waves.” Not a world title, obvs, but an almost respectable almost 7.00 heat total.

I would start with the take-off, “bottom turn” then head into the lip and “top turn.” After that I’d straighten out and pump down the line for a minute before thinking, “This wave is still running!” and starting my wrap around carve which would gently take me back to the whitewash and then a conservative rebound followed by a “What? This wave is still running!” and a “smack” off the top to end it all.

I would have finished the wave. The judges would be forced to score me a high three. Or a low three. Respectable.

Am I right?

I Twittered Matt Warshaw to make sure I was and he responded, “I could maybe build a small but sturdy little house out there today, yes.”

Yes, I am right. And does this make you love Bells more? That you could lose the heat to two professionals but feel “I only lost by a couple points to two professionals!” in your sinews?

Now that is gold.

Filipe Toledo

Watch: Filipe Toledo hiss and roar!

Get pelted with Filipe's missiles in "Smile Now Cry Later!"

Did I mention somewhere that I spent a marvellous week in Mexico with Filipe Toledo? Oh I did?

Maybe here, here and here? 

What I may not have mentioned was how hard I fell under his spell. When little Pat O’Connell, who commands an important job at Hurley, suggested we take Filipe to coach Lakey Peterson on our Girl Goes Into Orbit series, I can’t describe how thrilled I was.

But I travel enough with pro’s to know how fast the crush disappears when even a tropical sun and handsome waves can’t thaw their addiction to laptops and telephones and some  distant, demanding spouse who must be carpet-bombed with calls.

And then there’s Filipe.

Refuses a bedroom so he can bunk with his buddies Bruno Baroni and Erick Proost in a makeshift loungeroom. When I can sense burnout after five hours of surfing on day three, I offer Filipe an early ride back to the house with Brett and Lakey.

“Nah, I want to keep surfing,” he says, only taking a break to beatbox with Erick and Bruno in the shade of a makeshift shelter of palm fronds.

When he has to drive three hours into Guadalajara to deal with his re-entry visa back into the US, something that will take three tedious days, he takes it as an adventure.

On our last surf, just me and he, as the citrus sun turns red and bleeds into the ocean, Filipe breaks into spontaneous cheering and belts his hands together.

“How good is this, man!” he whoops.

This his latest edit (from pal Bruno), shot around the Margaret River contest, where Filipe finished third.

Get pelted with Filipe’s missiles here!