Is the World Surf League fat shaming one of its stars?
Pioneering professional surfer from Tasmania Dion Agius is mad as hell and he’s not going to take it anymore. A few hours ago he took to Instagram and poured fire on the World Surf League, posting a still from the WSL’s latest Brazil promotion and writing:
Is this really for real. What on earth is @wsl trying to turn surfing into? Who is approving this? 195 lbs of BOOM? Have a look at the latest Instagram clip promoting the next Brazil event and tell me this shit isn’t getting out of hand.
I sprinted to the League’s feed and watched the video.
“Hey John, good news! Yellow jersey. Bad news… These guys want it and they’re comin’ after you with 194 lbs of boom, high flying wizardry, relentless fight. oh and… there are 29 focused, gritty, hungry, sharp warriors chasing you too. So watch out in Brazil.”
And Dion is right. Fat shaming Jordy Smith would be inappropriate in any context but it feels particularly inappropriate wrapped in strange neo-dubstep.
On one side, we have the middle-aged, failed-pro who sits way on the outside, reminisces about surf trips and has gained so much weight he rides a shortboard with more volume than a Laird paddleboard. He’s now a forklift-certified warehouse manager at one of his old sponsors, still takes surfing too competitively and hoots you off every set wave he catches.
Then, you have the grom. He has unusually blond hair, rides a brand new custom board and when you see him paddle out with two other friends, all smiles and hope, you curse under your breath again. The kids paddle back-and-forth, back-and-forth, across the peak you had all to yourself about 30 minutes ago. They catch an unreasonable amount of waves and are constantly yapping about how sick their last air was. All on a wave you didn’t even look at for a second. Thankfully, mom or dad appear on the beach with video cameras, tell them how spectacular they are, and reinforce ignorance to the fact they’re chasing a pipe dream.
And then there’s us (or just me), who enjoy surfing, but don’t do it as much as they’d like.
We surf sporadically, sometimes waiting a month for a good swell.
We remember how fun it is, and proceed to binge on surfing in the next week.
The cycle repeats.
We aren’t all that good, but we do it because of what surfing is, an inexplicably peaceful and unmatchable connection to nature’s energy. Just really damn cool. And fun.
When one or both of the parties described above are present, howevs, it kind of ruins it. It turns a relaxing time into a competition of who can be a bigger dick and backpaddle the furthest. Trading waves isn’t an option for them. They’re programmed to be competitive no matter the environment.
I wish I could offer some solution, but it’s just the result of living in a surf-industry populated area, a place where surfing was turned from a passion into a business.
But there’s still those days.
When Surfline messed up the forecast for a mid-sized swell met with unexpected offshores. And the assholes are one-upping each other elsewhere, still searching for that validation from their parents.
Oh how quickly the internet moves! Just three hours ago I published a piece talking about the territory dispute between sharks and radioactive waste in Orange County, only to discover that there is a third party involved. They refer to themselves as “Aging Creek Rats” and reside, apparently, somewhere in the Dana Point region.
How did the Aging Creek Rats throw their hat in the ring? By dunking (and “stabbing”, if you ask the mom) an overzealous preteen at Salt Creek beach! I’ll let Ryan Divel, an Orange County local and ex industry big-wig, paint the picture:
While Divel has made his position clear, this remains a tricky subject. How does one deal with a child who, based on many accounts, has been disrespectful in the lineup? Is it the job an anonymous adult to not only scold, but use physical force to deter the kid’s misdeeds?
I think not.
People often moan about how kids were more respectful back in the day, how they “knew their place in the lineup”, which may very well be true. But is this not similar to how black people “knew their place” in the ’50s? We live in a time where it’s no longer acceptable to segregate based on race, to hit somebody’s kids.
I would’ve hoped that was a widely approved progression, but apparently not.
The overwhelming majority of commenters in Divel’s Facebook post are pro-hazing, anti-child-safety laws. This is concerning but also speaks to surfing’s unique and violent history. The ocean is one of the last places where Jungle Rules still apply, and it seems the mission of most Baby Boomers to keep it that way.
Some of the top comments include:
I’m going to come out of retirement just to snake this kook.
Sorry I’m not a round to hold it down any more 👊
A snowflake mouths off, gets dealt with, and his mommie comes to the rescue with the entire o.c.sheriff squad ?So wrong on multiple levels.. LOCALS ONLY, BEAT IT GROM!
One could easily assume most of these overgrown children were Trump supporters, but using the term “snowflake” non-ironically is conclusive evidence. On the bright side, their mindset reminds me of a favorite quote from Czech-French author Milan Kundera:
In the sunset of dissolution, everything is illuminated by the aura of nostalgia, even the guillotine.
Isn’t that wonderful?
Now, while I do believe that adults, locals, and any combination of the two should be given reasonable deference in the lineup, in no way does the opposite justify a physical response against a child. Even if just a dunking.
If London is as disrespectful as Divel (and many of the commenters) make him out to be, then it’s time to speak with the parents. By physically harassing a kid and then shaming him on social media, you’re not only breaking the law, but you’re blaming the wrong person.
Ian Cairns delivered his two cents, here:
Maybe promoting #snakelondon is not the correct way to de-escalate the problem. Maybe hazing groms is not acceptable anymore. Maybe accepting the long-time practice of ‘locals’ owning a surf spot is a little archaic. Yeah, sure London needs to chill a little, but he’s no different than thousands of other groms,” responded Cairns on the thread. “What if an ‘elder’ was proposing a worldwide vendetta on your kid? And it was being acted out in front of your eyes? Is it right? London and his family are good people. And maybe they are here to help us re-evaluate the hierarchal structure that condones this kind of bullying. But be certain, they are not going away, they will be calling the cops on anyone that lays hands on their kids and it will bring a public spotlight on petty localism in CA. Are you willing to step up and be an agent of positive change?
This, to me, is the most rationale response. Show the kid how he can improve, urge the parents to instill better values, but Jesus, don’t resort to child abuse or online bullying.
While San Clemente locals appear unfazed by recent happeningsin the shark world, they remain deeply concerned about another threat to their ocean and community.
“Better to be active today than radioactive tomorrow,” is how Gary Headrick opened a recent newsletter to members of San Clemente Green, a local environmental initiative.
Headrick is referring to the issue of 3.6 million pound of nuclear waste (from the titular power plant just south of Trestles) set to be buried yards from the San Clemente shoreline. This, Headrick fears, is a major risk to the local environment and society.
A post shared by Eric Geiselman (@ericgeiselman) on
You know your shark problem is serious when the Floridians are worried! Especially EG — that guy lives in the shark bite capital of the world and is basically a fish whisperer.
This apparent bloodfeud begs the question: with sharks and radiation vying for the apex predator position, but who will command San Clemente’s seas? Radiation has a momentary advantage but another attack may just turn the scale. Stay tuned for updates!
The first man to do an air on a surfboard is awaiting trail in Santa Cruz.
Who is the first man to ever take to the sky on a surfboard? Michael Ciaramella? Martin Potter? Christian Fletcher? Larry Bertlemann?
All wonderful surfers, each a pioneer, but the first man to regularly and purposefully launch is named Kevin Reed and he lives in Santa Cruz. One of his punts can be seen gracing a 1975 issue of Surfing magazine (above) and can you imagine how difficult it would be to do on a weird heavy mid-1970s single fin?
Kevin, it appears, fell from the scene, changed his name to Kevin Callaghan and was living on the beach in Santa Cruz where he has just been convicted of murder. Let’s read in San Jose’s Mercury News.
Kevin Callahan, 58, known for most of his life as Kevin Reed, was arrested early Sunday morning, not far from the body of Steven Lee, 52. The two men had both been living near the seawall along Beach Avenue, according to police reports.
The allegations against Callahan came as a blow to friend and local surf legend Bob Pearson, owner of Pearson Arrow Surfboards on Mission. Pearson said that he still considers his friend Kevin “one of the most famous guys in the world.”
“He was the first guy to do the aerials. That’s a fact, and he did it five years before anybody else,” Pearson said Monday. He acknowledged that he had heard the murder allegations against his friend and hoped that they proved incorrect.
Pearson went on to say:
“You drive by homeless, you hear it a bunch of times: Don’t judge the people, you don’t know who he is, who she is, where they’re from, what happened to them and what’s going on in their life,” Pearson said. “I’m sure he has been judged wrong by a lot, a lot of people. It’s unfortunate, some people just fall through the cracks.”