Shark attack: Truth vs. Fiction!

Are you more scared or less scared to surf in southern California?

More details have been released about the woman attacked by a shark at the surf break Church between San Onofre and Lowers and they are heartbreaking. She is a mother of three children from Vista, California. Her mother has set up a GoFundMe (donate here!) where she explains the physical damage:

Leeanne was swimming at San Onofre state beach on April 29th 2017 and was attacted by a shark. It tore her right back leg from her glute to her knee. The Doctors also say that she drowned when the shark pulled her under. She’s now in Scripps Memorial Hospital fighting for her life. She is a single mom with three young children who depend on her.

Brutal but the details surrounding the attack itself remain murky. Initial rumor had it that she was simply wading in the water wearing swim fins. Some even had it that she was cruising the shorebreak on a Boogie. Another rumor today had it that she was trying to rescue and injured baby seal.

I heard last night from a crew of very fine San Clemente locals that she actually was on the beach. Her male friend was on a SUP and out the back. She  wanted to go visit him so kicked out past the surf on a Boogie. When she got there a baby seal jumped, very scared, onto the nose of her male friend’s SUP. At that point she turned to swim back in and was grabbed.

Doesn’t this seem very far fetched? It does to me. Like, surfers trying to find justification for why they won’t get attacked.

Do you have any more information about this attack? Did you see the drone images of all the sharks hanging out in southern Orange County?

Yikes or who cares?

Kevin Reed pictured soaring.
Kevin Reed pictured soaring.

Freedom: Surf icon released from jail!

Kevin Reed is let go and all charges for murder are dropped!

Yesterday, if you happened to swing by, you read the very tragic story of Kevin Callaghan née Reed, an iconic Santa Cruz surfer and the first man, maybe, to ever kick an air.

He had fallen upon hard times and was living on the beach where he was arrested on suspicion of murdering another homeless man. Legendary Santa Cruz shaper Bob Pearson commented:

“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.”

Well today there is a bit of good news for Mr. Callaghan. He has been released from jail without any charges being filed! Let’s read in the Santa Cruz Sentinel.

A 58-year-old Santa Cruz man and well-known surfing pioneer arrested on suspicion of murder Sunday morning was released and all charges dropped on Tuesday.

“After careful review of the evidence submitted by the Santa Cruz Police Department, and autopsy findings provided by the Sheriff’s Coroner’s office, the District Attorney’s Office has determined there is insufficient evidence to charge Kevin Callahan regarding the death of Steven Lee. Kevin Callahan has since been released from custody,” according to a release from the Santa Cruz County District Attorneys Office on Tuesday.

Santa Cruz police have reclassified of Lee’s demise as a “suspicious death” and consider Callahan a “person of interest,” department spokeswoman Joyce Blaschke said Tuesday. Callahan previously went by the name Kevin Reed.

Blaschke said the department stands by the District Attorney’s Office and its “sound decision” to release Callahan. However, Callahan’s arrest, she said, was based on probable cause, including his own admissions, witness reports, evidence of an apparent struggle around Lee’s body and Callahan’s proximity to the body the next morning.

“At this point, because the coroner’s report is inconclusive. There isn’t a conclusive cause of death. We can’t rule it a homicide because we don’t know how or why he died,” Blaschke said. “This all hinges on the coroner’s report. It makes sense as part of our legal process that we would err on the side of caution.”

A very fine turn of events.


Screen grab taken from WSL video.
Screen grab taken from WSL video.

Dion Agius: “This is just ridiculous!”

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.

A precious brotherhood! | Photo: @tsherms

Letter from San Clemente: Lessons in love!

Who's worse? The older local or the teen wizard?

In between multiple sharks sightings, a potentially fatal attack and murder allegations, a much bigger story has rocked California’s surf community: Overzealous pre-teen dunked (or maybe stabbed) at Salt Creek by local.

While initial reactions take one side or the other or highlight the obviously ridiculous police response, each side represents the demographics of surfers that have been ruining lineups across California for years.

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.

This is surfing!

Bloodfeud Update: Angry Locals Join In!

Is child abuse ever the answer?

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.