World’s most surprising school!

Feat. sandwiches, sunscreen, rash guards and...... guess who else?

Magazine writers from the majors and mid-majors (Vogue, GQ, Vanity Fair, etc.) generally attend surf schools at least every other year around summer time and then publish stories of their learnings. I have never once been surprised by one of these stories until I read Jennifer Kester’s newest offering in this week’s Forbes. Would you like to be surprised too? Let’s read together!

My goal was minimal: Don’t drown. Sure, it was a low bar to set, but during the drive from the new Four Seasons Resort Oahu at Ko Olina on the west coast of the island to meet my surf instructor on the northern part, I envisioned best-case scenarios that included slipping on the board and cracking my head. I didn’t even care if I managed to stand up on the board.

While I’m an adequate swimmer, I had never climbed on a surfboard and wasn’t sure that my first time should be in the same waters that draw professional surfers worldwide to participate in competitions as fierce as the waves.

For added pressure, my instructor was Makua Rothman, the World Surf League’s 2015 Big Wave world champion. He entered his first surf contest when he was three years old, at 18 caught a 66-foot wave to win the Billabong XXL World Challenge and at 23 scooped up the O’Neill World Cup and the World Tow-In title.

His connection to the water and land goes further than his many accomplishments. The 32-year-old was born for this: his full first name is Makuakai, which means “guardian of the sea,” and he’s the 12th great-grandson of King Kamehameha, the ruler who first united all of the Hawaiian Islands into a single kingdom.

It was inevitable that I would embarrass myself in front of one of the sport’s best athletes. Why wasn’t I paired with a kiddie instructor?

What a fabulous turn! Makua Rothman, the 12th great-grandson of King Kamehameha and, more impressively, oldest son of the great Eddie Rothman playing the role of hunky surf stud! Let’s read a little more!

Next, I waited belly down on the board next to Rothman for the right wave. As I relaxed on the board over the undulating waves and chatted, I almost forgot why I was there. Then Rothman suddenly yelled, “Go!”

I scrambled and started paddling, and as I felt the wave lift me up, I clumsily hoisted myself onto the board. Almost slipping, I somehow regained my balance and then firmly planted my feet in the position with my arms outstretched, as Rothman showed me. I rode the gentle wave, and it was exhilarating.

It all happened so fast, I didn’t get a chance to overthink my movements. And after the wave unfurled, I ungracefully crumbled into the water. But I was astounded that I surfed on my first try. In just minutes, it was over. I was done as far as I was concerned.

Then Rothman sidled up beside me on his surfboard and said, “Great job! Next time, you’ll ride the wave all the way to the shore.”

Next time? I was dumbstruck. Didn’t he realize that was just a fluke?

It goes on and is brilliant in that it is completely unexpected. And you should finish it all here all by yourself!

This can('t) be you!

Join: The BeachGrit Betting Game!

Win small, lose big!

Step right up, folks! I’ve got a game you simply cannot resist (so long as you’re overly-confident in your betting abilities and under-equipped in scam detection)!

As you hopefully know, the men’s world title race has gained new traction since the conclusion of Oi Pro. Thanks to an early exit from world number one, the quest for the cup has been blown wide open. Let’s look at the numbers.

By winning in Saquarema, Adriano put a 10,000-point down payment on his annual CT investment, leaving him with 24,000 points and a share of second place. Tied with ADS are Jordy and Owen Wright whom, alongside the plumber, have identical placings across the four events this season (1,5,5,9, in no particular order).

In first, by no more than a curly blonde chin-pube, is reigning world champ John Florence. He sits at 24,750 points — less than one heat of difference for all incense and porpoises.

The next suitor is Matt Wilkinson, who sits with a measly 16,750 points. He’s not technically out of the race, but was he ever really in it to begin with?

With all of this in mind, I have one simple question:

1. Who will win the 2017 WSL world title?
1(a). How much skin are you willing to peel for your pick?

The following odds have been designed with historical data, surfers’ abilities at certain locations, and WSL judging/storyline biases in mind:

Jordy: 100 to 1
Adriano: 25 to 1
Owen: 10 to 1
John John: .75 to 1
Slater: 1 to BeachGrit ownership for a day. (Write whatever you want!)
Other: 1 to an all-expenses paid, private getaway with Rory Parker! (wife not included)

All bets can be made to my personal PayPal account. Inquire for details.

The lovely form of a beached ten-foot tiger.

“Ignoble massacre” of Reunion’s sharks!

Or maybe a non-emotional response to a spiralling problem?

It’s been a busy few months on pretty Reunion Island. First, back to back fatal shark attacks which prompted the article Shark Phobia is Justified and the  posit that if driving a car was, as the stats are always being quoted, more dangerous than surfing, there should’ve been 100,000 car deaths on the little island.

In April, a suspected Islamist opened fired on cops after his apartment was raided (weapons and the ingredients for molotov cocktails found). A neighbour said she had noticed the recent convert to Islam had grown a luxurious new beard.

And, last Thursday, five sharks, three bulls and two tigers ranging from six to twelve feet, were caught off  Saint-Pierre (the bulls) and Saint-Gille, the tigers.

No controversy in that piece of news, am I right? The joint’s crawling with tigers and bulls, neither fish in danger of vanishing.

Even Kelly Slater, who ain’t one for the knee-jerk killin’ of sea creatures, suggested it wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world to manage the island’s shark population. 

“Honestly, I won’t be popular for saying this but there needs to be a serious cull on Reunion and it should happen everyday. If the whole world had these rates of attack nobody would use the ocean and literally millions of people would be dying like this.”

But, oowee, folks lit up when the photos of the beached fish were published online. A Facebook page called Contre la pêche des requins à la Réunion (Against Fishing Sharks on Reunion), which counts a healthy 12,692 likes, wrote:

“5 Sharks massacres in the one day of 18 may. !!!!!
Spread, share en masse l image of l ignoble massacre committed by the state has the reunion French in this moment. Amazing share in a few hours. Thank you, thank you for the sharks and for the meeting, continue even louder, share we must show that the people of réunion and those who support them refuse this heinous massacre, paid for with your taxes that a minority of surfers saint gillois imposes upon them, with the complicity of the State.”

That piece was shared 5044 times and stimulated close to two hundred comments, mostly of the it’s-their-turf-surf-at-your-own-risk variety.

What an emotional and divisive issue it is.

Reunion is an  island where surfing and swimming is banned unless there are shark spotters in place, and nets serve as protection on a couple of beaches. Go surf and getting your leg or arm torn off and bleeding out before your buddies can get your stump back to the beach isn’t just an abstract concern.

It’s also an island run by the mother ship in Paris.

Wrap the bourgeoise Parisian’s feel-good vibes for sharks around the actual residents’ valid fears and you hit a wall.


Let’s imagine it’s you, and not Emmanuel Macron, in the Presidential Palace. You greet representatives from Reunion in your office who ask for the marine park listing to be removed.

They show you photos of little Eli Canestri, one of the island’s best young surfers, who died surfing four years ago.

“Despite the ban in place and the instructions of his coach, how could one forbid a young boy of 13 from pursuing his passion when one lives on an island surrounded by the ocean and these magnificent waves,” the president of the French  Surfing Federation, Jean Luc Arassus, said at the time.

Or the barely teenage girl bitten in half swimming five metres from shore.

And photos of the seven other surfers dead because of what is clearly an overpopulation of sharks.

Would you remove the marine park listing?

Or would you capitulate to the position that the bull and tiger shark are sacred animals and must be protected at all costs?

All costs.

Recent attack in San Diego.
Sorta like this except not so theatrical or bloody.

WSL: “Sharks eating southern California!”

The World Surf League issues stern warning about surfing south of San Francisco!

The World Surf League posted a story yesterday titled “Shark Frenzy Fallout Continues in Southern California” (read here) which detailed the shark frenzy fallout which apparently continues in southern California. Shall we read a snippet?

The impact on the collective psyche of the beach-going community has been dramatic and visceral. A quick scan of Surfline’s webcams reveals that many lineups in south Orange County look like ghost towns, with crowds down to levels not seen for decades. The one glaring exception being Lowers. Yet, locals like Nate Yeomans and the Gudauskas brothers are now jokingly referring to the spot as “Shark Park” in social media posts.

But the sightings are also resulting in cautionary action. Over a half dozen middle and high school surf team coaches were told to cancel all “water activities” at Salt Creek and neighboring Strands Beach until schools break for summer in two weeks. One local surf team coach said he realized that the school district was using an abundance of caution, but hoped they wouldn’t “buy into the hysteria.”

And son of a bitch, am I right? Like, what the hell is this? The best part about this whole shark business has been the “ghost town lineups.” It’s like 1970s Mentawis around here!

Just kidding.

I don’t know anyone who has stopped surfing but I see lots of people who I wish would stop surfing and this is our chance! BeachGrit beats the shark drum every day. We beat it so loud and so hard that there is talk of rebranding “drum lines” as “BeachGrabs.”

You’re welcome.

Because if you really love to surf the only thing worse than losing a limb to a shark is losing a super sick 3 foot runner to a snake.

Am I right?

So I decided to rebrand the World Surf League’s misbegotten message about nobody surfing around these in a paranoid, menacing way.

Again, you’re welcome.

Shark attack Stockholm Syndrome!

Have surfers fallen in love with the tormentors?

You are, of course, a student of human behavior so know without me telling you that Stockholm Syndrome refers to the psychological condition wherein captives fall in love with their captor. The name refers to the 1973 incident when robbers held four souls against their will in a failed Stockholm heist. Afterward the victims refused to testify because they had developed such a strong bond with the robbers.

It was love!

There are many similar incidents scattered throughout history and now surfers and sharks are tangled in an emotional web too!

A new fin being crowdfunded has a declaration that reads, “If my life is taken, don’t take theirs” referring to the shark. It is not legally binding, I don’t think, but supposed to save the lives of sharks that eat people. The fins cost $160 for three and proceeds go to shark conservation.

Mike Coots, the man behind the project, lost his leg to a tiger shark and still surfs. Very much a hero but what do you think about his project? Let’s watch him discuss.

And if a shark killed you would you want the ocean scrubbed of their kind? I would not care, if I was dead.

If I lost a limb to a shark I would heal up then go hunting for that one like Captain Ahab.

If I lost a loved one to shark, though, I would become a 12th century crusader, spending the rest of my life in a boat with a shoulder-mounted missile launcher blowing the fuckers out of the water.

Every last one of them.

But you are a better man than me. Fund the Fin for a Fin project here!