Fred Pawle

Definitive: Scientists to Count Great Whites!

Are Great Whites in abundance or clinging to survival? New study plans to find out!

Are you as perplexed by the surge of Great Whites in the surf, and the arguments for and against solving the problem, as me?

Nets and dangling hooks are terrible things (they kill so many friendly animals), but they work. Compare and contrast attacks in Ballina with the Gold Coast. (Zero on the GC.)

The ocean is the shark’s environment, but it’s a pleasant place for humans to frolic in, too.

The Great White is endangered various scientific bodies say, but attacks are more relevant than ever before in human history.

For me, the argument has to boil down to this. If the Great White is endangered, y’can’t kill ’em. We live (and die) with it until stocks are replenished. Then we ice a few to restore the balance.

But if they’re not endangered.


Git the ropes out boys! 

So we gotta count ’em, right? Put the issue to bed once and for all.

A few days ago, the Australian government announced it had given its scientific body CSIRO the task of counting Whites in their east coast nurseries (Newcastle to Seal Rocks) and to use that data to estimate the population on the west coast.

Even though the Great White has been protected in Australia since 1999, experts concede they don’t know how many of the animals live in Australian waters.

I wonder, are we imagining ourselves sick about the Great White or is there a current oversupply of the animal?

The study will be complete by December.

Richie Vas found the wrong side of a widow's peak.

Documentary: 2016’s Best Surf Comp!

We still get chills!

And it was one year ago yesterday that Mark Matthew’s sadistic brainchild, Red Bull Cape Fear, graced the screens of terrified spectators across the world.

On the competition’s one-year anniversary, Red Bull dropped a comprehensive documentary on the 2016 event. You should watch that here or, if short on time, read a brief synopsis below.

When Mark Matthews first saw the forecast, he didn’t believe it. In all his time as an east coast Aussie surfer, he’d never seen a storm of this magnitude marching its way across the Pacific. The fact that it fell within the waiting period for his signature “Big Wave” event, Red Bull Cape Fear, seemed to good to be true.

Then he saw the surf. Fifteen-foot Ours Cape Fear Cape Solander might sound cool on paper, but in reality it’s like watching one of those crash-test videos stuck on repeat. Considering Mark was unable to compete in the event (due to an injury suffered at Jaws a few months prior), he didn’t feel comfortable deciding whether or not it was safe enough to hold the event.

The decision went to an anonymous vote amongst the competitors, but it was longtime slab-specialist, Koby Abberton, who truly made the decision.

“I said, ‘We’re having this contest. This is what makes us’,” Koby explains in his motivational speech to competitors before the vote. “Before Tahiti I wasn’t that known. After Tahiti I was a worldwide name. Someone here will be a worldwide name at the end of this contest.”

From what I’ve heard, it’s not generally a good idea to tell Koby no — even if the alternative is a fifteen foot death slab. The event was called on, somehow nobody died, and the rest is history.

You really need to watch the doco though… high quality viewing!

Blood Feud: Peter King v. Climate Change!

Surfing's stenographer thrilled that America is great again!

Last week Donald J. Trump pulled the United States out of the Paris Accord. The international environmental agreement had been signed by 196 countries last year including then President Obama and sought to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions. It was non-binding and considered generally flawed but also many found it a positive step toward recognizing the dangers posed by climate change.

(Read the agreement here.)

As Trump stood in the White House’s rose garden on a cloud dappled day he said, “We are getting out. We want fair treatment. We don’t want other countries and other leaders to laugh at us anymore. I was elected by the citizens of Pittsburgh not Paris.”

And the globe melted into a collective puddle of bewilderment and rage. Tesla founder Elon Musk withdrew from Trump’s advisory council in protest. The deposed president of the Maldives declared that Trump had sentenced the planet to death.

Halfway across the world, though, on the bucolic islands of Fiji, professional surfing’s favorite stenographer adjusted his red Make America Great Again hat and applauded. He is not from Pittsburgh nor is he from Paris. He hails from La Jolla, California but took to Facebook in praise of his supreme leader. After noting various Trump’s accomplishments…

3.3 trillion added to the economy already, recent overseas trip netted 350 billion in investment creating 1000 of new jobs, repealing crappy healthcare… PK turned his eye toward the Paris Accord.

(Trump) saved America by getting ripped off in the pointless Paris Accord. Funny that not many people know that ONLY OBAMA signed us into that deal. No congress, no voters… Under that agreement India would double their coal mines and China can build hundreds more…but we are supposed to get rid of ours? Makes sense…it doesn’t eliminate coal, it transfers it to other countries…complete scam…

Before going on to write about the 100 billion dollar fund the United States was supposed to pay into and other problems he has with not only the financial burden but also the suppositions underpinning the environmentalist argument.

Later, on his feed, he posts a YouTube video of energy theorist Alex Epstein, author of The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels, disputing the notion that scientists are in agreement as to what actually causes global warming.

It’s a classic blood feud! Peter King vs. Climate Change!

But what do you think? Do you believe, like Elon Musk, that the United States of America and its industrial revolution has polluted for more, and far longer, than any other nation on earth or, like Peter King, do you feel the US was fed a bad deal under the Paris Accord and if China and India get to keep their coal mines we should get to keep ours too?

Are you a fossil fuel fan? Do you argue their moral case?

Is America officially great again?

Oliver Kurtz embraces the stoke despite a Middle Eastern shake-up!

Help: Surfers Stranded in Qatar!

This one hits close to home...

Imagine you’re a pro surfer, or, fuck it, imagine you’re just you. Imagine having (quickly) heeded yesterday’s advice and booked a ticket to the world’s best wave on the biggest swell of the year. Imagine the money you spent. The indignation of your bosses and spouse. Imagine your excitement.

This was almost me. I spent days looking at forecasts and tickets, tickets and forecasts. I was anxious, barely sleeping, and my behaviors were those of a fiending addict. I’d built my whole year around visiting the jewel of west Africa, and this could very well be my chance.

At the last second, I pulled out. A combination of a dicey forecast (the swell jumps up and dies very quickly due to its proximity to the coast, and during the one day that it appears to be big enough and west enough to surf, it could potentially overload the joint) and relationship pressures (“You were just in Mexico” (…fair)) forced me to pull the plug.

Since that moment, I’ve been praying that the swell isn’t so great. That it’s too big or too small or too something, meaning that I made the right call by waiting for the next one.

Since then I’ve seen evidence of multiple pros headed that way. Anthony Walsh, Cory Lopez, Brett Barley, and Oliver Kurtz just to name a few. Their committal to the trip increased my FOMO exponentially, but a recent occurrence has changed my perspective.

Just this morning, Oliver Kurtz made a plea to his friends on Facebook.

And… holy shit! Doha, Qatar was the very place where my flight would have connected. In fact, Oliver had taken the same plane that I was planning to board. Now he’s stuck in the throes of a Middle Eastern brouhaha, something that should probably be scary but at the moment is likely more infuriating for the Floridian goofy-foot.

Oliver has (to my knowledge) never been to Skeleton Bay, meaning, much like with me, this trip was a longtime dream. To have it squandered by such a shitstorm would be utterly heartbreaking.

I can’t tell you how happy I am that I pulled out.

I’ve yet to see updates from the other surfers listed above, but considering they all left from different parts of the U.S., there’s a decent chance they avoided the Qatar kerfuffle with connections through other parts Africa or the Mid East.

Will Oliver (and perhaps many other surfers) find his way out of this stronghold? Who knows? But his most recent update is telling:

If anybody knows anything/anyone in the area that would be able to help Mr. Kurtz, please let us know in the comments! I’ll update as the story unfolds.

Kelly's number five, looking damn fine!

List: Kelly Slater’s Favorite Travel Zones!

Not included: Lemoore, CA

Outerknown is rolling out all the stops for its 2017 #OKFijiPro. There are fresh ads, hourly Instagram updates and now original web content!

Just this morning I stumbled across a slideshow on the Outerknown IG, featuring five drone-captured coastlines. I recognized two or three but the others remained a mystery. The caption poked at my curiosity with a big stick.

And my fingers have never moved so fast! Two clicks later and I was face-to-screen with a picturesque breach into Kelly Slater’s life and history. A snippet, here:

5. Jeffrey’s Bay, South Africa

Our last few times to J-Bay we’ve spent lay days at nature reserves. I’ve been part of an anti poaching initiative there that’s protecting Rhinos. The wildlife in South Africa is pretty insane in and out of the water. This past summer right after I lost my semi final heat to Mick Fanning he was hit by the shark during the finals, I had just reached the beach after having surfed right there for an hour. It’s probably the first final I was happy not to make as that could just as easily have been me in the encounter. It’s not the first attack at J-Bay there and it surely won’t be the last. The raw nature makes this part of he world so special and unpredictable.

4: Anglet, France

I stayed in Anglet and surfed Hossegor with Tom Curren when I was 17 (1989) and we were on the same team. He took me around to every good spot in the region for two weeks and showed me the ropes. Pretty cool to have your surfing hero take you into his home and share his secrets with you. In 1992 I won my first ASP event at Hossegor and because of that it’s always been a special place for me. You can’t compare the food in southwestern France to anywhere else in the world; I’ve definitely eaten the best meals of my life there.

And don’t you love these lessons on Kel’s past and present influences? The list goes on to divulge his three favorite places in the world, at least one of which may surprise you.

I recommend you read the entire article, here!