Subliminal: Kelly Slater stressed out?

Is the world's greatest surfing feeling the pressures?

As Kelly Slater has chosen to fade away, instead of burn out, veteran Slater watchers are having a golden era. What is going on in the mind of the world’s greatest surfer? What thoughts are bubbling in his magnificent head? Is he satisfied with one of the most impressive athletic runs in history? Is he left wanting more? How is he feeling?

Maybe stressed out!

The World Surf League released a video for today World Go Surf Day or whatever it is called and subliminally flashed the words “stressed out?” before a picture of Kelly Slater standing in Fiji with a look of sheer consternation on his face?

Let’s watch!

And now let’s discuss! Do you recall when the World Surf League fat shamed Jordy just two months ago, calling him “194 pounds of boom” in a video montaj? Well didn’t Jordy show up in Fiji looking almost svelte? He sure did! The shaming worked!

But what is the League prodding the King toward? Do the powers want to see a more relaxed Kelly Slater jokin and a laughin? Goofin around? A sort of Charles Barkley character? Shaqtin a Fool?

Veteran Slater watchers? Help!

Also, World Go Surf Day is the worst idea ever. At BeachGrit we celebrate World Don’t Go Surf Day (then sneak out when no one is looking).





Michael Phelps (foreground) plays "shark" with pal.
Michael Phelps (foreground) plays "shark" with pal.

Michael Phelps: “The shark is my bitch!”

The world's fastest swimmer set to take on the world's meanest swimmer!

The world’s most decorated and maybe fastest swimmer has stepped into the ring for surfers everywhere in order to challenge the supremacy of the Great White Shark.

That’s right!

When the World Surf League heads to J-Bay, site of Mick Fanning’s love tap from the ocean’s most feared predator, Michael Phelps will be heading to… somewhere to swim against a great white. The press release tells us:

They are one of the fastest and most efficient predators on the planet: Sharks. He is our greatest champion to ever get in the water: Michael Phelps. 39 world records. 23 Olympic golds. But he has one competition left to win. An event so monumental no one has ever attempted it before. The world’s most decorated athlete takes on the ocean’s most efficient predator: Phelps V Shark – the race is on!

I have no idea how this will work. Will Michael Phelps and Great White Shark be in a swimming pool together? Maybe the salt water pool in Bondi? Will Michael Phelps swim in a cage? Should we watch a monotone news thing?


Who is your money on? Mick Fanning or Connor Leary? I mean Evel Knievel or the Grand Canyon. I mean Floyd Mayweather or Connor O’Leary. I mean…. sorry. I’m drunk.

Nuclear: Surfrider’s deafening silence!

Does Surfrider Foundation think nuclear waste is good for surfing? Let's wonder!

A month ago I drove the thirty minutes north from my bucolic north county San Diego home to San Clemente’s city hall. Traffic was unexpectedly light. There was set to be a vote or discussion, I cannot quite recall, on the mostly approved plan to store millions of tons of nuclear waste in the sand just yards from San Onofre.

Literal yards.

Now, I am neither a lefty nor an activist and am skeptical of those who put their faith in politicians but was implored to come by the great Ian Cairns. He and I had traded blows over Facebook. He called me a gutter writer. I made fun of his SUP camp. Then he said, “It’s a fine Australian tradition to joust but this nuclear thing is serious. There’s a gathering at City Hall this evening. Come.”

So I went.

The sun was setting when I arrived, casting a golden tone over the little crowd. A lawyer spoke of the horrors of the plan. Nuclear waste right there in the sand with no real plan on what to do with it next and no contingencies if things went sideways. Earthquakes, storms, surges, etc.

Partisan politics, feelings on the value of nuclear energy, belief on why/if the globe is warming not withstanding, it seems like not burying nuclear waste in a spot that could potentially destroy surfing from Huntington Beach down through San Diego would be an issue all surfers could back.

And a few surfers were at the gathering. Greg Long, Mr. Gudauskas, father of the famed brothers.

Surfrider Foundation, though, was entirely absent.

In case you are unaware, Surfrider Foundation is the biggest, most powerful non-profit that deals with surf-based environmental issues. Its website reads:

Our ocean faces growing challenges from pollution, offshore development and climate change. At the same time, expanding industries, such as offshore oil drilling, threaten to crowd our ocean and degrade its health (and those who call it home!).

Every day poses new threats to our oceans and beaches. Our ocean and special places must be proactively protected before they are threatened and stem the tide before further damage is done to the ocean’s health.

There are 25 active campaigns the Foundation is engaged on in California from trying to preserve the Gaviota coast up near Santa Barbara to saving the wave at Surfside Jetty. You can read about them here.

The one thing there is not a campaign to counter, and/or any mention of on Surfrider’s website, is burying nuclear waste in the sand at San Onofre.

Doesn’t this strike you as the oddest? What, do you think, is the reasoning for the foundation’s invisibility on this issue? You think the board of directors is pro-nuclear sand? Anti-Lowers? I am going to call the offices next week to find out but in the meantime let’s speculate!

It’s the BeachGrit way.

Crossed Rapiers: Sean Doherty vs. Longtom!

Two titans of surf journalism elevate the blood feud!

Is there anything better than a true duel between equals at the height of their powers? Iron sharpening iron so that each side positively glimmers? Oh we are the lucky ones who have witnessed Magic vs. Bird, Manet vs. Duranty, Hamilton vs. Burr. These clashes are bigger than mere blood feuds. They are art and exceedingly rare though I do believe we stumbled upon one in Fiji and no I am not referring to Wilko vs. Connor Leary or whatever the hell that person’s name was.

I am referring to the great Sean Doherty vs. our very own Steve “longtom” Shearer!

The two traded blow with their contest coverage and not in the way that I pound The Inertia’s Zach Weisberg with a brick whilst he turns to vanilla pudding in the corner.


They danced around each other, each holding noble swords, parrying, retreating, testing defense, noting offense.

And it was brilliant. Absolutely brilliant to behold.

Let me submit two examples from the week.

From Sean Doherty on Coastalwatch:

Out fishing the other day here in Fiji, I’d heard a story about a mutual friend pulling in a yellowfin, slicing it open as it fluttered on the deck, cutting out its beating heart, eating it, then discovering – if only in his own mind – that he now possessed some kind of primal animistic power, which manifested most potently out in the surf. He was suddenly the tuna god. I thought at the time as a winning strategy here in Fiji it would be without peer. The story alone would ensure you’d have the peak to yourself. Whatever supernatural powers you assumed would simply be a bonus.

The fish to their credit have been on the chew. We filled The Duck – Namotu’s fishing tender –with wahoo and mahi yesterday, a couple of rainbow runners and one sad, scaly, foul-hooked longtom.

Totally a dig at longtom! And then Sean went on to detail his surfs, chats, coffees etc. with industry notables (Renato Hickel, Borg Garcia, etc.) and then poetic contest coverage.

Never to be outdone and especially after being called sad, scaly and foul-hooked, Steve Shearer performed an arrêt à bon temps on BeachGrit:

Goddamm it, I just wasted a half hour on this tight deadline thumbing my paperback copy of Hunter Thompson’s greatest book, The Great Shark Hunt, looking for the quote where Hunter describes just this clubby band of insider journalists and how they end up becoming good Germans and useful idiots.

Ah, here it is! Take it away Hunter.

“The most consistent and ultimately damaging failure of surf* journalism in America has it’s roots in the clubby/cocktail personal relationships that inevitably develop between politicians and journalists… When professional antagonists become after hours drinking buddies they are not likely to turn each other in… especially not for minor infractions of rules that neither side takes seriously; and on the rare occasions when minor infractions suddenly become major there is panic at both ends”.

And if I may boil the nut of this feud down to this root. Doherty is from the school that you must be friendly with subjects, in order to glean any insight. Shearer argues that chumminess equals failure.

I believe both to be equally true. In this cloistered surf you must know people in order to get anything. But if you write about what you know you soon lose access and then lose anything to say. It is easy to drink beer with the brands, write cloying phrases about the surfers and stick around. It is just as easy to flamethrow then sit at home and snipe without ever coming face to face with those you demean.

The best surf writing somehow, in some way, dances between these two poles. I submit Fred Pawle’s King of Queens as one example and Matt Warshaw’s response to Reno as another. But these flashes are rarer than they should be. Maybe because we’re all a little lazy right now, occupying our lanes, observing but not engaging.

Sean vs. Steve over Fiji made me realize that we could have a potential Ali vs. Frasier, McEnroe vs. Borg, Michel Jackson vs. M.C. Hammer. We would all have the honor of witnessing. The game could be forever raised.

And I need them to cross swords again.

So Sean Doherty, I slap thee with a lambskin riding glove (made by Hermes and on behalf of Steve “longtom” Shearer who can only afford pleather work gloves because BeachGrit didn’t sell for 35 million yesterday). Do you accept?

Respond on your Coastalwatch before sun down (J-Bay) and if you don’t accept I’m coming after you with my brick.

All black will melt your wax, but when you rock full deck pads, who cares?

What your board spray says about you!

Choose wisely!

It’s time to touch back on a highly debated topic in the world of surf — board art!

As we all know, painting one’s board is not just a simple artistic expression (like outsiders may believe). Rather, the flavor of one’s foam speaks to the core components of his character, perhaps even his soul.

I’ve taken it upon myself to detail the different types of surfer based on the aesthetics of their sled. Let me know if I missed anyone!

Plain white

You’re one of three people — 1. the thousand-yard-stare, black-wetsuit-only, fairly-talented-but-never-happy surfer from every local lineup 2. A normal guy who bought a board and didn’t feel like painting it or 3. A total fucking barney with either rich parents or a job in finance.

All black

You’re either Chippa wilson, Dion Agius, or an idiot.

Painted rails

You care deeply about your surfing and work hard to improve it. You want to go fast, and you’ve read enough psychological studies to know that colored rails will allow you to do so, at least from the viewer’s standpoint. You used tape to paint your stick because you wanted it to look professional.


You are loud and proud and don’t give a fuck what other people think. You might be a grom, you might be fifty, but either way you consider yourself the hottest surfer in the water at any given time. Best case scenario, you’re Hector Santamaria. Worst case, you’re not.

Resin tint

You’re old enough to know that painted boards age more gracefully, so you get ‘em glassed heavy and colored to the core. You probably ride a fish or a Mal but that’s ok, because you share poetic connection with the wave. Your ideal surf trip is to Costa Rica.

The fuck-off paint job

Your favorite surfer is Noa Deane, who recently replaced your other favorite surfer Ozzie Wright. Every single picture of you includes either a cigarette, a beer, or a middle finger, but probably all three. You can do a wicked frontside chop hop but not a proper cutback.

The marker masterpiece

You always wanted to be an artist, but you also wanted to pull chicks. As a kid, you surfed by day — thus earning the bleached-blonde hair and cocoa butter tan of a modern-day Cassanova — but spent your nights diddling on a notepad. All your friends beg you to paint their boards.

Waxing lyrical

You’re either religious, a hip-hop enthusiast, or another Noa-Deane-worshipping punk. Stay away from me.

The aged gouda

You know that, in terms of wave riding ability, it’s about the Indian, not the arrow. You prefer surfboard designs from the 1990s and surf exclusively on the back-third of your 6’3 x 17 ¾ Merrick. People secretly envy your roundhouse.

So, under which exaggerated stereotype do you fall? Me at least four!