“To see people from different races and genders come into action to help TOTAL strangers is absolutely amazing to see!! People who didn’t even know each other went HAND IN HAND IN A LINE, into the water to try and reach them. Pause and just IMAGINE that,” said Jessica Simmons, one of the rescuers.

Breaking: Human Chain Saves Lives in FL!

Who needs lifeguards when you've got 80 of the world's greatest friends?

Last week New Jersey got a lot of play on this site due to its bizarre beachside happenings. But if we are to be honest (and what is BeachGrit if not an oasis of hard-hitting truths?), when it comes to strange occurrences in the States, Florida is the undisputed epicenter of all things weird.

That’s why it comes as no surprise when, just this morning, I read about an 80-human chain that was used to rescue a drowning family in Panama City Beach. They had, just like every drowning family before them, gotten caught in a riptide. But let’s pick it up from the Washington Post:

Roberta Ursrey was among those caught in the treacherous rip currents. From 100 yards away in the Gulf of Mexico, between crashing waves and gulps of salt water, she heard the shouting, she told The Washington Post.

By then, Ursrey and the other eight people stranded with her had already been in the water for nearly 20 minutes, fighting for their lives. Ursrey and the others had ventured into the water to rescue her two sons, Noah, 11, and Stephen, 8, who had gotten separated from their family while chasing waves on their boogie boards.

And goddamnit! Our oppressively addictive sport has done it again. Will these children, aged eight and eleven, who are clearly infected with the surf bug, be forever remembered as Rip Current Cadavers One and Two? Will their non-helpful family members perish alongside? Let’s find out!

On shore, the human chain began forming, first with just five volunteers, then 15, then dozens more as the rescue mission grew more desperate.

Jessica and Derek Simmons swam past the 80 or so human links, some who couldn’t swim, and headed straight for the Ursreys, using surf and boogie boards to aid their rescue efforts.

“I got to the end, and I know I’m a really good swimmer,” Jessica Simmons told the News Herald. “I practically lived in a pool. I knew I could get out there and get to them.”

She and her husband started with the children, passing Noah and Stephen back along the human chain, which passed them all the way to the beach.

By the time Jessica Simmons reached Ursrey, the 34-year-old mother could hardly keep her head above water.

“I’m going to die this way,” Ursrey thought to herself, she told The Post. “My family is going to die this way. I just can’t do it.”

So the boys have been saved, but what of their drowning mother and family members? Oh I’d love to tell you, but wouldn’t that be a little unfair to The Post, who worked so hard to compile this tale? You can read the ending here, and witness the amazing human feat below.

POV: Anthony Walsh goes to Namibia!

Push the ether-soaked cotton-balls of Skeleton Bay's long tubes to your nostrils… 

Last month, the Australian-Born, Hawaii-based surfer/POV expert Anthony Walsh joined the conga line of goofyfooters to Africa’s south-west coast.

Mr Walsh, who is in his mid-thirties and was a middle-run qualifying series pro surfer for a time, is an expert in point-of -view cameras and the various accruements that you can buy for your GoPro. All the best shots from our Girl Goes into Orbit series earlier in the year, the drone flying through town, it soaring over the beach, the behind-the-surfer shots, all came from his expert hand.

It occurred to me, later, as I paid invoice after invoice that I could’ve just brought along Anthony, sat back, and watched it all unfurl.


Skeleton Bay, as you know, is the wave du jour, as was P-Pass in Micronesia a dozen years ago and, more recently, the points of Salina Cruz in Mexico. And Anthony likes nothing much more than pushing the ether-soaked cotton-balls of Skeleton Bay’s long tubes to his nostrils.

While this clip is hardly news, it is intimate and warm and gives the viewer the chance to inhale without the uncomfortable business of having to get to Africa and make an impossible drop in very cold water.


Watch: The Battle of Venice-adjacent!

Stab and The Inertia's glorious turf war!

This is beyond a Blood Feud. This goes to the very heart of surf media itself. The very soul of everything that truly matters. And you well know that Bondi’s own Stab moved somewhere around Venice a year (or such) ago. You also well know that The Inertia makes its home just east of Venice’s official border.

I have well known this for a while too but I suppose it hasn’t really sunk in. Surfstitch property Stab is still Australian to me and The Inertia is still gender neutral.

But in real life there they both are, rubbing shoulders with Facebook and Nest very near Venice!

Do you think Stab people and The Inertia people run in to each other in Venice’s various artisan ice cream parlors? What do you think happens? Glares over goat cheese marionberry habanero ice cream cones? “This-once-trendy-suburb-ain’t-big-enough-for-the-both-of-us…” frowns whilst ordering a second scoop of avocado and strawberry sherbert?

I wish I was there.

Because Venice and Venice-adjacent is the fiery middle of surf journalism. The true center of hurt feelings, disappeared stories, quivering knees and thin passive-aggressive smiles.

This footage just came in, anyhow, of Stab and The Inertia mixing it up. Trading “blows” as it were.

Lucky bastards.

Could this fan-to-pivot be enough to seal victory? | Photo: WSL

Fantasy: The Quasi-Racist Guide to J-Bay!

It's on, bru!

(Note: The writer, Michael Ciaramella, was completely unaware of Chas’s preemptive Fantasy post until this one was already completed. Considering the writer spent two hours working on it, he decided to post this piece directly atop Chas’s musings after retitling it appropriately.)

And how long has it been? Two, three fortnights since we last saw Joan Duru speeding down the line, blue jersey emblazoned across his chest?

Objectively too long, I would say.

Sadly, J-Bay has always been a sore spot in my career as a surf fan. That’s no knock on the wave, which, clearly, is in entirely suitable to world-class surfing, but the whole damn event happens in the middle of the night.

If you, like Chas and me, live on America’s western seaboard, the comp will start at 11 PM and be finished by 8 AM. I’ll be damned if those aren’t my very hours of beauty rest!

Of course there’s the heat analyzer, plus guys Longtom, Doherty, and Carroll to fill in the blanks but post-event analyses are never the same as watching in realtime. They can be better, they can be worse, but they can’t induce that flutter in your chest, the sweat on your palms when Filipe stands up in the dying seconds, needing a 6.67 to turn his round three clash.

Awake or not, the show will go on (with some swell to boot!). Here’s who I envision succeeding in J-Bay’s corduroy lines!

Julian Wilson: 8.5 mil

This guy wasn’t on my team until five minutes ago when, through the endless virtue of Instagram, I saw a video of Jules making his first-ever hole-in-one on Cape St. Francis Links. The confidence gained from sinking a 150 meter shot will, undoubtedly, carry into his surfing performance at this event. This will be the most authoritative win of Julian’s career.

Jordy Smith: 11.25 mil

After winning this event twice as young’n, Jordy has struggled at the Bay in recent years. By his sheer power and familiarity with the break, Jordy should have a 20% advantage (on average) over other competitors in the field. That said, heats can be slow, the mind can waver and really, anybody can beat anybody in 2017. With some swell in the window, Jords should lock down at least a quarter final result.

John Florence: 11 mil

After disappointing results in the last two events, John has remarkably lost the golden lycra to some hippy from Copacabana. It seems infeasible that John could make yet another fatal error, especially at J-Bay, where his long, punctuated swoops match both the speed and size of  South Africa’s favorite right-hander. Watch for an 18-point total in round one.

Mick Fanning: 4.5 mil

Truth be told, Mick has underperformed in almost every event this season. It would be stupid not to have him on your team, considering his ability-to-price ratio, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little pissed at the Queenslander. He won this event last year with a busted paw, and placed equal-second the year before with two-tons of nature chomping at his back. I’ll accept nothing short of semis this time around.

Wiggolly Dantas: 4.5 mil

The strongest backside lipper on Earth belongs to Wiggolly Dantas, and what better place to unleash it than J-Bay? Admittedly, I’ve become disillusioned to the idea that Wiggolly will ever be a smart competitor, but if the waves are good, he might be able to succeed on skill alone. Three windshield wipers from the Brazilian hammer is an 8.5, easy.

Zeke Lau: 3 mil

Zeke got a 10 at J-Bay during a QS event a few years back, which, to memory, consisted of a huge layback, a couple carves and a tub. A man of Polynesian descent, Zeke is strong enough to hold a rail in places where, say, an Aryan nymph like Ethan Ewing is not. I’d love to see a Bells (and Snapper) rematch with Jordy out at J-Bay.

Jeremy Flores: 4.25 mil

I don’t know why, but I have a bit of a man-crush on J-Flo. Maybe it’s his style and composure in the tube, maybe it’s the power and technique of his frontside arc, or maybe it’s that he doesn’t seem to give a fuck what anybody thinks about his petulant outbursts. Whatever the reason, Jer is cheap, exciting, and has a mean forehand hook so he’s on my team.

Jack Freestone: 3 mil

It’s either flair or flop with this kid, making every event a serious gamble. Statistically speaking, Jack’s most likely to bow out in round two, but he’s also the kind of guy who could sneak into the finals should he gain a bit of confidence. Jack’s got one of the most technically sound forehands in the world, and I hope he’ll demonstrate that here.


Fantasy: The non-racist guide to J-Bay!

It's about order! And progress!

Tomorrow. Tomorrow the window opens for the Corona Open J-Bay brought to you by Jack Link’s beef jerky, who would like to remind you to Feed Your Wild Side™. And these breaks between contests. Oh my goodness what is even the point? What is even the purpose of life minus professional surfing at the highest level? If you discover some other meaning please let me know.

In the meantime, though, is your fantasy team set? How are you doing in BeachGrit’s Club? I am last place after a series of disastrous choices. You know that I wish surfing had real gambling in the United States instead of this childish fantasy business which would mean that I would be broke and on the street right now.

Or maybe rich. Pressure has a way of bringing out the best in a man.

I have a wonderful friend in Australia, in any case, who does real surf gambling and he said due Australia’s general racism that Brazilian surfers are often passed over even when they are the better choice and/or the odds get all messed up. The savvy surf gambler, he tells me, can take advantage of this.

And I thought to myself, “What better time to take advantage of the Brazilian storm than now and what better place to smash racist barriers than South Africa? A beautifully proud, multicultural country where people of all colors and creeds march down streets paved with cement and love?”

Oh I know this is not real gambling but it is all I have and think that my team will smash yours in J-Bay. Now THIS is order and progress!