Outer Banks
One day y'gonna ride your last wave home. | Photo: DJ Struntz

Surfer Dies in Outer Banks Storm Swell

No dumb jokes here.

Irma and Maria, stirring up a fine bitch’s brew, claimed another surfer this Thursday.

Irma stole Barbados’  Zander Venecia, who was seventeen, two weeks ago. He was young, full of everything possible, his life pinched  short.

The man who died in Hatteras was 66.

Here’s the brief from AP:

The National Park Service says a surfer pulled from the water off North Carolina’s Outer Banks has died.

The federal agency said in a news release Thursday that a 66-year-old man with a surfboard attached to his ankle was seen floating face-down in the water north of Rodanthe at the Cape Hatteras National Seashore.
Dare County emergency medical service workers and park service rangers determined the man was dead.

The cause of death has not been determined.

We can appreciate the statement regarding the undetermined cause of death, but the evidence clearly shows he died from doing what he wanted. Thursday’s waves were just about as daydream as any east coast surfer can imagine. Nice, warm clean sets all day.

Who wouldn’t take the day to get wet?

There’s something which pounds at the chest thinking of dying at such a seasoned age whilst surfing. A lifetime of waves kept this cat coming back into his sixties and it’s aspirational.

Now, I’m sure this is causing the most wrenching emotions among his family. But, maybe there’s proverbs in the pain here.

There will be a concluding wave ridden for each of us: the final paddle strokes, last hard bottom turn, then down the line, and so forth. We’ll be grossly unaware of when this will be, however. Maybe appreciation of what we have is only realized when others lose it.

Sixty-six years old.

The man’s death won’t change our behaviors, of course, and there’s nothing romantic about drowning. We waver at the “ultimate act, ultimate price” maxim.

But, certainly it forces us to question the far bookend of our life and how we would like to leave.

Not that we have any lousy choice.

Watch: Mason Ho bathes weary eyes!

A salty bath!

My eyes still burn from looking at Kelly Slater’s ghastly pool monster. All that machinery. All those… machines. My eyes burn as if I have a bacterial infection from commercial dairy farm run-off but thankfully there is Mason Ho. He is my Visine!

Do your eyes need a cleanse too? Well come. Watch. It’s inclusive. It’s for everyone.

snapt3 mho preloaded from rory @ digital good times on Vimeo.

Nuclear: World’s worst surf rage!

Machete dismemberment and arson!

Whew, I sure did blow my stack yesterday re. Kelly Slater’s Surf Ranch. 24 hours of quiet frustration came spewing right out like the Bellagio fountain in Las Veh-Gus. Many times, after going nuclear, I’ll recalibrate and feel, “Well, that amount of bile sure was unnecessary…” but this morning I feel equally angry. I’ve got the surf rage and maybe to Indonesian levels.

It was reported by Surfline that a 43-year-old ex-pat surf tour operator working in the Mentawi’s got arrested by the Indonesian government after being involved in bout of surf rage. He claims he was merely defending himself and a crowdfunding page has been set up for his legal defense which reads:

Jordan was attacked after an accidental drop-in at Rifles. The other surfer then threatened to cut him up with a machete, and then burn down Kandui Villas, before trying to jab Jordan with his surfboard one more time. After simply blocking the attempted blow from the other man’s surfboard with his right arm, and in an effort to defend himself from the aggressive attack, he counter-striked with a few punches that resulted in the other man merely having a black eye and a small cut below the eye.


Threatened to cut him up with a machete then burn down a hotel then surfboard stabbing? This is not the worst thing I’ve ever heard happening in the water but it is the worst thing I’ve heard being threatened. Machete dismemberment then mass arson?

Wait. Headed to Lemoore. BRB.

This don't get you excited? | Photo: WSL

Epic: Surf Writers’ Wave Ranch Tantrums!

World’s best surfer invents world’s best artificial wave. Why so sad?

There isn’t enough plastic buckets in all of China to contain the flood of tears from surf writers these last couple of days. I’ve wet a few t-shirts myself but only because, even with a drone, a drone pilot and a cherry picker lined up, your pals at BeachGrit couldn’t summon the momentum necessary to record history.

Travis Ferré, of What Youth, he with the honey-hued shoulders and chestnut head of hair, first wept at Kelly’s enclave and its crushing insularity. From an office bedraggled with magazines on every chair, he wrote:

“It feels slimy. Elitist and weird… I get the same queasy feeling I get around private golf courses and churches… I’ll hack my gold ball down any old street before I pay to play that course.”

This morning, Chas Smith, a loveable Lawrence of Arabia figure who likes to stir his Arabs into futile, suicidal attacks, wrote,

“I hate Wave Ranch. I hate it with everything in me and with no pulled punch in vague hopes of getting invited to surf it one day. I hate it with a hatred reserved for drunks who speed through red lights near elementary schools and the Apple Genius Bar. Hate.

“Because it is officially over. The dream has died. Surfing has been successfully and cleanly amputated from ‘surfing.; The simple physical act from one of the most wonderful, most indescribable joys on earth.”

And in an interview with Matt Warshaw on the day of the event he posited,

“If wavepools are the end game, pro surfing is well and truly fucked.”

Now tell me.

Is this surfing? Is this the apex of soul? Surfing weak corners at Seaside or Newport with thirty pals, catching maybe five waves in a two-hour session? Risking literal, and not figurative as is the apparent case with Kelly’s pool, decapitation when longboarders winsomely toss their craft away at a set? Dreary, pointless waves with all the sex appeal of a raw carrot?

The hate toward wavepools, and especially this one, is tedious.

It reveals an inability to pan back and see the breathless garden laid out before you.

I saw magic at Kelly’s (and Adam Fincham’s) pool. The greatest artificial wave ever created. Fruits ripened over ten years of thinking and finessing.

(Come and click here to look at the wavepool patents.)

If I walked down a little track at a remote beach and saw this shorebreak trumpets would blare and I would cry for joy.



I’m sick with longing for this wave.

It affects my respiration!

Podcast: “Kelly Slater decapitates surfing!”

Or the mad raving of a luddite. You decide!

Wave Ranch came fully online a little over 24 hours ago and I have been mired in bottomless depression since. I watched it, like you, from home. I watched blurry Instagram stories morph into giddy Stab boys peeking over the fence morph into an embarrassingly written World Surf League “live blog” morph into a very rich friend, who had been invited, texting me videos of Eddie Vedder changing Yellow Ledbetter lyrics to praise Kelly Slater’s creation. “Thank you Kelly for bringing us to this place…”

A slow motion accident.

A fucking nightmare.

And I realized that I hate Wave Ranch. I hate it with everything in me and with no pulled punch in vague hopes of getting invited to surf it one day. I hate it with a hatred reserved for drunks who speed through red lights near elementary schools and the Apple Genius Bar.


Because it is officially over. The dream has died. Surfing has been successfully and cleanly amputated from “surfing.” The simple physical act from one of the most wonderful, most indescribable joys on earth.

You have, of course, read William Finnegan’s brilliant Barbarian Days. What I love most is the book’s pacing. Mr. Finnegan slowly meandering through his life and showing how surfing is tied to each strand of his DNA, inextricably woven, and even though he is very important as a real journalist for a real magazine when it came time to write his memoirs he wrote it about surfing. About A Surfing Life.

A surfing life.

Surfing has infected me, too, since the very first time I saw it playing out in cold Santa Cruz waters. And infected me all the way. It has dictated where I have lived, the cars I have bought, the women I have loved, the places I have gone. Seagulls, Lighthouse Beach, Bolsa Chic, Baja, Xanadu, Rockin’ Fig, JC, black sand, tar, smokey skies, burning sunsets, Soqotra, Lebanon, More Core Division, flat tires, warm beer, Mukalla, salt. It has been my adventure and my curse. The physical act of surfing is only part of the broader surfing life but the iteration that took place behind a fence in green fresh water underneath manure scented skies being watched by very rich potential investors was only about the physical act. Cleanly amputated. Genetically modified. Re-grafted.

Of the Instagram clips I watched on that fateful day, one summed up my feelings succinctly. Previous pool clips had been edited professionally and from either behind or straight ln. The surfer in the middle of the frame, the wave breaking behind and the shoulder running ahead. Except the shoulder isn’t running ahead, is it. The clip I watched featured Carissa Moore surfing fantastically and being chased by a jet-ski. Just feet behind her was that near perfect barrel that we’ve all marveled at. Just feet ahead of her was a giant wall. The mechanical guts of the oversized plow running underwater and creating the phantasm. A wall. The surfer surfs the entire wave facing this wall.


When I close my eyes, amongst the best memories I conjure are dropping into a wave, looking down the line and seeing endless possibility. Seeing the gentle curve or the section far away that might pitch or the terror inducing double up. Seeing the unknown. Feeling the unknown.

Oh I know this reads like the mad raving of a luddite and maybe it is. Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe Wave Ranch and each next iteration is a glorious egalitarian utopia but I seriously doubt it. It feels more like the purposeful unraveling of a great mystery. Like man’s forever folly.

And here you can also listen to the mad raving of a luddite. I don’t ever recall ever approaching a surf topic with such deadpanned passion. Listen and tell me that I’m wrong. Tell me that this ain’t the end.