The author some time ago.

Dear WSL: “I am not a retard!”

"The WSL presumes its audience is completely retarded," writes noted author.

Two years ago, I moved into an apartment on the beach, the rent including cable television the significance of which will soon become obvious.

First, a caveat.

I love surfing, the actual activity of surfing, taking whatever bit of fibreglass you like and going for a paddle, preferably away from as many other cunts as possible, getting the odd cover up or doing a semi-decent turn in between bogging rails and falling on drops. Happy days.

But the ins and outs of the surf “industry”, the contests, the web clips, the stickers on boards, the Dion Aguis’ in their German cars, failing miserably to cover up their balding melons with ridiculous dome knitwear, whinging that their five-star Airbnb’s have regulation Kleenex toilet paper rather than the more nuanced jet-stream Evian water bidets that really fuel the creative juices a “freesurfer” needs for survival.

Creativity starts from the ring piece, Oscar Wilde famously wrote.

What a terminal fucking wank the whole scene is.

Well, being as self-righteous as I am lazy, I put aside my disdain for the façade of professional surfing and opted to stay nuzzled up on the comfort of the couch and watch most of the 2015 Goldy Quikky event. I could have ridden my pushie a few clicks south to watch the whole shebang in real life but, you know, yuck.

Filipe was blowing minds, Turpel was blowing Pottz and I can’t really remember much else of 2015 apart from Owen Wright stroking into the bomb of the year at the Box like it was two-foot North Steyne and Mick belting that massive Noah to a pulp in the bristling offshore afternoon at J-Bay.

Recently, I decided to watch Steph Gilmore slay Honolua and realised what it is specifically about the WSL that leaves its viewers feeling abused and very unlikely to ever return – the WSL presumes its audience is completely retarded. Well fuck you, WSL. You harp on and on about the rules of the sport as though anyone watching your contest has only, just today, discovered the sport.

Joe Turps will painstakingly explain what a “Combo” is replete with a paragraph on the screen describing “Combo” too. Pottz will then throw in his waffling two cents about “Paddle Battles” and how, back in his day, before he was a neutered WSL employee, he actually was worth listening to.

Then they’ll cross to BL, frothing out almost to death in the channel, foam literally oozing from the edges of his mouth, fresh from watching some girl stink up a wave in a new and innovative way that no one could have previously envisaged and how it’s so lucky Micro Hall is a super coach otherwise there is no possible way anyone could even function another moment on Earth without his sage counsel.

It’s just a big, endless, backslapping, squirrel-gripping, human centipede farce.

I don’t tune in to see Conor McGregor belt the living shit out of some poor fella in a cage and have Joe Rogan seriously explain to me what a fist in the face, an elbow in the ear and a knee in the ribs will do.

WSL, why do you persist on assuming anyone watching your product has somehow stumbled upon you, completely forlorn and bewildered, in need of your patronizing guidance like we’re all in kindergarten?

And why do you feel the need to back-slap everyone as though a piece of honest commentary will have you all facing off against a sea of litigators? It’s pathetic.

(Editor’s note: Liam Carroll is the author of Sweet Dreams of Fanta, a lovely memoir of a boy who was a “fat tub of freckly lard… a young fella with bright eyes, open ears and big dreams, blessed with the invincible strength that every child has when they know with all their heart that the people they love the most in this world love them right back even more.” Mr Carroll, who is thirty-seven years old and lives in Sydney, also wrote the book Slippery, “a lad’s story about capitalism on steroids.”

Buy that here!  

Warshaw as a beautifully cut aqua-boy in 1972! | Photo: courtesy Matt Warshaw

Warshaw: “It’s just kind of humiliating!”

"At some point, when the money is flatlining, you gotta say the market has spoken and get out."

Two days ago, the custodian of recorded surf history, Mr Matt Warshaw, announced he would quit and take his archive with him if thirty thousand dollars wasn’t donated immediately.

Thirty k seemed a very arbitrary number, a figure pulled from the jaunty cap of a boy who’d shift, suddenly, from adorable to jaded.

What happened? How did we suddenly find Warshaw on the precipice?

I had to ask.

BeachGrit: What precipitated this sudden lunge for thirty gees? Did your wife say you’d have to go out and get a real job if you didn’t make some cash?

Warshaw: Jodi and I made a deal in 2011 that EOS had to be in the black — expenses paid, me earning 30K a year minimum — by 2012, or I go back to print. I got five extra years. But here we are. Time’s up.

It’s humiliating to be 57 and making what I make. It feels like a judgement. EOS, I think, does a such a good job at showing the world of surf in full. Look at us, maybe the most fucked-up wonderful interesting thing on the planet, it’s all here on the three sites I’ve made, in photos, video, and words — and for building that I get less than I did as a SURFER intern in 1985.

Does it feel a little odd that you, the custodian of the sport’s history, one of the sharpest writers in the game, can’t peel off a living from a multi-billion dollar industry?

Well, you and I made that decision a long time ago, right? Anybody who’s ever asked me about going into surf writing, I say some version of “keep your day job,” or “marry well.” In 2017 you’d have to do both. But I love the work. Ever since the sites went up; this is the happiest I’ve ever been just in terms of doing the job. Not just the writing, but doing video and working on photos and all the back-and-forth with readers. I literally throw the covers off in the morning and run to the computer. I will happily do what I’m doing for 30K a year. But less than that — and I don’t know why 30K seems like the magic number —but less than that and my mind wanders to the place you mention, to a darker place. It’s just kind of humiliating, to be 57 and making what I make. It feels like a judgement. EOS, I think, does a such a good job at showing the world of surf in full. Look at us, maybe the most fucked-up wonderful interesting thing on the planet, it’s all here on the three sites I’ve made, in photos, video, and words — and for building that I get less than I did as a SURFER intern in 1985. It’s humbling. When I step away from the computer a few hours and think about it, I can get depressed.

Anyway, why thirty grand? It’s a very arbitrary number… 

The subscribers I have right now, as it happens, pay just enough to cover EOS expenses. The 30K will go to payroll. Which is me.

Two days in, what’s the balance?

Two days in, 12 grand. Which is great, more than I expected. But these things burn hot at first, and cool off really fast. The numbers are going to drop today, I’m sure. The trick will be holding some momentum for the rest of the month.

What if you hit 20? That enough to keep it going?

Before pulling the plug I’d probably get in touch with subscribers and see what they think of a rate hike, from say three to five buck a month, something like that. That idea actually came from a subscriber. But I don’t really know. At some point, when the numbers are low enough, when the money is flatlining, I think you gotta say the market has spoken and get out.

What happens, like seriously, if you don’t get enough cash? What’s going to happen? Are you going to pull it offline? Would it turn into a print product? 

The last real money I made, $125K, was the advance I got for History of Surfing. Which I think was 12 years ago, and I know book publishing is the sick man of media, but I’ll go back anyway and make deals for EOS and HOS. Whatever I can get. Those are the two projects I feel really strongly about. I’d much rather have them online, but they’re still in print already, and if I can do new editions to keep them circulating, that’s fine.

Who’s dropped the biggest donation so far and how much?

Sam McIntosh, one-thou. It came in like three minutes after the donation button went live.

Sam always was a generous boy, and I certainly don’t mean it in the facetious way it might be taken. Anyway, we’ll match it, wait…one…thousand…dollars? How about we drop five c-notes into your hole when a certain 120-day overdue invoice gets paid?

Maybe not in my hole, but yes!

Now, you said, Jodi, your wife, gorgeous thing by the way (how’d you land someone so terrific and ripe?) gave you until 2012, and then gifted five more years. Did she come home from her serious job one day recently, see you in your pyjamas and dipping biscuits into your bowl of Lucky Charms and…fuck this?

She’s not much for the salty language, and I was wearing my Team Body Glove track suit, but in so many words, yes.

In September, you said, in regards to Surf Ranch, that we’d traded “magic for perfection.” With the passage of time, and obviously further contemplation, what’s your current position?

Upon closer inspection, my current position is . . . Kelly Slater could solve EOS’ financial problems with one click. Let’s you and I make a date to talk about the Surf Ranch on February 1. Full disclosure. Deal?

Describe your current mood.
Tyler Wright when the donations comes in. Sally Fitz the rest of the time.

And listen to Warshaw perform on this very good podcast here.


Kong at Sunset a real long time ago. | Photo: Encyclopedia of Surfing

Mr Sunset: “Why the six-fucking-sixes?”

Gary "Kong" Elkerton unloads on paltry sleds… 

Yesterday morning, two-time Sunset winner Gary “Kong” Elkerton, unloaded on the equipment choice of competitors in this year’s event.

“10 foot plus Sunset Beach and everyone is on 6,6s sitting on the inside while 10 foot bombs are going off out the back,” Kong posted on Facebook and to, mostly, enthusiastic approval.

Kong, who is a three-time runner-up to the world title, two-time Triple Crown winner and three-times Masters world champion, is fifty-three years old and lives in the Sunshine Coast suburb of Yaroomba.

Until recently, he owned and ran a swim school, Kong for Kids, at Billinudgel on the NSW North Coast. Last year, he bought the Sunshine Coast license for what he says is a revolutionary concrete sealing biz which was developed by a Hawaiian pal, Brian Kissenberger, who he happened to bump into on the Gold Coast.

Once the decks were cleared of small talk, I said, Mr Sunset, why are you so incensed by equipment choice?

Kong groans and, momentarily, stutters.

“Oh, fuck…fuck… where do I start… I just… I just… they’re sitting on six-sixes on the inside and not paddling out the back and getting the bombs. I think Wilko might’ve read my post because he had a go on a seven-six and he showed exactly what could be done. He looked absolutely solid. I was pulling my hair out. I was frustrated, watching these twelve-to-fifteen-foot bombs out the back and guys are taking off in the whitewater and trying to get to their feet.”


“The judges need to score a wave higher if it’s caught out the back. I watched a young Hawaiian paddle way, way outside, caught a wave off the button, a goofyfooter, did three turns on the inside and got a seven. I don’t know if any of the judges have ever been out at Sunset. It’s so much more difficult negotiating that west and north swell peak out the back when it connects together. It should be merited higher. And that would change the way it’s being surfed.”

Kong puts a lot of store on Sunset. It ain’t always the most photogenic wave, although it can be, but it challenges a surfer like no other wave, he says.

“I’m still blown away that it’s only a qualifying event. Kelly’s never won there and how many times has he tried? It’s the most demanding wave on the planet, bar none.”

I ask Kong to defend his outrageous claim.

“The way the reef contour is and the manner in which the west swell connects with the north swell and it makes this surging peak. There’s so much water, a football field of water meeting together. And to get into the correct spot, to get into what the lifeguard Darrick Doerner calls The Saddle, you’ve got to have your lineups completely covered. It’s not like Pipe where you take off behind the boil to get barrelled. Equipment is everything there. And to negotiate all that, there’s no other wave on the planet like it.”

And how should the wave be ridden according to Kong?

“At that size, I’d ride an eight-o. I’d get in the saddle, negotiate the big drop, big bottom turn, fade and load up on the inside… where they’re taking off on the six-sixes.”

A dirty laugh.

“That’s what I would’ve been doing. Not saying I’d do it now.”

Watch Kong at Sunset here. 

And, here, highlights from yesterday.

Young Jack Robinson seen here driving an Uber.
Young Jack Robinson seen here driving an Uber. | Photo: WSL

Help: I made the CT and lost everything!

Is the Championship Tour where young dreams go to die?

Getting on the World Championship Tour is the dream of every blue-blooded young professional surfer. He has grown watching his heroes Taj Burrow, Joel Parkinson, John John Florence, maybe even Adriano de Souza, travel the world, surfing iconic waves, winning, laughing, smiling. And he decided to follow in their footsteps, through junior events then low-point Qualifying Tour events before the stars align and he makes the cut. Makes it into the very exclusive club.

Now his jersey will be hanging in a Gold Coast locker and the thrill is just beginning.

Except it is not. Little does the blue-blooded young professional surfer know, but now he must work two full time jobs, toiling on both the Championship Tour and the Qualifying Tour in order to make ends meet. The dream basically turning into a lower-middle class American reality. Morning shifts at the fertilizer plant. Evening shifts driving an Uber.

What a royal bummer and let’s let last year’s budding flower/this year’s wilted weed Patrick Ewing give advice to Griffin Colapinto:

“I’d say just have fun on Tour, but focus on the QS. I wish I would have done that this year but I was too busy focusing on the CT just trying to get heat wins. If I could’ve got a good start on the QS early in the year I wouldn’t be in this position.”

What a giant downer having a “fun” job and a “real” job. Where is the time to kick it with friends at the mall? To go to house parties and whisper about who might be hiding half a beer? It seems a real rip-off, making the Championship Tour and losing everything.

I suppose, at the end, blue-blooded young professional surfers are just like us. Except for those who count Adriano de Souza as their hero. Working two jobs instead of five would feel like a vacation for them.

Breaking: SurfStitch buys Depactus!

Australia's most intelligent company strikes again!

Your favorite online Australian surfwear retailer is back in the news with a stunning counter punch. SurfStitch, former parent company of Stab and FCS, was looking very on the ropes just weeks ago. Punch drunk. Getting sued by investors, stock frozen, owners of Stab. It seemed that a knockout was minutes away but suddenly, and without warning, Stab bought itself back for free and then just seconds ago it was revealed that the company purchased the surfwear brand Depactus.

What thrills!

You may recall Depactus from… when… ummm… the brainchild of… wait was it Luke Egan or Luke Munro? And camping gear? Did Depactus make camping gear? I’m sorry. I’m writing the prologue to book right now and not the detailed surf journalist you’ve come to know and love.

In any case, Depactus then was rumored to have folded. Derek Rielly wrote two years ago:

Word on the street is Depactus is done. The MEPs (Men of Extraordinary Pursuits) are actively seeking alternative sponsorships and the reason for its failure?
We’re told the brand was marked by three major flaws.
-Big salaries right out of the gate.
-Branding that was tone deaf to the consumer. Depactus came in high-end and expensive where Salty Crew, who is killing it, came in low, came in blue-collar. Same waterman-fisherman-surfer vibe but more authentic and value oriented.
-Bold spending. Big ad agency employed, designers, staff and the most delicious trade show fit-outs seen in a while.

And the world moved on. Except SurfStitch, the company that reeks of value, of good decision-making, saw an opportunity to strike it rich and scooped Depactus up for… I have no idea. Nothing?

Some questions.

How was SurfStitch aware that Depactus had not totally died? Do you think the SurfStitch x Depactus relationship will fare better than the SurfStitch x Stab one? Will Depactus go out and sponsor more Men of Extraordinary Pursuits? If SurfStitch came to your house looking to buy you would you flee or ask, “How much you got?”