Trigg Beach
A rare hit of moonshine at Perth's Trigg Beach. | Photo: swellnet

Dirty Old Perth just Turned into Hossegor!

Meanwhile, fabled sandbottom righthander further south is "fucking unsurfable for civilians!"

Dirty, dirty, waveless Perth. The most isolated capital city in the world. Miles of white-sand beaches shadowed by offshore reefs thereby making rideable waves an exception not a daily reality.

If you can’t shake school or work when the waves are on, you’re screwed.

Well, how about this?

Cyclone Marcus, the same tropical storm that was threatening to turn on those mythical sandbottom righthanders around Yallingup, has delivered a lovely bruise on the Perth coastline.

And, almost as rare as a cyclone swell hitting this far south of the tropics, is the all-day east-to-north-east offshore.

The photo below comes via the Australian surf forecast site, Swellnet. Now, that crowd ain’t a thing to give you a pleasing electrical current, but the waves. If you get ’em, even a couple in an all-day surf, you’d be whimpering with happiness.

Trigg Beach
A rare hit of moonshine at Perth’s Trigg Beach.

So what happened further south? Specifically, that particular beach that was lit up by six-to-eight-foot bombs and Taj Burrow, Jay Davies and Dino Adrian throwing themselves over the cliff seven years ago during Cyclone Bianca?

Well, first. It’s… crowded… down there.

Local newspapers as well as the national broadcaster had been talking up the swell all week (and us yesterday).

The former pro surfer, Mitch Thorson, says the crowds are “overwhelming. More than I’ve ever seen. Seventy guys out at Yallingup, forty guys out at another joint I normally go to where the waves are four-to-six-foot and pretty joy. But everyone has been sucked into that vortex where Taj surfed during Bianca. All week there’s been footage of Taj surfing it so everyone’s fucking down there.”

The rub, says Mitch, is it’s “fucking unsurfable” for civilians. An hour or so ago, Jay Davies and Jack Robinson were paddling it and a couple of guys were towing.”

The swell didn’t hit at the same perfect angle as Bianca either, a little too west in the direction. “Still there’s a few guys pulling into radical closeouts. I saw a goofyfooter get a stand-up barrel at one spot, come out and do a soul arch. I heard his screams from the carpark. But the crowds… man… it was fucking out of control. “

Just in: Longboarder gets a parade!

And the key to his city. Does it make you want to trade teams?

Longboarding is something I generally spend 0.05% of my life thinking about. Maybe when I go to the beach and a woman on a longboard does a neat spin on the nose or something I think about it. Or when I see a longboard tumbling rail to rail straight for my head. Lately, though, I’ve been thinking about it a little more and all thanks to Devon Howard. The La Jolla local is very famous amongst those people and I enjoy his candor and quick mind, not to mention debonair vintage California good looks.

We had a chat a week ago about longboarding and other things and while I will never touch one, save violently kicking, he opened my eyes to the complex stratification in that scene. There seems to be a cold war between traditionalists and modernists. Interesting, maybe, because no such thing exists on the real surfing side. Right? I mean, surfing is always and only about progression. Even fishes etc. feature fancy new templates.

I read today that the United States won team gold at the 2018 ISA World Longboard Surfing Championship at Riyue Bay in Hainan, China all thanks to a man named Tony Silvangi.

He lives in Florida and when I read about him helping Team USA win gold I had a two thoughts.

The first, why was this news popping into my feed? Has enjoying Devon Howard’s candor, quick mind and vintage good looks poisoned my well?

The second, Does Devon Howard know him?

I am a little reticent to inform you of that second thought because it feels a little racist, no? Like, if you meet an Korean-American man and wonder if he knows the other Korean-American man you know.

In any case, Tony Silvangi is getting the key to his city today. He is from Carolina Beach, North Carolina. And he is also getting a parade in just a few short hours.

Has anyone ever thrown you a parade?

Me neither.

Should we have a BeachGrit parade later this year? Who should it be for?

If this wave lights up tomoz, and chances are it will, and you get to ride it, you'll feel like a little angel snatched up by god. | Photo: Jamie Scott

Listen: West Oz is going to be insane tomoz!

The rarest of birds – a one-day cyclone swell!

You like rare, beautiful birds? Tomorrow morning, all over Yallingup, Gracetown and Margaret River, surfers are going to wake up to that most sublime of west coast gifts – a cyclone-generated north swell. If Cyclone Marcus stays on its trajectory, and it’s looking like it will, sublime… miraculous… sandbottom righthanders with notes of the Supabank are going to fire tomoz.

Seven years ago, the Margaret River photographer Jamie Scott shot Taj Burrow, Jay Davies and Dino Adrian inside impossibly perfect, and often impossibly hard to get into, six-foot sandbottom tubes.

“You’re just looking at each other with your mouths open and you’re shaking your head and nothing comes out, you don’t know what to say. I’d lost my voice by the end of the day,” Taj said of a wave that has only appeared, in this sort of form, twice, and only for a few hours each time, in the past 20 years.

That was Cyclone Bianca, when clean two-foot runners turned into eight-foot bombs by the afternoon.

“You’re just looking at each other with your mouths open and you’re shaking your head and nothing comes out, you don’t know what to say. I’d lost my voice by the end of the day,” Taj said of a wave that has only appeared, in this sort of form, twice, and only for a few hours each time, in the past 20 years.

Tomoz it could be on again.

“It’s crystal ball stuff but everything’s looking good for it,” says Jamie Scott. “The wind looks good, the swell looks good. It’s going to be like Snapper down here tomorrow. Everyone’s onto it. Crew are flying over from the east and, obviously, the pro’s have got nothing on until Thursday at Bells.”

And it’s a one-day thing.

“Monday is crap. The wind goes (onshore) north-west and the swell goes more west (straighter).”

Jamie says he’ll be up at five, even though it’s not exactly…light… until seven, but he’ll load up his water housing, his drone, his long lens, stick his jetski on the back of his four-wheel-drive and meet up with the old gang, Taj, Jay and Dino.

“I’m fucking set,” says Jamie.

It’s a neat symmetry that Jamie, who was working his stand at the Dunsborough markets when I called, had just sold the photo that appears here.

“People love it,” he says. “I hope I get a better one tomorrow.”

Woody and aromatic!
Woody and aromatic!

Masculine: Smell like Pipeline!

Leading retailer offers the scent of Waimea and Teahupoo too!

The fast fashion Spanish retailer, Zara, has just released a line of male fragrance inspired by your favorite waves. That’s right. Pipeline, Teahupoo and Waimea are all available as aromatic aides to your overall deal. What do you think Pipeline smells like? Fear and Spam Musubi? What about Teahupoo? Fear and poisson cru?


Pipeline, apparently, is woody, aromatic and musky with notes of lemon, tangerine, patchouli and musk.

Teahupoo is also woody and aromatic with notes of bergamot, grapefruit and sandalwood.

Waimea surprises with an aquatic base and vetiver finish.

Which appeals most to you? Are you more of a Pipeline or Waimea man?

More importantly, which scent sees the most action?

Plus-sized gal’s label to buy SurfStitch!

Beauty (and companies) comes in all shapes and sizes!

Who knew it cost so much to go bankrupt? One of my favourite pastimes is to watch insolvent companies spend millions of dollars on administrators while creditors, employees and shareholders watch their cash switch corporate palms.

The airline Ansett, which once owned half the skies over Australia as part of a protected duopoly, was a great one – they pissed their employees’ entitlements against the wall as it wound up.

But SurfStitch, the company that famously spent eight million dollars for a website link on Coastalwatch, is a little closer to our surf shacks and they just shelled out over two million dollars to the administrator charged with sorting out its mess, FTI Consulting. That’s a hunk of change for a company that recently had to borrow four-mill to keep the lights on through Christmas.

Let me be clear. Administrators aren’t necessarily venal and wasteful. They’re thrown into some fucked-up situations and have to pull apart a web of complex biz dealings to work out what’s left over to share among the creditors. A necessary evil. But what did SurfStitch get for their two million?

The first thing to cover is that there are four groups holding pitchforks and torches. Employees are first. They want their entitlements. Creditors are second. They want their bills paid. Third in line are the shareholders. They want their shares to be worth something, anything, ideally better than the six-and-a-bit cents they were selling at when the company went into a trading halt. The final group is an angry mob of former shareholders who brought two class against against the company for misconduct (eloquently called Group Member Claimants).

The administrators job was to balance all the claims and come up with a relatively pleasing solution.

Four options were laid out.

Close the biz and pay out, close up biz and leave nothing behind, re-list on the stock market or get bought out, in this case, to accept an offer from plus-sized women’s label EziBuy (“Beauty comes in all shapes and sizes!”).

I’ll focus here on the two most likely options. Biz papers claimed that re-listing on the ASX was a real option, but seriously… the company is an absolute shit-show and, as the expression, goes: “The definition of insanity is trying the same thing over and expecting different results.”

Likely option #1: Close the biz
Employees’ entitlement’s are paid in full
Most creditors bills are paid in full
Group Members Claimants are allocated somewhere around $4.5-7.5m cash to split up
Shareholders lose everything

Sell to EziBuy
Employees paid out in full
Creditors paid out in full
Group claimants get around four million in cash to split up, plus they get a chest of shares in EziBuy
Current shareholders convert their SurfStitch shares to EziBuy shares

The catch with the EziBuy deal is that they aren’t listed on the ASX, so shareholders could be waiting up to three years before they can turn their convertible notes into anything tangible (shares and then cash). But better than ending up with nothing…. right?

But how did we end up here? How does a successful surf start-up end so badly?

Investors need growth. So the surf co turns its attention elsewhere, to the fabled masses in mid-west America and the mostly-landlocked European. And what position did this leave SurfStitch in? A negative cash flow position where they had to continually raise debt (borrow money) to buy stock, pay rent, employees and so on.

SurfStitch may have even got a little creative to make their balance sheet look more respectable to the market. Kim Sundell from TCI (Coastalwatch) launched his own battle against the company, alleging it falsified documents to inflate the share price.

Kim alleged that TCI Group Agreements were entered into for the purpose of inflating the revenue and profit of SGL (SurfStitch Group Limited) by approximately $18.3m in circumstances where the SGL Group would not receive the amount of $18.3m as a cash payment.

So now you’ve got former SurfStitch senior management under investigation by ASIC for the following breaches.

■ Sections 180, 181, 184: Civil and criminal breaches of directors duties;
■ Section 344(2): Financial reporting contravention by Director;
■ Section 674: Continuous disclosure contraventions;
■ Sections 1041E, 1041F, 1041H: Market misconduct;
■ Section 1043A: Insider trading; and
■ Section 1309: Provision of false or material information by an officer or employee.

And you remember the bullish buys of 2013-14, yes? What stock market investor doesn’t love a maverick snapping up businesses to try and create internal synergies and put the revenue on turbo through acquisitions? It don’t always work. In this case, SurfStitch lost exactly one hundred million dollars.

Surfdome bought for $45 million (from Quiksilver)/sold for $13 million
MSW & Stab bought for $14 million/sold for $2 million
Swell bought for $35 million (from Billabong)/No return
Garage bought for $15 million/Estimated sale under $1m
FCS bought for $23.7 million/ old for $17 million

$133 million outlaid/$33 million received back

Thems are numbers to put a shiver into any biz man’s spine.

The common line reported back by FTI Consulting on all these businesses was simple and consistent. “The transaction was completed on the basis that the business contributed no value to the SGL Group and would require ongoing financial support if it was not sold.”

In laymen’s terms, all those businesses were bleeding money and needed someone to plug the hole.

So what are we left with?

Former SurfStitch execs facing possible jail time. A bunch of shareholders receiving pennies on the dollar for their shares. And one of surf’s most promising start-ups of the digital age being bought by Alceon Group, a private-equity group who counts Noni B and Cheap as Chips as their star-studded retail jewels alongside the darling of middle-aged and plus-sized women, EziBuy.

And what are Alceon getting in return?

They’re paying around six million in cash plus issuing what they say is fifteen million dollars worth of shares.

Not that Alecon is going to extinguish SurfStitch’s…cool.

“Alceon Group says it has no intention of changing the culture of hip online surf and skate wear retailer SurfStitch​ if creditors approve a merger with EziBuy, which sells clothing and homewares to middle-aged women.” – Australian Financial Review