Question: Will pools kill power surfing?

Or just really really damage it?

The Bells Beach Classic, presented by Rip Curl in association with North Korean slaves, is less than one week from kick-off and other surf websites are awash in fantasy tips. We here at BeachGrit have dipped our toes into that pond but I’m glad we are well clear this year, pushing straight up gambling instead. Fantasy surfing is crazy lame no matter which way you slice it. The domain of sexless perverts. Oh, speaking of, and real quick, did you watch Stormy Daniels on 60 Minutes last night? Did you have any thoughts?

Back to Bells, though, the hot picks for the Bowl are unsurprisingly power surfers. The Jordy Smith/Michel Bourez/Wade Carmichaels of the tour. It all certainly makes sense. Bells lends itself to loping, big turns feat. lots of spray and grimacing O faces. It is a fine sort of surfing, one that has transitioned through the 70s, 80s, 90s and aughts relatively unchanged.

But I wonder, will wave tanks be the death knell for buried rails? Technology at other locations might be different but at Surf Ranch it is virtually impossible to throw any spray. I’ve been told it’s how the wave is generated and, on my lone visit, noticed a distinct lack of boom off the lip. It’s fun to carve mid-face but… not what the place is built for. As they become more ubiquitous and children learn on them etc. it makes me think they’ll dispense with burying the rail altogether, focusing instead on cool tube stuff and airs.

Power surfing will then become “an ocean thing” and only at certain breaks by older men. Then those older men will climb onto longboards and power surfing will only be something future generations read about in Matt Warshaw’s excellent Encyclopedia of Surfing.

Which brings me to another point. Just think how hyped Matt Warshaw must be. He has created a work that will never ever ever be repeated. Not next week, not next year, not in three-hundred years. Can you imagine someone sitting down and thinking, “I’m going to spend the rest of my life carefully cataloguing every little bit of surf culture, history etc. and put it all in one place.”? Yes, if my calculations are correct Matt Warshaw will live on while Kong Elkerton will be completely forgotten (save his entry in the Encyclopedia of Surfing).

Will you miss it when it’s gone?

Coco Ho
Ms Coco Ho, twenty seven years old, current world number nine. Can do better. | Photo: Volcom

Watch: Coco Ho’s search for “her inner bitch!”

A thirteen-minute documentary on the rich life of Ms Coco Ho… 

What a wave of class Miss Coco Ho, sister of Mason, niece of Dez, daughter of Mike, is. In this very good thirteen-minute documentary, which was made by her sponsor Volcom, the torso-whiplashing, fin-throwing twenty-seven-year-old impresses the viewer with her…mmmm… spirit, yes?

“Sassy,” Stephanie Gilmore calls it, but says Coco still needs to harness her “inner bitch.”

John John Florence says watching her qualify at seventeen, and then finish that first orbit as the rookie of the year, inspired him to lift his own game.

Coco’s career has been a pinball, from fourth in 2009, to a pretty ordinary last four years: twelfth, eleventh, thirteenth, fourteenth.

“There were moments when I hated the tour,” says Coco. “I took it for granted. (And) I was distracted… distracted by what I didn’t have. I had a good childhood but I didn’t experience everything. I never had a boyfriend. And then the universe gives you something… my first love… that was the rebirth of me.”

A little history about the Ho’s, for context.

Coco’s dad, the former pro surfer Mike, was 30 years old and on his last tour circuit when his girl, Brian, a Caucasian American, became pregnant with Coco’s brother Mason.

Coco’s grandfather, Mike’s dad, was pure Chinese. His grandmother pure Hawaiian. Mike’s mom, Coco’s paternal grandma, was from Oregon.

Mike had bought land up there at Backyards, Sunset, and a small house was constructed. The marriage broke up after the birth of  Coco, two years later. And soon, the jokester and former-pro surfer was in the serious biz of being a single parent to two kids. “I was ‘fun dad,’” Mike says. “I’m like, ‘Surf is good, let’s go surfing. Okay, no school today.’ Yeah, I was bad. I was a bad, fun dad.”

Unless it was Pipe. “‘Go to school. Dad’s going to surf Pipe today.’”

Try and fight that DNA. Watch here. 

Zach Zuckerberg thinks about surfing.
Zach Zuckerberg thinks about surfing.

Scandal: WSL and Facebook’s naughty dance!

Professional surfing hangs in the balance!

Not five minutes after publicizing a two year deal which sees Facebook becoming the official broadcast partner of the World Surf League all hell broke loose. It was revealed that Facebook had exposed 50 million users’ data to a firm with political ties that should not have had access. Blah blah blah lots of hang wringing about privacy and nefarious actors willing to “weaponize” information etc. though the best bit I’ve read thus far has been, “On second thought, maybe it wasn’t such a good idea to give Facebook access to all my personal information in exchange for seeing what old classmates are eating for breakfast.”

Funny no?

Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s CEO, took advertisements out in many major newspapers in order to offer The Inertia-like apologies. “So sorry. Our fault. Totally promise to do better in the future.” I don’t like this new era of earnest apology with zero spine. Gimme denials and heartlessness.

But enough reminiscing. The price of admission for future WSL broadcasts will most certainly be access to your personal data, all fine and good, BUT and here’s the thing… I would imagine that Facebook is going to limit what personal information can be sold, in reaction to scandal, which totally and completely renders the deal… silly. Not that professional surf watching data is worth anything but it’s the principle.


And so the biggest media scandal of the last ten years smacks the beleaguered WSL right in the pocketbook. Maybe. But what I really want to data mine right now is does this latest scandal make you want to not watch professional surfing?


Could you bring yourself to make this man cry?
Could you bring yourself to make this man cry?

Kelly Slater to BL: “Expect more problems!”

Sit down, be humble!

Have you ever utilized a life coach? Some man or woman trained in the art of potential? I clearly have not but feel it might be a wonderful investment. Some man or woman trained in the art of potential sifting through the flotsam and jetsam of my days, telling me where to spend more time, where to spend less time, what my natural skills are, where to focus and where to retreat  etc.

My only real question is what sort of life coach I’d want? Would a very positive, gentle and affirmational Stuart Smalley sort be right for me?

Or would I thrive under the tough love, slap you in the face, kick a leg out methods of Kelly Slater?

Kelly has always been a master of the backhanded compliment. The sort that tear down more than build up. Most recently he gave recently laid-off commentator Barton Lynch a little bit of magic.

Barton posted a video on his Instagram, you see, of earth movers etc. doing work at the brand new Surf Lakes site in Queensland, Australia. Surf Lakes, in case you don’t know, is a new tank in the works with non-Surf Ranch technology that will theoretically create eight different sorts of waves. Mark Occy is involved as is Lynch who wrote:

So exciting to visit the Surf Lakes site in Rockhampton today, they have made so much progress since I was last here in September especially considering the amount of rain they have had to contend with and only a few months now and we will be surfing it yeeeew

You can hear Barton’s desperately missed contralto singsonging praise and wonderment for what man can do.

Now, Surf Lakes would certainly be a competitor to Surf Ranch but it is also half way around the world. Still, life coach Kelly Slater weighed in writing:

Good luck to you guys. And expect more problems than you’ll foresee at this point. Hope you guys are successful!

And if this did not send the 1988 world champ into his bedroom, under his pillow, tears streaming down cheeks than I don’t know what ever could. But after he dries his eyes, it is certain Kelly’s prognostication that unforeseen problems might plague will provide low-level depression for weeks if not months. And we all know pain is necessary for beauty. Right?

So I suppose, at the end, I would want Kelly Slater as my life coach, telling me I’m not good enough while I become great. And depressed. Speaking of have you seen I, Tonya yet? It is amazing.

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. “