Hi. I'm Kieren.
Hi. I'm Kieren.

Rumor: Bells to start late!

Days after the supposed "double-overhead" swell hits!

This morning, when the sun comes up over the sleepy town of Torquay, Australia the official window for the Bells Beach Classic, presented in association with Rip Curl and Kim Jong Un will be open. Professional surfing is back! Did you miss its absence? Julian Wilson won the season’s kickoff event just up the Gold Coast less than two weeks ago but it feels like a short lifetime ago. It’s a funny thing about professional surfing. It seems like it’s always here but also, and at the same time, never here. Some event always starting soon but no event ever running now.

I suppose this has to do with surfing’s unique playing field. Until all competition is moved into pools then we will be stuck in this limbo and the World Surf League will be there jerking our chain.

Take the Bells Beach Classic, presented in Association with Rip Curl and Kim Yo-jong. The waiting period begins today (Australia time) and the League says good swell on the way for tomorrow (also Australia time), posting a bold Surfline prediction on their landing page.

From Surfline Lead Forecast Kevin Wallis: A series of swells are expected, starting March 29 — the second day of the event window — including waves up to double-overhead.

But BeachGrit’s man on the ground says this is a bald-faced lie. That the event isn’t likely to start until Friday. Now, this is, theoretically just fine for those organizing the event. Friday is Good Friday and a fine time for the opening day of a surf competition. Bells, if you recall, is a ticketed event and all that money pouring into Rip Curl’s coffers will be very welcome in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. Production orders of slave-stitched Rip Curl boardshorts can be doubled.

But for the stay-at-home fan, these days with a surf professional surf competition without professional surfing are tedious. Troubling even. Anticipation every single morning finally blunted by the World Surf League’s Live with Kieren Perrow show. Him standing their, wet hair’d, saying, “Ahhhh yeah. We got a little bit too much south in it so we’re waiting for the tide to drop which it might do in a couple hours here…” etc.

Day after day after day of Kieren Perrow.


The World Surf League overlords rejoicing over web traffic spikes as the masses, buoyed by false hope, click for Kieren.

Well, it’s not starting until Friday, says our man on the ground, so tamp down your expectations. There will be no escape from your mundanity until this weekend. None whatsoever.

surf leash recoil
It ain't quite the days of the lethal rubber leash but…stretch a urethane cord tight enough and it's gonna bite back.

Who knew: Surf Leash Recoil Kills?

Your legrope can ice you in myriad ways… 

Back in January, the Maui surfer Dusty Payne went over the falls backwards on a six-foot wave and slammed face-first into the Backdoor reef. Dusty, who was attached to his board, was pulled unconscious from the water before being resuscitated on the beach. Busted skull. Busted jaw. But he lived.

A few hours later, in a lesser known incident, a former pro was killed while surfing Rocky Point lefts. Glean Jeans, who was fifty six, was found unresponsive in the water and couldn’t be revived.

What killed him?

According to an email from a surfer who was there, and that was sent to the Surf Splendor webcast’s anonymous rumour line, the killer was his leash.

“Glen Jeans passed away at Rocky Point. I was in the water that day. I also was on the beach before lifeguards arrived. I stayed until they pronounced him dead. There are still rumors of Glen being hit by another surfer/surfboard. However, I submitted your webcam footage to a Honolulu Detective that showed otherwise. No media outlet has seemed to update the cause of death and I’d like this story to be shared. He was dropped in on, but he was not hit. He got off the wave and duck dived under the next one. He emerged and paddled towards the channel and duck dove a second wave. This is where the accident happened. His own board slipped out of his hands and shot up tail high behind him. It then returns down due to the leash. He never emerges from this duck dive, rather you see his limbs (arms?) flailing about two seconds after the impact. He drifts out of the frame to the right and the webcam pans to the left. The Medical Examiner told me that it was blunt force trauma to the back and left side of head that caused him to drown. First responders did the best job they could with CPR. Lifeguards got there quick and brought the AED. They continued until paramedics arrived. But the paramedics called it off and pronounced him dead. I want this story to be shared so that family, friends, and the larger surfing community know the factual events of that day. May Glen Jeans Rest In Peace.

“Ironically, I was also out at Pipeline the same day Malik Joyeux passed away. I paddled out two hours later to an empty lineup. Three-to-five-foot Hawaiian and picture perfect conditions. Only a few body surfers and two other surfers were out there. I paddled out on my 7’0” Mayhem without a leash. I had heard Shane Dorian mentioning there is no need for a leash at Pipeline as the beach is right there if you lose your board. Ultimately it was Malik’s leash that failed that fateful day. The Velcro was worn out and malfunctioning. He took a four-foot lip to the head and was knocked unconscious. His board was found floating but his body wasn’t recovered for 10-15 minutes.

“So leashes both can save you or kill you.”

Ain’t that the truth.

Stretch even the finest urethane and it’s going to bite back.


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?