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

Hotel Kommune Tachi Palace
Here we see Taj Burrow, pictured, left, at the conclusion of the 2016 Mad Hueys' WQS event, which he won, in the Hotel Kommune pool. A gorgeous libertine venue that proves the virtues of vice! On the right is Tachi Palace, Lemoore. | Photo: WSL

Comparison: Tachi Palace v Hotel Komune!

Can't decide between going to the Surf Ranch Open or the Bali Pro? Let the hotels sway your choice!

Five days ago, the price structure for hiring the Surf Ranch was revealed. Cheap? Depends who’s asking, $US11,500 per person for two days, a video compilation of your eight or so rides included.

And, two days ago, after Martin Daly’s famous boat, the Indies III announced its 2018 prices, it made for a fascinating comparison. With airfares to Indonesia, the cost was identical.

Two days in Lemoore or two weeks on a charter boat in the Mentawai Islands?

(Read the debate here.)

The same BeachGrit reader who sent in the Indies III price-list also sent a comparison of the main hotel in Lemoore, the Tachi Palace, and Hotel Komune in Bali, which is the go-to-joint in Keramas, where the WSL’s other high-performance event will run in May and June.

Now if you’re a surf fan, and I presume you are because you ain’t here for the titty, you might be drawing up your travel plans to attend either the Surf Ranch or Keramas events. Both promise a level of performance, and gymnastics, unlike anything we’ve seen.

Filipe? Gabriel? John John? Italo? Can you even imagine?

Now, you’re gonna need a hotel.

So what’s it going to be? An Indian casino, touted as the “most luxurious bingo hall in the state” famous for hosting World Extreme Cagefighting and Tachi Palace Fights or a beachfront pool party stuck atop the dunes at Keramas?

Tachi, which is a five-minute drive from Surf Ranch, promises “Airy rooms with painted accent walls, free Wi-Fi, flat-screen TVs and minifridges” as well as free valet parking, a gymnasium, slots, bingo and table games. And a buffet. 

Rooms start at around $US100 per night.

Hotel Komune promises: “a hypnotising view of the world famous Keramas surf break. With its pristine volcanic beach, this beachfront Bali resort offers a wonderful experience of spending leisure time in a natural luxury hotel. We feature 66 impressive 4 star rooms and suites and 5 star beach front pool suites and 1, 2 and 3 bedroom villas.”

Rooms start at $US200 a night (including tax) and run up to around six hundred a night if you need two private pools and two villas (Yike. I just checked. They’re sold-out already, to the famous contestants one would presume). Plenty of the cheapie rooms, however.

Booking during the contest window also gets you a VIP pass to the Bali Pro. Not that you’ll need it, of course. The (waveless) pool is…there. 

Now. Where you gonna stay?


Surfline Alexa
“From the comfort of your bed you can now ask Alexa for a surf report, and will be, in turn, informed by that soothing AI voice that your local break is currently 4-6ft and glassy, with a medium tide and a Good-Epic rating,” Surfline said in an announcement. Lots of references to "bed' and "bedroom" in the release, no?

Tech: Surfline sneaks into your bedroom!

"Informed by that soothing AI voice that your local break is currently 4-6ft and glassy..."

It was announced this morning, via press release, that wave forecasting website Surfline has partnered with Amazon’s Echo to bring shouted surf reports into your bedroom. Directly between you and your wife, maybe, or girlfriend or boyfriend. Intimate. Close. Let’s read:

Southern Californian surfers who own one of Amazon’s Echo devices can now hear how gnarly the waves are before getting out of bed.

Marine weather forecasting company Surfline.com, based in Huntington Beach, California, has teamed with Amazon Inc. (Nasdaq: AMZN) on the “Surfline for Alexa” skill, which lets users of the Amazon Echo and other Alexa-enabled devices check surf conditions before grabbing their boards.

Device owners download Surfline’s skill from the Amazon Alexa store and launch the service by saying, “Alexa, open Surfline.” Users can get real-time reports for thousands of surf spots around the world and ask for specific information such as wave height, wind, tide and water temperature. For a full surf report, users can say, “Alexa, ask Surfline for the full surf report at Malibu.”

“From the comfort of your bed you can now ask Alexa for a surf report, and will be, in turn, informed by that soothing AI voice that your local break is currently 4-6ft and glassy, with a medium tide and a Good-Epic rating,” Surfline said in an announcement.

Lots of references to “bed’ and “bedroom” in the release, no?

And do you have an Echo or Bose SoundLink or HomePod or similar? There is a Google Home in my home and the thing only frustrates. There it is, doing whatever it is doing too loud with the entire room shouting, “Ok Google, volume at 50%!” Also it listens in, I think, to conversations and later responds to my web searching with things I was speaking about. Also, it doesn’t know very many things.

Maybe Amazon’s Echo is superior but I don’t want it. I don’t want it to know where I’m going surfing or where I’m even thinking about going surfing. Also, will Surfline be mining and selling data like Cambridge Analytica?

Also, when Surfline talks about that “soothing AI voice” are they talking about Andy Irons?

I don’t know. I’m getting sick. Everything is bleak right now.