“The designs we have tested have been 100 per cent successful in preventing Great white sharks from attacking,” Professor Nathan Hart, associate professor of comparative neurophysiology at Macquarie, said in an interview with The Australian newspaper.  | Photo: Nathan Hart/Macquarie University

Breakthrough: Anti-Great White device “100% successful!”

God, it's so…damn…simple!

If you live in San Clemente or Margaret River or Esperance or Cape Town or San Francisco or Byron Bay and so forth, you might be interested in a scientific breakthrough that has been proven to ward off Great White sharks.

Researchers from Australia’s Macquarie University have discovered that if LED lights are affixed to the bottom of a surfboard and in a certain pattern, Great Whites will avoid it.

“The designs we have tested have been 100 per cent successful in preventing Great white sharks from attacking,” Professor Nathan Hart, associate professor of comparative neurophysiology at Macquarie, said in an interview with The Australian newspaper. 

“(It’s) a strategy of counter-illumination, to break up the silhouette of a surfer as seen from below by a shark, and hopefully use this to prevent sharks from coming up and investigating people on the boards,” Hart told the state-owned radio station Triple J.  “From the shark’s perspective, when they look up they see a silhouette, [human surfers] look a lot like their natural prey, which is seals. If we can break up the outline of that seal shape on the surface, we’ll make the object much less enticing for the shark to investigate, because they’re going to know it’s not their usual prey.”

The idea, like most good ones, comes from the undersea kingdom itself.

“This strategy is a common strategy used by midwater fish, which are trying to avoid predators swimming below them. Some of these fish have light emitting organs on their underside, which put out light and help them to camouflage themselves from the light coming from above. Technology and engineering take inspiration from nature, so we’re really trying to use that inspiration that has evolved over many millions of years, and apply that to a very modern problem.”

Hart, and his post-doctoral researcher Laura Ryan pal, used foam cut-outs of seals, a Great White favourite, to test the light setup in South Africa.

“What we do is take seal shaped foam as decoys. One that has lights on it, which is our test, and one that doesn’t which is our control. And then in a controlled way, we pull these behind a boat, and see which one the shark comes up and breaches on.  So far with our testing, we’ve tried a few designs, we know some things that don’t work, but we’ve come up with at least two different designs which work extremely well, and the sharks essentially don’t touch it all.”

So when’s the light pack coming out?

Hart says it’ll be at least another eighteen months. They’ve gotta check to make sure it doesn’t attract any other sharks, bulls, tigers, makos, etc.

You want your board to look like a jacked-up Hyundai?

I think, maybe worth it.


Famous surf coach seen celebrating.

Revealed: Surf coaching isn’t bullshit!

22 Lithuanians can't be wrong!

Or wait. It totally is. Aside from brilliantly telling a charge to paddle on top of John John Florence if he happens to be surfing against him in a heat, surf coaching has no value or merit whatsoever. Professional surfing’s rule book is one odd sentence long. Section 1 paragraph 1 “If a surfer has priority another surfer is not allowed to impede or otherwise fuck his shit up.” That’s it. There is no strategy other than surfing waves well* and lamely holding onto priority.

That’s all.

But in a truly bald-faced money grab the International Surfing Association is bilking poor, non-coastal countries by providing “coaching and instructing initiatives” at a cost. Let’s read the press release!

As Surfing approaches two years until its Olympic debut at the Tokyo 2020 Summer Game the International Surfing Association (ISA) has ramped up the development of its coaching and instructing initiatives to help promote the worldwide growth of Surfing and Stand Up Paddling (SUP), particularly in non-traditional Surfing nations.

The ISA saw a record number of participants take part in its Coaching and Instructing Program in 2017, with over 2,500 coaches and instructors from 65 countries involved. The landmark year boosted the ISA’s total amount of certified Surfing and SUP instructors to well over 5,000 worldwide.

In particular, great strides were made in the development of SUP, with courses offered for the first time in new ISA Member Nations such as Iran (2016) and Lithuania (2015). 34 Iranians and 22 Lithuanians participated in ISA SUP Courses, highlighting the ISA’s fundamental goal to introduce and develop SUP, the world’s fastest growing water sport, to new territories around the globe.

For 2018, the ISA has built on this record participation and increased the course offerings and opportunities, with nearly 200 Surfing and SUP courses scheduled across all five continents of the globe.

In another landmark development in 2017, ISA and the International Lifesaving Federation (ILS) established a universally recognized, global standard water safety course and certification for Surfing and SUP coaches and instructors. In its first year this course proved to be a success – running 27 times across 17 countries for 290 instructors.

Somewhere Bernie Madoff is rubbing his hands together and smiling. But, real quick, should we get into this surf coaching game before it’s too late? Which country, besides Lithuania, would make a good mark? I’m gonna snag Monaco and United Arab Emirates. Riches here I come!

*well generally means being safe and lame. See Jordy Smith.


#metoo

Australia’s surf clubs change sexist rule!

The movement marches on!

We live in momentous times. Singular times. A movement has begun and grown and is now burning hot through our institutions and businesses. People in power are being brought low for antiquated notions and attitudes regarding sexual roles/stereotypes. For applying rules and regulations meant to keep an entire gender down. Bald-faced sexism has gone on for too long, of course, and the awakening is long overdue but at least it’s here. At least society is being forced to deal with centuries of ugly, disgusting behaviors.

Time’s definitely up.

And the fire is now finally burning in Australia, even burning in the country’s famed surf clubs. Normally extremely resistant to change, these clubs have been bulwarks against liberal attitudes but no longer. And let us turn to the Sunshine Coast Daily for a refreshing, inspiring shift.

Clubs that serve women in singlets but refuse men for the same choice of clothing could be taken to court for discrimination, according to Queensland’s union for licensed community clubs.

It’s why the Coolum Surf Club relaxed its dress code to allow singlets and hats to be worn by everyone inside the premises at all times.

Surf club general manager Mal Wright said an email from Clubs Queensland advising clubs to revisit their dress codes to avoid discrimination complaints was sent out more than a week ago.

The previous dress policy meant the surf club would not serve men in singlets.

Mr Wright said the surf club had received multiple complaints from patrons in the past claiming its dress code was “sexist” and thousands of potential patrons had walked away from the popular venue.

In a statement to the Sunshine Coast Daily a Clubs Queensland spokesman confirmed an email was sent out to its members but said discrimination laws were “complex” and the advice included was only the “basic position” of the law and “general guidance”.

“With respect to whether a particular dress code is actually unlawful, it would depend on the terms of the dress code and the circumstances of each individual case,” he said.

“Clubs were not instructed to change their dress codes, however, were encouraged to review their individual dress codes in light of changing societal norms.”

However, a newsletter published on the Clubs Queensland website said the dress code (across Queensland clubs) in its present form had “never been an issue”, however, since the enactment of the SDA (Sex Discrimination Act 1984) its enforcement had “always been unlawful”.

Boom.

Put on that singlet, men. Put it on, raise a fist and demand service. This is our time and ugly sexism will not, cannot, stand.


Sebastian and Nazaré

Revealed: Nazaré only big wave in world!

No other big wave exists!

The World Surf League released the XXL Big Wave nominees today and basically every single stinking one of them was ridden at Nazaré. Nazaré! The wave that broke onto the scene as plus-sized Goldenwest has officially taken out Maverick, Mexico, Western Australia, Jaws, Oahu’s outer reefs, Oregon, Tasmania… the entire world.

It is the last big wave on earth.

Let’s look at the nominees.

Ross Clarke-Jones: Nazaré

Ross Clarke-Jones: Nazaré

Rodrigo Koxa: Nazaré

Rodrigo Koxa: Nazaré

Kai Lenny: Jaws

Kai Lenny: Jaws

Benjamin Sachis: Nazaré

Benjamin Sachis: Nazaré

Sebastian Steudtner: Nazaré

Sebastian Steudtner: Nazaré

Sure two Peahi’s kick around in the mix but they won’t be here next year. It’ll be Nazaré across the board. The novice may think this is a global warming thing. That Portugal is the beneficiary to changing weather patterns etc. but you and I know this is not true. You and I know that big waves are weird and the men who ride them weirder.

Like, remember when Todos Santos was a thing? That big wave made magazine covers for pity’s sake. It was the toast of the town before being disappeared for who knows why? Did it dodge its taxes? Online bully? I don’t know but it is gone, never to return.

Weird.

Right?


"Zeke bulldozing John was Bells' best moment," says Matt Warshaw.

Warshaw: “John John a target for tour bullies!”

Noted surf historian on the need to "blow up the idea of wavepool competition" after Zeke-John John Bells heat.

At Bells, the surf world had an attack of the vapours when the Hawaiian Zeke Lau muscled the world’s second-most loved surfer, John John Florence.

No one knew where to turn. Was it good, bad, ugly? Was it a microcosm of the struggle ‘tween indigenous Hawaiian and colonial white man? Or the reverse, the forever beat-down of the white man as he attempts to thrive as a minority?

I couldn’t work out whether I loved or loathed. Since I can’t formulate an opinion without some discussion of the various pros and cons, I turned to Matt Warshaw, the one-man surf history archivist. Matt raised the very good point that, whatever you thought of it, it at least gave the show a little personality.

Take it away, as will happen with wavepool events, and what are you left with?

“Fuck a level playing field,” says Matt.

Let’s debate.

BeachGrit: Do tell me, in light of the Zeke v John heat, why you believe we need to blow up “the idea of wavepool competition.”

Warshaw: Zeke bulldozing John was Bells’ best moment. Second-best was Italo going psy-ops on Zeke in the quarters, and getting the exact same result. Who knew Italo even had that gear? The little shimmy dance in the lineup when he had Zeke on the ropes, that made my day, made the whole contest. Decent waves, great surfing — Zeke ripped his heat with John; Italo did the same against Zeke — I mean, that is the blueprint. Right there. WSL should database heats like that, and figure out how to give us more. The craziest thing about the WSL right now is that they trip over the answers to their own problems, all the time, and don’t even know it. There is no crackling John-Zeke moment in the wavepool. There is no dancing-Italo moment. There is no three-minute countdown, like in the final, where everyone’s holding their breath to see if Mick can get the wave and score. You need that weirdness and tension and uncertainty. Fuck a level playing field. Closeouts and the occasional freak wave, like the one Griffin got at Kirra — that is surfing!

I wonder, by not having a Randy Rarick or a Rabbit Bartholomew or even a Brodie Carr at the tiller, instead a former tennis exec who’s never surfed, didn’t grow up amid surf culture, if there’s a terrible danger the game will lose its, I dunno, heritage?

Ian Cairns was as hardcore as Randy or Bugs, and he thought the Op Pro was gonna put pro surfing over the top, so I don’t know. Endless Summer has all the answers. Two surfers, great locations, great waves. We loved it. Surfers, I mean. And the pubic loved it too. Endless Summer was hokey and filled with a fair amount of bullshit. But it was real, too. It felt real, anyway. Endless Summer was a huge commercial success. Midwesterners got a look at who we are, got a look at what sport is really like, and they flipped! Went back the following weekend and saw it again. Endless Summer was a huge commercial success because surfers are not athletes, like other athletes, and because the playing field is so magnificently NOT level.

There is no crackling John-Zeke moment in the wavepool. There is no three-minute countdown, like in the final, where everyone’s holding their breath to see if Mick can get the wave and score. You need that weirdness and tension and uncertainty. Fuck a level playing field. Closeouts and the occasional freak wave, like the one Griffin got at Kirra — that is surfing!

And, if we can dance a little on top of that incident at Bells, did it seem to you, as it did to me, as a bold strategy yet hardly…outrageous… in the grand scheme of things? When I wrote a long-form story on Martin Potter five years ago, I asked MR how he approached surfing against the teenage prodigy. He told me his plan was to “hassle the fuck out of him and not let him get a wave and then I’m going to win.” Pottz famously stabbed Gerr’s board in a heat and, one time, spat at Rob Bain. 

Rob Bain is a big lovable man. Let’s hope Martin Potter’s back hairs are silver and coarse and matted like a cheap sisal rug.

And then there’s Kelly’s play against Andy, “I love you etc.”  Tell me of some great moments in hassling, historically? I imagine Sunny Garcia had feisty. 

Sunny’s deal I think was more that he had the judges psyched out. He was pretty scary if the heat was close and the call went the wrong way. Judges were terrified of him. Great moments in hassling… Michael Peterson would get right up into Rabbit’s face before a heat and scream at poor Bugs. Peter Townend one year at Haliewa paddled Cheyne Horan out of a world title.

I have the feeling that if physical hassling becomes a thing again, I mean, more than the Gabby-or-Parko-paddles-you-up-the-point deal, John John might think, fuck this, and go surf. Do you have a similar feel? 

John isn’t going to win 11 titles, like Kelly, which would make it easier for him to check out and be the acknowledged world’s best surfer instead of a target for world tour bullies. He doesn’t seem vengeful. But who knows. I hope we’re wrong, Derek. It’d be so great to see Zeke and John in a heat at the Box next week. I’d pay money to see John and Zeke at maxed-out Box. Whereas I wouldn’t even bother opening a new window on my screen to watch them surf the Wave Ranch.

Were you a hassler when you were sorta on the tour? 

No. I was nervous and jumpy, and the only contest I won I paddled way up the beach and surfed alone.