Just in: Kelly Slater screwed by fine print!

Damn this ugly ugly system!

Beware the corporation or limited liability partnership that dares cross Kelly Slater in these his salad years. While theoretically still on tour, the winningest surfer of all time has sure been acting like a retiree lately, using Instagram as his cane and beating the figurative heads of commerce. Righting wrongs. Saving money. You recall just days ago when he complained about ultra low cost local Australian air shuttle JetStar’s baggage policy.

A snippet:

Apparently the people checking you in get a kickback on what they charge you at the end of the month. Overweight charges equate to about $.50/ounce! Just paid over $200 MEL – OOL for baggage, more than the price of my ticket… again. I’ll never learn. Just FYI, not an April Fool’s joke.

Hmm. Bummer. Like all ultra low cost local air shuttles. I did not track JetStar’s share price after the whack but I certainly will check RedSpot car rental.

Kelly’s next target appears to have unkind penalties in the small print if the driver happens to get issued a traffic ticket. The 11x World Champ took a picture of the fine print that reads:

Please note a $55 infringement processing fee will be charged to the credit card provided at the…

We cannot read the rest because of the large red circle and commentary that reads:

So it cost #RedSpot car rental $55 to send the transport dept an email with my details? Hmm.

Hmm is right. Kelly Slater is now out $200 Australian for board bag fees on JetStar and another $55 Australian for rental car ticket processing fees.

Damn this ugly ugly system. Should we start a GoFundMe?

"There's 4897 of us out there. Go Mick!"
"There's 4897 of us out there. Go Mick!"

Revealed: Almost 5000 people watch pro surf!

The World Surf League’s move to Facebook could not be coming at a more inopportune time. The social media giant is caught in a massive information sharing scandal that is rocking public confidence and share price. Things have gotten so bad that CEO Mark Zuckerberg is headed before congress to explain how 78 odd million people had their personal details gleaned by the firm Cambridge Analytica.

78 million is an almost unfathomable number really. 5 thousand is much easier to comprehend which is a good thing because almost that many people watched the final between Mick Fanning and Italo Ferreira yesterday.

4900 to be exact.

It is one of the gorgeous things about Facebook. Unlike the World Surf League’s app or website, the exact number of viewers is right there for all to see and for Cambridge Analytica to purchase.

4900 professional surf fans watching and Mick Fanning and Italo Ferreira bobbed, weaved and made lower “h” history. The heat was certainly the most hyped of the year what with Mick’s Sainthood Committee in full swing. Much media pounced on the narrative and steered readerships toward the event. Every other Instagram post, too, encouraged a live witnessing of history.


And let’s assume for a moment that four times as many people watched the heat somewhere other than Facebook. Hell, let’s go buck wild and assume that ten times as many people did.


Does that seem like a big number? It doesn’t to me either and that is a buck wild figure which makes me very happy. For all of the posturing and posing and re-branding and press-releasing I could buy every single professional surf fan in this entire world a beer.

I do believe this will be BeachGrit’s next/first marketing campaign.

Very achievable. Very doable. I’d like to but every single professional surf fan in the entire world a beer and furnish them with love.

Savage: The quartering of Zeke Lau!

The name calling has been fierce!

The Zeke Lau and John John Florence affair is old news now, already picked over by the best in the game. In case you were camping in the woods and missed, Zeke Lau surfed against John John Florence in an early round heat at Bells and paddled very aggressively, throwing John John off his game and winning. Commentary was instant and harshly against Zeke. “Fuck that guy…” “rude” “no place for that in surfing…” etc.

An amateur sociologist could have observed before easily declaring, “Well, surfers are racist. Any time a person of brown skin (Zeke, Brazilians) pushes back the establishment (blonde, blue) reacts by reminding the offender he isn’t altogether welcome.” But surfers are too vacuous to be racist. So what? Why the near unanimous derision of Zeke Lau?

For answers we must travel back to Torquay where ancient grudge breaks to new mutiny. And what is this ancient grudge? Jocks vs. surfers of course! Nearly every comment I’ve read this week mirror this one here from Storm Boy. “Zeke is the worst kind of bully, an over-swole knucklehead jock without the guts to intimidate off his own back, instead paying a grown man to tell him who is weak enough to push (paddle) over.”

Over-swole knucklehead jock.

Jocks vs. surfers, fighting in the Garden of Eden, fighting in olde Egypt, fighting during the Industrial Revolution and fighting at Bells. Where did the enmity first begin? Who knows but it is certainly eternal. The jock with his organization and team muscle head. The surfer with his uniqueness and individuality and lack of roolz.

All fine and good but I am still confused. The viciousness directed toward Zeke Lau for surfing like a jock, for being a jock, seemed… uninformed. Hasn’t the World Surf League been pushing and pushing and pushing “surfing” into “sport” since its most recent remake? Don’t more and more and more professional surfers see themselves as “athletes?”

All Zeke did was complete the circle and then you drew and quartered him.

So which do you want? Is professional surfing a sport or is it a gentleman’s game?

italo Ferreira bells
The Brazilian screwfoot Italo Ferriera wins the Rip Curl Pro against four-times bell shaker Mick Fanning. Three thousand eight hundred fans watch the final on Facebook.

Bells: “Italo maroons Fanning in front of adoring fans!”

The fairytale ends. Justice served.

Hasn’t the little petri dish of pro surf fandom been absolutely fizzing with outrage over the Zeke/John John paddle battle? What a kerfuffle! I think we should discuss (briefly), before we run a rope through the eyes of a compelling finals day and string it up the flagpole. Seeing as it is likely to be the only thing we remember from Bells 2018 once the St Mick hype slowly dies down. 

Rolling the videotape it was John John who made the move to paddle to the inside of Zeke, and Zeke who blocked. John then let a set wave go through unridden before Zeke took the next. It was a display of aggressive intent but it hardly impeded Florence from riding a wave. What it clearly did was rattle John John to such an extent that he fell on every wave.

It revealed a curious fragility, did it not?

Even though John has created this perfect little fairy tale world with World Titles and yachts cruising the outer islands and supportive golden-skinned friends and fresh veggies grown in the backyard and a friendly father figure of a coach, even given all that there is a tremendous brittleness in the face of unbridled aggression.

Sometime during the heat my wife came in and asked, “Why are you blue?”

I looked up and realised I’d stopped breathing and was in fact being asphyxiated by the plumes of mawkish sentimentality which had filled up the room. It was like trying to breath through Black Francis’ “ten million pounds of sludge from New York and New Jersey”. And now Fanning was against Pat Gudauskas in the semi’s at Bells! He’d barely surfed a decent wave at more than half throttle!

It rings a bell. We remember how Kelly crumbled in the face of aggression from Andy Irons. What a beautiful psychological conundrum to observe in the Champ as he rolls into Margarets. Where to go? Fight fire with fire ? But he doesn’t have any of the psy-ops warfare that Kelly had and has. Question: What does a coach actually do?

QuarterFinal one between Gudang and Michel Bourez kicked off in clean four-to-six-foot Bells Bowl under a funereal gloom. Even though Joe Turpel called it “already a classic” it was obvious it was another one of those days where there was something in the water. Bourez was awful and Pat G, the Hurdy Gurdy man, all limbs flailing and hyped up energy spaz pumping wildly across the Bells Bowl was only marginally better. What happened to understated California style? It made my eyes hurt to watch it. Pat made the semis with a six and five but he did remind me I still had a Gudang Guram left over in the shed so I went and smoked it and got set for the avalanche of sentiment to come for the Owen/Fanning QF. 

Fanning was Fanning Lite and Owen was bad. Bafflingly, unbelievably bad. I couldn’t imagine anything surfing worse than a new born Giraffe with Foetal Alcohol Syndrome…  thought that would safely be the nadir of the contest as far as needing a metaphor for bad surfing went. Maybe Owen was channeling the three-legged twin brother of the crippled giraffe? He was tepid and hesitant and uncoordinated and incredibly unsavvy. Four minutes to go and he gifted Mick a lovely inside runner that Mick dutifully turned into a score. If it wasn’t for Owen’s impeccable integrity an objective observer would be inclined to be asking some very, very awkward questions about Owen Wright’s performance. 

Sometime during the heat my wife came in and asked, “Why are you blue?” 

I looked up and realised I’d stopped breathing and was in fact being asphyxiated by the plumes of mawkish sentimentality which had filled up the room. It was like trying to breath through Black Francis’ “ten million pounds of sludge from New York and New Jersey”. And now Fanning was against Pat Gudauskas in the semi’s at Bells! He’d barely surfed a decent wave at more than half throttle!

Italo dropped the hammer on Zeke Lau, rendering tactics irrelevant and in demonstrating what pro surfing could be and should be in 2018 effectively passed  brutal judgement on his peers and the CT so far this year. His damning indictment left the charge of mediocrity stamped on the foreheads of a majority of the Top 34. There’s been a continuing error parroted by surfers and commentators alike that the “criteria has changed” this year. The criteria is exactly the same. Judges have decreed that the levels of performance with respect to the criteria have to be much, much higher to get a good score. Effectively they have changed the answer to the question: “What is good surfing?” It is no longer the conservative muck dished up for far too much of the last 5 years.

In the Biological sciences a predator is known to identify it’s prey via a mental representation known as a search image. To determine the answer to the question, what is good surfing, judges had to develop their own search image; their own template made flesh. That template has now been given a name (as it was for Kelly Slater, and Dane Reynolds and Mick Fanning)  and it is Italo Ferreira and that makes me so hap. So so hap.

Medina waited a lifetime to kick off in the final QF against Fred Morais. Just when it looked like he too had quaffed the negative Kool-Aid that was starting to get a bad whiff about it he unleashed a monster combo of perfect backside turns and then backed it up. My god, I thought, Medina now has the best and most perfect flow on Tour. His high volume boards require exactly zero spaz pumping and intra-turn corrections. Can you Medina haters come to terms with the truth of that?

The semis went as expected. Fanning easily accounted for Gudang with his best surfing of the event. It was close to vintage, classic Fanning. The torque, the wraps, the quasimodo pose claims after banging shut the end section. It was all there. The fairytale ending was looming.

Italo was just too good for Medina, and did you know Medina has never bested him man on man? Me neither. 

Before we hit the Final I received an email detailing a new Sophie G collab with Air Asia (terrific airline, very cute hostesses and stewards) whereby Air Asia was going to deliver a prize for the biggest air every comp on the Australian leg. Bet you can’t guess who won at Snapper. Ready? Sally Fitzgibbon. True! Any ideas who won at Bells? I cannot recall a single made air. Maybe that tail-free huck from Griff. 

The Final was very good viewing live. I thought that. Millions of Victorians and other Australians also packed the beach and thought so too. Can we assume the 3600 watching on Facebook Live also enjoyed? I say yes.

Italo looked wobbly as the onshore wind put gurgle through the lineup but carried a slender lead into the mid way point of the heat. Fanning caught the second wave of a set and turned on the torque, delivering emotional candy to a crowd hungry for the fairytale finish. He followed up with another scoring ride and took the lead. The final seven minutes were tense, my heart was thudding, 100 beats per minute as Italo stroked into a set. He went big, then bigger and bigger before falling as the high tide back wash intersected his closing move. It was enough for a lead change. 

Italo struck again with the best wave of the Final and two minutes to go found Fanning, St Mick, marooned in front of an ocean of adoring fans staring at an unyielding southern Ocean needing a mid-range seven. 

A minute and change to go and a set approached, which drove the crowd into a screaming, whistling frenzy. The chimera of a wave dissolved into nothingness as Fanning paddled into it and the hopes and dreams of all save a few traitorous surf journalists went with it. 

The fairytale had ended, justice had been served. Italo gave Fanning a long, long embrace. He hugged him and didn’t let go and for the first time this event I found myself with a lump in the throat. 

rip curl sold
Whatever Rip Curl founders Brian Singer and Doug Warbrick get for their biz, it's been an almost-fifty-year odyssey. The pair leave Rip Curl in fabulous shape, lean, profitable and with a fine roster of team riders. Here, Mick Fanning and Mason Ho. | Photo: Rip Curl

Rumour: Rip Curl Sold to Sydney Family!

Fanning retires and so, maybe, do Rip Curl founders!

Are you one of the 2,800 Facebook fans currently watching the Rip Curl Pro live from Bells Beach? 

If so, the rumour that Rip Curl has just sold to an as-yet-unnamed Sydney family might be of at least vague interest. Rip Curl, if it needs to be said, is the wetsuit and clothing company created in 1969 by the shaper Doug ‘Claw’ Warbrick, science teacher Brian Singer and another pal Alan Green, who would leave a year later to start Quiksilver thereby giving Brian and Claw an equal split of the biz. 

Earlier this century, Rip Curl would flirt with turning the company public, hiring various, what do yo wanna call ‘em “experts”, but flinched as it watched the catastrophic trajectories of Billabong and Quiksilver. It ain’t no secret that Brian and Claw were open to sell privately for a number just shy shy of half-a-billion dollars. 

Six years ago, Rip Curl hired Bank of America Merrill Lynch to look into a sale of the biz, either a piece or all of it. Nobody bit at that price, a bullish ten times earnings.

And last year, as reported by the Australian Financial Review, the pair of rich-listers “appointed local independent adviser Gresham and US-based boutique RW Baird to run a sale process…While Rip Curl has fared much better than its larger rivals by sticking to its surfing roots, ASIC accounts show Rip Curl has not been completely immune to the choppy conditions that contributed to the near demise of Billabong and Quiksilver.

“Rip Curl’s earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation fell 30 per cent to $35.5 million in 2016, the last year for which accounts are available, despite a 7 per cent rise in sales to $476.5 million. This followed flat earnings in 2015 and a 35 per cent increase in EBITDA in 2014… Nevertheless, Rip Curl is doing better than Billabong, which earned $51 million from continuing operations in 2017 on sales of $1 billion.”

But yesterday… yesterday… according to a BeachGrit source, one of the founders offhandedly mentioned to a member of the public that Rip Curl had just been sold “to a Sydney family.”

As of 2013, Brian and Claw, both well into their seventies, still retained seventy-two percent of the biz, which they leave in great shape. Lean, profitable and with a fine roster of surfers.

More as it comes.