Jack Robinson
First thought, 'How the fuck is that guy not on Tour?' Seriously, can someone explain to me how the fuck Jack Robinson is not on Tour. A thousand journeyman flowers can bloom but we can't get Jack in the big leagues? | Photo: WSL/Cestari

Margs, Day 1: “How is Jack Robbo not on tour?”

A thousand journeyman flowers can bloom but we can't get Jack in the big leagues?

Did you get caught out by the start of the comp today/tonight like me? Wasn’t it weird. I got no notification from the WSL app and was right down a worm hole reading comments on a story about a canuck who carved up a deer leg in front of a bunch of protesting vegans when I flicked over to the WSL site and caught Jack Robinson doing an absolute number on eight-foot North Point. A number that turned out to be the pinnacle performance of the day.

First thought, ‘How the fuck is that guy not on Tour?’ Seriously, can someone explain to me how the fuck Jack Robinson is not on Tour. A thousand journeyman flowers can bloom but we can’t get Jack in the big leagues?

Second thought, is Kieren Perrow starting to look a little bit gaunt these days, maybe a bit…haunted? It’s not like his superior skills at determining when to run and when to go on hold, and whatever else the Commissioner does are going to be in high demand at the Wave Ranch. Ergo, the WSL Commissioner looks like being one of those jobs like chimney sweeps and bus drivers that will be steamrolled by the techno-utopian avalanche. 

Jack gave two pressers, both classic. The first, in a baritone, when he declared “It’s not toddler North Point” and the second, in a falsetto where I could not make out what he was saying because I was so stunned at the pitch. It was like watching Barry Gibb from the Bee Gees warming up at a sound check. This is obviously a very loosely wound cat.

Eight-foot North Point is a hectic deal, if you haven’t surfed. It’s no wave for gimps. Keanu Asing made a deep one and backed it up to make double figures for the first time this year and make a heat. Prediction: Asing to win the Surf Ranch CT with sterling meat and potatoes surfing after Filipe Toledo falls on both waves attempting 15-foot alley-oops. Asing fails to requalify and comes back 2020 as Olympic Coach for Team USA.

Heat 3: Jack Robbo was back against Owen and Miguel Pupo. It was finally made clear why he was surfing North Point before the comp started. It was a repercharge heat from the Trials to see who would replace the injured Caio Ibelli. Jack just went straight back to doing what he was doing before, completely toying with the wave and making it look delectably attainable for the average gimp. Easy win. How can a guy not even on Tour come out and suddenly look like a red hot favourite to win the event? How can the best in the world suddenly be made to look second-rate by a guy who can’t get out of the QS?

Sophie, fix the broken QS.

You were pining to see John Florence in round four against Mikey Wright and Wade Carmichael. A very big match-up. Crucial heat for the champ’s confidence. Peter Mel said John looked “gritty” but when he strode down the beach he looked more nervous to me, like he had the weight of the world on his shoulders. And that Le Rouge et Le Noir board spray just seems a bit downbeat. Ten minutes in, John sat motionless out the back. Remember how the “old” JJF, when he was a kid would do that? Just sit there, staring out to sea. Then he seemed to snap back to reality, maybe the coache’s plan suddenly impinged on his cognition. He looked weak and shaky on his first couple of rides. 

Mikey Wright hassled him a bit and with priority took a bomb that destroyed him. That was the turning point. John relaxed and started to surf, pounding away on some deeper tubes and adding deep rail work to the end section. He came off looking every inch the cucumber but he looked vulnerable despite declaring in the presser that he hadn’t thought of Mikey Wright at all. That statement lacked credibility and his mental state was far more revealed when he said that in the break between Bells and Margaret River he’d “figured some things out”. He surfed like a man struggling with mind noise and lack of confidence until he finally snapped into the reality of where he was. Eight-foot barrelling surf. 

A tetchy Julian Wilson made a promise after his heat win “not to be timid”. And in the final heat of the day a herd of freesurfers seemed to mock Filipe Toledo’s ability to “hold the space”. He did not rise to the occasion. He did not hold the space.

What a weird sport.

The highlight of the day comes from a wildcard who gets a second chance in a heat before the main event even kicks off and then makes the rest of the field look like Chris Hitchens’ “herd of anti’s in search of a climax”.

Tell me again how Jack Robbo is not on Tour?

Margaret River Men’s Pro Round 1 Results:
Heat 1: 
Keanu Asing (HAW) 10.70, Matt Wilkinson (AUS) 5.33, Connor O’Leary (AUS) 4.64
Heat 2: Jordy Smith (ZAF) 12.17, Ian Gouveia (BRA) 10.67, Tomas Hermes (BRA) 2.54
Heat 3: Jack Robinson (AUS) 13.94, Owen Wright (AUS) 4.03, Miguel Pupo (BRA) 2.40
Heat 4: John John Florence (HAW) 14.60, Mikey Wright (AUS) 11.87, Wade Carmichael (AUS) 8.50
Heat 5: Gabriel Medina (BRA) 10.16, Kael Walsh (AUS) 8.96, Joan Duru (FRA) 1.97
Heat 6: Julian Wilson (AUS) 10.56, Jesse Mendes (BRA) 10.00, Dave Delroy-Carr (AUS) 3.40
Heat 7: Filipe Toledo (BRA) 6.14, Conner Coffin (USA) 5.87, Michael February (ZAF) 2.57

Margaret River Men’s Pro Remaining Round 1 Matchups:
Heat 8: Adriano de Souza (BRA), Kanoa Igarashi (JPN), Yago Dora (BRA)
Heat 9: Adrian Buchan (AUS), Griffin Colapinto (USA), Willian Cardoso (BRA)
Heat 10: Italo Ferreira (BRA),  Sebastian Zietz (HAW), Michael Rodrigues (BRA)
Heat 11: Kolohe Andino (USA), Frederico Morais (PRT), Ezekiel Lau (HAW)
Heat 12: Joel Parkinson (AUS), Michel Bourez (PYF), Patrick Gudauskas (USA)

Thirteen bucks will buy you commercial rights to this photo, now, formally, the most popular surf photo in the world. But who's the surfer? The photographer? The wave? | Photo: istock

Mystery: World’s Most Popular Surf Photo!

Solve the greatest puzzle in surf and win prize!

Have you ever wondered what the most enduring surf shot in the world might be? Is it a Brewer of Bunker Spreckels?

A Todd Glaser wavepool shot?

Andy Irons at Teahupoo or Tom Curren at Off The Wall by  Tom Servais? 

Nothing so obvious, of course.

The one surf photo that has dominated photo agencies, that blazes fire and foam in ad campaigns spruiking medicine and wave-pools and betting agencies and accessories and even on the cover of a book is a mysterious shot of an almost-tubed unnamed surfer by an unnamed photographer.

It is a photograph neither lovely nor noble but it does have one important characteristic.

It’s cheap.

Thirteen bucks will get you, and your company, full commercial use of this image.

As seen here:

world's most popular surf photo
Here, in a Bali surf shop advertising the surf accessories company Ocean and Earth. Photo by Chris Binns whose Facebook post caused a waterfall of appearances of the photo. 


As an inducement to visit Indonesian medical clinics. Photo by Peter Neely. 


At Denpasar airport! Photo by Kieran Burke

And in an artist’s impression of an Australian wavepool.

The first time I saw it, I figured it was an ordinary shot of either Phil Macdonald (because of the O and E ad) and, later, revised it to be a very, very bad shot of Dave Rastovich, perhaps an out of the noted Bill Morris. (“Not me,” said Billy.)

A very brief search found it on Getty Images, where you can view the entire series of tube avoidance. 

The question posed to the reader is this:

Who is the surfer?

Who is the photographer?

A sleeveless BeachGrit t-shirt (cut so it reveals enough skin for gals to be “sexy” but not so much as to appear “slutty” or “whorish” and for men it shows the curve of the upper pectoral and any protrusion of the latissimus dorsi) sent to your hovel to the first reader who obliterates the mystery.

Trending: Surfing officially “new golf!”

Buttdarters weep openly.

Cyclists all over the world were crying into their lattes this morning after receiving the bad news. For the past several years, cycling has claimed the coveted title of The New Golf. But now, the lycra-clad horde has been relegated by none other than surfing. If you imagine surfing as the purview of bohemians with beards, think again.

Surfing’s new status as the go-to pastime for rich men with too much time on their hands comes thanks to the efforts of eleven-time world champion Kelly Slater. It’s not surprising that Slater would chase the New Golf title for surfing, given his long-standing love for actual golf, the kind played on manicured lawns in scenic places. Chasing balls around the grass with a titanium stick has long been a favorite pastime of the world champion.

On Monday Slater cemented surfing’s status by inviting two professional golfers to play in his now-famous wave pool. According to the World Surf League, Rafael Cabrera-Bello and Adam Scott were the lucky golfers invited. They described the experience as “mind-blowing.” Golf, surfing, it’s all the same now.

Cycling lured the men who martini with promises of fitness and shiny carbon toys. You too can have sculpted, shaved quads, and wear tight, stretchy pants, cycling promised. You, well-off man with time and money to burn, can drop $20k on a shiny new carbon bicycle. You can even buy a better bicycle than your buddy and flaunt it on the next lunch ride. He’ll be so jealous.

But too bad you wasted all that money, because cycling is totally over. Now, it’s all about surfing. You’re going to have to trade your lycra for neoprene and your carbon composite bicycles for decidedly retro fiber glass surfboards. Don’t fret! You can still have carbon fins, so it’s not totally over for you. Instead of the joy of the open road, angry drivers, and winning the lunch ride, you’ll get to salt water up your nose and angry locals in your face.

If you really want to impress your rich bros, you can book a private session at Slater’s wave pool. Because he was so determined to transform surfing into the new golf, Slater built a wave pool. To be sure, Lemoore is considerably less exotic than cycling the Passo di Gavia or dropping a hole-in-one in Carmel. But really, anyone can do those things.

The wave pool is exclusive. And you, man with more money than sense, you love exclusive. You have no idea how to surf, but you didn’t know a derailleur from a doornail when you bought your first bike. Your bullet-proof confidence will serve you well in your fledgling pursuit of surfing stoke.

Even better you can quit shaving your legs, which your newly acquired trophy wife hates anyway. She also says she hates your spindly T-Rex arms, so you better start paddling as soon as possible. And you won’t make that annoying clicky-clacky sound when you visit your local coffee shop. You’ll be wearing flip flops and ordering a whole milk latte with extra chia seeds now.

Cyclists must now sadly accept that they’re no longer number one. Cycling, as past tense as Eisenhower. Surfing is the new golf — and if you don’t like it, blame Slater.

Bodysurfer pictured doing a trick.
Bodysurfer pictured doing a trick.

Da Hui event replaced by Bodysurfing Classic!

The Backdoor Shootout meets same fate as the Pipe Masters!

The city managers of Honolulu sure are up to some odd tricks. You remember the major brouhaha from a few months back wherein the World Surf League dreamed of beginning its season at Pipeline instead of ending and therefore applied for a slot in January as opposed to December. The City of Honolulu said, “No.” And I can’t recall the specific reasons but do remember something about missing deadlines.

As the dust settled, anyhow, the League let it slip that they are not the only ones having trouble securing permits. Da Hui, it was whispered, had lost its Backdoor Shootout too.

“Bullshit” I thought and promptly phoned Da Hui co-founder and all around good guy Eddie Rothman.

He indeed confirmed that there were some issues and did so with a laugh. You should re-read again here but taste an excerpt first.

They take it away every year. Every year we go back and get it. Every single year. They took away the Duke Kahanamoku Classic in favor of a bodysurfing event and they don’t care. The State of Hawaii does not care, at all, about the Hawaiian people and this is what they do every chance they get. You can fill out a permit in Hawaii…they don’t care if you lie or whatever you do. Last year the director, how’s this, she took away our contest. She said we didn’t get the permit on time, right? So the independent council came and deemed her actions an erroneous abuse of power and made her sign the permit back to us. After getting the permit back last year from the independent council she went and took it again. They’re a band of idiots. They are so stupid. And then again this year. We have this happen every year.

The idea of a bodysurfing event rolling over a surf event surprised me but the city managers of Honolulu must love bodysurfing because they have done it again, this time officially giving the Backdoor Shootout’s window to Alan Lennard and his Pipeline Bodysurfing Classic. Hawaii News Now picks up the story.

The city’s Parks and Recreation Department has denied a permit for a popular North Shore surf contest that highlighted local surfers on epic waves.

Da Hui and its supporters are furious after the Backdoor Shootout was bumped from next year’s roster at Pipeline. The department gave the nod to a small bodysurfing contest that scored higher on its application.

Da Hui went to Instagram to complain that the permit was going to a single individual for a half-day contest. The man, Alan Lennard, plans to run the Pipeline Bodysurfing Classic, last held in 2011.

“I had no choice but to apply for multiple time slots to see if I could regain a time slot on the Ehukai calendar,” said Lennard.

The reaction on social media has been swift, with the majority supporting Da Hui. But both sides aren’t happy with the permitting process. Right now, Da Hui’s spokeswoman said the decisions are made by a panel of three non-surfers in the Parks Department. She wants the panelists to have more knowledge than what’s on paper.

“You actually have to go there and learn and kinda take into consideration what these contests are about and who it directly affects,” said Da Hui’s Mahina Chillingworth.

“The rules are complicated. They’re confusing. And my assessment is I don’t even see how they can really work,” said Lennard.

The city got 26 applications for contests next season, with 23 of them vying for Pipeline at around the same time. The Parks Department recently denied a schedule change from the World Surf League, which then threatened to pull out of Hawaii.

A spokesman for Mayor Kirk Caldwell said he’s still moving ahead to form an advisory committee of surfers and company representatives to create new guidelines to avoid future conflicts. But both sides are skeptical.

“I understand that the rules are going to be changed come 2019 and ’20, but what are we going to do right now?” said Chillingworth.

“He’s a lame duck mayor, so I’m not sure if this really will happen,” said Lennard.

Da Hui is appealing the decision. Caldwell’s spokesman said he will allow the process to continue through the Parks Department.

And I wonder if the World Surf League and Da Hui will team up to show the city how things work? If I was in charge, I think I would just paddle the Shootout out while the bodysurfers are in the water doing their event. Fun for everyone! But what would you do? Are you Team City or Team Country?

P.S. While searching for images of bodysurfing the below popped up. Apparently taking this sort of picture is called “bodysurfing” now. Who knew?

Willy Morris
Classic Willy Morris. Garish paint job on surfboard, good looks, power. | Photo: @warrenbolster

RIP WIlly Morris: “The opposite of savage!”

Surf farewells Tom Curren's early rival, the big, the beautiful Willy Morris… 

Yesterday, the noted Californian surfer Willy Morris, who was fifty-seven years old, died, which in turn led to an outpouring of social media tributes.

Kelly Slater said, “I really loved this guy and really looked up at him from a young age. He was Tom Curren’s biggest rival as a teenager. Tom’s dad even named his dog after Willy.”

Big ol Willy, who turned to fishing and repping after the pro surf game, was a star of Quiksilver’s Performers movies and, with his beefy good looks, an exciting figure in advertising. One surfer who competed against Willy is the Encyclopedia of Surfing’s Matt Warshaw. 

I recorded this little back and forth with Matt about Willy this morning.

BeachGrit: So, tell me a little about Willy. I remember, as a kid, a clear-eyed, freckled-nose beautiful young thing living in Perth and amazed by the world beyond my bedroom walls, this savage tearing it up in movies such as The Performers. He was a very good surfer, yes?

Willy was the opposite of savage. He was the nicest, warmest guy you’d ever want to meet. But, yes, he was a very good surfer.

I was talking on the phone before lunch with Jamie Brisick, about how when people die, everybody of course says nice things, even if the person who just passed was mostly a prick. The point being that when somebody like Willy dies, it’s so hard to convey the degree to which he was a warmer and more generous human being then pretty much all of the rest of us.

And ever so big!

He was medium-big as a kid, then just kept growing into his late teens and early 20s. The bigger Willy got, the better he surfed. Had a back foot made of solid lead. Surfed a little like Ian Cairns, but mostly I think Willy rode like this guy we all admired at Malibu, named Allen Sarlo. Allen wasn’t tall, but really thick, built like a linebacker, and was a graceful, ridiculously powerful surfer. He still is. Allen is still riding waves from Third Point all the way through the pier. Anyway, in the 1970s nobody at Malibu could touch Allen in terms of power. Then one summer, kind of out of the blue, I think this was 1980, Willy was crushing lips like Allen. It was great. He was still just a kid!


Did you guys surf against each other? What kinda competitor was he? Did he tear your head off?

In 1974, my last year of WSA Boys division, I got a letter saying I’d finished the year ranked #1. Then two weeks later I got another letter saying, oops, the Ventura district just ran two make-up contests, Willy won both, and he bumped me off as champ for the year. Which pissed me off not only because I was never #1, before or after, at anything, but Willy was 18 months younger, so I got beat by a child. Except you couldn’t be mad at Willy. It was impossible. I was talking on the phone before lunch with Jamie Brisick, about how when people die, everybody of course says nice things, even if the person who just passed was mostly a prick. The point being that when somebody like Willy dies, it’s so hard to convey the degree to which he was a warmer and more generous human being then pretty much all of the rest of us.

How far did he go as a pro surfer? Top sixteen?

No, I don’t think he even got close. Willy wasn’t a killer. He liked competing, but didn’t get off on destroying people in heats. That, and during the early- and mid-‘80s, when Willy was on tour, so many events were held in small crap waves, and he was just too big to have a chance against the little fellas. But he won the Katin Pro, I think in 1984, and beat most of the top tour guys to get there. That would have been his competitive highlight for sure.


What will you remember Willy for, as?

Willy and his big brother Steve were really tight, and the whole Morris family was into surfing; they’d load up the family van and drive to Mexico for a week or two. In the ‘70s that was so unusual, and so wonderful. I guess that was more common in Australia and Hawaii, but in California back then you almost never saw it. For the rest of us, surfing-wise, it was like our parents didn’t exist. For Willy and Steve, the surfing experience was very much a family thing, and thinking of Willy today it occurred to me just how lucky he was to have parents like that, and how the whole family in that sense was way ahead of their time. Willy told me once that surfing was never a rebellious thing for him, and that he loved that he got to share it with his folks.


He was fifty-five, fifty-six, same as you, do moments like this make you pause and consider your own mortality? If you were to vanish tomorrow, would you be happy with your life?

I’m good at dancing around it. I tell myself that if I’d been born in any other century I’d be 10 years gone already, things like that. Death hasn’t taken out anybody yet from my inner circle. Both of my parents are still alive. I walk around these days practically holding my breath, because I’ve been so lucky up to this point. It won’t last. As for myself, yes, at this point, age 57, I could not be happier. I’m a decent husband, and a good father. I got way more than my share of kicks in years past, and I’m proud of my work. I can’t think about dying, I can’t even imagine it, because my son is just eight years old. Raising him is the only really important thing to do. Apart from that, yes, the boxes are all checked.

Willy Morris, 1962 – 2018 from ENCYCLOPEDIA of SURFING on Vimeo.