Podcast: Where the tour goes to die!

Australia is wonderful but too much of a good thing is still too much!

I don’t know what my problem is but the 2018 edition of the World Surf League Championship Tour is leaving me very very cold. I don’t know if it is because shoulder surgery has kept me out of the water for two months (and counting) or if it is because Pipeline has been sacrificed or if it is because I want my Kelly Slater but I am going to blame Australia.

I love that big ‘ol racist continent more than any place on earth but come on for pity’s sake. Three events? In a row? We start at Snapper all bright eye’d and excited. The unimpeded by ozone sun shines its ample light on pre-cancerous boys and girls. Julian Wilson exemplifies. Then we drag down to Bells where grey the grey of a child molester’s over-washed undershirt colors the sky, the water, the people’s faces as they empty their pockets to watch a hunchback generate speed. Mick Fanning exemplifies. Then we drag across the entire Simpson Desert to a wine town called Margaret River. It is beautiful n stuff and as wild as a Coffey Sister but come on. I suppose Jack Robinson exemplifies but three events? In a row?

So I’m cold. I’m bored. The only things putting a pep in my step are Longtom’s contest wraps. I don’t know how he does it, to be honest, and someday a first edition The Collected Works of Longtom 2017-2020 will be sold at auction for $12,000.

The same will not be true for this podcast here but it is, anyhow, worth a listen. The same will not be true for this podcast here but it is, anyhow, worth a listen. David Lee Scales and I chat about sex tapes, mostly, with a little bit of Italo Ferriera thrown in for good measure.

Near Beran island Marty found a righthander, which he called Nirvana ("The best thing I've ever seen") and "like a typical human being when I first came here I sat on the beach and thought, I'll put a treehouse here, a wharf here, I could build bungalows here. And I said to myself, 'What sort of fuckwit are you? You spend your whole life looking for Nirvana, you find it, and the first thing you want to do is destroy it.''

Wow: Martin Daly’s Pacific “Alt-Universe!”

The surf explorer's final great discovery… 

Does the name Martin Daly ring a bell? You might remember him as the skipper of the Indies Trader, the forty-five-year-old former salvage boat Marty used to explore the Mentawai Islands, revealing the remarkable archipelago slowly over a decade. First with Rip Curl’s The Search movie series and peaking, I think, with Jeff Hornbaker’s No Destination and The Hole at the end of the nineties.

The first time I heard of Marty and the Mentawais was in the early part of that decade when I saw a handful of film snapshots of Martin Potter and Tom Carroll on the biggest, cleanest waves I’d seen outside of Hawaii.

Fifteen years later the joint was overrun with charter boats and, now, the flotilla resembles a navy fleet as it steams from wave to wave, each captain pressured to give his paying clientele some sort of profound surf experience. It still has its moments but it ain’t nothing like it was when Marty and his pals first came to town.

“It’s getting more and more depressing. The rainforests are cut down, the reefs are dying again. It’s an absolute shitfight,” says Marty, “I saw a proposal for a multi-billion dollar project in southern Siberut (the biggest of the Mentawai islands, which are off Sumatra) that had ferris wheels and water slides. Like Benoa in Bali on growth hormones. And they’re trying to turn the area around Telescopes and North Sipora (the smallest of the Mentawai islands) into Kuta. You think people would learn a lesson. No, they don’t.”

As for Marty being largely responsible for its popularity, he says, “Maybe at some stage in the early days I was partially to blame, but my responsibility to the exploitation of the Mentawais ended in 1995. I went back to the Mentawais after The Crossing (A Quiksilver-funded around-the-world promo trip on the Indies Trader, from 1998 to 2005) but I felt like I’d had my turn. And this place…this place… kept luring me back.”

Marty, who is now sixty one, is talking about his little slice of the Marshall Islands, specifically Beran Island, a twenty-hour sail from Majuro, the republic’s capital city.

“I know what the ocean and the reefs are supposed to look like. I grew up diving pristine reefs, reefs without names when I was a kid in Townsville in Queensland. When I was on The Crossing I went everywhere, dove everywhere and I saw that ninety-five percent of the world’s reefs were impacted. Two thirds were actually gone or dead. Put your head underwater here and you see what’s supposed to be here.”

Near Beran island he found a righthander, which Marty called Nirvana (“The best thing I’ve ever seen”) and “like a typical human being when I first came here I sat on the beach and thought, I’ll put a treehouse here, a wharf here, I could build bungalows here. And I said to myself, ‘What sort of fuckwit are you? You spend your whole life looking for Nirvana, you find it, and the first thing you want to do is destroy it.”

Eventually, he decided, yeah, he’ll do something but he’d learn from lessons past and make something he calls “a shining light of responsible development.”

So he built an off-the-grid lodge for sixteen people, powered by wind turbines and solar panels. All of the rubbish the lodge creates is processed and all non-biodegradable refuse is taken back to Majuro’s dump furnaces and its recycling centre. He grows watermelons, papaya, tomatoes, kale, catches a ton of fish and even keeps a few hogs.

I asked Marty how much the joint is worth and he says it has a valuation, now, of around five million dollars.

Ain't she sweet.
Ain’t she sweet.

He says his great trial is making a business while sticking to core values, “which is a compromise but hopefully we can walk a line down the middle between exploration and exploitation.”

Marty looks out the window, which he tells me via sat phone. There’s been no wind here for two weeks and the surf has been four-foot and firing.

“You never get sick of it. If you were standing here you’d go, ‘Oh my god, mate.’ It’s everything a bloke could want: great surf, great diving, the reefs are alive, it’s not fishing it’s catching, so we never run out of fresh fish. It’s stupid.”

If you click here you can examine the lodge’s rooms…well, suites… and here for pricing, although it is password protected so hit up Marty via the contact link for the password.

“Password protected so the great unwashed don’t go looking at all the surf breaks,” he says.

Marty says when he does leave the Marshalls now, which he does periodically, he finds the State’s interference in our lives confronting. “I hate leaving this place. I feel like the guy on Apocalypse Now (Colonel Kurtz). This is my universe and I’m in charge of it. No one is screwing with me. You don’t realise how much you get screwed on a daily basis until you’re not screwed at all. The TSA making me take my shoes off. That’s confronting. Here I’m completely independent of the universe.

“Fuck,” says Marty, “I’ve died and gone to heaven.

Patagonia dealt with a crisis back east: a decision by President Trump, the great un-doer, to shrink some of his predecessor's national monuments. The pledge was a first for an American president; limiting the size of monuments like Bears Ears in Utah would mean the largest reduction of protected land in U.S. history. Which is what led Patagonia, in early December, to change its home page to a stark message: “The President Stole Your Land.”

Long read: Patagonia vs Donald Trump!

"We have an evil government," says Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard… 

One of the most enduring stories in surf, and certainly its most heart warming, is climber Yvon Chouinard and the company he founded in 1973 called Patagonia.

If you want to fall under Yvon’s spell, read this profile piece from The New Yorker a few years back. 

A few things about Patagonia.

They donate 10 percent of profits to various charities, they do this thing on Black Friday where they donate total profits to grassroots environmental organisations (in 2016 it was ten million dollars), used Patagonia gear can be traded-in via their Worn Wear website and, true to its central coast roots, has its office and flagship store in Ventura.

Lately, the company has become, rightly I think, enraged by the American president’s approach towards his country’s radically diverse and therefore important to protect environment.

Last December, Patagonia declared war on the US government and Trump with a lawsuit in response to “his proclamations of reducing the Bears Ears National Monument by 85% and the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument by almost 50%. Patagonia is suing over the interpretation of the Property Clause of the U.S. Constitution in which the country vests Congress with the power to manage federal lands. The company’s CEO, Rose Marcario, contends that when Congress passed the Antiquities Act of 1906, it did not give any president the power to reverse a prior president’s monument designations.”

In a recent profile in GQ magazine, the Patagonia v Trump war is given lavish coverage.

“I asked Chouinard about the lawsuit and his personal feelings about Trump. He thought for a moment, perhaps to contain himself. “What pisses me off about this administration is that they’re all these ‘climate deniers’—well, that’s bullshit. They know what’s happening. What they’re doing is purposely not doing anything about climate for the sake of making more money.” He paused, bowed his head, and scraped his fingernails on the table. He sat up again. “That is truly evil. That’s why I call this administration evil. They know what they’re doing, and they’re doing it to make more money.”

“Gradually, the conversation went even darker. About Trump, Chouinard added, “It’s like a kid who’s so frustrated he wants to break everything. That’s what we’ve got.” I asked sarcastically if any part of him was an optimist. Marcario, sitting next to him, laughed loudly. “Did you just ask Yvon if he’s an optimist?” Chouinard smiled and cocked his head. “I’m totally a pessimist. But you know, I’m a happy person. Because the cure for depression is action.”

“In December, Chouinard was invited to Washington to testify before the House Committee on Natural Resources. He refused. In a response Patagonia made public, Chouinard wrote to the committee chairman: The American people made it clear in public comments that they want to keep the monuments intact, but they were ignored by Secretary Zinke, your committee, and the administration. We have little hope that you are working in good faith with this invitation. To me, he scoffed and shook his head; Washington’s the kind of desert a man like him could get lost in. “You sit down in a little chair, and they’re up on high chairs looking down at you, and they give you two and a half minutes to give your testimony,” he said. “I’m not going to play that game.”

“It reminded me of how Chouinard had described his childhood, growing up in Burbank, facing off against teachers and bullies. When I asked him how it felt to be attacked by the administration, he laughed. “I’m stoked. If you’re not getting attacked, you’re not trying hard enough.”

It’s a helluva story about a helluva man. Read it all here. 

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.