Sebastian and Nazaré
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.



john john zeke
"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.

I'm back!
I'm back!

Tour: It’s the San Clemente Storm!

Potentially 33% of the world's best surfers come from the sleepy beach town!

Except we can’t call it the San Clemente Storm can we. Because I bet it is proprietarily owned by Brazil’s president Michel Temer who looks like the sort who has lawyers register trademarks and patents and whatnots.

We’ll work on the name later but in the meantime it totally is a San Clemente Storm on tour and I didn’t even realize because… well, because I forgot Pat Gudauskas was back but with him joining veteran stalwart Kolohe Andino and rookie sensation Griffin Colapinto it is a deluge. A downpour. The San Clemente Squall.

Three, count them one, two, three, professional surfers from a town with featuring only 60,000 odd people. That means 1 in every 20000 is a professional surfer at the highest level. Crazy, no? San Clemente has not had this much heat since President Richard M. Nixon had his Western White House perched there at Church.

Currently, Griffin is 7th in the world, Pat is 9th and the granddaddy of them all, Kolohe Andino, is 22nd.

Which means they could all end the year in the top ten. That would mean 33% of the best surfers in the entire world are from San Clemente.


The Los Angeles Times has called it an “invasion” and I wonder if packing the tour so mightily is San Clemente’s not so subtle nose thumb at the WSL for stealing the Trestles event away.

You can take our Lowers but you will never take… our Gudauskases.

Something like that.

great white dana point
Great White juvie cruises Dana Point. | Photo: Matt Larmand

Spring: Happy Great Whites Return to the OC!

It's shark season in San Clemente and surrounds… 

Damn Orange County is, in the right light, one of the better joints you could live if you surf.

It’s more than Trestles, of course, although Lower Trestles is something very special, but on its fifty-mile stretch there are little round tubes to crouch under at Salt Creek, the peaks of HB, wedges at Newport so big they make a booming noise when they hit the shore like the explosion of shells and, my favourite, the Riveria section of San Clemente. Walk up the beach, find a peak, do your thing. And all under that crisp Californian sun.

What used to please me about Orange County was its negligible population of potentially troublesome Great White sharks. Sharks? The OC? Forget about it.

In the last few years, Great Whites have become synonymous with this stretch of coastline. Whether, as experts say it’s the natural result of protection or a healthier ecosystem (more seals and seal lions) is immaterial, really, because they ain’t going anywhere and therefore the OC surfer must live with this fact.

(Something the central coast and northern Californian surfer has always had to do. Click here to recall the day the noted writer Lewis Samuels either bravely went to the aid of a pal who’d been hit by a Great White or left him to die…)

Recently, a drone operator, Matt Larmand, captured the sight of two happy juvenile Whites, roughly six and eight feet in length, frolicking in waist-deep water at Dana Point, near Salt Creek.

According to the OC Register, 

“The Southern California coastline has seen an influx of sharks close to shore in recent years, groups of dozens and more gathering in “hot spots,” first noticed frequently near surfers and swimmers in the South Bay, Santa Monica and Ventura about six years ago, then showing up in Huntington, Surfside Beach and Seal Beach in higher-than-normal numbers about four years ago.

“Maria Korcsmaros nearly lost her life while training for a triathlon when a shark attacked her near Corona del Mar in May of 2016.  In April 2017, swimmer Leeanne Ericson lost a piece of her leg and buttock to an estimated 10-foot shark off San Onofre State Beach.

“Last summer, a group of juvenile sharks took residence in shallow waters off Long Beach, as well as further south off Dana Point and San Clemente. Their presence made headlines and even led to the creation of shark tours to give people up-close looks at the predators.

“Dana Wharf Whale Watching launched Shark Searches last year to give spectators an up-close look at the sharks, selling out seats week after with week. Manager Donna Kalez said that if sightings do increase, early-morning whale watching charters may start also looking for sharks.”

Shark tours! Just like Cape Town or Port Lincoln.

What a thrill it must be to go from sleepy surf town to global Great White hotspot.

Anyone out there from the OC?

Are you proud of this new designation?

Are you thrilled to be an active participant in the oceanic food chain?

Benefit: Texas man loses 60 lbs from surfing!

Can we market this previously unknown asset?

The physical benefits of surfing have been, I think, clearly defined. It is good to be outside, not too difficult on the joints, burns a few calories and provides for short bursts of increased heart rate. That is mostly all. Every so often a therapist will come around and claim that surfing is good for PTSD or helps children with cystic fibrosis and while I don’t entirely doubt, still maintain healthy skepticism.

Surfing is fun but not real exercise.

Except two days ago the iconic Garden & Gun magazine posted an excellent story about the NLand Surf Park in Austin, Texas that is making me re-evaluate. Shall we read a snippet?

Around the end of last summer, Doug Coors realized that a dream he’d chased for decades had finally become a reality. The fifty-year-old great-great-grandson of Adolph Coors, of banquet beer fame, had caught the surfing bug in Hawaii in his early twenties. As a lifelong Coloradan, though, he couldn’t surf as often as he wanted. An engineer by trade, he had started sketching ideas for an inland surf park that would let him and other landlocked surfers ride waves year-round. His designs never proved viable, but he held on to the dream and kept looking for ways to make it happen.

Now, as he stood on a 160-acre piece of scrubby ranch land a few miles east of Austin, Coors looked out from a wide pier across a man-made lagoon the size of nine football fields, where seventy or eighty people on colorful boards were riding perfectly formed head-high waves that rolled across the water over and over again. Children were picking up new skills during weeklong surf camps in the gentler parts of the lagoon. There were guests who’d flown in from Florida and California, locals who’d become regulars—even one who, over the course of the season, had lost sixty pounds from his frequent surfing.

Sixty pounds is a proper amount of weight. Like real and it makes me wonder if surfing should/could be used as a magical new fad diet? There is money in them fad diet hills.

While I have you, it’s funny how much I think about Kelly Slater’s Surf Ranch and how little I think about Austin’s NLand but it seems as if the experiment is working, and working well, in Texas. Seventy or eighty people in the water at a time? Plus, if you read the story, a craft brewery and above average hamburger? It sounds successful. But tell me, have you been? Did you enjoy?

And before you leave. What could we make proprietary about our new surfing fad diet? Boards with weighted undersides? Wetsuits that heat up to 200 degrees to melt those pounds away?