Bethany Hamilton
The movie Unstoppable, which is out this summer, takes us on a wonderful voyage as Bethany Hamilton learns to fly.

Revisit: “What the one-armed fuck?”

How Maui shark bite girl Bethany Hamilton learned to fly… 

Roughly fourteen years ago, a little teenage girl called Bethany Hamilton had her arm bitten off by a tiger shark.

Read a dramatic account about that here. 

A decade later, as BeachGrit was being spat out of mammy’s womb, I got a ten-second clip sent to me via text from Bethany’s then-manager asking, “Is this any good?”

The clip showed Bethany landing a frontside air in Fiji.

Creed McTaggart, who was also privy to the clip, had fallen off a chair, yes literally, saying, “What the one-armed fuck!”

I was in the international airport at Los Angeles at the time and said that the exclusive on this clip would make our traffic soar, announce us to the world etc.

It didn’t.

As we quickly learned, it is far easier to repeat news than to create it. Seven hundred and sixty five views and zero comments.

Recently, the air resurfaced as the hero moment of Aaron Lieber’s film Unstoppable, “Bethany’s complete and untold story that follows her journey from childhood into motherhood – the ups, downs and her powerful resilience against all odds to become one of the leading professional surfers of all time. From chasing her toddler, to chasing the biggest waves, Bethany is continuously rewriting the rules on being a fearless athlete.”

It ain’t bad. Movie comes out sometime in the US summer.

Gabriel Medina
Brazil wasn't kind to Gabs Medina, the 2014 champion of the world, but the pool showed him as an artist, resourceful, emotional. | Photo: WSL

Watch: Founders’ Cup “Crazy, Passionate” Highlights!

"The game has officially been changed!" says Joe Turpel.

Did it feel, to you, that the joy of the Founders’ Cup was drowned out by the thundering waterfall of Barrinha?

Oh of course you did, we all did, even me who, for a moment, believed the Founders’ Cup to be the supercharged apex of a new world order.

A few days prior and over the course of the two-day event in Lemoore, California, BeachGrit ran seventeen stories.

These included, Gallery: Steve Sherman Goes to Surf Ranch, “Teen on Surf Ranch: “Really, Really Good!”, Opinion: “Kelly Slater Slain by own Creation!”, Long Read: Raimana is the King of Lemoore, Live from Surf Ranch: “We don’t have a language for this!”, Founders Cup: “Team World for Win! Yay!”, Rebel: Strider Flaunts “Offensive” WSL Law!, Live from Surf Ranch: “Perhaps imperfection is important”, Founders’ Cup: “Mind-numbing safety surfing!”, Breaking: Jon Pyzel eats a hot dog!, Live from Surf Ranch: “This ain’t a boat trip!”, Claim: “WSL Surf Ranch too my job and passion!” and a few more.

Earlier today, the WSL dropped highlights packages for each of the teams. Teams World, Brazil and USA excelled. Australia and Europe lacked clarity, inspiration and were, mostly, clumsy.

With the clarity of hindsight, how do these shorts stack up?

Has the game, as Joe Turpel says, “officially been changed”?

Do you feel like a deflowered virgin or a swaggering stud?

Team world!

Team Australia.

Team Brazil!

Team USA!

Team Europe

Hawaiian man hit with “lava bomb!”

"Even small pieces can kill."

The beloved Joni Mitchell song Big Yellow Taxi is most famous for its lyric “they paved paradise and put up a parking lot.” An apt rendering of our modern age, it is sometimes difficult to imagine what this world must have been like before we totally dominated it. Before we imposed our mighty will upon its feeble strictures. But Hawaii has provided a glimpse of unpaved paradise these last few months.

There have been devastating rainfall and floods on the garden isle of Kauai. There has been a vicious concession grab on Oahu’s Waikiki and now a volcano is threatening the entirety of the Big Island.

For many years tourists have swooned as Kilauea has danced for their pleasure. Little mini eruptions, lava flows to the sea, steam etc. It is, in point of fact, the world’s most active volcano and has been since man has waltzed the earth.

Things had, anyhow, been getting more serious with Kilauea all month with larger sulfurous belches and lava flows burning fields, houses and roads. Then on May 17 the volcano blew its stack sending poisonous ash 30,000 feet into the air and also “lava bombs” which caused the first reported injury. And let us read:

A Hawaii man standing on his third-floor balcony was hurt Saturday when he was hit by lava spatter, becoming the first person injured by the Kilauea eruption.

The man’s leg was shattered from shin to foot as a result of the impact, according to Reuters. He has been identified as a homeowner on Noni Farms Road, but no additional information was immediately available.

“I heard the injury was quite bad, serious to his leg,” Hawaii County Civil Defense Administrator Talmadge Magno told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser.

Lava spatters “can weigh as much as a refrigerator and even small pieces of spatter can kill,” Janet Snyder, a spokeswoman for the Office of the Mayor, County of Hawaii, told Reuters.

I mean, son of a bitch. I would imagine, if you were lounging on your third floor Hawaiian balcony, that you would feel immune to nature’s wrath. What could get you all the way up there? What could possibly cause you harm besides a bad building superintendent or fussy doorman? Certainly not a lava bomb. But there we have it. A cruel twist of fate.

Before today I did not know that “lava bombs” existed but from henceforth I shall keep an ear out for their potentiality even though I can’t imagine any effort could thwart. Maybe paradise is fighting back. In the meantime, would you like to watch a short informational video narrated by a man with a soothing accent? These things help in times like ours.

Now that you are comforted would you like to watch a music video of 90s college band Counting Crows covering Big Yellow Taxi? Sorry. I am going to make you anyway.

Peter Schroff
Schroff and his "Yellow-Face" Instagram post which may, or may not, have got his account removed from IG under new terms regarding racism etc. "The pictures that I printed with those chopsticks was taken by my Japanese friend in a sushi bar. Mark Price knows goddamned well I'm not racist."

Peter Schroff: “I’m a stick of dynamite!”

The noted shaper on his defence of the made-in-America surfboard industry…

Three days ago, the shaper Peter Schroff’s Instagram account, a vehicle he used to shit on made-in-Asia surfboards, had been disappeared.

Read that here. 

Or if you want a quick education into his attacks on Slater Designs, Firewire and so on, click on Blood Feud: Schroff v Hayden Cox, Relentless: Schroff’s War on Mark PricePeter Schroff Does Yellow Face, Modern: Peter Schroff Doubles Down and Three-Way: Dorian v Tudor v Schroff.

I’d tried to contact Schroff, who is sixty-three years old, retired and living in a gorgeous shack in San Pedro, Los Angeles, a couple of times, Facebook, IG, the usual. At the end of my last story, I tried to smoke him out by calling him a sissy.

An email was duly relieved: “We think it might be in your best interest to print the truth save your credibility. Last we heard you were going to interview us to get the truth from the horses mouth, the next day Beach Grit is sporting A FireLiar ad & the interview never happen. You know darn good ’n well what this battle is about, Over sea surfboards production is flooding our market with unethical business practice!…… seems there’s some dirty hands involved here.”

Earlier today, I called Schroff. A soft voice answered.

“Who in the heck is this?”

Oh it’s Derek, BeachGrit. Tell me, where are you and what are you doing?

“You know, having a cigarette and a beer. Doing pretty well. I haven’t received a call from Australia in twenty or thirty years.”  

What happened to your Instagram account?

“Well, the big boys had it yanked off Instagram. It just disappeared. No warning, no nothing.”

Are you going to start a new account?

“Well, you know, the thing is, it took years to develop that following. We were gaining momentum ’cause it was definitely hurting Firewire. I heard they got it disappeared through an attorney. Said, they’re killing our business.”

I mention that Mark Price told me he had nothing to do with it and that it was, most likely, removed because of what was perceived to be racist content.

Ohhhh,” says Schroff. “You’re from BeachGrit. Shit, it took me a while. I can barely understand English let alone an Australian accent on top of it.

“But, yeah, everybody sent me messages saying I gotta go look at BeachGrit, that it was very one-sided on the Firewire side. You know, once Kelly Slater joined Firewire it started taking off, outta control. The way I see it, another five years there won’t be any surfboard industry except for the Asian one.”

The American board builders are cutting each others’ throats to sell boards. They can’t compete with boards landed for 120 or 150 dollars. It’s a complete mess here.

I ask: but doesn’t the made-in-Asia phenomenon create a point of difference for the custom shaper?

“Well, you know, you got the little hipster thing over here, that’s the custom thing. That’s maybe five percent of the market and at the rate it’s going, ninety-five percent of the market will soon be Asian-made boards. The American board builders are cutting each others’ throats to sell boards. They can’t compete with boards landed for 120 or 150 dollars. It’s a complete mess here. They’re cutting corners to make boards cheaper and it’s ruining the market. Nobody can compete with the consignment surfboard strategy. That’s causing a lot of damage. Every shop is taking 120 Firewires in their store because they get ’em for free, basically, they only have to pay when they sell ’em. And you know how surfboard shops are. They don’t pay their bills too well. It could be six months before the surfboard maker is paid. Firewire has the backing to pull that off.”

Interestingly, the consumer hasn’t directly benefited from the reduced cost of wholesale .

“The retail cost is pretty similar whether it’s made in Asia or custom-made here but the fact is, they’re giving the retailer a lot bigger profit margin and consignment. It costs a custom shaper 215 just to get his shape glassed.

I’ve been surfing for fifty-five years and I’m watching it just turn into a toaster oven business. The methods that we’re using is to ridicule Kelly and Mark Price and to have local people be too embarrassed to buy the boards. That’s the strategy.

“And besides,” says Schroff. “I’m retired. I just build boards for friends. I might do one or two boards a week. I’m not fighting for my livelihood. I’m fighting for the surf culture. I’m the elected jack-ass. That’s my stand on it. And, believe me, I’ve never been political in my whole fucking life. This thing is outta hand. I’ve been surfing for fifty-five years and I’m watching it just turn into a toaster oven business. The methods that we’re using is to ridicule Kelly and Mark Price and to have local people be too embarrassed to buy the boards. That’s the strategy.

“Nobody wants to touch me with a ten-foot pole. I’m a stick of dynamite. Most people are watching in the background. But it’s leaving its mark. Definitely every surfboard builder and retailer in the US knows what’s going on.

“Can you name anything that’s handmade any more? Skateboards are over and there’s nothing else. So it’s like preserving an endangered species. And, believe me, America is rooting to win this fight.”

Joey Buran, the USA surf team coach, ponders ways to smash nature.
Joey Buran, the USA surf team coach, ponders ways to smash nature. | Photo: Surfer Today

Olympics: “Competition against nature!”

But who will win?

It is Sunday morning in America and what a fine week stretches out behind us. There was the Oi Rio Pro and its eventual champion Filipe Toledo saving professional surfing from mechanical boredom. There was Steph Gilmore admitting to wanting so much more. There was the death of the greatest surf writer to ever live and there was a massive protest in front of the Duke Kahanamoku statue fronting Honolulu’s famed Waikiki beach.

But there wasn’t any Olympic surf news. Oh earlier in the fine week I read that Joey Buran is the United States Olympic Surf Team coach and will go head to head against Bede Durbo (Australia) and Charlie Medina (Brazil) for international bragging rights, fame* and fortune** but the news did not crack BeachGrit’s slider… until now.

The Olympics, as you well know, will take place exactly two years from now in Tokyo, Japan and surfing is officially included. A Kelly Slater wave pool is being built near Tokyo and I do believe there is language in the contract that allows the Olympic competition to be held there, the organizers still dream of hosting a natural event. The official Tokyo 2020 website states affirmatively:

The competition will take place on the open ocean, where the condition of the waves, the direction and strength of the wind, and the height of the tides will all be factors. No two waves are alike, making surfing a competition against nature as much as it is a contest between the competing athletes.

And the phrase “…surfing a competition against nature…” certainly made me stop and think. Do you feel like you are competing against nature when you surf? Do the professionals? It seems very antagonistic but maybe we are? Destroying nature the best we can while laughing maniacally? Smashing nature into the ground to show it who’s boss? This “competition against nature” bit sure does make it easier to ride very toxic surfboards and litter without pause. Smearing sunscreen all over before surfing reef passes, etc.

In this “competition against nature” which country wins? The United States of America are early favorites but Australia spews out exactly as much CO2 per capita as its erstwhile cousin and Brazil actively chops its rain forests down as quickly as it possibly can. A lot closer than it appears at first glance, no?