Dion Agius Byron House

Buy: Dion Agius’ Shipping Container House!

Don't blow the chance to live like a king!

Do you dream of, one day, living in a sub-tropical paradise where everyone is young and beautiful and sex positive? And with waves that have crystalline lips and that crash onto powder white sand?

This place exists and it is called Byron Bay.

If you’ve a little cash in the bank or a generous line of credit, therefore, you might want to make an offer on the pro surfer Dion Agius’ “Forest Bungalow”, a shipping container bungalow midway between Byron Bay and Suffolk Park.

Pretty girl magnetises from outdoor tub.

(See it or rent it on Air BnB here) 

Dion, who is thirty-three years old (“Crazy! I can’t believe it! Where did those years ago?’) and  lives alone in a little house in north-east Tasmania, has put the property he bought four years ago on the market last night and is asking for “expressions of interest.”

Pretty girl in Dion’s Byron studio hammock.

From the real estate advertisement, 

This stunning 1289m2 block comes with approved council DA plans for a beautiful architecturally designed home. Given the size of the land STCA there is potential for subdivision. The land currently hosts a very cool converted shipping container.

Treed crown reserve on both the north and eastern sides enhances the appeal and privacy, as does the beautiful established trees and tropical gardens that are well positioned along the boundaries giving you your own private forest home to an abundance of local birds.

The little house Dion built.

Earlier today, I spoke to Dion about the sale. It is a rare thing to get Dion on the telephone. There is no reception in his little wooden cabin in the town of Scamander at the mouth of the Scamander River between Saint Helens and Saint Mary and he has to walk down to the river to make or take a call.

He hadn’t surfed for a month since busting an ear drum during a trip to Indonesia.

“It was horrible. I slapped my head super hard,” he says.

I was living in LA with my buddy who ended up passing away and it got to the point where I was living in this shithole traffic going to showings and thinking, ‘What the fuck am I doing? This is horrible.’ It made me revaluate my life. It’s not about making a quick buck. I found a spot down here, forty acres on a river, no one around.”

Dion moved to Tasmania after two years in Los Angeles selling Epohke sunglasses that he describes as “the worst two years of my life. It changed my whole perspective on life. I was living with my buddy who ended up passing away and it got to the point where I was living in this shithole traffic going to showings and thinking, ‘What the fuck am I doing? This is horrible.’ It made me revaluate my life. It’s not about making a quick buck. I found a spot down here, forty acres on a river, no one around.”

His plan when he bought the Byron property in late 2014 for $610,000 was to winter in Byron and summer in Tasmania, where he grew up and lived until he was fourteen. As it transpired, after he built his shipping container studio it was booked out so often he could never find a slot.

Dion says he doesn’t particularly want to sell the Byron house but, well, property is going pretty nuts in town and he figures why not cash in before the boom evaporates.

“I haven’t put a price on it. The real estate agent and I are just feeling it out, seeing what people are thinking. The thing is, I love the block. It backs onto crown land and the previous owners planted a little tropical forest on it. That was the reason I bought it so, for me, it’s worth quite a bit. I looked at a lot of other spots but I didn’t find anything as special.”

The money would be useful. He’s doing up his house (He’ll be slinging VJ lining on the walls and installing lights after he hangs up) and is trying to convince buddies to build their own shacks on his forty acres, “a little getaway commune with my friends,” he says. “I want to create a gallery, a studio, do events, festivals, fun stuff.”

As it is, he hangs by himself most of the time, although his parents are fifteen minutes drive away and some of his best friends from primary school are nearby, although family commitments usually keep ’em busy.

“I surf or go skate. And I have space and trees,” he says. “That’s what it’s all about.”


All things are possible with Kelly as your guide!
All things are possible with Kelly as your guide!

Revealed: The ultimate Surf Ranch experience!

Kelly Slater takes you in the barrel!

Kelly Slater’s delightful girlfriend Kalani Miller posted a video on Instagram a few hours ago that, I believe, reveals the uppermost echelon on Surf Ranch experiences. In it, she can be seen crouched on the middle/front of a longer, wider board. Kelly Slater stands behind her and deftly steers the thing into and out of a small but seemingly very satisfying barrel.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BiuZCOrBcQB/

And there we have it. The very exclusive ceiling.

Now, as the World Surf League has brought Surf Ranch online we’ve seen a few different pricing options. We’ve seen $115,000.00 for a two-day getaway. We’ve seen $9788.00 for a one-hour session. What then can we guess the tandem barrel with Kelly Slater will cost? Kelly’s steady hand on your shoulder. His calm voice in your ear saying, “Crouch down. Feel the rhythm of my nature.”

How much?

I would imagine, with the precedent that has been set, this experience could top $500,000.00. Of course it would include lunch and transportation too and from Surf Ranch from the Tachi Palace Casino and Hotel. I would imagine there would be many takers in Silicon Valley. Dot com folk trying to one-up the experiences of their peers. Also, I think for $250,000.00 Surf Ranch could provide other notable surf celebrities like Kalani Robb as barrel guides.

The future is bright.


great white shark

Letter from Byron: Living with shark paranoia.

Life as a surfer in a town where getting hit by a Great White ain't just a hypothetical.

One of my duties as Ballina Shire’s third best but busiest part-time surf journalist, maybe the most pleasureable, is engaging in back and forths with BeachGrit Principal Derek Rielly.

The man, as evidenced by his tete a tetes with Matt Warshaw and Louie Samuels, is the best back and forther in the business. I like to taunt  DR with images of perfect surf and he, I think, likes to keep tabs on me during late-night coverage of international surf contests. Making sure I’m on the tools etc etc and not skiving off and making up the story by cribbing others people’s words and styles, as some surf journalists are wont to do. 

Couple of days ago I sent him a pic of a perfect head-high left wedge breaking in a remote rainforest clad cove with nekkid gals glossy as seals frolicking in the shorebreak. No one out. If Lewis Samuels could describe Kelly’s machine wave as having a sacred dimension then you would be justified in describing the phenomenology of surfing this joint as numinous. Needing to get the tub stink off me I surfed solo, describing the experience to DR as perfect, save for the aroma of shark paranoia which haunts the beaches here.

He said, “Please describe”.

I do thusly. 

There are two steep tracks down, whichever one you choose, should you choose to surf alone, you won’t be getting back up with half a leg chewed off. If you get bit, you’ll fade to grey on this beach right here, surrounded by paradise. I chose the northern track, a sketchy slide down a crumbling rock cliff, so I could get a good aerial view of the left and adjacent rocks. Any shapes, bait balls, strange water movement could be inspected. The water was clear, which used to be a sign of safety until Paul Cox, then Tadashi, then Matt Lee all got chomped in sunshine and clear water. 

The paddle out is joy, a little conveyor belt ride out in a rip next to the rocks, eyeballing lefts sucking off the sandbar. The waves ride so punchy and fun, easy speed off the wedge, a turn or two, a closeout smash, a backdoor tube, the fins out on the coping. Perfection, as it turns out, is not monolithic. The gals have robed up, disappearing like ants single file into the jungle track, still long minutes away from Instagramming the shots, sexting lovers. Too late anyhow, for interlopers to arrive before dark. 

I am, as the saying goes, alone with the perfect wave and my thoughts. The mind games begin. A stupid voiceover intrudes, it’s recurring: The attack when it came was swift and brutal. I can push it away with a counter-vailing thought: fuck off you drama queen. That suffices for a while.

I look around. Nothing. Water, swishing around the rocks, afternoon glare, the shadow line from the high cove is moving towards me. A perfect place for an ambush predator to cruise. This I know. 

The strategy is, if you are being circled to slowly motor towards the shark, let it know there’ll be a face off. That’s not made up. You can’t face what you can’t see.

Whatever happens, I don’t want to get ambushed. Don’t want to get hit from behind. I lift my legs up and lay on the board, but now I can’t see. I’m too low down to the water. If you can see, you’ll survive. The strategy is, if you are being circled to slowly motor towards the shark, let it know there’ll be a face off. That’s not made up. You can’t face what you can’t see. 

Something moving rapidly on the periphery of my vision startles me. A surge of adrenalin as I swivel to face it. It’s just a juvenile gannet, mottled grey, gliding at sea level from behind the rocks. It looked like a fin for a microsecond.

Another wave ridden, this time I paddle back out slowly with one arm, trying to look behind me into the glare and the shadow line. It’s not accurate to describe this state of heightened arousal as fear. I’ll jam this fucking board straight down it’s throat I think. But then, remembering the last guy at Cobblestones, the shark came back after he speared it. Fanning lost his board, the stoner from Denmark lost his board. My strategy seems weak if it involves a swim. I want a new strategy but I can’t think of one. 

A good friend was one who dragged Tadashi’s legless body to the beach. He fell into death quickly, while they tried to hold onto him. This friend, a type common in this area, harder, fitter and more competent at 50 than they are at 20, fell to pieces. A year later he was fat, sagging, lifeless eyes.

A piping bird song comes out of the bush and I pay attention to it, to take my mind off it.

Is the paranoia justified? 

Tadashi got hit from behind.

Matt Lee got hit in the whitewater paddling back out.

I knew both.

A good friend was one who dragged Tadashi’s legless body to the beach. He was grey, still conscious, he fell into death quickly, while they tried to hold onto him. This friend, a type common in this area, harder, fitter and more competent at 50 than they are at 20, fell to pieces. A year later he was fat, sagging, lifeless eyes. He’s come back now, I’m happy to say. But it was a long road.

Matt was grey when they got him to the beach, ripped to pieces. By a miracle the chopper was close by and carrying reserves of blood. He died three times on the chopper ride, and again at the hospital. In a small town these incidents linger deep and last long.

Three times I have been bumped. The first at a reefbreak in the Marshall Islands. A closeout, non surf spot in front of a cemetery and abandoned war dump. Nothing more than dodging coral heads after 21 days at sea. Duckdiving, some huge mass that felt like a bar fridge had been thrown at me, knocked me off the board. Beside me a chunky blacktip accelerated away. It took me half the paddle in to feel my leg, but it was all still there. 

Twice at Lennox Point, once way out the back I was swirled at ultra close range by a white, that dragged me off my board by the whirlpool it created. Then down the inside section when the mullet were running I got bumped hard underwater last May. A bull, I would think. Fair play when the mullet are thick. 

I sat on the gunwhale reading a book when the engineer came and gave me a big shove overboard. We’d been having an argument about sharks and his view was that whalers were basically timid and shy. So he pushed me into a school of them to prove the point.

Another time on the FV Alliance, an 85foot steel hulled trawler a hundred nautical miles north of Groote Eylandt in the Gulf of Carpentaria, I was cleaning nets with 40-50 whaler sharks all burleyed up. Finishing, I sat on the gunwhale reading a book when the engineer came and gave me a big shove overboard. We’d been having an argument about sharks and his view was that whalers were basically timid and shy. So he pushed me into a school of them to prove the point. 

Amongst his tears of laughter he shouted, “your book! Get your book!”. I went back in and got it. It was a paperback of Nietzsches’ Twilight of the Idols. No way to replace that a thousand miles from the nearest bookshop.

All of which is to say, sharks are not the unknown to me. My fear is not irrational. 

But I don’t want to end up like Tadashi. Or Matt, or the guy at Cobblestones. A minor leg bite, probably would be good for business, but who could engineer that?

Last wave.

Good to get the feet back on the sand. Euphoric even. Booze and drugs can destroy a man. But so can the routine of soft options. Danger, real or imagined, sharpens the mind wonderfully. 


power balance bracelet
Andy and Bruce Irons endorse the product, as do Dave Rastovich and Brett Simpson. There are video testimonials from members of Da Hui and Da Wolfpak. Billabong recently rolled out bracelets with holograms beneath the Billabong logo as part of a licensing agreement with Power Balance's main competitor, EFX. According to EFX's president, "In surfing, the product is everywhere."

Read: When Lewis Samuels Destroyed Power Balance!

Remember when Andy and Bruce and Rasta wore magical plastic bracelets?

(Editor’s note: Seven years ago, I employed Lewis Samuels to drive a dagger through the heart of the charlatans at Power Balance, a Californian company that said its plastic bracelets gave wearers super powers. Bulllshit, of course. But the number of athletes, including surfers, who wore ’em, who believed it, who were evangelistic in their support for ’em was staggering. One surf company who didn’t buy into Power Balance was Rip Curl. They were approached by Power Balance and asked if they’d sew the little holograms into their suits. Rip Curl laughed ’em out of the room. Now, read, Lewis at his investigative best,)
The heart of the product is a diminutive holographic Mylar sticker, about half an inch in diameter. Embedded in the sticker, reportedly, is an electrical frequency. According to Power Balance, one of the companies that sell these stickers, this frequency, when it comes in contact with your body’s energy field, produces the following benefits: “Faster synaptic response (brain function), enhanced muscle response (in both fast and slow twitch tissues), increased stamina (better oxygen uptake and recovery), more flexibility (faster recovery) and vastly improved gravitational balance.”
Translation: buy this holographic sticker, and you’ll surf better. Andy and Bruce Irons endorse the product, as do Dave Rastovich and Brett Simpson. There are video testimonials from members of Da Hui and Da Wolfpak. Billabong recently rolled out bracelets with holograms beneath the Billabong logo as part of a licensing agreement with Power Balance’s main competitor, EFX. According to EFX’s president, “In surfing, the product is everywhere.”
Seriously?
I went on to hypothesise that Andy, Bruce and Rasta believed in Power Balance because they had the mental capacities of small children, and speculated they were perhaps, like cats, also impressed by shiny objects in general, prone to chase wadded-up balls of tinfoil across the floor.
When I first heard that a holographic sticker could improve my balance and cure my ills, my response was, “Bitch, please.” Literally – I wrote an opinion piece for PostSurf.com titled “Bitch, Please…” in which I suggested that Power Balance believers were “bat-shit crazy and/or gullible.” I went on to hypothesise that Andy, Bruce and Rasta believed in Power Balance because they had the mental capacities of small children, and speculated they were perhaps, like cats, also impressed by shiny objects in general, prone to chase wadded-up balls of tinfoil across the floor.
I was extremely skeptical about the efficacy of holographic stickers. Do you believe in magic? I don’t. But, if you want to believe in magic, all you have to do is believe; magic works on faith, suspension of disbelief. The trouble is, I stopped suspending my disbelief in the surf industry long ago.
But everyone deserves a fair shake, and with that in mind, I went on a mission to uncover the truth about these performance-enhancing holograms that are infiltrating the global surf scene.

The Test

As the old expression goes, the proof is in the pudding. One of the key selling points of Power Balance and EFX is “The Test,” in which a representative of the company proves the product’s efficacy via a few simple balance tests. Whenever I expressed skepticism to a proponent of the product, they’d say something like “I used to doubt it too, but then I did the test, and it works. I don’t know why, but it works. Try it.You’ll see.”
The demos work like this: a company rep has you stand with feet together and presses down on your cupped hand until you go off balance. Then, they give you a Power Balance bracelet, and try to push you off balance again. Mysteriously, you’re more balanced the second time around. Search for Power Balance on YouTube and you can find multiple examples of surfers who are convinced after undergoing balance tests.
In one video, filmed in a North Shore yard, Jamie Sterling marvels that, “Power Balance has some kind of secret that’s keeping me glued to the floor.” Kamalei Alexander comments, “I’m convinced it works.” Eddie Rothman of Da Hui goes further: “Dis ting works good. Really good! I’m gonna eat ‘em. I’m gonna swallow this fucking thing.”
Convincing stuff – who in the world would dare con Eddie Rothman, and then post the video on YouTube?
Recently, I did the balance test myself with Mike LaBrae, a rep for Power Balance. Mike pushed me off balance easily the first time. Then, he placed a bracelet on my wrist, seemingly applied even more force, yet had a much harder time pushing me off balance.
Proof, right?
I discussed the experimental validity of these balance tests with A.L. Stier, who does her doctoral research in U.C. Berkeley’s Psychology department. Stier shook her head after watching the video.
“They’re not actually testing the efficacy of the product,” Stier explained. “You can’t tell whether the superior performance the second time is because of the hologram or because the subject got some practice on the first trial.”
Stier noted that counter-balancing — that is, alternating whether the subject did the test first with or without the hologram — would prevent this problem. I’d heard this same complaint from a skeptical participant when I watched a demo.
“You don’t know how hard they’re going to push the first time,” he noted. “The second time, you’re ready for it, so you’re more balanced.” Stier saw a second major flaw in the balance tests. “The subjects know when they are being tested with versus without the stickers. The only way to reduce a placebo effect to make the trials ‘blind’: keep subjects from knowing if they are using the product or not.”
Placebos’ efficacy are related to the perceptions and expectations of a subject. If an inert substance is viewed as helpful, it can improve a patient’s condition – especially their subjective perception of their condition. Simply put, athletes might feel their balance improve when using holograms simply because they expect it to improve. If they believe it works, it does work.
When I saw Mike LaBrea demo Power Balance, he started with a long personal testimonial – a story of how he’d started out a skeptic until Power Balance improved his balance, cured his back pain, improved diabetes in family members, and cured his wife’s restless leg syndrome.
The final issue with balance tests is that the demonstrator (usually a representative of the company) might vary the amount and direction of force they use to push the subject off-balance. “In order to take the results seriously, they need to reduce the influence of demonstrator bias. The balance test needs to be double-blind: the demonstrator shouldn’t know if the subject is using the hologram either,” Stier noted. For instance, if you push slightly out during a balance test, instead of straight down, it is much easier to knock a subject off balance. A demonstrator might consciously or unconsciously “improve” the balance of a subject by pressing straight down when he or she has a hologram on.

The Horse’s Mouth

Trends are an interesting thing. The concept of cool is spread by word of mouth, and for most surfers the endorsement of a trusted friend or hero is more important than the fine print.
There are testimonials from Rasta and Bruce Irons. In one video, at a tradeshow, Jeff Clark and Mikala Jones express their belief. The entire marketing team from Reef follows suit, along with Sanuk Sandals founder Jeff Kelley, who proudly notes he was the first to put Power Balance in a sandal model.
When I first began researching Power Balance, I was shocked to see how many surf industry titans – athletes and executives among them – were happy to endorse Power Balance, on video, after a quick demo. There are testimonials from Rasta and Bruce Irons. In one video, at a tradeshow, Jeff Clark and Mikala Jones express their belief. The entire marketing team from Reef follows suit, along with Sanuk Sandals founder Jeff Kelley, who proudly notes he was the first to put Power Balance in a sandal model.
However, when I started performing interviews for this article, surf industry insiders were much more hesitant to discuss Power Balance on the record. Dave Rastovich and Jamie Sterling did not return emails on the subject. Blair Marlin, manager of Bruce and Andy Irons, explained that in light of my Power Balance posts, the Irons were choosing to decline my interview requests. Marlin offered a bit of context – Bruce and Andy were “only trying to help out friends,” and it was “safe to say they’re not cashing in on it.”
Later, a Power Balance employee confirmed that athletes featured on the Power Balance site only receive “small incentives to make their endorsement official.”
Interestingly, some of the only people willing to talk on record about hologram frequency-embedded technology were the owners of the companies. After a bit of back-and-forth with Power Balance’s PR agency, I arranged an interview with Troy Rodarmel, who co-founded Power Balance with his brother Josh. Later, I spoke with Randy Largent, president of EFX, a company selling a similar product, created by an ex-Power Balance employee.
I was interested to hear about how the product worked, in their perspective. I wanted to know whether they considered their products scientifically verifiable, or if they worked by, well, magic.
When reading through explanations of the “technology” on the websites of Power Balance and EFX, all sorts of vague explanations are given, which can be perceived as science, pseudoscience, or quackery, depending upon your perspective. The EFX site touched on electromagnetic fields, acupressure, energy centers, chakras, and meridian channels. The Power Balance explained it like this:”The totality of our existence depends on the efficient exchange and balance of positive and negative electrical charges called ions… Power Balance®, after years of research and development, has produced a system to safely restore and optimize the electro-magnetic balance within the human body… IMMEDIATELY. POWER BALANCE’S Mylar Holographic Disk (the same substance used to keep static electricity from damaging electrical components) has been imbedded with an electrical frequency that restores your body’s electrical balance…When the static Power Balance Hologram comes in contact with your body’s energy field, it begins to resonate in accordance with each individual’s biological, creating a harmonic loop.”
When I talked with Troy Rodarmel, who created the Power Balance technology, I tried to get clarification on the concept of beneficial frequencies. Troy, who grew up in Orange County, California with holisticminded parents, was happy to explain.
“There’s certain tests that you could even hold a banana or an apple and you’re stronger… You don’t even have to eat it. Your body likes what’s in there, those frequencies that are in there resonate with your body and show a positive effect. Adversely, if you hold sugar, it’s going to make you weaker. My mom always used to do that same test on us, just to show us sugar’s bad – you don’t even have to eat it, you can hold it and feel the effect.”
Speaking with Troy, it became clear that he was a typical SoCal surfer, who believes passionately in his product. Troy didn’t try to blind me with science, instead he suggested that he wasn’t entirely sure how exactly Power Balance worked – he just knew that it worked. “It’s not that we’re these scientists – we just put two and two together. There’s these things that are beneficial – minerals, fruit, vials – but not functional. We thought, ‘There’s something here that we don’t understand at all, so how do we make it functional?'”
In the course of the conversation, I suggested that Power Balance demos might be biased by order effects. “That just happens to be what we have on videos,” Troy responded. “Anything we do is going to turn out that way because we’re trying to push a product. It doesn’t really matter the order you do it. But we do it that way for the sake of video purposes. It’s like ‘Dude I get it.'”
Later, when I suggested that the placebo effect might be an issue, Mr. Rodarmel countered with this explanation. “This guy had a dog that would get motion sick and the dog would throw up every time they’d get in the car. They put the actual hologram on the dog’s collar and the dog stopped throwing up. They’re like ‘Dude, the dog does not throw up in the car.’ And, actually the guy works for us, and said, he’s all ‘I had the worst weekend, we put the dogs in the car,’ and his wife was totally skeptical, she took the hologram off the dog’s collar and the dog throws up all over the back of the car, all over their stuff, And he’s like ‘Oh crap, something happened, it didn’t work,’ and he went over to check it on the collar and he’s like ‘Hon, where’s the power balance?’ And she’s like ‘I took it off this morning cause I wanted to see if it actually like did something.’ So he was, like, ‘Now do you believe me?’ We’ve had so many dogs that it’s worked on and I don’t know of a better placebo test than putting it on a dog, cause it’s not like you can tell the dog “Hey, you’re not gonna throw up when I put this thing on your collar.'”
Case closed.
Instead of double-blind trials, Troy accounted for the placebo effect with anecdotal evidence from an employee’s vomit-prone dog. Later, I spoke with Randy Largent, president of EFX, who had teamed with Billabong to offer hologram bracelets at ASR. Randy, a gregarious older gent, seemed more than happy to discuss EFX with me, although he was more careful with his words than Troy Rodarmel. An industry insider had told me that Billabong’s answer to Hurley’s blockbuster Phantom boardshort was a Billabong Hologram-embedded trunk.
When I asked Largent if EFX was going to do a boardshort with Billabong, he sounded a bit dejected.
“We’ve been leaving each other phone messages… and I hope to get together with those guys in the next couple weeks. There have been conversations, but for me to presume to know what they want to do could aggravate them… so we’re not there yet.”
When I contacted Billabong’s marketing team about EFX, they declined to be interviewed, ignoring the maxim that there’s no such thing as bad publicity.
When I asked Randy Largent about scientific testing, he noted, “We’d like to do testing but we’re a small start-up and don’t have the money to do it. But if you want to start making claims there’s a tremendous responsibility to back those claims up with testing. We want to be a fun product, help a little with balance, but also a fashion accessory.”
Later, I questioned Largent about the placebo effect and he didn’t mention any vomiting dogs. “We do think the placebo effect comes into play, there’s a certain amount of that,” Largent admitted. “I wish I could be more direct but there’s really no benefit for me to make any kind of claim. We’re not trying to take advantage of anybody. I’m not saying there is a benefit, but if it helps a little bit that would be great. I wish I could say more but we’re extremely paranoid, that’s not the right word – hesitant – to make claims… That’s why it would be great to see some controlled studies. That’s why I hope we don’t get chased as charlatans.”
The last person I interviewed for this piece was Brett Simpson, who was in Brazil, making a final push for World Tour qualification. Brett recently signed up to endorse Power Balance.
“I can’t lie,” Brett wrote me, “i wasnt wearing it during the Us Open but i definatley couldnt say it would have hurt!! Other than that i have been surfing the last month with it and its been great! Havent fallin yet! Haha.”
I asked Brett if he thought Power Balance worked on a testable, scientific level, or if it is more of an unquantifiable, alternative medicine thing. “Wow, im just a surfer not a scientist,haha,” Brett wrote me, “but from the little balance test and behind the back one i did im a believer! Whether of not its a palcebo effect or not its the edge that counts!!”
I almost felt bad using Brett’s quotes. He’s a well-meaning, likable guy. So is Andy Irons, who I had mocked for having the intellectual capacity of a small child. It’s hard to tell who, if anyone, is getting conned – the surfer who buys Power Balance, the surfer who endorses it, or both.
Troy Rodarmel was incredibly nice too, as was Randy Largent. Both seemed to believe in their product, and both noted that if people didn’t like their product, they were happy to give their money back.
I thought about trying to explain the scientific method to poor Brett, but decided not to. I would have felt like the smartass older kid who tells kindergartners that there’s no Santa Claus.
What’s the harm in believing in things that aren’t verifiable? What’s religion, after all?
The placebo effect is a verifiable phenomenon. If you believe holograms can improve your surfing, or cure your back pain… they will. Like Brett says, everyone’s looking for an edge.
If you notice a balance in my prose, it’s because I’m wearing five Billabong EFX bracelets right now – one on each limb, and one around my cock. Can’t hurt, right?
(Postscript: Shortly after this story appeared, Power Balance was hit with a $57 million lawsuit for “fraud, false advertising, unfair competition and unjust enrichment.” Part of that settlement included a full refund to anyone dumb enough to’ve bought one in the first place, plus another five bucks for shipping. Later that year, Power Balance filed for bankruptcy. In 2012, the company announced it was trading under new ownership as Power Balance Technologies Inc.)

Kanga surfs where neither shark nor guppy dwell.
Kanga surfs where neither shark nor guppy dwell.

Ian Cairns: “I don’t want my kids eaten!”

Southern California has a "mega problem!"

It is almost summertime in southern California and you know what that means? Norm Reeves Honda Superstore Sizzling Sale! But you know what else it means? Old Navy Crazy Capri Days! But do you know what else it means? Sharks!

This genteel region used to be immune to those angry creatures but not anymore. Last summer was the sharkiest on record and this looks set to surpass. What are the authorities doing about it? Not enough, according to Western Australia’s favorite native son Ian Cairns. The very famous Bronzed Aussie and founder of professional surfing has lived in Laguna Beach for many years now and believes the authorities have a “mega problem” on their hands. But let us turn to a New Zealand publication for more!

“I’ve surfed in sharky areas my whole life, I actually love that feeling of going into the wilderness where it’s dangerous. I just don’t want my kids to get eaten,” says the father of four, who has seen sharks while out surfing and stand-up paddleboarding with his children on three occasions recently.

There are signs that concern is growing among residents too. Information sessions are being organised and lifeguards have started to run “shark watch” webpages and utilise offshore beacons that ping when one of a small handful of tagged sharks swims by (although downloading the beacons’ data can take weeks).

But, while local and state governments in WA and NSW swiftly rolled out drumlines, shark nets, drones and helicopter patrols, Californian authorities have shown less enthusiasm.

At a shark information session in November run by California’s Ocean Protection Council, Cairns says not one bureaucrat spoke about the possibility of people dying.

“These guys don’t want to admit they’ve got a mega problem,” he says, adding that it’s not only “bureaucratic inertia”. Even his wife, a former pro surfer, refuses to admit that sharks are becoming an issue, he jokes.

Chris Lowe, director of the Shark Lab at California State University in Long Beach, says he is not convinced the danger is as high as Cairns suggests.

He says the shark population has exploded in southern California due to decades of environmental protections and, possibly, increasing water temperatures. Last year he had so many shark sightings that he ran out of tags (and money) to monitor them.

But, unlike in Australia, sightings are not translating into increased attacks.

Hotspots emerging in southern California are actually nurseries for juvenile sharks; the younger animals are possibly attracted to the safety of the coastline’s shallow, warm waters with abundant sting rays.

The adult sharks, which pose more of a threat to humans, do not seem to hang around, instead leaving for far-off feeding sites and seal rookeries, Lowe says.

Even if human injuries started to increase, he thinks Californians would baulk at anti-shark measures.

“I just can’t see California doing the same as … Australia. California is a progressive state, we’re very ecologically conscious.”

So. Are California’s “progressive” animal friendly policies going to lead to many surfer deaths this summer or are the younger sharks just wanting some warm water fun like everyone else? I wonder how many hits it would take to turn the area blood thirsty with many fisherman killing every shark from here to Catalina?

3?

10?

What’s the over/under?