Future Surf Ranch locations seen on map.
Future Surf Ranch locations seen on map.

Fascism: The WSL cracks down at Surf Ranch!

A leaked email confirms worst suspicions!

With tomorrow’s airing of Founders’ Cup live on CBS from Lemoore’s Surf Ranch it is official. The World Surf League has liberated waves from the ocean. Before Kelly Slater’s great revolution waves had been hideously oppressed by nature. They had been starved and flogged. They had been brutalized but also brutalized us with their fickle behavior. Waves were altogether impossible to trust, maybe due their starving and flogging but still. Forecasts would predict their arrival but they wouldn’t come. Or they would come somewhere they weren’t supposed to. Or they would come just for a few moments, for a tease before leaving Kieren Perrow scratching his wet hair, stone-faced.

But now they are liberated from fate and will march happily when the powers tell them to march.

Such total power. Such complete control.

And have you wondered how surfing would look locked behind a high wooden fence and how the World Surf League would exercise its total power and complete control? Would it be benevolent or fascist? Hands off or iron-fisted?

I have wondered and watched. Who gets invited and who doesn’t. What they post on social media and what gets deleted. It has long felt, to me, that there is a creeping consolidation of narrative. That the total power and complete control of the waves is being foisted upon the surfers themselves and today a leaked missive from the League confirms.

Dear athletes,

We are extremely excited for the Founders’ Cup of Surfing and are stoked that our athletes are spending time at Surf Ranch. We would like to remind you to please respect the space as a training center and venue, which includes avoiding any brand endorsements that imply an association with Surf Ranch, including on social media.

When on the property, please do not endorse products (through product placement). This includes, for example, products placed in front of the wave, within the locker room, etc. You are of course allowed to post footage of your performances and rides at Surf Ranch and tag your sponsors while doing so.

A useful rule of thumb is that if you look at a potential post and see a product in association with Surf Ranch imagery, or if you see a post at Surf Ranch and assume it is a paid advertisement or contractual commitment with a brand, it is likely to have crossed the line. On the other hand, if it is sharing an experience or a nod to the event, without product placement or product endorsement, it is not an issue.

We respect and encourage you to have endorsement deals and have prominent social media presences, but ask that avoid implying Surf Ranch is part of such deals.

If you have any questions, please reach out to any one of us. I will send you some detailed examples next week of posts that are ok and posts that are not.

Thank you for all your support.

While most totalitarian regimes begin seeming innocuous, the World Surf League has decided to buck that trend and go full fascist straight out of the gate. The implications of the above are honestly wild and, if extrapolated, render sponsorship deals with professional competitive surfers moot. The “useful rule of thumb” could be applied to any post whatsoever. Any post of any thing could be seen as a “paid advertisement or contractual commitment with a brand…” because they are, but it is the surfer reaping the ever dwindling benefits and not the World Surf League.

What’s more, it shows the League’s willingness to assert total, complete authority over what happens behind the fence. That damned, god-forsaken place. I can only hope the pro surfers themselves have enough backbone to tell the League to fuck right off and post all sorts of brand products in front of the wave, within the locker room, etc. You can take our waves but you can never take our freedom!

Fuck those bastards.

And I am only getting started. I haven’t felt righteous indignation like this since… since… Swiss airlines stranded my poor family in Zurich for an extra four days, without real apology, at the end of our Alpine vacation.

Fuck all those bastards.

More to come.

surf fans
Surf fans flee for their lives at the Margaret River Pro after two attacks in one day. | Photo: @Jaws

Invest: Shark Shield Wants $5-ish million!

It works, mostly, depending on the "motivational state of sharks."

Have you ever dreamed of owning a small slice of a cutting-edge technology company? One that is not only a game-changer but actually saves human lives? And, best of all, is a growth industry?

One week ago, the Australian company Ocean Guardian Holdings, formerly Shark Shield, threw open its doors with an IPO (initial public offering, means they’re selling shares in the company) in the hopes of moving 25 million shares at 20 Australian cents apiece in its go-away-shark biz.

Shark Shield, if you were wondering, is one of the few technologies that has been independently proven to work, at least some of the time.

According to The Australian

The technology behind the Shark Shield Freedom+ Surf has been shown to deter great whites from potential prey. Many divers in South Australia swear by them. The device emits electromagnetic pulses up to 2m. These pulses are detected in the sensory organ in the shark’s head called the ampullae of Lorenzini, making the shark uncomfortable. But the findings into the device’s effectiveness are inconclusive, especially in situations when the shark is in attack mode. Also, two people have died while wearing the device.

Abalone diver Peter Clarkson was wearing a Shark Shield designed for divers when he was killed near Coffin Bay, South Australia, in February 2011. He was known to switch his device on at all times while diving but nobody knows for certain whether he did so on this occasion.

Paul Buckland was wearing a SharkPOD, an earlier version of the Shark Shield, when he was attacked and killed off Ceduna in April 2002.

At the subsequent coronial inquiry, it was concluded that he had not turned the device on when he dived into the water. He reached the bottom and was collecting scallops when a shark started buzzing him. He turned the device on and swam to the surface. Once on the surface, the device’s effectiveness was reduced. He was then attacked.

Senior Sergeant RB McDonald, of South Australia’s police water operations unit, told the inquiry that such devices have “little effect” once a shark has reached a “level of excitement where it will attack”.

Asked after this week’s launch whether he agreed with this, Shark Shield managing director Lindsay Lyon said: “Look at the inde­pendent scientific research that shows that Shark Shield is capable of deterring a shark charging at … full speed.”

The research Lyon refers to was conducted by Charlie Huveneers off South Australia in 2012. A seal decoy was towed behind a boat at 10km/h. Great whites approached the decoy as if to attack and were seemingly deterred by the Shark Shield, but their speed was not recorded. The commonly agreed top speed of great whites is 40km/h but one researcher has estimated one travelling at 56km/h.

Huveneers also noted that the Shark Shield “did not deter (great whites) in all situations”, and that the effectiveness of the Shark Shield depended on the “motivational state of sharks”.

The inner-motivations of Great Whites aside, let’s examine the company’s books.

shark shield
Biz is booming, profits not so much.

Is it viable biz? Is it worth throwing your lunch money or your life savings at?

Ain’t much profit dripping down, those big numbers in brackets down the bottom are losses, that twenty-gees in the middle is a real slim make on almost two million dollars of sales.

The company wants to raise capital, it says, to expand into the leisure boating market (who wants to see y’kid swallowed as she gets towed behind on her inflatable banana?) as well as investigate new long-range shark deterrent technology.

(Actually, $750,000 will be the cost of the float, $1.2 mill will be spent on marketing and only $1.5 mill be spent on research.)

Interestingly, the technology behind Shark Shield has been off-patent since 2016 meaning you could, theoretically, save your cash and start your own go-away-shark biz with Shark Shield technology.

In? Out? Snake oil or no?

View the prospectus here. 

 Read a report on shark repellents and their effectiveness here. 

Do you remember ten years ago when Jordan Michael Smith turned down a five million dollar contract with Nike to ride for O'Neill because it was a "traditional surfing company"? And even after a personal intervention by Tiger Woods on Nike's behalf?

Watch: Jordy Smith in “A Catnip Dream!”

An examination of the South African's fire and brimstone…

Last night, O’Neill, the primary sponsor of the world number twenty, Jordy Smith, loosed a four-minute edit of their prize surfer.

Now, tell me, what’s wrong with that last sentence? The combination of “world number twenty” and “Jordy Smith”, wouldn’t y’say? Jordy Smith, who is thirty years old, has only sputtered in these opening two-and-a-quarter events and now languishes in the ratings’ stern.

This edit (as they say) demonstrates the misleadingness of competition ratings for, here, Jordy reveals his otherworldly ability to lace endless combos around the Bells and Margaret River events. It is a short mostly free of quirky lifestyle shots and serves, instead, as an examination of the fire-and-brimstone the South African is capable of.

Yes, much is at stake for Jordy career wise in the back two-thirds of the tour.

But I like to think that his bad start to the year is less a squandering of talent and more a failure to unwrap. 


Thanks SharkBanz!
Thanks SharkBanz!

Repelled: SharkBanz is back!

Magnetic device apparently recovers from 2017 attack!

Do you remember two Januaries ago when brave Florida teen Zack Davis paddled out at his home break wearing a a brand-new SharkBanz shark repellent bracelet and was subsequently bit by a shark? The most mortifying thing ever, if you happen to own and/or invest in SharkBanz. The owner and/or investor quickly took to the news and put the blame squarely on young Mr. Davis’ sore shoulders.

“What happened here is essentially the rarest of shark encounters where Zack jumped off his board and pretty much landed on the shark,” (founder Nathan) Garrison said, of Zack’s rare attack wearing the device, “if anything it probably helped clear the shark out of the area quicker.”

Mmmm. Totally probably.

Well, an investigation into the incident was promised though I don’t ever recall seeing it. In fact, I thought SharkBanz disappeared entirely, going the way of PowerBalance but I was wrong. A press release informed me today that SharkBanz is not only not gone but co-sponsoring the Eastern Surfing Association’s girls and boys under 14.

Sharkbanz (Mano LLC), the affordable, wearable shark deterrent is excited to announce their sponsorship of the largest amateur surfing association in the world, the Eastern Surfing Association (ESA). Sharkbanz joins notable surf brands Rip Curl, OluKai and Stick Bumps in supporting the grassroots surf community and competitions.

“We want to enable all people who love the ocean, but especially young surfers because they spend so much time in the water.” Commented Tim Nelson, Brand Manager, Sharkbanz. “Our products were created by surfers and divers so they could focus on their efforts, not their fears.”

Mmmm. Yeah.

The ESA regionals appear to take place near Melbourne Beach, Florida.

I still can’t believe a boy was attacked while wearing a SharkBanz and the company survived.

We live in remarkable times.

Now please enjoy some video from this year’s Eastern Surfing Association regionals.

Shock: Kelly Slater “Not Planning” To Surf Rio!

Founders Cup, yes, Brazil and maybe Bali, no!

Last Friday, the WSL posted a very good story called Brazil’s Rich Surfing History Continues at the Oi Rio Pro.

The contest, which begins in one week, and shortly after the Founders Cup at Surf Ranch this weekend, is an event steeped in history and wrapped in notable historical monuments (churches and so forth) as well as a fabulous bucolic charm.

A slice:

The Church of Our Lady of Nazareth was built in 1630 and the surfers in the competition, when not paddling for priority, can take in the church’s incredible architecture and history from the water. The last 400 years, miraculously, haven’t seen much change.

Mick Fanning won his first title there in 2007; Kelly his seventh in 2005.

Brazil got history etc. Read here. 

But that ain’t enough to drag Kelly Slater there after the Founders Cup, where he’ll captain equal contest favourites USA (the other frontrunner is Brazil).

For the third year running, Kelly will be calling in sick for the Oi Rio Pro, an event he has missed four times out of the last seven years. In 2015, Kelly said the water, which scientists said was the equivalent of raw sewage, had made him sick and the following year was the epoch of the Zika virus. Taj Burrow, Joel Parkinson and Kai Otton also tapped outta that one.

In a brief exchange on our telephones this morning, Kelly wrote he wasn’t “planning to” surf in Brazil and “might not surf til the J-Bay event. Not sure yet.”

Is it a pool thing? Is the tank light on a busted foot?

Kelly wrote it’s “somewhat” easier on his foot and that he’s not in pain and is only experiencing a “slight discomfort.”

When I asked whether or not he was worried of punitive action by the governing body of pro surfing if he surfs The Cup but not Rio, he politely tapped out with, “Sorry, not gonna jump into this clickbait. Hasn’t Jamie O humped a turtle today or anything?”

The WSL’s vice-president of strategic media announcements, Mr Dave Prodan, was contacted for comment. At the time of publishing, there was no response to a request for a description of the terrible punishment he must now prescribe for the former champion.