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?



What’s the over/under?

Kelly Slater John John Florence
"Shoot, Kelly, why I gotta listen to you, you sixty, you old enough to be my grand daddy." | Photo: @wsl/Sherm

What if: John John Florence quits the tour?

Is the kick from a contest win, a title, enough to keep Florence on the chain gang?

An anecdote from the Founders’ Cup,

John John Florence and the company’s CEO Sophie Goldschmidt are engaged in a pained conversation about…something. Body language suggests the blond Chippendale world champion is unhappy and she is trying to engage and fix. Word on the street is that Goldschmidt had been trying to get an audience with her champ for some time. 

Earlier, the pool had neutralised all those advantages, knowledge of the ocean, an ability to adapt to a moving canvas instinctually, that Florence had developed after a lifetime lived at the world’s most challenging wave. A closeup of Florence’s face flashes a Halloween pumpkin grin after another girl shows there ain’t a hell of a lot of diff, in the pool at least, between her and the best surfer alive. 

Best air? A speciality award don’t help. It’s still a long dick in the guts. 

Back track. Margarets. Florence loves the joint. It’s where he plays his most sizzling tracks. A scabrous network of the risk adverse gets the event, his event, cancelled. 

Back track. Bells. Zeke Lau eats Florence alive, effortlessly, flawlessly. 

You think your world champ, the first surfer to defend a title since Kelly Slater, needs this? 

Is the kick from a contest win, a title, enough to keep Florence on the chain gang? To keep him in pressurised aluminium cylinders from Australia to Honolulu to Lemoore and now Rio, just so he can be pecked at and paddled ragged? 

Two world titles, a house at Log Cabins big enough for whomever wants floor space, the boat that’s rattling at its anchor chain, dying for a Pacific crossing, a sponsor that might be persuaded that a series of John John Florence films might be a better return on their multi-million dollar investment than a series of forgettable WCT results offers a velvet-lined escape hatch. 

Is the kick from a contest win, a title, enough to keep Florence on the chain gang? To keep him in pressurised aluminium cylinders from Australia to Honolulu to Lemoore and now Rio, just so he can be pecked at and paddled ragged?

What if John John Florence quits the tour?

What’s left? Kelly ain’t coming back in any meaningful sense anytime soon. 

Could Italo, Gabriel, maybe Jordy or Julian be the new hub the tour revolves around? 

What gap would Florence leave? 

Big, small, unimportant? 

I remember the game of brinkmanship the former ASP CEO Brodie Carr played with Kelly Slater in 2010. A rebel tour was in the wings and Slater wanted changes to his ASP contract. At the time, each surfer had a contract with the ASP agreeing, essentially, they wouldn’t surf in non-sanctioned events. Brodie risked being sacked by agreeing to a special contract for Slater without board approval. 

“The simple truth is, I didn’t want to be the ASP CEO who lost Kelly Slater from the tour,” said Brodie. 

Fast forward eight years and you’re the tour CEO who has lost Cloudbreak, Trestles and the most significant surfer in the world. 

How do you feel? 



But will the Cleveland Cavaliers overcome all manner of oppression and somehow win?
But will the Cleveland Cavaliers overcome all manner of oppression and somehow win?

Podcast: “I will smite the WSL by my hand!”

I am but a vessel.

I had a revelation last week reclining in bed watching professional basketball on television. A prophetic adumbration of my true role on God’s green earth. And do you watch the television series Homeland? The show is generally fine enough but this past season exceeded all others and leapt to very good. My favorite storyline involved a character by the name of Brett O’Keefe, a firebrand extreme right-ish wing radio host cut from the cloth of Alex Jones with a little Steve Bannon sprinkled in for good measure.

Now, Mr. O’Keefe would rail against the government, fomenting revolution, on his radio program etc. and eventually wound up on the run, broadcasting from basements and leading a rebellion by some well-armed survivalists. He was a very bad leader, being bold and vicious whilst on the air but cowardly and indecisive off it. I won’t spoil, but things end horribly with the FBI killing lots of people and Mr. O’Keefe blubbering in the corner.

And as I was lounging in bed watching professional basketball on television I heard a voice from heaven sayeth unto me, “Lo, for it is incumbent upon you to raise your voice, all loud and gravely, and foster a rebellion against the World Surf League for it is not the true and right representation of professional surfing on earth. It has been waylaid by confused leaders promising non-endemic eyeballs and mechanical perfection that is totally boring. And you shall talk much shit with your voice all loud and gravely upon the podcast and march unto Lemoore where there will be a great battle or maybe march unto Santa Monica where many imposters live adjacently.”

I responded, “But my voice is not loud and gravely. It sounds instead like a muppet and gets increasingly shrill when I becometh agitated! Can’t you choose another more aggrieved with a rich baritone like the martyr Barton Lynch?”

There was no answer, though, and I finished watching professional basketball on television while pondering these things in my heart.

On today’s podcast, alongside David Lee Scales, we talk Founders’ Cup, The People™, Waco, Sophie Goldschmidt and I try and foster a rebellion without getting too shrill.

It’s probably the best one yet.

Oi Rio Pro 2018
From left Gabriel Medina ("I'm just excited to be here"), T-Webb ("Excited to be Brazilian"), Tyler Wright ("Excited"), Julian Wilson ("Excited to have yella jersey"), Adriano, Silvana and Italo ("Excited to wear the jersey"). | Photo: WSL

WSL: “Surfers and Fans Excited for Oi Rio Pro!”

A brutal twist of dark humour?

Yesterday, or maybe the day before, who knows, everything after the Surf Ranch feels deflated, the WSL released a presser that blazed with fake diamond rings.

Its title?

World’s Best Surfers and Fans Excited for Oi Rio Pro Opening Day.

“It is really special,” said Stephanie Gilmore, six-time women’s champ.

“I’m excited to be back here,” said Tyler Wright, the reigning women’s world champ adding the surf was mostly “tricky” but “rewarding.”

“I am just excited to be here,” said Gabriel Medina, Brazil’s first world surfing champion.

“The yellow Jeep Leader Jersey is an exciting thing to wear,” said Julian Wilson, tour leader along with Italo Ferreira. “…it is an opportunity to have more excitement and energy behind you.”

“I am excited to wear the jersey and do my best,” said Italo.

The competition, which ran yesterday, hit its usual bullshit, including a seven-hour hold and conditions even the WSL was compelled to call “challenging” in a much less upbeat presser that it headlined,

Challenging Conditions for Opening Day of Oi Rio Women’s Pro: women power through slow conditions.

Tyler Wright said, “I thought there was actually going to be a couple more waves than that.”

Sally Fitz, “Although it is low scores, it is still super exciting because you do not know what is going to happen next.”

Super exciting!

I missed it all, of course, partly due to the time difference, midday in Rio is midnight in Bondi, actually no, fuck dat, it ain’t cause of the time diff.

I’ve been Ranched.

The pungent spice that comes from Slater’s green-tinted sex nest still clings to me.

And nothing will ever be the same again.

Small south swell leftovers are predicted for Itaúna Beach today.

Luke Stedman (left) pictured giving a surf lesson. You too can have this for $90.
Luke Stedman (left) pictured giving a surf lesson. You too can have this for $90.

Son of a bitch: The WSL tricked me!

A new level experience that I crave!

So yesterday evening I came home after a day’s “work” and flipped my computer open, per the norm, to see if anything funny had happened in surf that I could joke about. A chilled Sauvignon from Marlborough, freshly poured into a small glass at my right hand. I poked about the usual spots not finding chuckles before retreating to my inbox and there glowed an email from Nick Carroll.

He had forwarded along a press release, see, from the World Surf League titled Airbnb & World Surf League Team Up to Offer Hundreds of New Experiences in 20+ Unique Surf Destinations and I felt the giggles rising as I read.

There’s nothing like a dose of surf, sand, and waves to help cleanse the spirit, reconnect with nature and get you out of your comfort zone. Much like diving into an unknown destination, surfing can be intimidating at first – but once you get in the groove, the adrenaline rush can lead to a lifelong love affair.

Airbnb travelers are no exception. In fact, surfing is among the most popular reasons to travel, reiterating the upward trend of passion-based travel, made easier with 10,000 Experiences now available to book via Airbnb.

I took a sip of wine before continuing, smile spreading from ear to ear.

“Surfing, as a sport and a culture, is synonymous with breaking new ground and traversing uncharted waters so it’s a natural fit to be partnering with Airbnb in this incredible new engagement,” Sophie Goldschmidt, WSL CEO, said. “Championing experiences in the surfing and outdoor space is something both the WSL and Airbnb are very excited about moving forward. The potential to spread the stoke of surfing across the world, and give people experiences that will last a lifetime, is enormous. With Airbnb we are confident we can take surfing to a new level.”

Airbnb + WSL + surfing = New Level. And the mirth bubbled right to the surface. I skimmed down to where the “experiences” were listed ready to explode.

– Edouard & Antoine Delpero Surf School (Biarritz, France). Learn to surf or fine-tune your technique with the Delpero brothers at the major surfing destination in the heart of Basque country.
– Girls on Board Surf School (Phillip Island, Australia). Led by Jess Laing, Girls on Board will take you surfing at stunning Phillip Island.
– Surf Coaching with Leo Neves (Saquarema, Brazil). WSL veteran Leo Neves will take your surfing to the next level. Hone your skills with pro tips and video analysis.
– Learn to Surf with Luke Stedman & Damien Fahrenfort (Venice, Calif.). WSL veterans Luke Stedman and Damien Fahrenfort will teach you how to surf in classic California conditions.

Hold on right there. Luke Stedman and Dam Fahrenfort? Those are two of my favorite people in all of surf. I hurriedly clicked and lo and behold.

Hi, our names are Damien Fahrenfort & Luke Stedman! Join us on an experience of a lifetime! It’s said the best surfers in the water are the ones having the most fun. While we’re both ISA certified, what’s really equipped us with the skills to teach is competing against the world’s best for over 10 years. Yes, we’ve both surfed against Kelly Slater, he won;)

Both 3rd generation surfers we’ve dedicated our lives to surfing and traveling the globe. These days, nothing gets us more stoked than seeing people stand up on their first wave and enjoying the ocean like we have for over 20 years.

Son of a bitch. The experience costs a mere 90 bucks to hang out with Steds and Dooma for 2 hours. The honest to goodness deal of a lifetime and I’m signing up right now. If you want to join me click here. Seriously new level.