kelly slater keramas
"Keramas sits up on the reef and barrels and gives you all this face to do airs and tail throws," says Kelly Slater. | Photo: WSL

Weep: Kelly Slater withdraws from Keramas!

Will only compete "when I'm comfortable where I'm at" says champ.

A few minutes ago, the eleven-timer Kelly Slater officially withdrew from the Corona Bali Protected, which is event five on this year’s tour.

It had only occurred to me to ask Kelly about his involvement in the event while inspecting the gambling odds for the event which will, most likely, start this weekend.

I saw that Kelly was a 17-to-one semi-favourite to win. Reasonable enough odds to toss a few shekels at it. First, I asked Dave Prodan, the WSL’s senior VP of Global etc who told me to “hold the phone on the withdrawing thing”.

I replied that I have very weak fingers and that I couldn’t hold on for long.

“I wouldn’t go reporting either way,” he said.

I then contacted Kelly who said that when he’s feeling comfortable with his foot and “where I am at” he will surf contests again. (He hopes to be back in the game for J-Bay, beginning July 2.)

By “where I am at” he meant, “Psyched to compete and not stressed about foot being an issue and boards super-dialled.”

(In the meantime, Prodan had written, “Prepare the withdrawing story.”)

Keramas, of course, is a very good sand and reef righthander on Bali’s east coast that used to be a terrific secret. Maps drawn. Vague directions given to friends of friends. A couple of bamboo huts (called warungs, an Indonesian word for “shop”) selling warm bottles of Sprite.

That was a dozen years ago and now there is a fabulous eco-resort called Kommune with five-hundred-dollar-a-night rooms and wellness retreats and massages and all the other accruements of good living. A grand improvement on having to negotiate Bali’s traffic although driving home the sophisticated man would often stop for a hot-oil massage midway through the journey.

And even though the surf forecast for the Corona Bali Protected (name don’t ring do it?) isn’t great, I do imagine the surfing will be as sharp as an arrowhead and as unpredictable as Kelly Slater’s whereabouts.

Other odds that might interest you, as they do me:

Outright winner

Griff Colapinto at 34 to one.

Mikey Wright at 41 to one.

Seb Zietz at 51 to one.

Kanoa Igarashi at 51 to one.

To make the semis 

Julian Wilson at 2.70 to one.

Jordy at 3.75 to one.

Yago Dora at 13 to one.

Jesse Mendes at 21 to one.

Meanwhile, on the world title.

Filipe is paying 4.25 to one.

Italo’s at nine.

And Jordy’s at 23!

Gamble here! 

Wanted: Hayden and Mark Price are outlaws!

For smuggling!

When you were a younger boy or girl and watched Bonanza, The Magnificent Seven, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, etc. did you find yourself cheering for the cowpeople in white hats or in black hats? Were you a fan of the good guys or the bad guys (goodies and baddies in Australian)? I have to assume that most of us here celebrated the naughty sneakers, seeing as most of us are generally unfit for… ummm… living industrious lives and so it is with great confusion that I approach the above posters popping up around North County, San Diego.

As you can see, it is a replication of old timey wall hanging used to catch criminals and let’s first learn some history from the San Francisco Chronicle.

Law enforcement officers have been posting wanted notices for centuries. We really don’t know when the FBI first distributed a wanted poster. Around 1919, we began issuing fliers called identification orders, or IOs. The 1919 IO of William N. Bishop, a military deserter, is thought to be the first. IOs listed key details about a fugitive sought by law enforcement and included a picture, details of the crime for which they were sought, their criminal history, and by the mid-1920s, any existing fingerprints we had. Soon the FBI started issuing wanted posters for notorious fugitives, like John Dillinger. At first these were issued by the Department of Justice of which the FBI is a part. And in the early 1930s, we started to publish a bulletin called fugitives wanted by the police that collected information about wanted fugitives from law enforcement across the country. Soon the FBI had formalized its own posters and when it created the 10 Most Wanted Fugitive program in 1950, we used a standard format that has become iconic.

Interesting, no? And back to our poster featuring Hayden Cox of HaydenShapes and Mark Price of Firewire. I know that I am supposed to be angry at the two “immigrants” (Hayden is from Australia and Mark Price is from South Africa) for smuggling American jobs to Asia but years and years of applauding baddies dies hard especially when the charge is “smuggling.” Aside from westerns I love love loved the Dukes of Hazzard and their moonshine smuggling. Oooooee I know that it is very verboten to howl the old Confederate flag today but Bo and Luke were my absolute favorites of all time and have influenced my life to a great degree.

Sometimes, when after the sun has set and the day’s writing is done, I sit in bed and fantasize that I am Bo Duke, Derek is Luke Duke and BeachGrit is the General Lee. There we are, acting recklessly, jumping, jiving while Sheriff Roscoe P. Coltrane (Stab) tries to catch us and get us in big trouble with Boss Hogg (the California Bureau of Better Business). It is a nice fantasy that also involves Cousin Daisy (Jen See), Uncle Jesse (Nick Carroll), Cooter (Matt Warshaw) and the narrator Waylon Jennings (Longtom).

Go Hayden and Price! Get those American jobs to Nam before they spoil or Johnny Law catches you!

The prologue was written right here (in my head). If you look closely you can see the pain of whiskey in Derek's eyes.
The prologue was written right here (in my head). If you look closely you can see the pain of whiskey in Derek's eyes.

Read: The prologue to Cocaine + Surfing!

Our glorious disaster!

On June 12 the book Cocaine + Surfing: A Love Story! Goes on sale. It is my mission to get it onto The New York Times bestsellers list only to have the words “cocaine + surfing: love story” there in print right when the non-endemic masses are excited about the Olympics, wave pools, etc. In order to get it there I need you to preorder a copy. Might you do that for me? Could you find it in your heart? What if I publish the book’s prologue three weeks before it comes out?

Here you go!

Click here for America. Click here for Australia.

It is cold outside, and gray. Heavy-sweater weather. Maybe even thin down-filled jacket paired with stocking cap weather and it smells like cow. Like manure, wet feed and sour milk which only makes sense since we are in Lemoore, California the official “Home of Cows, More Cows, and Chas Smith’s Damned Ex-Wife.”

Just kidding. My damned ex-wife is from neighboring Visalia, but all of inland central California is basically the same thing and a place I swore I’d never return. Then Kelly Slater went and created the perfect wave here.

Yes, the world’s most celebrated surfer decided, as he neared retirement, to shake a tanned fist at God and man-make a legitimately perfect wave using some patented plow in what used to be a water ski lake in what used to be my damned ex-wife’s general neighborhood some hundred miles away from the ocean, all cow stinky and gray.

A wave that barrels properly. That drives down the length of the green lake and barrels perfectly every single time. Nothing like this has ever been done. Previous wave pools create a surf that dribbles along in an embarrassing, weak, low-energy kind of way. Kelly’s fires the imagination. Even surfers who travel the world riding the ocean’s best waves are clamoring for an invite.

“Surf Ranch” is what they are calling it and it is the jewel in the World Surf League’s crown. Surfing as a “sport” has always been hampered by nature. By God. Sometimes waves show up. Sometimes they don’t. And how is a sporting event supposed to be held in such randomness? The football field doesn’t change and neither does the basketball court, so the World Surf League purchased the Surf Ranch property and its patented plow technology from Kelly Slater in order to equalize the arena. To make surfing a proper sport. And so the new World Surf League CEO invited me and twelve crusty surf journalists and surf photographers up to surf it and witness the future.

She is trying to understand what we are, God bless her, trying to figure out what makes our hearts’ beat. The last CEO, Mr. Paul Speaker, came from the National Football League and was a dipshit and refused each of my impassioned pleas for an interview, so I made fun of him every day in the surf media until he got fired. The new CEO, Ms. Sophie Goldschmidt, came from the Women’s National Basketball Association and seems to be taking an honest shot at knowing what this is all about, and so here I am in the cold and gray and stink listening to her give us all a warm introduction.

“I’m so glad you could all be with us here today,” she says in a proper British accent. “Everyone is going to have so much fun, I trust, and this safety briefing will ensure just that. We are very proud of what we’ve built.” She is tall, pretty, with eyes that look too innocent for all of this and a smile that looks too pure and I don’t know if I will be able to muster the internal strength to make fun of her every day. “Before we begin, though, I think it is only right to recognize that today is the day Andy Irons passed away.”

The room is silent.

“I never had the privilege of meeting him, though I know many of you knew him very well, and as I learn about surfing’s history it is clear what an impact he had.” Eleven of the twelve crusty surf journalists and surf photographers keep their eyes down. I look sideways at my best Australian pal/biz partner who looks like he is in a bad spot, having had four or maybe six too many whiskey sodas the previous night. She clears her throat after what feels too long, “And now allow me to introduce you to our head of water safety…”

The head of water safety is a handsome man who tells us not to screw around, but I’m thinking about Andy Irons and not the dislocated shoulder I’m going to get in two hours by screwing around.

Andy Irons.

The three-time champ from Hawaii died November 2, 2010, alone in a Dallas hotel room from what the county’s medical office concluded was cardiac arrest due to a severe blockage of a heart artery and acute mixed drug ingestion including Xanax, methadone, and metabolites of cocaine. He was thirty-two years old.

The causes of his death surprised no one in this cloistered world. Every crusty surf journalist and surf photographer in this room had either gone big with him or caught him in full pin-pricked pupil, incessant prattle mode. He was a giant character but also not an outlier and while his death was an utter tragedy it was not necessarily a shock.

Drugs and surfing, especially cocaine, felt synonymous with professional surfing those eight-odd years ago. It still does. It’s always snowing in Orange County, or so they say, and I look at Sophie. She is listening intently to the head of water safety at a perfect man-made wave, trying to turn this professional surfing into a proper sport while also respecting its past, God bless her, but as long as I’m around that ain’t happening. Surfing, at its core, is an unruly, fouled, smutty disaster. Its past littered with felons, smugglers, addicts, narcissists and creeps. Its present defined by crusty surf journalists and surf photographers. Its future a certain disaster but it is our disaster.

Our glorious disaster.

Branding: Corona Bali Pro gets a new name!

The earth sings its praises!

The next event on the World Surf League calendar is the very exciting Corona Bali Pro which kicks off in just four short days. Or I mean was the Corona Bali Pro which has officially changed its name to the Corona Bali Protected in order to bring awareness to plastic pollution in our oceans. Press release time!

KERAMAS, Indonesia, May 22, 2018 /PRNewswire-HISPANIC PR WIRE/ — As title sponsor of the WSL’s Bali Pro Championship Tour event, Corona is transforming the previously announced “Corona Bali Pro” and renaming it “Corona Bali Protected.” This name change is aimed at sounding the alarm on one of the biggest threats to the survival of our oceans: marine plastic pollution. It stands for the vision of turning Bali into a pilot project, a blueprint for solving this global environmental issue by implementing the Parley AIR Strategy.

Last May, Corona made an ambitious commitment with Parley for the Oceans to protect 100 islands around the world from marine plastic pollution by 2020. In addition to this commitment, Corona and Parley are now inviting brands of the consumer packaged goods industry to join a task force with the objective of leaving a lasting legacy in Bali’s coastal regions through the implementation of the Parley AIR strategy – Avoid plastic, Intercept plastic debris, and Redesign materials and products.

Totally great, right? So why was my reaction after reading this earth friendly news to chortle? If you were sitting next to me I would have chortled then elbowed you in the shoulder all like “can you believe this silliness, bro?”

What’s my problem? Corona and the World Surf League are doing something good by bringing awareness and practical steps in order to reduce the poison of plastics. They together are trying to be part of the solution but here I am mocking them for it. Is it because I came of age in the 1990s when trying to do anything at all was seen as patently uncool? Generation X. Slacker etc. I’m a loser, baby, so why don’t you kill me etc.

Does that explain my rude spirit or am I just a run-of-the-mill asshole?

shark deterrent
Only 1000 subsidies available to surfers! Hurry hurry or die!

WA Gov to subsidise “Proven shark deterrent”!

Only 1000 available! Hurry and get subsidy or die in mouth of Great White.

A few moments ago, I watched a sturdy silver-haired man from Ocean Guardian (formerly Shark Shield) spruiking his “proven” shark deterrent in front of TV cameras at Bondi Beach.

Twenty minutes earlier, my mailbox had been sprayed with press releases from Ocean Guardian and from the Western Australian state government.

The company is in full PR mode for two reasons.

One, because the WA government announced it would add the Ocean  Guardian surf+ to its list of go-away-shark devices and spend 200k on $200 subsidies for 1000 surfers.

“University research shows the device, even in extreme circumstances, significantly reduces the risk of shark interactions.”

The research was undertaken by “highly regarded Associate Professor Charlie Huveneers” a man who once wrote,

Whether or not shark nets actually reduce the risk of an attack is also a tricky question, although there has only been one fatal attack at a netted beach since the NSW meshing program began in 1937.

One fatal in almost a century? It ain’t that tricky of a question.

And, two, because Ocean Guardian’s trying to raise six-mill in cash via an IPO (twenty-five million shares at twenty cents apiece) despite losing almost a million bucks in the six months to December 2017 and with a device whose effectiveness depends on the “motivational state of sharks” and using technology they haven’t had a patent on since 2016.

Maybe my rose-tinted glasses have faded a little but it reeks of high farce.

An analogy.

Imagine Western Australia has been overrun by killer bees. Important players in the world’s ecosystem but there’s a colony of ’em around Margaret River that makes going outside a potentially lethal adventure.

They’re easily killed.

A few housebound people get on Twitter and pray for the killer bees’ salvation and that a cull would be barbaric.

The government responds by subsidising special space suits that make it safe to go outside.

Same same. IMO.