Taj Burrow ACL
"Blew my ACL to pieces…just a little walk in the park floater that went incredibly wrong."

Taj Burrow: “I just blew my ACL to pieces!”

"A walk in the park floater that went horribly wrong…"

As announced on the familiar hornpipe Instagram last night, Taj Burrow is in a Perth hospital recovering from surgery after blowing out his knee during a family camping holiday.

Taj, who retired from competition two years ago after nineteen years on the carousel (“I’m looking forward to freedom so much!”), and who turned forty exactly one week ago, was photographed in a Perth hospital bed alongside his three-year-old daughter, Ms Arabella Rose.

How’d he bust up his knee?

Taj says it was just a “little walk in the park floater at the Bluff (in WA’s north-west) that went incredibly wrong. Blew my ACL to pieces. Just had surgery.”

Best family holiday yet. Photo // @johnrespondek

A post shared by Taj Burrow (@tajamos) on

The pain, he says, “fucking killed me at the time Like a lightning bolt.”

A picture demonstrating the gloomy scenario.


After ACL surgery you zombie walk on crutches for a few weeks. Maybe two months until it don’t hurt so bad.

Six to nine months before you’ve got normal function.

In the meantime, Taj has his beer biz Honest Ale to work on.

“More biz than drinking, hopefully,” he says.

Shock: Surf fashion retailer leads early gains!

We're back, baby!

Whew, yesterday was a rollercoaster! From the revelation of incels working at Venice-adjacent’s other den of shame to discovery of the un-erasable Internet to a masterful work by Jen See to righteous indignation to the reemergence of the Ambassador of Stoke and Leisure to Longtom winding it all down with gorgeously scribed odd day at Ulus.

Am I right?

I woke up so exhausted that going to check my GoPro stock first thing this morning sounded like a good idea. Over I went to Investor’s Business Daily and clicked on the headline Stocks Dip On Apple Warning, China Tech Query; These 2 IPOs Surge. All fine so far… until I started reading. Follow with me please:

Stocks opened to modest losses Friday, after a warning from Apple (AAPL) initially triggered sharp selling across its supply chain. Global markets were wary as world leaders gather in Quebec for the two-day G7 meeting. And reports of U.S. congressional queries into tech-sector links to China led declines across China’s markets on Friday.

Stitch Fix (ZUMZ) and DocuSign (DOCU) posted some of the morning’s strongest early advances.

ZUMZ? What’s ZUMZ? I did a quick search and discovered ZUMZ is… ZUMIEZ! The extreme sport retailer made famous in the Blink-182 era! For selling flat-brimmed Stars and Straps hats and Billabong t-shirts.

Billabong t-shirts!

How the hell are they advancing? What are they doing? This is the first positive mention of an extreme sport retailer in investment news since Volcom went public some forever years ago. I hurried through all the junk about China and Apple and read further:

Skate and surf-wear shop Zumiez rose less than 1%, shedding a sharp premarket spike, after a late-Thursday report showed a narrower-than-forecast first-quarter loss and revenue growth above expectations. The stock remained in a buy range after breaking out Tuesday above a 26.30 buy point in a cup-with-handle base.

I have no idea what that means but… WE’RE BACK, BABY!

Italo Ferreira Uluwatu CT
The free surfing snippets had been tantalising. Did you see? Treating Ulus like a total skatepark.  His opening wave was raggedy, hesitant. It couldn't be happening could it? Our Italo, our cocksure, swaggering swarthy showman – the man who less than a week ago was positively unbeatable – safety surfing. | Photo: WSL/Cestari

Ulus, Day 1: “Italo crumbles like cheese left in Indo sun!”

Say it ain't so!

DH Lawrence had Mornings in Mexico, surfers have afternoons in Indonesia. Didn’t it look pretty? Enticing.

And so nice to have Barton back in the mic, a surprisingly pleasant combination with Joey Turpel. 

I won’t say anything about the theatrics or otherwise of John’s injury other than to note a: he walked up the beach unaided so rule out an ACL injury and b: how perfectly timed, how coincidental after D. Rielly prophesied a transition away from the Tour and I beseeched Ross to get his man out of the game, at least for a short while to get his head right.

And then it happened, right on cue. Spooky.

At the least, John John now avoids the horrific prospect of getting his clock cleaned by Mikey Wright again. Room to breathe away from the glare of the spotlight and the slow burning meltdown of his campaign this year.

God, the natural-foots going left looked strange for a heat or two, been so long since we have seen their backhand. Owen snuck past Asing, Kolohe Andino, former great white hope for America achieved his first excellent score of the year to defeat Jesse Mendes. Jordy completely overpowered a hapless Michael February. 

That was all guff and prologue to what I thought had to be the closest thing to a sure thing in Pro Surfing right now: Italo Ferreira at overhead Ulus. The free surfing snippets had been tantalising. Did you see? Treating Ulus like a total skatepark.  His opening wave was raggedy, hesitant.

It couldn’t be happening could it? Our Italo, our cocksure, swaggering swarthy showman – the man who less than a week ago was positively unbeatable – safety surfing. Say it ain’t so champ. But it was. He crumbled like a block of mouldy cheese left in the Indonesian sun. That pains me to write.

Many moons ago, I camped next to a Fijian village on the premises of an establishment run by two Californian brothers of dubious moral vintage. If I say their chief concerns were getting toobed and seeing who could be first to impregnate the series of Indian maids who came to work at the joint you’ll get the idea these weren’t no utilitarians. Which would be correct.

If I was tucked up he would scoop me up like a baby and slow dance me around the room, nestle my head into the crook of his arm and murmur soft Fijian sayings into my ear. I learnt not to resist. He meant no harm.

One young man in the village, typically Fijian in physique, took a shine to me. Come nightfall, if the kava and weed had been forthcoming, which it usually was, and the brothers had the music playing he would come looking for me. If I was tucked up he would scoop me up like a baby and slow dance me around the room, nestle my head into the crook of his arm and murmur soft Fijian sayings into my ear. I learnt not to resist. He meant no harm. 

I thought Italo would treat Ulus like that Fijian man treated me. Lovingly, but with overwhelming power and tenderness. But he couldn’t seem to escape the prison his mind had created for him and Rodriguez opened up the shoulders and let loose to take the win. Shocking. 

I was so bummed I needed to find another miserable soul to keep me company so I gave WA Minister for Tourism Paul Papalia a call. Gotta be hurting, right. Spare a thought for poor Pauly and his apparatchiks: bankrolled the event for years and for his beneficence the WSL left his Tourism strategy in tatters (come to WA and get chomped by a white shark!) and finished the event in an entirely different country.


There are no words available for that kind of marketing fail. Paul wasn’t available, surprise surprise, and I spoke to a succession of lovely flak catchers with none able to give me an official quote on the WATourism position (hint: I think we can assume, not stoked).

More heats were ran, all surprisingly downbeat in head-high Ulus. Not great, but there to be picked up and slow danced with by someone feeling an intoxication of power. It wasn’t Gabe Medina, my other high hope for the afternoon. He surfed like an old alley cat, scratching and screeching at anything that moved. It wasn’t pretty and it wasn’t even effective, but it was entertaining. Poor Jack Robinson sat and waited, tried to thread tubes that weren’t there and in the end laid not a scratch on the 2014 World Champ. 

The sun set and not a single form surfer announced themselves as ready to take the Ulus Pro by the scruff of the neck. A continuation of a year in which we’ve gone down or sideways more than we’ve gone up. 

As we go to print I got a text message from one of the flak catchers, lovely lady named Kellie from Tourism WA.

Can I share? 

Hi Steve, FYI None of our funding is being used to stage the final heats in Indonesia.*

Response from Tourism WA is, “As we know this year’s Margaret River Pro was impacted by an unusual confluence of circumstances and despite extensive mitigation measures the WSL made the call to cancel the event.

“We are pleased with the confirmation that the event will return in 2019 and will continue to work with Surfing WA and the WSL to deliver a to deliver a world class event in Margaret River”.

A response, if I may?

The tone, a little passive-aggressive, I think. Are there any vacancies? I can craft press releases, deal with journalists, leave the toilet seat in the correct position, handle boozy lunches etc etc. Please reply below.

*Good to know.

Uluwatu CT Men’s Round 3 Results:
Heat 1: Owen Wright (AUS) 13.43 def. Keanu Asing (HAW) 10.43
Heat 2: Kolohe Andino (USA) 14.47 def. Jesse Mendes (BRA) 14.33
Heat 3: Jordy Smith (ZAF) 15.33 def. Michael February (ZAF) 7.26
Heat 4: Michael Rodrigues (BRA) 14.77 def. Italo Ferreira (BRA) 12.93
Heat 5: Conner Coffin (USA) 14.77 def. Sebastian Zietz (HAW) 9.16
Heat 6: Julian Wilson (AUS) 8.34 def. Kael Walsh (AUS) 7.27
Heat 7: Gabriel Medina (BRA) 10.50 def. Jack Robinson (AUS) 4.20
Heat 8: Connor O’Leary (AUS) 11.06 def. Michel Bourez (PYF) 9.04
Heat 9: Willian Cardoso (BRA) 13.00 def. Adriano de Souza (BRA) 12.37

Remaining Uluwatu CT Men’s Round 3 Matchups:
Heat 10: Filipe Toledo (BRA) vs. Yago Dora (BRA)
Heat 11: Joel Parkinson (AUS) vs. Joan Duru (FRA)
Heat 12: John John Florence (HAW) vs. Mikey Wright (AUS)

WSL ambassador of stoke and leisure
Zach and John John at the Pipe Masters. "I'm a small-town kid who grew up in the Marshall Islands, my dad was the principal of a school there for six years. I took a year off during college to teach fifth grade on Pohnpei. When I heard stuff like, "Oh, privileged white male", I didn't realise the extend of internet bullying. The thing was, they could've picked a Brazilian, a guy with nothing, people would've been, like, "You should've picked a girl!" or they would've picked a girl and other people would've complained."

Found: The WSL’s Ambassador of Stoke and Leisure!

Nice man gives up dentistry and sells car to pursue WSL dream. And then disappears!

Earlier today, I interviewed the WSL’s Ambassador of Stoke and Leisure,  Zach Brown from Chattanooga, Tennessee.

Zach was crowned Stoke Ambassador amid much fanfare last November after an exhaustive worldwide search by the WSL where applicants were invited to submit a video CV.

Do you remember Zach? A likeable, goofy twenty-five-year old whose catch-cry was, “Hire me WSL and get me out of my mom’s house”?

If not, refresh here.

Like most, I presumed his job was to become the every-man face of the WSL during the Triple Crown events.

But then he just…disappeared.

“I don’t really know what to say about that,” says Zach. “A lot of people told me the same thing. Stab wanted an interview but never called me. The whole thing was built up so much. The WSL really pushed it on their website, their social channels, and then it didn’t get shown around that much.”

Perhaps the organisation was a little rattled by stories like this where Zach’s all-American ethnicity and gender might be thought tone deaf.

“I heard that a couple of times,” he says. “It’s hard to say. I’m a small-town kid who grew up in the Marshall Islands. My dad was the principal of a school there for six years. I took a year off during college to teach fifth grade on Pohnpei. When I heard stuff like, ‘Oh, privileged white male’ I didn’t realise the extend of internet bullying. The thing was, they could’ve picked a Brazilian, a guy with nothing, and people would’ve been, like, ‘You should’ve picked a girl!’ or they would’ve picked a girl and other people would’ve complained. Somebody is always going to be disappointed for whatever reason. Obviously, I submitted my video like everybody else. It was a bummer to hear that. I don’t feel any more privileged than anyone else. I actually had to sell my car to buy the camera to go out there.”

(Zach’s car was the formidable Nissan Xterra, which he loosed for $2700. He also quit his job at the ticket desk at Delta for the WSL gig.)

Zach says he thought his job was going to be “similar to Peter King’s TourNotes: behind-the-scenes interviewing the surfers, the raw feel of what’s going on. That’s what I envisioned. But they had a pretty curated day-to-day schedule, what they wanted me to do, events I was attending.”

These included playing golf at the Turtle Bay hotel, zip-lining, kayaking, staying at an Air B n B joint and a hotel in Waikiki.

“There was one time when I was in Waikiki during the Sunset competition and Sunny Garcia invited me to come and hang in the channel with him and be the caddy for Zeke Lau. I wasn’t able to make it time because I was on the other side of the island.”

Zach says the WSL’s intention was for him to push it on his own social channel (he currently has 6248 followers on @zacharyjdb. “Jesus, Drones and Oreos,” is his new catch-phrase) but says the WSL did interview him twice during the live contest feed and posted some of his stuff on Instagram and Facebook.

He says that while being ambassador didn’t exactly pan out how he wanted it to, he did get close to the broadcast crew and…epiphany… decided he wanted to pursue a life in film and not dentistry. (Zach has a degree in health sciences, step one in becoming a mouth mechanic.)

Today, Zach, is living in Clermont, Florida, thirty-five clicks west of Orlando, and an hour-and-a-half from his go-to surf spot, as he fulfils his dream of working in film and production for the YouTube channel of wake-skater Matt Manzari.  

(Oowee, it’s…gory.)

The deepest shame on Stab magazine

That piece of shit deserves to disappear forever.

I have stopped going to Stab entirely. The enjoyment I used to feel in making a little fun has evaporated and that rudderless ship has nothing to offer anyhow. I haven’t missed it. I haven’t thought about it until I went just now, prompted by a comment here about the shark story.

“What shark story?” I thought while punching an erstwhile name into the bar.

And there it was. Anonymously written, mocking a boy killed by an attack in Brazil for straight clicks, offering condolences at the end, comments turned off.

It is honestly one of the most disgusting moments I have ever witnessed in my 20 odd years dancing through this surf world and deserves serious, serious chastisement. Climbing up on a non-satirical high horse is the most uncomfortable thing in the world but shame on every single person there. Shame on the advertisers who give them money. Shame on the contributors who will continue on. Shame on the Venice-adjacent landlord who provides them rent.

That piece of shit deserves to disappear forever.