Watch: Dusty Payne in “They had to rebuild me!”

Lovely documentary of former pro surfer whose head was caved in by Backdoor Pipe… 

Nineteen eighty-eight was a helluva year. It birthed world title shots Jordy Smith and Julian Wilson and, perhaps most importantly since he’s the subject of this story here, that ol pussy-eating, red-haired devil himself Dusty Payne. 

Dusty, if you’ll recall, was lucky to make it this far.

In January, he went over the falls and was massaged, face first, into the Backdoor reef. He busted his jaw, fractured his skull, was knocked unconscious and spent three waves underwater. Pals pulled up him up by his leash and he was resuscitated on the beach.

Watch that here. (A good lesson in what to do in case of accident etc.)

Earlier this month, Surfer magazine and Volcom partnered on a lovely semi-short (it’s twenty minutes long) that follows “Payne before his near-fatal wipeout as he competed and freesurfed his way through Portugal and scored all-time sessions with friends back home in Hawaii. We also captured the wave that nearly spelled the end for Payne and the months-long battle he fought to return to the water.”

I think it would be correct to say that Dusty isn’t the most articulate of interviews. There are no startling revelations of life beyond the grave or fabulous epiphanies, but the story of having his head caved in, along with drone footage of the rescue, with Dusty unconscious and unbreathing on the beach, will make most us blanche a little.

And who doesn’t want to be blanched to the colour of moonstones?

Watch here!

Embarrassing: The connected surf groupie!

"Hey KELLY... glad you called ME..." etc. etc. 

Few things in this life embarrass me more than the connected surf groupie. The industry bro, surf journalist, beach announcer, hanger-on who has confused his proximity to professional surfing with actual friendships of professional surfers and also has confused professional surfers with actual famous people. Not that professional surfers make bad friends and not that they aren’t “famous” in their own small way but the industry bro, surf journalist, beach announcer, hanger-on should know, better than anyone how small that way is.

Oh, it’s a wonderful life and forgive my crankiness but I have had occasion to reminisce these past few days about the connected surf groupie. About his crowing on and on and on and on about all his famous professional surfer friends and how close he is with them and how they’re going on a surf trip together and… pause… wait for backslaps and affirmation and exclamations of “Oh what a wonderful life!”

I’ll always remember, as prime example and connected surf groupie par excellence, the onetime voice of extreme sport/pre-Kardashian E! television, Sal Masekela, at Surf Ranch. He was there participating in Surf Journalist Day even though he is not a surf journalist, enjoying both the left and the right and the hot tub filled exclusively with male surf journalists. At some point he announced, quite loudly, that he had been texting with Kelly Slater. Shortly thereafter he took a loud call from Kelly Slater in the hot tub filled with men, shouting, “Hey KELLY… glad you called ME…” etc. etc.

Now, this would very cute for a eleven-year-old boy with a social anxiety problem but was it appropriate in front of Vaughn Blakey and Sean Doherty and Surfline’s Marcus Sanders?


But probably not.

Or am I just cranky? Should I abandon this odd pet-peeve? Help me be a better man!

Surf Quiz: What if you “made it” onto the QS?

Dreams do come true.

Let’s pretend, for one minute, that you are 18 years old and fresh out of high school. You’ve surfed, competitively for a few years, logging some two stars in Japan, a one star in Brazil, some .5 stars in Florida and a Pro Juniors in France. Though nobody ever calls you “The Next Kolohe Andino” you’ve won some heats and even came close to making a quarterfinals once.

Your high school surf coach liked your approach and called you the team’s “anchor” because you are able to consistently link three top turns in almost any condition.

You have a sponsor who pays you 2k a year and another sponsor who pays you $500 a year, get surfboards at cost and have parents who are very proud of your accomplishments.

So, what if your dad pulled you aside after you received your diploma and said, “Now that you have graduated son we are so proud of you and want to make all your dreams come true. Your mother and I will pay for you to spend one full year on the QS. We’ll provide flights, your entry fees and a stipend for food and you’ll only need to figure out places to stay. What do you say?”

And what do you say?

Do you say, “Thank you!” and quickly pack your bag for Fistral Beach in Cornwall, England or do you say, “I love you very much dad but I’d rather not have Stu Kennedy be the absolute ceiling for potential success in my life. Would you send me to college instead?”

Well? Which one?

In memoriam: ESPN recalls Courtney Conlogue!

Nude and in Hawaii!

Yesterday found me bored for a very brief moment and perusing various stories on my phone about Ofglen, Ofwarren, Offred and other happenings throughout Gilead. Things seemed normal, more or less. Sarah Huckabee Sanders wasn’t allowed to eat at a meat n potatoes restaurant. Her father, Michael Huckabee, riffed on gang hand signs and their place in modern political conversation.

The normalcy bored me further and sent me fleeing into the arms of sport, to the warm embrace of ESPN, where I assumed tales of World Cup soccer injuries and faked injuries would keep me entertained.

Boy was I wrong. ESPN had no mention of World Cup soccer. Instead, the entire home page was memorializing Orange County’s own Courtney Conlogue with a bold caption reading:

Remember when Courtney Conlogue posed in 2016?

I did and I don’t remember much these days.

What are your thoughts on ESPN’s Body Issue? Did they effectively steal Sports Illustrated’s thunder or… is it just weird?

Maurice Cole Tom Curren
Maurice Cole, at right, with Tom Curren, the man he built his famous reverse vee surfboard for, some years ago in France.

Maurice Cole: “Why (the fuck) is Australia’s Olympic Squad Training at Surf Ranch?”

For a contest two years away in a Japanese beachbreak…

Right now, I’m looking at a presser from Surfing Australia. The headline, and it’s a doozy, reads, “Opening Three Days of Surfing Australia’s National Squad Olympic Readiness Training Camp at WSL KS Surf Ranch a Success” 

Impressive, yeah?

Two three-day blocks of exclusive “training sessions” at Surf Ranch. With coaches, shapers, surfers. The whole entourage is over there. And it poses one really fucking big question. Why the fuck is Australia’s Olympic squad training for a contest that’s going to be held in two year’s time in a two-foot Japanese beachbreak at a long, slow wave-pool point?

Think about it.

Who’s paying for all the tickets? The hotels? The rental cars? The pool? What’s the total budget? Every single airfare is a couple of grand from Australia. It makes no fucking sense whatsoever.



It’s a WSL marketing exercise. Are they trying to put pressure on the ISA and IOC to use that pool for the Olympics? Why else would you be training in a pool? It’s the worst training you could do for Chiba. For fuck’s sake, send ’em to Chiba and train over there. It’s a lot cheaper and a lot more relevant to go to Chiba and surf two-to-three-foot beachbreaks and work on their technique there instead of in long lefts and rights.

If you wanted instant improvement, wouldn’t you send the surfers to the American Wave Machines pool in Waco? Kelly’s pool is great, it looks beautiful, photogenic as hell, but I haven’t seen anyone surf there the best they can surf. At Waco, you can see the improvement in a day.

Six weeks ago, or whatever it was, the CEO of Surfing Australia, Andrew Stark announced he was leaving to become the WSL’s general manger for Australia and Oceania. He’ll also be working on “the development of the first WSL High Performance Training Centre in the region, leveraging the Kelly Slater Wave Pool Technology.”

From the same presser, “Andrew started at Surfing Australia in 2009 when the organisation was very small, with 7 staff and less than $1 million turnover. 9 ½ years later under his strong leadership, the organisation is now a thriving business with nearly 28 full time staff turning over $7 million per annum. In July, they are opening the doors to the massively expanded $10 million High Performance Centre at Casuarina Beach.”

I get it. He’s real good at building bureaucracies. (Yeah, I’ve written about that before, too.)

So Australia’s got the finest facilities in the world and the biggest infrastructure. Except we’ve got no fucking surfers coming through the system. Australian competitive surfing is in a lot of trouble right now. It has become so sanitised through Surfing Australia that the really gifted surfers seem to shy away from it. People talk about the Brazilian Storm. It’s not a Storm it’s a fucking Brazilian earthquake.

And you know what comes after an earthquake? A tsunami. What we’re seeing is a tidal wave of Brazilians coming through. Who’s Australia got? Mikey Wright, Jack Robinson, maybe Ethan Ewing. We’re a dribble. There’s no substance.

And that’s what worries some of us older guys, people who’ve been amongst competitive surfing for a long time. It stands out like dogs balls. To see these huge bureaucracies grow, these millions of dollars spent, and no results.

Just fucking more and more motherhood statements and empty theatrics.