Not for long!
Not for long!

Of course: Kelly Slater steals Parko’s thunder!

And announces his retirement too!

Kelly Slater has a well-known penchant for redirecting the spotlight whenever it strays, slightly, from his still very handsome visage. Who could ever forget the rollout of Surf Ranch? There stood Adriano de Souza, dripping wet from his just clinched World Surf League and Pipeline championships. The proud nation of Brazil’s first ever title. A smile spreading across his face for exactly 30 seconds…

…until he saw everyone around him staring at their phones. Whispering, “What is this? Have you seen this?”

It was Surf Ranch and no one ever cared about Adriano de Souza again.

Today, Joel Parkinson announced his retirement from professional surfing. Though I was surprised, thinking Parko had retired a few years ago, Kelly Slater knew because the man has a photographic memory when it comes to surf and surf history.

Kelly, anyhow, feeling the spotlight stray, grabbed it right back by announcing his own retirement too.

Joel who?


Time to hit the showers, ol' pal.
Time to hit the showers, ol' pal. | Photo: Steve Sherman

Miracle: Joel Parkinson wasn’t already retired!

Coolangatta's second most famous surfer has been here all along!

It was revealed just a few hours ago that one of the greatest surfers of the past decade, Joel Parkinson, has not been retired for the past five years. Read again, has NOT been retired for the past five years. I’ll be honest, when I woke up this morning hungry for news from J-Bay and saw the World Surf League’s Thank You Joel Parkinson headline I thought something terrible had happened. Maybe even an unthinkable repeat of the 2015 incident starring Mick Fanning.

“Do South African sharks have a sickly taste for Coolangatta flesh?” I wondered before realizing it was a retirement announcement which confused me more. I thought my computer was stuck in some time warp. Some glitch, though everything else seemed in order.

Once I realized my error it made me very happy that Joel Parkinson has been competing all along because I did not want to miss his retirement party. It made me go to his Instagram and read his eloquent words.

The first time I went to J-Bay was 19 years ago. I was just a kid back then. I’d just finished last in a contest in Reunion, turned up at J-Bay with a toothache, but then got my first glimpse of the wave and the pain went away. It was six foot and perfect from Boneyards to Impossibles, I paddled out through the keyhole, caught my first wave and that was it. I was gone. I lost my mind. Next thing I was standing there on stage holding the trophy, not sure what had just happened, but I knew I’d found my second home. This is where it all started for me on tour, and that’s why I wanted to be here in J-Bay to let you know that this will be my last year on tour. The Pipe Masters in December will be my last event. The fire just hasn’t been there for a while now and I never want to surf without it, so it’s time to go look for it somewhere else. The tour has given me so much. So many memories, so many friends, the chance for my kids to see the world, but it’s time to move on to the next chapter. That means one last lap of the tour and I can’t wait to catch up with a lot of old friends and get a few waves along the way… starting this week at J-Bay.

Bravo Joel!


Austin Keen
"Everyone was frothing over the slide out to the wave, And if you look closely you can see me shaking like a leaf, hoping I time it right, slide out far enough, and don’t blow it!"

Lemoore Miracle: Watch this no-paddle, run-in takeoff at Surf Ranch!

No ski. No paddle. Just a man and his disc.

It ain’t no secret that I got a little crush on the new era of skim. Beserkers like Brad Domke skimming Nazaré, Jaws and Puerto Escondido on a  fifty-three-inch, flat-rockered, finless disc. 

And Austin Keen, the two-time world champ, and his gotta-see-to-believe boat wake hijacks. Oowee etc.

(Click here for that)

Last Tuesday, Austin, who is twenty eight years old, was invited to the Surf Ranch by a skim fan who’d hired out the tank. And Austin, who’d spent the last two years dreaming of hitting the joint and who went to the Founders Cup just to get a feel for it, figured he’d make his first wave a run-in takeoff.

“I wanted my first experience to be skimming right into it,” he says. “I was shitting my pants. I didn’t want to blow it. Every wave counts. But I’d been wanting to do this for a long time. If you look closely you can see me shaking like a leaf, hoping I time it right. ”

The no-paddle, run-in takeoff ain’t easy.

“I watched the other guys I filmed the wave and watched the timing over and over. The wave moves really, really fast. I was in the back room for thirty minutes, scrolling through my phone, watching it, making sure I had the timing right. I had to get out super early because while you’re sliding, the wave is moving fast.

“I was on the sidelines and you hear that train moving and as much as I wanted to wait longer, I made myself run before the wave was even there. I knew by the time I started sliding out, the wave would be forming and then starting to break. I got there right as it was lipping up and I hit it and beat that first mini barrel section, where the pro’s take off, and then got a nice little barrel section off the bat.”

https://www.instagram.com/p/BkrpYy-j1bf/?taken-by=beach_grit

Austin says that everyone, from the lifeguards, to the jetski guys to the workers and his skim-fan patron were thrilled by the event, but somewhere out there in the ether, watching on some webcam, was an overseer who told Austin he couldn’t skim anymore unless he had a leash attached to his board.

(The pool owners fret that a leashless board will bounce around, get washed over the bank on the side of the pool and damage the lining. It ain’t paranoia. Both commercial Wavegardens have been closed down for ripped linings.)

“So I called the maintenance guy over and asked him to drill a hole in my board,” says Austin. “I was able to skim for the rest of the session, sometimes paddling into waves on my surfboard, sometimes stepping off the ski and skimming the wave.”

https://www.instagram.com/p/BksflDsB3jO/?taken-by=austinkeen47

After posting of his adventure, Austin says he was contacted by Kelly Slater who was “curious” how, a, shimmed onto a wave, and, b, how he got into the pool in the first place.

“He thought it was pretty rad,” says Austin.

Now…now… you ain’t feeling these skim jams?

“Me and guys like Brad Domke, we’re all surfers,” says Austin, who rode half his waves on a five-ten Gamma. “It’s another avenue for us to surf and this is our little niche way of doing it.”


Future: “The thrill of surfing without the effort!”

It's easy to master and a hell of a lot of fun!

We’ve all been caught up in Surf Ranch and BSR Waco and etc. fretting over how the creation of genetically modified waves, wondering how these genetically modified waves will poison or benefit our DNA. Losing sleep at night just wondering about how the future will look. How our children’s children will surf. How our children’s children’s children will surf. Etc.

But while we’re distracted by waves and their creation the intrepid reporters from international wealth magazine Forbes know that surfing requires effort, even surfing perfect artificial waves, and the march of technology always seeks to limit effort.

Have you not watched Wall-E?

And let us read now, together, from Forbes.

Surfing is without a doubt a very fun sport, but not only is it difficult to master, it’s pretty tiring, too. You can sometimes be paddling for what seems like forever before you’re ready to catch your next wave, and even then it might not be worth the effort.

So, what are the alternatives out there? Well, I got the chance to try out a brand new innovation that looks to catch the eye of those that either already love surfing and fancy a change, or can’t quite master it and want the thrill without the effort.

That innovation is the Lampuga Boost, and it’s essentially the birth child of a surfboard and a jet ski, or in other words, an electric surfboard.

I can hands down say it’s one of the most exhilarating things I’ve ever done out at sea and by far the best watersport that I’ve ever tried. Why? Well, from the video below you’ll see it doesn’t look like I’m going that fast, right? But in reality, when your feet and stood precariously on a board in the ocean and you have the addition of the natural movement of the sea under you; 32mph feels a lot faster. As a result, it can sometimes feel like you’re holding on for dear life. This fear, though, is easily translated into excitement because you’re in control of how fast you’re going at all times thanks the board’s speed-variable trigger, which at the flick of a thumb, can slow things down a bit, or equally speed them up.

After a few attempts, I found myself using this control to my advantage, skillfully releasing it to slow down slightly when I wanted to carve into the sea and turn direction. It’s the little things like this that instantly make you feel like a pro. This was my second time on the board, and my fourth time ever surfing, and already I felt like I knew what I was doing. It’s easy to master and a hell of a lot of fun.

And there we are. The future. You children’s children’s children’s children’s other favorite thing to do besides drinking calories.


Surf quiz: You’re the New CEO Of the WSL. What next?

How would you turn the damn thing into a profitable biz?

Y’seen the forecast for J-Bay? Oowee, the volume is hot. A brisk start on Tuesday, a sizzling overhead middle and a reasonable enough back end for the finals.

Even Kelly Slater is back. Will he crack? Will gravity finally bring the famous ego to earth at last?

But, tell me, real talk etc, how do you feel about day one? Those twelve, thirty-minute, three-man heats where no one is ejected from the event? Six hours of pointless surfing and twelve passive interviews with handsome dumb men turning their profiles this way and that to look best on the webcam.

How do you feel about that torturous first half of day two, watching B-listers jerking through six heats? It don’t get good, in that heart-belting, slap-your-forehead, sports way until round four, sometime on day three or four.

Sixteen surfers left.

Round four til the final. One day of surfing.

That’s an event. 

Therefore, if I was the CEO of the WSL I would draw my battle axe and cut down one score of surfers, leaving us with the magic sixteen-man, one-day event. One glorious  highlight reel.

“But what about monetising the whole damn thing?” the reader asks.

Fuck knows.

Do you?

Because that’s the thing ain’t it.

It’s why a non-surfing former tennis exec, who once helped broker an $88-mill deal for the WTA, is running the joint.

So.

What would you do if you were handed the reigns to the WSL?

How would get the League to turn a profit?

How would you drive traffic to your Facebook Live broadcast?

Would you broadcast your events on Facebook?

Would you turn contests into pay-per-view?

What sort of tour would you construct?

Would you do it?

Could you do it?

And would you let John John Florence quit the tour?