Steve Sherman/@tsherms/WSL

Ultra-rich: WSL’s VIP US Open ticket!

$2,499 for shade with great views of the action!

Were you here just three days ago when we discussed the ticket prices for the upcoming Lemoore Pro hosted by Surf Ranch and Michelob Ultra Gold? You’d be forgiven for missing. World Cup soccer was in full swing and a large balloon that looks like an infant Donald Trump was getting much attention.

Quickly, the World Surf League released the ticket prices. $499 for a three-day VIP pass, $199 for a one-day VIP pass, $99 for hot sun and $7 Michelob Ultra Golds. Very very much more expensive than the region’s other entertainment options (if we stretch “the region” to include southern California’s Disneyland, Knotts Berry Farm, etc.).

I was still wondering, “Who on earth would want to pay for this? Am I missing some facet of professional surfing fandom that loves bleeding money for subpar experiences? Are professional surfing fans ultra-rich?” when the famous surf photographer Jack English sent over the World Surf League’s just revealed VIP ticket pricing for the upcoming US Open in Huntington Beach, California. And let us read.

VIP passes are available on a full event ($2,499 per person, July 28 – August 5) or daily ($299 per person) basis, and they include:

Access to the exclusive, shaded WSL VIP deck with great views of the action in the water, from 7 AM – 5 PM each day
Free catered breakfast, lunch and beverage
Exclusive event gift bag
30-minute behind-the-scenes tour of the event
VIP parking pass
For more details or to reserve your VIP passes today, email [email protected] You can also purchases VIP passes during the event at the Welcome Center (first come, first served depending on availability).

Remember, this is the US Open in Huntington Beach, California.

Huntington Beach, California.

Seriously, I need to know, am I missing some facet of professional surfing fandom that loves bleeding money for subpar experiences? Are professional surfing fans ultra-rich?

Or is the World Surf League playing a giant prank?


Rosy Hodge towers over her subjects, projecting a comely blend of intimidation and sex appeal. Often, and now that I’ve mentioned it you’ll notice it, big names, household names, stare wide-eyed with their very famous mouths fixed open. “Ah, can you repeat the question?”

Dreams do come true: My date with Rosy Hodge!

A comely blend of intimidation and sex appeal!

Several years ago, while editing a print surf title called Stab, I tried to arrange a photo shoot with the virtuoso of the post-heat interview, Rosy Hodge.

Don’t you even dare tell me you’re unaware of her broad South African vowels and hair that flashes like warped gold or of the way she towers over her subjects, projecting a comely blend of intimidation and sex appeal. Often, and now that I’ve mentioned it you’ll notice it, big names, household names, stare wide-eyed with their very famous mouths fixed open.

“Ah, can you repeat the question?”

Initially, I felt as if I’d over-extended my flank with the offer. A brief email exchanged was followed by silence and then a terse refusal.

Two years later, after explaining that she’d “just got nervous” and that she could be “persuaded to give it a go” Rosy was leaping like a gazelle into my borrowed Mercedes Benz, folding and unfolding staggeringly long limbs into the passenger seat.

“On the beach we bawled our eyes out,” said Rosie. “I ran home crying and hid in a corner cradling myself.” These experiences have given Rosie a constant feeling of attack, by shark, even when she’s many thousands of nautical miles from her home country (Rosie has a Great White tracking app on her telephone).

From four-thirty pm until a fingernail before midnight, I collected much data. While the photographer soaked up what we might call a brazen corn-fed beauty, I learned from my pestering that she possessed an undeniably strong and moving personality.

Rosy said she was reared in East London aka Slumtown, although Queensbury Bay where she learned to lick her chops in the surf ain’t exactly Soweto. That if you stand on the lawns surrounding her parents’ house, you might see giraffes, zebra and perhaps a lion. That the righthand point in front of her house was the stage for a much-viewed YouTube clip where the viewer watches, horrified, but secretly fascinated, as two Great White sharks attacked, but not fatally a pal.

And, where, just three years ago, Rosy watched Greg Emslie, the former South African professional, be charged, bumped and circled by a four-metre White.

“On the beach we bawled our eyes out,” said Rosie. “I ran home crying and hid in a corner cradling myself.”

These experiences have given Rosie a constant feeling of attack, by shark, even when she’s many thousands of nautical miles from her home country (Rosie has a Great White tracking app on her telephone) and says she is much more respectful towards the animals and henceforth never surfs when the sardines are running at her home beach however good the waves might be.

Now let’s examine five immediate impressions. 

1. She is taller and slimmer than the squished rectangle of your laptop allows. Clearly, it is the unflattering jackets she wears on the beach in Autumnal France during the Quiksilver events there that gives Rosy a slightly thick appearance, although I had taken it as evidence of a terrific bust. But, in light clothing befitting the last day of summer, I see a woman close to six feet, rather narrow, and pretty as hell. 

2. Pretty ain’t the word. When Rosy swings into the Byron Bay rental the producer pulled me aside to whisper, My God, she’s beautiful. 

3. She ain’t one to poison her mind with forgettable literature. Within sixteen minutes, yeah, I glanced at my watch, she’d referenced the 1938 travel classic Enchanted VagabondsNew York writer Juno Diaz’s The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao and David Eggers’ What is the What? I could question every single one of my preening writer pals and not get a response half as worldly. 

4. She breezy as hell. Most times, it’s the gang behind the camera that slugs the champagne and takes front stage with the wisecracks. Rosy didn’t guzzle, that just wouldn’t be her thing (class!), but her flute was thirsty enough and that mouth of hers held its own in tough company. 

5. Adventure, above all. Rosy told the story of how pals of hers rowed across the Arctic Ocean from North America almost all the way to Russia, a thousand sea miles. “Listening to their stories of rowing their friggin’ little hearts out and then getting stuck in a labyrinth of ice and then getting hit by a hurricane is heartbreaking but they still killed it.”

Rosy told me she dreamed of finding a boy whom she could adventure with, ready to take on whatever the world might throw at her (this would happen in Rosy’s thirtieth year when she married the astonishingly attractive and capable Ian Foulkes).

Envision her now, smoking with a contemptuous scowl and yelling derision at you in a rough harsh voice.

You return her gaze with blank and tender eyes.

 


There ain't a dog more beautiful in all of surfing than the 11-timer's personal husky, Action the Dog. Here, being prepped for POV.

Surf Fans Protest: “Only a dog returns to its own vomit!”

Core surf fans tell the World Surf League what they think!

This whole Facebook x World Surf League collaboration has been very interesting to observe. The rollout, the subsequent problems and reaction, the rollback. And it appears a war is brewing between the League and its most passionate fans. A war that could change the facebook of professional surfing forever. Or alter absolutely nothing whatsoever.

Let us review. The WSL signed an exclusive 2-year, 15 million dollar agreement with Facebook at the end of January making it the only place to watch professional surfing. There was some, say, mixed messages from the League claiming this year would be a soft launch and professional surf contests would be on both Facebook and the traditional app/website but things changed at J-Bay and Facebook was the only place to watch all glitchy and odd.

Surf fans revolted, the League quickly tossed the contest back onto the app/website and yesterday released this statement about things moving forward:

Thank you again for your patience and support as we continue to work through the Facebook transition and challenges that Facebook has been having on some devices.

They are working hard to resolve the issues and we are both committed to delivering the best possible experience going forward. We’d like to remind everyone that we have temporarily re-instituted the broadcast across our WSL channels for the remainder of J-Bay and for the US Open.

Now you are able to watch our live broadcast on the WSL website, the WSL app, and of course on Facebook. Again we apologize for any inconvenience you may have experienced last week.

A very nice kick under the bus with the “challenges that Facebook has been having…” line and semi-nice apology. Did the surf fans take it? Let’s read some comments!

Just keep in mind that not everyone who wants to watch is on Facebook. I’ve never signed up nor will I ever sign up to Facebook. I will actually stop watching surfing before I will sign up to Facebook. Facebook is not your answer to grow viewership.

It turns out Facebook may be an extension of a Department of Defence program called Lifelog which had the objective of collecting an entire persons life into a database, only thing is it’s illegal to collect this data unless it’s voluntarily given up by unwitting individuals.

the actions of the WSL over the next few months will show us where their loyalties lie ,,,,with a multi national that knows nothing of surfing ,,,or with your loyal fans who do not want facebook . WSL , prepare to be judged

If you truly want to fix this dump facebook. It was a bad decision. Stop the bleeding already.

Lemoore was not a popular choice yet you continue to blindly press on with another event despite the tsunami of negative feedback from the last one, Nobody I have met is interested in watching another one. It’s the same with Facebook. No real surfer I know gives two hoots for Facebook. Even those individuals who still spend hours addicted to it’s pathetic memes and clickbait stories don’t have a lot of good to say about it!

Only a dog returns to its own vomit!

Etc. Etc. Etc.

And here is my honest question, do you think this rage will actually affect viewership of professional surf contests or do you think it is all just lots of hot air?

David Lee Scales and I discussed this yesterday on the podcast (listen here!) and came down on very different sides. He feels that core surf fans are raging but will come straight back to Facebook once their tears have dried. I believe that core surf fans are genuinely incensed and will refuse to return for a multitude of reasons maybe chief amongst them is Facebook’s historic unpopularity (fake news, selling data, etc.).

Who is right? Do you have a gauge on people spouting off versus people actually changing their habits?

If core surf fans leave the broadcast will the World Surf League continue to recruit rabid new surf fans in India?

Or maybe do you think the World Surf League reads their own comment section and will follow Ivan’s advice?

The sad truth is if the audience numbers aren’t there on Facebook, the advertising dollars will stop and everything comes to a screeching halt. The audience (read extremely loyal) that the WSL built on their website and mobile app with the live stream was a HUGE asset, it’s not easy to do, they could have easily charged a premium for viewing without commercials (I personally would have gladly paid) and continued to offer free viewing with commercials. From there they could have expanded their content and created a very valuable lifestyle network. Someone needs to come in and right this ship.

Well?


Buy: Wade Goodall’s Million-Dollar Byron Bay Pied-a-Terre!

Great for writing or taking your pants off!

Have you ever thought about giving up? Just walking out of your job, walking out of your automobile lease, walking out of your home/apartment and starting over in Australia’s bucolic Byron Bay? Of course you have. Byron Bay is home to many sexy things like koalas and eucalyptus trees and men who don’t wear pants.

It is also home to Wade Goodall’s ex-home and you YOU can use your automobile lease money and forgotten mortgage/rent payment and slide right in there. Let us read about it.

Professional surfer Wade Goodall and wife Jane are selling their Byron Bay hinterland home.

But they’re not venturing far from their current Bangalow base.

The couple, who have two daughters Violet and Jane, have recently secured a larger block just nearby where they are going to a build a new house.

McGrath Ballina agents Braden and Andrea Walters have a guide of between $1,075,000 to $1.15 million for its August 4 auction.

Wade, who was born in Bangalow, began surfing after watching VHS videos of his father.

He was signed to Billabong when he was 11, spending over 15 years with the popular surf label before he broke both his legs in quick succession.

He has been an ambassador with fashion label Vans.

The couple previously had a 1980s beach house at Moffat Beach.

When moving down from the Sunshine Coast to Bangalow, Goodall said “I’m surrounded by the most beautiful green hills and there’s waves every day”.

Back in 2003 they spent $300,000 on a 690 square metre Palm-Lily Crescent land parcel, set some 13 kilometres inland from the Byron Bay coast.

Their home was built in the classic Queenslander style, set behind a white picket fence.

The modern family home with timber floors and white decor features a rear and front verandah.

It has three bedrooms, two bathrooms, a stone bench kitchen and a study nook.

Bangalow house prices have ranged from $700,000 up to $1,695,000 this year.

A tightly-held original Bangalow farmhouse, built around 1910 for the Fowler family, sold last weekend at $1.23 million through Elders agent Duncan Lorimer.

The cottage on a 9133 square metre Fowlers Lane holding came with a $950,000 to $1,045,000 price guide.

Steven Dover set the $4,575,000 record price in 2011.

That was lots too much information but guess what I did today? After podcasting with David Lee Scales I had lunch, at Moto Deli in Leucadia, with Jamie Brisick! He has been one of my writing heroes for years and years and years but I had never met him until today. He not only lived up to my lofty expectations…he far exceeded them.

Who needs Byron when you have Jamie?

Oh. Wait. It looks soothing.


Chas Smith: “I’m slipping into massive crisis! I’m a grand failure!”

It is the most disturbingly honest podcast yet!

I have been here and there and everywhere over the past month. Florida to West Hollywood to Venice’s own Abbott Kinney, almost near Stab, The Inertia and the World Surf League’s adjacent homes. Yes, everywhere except on the Grit! podcast sitting across the reclaimed wood coffee table from David Lee Scales. Podcasts require a physical presence in the way writing doesn’t. I can write or give interviews or write some more from a variety of places but the podcast means being in San Clemente at the Surfrider Foundation offices at the same time as David Lee Scales.

And that moment finally happened this morning. The sun shone brightly, the air had that humid snap wherein it seems like things can turn sideways at a moment’s notice. David Lee and I started light, chatting about the Florida Surf Film Festival before he brought up the deletion of my Instagram account @reportsfromhell and the subsequent creation of my new Instagram account @surfjournalist.

David Lee mentioned that friends and listeners had reached out to him, re. the new account, concerned about my mental health. I laughed, briefly, before admitting that I am truly in an odd state. An overwhelming feeling of failure hovers over everything I have done.

Failure, failure, failure.

How’s that for a little Friday the 13th pick me up?

Listen here! It is the most disturbingly honest podcast yet!