The NSW north coast has never looked this unappealing…
Is there anything more life-affirming than watching the Great White shark, the world’s most misunderstood creature, in full flight?
Does its sheer daring overwhelm you?
Earlier today, Angourie surfer and big-waver, Laurie Towner, loosed footage of Great Whites and Tiger Sharks feeding on a dead humpback whale a few hundred yards off world famous Angourie Point, a couple of hours south of Byron Bay.
‘WARNING ! Do not surf the point or anywhere around home right now,” wrote Laurie. “Just had an epic experience watching a couple decent sized whites chopping into this whale that jut missed washing up on the point just now! Amazing to watch.”
Tyler and Owen Wright's "African virus" explained…
Two weeks ago, the world champion Tyler Wright and her brother Owen, the world number eleven, quietly pulled out of their respective events at Jeffreys Bay.
Both cited a mysterious “African flu”. This story was given no air time and no official statement was made.
Curiosity pricked, I asked around, called the WSL, Rip Curl. I was told the story was so insignificant it wasn’t worth a press release or official explanation.
Odd, I thought.
Today it can be revealed that Tyler’s “African flu” was the potentially deadly influenza A while Owen’s ailment wasa ghastly bowel obstruction.
Last night on Instagram, Tyler explained:
Never thought the flu would stop me from competing….turns out I was very wrong. Influenza A is quite the catch, it wouldn’t leave me alone. Been out of it for a while now but had my first good day in about two weeks, still can’t do much and I’m about 8kg lighter.
Massive thank you to Alex, for not letting me die, never listening to me when I said I was fine and sticking around even though you could of caught it too.
Owen, meanwhile, revealed his battle with an uncooperative gut:
I had to suddenly withdraw from the Jbay Open due to a bowel obstruction that was causing severe pain. I didn’t know at the time, I knew I had to pull out. but it got figured out in hospital later that night. glad I got it sorted and I’m on the mend. Safe to say it was a random occurrence and I’m looking forward to competing in Tahiti…
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?
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.
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.”
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?
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.