Help: Australian surf great Nicky Wood find his Bells trophy!

The famous bauble sold after Nick defaults on storage shed bill!

It’s happened once. Once. A sixteen-year-old kid in his first big event winning the damn thing. Nicky Wood. Newcastle prodigy. Godson of the four-time champ Mark Richards.

A wildcard at Bells in 1987. Beats Tom Curren. Wins it on a little five-seven Gunther Rohn channel bottom.

Nick’s career post-Bells was a little underwhelming. Grew more than half a foot in a year and blew his knees. Got busted for hash. Accidentally fed the South African pro surfer Pierre Tostee, an anti-drug Christian, one of his hash cookies. Pierre went into a drug-induced psychosis and had to be hospitalised.

In 1994, Nick failed to qualify for the world title and that was it, pretty much.

I remember, years later, finding Nick and asking what had happened.

“If you take a lot of drugs it fuckin’ disorganises you. It dregged me out, pretty much,” he said.

A couple of days ago, Nick’s sister Rochelle put out a hit on Facebook asking for help in retrieving his famous Bells trophy.

I need everyones help. When my brother Nicky, was 16, he won the Bells Beach Surfing Pro and when anyone wins Bells, they receive a bell trophy. Its a part of our families history, my mum used to ring it at dinner time as a joke and we would all know tea was ready lol. Because you cant enter Bells now unless you’re over 18, no one will ever beat his record so the symbolicness of the trophy is huge, as well as it being a part of our families history. About 10 yrs ago when Nick was between houses he left his stuff all at a mates and unbeknown to Nick, that mate moved from his place at Byron Bay, and some of Nicks stuff that didn’t get lost, left or sold, got put into a storage shed in Newcastle. Apparently this guy then didn’t pay his storage fees and everything inside the storage unit including Nicks Bells Beach trophy, was sold at auction. I was told some guy at Merewether had it but I couldn’t find out his name. If anyone knows where it may be, or the guys name who actually did or does still have it, I would be overjoyed and would be happy to buy it back for double what was paid for it so I can return it to my brother. I know the auction house where it was sold was in Wickham because I went there and spoke to the owner who confirmed it had been sold but wouldn’t tell me anything else and to ring the police and at that point i didn’t really want to involve them, and still havent, because i know they’ll do nothing anyway. Thank you everyone please share share share hoping someone who knows may see it 🙂

You got it?

Want to sell it, return it?


Read: A mentally challenged surf journalist rambles on about books!

Incoherent and incomprehensible!

On my best days I am not very bright. I have a brain that muddles through days organizing the various inputs 7 to 10 times slower than the average man. When I was seventeen I had a part-time job bussing tables at a faux fancy hotel/restaurant named The Red Lion. I wore my black pants, white shirt, black apron with some pride and worked as diligently as I could. Trying my best.

After two weeks the manager pulled me aside and said, “Everyone else here is in 5th gear and you seem to be stuck in 2nd.” I imagine it was just a pep talk but it enraged me and that night, after closing, I returned with my black pants, white shirt, black apron bundled in a brown paper bag inscribed with the words, “Get bent!”

Now, some two decades later, I have realized the manager was right. I am stuck in 2nd gear and would you like to read a man stuck in 2nd gear ramble incoherently about the books that give him great bursts?

I think yes. I think yes you would. I had the great pleasure of chatting with surfing’s preeminent journalist. The man who broke the kook-gate scandal wide open. We are forever in Billy Wilson’s debt and we spoke the other day about great books. Here are two:

“I love some Kierkegaard! I’m too dumb to know anything about him but I love just to stare at his words. I did a semester abroad at Oxford and didn’t read any of the books I was assigned, and instead I discovered Albert Camus. I thought I was the first person in the world ever to read Camus, and Camus talked a bunch about Kierkegaard, so I followed the rabbit trail to him.

“His idea of the absurd — and I don’t know if I ever understood it correctly — always made me smile. I thought that somehow he was plotting a big joke in philosophy, though I doubt that he was. And truly the most absurd, Sisyphean thing a man can do is surf.

“Either/Or is written from two different perspectives — it’s about looking at life aesthetically versus looking at life morally, and how we’re going to judge the value in life. I’m an aesthete over an ethicist every day of the week!

“I wrote the pitch [for Cocaine + Surfing] as a total lark, and when it was actually time to write it, I was like, ‘There’s no book here! It’s just two words!’ So I was really struggling.

“One of my least favourite ever pieces of writing is The Hero with a Thousand Faces by Joseph Campbell. I always hated the concept — it just always seemed so obvious and ham-fisted. Of course a lot of books have this arc with a hero and his journey — why make it all weird and metaphysical? So every chapter of Cocaine + Surfing is a chapter from the ‘hero’s journey’ with me as the hero, on the hero’s journey, in search of cocaine and surfing.

Read the rest here!

Insane II: “Madcap” Hawaiian surfer becomes Ninja Turtle!

The hurricane surfing story to end all hurricane surfing stories!

You most certainly caught the story two days ago wherein Hurricane Lane visited the Hawaiian islands and instead of being scared/hoarding/cowering many brave locals went surfing instead.

As I remarked at the time, it is one of my favorite surfer traits. That big freaky storms evoke in us the unquenchable need to paddle and that news organizations love to gapingly stare at the spectacle.

Well, I thought all the angles had been covered. All the:

Reporter: “We’re here on the beach in Waikiki with Hurricane Lane set to make landfall in just a few hours, Jill and yet… (camera pans out) … we have surfers paddling out to ride the storm.’

Anchor: “Did you say surfers, Bob?”

Reporter: “I sure did. They have been here on the beach all morning, not heeding the sirens or the lifeguard warnings.”

Anchor: “Well I’ll be. Cowabunga. Stay safe out there, Bob.”


But never did I think a man in Hilo would be Surf Ranching. And let’s turn to NPR for more.

As Hurricane Lane approached Hawaii’s big island, it dumped record amounts of rain on the city of Hilo, on the island’s eastern coast, causing flooding, landslides, and damage to homes.

But as all that water began draining out to sea, it also created the perfect conditions for Shawn Pila to grab his surfboard and jump into the concrete drainage canal near his home.

When it rains hard, Pila said, the torrential flow interacts with the shape of the canal to create a standing wave, “and we found out that we could surf it, so when it rains like this we’re surfing the trench like Ninja Turtles.”

Pila said the wave he rode on Saturday was the largest he’d ever surfed in the canal. The perils are many: the river carries logs and debris; after a fall, it’s easy to get carried out to sea; and then there are the police, who threatened to arrest him.

“They’re just doing their job,” Pila said after a police officer made him get out. But he’s been surfing that little wave during hard rain for almost 20 years, and said he doesn’t plan to stop now.

Hilo for the win.

Kelly Slater on BeachGrit billboard: “Funny. Cheap. Character revealing.”

Yes! Yes! and hopefully!

Oh I won’t lie. It makes me weep with pure joy when Kelly Slater, world’s greatest surfer, 11 x champ, Pam Anderson/Cam Diaz/Gisele Bündchen/Slater Designs/OuterKnown etc. swings by BeachGrit for a chat. Of course he has better things to do, it goes without saying, but it shows that he still cares about our little dance. That, at his core, he is a grumpy local too.

Yesterday, on our Instagram account (follow here!) he posted his feelings about our new Lemoore billboard in three succinct sentences.

@kellyslater Funny. Cheap. Character revealing.

Oooee and very to the point. Very Hemingway-esque but would you allow me to ramble on a bit in response? Kelly, would you mind if I went point by point in a drifting sort of Melville-ian way?

Thank you.


I think so too. Very funny. I have giggled about it every single day for two months.


Now I assume Kelly means “cheap” as in “low.” Others have felt the same. That it is needlessly bullying a poor woman who happened to make the honest mistake of putting her surfboard fins in backward.

My retort?

It’s funny. And funny covers a multitude of sins but also it’s not “some poor woman” it’s the Chief Marketing Officer of the World Surf League, an organization that has been utterly dismissive of the wants/needs/hopes of its most diehard fans since it transitioned from the ASP. The image is a perfect symbol of the league’s deafness. Of its complete unwillingness to engage the workaday “grumpy locals” who love pro surfing in spite of themselves.

I begged for an interview with Beth when the photo first broke and it would have been the perfect opportunity for the WSL to show its sense of humor. The story would have been, “We’re all beautiful kooks!” and a list of all our regular transgressions. But, just like in the ex-CEO Paul Speaker era, the Santa Monica office locked its doors and frowned angrily.

Surfing ain’t an angry frown. It is funny. It is ridiculous. It is the most absurd yet joyful dance on earth.

Character revealing.

I hope so. BeachGrit, like surfing, is a place to laugh and have fun and not be serious and partake in the absurd joyful dance. The world is melting down around us and I’ll be damned if I let surfing melt too by getting turned into some furrowed brow’d empty but successful business.

To hell with that.

We need surfing more than we ever have before and that is the truth.

Warshaw: “I’m going to hate-watch Surf Ranch Pro and hope it fails so badly Sophie flies to Hawaii and restores Pipe Masters!

The custodian of surf history Matt Warshaw discusses, with a wonderful frankness, non-surfers in surf…

It’s been a few months since the custodian of surf history, Matt Warshaw, lit up on the Andy Irons documentary (Kissed by God disturbed me”), the loss of the Pipe Masters from the tour (“Pipe is the crucible!”) and far too long since his fabulous obit on filmmaker Bruce Brown, “No drugs, no booze, no pussy!

Over the weekend, Warshaw and I back-and-forthed on the involvement of non-surfers within surf.

Why do they do it? What kinda kick do they get? What do they bring to the game?

And so forth.

BeachGrit: You know history. Tell me the most famous non-surfers in surfing.

Warshaw: Fritz Kohner, Austrian-Jew newspaperman, fled Europe just ahead of Hitler, landed soft in Brentwood, California, and wrote Gidget. Put him at the top of the list. Not just because Gidget was so huge, but because Fritz liked surfers, liked the whole scene. The book is great, much better than the movie. It’s raunchier. It’s a hundred times more real, to me, then Breath. The surfers in Gidget are broke horny hedonists, mouthy, funny, loud, drinking wine on the beach, you want to slap them the way you want to slap your 18-year-old self. But you can tell Fritz likes them. He totally gets why we’d want to be on the beach all day, wearing shitty cut-off trunks, riding homemade boards, free as can be. It’s the perfect opposite to what he’d seen and lived through 20 years earlier in Berlin and Prague. He went from Fascism to Moondoggie. Fritz never touched a surfboard, but he dug surfing, and he was a fellow traveler.

The idea of non-surfers getting into the game has always fascinated me. Sophie G as CEO of WSL, Greville Mitchell as sugar daddy for the ASP, Laura Inman as head of Billabong, the photographer Sarge. I always think…why?

I don’t know who Greville or Inman are, and have no comment on Sarge. But if you’re motivated by trend-based business, I supposed it doesn’t matter what you’re dealing in. Surfing, CBD oil, fidget-spinners. The thing itself is just a unit. The rush comes from growth and expansion. I don’t think that’s fundamentally wrong. Or maybe I do, I’m not sure. But part of me thinks that if you’re going to do the job right you would in fact want, demand, the deepest possible understanding of the product you’re involved with. Just so that you could do the job. Sophie Goldschmidt doesn’t understand surfing, and I don’t think she listens, not seriously anyway, those who do. So here we are, getting a web-streamed version of surfing which, often as not, is pretty well perverted.

How do you mean?

Removing the ocean. In our sport, there can be no transgression to compare. The ocean is the whole show, it’s the only thing that our sport different and interesting. Build the pools, sure. Give us the choice to embrace the novelty, or not; to jump in and train and practice, or not. But a world tour should not only produce a champion, but represent the best of surfing, the truth of surfing, and that truth lives in, was born in, depends on, the ocean.

You’re fired up!

You could list another 50 ways, big and small, the WSL had gone wrong. But Lemoore is upon us, and really all the sins of the WSL can be rolled up and poured into that one place.

How do you feel, as a surfer, nothing else, when you see a non-surfer as frontman for the WSL at the Pipe Masters and various other events? I know our mutual pal Nick Carroll is thrilled that Sophie’s out there but I get this…odd… feeling. Maybe your heart soars?

It doesn’t automatically bother me when non-surfers get their hands on our sport. We’ve fucked it up often enough ourselves. The Allentown wavepool contest — that was created, endorsed, and fully signed off by a world tour staffed by surfers. A really smart non-surfer could do wonders with the WSL, if he or she had a feel for the sport the way Fritz Kohner did, and also if they had enough sense to listen to people who deeply understand both the pitfalls and potentials of presenting surfing in an authentic way.

Back to Surf Ranch for a moment. For the very first time in history, surf fans, writers, and so on, can’t surf near or around the event. No paddling into the lineup after the final heat, no early sneaker sessions, no interaction with the pro’s. Is this non-surfing thing going to become pro surfing’s…motif?

I don’t think so. I hope not. I’m going to hate-watch it, and hope it fails so badly that Sophie flies to Honolulu and throws signed checks at the feet of the powers that be to restore the Pipe Masters. On the other hand, there’s a real chance that pro surfing has moved on to a place where I don’t belong. The WSL may have insight to pro surfing’s future that I don’t have. They may be playing a longer game than I can imagine. And if we end up with a more tanks on tour, well, that’ll be sad, but I’ll just close my laptop and not watch. The fight in me these days doesn’t run that deep. I’ll take what I’ve been given thus far, surf-wise, and be more than happy.

Is there an irony, for you, in Kelly Slater as the surfer who’s won the most Pipe Masters …and… as the architect of Surf Ranch?
Kelly’s life as a surfer of incomprehensible talent, in and out of the contest arena, at this point seems completely divorced from his life as a surfing entrepreneur. I can’t square the two.