From the back-to-the-future department: Australia wins every division of world masters surfing champs!

Once great surfing nation relives glory days!

If you tuned in to the finals of the World Masters Champs, held in the Azores archipelago in the mid-Atlantic, last night you might’ve felt a little bedevilled.

Was this… 1987?

For in the three finals, it wasn’t Brazilians holding the gold cups aloft but surfers from the once-great surfing nation Australia. It may be hard to believe for anyone under thirty or so, but there was a time in modern history when little Australia, with its population of 25 mill, owned pro surfing as much as the Brazilians do now.

Last year in France, Australia finished twelfth at the ISA World Championships, a handful of points ahead of England and Germany and well behind Japan, Peru and Costa Rica, a spectacular fall from grace.

Now let’s examine this event, via excerpts from the WSL announcement.

Australians Rob Bain, Layne Beachley and Dave Macaulay have won the Azores Airlines World Masters Championship in historic fashion today, claiming victory in the Final bouts against Cheyne Horan (AUS), Rochelle Ballard (HAW) and Shane Beschen (HAW) respectively in the Grand Masters, Women’s Masters and Men’s Masters divisions held in good three foot surf at praia de Santa Barbara.  

Rob Bain (AUS) and Cheyne Horan (AUS) took it to the water first in the men’s Grand Masters Final and while the first half of their matchup was a relatively low-scoring affair, Bain started throwing fireworks on the 15 minute mark. 

A late entrant into this event, Bain has been arguably the best surfer all week in his division and dominated every heat he entered until claiming the coveted World Title this morning. The Australian celebrated his 56th birthday today with an incredible performance.

The women’s Masters Final was up next between 7-time World Champion Layne Beachley(AUS) and a former QS Champion and runner-up in the world Rochelle Ballard (HAW).

Beachley’s experience came into play as she perfectly controlled the rest of the Final and walked away with an eighth World Title, but maybe more importantly wrote another page in surfing’s history books winning the first-ever Women’s Masters title.

Dave Macaulay (AUS) and Shane Beschen (HAW) finally paddled out for the day’s last Final in the men’s Masters division. The Australian had a great start and looked fired up, scouring the lineup to find the gems and continuously improving on his scores to impose a big requirement on his opponent. With a couple of 7s on the board, Macaulay remained out of reach for the Hawaiian and the two-time former World No. 3 claimed his first World Title as the oldest competitor in the masters division.

Other highlights of 1987: The Simpsons debuts, Fiji becomes a republic, the stock market falls through the floor and Damien Hardman, also a standout in the Azores, becomes world champion (’87/88).


Buy: Terry Bradshaw’s Big Island love nest for a song!

Ex-Steelers star is selling his surf front apartment at cost!

It is Sunday in America, the day we think about professional football. The day we ponder professional football in our hearts. And since you are American (I’ll post something the Australians will understand before they wake) you are pondering professional football while also pondering if you should go surfing or not. If you live in Southern California the answer is likely “not” this morning though you may be one of those sorts who must paddle out even if it is very bad.

A dilemma, to be sure, but what if I told you that you could have your cake and eat it too? That you could purchase ex-Steeler quarterback Terry Bradshaw’s Big Island love nest for a song?

You can!

The apartment was purchased three years ago for $1.295 million and is being sold for $1.3 million. And see. I told you. A song! Ignoring inflation and skyrocketing real estate prices. Need more?

The 2,111-square-foot apartment, part of the Manua Kea complex, has three bedrooms, three bathrooms, a living room, a kitchen with mahogany cabinetry and granite countertops.

What distinguishes the home is its easy access to a luxurious resort lifestyle, said listing agent Michele Paape of MacArthur Sotheby’s International Realty.

“Properties like these that offer amazing ocean and mountain views, and have step-out-the-door access to a world-renowned golf course, but with ultimate privacy, is what makes them so desirable in paradise,” Ms. Paape said.

Building amenities include an infinity pool with spa, outdoor grill area, exercise room, gathering room with kitchen and a game room, according to the listing.

Buy here and never be conflicted on Sunday morning again!

Mason Ho Waco
Somebody gonna crucify me on this, but I'm gonna call this a Benihana air, that ol Lester Kasai skate trick. Mason Ho, backside air, kicked back leg.

Opinion: “Every surfer should be talking about Stab High Right now!”

Chas Smith and David Lee scales podcast in real time with Texas wavepool event… 

Earlier today, Chas Smith and David Lee Scales recorded their bi-monthly podcast The Grit while watching the wavepool event Stab High, held in Waco, Texas.

Over a Texas-themed charcuterie, the pair garnished the event with their own commentary.

“If the rest of the media is silent about this event, fuck them all,” Chas told me while driving home to north San Diego county from David’s modest hacienda in Huntington Beach. “Stab went out and spent a shit-ton of money to entertain us for a day. Everybody should be talking about it, whether it’s good, great or shit. I have nothing but respect for Stab and everybody should give equal weight to this event as they would to the WSL.”

A few takeaways, as they say.

  1. Like skateboard mega-ramp events, pools are going to become the preserve of little boys, in this case Eli Hanneman etc.
  2. It’s easy to watch the WSL and be snarky but they do kinda nail their event broadcasts.
  3. The best surfers still are on the WCT.
  4. Bobby Martinez does real fine backside hooks at Rincon. Not so hot at calling airs in a pool.
  5. Mason Ho has a slow-burning spark that takes hold of your eyes! Hoo-eee, last-minute rodeo.

Listen here!

From the let-them-eat-cake department: Surf Ranch Florida reserved for elites!

The People get informational kiosks though!

I’ve been so darn fascinated by the Wave Pool Wars that I find it difficult to sleep at night. Awake I lay, eyes following ceiling fan spinning languidly, trying to calculate the costs of waves at Surf Ranch, wondering if the operators shorten the dampening time to 3 minutes instead of 4 how many more waves could get generated. Wondering if American Wave Machines technology feat. at Waco is the perfect nexus of quality and economy. Wondering if Wavegarden’s burgers will carry the day. Wondering if Surf Lakes in Australia, opening very soon, will make the other pools feel redundant or will it itself feel redundant.

And when the sun pokes its head up I am no closer to conclusion than I was at midnight.

Which tank will win out, at the end? How can Surf Ranch with its $5000 per day price tag compete?

Is it the Spruce Goose of pools lorded over by a mad, germaphobe?


How is it economically viable?

Well… this morning my bleary eyes found answers. Maybe Surf Ranches, soon to be dotting the globe, are not for everyone. Maybe Surf Ranches will be very exclusive country clubs for the .5%

And let us read from the Palm Beach Post for Palm Beach is of course the site of Surf Ranch Florida.

The site will be a major training facility for professional surfers, said Joni Brinkman, a principal with Urban Design Kilday Studios. She didn’t know to what extent it would be open to the public, but she did say the site would have informational kiosks for visitors to learn about the surrounding natural areas. They plan to partner with the county’s Environmental Resources Management department in doing so.

And again:

She didn’t know to what extent it would be open to the public, but she did say the site would have informational kiosks for visitors to learn about the surrounding natural areas.

And one more time:

…she did say the site would have informational kiosks for visitors to learn about the surrounding natural areas.

So there you go. Surf Ranches and the WSL don’t want The People muddying the waters, as it were. Surf Ranches are not for me or for you but for millionaires and billionaires. At least they are giving us kiosks to learn about the surrounding natural areas though.

Thank you Kelly Slater. Thank you Dirk Ziff.

shaun tomson
The world champion Shaun Tomson, dressed in the uniform of the man who yearns for sexual abandon. | Photo: bruce weber/saturdays magazine

Meet: the iconic fashion photographer who made surfers barbarically sexy!

The great Bruce Weber's gorgeously torrid work with Kelly Slater, Shaun Tomson, John John Florence, the Fletcher family and so on.

If you enjoy examining black-and-white photos of men in underwear as much as me you’ll know the work of the American photographer Bruce Weber. Abercrombie and Fitch, Calvin Klein and so on. A real one-of-a-kind.

Via an enduring friendship with the famous surf family The Fletchers (Herb, Dibi, Christian, Nathan etc) Weber occasionally cuts frames with surfing celebrities: The Fletchers, natch, John John Florence, Laird Hamilton, Shaun Tomson, Kelly Slater, Bruce Irons.

Look at the harmonic revelation of the world champion Kelly Slater, and pals, all with thorn stumps out.

And the barbarically sexy Laird Hamilton (with eighties star Brooke Shields).

In an issue of the always very good Saturdays Magazine, the New York clothiers interview Weber about his relationship with the surf game.

I won’t take you all the way to the bottom of this particular grove (click here for the full story) but you’ll like these moments.

Surfers remind me of the rock and roll guys of the ’60s and early ’70s. Rabbit Bartholomew is a good example. He was the Keith Richards of surfing: hair, clothes, jewelry and all. All the surfers I met early on had great style and a desire and passion for living in the moment. They made no money. They were like wrestlers in that way. College and high school wrestlers never make any money, but their hearts are totally into it.

Danny Dimauro: When you work with surfers, what is it that you’re seeing, from an artist’s perspective?

bw: I think you always discover something when you look in the eyes of an adventurer—whether it’s a surfer or a person who climbs mountains. They defy incredible obstacles. Their eyes seem to have the same light as the sky. They’re almost translucent. Surfers are adventurers, people who know no boundaries. My interest in surfing began with photography, but I was never going to be out there in the waves taking surf photographs. I take portraits. Surfers remind me of the rock and roll guys of the ’60s and early ’70s. Rabbit Bartholomew is a good example. He was the Keith Richards of surfing: hair, clothes, jewelry and all. All the surfers I met early on had great style and a desire and passion for living in the moment. They made no money. They were like wrestlers in that way. College and high school wrestlers never make any money, but their hearts are totally into it. To meet a surfer whose heart is so into the sport and into being in the water—there is just nothing like it for a photographer. I was really lucky that I got to photograph so many people when they were just beginning. I photograph for Vanity Fair sometimes, and my friends who work there often tease me—they say, “You’re really great with people when they’re beginning, or when they’re in their 90s.” I forget about that sometimes, but it is how I live my life.

Danny Dimauro: Let’s talk about your relationship with Herbie and the Fletcher family.

bw: It was around the time when I first photographed Marky Mark for the cover of Interview. I wanted to do a sportsman, so I thought of Nathan and Christian Fletcher. I drove down to where they live in San Clemente with my assistants and some clothes. Dibi opened the door and said, “That fucking 405 is terrible.” It’s the last thing I expected that a mom would be saying to me. I stepped in the house and there were all of these great artworks and painted surfboards everywhere. We were in the kitchen talking, and Christian came in with his hair half-shaved, a tattoo on his skull and a ring through his nose. He was so beautiful—it just made me love surfing that much more. It felt like I was in the middle of a crashing monster wave when I was at their house. I went into Nathan’s room—it hadn’t been cleaned in years. Surf paraphernalia everywhere, like a great piece of art. I knew I was photographing a record of their family, living there at that time. I just adored Herbie and Dibi. I kept imagining that they were like my adoptive parents. They taught me so much about the surfing world and surf clothes. They instantly became great friends of mine and still are to this day. I had some of my greatest times with them during our travels and visits over the years. Looking back at all of those surf films, I think that the Fletcher family’s story would have made the best surf film ever. I know that Sean Penn was really interested in it at one point, but then he got occupied with other films he was working on.

Click through and see more of Weber’s fabulous work, studded with torrid glares and barely concealed bacchanals.