Journalism: Are wave tanks swimming pools or are they lakes?

Major newspaper investigates recent events in Waco!

I don’t use the word “shocking” lightly but I do use it here because “surfing” and “journalism” haven’t shaken hands since Brad Melekian’s icon “Last Drop” published eight years ago. That is a long time, especially considering our ultra-fast world where news and newsworthy events happen multiple times a day.

Let’s not discuss whose fault it is that “surfing” and “journalism” are so estranged. Let’s not point fingers at Nick Carroll but instead let’s see what it looks like by reading The Houston Chronicle (pronounced “Hyoo-stun” as opposed to “How-stun” like they do in New York).

And here we go.

The investigative piece first describes how a young man from New Jersey died from a brain-eating amoeba after surfing the BSR Cable Park in Waco, Texas. Then, if you can believe, the journalists asks a question. We’ll pick it up from there.

Stabile’s case raised questions about how water was cleaned at the surf park, a new attraction growing in popularity across the country, and one of two in Texas. State law strictly regulates a similar park in Austin, but it is unclear whether the Waco park fit the same definition. A spokesperson for the Waco-McLennan County Public Health District said they did not inspect the facility and did not further explain why.

It also highlighted a lack of protocol surrounding what to do when such an uncommon, bewildering infection occurs. The park told the local health district it would close the wave Sept. 28 — seven days after Stabile’s death. But patrons said they continued to surf there until Sept. 30.

One who visited on Sept. 27, surfing at a cost of $90 an hour, said he saw officials collect test samples but was not warned about what happened.

It also highlighted a lack of protocol surrounding what to do when such an uncommon, bewildering infection occurs. The park told the local health district it would close the wave Sept. 28 — seven days after Stabile’s death. But patrons said they continued to surf there until Sept. 30.

“I think they should have given us a choice,” said Edward Denton, 47. “They should have told us: ‘There’s a potentially deadly amoeba that has a 97 percent death rate, and it’s your decision.’… Now I could wake up tomorrow with a severe headache and have a three percent chance of living. ”


On and on it goes, each turn more stunning than the next, and you should certainly read and digest but the question is proffered, at the end, that interested me very much.

Are wave tanks swimming pools or are they lakes?

The regulations around both are very different. Pool owners must filter and clean the water. Lakes merely get closed down to the public if an outbreak of, say, brain-eating amoebas occurs.

It is a good question, one I’d imagine very much changes the fortunes of wave tank owners and hopeful wave tank owners.

Also, as it relates, the World Surf League’s number one financial play seems to be Surf Ranch. Right? Either Surf Ranch or the new and improved air-show format.

As first reported by The Inertia, Surf Ranch’s GM recently informed the Lemoore City Council that it would remain private, never actually “opening” to the public.

Do you think this in order to skirt regulations? Water quality issues etc?

Hmmm. This journalism seems exciting and I am going to call someone and ask.

Ouch: Australian cricket legend breaks neck while surfing!

Miraculously ok!

It was revealed yesterday that hall of fame cricket legend Matthew Hayden fractured his spine while surfing North Stradbroke, or Straddie, after running his forehead into the sandbar. Hayden, who is most famous for his ability as a batsman, holds the record for the highest score ever made by an Australian and the second highest innings by an Australian ever in India.

He was quoted in the Times of India as saying:

“It was an hour into the session and we had had half dozen waves together and I got this one right handed wave which I sort of ducked under and that is pretty much all I can remember.”

“I wasn’t knocked out. I was speared into the top of the sandbank onto the top of my head. Then it twisted my head with my own weight and the weight of the wave.”

“I heard this god almighty click in my neck. I did not get knocked out but I sort of came to and rolled up on my back.”

Hayden said he was able to get back onto the beach, but had scans later that day, which revealed the extent of his injuries.

It is a wonder, miracle even, that more surfers don’t get brutally and ghoulishly disfigured every day. Imagine all the things that can go wrong. Between water, rock, sand, kook, SUP, shark, brain-eating amoeba, etc. And yet imagine how rare news like actually is.

A miracle.

And back to cricket, briefly. It is not a popular sport in the United States, either to watch or play, and this is a great shame. I learned of the joys whilst in an Indian hill station many years ago. Sri Lanka vs. Pakistan was playing on the television in a coffee shop and a kindly Indian man spent two hours explaining the nuances of the game, the differences between test cricket and one-day cricket etc.

It very well might be the perfect game. Either cricket or Australian Rules Football.

Tell me a better. I dare you.

Surf Ranch
The beautiful pipes of Surf Ranch coming to an unlovely part of Australia. And next door, sorta, to the Webber pool! | Photo: KSWaveCo

(Hot) Rumour: WSL to build surf ranch next to Webber wave pool in Queensland crime heartland!

One of Australia's unloveliest towns to be gifted two wavepools! A Surf Ranch and a Webber!

Rumours are rarely as hot as this. From a source ever so well connected with the WSL, it has been revealed over the course of several long phone calls, that Logan, south of Brisbane, will be getting its own Surf Ranch on the site of the old Ingham Chicken factory – the second lousy town to be revived by the fantastic Slater-Fincham device.

And, said the source, the WSL wants to get it built…fast… as it tries to wrestle momentum away from American Wave Machines and Wavegarden with their commercially proven designs.

The name’ll be familiar because it’s where the company Tunnel Vision is going to build a Webber pool. The construction certificate, for that tank, is due to be passed within days. And if there ain’t complications, in come the diggers for a build that could take, in theory, as little as four months.

Greg Webber was in Thailand watching slow-motion footage of Kelly at his pool when BeachGrit started throwing lines at 4:53am, local time.

I wrote, “WSL building pool nearby, what’s happening with yours etc, could Tunnel Vision have changed tech and we’re talking about the same build?”

“Unlikely. They’ve asked me if it’s possible to make an unending ride with a looped linear. I sighed, thinking my god, asking for such a change so late but I went over it in my head and worked out that it’s possible.”

Did he believe Tunnel Vision will go with the endless loop?

“Yes, since it’ll make for a really novel experience. Trippy almost Going from a peeing point break stye with an acute ange to the gradient then bowly almost ninety-degree angled wall with a whitewash pal as you go around the end curve. Then, gradually getting faster and faster as it goes back to peeling pointbreak on the straight gradient again… No matte what there’ll be a wall where it hits the curved end pool step. It might not offer more than a cutback or two but who cars, you’ve just rounded the bend for your next high-speed run. Imagine, rippable first wall, ride the bend, then peeing pipe. Kind of fun…and…and exciting.”

How’d it change the design?

“Had to almost double the width of the centre island to do it. Plus other hub angle and speed changes.”

Of course, with the secrecy surrounding the building of pools and the millions of dollars involved, nothing is what it seems, and the proof will be, as they say in the classics, in the pudding.

If it happens, Logan, with its multi-generational unemployment, poverty and ultra-high crime rate (ram-raids, granny drug dealers, incest, murder, incest-murder, cop killers and so forth) might be changed forever.

And changed in the most beautiful way.

More as this story develops.

From the vault: An ode to surf adventuring!

We are young. We are dumb. We are full of adventure.

We, all of us, travel to surf. We go to the ends of the Earth. We drive and fly and sail and let our hair grow and don’t shower and feel the salt on our skin for days, even weeks, straight. We adventure. And adventure narrative is always clichéd, or almost always, especially surf adventure narrative. It plays out awkwardly and causes reading eyes to glaze with familiarity. Listening ears to bore. The same themes. Discovery, hardship, discovery, the simple joys of sleeping on dirt and surfing clean, uncrowded rights or lefts.

Always the same.

But, I will say, there is also something cute about it. Something fresh and youthfully naïve. When we are on a surf adventure we are the first people on earth to experience what we are experiencing. We are the first people on earth to round the bend and see the wave. To get barreled. To crawl through the cave and climb into the light and really see. Even if the bend is just past Huatulco and the wave is Barra de la Cruz. Even if the barrel is Colorado in Nicaragua. Even if the cave is Uluwatu.

For when we adventure everything that happens, happens only for us. When we go on surf adventures we are the first surf adventurers on earth.

It has all become so easy, or easier than it used to be. We can book our flights online. We can check spots, even watching streaming cameras, thousands of miles away. We can devour first-hand website information complete with tide, crowd, parking information. But as soon as we board our flights we are still the first.

Our cynicism falls away and we enjoy the uniqueness of our situation. The clove smoke from the taxi driver smells alive. The Mexican ditch digger looks quaint and we imagine, even if for only a minute, that he has discovered the secret to life. He is unburdened by material possession and lives just outside of Barra. He can surf it whenever he wants! Of course, he has never surfed it, nor will he ever, but we can still naively dream.

When we arrive back home, regular life sets in. We go to our office jobs or back to school but we are tanner and leaner than we were before and our eyes are hungrier. When the receptionists asks about the tan we tell her, “I was in Indo…” and “Indo” has been done to death by surfers but it hasn’t been done to death by the receptionist and she coos and thinks we are exotic, as long as we don’t go on and on and on about the reef pass and the lost surfboards and the barrels. As long as we keep it simple.

And we coddle our memories, chewing them over when the Northern Hemisphere winter sets in and we are cold and miserable and our own surf is flat. We go to the bar and, even if we don’t say, “I was in Indo three months ago…” we know that, “I was in Indo three months ago…” and that makes us better than every other person in the bar.

Yes, we are the first surf adventurers on earth, all of us. We are the first and we are beautiful because we keep the fires of discovery alive. And the older we get, the more complicated our lives get. They are shrouded in mortgages and bills and promotions. But as soon as we book another surf adventure, as soon as we board our flights, we are still the first. We are young. We are dumb. We are full of adventure.

From the locals-only Department: United Airlines declares war on California surfers!

A wild horde is coming to your favorite wave, wakeboards and paddleboards in tow!

Trigger warning: I woke up grouchy this morning. My computer informed me, throughout yesterday, that today would be the start of daylight savings and I was cherishing that extra hour. Not for sleep but for work. For you. I woke up realizing it was a lie, maybe daylight savings started in Australia, and now have one less hour for writing masterpieces.

Also, I read that United Airlines is waiving surfboard airline baggage fees for people flying to California in order to celebrate surfing being officially designated California’s state sport.

It’s fucking bullshit and would you like to read the official press account?

Surfing is now the official sport of California, prompting United Airlines to reduce its fees for checking a surfboard.

The $150 to $200 service fee will be waived for customers traveling to or from California. They will have to pay only the regular checked-bag fee.

Wakeboarders and paddleboarders — the service fee is waived for your boards, too.

“California made it official: surfing is our state sport,” Janet Lamkin, United’s president for California, said in a news release. “We want to make it easier for customers to surf our beautiful beaches, whether they’re visiting or call the Golden State home.”

United is also donating $50,000 to Sustainable Surf, a California-based environmental nonprofit.

Damn them. Damn them all with their wakeboards and paddleboards and mostly their surfboards flooding in to California, crowding our beaches, crowding our breaks. How is that a celebration? How is that a bonus for us? What they should have done is waive fees for surfers traveling from California.

Now that would have been a gift.