Dirk Ziff, far right (geographically speaking), with famous pals including WSL world champ Gabriel Medina, Kelly Slater, Stephanie Gilmore and noted film impresario Harvey Weinstein.

Breaking: The World Surf League implicated in ongoing Russia intrigue!

The last time surfing was so close to nefarious international plots Richard Milhous Nixon lived at Lowers.

I don’t know if world news gets anymore fabulous than this, to be honest. The last time surfing was so close to nefarious international plots, subplots and counterplots Richard Milhous Nixon lived at Lowers.

Or Cottons.

And what am I on about?

Four Coors Golden Banquet Beers before lunch but also the just released news that the owner of professional surfing, Dirk Ziff, has run afoul of the Kremlin in a new exclusive revelation and let’s read some together from BuzzFeed.

US Treasury Department officials used a Gmail back channel with the Russian government as the Kremlin sought sensitive financial information on its enemies in America and across the globe, according to documents reviewed by BuzzFeed News.

The extraordinary unofficial line of communication arose in the final year of the Obama administration — in the midst of what multiple US intelligence agencies have said was a secret campaign by the Kremlin to interfere in the US election. Russian agents ostensibly trying to track ISIS instead pressed their American counterparts for private financial documents on at least two dozen dissidents, academics, private investigators, and American citizens.

Most startlingly, Russia requested sensitive documents on Dirk, Edward, and Daniel Ziff, billionaire investors who had run afoul of the Kremlin. That request was made weeks before a Russian lawyer showed up at Trump Tower offering top campaign aides “dirt” on Hillary Clinton — including her supposed connection to the Ziff brothers.


The story goes on forever and ever and maybe we should also read together but let’s not. Let’s speculate blindly and wildly that if it’s true that the Russians were able to manipulate the United States elections then might they also be able to manipulate the World Surf League’s judging tower?

Things have been awfully strange this year, score-wise.

Awfully awfully strange.

Does anyone have a line into the Kremlin here? Like a real one and not just a random Russian cousin. I think the long-whispered “Rebel Tour” may finally have some legs.

I’d hold three events in Kamchatka if I was named lifetime commissioner. I’d drug test all the surfers and a “fail” would be if no vodka showed up in their systems. Dane Reynolds would be back and John John Florence too whether they wanted to be or not.

Mr. Putin? Are you there?

Can we have a quick chat re. professional surfing and a possible “under new management” sign?

Changing of the Guard: Maxim magazine declares the end of the Kelly Slater era!

"Step aside, Kelly Slater!"

I haven’t slept well since the Pipeline Masters in love me tender memory of Andy Irons got underway. Oh sure the thrill was enough to keep any sensible man awake but my own insomnia has been born of regret and shame. The last time David Lee and I chatted, you see, I declared that Kelly Slater would lose in round 1 then lose again in round 2 and be finished. That his creaky old body wouldn’t be able to adjust like it once did, cat-like reflexes slipping all the way away.

Then he went and made it into the semis with a now famous “Miracle 3.”

How could I have been so wrong? I felt something… felt the end.

This morning, though, my initial instinct was proven correct. Sure Kelly did very well at Pipe but Maxim magazine just declared the end of his era and the birth of our new star. Let’s read!

Step aside, Kelly Slater. There’s a new surfing superstar who’s taking the Internet by storm with a crazy viral video.

Big wave surfer Tom Butler (who’s English!) rode an absolutely ginormous wave that was estimated to be 100-feet tall at Nazare, Portugal on Friday in what many believe will set the new world record for biggest wave ever surfed.

Good Lord.

“It’s the biggest wave surfed in the world this season and could beat the current big wave world record,” Butler told Cornwall Live.

The current record holder is Brazilian Rodrigo Koxa, who rode an 80-foot wave in November 2017, also at Nazare, a famed big wave surfing spot.

The record is unlikely to be confirmed until the World Surf League Big Wave Awards in April 2019, filmmaker Pedro Miranda posted in the description of the video he shot showing Butler’s feat.

“This [record] is tricky,” Miranda said. “Tommy is a very tall guy, measuring 6-feet, 2-inches. Any wave ridden by him will always look way smaller than it really is. Not calling this a world record because I don’t like to go into speculation, but whatever measure you think it is, the wave will be way bigger after analyzed by the WSL experts.

The 29-year-old surfer teamed with German big-wave surfer Sebastian Steudtner, who towed him into the wave.

“I reckon it was maybe 90 or even 100 feet. When I get home I’ll try to figure it out. It was a monster, I know that for sure.”

Tom Butler. It’s got a ring to it, no?

Ken Collins
The sorta wave that gives a violent gastric disturbance, skilfully wrangled by Ken Collins. | Photo: Frank Quirate

From the melancholy love department: Santa Cruz Big-Wave Legend Quits Mavericks for good!

"I'm hanging up my Mav's guns and never paddling out again."

Earlier today, the noted big-wave surfer from Santa Cruz, Ken Collins, also known, variously, as Skindog and Skin Dizzle, announced he’d quit Mavericks for good.

Via Instagram,

12/18/18 Monday was one of the best days I have ever been out at Mavz. Grateful. @small_wave was calling it a Collectors Edition Mavz Dayz. With all the special features n shit. And that’s how I want to remember my last day surfing Mavericks for the rest of my life. So that’s it, that’s a wrap, I’m hanging up my Mavz Gunz and never going to paddle out again. I don’t want my last day to be an injury, because I feel too old, or I am bitter at the crowds. It’s because I am 50 years old (old af) and the timing is perfect. The day was perfect, the vibe was perfect, and my time to kick out…..perfect. Don’t worry y’all will see me on a boat or ski smashing a Modelo, watching the Best Show On Earth screaming from the side lines, cheering all the players in this epic game. I have been Chasing Monsters for over 30 years and now it’s time to start chasing other dreams, like epic powder days in Tahoe with my family.

An elegant sign-off and reminiscent, I think, of Matthew 5-13.

“Ye are the salt of the earth. But if the salt hath lost its favour, wherewith shall it be salted?”

A very brief recap of Collins’ career.

In 2007, he won the Billabong XXL Ride of the Year and Monster Tube category on the same rowdy Puerto wave, netting fifty gees.

The win came two years after a wipeout at Jaws two years previous that cracked his emotional plate.

“I told myself I wasn’t going to do this anymore, but then I had a complete change of heart,” Collins told Surfer. “I went back and changed my equipment and focused on the safety angle a bit more and it all came together.”

In 2013, Collins turned on Laird Hamilton who’d said unkind things about Carlos Burle and Maya Gabeira and their pet wave Nazaré.

And, in 2016, he nearly drowned at the Titans of Mavericks contest.

“The water hit me. I was so disoriented, going in all directions. This is the scariest thing I’ve ever done,” said Collins, who was held under by three waves. “Things happened fast. So easy, so quick, when the water hit me, it felt like the whole ocean came down on me. I thought I had a concussion at first, I was so dizzy. I’ve never been hit so hard. It was coming down my throat.”

Mavericks, of course, ain’t a stranger to killing.

The Hawaiians, Mark Foo and Sion Milosky, died after hold-downs in 1994 and 2011 after chasing swells from their Pacific island homes.

“When u know u know,” Flea Virotsko wrote in response to Collins’ announcement.

In 1998 Flea almost died when he was washed into rocks on a day Collins described, then, as “tubing death wishes.”

Conspiracy: Caio Ibelli denied injury wildcard because he follows BeachGrit on Instagram!

Racism at its very worst!

There are some 28 odd professional surfers on the World Championship Tour and none of them, not one of them, follow BeachGrit on Instagram. One did last year though. His name was Caio Ibelli but he is not on the World Championship Tour anymore because he has been relegated to the World Qualifying Series even though the rules clearly stated that he should have been gifted a wildcard for the 2019 season.

Caio was properly injured, you see, but two other “injured” surfers were allowed into the 2019 draw before him.


It can only be reasoned because he follows BeachGrit on Instagram.

Oh, I’m not saying BeachGrit‘s Instagram is a place you want to be. It is filled to overflowing with social justice warriors and adult learners, one would imagine that is the World Surf League’s demo and one would not be wrong, but Caio Ibelli was also there and he was swiftly kicked onto the World Qualifying Series where there is much wailing and gnashing of teeth.

I am going to consider suing the World Surf League for discrimination on Caio’s behalf.

The World Surf League now has a pattern of discrimination. First, BeachGrit was the only surf-based website not to receive WSL Pipeline advertisements. Second Caio Ibelli was the only World Surf League World Championship Tour surfer to follow BeachGrit on Instagram and he was ignominiously and racistly shown the door to the World Qualifying Series where there is much wailing and gnashing of teeth.

Who amongst you is a lawyer and wants to take this important case up pro bono? (BTW I have a wonderful friend who did work for U2 so “pro bono” here means both “free” and “with an official signed Bono headshot.”)

Also, Ryan Callinan? Are you there? I know you are going to be on the World Surf League World Championship Tour and also follow BeachGrit on Instagram. Please, unfollow if you know what’s good for you.

I personally don’t want you to.

I want you to enjoy our “click link in profile” charm year ’round but it puts your profession in harm’s way and I don’t want that.

Unless you want to join our lawsuit alongside Caio Ibelli. I guarantee fun, maybe a severance (depending on the quality of our pro bono council) and an official signed Bono headshot.

What do you say?

Michael Rodrigues
Brazilian footpath warrior Michael Rodrigues heads to secret meet with Hawaiians. | Photo: Steve Sherman/@tsherms

Revealed for first time: Michael Rodrigues and Tanner Hendrickson’s secret post-fight meeting!

"Let's fucking fix this now!"

It’s been one week since the Tanner Hendrickson vs Michael Rodrigues fight card and, boy, has there been a torrent of water under the bridge since: Parko retired, Kelly mounted his surfboard mid-tube, maybe best Pipe Masters ever, happy Brazilian as two-time world champ.

But, while all that was bubbling, Michael Rodrigues, the leash-yanking Brazilian WCT rookie and the Maui surfer Tanner Hendrickson, who engaged in a wrestle that ended in Tanner being banned from the Pipe Trials, were summed to what you might call a frontier justice meeting. Heading the extraordinary meet was Kimo Leong, Makaha Beach Boy and the founder of Kanaka Security Solutions, the muscle that handles security for the North Shore during the Triple Crown of Surfing.

Here’s how Steve Sherman, the photographer who snatched this moment, calls it: “I was walking down the Pipe path and I see M-Rod walking with a bunch of Brazilian heavies and we talk for a second. Kimo (Leong) and the boys from security, the Hawaiians, have pulled him and Tanner Hendrickson into a meeting, saying, ‘Let’s fix this fucking thing now.’ They flew Tanner over from Maui and had this meeting on the DL. And I was there to catch the moment, which was like Rabbit in Bustin’ Down the Door being summoned by Eddie Aikau to a meeting. When I got that photo I held onto it for a little bit. I didn’t put it on Instagram or broadcast it. But we can tell the story now.”

Sherm had his own moment with Kimo and the boys five years ago.

“They roughed me up on the beach a little bit. I was following Kelly out of the water and they were telling me to stand back and then they grabbed my backpack from behind and launched me twelve feet into the air. I looked at ’em and said, ‘Is that it?’ They loved that. And from that point on, they’ve taken care of me. It’s the same with all the Hawaiians. If you don’t hassle, if you show respect, you’re cool.”

As for Tanner and Rodrigues, Sherm says he spoke to both of ’em after.

“It all worked out. They shook hands, they compromised. Which is great because they both fucking hated each other. I was at the US Open when Tanner got hassled in the water by M-Rod, grabbing his leash, treating him like shit, and he came out of the water freaking out. But in this instance, they were both cool, ultimately. They were men about it.”