Holiday cheer: The World Surf League President-elect of Content, Media and WSL Studios brightens your season!

Ho ho ho!

We are in that time of year when “Surfing Santas” become as ubiquitous as Christmas trees in any and every coastal/surf community across the globe. Cocoa Beach, Florida, Kelly Slater’s hometown, tries to boast that it is the Surfing Santa capital while Huntington Beach, California and Bondi, Australia fight for recognition too. I suppose it is cute, or cute enough, but not nearly as cute as the World Surf League’s President-elect of Content, Media an WSL Studios dressing like a stick-wielding elf in a Manhattan Beach, California.

To be honest, I didn’t know that Santa’s li’l helpers carried sticks but that is a sniveling critique to make when faced with such wonder, with the very embodiment of Christmas cheer. I don’t want to write this because I feel it might be perceived as unnecessarily hurtful, but doesn’t ELo look like a…. I’m searching for a word that’s not “pimp” but has the same meaning. A…. flesh-peddler? In the best sartorial sense I mean.

I don’t have anything more to say, other than I look forward to finally meeting Mr. Erik Logan in less than a month for in less than a month he sheds the “elect” in “president-elect” and actually takes his proper place in Santa Monica’s high tower, lording over content, media and WSL studios. He promised to chat, I think, and I have no doubt that he’ll understand our humor, that he’ll see us as a valuable addition to the World Surf League family.

Don’t you think so?

I have never met a man who rides SUPs, religiously, that doesn’t have a finely-hewn sense of humor. Also, I’m certain the World Surf League is thrilled with our twin billing in today’s The New Yorker.

How could they not be?


Watch: Chippa Wilson tear hell out of softboards in “Twenty”!

Twenty tricks, twenty boards, all in one three-hour session.

A few Sundays ago, BeachGrit joined with Chris “Chippa” Wilson for a very summer challenge: nail twenty tricks on different softboards over the course of one morning.

Chris, whom I first met ten years ago when he entered a contest I ran in my old surf mag and who took my breath away, then, in the same manner Dane Reynolds did as a seventeen year old, was the only man I felt capable of the challenge.

(Take a brief detour here to reacquaint yourself with Chip’s latest film, Video Number Four, which won Best Short at the Surfer Poll awards.)

On surfboards one would hardly consider able to fly, Chippa nails shuv-its, 540s frontside and backside and a 1440, proving anything is possible on these friendly beasts.

Boards used: Catch Surf 7’6” Odysea, Catch Surf 5’6” Odysea, Drag Dart 5’6”, El Nino 7’0” Cruiser, GSI 7’6” Beach Cruiser, GSI 5’6” Flounder Pounder, MF 6’0” Beastie, MF 5’2” Little Marley, Mullet 5’2” Fish Finger, Softlite 5’6” Mad Lab Beaker, Drag Drumstick, Mullet Spade, Softech 4’8” Kyuss King, Softech 5’2″ Mason Ho twinDrag 7’6” Coffin, MF 5’6” Eugenie, GSI Seaglass Project 5’6” Albacore and a Softlite 6’0” Pop Stick.

Click on the play button above for the long-form version (scored to the Barracudas’ Summer Fun or hit play, below, for the one-minute cut with John Cooper Clarke’s epic poem of futility, Evidently Chickentown.)

Literature: Pulitzer prize-winning author lionizes the great “Backward Fin Beth!”

"The BeachGrit crew was ecstatic."

It was with tremendous joy that I woke this morning to find the Pulitzer prize-winning author William Finnegan had penned an 8000 word dissection of Kelly Slater’s Surf Ranch for The New Yorker. I had heard he was there for the Surf Ranch Pro in September the same exact day I was but only heard after I had left. Oh how I would have liked to shake his hand. How I would have liked to thank him for writing a surf book (Barbarian Days… buy here!) that won the grandest award in all of literature.

Reading his elevated take is the next best thing to actually meeting him, I suppose, and I savored every word of Kelly Slater’s Shock Wave while sipping my black coffee sans cream or sugar, enjoying his take on what it all means, why it matters etc.

He quoted Matt Warshaw, calling him surfing’s “unofficial historian” which made me a little sad for Matt. He has written both the History of Surfing and the Encyclopedia of Surfing. What must he do to become surfing’s “official historian?” Is it something we can crowdfund? I’ll look into it for us.

He talked to Kelly Slater, the engineer Adam Fincham, Steph Gilmore, surf fans and various other persons involved in the event, in the pool, in the World Surf League and I was humming right along until I reached the following passage:

As if to confirm everyone’s suspicions, Beth Greve, the W.S.L.’s chief commercial officer, was photographed in Bali lugging a beginner’s board across the beach with the fins put in backward. Backward Fins Beth became famous in surf world—more than half a million views on @kook_of_the_day. And then BeachGrit, an Australian Web site that delights in trolling the W.S.L., blew up the image to billboard size and installed it on a freeway in Lemoore, just in time for the Surf Ranch Pro. The billboard shot zoomed around the surfing Internet.

Slater saw it. He is a tireless online poster, with a rare degree of patience. On his Instagram feed, a magnet for cranks of all kinds, he has spent years debating flat-Earthers, laying out innumerable scientific proofs that the planet is round. He’s a well-informed environmentalist; right-wing flamethrowers rain hellfire on him for that, and he often takes the trouble to reply to them individually. When the Backward Fins Beth billboard went viral, Slater showed a tiny bit of pique. On the BeachGrit Instagram feed, he wrote, “Funny. Cheap. Character Revealing.” The BeachGrit crew was ecstatic. They had successfully trolled the king.

I smiled broadly remembering those days so not very long ago and read the sentence, “The BeachGrit crew was ecstatic.” once more. Then thought of all the times Derek and I have giddily texted back and forth, both laughing on different sides of the Pacific, examining every facet, every nuance of utterly pointless minutia, from Backward to ELo to Leashgate. We are so easily prodded into ecstasy and maybe that is what makes us different. Maybe that is our spark.

You must, anyhow, read every word of the Finnegan masterpiece but speaking of ELo…. a glorious Christmas treat coming right up!

shark attack
A pal of Mason's who was examining the surf, Scott Boxsell, said, "I was pretty keen to go out there too and he just…disappeared. We all know the risk out here but we sorta take it on." | Photo: @9news

Surfer hit by shark on Australia’s mid-north coast: “He just disappeared!”

Man nicknamed "Shark Bait" becomes ninth serious shark attack victim in Australia in past two months…

You could get a terrible cramp in your typing fingers from covering every shark attack in Australia, especially as the needle swings over to summer.

Fatals, yes, attacks on surfers, sometimes, depending on the wound.

Yesterday’s attack on a surfer who proudly wears the nickname “Shark Bait” was the ninth serious shark in Australia in the past 71 days.

Joel Mason, who is thirty six, was attacked by a shark near Scotts Head Beach in Nambucca Heads. Mason swam to the nearby breakwall where an off-duty lifeguard used his leash for a tourniquet and beach towels to slow the bleeding from his mauled leg.

A pal of Mason’s who was examining the surf, Scott Boxsell, said, “I was pretty keen to go out there too and he just…disappeared. We all know the risk out here but we sorta take it on.”

Mason’s dad, Rob, said there ain’t a thing his son likes more than a solo early and said, “He says he’s shark  bait but he’s prepared to take the risk and he does.”

A helicopter took Mason to John Hunter hospital in Newcastle three hundred clicks south for surgery, making an emergency landing for more blood on the way.

All nearby beaches were subsequently closed etc, not that that means much I suppose.

Olympic news: British surfers receive “aspirational fund” to compete in Tokyo!

An ascendant surfing power house!

When it was first announced that surfing would be in the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan a shiver was sent down the world’s collective spine. It was the most exciting sporting news since solo synchronized swimming was included in the 1988 Games in Seoul, Korea but there were also many questions.

Would the competition take place in a Kelly Slater wave pool? (A fresh rumor suggest no.)

Would Kelly Slater, speaking of, become the oldest Olympic gold medalist in history?

Would only three nations (Brazil, Hawaii and Australia) field teams?

Well, recent developments suggest that Great Britain is becoming a dark horse favorite thanks to a new “aspirational fund” and let’s learn more about it.

Britain’s surfers, skateboarders and softball players are to receive official funding for the first time to help them qualify for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. Surfing will receive £192,500 as part of UK Sport’s new “aspirational fund”, which aims to support sports which do not receive full lottery funding to realise their Olympic and Paralympic ambitions and inspire future generations, with skateboarding getting £162,500 and softball £62,500.

The decision to give money to smaller sports is widely seen as a welcome softening of UK Sport’s hardline “no compromise” approach, where only sports with a strong chance of winning a medal received backing. It was hailed by the new sports minister, Mims Davies, who said it would allow more athletes to compete at the very top in Tokyo.

“It will help Great Britain and Northern Ireland continue to be a leading Olympic and Paralympic nation and I am sure the athletes that will benefit will inspire the nation and help their sports grow,” she said.

I am sure too.