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!


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.


Rick Kaned!

Exclusive: Shocking twist in Venice leash-pull “hate crime”!

The journey to nowhere continues!

For the past two days, the world has stood still while various theories have been tossed around for a leash-pull incident at Venice Beach, California.

You first read about it, here, BREAKING: “WORLD’S LAMEST SURF ASSAULT” CHALLENGED BY “AGGRESSIVE LEASH PULL INCIDENT” IN VENICE!, enjoyed the brief but to-the-point response in BLACK GIRLS SURF’S RHONDA HARPER: “I’M GOING TO TELL BEACHGRIT, NO FUCKING COMMENT!” and, yesterday, the reveal that maybe the leash-puller had been unfairly set upon in BUT WAIT: DID A POOR BRAZILIAN MAN GET PILLORIED FOR MERELY REMOVING A LEASH FROM HIS SURFBOARD’S NOSE?

Today, in an exclusive from a BeachGrit reader in Venice, the tableau is filled in just a little more.

His email reads:

Rhonda Harper, Danielle Lyons, and Khadija Sambe show up at the Venice Pier to meet with a crew from NBC.

Once there, the group of women became “bossy”, “territorial” , “acting like they run the place”, “telling other surfers they can’t surf here because they are going to film”. They were snaking several other surfers repeatedly. (This is coming from several surfers questioned about that day, all were asked separately about what happened and all were saying the same things.)

Wagner Lima, noticing the film crew, went up and asked who they were filming. “The pro surfer out there,” he was told by the cameraperson. Being told she was a pro surfer and with her own camera crew, Lima watched to check out her surfing. Not impressed with her level of surfing, Lima laughed it off as being a “joke”, which he told the camera person. (This is coming from Lima.)

Lima then hits the water to surf. Once in, he starts getting the same treatment the other surfers were getting from the women. Getting snaked too. After putting up with it for awhile, the wave with the leash pull happens.

Lima mentions how her leash went around his board, so he yanked it.

He attempt to say sorry right after, but she wasn’t having it.

They all go on about there day, Lima leaves the water, gets smoothie, does some business. He sees the women again in the parking lot and goes up to them to apologize again. He gets cursed out and sprayed head-to-toe with water from the women’s rinse kit.

Soon after is when Harper starts her ruthless online vendetta against Lima. She shows up at the Venice Pier the next day and tells Lima she is going to ruin him. (This comes from Lima.)

Apparently, Harper is infamous in Southern California for showing up to surf spots with her group and acting like they run the place. (This also comes from surfers that said they recognized who she was and know how she acts. There’s even comments on surf forums about her. Her personal Facebook page is filled with posts she made showing anger towards men, white people and the surf industry in general.)

Harper’s vendetta against Lima included contacting a fairly new website called Seamaven, which had previously wrote up a little story on Harper. The person behind the website Molly Lockwood ends up writing a blog post titled “Surf School Owner Spends Free Time Harassing Black Surfer At Venice Beach”.

Either Lockwood may have been been feed false info about the incident from Harper, or she just used race-baiting to push her own agenda. (This is just going off her story and her replies to anyone not agreeing with her. She refuses to accept the fact that her story is filled with inaccuracies. For F’s sake, she stated the wrong day of the week it happened) and stereotypes.

To sum it all up: these women showed up to a new surf spot, tried to run the place, started snaking all the other surfers, then one of them got snaked and Rick Cane’d.

What troubles me about the event, and it should you too, is the notion of a ‘rinse kit’.

Have you ever heard of such a thing?

When did they enter common parlance and usage?

And, do people actually walk into a store and buy or does it come in the complete adult learner package?


Kelly Slater: “I get scared of feeling like I’m alone in the world!”

Vulnerability!

Kelly Slater has given thousands of interviews in his professional life. He’s talked with all the surf magazines, all the real magazines, television hosts, podcasters, newspapers, blogs, etc. but maybe give the best of his career to Forbes just yesterday.

He spoke with Jim Clash whose byline for the financial publication reads, “I write about culture and adventure sports.” He asked Kelly five simple questions, just five.

1. What’s the biggest wave face you’ve surfed?

2. Where is your favorite place to surf, and where is scariest? (technically this should have been two questions in my opinion)

3. Who was your surfing idol growing up and who are the hot-shots today? (again, two)

4. What do you think of tow surfing?

He has insightful answers to each and you should read in entirety but the most insightful was to the question, “What are you afraid of?”

What’s Surfer Poll’s recently crowned 3rd most popular surfer in the world afraid of?

I guess we’re all afraid of dying on some level. And that fear is realistic in what I do. I know about a half dozen surfers who have drowned. Formula 1 may be more dangerous. I don’t know how many people have died there. But I do know Ayrton Senna was one. I get scared of feeling like I’m all alone in the world, and that no one can help me but me. But that’s kind of why we do what we do. It gives this sense of freedom that it’s you making all of the decisions.

Leaving aside that Kelly clearly had just watched the film Senna before the interview, does it surprise you that he gets scared of feeling like he’s all alone in the world and that no can help him?

I’m here, Kelly. I write about you once a day, sometimes twice, and when I’m writing I think about you, about what you’re doing, who you’re with etc. and then everyone talks about you in the comments below.

All in all, we spend about 3.5 hours a day on BeachGrit thinking, talking, wondering about you. Swing by next time you’re lonely or just listen to this song we got together and wrote for you.