Banned: Australia’s most popular beach outlaws foil boards!

Get ready for a spike in popularity!

Do you remember when rap music became very naughty in the late 1980s with mothers and preachers and Al’s wife Tipper Gore freaking out and forcing those black and white parental advisory stickers onto tape and compact disc cases? I do and how much more attractive did they make that music? How much more desirable?

I’ll tell you. So much! I don’t know that Ice-T would have had a career if it wasn’t for the parental advisory sticker and I fear the same sort of thing may happen to foil surfboards.

You know the ones. Surfboards and now standup paddleboards too that have been retrofitted with a guillotine. I always assumed they would be virtually impossible to ride by the average adult learner, even below average adult re-learners like me, so didn’t really worry.

Didn’t really worry until Bondi beach, Australia’s most popular, went and banned them. And let’s read about it.

A renowned Sydney beach has banned a popular surf trend amid claims it is too dangerous.

Waverley City Council moved to outlaw foil surfing at Bondi Beach in Sydney’s east as it was ‘too dangerous’ in crowded waters, Daily Telegraph reported.

‘Due to their high speed and the metal-like keel that raises it out of the water… lifeguards have determined it was too dangerous to allow these boards,’ a council spokesperson said.

Foil surfing involves the use of a board fitted with an aerodynamic hyrdofoil.

The conspicuously longer fin suspends the board way above the surface of the water and lends greater speed.

Surfers can use the aerodynamically superior board to catch waves in flat seas or trail the back of a boat.

Professional surfer James Casey has hit back against claims the boards pose a danger.

He said the boards were safe in the hands of a seasoned surfer.

‘You can’t just grab one and try to go and catch waves.

‘It is hard.’


And now, like Ice-T, I fear these things might take off. The allure of bucking the law. The scent of danger. The scent of danger and decapitated heads floating in the lineup.

Damn it.

There’s gonna be lots more foilboards.

Standoff: Surfers and jetski pilots clash over big wave in Oregon!

Also rogue logs!

Do you have a vested interest in the ski vs. paddle debate? Are you a bold jetski pilot, thrilling your friends with trips out to the big stuff? Are you a traditionalist who would rather give up surfing altogether rather than fill the air with an exhaust-laden whine?

I am neither but a new clash in my home state of Oregon makes me want to choose sides.

Nelscott Reef, directly west from Salem, is Oregon’s premier big wave even featuring a big wave contest but lately its also a battlefield. And let us turn to the Newport Times for more.

Surfing will take the spotlight at a city council meeting Monday, Jan. 28, where big-wave promoter John Forse intends to lodge a complaint against rival surfers over another dangerous incident at Nelscott Reef.

Forse released a photograph this week of a chilling encounter between a jet ski and a surfer that shows them on a collision path. No injuries occurred as the 750-pound watercraft veered away at the last moment. Forse said the incident occurred about a week ago during non-contest conditions.

“The jet-ski was going 30 to 35 mph,” claimed Forse, saying state marine laws forbid motorized boats from straying within 100 feet of surfers. “It’s like driving a boat through a group of swimmers.”

Meanwhile, Oregon State Police say they are monitoring the situation, which falls into their jurisdiction.

State Trooper Scott Severson stated, “Jet skiiers will be cited if appropriate, and we will shut down (any contests) if operations are unsafe.”

The newly-documented encounter comes in the wake of another incident that occurred during a Nov. 29, 2017, big wave contest where several onlookers were struck and briefly pinned by a log that swept onto the beach.

Forse, who founded big-wave surfing at the reef and has held an annual contest there since 2004, claimed the city contributed to the unsafe situation by issuing a license to a rival group that was fined in municipal court as a result of the 2017 beach accident.

Well that got very exciting at the end. The log that pinned onlookers during the event? A rival group of fans? What sort of log was it? Maybe one of Erik Logan’s @infinity_sup #blurrV2?

I’ll get to the bottom of it.

From the shear-that-goddamn-shit-off-me dept: Firewire releases surfboard made from sheep hair!

You’re all filthy, gnawing rats killing the planet. Now buy this surfboard.

The story goes that New Zealand shaper Paul Barron was pouring resin over a board and spilt some on his wool sweater. It’s a story of ruined outerwear, to be sure, but there’s more.

The moment gave Barron a spark.

Three years on, Barron Surfboards is working with Mark Price of Firewire to use wool cloth instead of traditional fiberglass wrap.

The “Woolight” boards should be available this new year.

But why bring shepherds in? ‘Cause fiberglass ain’t too eco-anything and wool-based resin is much friendlier to the planet, much more “sustainable”, as they say.

According to Barron and Price, it’s also going to help a troubled wool industry in NZ.

Watch two drips introduce Price and Barron as they explain what they are up to here.

Price says, “The closer we can bring our surfing equipment to the natural world and reduce its toxicity it’s a win.”

Ahh, the surfboard as message, metaphor and theory!

The past few years have shown us boards made from a mishmash of materials: discarded cardboard, tossed aluminum cans, cigarette butts (mine), vinyl records, Styrofoam coffee cups and any other piece of roadside trash coloring the highway.

The now-drying Tom Wolfe shared that any successful piece of modern art needs a theory – a message – and these art boards certainly come ready: you’re all filthy, gnawing rats killing the planet.

Now, buy my art board.

These things are more installation than vehicle, though, yes?

The unusual greyish wool decks on the Barron/Firewire look equal parts tool and art, but maybe not the kinds we see hung over a fireplace.

woolite surfboard Firewire
The now-drying Tom Wolfe shared that any successful piece of modern art needs a theory – a message – and these art boards certainly come ready: You’re all filthy, gnawing rats killing the planet. Now, buy my art board.

These Woolight boards might say something about sustainability, sure, but also gliding on seriously fine equipment. Testers say that they’ve got the same feel as a normal glassed board. When he’s not prattling on with Chas in aisle six, Machado’s even had them underfoot, not a bad endorsement.

(Or should we wait for an official Longtom review before throwing out our cash for the shepherd’s delight?)

Either way, most of us would be numb to the subtleties.

And question marks pop up, too, about widespread use of eco-boards by the everyman. South African outfit Hurricane Surfboards plays with bio-materials like flax and hemp. Word is that Twiggy Baker will be riding them exclusively next season and that’s great, but they say the boards have much longer curing times than resin and eco-materials costs up to 300% more to use. That’s gotta pass down to you and me somehow.

So, let’s get some perspective in here by Surf Prescriptions deity Jeff Doc Lausch.

Doc’s been planer-in-hand for over thirty years and knows a bit about glass.

“I’m all for new materials that out-perform and are better for the environment. However, if they fail in being as strong, easy to work with, and cosmetically beautiful then it doesn’t make much sense to me,” he says.

But has Doc ever played with alt-materials?

“The first surfboard I ever made, in 1969, was a stripped-down log that I glassed in my friend’s carport with a bedsheet and polyester resin. Board lasted about 15 minutes!”

Always interested in alternate materials, though, he never abandoned the idea and a couple of years ago built some boards with cardboard core.

“One was wrapped in paper that was soaked in some poly-latex paint stuff. Board lasted about one hour. The other was wrapped in fiberglass soaked in polyester resin and the board was strong and durable. It’s still rideable today.”

Doc offers a reasonable balance.

He says that he believes all of us surfers care deeply about the environment, but we also care about surfing at the highest level of our abilities. If there is an alternative that proves to be equal or better in all areas of performance and durability it will be accepted.

“Fiberglass has proven to be all things needed to manufacture and state of the art performance surf craft.

Cleanly stated, “fibreglass rules,” says the good doctor.

Firewire keeps a hard eye on the future, and there’s talk about expanding the wool technology to boats and other craft.

A good investment here?

Is there a market for this?

Or do we simply care first about steamrolling waves on trusted fiberglass?

Kohn Christensen defrosts a delectable treasure two nights ago at Pipe. | Photo: Photo by Daniel Russo

Kelly Slater: “Is this the best Pipeline shot of all time?”

"This picture sums up why we surf," says Champ.

In case you haven’t been strolling the golden sands of the North Shore this past week, here’s some news.

The waves have been real good.

The sorta surf that makes you caw like a sat-on cat. Or, if you’re the timid kind, makes your eyes fill up with tears.

Two nights ago, Kohl Christensen, a tradesman who also trades in bigger-than-usual waves, got himself dosed at Pipe, with master craftsman Daniel Russo there on a ski (“Believe me, there were 25 swimming photogs,” says Kelly) to steal the moment.

The angle, and the longer lens, gives this very heavy day a rare distant softness.

“Is this the best Pipeline shot of all time? On his last wave of the day, on the best day of the year, on his final ride before the birth of his second daughter…a roll-in from Second Reef on an 8’6” Brewer,” Kelly Slater announced to his two million Instagram followers. “This picture sums up why we surf. And nobody seems to be more in tune with the ocean than Kohl.”

Russo, for his part, tell me, “I’m biased but I’m putting it as my best image ever at Pipeline. I feel like this winter has seen a record amount of good days at Pipeline. Plenty of magical waves, goals achieved by surfers and so on. But the illusion to capture that one moment hadn’t showed up until this wave. The time of day that created classic backlit Pipeline. The time of year allowing the sun, the tide and winds to align just right; the energy that travelled thousands of miles under the ocean surface starting in Japan. Then for it to spike up on the Second Reef of Pipeline. Kohl manifested this wave as left Haleiwa on my jetski. As we made our way past Shark’s Cove we could see the spray coming off the backs of the waves at Pipeline. We knew we were headed in the right direction. And we were in the right place at the right time.”

And here’s how it went down, says Russo.

“After about an hour a set stood up near Third Reef. It didn’t break, it just stood up. The Pipeline reef locked in the swell and started to cross it up to form a multi-wave set. The first two were a little wide, drawing the water off the reef. Then the third wave of the set came and Kohl paddled into it. Perception of one’s experience can vary from person to person. But this image is exactly what happened. To me, this is the exclamation mark of the winter at Pipeline. Oh, how good it’s been.”

Now, to Kelly’s charge: The best shot at Pipe? Ever?

Who wants to play?

Breaking: Australians drowning at record levels while Surf Life Saving CEO vacations!

“Thousands of volunteers having been turning up all summer long pulling people out of the water, trying their best to keep our beaches safe and this bloke’s on holiday, you’re kidding, it’s embarrassing."

I don’t really have a horse in this race nor do I even understand surf life saving associations in Australia BUT I love a screaming headline and also any loose narrative tie to Nero fiddling while Rome burned.

Is any image more profound?

Historians dispute the accuracy, pointing to the facts that the fiddle didn’t exist until the 11th century and Nero was likely at his country home when the great fire destroyed, though they also say he may have sung songs about a different fire in another town.

In any case, complicated and I think we can switch the saying to “Australians drown while CEO….” something. What do you think he’s doing on his vacation? Let’s read the exclusive on 9 News who titled their piece EXCLUSIVE: Australians drowning at near-record levels while Surf Life Saving Australia CEO unavailable for comment.

Seventy-three people have drowned around the country in the 53 days since December 1.

That’s more than a drowning a day, almost a third of the 2017/18 death toll and 26 more fatalities than at this point last year and still with a month left of summer – according to data provided to by Royal Life Saving Australia.

Despite those alarming figures, the CEO of Australia’s peak coastal water safety, drowning prevention and rescue authority – Surf Life Saving Australia – is currently on holiday and has not been contactable by for the past two weeks.

A spokesperson for SLSA has told Adam Weir – the SLSA’s chief representative positioned to respond to spikes in costal water safety incidents – has taken leave during the summer until at least January 25 but says he is in touch daily with key staff.

Around the country, the summer period has been disastrous when it comes to drownings on Australia’s beaches, rivers, lakes and pools, which have risen to a near-record level. does not suggest the CEO’s absence is related to the increased number of drownings.

One volunteer surf life saver who patrols that beach told he thought the situation was “embarrassing”.

“Thousands of volunteers having been turning up all summer long pulling people out of the water, trying their best to keep our beaches safe and this bloke’s on holiday, you’re kidding, it’s embarrassing,” he told

So what should the new saying be? Australians drown while CEO hoedowns? Australians drowns while CEO enjoys delicious cocktails in town?

I feel we can do better.