Is this splendid man a good surfer, a VAL or an EI? Impossible to tell! | Photo: @kook_of_the_day

New Threat: The Rise of the Emerging Intermediate Surfer!

What happens when a VAL completes his metamorphosis?

It’s the year of the VAL, the Vulnerable Adult Learner whose behaviour and habitat has been well documented on this website.

Read here, here and here

Here, here, here and here too.

But what happens when a VAL eventually gains enough confidence in his, her, ability? They become an Emerging Intermediate, a more aggressive and threatening form of surfer than the VAL.

Don’t believe me?

Let us, as they say in polite circles, start the conversation.

The EI is unassuming because he has a carbon-wrapped board it discovered while being self-radicalized by surfboard review clerics on YouTube.  There is also a hipster sub-sect that can afford one-thousand dollar “artisan”, asymetrical twin-fins.

Emerging Intermediates further blend in and confuse everyone else because they actually make a legit wetsuit purchase from a mainstream company, be it an Xcel or perhaps a Matuse (see again hipster sub-sect).

The problem:

Newly radicalised, weaponised, and over aggressive, they will come to your peak and start shoulder hopping waves with their heads down. They are oblivious to everything. The newly anointed martyrs will make suicide missions into set waves, tomahawking down the face. The real treat comes when they actually make the wave but you’ve burned them. Tantrums and a detailed explanation of “The Rule of Surfing” will follow.

You have EI’s who vacay in Bali to surf waves out of their league. They wear reef booties and tell everyone they hate wearing them. Secretly, they wish the booties came up to their knee caps and they proudly stomp around in them as proof of being battle-tested at Uluwatu and so forth.

The overarching problem with EI’s is that aren’t as easy identifiable as VAL’s. Therefore, you don’t know where the enemy is and you don’t know where the enemy fire will be coming from.

So what can be done?

Do we place a travel ban on VAL’s in Tourmaline, Pacifica, Venice, and Bondi, assuming that they one day will be radicalized as EI’s?

Is it our responsibility to de-radicalise EI’s by suggesting they go back to a fun board and a surf trip to Costa Rica?

Many questions.

From the shut-your-trap Dept: Censorship and the iron fist of surf websites!

You've been banned!

Yesterday, underneath a bubble gum story on vulnerable adult learners, Some Guy posted an intriguing comment about hypocrisy and censorship within the surf media. Oh we all live in glass houses, of course, and rocks etc. but the trend to wildly and brutally strangle the conversation, from the World Surf League’s booth to the various surf-centric websites to surfing subreddits, has reached a level that would turn Joseph Goebbels’ face green with envy.

Comments disappeared, whole threads vanished, people banned, tossed into outer darkness for the most inoffensive remark with no recourse for reinstatement.

I know behind its exciting, innovative and forward-thinking exterior that surfing is cloistered, grumpy, resistant to change but when did communication become so…. scary? When did the men and woman who pull the levers become so… fearful?

I understand it can be embarrassing when supporting brands are criticized in various comment sections but do those on the media side think that by either evaporating negative remarks and/or closing the conversation they trick those on brand side into thinking all is rosy and perfect?

I understand it can be uncomfortable when opposing views are presented but we’re all adults here and can handle a little ire.

Can’t we?

I understand that being mocked for this or that decision might not feel the best but owning mistakes, celebrating them even, is a path toward greater fun.

Isn’t it?

Ruthless censorship eventually backfires. The people may be a lot of things but they ain’t blind and so this current epoch of the iron fist confuses me greatly.

Maybe you know something I don’t. Maybe you have answers.

What are they?

I am honestly confused. It’s just surfing after all. What could go so wrong if, outside purely dumb and cruel language, various opinions were allowed to float unchecked?

Just in: Surfing “one of world’s most exciting, innovative and forward-thinking sports!”

I need your help again!

Just over a month ago I attended the Surf Expo trade show in Orlando, Florida and, thanks to your wonderful advice, had a very good time. As I told you then, I had never really been to a trade show before and was worried how’d I navigate.

You were there for me, telling me what to do with my lanyard, where to get free beer, how to gently caress another grown man’s supple beard. I walked out of the Orange County Convention Center a changed man.


And now I might need your help with conferences because our very own Dear General Secretary of the World Surf League, Sophie Goldschmidt, is going to be speaking at the Sports Decision Makers Summit in Miami this May 6.

The summit, as described, will, “… usher in a new era of tightly-focused, data-driven events, designed exclusively for the people whose decisions shape the future of sport” and promises to, “…deliver unmatched data, analysis and actionable insight to facilitate effective and profitable decision-making.”

It sounds like something we need here, no?

Our Dear General Secretary who, “…has been recognized by both Forbes and Adweek as one of the most powerful women in global sports” will give a lecture on… To be honest, I don’t know but the tweet sent out this morning from the Sports Decision Makers account declares, “Sophie Goldschmidt is set to appear at the Sports Decision Makers Summit in Miami. She leads one of the world’s most exciting, innovative and forward-thinking sports.”

Exciting, innovative and forward-thinking.

I like the sound of that.


At a conference what should I wear? Should I tuck my checked button-up into my khaki pants or purchase one of those UNTUCKit shirts that I regularly see in inflight magazines? What should I do if I see a gorgeously dangerous yet passionately refined beard?

Can you help me live my best life once again?

A popular sign in Byron Bay. | Photo: @RobbieSthGoldy via Daily Mail

Update: Surfer hit by “baby Great White” at Byron Bay: beaches closed etc

"There was a lot of thrashing and splashing and a lot of blood."

A surfer has been airlifted to hospital after being hit by a shark on that gorgeous sandspit called Belongil, which you can access as you leave Bryon Bay to the north-west.

The forty-one-year-old from Suffolk Park, a sort of gentrified surfer ghetto just south of town, was surfing just after sunrise when he was bitten on the thigh by what is being called a baby Great White (so little but so feisty). He paddled to the beach, told other surfers, the paramedics were called and he was treated at the scene while they waited for the bird to take him to the Gold Coast.

“There was a lot of thrashing and splashing. He started screaming, we didn’t realise until we paddled back to the beach that there was a big chunk taken out of his leg. There was a lot of blood, a lot of bleeding. The bleeding was pretty bad. We didn’t see the shark but a bloke who was out there earlier said he saw a fin and he reckons it was a juvenile Great White.”

A pal, Dane Davidson, said he and the attackee, who hasn’t been named, had just paddled out when the shark hit from below.

“There was a lot of thrashing and splashing. He started screaming, we didn’t realise until we paddled back to the beach that there was a big chunk taken out of his leg. There was a lot of blood, a lot of bleeding. The bleeding was pretty bad. We didn’t see the shark but a bloke who was out there earlier said he saw a fin and he reckons it was a juvenile Great White. I was freaking. When I heard the screams he was making in the water and then I saw a chunk of his board floating off, that’s when I realised it was pretty bad. He was conscious but … his eyes were drifting around a bit, he seemed a bit dizzy. He was saying his breathing was labouring … overall I think he was alright, he was just in a bit of shock.”

Davidson and other surfers used leg-ropes as tourniquets.

“Hopefully that prevents him from losing (his leg),” said Davidson.

Decent sorta bite. @MaggieRaworth

All nearby beaches have been closed for twenty-four hours.

It’s very difficult to un-attach one’s lips from the teat of shark fever in Byron Bay. Every day, some new angle, some new bump, attack or theory or sightings.

Owen and Tyler Wright’s Lennox Head-based dad, Rob, told The Australian a few years ago: “We’ve never seen anything like this. We’re all over it. We live up up here and we surf up here, but this is all we’re thinking about. The married guys, they’re not allowed to go surfing. The young guys with kids, they’re thinking about it all the time. Everybody is.”

According to the story, “Wright has had two sharks swim beneath his board in recent weeks. One — ‘a fricken big thing’ about 4m long with a pointy head and wide body — was chasing a fish at full speed. “It was flying, but it wasn’t after me, thankfully.”

A pro surfer whom I know reasonably well moved to Byron Bay and when I asked him about the sharks, he shook his head and told me, “Oh man…every…day…”

More, if there is more to this than a leg bite, as it comes.

adult learner
"Some say love, it is a vulnerable adult learner."

Official: Surf classes more popular than Roman Gladiator School and Venice Carnival Mask-Making!

There is a vulnerable adult learner explosion!

Do you remember when one-time World Surf League CEO Herr Paul Speaker looked the world in the eye and proclaimed that the potential market for live professional surfing dwarfed basically everything? That there were billions upon billions of people just waiting to watch the pipelines. That, “We are going to turn the stop signs into welcome mats.”

Oh how we laughed, or least I laughed. Surfing isn’t a sport, for starters, and when shoehorned into a sporting paradigm with judges, priority, Gabriel Medina etc. will only ever be enjoyed and/or tolerated by the 428 people worldwide who surf at least once a week. Also, participation in surfing had been declining due its difficulty and byzantine social structure.

Very much mocking but wait… what’s this story that I see on Maui Now? Shall we read together?

The Maui Surf School ranked second on TripAdvisorʻs list of the Top 10 Most-Booked Classes and Workshops in the World in their 2019 Experiences Trends Report. The list includes a wide range of classes around the world, including the Roman Gladiator School and the Venice Carnival Mask-Making Class in Italy. Catamaranʻs Turtle Canyon Snorkel Cruise on Oʻahu earned the second spot on the reportʻs Top 10 Most-Booked Water Sports list.

A surf school ranked second in the entire world for bookings? It’s a vulnerable adult learner explosion!

Of course ex-CEO Herr Speaker saw it coming. Of course he knew the VALs are here, there, everywhere hiding in plain view. Of course he knew once those stop signs got hammered into welcome mats, the scary and very grumpy local removed from the equation, that the tender masses would embrace the “Pastime of Kings.”

Who’s eating crow now?


Or at least me.