From the VAL-and-proud department: Movie Tough Guy Revealed as Vulnerable Adult Learner Surfer!

VAL Matt Damon joins the toxic stew at Australia's most dangerous wave!

Surfing the Pass, that kooky sand-bottom right in Byron Bay, is hard work. Like, really hard.

Imagine every surf craft that has ever existed. Then imagine fifty of each of them crammed into a lineup a couple of hundred yards long, piloted by a lottery-ball selection of humans who have never stepped foot in the ocean before. 

Here’s Susan, 45, Iowa, waiting patiently to be collected by the next wall of foam on her 8’6″ soft board. There’s Akumi, 33, Tokyo, flying down the line on a 7’ aliia, screaming for the gods as she locks into a decapitation death spiral.

Here’s Levi, 23, Melbourne-slash-Byron, awkwardly soul arching through the entire mess, leashless on his 14″ double ender. 

The Pass easily surpasses Bondi, and is close to three-foot Snapper Rocks, as the most dangerous surf spot on the east coast of Australia – if you rank danger by chance of collision occasioning  actual board and bodily harm.

For the everyday surfer it is a write off. A world-class wave buried under a blanket of narcissistic greed. A sad indictment of the human race’s propensity to make too much out of a good thing. 

And to that toxic mix you can now add Vulnerable Adult Learner Jason Bourne, safety crouching a two-footer, ready to put you into a sleeper hold if you dare drop in. 

As reported by The Daily Telegraph, 

Matt Damon and his wife takes (sic) to the waves in Byron Bay family holiday

Hollywood superstar Matt Damon can’t get enough of the land Down Under.

Back holidaying in the northern NSW beach town of Byron Bay, Damon, was snapped hitting the waves for a surf on Thursday afternoon.

The Damon’s (sic) also met up with their good mates, the Hemsworth’s (sic), who often host their fellow A-listers in Byron Bay.

(Read the story here if you can get past the dang paywall.)

It begs the question.

Would you burn Jason Bourne? Keeping in mind he may even have Thor as backup water patrol? 

I think I’d pass.

Revealed: BeachGrit is the most “popular surf tabloid” amongst polite society!

Raise your brandy.

I don’t mean to brag here BUT your li’l ol’ BeachGrit got mentioned by The New York Times yesterday less than two months after appearing in The New Yorker, the only two publications read by every single person in polite society.

You certainly recall in December when Pulitzer Prize winning author William Finnegan wrote:

“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.”

That was in The New Yorker.

And yesterday, in The New York Times, National Magazine Award winning author Daniel Duane wrote:

“Chas Smith, a founder of the popular online surf tabloid BeachGrit, told me that other male big-wave surfers complained about women at the time.”

Oh it’s no big deal, really, it’s just… I don’t know, should I try wearing a monocle now? Do you think Spy makes a monocle with Happy Lens technology?

Or do you think I’d look better in a tweed jacket with leather patch’d elbows?

Think on that for a minute.

The New York Times piece is an in-depth look at women and big wave surfing. We’ll get in and dissect it later I just really need to know what to wear while doing. What about spats? Do polite socialites still wear spats?

Any other ideas would be appreciated.

Breaking: The World Surf League looks to build “a couple” Surf Ranches in Paris, France!

Australia, Brazil and maybe LA too!

You of course know Parisians, their casual elegance, their perfect trimness, their enjoyment of the finer things like Gauloises, chilled champagne and oysters but did you also know they’re stone-cold wave tank freaks?

It might be true!

Our World Surf League’s Dear General Secretary Sophie Goldschmidt sat down recently for an interview and we’ve already discussed her take on the troublesome far-right strain infecting most surfer’s heart but let’s jam on the Surf Ranch revelation shall we?

“We have one in Lemoore, which is our pilot facility. To be honest, we never thought we’d have events there but it’s just gone so well and the technology has become so robust that we are using that. But we’re building one in Florida; we’re also going to be building one in Tokyo, in Australia, in Brazil, likely LA, and we’re looking at building a couple in Paris.”

Australia, Brazil, maybe LA and a couple in Paris.

The City of Lights! Surf Ranches on every street corner!

In all serious, why do you think a couple in Paris? Is it just because Parisians are stone-cold wave tank freaks or is something else at play?


The Sporting Cock.

What else could possibly be at play?

Stay tuned!

WSL CEO: “Surfing is a counterculture-type sport and progressive for different, maybe political reasons!”

Very cryptic.

I don’t know about you, but I like our Dear General Secretary World Surf League CEO Sophie Goldschmidt. We haven’t spoken much, just a few pleasantries at Kelly Slater’s Surf Ranch, but… I don’t know. There’s something about her. A spark. And glimmer. Like she could pitch an office chair from Santa Monica’s High Castle in a fit of explosive rage. Like she could have all her enemies killed overnight and never lose that little smile.

Anyhow, she gave a wide-ranging interview yesterday to SportsPro and let’s tuck into some highlights.

On today… “The reasons I took the role have been even more firmly reinforced. The sport’s at an incredibly exciting tipping point. Momentum is building in all sorts of ways. I’ve pretty much loved every minute of it.”

On growth potential… “We have so many different aspects to surfing, both the high-performance, elite end of the sport but it transitions into lifestyle, I think, more authentically than any other sport. That’s a real opportunity, and then also growing the profile of these athletes.”

On the Olympics… “I think we both need each other. The Olympics has done an amazing job, especially over the last few Games, and they’re evolving all the time. But I think they’re aware that there are certain segments of the population out there that maybe don’t resonate as much with it. And I think surfing definitely offers something very different.”

On wave tanks… “I think it’s important to state that the ocean has never been more important to us; the variability, the fact that [the athletes are] also competing with Mother Nature, as well as each other, makes the sport truly unique. But this is very complementary for all of the reasons I mentioned – it allows us to go to markets we could never have dreamed of, to be properly programmable from a TV perspective, to engage with audiences in different ways.”

On building two wave tanks in Paris… “We have one in Lemoore, which is our pilot facility. To be honest, we never thought we’d have events there but it’s just gone so well and the technology has become so robust that we are using that. But we’re building one in Florida; we’re also going to be building one in Tokyo, in Australia, in Brazil, likely LA, and we’re looking at building a couple in Paris.”

On being an agent of change… “I think I’m able to be a bit of an agent for change – again, the timing is right. But I’m not afraid to take some risks and be innovative and when you’re trying to punch above your weight, which surfing is as a sport – you know, we’re an emerging sport – we can have that challenger mentality. We have the flexibility because of the structure to act that way, which is incredibly exciting.”

All very great but tucked into the middle of the interview was a very cryptic passage, one that I’m having difficulty in really nailing down the meaning. Would you like to try with me? Ok here we go.

“It’s always been known as a kind of counterculture-type sport and progressive for different, maybe political or other reasons. But actually, considering it’s all about the ocean and nature, they’re really open-minded. I mean, the athletes have been fantastic. We’ve changed a lot, we’ve tried a lot this year and they’ve really embraced it, which is great. That hasn’t always been my experience in sports so that’s a real positive for what we’re trying to do.”

Got it? What does this first sentence mean to you?

“It’s always been known as a kind of counterculture-type sport and progressive for different, maybe political or other reasons.”

To me it would mean that surfers are a little rebellious and… no, throwing the “maybe political or other reasons” in really confuses though it confuses less when the following sentence is included. “But actually, considering it’s all about the ocean and nature, they’re really open-minded.”

To contrast “counter-culture type progressive for different maybe political or other reasons” with “But actually, considering it’s all about the ocean and nature, they’re really open-minded.” can only mean one thing.

Our Dear General Secretary Sophie Goldschmidt believes surfers are far-right and probably racist, sexist, ageist too but with hearts of gold.


Is there another reading?


Help: “I just got burned by a thirteen-year-old girl!”

Surf travel stories are the glue that holds us all together.

(Colin Wiseman is content director for the world’s last snowboard magazine)

I was two paddles deep, looking over the edge, when her tanned little legs blasted my face with salt spray. I pulled back and watched her disappear down the line, find the lip, disappear again.

“I just got burned by a 13-year-old girl,” I muttered.

No one was listening. And if they were, they didn’t care.

It was a clean, clear morning with overhead waves—heavy for a low-intermediate surfer like me. A light offshore breeze. Idyllic. A long period swell rolled off open ocean and jacked up into peeling walls and thumping closeouts over the cobbled bottom, with the occasional barrel on the inside. Far removed from the beginner free-for-all of Cerritos, this was a spot worth some respect, with a small local crew equal parts Mexican and expat.

They mostly seemed nice. Except for this princess of the Baja. I’d been sitting in the perfect position when she appeared from the inside, spun, and kicked water up my zinc-stained nostrils.

The worst kind of burn.

There were five or six folks in the water at this quiet break near Todos Santos, and all seemed down to share. Except this one dude sitting out the back. He eyed me as the girl paddled back out. She sat close to him and spoke, unsmiling. That must be dad. Fuckin’ dad.

I fumed and ran scenarios of what would have happened if I’d kept paddling. Would I have met dad on the beach? Bowled over a 90-pound teenage girl for a wave? Had dad had spotted me swimming down the line earlier and told her to go burn the gringo photographer? Fuckin’ dad. Must be dad’s fault.

On the next set, she dropped in momentarily, then kicked out. Either this girl ran the break or there was something I didn’t know. Maybe it was the kooky hat I wore to keep my pale PNW sniffer hidden from the blistering sun, a dead giveaway of foreign affiliation.

I found a few more shoulders and went in. My friend Devon was already on the beach. He’d been here a few weeks, rents a house nearby for a month every fall. I’ve been joining him for a week or two for the past five years, working my way up to this wave, finally starting to feel it a bit.

“I got burned by a 13-year-old girl,” I told him.

“Oh her? They live here. They’re from France. They used to live in a bus, moved here so they could have a house and she could work on her surfing.”

Apparently, she’s got CT dreams, and so does dad. Devon’s the kind of guy who talks to everyone. He’s got his own 13-year-old daughter with a competitive drive in snowboarding. He seemed to be proud of this little drop-in artist.

“She does surf pretty well,” I admitted, watching her draw backside lines, catching three times as many waves as anyone else. “Still doesn’t mean she should drop in like that.”
When we left for breakfast she was still out there, hammering away at the lip like a metronome.


A week later, I paddled out at Cerritos. The most popular break in the area, with drive-up access, board rentals and an easy rip out the back, it’s usually packed with sunburned gringos on foamies wearing sunglasses. But this day it was big, unruly, only a few people out. I was with my friend Barry, usually a longboarder, who decided his fish was more appropriate for the day.

We fought our way through a closed out inside bar, took position, and waited. A set came my way. I dropped, heading left. And there she was again, skimming down the line in front of me. But she kicked out. When I reached the end of my ride and paddled past, she held up her hand.

“Sorry,” she said with a smile.

I waved back. “No worries.”

Maybe there’s hope for the expat youth after all. Or maybe she was just taking pity on me.