Vulnerable Adult Learners hit again: Child born without brain learns to surf!

It ain't that hard (if you start before 12)!

I was in Jackson, Wyoming recently enjoying this crazy west coast winter. There was snow on the houses, snow on the roads and, most importantly, snow on those Grand Tetons. My daughter, six-years-old, loves skiing more than just about anything and it is pure pleasure trying to keep up with her. So there we were, anyhow, riding the chair up after another thrilling run, sharing the ride with one of Jackson Hole’s famous ski patrol. He asked where we were from, I told him Cardiff-by-the-Sea, and he told me that he had learned to surf ten years ago and it was the most difficult thing he’d ever done.

Oh it’s the classic adult learner story and you’ve heard it before too. Surfing is difficult to begin, impossible to master. Hours upon hours spent flopping around in the water etc.

I nodded and agreed with his assessment. “Yes it is very difficult. Impossible etc. and I was very fortunate to pick it up as a kid etc.”

Well, as it turns out, learning to surf as a child must be the entire key, even more important than we all imagined, for a British boy who was born without a brain just learned how and let’s learn his story together.

If doctors told you to terminate your pregnancy not once but five times, you might take them at their word.

But when Shelley and Rob Wall were advised to have an abortion after finding out that their baby had “no brain”, they stuck to their guns.

And six years on, their son Noah has defied the odds — by “growing” a brain.

The Sun reports that the plucky youngster appeared on Good Morning Britain with his parents to share his extraordinary story, which Richard Madley called “a miracle”.

Despite his parents being told that there was no chance of his survival, Noah has totally exceeded all expectations.

Before Noah was born, doctors doubted he’d survive.

Mr and Mrs Wall have dedicated their time to his brain development and have taken him to Australia to a radical brain training centre.

Here, he has learned how to sit up unaided and even managed to go surfing.

Noah now wants to learn to walk and wants to continue learning how to surf and even start skiing.

The treatment that Noah’s been having in Australia is called “neurophysics” — a mixture of physiotherapy and cognitive exercises.

Mr Wall explained that the experts don’t usually do give the therapy to kids because of the cognitive side of things but they were lucky enough to be able to persuade them to see and assess Noah and prepare them for when he’s old enough to have that cognitive treatment.

“It’s all to do with the brain’s ability to heal or correct the body’s nervous system”.


And there we have it. It is easier for a child born without a brain to learn our Pastime of Kings than it is for a VAL.

sam edwardes
Sam Edwardes, hit by juvie White four days ago; pal killed by Great White in 1999.

From the cosmic-cruelty dept: Surfer attacked by Juvenile White in Byron lost pal to Great White twenty years earlier!

"You can't imagine the feeling, it's a really intense hit…"

Four days ago, a surfer was hit by a juvie Great White in Byron Bay, what you might call a hot spot of shark action for the past half-doz years. 

Twenty years earlier, the same guy lost a pal to a Great White while surfing in South Oz.

Lightning do strike the same tree twice. Get hit once and it don’t mean it can’t happen again.

Sam Edwardes, who is forty-one and lives in Suffolk Park just south of Byron, was surfing at the sandspit called Belongil when the shark took a piece “the size of a football” out of his leg.

‘I just felt this thump into my leg. You can’t imagine the feeling, it’s a really intense hit… I looked down at my leg and there was an almighty hunk taken out of it and that’s when I freaked out,” he told The Today Show. “I started paddling into the beach, I was a bit frantic. I was going as fast as I could, I was racing to get to shore and it took ages. It felt like an eternity to get there.’

A helicopter ride to the Gold Coast, an induced coma and a couple of surgeries later and he’s in a stable condition.

Leg ain’t gonna be pretty and neither will the the head noise.

In 1999, Edwardes was windsurfing at Hardwicke Bay on South Australia’s Yorke Peninsula with three other friends. One of ’em, Tony Donoghue, who was twenty-two, decided to stay out.

His body was never found but his recovered wetsuit revealed a fatal attack by a Great White.

Breaking: 11x World Champ Kelly Slater to surf the Vissla Sydney Pro!

It's miracle time!

Lady and gentlemen… we have a miracle! Kelly Slater and one extremely hurt, shattered beyond comprehension, foot will kick off his injury wildcard 2019 campaign in Manly, Australia. Home of the Vissla Sydney Pro and I think Nick Carroll.


Do you live in Manly?

Per the World Surf League Press release:

“I’ve always loved the northern beaches having lived part-time in Avalon for 15 years,” said Slater. “I miss it and I’m looking forward to getting back to some old familiar territory. I’m also getting a nice warm-up prior to jumping back on Tour full-time after close to a year and a half hiatus from competition”.

Oh maybe that’s where Nick lives. Avalon. Nick, do you live in Avalon?

Less importantly, how do you think the 11x world champion will fare?

Also, hasn’t Kelly basically lived everywhere on earth, part-time, for the past 15-years?

Blah blah blah.

Professional surfing!

Do you like how Kelly teases his “jumping back on Tour full-time…” bit? I did though also wonder if it may have been added after the fact by one very savvy President of Content, Media and Studios who knows a thing or two about hype.

You win a car! You win a car! You win a car! You win a car! You win a car!


Nick, where the hell do you live? I won’t be able to do anything else until I know.

From the Iron-clad-science Dept: Wave strength increasing by .5% a year for past 70 years!

Johnny get your gun!

If the last time you surfed was 1992 and you decided to dust off the ol’ potato chip this morning and paddle out at your local you might have noticed something. Namely that you were flying down the line 15% faster and your poundings were 15% more severe. Oh it would be easy to attribute these sensations to a Swiss cheese memory but there is actual scientific truth to bolster your impressions. Namely that wave strength has been increasing by half a percent for past 70 years!

Now let us turn to the august scientific journal Forbes for more.

“For the first time, we have identified a global signal of the effect of global warming in wave climate. In fact, wave power has increased globally by 0.4 percent per year since 1948, and this increase is correlated with the increasing sea-surface temperatures, both globally and by ocean regions,” said Borja G. Reguero, a researcher at the University of California, Santa Cruz and co-author of a new report published just published in Nature Communications.

The new study looked at how warmer upper oceans are influencing wind patterns, which then make ocean waves stronger, particularly in some interesting spots. The data shows that the most overall wave power by far can be found in the Southern Ocean, which is also seeing the most rapid increase in wave strength.

“The Southern Ocean (defined by the 40ºS latitudinal limit) is the most energetic basin and dominates the other oceans in terms of (wave power),” the report reads.

The study goes on to investigate how increasing sea surface temperatures, along with natural patterns like El Nino, have contributed to a trend that has seen a significant increase in wave power along the coasts of central America, South America and west Africa. During the same period, from 1985 – 2008, wave power in much of the Northern Hemisphere actually saw a slight decrease, although not enough to balance out the increase in other parts of the oceans.

Well shit. Never mind about you dusting off your potato chip and feeling the power unless you happen to be dusting it off in west Africa and… let’s be honest. Not a lot of BeachGrit‘s readership lives in west Africa.

As you were, I suppose.

But real quick before you go, should we all be climate change deniers just for fun? It seems like we could have a lot of fun and get into Forbes ourselves.

“Popular surf tabloid denies climate change is real!”

I like the look of that headline.

Iconic ex-editor Sam George writes: “Surfer magazine is no longer relevant!”

One of Surfer mag's best editors, Mr Sam George, weighs in on the recent sale of the once-hallowed title and the evaporation of most of its staff.

If you were over the age of 45 on February 1, 2019, the day it was announced that media giant American Media acquired the Adventure Sports Network, publisher of the venerable SURFER Magazine, and then laid off half the staff in preparation of selling off the moribund mag, you might have said,

“Aw, that’s fucked up.”

If you were under the age of 45 you probably said,

“Who the fuck cares?”

Or more probably,

“What the fuck is SURFER Magazine?”

So what does that mean?

Simply that the disparity of those responses is the meaning of this epoch-ending footnote on surfing’s timeline.

It’s all about relevance. Always has been.

Under the relentless onslaught of vblogs, streaming webcasts, ‘clips’ and Instagram posts the archaic SURFER, with its glacial publishing schedule, frozen, static imagery and endless, gray pages of printed copy, can no longer carry out its commitments, obligations and objectives to a surfing world that once viewed its hallowed pages as more of a religious tract than magazine. Put simply, SURFER is no longer relevant. SAM GEORGE

Sure, you can make it all about money, and yeah, SURFER and all the other sports titles in the Adventure Sports Network have been bleeding cash for years.

But so what?

Blame the Internet?

Of course. Why not?

Because for over 50 years, since the first issue of SURFER rolled off the presses in 1960, the mag had been a going concern, defined as “a company or other entity able to continue operating for a period of time that is sufficient to carry out its commitments, obligations, objectives.”

Sadly for SURFER, those days are over.

Under the relentless onslaught of vblogs, streaming webcasts, ‘clips’ and Instagram posts the archaic SURFER, with its glacial publishing schedule, frozen, static imagery and endless, gray pages of printed copy, can no longer carry out its commitments, obligations and objectives to a surfing world that once viewed its hallowed pages as more of a religious tract than magazine.

Put simply, SURFER is no longer relevant.

But what a run it was.

Someone said it best in The Perfect Day: 40 Years of Surfer Magazine, published by Chronicle Books back in 2005:

“…some surfers drop off the charts completely, sacrificing everything that binds them to common society so that they might never miss another good wave. Others reconcile themselves to the estrangement, fall out of rhythm, surrendering their zeal to a creeping nostalgia, dreaming of warm, sunny days, trusty boards and swells long past. But for the rest of us there has been SURFER Magazine. Each issue looked forward to with as much inspired anticipation as were the swells featured in its pages. First six times a year, then 12, but for all those years, all those eras, the only waves a surfer could truly count on; the only waves you could hold in your hand.”

Two guesses who wrote that.

But don’t just take it from me. Consider 1977 World Champ and surf legend Shaun Tomson writing in his forward to Surfer Magazine: 50 Years, also published by Chronicle, a decade later:

“Every issue represents not only a collection of pictures and articles but also a freeze frame of its reader’s youth. SURFER is not just a magazine but is the framework for a surfing existence, a collection of reference points for an obsession, [representing] youth, freedom and a time when absolutely nothing was more important than that next wave coming down the line.”

For guys like me and Shaun—and a lot of other surfers our age—this is what made SURFER Magazine so vital, so important to our surfing lives.

And it’s difficult to imagine any much younger surfer today saying the same sort of things about “Who is J.O.B.”, or Stab, for that matter.

With the exception of occasionally revealing exciting new wave discoveries and then snobbily refusing to provide even a hint at their location, today’s surfing media is about entertainment, not inspiration.

And that’s as it should be, being entirely era-appropriate for surfers whose “reference points for an obsession” are provided in a medium based primarily on transitory content.

But man, I’m going to miss holding those waves in my hand.

(Disclaimer: I authored the two Chronicle SURFER books excerpted above, and to anyone who thinks that makes me an egotistical, self-referential asshole I say “Go to hell. Let’s see your books.”)