Miracle: Man suffers heart attack in middle of Mavericks ride and survives!

Meet the real Waterman of the Year, Dirk and Natasha Ziff be damned!

What is the worst thing that has happened to you whilst surfing? A cramp? A nasty fin cut? Headache?

Maybe lots of water up the nose that uncomfortably squeezed the sinuses?

Well, Christy Davis, male surfer from the Bay Area, just had a heart attack while on a Mavericks wave, a full on heart attack, and lived to tell his story.


Yes. But before we read his heart-warming story, can I just say that I love his name is Christy? I do. It’s like a boy named Sue and I wonder if being named Christy made him want to surf Mavs in the first place?

Like, “I’ll show you bastards what a Christy can do!”

I want to meet him, but in the meantime, let’s curl up with some breakfast sausage and cinnamon French toast dipped in pure cream and read The San Francisco Chronicle together.

Christy Davis has been a fixture at Mavericks since the early 1990s. He’s among the few people in the world who find solace at that fearsome big-wave break, confident in his ability and prepared for the worst. The man is 66 years old and hasn’t shown his age — until Monday.

With waves pumping through in the 25-foot range — below contest-worthy size but still a formidable challenge — Davis was enjoying a productive session when he suddenly felt “serious pain” on the left side of his chest, then numbness in his left arm. He knew he had to get to a hospital as soon as possible, and a very concerned group of fellow surfers — including August Hidalgo, Frank Jimenez, Alex Martins, Manny Resano and Hide Minami — made certain he got to the beach.

It wasn’t long before Davis was rushed to a local hospital, and “they took me straight into surgery and put a stent in my heart,” he said. “My L.A.D. (left anterior descending artery) was 100 percent blocked. The doctors said it was a serious heart attack, and that if I wasn’t in such good shape, I most likely would have died.”

Christy is The Waterman of The Year, Dirk and Natasha Ziff be damned.

griffin colapinto
Griff Colapinto, Surf Ranch. "You don’t want a groveller. And you don’t want an epoxy, you don’t need an epoxy," says his shaper Matt Biolos. "You want a normal board that’s bit shorter to fit into that turn at the bottom.”

Pool Toys: How to shape surfboards for wave tank contest!

Surf Ranch is "flat-faced like a bad skateboard ramp that you’d build when you were a kid," says shaper to the stars, Matt Biolos. And, therefore, you must build accordingly.

At September’s Surf Ranch Pro, held in Lemoore, California, a place where the dust settles into every case of skin like a new layer of pigment, Matt ‘Mayhem’ Biolos built surfboards for ten of the… what do we call ‘em now… oh yeah, athletes: Carissa Moore, Kolohe Andino, Yago Dora, Griffin Colapinto, Malia Manuel, Joan Duru, Michael Rodrigues, Caroline Marks, Coco Ho and Macy Callaghan.

It would’ve been eleven if the reigning champ Tyler Wright hadn’t called in sick.

Ain’t a shaper more invested in the pool game than Mayhem.

And as it happens, when I call Biolos for one of his grandfatherly sermons about design, he’s just walked in the door from a weekend in Waco, Texas.

It was Mason Ho’s thirtieth birthday and Lost threw the company credit card down for two private sessions, at $US2500 a roll, including a three-hour night hit.

Matt knows pools. He’s ridden most of ‘em: Wavegarden and Cove in the Basque Country, American Wave Machines in Waco, but not, surprisingly, the KSWaveCo version called Surf Ranch.

“I was invited, I probably shoulda gone,” he says.

Biolos isn’t blind to the wave.

“It has really tight transition, an unnatural transition, at the bottom so that as it grows taller it gets flat-faced like a bad skateboard ramp that you’d build when you were a kid. They put all the transition at the bottom and flat as it goes up the wall. But it’s weird. You don’t want a groveller. And you don’t want an epoxy, you don’t need an epoxy. You want a normal board that’s bit shorter to fit into that turn at the bottom.” MATT BIOLOS.

He made the four-hour north-east to Lemoore for the Founders’ Cup where he stood and watched for three days. And his teamriders had been sending him clips of their waves during their practice sessions prior to the Surf Ranch Pro.

So he’s thought about it.

“It’s powerful,” he says. “It has really tight transition, an unnatural transition, at the bottom so that as it grows taller it gets flat-faced like a bad skateboard ramp that you’d build when you were a kid. They put all the transition at the bottom and flat as it goes up the wall. But it’s weird. You don’t want a groveller. And you don’t want an epoxy, you don’t need an epoxy. You want a normal board that’s bit shorter to fit into that turn at the bottom.”

Curve-wise, Biolos gives ‘em a flat entry and a kick in the ass or vice-versa.

“You definitely need some curve. One end has to be curvy, the other straight.”

To specifics, Yago Dora, rode his usual volume, but an inch shorter.

Kolohe chose a one-inch shorter grovel board with a round tail. He wanted the control of the round tail without the drift and lift of a square.

Griff was happy taking his usual sled.

“Progress will happen shockingly fast. Like all these soccer parents teaching eight year olds to do technical airs in giant halfpipes on snowboards and skateboards. The static playing field will drive radically fast progression. This is an undeniable fact.” MATT BIOLOS

“The most consistent feedback was to use a high-performance board but an inch shorter. Not flat. Not lighter. Not wider. The shortness is just to fit into that kink at the bottom. But, it’s just starting. The relentless repetition will advance design quickly but how those quick advancements directed at specific waves translates to varied ocean waves remains to be seen. That said, one afternoon at Cove last year allowed Kolohe, Carissa, Griffin and grom Winter Vincent, and me, to quickly ride close to 50 waves each. Once you’re over the novelty and laughing and playing, you could easily get a lot of work done testing boards and fins. Progress will happen shockingly fast. Like all these soccer parents teaching eight year olds to do technical airs in giant halfpipes on snowboards and skateboards. The static playing field will drive radically fast progression. This is an undeniable fact.”Which would play into the leathery ol paws of Kelly Slater, you would think. He created Surf Ranch and there isn’t a surfer alive, despite what he says, that has ridden as many Surf Ranch waves.
Obviously a pool-specific hunk of space-age material, yeah?

Not even…close. It was a surfboard made by San Diego’s Dan Mann in 2015 and that sat in Kelly’s shed for two years until he loaned it to a pal who came back, breathless, and said, You have to ride this thing.

“The pool didn’t even exist,” when I shaped it, says Dan, who learned his craft at Rusty Surfboards after morphing from teamrider to shaper. “So it’s…definitely… not a pool specific board.”

The board is 5’9” x 18 3/8” x 2 3/8” with a “really pulled in thumb-tail” and “a real subtle spot behind the front fins,” says Dan, also responsible for ten or so of the designs in the Firewire range including the popular Baked Potato.

Thumb tail?

“A blunt round pin.”

Got it.

Carry on.

“He surfs it at the wave a lot. Founders’ Cup. Surf Ranch Pro,” says Dan. “He says, and this is my interpretation on his many different theories on why it works, is that he doesn’t have to think about it when it’s under his feet. And you can see that. On his second wave in the qualifying round, the right, he rips right into a turn after the first barrel section and the confidence that he goes into the turn with is obvious. He rode it in the first round at J-Bay in 2017 and you can see that he’s surfing without thinking about his board. If you watch him surf a lot you can see when he’s having fun and playing, the subtleties in between the turns. When he’s really grooving on a board, he’s grooving because he doesn’t need to think about it.”

Ât Slater Designs, they call the design the FRK. Officially it’s the Flipped Rocker Kelly, which is what Dan named the CAD file, but some are calling it the Freak or, after a wave or two, an Australian might call it…FaaaaaRK!

“The best thing about the pool event was how it isolated the skill and athleticism of the athlete,” says Dan.

The Gold Coast shaper Jason Stevenson had world number three Julian Wilson, Joel Parkinson, Ace Buchan, Mikey Wright, the wildcard Hiroto Ohara and Jeremy Flores under his marquee. The consensus among his riders was they wanted a little more curve and a shorter board on the hollower, faster right and something a little straighter for the unpredictable left.

Again, nothing radical.

The world number six, Jordy Smith whose ninth in the pool might’ve felt a little unjust given his unbelted approach, rode a Daniel Thomson-shaped Slater Designs Sci-Fi. Yeah, the same model Stu Kennedy rode to fantastic acclaim a few years back at the Quiksilver Pro.

Jordy’s was a 5’11” x 19 1/2” x 2 9/16”, which amounts to a generous thirty-three litres, and set up as a thruster. At the Founders’ Cup a few months earlier, Jordy had jumped on a stock Slater Designs Omni and dug the feel of the shorter board on the pool’s tight curves, especially on the left. He asked Tomo to make a few changes to the outline of it, turning the round-nose into something a little easier on the (traditional) eye.

Tomo shaped Jordy four boards for the Surf Ranch Pro. A 6’1 and 1/2” and a 5’11” Sci-Fi, a Cymatic and an Omni, both blunt-noses sharpened.

But it was the 5’11” Sci-Fi Jordy threw at the Surf Ranch Pro. No man’s going to risk an aesthetic prejudice when a world title is, possibly, in the offering.

And he chose the Sci-Fi because he was constantly landing his airs on it and believed the contest was going to come down to tech airs.

So if you want a conclusion about Pool Toys it’s this: they don’t exist. Yet.

“They’re paranoid about their athleticism and yet they have so much confidence,” says Dan Mann. “They’re more, ‘Give me a board I’m used to and I’ll work out the wave.’’

At the highest end, a pro surfer wants something he can set and forget and just think about the wave.

“Surfers are conservative,” says Biolos.

“They’re paranoid about their athleticism and yet they have so much confidence,” says Dan Mann. “They’re more, ‘Give me a board I’m used to and I’ll work out the wave.’’

A couple of hours after the Surf Ranch Pro finished, Kelly and Dan were texting back and forth, Kelly wanting to know how the FRK looked on the wave and how it could work better in general.

“The thing is, Kelly hadn’t given me any indication to change his regular board for the pool,” says Dan.

“Because that’s what he wanted in the pool. He wanted it to be a real wave.”

(Editor’s note: This story first appeared in an issue of Surfing Life magazine. It is reprinted here because, what, it’s Saturday, there’s a little south swell and who needs to be hitting the phones when one could be, ostensibly, hitting lips or reading one’s newest book, in this case Zorba the Greek, in the shade of a tree.)

WSL President of contest etc, Erik Logan, left, and Chas Smith, BeachGrit, multi-shaka.

Chas Smith meets WSL’s Prez of content Erik Logan: “You’re a fucking Oprah Hollywood Laird Hamilton kook!”

And we need you…

(I drove up from bucolic Cardiff-by-the-Sea to Santa Monica yesterday and parked across the street from the World Surf League’s headquarters. It didn’t look like a High Castle at all. More like a Low Bungalow. It was impossible to find the entrance but when I finally did was let in and sat on a supple leather couch near a reclaimed metal coffee table. After a few minutes I was taken out back and severely beaten.

No, I was walked through a parking lot then to another back building which was, in fact, the High Castle. The WSL is full of tricks. I waited in a glass box conference room and then BOOM though the door strode Erik “ELo” Logan. We will chat soon on podcast and you will hear the answers to my questions (why the hell do you insist on SUP? etc.) but for now, I’d just like to write a letter to him if you don’t mind.)

Dear Erik Logan,

You had me at Opie and Anthony. I never listened to their radio show but was vaguely aware of their proto-shock jock antics and of course aware of Howard Stern, your other charge, the man who changed American media. The man who brought unfiltered steam-of-consciousness to the main mainstream.

And because of that, because of your dirty roots in naughty radio, I know you’ll understand.

Laird Hamilton is a kook.

Yes, he got very barreled at Teahupo’o, paddle not even able to reach cascading lip. Yes, he made the cover of Surfer magazine under the unfortunate “Oh My God” headline. Yes he owns Cloudbreak.

Yes, he is likely the greatest “surfer” to ever walk and/or surf the earth but he’s still a kook and that’s the beauty, the glory, of our little backwater.

Of surfing.

Talent, skill, ability, pedigree, strong jaws, epic tans aren’t what actually matter and, to be honest, I don’t know why. Laird should be our god but wiggolly’s paddling style is instead. Phat-wan kerr, dogsnuts, nug, ScottSanDiego are instead of Laird “Handsome” Hamilton with the legendary surf step-father and North Shore of Oahu classroom are and why?

Because surfers are shitbags. Surfers are incorrigible. Surfers don’t use paddles. Surfers are beastly and only looking for selfish fun and afterward an easy laugh.

To paraphrase Scott Bass, voice of surfing on San Diego’s local NPR affiliate, founder of The Boardroom Show, “surfers are the worst.”

But the damned Grumpy Local is your friend and you know it. Underneath all the Oprah, Hollywood executive, Power of Now rhetoric you are infected. Oh sure you ride a SUP and it’s as inexplicable as it is unforgivable but you left your legitimate job at a legitimate network, forsaking, no doubt, a hundred better jobs to come here.

To come to surfing.

Because you are diseased.

You are one of us, unfortunately for you, unfortunately for us. Your apple-cart-upsetting inclinations, your desire to smash the current product, is exactly right.

More opinion. More individuality. More fun. Less control.

More surfing (but not “more” as in longer competition windows… as you know).

You’re right and you’re a fucking Oprah Hollywood Laird Hamilton kook. Probably what we need, to be honest, because professional surfing don’t sell itself and begs for help. Because you feel it. Because you are deeply afflicted down the very core of your Oklahoma heart.

You are the first person from the World Surf League iteration of professional surfing to reach out, in any case, and your greatest inspiration is here.

Oh not me. I’m a kook from Oregon and not Derek, he’s from Perth, but from our Nick Carroll.

Just kidding and don’t worry, Erik. Nick knows he doesn’t belong to BeachGrit. He belongs to Kuuuurungba, or whatever shitbag blog he currently writes for but professional surfing is BeachGrit’s world and it’s time for the people who take time out of their workdays, who commit to damned professional surfing to own it.

What do they want to see? What do they want to read? Who do they want to cut from the roster?

I’m so happy we got to meet today but purely for them because, Scott Bass is a damned liar. Surfers are the best and will make this thing the thing you want.

And when we don’t?

Oh, no worries!

Fewer folk in the lineup!

Ain’t it hell to be part of a business where success counters success?

Welcome to surfing and I can’t wait to keep this conversation going.


Chas Smith

The format for ABB is magic. All of Australia's best clubs are there. Each team has an open. A junior. A woman. An over 35. One hour, five surfers (one goes twice for a nominated power wave). Penalties if you don’t get through all of your surfers. Penalties if you don’t make it back up the beach in time. Bonuses if you’re first across the finish line. There’s tactics. Intrigue. Running races upon the coarse Newcastle sand. | Photo: ABB

From the viva-la-revolución-lite-department: Inclusive surf contest says no to capitalist model of “best surfer wins!”

Strength lies in the team, in the community. Maybe Huey’s a socialist?

Overheard conversation. Newcastle Beach, NSW, Australia. Afternoon before the Nudie Australian Boardriders Battle (ABB). A surf dad, weathered but lithe, preps his brown-skinned, bright-haired son for a paddle.

“Now remember, let the conditions work for you. Don’t work against them.”

“Yeah,” son says as he waxes up his stickered board.

“Watch your rotation through your top turn. What’d I tell you? Look to where you want to go and your body will do the rest.”

“Yeah.” Son applies invisible zinc to his face.

“And don’t forgot your completions. Completions, completions, completions.”

“Yeah.” Son puts on his black and blue spring suit.

“Now get out there. And Hey.”

“Yeah?”  Son looks at his dad.

“Remember to have fun.”

Son shrugs, folds his springsuit over his neck and runs towards the waves.


Newcastle beach. ABB. The Morning Of The Final. I’m standing on the King Rock watching Snapper surf their first team heat of the day. Parko does a roundhouse cutback right in front of me. Must be 10 metres long across the arc. He brings it all the way to shore, runs up the beach and tags Sheldon Simkus in. I think it was Sheldon Simkus.

This is sport. This is team sport. This is good.

King Rock. ~ 20 years ago. 12 years old. Surfing with my Dad, since passed. I had long bright hair, like a Hansen brother, and was wearing a springsuit. One of the old locals, I think he’s dead now too, paddled past me. Looked me up and down and said, “Fuck it’s great seeing young chicks out in the lineup. Good on ya!”

I looked at the local, then at Dad. He said nothing. I shrugged. We kept surfing.

I walk back to the promenade as Sheldon brings one through the end section. There’s people everywhere. Everything is purple with Nudie branding. Purple shirts, purple walls, purple pavement.  A drone buzzes overhead. Maybe it’s purple too.

The comp was hammered by Visit NSW on Facebook. Tourists from Sydney or wherever tagged their friends and said things like “Check this out! Newcastle Day trip?!” and their friends responded, “Sure!” Now they’re taking up car spaces and walking around with purple comp flyers asking for the closest cafe.

For the second year in a row the comp’s been blessed with waves. Easterly trade swell with a hint of north under N winds. Not pumping, but highly, highly contestable. Meanwhile Surfest, Newcastle’s six star QS held in a similarly swell-rich window, gets dudded every time.

The format for ABB is magic. All of Australia’s best clubs are there. Each team has an open. A junior. A woman. An over-35. One hour, five surfers (one goes twice for a nominated power wave). Penalties if you don’t get through all of your surfers. Penalties if you don’t make it back up the beach in time. Bonuses if you’re first across the finish line. There’s tactics. Intrigue. Running races upon the coarse Newcastle sand.

It does away with the capitalist model of man-on-man competitive surfing. The best surfer wins not always. Strength lies in the team, in the community. Viva la revolucion-lite!

Maybe Huey’s a socialist?

The February heat hangs thick, so I go to one of the purple Nudie juice stations for a free drink. They’re just handing them out. Everything for everyone and nothing for ourselves, as the socialists would say.

There’s coconut water. An array of chilled juices. The dark-haired girl dispensing them tells me to try the banana, date and berry smoothie. It tastes like rotten fruit. I take one sip and throw it in the purple bin on the edge of the strip.

How is anyone supposed to drink this shit? She looks at me and shrugs. Maybe she looks a bit like Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez.

Everything for everyone, and nothing for ourselves.

This is where my boardriders, the hosts of the ABB, once met for a club weekend away. We were going to Treachery. Boards, tents, eskies. Everything else optional. I was 14 , one of only a few groms allowed to go.

Dad drove my best and mate and I in to the meet. It was 6:30am on a Saturday morning and the streets of Newcastle were dead silent, like they always were then. But as we rounded the bend on King street, out the front of the old Tower Cinemas, a Jeep came careering around the corner at us. Head on. Dad slammed on the breaks, and the driver jammed to the left, smashing into the three metre tall concrete retaining wall on the side of the road.

Keeerrrack. The Jeep front fender smashed in. The driver reversed out, the Jeep making an unholy crunching noise. But he didn’t stop, and continued off round the corner.

Dad made sure we were both ok, shrugged, and kept driving.

That was the weekend we surfed pumping Yagan and Lighthouse for two days straight, and when Mull Up tried to kill Snuff with a hammer. Things have changed since then, of course.

Final time. Merewether v Snapper v North Shelly v North Shore. The wind is up but workable lefts still wrap back into a right rip bowl. Highly, highly contestable.

Merewether are wearing purple rashies for the final. An omen. Shelley and Snapper come out strong, but smart, tradesman-like performances from Jesse Adams and Phillipa Anderson see Newy’s oldest club out in front. Team stalwart Adams has his power wave. One final shot to seal it. He rotates through his first turn. Completes on his second. He gets the score. Not with superior surfing, but superior tactics. He surfs to the conditions. Makes it work for him. Like he’s done a thousand times before.

Merewether wins. All of Newcastle is proud.

“It’s better than Lego” remarks one of the Merewether crew in the post heat interview. They’re having fun, too.

I watch the celebrations on the beach. Merewether. Snapper. Narrabeen. Torquay. Culburra. Margaret River. East End. Each club steeped in its own history. There’s passion that runs thick through generations. Through a sense of belonging to something.

Everything for everyone. Nothing for ourselves.

As the world descends into an interconnected web of emptiness, tribalism will return slowly to the fore.

The WSL sells exclusive packages worth more than a university degree for new audiences to immerse themselves in the surfing ‘experience.’

Meanwhile, the magic of close knit community, and family, and friends, and shared legacy. It’s spilling out onto the coarse Newcastle sand like water through a net. Free flowing, yet impossible to catch.

I think of all the time I’ve spent here. 20+ years surfing in the one spot, mostly. With my friends, with my family. Been taught to surf here by my Dad. Held my own daughter’s arms here as she experienced the ocean for the first time.

Death. Life. All of it.

The cradle rocks above an abyss, and common sense tells us that our existence is but a brief crack of light between two eternities of darkness.

How much would that cost? Speak, memory!

My memory shrugs. That’s for another day, maybe.

Overheard conversation, Newcastle beach, morning after the final.

Well to do couple, late 50s, probably not from around here, sit in one of the shaded areas in front of local cafe, overlooking the surf. The wife points to a lithe young man ordering a coffee.

“I think that’s Adam Jesse,” she says.

“Oh, the young lad that won the comp yesterday?” replies husband.

“Well, he didn’t win. His team did.”

“Oh, I see.”

He thinks on it for a second.

“They didn’t say it was team surfing on Facebook. To be honest it’s all a little confusing. Let’s just stick to the wine tours next trip?”

The wife looks at her husband, then at Jesse, then out to sea, and shrugs.

Breaking: Titan of surf industry caught up in college admissions cheating scandal!

"The shock is still reverberating..."

And how much fun is the college admissions cheating scandal rocking those in high places. It’s like the Fyre Festival for adults with grown children and oooooee the laughs don’t stop, not even for a minute.

For those unaware, The New York Times describes as…

In what the Justice Department called its largest ever college admissions prosecution, federal authorities charged 50 people on Tuesday with taking part in a nationwide scheme to game the admissions process at highly competitive schools like Yale and the University of Southern California.

Those charged include wealthy and powerful parents accused of paying millions of dollars in bribes, exam administrators and athletic coaches accused of manufacturing students’ achievements, and private admissions counselors accused of coordinating it all.

No big surprise that wealthy and powerful parents try and game the system but what if I was to tell you that a titan of the surf industry was caught up in the web too?

Oh it’s true! Just hours ago the great Mossimo Giannulli was named amongst the conspirators and what? Are you telling me you forgot about Mossimo?

The Italian founded his eponymous brand on Balboa Island, Newport Beach, California in the mid 1980s and it was an instant sensation amongst the day-glo’d surf rats. With sales booming Mossimo took the company public in 1996, paving the way for the Quiksilvers and Billabongs to follow down the sure fire path of riches and wealth and forever soaring stock prices.

Very soon thereafter, he did a massive multi-product licensing deal with Target showing brands like Lost how to effectively sell out.

The surf industry followed every one of Mossimo’s gilded steps and here he is, once again, ahead of the curve and let’s turn to Women’s Wear Daily for more.

More than 40 adults — parents to college-bound teenagers — were charged in multiple states for allegedly trying to cheat the system. The methods included paying others to take college entrance exams for their children, or by falsely stating that the students were athletes, among other allegations.

Thirteen athletic coaches from universities like Yale, Stanford, USC, Georgetown and Wake Forest in North Carolina have been implicated, along with test administrators and 33 parents.

Among them were Hollywood actors Felicity Huffman of “Desperate Housewives” and Lori Loughlin, best known as Aunt Becky on “Full House,” along with her husband, fashion designer Mossimo Giannulli, who founded the American fashion house Mossimo in the Eighties. The privately held company is owned by the Iconix Brand Group.

There has been no statement yet but, to be honest, I’m more impressed that Mossimo is married to Aunt Becky.

Good on him.

Also, will any other notable surf personality be caught in the snare?