Day Two, Quiksilver Pro: “Kelly Slater was crucified in full public view and no one cared…”

Ruthless contest judges "fed Kelly to the pigs…"

There’s nothing harder in this polarised world than to get a handle on reality. I thought yesterday was a good day, a bold move going to D-Bah against the grain of commercial pressure, with a whole lot of entertaining surfing that was a massive upgrade from the QS that had been incubating on the shores of our sun baked continent for an eternity.

John John Florence back in the jersey, Slater on his testimonial testing his legacy.

In other minds, insurrection was fomenting. I took the early morning to take the temperature at my local where pro surfing is consumed by a very knowledgeable cognoscenti. A freshly waxed Sharpeye HT2.5 was incentive to take on sideshore rock runners, a story for a different time.

The mood on the opening day was contra my own.


“Sick of fucking watching Brazilians bunny hop and do air reverses.”

“Couldn’t watch more than five minutes.”

“Slater is gone” etc etc.

Not a kind word to be said.

I argued that Medina was a beast and worthy champ but the judgement was cast in stone: opening day was stillborn.

Got to the beach at D-Bah ten minutes before Slater’s heat started. Blue water was pulling hard out of the Tweed, a squall to the south-east trailed a rain cloud underneath it like a shroud.

Kelly was on the beach. A small flock trailed him. Notably small. For anyone who has seen full-blown Kelly-gasms before a minor respectful crowd was bizarre. He stretched. The double-jointed camel back was still there.

“Looks a bit stiff,” I said to the Maori security guard standing beside me.

“What do you think?”

He tapped his temple and said, “It’s all up here, eh”

“I don’t know,” I said, “everyone gets too old eventually. Doesn’t matter what you think about it.”

Kelly entered the water, the gathered crowd clapped quietly. A middle-aged woman in a WSL cap sighed deeply and contentedly.

She got what she came for: proximity to Kelly. Absent were the usual nubiles.

I can tell you from the beach the surf looked a lot better than on broadcast. It was confusing to watch.

Fifteen hundred, maybe two thousand, if that is too conservative lets call it three thousand people, were spread across the sand. Taking transects and methodically walking among them I estimated 70-75% spoke Portugese, Spanish, Basque or another Germanic language. The typical Australian surf fan was conspicuous by their absence.

I saw the young Brazilian up by the wall take a wave. Where was Kelly? He was down by himself at the middle peak, hundreds of metres away from Owen and Chrisanto.

He caught a wave. No-one on the beach saw it. No one responded.

It was wave three he did three big spicy turns and a high-speed layback to finish.

I scribbled down “7 +”.

Polite applause rippled around the crowd. An aeon later judges called it a 5.43.

Wow, I thought, they are feeding him to the pigs. How disrespectful.

A big power gouge snap under the lip, a move only Kelly can do, was given a 5.2.

Kelly was being crucified in full public view and no one cared. How strange for him. How very, very strange. A man with his own private fiefdom where a never-ending lineup of celebrities and billionaires are willing to line up to kiss the ring and his career is ending with a public humiliation on Duranbah beach in front of an uncomprehending and uncaring crowd.

Forty seconds to go and on my ticket Kelly has won the heat. In reality, he needs an 8.07., a score he once would have laughed at but that now seems completely out of reach.

30 , 20, 10, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1.

The countdown seems significant, as all of them will this year for the GOAT. If he lasts the year that is.

He ran up the beach and went straight to Rosie for the post-heat presser. There was no live cross, Ronnie and Pete were gabbing to longboard world champion Steven Sawyer while the GOAT was bleeding out… a very bad look.

Kelly said he needed to be hungrier, but that isn’t the problem.

The problem is much bigger, more intractable.

A year ago, he said he wasn’t content making up the numbers, he wanted to be contending for a Title. The reality of a last-place finish now removes that possibility entirely. Reality is overtaking him in a way that never seemed possible, but is happening right in front of our eyes.

His downfall in this manner diminishes us all.

Christie got through, that’s good news I guess.

Steve Sherman’s Quiksilver Pro photo of the day: “Brother and Daddy Dino!”

"They get into these intense moments of conversation…"

There is very little that separates the work of sporting photographers. A slightly different angle here, a different lens there.

Any sorta lifestyle shot is perfunctory, at best.

Surfing is very lucky to have Steve Sherman, a skater and surfer from southern California. His photography is a kind of subdued magic, controlled and exquisite, the kind of things you get from a good movie.

More than any other surf photographer, Sherman has a sense of living history.

Over the course of the Quiksilver Pro, we’ll run a different shot of Sherm’s each day.

One, ’cause no one does it like Sherm and, two, ’cause our brother runs off his own cash express and if we can peel a note or two off to keep him hitting the shutter, well, ain’t that just a good thing.

Today, Kolohe Andino aka Brother and his Daddy Dino at D-Bah.

“You can see when Dino and Kolohe get in conversations, how Kolohe takes it all in,” says Sherm. “He listens to his father…a lot. Intently. More than the average son. And that’s impressive. They get into these moments of intense conversation really quickly. They talk about everything: the way he was surfing,. what’s going on in surfing, this board, that board and what the fuck Kelly is doing. But…everyone…does that!”

It’s a relationship that’s gotten softer over the years.

“When he was younger he started rebelling but, now, I rarely see any tension between them. If Dino is saying something Kolohe is listening. I think he realises his Dad still has a lot to offer him.”

Cherry blossom season at the Bu.

Surfer sliced to hell by leashless surfboard at Malibu!

Owner of leashless board cries and says, "Fuck that guy! I hate him!"

Today’s project is surf injuries. Earlier, you thrilled to the SUP pilot, whose face now resembles a treasure map, and, now, a Topanga surfer who was drawn a third armpit by a leashless surfboard at Malibu.

Will Milner, 47, is an artist who calls First Point, Malibu, home. When he’s not in his art studio in West Adams he shapes boards, mostly hulls.

Let’s hear his story.

I was enjoying a small early south swell pulse two sundays ago at the Bu. The lineup was kind of jammed, first sign of summer… the surf was inconsequential, waist maybe chest, good but no big deal.

Anyway, I had been noticing this girl burning people most of the morning…  not to mention incessantly running to the nose…  I had avoided her pretty much until she lost her board. This all happened really quickly… The girl once again burning  a dude on a a set wave, she ran to the nose, arched her back, her board got hung up and tossed with the momentum of the breaking wave, tail first.

I kind of scolded her for a minute and she yelled to me and her boyfriend sitting next to her, “Fuck that guy, I hate him” and ran away to the parking lot crying.

I attempted to roll to avoid it hitting my head, but the tail/fin slammed and snagged my whole right side… her board, the dude’s board and my board to the beach… I knew I had been basically stabbed, I could feel cold water in the wound… Swimming in I told the girl her board  slammed me and it’s not good… she started crying… on the beach, more of the same.

Holding her stomach and crying. I didn’t see her get hit, but idk. I kind of scolded her for a minute and she yelled to me and her boyfriend sitting next to her, “Fuck that guy, I hate him” and ran away to the parking lot crying.

So I asked the boyfriend where they were from, didn’t get too much info… needing to take care of my wound, the lifeguard, Carter, super cool and nice, helped me out, I couldn’t see the gash, he looked surprised maybe shocked, , so I knew it was probably bad… he offered to call an ambulance.

Fortunately my girlfriend was with me… and drove me to the emerge care in Malibu… they wouldn’t see me because my insurance company website was down, drove to the one in Calabasas, two-hour wait. I insisted that the nurse at least check it out… she obliged and said it was bad and maybe the muscle is torn and sent us to the ER in West Hills… 20 staples.

I don’t know the protocol on this, but if I had lost my board and wounded someone, I definitely would offer to help etc.. the girl was a brat.

Maybe her ego was bruised, embarrassed? And didn’t want to admit she was wrong? 

It’s a good story, yes?

Two questions: Would you cry and say, ‘Fuck that guy, I hate him’ if you’d carved out a new piece of real estate on another surfer?

And what sorta country sends a wounded man back on the street because “the insurance company website was down”?

"Two facial surgeons spent nine hours working on him, during which time he was cut from ear to ear and his face peeled forward allowing the perforation to be patched with muscle." | Photo: Steve Bowens/

SUP Pilot Blows Out Eye Sockets, Cheeks, Brain etc on small-wave wipeout!

Bones imploded, cerebral fluid polluting water etc.

Some stories need little embellishment, like a celebrity whose past is rich in love affairs or erotic episodes.

Like today’s story lifted from the British tabloid, The Daily Mail.

A SUP rider was belted in the face by his giant craft and broke his nose, both eye sockets and right cheek and, says the pilot, Steve Bowens, ‘the impact had imploded the bones which make up the sinuses, this had forced air around my brain, and created a hole from my skull to the outside world through which cerebral spinal fluid now flowed.’

According to the Mail,

Two facial surgeons spent nine hours working on him, during which time he was cut from ear to ear and his face peeled forward allowing the perforation to be patched with muscle.

His cheek also had to be rebuilt and his eye suspended on titanium mesh.

As the wave came to the end it sectioned. I bottom turned but misjudged it and took a tumble.

‘The wave was not big, about 3ft. However I landed in the wrong place at the wrong time and the board hit me square in the face, right between the eyes. The sensation was as if someone hit me with a baseball bat. It was violent and as I came to the surface I knew that I was likely to pass out. As soon as I surfaced I climbed back on, thinking that at least if I passed out I would have some chance of keeping my airway out of the water until the next wave. Looking down at the board it was like someone was pouring red paint from a bucket onto the deck. I had never seen so much blood before. I then started shouting, I didn’t care who saw me, only that someone would see where I was and that I needed help.’

A concerned surfer paddled over to Mr Bowens and asked if he needed help.

He added: ‘I told him I needed to get back to the beach, but he seemed unsure of how to help. Fortunately the next wave caught me and I managed to prone surf back to the shore.’

On reaching the beach Steve struggled to stand and was helped to the car park, where his wife Sally, a doctor, was called to take him to A&E.

He added: ‘The shock of the accident started to set in. I sat there, shivering, with blood still pouring from my face. The pain was fairly intense and I just wanted to be anywhere apart from sat there.’

Y’ever been hit that hard?

By board, human hand, reef, concrete?

Hot Hogs for Sexy Studs: Harley-Davidson becomes official motorcycle of professional surfing!

Feel the thunder!

How do you feel about motorcycles? Do you love the ride? Wind in hair? Bending around hairpins etc.? I’m not ashamed to say I love them, and love them very much, though have never owned a proper proper one. Never owned the motorcycle of my dreams.

Right after college I took semi-ownership of a friend’s Kawasaki 900 and drove it to my teaching gig which was on the other side of a good sized hill. The brakes went out one day and I downshifted to an eventual stop after many close misses.

I was proud of myself.

Later I bought a vintage Honda, basically a child’s bike, painted it black and flipped the handlebars upside down. It broke often and I tried to fix it myself but made everything worse.

In Lebanon, during the 2006 war, my best friend and I tried to get motorcycles but could only find motorscooters, which we were riding when getting nabbed by the PLO then handed over to Hezbollah. They would have respected us more, I feel, had we been on better machines.

In Yemen, less than a year later, the same best friend and I planned to ride Royal Enfields from one end of the country to the other then back again. Once we landed in Sana’a, though, we realized the only sorts of bikes that exist in Yemen are nasty little 90cc Chinese things. We painted them black and flipped the handlebars upside down and rode 3000 km, which must be a record on little 90cc Chinese things.

And that is my history with motorcycles which brings us back to the World Surf League.

How do you think they look on their new Harley?

More importantly, which motorcycle brand would best fit the League’s general vibe?