Florida officials declare: “Tax spending on surfing event has gotten out of hand!”

"It's just unbelievable that that much was spent on something very few people attended — and it has to stop."

Today is professional surfing’s official opening day and can’t you just feel the crackle of excitement? Can’t you just smell the surf-starved masses breath? A mix of nail polish and rotten fruit? The people have been deprived of their surfing for too long but today, finally, it ends.

Oh our diet is an expensive one though. The World Surf League pours our millions of dollars so we can dine like mad fools and local municipalities empty their coffers too because surf is great and surf is good. It brings masses of tourists and if you throw a surf contest they will come and etc.


Well, it appears that Florida’s Space Coast tourist department, home to the Florida Pro, spent lots more on that Florida Pro than city councillors and elected officials were comfortable with. Let’s read their gripes. Let’s catch the argument full swing.

New financial documents show that the Space Coast Office of Tourism spent more than $400,000 of tax money on a surf competition at Sebastian Inlet State Park, far more than previously cited.

Largely because of that, the office’s new executive director, Peter Cranis, said he will recommend that the agency no longer directly oversee events such as the Florida Pro Surf competition and a companion music festival.

“I don’t believe we should be in the business of producing events,” Cranis said.

Cranis said the office’s marketing director, who oversaw the events, is resigning to pursue other interests.

Cranis joined the Office of Tourism staff on March 4, and was not at the agency when the spending took place.

The $422,000 far exceeds what the office previously said was spent on the surf competition:

• On Feb. 27, Office of Tourism Marketing Director Tiffany Minton told members of the advisory Tourist Development Council that the agency spent about $280,000 for event costs and marketing.

• On March 5, she sent a follow-up email to Tourist Development Council Chairman Tim Deratany, indicating that $259,557 was spent on event support and marketing for the two events, plus approximately $75,000 for production of video and other materials related to the event. That total equals $334,557.

• On Friday — a day after FLORIDA TODAY made an additional inquiry to Minton about the spending — Cranis provided a spreadsheet indicating that $421,991 was allocated to the account tied to the Florida Pro event.

Both Cranis and Tourist Development Council Chairman Tim Deratany on Monday said they were concerned about the amount the Office of Tourism spent on the event.

“It’s just unbelievable that that much was spent on something very few people attended — and it has to stop,” Deratany said. “It’s very, very frustrating to me to have something like that happening.”

Jerks. $422,000 ain’t nothing when it comes to producing surf contests. Live a little! Those old folks who mostly populate Florida’s Space Coast won’t even know its gone!

Longtom: “Mick Fanning’s Cure for USA’s Opioid Crisis!”

And other uses for three-time champ's foam surfboards… 

One: what is this softboard revolution all about?

Wavestorms* are taking over California and Hawaii while the hippest craft in the hippest town in the world** is a soft-topped board imported straight from China and ridden side-saddle without fins.

Ironic generic?

And two: Is there anything sadder – sadder than Bukowski’s beer-drunk soul contemplating all the dead Christmas trees of the world – than the sight of Daddy rolling down the beach with rug rats in tow fulfilling his family obligations on a Saturday or Sunday morning?

Softboards are taking over the world. Fact.

The family man, or woman, when caught in the death-spiral of diminishing returns from trying to ride high-performance crafts should consider.

That is not a cash for comment, comment.

It’s the conclusion reached by me and pals after a year of ownership of a Micky Fanning softboard. No word association game with Mick Fanning will produce anything synonymous with hip or hipster but the Tugun retiree now counts himself a stakeholder in both craft beer and softies.

I have no love for Balter, tastes like formaldehyde but you could bottle pure cats pee and stick a nice label on it and sell beer.

Like softboards, it’s a bull market.

I got the 6’0” Beastie. Basically, a double-ended piece of foam and plastic, as a “do no harm” tool for ultra-crowded point surf and a craft that kiddies could ride. A communal object.

I have to say it surprised me.

The Foamies I rode growing up were covered in an evil blue fabric that ripped the skin off your tits and left permanent scarring. They were made according to the dictum that floppiness is next to godliness. The MF is stiff.

The supplied fins are soft and rubbery. After one surf I left them in. They let the board drift all over the place. The reaction time is slow and spongey, a kind of half drunk feeling, things take a while to happen.

Affect is removed from causation.

The Foamies I rode growing up were covered in an evil blue fabric that ripped the skin off your tits and left permanent scarring. They were made according to the dictum that floppiness is next to godliness. The MF is stiff.

Which means you can surf it. Even shred if that is your thing.

I found other uses for mine.

A healing crutch for curing Indo-itis. Everyone gets it when they travel and score good waves then come home and don’t feel like surfing in sub-par waves. The MF was a reliable partner for a zipperless quicky at a sloppy beachbreak or a high-tide rock break at the local Point that no-one else could be bothered with.

As a palate cleanser in between quiver changes. I have lots of boards and like to cycle through big changes in quiver. Up, down, sideways. A little session on the MF would require no great neural commitment and provide an easy reset for the next board choice.

As a cost free do-no-harm-ridden-leashless board at the Pass. If you don’t surf the Pass – one of the Globes most desirable little warm water peel-offs- then you will have no idea of the fluid, pan-sexual chaos. A female lawyer pal is one of the fiercest leash-free longboard advocates. With a soft board you can butt rails, ride together without malice or resentment, knock the head of your own or someone else’s rugrat without fear of injury or litigation. It is a bumpy but highly enjoyable ride.

Stoke out a kid. Usually someone else’s. It’s such a stable platform any Fortnite-addicted kiddie can get up and riding and give Mammy and Pappy a thrill. In a weird reversal of attitude that now makes parents nod and cluck approvingly.

Injury/anti-depressive rehab. This can be mortal, physical injury, as in the case of Mark Matthews. A psychological injury, as in a severe case of post-Mentawaii depression (Me). Even rehab for bizarre conditions like Tyler Wright’s post-viral syndrome injury or her brother’s brain injury rehab. Works for all of them.

Considering that surfing itself is now officially considered therapy for a whole range of ailments, why not bring the full weight of Mick Fanning’s star power and his soft board empire to bear on the Opioid Crisis afflicting America?

On that note.

I see a much larger opportunity for Saint Mick, who we know likes to help people out.This will sound strange but hear me out. After realising that these soft boards can be ridden by just about anyone in all mental and physical conditions, and considering that surfing itself is now officially considered therapy for a whole range of ailments, why not bring the full weight of Mick Fanning’s star power and his soft board empire to bear on the Opioid Crisis afflicting America?

You show up at the Doc with pain or as a registered addict and instead of a new script for Oxys or endone patches you get a MF softy.

I know that sounds ludicrous but wavepools full of tech billionaires and F1 racers was just as bizarre scant years ago. This is a chance for Fanning to finally and fully differentiate himself from Kelly and complete the beatification. Maybe a Nobel peace prize could be in the offing if he solves the Opioid Crisis.

I hear people bitching and moaning all the time about the challenge of wresting an hour or two out of the strangulating grip of urban, adult responsibility.

Get real.

Just put a softy in the car and leave it there. Give up everything about the surfboard except its pure utilitarian value. Unless you live somewhere where the soft board is now a device of cool.

Watch how my pal, local chalkie Sunny Russel does it. Skips out of school at 3.30 after teaching maths all day. Home, grabs the kid(s), Mammy gets stoked on some free time. Kids build sandcastles and Pappy shreds a half dozen before they all go home happy and play Happy Families.

It can work.

Conclusion: The beer sucks but the boards are great.

* I say Ryan Burch is the primary cause.
**Byron Bay.

Binge-mocking: BeachGrit has been a five-year long April Fool’s joke directed at WSL!

Imagine the laughs in Santa Monica!

Today is April Fool’s. The day that we all tell each other little white lies about this or that in order to bring many laughs. The day surf media tells the world that Dane Reynolds is releasing a whole ton of new clips, the upcoming Snapper event will be moved to D’bah or that Rip Curl sells a “superior surf short.”

Well, Derek Rielly and I dreamed up the greatest surf media April Fool’s joke ever five short years ago. There we sat around my zinc kitchen island, slightly pocked due to the salty air, and wondered, “What would be the surf media April Fool’s shenanigan to end all surf media April Fool’s shenanigans?”

Derek said two words. “Beach Grit.”

“What’s a Beach Grit?” I asked.

Derek’s eyes lit up. “We are going to create a surf website…” And I started laughing so hard that he had to wait for thirty whole minutes before adding…

“… and we’ll cover professional surfing…”

By this time we were both the floor clutching our stomachs. It took another whole thirty before he finished, “But we can’t tell the Association of Surfing Professionals for five years.”

Well, the Association of Surfing Professionals transitioned to the World Surf League but Derek and I kept the joke to ourselves, as difficult as it was so many times.

But today is finally the reveal.

Imagine the guffaws in both Santa Monica’s low bungalow and also its secret high castle. Imagine the full-bellied laughs, Erik “Elo” Logan and Dirk Ziff hugging with tears streaming down their cheeks.

Dave Prodan, head back, choking on giggles, barely able to utter, “I’ve been involved in surf media for 20 years and never thought I’d see the day when one of their damned April Fool’s jokes actually worked. Bravo!”

Bravo indeed.

Question: When was the last time you made a scene in a restaurant?

It's the American way! (Trigger warning: This is not about surfing at all.)

Yesterday found my beautiful family and I driving north for a much needed camping vacation and when I write “camping” I mean “staying in a cabin with a little market a short stroll away that sells firewood, white wine and gluten-free graham crackers for S’mores.”

I am not gluten-free, of course, but appreciate the lifestyle and anyhow we were driving north and got hungry.

“Let’s stop at Sugarfish sushi in Calabasas…” My beautiful wife said.

It sounded nice even though I enjoy it less than its sister Kazu Nori.

I found the exit in Calabasas, turned left then a quick right in into the Calabasas Commons, a strip mall for the Kardashians.

We parked, got out and wove between high school girls in head-to-toe Lululemon who have been waist training their entire adolescent lives. Bottoms as big as trucks.


Sugarfish was almost empty which was a surprise. It was exactly lunchtime and the rest of the strip mall was bustling. We ordered a fantastic omakase meal except my young daughter was unimpressed with all the raw.

“Do you have avocado?” I asked “To make an avocado maki roll?”

“No” the round-faced yet teenage’d Chinese waiter said in snotty Calabasas English.

“Ok.” I responded then walked to the grocery store in the strip mall and grabbed an avocado maki roll from their pre-prepared section.

By the time I walked back my wife had already eaten a good half of our omakase order. “Lucky her” I thought.

I gave my daughter her avocado sushi and, as if summoned by dark magic, the snotty found-faced teenage waiter appeared.

“I’m sorry. We don’t allow outside food in the restaurant…” he said.

“Bullshit.” I responded. “Get your manager.”

30 seconds later his middle-age’d yet skinny Chinese manager arrived with a pained smile spreading across his face and smarm dripping from his lips.

“Yaaaaaaahhhhhhh I’m sorrrrrrrrry but….”

I launched into an almost patented fit of rage.

“Are you fucking kidding me? You won’t even bring a side of rice nor will you salt the edamame. You are fucking strip mall sushi pretending to be all hip.”

“Yaaaaaaahhhhhhh I’m sorrrrrrrrry but….it’s policy and if we let you do it we have to let the other parents in here do it.”

“I’ll gladly walk to fucking Ralphs and order whatever actually kid enjoyable sushi the other parents want.” I screamed.

““Yaaaaaaahhhhhhh I’m sorrrrrrrrry but…. I’m sorry…” he smarmed again.

I almost knocked the table over getting up.

“Fine. You can buy our half-eaten lunch and also fuck off. At the same time.”

The entire dining room had stopped eating at this point and was staring.

We marched out, laughing, with a $200 bill floating in the air.

Later I told my wife, “I totally would have gotten that damn other family whatever sushi they wanted from Ralphs.”

She said, “Did you see who it was? Brian Austin Green and Megan Fox.”

I hope they know that I had their back too.

And if you ever find yourself in Calabasas, stop by the Commons and order a nice big meal at Sugarfish, go to Ralphs and get something for your starving child then drive into the night full and happy and rich.

You’re welcome!


Surf-starved city says no to “safe, accessible, welcoming” wave pool!

No free crown land for wavepool developers in Perth, Western Australia.

Four years ago, the former investment banker and self-appointed “hard-core” surfer Andrew Ross announced a masterplan to dot Australia with Wavegarden-powered pools.

The first of the ten pools, which is being built near Melbourne’s Tullamarine airport, is going to get its tank filled in a few weeks with testing to  follow before it opens to the public in time for the southern hemisphere summer.

It’s an interesting play. The tech, Wavegarden’s Cove, has never been built to this scale.

Will it work?

Will it thrill?

Nobody, not Wavegarden nor Ross’ company Urbnsurf, knows.

A second pool, which was going to be built in the Perth suburb of Alfred Cove and, importantly, a few hundred metres from my parents’ house, has hit a potentially fatal roadblock.

The state government has refused to kick Urbnsurf a chunk of crown land for the build.

From the national broadcaster,

Lands Minister Ben Wyatt announced yesterday that a proposal by the City of Melville to utilise a portion of Crown land for the project had been rejected.

Urbnsurf founder and executive director Andrew Ross said he only found out via a phone call from Mr Wyatt yesterday afternoon.

“We have been progressing with this project for a number of years now and I think the reasoning that has been given, I don’t know that it makes a lot of sense to me,” he told ABC Radio Perth.

“They felt that the Crown land needed to remain available to the general public.

“We are deeply disappointed that we have put so much time and effort and money into this, to have it all sort of end at this point.”

Mr Ross said Perth was “screaming out” for the wave park.

“We need to have big, clever ideas about how to reinvigorate Perth,” he said.

“Perth has a wonderful climate, we have a huge surfing population of 80,000 people, but we do not have a dedicated surfing facility.”

The waves in Perth, of course, do suck. It’s unimaginably bleak.

Blown out and small in summer; blown out and small in winter.

Question: should the Western Australian government turn over a parcel of land owned by the citizenry for the profit of a private company if it gives pleasure to the aforementioned citizenry?

And, if you live in Perth, does the idea of getting out of the reach of the many Great Whites that patrol those waters thrill you beyond measure?