Redemption: Surf Lakes coming back on line, aiming for “full-sized” waves!

It's time to apocalypse-ize the world!

Doesn’t it feel a lifetime ago that Surf Lakes unveiled its mad Mad Max plunger to the world? Oh I fell instantly in love. A rusted metal plunger, a mechanical hiss, a puff of smoke. It is the only surf tank that understands this is the end of mankind. The only one to perceive the apocalypse.

Whoosh.

Bam.

Whoosh.

Bam.

The only problem, if it can be considered a problem, is that all that whooshing and bamming made wonderful waves for preschool children and preschool-sized wo/men. The “reveal” video was ridiculed and Surf Lakes was instantly pulled offline for “repairs.”

Well, SurferToday writes:

“With external investigations and associated testing to the prototype now completed and the redesign efforts also finished, the re-build of the machine is now underway,” notes Mal Borgeaud, CEO of Surf Lakes.

“Due to numerous external factors potentially affecting scheduling, i.e., weather, we are not in a position to communicate an exact date for when the machine will be online again.”

According to the Australian wave pool company, the works are well on track for completion of repairs and phase two testing before June 30, 2019.

June 30, 2019? That’s just right around the corner. The report also says these adjustments will produce “full-sized waves” and that there have been over 300 inquiries of people/companies wanting a Surf Lake of their very own.

I wonder where these 300 inquiries have come from?

Where are there many preschool-sized wo/men? A quick Google search reveals Timor-Leste, Laos and Yemen top the list of “countries with shortest men” and Guatemala and the Philippines have the shortest women.

Yemen? My dream come true! My favorite country with my favorite surf tank technology!

Oh Surf Lakes, forget your ambitious plans for “full-sized waves.” Give me the license for Yemen and let’s apocalypse-ize the world!


Answered: Why Mick Fanning retired in his prime!

He's knockin' on heaven's door!

“He has the voice of an angel” is a cliché batted around far too often. Only three actual male singers in modern human history have actually had a “voice of an angel.” Sam Cooke, Morrissey and Michael Jackson. Michael Jackson just had his angel card pulled which leaves just two. Sam Cooke’s is also in real jeopardy if we’re all being frank.

And so the possible reveal of a replacement second/third has left social media atwitter, if you’ll forgive the pun.

Enter Michael Eugene Fanning crooning Bob Dylan classic Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door. (watch on BeachGrit’s fabulous Instagram account!)

It was, of course, Axel Rose of Guns n’ Roses who made the song truly famous but Mick eclipses them both with a singular delivery, an élan that whispers greatness.

Oh how we need a star male singer. Michael Buble bubbles for old people. Adam Levine is an utter embarrassment. Those Chainsmokers will soon develop throat cancer a al Sammy Davis Jr. if they’re not careful.

A giant dark hole.

The saddest time in star male singing history until the Quiksilver Pro rolled into Duranbah and…

…Wham*.

The cat is officially out of the bag.

Mick Fanning climbing the charts.

Mick Fanning writing poetry with his tongue.

I know people think Mick and I have an adversarial relationship and they may be right. Mick might hate me but I love him. It’s why I half dedicated a book to “My Michael Eugene Fanning.” (Buy here!)

Who else drinks beer from the bottom of a shoe and puts on the best live performance in professional surfing history, shaming Tom Curren, Peter King, Kelly Slater and all those who have tried and failed?

The voice of an angel.

He’s got it and we can only guess that his time in the recording studio made surfing funny heats an absolute impossibility.

In my heart of hearts I hope not true, though. Surfing needs this version of Mick Fanning now more than ever and I mean that in utmost sincerety.

*George Michael probably also has the “voice of an angel” if we’re all honest.


Watch: JOB knocked unconscious at Pipe; life saved by floatation wetsuit!

Nine staples to head, and a very well documented brush with mortality…

Two days ago, at eight-twenty in the morning, a man who has mastered Pipeline to such an extent he now rides plastic surfboards and giant rafts with his bulging eyes half closed, was knocked unconscious on a five-foot wave and only survived because of his flotation wetsuit.

“I was surfing four-to-six-foot pretty perfect Pipe and Backdoor and a good left came and as I was dropping down the face, warbles started coming up and I was, like, I’m not going to pull into this one,” says Jamie, who has previously broken both his legs at Pipe, as well as being knocked unconscious twelve years ago.

“I remember swimming in the whitewater, dazed out. I was almost underwater for two waves. I don’t remember much. I honestly had a hard time assessing that I hit the reef with my head because when you surf with all this confidence you think, this can’t happen to me. I kept questioning it. I don’t hit the reef. I floated up because I was wearing a Buell float suit. The suit saved my life. I was out for a good while. I choked on a lot of seawater. ”

A fan of his blog sent him a rewind of the Surfline camera for the day and what happened soon became obvious.

“When I fell, a photographer swam under the water in front of me. I think the back of my head hit his housing and then I knocked out. When we looked at the cut on my head it looks like the corner of the housing hit it. It’s a triangle almost, not an impact cut. I’m trying to find out who it was. If he’s out there risking his life, and I’m risking my life, you need people to react and help. I hit him and I almost died. There’s no way in the world that guy didn’t feel me hit him.”

At the hospital, Jamie’s head was closed with nine staples, his fountain of hair made even redder by the blood.

“I felt like I had a little bit of water in my lungs because it hurt to breathe,” he says.

Jamie’s philosophical about the crash.

“It’s the reality of living at a wave like this,” he says. “The crazy thing is, I don’t want to hit my head at Pipe, that’s the way you die. Yeah, you  can prevent that by wearing a helmet. Koa Smith manned up and is doing it. And what else can we do to prevent things like this happening? Someone laughed at me with my float suit on and said I looked like a ninja turtle and I said, it’ll save my ass one day! Sure enough, Nate Florence called me after he heard what had happened and said, ‘I’m going to get one right away.’

“The thing for me,” says Jamie, “is it wasn’t a lack of reading the wave. I was in the wrong place at the wrong time. When professionals wipeout, it might look like we’re not in control, but we’re in control most of the time. And that wave? A five-footer almost killed me?”


Changing of the guard: Steph Gilmore officially declared “World’s Greatest Surfer!”

Kelly Slater and Laird Hamilton vanquished!

I was very busy sailing over the past four days, hunting surf off California’s Channel Islands, running up scraggly hills, throwing rocks at prickly pears, editing forthcoming book and sipping mezcal from small pewter cups with four wonderful friends. It was a good time, great even, but I missed the last two days of stunning Quiksilver Pro competition. Well, not missed, I suppose because of Longtom. He writes better than I see and I’m overjoyed not to let my eyes get in the way of the truth and importance of professional surfing.

Italo beat Kolohe, as you know, and Caroline Marks upset Steph Gilmore but Steph should not be sad for she has just been officially declared “World’s Greatest Surfer.”

“Who declares who is the ‘World’s Greatest Surfer’ and how do they decide?” I hear you ask, with an incredulous edge to your voice, and I’ll tell you. It is decided by the editorial boards of Vanity Fair, Vogue, Esquire, Elle, ESPN and/or Guns & Ammo magazines. It is the surfer that grabs a “World’s Greatest Surfer” headline.

Now, Kelly Slater and Laird Hamilton have been passing the award back and forth for thirty years running. John John almost snagged the baubles three-years-ago but didn’t have a “face for media” as they say. And now we have Steph.

Elle magazine has a gorgeous new long form piece on the new “World’s Greatest Surfer” titled “Stephanie Gilmore is the World’s Greatest Surfer. Pay her accordingly.”

I don’t know how much Steph makes but I would bet all my own money that it’s more than Italo Ferreira.

And do you think Kelly Slater and Laird Hamilton are sad or do you think they will throw her a welcome to the club party?

If I’m honest, I would not want Kelly Slater and Laird Hamilton to throw me any sort of party. Imagine what the two would serve. Purps with added Laird Hamilton SuperFood Creamer festooned with ice from the ice bath we all just got out of.

Yuck.


Final’s Day, Quiksilver Pro: Italo Ferreira King of D-Bah! Part of God’s plan, says Kolohe Andino!

"A great contest wrecked by a lame ending…"

Just to clarify. My little tête-à-tête with John John and his self-appointed minder Peter King happened after his round four heat.

Which, as you recall, he won.

We were both in our professional employ, not in private spaces or training camps.

On reflection, it probably doesn’t reflect anything about John, just a simple case of PK being a “local custodian” and protecting his turf.

And he did make me laugh.

At one point he told me with a straight face that he was a journalist. All good, I can never resent a man protecting his livelihood.

Just don’t shoot me Peter. I come in peace.

Comparisons with UFC or other sports do offer insight, by contrast. A fighter at a UFC presser might be asked about drug use, terrorist accusations, family matters, nothing is off limits. Pro surfers luxuriate in one of the most carefully cultivated bubbles in any pro sport league.

Good for them, on the face of it.

Problem is, as someone suggested, in letting their surfing do the talking, pure surfing is understood by the very few. Even a panel of experts struggle to parse it to within a tenth of a point. Story, drama, character is universal currency. Suppress that at your peril.

Kolohe got robbed in the final against Italo. We all saw it. More on that later. The real story today is what happened yesterday. The ramifications of being beholden to Government Tourism funding smacked the new Commissioner upside the head.

D-Bah was pumping. Silken double overhead peaks.

The decision to put on hold staggered me.

A source close to the top of the WSL cleared the confusion. Contractual obligations to Tourism and Events Queensland were invoked, the income stream from Atlas Pass VIP holders was in jeopardy and needed to be thrown a bone. Stallholders and sponsors set-up at Snapper rocks were baying for blood. Sophie G has made it crystal clear that the commercial reality of the sport has to trump all other concerns, including it seems, holding the Finals in the best surf of the waiting period.

You could not blame Pat O’Connell for wishing and hopin’ for a golden Sunday afternoon in the Queensland sun to a capacity crowd.

Blind Freddy could see it was never going to happen.

Nursing a schooner at the Rainbow Surf club the impervious Tommy Peterson grumbled to me “Fucking nor-easter is up and won’t lay down. They should have gone at D-Bah; there’s no fucken surf coming”.

By 11.45 the wind was into it, the Finals would have been finishing in pumping D-Bah. They went on hold and on hold again. At 12.55 pm a black clad Pat O’Connell emerged from the main tower with a blue towel wrapped around his head Lawrence of Arabia-style.

A phalanx of Red Cameras departed within a the minute and the illusion was shattered for the day, obligations presumedly met.

That left the WSL in the unenviable position of selling a sub-standard Final’s day as a pinnacle when it was clear anti-climax. Competitors struggled, none moreso than John Florence who looked slow and sluggish in the soft peaks. He fell, and fell and fell against Conner Coffin but still managed to prevail after a 6.33 that looked a full point too high.

Despite not a single scoring ride in the excellent range team JJF will be ecstatic with a semi-final finish.

The week played right into John’s hands, away from the pressure-cooker of the Snapper fish bowl with all its scrutiny and potential for an aggressive opponent to test his resolve. Muscular peaks to roam around in and feed on. Freesurfing during the first half of over-lapping heats.

A dream return to competition.

Medina was clearly furious about the monumental failure to capitalise on yesterday’s dream conditions. He sat for half the heat waiting for a wave that never came and looked flat and ponderous on waves he rode.

“It’s hard to compete when there’s no opportunity,” he told Rosie in the post-heat presser.

Rosie stood mute.

I was reminded of the work of the chief Politburo ideology chief Mikail Suslov when rejecting Vasily Grossman’s epic novel about Stalingrad, Life and Fate.

“Why,” he said, “should we add your book to the atomic bombs that our enemies are preparing to launch against us.”

Medina launched another bomb.

“I was surfing D-Bah (yesterday) and it was pumping but whatever.”

Cut back to the booth and neither Ronnie or Pete touched it.

It was left to die. Like the swell on offer, slowly being torn to pieces by the despised northerly wind.

Imagine any other pro sport deliberately downgrading its finale to appease an outside funding body. Putting Wimbledon on a back court with cracks in it and a holey net, shifting a title fight from Caesars Palace to the parking lot.

Jordy and Italo finally brought some fireworks to the day. Trading full-rotation airs with landings of impeccable hygiene. Jordy’s was adjudged a full point and a third the better. Hard to argue with.

Hard to argue with Italo’s response: a flurry of rotations and varials.

Jordy looked confused.

The sheer weight of Brazilian spectator numbers meant a home court advantage for Italo. He used non-priority as a weapon, taunting Jordy with numerous waves under his nose. Jordy looked relieved to concede with the clock ticking down.

Kolohe had dismantled John with a superior make rate and technical advantage in the air, in particular a soft and subtle back hand caressing the rail by the back heel. Sublime aerial technique.

Vision of Italo cruising with his bottle blonde babe in the tent between heats, necking Red Bull and getting loose has to be the defining image of the day.

Surely that energy level had to be depleted come the Final?

Kolohe started strong. They both traded fives with no discernible advantage. Andino surfed a QS-level wave like a jockey coming down the home straight, whipping it mercilessly for a 5.93 and a handy lead.

Italo fell and finally looked drained.

Less than two minutes to go and he needs a 6.93.

The surf has turned to absolute dog caca. A maiden Andino Victory looks almost assured. He lets Italo go on what he called a “knee-high” wave. A decision he later assured us he would make “ten times out of ten.”

Italo launched a flat low and fast spin. The rotation was perfect and clean.

I wrote “Nah”.

But if they do, they’ll highball the fuck out of it.

They did.

The 7.07 was enough for victory.

Italo was mobbed. Kolohe looked to the beach, totally flummoxed. He later ascribed the loss to Rosie as “part of the Lord’s Plan”.

The lord works in mysterious ways but money doesn’t.

With a great contest wrecked by a lame ending we only place certainty in the fact that he who pays the piper calls the tune.