Prison ain't a joke. Although the friends you do make inside are usually for life.

SUP pilot found guilty in paddle attack that left surfer brain damaged; faces seven years hard time!

Tough love in San Diego… 

Six days ago, you might’ve read about a SUP pilot who was on trial for allegedly belting a surfer in the head with a paddle at Sunset Cliffs, San Diego, on June 26, 2018.

An emergency room physician said the surfer’s injury looked like a “hammer blow.”

(Read about “Beach Bully SUP Pilot” here.)

You can now strike out allegedly.

A jury has found SUP pilot Paul Konen guilty of assaulting Kevin Eslinger. Konen faces a possible seven-year stretch in prison.

From NBC,

Prosecutors said Konen hit Eslinger on the head with a paddle so hard, that it damaged Eslinger’s brain, leading to speech problems that persist.

Deputy District Attorney Matthew Greco said the gash left on the back of the victim’s head was so severe that he could not speak for days after the incident. Prosecutors called Eslinger’s injury “highly unusual.”

Meanwhile, defense attorney Brian McCarthy argued Konen was acting in self-defense and was actually trying to get away from Eslinger. Konen allegedly told a friend he thought Eslinger “was going to kill him,” and swung at him to defend himself.

However, the prosecution said the attack was not an act of self-defense and told the jury the paddleboarder should be held accountable for the injuries suffered by Eslinger.

It don’t end there for Konen. Naturally, for this is America, Eslinger has filed a civil lawsuit against Konen, saying his impaired speech has affected his job as a swimming teacher.

What’s the takeaway, as they say, here?

For Konen it’s seven years of ass play and shivs in the guts and living in fear he’s going to be smothered every time he closes his dang eyes and a possible bankruptcy courtesy of the civil suit.

Ooowee, keep those paddles holstered, boys.

Let's surf Tofino!
Let's surf Tofino!

Beware: Summer VALs being directed to “cruise the waves” at these seven spots!

Come for the rolling rides, stay for the zipline canopy tour!

It is springtime in America, with summer hot on its heels and you know what that mean. Picnics, BBQs, camping and non-surf websites informing non-surf readerships which beaches around the world are best for learning to surf.

Historically, these lists were easy to ignore. They were neither for you nor about you but, as seen recently in Santa Cruz, we live in strange times. The VAL apocalypse is upon us and it may be your head on the bottom of a SUP foil if you’re not at least moderately aware.

So, where are our friends across the aisle being directed to “take the opportunity to become one with the water, and test your skills and pump your adrenaline through sports like scuba and surfing?” Where might it be best to avoid if at all possible?

Let’s dig in!

-The Outer Banks: “You’ll find everything from beginner to advanced, depending on the time of year [and] hurricane swells that frequent in the fall,” said Erin Swain, an avid east coast surfer and master sommelier, self-dubbed the Surfing Som.

-The Algarve: “The Algarve in the south of Portugal is a fantastic destinations for surfers of all levels, but particularly beginner surfers,” said James Cave, a travel blogger at Portugalist.

-Tamarindo, Costa Rica: “The best place to stay is at Witch’s Rock Surf Camp, and make sure to ask about the zipline canopy tours for when you’re not surfing.”

-Tofino, Canada: This coast has often been described as like surfing in the Twilight movies because of the stunning forests filled with pine trees and rocky terrain.

-Kuta, Bali: Conditions like these are great for beginners, or for anyone wanting a chilled-out session. These beaches tend to be quiet along the south coast, and you can easily hire a scooter and explore the blue lagoons, sandy coves and lush vegetation, to find the perfect spot for surfing.

-Cocoa Beach, Florida: Florida is known for having beautiful weather all year round, and…Cocoa Beach, with warm water temperatures and numerous surf schools is an excellent place for beginners.

-Puerto Escondido, Mexico: The area has the typical laid back surf town vibe going on with a multitude of places…offering morning yoga, organic meals and all types of smoothies for a post surf refreshment.

Bummer. I had a surf trip planned to Cocoa Beach already. I hope I can get a partial refund.

Once, many years ago, I was charged with writing the summer “where to surf” guide for BlackBook magazine. I sent everyone to Oxnard’s Silver Strand, Sydney’s Ours and to go explore the wonderful beaches of northern West Australia.

Where would you send them?

Read: Surf Legend’s 340,000 word, two-volume, Wild Tell-All!

"I thought he was fucking nuts," says pro tour buddy Peter Townend.

Last Friday night, BeachGrit shared a bar-room fundraiser with an early cut of Chas Smith’s Lisa Andersen biopic Trouble and baseball-bat swinging, send-the-king-of-the-Hui to jail hell-raiser Ian “Kanga” Cairns, who was launching volume two of his biography.

It was a fine evening and all monies raised were sent directly to Surf Aid whose mission is to lift the wretched out of ill-health and poverty and so on.

Sixty-six-year-old Kanga was in terrific form as was his biographer, Wayne Murphy, who played escort and who would fist a $500 drink card, courtesy of sponsor The Bucket List. 

Several women with Goldilocks hair sought out the old champion’s company, lured, perhaps, by the still-squirting fountain of testosterone.

“I’m the best daddy you’ll ever have,” said a low voice that was half whisper, half growl.

Kanga, volumes one and two, 340,000 words. What’s that, half a cent a word? Anyone know maths?

Later, I wrote to Kanga and asked him to elaborate on several topics of conversation we had during the night, and which I didn’t record and remembered only vaguely.

Writer Wayne Murphy comes in here and there.

First, how many words is the two-volume set? Hundred and fifty k? Anyone still read? Why the…length? 

Kanga: Volume 1 is 160,000 words and Volume 2 is 180,000 words. It was simply as decision of mine because I liked Wayne’s writing and I thought that the stories had relevance. It goes on and on but is still very readable. I wanted to tell the whole pro-surf story A-Z without revisionist history. My story, self published, hard work by Wayne and my version of the truth of the pro-surfing story that is ably supported by the many people who have commented on issues and incidents. In the end, it’s a grand collaboration by many people.

Wayne Murphy: My answer to that question about book length is simple. Ian’s remarkable life story runs parallel to the history and growth of modern day surfing. Such a story was never going to be a typical 90,000 word sports biography, especially given all the other characters, shakers and movers who have contributed with Ian to help surfing get to where it is today. We wanted to include their voices too so as to give the book a more wholistic telling of how surfing grew from an eccentric fringe dweller pastime in the 1960s to become a multi-billion dollar industry with Olympic status today.

What stories, inside, are going to surprise? Anything new to add?

Kanga: The long-term feud with Fast Eddie over 40 years, ongoing today. The machinations of taking over the Bud Surf Tour and US Open from Fox. The ups and downs of life. There has been turmoil, victory and defeat, but in the end it’s a tale of resurrection. perseverance and reconciliation.

What relevance or, better, what perspective do you bring to surfing today? 

Kanga: Nothing is new, so the WSL Founders group has huge historical perspective that would be valuable to the WSL project but is totally under utilized. Just because we’re old, doesn’t mean the of experience has no relevance. It’s a little hard to stomach that our opinion is not sought before important strategic decisions as made by WSL but they have a huge brain trust that seems to know it all and we’re not consulted, so life moves on. We’ll see the outcome soon enough.

Ethically, I don’t believe in any one person being the owner of the sport. That’s a dilemma for me. I completely understand the business model, because it’s normal in America, but not in Australia where I come from.

Tell me your opinion, as a man who co-founded pro surfing and who ain’t one to lace it with sugar, how you feel about pro surfing in 2019, as owned by the WSL? 

Kanga: I have a huge THANK YOU to Dirk Ziff for supporting pro surfing, but, ethically, I don’t believe in any one person being the owner of the sport. That’s a dilemma for me. I completely understand the business model, because it’s normal in America, but not in Australia where I come from. Hopefully it works out fine.

We spoke the other night about Dirk Ziff’s famous “Grumpy Locals” speech when he was awarded waterman of the year. Talk to me. 

Kanga: Without WSL sharing their future vision, we all live in an information vacuum, so then everyone outside the bubble is in the dark. That breeds speculation and often criticism. Open up the communication about where the WSL is headed, involve the people of passion, then there will be less criticism, fewer snarky comments from the periphery and a better understanding of the mission. Whining about bullies bullying only encourages the bullies.

Of all your great rivalries, Shaun, PT etc, tell me your favorite and why.

Kanga: I loved surfing with Michael Peterson and Wayne Lynch. They were totally dominant in their eras and so much better than me, and it forced me to raise my game to compete. That’s the inspirational aspect of having extraordinary peers. It makes you better.

Anyone still hold a grudge against you?

Kanga: It appears that Rabbit and I were at war. I have no idea why. Fast Eddie of course after 40 years of feuding. But, my position is that I don’t have ill-feeling for anyone and in fact, I love that I have had worthy adversaries and they have made me a better person. I think it’s time we raised a glass together and celebrate the stories we’ve made. Life is too short to harbor these grudges, they impair your ability to be happy today.

Wayne: I was stoked to see Ian sharing the stage with Rabbit, Phil Jarratt and PT on our book launch in Queensland. It’s a good feeling to share laughter with them about old times and connect with others along the way, all part of life’s journey, you know, healing and wisdom that comes with age.

Who are the great heroes of surfing? Why?

Duke Kahanamoku for sharing surfing with the world. Barry Kanaiaupuni for his dominance at Sunset. Nat and Midget for creating carve, power and flow. Every surfer who dares to step out from his/her local break and see if they have what it takes on the world stage. That takes courage. Kai Lenny for daring to surf any craft and make it magical and hence sharing a new definition of surfing.

Buy the book here if you like surf history, wanna help a mountain cougar keep blazing.

Opportunity knocks: Trade your nationality in for $250,000 and surfing stardom today!*

*A few caveats apply.

If you’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting professional surfing’s first champion, Pete PT Townend then you know he speaks our language fluently. The Pastime of Kings is not an ultra-serious frowny-face’d business. It’s a dance party, a fun chuckle with many laughs for all.

The Australian, who calls Huntington Beach, California home, is also the coach of China’s national surf team as they prepare for the 2020 Olympics. Oh, he gives them no shot in 2020 nor in 2024 but thinks by 2028 the dragon could be a force.

In the meantime, he has a plan that just might benefit you greatly. That could potentially make most, if not all of your dreams come true let’s get right to it.

In the last two years, Townend has trekked back and forth to Hainan, an island in the South China Sea with a climate and conditions similar to Hawaii’s, to train the national squad. Like Japan, which persuaded Huntington Beach local Kanoa Igarashi to adopt Japanese nationality to compete in 2020, China has tried to convince Chinese Americans to switch flags. “The government gave me a million dollars to go and find those people, but there’s one condition: You cannot have dual citizenship,” says Townend. He found one potential surfer who considered the offer—$250,000 on top of sponsorships—but the prospect backed out when he discovered how hard it would be to get his U.S. citizenship back.

China’s most promising Olympic hopeful, 15-year-old Alex Quizhou, was recently in Huntington Beach, where he made the semifinals of the National Scholastic Surfing Association, but Townend admits that the country has no chance of qualifying for Tokyo next year. “There’s never been a beach culture in China,” he says, adding that surfing is, at its core, about fun and isn’t one of those pursuits that benefits from the merciless intensity with which China trains its other athletes. He often quotes his fellow Australian surfer Tom Carroll, who says that the best surfing happens when you’re not thinking about it.

First are you Chinese-American or Chinese-Australian? If so, would you kick the “American” or “Australian” off? Would you kick it off for $250,000 and Huawei sponsorship? What if they cut you the whole $1,000,000 nut?

The west is a sinking stone, anyhow, let’s be honest. Pick a winner, for once, and get rich along the way!

jordy smith
Jordy is 30 now, is that too young for a lifetime achievement title, to be totally rude? He is one the few, maybe the only one on Tour, who can physically block Gabe Medina. | Photo: @WSL

Rip Curl Pro, Bells, Day One: “Jordy Smith’s swallowtail gets on plane like a Cuban cigar boat on a night run from Havana to Miami!”

Easter weekend looming, crap forecast. Had to greenlight the start in weak gurgle at Winkipop. Some highlights.

“Planet Earth is blue” said David Bowie, “and there’s nothing I can do.”

Kieren Perrow, who seems to have been shuffled sideways from Comissioner to old-fashioned connest director was forced to a similar conclusion.

Easter weekend looming, crap forecast.

Had to greenlight the start in weak gurgle at Winkipop. Nothing he could do. 

It was QS surf and in QS surf, CT level surfers looked worse than QS surfers. I would have put good money on Matt Banting winning any heat or any one of the Brazilian kids who looked amazing in onshore two-foot surf during the Aussie QS leg. It was a day for Jadson Andre to shine, and he did. Distinguishing himself with fast, flat turns that threw clean halos of large droplet sprays. 

This new round one is now the “seeding round” which I don’t quite understand. I don’t understand Joey Turpel’s insistence that it now brings “better surfing as a result, with way more pressure”.

It just don’t, Joe.

The official line that it brings us closer to man-on-man surfing seems odd, too. Twelve heats of round one, four heats of round two before we get to man-on-man round three.

That’s 16 heats. We used to get there in 12 heats.

Sure, a last place is now a heavier consequence, but seeing as only four people get it, versus 12, you could argue the pressure is less, because fewer people get to feel the sting.

Jordy looked insane, that big swallowtail getting up on the plane like a Cuban cigar boat on a night run from Havana to Miami. I think I downplayed his surfing on the Gold Coast, being distracted by the shiny things that Brazilian goofyfoots were laying on the table.

No more chipping.

But it is a hard day to write about.

Jordy looked insane, that big swallowtail getting up on the plane like a Cuban cigar boat on a night run from Havana to Miami. I think I downplayed his surfing on the Gold Coast, being distracted by the shiny things that Brazilian goofyfoots were laying on the table.

Jordy is 30 now, is that too young for a lifetime achievement title, to be totally rude? He is one the few, maybe the only one on Tour, who can physically block Gabe Medina. Hard to imagine Jordy sustaining that level of aggression for 10 months, but if he could…

Do you think there are similarities between Kelly Slater and Tiger Woods? Ronnie Blakey claimed their stories “were very similar”. I’m not so sure that is complimentary to Kelly. Also, maybe not very true.

Kelly has been a great champion, greatest ever, who has suffered a gradual decline, exacerbated by contrary board design decisions and a foot injury which defied description by somehow being healed when an event was held in the Champ’s own domain. Whether he has a great comeback victory in him, a World Title seems ludicrous to suggest at this point, is an unknown and increasingly contingent on very many ducks lining up perfectly for him. A Final Gift from the Universe. 

Tiger was a great champion who indulged sexual vices, endured public humiliation and scorn and overcame severe back injury and surgery to make his comeback. 

So, apart from being great champions, not very similar storylines, at all. 

Again, a small-to-non-existent crowd watched the champ in white in his round three heat with Filipe Toledo and a kid they dragged off the footy park yesterday as a wildcard to replace the injured Griffin Colapinto. The wildcard, a solid ranga with the very post-modern name of Xavier Huxtable, started strongly. He had the heat in a squirrel grip until Toledo started to catch waves. 

Kelly sat.

The strategy looked dismal in onshore dribblers.

“I feel like I can hang,” said Kelly in a segment. In a live Q and A in Byron Bay last week he said “whether I win or not, it’s not going to change my life”. The lack of hunger looked palpable, despite the post-last place presser on the Goldy where he claimed he needed to be hungrier. 

The sixteen-year-old  backyard footy player bombed two finishes which, in the final analysis, would have put Kelly into last place. Kelly found some corners and manufactured a score – a flat six – with deft speed work and edgy, tail focussed turns. The highlight of the heat, apart from Filipe’s surfing, came in the dying seconds. Xavier paddled into a wave, needing a score, Kelly, down the line, paddled towards the kid to throw him off and jinx his line.

It worked, and the kid fell. Kelly beats a sixteen-year-old kid.

“Got to beat someone,” he said, and dodged a bullet. 

Yellow jersey, yellow-haired leader Italo Ferriera looked shakey in heat four. There seems to be some issue with emotional regulation. With the world at his feet last year post Keramas he underwhelmed at Ulus and at Surf Ranch.

Is he flying too high now? Too close to the sun.

As noted on the Gold Coast, in his enthusiasm to launch he lost touch with traditional lines. Did he leave you behind? A common theme I heard was alienation, people couldn’t relate to it. Even Peter Mel made mention of the disconnect with traditional lines in Italo’s surfing today. 

The defending Champ squeaked through. Second to Zeke Lau and relegating a hapless Caio Ibelli who has looked lost ever since he took aim at the injustice of Slater getting the injury wildcard over him. 

Filipe bought the edge-work and air game, Gabriel brought very many variations of a disaster slide against crumbling coping, preceded by a voluptuous bottom turn which found easy speed on boards which he somehow had managed to add more width and thickness to from the Gold Coast.

Julian Wilson brought a repertoire as luxurious and diverse as a Jakartan nightclub to heat five and still came runner up to WA wildcard Jacob Willcox. Despite the continual assertion that war is peace and the new format creates a more consequential round one it’s obvious watching heats that once first and second have settled in, the pressure is off. As Julian and Willcox demonstrated. 

Filipe bought the edge-work and air game, Gabriel brought very many variations of a disaster slide against crumbling coping, preceded by a voluptuous bottom turn which found easy speed on boards which he somehow had managed to add more width and thickness to from the Gold Coast.

Gabe has changed the parameters of CT surfing. Over-powering thin boards is passé. I’d love to see Kelly add a half-inch to the width and a quarter-inch of thickness, just for the hell of it. What a thrill that would be, to see the GOAT take the twitchiness out of his surfing. 

Hard to embellish or dress up the last few heats. It was dross. Lot of dead air to plow through and the commentary did, I thought, an excellent job. Just for once though, I’d love to see one go off script. Ronnie is practically apoplectic with the pressure to hold inside what he sees and processes. 

Brother skipped away during his heat. Called by guest commentator Mason Ho as our 2019 World Champ. His eighth year on Tour. When he said that I felt the chill of death creeping up my spine.

Where does the time go?

It slips away quickly, far too quickly, both watching and being part of the greatest show on Earth. My favourite language, bar none, is Californian Therapy Speak and Kolohe nailed it textbook style when he parlayed a question from Rosie about the loss to Italo on the Gold Coast when he said he “took the blame 100%”. 

Total responsibility. What a philosophy!

Dreadful, and yet so terribly terribly attractive for the ambitious. 

A sly bet, waiter, just fell in my soup. 

Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach Men’s Round 1 Results:
Heat 1: Jadson Andre (BRA) 12.23 DEF. Jeremy Flores (FRA) 9.97, Owen Wright (AUS) 8.20
Heat 2: Jordy Smith (ZAF) 10.26 DEF. Adrian Buchan (AUS) 8.07, Jack Freestone (AUS) 7.84
Heat 3: Filipe Toledo (BRA) 15.87 DEF. Kelly Slater (USA) 10.63, Xavier Huxtable (AUS) 10.23
Heat 4: Ezekiel Lau (HAW) 10.57 DEF. Italo Ferreira (BRA) 10.06, Caio Ibelli (BRA) 9.73
Heat 5: Jacob Willcox (AUS) 13.74 DEF. Julian Wilson (AUS) 13.73, Joan Duru (FRA) 11.00
Heat 6: Gabriel Medina (BRA) 13.70 DEF. Ryan Callinan (AUS) 13.00, Harrison Mann (AUS) 7.87
Heat 7: Conner Coffin (USA) 10.77 DEF. Leonardo Fioravanti (ITA) 10.60, Michael Rodrigues (BRA) 9.56
Heat 8: Kolohe Andino (USA) 10.77 DEF. Seth Moniz (HAW) 8.67, Soli Bailey (AUS) 8.37
Heat 9: Ricardo Christie (NZL) 11.83 DEF. Yago Dora (BRA) 10.10, Wade Carmichael (AUS) 8.04

Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach Remaining Men’s Round 1 Matchups:
Heat 10: Michel Bourez (FRA) vs. Reef Heazlewood (AUS) vs. Deivid Silva (BRA)
Heat 11: John John Florence (HAW) vs. Willian Cardoso (BRA) vs. Jesse Mendes (BRA)
Heat 12: Kanoa Igarashi (JPN) vs. Mikey Wright (AUS) vs. Peterson Crisanto (BRA)