"...but it was good that we took the precaution and the safety protocols worked well."
When I first read about the Great Seaweed Scare of ’19 in Longtom’s note-perfect Bells, day two wrap I’ll admit, I chuckled and chuckled heartily.
I grew up surfing in a place with both heavy seaweed and roaming Great Whites but was never chased to the shore by the former. Oh seaweed could produce major headaches. I duck-dived into their bulbous noggins more than once and also once dinged my sick Nev potato chip but it never scared me.
I’ll also admit that I chuckled about Owen Wright and Jack Freestone going… a little soft there. I don’t consider them either a wilting flower but… seaweed?
This morning, however, I felt very bad about my chuckles for Owen Wright revealed in an exclusive* interview that both surfers showcased uncommon bravery and let’s go straight to the horses mouth here.
“Jack and I saw a big shadow and started to paddle in not knowing what it could be,” Wright said of their round-two heat.
“Jack was waving at the skis and they came over to us and we jumped on the back and went to see what it was.
“We got over to the shadow and it turns out it was a massive clump of seaweed, but it was good that we took the precaution and the safety protocols worked well.”
There we have it. Initially it appears that Owen was kicking Jack under the bus by attributing the “waving at the skis to come over…” but of course it was only so they could “jump on the back to go and see what is was.”
And how brave is that? Would you have driven over on a very exposed ski to go see a Great White Shark?
But back to you. What is the bravest thing you’ve ever done whilst straddling a piece of foam n fiberglass?
Innovation: Shark-on-surfer violence conundrum solved in ecologically delightful way!
It seems as if every other story here on BeachGrit over the past five years has been about a shark attack. Every other other story, of course, is about Jeff Clark, SUP Foiler/Mavs legend, and a wonderful reprise from the often sad reports of missing limbs, lives cut short, etc.
The roiling debates between those who believe that sharks own the ocean and those who hold that culling is the only way forward go on and on, neither side making a dent in the other’s resolve.
And so we’ve reached a dull stalemate. An icy silence with surfers continuing to get munched and sharks falling into a slight depression.
Well, last week researchers from California’s famed Monterey Bay Aquarium solved the problem. Solved how to chase sharks away from particular beaches without killing them or stringing ecologically harmful netting to and fro. You must read the report in it full detail but here is a summary for us to chew on together. To give us what we need to carry on mostly, but not completely, ignorant.
New research challenges the notion that great white sharks are the most formidable predators in the ocean. The research team documented encounters between white sharks and orcas at Southeast Farallon Island off California. In every case examined by the researchers, white sharks fled the island when orcas arrived and didn’t return there until the following season. Elephant seal colonies in the Farallones also indirectly benefited from the interactions.
Stick a killer whale in the water and sharks stay gone for a year?
Killer wales have already proved that they love people and enjoy being kept as pets so here’s what I’m thinking. We go in together and purchase a big freightliner, putting two giant pools on its deck that have some happy killer whales inside. Then we sail around the world, responding to calls. Byron Bay? No problem. We anchor off shore, drop the whales in the water then fetch them back, feeding them extra fish, rubbing their tummies and saying, “Who’s a good boy? Who’s the best boy?”
After that we head to the beach with an old coffee can, asking for donations, repeating the same circuit during the year. We’ll be rich in no time, not one shark will be culled and Bells will no longer be put on hold because surfers are scared of seaweed.
Tell me how this is not the ultimate win-win?
John improved wave on wave all heat, with no priority. His surfing has been stripped back, every turn has a beginning, middle and end. He punched holes in the closeout sections with a divine violence. WSL
Rip Curl Pro, Bells, Day Two: “An almighty slog that hoovers up time and leaks audience interest like a bucket with no bottom!”
Still, John John Florence surfed with "divine violence" and a little seaweed terrified pro surfers and caused temporary postponement of event…
John John Florence, back-to-back World Champion in 2016 and seventeen, walked with head bowed slowly and carefully across the intertidal platform at Winkipop. His feet dodging the sharp spires of mineralised paleogene sediment and enjoying the crisp crunch of Neptunes necklace (hormosira banksii-edible*) underneath them.
Wan yellow light, typical of a sun well past the autumn equinox, strained through the high cloud. A day in the sun that would not strain the melatonin of an Irish redhead.
Classic Victorian morning.
Day six of a disjointed waiting period. Heat 10 of round one had already been surfed. Inconsistent, sectiony head-high walls with a funky little cross hatch running through it from the south-west.
Another day where the highest command would be “get the job done”. Bourez smashed it, he blows tail on the end section now, like Connor Coffin. Once I realised that the official narrative had changed and round one was now the Seeding Round and round two had been renamed the Elimination Round I went back to the Quik Pro cached web archive in a panic.
Would the WSL be so bold to rewrite history so soon after it occurred?
No, it was safe. Round one and two still existed, for now. Only the present had been changed.
Being on the beach at sea level I didn’t get as comprehensive a view of John John’s surfing at D-Bah as I would have liked. Straight away during his first wave at Winki this morning I could see he had modified his technique.
The casual upright skating stance had been replaced with a more compressed line drive to the bottom of the wave, staying more coiled into the bottom turn. The extra zest in the bottom turn as a result of the centrifugal accelerative force was noticeable and significant.
John improved wave on wave all heat, with no priority. His surfing has been stripped back, every turn has a beginning, middle and end. He punched holes in the closeout sections with a divine violence.
A single criticism might be humbly made that his turn speed is still a notch away from both his 2017 high point and the Dane Reynolds bar circa 2009-2012.
I still bear a grudge from 2017, when John arrived at Bells after his era defining performance at Margarets and blew Fanning into irrelevance during their round four heat, only to be denied a final with Jordy Smith by an unforgivable judging snafu with Ciao Ibelli.
The forecast remaining still offers some hope of a retributive justice being served on that crime. John vs Jordy at six-to-eight-foot Bells Bowl. That would make wading through these hard slog days a worthwhile sacrifice.
And they are a slog.
Luckily, we are free to make the anti-depressant observations that no matter how you dress up the front end of the comp, rename it, rewrite history, put your best men and women on the job of hard-selling it to an uncomprehending public it’s an almighty slog that hoovers up vast amounts of time and leaks audience interest like a bucket with no bottom.
I’ve always made a living trusting my senses, relying on judgement; but in the moment you can get it wrong.
I was too harsh on Kelly last article, pointed out by a valued commenter and I did go back and look at the numbers and I got it wrong. Kelly’s performance was above standard for the day.
I’ve also stood beside Mikey Wright and know him to be a big man. Over six foot 80 kilos-plus. 176. Fighting UFC he would no doubt add the bulk and fight light heavyweight.
But there was Pete Mel on the sand telling us he came in at a scrawny 74 klicks. Isn’t Pete the “facts and numbers” guy?
In a tight heat Mikey was pushed into the dreaded Elimination Round by Peterson Crisanto and Kanoa Igarashi.
The women’s and men’s surfing running concurrently creates a disjunction in the aesthetic phenomenon of pro surfing, far more abrupt and disturbing on broadcast than when viewing live.
Carissa Moore and Steph Gilmore hold their own when put into this close quarters comparison, the rest of the women suffer badly when viewed in such proximity to their male counterparts.
“Carrissa looks pissed,” said Old Bitch Tits Wasilewski , perhaps forgetting the meaning of such a phrase on the edge of this dusty old continent. She did look ferocious but Coco Ho clearly had her measure with extravagantly kicked out top turns.
Steph, no surprise, laid down the benchmark with – no surprise – perfect flow.
The four Elimination Round heats went down in weak high-tide Winkipop. The first one being delayed when Jack Freestone, seeing a large clump of seaweed, made the sign of a shark.
A little clumsily, I thought, by clasping his hands together and placing them on his head, in effect imitating a shark. I much prefer the single upright hand making the shape of a dorsal fin cleaving through the water.
Did you see it?
Wonder, like me, what the hell was going on?
Ronnie said something about wildlife. Lots of dead air.
Had the shark been erased from history like Rounds One and Two?
Was the shark now merely a metaphor, an unutterable word?
Owen Wright later admitted it was merely a clump of botanical material,- edible, no doubt, “jeez it was a big clump!” The show went on and the local wildcard was eliminated.
Soli Bailey made comeback from last to first after a shaky start, with some incisive inquiries into the lip and some cute little airs that judges paid.
Reef Heazelwood, can we just call him Catweazle and be done with it, has got a unique backhand where he can go up and come back down the same line, with a tweaked tail thrown in at the zenith of the arc.
Good enough to win heat three by a large margin.
M-Rod was underscored in the last heat, then over-scored by way of compensation to progress through with Caio Ibelli.
They ran the Fight for the Bight campaign heavily through the broadcast.
A delicate, delicate dance don’t you think?
The energy intensive lifestyle of the modern surfer relies on the utilisation of these ancient deposits of hydrocarbons.
No human on earth past, present or future is more dependent on it than the Pro Surfer. The ocean means so much to the WSL, yet they are partners and advocates in a technology of energy hungry devices making waves in tubs with precious fresh water. Devices they wish to propagate around the world.
I don’t judge.
There’s no life worth living on Earth without a measure of hypocrisy.
Will you simplify your life? Cut down on resource use, OS trips, surfboards?
Go on then. I will if you will.
But, you go first.
*Very nice raw, or dried, ground up and sprinkled on a green salad.
Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach Men’s Round 3 Matchups:
Heat 1: Julian Wilson (AUS) vs. Kelly Slater (USA)
Heat 2: Peterson Crisanto (BRA) vs. Michael Rodrigues (BRA)
Heat 3: Conner Coffin (USA) vs. Soli Bailey (AUS)
Heat 4: Michel Bourez (FRA) vs. Ryan Callinan (AUS)
Heat 5: Filipe Toledo (BRA) vs. Caio Ibelli (BRA)
Heat 6: Mikey Wright (AUS) vs. Seth Moniz (HAW)
Heat 7: Kolohe Andino (USA) vs. Jacob Willcox (AUS)
Heat 8: Wade Carmichael (AUS) vs. Deivid Silva (BRA)
Heat 9: Gabriel Medina (BRA) vs. Reef Heazlewood (AUS)
Heat 10: Willian Cardoso (BRA) vs. Yago Dora (BRA)
Heat 11: Owen Wright (AUS) vs. Ricardo Christie (NZL)
Heat 12: John John Florence (HAW) vs. Jadson Andre (BRA)
Heat 13: Italo Ferreira (BRA) vs. Jack Freestone (AUS)
Heat 14: Ezekiel Lau (HAW) vs. Jeremy Flores (FRA)
Heat 15: Kanoa Igarashi (JPN) vs. Adrian Buchan (AUS)
Heat 16: Jordy Smith (ZAF) vs. Leonardo Fioravanti (ITA)
"The Lord often requires us to do things that we think sound impossible," says Clark. @myallsnaps
SUP Foiler Jeff Clark responds to anti-foil buzz: Dog to blame for collision with VAL!
"Homer, with the dog on the nose of his board, spins around and takes off in front of, and towards me, completely blocking my ability to get out of the wave."
A story that involves a surfing dog, a VAL and a foiling SUP deserves to be enjoyed over and over again.
Darkly funny, yes?
Now, in response to the footage of his foil taking out a VAL, Jeff Clark writes on The Inertia.
What is actually happening is me riding a wave more than 400 yards before he even starts his video. I see a guy on his board with a dog on the nose, paddling out. I see him and he sees me. I’m thinking, “No problem, I’m going to get right out to the shoulder where he’s paddling over the wave and I’ll be out of the zone that I don’t want to be in.”
But former professional surfer Homer, with the dog on the nose of his board, spins around and takes off in front of, and towards me, completely blocking my ability to get out of the wave.
I own it. I don’t ever want to be foiling around people. If you know anything about me, you know I don’t like to surf around people — never have. Yet, with my escape route blocked, I next had to deal with a bunch of surf school students who may have never been in the ocean before. This is one wave in my lifetime of waves, and I ended up in a really bad place and did everything possible to keep the foil away from man and beast.
What is really amazing to me is the amount of hate that surfers and keyboard jockeys have pent up. The surfing message boards and media lit up with controversy promoting hate and control.
The video got over 200,000 views, caused by a pro surfer and his dog dropping in on me and captured by his personal photographer as I get stuffed. Did I think a professional surfer would disregard the safety of his dog and everyone in the water to get his video? No.
I was really bummed when it happened. I made sure everyone was ok, the guy on the soft top was all good, and we talked about how stoked he was to be in the ocean for the first time. For me, the incident was extremely disappointing but having no one hurt was the best outcome. For Guerin Myall and Homer, it meant social media views.
The Lord often requires us to do things that we think sound impossible. Forgive seventy times seven times? This does not mean 490 times, but boundless forgiveness; that we travel with forgiveness for those who have wronged us. Forgiveness is not always easy, especially when we have been deeply hurt or wronged, but the Lord’s command to forgive is one that can free and heal our hearts and cultivate boundless love for our neighbors.
Have a happy Easter weekend as we celebrate Jesus Christ who gave his life for us.
Do you think Jesus would ride a SUP foil?
Or more VAL?
Or didn’t exist or was a crank who got his just desserts and so on?
I’m not typically a “joiner” in the traditional sense of the word, but being part of a surf club has always seemed a wonderful dream. Wearing cool sweaters or windbreakers, earning and using funny nicknames, being a lout, drinking canned bear on ol’ Ms. Havisham’s lawn then running away from Johnny Law when he comes hollering, stealing that bastard other surf club’s mascot, painting it in our club’s colors then leaving it in the town square, etc.
To be honest, I’m not really sure what surf clubs do but am saddened that they are going extinct in California and would you mind coming with me to The Orange County Register briefly? Could you read out loud for both of us?
Surf clubs used to be a way for families to spend weekends together, a chance for the kids not only to compete but to learn lessons about giving back to the community. Many of the longtime members are parents, some of whom don’t surf, who have stuck around long after their kids have gone off to college.
But the parents of many of today’s youths just want them to compete, without the labor of being a volunteer with the club, Gale said. They become “club hoppers,” only joining clubs where the kids have more chance of competing or standing out for sponsors.
So what’s missing are the volunteers who put the contests together, the people who show up for meetings, and the helpers who come out for the beach cleanups after the storms and get their hands dirty.
“The Coalition are mom-and-pop charity organizations, we are all nonprofit,” Gale said. “No one in the coalition gets paid. It’s all volunteer work. This understanding of what formed this stepping stone, they aren’t familiar with it.”
The Doheny Longboard Surfing Association, which has been around since 1988, usually has about 150 to 200 members. This year? About 40.
“What are we going to do to save this to make a positive impact on our community?” Gale asked. “It’s a constant strain.”
Some clubs are getting creative by adding activities outside of surf events, such as bowling leagues or miniature golf tournaments — extra incentives to encourage members to participate, mingle and have fun.
The Doheny club will gather Friday, April 19, to talk about dwindling membership and how to revitalize the club so it doesn’t vanish — so they can continue with the legacy of events, such as the Gathering of the Tribes.
“My hope is that we don’t have another galvanizing event that causes these surf clubs to form, such as beach cleanups and water-quality issues,” Gale said. “But now that the storm has gone by and we’re all having fun, the people thinking about getting involved will realize that there’s a lot more than just a surf contest that will put a smile on your face. You can join these clubs, make a difference in your community, and surf.”
So I don’t know about the smile on my face, making a difference in my community or surfing and these club-hopping soccer parents seem extra lame but… maybe it’s time for me to give surf club membership a real crack.
Do you belong to one? Can I join yours? What are our colors?