Breaking: Surf Ranch Pro rebranded as the “Freshwater Pro!”


To be very honest, I don’t know when this news actually broke or how. I don’t know if our World Surf League hung red, white and blue bunting around the Lemoore facility then hung a sign reading, “New Name, Same Great Service!”

I don’t know if other surf and surf-based websites ran weeks of “exclusive” coverage, really getting into the weeds, calling their favorite professional surfers for quotes etc.

I don’t know if our World Surf League President of Content, Media and Studios Eric “ELo” Logan took out a full-page advertisement in the failing New York Times declaring, “We live in radically inclusive times where dreams trump artificial, confining, patriarchal ‘reality.’ Today, Bruce Jenner can become Caitlyn. Today, freshwater is as good for surfing as saltwater.”

All I know is that, yesterday, Jen See texted to wonder if I had plans on going to the Surf Ranch Pro. I responded, “When is? Fall?”

She came right back, “probs sept? idk”

Then clearly went and looked at the World Surf League’s website because followed, seconds later, with “sept 19. ha ha fuck now called ‘the freshwater pro.'”

I couldn’t get any work done for the rest of the day, spending all my precious time thinking about this new Freshwater Pro. Just thinking of all the amazing things that could be done.

Like, they should stock it with bass, bring back one-time announcer and professional bass fisherman Todd Kline to call the action from the “channel” while also participating in a concurrent bass fishing tournament.

It could be co-sponsored by Salty Crew and/or The Mad Hueys.

That’s mostly as far as I got.

What would you do with this new Freshwater Pro?

The happy Great White, as big as a king-sized mattress.

Watch: Happy Great White Shark Frolicking at Bondi Beach!

As big as a king-sized mattress!

Yesterday morning, over an agreeable breakfast of black coffee and cigarettes, a conversation was overhead at a nearby table.

A man, a drone enthusiast, was showing another man the drone vision he’d just captured of an eight-foot Great White giving hell to a tuna just off the back of the Icebergs pool at Bondi Beach, and near a swimmer.

“It came up from the bottom, as you can see from the footage, and has hit what I think is a tuna. On a couple of occasions now over the last year we have potentially saved a couple of lives and that’s all I want out of all this.”

Jason Iggleden, who is the creator of Drone Shark App and who once approached BeachGrit for help publicising his app but whose email was lost in the rain of other projects, rightly rebuffed a request for the footage.

He did tell the Daily Mail, who crowned their story with the headline, The terrifying moment a massive two-metre great white shark is filmed devouring a tuna just 20 metres from swimmers at Bondi Beach,

“It came up from the bottom, as you can see from the footage, and has hit what I think is a tuna. On a couple of occasions now over the last year we have potentially saved a couple of lives and that’s all I want out of all this.”

It’s the sorta clip that should send shivers up spines etc but, dunno, I feel reassured. I surf the joint every day and always make it home in time to put on the coffee pot.

The Great White is the cherub of the sea?

Or the ocean’s poodle?

And does two-metres (eight feet-ish) really qualify as “massive”?

Laird Hamilton: “Oh I’m here again, hope I make it out of this one!”

Come be won over by folksy, Hawaiian-tinged charm!

There are three things that define getting older. Liking whiskey, liking horseradish and liking witty talk radio news and culture-based gameshows, the best of which is Wait, Wait… Don’t Tell Me on NPR. The show features a wonderful host, Peter Sagal, who may just be the wittiest/funniest man alive, kicking around the week’s topics with a panel of comedians/personalities in a sort of fake gameshow format.

Very entertaining.

And this past weekend, professional innovator Laird Hamilton sat in to answer quiz questions about bad moments in television history.

Before the game, though, Peter Sagal interviewed Laird, first asking, “Is it true that you are the most famous surfer in the world never to enter a surf contest?”

Laird responded, “I surfed in a couple when I was a kid when a t-shirt was the prize but I stopped doing it as soon as there was prize money. That kind of changed the equation for me.”

Who knew that? I sure didn’t. Very un-Lance Burkhart.

Next, Peter Sagal asked, “What is your job?”

Laird responded, “I’d say innovator. I like innovation.”

Again, a nice surprise. Innovator.

Then one of the panel comedians (who, truth be told, usually are not very funny) asked, “How do you get paid to surf? Do you surf a wave really good then someone on the beach comes up and hands you a check?”

The audience laughed before Laird shed some light on the issue explaining, “No, you ride a giant wave, someone takes a picture, it goes on the cover of National Geographic, somebody comes and says, ‘We’d love to pay you to get on the cover of National Geographic again.’ And that’s how it goes.”

A perfect answer to a dumb question.

They then all go on commending Laird’s bravery etc. with Peter Sagal asking, at the end, “Do you ever feel like you are in danger, that you’ve pushed it too far or have you moved past that?”

Laird charmingly said, “I feel it all the time. I think, ‘Oh here I am again. I hope I make it out of this one.'”

Maybe the fourth thing that defines getting older is liking Laird Hamilton because he won me right over with his folksy, Hawaiian-tinged charm. Listen for yourself here if you want to be won over too!

Donate: Help the wretched and dying in the Mentawais (And beyond)!

Save a life, save your soul…

Three weeks ago, BeachGrit and The Bucket List threw a double-bill of the Lisa Ando biopic, Trouble, and the launch of Ian Cairns’ two-volume memoir, Kanga, to raise cash for SurfAid. 

If you didn’t know, SurfAid is a heroic organisation that that goes into remote Indonesian communities and builds wells, water tanks and community health centres, hands out mozzie nets and trains and educates locals in disease prevention etc.

Twenty years ago, an Australian doctor, Davey Jenkins, was on a trip to the Ments, did a little trip up-river to shoot phots of the happy natives and saw a  bunch of children’s graves. 

“I was the first doctor ever to visit the village. I saw women and children dying from malaria, malnutrition and inadequate living standards – things that I knew were treatable and, better still, preventable by helping them change behaviours such as basic hygiene and better breastfeeding practices.”

Doc says the scene haunted him for the ret of the trip. 

“I began questioning my life. Did it have meaning? Were my skills wasted chasing some corporate carrot? What if I could make a real difference to these people? The thought of more children dying drove me mad with frustration and helplessness yet, at the same time and in some strange way, the potential solutions inspired me. I couldn’t just walk away from those kids; I vowed to return to the Mentawai with people and supplies.”

It’s a little rough on the conscience to think that while you’re slugging gin-and-tonics and watching satellite TV on a five-hundred-dollar-a-night boat, kids (and adults) are dying in imaginably ghastly, and preventable, ways. 

Wanna help? 

It ain’t just army blankets, buttermilk, a bag of cracklins and cornbread being handed out.

And it costs.

Click here. Send money. Save a life, save your soul etc. 


Sunny Garcia movie Death and Taxes: “He worked out. That’s how he chased the demons but they were there”

"There an irony to him being named Sunny because such a complex, sometimes dark side to him," says Death and Taxes director Michael Oblowitz.

Michael Oblowitz is one of my favorite film makers ever. You may recognize his name from the still unreleased masterpiece Sea of Darkness or the just released Nathan Fletcher film Heavy Water but Michael has also spent the past decade working on an unabridged documentary about the life of Sunny Garcia currently titled Death and Taxes.

A decade working on one film is a long, long time but Sunny necessitated it.

“Right when I think we’re finished…” Michael says through his gravely South African lilt “…Sunny will say, ‘Oh, I also spent my childhood hanging around with such and such.’ And then we have another important interview to chase.”

kelly slater sunny garcia
Kelly Slater decorates Sunny’s surfboard with Posca Pen circa 1992-ish. Photo by Steve Sherman/@tsherms

I called him for a bit of insight.

He has sat with thousands upon thousands of hours of footage of Sunny, with Sunny himself and with so many of Sunny’s friends and family.

“During the 10 years of filming, Sunny has lost so many people close to him. Marvin Foster, Andy Irons, Buttons, Jay Adams. People so integral to his life and that’s just so… hard. I regard Sunny as one of the most amazing people I’ve ever met. Where he came from and what he achieved? I mean, a lot of great, great surfers came out of Makaha but only one of them won a world title and what Sunny had to go through to get it, the racism, abuse, cards stacked so high against him, it is a tremendous work.

andy irons sunny garcia
Andy Irons and Sunny Garcia. By Steve Sherman/@tsherms

There’s a line in the film where Sunny says, ‘I wanted to be the Mohammed Ali of surfing.’ And he was. He really was. But for all the love, for all his accomplishments, I don’t know that he ever felt it. We have some footage, after he won the HIC Pro in 2016, which was an amazing victory. There he is with the big cardboard check and his grandson on his arm. It should have been the most victorious feeling but I just don’t think it was for him.

“There an irony to him being named Sunny because such a complex, sometimes dark side to him and I don’t mean drugs and alcohol. I’ve never seen him take so much as one sip of beer. He worked out. That’s how he chased the demons but they were there.”

Oblowitz pauses.

“We are all praying, even atheists are praying. That’s how much we love this guy.”