The sexy former colour man Ross Williams with Pottz, left, and Smoking Joe, at right.

Discussion: Should the WSL Loose their Commentators’ muzzles?

Would you enjoy transparency and opinion in your milky surf commentary?

Where I’m from, surfing and footy go hand in hand like religion and guns. Whether it’s Ryan Callinan or the Newcastle Knights, the blind fervour of local partisanship burns bright.

A man’s gotta have a team etc.

So, it’s only natural then that I turn to one to find answers for the other.

(A quick aside. Footy is football is rugby league. Non-Antipodeans often confuse league with rugby union. The difference? Rugby league is a simple game played by simple people. Rugby union is a complicated game, played by cunts.)

League is the most watched sport on free-to-air TV in Australia. But despite its popularity the NRL, its peak body, is in dire straits.

Under siege on all fronts. Sex and drug scandals. A dissolving traditional media model. Increased physicality leading to junior players, its lifeblood, haemorrhaging to “safer” sports.

Still, it makes for great viewing. We simple people watch them shed blood every week. We hoot in jingoistic delight. Watching it on television is even better than the real thing. You get an up close view of the ruck, where all the action happens.

And you get the expert analysis of the commentary panel.

The panel’s a mix of former legends of the games, ex-coaches, top pundits etc. All employed by the governing body, or sponsors and affiliates of.

Skin in the game.

Yet come kick off they speak unencumbered. They’re impartial. They’re honest. They criticise players who are down on form. They chastise referees who make bad calls. In fact, they delight in it. And they will lampoon the powers that be for institutional changes that are impacting the way the game is played.

In real time. On air.

Compare that to surfing. History might be a set of lies we’ve all agreed upon, but as Longtom points out it takes a special kind of cognitive dissonance to look at two and two in real time and say it equals five.

Each comp gives us hours and hours of asinine pleasantries and pro-corpo enthusiasm.

“For me, the sub par conditions offer an exciting challenge to the competitors. just like they did last comp.”

“This extra seeding round, I think, improves the format and watchability of the overall package.”

“I really think this year is Jadson’s year.”

Scripts read directly from the spin doctor 101 handbook. Never say anything damaging to the brand.

Ipso facto, don’t say anything at all.

It’s the approach taken by politicians and listed companies.

“The economy is doing just great.”

“I’ve got full confidence in the Prime Minister.”

“We didn’t fire anyone. We are just giving them external employment opportunities.”

Despite the moral payment we’ll all make come judgement day for letting these weasel words seep into our everyday mindset, it sorta makes sense for politicians and the like to employ the tactic.

If your words can be used against you in the future, you need to be careful with them.

But why surfing?

Who does the WSL have to fear?

Even us meatheads that consume League while drinking beer and burning coal are erudite enough to appreciate a lucid critique of the game we’re so passionate about.

It doesn’t make us love it any less. Or think less of its sponsors.

We want to see the sport do well. Go from strength to strength. Continue to entertain us. Provide us that little valve of release from life’s pressure cooker. Same goes with surfing.

Why does the WSL treat us like we just came down in the last Facebook Live stream?

Why not bring some transparency to the fore?

Imagine it.

Ronnie letting loose that verbal barrage re: ill-chosen lay-days we all know is sitting at the tip of his silver-plated tongue.

Rosie grilling Jordy after a signature late-round melt: “Whet the fack did you call that, bru?”

Turps, at the sight of another cookie-cutter air rev, finally breaking that monotone drone, ripping the headphones off his Spicoli bob and screaming at Pottz, “I’m mad as hell, and I’m not gonna take it anymore!”

To be fair, live coverage is a new thing for the sport. It’s come along away from the days of post-production commentaries on hour-long TV packages and late-release VHS tapes.

And it’s even improved since last year.

See Pete Mel’s strident defence of Slater at D’bah, like a teenager who just realised his parents don’t control him anymore.

“This scoring… is… it’s poop! That’s what it is! Poop! Poop! Poop!”

It’s getting there.

But we want to see more of it. Go out on a limb, crew. Call a spade a spade.

And see how we respond.


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.