Mark Mathews, returns from his supposed career-ending injury, Italo defends Bali crown.

Open Thread double-bill: Comment live on Red Bull big-waver at Shipsterns + round one, WSL, Bali!

Can't make it to a sports bar? Get your kicks, live, here.

Didn’t we have a gay ol time when we opened the comments on the final day at Bells. So many keyboards simultaneously being pecked in so many countries, pop, pop, pop.

Today, as you might know, maybe not, the Red Bull Cape Fear event at Shipsterns, in Tasmania, is walking into a sixteen-second period, fifteen-foot swell.

Format? Pretty simple.

Twenty surfers. Four five-man heats. Winner of each heat hits the final.

Surfers include: Russ Bierke (who won it last time), Mick Fanning, Justin ‘Jughead’ Allport (underground shredder from Australia), little Pedro ‘Scooby’ Vianna, Laurie Towner, Ryan Hipwood, Billy Kemper, Nathan  Florence, Koa Rothman and Tasmanian shredders Alex Zawadzki, Shaun Wallbank, James McKean, James Holmer-Cross, Tyler Hollmer Cross, Mikey Brennan, Zebulon Critchlow, Brook Phillips and Marti Paradisis.

Returning from what was supposed to be a career-ending injury is Mark Mathews, who is also the contest director.

Marky has also brought along his Hollywood pal Chris Hemsworth, whom he has been towing with, lately.

Keramas, Bali?

First heat John John.

Second heat, Jordy.

Third heat, Italo.

Fourth, Filipe.

Tell me that ain’t worth strutting around for.

Red Bull starts at nine am, Tassie time and Bali, which is five thousand clicks north-west of Tasmania, is two hours behind.

Day filled, yes?

Watch Red Bull Cape Fear here. 

Watch WSL, Bali, here. 

Revealed: There are 500 different “water sport activities” as the “ride anything” movement explodes!

How many have you tried?

How many variations of wave riding have you tried? Three? Seven? If I really put my thinking cap on I can personally count bodysurfing, surfing surfing, boogie boarding and once I caught a wave in an inflatable boat so… four. If I keep that thinking cap on and count things I haven’t done but know exist, I can add SUP, foil, SUP foil, goat boat, skimboarding Tom Curren style, boogie boarding Danny Kim style, windsurfing, wind foiling, alaia bringing the number to… fourteen.

Apparently, though, I’m missing very many, maybe even hundreds, for Port Edgar Watersports in sunny Edinburgh, Scotland is promising that attendees can participate in 500 water sport activities next weekend and let’s turn to Edinburgh Live to learn more. Let’s not waste any more time with thinking caps.

The home of one of Scotland’s largest watersports centres in South Queensferry throws open its hatches this weekend with a jam-packed programme of try out sessions, DJs, street food, shopping, and kids activities.

If you’ve ever fancied yourself a sailor, now’s your chance to test your seaworthiness. Port Edgar Marina is hosting around 500 taster sessions this Saturday and Sunday in activities like paddle boarding, windsurfing, sailing, and sea kayaking.

Anyone who has thought about signing up to one of the courses at Port Edgar Watersports can now try before they buy. This weekend anyone can sample the 60-minute sessions for a bargain price of £5 or £10 each.

Now, I know that “wave riding” and “water sport activities” are not synonymous BUT there is certainly more cross-over than the fourteen I came up with so what am I missing?

And if you had to take up a non-surfing wave riding pastime which would you choose?


Oh, without a doubt this…

Hiring: Become a “creative copywriter” with the WSL!

And report to legendary rocket-SUP pilot Erik "Elo" Logan…

By now we’ve all absorbed the E-Lo interview. Goddamn it he seemed likeable.

The sorta bloke who’d come to repossess your house but end up getting you to play on his Thursday night touch footy team too.

Was it a tactic? To Kill Chas and DLS with kindness?

“You get a car! You get a car! You get a car!”

I dunno, man.

Life is tactics. Everybody’s coming with an angle. At least he’s up front with his.

How to respond?

A stark choice emerges for the Grit. To work with E-Lo and the WSL (is Wozzle, is Woz) to try and affect incremental change.

Chart the middle course. Share knowledge. Live in peace.

Or, to tear the fucking joint down if can’t be in our exact image.

The realist or the radical.The path for BG remains unclear.

But E-LO’s intentions for the Woz are as clear as his dazzling alabaster teeth. Drag it square in to the mainstream, where it will compete with the likes of the NBA, NFL, Premier League etc, conglomerates with budgets and resources comparable to small European countries, for audience attention and dollars.

There’s work to do. The Woz is an unwieldy beast. It has a disparate online presence. Different formats. Different audiences. Endemic media stuck to the ship’s hull like barnacles.

How to get them all on board?

Well, the Content and Marketing handbook says that to truly engage your audience in a meaningful way, you need to have a defined personality. To state who you are and what you stand for. A singular identity that should make your organisation immediately recognisable, even if you remove the logo

A tone of voice. Tone dictates personality which dictates purpose. It’s central to your organisation’s goals.

Which makes this recent job ad all the more interesting.

Role: Creative Copywriter
Brand: World Surf League
Location: Santa Monica, CA
Summary: Develop the brand tone of voice for all fan/consumer touch points with a focus on marketing/brand campaigns and our owned and operated products (website, app, etc.).

You can read the whole thing here.

Tone guidelines. Positioning statements. Bot scripts. It’s a fascinating peek behind the veil. The magician showing his cheat sheet just for that split second. Modern day alchemy to make the soulless corporate seem human.

So what would your tone be for the Woz if you got the role?

Who embodies the organisation? What personality is going to see it get traction with, say, middle America?

Kelly and E-Lo, the charming alabaster princes? Turps and Get Sent, the loyal stoners? Chas and Reilly, the cut off-your-nose-to-spite-your-face radicals?

Or a mix of all three?

What do I think? Well, if you need a join the dot kit to tell your story, you’ve already failed. You can’t manufacture magic, E Lo.

Stop messing around with this corpo bullshit and just put the best surfers in the best waves with a steady livestream, and let the rest take care of itself.

But fuck, what would I know?

Confession: “I have spent approximately 4600 hours surfing and still miserably suck.”

That’s 1.35% of my waking life.

How well do I surf? I’m decent. I mean, I’m definitely not great. If I’m being honest, I’m really not that good.

Fine! You want me to say it? Fuck it. Gimme that mic…


I reckon that I’ve surfed north of 2,300 sessions. My hypothetical surfing map that my lady would never let me hang on a wall would include nifty, colorful pins puncturing all US coastal quadrants, a big fat one on a mention-it’s-name-and-I’ll-cut-you-red outer Hawaiian Island and more in Indo, New Zealand, Australia, Mexico, Costa Rica, Puerto Rico and two man-made surf parks in Texas. With a two hour session average, I’ve spent approximately 4,600 hours doing something that I still miserably suck at. That’s half a sojourn around the sun. That’s 1.35% of my waking life.

Yet, I still suck.

I’ve been playing cat and mouse with my inability for some time, but never have I felt the dark warmth of the belly of the feline beast more than when watching some psychologically scarring video footage of myself from a recent session. If you’re considering this, but you suspect your own sub-mediocrity, be warned that it’s something you can’t unsee and you’d be better served staring at that photo of Messier 87 for an hour contemplating the fact that everything that exists, everything you know, everyone you love, likely came from and will thus return to nothingness. (Spoiler alert: In the end, darkness wins.)

It was the first time in nearly two decades that I’ve seen myself on video playback and it was like happening upon a clip of my parents on Pornhub. It was like, after a lifetime of severe, untreated nearsightedness, I got LASIK surgery and discovered that I look like an ogre who lost a fight to a bigger ogre. It was like I got kicked in the nuts by my nemesis after he and my wife, fingers clasped, informed me that my 3-year-old son is not actually of my own seed.

Whatever veil of delusional innocence I had been living behind was at once pulled back, leaving the stark, sobering reality that the level of grace my surfing carries is akin to that of the titular character in the 80s absurdist comedy Weekend At Bernie’s. If you’re not familiar with the film and therefore the reference, Bernie is dead. I look like I have some form of micro-amnesia whereby I’m perpetually coming to from a blackout on a second-by-second basis to the startling realization that I am, in fact, gliding upon the surface of water. Look, Ma. It’s wet!The post-mortem biopic of my surfing life would be called 5000 First Waves. My turns look like an alien trying to copulate with a human having not yet figured what goes where. My pumping looks like I’m trying to actually sink my surfboard underwater. My tube stance is a dookie crouch. But the worst part is the way I would pseudo-casually exit waves with my too-cool-for-school-Slater-nose-wipe-non-claim-claim like I just did something of a measurable amount of objective worth, like anything beyond the mere success of staying afloat just transpired.

Among the strangeness of realizing that Italo surfs better switch than I do regular, the thing I can’t quite reconcile is how supremely sublime something that looks that hideous feels.

I often go to concerts where bands jam and meander into territories heretofore unknown. At these shows, if I’m inspired, I dance. I noodle my legs, torso, arms and head around in rhythmic fashion as I surrender to the flow and connect with Mother Melody. Sometimes, I’m so moved that I compulsively make that boobie-motorboating sound when their jams peak. I’m sure it looks ridiculous, but I don’t care. It feels great in my body. If a video of me doing this concert-noodle were aired on national television, with my name superimposed beneath it in flashing rainbow letters, I genuinely think I’d laugh it off and very well may feel a bit of pride.

If only I could apply this level of casual acceptance to the recent revelation that my surfing looks like John John’s would the day after someone broke both his kneecaps. (DON’T BREAK JOHN JOHN’S KNEECAPS!) But I can’t. I find no humor in the fact that, on a good day, my surfing looks like that of a man twenty years my elder with three herniated discs in his back who’s a day late on refilling his pain meds.

And for this, I feel shame.

But why?

Not why do I suck. I suck because I didn’t grow up near the beach and wasn’t taken hostage by surfing until I was 22 (Can one be grandfathered-in as a VAL?)… or because I’ve never taken a lesson or been instructed in any way whatsoever… or because my constant, pre-mature-ejaculate-level frothing supersedes my ability to maintain any flow… or perhaps because the fundamentals of wave sliding are just beyond me.

No, the itchy, whiney why? that I can’t quite scratch is why do I care so much? I know… the act of surfing itself is a ridiculous, meaningless endeavor blah blah blah Chas and the entire Beachgrit premise that’s neither productive nor consumptive on a sociological level blah blah blah Aaron James and is as arbitrary as going to a bucolic meadow to catch apples falling from a tree or eating a bunch of caramels with Minnie Driver but it still means something to me, though that meaning is often as elusive as a shifty beach break peak.

Personal relationships aside, it kind of means, well… everything.

And I suck.

Like, Frankenstein-night-surfing-after-he-took-too-many-hits-of-blotter suck.

And this leaves me full of sorrow.

It would appear that life is a process whereby — if one keeps at it — youthful fantasy violently collides with reality in something often referred to as “adulthood.” Personally, I’m still fishing pieces of shrapnel from this collision out of the lower backside of my torso. An applicable term may be arrested development.

Maybe it’s my love for (Stockholm syndrome with) surfing that illuminates the fact that I suck. Buddha says you care = you suffer. Hold on a sec… suffer… surfer… suffer…surfer…suffer…surfer…suffer…surfer… Maybe I just suck at caring. At loving things. Maybe I’m like Lenny in Of Mice And Men and surfing is the bunny rabbit that — while I intend to gently caress — I strangle to death.

I won’t stop. No way. I can’t. I’m a helpless hostage. But, for psychological preservation, I feel I must do something about the fact that I’d likely lose a heat to Jordy if he were wearing both an eye patch (#realnotdecorative) and a straight jacket.

Maybe the answer is to stop trying to surf like those aquatic freaks my mind, expectations and endorphins have been inundated with through the torrent of surf porn I ingest on a regular basis. Maybe I should stop punishingly defining myself by standards of performance I haven’t a chance of achieving. Maybe I should stop defining any of it.

Is that even possible?

My inner naive idealist, the one who waxes my board and lives in a state of denial about my inner bitter asshole, the one who ends up surfing most of the session, says it is possible. He says it’s possible to one day find harmony between my capability and my expectations. To marry my hustle and my flow.

Moving forward, I shall attempt to leave my efforts and execution of this kinetic act of buoyancy undefined, since that’s the essence of why I’m self-destructively drawn to it in the first place; that barb of the hook that won’t stop tugging on my cheek.

Someone somewhere probably said that surfing is an expression.

Suppose it’s time I try to surf like… myself?

What’s that even mean? Could it be fun? How would I gage my success? How would I know if I’m doing it right? Where would my approval come from? What if they laugh? Could I ever be so bold as to plant my flag on an isolated atoll of identity as such?

Have you attempted this?

Do you… do this?

Reunion Island shark attack Update: Surfer’s anti-shark device broken!

Waves pumping, pretty empty, your anti-shark device is busted. What would you do?

A little quiz. You’re a screwfoot. What would you risk to surf empty-ish, six-foot warm-water lefts?

The French surfer, Kim Mahbouli, who died yesterday when he was hit by a bull shark, ignored dirty water and a mostly empty lineup to surf perfect St Leu, a wave that used to be a blue-ribbon stop on the pro tour.

Reports that his three pals were wearing shark repellants are yet to be confirmed, but I can report Mahbouli’s own device was out of action, a not uncommon occurrence according to the local I spoke to.

The most commonly used devices on Reunion are the RPELA from Western Australia, which is integrated into your board and costs around five hundred bucks, and NoShark, which y’strap to your ankle, also around five cees.

Both of ’em work by sending out electricity to fuck with the shark’s electro-receptors.

Mahbouli went to school in Reunion, was a shredder and, like a lot of us, couldn’t see past the dreamy funnels hitting St Leu’s famous bowl.

Photo of Kim Mahbouli by Steph Peyriguer
Photo of Kim Mahbouli by Steph Peyriguer

“I was angry against Kim,” said the local I spoke to. “The water was murky and you don’t go in the afternoon. Why? I wouldn’t go and nor would most of my friends.

“But, when you are young you push your limits and at St Leu nobody’s in the water so you have the great session of your life. I can understand. I surfed two weeks ago in the morning, the water wasn’t very clear and I didn’t have a shark device. The waves are beautiful and you stay.

“But it’s a big price to pay.”

In a story, Requiem for Kim, on island’s primary news website, Clicanoo, Philippe Le Clarie wrote, in part:

It’s like a bad dream. A broken board and a body under a white sheet. A friend, a son, a surf buddy torn out of life because he went surfing.

There it was at Saint-Leu. Kim Mabhouli knew the spot. He knew that the ocean had been banned temporarily – a beautiful oxymoron – for years.

But how to banish the sea when you live on an island. As well forbid to drink in the middle of the desert. Water is life. In Reunion, for so long already, water is death.

When the whole world sings the wedding of the man and the ocean, in Reunion, we count the dead, the unemployed, the tourists, one by one, on the deserted beaches.

And in the middle of all this there is suffering.