Report: Sunny Garcia off sedation, still in coma; Fans raise $US63,000 for medical bills

In four days, 859 fans and friends, including Jason Mamoa and Bruce Irons, have donated $US63,485 of a 150k goal.

A little over two weeks ago, surfing was hit with the news of Sunny Garcia’s attempted suicide and his subsequent hospitalisation in Portland, Oregon.

Ever since, there’s been sporadic announcements of the former world champ (2000) and six-time Triple Crown winner’s passing, each social post and web story quickly removed.

It ain’t no secret that Sunny’s family wants to keep his condition private, which has led to a game of Chinese whisper as fans trawl the net and friends for any sort of update.

The latest report out of Oregon is that Sunny was off sedation but still in a coma. Doctors were treating his kidney and liver with dialysis (an induced coma, where the body and brain is anaesthetised often results in further complications) and that his doctors were meeting yesterday afternoon to discuss his condition.

“We’re seeing little miracles each day,” said the source.

Meanwhile, fans have flocked to a crowdfunding page to help his family pay for medical bills. In four days, 859 fans have donated $US63, 485 of a 150k goal.

Significant donations came from Jason Mamoa ($2000), Bruce Irons ($1500), GoPro’s Justin Wilkenfeld ($2000), moto-king Carey Hart ($1000), Hawaiian photographer Peter Hodgson ($1000) as well as cameos from Lyndie Irons, Nick and Tom Carroll, Luke Stedman, Ross Williams, Kirk Flintoff and Cory Lopez.

“If you are my friend I’ll go to war for you. I’ll give you the shirt off my back. But if I don’t know you and you are talking shit, or messing with my family or friends? Then I will punch you in the face. I don’t care. The press has always made me out to be a rough character but it is not who I really am. I just don’t have time for people I don’t coming up to me and causing problems.” SUNNY GARCIA

The most surprising donation came from Percy “Neco” Padaratz, who fled Pipeline in 2007 after he hassled hell out of Sunny in their Pipe Masters heat.

On the beach, Neco jumped a fence and climbed into the relative safety of the judges’ tower and was given a police escort back to his house.

When asked about his tough-guy image by Chas Smith, Sunny said, “I don’t fucking care. I don’t think of myself that way. If you are my friend I’ll go to war for you. I’ll give you the shirt off my back. But if I don’t know you and you are talking shit, or messing with my family or friends? Then I will punch you in the face. I don’t care. The press has always made me out to be a rough character but it is not who I really am. I just don’t have time for people I don’t coming up to me and causing problems. You would, too.”

Help pay for Sunny’s medical treatment here. 

And, shortly, there’ll be a press release from Sunny’s friend, the noted bodyboarder, Kanoa McGee.

Just in: “My First Surf Ranch” officially becomes its own literary genre!

Which do you feel is the pièce de résistance?

I apologize for the lack of content yesterday. I am very near the end of first rough draft of next book and plowing through from sun up to sun down. Derek Rielly, I assume, is being shuttled from interview to interview talking about the subject of his last book Wednesdays with Bob, Australian PM Mr. Bob Hawke, who shuffled off this mortal coil at the wonderful age of 89.

Today will be better, but if it isn’t you can always dive headfirst into the world’s newest literary genre “My First Surf Ranch.”

Now, for a “subject” to officially become a “genre” there must be at least 6500 defining works detailing its various aspects and today’s story What Happened When I Tried to Surf an Artificial Mega Wave by Dan Fitzpatrick in the Wall Street Journal kicks “My First Surf Ranch” over the line.

Shall we read its opening stanza?

LEMOORE, Calif.—The fantasy of riding a wave engineered for the world’s best surfers turns to panic when a loudspeaker offers my last warning: “CT2, 30 seconds.”

I’m floating in a lagoon that spans the length of seven football fields, surrounded by cottonwood trees and California farm country. The 30-second alert means it’s too late to stop what happens next. First an 80-ton hydrofoil sled will roll forward with the help of a cable and truck tires, producing the rickety sound made by a roller coaster at the beginning of its climb. Then I have to confront a six-and-a-half-foot-high wall of water—CT2—that is picking up speed as it approaches.

In my fantasy of this moment I paddle my surfboard into position, pop to my feet and ride for an astonishing 50 seconds while the action is captured on film.

It sings no?

And now that “My First Surf Ranch” is an official genre it also must be subjected to very serious literary criticism etc. Classes taught in colleges. Doctoral dissertations written. Etc.

Which, do you feel, is the “My First Surf Ranch” pièce de résistance? Finnegan’s? Carroll’s? Doherty’s? Warshaw’s Ferre’s?

Much to ponder.

Terror in the Water: Man paddles out on expensive board playing Jackson Browne!

"Running on Empty" to be exact.

It was a Tuesday afternoon. I was enjoying a mid-day solo surf in fun south swell conditions ay my local quick hit spot. The sun was shining. It was warm for the first time this Southern California spring. There was nobody out.

I was happy.

Then my perfect little wiggle session was horribly interrupted.

Lumbering down the stairs came a man who appeared to be in his mid-late forties. He was carrying an oversized Slater Designs Omni under his arm and a SoloShot over his shoulder. He set up the solo shot and paddled out. I assumed this would be fine. This guy was probably a VAL and was excited about capturing his session.

“It’s the two of us”, I thought. “You’ll get yours, waters warm, the sun is shining, no need for vibing today,” I mentally said to myself.


As the guy paddled out, I began to hear music. Not just any music, Jackson motherfucking Browne music. “Running on Empty” to be exact. It got louder as he approached so I turned to see that the guy has a Speaqua Barnacle affixed to the nose of his Omni.

There can’t be more you say? Wrong, below the Barnacle was affixed a Trace thingamajigger. Definitely required for the waist to chest one maneuver waves we were catching. Many valuable data points to be extracted from that session I am sure.

I tried to surf but was so distracted by the guy’s obviously incorrectly sized thousand dollar surfboard, thousand dollar robot camera, waterproof speaker (now playing “Doctor My Motherfuckin Eyes”), his Trace, and by the fact that he had been swiping on his fucking apple watch for the majority of the lulls in the swell, that I caught one and went in.

Like Don Quijote tilting at windmills, I wondered, “Was that a tech-nerd VAL ignorant of the lineup etiquette or was it a fat-wallet power move by a guy who didn’t give a singular shit what I thought about him or whether I wanted to listen to Jackson Browne while surfing on a Tuesday afternoon?” I am frankly still confused by the whole thing.

My brain quickly moved past that question when I came to the realization that surfing has reached technology saturation. GPS watches, GoPro, Trace, robot cameras, waterproof speakers, watches that send and receive texts from the line-up. Wasn’t surfing supposed to be a distraction from all of this?

Wasn’t the whole point of the whole thing to paddle out in quietude and catch a couple so you can leave the rest on the beach? Wasn’t the lineup, by design, supposed to be Jackson Browne free?


Do you, Mister Perepetual Intermediate, really need to know the velocity and turn radius of your wave captured by your Trace? Do you really think anyone at work wants to see your shoulder hopping antics as filmed by your robot assistant from the beach? Were the GPS trace lines of your waves captured by Rip Curl watch really important to capture? Do you really want to send texts from the lineup?


I understand most surfers bring only their board and a suit, but what I am seeing here is the potential for a very slippery slope. If one man can ruin my entire focus with his techno gadgets, it can happen to you. The more the market gets filled with connected TOYS the more people will buy them. Maybe the lineup will one day get polluted with things most of us wanted to leave on the beach- noise, technology, connectivity, obligation. Where is our escape then?

Please stop the madness, or at least stop it until I build my private wave pool in a cellular dead zone behind an off-the-grid cabin high atop a mountain away from all of you, and Jackson Browne.

Buy for $550: A custom version of the Akila Aipa-shaped 5’8” Kelly Slater used to destroy Keramas!

Tell me this ain't a bargain in a world of thousand-dollar boards.

You don’t get these sorta bargains or how do they say it now, opportunities, very often.

Akila Aipa, a former pro surfer and the son of the great Hawaiian shaper Ben Aipa, will build for you, and according to your specific dimensions, a version of the five-eight squash-tail Kelly Slater used to beat hell out of Keramas two days ago.

As our tour correspondent reported, “Kelly leant back into a savage back foot heavy layback hook. It was the turn of the day. The turn of Kelly’s year. It lit a little candle of hope in the deep dark cave of Kelly’s retirement year.”

Kelly and the turn of the day at Keramas on his Akila Aipa-shaped five eight.

The board is part of a seven-board quiver Akila made Kelly earlier this year.

See, Akila and Kelly have been pals for close on thirty years, Akila part of the same Hawaiian pack that included Shane Dorian and Ross Williams.

“I told him, ‘Holy shit, I don’t know if the judges are ready for that. If you do take it out, walk up the beach, don’t show anyone. They can’t see that shit!’ There’s this conformist fucking mentality on tour, and it’s always been there, and until they have a more open and a better judging criteria of skill, none of it will ever make any sense.” AKILA AIPA

They talk a lot.

They both prefer shorter surfboards. Akila is five-ten and he’ll ride five-twos and five-threes. He likes the freedom he gets to pivot and to jam in the pocket.

Kelly was interested in riding one of Akila’s famous twin-fins so Akila suggested he make a quiver, which included the twin, the rest thrusters; some with Kelly’s fin placements, some with Akila’s.

Akila made seven boards: a twin-finned 5’5″, the rest 5’7″s, 5’8″s and 5’9’s”.

When Keramas was revealed to be three foot, Kelly told Akila he was thinking about surfing the twin in his heat.

“I told him, ‘Holy shit, I don’t know if the judges are ready for that. If you do take it out, walk up the beach, don’t show anyone. They can’t see that shit!’ There’s this conformist fucking mentality on tour, and it’s always been there, and until they have a more open and a better judging criteria of skill, none of it will ever make any sense.”

He didn’t use the twin. He grabbed the five eight, which is somewhere between 18 3/8″ and 18 1/2″ and maybe 2 1/4″ on the rail.

When I laugh at the vague measurements, Akila says, “I just connect the dots. It’s a shortboard crunched. I don’t know all that fucking shit. It’s just a board, a rocker, a rail and I try and tie all the subtleties together.”

The bottom curve is vee though the nose, a single concave under the front foot that hits a double and then turns into vee through the fins.

PU construction, too.

“I was getting so many texts, is that epoxy? Is that PU? I don’t like the sensation of epoxy, personally. Epoxy does some weird chattering because of its memory. I like the sensation of that kinetic load on a bottom turn and the feedback on a top turn.”

When he saw Kelly on his board via the webcast Akila says he felt a “wonderment.”

“I was flabbergasted and flattered and baffled that he chose to ride it at one of the most high-performance waves in the world with a lot of eyes watching. The last time I was that engaged in watching a heat was watching Sunny winning an OP Pro on a board I made in 2001.”

Akila’s voice softens, “We’re hurting on our brother.”

Now, you want one of Akila’s boards?

It ain’t as simple as jumping on the website. ‘Cause there ain’t one.

“I’m a custom board builder. I’ve always been a one-on-one board builder. I’m not set up for production.”

Still, if you email Akila at [email protected] and y’tell him what you want, he’ll make a custom in four-to-six weeks for $US550.

You need it shipped to Australia?

Akila has a flight attendant pal who’ll bring it over for an extra fifty.

“It’s an honour making boards and I gotta find a way to service people the best I can.”

ryan callinan
Ryan Callinan chooses quantity over quality. Wins elimination heat.

Corona Bali Protected, Day Two: “Silky toy waves at Keramas! A German VAL’s dream scenario!”

A total crap-shoot, as they say…

Six heats run and done in silky little toy waves at Keramas. a German VAL’s absolute dream scenario.

I only say German, not to be racialist, but to pay homage to my favourite overseas species of VAL. You there, with the booties, over-sized Cymatic and GathHhat. I tips me lid to you.

Chances of running seemed nil but KP said he saw runners on the incoming tide, with a better, more southerly angle. First elimination heat and the wildcard paddled into a zippy close-out for a 0.5 to start the day.

Joe Turpel: “These are the waves KP was talking about.”

After SurfAds piece on the fully muzzled commentary it almost seems the problem is more deeply existential. If Joe said the sky is blue, it’s almost certainly time to hit the storm bunker.

If he says “your gal was so well behaved last night, in fact the whole week long” I’d be packing the suitcase.

Kanoa paddled up the reef with Deivid Silva, a tactic that I am yet to find any advantage for in a three-man heat. Didn’t hurt Igarashi, though, he sizzled on that SharpEye, like he did at J-Bay last year.

He would be the only one from today’s elimination heats to trouble any of the top seeds. Did you see him surf yesterday? A single wave with a heat score of 1.77. All that gesturing and waving of arms.

It was like Marcel Marceau reincarnated as a pro surfer. Very entertainment.

Zeke and Leo paddled up the reef again to start Heat two. Why? What possible strategic outcome, favourable or deleterious could occur as a result? Were they coached to do so?

Zeke caught the first wave. Did a power hack layback that drew the ire of Martin Potter and took an early lead. A traffic jam of fives ensued. Leo Fioravanti with four minutes to go was a miserable last. The surf had that silken texture – that makes a gal blessed to be alive when luxuriating in it – that only Indonesia can provide.

There was much talk of coaching. In the next heat, Luke Egan made the point that one bad decision could cost you, while on another occasion a trio of bad decisions could see you make it through.

But what to learn from it? What lessons could a coach impart?

Philosopher of science Karl Popper famously made the claim that all biological science was a series of exceptions in search of a rule.

How much more so a pro surfing heat?

If every heat is an individual case, every cause unique, then every effect must be equally unrepeatable and unknowable.

You get my drift?

To prove the point Leo savaged a waist-high righthander for the best score of the heat. Results went into a blender and last went to first, first to last.

What could a coach make of it?

It’s a total crap shoot.

A non-elimination leader board opening round is the only way forwards to sort the wheat from the goats and isolate the variables we want from the ones we don’t. It smacked the WSL in the face at Kelly’s pool and they didn’t even realise.

Heat three came to life with an electrifying flurry of head-high waves ridden.

Soli got one, Seth got one and Ace. Judges awarded them each a point separate from each other. Ace a full point higher for a floater and vertical hit. Seth drained the juice from a peachy little barrel that would have made any out of shape cube monkey glisten with sickly envy. Hey, I could ride that!

Another good one to Ace, Seth consolidated and Soli Bailey was left with a long, lonely wait with ten minutes ticking down. The exact situation Ronnie Blakey had said surfers in this elimination round would be vigorously advocating against.

They would want opportunity, he said. But opportunity did not come.

A scrappy shoulder on the buzzer was not enough to keep Soli away from the solace of a proper Pina Colada.

The last men’s elimination heat fell into a state of somnolence. R-Cal fell and fell in an effort to get the ball rolling. Sebastien Zietz sizzled and got into first place then last place as Jesse Mendes charged from the back field. Another heat where anything could have come out.

It makes the hundreds and thousands of heats that Kelly bent to his will seem even more like a bargain with the devil.

Two women’s heats followed.

The second far superior with Silvana Lima and Courtney Conlogue both looking stronger and sharper than Carissa Moore in the previous heat.

The Indonesian wildcard , Kailani Johnson, was eliminated after stuffing Carissa on a dreamy little peak. Such is life in the crowded line-ups of Bali.

I probably surf like Paige Hareb. Bit stiff, bit off kilter.

Do you surf like someone on Tour?

Is it just me or is the Seeding Round and Elimination Round making comps this year take forever to get “warmed up”?

Corona Bali Protected Men’s Round 2 (Elimination Round) Results:
Heat 1: Kanoa Igarashi (JPN) 14.60 DEF. Deivid Silva (BRA) 10.67, Jacob Willcox (AUS) 10.10
Heat 2: Leonardo Fioravanti (ITA) 10.90 DEF. Willian Cardoso (BRA) 10.66, Ezekiel Lau (HAW) 10.07
Heat 3: Adrian Buchan (AUS) 14.00 DEF. Seth Moniz (HAW) 12.50, Soli Bailey (AUS) 11.40
Heat 4: Ryan Callinan (AUS) 10.50 DEF. Jesse Mendes (BRA) 8.43, Sebastian Zietz (HAW) 8.40

Corona Bali Protected Men’s Round 3 (Round of 32) Matchups:
Heat 1: Julian Wilson (AUS) vs. Jadson Andre (BRA)
Heat 2: Yago Dora (BRA) vs. Michael Rodrigues (BRA)
Heat 3: John John Florence (HAW) vs. Joan Duru (FRA)
Heat 4: Wade Carmichael (AUS) vs. Deivid Silva (BRA)
Heat 5: Italo Ferreira (BRA) vs. Jack Freestone (AUS)
Heat 6: Willian Cardoso (BRA) vs. Jeremy Flores (FRA)
Heat 7: Conner Coffin (USA) vs. Griffin Colapinto (USA)
Heat 8: Kolohe Andino (USA) vs. Ricardo Christie (NZL)
Heat 9: Filipe Toledo (BRA) vs. Caio Ibelli (BRA)
Heat 10: Seth Moniz (HAW) vs. Ryan Callinan (AUS)
Heat 11: Owen Wright (AUS) vs. Kelly Slater (USA)
Heat 12: Michel Bourez (FRA) vs. Rio Waida (IDN)
Heat 13: Gabriel Medina (BRA) vs. Leonardo Fioravanti (ITA)
Heat 14: Mikey Wright (AUS) vs. Adrian Buchan (AUS)
Heat 15: Kanoa Igarashi (JPN) vs. Peterson Crisanto (BRA)
Heat 16: Jordy Smith (ZAF) vs. Jesse Mendes (BRA)

Corona Bali Protected Women’s Round 2 (Elimination Round) Results:
Heat 1: Carissa Moore (HAW) 10.67 DEF. Paige Hareb (NZL) 8.33, Kailani Johnson (IDN) 2.33
Heat 2: Silvana Lima (BRA) 13.53 DEF. Courtney Conlogue (USA) 12.57, Macy Callaghan (AUS) 10.80

Corona Bali Protected Women’s Round 3 (Round of 16) Matchups:
Heat 1: Carissa Moore (HAW) vs. Paige Hareb (NZL)
Heat 2: Johanne Defay (FRA) vs. Brisa Hennessy (CRI)
Heat 3: Caroline Marks (USA) vs. Silvana Lima (BRA)
Heat 4: Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) vs. Coco Ho (HAW)
Heat 5: Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) vs. Keely Andrew (AUS)
Heat 6: Malia Manuel (HAW) vs. Courtney Conlogue (USA)
Heat 7: Lakey Peterson (USA) vs. Bronte Macaulay (AUS)
Heat 8: Tatiana Weston-Webb (BRA) vs. Nikki Van Dijk (AUS)

Red Bull Airborne Bali Qualifying Round Matchups:
Heat 1: Noa Deane (AUS), Chippa Wilson (AUS), Jack Freestone (AUS), Eli Hanneman (HAW), Lee Wilson (IDN), Made Darmayasa ‘Blerong’ (IDN)
Heat 2: Ian Crane (USA), Eithan Osborne (USA), Matt Meola (HAW), Mason Ho (HAW), Oliver Kurtz (USA), Eric Geiselman (USA)
Heat 3: Yago Dora (BRA), Filipe Toledo (BRA), Reef Heazlewood (AUS), Finn McGill (HAW), Kalani David (HAW), Bronson Meydi (IDN)
Heat 4: Ian Crane (USA), Filipe Toledo (BRA), Jack Freestone (AUS), Mason Ho (HAW), Kalani David (HAW), Made Darmayasa ‘Blerong’ (IDN)
Heat 5: Noa Deane (AUS), Reef Heazlewood (AUS), Finn McGill (HAW), Eli Hanneman (HAW), Oliver Kurtz (USA), Eric Geiselman (USA)
Heat 6: Yago Dora (BRA), Chippa Wilson (AUS), Eithan Osborne (USA), Matt Meola (HAW), Lee Wilson (IDN), Bronson Meydi (IDN)