Cold-Blooded: Princeton-educated VAL shoots dad in the head for surf money!

Fins are expensive, bro.

I sometimes imagine the VAL’s life being glorious, simple and unencumbered. There he is, waltzing into a surf shop then waltzing out with a brand-new _________* under his arm plus two bars of warm-cool wax, a rash guard, pair of Rip Curl Live the Search boardies (which he pronounces “live” as in “I just saw Jack Johnson play live.”) and a pair of Vans surf booties.

There she is sitting around the break room with her colleagues, regaling them with stories of her recent trip to Maui where she paddled out at Big Beach or would have if not for that pesky whitewash.

There is no shame in the VAL, no embarrassment and he can SUP Manhattan Beach day or night, heart filled with joy, not grumpy grouch.

But there must be some darkness hovering therein also because a top, blue-blooded VAL recently shot his father in the head for surf money and would you like to read the compelling beginning to the very tragic story of Thomas Gilbert Jr. in The New York Times? I think we owe it to ourselves.

Five years after he graduated with an economics degree from Princeton, Thomas Gilbert Jr. walked into a Hamptons surf shop and asked if they needed an instructor.

At 29, Mr. Gilbert — who grew up in Manhattan’s elite social circles with wealth and connections — might have been expected to climb to the top of the world of finance, as his father and uncle had done.

Instead, the son of a successful hedge fund founder was surfing, going to exclusive social clubs and living on a $1,000 weekly allowance from his parents.

After three weeks of testimony in Mr. Gilbert’s murder trial, a picture of him has emerged as a perpetual Peter Pan who was increasingly troubled with the idea of losing his real life Neverland.

Mr. Gilbert’s lawyer maintains that mental illness problems are to blame for his client’s seeming inability to hold a steady job. But prosecution witnesses have described Mr. Gilbert as a feckless young man interested mostly in pleasurable pursuits, who was furious with his father for reducing his spending money.


The piece goes on to describe how Mr. Gilbert Jr. would buy things from surf shops and take surf trips with his pals. It also details a surf-esque relationship he had with one of the famous Rothschilds.

Mr. Gilbert dabbled with the idea of working at his father’s hedge fund and even spoke of starting his own.

“It seemed to me he didn’t have experience to do that,” said Anna Rothschild, 53, a publicist who dated Mr. Gilbert in 2013. “He didn’t seem to be highly intelligent, in my humble opinion.”

Ms. Rothchild testified that she found Mr. Gilbert “odd,” but continued to date him because “he was very good looking.”

Ms. Ressner said she regularly found evidence that Mr. Gilbert was seeing other women while they shared an apartment: fingerprints on a bedroom mirror, an unexplained box of condoms and even strands of other women’s hair.

“He didn’t bother to clean up when I came back,” she said rolling her eyes. “I did not have self-esteem at the time.”

And do you think this VAL will get off for insanity or do you think he will spend the rest of his days drawing epic tubes on prison issued paper?

Do you worry that other VALs might take a sinister turn into murder?

*What is the VAL’s favorite surfboard these days?

Soz Bailey, backside pistol.

Open Thread: Comment Live, the Oi Rio Pro seeding round!

Barton Lynch calls the surf quality "A QS level event!"

What’s the seeding round? Do you know? I still don’t at all but no matter. Is it like a mini Founders Cup for the start of every contest? Like an extra bonus chance for Barton Lynch to make my heart soar? I don’t know but no matter. Beggars can’t be choosers etc. and it is on right now with Italo Ferreira chewing up the business and…

…oh I don’t know what the hell I’m talking about. It is too early and my head is still in the sails.

But are you at work?

Watch here. Chat with friends.

Pour a drink before 11:00 am.

Beat that summertime sadness.

Here’s what we’ve missed…

Heat 1: Kanoa I. beat Jadson A. and Peterson C.

Heat 2: Gabby M. beat Soli B. and Ace B.

Heat 3: Yago D. beat Adriano de S. and Kolohe A.

Heat 4: Filipe T. beat Frederico M. and Seabass Z.

Heat 5: Italo F. beat Deivid Silva and Mateus Herdy became injured.

John John is in the water now. What are you waiting for?


Watch: Happy Great White Shark “Stalk” Surfers at dreamy beachbreak!

And should dog owners who break the law be eaten alive by Great Whites?

Is it a male thing? Grown-men piloting remote-control helicopters with cameras?

I have a lovely memory of Bruce Irons, in the Canary Islands, spending hours manoeuvring his little bird around his hotel room from dawn until dawn with scarcely a breath drawn. Oo-ee-oo, that boy has a tremendous capacity for wakefulness.

A consequence of all the drones are the sightings of Great Whites and their “stalking” of surfers, swimmers and so on.

Last week, The Rogue Droner snatched footage of a juvenile Great White shark swimming near surfers at what used to be my favourite beachbreak on the entire east coast of Australia.

“Be aware, the surfers were attempted to be warned a number of times by swooping and hovering close to them and the shark before and during these shots,” writes The Rogue Droner on his YouTube page. “There was also someone on the beach waving at them to warn them. Thankfully all surfers and swimmers were safe.”

A few takeaways, as those institutionalised in offices like to say.

  1. Everyone who surfs the joint knows Forster-Tuncurry is crawling with Great Whites. So, is it a surprise that a shark is swimming in the ocean?
  2. Is swimming near the same as “stalking” which would mean, in that context, stealthily hunting its prey? Is this fish hunting? If it is hunting, why no eat?
  3. Would the world end if a fisherman hooked this fish and dragged it ashore to the delight of children?

And, if you like that show, watch this short film from three days ago titled, White Shark Hunts Dog Owners. 

“Dog owners break local council dog restrictions and they may pay for their mistakes,” writes The Rogue Droner.



Jen See’s Oi Rio Pro preview: “We shall have to enjoy the tingle of suspense together!”

How rare it is, still, to see women athletes come out and say that they want to win. Those cultural pressure to be nice and smile pretty, they don’t disappear so easily.

I deserted you during Margaret River, for which I am sorry! I hate to let you all down like that.

Let’s get caught up now, shall we?

Thursday begins the waiting period for the Oi Rio Pro at Saquarema beach. The whole Oi Rio combination makes my eyes cross, but I will endeavor to persist. According to the Twitter, forecasts suggest the contest will likely start straight away — though, I do not of course know if it’ll be the seeding round for men or women who start the thing off.

Your guess is as good as mine! We shall have to enjoy the tingle of suspense together.

Did you see the letter Caroline Marks wrote to her future self over at ESPN? It’s the kind of strange magazine conceit that works sometimes. Marks comes across as so endearingly exuberant. She dreams of big-wave riding and landing air reverses consistently in heats.

“I hope you were lucky enough to surf for 20 more years, that injuries and insecurities didn’t stand in your way,” she writes to her future self. “I want to be relentless.”

Based on what we’ve seen so far, there’s no reason to expect she won’t be.

Marks is currently second in the world rankings behind Steph Gilmore. At Margaret River, Marks went down in the quarterfinals to Sally Fitzgibbons, but the beachbreak there at Saquarema beach should suit Marks to perfection. For one thing, we might actually get to see her surf frontside. Weird! But also, probably awesome!

Gilmore won Rio last year after beating Lakey Peterson in the final. No, I didn’t remember that one — I had to look it up, and it came as something of a surprise. I would not have put Gilmore as the winner in Rio. Let that be a lesson never to count out a seven-time world champion. They have a knack for winning things. Thanks to a defeat in the quarterfinals at Margaret River, Gilmore could not improve her lead over Marks. At least, not yet. She’ll be hoping to do that in Rio, natch.

“I didn’t want to lose to her again.” That was the highlight of Peterson’s post-heat interview after she beat Gilmore in the quarterfinals at Margaret River. The two women had met in seven heats previously and Gilmore had won each and every one. No more, said Peterson. We can argue about the scoring — because that’s the kind of thing we do around here — but not about the intention. Peterson came out swinging and swung her way through to winning her first event of the year.

How rare it is, still, to see women athletes come out and say that they want to win. So often it’s all wrapped up in smiles and stoked to be here. Those cultural pressure to be nice and smile pretty, they don’t disappear so easily. But there’s not an elite athlete walking the earth who doesn’t want to win all the marbles.

Refreshingly, Peterson just plain came out and said it. Currently sitting sixth, she has a tough grind to climb back up the rankings. But that victory against Gilmore — and an event win on top of it — has to feel damn good.

Carissa Moore has yet to win an event this season, but she also hasn’t finished below the quarters. She’s right there on the edge of it. A win in Rio could transform her into a world title hopeful. A low finish, well, let’s just say, that wouldn’t help. Her semifinal against Peterson at Margaret River was a close-run thing. Currently, Moore sits third in the rankings, just behind the kid-wonder Marks. A win in Rio would allow Moore to overtake her and wouldn’t that add some spice to the proceedings.

Two potential spoilers sit fourth and fifth: Sally Fitzgibbons and Courtney Conlogue. I am fan of Fitzgibbons this season. She looks stronger than in the past, and it’s done so much good for her surfing. She’s made the semi and final in the past two events. After winning Bells, Conlogue’s not made it past the quarters, but I never want to count her out. Like Peterson, Conlogue can bring the fire.

The world rankings remain close on the women’s side and different surfers have won each event. That’s a good recipe for a fun title race. After Rio comes J-Bay and by then we should see more separations begin to open up.

For now, we can pretend that the game is wide open.

Before I go, how about some Olympics: Steph Gilmore and Sally Fitzgibbons have a solid lead over Nikki Van Dijk for the two Australian slots. On the US side, Marks and Moore hold the top two slots with Conlogue and Peterson trailing behind them. Both Peterson and Conlogue have their work cut out for them, for sure. A big ask, but nothing’s impossible, not really.

Oh hey Rio, let’s watch some surfing.

Oi Rio Pro Women’s Seeding Round (Round 1) Matchups:
Heat 1: Caroline Marks (USA), Nikki Van Dijk (AUS), Macy Callaghan (AUS)
Heat 2: Carissa Moore (HAW), Johanne Defay (FRA), Keely Andrew (AUS)
Heat 3: Stephanie Gilmore (AUS), Coco Ho (HAW), Taina Hinckel (BRA)
Heat 4: Lakey Peterson (USA), Brisa Hennessy (CRI), Paige Hareb (NZL)
Heat 5: Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS), Tatiana Weston-Webb (BRA). Silvana Lima (BRA)
Heat 6: Courtney Conlogue (USA), Malia Manuel (HAW), Bronte Macaulay (AUS)

"We couldn't be more excited to head to Lemoore, California this summer!"

Breaking: Jack White’s The Raconteurs to play the Freshwater Pro*!

*Formerly The Founders Cup.

And the media blitz has begun for what the World Surf League is now calling a “rodeo.” Sponsored content popped up in my instagram feed, hued brown, and declaring, “The rodeo is riding back into WSL Surf Ranch for summer’s biggest showdown**. Get stoked for the #FreshwaterPro brought to you by @outerknown. Get tickets etc.”

The video shows cheering crowds, splashing kids, professional surfing and the general public enjoying the festival-like atmosphere of Kelly Slater’s Surf Ranch in Lemoore, California.

Jack White’s band The Raconteurs are also the promised headlining act of the night’s action.

Do you remember last year when it was Blink-182*** but they dropped out and were replaced by Social Distortion?

I do.

I was there, though I left before the concert, to witness the spectacle and will say it was enjoyable-ish but will also say I won’t be back.

Too hot, too ugly, too monotonous, too far away.

Will you go?

And how do you feel about The Raconteurs?

Yay or nay?

*Formerly The Founders Cup.

**Keeping with the “ranch” theme, don’t you think the copy-writer meant “hoedown” instead of “showdown?”

*** Is Blink-182 really Blink-182 without Tom DeLonge? To me it’s not but I don’t recall officially deciding together.