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.

Gold Rush: Top-level executive talent flocks to join World Surf League top brass in Santa Monica!

"Honored and super excited!”

There seems to be two entirely different, entirely separate narratives when it comes to our World Surf League.

One one side we have the Grumpy Local. She enjoys the show, and very much, but can’t really imagine hundreds of thousands of fans tuning in to the monotone, nonsensical drone of ’89 World Champion Martin Potter and complete vacuousness of Joe Turpel. He also looked into the corner, during the Facebook Live day, and saw an embarrassingly low number of concurrent viewers dancing there, throwing frowny face’d emojis over the hot surfing action.

She sees Kelly Slater’s Surf Ranch never expanded beyond God’s least favorite town, title sponsors like Samsung fleeing and being replaced by Michelob Ultra Gold brewed with Organic Grains disappearing and being replaced BF Goodrich tires signing on for one contest only.

He sees money being thrown after money, neither good nor bad, but assumes it can’t keep up forever and the League will eventually either fold entirely, sell and get hacked to bits or morph into a slam-type tour with five majors a year and a handful of U.S. Open of Surfing-esque specialty events.

On the other side we have the glorious vision of the World Surf League itself. That this is the most exciting time in professional surfing’s history. That engagement is growing by an astronomical 25% year on year. That with the upcoming Olympics, surfing itself is ready to bust free from the stagnant backwater and become a force that rivals major sporting leagues from around the world.

Which is true? Who is right? I stand with the Grumpy Local, of course, but who knows because the League keeps snagging top-level talent and let’s read about the newest executive haul.

The World Surf League (WSL) has hired Nike marketing veteran Pri Shumate as its chief marketing officer, while the NFL UK’s head of marketing, Sarah Swanson, has been named senior vice-president of strategic insights and consumer growth.

Surfing and its associated organizations are already experiencing a boon in brand marketer interest before the sport makes its debut at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.

Shumate previously ran marketing for Nike’s global running business and departs after 17 years with the sportwear brand. Working out of Portland, Oregon, she previously led the company’s marketing activity throughout the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro and headed up its surfing brand, Hurley, as chief marketing officer.

In a statement, Shumate said she was “honored and super excited” to take on the same role at the WSL.

“There’s never been a better moment or opportunity to share what makes surfing so special with the world,” said the marketer. “I’ve approached every role I’ve ever had from the perspective of the consumer, in this case, the athletes, fans and people who love surfing, both the sport and culture.

“I can’t wait to dive in and get to know them better so that, as a team and a brand, we can continue to serve them well into the future and build further equity in the portfolio of WSL brands.”

Swanson will report into Shumate as senior vice-president of strategic insights and consumer growth – a new role for the league. She has been tasked with leading the WSL’s talent marketing division, as well as the data, insights and analytics division.

Swanson joins after building the NFL’s UK brand presence in London for the past four years.

“There is so much we can learn about what our fans, and our potential fans, want from us and look to us to deliver,” she said.

“I’m incredibly excited about the opportunity to learn, strategize and create opportunities to bring surfing and some of the world’s most talented and aspirational athletes to an even broader audience.”


Now, what do you think about this? Do you believe in the power of surfing to unite and inspire or do you still hate anyone who paddles out and sits next to you in the lineup?

Can you wait to be known better and served?

Much to think upon.

Progress: Tap turned back on at Yeppoon’s giant plunger wavepool!

Lagoon partially filled, "full-sized waves soon" etc…

You remember the hoo-ha last year when the former world champ Joel Parkinson flew to Central Queensland to test the full-sized prototype of the Occy and Barton Lynch-endorsed wave pool.

The waves were very small, one-to-two feet using a generous ruler, but the reveal was stymied when the giant plunger buckled while operating at only fifty percent capacity.

Surf Lakes said the failure was a manufacturing fault, that a new part was being built and that the Yeppoon prototype would be operational, again, by the end of January 2019.

Fast-forward to mid-June and it appears the tank is inching closer to having another swing at producing waves.

The company reports:

The buzz around Surf Lakes’ full-scale Research and Development facility in Yeppoon is building as the onsite engineers have completed the repairs and have now moved into preliminary testing. The repaired structure is much stronger than it was during Phase 1 testing, in October of 2018. On top of this, the team have been making many other improvements to allow for much more detailed monitoring of the machinery. This will enable the Surf Lakes crew to access information swiftly, relating to stress placed upon various components. It will also allow the team to better understand efficiencies.

In breaking news… earlier this week the tap was turned on, filling the lagoon partially, so initial systems testing can take place!

Dry commissioning has now begun and is due to be completed this weekend, after which the lagoon will be filled to the brim in preparation for full commissioning.

This is a major milestone for the team as we inch closer to Phase 2 surf testing.

Can the engineering work?

The shaper, yet-to-be-realised wavepool inventor and theoretician Greg Webber, whom you’ve read about here, here, here, here, here and here, says the design is fundamentally flawed and that unless the plunger is “over-engineered to a silly level” they’re either going to have a “very weak type of wave” or the driveshaft is going to snap again.