Collab: The World Surf League and Rolling Stone join forces to “celebrate the world’s best surfers!”

Smell the glove!

There is almost nothing I love more than a smart collaboration. Two brands, or groups, coming together to make, or showcase, one thing. Like Bone, Thugs-N-Harmony x Phil Collins. Or U2 x Apple. Brilliant, successful and highly lucrative and the latest collaboration between our World Surf League and Rolling Stone magazine is all this and more.

Now, I see you scratching your head, saying, “Rolling Stone magazine? Didn’t that go out of business, like, ten years ago?” But it didn’t and it is rude of you to think so. Also, I see you thinking, “Rolling Stone is a music magazine.” And, “Rolling Stone has not mattered for two decades.” And, “Rolling Stone?”

All rude, short-sighted and mean-spirited.

The press release? But of course!

LOS ANGELES, California (Monday, August 12, 2019): Rolling Stone, the number one global brand in music publishing and media, today announced a partnership with the World Surf League (WSL). As part of the new partnership, Rolling Stone will celebrate the elite athletes competing on the WSL Championship Tour, the series that crowns the men’s and women’s world surf champions each year.

Rolling Stone will devote significant editorial backing to the project, including features and photos essays in the magazine as well as video and digital content. Athletes featured in the partnership include Stephanie Gilmore (reigning 7X WSL Champion), John John Florence (2X WSL Champion), Coco Ho, Lakey Peterson, Tatiana Weston-Webb, Conner Coffin and more.

“The athleticism, drama, and adventure of pro surfing is a perfect fit for Rolling Stone readers, who count on us for the most cutting-edge cultural content in the world,” said Rolling Stone President Gus Wenner. “Rolling Stone is thrilled to partner with the World Surf League on a slate of joint initiatives that celebrate the world’s best surfers and the Championship Tour as music is such a critical part of surfing and life on the tour.”

“Rolling Stone is legendary in the music industry and it’s really awesome to work with such an iconic brand,” said 7X reigning WSL Champion Stephanie Gilmore. “I’m passionate about music and there’s a strong natural connection with surfing, which makes this an extremely exciting partnership. Rock and roll.”

I sometimes wish that our World Surf League would come to me for press release quotes. Steph Gilmore is brilliant, don’t get me wrong, but I would love the opportunity to say, “Rolling Stone magazine? Didn’t that go out of business, like, ten years ago? Why is the World Surf League doing a collaboration with a music magazine that has not mattered for two decades. Are you sure this is a collaboration with Rolling Stone?”

I’m waiting by my phone, ELo!

Terror: “My tranquil seaside paradise has been transformed overnight into a Great White-infested hell!”

North County, San Diego experiences a shark boom!

North County, San Diego is not what would be called a “dangerous” place. Hugging the gentle coast just south of Camp Pendleton, the communities of Oceanside, Carlsbad, Encinitas and Del Mar are upper-ish-middle-class and impossibly comfortable. Very little violence and Mexican restaurants owned and operated by a woman named Diane Powers. Many Lexuses. The beaches are sandy and the waves that roll in are inviting, playful, easy to catch and easy to push children into, sharing the Pastime of Kings with future generations.

Many Sprinter van conversions.

Except these days, chances are if you are out pushing children into waves in North County, San Diego you will be pushing them directly into the gaping maw of a shark and it is true. This tranquil seaside paradise has been transformed overnight into a Great White-infested hell.

I don’t know how it happened and I don’t know what is to blame but beaches have been shuttered, from Oceanside to Del Mar, as the angry beasts patrol just offshore. Nibbling on seals but just waiting for a plump human belly filled with sizzling fajitas from Diane Powers. Never in my almost decade living here, and four decades visiting, have I even thought about sharks. They were Mendocino County’s problem. Byron Bay’s. But now they are everywhere, multiple sightings per day by trustworthy sources like professional snowboarder Todd Richards.

Surfers chased from the water every hour. Surfers congregating in parking lots, around Sprinter van conversions, washing the sand of their feet with customized hoses and staring at each other, wide-eye’d.

Del Mar’s chief lifeguard, John Edelbrock, told the Coast News Group that most of the sharks the lifeguards have seen in their area have been juvenile sharks, which are about 6 to 7 feet long. The sharks’ behavior has been docile — “not aggressive in any way,” he said.


Maybe I got a little carried away here.

But also, just wait until one of these juveniles nibbles on a plump human belly filled with seafood chimichangas from Diane Powers.

It will be the end.

And tell me, do you ever think of sharks when you paddle?

Will you now?

Waves are little but pretty as anything.

Claim: Six* plunger-powered wavepools planned worldwide! Five bucks a wave!

Each tank a thirty-mill build, twenty of that going to the monstrous plunger…

At precisely six pm tonight, Sydney time, nine am in London and a brutish four am in New York, the company that wants to take plunger-powered waves to the world held what it called an “investment information webinar”.

Over the course of a 45-minute presentation followed by a 15-minute Q and A, investors learned “about the status of our prototype testing, business model for growth, anticipated commercial locations and the profit potential for investors.”

What’s the news?

Four Heads of Agreements have been signed (although these are non-binding), 13 Requests for Proposals have been completed and a number of interested parties (wisely) are waiting on the final testing before committing.

Surf Lakes says they’ve had enquires from over 300 entities across 47 countries. Potential investors have included owners of theme parks, ski resorts golf courses and property developers.

Surf Lakes management says it’s not unreasonable to expect a wavepool in most biggish towns in the next five-to-ten  years. They say 20 are already planned worldwide.

The company says we need to start thinking of wavepools as sports stadiums or cycling tracks. Surfing has a broad enough community engagement so why shouldn’t it attract money from state and local government authorities to pay for the infrastructure?

What’s it cost for a plunger tank, in Australian dollars?

Thirty mill, with twenty of that going to the wave-generating equipment.

By comparison, an American Wave Machines setup (Waco) will cost $10 million, Wavegarden Cove $28 million and KS Wave Co $30 million.

From a productivity perspective, and presuming no breakdowns, Surf Lakes’ 5-Waves technology produces 2,400 waves in the same time that Wavegarden spits 1,000, American Wave Machines 300 and KS Wave Co 20.

Productivity-will-make-you-the-money is the mantra at Surf Lakes.

Surf Lakes estimates it costs 30 cents a wave in energy and another $2.20-ish in wages, filtration etc. They suggest operators charge $50 an hour for 10 waves or five bucks a wave.

It ain’t a bad margin.

Bear in mind these waves are going to be 15 seconds long, max.

Which is significantly less than Slater’s pond but almost twice as long as Waco.

And, now the bad news.

None of us are gonna surf Yeppoon. Well, not for a very long time. Even the shareholders are struggling to get their share at the moment.

For now, its all about potential licensee sales.

(*Editor’s note: an earlier version of this story announced twenty plunger-powered pools worldwide. It was twenty wavepools across all technologies. Surf Lakes are planning six plungers over the next three years.)

Owen Wright's prized five million dollar half-an-acre in Byron Bay. | Photo:

Bullish: Owen Wright buys $5.1 million Byron Bay Beach Shack!

Surfing heart-throb and one-time title contender turns real estate developer…

The  world number twelve, Owen Wright, has spent $5.1 million on an unremarkable beach shack a few hundred metres from The Pass in Australia’s Byron Bay. 

Of course, Owen, who is yet to turn thirty and whose plume of golden hair, swooning eyes and bullfighter’s body suggest teen idol more than real estate developer, sees more than an idyllic little timber house surrounded by almost half-an-acre of grass and trees.

He sees, as the trade papers suggest, a high-end villa development, although a DA is yet to be presented to Byron council.

It’ll be yet another play in Owen’s expansive property portfolio.

You’ll remember the $1.6 million house at Lennox Head with its indoor swimming pool that meandered through the living room,  the Federation-style house in Byron Bay (a little under a million), the beachfront townhouse at Thirroul (675,000) and the gorgeous mountain-top hideaway (bought for 750k, sold for a million).

I doubt if we’ll see a family like the Wrights within surfing ever again, at least in my lifetime.

Three surfers on the tour, including a duel world champ, and all of ’em with their own aesthetic.

For added spice, mysterious illnesses have derailed two thirds of the pack. These include Owen’s so-rare-it-didn’t-have-a-name delayed brain trauma that resulted in a push for compulsory helmets and Tyler’s potentially career-ending Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.

Ongoing spinal issues with Mikey, meanwhile, has kept that firecracker’s fuse unlit.

Observations from a VAL: “Surfers, it seems to me, are happy all the time!”

"If you added up the seconds that a good surfer actually spent riding the waves..."

There is so much VAL literature these days that I think it is officially its own genre and I have a nagging recollection that I’ve already written this but jet-lag is clouding my normally clear thinking. The VAL’s perspective, looking in from the outside while also trying to join the movement, as it were, is valuable. Like a mirror showing us our best selves and how often are you your best self?

I am not very often and especially not whilst surfing. Owner of professional surfing at co-Waterman of the Year (’19) Dirk Ziff had it right when he spoke about grumpy locals.

But a new piece in this morning’s New York Times makes me want to be better. Makes me aspire to a brighter life and I will give you the quick backstory. A 41-year-old-man decided to become a nurse but also had debilitating arthritis that left him unable to walk. So he went to nurse school in a motorized scooter then transferred to a University in Melbourne, which made me chuckle because… well, I never think of “school” and “Australia” at the same time unless I’m thinking “schoolies” and have you ever seen schoolies in action? It is Australian art. Like a debauched version of the Mormon’s Hill Cumorah Pageant.

In any case, the 41-year old man went to Bondi for a month and observed the wildlife from his window.

Watching the surfers, I noticed that the time they spent standing on their boards, riding waves — doing what nonsurfers would call surfing — was minimal compared with the time they spent bobbing around in the water next to the board, generally going nowhere. Even the really good surfers spend far more time off the board than on it.

If you added up the seconds that a good surfer actually spent riding the waves, it would amount to only the smallest fraction of an entire life. Yet surfers are surfers all the time. They are surfers while they are working their crap jobs, daydreaming about surfing. They are surfers when they wake up at 4 in the morning. They are surfers when they walk the board down the hill to Bondi Beach. They are surfers when they drink their predawn espressos. They are surfers when they paddle out on their boards. They are surfers when they wait and wait for the right wave. They are surfers when they wipe out, thrashing around blindly in the waves, praying the board doesn’t crack their skulls. They are surfers when they sit by their trucks with their friends after surfing, silently eating their grain-bowl meals.

And the thing about surfers? They don’t seem to regret all that time they don’t spend standing on boards and riding waves. Not only are they surfers all the time, they are, it seems to me, happy all the time.

And doesn’t this make you want to live your best life? Doesn’t this encourage you to make every day count? Doesn’t this inspire you to eat, pray, love?

It does me.

I didn’t finish the story but assume he went on to surf himself and learned more valuable lessons that he applied to his nursing patients.

Speaking of nurses, my cousin once became a nurse and then started robbing banks. He robbed almost thirty in California before he got caught and sent to jail where he did eight some years. I always thought that was a pretty good deal. Almost thirty banks for eight years and also “bank robber” is a better job description than “nurse.” The math really adds up on that one. Anyhow, he got out of jail and started robbing banks again. I was hoping he’d hit the all-time record (50) set in 2002 but he was caught again just shy of 40, I believe.

Eat, rob, love.