I describe myself as a "woke surfer".

From the tough-on-crime dept: A list of surfing’s gravest offences!

"The surf is for everyone" lie and other grievous felonies…

As a rule, I’m anti-death penalty. The thought of being framed and then convicted of a crime in a country where capital punishment is doled out blithely, Bali, Singapore, America*, gives me occasional night terrors, as it has since I was a child.

How would I face death? With a brave face and a clever one-liner? Panic and buckled legs?

Crimes in the surf are a different kettle of fish, as they used to say, and it’s important, especially with the rise of “WSL ” and “VAL”, to remind surfers, experienced and new, of what constitutes a capital offence.

Following is a list of surfing’s gravest crimes. Please help fill gaps.

  1. The surf is for everyone argument: Just as a skate park revolves around a hierarchy of best first, worst, last, and where the child scooter rider languishes at a perpetual end of line, so does the surf. To operate this argument in the complaint of a drop-in by better surfer is among the most heinous of man’s crimes. You can imagine Jeffrey Epstein, may he rest in perpetual madness and torture, a follower of this line of thinking.
  2. Slick extortionists who paddle out, sit next to you and assume priority: You know ’em, but only in the context of the beach. A smiling face paddles out, sits on your inside, strikes up a conversation, then spins for the first set, yelling.
  3. Paddling for the shoulder on a set: One man’s wave ruined, the other avoids a duckdive.
  4. Refusal to split a peak: Two surfers in position for an A-frame. Instead of a civilised sharing of the spoils, one decides to  backdoor the peak.
  5. Pulling back on a set you’ve warned anyone else from touching: From a yell to reverse-arm paddle.
  6. Presuming local status at remote, and foreign, reef: American ex-pats in Tahiti, Australians in the Mentawais, Brazilians in Bali.
  7. IG-ing a once-secret wave and then weeping at its reveal. 
  8. Surfboard thrown away, in panic at spectre of set, in crowded lineup.
  9. The presumption of priority because of longboard, SUP.
  10. Refusal to attach leash to longboard for aesthetic reasons.

(*Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story described North America as a “country”. Matt Warshaw has pointed out to me via email that North America is the continent and America or United States is the country. This error has now been corrected.)


Deal: World Surf League sells “High five your favorite surfers as they enter the pool” package for $299!

Exciting times in Lemoore!

Teahupo’o is the next contest on the calendar, beginning in just days, and that is exciting. It feels like very exciting especially with the cancelled trails yesterday putting on such a show. Oh did your heart launch straight into your throat? Mine did. Mine launched into my throat, out of my mouth and slammed the reef.

I cannot wait these remaining days until the contest actually begins, likely in waist to shoulder high waves.

Waves that look like Kelly Slater’s Surf Ranch.

And I’m glad that Surf Ranch just came up in this conversation because our World Surf League is offering an exciting new VIP Freshwater Pro package deal this September 21.

-Admission valid Saturday 9/21

-High five your favorite surfers as they enter the pool and watch the contest from the comfort of our shaded VIP area.

-Experience all the exclusive perks and unlimited access to the competition and The Raconteurs concert.

High five your favorite surfers as they enter the pool is certainly an upgrade from last year’s $299 single day VIP ticket perks and I’m glad there is no asterisk or qualification. Like *if your favorite surfer would like a high five. Or *choice of 5 favorite surfers. Or *excluding Gabriel Medina.

No, it is wide open and if I was spending $299 for the day, I would sit right where they run into the water and high five each and every surfer because, in truth, they are all my favorite. Not to be rude here, but if one of them refused my high five I would be compelled to tattle to the World Surf League brass so they could usher that particular favorite surfer back to me to receive my high five. And not to be ruder, but if that was not allowed I would demand a full refund plus gas and lodging.

My only question, is do the surfers being high five’d get a cut of the $299? Is a portion of the $299 put into a pot and split equally among the surfers or do surfers get a percentage based on how many high fives they receive for the day?

I suppose those are two questions but don’t worry. I am a surf journalist and will get to the bottom of them.

In the meantime, does this new high five perk compel you to head to Lemoore at the end of September?

Who would you most like to high five?


Fifteen-foot swell hits Teahupoo; Raimana hits reef; trials cancelled!

Out of towners and Tahitian locals ride the Teahupoo subway…

A drove of the world’s most persistent big-tube chasers, including Koa Rothman, Jackie Robinson, Nathan Florence and Anthony Walsh, joined their Tahitian brothers for a day of waves so big it forced the cancellation of the Tahiti Pro trials.

Mr Walsh, a thirty-five-year-old Australian who has spent twenty winters on the North Shore, flew in to Papeete two days ago, hoping the expected swell would be so big the trials couldn’t run.

It came close. The first heat was readied, jerseys handed out then…hold.

Wait and hour.

Hold.

Wait an hour.

Cancelled.

Walsh describes the wave size at Teahupoo today thus, “Eight-to-twelve-to-fifteen with twenty-foot sets’ and laughs at the absurdity of what a long period swell delivers.

Moments of relative calm, and relative perfection if you like that sorta thing, before unruly things came through, wiping the water off the reef and, in one instance, giving Surf Ranch mayor Raimana Van Bastolaer the appearance of being mauled by an alligator.

Walsh entered the water at six am, had a couple of hours off at lunch and was there til dark. He estimates he caught forty waves.

Any hall o’ famers?

“I had some amazing wipeouts in the morning,” he says.

The two best waves of the day went to local surfers, Matahi Drollet and Ariihoe Tefaafana, fifteen-foot tow bombs.

The trials event will run tomoz, the swell halving in size before the main event kicks off later in the week in, likely, three-foot waves.


Revealed: Neanderthals likely world’s first surfers; Hawaiians thrown into jealous rage!

New scientific evidence throws history on its ear!

For centuries now, it has been held that surfing’s historical river has its headwaters in Hawaii. Those ancient kings, practicing that wonderful pastime, were observed by Capt. James Cook and his merry men as they sailed around the world looking for fantastic diseases.

Cook’s right hand man, Lt. James King, wrote in his journals:

But a diversion the most common is upon the Water, where there is a very great Sea, and surf breaking on the Shore. The Men sometimes 20 or 30 go without the Swell of the Surf, & lay themselves flat upon an oval piece of plan about their Size and breadth, they keep their legs close on top of it, & their Arms are us’d to guide the plank, thye wait the time of the greatest Swell that sets on Shore, & altogether push forward with their Arms to keep on its top, it sends them in with a most astonishing Velocity, & the great art is to guide the plan so as always to keep it in a proper direction on the top of the Swell, & as it alters its direct.

During research for the academically-driven Cocaine + Surfing (buy here), I marched out on a thick limb, positing that it must have been ancient Peruvians who took surfing from their cold, misty shores over to Tahiti and those Tahitians took it to Hawaii.

Thor Heyderdahl and his Kon Tiki was proof positive and also the fact that surfers love cocaine, which was first planted in Peru by the Great Inca who cut a very beautiful woman in two, named Kuka, and stuck her in the ground.

Many Hawaiians were not pleased with my putting together of research and blamed me, in harsh tones, for being a crackpot and sham.

Well, those Hawaiians have another possible usurper.

Neanderthals.

For it was revealed today that the human-like creatures suffered from surfer’s ear and let us turn to Discovery magazine for more.

Being a lifelong surfer or diver sometimes comes with an odd side-effect: the growth of small, bony knobs in the ear canals, the result of chronic exposure to cold water and air.

They’re often referred to as “surfer’s ear” because the condition is common among those who ride the waves. But there might well be a more apt term for the condition, based on new findings from a team of scientists: Neanderthal ear.

The bony growths, also called exostoses, show up in many Neanderthal skulls found in Europe and southwest Asia. It’s evidence that the ancient human cousins likely spent a fair amount of time in the water, perhaps to gather food, the team says.

Or, likely, surf.

On it goes and, real quick, the bastards better not rename “surfer’s ear” “neanderthal ear” but also doesn’t it make sense that we come from neanderthal roots? It explains our surf rage. Neanderthal by way of Peru.

Hawaiians will not be pleased.

P.S. Click in the margins and purchase Surf Ears if you want to be smart and evolved. They are honestly epic.


The Australian surfer and noted big-wave charger Sean Mckinnon with his Canadian fiancee, Bianca Buckley.

Man arrested, charged, in Raglan carpark murder of Australian surfer!

"You're always going to get pieces of shit wherever you are…"

A twenty-three-year-old New Zealand man has been arrested in the carpark shooting of an Australian surfer a dozen or so clicks out of Raglan, the country’s most celebrated wave.

The surfer, Sean McKinnon, who was thirty-three and from Port Campbell in Victoria, home to one of Australia’s best big waves, was in a camper-van with his girl, Bianca Buckley, early on Friday morning when a man demanded the keys to the van.

Sean got shot.

Bianca escaped.

Gunman drove off with the mortally wounded Mckinnon still in the back.

From Australia’s national broadcaster, 

His partner, described as being “very shocked and distressed”, managed to escape the gunman and alerted the police.

“At approximately 3:20am, police were notified that an offender had approached a van and shots were fired,” Detective Inspector Graham Pitkethley said.

At approximately 8:00am this morning, police located the van with the man’s body inside.”

Police said they found the van with the body inside some 80 kilometres away.

“Inquiries indicate that this was a random attack,” Detective Inspector Pitkethley said.

The suspected gunman was arrested after police raided a property at Tauhei on the outskirts of Hamilton late on Friday night.

He appeared in Hamilton District Court this morning charged with murder, aggravated robbery, threatening to kill and driving disqualified.

His identity was suppressed and he was remanded in custody to face another hearing in the country’s High Court on August 27.

I did a little ring-around pals in Raglan, population five thousand or so, and as, one said, “The police said it’s a local guy to the region so it’ll be interesting to see who it is. You wouldn’t imagine this happening here but then, you’re always going to get pieces of shit wherever you are. And there’s shitloads of people in campers around here. Pretty spooky for ’em.”

On Facebook, the Victorian surfer Glen Casey, another man noted for his love of big cold-water waves, wrote, “Seany you showed us how to live life to the fullest and charge as hard as anyone on the big days.! You touched us all with your kind heart and beautiful mind. See you on the other side dear friend.”