Infuriating optical illusion: Can you guess the name of the surfer in the photo?

Who do you see?

Earlier today, much earlier for I spent most of it negotiating the horrors of Australia’s urban sprawl to find a once-isolated wave, which was subsequently onshore, I received an email from Matt Warshaw asking one question.

Who is the surfer, far right, in this photo?

Surfer on the far right, Bruce? Shane? Photo by Steve Sherman

Is it Bruce Irons or former world number two Shane Powell?

Easy, Bruce, I wrote.

Matt replied that his immediate response was Bruce as well.

“But,” he wrote, “having spent the last few days hammering together a Powell clip I’m now 65% convinced it is Shane.”

The photographer is the great Steve Sherman so the correct answer is only a telephone call away.

But who wants easy?

Shane or Bruce?

(Click on the play button for a primer on Shane Powell.)


Tragic: Woman drowns in freak standup paddleboard yoga accident

It is time to disappear the evil tool forever.

I don’t like to smirk at other people’s misfortune but today’s headline is just too rich and I was sent to me independently by two caring, intelligent, warm family men. Therefore, I feel it is my great duty… not to smirk but rather warn the grumpy local public of the great danger inherent in anything standup paddleboard related, including but not limited to standup paddleboard yoga.

Now, of course you’ve seen standup paddleboard yoga either in the wild or on Instagram but have you ever been tempted by its charms? Like, a stray thought fleeting through your mind, whispering… “I bet that’s really good for the core.”

Obviously not the “core” like we use it here, as in “I’m core because I only get surfboards from the shaper down the street and my favorite t-shirt reads ‘The Surf Industry Stole my Culture and All I Got was This Stupid T-Shirt.'”

But “core” as in pelvic floor and abdominal muscles.

Well, let’s hope you never gave in because, as revealed today, standup paddleboard yoga is deadly and let us turn to CNN for more.

Lisa Margaritis, 48, an experienced paddleboarder, was trying to help another woman who was struggling in the strong current under a bridge in Hashamomuck Pond when Margaritis’ paddleboard got caught on a bridge piling and she fell in, Southold Police chief Martin Flatley said in a news release.

Because she was tethered to the board, Margaritis wasn’t able to free herself, Flatley said.

Very sad etc. but also the standup paddleboard is a little piece of hell on earth. An invention that rivals Agent Orange and the guillotine for sheer destructive capabilities. They are the worst in the surf but, as shown by today’s tragedy, unacceptably risky anywhere including but not limited to standup paddleboard yoga on a pond.

I think we should all email a standup paddleboarder we love and beg that he or she abandon the evil tool for the sake of his or her family.

I’ve got ELo.


I see no gendered objection to this proposal. Gals get just as annoyed and threatened by kookery in the surf and they may like the opportunity to give an inattentive Murfer a sharp whack between the shoulder blades, or around the kidneys. A little light bruising but no harm done.

Hierarchies work: “A modest proposal to prevent the extinction of the local enforcer!”

The Duke famously spread surfing to the world but at home he was a cop.

It is a melancholy object to those who walk through this, our wonderful pastime, the Sport of Kings and Queens, when they see line-ups crowded with beggars etc etc.

We are all one now we are told. I’m quite tolerant of the inclusivity narrative that has infected – can you say infected? – the modern surfing nation. As I should be.

My favourite VAL from a decade of exposure to the various (mostly) European and north American tribes is the German. No one applies a more ruthlessly analytical mindset to the pursuit of pleasure and has a better way of doing things despite absolute helplessness. The favoured refrain from the German surfer is “Yes, but…”

For a period of time I paid rent and maintained an overseas travel heavy surfing habit as one of the despised surf guides on a learn-to-surf camping tour. As a mechanism for transferring wealth across nations and allowing dirt bags to graft a living from pushing backpackers into waves it was remarkably effective.

My favourite VAL from a decade of exposure to the various (mostly) European and north American tribes is the German. No one applies a more ruthlessly analytical mindset to the pursuit of pleasure and has a better way of doing things despite absolute helplessness. The favoured refrain from the German surfer is “Yes, but…”

Those days now seem naïve.

The adult learner has, by and large, escaped the coralling of an “organised” surf tour and roams freely, buys boards and becomes intermediate. Sometimes very quickly. They bunker up and hunt in packs. It’s all very socio-biological, very wildebeest on the savannah.

Nowadays it’s not the wildebeest that is in peril but the local predators who keep/kept them in check.

Some, notably Surfrider co-founder Glenn Hening, have called localism a “stain on the soul of surfing”. That seems to me an ahistorical and deeply racist view of surfing’s origins, at least as far as the Hawaiians had things structured. Rather than impugn the ancient Hawaiians I prefer to believe that in their wisdom they had things figured out.

Hierarchies worked. The Duke famously spread surfing to the world but at home he was a cop.

The Hawaiians had an elaborate code for working shit out, one based on Kapu, or taboo, so everyone knew where they stood and where they could surf. Local enforcers took on policing our post-modern code and of course, quite frequently they get it wrong. Over-reach, violence against the weak, falling foul of the rule of law etc etc. We all accept though, that some local enforcement or localism maintains order and serves the greater good.

Based on the Japanese Zen model, the enforcer can carry a small billy club. Floating of course, and hand-made from local materials. Offenders may get a yellow or red card and then, failing any change in behaviour, a sharp blow with the club. Like an inattentive zen student receives from his master to bring mind back to the task the struck VAL is then able to partake of a learning situation.

Hence this modest proposal.

Based on the Japanese Zen model, the enforcer can carry a stick, or a stick being impractical, a small billy club. Floating of course, and hand-made from local materials. Possibly sold at local farmers markets, under the counter. Offenders may get a yellow or red card and then, failing any change in behaviour, a sharp blow with the club. Like an inattentive zen student receives from his master to bring mind back to the task the struck VAL is then able to partake of a learning situation. An opportunity to tune into a higher vibration, as my pal would say.

I see no gendered objection to this proposal. Gals get just as annoyed and threatened by kookery in the surf and they may like the opportunity to give an inattentive Murfer a sharp whack between the shoulder blades, or around the kidneys. A little light bruising but no harm done.

The legitimate question of who gets to wield the billy club is answered in our age by self-identification. The self-identified local enforcer carries the club. Enforcers with clubs will also be a bulwark against the coming Chinese surf tourist boom.

One of my last tasks as a bus driver was to take a bus-load of Chinese tourist officials to and from a surf lesson. They are coming, comrades. We must be ready with clubs to turn them back. A blow with a stick transcends any language barrier.

Hawaiians do localism better than anybody, Californians have by and large lost the stomach for it though I’m heartened to read that the Fort Point locals have received a favourable press lately. I humbly submit that an Australian innovation in this space could be as big as pro surfing and confer much more benefit to the average Joe.

We are on dangerous ground comrades but please explain how this elegantly simple and eminently workable proposal will not halt the extinction of the local enforcer and bring our line-ups back under control, for the benefit of all?


Revealed: Great Whites, Tigers and Bulls are the least of your worries!

Ready to get swallowed whole?

We surfers, we exist in a world inhabited by killers, cold-blooded killers, that put our opposable thumbs and sensitive brains to absolute shame. On land we dominate. We can out-metastasize, out-consume, out-engineer any damned species but in the water we are at mercy of the all-powerful shark.

Damned hippies get in the way of us out-consuming, out-engineering them, try as the Chinese and Japanese might, but even still, even best case scenario, the rare shark could always slip into any lineup, bite a surfer and create a frenzy.

The cost of doing business, I suppose, and we all have the slightest thought in the back of our head when we paddle a new spot especially if it is dark and creepy and we are alone, or at least I do having grown up in Oregon.

And that thought is either Great White, Tiger or Bull but we’ve been fearing the wrong beast all along, or at least I have, because there is a species swimming beneath the Whites, Tigers and Bulls that could eat all of them with one open-mouthed swallow. A species bigger than a submarine. A species with six gills instead of the pedestrian five and let’s learn about the bluntnose before she swallows us all with one open-mouthed swallow.

A team of researchers has captured incredible footage of a close encounter with an ancient species of shark known as the bluntnose sixgill.

The team, led by Dean Grubbs, from Florida State University, were conducting dives in a submersible called “Nadir” as part of an expedition organized by OceanX to tag one of the sharks in their deep-sea environment.

During one of the dives, the team were fortunate to come up close and personal with a huge female bluntnose—=one of the largest sharks in the world—which one of the researchers in the video can be heard describing as “definitely bigger than the sub is long.”

The sub crew were left in a state of awe by the encounter: “My goodness that is amazing,” one of the team comments, while another can be heard saying, “This is a monster. She is huge.” At one point the shark even tries to nibble on the spear gun attached to Nadir.

The bluntnose (Hexanchus griseus) is part of an old lineage of sharks that can be traced back 180 million years in the fossil record. In fact, it represents perhaps the oldest living lineage of sharks in the world, the researchers say. They are highly distinctive due to the fact that they have six large conspicuous gill slits, hence the name. Most sharks only have five.

See. I told you.

Scary.


Claim: Yeppoon’s giant plunger wavepool back in biz!

Busted piston reportedly fixed, testing continues, says Surf Lakes.

A few days ago, I threw an email out to Surf Lakes media guy Wayne Dart, to see how that tank was going and if the tap had stayed on, as reported two weeks ago.

(Read that here.)

My request was given short shrift, “info going out in a few days” and a further request for an exclusive etc was met with a “There are a stack of things on the go at the moment, so nailing down a decision on media is just another thing on their list.”

Anyway, let’s turn to damn Instagram, the ghastly Mark Zuck’s plaything and that impenetrable citadel of narcissism for the latest.

https://www.instagram.com/p/B0o9WAqH-0Q/

You’ll remember at its initial reveal the waves were very small, one-to-two feet using a generous ruler, and the event was stymied when the giant plunger buckled while operating at only fifty percent capacity.

More, as it happens, or doesn’t, I suppose.