Question: Are shark-drones creating an existential fear where none should exist?

Do you really wanna know what lurks under the bed?

In what could be argued to be an existential fallacy, an Australian drone operator has fitted an alarm to his aircraft to warn surfers when he spots nearby sharks.

“I had to take some kind of initiative because of the amount of shark sightings,” Adam Fitzroy told the Port Macquarie News. “It’s not my responsibility to patrol beaches but if I do see some kind of imminent danger I want to be able to alert people.”

Check it out here.

Now, drones bug the shit out of me.

They drag their butts through the sky like giant Mesozoic mosquitoes, stalking lineups uninvited and sucking the ambience out of any peaceful surf scene.

And they can make problems where there weren’t any, like Mr Fitzroy has done here.

Were the surfers in his video actually at risk?

Or was he just capturing what would be an otherwise unnoticed, every day occurrence?

I live just south of the largest White shark nursery in Australia. Conservative estimates put the number of juveniles in my area at around 250. You can actually check out one of the local beaches on on Google maps and spot the silhouette of a shark in the satellite image.

Chuck in bulls, tigers, bronzers. They’re out there, lurking. Yeah, the likelihood of an attack for me is still low. Juvie Whites are supposedly docile. My local area is netted.

Only a couple of serious attacks in the last hundred years.

But go looking for them and you will find them. Do I need to know every time I’m in da bite zone of one of the fuckers?

Hell, nah. I’d probably never surf again.

So my initial reaction is to call this guy a Chicken Little, screaming at shadows only he can see and shattering the cognitive dissonance we employ every time we surf.

I want to say this is another example of technology overstepping its boundaries.

We don’t need this level of vigilante surveillance in our lives. The hand of fate shall not be bowed to.

But here’s the rub, I don’t live on the north coast where this shit is actually life or death.

I don’t know what it’s like to see somebody attacked.

Or to not be able to surf certain beaches for months at a time.

Or to have to truly consider what it would feel like to be consumed alive, cold black eyes staring at me blankly while I spend the final moments of my life gasping, grasping, succumbing to the ultimate agony.

What if this drone alarm actually worked, and the guy saved somebody from getting the chomp?

Surely it would all be worth it?

Could it actually work? Should it work?

Cute guy with genuine questions, seeking answers.

(Editor’s note: Here’s a happy White near happy children, peacefully co-existing etc.)

Court report, Thomson v Cooper: “Are you deterred, comrades?”

"For a slap on the wrist, I'm gunna go dunk a nineteen-year-old Israeli chick straight out of national service…"

Is it not true that the purpose of social media was/is to publicly shame and punish someone who has massively or minorly fucked up and suffered the misfortune of being caught in the act?

And, who among us, has not enjoyed the tremendous pleasure of kicking a gal while they are down and maybe, if they are truly compassionate, feeling a little frisson of “there but for the grace of God, go I” etc etc.

Magistrate Karen Stafford took a slightly different view on the matter when she sentenced Mark “Carcass” Thomson for his surf rage incident at Ballina Court, yesterday, 11am EST.

If you recall from the last instalment, Carcass had hired a legal team of three.

Costs were slashed by a third yesterday when only two showed up for the sentencing. A female who remained silent and did not address the judge (strategic error?) and the Bobby Duvall look-alike who got a little heavily irradiated getting thawed out from the cryovac.

Kaz did not enjoy the vibe of Cryovaced Bobby Duvall.

He addressed the judge early asking if they could address the sentencing now. In so many words she told him to sit the fuck down and wait and to add a little salt into the wound made him spell his name out to the court.

After a thousand AVO applications and penitent 20 years olds who had crashed cars while driving drunk were dispensed with, Kaz called the “Matter of Mark Thomson” on and asked if they were any further submissions.

“Yes, your Honour,” said CBD.

He came up with two references,“not many”, he admitted, “but they are damn good.”

The only genuine surprise of the hearing was that Albe Falzon, creator of surf hippy utopian film Morning of the Earth, was one of the two referees.

As has now been widely reported, the solicitor also made representation to the court that the abuse Thomson had been subjected to on the internet be taken into account as punishment already served.

CBD found the material “horrific” and admitted he had read most of it (presumably at the billable hourly rate. Good gig, reading BeachGrit and getting paid for it!).

What’s more horrific?

Being called a cunt on the internets or a bill for fifty-grand from a team of barristers who get laughed at by the judge and can’t secure a not guilty verdict?

Kaz, if I read her right, very much enjoyed delivering the sentence, which she stretched out over 40 minutes of high-quality oratory.

She broke it down into three categories.

The max penalty available for the offence, five years in the pen, two years available to her in the local court.

The seriousness of the crime, between the middle-and-high range.

And, finally, the subjective features of the defendant.

Here, she lingered to deliver some real tough talk.

She found Carcass at all times the aggressor, the action deliberate and sustained. She called Jodie Cooper an “elite surfer, not a weekend hack”, the only slightly bum note, weekend warrior would have been better.

She noted the total lack of insight or remorse shown by Carcass and to answer the plea made by his legal team that it was out of character she raised the matter of a previous assault in 1998.

“The court needs to make sure there is adequate punishment to deter the crime (particularly Mr Thomson) and to protect the community, including the surfing community,” Kaz said.

At this point I wrote, “Wow! She’s gunna put him away!”

Instead of putting the defendant away though, she aimed up at the surfing community itself – those who had perhaps shown a little too much relish in delivering a kick on social media.

Were you one of the tough talkers?

Your “extra-curial” punishment was taken in favor of the defendant!

Crazy innit.

Kaz’s deterrent? Two years of being a good boy and 300 hours picking up rubbish at Lismore, presumably tailored around good swells at the Point.

Are you deterred, comrades?

I’m not.

For a slap on the wrist, I’m gunna go dunk a nineteen-year-old Israeli chick straight out of national service.

Give her the old Lennox baptism.

Kidding Kaz! I’m deterred!

Bait and Switch: Neighbors fear proposed wave tank will devolve into “drunken, lust-filled hell!”

"We were misled."

Many years ago I spent a semester at Keble College, part of the famed Oxford University system there in central southern England. While I don’t recall how or why I was accepted, it was a fine time. I felt very natty dawning my black robes to go eat in the dining room. Very hoity-toity studying in the library, going to lectures, sitting in the park reading and rowing crew.

One long weekend I decided to visit Belfast in Northern Ireland. The city was blue-collar and grimy but I liked it very much, especially all that trouble between the Protestant and Catholic populations.

I stayed in a hostel and, after fine bowl of coddle, turned in early. It must have been two in the morning when I was rudely awakened by extremely drunk middle-aged women. They did not sound attractive, smelled worse and were so drunk that I couldn’t even believe it.

All the way drunk.

They stayed up all night, drunkenly chatting, and I didn’t get to sleep another wink.

In other news, “People living near a surfing lake due to open in the autumn say they have been “misled” about the type of events it will host.”

The Wave in Easter Compton near Bristol will boast an education centre, café bar, camping facilities and other short-stay accommodation.

However, residents have complained to the local authority about the intention to serve alcohol at the venue.
A spokesman for The Wave it had been “absolutely honest” about its plans.

One said: “The proposal is completely alien to the original project. The prospect of noisy parties and outdoor music at the multiple leisure venues that currently exist will permeate the area and completely ruin the quiet greenbelt environment. We were misled.”

Another said the licensing application was a “fundamental change” from what was originally proposed and they felt “bitterly disappointed and cheated”.

The Wave chief executive Craig Stoddart said: “It has always been our intention to serve alcohol in our café, as happens in other sporting facilities such as the local golf club.

However, this is very much secondary to the main experience on the site, which is surfing.”

“We are aiming for a café culture on site, where people can enjoy a drink responsibly after their surf, not an alcohol-led culture focused on irresponsible drinking.”

Is it even possible to enjoy a drink responsibly after a surf?

I tried last night and failed.

Which is why this piece is so poor.


The surf mat designer Mark Thomson, busy at Lennox Head.

Surf-mat king Mark Thomson avoids jail for assault on women’s world #2!

Online bullies save surf-mat king from prison…

The Lennox surf-mat king, Mark Thomson, has avoided a possible two-year jail sentence for holding the former pro surfer Jodie Cooper’s head underwater in what he has described as a “maritime incident.”

Cooper, who was the world number two in 1985, told Ballina Local Court last month that Thomson dropped in on her on a crowded day at Lennox Head (100 surfers in the water) and, after a collision, held her underwater.

“He had reached around and grabbed me and pushed me under the water. He just grabbed me with two hands and just forced me under the water,” said the fifty-five year old. “It was like he was standing on top of me and as he was doing that he was pulling my hair.”

In sentencing Thomson, who is fifty-four, Magistrate Karen Stafford noted the offence was in the upper-range of seriousness and that Thomson had form in the surf-fight game, referring to another incident at Byron Bay in 1998.

However, Stafford took into account a submission from his lawyer Andrew Sochacki who said Thomson had suffered psychological distress as a result of online “abuse”.

“Disgusting and horrifying,” Sochacki said.

Stafford sentenced  Thomson to 300 hours’ community service with a two-year community corrections order.

BeachGrit‘s man on the spot, Steve Shearer, who will be reporting on the event tomorrow, was the go-to man for the state press.

“It just goes to show that even if there is a violent episode in the surf, unless there’s video evidence it probably won’t go to court, and even if there is video evidence, you’re just going to get a slap on the wrist,” he told ABC.

The good news for anyone who wants to buy the “most advanced production surf mat ever made”, Thomson’s Krypt MT5 Surf Mat Series IV, $US195, is Thomson ain’t disappearing into the NSW prison system.

Order here. 

"I can't wait until the fog lifts and we can see tight, technical surfing."
"I can't wait until the fog lifts and we can see tight, technical surfing."

Inspiring: Tokyo 2020 test surfing event held in zero-to-one foot waves and heavy fog!

International Surfing Association director says, "...the conditions are absolutely adequate!"

I think we have a very healthy balance, here on BeachGrit, of laughing at surfing and laughing with surfing and today is a wonderful opportunity for the former.

As you know, the Olympics will be held one year from today in Tokyo, Japan. Surfing is included for the very first time in history and, while there was early chatter that the Tokyo Olympic Committee would build a Kelly Slater Surf Ranch for the event, it was decided, correctly I think, that surfing belongs in the ocean.

Now, you also know that Japan’s ocean is good for many things like overfishing and nuclear radiation but that waves can be hard to come by, especially northwest of Tokyo, the chosen location. Oh it can get good, passing cyclones blowing crisp nuggets to shore etc., but also

And so yesterday Olympic organizers ran a test event with Japanese surfers to see how things might go. Shall we turn to proper news organization Reuters for more? I think we must and also that the World Surf League should have done a content deal with Reuters instead of with Rolling Stone. I think that would have been more fun.

Heavy fog and small waves on Thursday meant the start of the four-day surfing test event at Shidashita Beach, some 60 kilometers north-west of Tokyo, was delayed for an hour.

Organizers also had to contend with the more unexpected challenge of a sea turtle laying her eggs overnight, just 10 meters from the judges’ viewing area.

Once the fog had lifted and the first heats began, there were periods of heavy rain mixed with bright sunshine, a further indicator of the unpredictable conditions surfers are used to but present a challenge to one of the Olympics’ newest sports.

“We depend on mother nature, we depend on the natural conditions as they present themselves,” International Surfing Association Executive Director Robert Fasulo told reporters on the beach during a rare window of sunshine.

“We are very confident and part of the reason why we are here in this period is to see how the conditions are running during the format.

“I think that, from what we have seen, and we are on schedule, that the conditions are absolutely adequate.”

It sounds absolutely perfectly adequate to me too. I have no doubt that fans will thrill at the reported zero-to-one foot waves while squinting through heavy fog while trying not to step on sea turtle eggs. I am positively certain that the “smaller waves” providing a ‘”tight, technical contest” will inspire and elate.

Oh surfing, you silly, silly goose!