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."

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!


The crew over at Surfstitch posted an image of Munoz modeling a cute as fuck fall outfit from Roxy. Fleece sweater, black tights, ooh là là. The photo depicted Munoz with a slightly bemused expression and with a very perky ass. She looks very hot, in my opinion!There’s just one problem. That cute, perky curvaceous bottom isn’t actually hers.

Kelia Moniz: “Hey, that’s not my ass!”

Ten years ago, or even five, can you imagine a woman calling out an image of herself as photoshopped?

As you all know, I was once told in a beach parking lot that I have no ass. It’s true, I really don’t!

(Read “Bitch, you got no ass!” here.)

Neither it seems does Kelia Moniz. At the very least, she is less hourglassish than a recent photo suggested.

This is all a confusing tale, but it begins on Instagram as most things do, these days. Is there life beyond Instagram?

Sometimes, I am not so sure.

The crew over at Surfstitch posted an image of Moniz modeling a cute-as-fuck fall outfit from Roxy. Fleece sweater, black tights, ooh là là. The photo depicted Moniz with a slightly bemused expression and with a very perky ass.

She looks very hot, in my opinion!

There’s just one problem.

That cute, perky curvaceous bottom isn’t actually hers.

“Who photoshopped my butt?” she asks in the comments. “Cause it’s not mine.”

Surfstitch says the photo came from Roxy. If there was a photographic enhancement, it came from the brand.

It is a strange, new world we live in, these days.

Ten years ago, or even five, can you imagine a woman calling out an image of herself as photoshopped?

I can’t, necessarily.

We’d have all merrily gone along with the idealized version. In truth, female models have often appeared more plastic than your average Barbie and in doing so, have created a beauty standard well beyond the reach of normal humans.

If I may be earnest for a moment — I mean, I know, we’re talking about asses here, which is not an especially earnest subject — but it is a refreshing change to open a website and see normal human women modeling bikinis and jeans and hoodies. It’s as though these things are actually now designed for the people who consume them — women — rather than as a pervy sideshow for men.

It’s weird and awesome and I love it.

Volcom, I am looking at you especially, by the way, as doing awesome with the real human women. Good show over there, people!

“I wish it was, but it’s not,” Moniz says on Instagram of the new butt that photoshop created for her.

I hear you, girl, I definitely hear you.


Beside Shearer, in a small Japanese car with the backdoors removed sits a professional diver. They are on the back of a tilt-tray tow truck about to be dropped into the quarry. The car will submerge, hit the bottom and Shearer will wait for a tap from the diver, then they will exit the vehicle with oxygen hoses and swim to the surface. Shearer hears it as blah, blah, blah, all he cares about is whether the sikaflex will hold from the water pressure at ten metres on the housing.

Longtom: “I was a TV stunt cameraman thrown off a cliff, in car!”

One man's alternate history of the great east coast Australian winter of 2007…

I thank Nick Carroll for establishing winter 2007 as a yard stick winter for East Coast Australia. As an alternative history of the event it was also the winter I established myself as prime bullshit artiste in the TV production world as a second unit cameraman, underwater.

It fits the genre of surfer scams to stay wet, an unexplored but much discussed theme lately on the Grit.

Lot of surfers have worked in motion picture production, some, like our own Chas Smith, above the line in doco-features like Who is JOB and Trouble and many below the line.

My favourite big-wave stud Brock Little was a below-the-line stunt cock. Second unit, underwater, has been a haven for those who want to spend more time in the water and get paid for it.

To avoid the heinous charge of self-aggrandisement, let’s just say this story happened to someone else*, some thirty-something man with a young family, living in a caravan park behind a primo north coast point, which breaks that winter like it never has, before or since.

Old mate, I’ll call him Shearer, wrangled a broadcast ready camera via hire purchase and got the gig for a TV series shot in the Byron Bay area.

A planned test shot was in jeopardy due to a small snag. No underwater housing.

Shearer contacted George Greenough, his old neighbour and pal, to ask for help. Greenough laughed and sent Shearer to the hardware store for some hose clamp and to the tyre place, for an old inner tube. The inner tube is cut, a piece of plexiglass cut to fit then hose clamped around the edge. The back of the tube is cinched shut with the camera inside. An instant water housing with an agricultural aesthetic.

The planned first shoot is a stunt involving a sunken car in a quarry simulating the point-of-view of a person committing suicide, we’ll get to that in a minute. Obvs, Shearer will be in the car as it sinks, with the camera.

The assistant director is nervous when Shearer shows up to the test shoot with a camera in a tyre tube but the test shot passes muster.

The planned first shoot is a stunt involving a sunken car in a quarry simulating the point-of-view of a person committing suicide, we’ll get to that in a minute. Obvs, Shearer will be in the car as it sinks, with the camera.

A proper housing has to be constructed. With no budget to purchase the housing Shearer must construct it, with assistance from Greenough. A foam block is carved as a mould, the mould is glassed, the foam block carved out. The back of the housing sanded down flat, a fibreglass lip for the lens port created. Optical glass cut by a pal, control arms and o-rings drilled and glued into place. It’s easy if you know how.

And if you don’t, like Shearer, it’s panic inducing as the day of the stunt looms.

It’s June, Carroll’s thirty-five days of wild surf is in full swing.

Shearer attends a pre-production meeting with the director and stunt co-ordinator. We are going to drop you off a tow truck into a quarry, with you in the car, they say. You’ll sink to the bottom etc etc. Shearer nods, yup, yup. And, of course, to satisfy insurance requirements, the stunt co-ordinator says, we need your open water diving certificate. Yup, yup.

Wait, Shearer has no diving tickets. No paper-work. Nothing.

On the way home he stops in Byron Bay, at a dive shop and says he’s an open-water diver, got his tickets in Thailand and needs some paper-work to do this stunt.

Can they give him some paper-work?

Of course, Shearer can do a fifteen-metre open-water dive tomorrow and get a piece of paper says the dive shop proprietor.

How hard, Shearer thinks, could a fifteen-metre open-water dive be?

The next day, the day before the scheduled stunt, the housing is incomplete, the dive is on and the surf is pumping.

It’s raining, Carroll’s muscular ENE swell is in full swing. Shearer snaps a board, grabs another, snaps the legrope and destroys another board on the rocks.

Drives to Byron Bay, in the rain, for the dive.

Have you scuba dived? You did a course and learnt the basics and how things worked.

Shearer went straight over the side, in heavy swell, at Julian Rocks, a volcanic outcrop a couple of miles off Cape Byron for his first attempt. It’s easy when you know how, but when water pressure starts to increase breathing becomes more difficult.

When breathing becomes difficult, the mind starts to feels stressed. That makes the heart-rate increase, and the demand for breathing increase.

Shearer starts to panic.

The instructor taps him on the shoulder and points into the gloom. A dark shape appears – shark. The grey nurse glides by as docile as an aged Labrador and that enables the scam artist to regain control of his heart-rate and breathing.

The dive is completed, the paper work signed.

The rain patters on the iron roof overnight. The front lens port has to be sikaflexed onto the housing. Shearer is up in the dark with a hair dryer trying to get the adhesive to set and hold.

Three hours later, the camera goes into the housing for the first time, on set, at an abandoned quarry north of Byron Bay.

The rain has cleared, a low has moved out to sea, a wintry offshore breeze whips across the quarry. The water is black and cold.

Staggeringly quickly it fills with water and sinks. Shearer feels the nose of the car hit the bottom of the quarry. It is cold and darker than the darkest night. He waits. The pressure feels comforting now. He feels no fear but only the brightest, lightest happiness. He waits for the tap. There is no tap. Something is happening.

Beside Shearer, in a small Japanese car with the backdoors removed sits a professional diver. They are on the back of a tilt-tray tow truck about to be dropped into the quarry. The car will submerge, hit the bottom and Shearer will wait for a tap from the diver, then they will exit the vehicle with oxygen hoses and swim to the surface. Shearer hears it as blah, blah, blah, all he cares about is whether the sikaflex will hold from the water pressure at ten metres on the housing.

Roll camera! Crunk, crunk, crunk, thud, crash. The car is in the water.

Staggeringly quickly it fills with water and sinks. Shearer feels the nose of the car hit the bottom of the quarry. It is cold and darker than the darkest night. He waits. The pressure feels comforting now. He feels no fear but only the brightest, lightest happiness. The red light is still on, the housing has held!

He waits for the tap. There is no tap. Something is happening. The car is being winched back up. Twenty times the stunt is repeated.

“We got the shot,” he says to the Director, “we got the shot.”

What with the relief from getting the paper-work in order and pulling the stunt shot off Shearer surfs the local point that afternoon as a new swell raged in from the SE in a peculiar state of ecstasy. The next day, sandwiched between surf sessions at good-as-it-gets point surf he spends six hours at the bottom of a pool filming an actress on a li-lo dropping a glass of champagne in a moment of poignant melancholy.

The way that glass tumbled to the bottom, scattering the rays of sunlight, he will never forget. I’m quite certain of that.

But still, six hours! You want to spend six hours at the bottom of a pool? That’s a whole tide cycle.

I decided I didn’t like working below the line and quit the industry by the summer of 2008.

All for a few perfect waves eh, Sammywaters?

*A first person account will be made available as part of the memoir: Sanctimonious Derro.


Gimme: Jamie Brisick’s exceptional non-fiction collection Dazzling Blue!

It's the golden era of surf writing!

We live in a golden era of surf writing and I think it is impossible to argue otherwise. William Finnegan won a Pulitzer Prize for his surf book Barbarian Days. Matt Warshaw has refined his Encyclopedia of Surfing entries into art. Derek Rielly dances in a delicious, singular literary style so delicious as to taste like dessert. Nick Carroll, seasoned and prolific. James Bickerton, able to turn the most subtle phrase into high-brow laughs. Wiggolly’s Paddling Style, able to turn the most subtle phrase into fine Australian art…

…I could go on all day but my list of golden era surf writers will always end with one of the most important.

Jamie Brisick.

The one-time professional surfer loves the craft of writing more than anyone I know. I’ve had the privilege of sitting with him on a few occasions now, talking about writing, talking about writers, talking about style, voice, tone, mashing words together, thoughts… all of it. Jamie is a writer’s writer and his new non-fiction collection Dazzling Blue is some of his finest work to date.

I read it on a PDF on my computer, the worst way to read anything but testament to how good it actually is. Taste this paragraph with me.

Short, bow-legged, blond silky hair and a blond thick moustache, Mickey Rat rode a yellow single fin, awing pintail caked with thick beads of dirty wax. Like many surfers of the era, he drove a van with a mural on the side—a Monument Valley-looking scene with a howling coyote atop a rocky peak. Mickey Rat wore powder blue boardshorts. His shoulders were broad; his upper chest hairy and dotted with freckles. He had a terrific tan. He did not walk from the Malibu parking lot to the top of Third Point, he trotted. If the surf was really good he ran. At water’s edge he set his board down on the sand and went through a quick calisthenics routine—jumping jacks, toe touches, windmill arms, karate kicks. Then he slipped out of his boardshorts, tied ‘em around his neck , strapped on his leash, and paddled out.

Delicious, no?

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