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.


Not a scene from Barons but Dazed and Confused, starring Matt McConaughey etc.

Ambitious: big-budget, multi-season TV series skewers surf industry’s (wonderfully) sordid past!

Surfers use drug money to start various surf biz' and then fuck each other, literally and figuratively, as they realise that no one is immune to the siren call of big cash…

If you’re into what show biz people call the trade papers, you’ll have seen the notices for a new TV series called Barons, a big-budget production that’s going to stick its fork into the genesis of the surf industry.

The first series, of a planned five, is eight episodes long and follows a group of surfers treading that early-seventies golden triangle, Australia,  Bali, LA. They use drug money to start a wetsuit company, a boardshort company, and then fuck each other, literally and figuratively, as they realise that no one is immune, not even soul brothers, to the siren call of big cash.

Production begins in early 2020 and will be shot on location.

If it sounds like a disaster waiting to happen, dripping with cheese and cliche, you might be surprised, reassured even, that the muscle behind it includes Mick Lawrence and Nick Cook, the Maroubra-based film producers who made Bra Boys, as well as Taylor Steele, whom you know, and a writing and production team of Australia’s best talent.

Of course, one can never talk surf history without pivoting towards the keeper of the flame, Matt Warshaw, the former Surfer magazine editor turned fastidious archivist.

He ain’t convinced.

DR: The holy grail of television, and movie, for surfers, has always been this belief that, one day, the wonderfully sordid stories of drug money and so on being used to fund the surf industry, would be breathed life. The series, Barons, is using hybrid characters and fictionalized surf co’s, I believe, to tip-toe around lawsuits and so on. You know the history. What are the essential stories y’think have to, or will, get told?

Warshaw: If Barons had been sprung in 1990 or even 2000, maybe I’d be more excited. But in 2019 the topic feels played out. Phil Jarratt covered it in two or three of his books. Sea of Darkness never went public but everybody knows the punchline, which never seemed all that radical to begin with. Drugs were how a lot of surfers made money in the 1970s, and some of that money went into the ground floor of the surf industry. In business terms it wasn’t even that much money. And surfing being what it is, looking as great as it does, it was the lowest-hanging fruit on the activewear tree, it was always going to be a force even if Hakman and the rest of the Quik gang had been hardcore Amish. I mean, Bob McKnight went to USC School of Business, so he’s at most two degrees of separation removed from venture capital. At this point, the fact that drugs were involved in surfwear’s foundation story is a marketing point. Using hash profits to float your new company is more surfy than hitting up your college roommate’s dad. But either way, we end up right where we are.

I may’ve leaned a little hard on the drugs angle. It’s in there, I believe, but the juice gets squeezed from the human side: surfers playing the soul-man line only to get hard lessons in biz when they realise that they, just like the establishment they despise, are not immune to a love of money, and betrayal of friends comes easier than they think. That’s got legs. I’ve seen it up close, I’ve felt it. Oh, and Barons is loosely based on Jarratt’s book Salts and Suits, which was originally optioned for the series.

So let’s presume that the writers are guns, the actors believable and every talent in LA and Sydney is loosed onto the project, which according to the presser they are.

How can it make that seventies-era industry start-up era in Australia really sing? I would suggest a draft-dodging Wayne Lynch character fleeing the cops and disappearing into Nat Young country, for one…

Yeah, Derek, I’m not being contrary on purpose, and I’d be happy to be proved wrong. But I’m not feeling it like you do. I’m not against a dramatic surf series. Just not one set in surfwear. Surfwear by definition is throwaway. Surfwear doesn’t mean anything to anybody, really, apart from the companies themselves. We looked better before surfwear existed. So I guess I’m not seeing how you build much on something that doesn’t really mean anything. Succession works because of the ridiculous amount of money and power at play. Those Rupert Murdoch fuckers can start wars, launch rockets, elect presidents, bring down democracy. Succession works because of the writing and acting, but that in turn I think works in part because of the arena the show is set in. You want to watch because the stakes are so high. Barons is set in surf because we photograph well. That’s it. And watch, they’ll lean too hard into the surf bits, they’ll go back to it again and again to remind viewers of how beautiful the sport is, and beautiful surfers are, and that will feel contrived and forced, just like it does with surfwear in general.

What is the greatest untold story about the surf biz?

The origin story for the surfboard industry is where the real drama is. The push and shove between the labels in the ‘50s and early ‘60s was vicious and personal and Godfather without the cut-off horse head. The labels were like gangs. Hobie was the jocks. Velzy was Animal House. Then here comes Dewey Weber, the adorable little national yo-yo champ with his Buster Brown suit who grows up to out-flash everybody at Malibu—then puts a fucking shiv in Dale Velzy’s business. And Velzy was Dewey’s mentor! Weber was really, really hardcore. He worked with Dale, likely embezzled from him, and also knew that Dale was a flagrantly no-fucks-given businessman who lit his cigars with Past Due notices—and sure enough, 90 seconds after the IRS dropped the big hammer of Velzy Surfboards for unpaid taxes, Dewey was hanging a new Weber Surfboards sign in front of Velzy’s shop in Venice. The Hobie-Weber-Velzy saga is a thousand times more interesting than the birth of surfwear.

They’re planning on making five seasons of the series, from the seventies through to the nineties. If the seventies was about running hash and smack (oooh, street words!), what were the eighties and nineties about?

Scaling up, I guess? I don’t know. I lose interest as the whole thing moves further away from actual surfing. In other words, the surfboard biz thing I talk about above – surfing itself needs that industry. Delete the car industry and there is no more driving. Delete the surfboard industry, and—okay, we’d still surf, but it would be some kind of post-apocalyptic DIY thing. Delete the surfwear industry, and who cares? No contests and fewer video edits. So what? We’d be fine. As far as Barons goes, who knows. I’ll watch anything if the script is sharp, if the actors know their stuff, and maybe Barons will hire all the right people and do something incredible. If it’s good, it’s good. And there is SO much good TV these days. That said, I’ll take 50-to-1 that Barons is gonna suck. Although I will of course seek counsel with JP Currie before booking the bet.

Would you do a series, if the choice was yours? And how would you play it?

It has to be comedy. Which is still impossibly hard, but at least you’ve got a shot. I’m thinking Letterkenny, but in the OC; the shows jumps from one subgroup to another, all directly or tangentially related to surfwear and to each other. So the Salts and Suits, like Jarratt talks about. But also the geezers in their chairs at San Onofre bullshitting about the old days, and the groms glued to their phones in somebody’s basement, and the local CT-level pro and his entourage. No surfing at all. Just dialogue like daggers, and then you slip in just enough heart and warmth that the viewer understands that everybody on the show, on some level or another, even if it’s been misplaced, really loves riding waves.

(Editor’s note: We’ll keep readers in the loop re: screening dates etc.)