(From left) Jen See, Surfads, Longtom, Chas Smith, Derek Rielly, David Lee, Negatron and James Prier pictured enjoying the victory.
(From left) Jen See, Surfads, Longtom, Chas Smith, Derek Rielly, David Lee, Negatron and James Prier pictured enjoying the victory.

Breaking: BeachGrit now the biggest little surf website in the whole wide world!

The grumpy local reigns!

We’d been creeping closer for ages but this past August your friendly neighborhood BeachGrit finally blew right past longtime foils Stab and The Inertia to officially become the biggest little surf website in the world. Our social media presence is minimal, a dwarf in comparison, our social media spends are entirely non-existent. We can’t afford bots or other traffic juicing tools and don’t believe in them even if we could and yet here we are, all thanks to the greatest stable of surf journalists surf journalism has ever seen and, above all, you.

You and Negatron.

I’ll be real honest, it feels good to have it all built on a clunky analog* foundation. A website that folks have to punch into the “search” bar. A comment section like an old-school chat room. Yellow headlines that shout funny and a distinct lack of ugly pandering to advertisers, condescension to the reader or broadening the subject matter to include ocean kayaking/camping. It makes me believe that, even in this crossed up, noisy world, like-minded ne’er-do-wells can still find each other and that surfing’s like-minded ne’er-do-wells are more engaged than its consumers looking for the latest rugby shirt or its “everything is awesome” ocean kayaking/camping VAL.

I’m very biased but BeachGrit is how I want surfing to feel and I’m grinning ear to ear that, at least today, the blood feuds, less-than-completely-verifiable gossip, fun making and fun having are where people want to be too.

So thank you. Sincerely and honestly.

And you’re next World Surf League. May the grumpy local reign evermore!

*Analog as in obsolete technology not Burton’s one-time surf brand.

Cock-eyed retraction: “Surf Ranch is not only staying open, it’s staffing up!”

"The WSL is excited about the venue's potential in 2020 and beyond!"

More news has trickled in regards to this morning’s reported shuttering of Kelly Slater’s Surf Ranch in Lemoore, California or rather gushed. Sources very close to Santa Monica’s levers of power let it be known that Kelly Slater Wave Co.’s Solana Beach office is not closing, Surf Ranch is staying open and, moreover, the whole operation is staffing right up.

A Surf Ranch bull market!

A Surf Ranch revival!

A World Surf League spokesman went on the record, a rare treat, to state unequivocally that:

“The Surf Ranch Lemoore facility continues to invest in new staff and experiences and the WSL is excited about the venue’s potential in 2020 and beyond.”

That right there is as solid as it gets but… something feels fishy. Something feels…off as the sources for the original story were also very close to Santa Monica’s levers of power.

So what is going on here?

I’ll wander down to those Kelly Slater Wave Co.’s Solana Beach offices soon and peek in the windows but until then lets speculate some more.

Is the Surf Ranch property in Lemoore, California truly viable? Once the novelty wears off can it be a money-making corporate retreat? Site of a summer music/surf festival? Other? It certainly doesn’t produce enough waves to be open to the general public but will Google, Facebook and Purdue Pharma pay top dollar, year over year, to host “employee days” under the cow stinky sun?


We are currently living through a VAL bull market, a VAL explosion, but it still makes more sense that co-Waterperson of the Year Dirk Ziff slowly transfers resources from the one-time test facility to a larger, more functional model almost exactly like the piece of property just acquired outside of Austin, Texas that once housed a Wavegarden.

But what do I know? Maybe not that much. Maybe more than I should.

More as the story develops.

Sizzling hot rumor: WSL to take the Freshwater Pro off tour and shutter Surf Ranch at the end of ’19!

Is this the end or the beginning?

So there I was, ready to tuck into episode five of HBO’s Succession when the most scintillating message danced upon my telephone’s screen. “WSL closed Kelly Slater Wave Co.’s Solana Beach office and let almost all of the original staff go two weeks ago. Even more strange is the rumor that they are shutting Surf Ranch down at the end of 2019 and taking the pool off tour.”

What? I rubbed my eyes and read again but there it was in black and white. Office closed, Surf Ranch getting shuttered and taken off tour.

An explosive rumor. A real earthquake.

I fired back for more details, making sure that disgruntled ex-employees weren’t passing on bad information and my source could not confirm but didn’t think that was the case.


Now, I know that the Surf Ranch facility was never supposed to be open to the public when it first came online in 2015, days after Adriano de Souza won his maiden World Title, rubbing “the hardest working man in surfing’s” dreams into the ground. It was built to be a test facility, somewhere to dial in the technology. The public’s interest, and possibly the difficulty in opening a new tank somewhere more pleasant, say outside of Miami, might have forced co-Waterperson of the Year Dirk Ziff and co.’s hand in doing some invite-only days in Lemoore which turned into the Freshwater Pro née Surf Ranch Pro née Founders Cup but that was never the original plan because who in their right mind would ever want to go to Lemoore?

The Surf Ranch facility has done its job, quite frankly, and it stands to reason that it would eventually be mothballed. The question I have is why hasn’t the World Surf League sold any other tanks? Why let Wavegarden and American Wave Machines and Surf Lakes get so far ahead? There must be a plan but what? Acquire Surf Lakes and Surf Lakes technology? Go on a massive sales bender after the Freshwater Pro, pushing Kelly Slater’s vision into every bankrupt mall in America? Figure out a way to combine the Surf Ranch barrel, which takes a minimum of four minutes in between each wave that only one Waterperson of the Year can ride at a time, with the high-volume experience of a Wavegarden?

You recall that the WSL recently purchased the NLand tub in Austin and hauled the Wavegarden machinery away. Will Kelly Slater be standing shoulder to shoulder with Matthew McConaughey at the end of 2019, days after Kolohe Andino wins his maiden World Title, showcasing a perfect crouchy barrel that can fit ten Texans at a time?

Will Kolohe be sad?

More as the story develops.

(Note: The story has developed already! A full-throated defensive of Surf Ranch’s longterm health straight from Santa Monica!)

"Lewis (Samuels), the first guy I paddled over to, said I was gone for five seconds," Fraley said. "Soon as I came back up to the top, I just started paddling like there was no tomorrow over to him. I basically paddled on top of his surfboard."

Twist in Great White shark attack blood feud: Lewis Samuels actually real-life hero!

"Lewis (Samuels), the first guy I paddled over to, said I was gone for five seconds," Fraley said. "I basically paddled on top of his surfboard."

Yesterday, and the day before, in the interests of securing enough hits to see our traffic soar past Stab and The Inertia, mission complete etc, we ran a series of Great White stories involving the surf writer Lewis Samuels.

In the first, Lew recalled the day he saw another surfer, Royce Fraley, in the jaws of a Great White, which subsequently let him go. Lew said he paddled over to help and described, in detail, the attack and the escape from White Death in 2006.

“They fell down in an explosion of whitewater, like when a whale breaches. Fifteen feet is as big as a car and they’re a lot fatter in person than you’d think they would be. And he was in the fish’s mouth and there was this fucking impact in the water and then there was nothing there, gone, like a fucking whirlpool of displaced whitewater where he’d been,” said Lew.

The next story was Fraley’s debunking of Lew’s version,

“The bottom line is that he paddled away from me the whole time, at no time did he help me,” he wrote.

Now, from the archives of the San Francisco Chronicle, Fraley tells the story differently. 

“As I’m going down, I’m literally thinking about my kids and my family,” he said. “I’ve been tumbled 100 yards by one whitewater and held on. I just thought I could ride this out and tried to remain positive. As I was going down, it felt like a high rate of speed. … On two occasions, my body bounced off the side of the shark. Then all of a sudden I was released and I just flew back to the top.

“Lewis (Samuels), the first guy I paddled over to, said I was gone for five seconds,” Fraley said. “Soon as I came back up to the top, I just started paddling like there was no tomorrow over to him. I basically paddled on top of his surfboard.”

To further complicate matters, five years after the attack Lew wrote a story for Surfer magazine about sharks and northern California, which included an interview with Fraley.

The Red Triangle, a hazy region of fear, is defined by that notion, stretching along the California coast from Monterey to Bodega Bay. If you want to know what classifies a spot as sharky, Royce Fraley is a good person to ask. He’s not an expert on White Sharks, but his experiences speak for themselves: In 1997 he was “torpedoed” by a White near Bodega Bay. The shark hit him hard enough to launch him into the air, but did not bite. In 2002, Royce applied first aid when a local was attacked at their home break. And in December 2006, Royce was attacked himself, dragged beneath the surface, while I watched from a hundred yards away. 


Why would Fraley agree to an interview with Lew if he believed he had left him to die four years earlier?

Why did Fraley fail to correct the draft of the Surfer story, which was emailed to him for fact checking prior to it appearing in print?

And why did Fraley tell various news outlets conflicting accounts of the attack?

(Editor’s note: seeking clarification and comment from the attack-ee.)

Brazen: Joel Tudor openly flaunts World Surf League drug laws!

"WSL strives to provide a global stage for its Surfers to showcase their talent in a fair, independent and impartial environment."

Professional longboarder Joel Tudor is known for three things: a peerless old-school longboard style, jiu jitsu, Instagram, conspiracy theories and marijuana. Oh he makes no secret of his appreciation for the marijuana plant and all its sundry glories. I imagine, if you catch him in the right mood, he could rattle off all the ways marijuana can be consumed, much like the shrimper Bubba in Forrest Gump. “You can smoke it, eat it, suck on it, dab it, vape it, rub it on your skin, drink it in tea, drink it in coffee, drink it in a smoothie…”

Now, I think marijuana is a wonderful gift, so much better than nasty opioids for pain etc. but the World Surf League disagrees and has it on its list of banned substances. Shall we read it together?

1. Amphetamine (Stimulant)
2. Natural cannabinoids, e.g. cannabis, hashish and marijuana (Cannaboids)
3. Synthetic cannabinoids e.g. 9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and other
cannabimimetics. (Cannaboids)
4. Cocaine (Stimulant)
5. Gammabutyrolactone (GBL)
6. Gamma-Hydroxybutanoic acid (GHB)
7. Heroin (diacetylmorphine) (Narcotic)
8. Lysergide (LSD)
9. Methamphetamine
10. 3,4-Methylenedioxyamphetamine (MDA)
11. 3,4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) (Stimulant)
12. Psilocin
13. Psilocybin
14. Methadone (Narcotic)
15. Morphine (Narcotic)
16. Oxycodone (Narcotic)
17. Fentanyl (Narcotic)
18. Pethidine (Narcotic)
19. Oxymorphone
20. Hydromorphone
21. Dimethylamphetamine (Stimulant)
22. Benzphetamine (Stimulant)
23. Methylephedrine (Stimulant)
24. Pseudoephedrine (Stimulant)
25. Ephedrine (Stimulant)
26. Cathine (L and D-norpseudoephedrine) (Stimulant)
27. Benzylpiperazine (BZP) (Stimulant)

See right there at number two? “Natural cannabinoids, e.g. cannabis, hashish and marijuana (Cannaboids).” Ahead of both cocaine, heroin, morphine and fentanyl.

Well, Joel is surfing in his first World Surf League contest right now, the Longboard Classic, New York. He won his round one heat, won his round two heat, won his round three heat but lost his round four heat to the fiery Frenchman we all got to know last week but still advanced and then lost his round five heat, getting drummed from the event.

A fine run by any measure, made more fine in my opinion, by his open flaunting of Santa Monica’s ultra-square “rules.”

And before you tell me that Joel consumes CBD might I remind you that CBD is still a cannabinoid.

Joel is not only the rebel we need, he’s the rebel we deserve.