From the stay-woke dept: Was Miki Dora a white-supremacist nazi bastard or very good button pusher?

"Just different shades of asshole," says surf historian.

Two days ago, The New York Times ran a piece by the surf writer Daniel Duane called The Long Strange Tale of California’s Surf Nazis.

It takes seven hundred or so words to get into it, but it centres around that nineteen-sixties-era taste for Nazi memorabilia among Californian surfers, writes emotionally about entrenched racism in surfing (“A hundred and fifty years of white people like myself have helped make white-supremacist racism as Californian as panning for gold and hanging ten”), and holds Miki Dora as the poster-boy for white supremacism in surfing.

Duane writes,

Dora often used racial slurs and advised acquaintances to put all their money in gold before Mexicans and blacks poured over the borders and ruined the economy. While serving prison time, Dora (who had been convicted of both check and credit-card fraud) wrote to a friend that he loved American Nazis. Dora eventually relocated to apartheid-era South Africa.

The famed surfboard designer Dale Velzy told Mr. Rensin that he recalled Dora boasting, in that period: “I have a black man who wakes me up in the morning, gives me my orange juice, gives me my robe, carries my board to the beach. Everybody ought to live in Africa. I have a coolie for everything I do. Everyone should own a coolie.” In a later letter, as the anti-apartheid movement grew, Dora wrote that black South Africans were “flesh-eaters,” adding, “Give these guys the rights and you’ll get white-man jerky for export.”

Nat Young, world surfing champion in 1966 and 1970, knew Dora. As Young told an interviewer: “Dora’s take is push the black man under. He’s a supreme racist, always has been. When I was younger, I believed it was all just in mirth, that he was just jivin’ it all; but no, he believes absolutely in white supremacy.”

Dora, who was born in Budapest, Hungary, and died of pancreatic cancer, aged sixty-seven in 2002, didn’t appear to like Jews much either.

In a 1975 interview with Phil Jarratt, Dora, who acted as a surf double on a couple of Hollywood beach films said, “The Jews come down to the beach, they shoot their movie, sell it to the Kikes and they all make a pile of money.”

Was he or wasn’t he? Nazi bastard or button pusher?

Who else to ask but Matt Warshaw, the sole historian of surf history.

“I’m not even sure it’s worth trying to parse out the difference between saying things like that to push buttons, versus saying them more out of deep-held belief,” he told me a few moments ago. “Bad either way. Just different shades of asshole.”

And den I nailed a couple of fucks with a frontside gouge in front of deh stinking faces. Two-turn combo…boom…boom…must check Surfline Replay.

Question: should you keep a post-surf diary?

Does greatnesses lay in regular post-surf analysis?

Northern winters do strange things to people. All that time for deep, dark contemplation begets some quirky shit. Norwegian doom metal. Peep Show. Eurovision.

And it’s surely only that twilight fog, swirling and meandering through the psyche like some tangled ghoul, that ever allowed this idea outta Scotland to progress beyond conception: a surfer’s notebook.

Surf Notes has fields for you to enter the conditions as they were forecast, swell size, direction, wind direction etc. Note them down to get a better understanding of what works best at your favourite break or when to come back to a special one on your travels!

A place for more details on the session is included so you can wax lyrical about how epic that right was, or how the whole beach stopped to watch that one lip slash. Looking back might just give you a reminder when the details start to fade, and you never know, it might even make you a better surfer.

What do I think? Surfers don’t need diaries.

Yes, Derek Hynd’s notebook was the stuff of legend. Careers were dissected, flayed, with a flick of that bony wrist.

But for the rest of us? Get ya hand off it. I know a few guys who do keep session logs but it’s only for conditions, locations. Future reference. Coupla lines per surf, max.

Self analysis? Except for the odd crywank in the rearview mirror, I keep my eyes forward and pedal to the floor.

And yet. There’s something quaint about the thought of it. Sorta like Surfline Replay for Luddites and Angry Locals. Sitting in front of a roaring fire, wrapped in a fine down blanket, goblet of port swishing about in one hand while quilled notes are hurriedly transcribed with the other. Ultra-analogue surf candy.

Plus, ya know, RUOK n that. Gotta get that shit off your chest.

So with all the cracks in the wall of positivity, quit-lit, actual heavy investigative journalism etc dropping ‘round here of late I thought I’d lighten the mood a little, and ask a couple BG scribes to put their own pens to paper, post surf.

See if you can guess who’s who!

Desolate, windblown peaks emptied onto the shelf under a lead lined sky. I took the first drop that presented, and deliberately rode it into the rocks. Just to see what would happen. Just to see if I could still feel. About surfing. About anything. The jagged protrusions, ancient basalt lava heads, sliced deep. Blood gushed from me like a draining loch/standing wank. Dumb cunt. But 50 quid says I cannae do it again.


Wow, the point was crowded today! Saw one murfer almost scalped by hipster with a Greenough fin. She just laughed. Reminded me of Dostoevsky’s disquisition on the irrational pleasure of suffering. Like the time me and Owl C. gutted a bore barehanded while high on mescaline. Must pitch to Derek.


Sigh. Another day of Bondi closeouts. Got slapped by a young French backpacker when we were paddling for a set and I asked her if she goes both ways. Pervetir? Moi?


And let’s hear yours.

Could be your Grit compatriots, da pros, ELO, Cote, a George bro, your own. Etc.

Best one wins a BeachGrit tail-pad or similar.

Opinion: “Does anyone see Gabriel Medina… not… winning in Hossegor?”

The world number one, the two-time champ, has owned the Quiksilver Pro for a decade. Anything gonna change?

(Editor’s note: The writer and filmmaker Jamie Tierney is the producer/director on Clay Marzo: Just Add Water, Dane Reynolds: First Chapter, Young Guns 3 and Letting Go. In his tenure as director of films and online content at Quiksilver he watched Medina’s rise, first hand, over the course of a decade in Hossegor, France. Below, those pivotal moments.)

September 2009

Waves are small in the Bay of Biscay. The storms in the Atlantic move in the wrong direction, out to sea. Contest organizers of the Quiksilver Pro France run the contest straight through the first five days of the waiting period in meager, dribbly lefts at Les Bourdaines. It’s the last of the rock n’ roll days on tour. Chris Ward misses his Round One heat completely and shows up for an early morning appointment in the 2nd Round with only fifteen minutes left. Rumor has it that he slept on the beach. Dane Reynolds, meanwhile, at the peak of his powers, stays up all night partying before Round Three. He runs out for his heat on a tiny twinny with a small trailing fin with Bukowski’s “Great art is horseshit, buy tacos,” hand written on the bottom. Dane, likely still drunk from the festivities the night before, then obliterates Roy Powers with some of the best small-wave surfing ever seen in a heat.

Fifteen-year old Gabriel Medina is there as well, competing in the King of the Groms event. He’s way too young for the party program. He’s got bushy brown hair, thick eyebrows, braces on teeth and a shy smile on his face. He does gymnastic style backflips on the beach to warm up. The kids’ contest is held the day after Mick Fanning wins the men’s event. The surf is slightly bigger and has a light puff of side-onshore wind blowing into the lefts.

Medina rolls to the final against Caio Ibelli and destroys him. He blasts airs and tail hucks on every wave. His lowest scorer is a nine. His two tens are a white hot glimpse of the future. The second one features a superman followed by an air reverse. A few pros stay around and witness the shocking display. All have the same thought. “If that kid was in the main event he would have won.”

October 2011

Medina is seventeen now. He gets on tour after winning a QS just up the road in Lacanau the mid-year cut/graduation that Bobby Martinez famously melted down over out at the last event in New York. Technicall,y Medina’s not even a rookie yet, but it doesn’t matter. He’s in France and he’s ready to take on the world. He’s packed on muscle and has that icy look in his eyes now. He combos Kelly Slater, then en route to his final world title, surfing faster, looser and more explosively than the thirty-nine-year-old Slater. Medina’s ten against Taylor Knox is still one of the best airs ever done. He launches vertically off the opening section with his fins six feet above the lip. Ok, the landing isn’t perfect, but he pulls it off. He then takes out a young Julian Wilson in the one of the most hi-fi finals ever. The changing of the guard is on its way.

Afterwards, he hits the Place du Landais square by the beach in Hossegor with Alejo Muniz and a few friends in tow. This has traditionally been of surfing’s most debauched locales and the night after the end of the contest is usually one of biggest of the year. This time it’s strangely quiet. Andy Irons died eleven months ago and that tragedy has virtually ended the party scene on tour. Medina and Muniz, stone sober, kick a soccer ball around the square. No one pays them mind. Just two kids playing around.

October 2012

Gabe’s eighteen and it’s his first full year on tour. He’s been taking some lumps after winning twice in 2011. He starts off the season with last place finishes in two of the first three events. The waves in France this year are big and burly every day of the comp. In Round Four he surfs a non-elimination (remember those?) heat against Kelly and Kieran Perrow. The three-man priority rule doesn’t yet exist and Medina hassles both of opponents mercilessly. He gets an interference on Perrow, who wins the heat. Slater confronts Medina in the competitors’ area afterward. He’s angry but seems to be intent on making it a learning experience for the young Medina. He explains that Medina’s tactics had taken both them both out of heat and had handed it to Perrow. Medina stands tall. Says nothing. Looks him straight in the eye with a dead stare. When Slater’s talking, Medina says three words:

“It’s a competition.”

October 2017

Medina is a man now. He’s twenty-three, has packed on 20 pounds of muscle and is a world champion. He’s got seven million followers on Instagram, rages with Neymar and Brazilian pop stars during his time off. Despite all that, he’s become surfing’s anti-hero. He’s a quiet, dark, mysterious, (at least to non Brazilians) foil to John John Florence’s “just having fun” aloha sunshine. It’s hard to tell what the relationship is between them since they never publicly interact and have had relatively few heats together over the years. This day, though, is special. It’s a Saturday afternoon in Hossegor. It’s eighty degrees and the beach is packed with people. The waves are four-to-six-foot and glassy at La Graviere, and it’s John versus Gabs in the semi-finals. Everyone in the competitors’ area has their eyes glued on the ocean and a vast majority of the Frenchies on the beach are rooting for Jean Jean. There’s nothing like the energy of having the two best surfers in the world at their peaks going head to head in front of a big crowd in pumping waves. And if if it’s true they don’t really like each other, all the better! It feels like the makings of an epic Slater/Irons clash from the previous decade.

The audience literally holds its breath each time when one of them takes off, they gasp when they fly into the air and cheer when they land. Florence begins with an ugly landing on a big air. Then he gets a small tube followed by another missed touch down on a punt. Third wave: decent snap, then another pancake flat landing and fall on an air rev. Tough on the knees, those. Medina’s first wave is solid but nothing flashy, a series of spray chucking backside carves. Gabe then does a rodeo on his next one. It’s not the biggest or best one of his life, and the landing’s pretty rough, but he’s got the strength to pull it. John John high-lines ones on the next set full speed into a giant slob. He floats so high that he’s only a few feet away from the drone filming him. But he can’t pull this one down either. After that, Florence goes back his 75% Bede Durbidge coached surfing. He lays down a few decent scores but is still behind. In the end it’s close. John John needs a 9.4 and gets a nine on a smaller wave. He then tries to chase down a 7.4 near the end, but no sets come through and he isn’t able to recover from his falls at the start.

Medina wins the final against Sebastian Zietz, then takes the next event in Portugal to close the gap in second spot behind Florence. Jeremy Flores ends Medina’s year at small windy Pipe a couple months later, but the France win swings the momentum back in Medina’s direction. Florence tears his knee in Bali in 2018 and then does it again in Brazil this year. Medina, meanwhile, has largely been injury free his whole career. He now has two world titles to his name and looks like a lock to celebrate at the end of 2019 with his third.

These were all turning points in Gabriel Medina’s career and they all happened in Hossegor. There’s many reasons why the highly variable beach breaks of the Côte Sauvage (The Wild Coast) suit him so. He’s one of the few guys on tour with a free-flowing approach to heats.

He rarely sits. He roams around the rips, feels out the changes in the tides.

He catches wave after waves, goes big on some, locks in scores on others.

Does anyone see him not winning next week? Especially without John John there?

And, more importantly, when JJF does come back, will he still be only guy who can really match up with him wave for wave?

Or will Gabe be surfing’s most dominant force for years to come?

“Most important man in surfing” writes down multi-million dollar Wavegarden investment to zero!

Hard times.

And have you been following along with the dizzying fall of WeWork’s wonderfully eccentric co-founder and now ex-CEO Adam Neumann? Oooooee. Fast and furious. The Israeli-born entrepreneur was introduced to us almost a year ago by Derek Rielly, who wondered if he wasn’t the “most important man in surfing.” He had developed a warm friendship with Laird Hamilton, investing in his Laird Superfood non-dairy creamer and also threw near fourteen million dollars at Wavegarden.

With a love of surfing and a billions upon billions upon billions of dollars to be collected as part of WeWork’s expected IPO, Mr. Neumann was poised to change the game but then, like that, the wheels fell off and the whole business drove right over a cliff.

Potential investors scurried for the door, the potential IPO date was moved far back, Mr. Neumann was pushed from his CEO role but why? Why the sudden change of heart?

Partially because of Mr. Neumann’s love of surfing, as it turns out.

His investment in Wavegarden was seen as majorly problematic and written down to zero. Likewise a large photo of Mr. Neumann surfing that he had hung in WeWork’s headquarters.

So problematic, in fact, that august news source BuzzFeed listed it as one of the seven reasons for WeWork’s sudden demise and let us read briefly:

6. That time he invested $13.8 million in a wave pool maker, only to write down the value of that investment to zero the following year.

According to the WSJ, Neumann said “surfing creates community, the value he says is central to WeWork.” New York magazine wrote in June, “Until recently, an executive conference room at WeWork headquarters was decorated with a large photograph of Neumann surfing a wave.”

Well that makes me sad that a love of surfing equals an awful investment and sign of imminent, fiery collapsed.

Should we rally around Mr. Neumann? Part of the tribe etc.?

Should we bring him behind the Positive Wall of Noise where there are No Bad Days™ and foam climbs for all?

Please let me know.

Julian Wilson cools off. | Photo: WSL

Bombshell: Surfing Australia Director says wavepool story “needs to be taken down!”

The Wall of Positive Noise™ has another crack in it…

Thank God there is a moratorium on the moratorium between BG and WSL because the wall of positive noise has another crack in it.

I’ve had blood feuds with Greg Webber about wavepools and ridden the hobby horse about taxpayer subsidised pro surfing for a decade, so when the chance to combine the two passions arrived I jumped at it.

The angle, that tubs and pro surfing were backed by the many and benefited the few, even if I personally thought that was a fair deal, was very much not appreciated by the National High Performance Director at Surfing Australia, Kim Crane, who was quoted in the article after a phone call that day.

She was so exercised she took the extraordinary step of calling me at home at 7.40am to express her displeasure. Despite me identifying myself as a journalist to the desk and to her personally she felt ambushed. I lacked courage by not coming and seeing her personally, to which I replied I could see her immediately…

She was so exercised she took the extraordinary step of calling me at home at 7.40am to express her displeasure. Despite me identifying myself as a journalist to the desk and to her personally she felt ambushed, presumably by the tone. She said I lacked courage by not coming and seeing her personally, to which I replied I could see her immediately, when was she available.

Well, now there was no trust, the article needed to be taken down so we “could start again at zero”, then she could talk me through the way money was being spent on the high performance program.

A quite inappropriate suggestion, I thought.

As news to me she confirmed a “silent” deal had been made with KSWC for the training where they paid “next to nothing” for the training and that the performance gains from the time in the pool “will never be able to put a value on”.

I merely suggested the value put on it was the simple metric common to all sports: winning and losing. Based on that metric the training sessions were a dismal flop.

Crane implied my perspective lacked “big picture context” but if she had done the slightest due diligence she might have found I sat down for hours with then head honcho Mario Agius (Papa of Dion) in 2006, more than a decade before she took on her role. And had lengthy discussions with Andrew Stark. No jernalizt in the game has more knowledge of the big picture context of how government-funded sports bodies and tourism agencies are backing “organised” surfing.

At least Kim and I were able to agree with the proposition that all sports in the Australian High Performance System, including surfing, are accountable to the public. And as she was hired to bolster the goal of building a continuous pipeline of Australian World Champions on the World Tour there should be some pretty straightforward metrics available to see whether the old Aussie taxpayer is getting value for money from their peak surfing bodies.

The story turns.

Wednesday, I’m chillaxing on my birthday with a new goat, Sunshine Coast Council knows nothing about any planned Kelly Slater wave pool.

Thursday, it’s front page news.

Sunshine Coast council still has no idea about planned pool, no paper-work submitted.

The tub is being pitched as a huge tourism facility with a high-performance training centre angle. Office of QLD Minister for Tourism confirms Kate Jones has been to Lemoore and swallowed the Kool-Aid. Huge fan.

And the accessibility, I ask? At $US55,000 a day would the government support it? A spokesman confirmed government support depends on the facility “becoming more accessible”.

Andrew Stark, head of WSL Oceania and Australia, took my call. He confirmed there were many planning hoops to jump through with a best-case scenario seeing shovels hit dirt “mid next year.”

How about accessibility? Same biz model?

“We have a lot of work to do on that aspect of it,” he said. “We’ll certainly run events and have programs for people to come and enjoy the facility, yeah. The business model is still being worked on for the Australian market. We would certainly see that we would have community access”.


“Not those specifics at this point”.

Is the principal aim of the pool still as a high-performance training centre?

“It’s everything. A place for recreational surfers to enjoy and to surf. It’s a place for high-performance training for athletes. A place for events. It’s a multi-use facility, a place for everyone to enjoy”.

He confirmed the WSL remains committed to holding CT events in wavepools and that the Sunny Coast tub was a potential Olympic venue for a SEQLD 2032 Olympic bid.

Questions to the QLD Department of Natural Resources, Mines and Energy, who put the planning/environmental hoops in place, about the timeline were unanswered at time of writing.

Open to the public. Accessible. An hour up the road from Bribie Island.

I feel a little giddy.

What a miserable little turncoat I am.

Like I said, I love my socialism, especially if it’s paying for me to get shacked.

So much more to the story, more as it develops, of course.