Update: The nasty battle for stand-up paddleboarding’s misshapen soul!

"Hey, that's my garden."

And do you have any friends or close acquaintances, other that the World Surf League President of Content, Media, Studios and Olive Garden’s Bottomless Salad and Breadsticks Erik “ELo” Logan, who SUPs? Racking my brain, this fine southern California morning, I don’t think I do. I don’t think I have one friend or close acquaintance who uses a paddle whilst trying to “surf.”


A curiosity, I suppose, but anyhow we’ve discussed the nasty battle for SUPing’s misshapen soul between the International Surfing Association and the International Canoe Federation. As a surfer, I don’t understand how/why the ISA wants to keep SUP. As someone who has seen The Wizard of Lies, though, it does make sense. Common sense would have suggested that this war would have been over by now seeing we’re under a year away from the Olympics where SUP will make its debut and let us turn to Yahoo! News for more:

The protracted dispute is expected to be settled by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) before the championships scheduled to start on Oct. 24.

An ICF-backed SUP World Championship in Portugal was cancelled last year after the Portuguese CAS ruled the country’s surfing association held the rights to the discipline.

ISA President Fernando Aguerre says it should be an open and shut case in favour of his organisation’s rights to SUP events.

“It is 10 years we have been supporting and promoting the stand-up world championships yet they never organised anything. Not even one (event),” he told Reuters at the World Surfing Games in Miyazaki on Saturday.

Both sports claim historic ties to SUP, which requires athletes to stand upright on their board and use a paddle to move.

However, Aguerre is adamant the sport was invented by surfers and accuses the ICF of wanting to usurp the discipline once it became popular.

“It is inevitable when you have a nice garden with nice flowers and nice fruits hanging from the trees that your next door neighbour says ‘hey, that is my garden,'” said the Argentine.

“You never planted a tree, never mowed the lawn, you didn’t do anything. So I think the case is very obvious. It is a sport invented by surfers, it is a surfboard, you paddle in a surfing, standing position.”

“I understand their desire to take away something that they didn’t realise was cool, or existed even. They came up with a typical solution – let’s take it away.”

A couple things. Have you ever looked at a garden that you liked then said, “Hey, that is my garden.”? Has something like that ever happened in your neighborhood or to someone you know? I’m curious because if that’s a thing people do, I’m going garden shopping this afternoon.

Also, is SUP cool? Do you think the International Canoe Federation thinks, “Look at all those cool SUPs…” and then went to take it away?

Much to ponder.

"Judghead, he's a hellman. He proved it, literally," says filmer Tim Bonython. "He's a crazy motherfucker, as they say. Fuck, it doesn't matter what happens, if he had a wheelchair he'd still get out there and take off. He's nuts but that's what makes him unique. It's why we love him."  | Photo: Tim Bonython

Shipstern Blood Bath: Big-Wave Charger breaks back, ribs, spits blood from collapsed lung!

"If he had a wheelchair he'd still get out there and take off. He's nuts," says big-wave chasing filmer.

Last Wednesday, a troupe of big-wavers, which included the Australian Justen “Jughead” Allport and nine-time bodyboarding world champion Mike Stewart, threw ’emselves at a ten-to-fifteen-foot swell hitting Shipstern Bluff in Tasmania.

The action was to be captured as part of a new reality TV series called Swell Chasers, and created by the noted filmmaker Tim Bonython.

“The place turned on, that’s for sure,” says Bonython. “There were twenty-foot bombs. And Judghead, he’s a hellman. He proved it, literally. He’s a crazy motherfucker, as they say. Fuck, it doesn’t matter what happens, if he had a wheelchair he’d still get out there and take off. He’s nuts but that’s what makes him unique. It’s why we love him.”

Bonython says a wipeout in his first session sent Jug back to the support boat, bleeding from the mouth and complaining of a terrible stiffness in his back.

“He got a twenty-footer straight off the bat, then a fifteen-footer and he fucking got annihilated,” says Bonython.

After an hour-and-a-half on the boat, Jug wanted more.

“And he jumped off the boat, paddled into the line-up by himself, got a bomb and fucking got pitched.”

As Jug, who works as a firefighter, recalls from his bed at Gosford hospital, tubes stuffed into the cavity between his lung and chest to drain the blood and wearing a neck brace, “I was watching from the boat and it looked like it was getting better and I thought, ‘I’m not going to be here tomorrow.’ You can’t go all that one way for one surf. ”

Jug, seven busted ribs, broken back, collapsed lung.

Jug, who is forty-five, says his fingers were freezing which made it difficult to paddle his six-four quad-fin Wizstix with any great speed, but he kept telling himself, keep it together, just paddle hard and get one.

“So I saw this and I knew it was going to be a good one. It had a ledge that lets you in. I put my head down, paddled hard, told myself, ‘Even when you think you’re on it, take three extra strokes’, but then the wind got under me and I was held in the lip and free-fell. I got to my feet…just.”

Jug gets to his feet, briefly. Photo: Tim Bonython

He was sent over the falls, could’t pin drop ’cause the wind had hit him off-axis and got washed over the rocks.

The surfer Kip Caddy and Mike Stewart came with the ski.

“I knew I had done some serious damage,” says Jug.

Mike Stewart and Kip Caddy grab Jug.

Still, he had to get back to base via a ninety-minute boat ride through four-foot chop while laying on a stash of board bags.

Jug ain’t one for histrionics so he didn’t go to the doc that night. Instead, he suffered, alone, in bed.

“It took me four hours to move position, to get the courage to put myself through the pain to get up, to get my brain to say, you can get through the pain.”

The next morning he flew home to NSW’s Central Coast via Sydney.

He took his kid to school, walked into hospital, was x-rayed, (busted T11 vertebrae), and admitted immediately.

“The doctor says he could’ve died easily on the flight with the blood in the collapsed lung,” says Bonython.

When I call, I make a joke.

Through his busted lungs, and with breathless speech due to his one-functioning airbag and seven broken ribs, he wheezes,

“I’m trying not to laugh.”

Jug added that he may take a few days off from work while he recovers.

Listen: “Dear World Surf League, take that damned carrot and shove it up your fucking ass!”

Today is my snapping point.

I don’t know why today is my snapping point with the latest iteration of the World Surf League but it is. Rage pulses through my veins. Pure, boiling rage and white wine from New Zealand’s Marlborough region. The morning started normally enough. A quick scan of surf news, a post on surf and wellness, a drive up the coast past shuttered nuclear reactors to talk surf with David Lee Scales.

We opened light, chatted about this and that before circling down to this week’s sizzling hot rumor that Surf Ranch was being taken off the World Championship Tour and being shuttered to clarification from the WSL that it is robust, healthy and alive, to further confirmation that it is indeed being taken off tour because “the pros hate it.”

In the midst of my back and forthing with Santa Monica surrounding the rumors, yet another carrot was dangled. Any time the biggest little website in surfing gets too far out of line, the “Stewards of Professional  Surfing and Surf Culture” let it be known that if I can fly straight for one minute and tow the company line, great collaborative opportunities exist.

There were moments, a few years ago, where I thought, “Amazing. Let’s actually do something together. Let’s actually involve the people who have given their lives to surfing, the grumpy locals, the salty nobodies, in a meaningful way. Let’s figure out a way to showcase them, what they love, what they find fascinating and, not appropriate but… celebrate it in a way that brings honor.”

Nothing has ever happened in those few years, save a trip to Surf Ranch for a bunch of crusty surf journalists and a few group emails to that same group from WSL CEO Sophie Goldschmidt.

And so, at this point, the carrot not only feels absurd, it feels insulting.

Then on my way home from chatting with David Lee I got a text from Jen See. She had been invited to a “Women’s Round Table” being conducted in Lemoore during the Surf Ranch run. She wants to go but the Tachi Palace doesn’t have any rooms, nor do the surrounding hotels, so she is planning on staying two hours away, driving in, driving out.”

“The WSL invited you to a ‘Women’s Round Table’ and isn’t putting you up?” I asked. “I’m just random freelance media dude.” She responded.

And God bless Jen See but she is not “just a random freelance media dude.” She is the most important female voice in surf journalism without peer and the WSL wants her to drive to hell on her own dime for a ‘Women’s Round Table’ that will certainly be marketed as progressive and thoughtful through their channels while not putting her up?

Fuck them.

Fuck them for trying to launch a new “suite” of podcast programming that not only doesn’t include Ain’t That Swell, Swell Season, Surf Splendor etc. but nobody from Santa Monica even reached out to those who work tirelessly for zero dollars simply because they love the game. Nobody in that cursed High Tower thought, “There’s already a bunch of fantastic surf podcasts. Let’s throw them some resources and empower the core.”

Fuck them for, as Chief Marketing Officer Pri Shumate says, “…expanding from competition to community. If before our goal was to have this amazing home for core surf fans, we’re expanding into creating a community through surfing.”

The WSL is creating a community though surfing?


Well fucking guess what? That “community” already exists, has for a long, long, time and the bastards in Santa Monica ignore, belittle, undervalue it at every single turn, only treating it as a roadblock to unfettered and glorious mainstream growth.

Fuck them for acting like they are doing surfers, real surfers, a favor by broadcasting a high-quality stream “free of charge” littered with idiotic “Jeeps surfing the world” commercials and a level of commentary that would make the lobotomized cringe.

Fuck them for perpetual obfuscation, corpo-speak, press release, tennis tour nonsense.

Fuck them for dangling a carrot of partnership with no intention of ever truly partnering.

Fuck them for not recognizing they are beyond lucky, as lucky as we all know we are even in our worst moments, to get to be part of surfing.

That said, we’re here and we could all do something very fun but I’m tired of waiting and we don’t need, or want, that fucking carrot.

Dirk Ziff, I look directly at you and say, “Figure it out. Start by peeling off some of your billions and buying Jen See and her colleagues rooms, lunches, dinners, drinks and a day shopping for California Central Valley trinkets. Just figure it fucking out.”

And World Surf League President of Content, Media, Studios and Matcha Green Tea Crème Frappuccinos Erik “ELo” Logan? Either shit or get off the pot.

Need more soapbox? Don’t worry! I’ve got you!

Health: The ill-conceived quickie wedding of surfing and “wellness!”

It's not a love story.

Spring has sprung in Australia and what a wonderful time of year as the bleak winter transitions to warmer days and warmer nights. It is no secret that love often blooms in spring, alongside flowers, and usually it is glorious but there has been one romantic union that has me down. Namely, the coupling of our surfing and “wellness.”

The two have been inseparable for the past few years. Joined at the hip. A surf vacation can’t just be a surf vacation anymore. It has to be a “surf and wellness” vacation. A professional surfing tour can’t just be a professional surfing tour anymore. It has to be a professional surfing and wellness tour. A wave tank can’t just be a wave tank either. It has to be a “wave facility and wellness center” exactly like it is in the brand new “wave facility and wellness center” set to open in Melbourne. Australia’s first and let’s turn to GQ Australia for an update:

URBNSURF can create gentle, rolling white-water for learners, through to steep, barrelling waves that would challenge the most experienced riders. With state-of-the-art sports lighting, you can be sure that the waves will be pumping all year-round, day and night.

The idea originates from founder Andrew Ross, who aimed to create a new experience for Australians wanting to surf more. “Surfing is a sport and pastime enjoyed by millions of Australians, but getting in the water is often limited by geography, weather conditions, and having the time to chase waves,” he said in a statement.

“URBNSURF unlocks these limitations by providing a safe, convenient and accessible alternative – it’s the perfect supplement for Melburnians, who have to travel hours to surf on the coasts, and will be a must-do for interstate and international visitors.”

The facility also boasts al fresco dining and wellness activities.

See right there? Damned wellness activities. Yoga, I’d imagine, and some holistic something rather.

Now, I have no problem with “exercise” and can see how, to the untrained eye, surfing looks like exercise but we know it’s not. We know it is a quick burst of energy followed by much sitting followed by alcohol and cocaine (buy here). We know that the bitterness that pumps through the body while doing all that sitting corrodes the arteries and leads to early death and/or dementia. Bitterness from missing waves. Bitterness from watching others surf better than you. We know surfing is down next to mining and marathon poker as one of the unhealthiest things a person can do which makes the union with wellness so odd.

Have you ever seen a “wellness surfer” out in the wild? I live in North County, San Diego so have. It’s ugly and sad.

I really don’t want to be so judgmental but also don’t want surfing’s heart to be broken when wellness splits to shack up with inline rollerskating. Again.

Longtom on the Lost Sabotaj: “One-board quiver for Indo? Much as I hate to agree with marketing blurbs, the answer is…yes!”

"I'm convinced anyone of moderate skill level could wax this board up and ride it for the first time in hollow waves with total confidence."

Year ago, almost to the day, I wrote a Mentawai travelogue that was universally recognised for what it was, which was drug-fucked gibberish.

The rare bird that pisses off equally in all directions.

I do blame the xanax, which I’d never had before, and mixes poorly with booze, apparently. It was my mate, one of the world’s best prosthetists and who goes to Nepal on his own time and dime to make new limbs for kiddies who lost theirs in the earthquake etc, who recommended it.

So I did.

No biggie, ‘cept it left me sideways for days. What a (very nice) haze!

A year later, I regret negging out on the Mentawais. Matt Warshaw said after the unveiling of Kelly’s tub in 2015: why travel for surf? Which means, by implication, the Mentawais are called upon to justify themselves.

I wouldn’t swap one wave at Lemoore, not a hundred, a thousand for a sojourn in the Mentawais. Not a drag on a Gudam Gurang, a drunken piss off the back deck to the first call to Prayer, a warm Bintang that tastes like battery acid, a week of the squirts because the street Rendang was overloaded with E. Coli.

Not a damn thing.


Now that is cleared up. I took a Lost Sabotaj to the Ments and have meant to review it. It is marketed as a one-board travel quiver for Indo and it does, largely, fulfil that spec.

It is the first Lost board I’ve ridden, which as we all know is a successful board building empire helmed by it’s founder Matt “Mayhem” Biolos.

Mayhem has very astutely managed an image from garage punk to GQ respectability and shown a genius for slicing and dicing the surfboard marketplace and developing models to suit those various micro-niches.

He uses pro surfers to sell the sizzle but his stock in trade is the domesticated high-performance board. The Sabotaj fits very neatly into this category.

The Sabotaj has a forward-weighted template, generous foil and the, by now ubiquitous, single-to-double-concave bottom contour. Sweet little elliptical round tail.

Freelance test rat, Longtom, in the Ments.
Freelance test rat, Longtom, in the Ments.

Inevitably, comparisons will be made with the Pyzel Ghost, justifiably so, and we may as well deal with them now. Head-to-head, the Sabotaj carries more foam for its length and has an easier rocker curve to negotiate.

The Ghost feels shorter than its length, is knifier and is a harder, more tuned ride than the Sabotaj. That’s no disrespect to the Sabotaj; you could ride it shorter in stock dims or whittle down the foam in a custom if you wanted to hot rod it.

One-board quiver for Indo or other tropical tubular destination? Much as I hate to agree with marketing blurbs, the answer is unequivocably yes.

I waxed mine pre-dawn and cracked the champagne on it at head-high Telescopes. It took…half… a wave for the Sabotaj to win my heart.

In ten days cruising the Ments, I did not head-butt the upper range, or get close to it, so the eight-foot call on the website seems fair enough.

It’s at the lower end of the spectrum that it feels slightly dull. It’ll get the job done, but a 5’6” Cymatic felt so much spicier at head-high Macaronis. A Stacey Wave Slave with its wider tail block was a lot more fun in onshore two-to-three-foot Scarecrows.

But if you were, say, an Aussie expat working finance in Singapore, or an editor in London, a contractor in California with a sudden window available for Indo, or Mex and you needed one board to make shit happen, the Sabotaj would see you through, no problemo.

I’m convinced anyone of moderate skill level could wax this board up and ride it for the first time in hollow waves with total confidence.

The clue is in the name but obvs, the board was developed in conjunction with retired CT’er Taj Burrow. Taj was/is a wizard who very often looked unbeatable in head-high, righthand Point or beachbreak surf, very much like Filipe Toledo.

Unlike Toledo, Burrow largely escaped the kind of withering character assassination due to his inability to perform in heavy reef lefts.

In 2011 and 2014, years when Teahupoo was big and heavy, Taj got knocked in rounds two and three respectively, yet history has a generous assessment of his career. A strange anomaly.

I’m not a one-board quiver guy, never have been, never will be. I took a three board quiver to the UK, including an eight-foot gun, just in case and cursed it wildly every time I humped it from pillar to post. Derek Rielly is right though, when he states that unless you be a CT pro one board is fine for 99% of the time.

A note on the build quality. This board was made by the Australian licencee at Ourimbah drive Tweed Heads, TC Glasshouse. Same cats who build the Pyzels. Like the Ghost I got off ’em, this thing is indestructible. Blank density, lamination schedule, it’s top notch. The Ghost, two years on, has still barely got a deck dent.

The Sabotaj is on a similar trajectory.

I wanted to give the last word to my Bribie pal, who has known me since we were kids, and is quite capable of ruthless objectivity. But he is working FIFO, I think a few hundred miles out in the bush from Kalgoorlie, dragging cables around prospecting for heavy metals.

All I could get out of him was a text, “ya fucking fell off too much”, which illustrates another truth for the non CT surfer.

No matter the arrow, the archer is 99% of the performance.