Question: At what age do you stop improving as a surfer?

Or can you shine forever?

Five years ago, oowee don’t time move fast, Kelly Slater, then forty-two, rode out of a 720 while freesurfing in Portugal.

“I kinda blacked out with surprise that it stuck as well as it did,” Kelly told BeachGrit.

Yeah, it was a milestone. Not just for surfing but for a man who, according to society’s laws on ageing, should’ve been long retired from the pro game.

And so, as father time hits your ol pal DR in the face, I’m wondering, and I’m searching for answers here ’cause I got none: at what point do you stop progressing as a surfer?

Is it biological, when the bones creak, the hips seize and the mind grows feeble?

Or is it attitudinal, when you’re tired and you’re done growing new neurological pathways. Just another old dog who ain’t gonna learn new tricks, no matter how fabulous the imagined treat.

I was twelve when I found a way of getting to the beach from my inland suburb. So I don’t have the beautiful instincts of someone who was getting tubed with their daddy when they were three.

A kook forever, but I try. I think. I watch.

At forty, I started nailing weird little backside reverses, on the face things, sure, but it was something new.

Same with straight front airs and frontside reverses without the air.

Awkward, technically flawed, but new.

I do have a feeling time is running out, howevs.

And, I wonder and I ask, when is it going to end?

When did it end for you? Did it end?

Slater, meanwhile, who is now a few summer’s short of fifty, was the best surfer in the water at the Quiksilver Pro three days ago. In three-foot waves.

Can you get better, forever? Or is that just Kelly?


Sneaky: Rotund “man-eating” Great White rams Sydney surfer from “straight underneath!”

"You couldn't wrap your arms around it – it was that big. It was huge."

The “man-eating” Great White shark has every advantage possible in his watery kingdom. Speed, camouflage, sharp teeth that regenerate, size, a nasty reputation to name but a few and so I find it very unfair when the apex killer utilizes sneaky cunning too. Like ramming an unsuspecting surfer out minding his business from “straight underneath” but that is what happened to Sydney man Mike Bruton yesterday on the mid north coast and let’s turn to Australia’s 9 news for all the ghastly details.

Mike Bruton had been in the water near Seal Rocks with his brother for a couple of hours on Saturday and was waiting for a last wave when the shark struck.

“Out of nowhere – (it) just rammed me from straight underneath,” he said 9NEWS.

He was thrown into the air and separated from his board – but he did catch a glimpse of the shark.

“You couldn’t wrap your arms around it – it was that big. It was huge.”

“I just jumped on my board, pretty freaked out by it all. Yeah, sitting there for a little while trying to get a wave in and thinking that next bite was about to come and luckily it didn’t.”

The heartless beast took a massive chunk out of Mr. Bruton’s fun looking Channel Island twinnie and all so stealthily. It would have been one thing, I suppose, if the Great White had swam directly at the surfer, dorsal fin poking out of the water menacingly, the way sharks are supposed to do it. Quite another to come from straight underneath, the dirty-playing, rotten son of a bitch.

A few other notes. It is nice for Australia to re-enter the current shark apocalypse Cape Cod, Massachusetts and Cardiff by the Sea, California are living through. Welcome, mates. Also, Mr. Bruton really did tempt fate “waiting for a last wave.” I don’t want to say the gutless sneak attack was deserved but… I don’t know. Waiting for a last wave is… bold.

Sitting waiting for a wave back in after the attack is also bold.

Like, crazy bold.

And one last thought, do you think there are bears and twinks in the Great Whites’ sexual pantheon? I only ask because this particular Great White that was too rotund for a full grown man to wrap his arms around sounds like a bear.

A hapless Jaddy Andre had to be assisted from the water after another pole-axeing in heavy water to add to the collection. | Photo: WSL

Quiksilver Pro, France, Day Two: “Truncated day as judges forced to give numbers to rambunctious closeouts!”

And a notably sadistic edge in the roughing up that La Graviere delivered to the queen of surfing, Stephanie Gilmore…

Truncated day in France as competitors battled rambunctious close-out toobs generated by ex-hurricane Lorenzo in conditions described by longboard babe Kelia Moniz as a “giant toilet bowl”.

First, a quick apology for the low energy recap on day one. I know it was dog caca.

People are tired. Sick. It’s as if Medina is absorbing the energy of his opponents, demoralising them. Gabe is ascendant, romping around in his full power in his happiest hunting ground and looking in the rear view mirror he sees, what? A crippled Toledo, JJF sailing the South Pac, Jordy and Kolohe; both brittle.

I didn’t get my finger on the emotional tone for the day, which I only recognised later in my own pedestrian writings. The dominant mood was resignation. People are tired. Sick. It’s as if Medina is absorbing the energy of his opponents, demoralising them. Gabe is ascendant, romping around in his full power in his happiest hunting ground and looking in the rear view mirror he sees, what? A crippled Toledo, JJF sailing the South Pac, Jordy and Kolohe; both brittle.

Kelly with a cold, buckled board, sleep deprivation and sciatica, out of the Title race, freed up and surfing like a teenager. Making some kind of larger statement about his relevance to some fuzzy concept which will come into focus soon. Next year’s tour, the Olympics, a stinging rebuttal to his critics post-wavepool. His actions will speak louder than any words.

For now, past and future cease to exist for Kelly, the Goat is in the moment.

Sure, there is plenty of energy and movement in the back end, as Colapinto so ably demonstrated on day one when he dropped the “kids of at the pool” in the tornadoed Atlantic. Absent a Medina choke the story of Europe will be a smokey from the back end storming the beaches of the Olde World in search of liberation from relegation.

Why not Soli Bailey?

I recused myself from commenting on the rookie this year because I’m pals with Papa but it hasn’t been a good year. He had Toledo on the ropes at D-bah and when he failed to put him away that lost opportunity seemed to set in train a series of unfortunate events. More than anything he has surfed “short”, the turns pulled and judges hate that. Here in France, and later on Portugal and Pipe, that won’t matter. If he can decipher hieroglyphic lineups that would confound work-a-day surfers he’ll make it through.

Which he did today. One magnificent make on a throaty cave reminds us Bailey is a Pipeline winner. He has a long way to go and even an Asing-style French miracle might not be enough to get him onto next year’s CT.

I find close-out toobs confounding. So do you. So did the twelve male and six female surfers in the CT elimination heats today. Kolohe was entertaining. We are constantly being assured that he wants this (world) Title more than anyone but I don’t see the execution of a world champ, not yet. That haunting Teahupoo loss, where the Tahitian wildcard paddled past him and he sat mute with a confused and yet arrogant grin, still seems to stalk him.

Still, he was able to obtain no-fault eviction from collapsing french teepees, while French wildcard Marco Mignot could not and a hapless Jaddy Andre had to be assisted from the water after another pole-axeing in heavy water to add to the collection.

The sense of being freed up and somehow liberated extended to the booth. Strider was loose, extolling the pleasures of the flesh, American* libertines have always been drawn to the more relaxed attitudes of the French. Mel and Kaipo giggled nervously.

It was fun, compared to the scripted debacle of Tahiti, almost a revelation.

Judges were forced to give numbers to close-outs. A mid-threefor a non-make was a crucial score. Seabass ended up, agonizingly, heartbreakingly on the wrong side of a couple crucial non-makes while his babe looked on, crestfallen. Lacomare made the first proper tube-ride, a deep but scrappy left. His 9.10 was shared in the last heat by Conner Coffin, who overcame a comical start to post an equal score. His wave, which followed a broken board paddling out and some proper doughnuts from trying to smash close-outs, was the best of the day. He side-slipped down the face backside, with the fins somehow magically re-engaging behind a steely french curtain, emerging with the spit and a crotch-grabbing claim.

A Miley Cyrus claim?

All and sundry in the surfing world played merry hell poking fun at Kelly’s pool but I’d bet my left nut the women sent out in elimination heats today would have gone back there in a second if they had the chance. I favour kindness myself, but there was a notable sadistic edge in the roughing up that La Graviere delivered to the queen of surfing, Stephanie Gilmore.

She seemed to spend equal amounts of time in her heat on the beach, waiting for a lull, or getting ragdolled onto dry sand emerging with a resentful, sometimes quizzical expression on her face.

In the end, coach Jake Patterson chewed his lips dry and Gilmore was gone.

I wanted to watch the Red Bull air comp. I really did. The promos were cool and Vaughn Deadly was very high energy. Fifteen minutes in and no one had a good make. Next minute, Matt Meola and me were pulling bongs and he was teaching me how to rig livebaits to pitch to teased up marlin in the bluewater off Maui.

When I came to, my head was squished on the desk and white noise was coming through the screen.

It was over. Ian Crane won.

Quiksilver Pro France Elimination Round (Round 2) Results:
HEAT 1: Kolohe Andino (USA) 9.66 DEF. Marco Mignot (FRA) 6.06, Jadson Andre (BRA) 2.46
HEAT 2: Marc Lacomare (FRA) 11.20 DEF. Michel Bourez (FRA) 7.94, Sebastian Zietz (HAW) 6.07
HEAT 3: Soli Bailey (AUS) 11.07 DEF. Caio Ibelli (BRA) 8.43, Deivid Silva (BRA) 4.30
HEAT 4: Conner Coffin (USA) 14.27 DEF. Wade Carmichael (AUS) 8.80, Ricardo Christie (NZL) 6.33

Quiksilver Pro France Round of 32 (Round 3) Match-Ups:
HEAT 1: Jordy Smith (ZAF) vs. Frederico Morais (PRT)
HEAT 2: Jeremy Flores (FRA) vs. Caio Ibelli (BRA)
HEAT 3: Owen Wright (AUS) vs. Ezekiel Lau (HAW)
HEAT 4: Ryan Callinan (AUS) vs. Michael Rodrigues (BRA)
HEAT 5: Filipe Toledo (BRA) vs. Marc Lacomare (FRA)
HEAT 6: Wade Carmichael (AUS) vs. Willian Cardoso (BRA)
HEAT 7: Julian Wilson (AUS) vs. Jorgann Couzinet (FRA)
HEAT 8: Kanoa Igarashi (JPN) vs. Jack Freestone (AUS)
HEAT 9: Gabriel Medina (BRA) vs. Marco Mignot (FRA)
HEAT 10: Conner Coffin (USA) vs. Adrian Buchan (AUS)
HEAT 11: Seth Moniz (HAW) vs. Peterson Crisanto (BRA)
HEAT 12: Kelly Slater (USA) vs. Leonardo Fioravanti (ITA)
HEAT 13: Kolohe Andino (USA) vs. Soli Bailey (AUS)
HEAT 14: Griffin Colapinto (USA) vs. Yago Dora (BRA)
HEAT 15: Michel Bourez (FRA) vs. Joan Duru (FRA)
HEAT 16: Italo Ferreira (BRA) vs. Jesse Mendes (BRA)

Roxy Pro France Elimination Round (Round 2) Results:
HEAT 1: Nikki Van Dijk (AUS) 8.60 DEF. Paige Hareb (NZL) 8.37, Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) 6.97
HEAT 2: Tatiana Weston-Webb (BRA) 10.94 DEF. Silvana Lima (BRA) 7.63, Bronte Macaulay (AUS) 7.53

Roxy Pro France Round of 16 (Round 3) Match-Ups:
HEAT 1: Lakey Peterson (USA) vs. Silvana Lima (BRA)
HEAT 2: Malia Manuel (HAW) vs. Macy Callaghan (AUS)
HEAT 3: Carissa Moore (HAW) vs. Coco Ho (HAW)
HEAT 4: Tatiana Weston-Webb (BRA) vs. Keely Andrew (AUS)
HEAT 5: Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) vs. Paige Hareb (NZL)
HEAT 6: Johanne Defay (FRA) vs. Brisa Hennessy (CRI)
HEAT 7: Caroline Marks (USA) vs. Nikki Van Dijk (AUS)
HEAT 8: Courtney Conlogue (USA) vs. Vahine Fierro (FRA)

Red Bull Airborne France Final Results:
1 – Ian Crane (USA) 5.83
2 – Nomme Mignot (FRA) 4.50
3 – Reef Heazlewood (AUS) 3.93
4 – Griffin Colapinto (USA) 3.77
5 – Maxime Huscenot (FRA) 3.73
6 – Finn McGill (HAW)

The great Andy Irons wearing his iconic Rising Sun boardshort.
The great Andy Irons wearing his iconic Rising Sun boardshort.

Innovative: Japan utilizing “comprehensive town-building strategies centered on ‘Surfonomics!'”

An earthly paradise!

I don’t know if you have had the pleasure of visiting Japan but it just may well be the greatest nation on earth. The people are polite and kind, the fashion is without parallel, the food is out of this world and, as if things could possibly get better any better, coastal towns are being built around a new strategy called “Surfonomics.”

What is Surfonomics?

A great question and we must turn to Japan’s Kyodo News for answers.

(The town of Ichinomiya) has created a “surf street” along the beach dotted with surf shops and restaurants. An information center that opened in April 2018 rents surfboards and bicycles for people to carry their gear.

Hyuga in Miyazaki Prefecture on the southwestern main island of Kyushu has pursued an initiative dubbed “Relax Surf Town Hyuga” since December 2016.

Boasting a warm climate, the city has one of the nation’s most popular surfing spots. In 2017, the latest year for which figures were available, it attracted more than 300,000 surfers and beachgoers, up from 200,000 in 2012.

It regularly releases promotional videos on a special website and uploads images of the Hyuga coastline on social media. It is working hard to attract surfing events as it looks to capitalize on surfing’s Olympic debut.

Makinohara in Shizuoka Prefecture, central Japan, lost out to Ichinomiya in the bid to be selected as the Olympic surfing venue, but it was chosen to host pre-games training for the U.S. and other surfing teams.

The city on the Pacific coast organizes surfing lessons for elementary school students to familiarize people with the sport from an early age.

Another spot known for the quality of its waves is Niijima Island. Part of the Izu Islands, Niijima takes about two and a half hours to reach from Tokyo by high-speed jet ferry or 35 minutes by air.

Niijima used to host international surfing competitions and is trying to boost the remote island’s economy by wooing back surfers.

“The beautiful ocean is the pride of the island,” an official said. “We hope more people will come and enjoy surfing.”

Do you ever wish Imperial Japan won World War II?


Love and sexing in France.

Comment live, Quiksilver Pro, Hossegor, Day Two!

Join the idle class in a hothouse of surfer opinion…

Who can regret the sins of the flesh? In the sand dunes behind Les Culs Nuls, site of this year’s Quiksilver Pro, the windless summer nights reverberate to the noise of indiscretion and reckless escapades.

To deny these experiences, as we know, is a denial of the soul.

It’s autumn in Hossegor now, the offshores have kicked, the holidaymakers have been stuffed back into their classrooms and office cubicles and the dunes are silent.

And, here, Saturday morning, October five, my birthday as it happens, The Quiksilver Pro France turns back on.

Today, blood on the sand as four surfers are removed from the event in the prosaically named Elimination Round, formally round two.

Watch, make a noise.

(Click. here for the live stream.)


Quiksilver Pro France Elimination Round (Round 2) Matchups:
HEAT 1: Kolohe Andino (USA) vs. Jadson Andre (BRA) vs. Marco Mignot (FRA)
HEAT 2: Michel Bourez (FRA) vs. Sebastian Zietz (HAW) vs. Marc Lacomare (FRA)
HEAT 3: Deivid Silva (BRA) vs. Caio Ibelli (BRA) vs. Soli Bailey (AUS)
HEAT 4: Wade Carmichael (AUS) vs. Conner Coffin (USA) vs. Ricardo Christie (NZL)

Quiksilver Pro France Seeding Round (Round 1) Results:
HEAT 1: Griffin Colapinto (USA) 12.50 DEF. Kanoa Igarashi (JPN) 11.90, Soli Bailey (AUS) 8.07
HEAT 2: Italo Ferreira (BRA) 11.94 DEF. Frederico Morais (PRT) 10.10, Caio Ibelli (BRA) 9.60
HEAT 3: Leonardo Fioravanti (ITA) 14.40 DEF. Yago Dora (BRA) 14.33, Kolohe Andino (USA) 14.00
HEAT 4: Jorgann Couzinet (FRA) 12.67 DEF. Jordy Smith (ZAF) 12.66, Sebastian Zietz (HAW) 9.26
HEAT 5: Filipe Toledo (BRA) 12.63 DEF. Joan Duru (FRA) 10.60, Marc Lacomare (FRA) 9.74
HEAT 6: Gabriel Medina (BRA) 14.40 DEF. Michael Rodrigues (BRA) 11.87, Marco Mignot (FRA) 11.04
HEAT 7: Owen Wright (AUS) 15.10 DEF. Willian Cardoso (BRA) 13.34, Ricardo Christie (NZL) 7.94
HEAT 8: Julian Wilson (AUS) 11.44 DEF. Adrian Buchan (AUS) 9.57, Jadson Andre (BRA) 9.47
HEAT 9: Kelly Slater (USA) 13.84 DEF. Jesse Mendes (BRA) 11.67, Conner Coffin (USA) 9.94
HEAT 10: Seth Moniz (HAW) 12.24 DEF. Ezekiel Lau (HAW) 10.50, Wade Carmichael (AUS) 10.13
HEAT 11: Peterson Crisanto (BRA) 13.84 DEF. Ryan Callinan (AUS) 11.67, Deivid Silva (BRA) 11.67
HEAT 12: Jack Freestone (AUS) 11.77 DEF. Jeremy Flores (FRA) 9.10, Michel Bourez (FRA) 8.90