Ready to protect all manner of VAL!
Ready to protect all manner of VAL!

Rebuttal: Swing the gates to Hollister Ranch wide and let the people surf those tasty waves!

Come find perfection!

All your arguments about keeping Hollister Ranch private make you sound like elitist assholes. There. I said it. I said that whole thing in my outside voice. I will probably get punched in the face at the coffee shop tomorrow. Live dangerously, is a thing I always say.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you will know that Hollister Ranch is slated to open to public access in April 2022. Last week, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed into law legislation that directs an assortment of land management agencies, both state and local, to develop a plan to ensure public access. Anyone who impedes this public access will be subject to fines up to $10,000.

The new law leaves open the question of what form access will take. Over the next two years, you can expect a succession of shouty meetings here in Santa Barbara County, as the relevant agencies try to resolve this question.

While the Coastal Commission, one of the principal agencies involved, has far-reaching powers in California, there are limits to what they can achieve. If you’re imagining that you’re going to be able to drive your Toyota Tacoma straight into Cojo, you’re almost certainly going to be disappointed.

That’s because, on the ground, the situation is more complicated than it looks. There are a number fabulous homes with eye-candy views, yes. The Ranch has this element in common with Malibu. And as you have certainly heard, there are the divided and subdivided parcels owned for the specific purpose of securing access for people who want to surf there.

But the Ranch also includes working cattle ranches and tracts of unfenced range land. In this respect, the area is not too different from the properties that it borders. This range land is the open space that is so often pictured when conversation turns to the Ranch: rolling hills, dotted with California live oaks, turning abruptly into tawny sandstone cliffs that drop to sandy beaches and tidy hidden reefs.

Then there’s the old Bixby Ranch, which adds one more piece to the intricate Ranch puzzle. This vast property stretches from the boundary of the county park at Jalama down to the mythical point at Cojo, and runs eastward along the coast. The area spans 24,000 acres and includes a mix of (mostly) untouched wilderness, cattle range, and Chumash sacred sites.

A look at the Bixby’s recent history offers a brief tour of California land use. During the early 20th century, it was intended to be a steel mill. That never happened, and in 1912 Fred Bixby purchased the land and the adjacent Jalama Ranch. Bixby ran cattle. Between 1972 and 2003, an oil processing facility perched on the bluffs above Cojo — and pipelines ran through the property. Beginning in 2007, a Boston-based hedge fund owned the Bixby Ranch and hoped to build a resort hotel there.

Now called the Jack and Laura Dangermond Preserve, the former Bixby Ranch is managed by the Nature Conservancy. This same organization also owns and manages lands on Santa Cruz island. In the two years since the property changed hands, there has been little talk of public access. Reportedly, it might eventually be opened for limited science and research. But you’re not going to be able to drive your Tacoma from Jalama to Cojo.

Put simply, it’s unlikely you’re going to be able to run buck-wild around the Ranch, like you own the joint (unless of course you do own the joint, then go crazy.) What is likely, is that access will amount to a single trail, hugging the coast as much as possible, and accessible by foot or by bike.

A 1972 law set it as a priority for the state to develop a recreational trail that would run along the coast from Mexico to Oregon. Subsequent legislation set out a process of securing easements to complete the project — which remains in bits and pieces to this day.

In western Santa Barbara County, sections of trail around the state park at El Capitan have recently been built. Over the past few years, there have been ongoing — and sometimes acrimonious — efforts to establish easements across private ranch lands in the area to build a recreational trail along the bluffs in eastern Gaviota. It’s not hard to imagine that public access to Hollister Ranch would look a lot like the access the County is already working to secure on the private properties nearby.

Property owners at Hollister Ranch like to claim that they are the best stewards of this idyllic land, but the area’s land use history muddies this argument significantly. And present-day behavior isn’t always exactly what you’d called environmentally conscious. Just last spring, the Coastal Commission had to tell the fabulous environmental stewards at Hollister Ranch to stop driving their cars on the beach.

It’s the last bastion against Los Angeles! You know shit’s getting real in California, when we summon up the bogeyman of Los Angeles. The Ranch will become another Trestles! Or Rincon! Filled with kooks!

Just listen to yourselves. Omg! Other surfers like me might surf where I want to surf! I mean, I hate the kooks as much as you do, but really, you are losing your minds here.

The idea of Hollister Ranch as some kind of Eden persists, but is by now, largely imagined. The best-known spots on good swells buzz with jetskis, zodiacs, and floating machines of all shapes and sizes. Anyone with a boat or a friend with a boat can go there. And we all know by now what happened to Eden.

Still, the Ranch has a unique hold on surfing’s imagination. I think it’s because we need to believe that a place like the Ranch exists in the world — even if the reality is nothing like our imaginings, and even if we never actually go there ourselves.

For most of us, the reality of surfing is driving to our nearest beach, finding a parking space in a sea of Sprinter vans, shimmying into our suits, and paddling out with the Wavestorms. But we hold on to the fantasy that there is something more. There has to be something more to this strange pastime that we can’t quite quit, no matter how absurd and pointless it sometimes feels.

We need to believe that John Severson wasn’t wrong when he said that a surfer could still in a crowded world, find the perfect wave, “and be alone with the surf and his thoughts.” Of course, there was already a lie in it. The lone surfer in Severson’s image wasn’t truly alone. Severson was there on the beach with a camera to record it all. But it remains our talisman, passed from each generation to the next.

Surf long enough, travel far enough, check that fickle local spot often enough, and yes, you can still find what Severson seemed to promise. Even in California, even here. Opening the Ranch won’t change that, not really. It might make it more difficult, sure.

But there are no sure things in surfing, no matter how many secret gates you can unlock.

And that one magic day, when you walk down the trail — wherever you may be — and you see perfect, backlit, green walls, offshores kissing the lip, and no one there to see it, no one but you, that day will make a lifetime of chasing and imagining and dreaming worth it. It just has to.

But I sometimes wonder if the true joy isn’t in the finding at all. I wonder if the true joy of this ridiculous pastime that’s seduced us all is in the dream of perfection, rather than the perfection itself — and in the endless, frequently futile, and very often stupid things we do in pursuit of it.


Shove the mic in Gabby’s face as he storms the tower. Film the conversation with the judges. And just when Caio and Gabby go to hug it out, have Strider make a chicken noise from behind a potplant. | Photo: WSL

Message to the WSL: Learn to love Blood Feuds, Wipeout Reels, Weeping!

Media minders and Sound Waves. Gun-shy competitors. Right now, it’s about as interesting as the director’s commentary on a Coldplay DVD.

My God,  I love a blood feud.

Exhibit A, Jadson Andre v Madina Fans. 

Whose fault was the damned thing? The judges, probably.

Was it manufactured? I highly doubt it. But with a vacuum of information from the top, the surfing world is left to hypothesise.

Just like Medina’s army is doing. A bonfire of Latin passion fuelling anger, fury, and controversy.

We might lose some lines in translation but their intent is clear as day. Paixão!

I love it! The drama. The intrigue. All of it!

And to the WSL I say, this is your business model right here. You should learn to love it, too. Because as well as passion and controversy, this shit generates clicks. Reach. Engagement. The buzzwords your high tower’s foundations are built on.

This is your business model: Blood feuds and wipeout reels. Italo almost dying on the Winki button and then smashing up the competitors area afterwards, while jetskis lip line twelve-foot foamies. Jordy telling Pete Mel he’s gonna bop him in the nose if he sasses him in a post heat one more time. Sally crying behind the showers after another win lets slip.

It doesn’t need to be nasty. But it can still be human. And along with gaping barrels and bloody gashes, it’ll get you on the six pm news.

Forget the faux intellectual hubris of BeachGrit. It’s all tilting at windmills. Like most surf fans, we’re one dimensional. Nothing more than a global network of tapped out Spicolis.

“All I need are some tasty waves, a cool buzz, and I’m fine.”

Give me two guys surfing in a tub and I’ll sit at the other end with snorkel and a pair of flippers all day long. Run the shit on AM radio and I’ll stand on the roof with my transistor and an old coat hanger to get the call.

We just fucken love surfing and everything that goes with it.

But you’re strangling the sport.

Media minders and Sound Waves. Gun-shy competitors. It’s about as interesting as the director’s commentary on a Coldplay DVD. And just when it looks like Chris Martin is going to start giving us the scoop on Gwenyth, you switch back to the acoustic set in Westminster Abbey.

You’re media professionals. Think of the soundbites and headlines you’re missing.

Shove the mic in Gabby’s face as he storms the tower. Film the conversation with the judges. And just when Caio and Gabby go to hug it out, have Strider make a chicken noise from behind a potplant.

Let it all out.

Become the mainstream sports whoopie cushion. Welcome outrage. Show emotion. Allow everything to go off script once in a while. Embrace the chaos.

Because surfing’s the most beautifully chaotic thing there is. It’s a cosmic joke. We laugh in its face every day.

But it’s also our salvation. We’d do anything for it. We’re not just brand advocates. We’re zealots. We dedicate our lives to this. We love the athletes, absolutely and with the fire of a thousand Latin sons. And we’re ready to fight for the cause.

You’ve just gotta get in on the joke. Milk it for what it’s worth. You don’t need to be exploitative or manipulative. Just let the surfers breathe. Show their real face.

The whole world will lap it up.

Do that right and I’d probably even pay you to watch.


Mr Jadson Andre, patron saint of underdogs everywhere. | Photo: WSL

Brazilian blood-feud: Jadson Andre tells Medina fans, “I’m ashamed of what you’re doing to Caio!”

Patron saint of underdogs everywhere says, "Guys, really, what you are doing with Caio is very bad…"

Hell hath no fury like a world champion whose plans for an early end to the world title race were splattered against the wall of the judging tower two nights ago.

A quick recap from Longtom’s contest analysis.

With eight minutes remaining in a heat with Caio Ibelli in a heat where he’d spent the previous twenty-seven minutes ruthlessly rag-dolling his compatriot in weak two-foot closeouts.

Unbelievably, he contested a dribbly little righthander, bumping shoulders with Ibelli, who gesticulated wildly in protest. WSL screen live on the broadcast showed Ibelli priority. Medina pointed to the beach, as if to suggest he had P.

Live screen immediately priority switched to Medina, suggesting a mistake. Within a minute a decision was reached and Medina had a priority interference awarded against him, meaning the loss of his second scoring wave.

As a sign of Medina’s dominance the penalty was not immediately fatal, with his single wave score of an 8.17 still besting Ibelli’s top two rides combined.

Ibelli got the score. Medina out.

https://www.instagram.com/p/B32E0X3jDsg/

Gabriel wouldn’t let it go and leveraged his and soccer player buddy Neymar’s IG accounts, a total of 130 million souls, against Ibelli, who says he’s been hit with over ten thousand less-than-positive missives from bent outta shape Medina fans.

And, now, Jadson Andre, the patron saint of underdogs everywhere, has made a personal plea for the feud to end.

“Guys, really, what you are doing with Caio is very bad,” said Andre in a gorgeous piece to camera. “I love Medina but Caio is not at all to blame! And he, like Medina, is chasing after his dream! Both totally different. One wants to be world champion and the other is trying to stay on the circuit where he is left out, to change his life changes from water to wine. (Medina fans), I’m really ashamed of what you are doing with Caio.”

Fall in love, again, with Jadson, here. 

 

https://www.instagram.com/p/B349sh4gc4n/

 

 


Absolute Terror: Possible 40-foot Great White shark lurking off the United States’ Eastern Seaboard!

“Anything that can grab an animal like that by the head is pretty impressive.”

There is a terror worse than anything you could possible imagine out there. A horror only Jason Statham can fully comprehend and you thought I was engaged in some sort of click bait scam wherein stories about “man-eating” Great White sharks were driving visits to the Biggest Little Surf Website in the World™ at a record clip and there Derek and I sat, like Boss Hogg and Cletus, on a pile of popup advertisement dollars smoking Cuban cigars (Derek) and scheming even greater schemes.

You thought I was “net savvy.”

For shame.

You know me better than that. You know I piss away potential Vans dollars at the mere smell of anti-anti-radicalism. You know that am borderline* retarded but only care about you. About you and the truth.

And for these reasons I only write about our aquatic nemeses to A) keep people not surfing and B) inform the not-surfing public of our bravery every time we paddle out so that they may gift us with leis etc. when be reach shore all handsome and/or beautiful.

Well, guess what?

If you happen to live on the United States of America’s Eastern Seaboard posit what you may be facing the next time you paddle out?

That’s right. A possible 40-foot Great White shark but don’t take my word for it. This is the moment we must, absolutely must, turn to Fox News for more. It is time for a “fair and balanced” take.

A new photo showing a disfigured great white shark that was recently captured off the U.S. coast (above) has experts guessing that the nearly 13-foot, 1,200-pound apex predator was attacked by an even bigger shark.

Artist rendering.
Artist rendering.

The shark, named Vimy, was caught and tagged in the North Atlantic Ocean on Oct. 4, said OCEARCH, an international great white shark research organization. Scientists tagged a total of 11 sharks for satellite tracking while on an expedition to Nova Scotia to study their habits, the group said in a news release.

The group on Monday posted a photo on Facebook showing the shark with a “fresh” bloody gash on its head and a scar below its jaw, writing: “White sharks live in a tough world. Need proof? Check out white shark Vimy’s head.”

OCEARCH Founding Chairman Chris Fischer told McClatchy news group that based on the bite marks and jaw size, the attacker could be at least two feet longer than Vimy.

“It was a very large animal that grabbed it, something significantly bigger than 12 feet,” he said. “Anything that can grab an animal like that by the head is pretty impressive.”

So 40-feet may be underselling and what is to blame for this apex-apex predator’s massive size? Who is to blame?

Global warming?

Jason Statham?

More as the story develops.

*Completely


Mmmmmm. Chocolate.

Come tour the “sustainable good vibes” and “minimal palette making big grins” inside Kelly Slater’s Surf Ranch!

And single-use plastics? You won’t find any here.

Have you not been to Lemoore, California’s jewel yet? Planted there in the shadow of an Indian casino, elderly emphysemaniacs plugging quarter after quarter into colorful gambling machines, the stink of industrial farming heavy on the valley air, Fresno one way, Visalia the other and the nearest beach some 100 miles over the hills?

It’s a presumptuous question to ask and rude, when I think of it. The only people who have been to Kelly Slater’s Surf Ranch are those who have been invited by Kelly/Santa Monica and/or and those who decided to pay a princely sum in order to stand along the cement rail and hoot Ace Buchan and he whistles down the line.

That is only a very small number and even though Kelly Slater’s Surf Ranch is made where people live it is not for The People™. No not at all.

Thankfully we have the SF Gate and while San Francisco is also not for The People™, or maybe because it’s not, the publication was invited for a design tour of life behind the wooden fence.

Shall we?

It was vital to Slater and the WSL that the Ranch embrace a sustainable ethos that extended from construction to day-to-day operations, including clean and renewable energy, waste management, water conservation, and carbon offsetting, says Denman. For example, it was built with sustainable materials, including the crushed-shell roadways and paving stones made from upcycled foam dust—a waste product of surfboard manufacturing—in partnership with Firewire Surfboards. And single-use plastics? You won’t find any here.

And you must carry on without me. Each slide and corresponding description is an absolute joy but before I go how much do you love the fact that a giant pool with a giant machine 100 miles away from where waves are plentiful and free is sustainable?

We live in the future!