Is there a shark lurking somewhere underneath? Probably. And a knee injury.
Is there a shark lurking somewhere underneath? Probably. And a knee injury.

Deeply flawed, recently published scientific study wrongly declares, “When compared to other extreme sports, surfing seems relatively safe!”

Dangerous evidence ignored.

I am not what would be called a “science skeptic” but I certainly don’t weight the “boring arts” as heavily as some others. This world, this universe contains secrets far larger than the human mind and the human mind is fallible. Mistakes made. Data measured wrong or the importance of that data misapplied. Take the simple egg, for instance. For years we were told to only eat the white part. Now, thanks to recent discoveries, we know the yellow is where all the hot action is.

And if scientists can mess up the simple egg, they can certainly misapply figures regarding our favorite pastime. A recent study in the online academic journal Sports Health looked, for the first time broadly, at surfing related injuries and the relative damage they cause. Shall we put on our Thinking Caps, bifocals and tweed jackets to examine? It’ll be worth doing so purely for the natty look we shall achieve.

Harry “Tate” Greditzer, MD, a radiologist at HSS and avid surfer himself, launched a study to determine the kinds of orthopedic injuries a recreational surfer might sustain and how often he or she required surgery. “The primary purpose of the study was to characterize MRI patterns of acute surfing-related injury at HSS, an urban musculoskeletal hospital,” Dr. Greditzer said. “Secondarily, the purpose was to report the proportion of those injuries that required orthopedic surgical intervention.”

The search yielded 109 patients with surfing-related injuries who had MRIs. A total of 90 patients came to HSS within six months of their injury and were included in the final analysis. The median age was 36, with patients ranging in age from 12 to 66. Three-quarters of the patients were male.

Acute surfing injuries were diagnosed with an MRI in 72% of study patients. The following injuries were reported:

Shoulder: 46% of surfing injuries

Knee: 28%

Foot or ankle: 9%

Spine: 6%

Elbow: 6%

Other (rib fracture; muscle strain or muscle laceration): 5%

“When compared to other extreme sports, surfing seems relatively safe,” said Dr. Greditzer. “However, it’s important to keep in mind that our study looked at recreational surfers. We did not include professional surfers, so the patients in our study were not able to generate as much speed, get barreled, or launch into the air like a professional or amateur can, where the potential for injury is much higher.”

Now, I’m sure Dr. Greditzer is a brilliant man and did not mean to be misguided but he left out a giant category and an even larger sub-category. Shark attacks and debilitating fear from being attacked by a shark. I have had a shoulder injury, had it surgered and know the pain but it is nothing like getting eaten whole and, from the looks of our recent shark-pocalypse not as likely. I would put “shark eating” above “shoulder” and when debilitating fear is factored in… Well, I would simply like to see this study re-done.

Also, I don’t see “decapitation due SUP foil” anywhere on the list.

Kelly Slater and John John Florence. who spent most of his time at the pool looking at yachts in catalogues, at 2018's Founder's Cup. | Photo: Steve Sherman/@tsherms

Persistent rumour: KSWaveCo to shutter Solana Beach HQ at end of year; mass staff lay-offs; Florida pool cancelled due to cost overruns!

Safety, marketing, finance and construction workers sacked, new lease-holder sought for HQ…

Two months back, Chas Smith loosed the rumour that Surf Ranch was going to be shuttered at the end of 2019 and that the Freshwater Pro would become nothing more than a historical curio.

Shortly after that story appeared, the WSL responded with a rare statement, 

“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.”

And, five days ago, the WSL confirmed the Freshwater Pro’s appearance on the 2020 schedule, putting an electric tremor in the pit of at least one surf writer. 

And, yet…yet…

From our source in Solana Beach, he, or maybe it’s a she, can’t be sure from the name, says the lay-offs are already happening, the company shedding around fifty-percent of its staff from finance, safety, marketing and construction. Staff have been informed, he/she said, and will work until the end of year with two months of severance pay for most.

Other news: the KSWaveCo built Lemoore for fifteen-million dollars and the now cancelled KSWaveCo pool that was going to be built on thirty-acres the WSL had bought for six-and-a-half mill in Orlando was shelved not because of “extremely high water table” but because of cost overruns.

A predicted eighty-to-hundred-mill build was a little too hot even for a billionaire investor.

But, let’s be clear, here, rumours.

The KSWaveCo, which doesn’t list a telephone number on its website, was contacted via email for comment. Crickets, as they say, thus far.

Longtom: “The Freshwater Pro is cruel and unusual punishment and I refuse to cover it!”

We don't get paid a hundred grand for losing all year. We slug it out for peanuts for our own personal satisfaction and to give the People a free buzz without being slathered in bullshit.

Since Cote and Patty O dropped the 2020 tour schedule last week that initial feeling of disappointment has been morphing into a conflagration of quiet fury within me.

It feels like I swallowed a whole blue agave plant and it’s fermenting inside me.

But what could I do? I can’t bake cakes like Chas, can’t register my anger via posting on their Facebook page because it’s all fulled up with disgruntled fans.

One thing I can do is boycott Surf Ranch.

Like you, like Chas, I thought I wouldn’t have too. High-level informants involved in the production team were told the tub was being scrapped from next year’s Tour. Damned with faint praise by Kolohe Andino, openly mocked by Jeremy Flores, universally panned as a doomed experiment by surf fans the Tub should have retreated back to its by now natural niche: as a novelty venue for things like Founders Cup and a high-priced corpo retreat.

It ain’t a championship Tour stop. Especially one now stretched out over six days. That’s cruel and unusual punishment and I refuse to cover it.

Will that make a difference to WSL. No. Should it? Probably not.

But no-one on this planet has devoted more time to watching and writing about pro surfing in the last twenty-four months than me.

Every heat. Every location. Over a hundred thousand words.

Thats a four-hundred page novel in twelve-point font. Four times as long as Camus’ L’Etranger.

A guy who does it for a living, who gets paid to watch it, who needs the money, is saying no mas. That’s where your sport is at, from the perspective of those who analyse it in forensic detail and attempt to shape the narrative. Not from the point of view of trying to make the organisation look good but placing it into context, real and imagined.

You hear me Elo? Soph? Patty O?

A guy who does it for a living, who gets paid to watch it, who needs the money, is saying no mas. That’s where your sport is at, from the perspective of those who analyse it in forensic detail and attempt to shape the narrative. Not from the point of view of trying to make the organisation look good but placing it into context, real and imagined.

We don’t get paid a hundred grand for losing all year. We slug it out for peanuts for our own personal satisfaction and to give the People a free buzz without being slathered in bullshit.

You could have thrown us a bone. Yeah sure, we got G-Land, but you took away Keramas. That’s robbing Peter to pay Paul. Ulu’s would have been better, anyhow. Keep the jungle jungle. Take the Tub away and bring back Trestles, or better yet, Trestles and Cloudbreak.

For a tour with bottomless money backing it to not have Cloudbreak on Tour is a bad look. Especially after your Golden boy backed it for a three-year deal that was mysteriously reneged on after a single year.

Pro surfing breaks down into a pretty simple tripartite formula. There’s the waves, the surfers and the format.

All three need reform.

There’ll never be more than five on-fire surfers in a given year. Surrounding them with an extra thirty is just too much deadwood.

The format is being tinkered with every year. Some progress has been made, to be fair. Overlapping heats has been a huge innovation. The front end, rounds one and two, is a dud.

As for the waves, even the most superficial look at history should educate non-surfing management as to what works, what is worth investing in and what should be dumped.

Pro surfing still stands diminished from it’s capitulation at Cloudbreak in June 2012. It still requires its day of redemption and reckoning in fifteen-foot glacial blue cylinders.

Who in the current roster would go? We know John John would.

We assume Medina would.

That should be the first order of business laid down on Dirk’s desk.

Whatever it costs, whatever it takes.

I can’t watch, even for money, the dreadful predictability of pros safety surfing Surf Ranch because they could not get enough practice waves in. Can’t watch ’em squat down for that tube. I’d rather watch a VAL tube-dodging. I really would. That would be more entertaining.

I don’t know what I’ll do next September.

Maybe Derek Hynd, who has formulated a small Rebel Tour called the RAT Tour, might have something worth covering.

All’s I know is what I won’t be doing. Watching that fucking pool.

Listening to that weird industrial silence in the moments before the train leaves the station.

Will you join me in speaking truth to power and boycott the tub?

Cry is free, so is boycott.

Revealed: Some places are better than others to be a surfer and Central Florida is that place!

Or, on becoming a god.

As previously declared, I am currently in New Smyrna Beach, Florida and for those not familiar with America’s naughty li’l dangler it is an hour and a half drive from Jacksonville to the north, a three and a half hour from Miami to the south, next to Daytona Beach where mustache men drive souped up sedans in one large circle 500 times.

Two days ago, I surfed very fun waves in trunks and felt good. The water was warm, the air was warm and even though the lineup was plenty crowded it didn’t feel that way. Many peaks. Much spread. Little ego. It was one of the most enjoyable surfs I’ve had in weeks.

Yesterday there was bad wind and not waves but it was Saturday and the number 1 college football team in the country was playing the number 2 college football team in the country, both of which happen to be in the SEC or Southeastern Conference. Now, those who care about such things know that the SEC dominates the college football conversation and to be in Florida, which also happens to have a team in the SEC, during a potentially historic game felt fated. I wandered through town to a sports bar, pulled out a stool, ate chicken wings, drank vodka soda with a twist of lime and only received slight frowns from the otherwise friendly locals for that second choice.

Did you know they call vodka sodas “skinny bitches” in Denmark?

Watching LSU throttle Alabama surrounded by southerners was a culturally rich experience. Fulfilling. There was a man who cheered loudly and had a long braided beard that he paired with a Trump 2020 hunting cap. A couple that looked fourteen but must have been twenty-one in matching shirts that read “Let’s get slothed” featuring a stoned sloth. A grandma who cursed Alabama like a sailor. A bartender who insisted on shouting “Roll Tide” in her weathered face. Smiles and backslaps. Groans and hollers but it was as if everyone was family.

Then last night, under the stars at the Florida Surf Film Festival, the very best surf film festival in the entire world, I chatted with Shea Lopez about outwitting Surfline, flying down to Puerto Rico before breakfast, surfing all day and being home for dinner and the all to easy plus plentiful plus short routes to Central America.

Hunter Martinez’s Lost in Thought played in the background, a fine film, and I thought to myself, “Some places are better than others to be a surfer and between fun warm waves, easy flights to funner warmer waves, college football, chicken wings and only slight frowns from otherwise friendly locals for being a skinny bitch, central Florida is that place.”

Thankful: “I was just this morning reminded that I am the luckiest son of a gun on earth!”

Let's consider all we have instead of all we lack.

November is a month of thankfulness in the United States of America. A time to reflect on all that we have instead of all that we lack. Oh it’s so easy to get trapped in patterns of desire, craving more, needing just one more thing in order for everything to be ok.

Then one more thing after that and one more thing after that.

Like, I would finally be satisfied if professional surfers had their freedom. Or I would, at last, be complete if the 1989 World Champion Martin Potter hung up the headset for 2020.

But one shift, one adjustment will never bring satisfaction for satisfaction is all around us and I was reminded of that this morning. Would you like to read the passage that spurred my self-development? It would be rude of you not to and let us turn to the rich, both literally and figuratively, pages of Forbes magazine:

Only an hour past sunrise, a line already has formed outside Goofy Café + Dine in Waikīkī.

Tourists sneak a hearty breakfast in before they head out for a day of island excursions. Locals come in for coffee and loco moco – a hamburger patty served over rice topped with a fried egg and gravy. Even Makoto Hasegawa, director of operations for Zetton Inc., the burgeoning restaurant group that runs the café, stops by after his morning surf to recharge on an acai bowl before starting his workday.

As Oʻahu prepares to kick off its annual season of surf competitions this winter, Hasegawa and his staff have one dream: that legendary surfer Rob Machado will visit Hawaiʻi and their café to indulge in monster swells and the new special that they named after him: the Goofy Machado Acai Bowl.

On and on the story goes, describing why Rob is the staff and owners’ favorite surfer, how they hope to lure him (two cups of unsweetened acai blended with bananas, blueberries and strawberries to create the bowl’s base topped with a heaping spoonful of peanut butter that’s blended with yogurt to boost creaminess and nutrients. Manoa Chocolate cacao nibs, fresh, local papaya, chopped macadamia nuts, sliced banana, hemp-seed granola, and a drizzle of Big Island Bees raw honey complete the dish) and how they will all just melt into giant puddles if he ever dawns their door.

This heartwarming story stopped me dead in my crusty tracks.

I get to spend time with Rob Machado almost every day. I get to post up with him at the free cheese sample station while shopping for organic produce (him) and vodka (me) at Seaside Market. I get to smile and wave while passing him eating açaí bowls outside the local Sambazon while also quietly thinking that I hate açaí and that he is disgusting and likely pre-diabetic for eating the damned stuff. I get to chastise him sternly for being a dangerous parent when we drop our kids off at elementary school on bikes and his isn’t wearing a bicycle helmet because Rob forgot to put it on.

I get to see Rob Machado so much that he probably thinks we’re best friends or something.

It is time to recalibrate, right now, and admit that I don’t need anything else in my life for I am the luckiest son of a gun on earth.

Are you feeling thankful?

For what?

P.S. Goofy Café + Dine… if you make me a signature dish I’ll visit as long as it’s not gross açaí.