I am writing today from the shark bite capital of the world, New Smyrna Beach, Florida. The weather is currently a touch gloomy and threatening rain but the surf this morning was very fun. Peaky. I rode a Machado Seaside and it went fast and loose though was not good for all the Gorkin Flips I was attempting in honor of New Smyrna’s first son Aaron Cormican.
I failed to land one.
I’ll admit to thinking it would be fair if a shark bit me out there, thinking that it would even be valuable because imagine the damage I could do as a shark bite victim. Think of outrage I could manufacture. The undiluted outrage.
Alas, I was not bitten but a 44-year-old Scotsman celebrating his birthday in Reunion with his wife was. Not only bitten but completely eaten in a theoretically “shark free” swimming pond and it is our solemn duty to read the very latest from Scotland’s favorite newspaper Daily Mail.
A British tourist eaten by a shark was snorkelling in a designated ‘safe’ Indian Ocean lagoon – and was identified by his wife who was shown the wedding ring found on his severed hand in the beast’s stomach, it was revealed today.
Richard Martyn Turner, 44, and Verity Turner, from Edinburgh, were staying at the five-star Lux Réunion resort in Saint-Gilles on the paradise island of Reunion – 100 miles from Mauritius.
The civil servant was reported missing by Mrs Turner and she identified his remains after reportedly being shown his wedding ring found on a finger attached to his severed hand and arm pulled from the 9ft-plus shark.
The Foreign Office declined to comment on the victim’s identity yesterday. DNA tests are being carried out on the remains found inside the tiger shark to confirm that they belong to Mr Turner, it is understood.
The other three sharks will also have their stomach contents examined.
The Hermitage Lagoon was deemed safe for swimmers thanks to its calm, shallow waters of less than 6ft and its dense coral reef, which serves as a barrier that helps keep sharks out.
Damn those “man-eaters.” Heartless. Heartless each and every one from the Great White to the Tiger to the Hammerhead swimming around in theoretically safe lagoons and man-eating husbands. I think it is not safe for anyone else to surf today, especially married men. I think this particularly egregious mauling will inspire other sharks to perform copycat attacks.
Again, no surfing today.
Watch: “I am the voice of the voiceless, a Gandhi-like figure to oppressed professional surfers everywhere!”
The time for words is over. Action is now demanded.
Two days ago I stumbled across one of the most insidious throttlings of personal freedoms to ever appear on this green earth. No, it was not in some new edict issued by North Korea’s Kim Jong Un nor was it related to China’s Politburo. It sprang, rather, from the World Surf League’s very own rule book. From behind Santa Monica’s Wall of Positive Noise itself and let’s read Article 189 together again.
Individuals bound by this Policy shall not engage in any conduct which could cause damage to the image of the sport of surfing. For purposes of this Article, “damage to the image of the sport of surfing” is defined as any act, regardless of time or place, which casts the sport of surfing or WSL in a negative light.
The words seared my eyes as I read and forced a groan from my chest. Professional surfers, our professional surfers, are gagged, bound, held captive. Forced to head to Lemoore, California yearly and forced to say they like it and no.
Yesterday, I rode it to the post office on my bike and mailed to him.
He now has nine days, or maybe eight days to respond before the next act of civil disobedience happens. I was thinking of going old-school and picketing the World Surf League’s Santa Monica Global Headquarters this on Nov. 16th until I realized it was a Saturday so we should shoot for Friday Nov. 15th instead. Would you join me there? We’ll set a time that works for you and I’ll buy the cocktails afterward plus will provide light refreshments during the picketing so we don’t cramp up. Bananas and such. Maybe coconut water.
After that, if President Logan’s ears remain closed, what should we do? I’m running out of ideas and so you should join with me on Discord, a new social media thing that pokes the World Surf League’s evil partner Faceboook in the eye. A private link is at the end of the video.
And keep professional surfers in your thoughts and prayers today. Julian Wilson, Kolohe Andino, Kanoa Igarashi, Gabe Medina, etc. may look like they have everything; looks, skills, beautiful wives and girlfriends, money but without freedom it is all worthless.
All but filthy brass.
The Get Sent-esque void of repartee between Cote and O’Connell. Pat looked like he’d just rolled in from a Tijuana bachelor party. Chris looked pained. There were mistimed high fives. Forced humour and positivity.
Wall of Positivity report: “Elo is serving us a breakfast television schmaltz double down, fronted by twin Ellen DeGeneri and supported by compliant Labradors”
This isn't sports programming. This is morning TV.
Chas already broke the news of the WSL breaking the news that they actually had very little news to break at all about next year’s tour schedule.
We already knew about G-Land.
The Freshwater subtraction we were hoping for didn’t materialise.
Added together it equalled continual disappointment for surf fans. The arithmetic of failure.
Snapper, Bells, Margaret River, G-Land, yada yada. Are we 2019 or 1995?
Have you watched the video in full? The entire thirty minutes of overproduced, self-congratulatory onanism that should have been pissed into the wind as a Friday afternoon press release?
Here’s what the WSL’s own fans thought.
Jeff • 2 hours ago Get rid of Freshwater… back to Trestles for crying out loud, enough already. Straight snoozer.
john • 3 hours ago No Cloudbreak , well you are not putting your surfers in the best waves . Some contests this year were pathetic .
R.A. • 3 hours ago • edited just skip to the 29 minute mark so you don’t have to watch all the BS. Bring back Trestles and get rid of the Freshwater Pro!
kolbyp • 4 hours ago No more Trestles, No more Fiji…. Missing some of the best waves in the world. Freshwater pro is boring, reminds me of the beginning of the movie, North Shore. I understand why they go to Rio, huge market. More rights than lefts, it seems like the destinations can use some improvement.
Teddy • 4 hours ago Chris Cote is the single reason why I stopped following WSL.
Jo • 4 hours ago “The best breaks in the world” — and you put in Rio! 🤣🤣 👎👎 Where’s Cloudbreak? Fiji’s out, and we ALL have to suffer Rio! “Best breaks”… we’re not all suckers! 👎
The Wall of Positivity/Schmaltz shows cracks from the inside!
And my thoughts?
Watching, I imagined Chas as Colonel Kurtz, stuck like a prize pig by Chris Coté after being lured to some supposedly conciliatory pre-screening in an abandoned Santa Monica warehouse, slowly bleeding out, gasping in his last breaths, “the schmaltz, the schmaltz,” while Coté stands over him, bloody shiv in hand, and calls E-Lo on his flip phone to let him know, “It’s done.”
The “crosses” to the live booth for each reveal, which had Rosie and Strider and Pottz and Pete (no Ronnie) appearing as floating upper torsos forever trapped in their timber-panelled prisons, the stilted looks on their faces screaming ‘nuke the entire site from orbit, now!’ As one of our commenters asked, do you think they were just sitting in a room next to Chris and Pat? Either way it was L-O-L stuff.
The muzak for each location reveal, which sounded like the playlist in a noughties TV executive’s rape dungeon.
About half way through the broadcast it dawned on me.
This isn’t sports programming. This is morning TV.
E-Lo is serving us a breakfast television schmaltz double down, fronted by twin Ellen DeGeneri and supported by a coterie of compliant Labradors.
Bright lights. Upbeat music. Smiles! Smiles! Smiles! It’s all cream and no coffee. All pastry and no meat. All yin and no yang.
This is surfing’s soul, gutted, with extreme prejudice.
And now I see it’s not just Chas lying bloodied on the floor, but Derek too, and LT, and Jen, and JP, and Warshaw, and Negs, and Wiggoly’s Paddling Style, and Nick Carroll, and Maurice Cole, and Hynd, and Samuels, and Pezman, and Kidman, and Fletcher, and Reynolds, and Martinez, and Drouyn, and Dora, and Mike Boyum, and Banks, and Lynch, and they’re all crying out in unison: the schmaltz, the schmaltz!
… and I rejoice because I realise, what would a part time, amateur surf writer rant about without the continual misfirings of the WSL?
They… complete… me…
The shaper Dan Mann has a pedigree of super user friendly surfboards in the Firewire line. Notably, the Potato range. He credited intuition with creating this board for Kelly, which he did on spec. It sat unridden for two years before Kelly shredded Trestles on it and it entered the Slater Designs range. And he does shred on it, just like he did the 90's potato chips that Matt Biolos claims “stole the buzz from surfing”. By turns the modern shortboard has become more user-friendly in the last decade. Rec surfers can easily ride pro level boards, if sized correctly. The FRK, at least ridden as recommended by Kelly, is a return to a much more elite state of affairs.
Board review: Longtom on the Slater Designs FRK, “A board for teenaged kicks or Peter Pans who can’t let go of their youth!”
The modern shortboard has become more user-friendly in the last decade. The FRK, at least ridden as recommended by Kelly, is a return to a much more elite state of affairs.
I ain’t one for conspiracy theory, as a general rule. So when 11,000 scientists say we are in a climate emergency (today!) I tend to listen.
When I look around the normally verdant, sub-tropical paradise of Lennox Head and see something that looks more like Dustbowl Oklahoma than remnant Gondwanan rainforest I get twitchy. When the joint has been ringed by bushfires for two months before summer even starts, ash covering lineups, smoke-filled skies, air as dry as the Sahara I think, whoa, maybe we’ve cooked the goose here.
Hence the question: what the fuck can I do, what should I do?
A conundrum then, when I received the Slater Designs FRK, shipped from Thailand.
What if I kept that testing local? Reduced the carbon footprint per wave.
“The climate crisis is closely linked to excessive consumption of the wealthy lifestyle,” said the scientists and seeing as Kelly has one of the biggest lifestyles and a massive per wave carbon footprint at the tub, maybe I could offset some of his eco-footprint for the sake of future generations.
Kidding, but totally serious.
To do that meant some simple rules. No car travel. Obvs no flights, new keikis, or imported exotic foods. No new clothes etc etc. Walk or bike ride to the surf. Eat local foods. Easy crew.
The board itself. Is narrow, thin, foiled. Quite a departure from modern shortboard theory and a very big departure from the Cabianca DFK I was riding. That departure further exacerbated by the LFT construction, being EPS core and epoxy glass and following Kelly’s recommendation to go one size smaller than you would normally ride.
Been sucked into following Kelly’s board advice before, and I did it again. Mixed results, generally poor, as you might have guessed.
The 5’10” came in at twenty-seven litres, but felt far less under the arm. Very foiled rails. I walked past twin-fin doyen Torryn Martyn on the way to the opening session after a short bike ride to the Point and said, “Reckon you could ride this?”’
In the case of the FRK: Nothing that’s nice. I kooked the first half-dozen or so waves I caught. Juicy, head-high runners, lots of bottom tension. With the thinness, narrowness, low volume and LFT construction I had very little of the things I like in a HPSB: drive and control. Stuck behind sections, mostly.
Late in the session I managed a little backside finner. Very loose in the lip.
Couple more surfs followed: local points, a longish ride and paddle across a shark-infested river to a wedgey left were conducted with low carbon footprints per wave but confirmed initial impressions.
I’d been sucker-punched by Kelly, again.
Taking advice off anyone on surfboards is fraught with danger but please, do not take Kelly’s advice and buy this board under-sized. It’s wizard level trolling if he’s done it on purpose.
Look, I made this board work. But the hit rate was low.
It needs a steep, bowling wave. Most of my local points have side-wave energy running through them as incoming swells rebound and run back through the line-up. That makes wedges and “knuckles” – but flatter areas where you need to run “up hill” to get into the next wedge.
The LFT/FRK hated any kind of lateral surfing like that. Stopped dead.
It’s a board for teenaged kicks or Peter Pans who can’t let go of their youth. Hardest shortboard I’ve had to ride. Sizing it up a little and a change in construction and this thing would probably work fine, for me. Changing up fins didn’t effect my ride much, because the problem was an undersized hull.
I wonder if Firewire might not start to embrace different constructions. Hayden Shapes, a fellow traveller on the EPS/Epoxy road has intro’ed PE technology, PU blanks with epoxy resin. Rusty has embraced the same. Polystyrene has come under environmental scrutiny and these headwinds as well as the ride might force a change back to PU cores. Or at least something a bit more solid, like their earlier builds.
He credited intuition with creating this board for Kelly, which he did on spec. It sat unridden for two years before Kelly shredded Trestles on it and it entered the Slater Designs range. And he does shred on it, just like he did the nineties potato chips that Matt Biolos claims “stole the buzz from surfing”.
By turns, the modern shortboard has become more user-friendly in the last decade. Rec surfers can easily ride pro-level boards, if sized correctly. The FRK, at least ridden as recommended by Kelly, is a return to a much more elite state of affairs.
Outlier or new beginning? I say outlier. Kelly’s equipment choices have never really suited anyone but himself, with few exceptions.
Although this board didn’t work for me, I do credit it with inspiring perhaps the lowest carbon footprint session since Pat Curren in 1959.
Pre-dawn at the base of the Point. Bagged a ten-pound Giant Trevally on a stick bait. Stashed it in a rock pool and went surfing. Rode up to the Melaleuca swamp and peeled off some paperbark. Came home and cooked it wrapped in paperbark with warrigal greens.
With carbon intensive industries and lifestyles in the cross-hairs if we all lived more simply we would, in effect, be allowing Kelly to live his resource hungry life for as long as he lives. Entertaining us in the process.
That’s a fair trade, isn’t it?
Revealed: WSL surprises and delights by announcing G-Land as 2020’s stop number four; Freshwater Pro as stop number eight!
And there you were last evening, or yesterday morning depending where you lay your head, wondering what the World Surf League was going to announce as its advertised “surprise” today. To be quite honest with you, I couldn’t sleep, came downstairs early and logged on to worldsurfleague.com where I watched the Wall of Positive Noise in real time as traffic ambled past. I wish our Storyteller-in-Chief Erik “ELo” would run this camera year ’round.
And as enjoyable as it was, my heart almost stopped when these two icons popped up on screen.
After some friendly banter, of course, the show started in earnest and guess what the first stop is?
Gold Coast, which was somehow sold as a semi-surprise.
The show flagged a big as the ’89 World Championship Martin Potter got on the mic. I imagine ELo took a quick coffee break but then came what Chris Cotė described as, “the first surprise on the 2020 schedule.” Margaret River. How it was a surprise was not immediately clear but no time to wonder because off we went to Michelob Pure Organic Gold CBD commercial then…
…swirling rumors in the lineups and car parks Cotë frequents, what everyone was whispering about around him. The fourth stop is…
Very nice but still no time to ponder because off we went to stop number 5 also known as the Oi Rio Pro then six, J-Bay followed by seven…
…The Olympics, which isn’t a stop but pushes real stop seven, Tahiti, then stop number eight and can you guess? Do you even dare guess?
The Freshwater Pro and HA! Listening to Cotê and Pat O trying to sell it is worth finding the video and replaying. Pure gold. Pure storytelling gold and here’s the rumors I heard. It was 100% off the tour, due surfer hate and horrible numbers, but the WSL’s head non-surfing brass forced it down Pat’s throat even though he didn’t want it either, because it is their business model and leaving it off was to admit failure.
Anyhow, number nine is France and I assume ten is Portugal while eleven is Pipeline though don’t know because my WSL feed went dead.