Florence on relationship with Slater: “We had this cat that kind of lived between our houses, one day Kelly called me and said — the cat’s name was Kitty — he said: ‘Kitty’s dead!'”

A peek behind the curtain!

The New York Times is one of the most well-respected journalistic institutions in the entire world. That sometimes beautiful, sometimes cruel, always gimlet eye’d Gray Lady has published too many important, life-impacting stories over the last century to even count and so when she bends down and whispers of our surf, I listed with bated breath.

Just yesterday, live from Oahu’s North Shore, an important New York Times journalist sat down with John John Florence to discuss many things, including coming into the Pipeline Masters with a potential trip to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics on the line with Kelly Slater, the greatest of all-time, the greatest to ever do it, possibly making his own Olympic push and let’s dip into the middle of the piece.

Florence, 27, has stared at and surfed this stretch of Sunset Beach all of his life. The house where he grew up is directly in front of Pipeline. His mother still lives over there, and Kelly Slater, the 47-year-old, 11-time world champion — a mentor, friend and rival to Florence — lives next door to her. Florence can walk there in just a couple of minutes.

Growing up looking at Pipeline, then surfing it, Florence’s favorite pro surfer was Slater, a seven-time champion of the Pipe Masters event. He used to watch Slater surf that break in the winter. He wanted to be Slater. Then Slater moved in. His hero became a neighbor. It took Florence years on tour to get used to competing against him.

“We had this cat at my mom’s house that kind of lived between the houses,” Florence said, choosing a story from a couple of years ago to illustrate their relationship. “And one day he called me and said — the cat’s name was Kitty — he said: ‘Kitty’s dead. I found Kitty under the house.’ He came over and helped us bury him, and he said a few words for the cat.”



This parable seems extremely vital but what does it signify?

What does it mean?

The cat named Kitty is symbolic but symbolic of what?

The World Surf League?

Professional surfing in general?

Something more prosaic?


(And read the rest here!)

Zeke Lau throws shade on Jack Robinson’s Sunset win: “How is it okay for the interfering surfer to gain so much advantage from a collision and an interference not be called?”

“Back in the day, they would’ve got cracks after getting run over #nojoke” says noted enforcer Johnny Boy Gomes.

The surfing world’s been falling over itself in praise of Australian Jack Robinson’s emphatic Sunset victory and 2020 tour qualification.

And rightly so. Such a dominant performance hasn’t been seen since Gabby Medina eviscerated the field at Pipe in 2017.

But should it have been Hawaiian Zeke Lau standing there on the podium across the Kamehameha Highway, guzzling cheap champagne from the winner’s goblet and gushing to Shannon Hughes about how pumped he was for next year’s championship tour?

An incident at the start of the final, almost lost in the background noise of Jack’s performance, has slid that question into the narrative like a cold glance from an old lover.

Zeke’s first wave was a finely threaded tube through the Sunset bowl. The very well constructed Hawaiian took a high line through a collapsing section, momentarily disappearing from view.

Jack had caught the wave previous and was sitting square in the impact zone. Guessing Zeke’s line would have been difficult, with Zeke obscured, but Jack chose to paddle for the shoulder instead of the foam.

He then bailed his board as the lip pitched, arguably causing Zeke to fall as he exited the heaving cavern.


Picture Rick Kane on Vince Mohaloka to get an idea of the transgression.

A high score went begging, as did Zeke’s priority.

At the time there was some brief discussion from the commentary team but little mention of an interference. Both surfers had to swap the boards due to damage sustained.

Soon after Jack started dropping bombs and the incident was, seemingly, forgotten.

The two surfers even shared a warm embrace after the buzzer.

But today Zeke took to his instagram to give his side of the story.

“When a surfer is put in a position while paddling out that they cannot get out of the way and a collision happens due to this, it is up to a majority of the judges to call interference based on whether it is determined to be accidental or not”.

My opinion is that we are “professional surfers”. The best of the best! Going off the rule, surfer in white COULD have gotten out of the way. From this video clip you can see surfer in white has enough time to make a conscious decision where to paddle. Just so happens that the line he chose is directly where I drew my line to come out of the barrel, which is the ONLY option I had. The surfer paddling out has options to avoid the surfer on the wave. He should be in the channel paddling back out. It should come down to who had priority over the situation. These 2 surfers are not equal in this specific case and the rules should benefit the surfer on the wave utilizing priority.

This ride would have been the first major score of the heat, but was deemed incomplete because surfer in white chose to BAIL his surfboard causing me to fall off, hindering the scoring potential of my wave, breaking my board, and leaving white with priority. How is it okay for the interfering surfer to gain so much advantage from a collision and an interference not be called?

The highlighted rule 168 section 3 ENABLES controversy and should be addressed.

Thanks to everyone for all the supportive messages. Let me know what you guys think!”

Zeke needed the win to requalify for next year.

Very high stakes, as they say.

The absolute dominance of Jack on the rest of the final was inarguable, however.

But was this a Sliding Boards moment?

Should Jack have copped an interference? Did the early collision throw Zeke off his game, thus robbing him of a fair chance to win?

Zeke seems to be stopping short of calling for a review and potential re-surf aka Medina in Portugal.

But he is calling for the WSL to review rule 168 section 3.


Jack himself has since responded to the post: “Everyone has there (sic) opinion, but when you are in the moment the only thing I thought of was to get to the shoulder and also not get ran over it was safety first for me. I have the highest ever respect for you Zeke so I would never try and get in the way of you.”

We’ll leave the last word to Johnny Boy Gomes:

“Back in the day, they would’ve got cracks after getting run over #nojoke”


Happy founders, Ant Macdonald, Stirling Howard, Mick Fanning and happy man whom I don't know but has beguiling smile.

Mick Fanning and pals sell beer company Balter Brewing Co for rumoured “many, many millions!”

Balter, the King of Beers!

In business-slash-surf news, three-timer champ Mick Fanning has sold the beer label he started in 2016 with pals Bede Durbidge, Josh Kerr, Sean Ronan, Joel Parkinson, Mick Fanning, Stirling Howland, Scott Hargraves and Ant Macdonald to Carlton United Breweries for a rumoured two-hundred mill.

Two hundred mill?

Ooowee, that’s a little a rich for a company that brewed four million litres last year, yeah?

Aren’t the press releases saying an “undisclosed amount”?

That’s the figure kicking around CUB, the iconic Australian brewer that was bought by Japan’s Asahi for $16 billion in 2016, according to an employee.

In response, I figured he meant twenty but he hit me back on a text, real quick, no, two hundred.

Two years ago, Joel Parkinson was quoted somewhere, still looking for that story, saying they wouldn’t sell for under two-hundred mill as there were 46 investors involved in getting the thing off the ground.

Still, I couldn’t bring myself to put that figure in a headline, hence “many, many millions”, which, I think, will prove to be accurate when the amount is released in a few days.

According to Radio Brew News,

“We’ve been the subject of so many buyout rumours since the very first day we started, and we’ve been sold probably 50 or so times already. It just turns out that the 51st time is actually true,” he said.

The team explained that the deal with CUB came about as a result of Balter’s exponential growth, and that its plans to grow further in the coming years required a capital injection.

A number of factors came into play for us,” explained Howland.

“We’ve been going at a pretty crazy trajectory for a number of years now, It’s been a wonderful ride but it definitely a ride that hasn’t just been smooth sailing.

“We’ve got a hard-working engine in this business and if you rev the engine for a long period of time it can take its toll.”

He said that discussions had begun after the GABS Hottest 100 in January, when the Balter team were approached by CUB.

“We talked amongst ourselves about what it would mean.

“When you’re under the pressure that the team is, to be able to relieve that was an enticing opportunity for us.

“We’ve built this brand into something that Aussies really love and we’ve got a staff here that are the backbone and the underpinning of all that.

“We had to delve deep into what it meant for all those things and whether they’d be compromised or not.”

He said that the business was launched with the help of 46 friends and family, and along with securing the future of its staff at the business, paying their early supporters back was a key consideration in the decision making process.

“We’ve had friends and family invest in Balter since day one, when we were just an idea on paper. Without those 46 friends and family none of this would have got off the ground the way it has.

“For some of them, it was their life savings which was pretty nerve wracking for us.

“For us to be able to sit here today and be able to say we didn’t mess it up, it’s a pretty good feeling.”

When it comes to staff, Balter’s sales team will remain in place and its more than 60 existing staff have their jobs secured when it comes to the deal, said the team.

Macdonald said that the deal needed to be a “win-win” for everyone.

“We’ve been contacted for years from all multinationals and other independents and we never really entertained it,” he said.

“Nothing ever ticked all the boxes from an investor and employee perspective.

“A lot of people think the boys chipped in millions to start with but that didn’t happen, we’re the same as any other business.

“It takes a lot of money to continue to run a business at this pace, sometimes you’ve got to step back and really understand the risk, and we’ve taken a lot of risk on this business,” Macdonald explained.

He said that the deal with CUB was about futureproofing the business.

“The partnership we’ve formed with CUB [allows us to hold onto] our integrity.

“We talk a lot about de-risking the business, that’s a really important thing moving forward.

“There’s a lot of saturation in the market at the moment, there’s a lot of micro and macro economic pressures on the economy, our forecast for the next two years weren’t as buoyant as they were a year ago.

“If we can achieve all our goals as senior management, still brew the beer here, execute the brand we want and be able to pay back our family and friends and protect our staff it’s a win-win for everyone and we’re excited to grow Balter further in the future.”

Listen here.




Gimme dem feet!
Gimme dem feet!

Breaking: “Very aggressive” twelve-foot Tiger shark bites, deflates, stand-up paddle board then chases terrified pilot to shore!

Very scary.

Oh I hope you are not in Maui right now nor anywhere near for a “very aggressive” Tiger shark, measuring twelve-feet, has a taste for man in its mouth but was left completely unsatisfied when trying to eat one. And what would you do if you were over two football fields in length away from the shoreline there on an inflatable stand-up paddle board?

Much suspension of disbelief already, I know, but then what if you felt the air going out of your vessel, turned around and saw a massive beast with its teeth stuck right in, inhaling compressed air and poor lifestyle choices?

It would be terrifying, the thought of being eaten whilst riding an inflatable SUP, no? And let us learn what happened just yesterday to Larry Oberto of Seattle and Maui. Let us keep our fingers crossed, hoping beyond hope that everything turned out ok.

State officials say a 10-12-foot-long Tiger shark deflated an inflatable stand-up paddle board about 200 yards off shore from 1681 Halama Street in Kīhei on Maui on Tuesday morning, Dec. 3.

The man aboard the inflatable at the time, was in the ocean with a group of other paddlers when the shark bit the back of his inflatable.

57-year-old Larry Oberto of Maui and Seattle, said the shark bit the back of his inflatable which immediately deflated. Another paddler, identified by Oberto as AJ Gaston was nearby on a board so he saw swam over to him and got on his board, according to DLNR reports.

The paddle boarders say the shark was “acting very aggressively” and pursued them to shore, according to information compiled by the state Department of Land and Natural Resources.

Larry Oberto (pictured) mocking his tormentor.
Larry Oberto (pictured) mocking his tormentor.

So Larry Oberto had to ride nuts-to-butts on another man’s inflatable stand-up paddle board while an overly-furious beast chased them all the way to shore?

The indignity is only more horrifying that actually getting eaten and ending that string of poor lifestyle choices.

Again, if you are in Maui, or anywhere near including but not limited to Oahu, Kauai, California, the best thing to do is stay out of the water for at least six-months.

More as the story develops

Watch: Metallica x BeachGrit x Billabong x Randy Irons!

And win AI Forever/Metallica merch!

It is a warmish fall day in San Francisco. A pea soup fog has eaten up the Pacific Ocean teepees at Ocean Beach and, on the streets of the Mission District where BeachGrit is accumulating camera equipment at the creative agency Avocados and Coconuts, the hordes of homeless people, who outnumber the homed five-to-one, are enjoying the sun from their sidewalk perches.

BeachGrit is in the famous port city to interview and film Metallica, the American musical act whom you may’ve heard of, for a collaboration with surf co Billabong.

Might we, which includes the director Jack Boston, 16mm filmer Michael Clifford and audio man Michael Perez, be able to sprinkle our fairy dust on the collaboration and create seven different short films to coincide with each capsule, five tied to their first five albums, Kill Em All, Ride the Lightning, Master of Puppets, And Justice For All and the self-titled, Metallica, aka the Black Album?

Well, yes.

After a forty-five minute drive from the Mission, across the Golden Gate Bridge, a short meander through the green hills of Marin County and past the Museum of International Propaganda, BeachGrit stops at a single-store warehouse, painted in white, just off the 101 and abutting a Middle School.

A barbecue is busy outside the sliding door, a Mexican chef busy on the griddle.

Inside, the walls are decorated with the detritus of three decades of touring and recording.

One wall features six captured mice (one withered animal with “XXX 30 Years Strong” written above its corpse) and a large cockroach (“Here Lies Papa Roach”). Vintage Black Sabbath posters, framed album covers (Queen: Sheer Heart Attack, Thin Lizzy: Live and Dangerous), a map of the world (“Places we’ve gigged”) and busted guitars and flags and so on create a homely sorta feel, made even more so by staffers that don’t appear to just like their jobs, but to live ’em.

In the carpark, James Hetfield’s assistant sees me peering into the front of his boss’s 1940, I think, pale blue Chevrolet convertible, asks for my phone, and takes a well-framed photo of me and the pretty car.

Before the interview, there is a photo shoot for the band’s whiskey label Blackened. I mention to the guitarist Kirk that a bottle would be appreciated. Later, he gifts three, a net gain of $129 dollars.

(At eight am the following morning, driving with sweaty hands and an irregular heartbeat, alone and with dark thoughts, through hairpin bends from Big Sur back to Los Angeles, I regret, very much, asking for the booze.)

In a back room, waiting for the rest of the band to be free, I ask James, a considerable man who is six-feet and two inches in socks but with a cowboy and hat and boots is elevated well above his interlocutor, if he has a private jet.

“No! Do you?” he says.

The interview features all four members of the band, James, Lars and the two surfers in the group, Kirk Hammett and Roberto Trujillo.

Back in 2007, in a similar deal, Billabong launched a Metallica collaboration and the band were filmed and photographed with Andy Irons, a surfboard illuminated by flames.

All four have very fond memories of Randy, James enjoyed his rebelliousness and Roberto and Kirk were a little starstruck, I think, to be in his orbit.

There are two short films for the AI-Forever collection, one with Seth Moniz, the other with classic footage of Randy.

The AI Forever-Metallica collaboration is available from today and, if you want to leave a very kind note, below, the writer of the sweetest will receive a package that includes a short-sleeved t-shirt with the twin skull artwork by skateboard artist Pushead – known for 1980s skateboard deck graphics and Thrasher Magazine designs – next to the insignia AI Forever, a pair of camo surf trunks with the Metallica logo, a long-sleeve tee which is a throwback to the 2008 album Death Magnetic that inspired the initial collaboration with Irons and a cotton corduroy jacket has a Ride the Lightning style Metallica logo.