Hero: Florida surfer sees captain of boat thrown overboard while out charging a wild storm, paddles over and saves the day!

"My adrenaline was just pumping..."

We’ve talked about our own personal acts of surfing heroism here before, how we’ve lent a nub of wax to a stranger in need, how we’ve winced, empathetically, when witnessing a poor soul step on a stingray. Beneath the crust, the grump, there a gorgeous benevolence but have you ever been out, surfing a storm and seen a boat attempting to come in to harbor when its captain got pitched overboard?

What would you do if you had seen such a thing?

Wince empathetically?

Well, a Florida hell charger one-upped us all and let us read about the harrowing tale of hero Burt Garnsey

A Florida man was surfing alone at the Boynton Inlet when he saw the captain go over, clawing at the boat’s Bimini top before falling into a frothy sea the color of steel.

The captain was in the water and the boat, with eight charter passengers aboard, bobbed precariously Sunday in powerful waves heaved at South Florida from a deepening coastal storm off the Carolinas.

Burt Garnsey was surfing alone at the Boynton Inlet when he saw the Starfish Scuba captain go over, clawing at the boat’s Bimini top before falling into a frothy sea the color of steel. Garnsey looked to the bridge of the 34-foot vessel. The wheel was unmanned.

“I just started paddling toward the boat,” said Garnsey, an experienced mariner whose family has worked on the water for three generations. “It was still sideways.”

Garnsey, 51, was eyeing the horizon at about 10:30 a.m. when the Starfish came into view, got whacked by a wave that turned it parallel to the whitewater, and then another that threw Starfish Captain Bradley Williams off the bridge.

Garnsey bellied in a wave toward the boat. Concerned it would capsize with no one on the bridge, he climbed up on the dive platform, undid the leash that attaches him to his surfboard and ran to the wheel.

“My adrenaline was just pumping,” said Garnsey, whose family owns the Boynton Beach-based Sea Mist III fishing charters, which was also out Sunday.

How does the tale end? Heroically of course with Garnsey even finding his board on the beach later.


The proposed $1.5 billion Maddison Estate development from 2012, with Slater pool as gorgeous centrepiece. | Photo: Tracks

Longtom investigates WSL’s billion-dollar Australian wavepool development, part II: “An ad man and property developer walk into a bar and say, ‘Have I got a deal for you!'”

Stark's pitch: trust us, we're the WSL, would we/could we do wrong? May need some refinement.

Roman Polanki’s 1974 film noir classic Chinatown deals with corruption over access to water in early 20th century Los Angeles. Basically, the story of the subjugation of public good by private greed.

It’s been on my mind a lot lately, since 2013 actually, when Kelly Slater soft-launched his tub as part of a $A1.5 billion development proposal called Maddison Estate in Pimpama, “the last remaining rural town on the Pacific Motorway between Brisbane and the Gold Coast.” The property developer behind that development was the Gold Coast entrepreneur Peter Drake.

Maddison Estate had a stall at the then Quiksilver Pro, in those heady last days of the ASP. Glossy brochures, babes and studs standing around in the Queensland sun pitching the project, almost three years before the wavepool reveal that shocked the surfing world.

“Maddison Estate is an exclusive community, however, the general public will be able to access the wave experience,” Kelly Slater Wave Co. GM Noah Grimmett told ESPN.com in 2012.

But, the project, which was going to take seven years to build, never got up.

In 2015, Drake became the third biggest bankrupt in Australian history with debts of $337 million. He reported personal assets of “a block of land worth $500, two second-hand cars and a little over $1,000 in the bank.”

A little background about the sunshine state.

Queenslanders love property development.

From time to time the state is disfigured by paroxysms of development. The Gold Coast, canal estates, high-rises, etc etc. Bulldozers are like crack cocaine to a certain type of human animal. The state even has its own mythological developers who exerted an outsize influence on the political process, the so-called white-shoe brigade.

The developer behind Coolum Surf Ranch, Don O’Rorke is as good as they get. A very fine, sharp stud, known by his peers as the “baby-faced assassin.” Don loves his go-outs, gets a yearly trip to the Ments on his pal Brian White’s boat, the Indies Trader 3 and is famously known for his aversion to litigation.

An AFR profile in August describes a framed cheque on his desk that reads, “$600,000 dispute, $5 million in legal fees, $200,000 settlement.” According to Don, “It reminds everyone of two things; one, the futility of litigation and two, don’t fuck with us because we will go the distance.”

Don’s one of us, except with vastly deeper pocket. He donated the land and a half-a-million dollars for the Hurley HPC and was subsequently made a life member of Surfing Australia. The organisation that Andrew Stark led for close enough to a decade and left to join the WSL, with close to a singular mission: get the first Kelly Slater tub launched in Australia.

Property developers, you won’t be surprised to hear, are the largest political donors in Queensland, or at least they were.

Don’s Consolidated Properties (CPG) was no slouch in that regard, barely missing a podium finish, with the fourth largest developer contributions. The last developer to make a donation to the Australian Labor Party (which holds power in Queensland) on the day the Premier banned them in Oct, 2017?

Don’s CTP. He got in a $33,500 donation that day, following on from a $16,000 donation a few weeks before.

Perspectives on property developers giving money to politicians are very much in the eye of the beholder. For developers like Don, it’s all about good government relations.

Others see undue influence. Less charitable views exist, like that of the Crime and Corruption Commission who found a “risk, or perceived risk, of corruption at the local government level arising from political donations from property developers.”

Don’s big break was a Casuarina, a long stretch of coastal land, where according to renowned surf journalist Nick Carroll, he “saw a future where others saw bugger all.”

People did see other things, though.

They saw bush and tried to preserve it. The process was not quite as squeaky clean and praiseworthy as Carroll paints it. In May 2005, the Tweed Shire Council, which hosts Casuarina, was sacked after an independent report found it had been the puppet of developers. Pro-development councillors were funded by a lobby group called Tweed Directions and Emeritus Prof Maurice Daly said councillors whose candidacies were funded by Tweed Directions no longer had the public’s confidence and were not able to carry out the council’s functions.

Don O’Rorke, who was building Casuarina at the time, donated $50000 to Tweed Directions. All perfectly legal and there is no suggestion otherwise.

A good pal to Andrew Stark, as is now widely known. Starky is an ex ad-man.

An ad man and property developer walk into a bar and say, “Have I got a deal for you.”

Which is pretty much what happened at Coolum in their “community consultation.” A later radio interview mentioned one-on-one meetings with environment groups who thought building a huge urban development on a floodplain was a spectacularly bad idea.

The radio interview gave the impression the groups concerns had been allayed.

I foot-slogged it through Nambour, the old faded cane town half-an-hour inland from Coolum, looking for the Sunshine Coast Environment Centre. A low-set building nestled in a back alley, around the corner from a community building where an outdoor soup kitchen was set-up, a dozen hard scrabble crew leaning against a wall smoking cigarettes.

“They’re good at building on floodplain,” said the Chris Cooper look-alike before assuring me that none of the groups who had done the one on one consultations were swallowing the Kool-Aid.

I have an XDI* report about climate risk in front of me.

Should we talk about climate risk? Boo, hiss!

We already know what they will say: increased impacts expected from sea-level rise, storm surge and flooding on the short, coastal Maroochy catchment. Bigger floods, greater inundation, higher insurance costs, evacuation plans for residents. Nuts. Gimme my man-made floodplain toobs and eco-lodge.

Have you heard about Blue Heart, the latest WSL Pure campaign? It aims to build blue carbon, the sexiest form of carbon, by sequestering it in coastal wetlands.

I kid, Blue Heart is a Sunshine coast directive aimed at blue carbon in the Maroochy wetlands. It’s under direct threat, of course, by the Coolum Surf Ranch proposal. Reece Pacheco, head of WSL Pure, has been contacted for comment. Crickets at time of publication.

I have a local property developer pal too.

“It’s fucking swamp,” he said about the proposed site. “They’ll have to build canals and lakes, as well as the wavepool just to elevate the building sites.”

The chief engineer, Dr Trev Johnson, is a specialist in, wait for it… engineering canals.

Where is the water coming from? asked Genevieve in instalment one.

Mr O’Rorke stated it would not be taken from reticulated town water but, extracted from the nearby Maroochy River, its associated waterways and interconnected ground water via a complex (and unsustainable) pumping system into the pool then circulated onto constructed wetlands and a series of ‘lakes’ – presumably for the upmarket ‘lakefront’ housing lots.

This risky and energy intensive process could severely impact on the hydrology of the river and its protected wetlands.

Coolum Creek Conservation Park and the regenerating Yandina Creek Wetlands are within proximity to this site. The mobilisation of hundreds of thousands of cubic metres of acid sulfate soils to “create” an aspirational “developable” area of some 125 hectares (308 acres)  compounds the unacceptable risk from this project.

That’s the presser from the Sunny Coast Environment Council, btw, after the one-on-one with Don and Starky.

Stark’s pitch: trust us, we’re the WSL, would we/could we do wrong? May need some refinement.

2032 Olympic venue? Rejected by Tokyo and Paris, the universe where the wavepool is the accepted venue is becoming an increasingly parallel one. A spokesperson from Tourism Minister Kate Jones office said it was way too early to have discussions about potential Olympic venues but that Queensland Tourism remained committed to promoting Queensland’s natural assets.

Sounds like a yeah, but nah, to me: we got miles of beaches and we want to promote them.

Nick Carroll asked us to sympathise with Starky’s plight, forced to pitch a very difficult proposal after the Florida Palm Beach debacle. I do feel a little sorry for them that they are not pitching this in the age of the old print mags, where sympathetic coverage by the old-boy network, if not outright advocacy, could be assured.

We don’t even need to speculate on that.

A piece in this month’s Tracks by veteran surf journalist Phil Jarratt handled Stark with the gentlest of velvet gloves. His relationship with Don O’Rorke got one sentence in one paragraph. The timeline of being tapped on the shoulder by the WSL to deliver on the pool while his pal needed some sizzle to sell a piece of very soggy steak where both partners could turn floodplain into billions of dollars was not discussed.

Where’s it at?

There’s no record of any proposal with council, so they are being truthful, which means the development is grinding through (what I am assured is a very thorough process) in the Queensland State Assessment and Referral Agency (SARA). Until, and if or when the WSL/CPG release a Draft Masterplan and start telling local residents and surfers what’s really up and how much it will cost them to get their floodplain toobs the whole process is nothing more than a sales pitch that is haemorrhaging trust.

It’s probable we will never get the exact timeline, and who approached who.

Carroll calls the arrangement between Stark, the WSL guy and O’Rorke a “beautiful confluence of interests.”

Very much murky waters ahead comrades.

But, I doubt we will walk away, like Jack Nicholson’s Jake Gittes was advised to in the closing scene of Chinatown with the immortal words: “Forget it Jake, it’s Chinatown”.

Next: The case for!

*XDI=Cross Dependency Initiative.


Watch: Mean-spirited bully shark heartlessly knocks sweet, innocent seven-year-old boy off his surfboard!

Feel the outrage.

And apparently there is no depth to which the merciless shark will not stoop, no valley low enough, as it were. No forbidden fruit nor moral baseline.

Bastards.

They are pure bastards all. It makes karmic/theoretical sense for the vicious beats to eat grown men all haggard and likely alcoholic but knocking the cutest seven-year-old ever off his surfboard?

No.

Many steps too far.

And this sort of behavior cannot be excused but before we get completely outraged let’s learn about the harrowing tale of Chandler Moore from the unbiased pages of CNN whose knew slogan demands that we “Go There.”

Chandler Moore, 7, of Orlando, Florida, and his family went to New Smyrna Beach on Saturday for some post-Thanksgiving fun. His dad, Shaun Moore, told CNN it was a “picture perfect” day for surfing.

“It was almost 80 degrees, sunny and the waves were good,” Shaun Moore, 40, said. “The beach was crowded and there were a ton of surfers out.”

The father and son went into the water with their boards. Moore said Chandler has been surfing since he was 4.

They spotted a wave to ride. Moore said he gave Chandler a push on the board. As Chandler stood and steadied himself on the board, he was knocked down by … something.

“I was just surfing and then I saw two fish,” Chandler told CNN. “I thought the thing that hit me was a fish.”

They replayed the footage caught by the GoPro camera attached to Chandler’s surfboard.

“When we looked back I saw it was actually a shark,” Chandler said. “I was like, ‘Oh my gosh.'”

Oh my gosh is right and could not the shark have let young Chandler feel the thrill a bit longer before being such a jerk? Such an incredible, heartless jerk?

What’s next? Sharks smashing four-year-olds’ sandcastles?

Stealing ice-cream from two-year-olds?

Worse?

The outrage.

The pure outrage.


Cairns, left, Townend, right.

Original Bronzed Aussies celebrate new “Aussie Assault” in Hawaii as four of their countrymen qualify for 2020!

"Performances in Hawaii still count!

But do you remember the last time brave Australians carried out an assault in Hawaii, on Oahu’s North Shore? Of course you do. Of course you remember it like you were there yourself, island rot filling your nostrils, tension lingering on less-than-inviting trade winds because you have seen the now classic documentary Bustin’ Down the Door.

The year was 1975 and Rabbit Bartholomew, Ian Cairns, Peter Townend had come to Hawaii to test their mettle, winning contests, causing much ruckus. It was a watershed moment in professional surfing, one that echoes through eternity and let’s watch a short clip and listen to Edward Norton’s unmistakable drawl.

Very inspiring and is history repeating itself some 45 years later?

Maybe, for a new quadrant of Australian surfers has busted through the floor at the very last minute, officially qualifying for the Big Dance and let us go to Peter Townend’s Facebook for context.

For the first time in a long time we’ve had an “Aussie Assault” on WSL/WQS final rankings with four(4)Aussies qualifying for the 2020 WSL Championship Tour lead by Jack Robinson’s win at the Vans World Cup at Sunset and solid North Shore performances from Ethan Ewing, Conner O’Leary and Morgan Cibilic proving Ian Cairns’s theory that the performances in Hawaii still count as a few that had been WQS “Top Ten” for most of the year didn’t make the cut with poor performances at Haleiwa and Sunset!

Very exciting.

Which one will shine brightest next year? The smart money says Jack Robinson but I’ve got a feeling about Morgan Cibilic. I’m smelling a rookie of the year push.

No?

Also, has Edward Norton stopped acting? I can’t recall a recent movie starring him.

More as the story develops.


"Look mom, cancer!"

Menacing “toxin-filled froth” covers India’s most popular beach as unknowing teens snap selfies in, surfers paddle through, its acrid stench!

Like Huntington Beach only.... frothier!

Do you like to surf after a storm or do you play it cautiously and wait to paddle for the prescribed sixty-odd hours? As a child, growing up on the Oregon coast, I loathed the perpetual drizzle, the non-stop wet and grey, but giant rain squalls often calmed the ocean’s angry surface enough for fun surfs. In southern California, though, I learned that rains bring toxic run-off. Very yuck. Very gross with hairy bubbles etc. gliding on the water and so try to avoid post-rain surfs for at least a few hours.

At least we don’t live in India, I suppose, for there a “toxic-filled froth” washes up on the beach after the monsoon and let’s learn about this new environmental horror. Let’s really dig our teeth in to Al-Jazeera, which means The Peninsula, I believe.

A menacing white foam covered one of India’s most famous beaches in Chennai for the fourth straight day on Monday creating a new pollution hazard for the country.

Children have been playing and taking selfies in the clouds of white suds on Marina Beach, even though they give off an acrid smell and fishermen have been told not to go into the sea nearby.

Doctors have warned that skin problems could be caused by the foam, which forms every monsoon season but has been particularly bad this year.

Word has not got through to the hundreds of families who throng India’s longest urban beach, letting children happily skip in the toxin-filled froth.

The Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board said it is analysing samples from the foam which has spread several kilometres along the beach.

“It is definitely not good for people to go into the foam but they just do not understand the risks,” said Pravakar Mishra, a scientist at the National Centre for Coastal Research in Chennai who has seen the clouds of foam grow in recent years.

Much like surfers, I suppose, not waiting the prescribed sixty-odd hours, post-storm, for a paddle.

Also, can Kelly Slater’s Surf Ranch incorporate this phenom into its upcoming Freshwater Classic ’20? I think watching our professionals battle each other, and a toxin-filled froth, would be good viewing. I think numbers would certainly go up.