The frailties of Prophecy: How the WSL and Surfline got the Pipe Masters forecast so wrong!

The beautiful unpredictability of ol ma ocean…

If there’s one beautiful thing left in this charred piece of steak we call mother earth, it’s the unpredictability of the ocean.

Even with all the buoys, virtual and real, computer modelling and so on, man still can’t correctly predict what the surf’s going to be like even one day out.

To wit, for the past few days, the Pipe Masters has been readying itself for a six-to-eight-foot west swell.

“Finals Day is looking really likely for tomorrow” has been the mantra although each morning sleepy eyes on the North Shore reveal nothing like the official surf forecaster, Surfline, predicted.

Here’s a few days of tweets.

Now with two days left in the waiting period, one presumes tomorrow is the day.

But who knows, yes?

The one man I can always count on, and whose eponymous youtube channel always leaves me feeling moderately high, is Jamie O’Brien, who grew up in a rental house at Pipe, won the Pipe Masters in 2004 and who bought his own domicile behind the famous Lopez house, one hundred or so steps from the sand.

Jamie, now thirty-six, was shopping for Christmas presents in Haleiwa when I called.

“Everyone kept asking for my two cents, it doesn’t matter for me, I’m not in it,” says Jamie.

I point out that as a former Mr Pipe Masters and a long-term resident of that stretch of sand and reef, his opinion is worth something.

Jamie laughs and says, “I think it’ll be stressful to be one of those three guys trying to win a world title trying to figure out if it’s going to be the beautiful Pipe they’ve been training for or an air contest.”

For tomorrow, he says it’s going to be “pretty dang good. The swell is 320 degrees which is the almost perfect direction (north-north-west). The wind looks tremendously better than today. I think it’ll be six-plus but the winds might be weird. It’ll start off north-east (good) but then it could be funky. This season has been hard to judge. All the wind models have  been wrong this year.”

And the sand that promises a terrific closeout end section?

“Well, the sand was crazy, the north-east swell brought a lot of sand in. The sand’s not all gone but it definitely looks a lot better than the other day.”

I mention that it’s been fifteen years since he won the Pipe Masters.

“Goddammit,” says Jamie, who won the event as a Rip Curl wildcard. He adds that the labyrinth one must navigate to get into the contest is too much for most to bear.

“You need to have enough points to qualify for the Volcom Pro, then you have to get through four heats or better to get into the Billabong Pipe Masters trials and then you have to get a first or second to get into the Pipe Masters. It’s a nightmare.”

Is he excited for finals day?

“I’m pumped. It’ll be a good show. Finals day is awesome for multiple reasons. The world title showdown happens and I’m excited for everyone to go home. It’s a win-win.”

The shark's manager already angling for rematch.
The shark's manager already angling for rematch.

“Thousands of Great White sharks” gather off the Carolinas and in a “shockingly rare” display begin “bullying and abusing” the universally adored dolphin!

"Sociopathic and wrong."

And this is a bridge to far even for me, even for a surf-cum-shark journalist all too familiar with the severe personality disorders on display amongst that apex predator population. It is one thing for these “man-eating” beasts to knock a seven-year-old boy off his surfboard, terrifying him in the process and likely sending him into therapy for many years and many more thousands of dollars.

Quite another to begin bullying and abusing everyone’s favorite marine creature besides whales.

The fun, lovable, likely better-than-human bottlenose dolphin.

And you would be forgiven for assuming that shark on dolphin violence is standard operating procedure in the deep blue, much like “athlete” on “brain” or “criminal” on “princess” violence is in today’s high school but you would also be wrong.

And we must turn to Myrtle Beach Online for the very latest in this ongoing saga, this current shark-pocalypse.

Proof of a rarely witnessed predator-on-predator sea battle emerged days ago off South Carolina’s Kiawah Island, when a bottlenose dolphin was seen with evidence of a large shark bite.

That’s unexpected because sharks reportedly “swim in fear of dolphins,” which are quicker and more agile than sharks in a fight to the death, according to experts at SeaWorld.

What became of the shark is a mystery. However, news of the attack comes as “thousands” of great white sharks are gathering off the Southeastern U.S. for winter, shark researchers say.

“We believe this dolphin got lucky and survived a shark bite,” Rust wrote on Facebook.

“Dolphins are considered a top predator and generally don’t interact with sharks. But sometimes sharks will target young or sick dolphins, possibly when food resources are low.”

Or perhaps when competition is tough.

If these Great Whites are sociopathic enough to chew the universally adored dolphin how do you think you’d fare all pug-nosed, human and gross?

I’ll tell you now. Not well.

Not well at all.

If you happen to be thinking about surfing in Carolina, either north or south, in the next few months I would very much reconsider.

I would very much reconsider altogether.

Watch: Famous podcaster Joe Rogan shocked and outraged upon learning the cost for one hour at Kelly Slater’s Surf Ranch!

"Kelly Slater getting p-p-p-paid!"

You’ve seen Kelly Slater on the world’s most famous podcast sitting there across from the equally bald Joe Rogan. You’ve also likely seen Shane Dorian, also bald, discussing big waves and hunting. Today you shall see Hawaiian mixed martial artist Max Holloway, friend of Makuakai Rothman etc.

The conversation veers to surfing as Max was recently featured in a program that showcased his ability. Joe talks about surfing being a difficult thing mostly because the ocean is a difficult place, albeit solved by Kelly Slater’s Surf Ranch.

Max counters that he’s heard it feels different than surfing an actual wave. Joe adds, without seeming to have experience, that it is more predictable and a great “hack” as it were, like running on a treadmill.

“Imagine all the practice you could get.” He says.

The two continue to chat about Surf Ranch when an offscreen voice, the producer I believe, says he read on ESPN that it cost $10,000 per hour to surf the inland facility.

The ensuing banter is absolutely priceless.

"You MUST come to the country house this spring. We've just renovated the guest quarters..."
"You MUST come to the country house this spring. We've just renovated the guest quarters..."

Luxury lifestyle magazine declares: “Winter surfing is the new skiing!”


Would you consider your lifestyle luxurious? I mean, if you really took it apart, dissecting where you live, what you drive, what sort of coffee you drink, the BeachGrit shirt you are wearing right now (buy here) would it be considered opulent by the vast majority of the world’s population?

I think yes for all of us and especially because we are surfers, the new skiers shushing, driving Audis with fancy Swedish rack systems, vacationing in St. Moritz etc. and let us go straight to the luxury lifestyle magazine Condé Nast Traveller for a look at the hot new trend sweeping the upper-middle-to-upper classes.

Well this isn’t so bad, I think as I step into the dark, frigid water. New Hampshire in February is known for its heavy snowfall, “Nor’Easter” storms, and ski resorts of the ice-clad, teeth chattering variety. But somehow I’ve found myself surfboard in hand, marching straight into the North Atlantic. As I wade chest-deep into the water, I develop a mantra to reassure myself: I’m still warm. Snow flurries float just above the water. I’m still warm.

I pass a few waves with ease before I get caught off guard by a much larger wave crashing down around me. That’s when it hits me, literally and figuratively: This is New Hampshire in February. The sea slaps me square in the face, my only exposed skin, and at 39°F it might as well be solid ice. A few rogue streams of cold water sneak their way into my thick wetsuit through the hood, trickling slowly down my neck. It’s back-bending agony, but my body recovers and I’m able to keep paddling. I’m still warm, I tell myself.

Out on the water that day, the remarkable thing wasn’t that I found some of the most surfable, enjoyable waves I’ve found anywhere. It was that I wasn’t alone.

Can you believe?

Winter surfing as new skiing?

Where shall we head to toast Hot Toddys and laugh about our investment portfolios?

Lake Michigan?

Cornwall, England?

You choose.

Film about heroic girl surfer “hurts religious sentiment”; ban sought in High Court!

"No Dorai tells the story of a poor girl named Ayesha who falls in love with surfing and takes up the sport in defiance of a conservative society that often pushes girls to marry early."

It may be exceedingly difficult to believe, or picture, but the patriarchal hellholes of Australia and the US, may not be the worst places on earth to be a woman.

In Bangladesh, that lovely little corner of south-east Asia that was formerly East Pakistan, woman are encouraged to marry young (a third of girls are married before they turn fifteen, almost two-thirds by the time they hit eighteen), acid violence is a thing, as is gang rape, coerced suicide etc.

Now, a movie based on that country’s most high-profile female surfer, No Dorai (“Not Afraid”), which was released on November 29, is facing a high court action for it to be banned for “hurtling religious sentiments” in the Muslim majority nation.

From Aljazeera, 

The film’s producer, Mahboob Rahman, said the High Court has asked the filmmakers to justify by next month why the censor certificate should not be withdrawn, adding they would fight moves to shut the movie down.

Released on November 29, the much anticipated No Dorai tells the story of a poor girl named Ayesha who falls in love with surfing and takes up the sport in defiance of a conservative society that often pushes girls to marry early.

No Dorai is the first film in Bangladesh to focus on female surfers and deal with poverty as well as discrimination against women in the country of 160 million.

Rahman said he was surprised by the reaction to the film.

“There is a group that wants women to stay indoors,” Rahman told the Thomson Reuters Foundation, adding that he had also received threats online.

“Some people are saying that Ayesha wears a bikini in the movie and that this is against our religion. There is no such scene … these people haven’t watched the movie.”

The row over the film started when Islam sent a legal notice to the filmmakers on December 4 calling for the movie to be banned and said some scenes in the movie “hurt religious sentiments”. He did not name specific scenes.

“We want the censor board to cancel the movie’s certificate. We want the movie to be withdrawn and we also want the filmmakers to apologise,” Islam told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Surfing is not a sport that is encouraged for women in Bangladesh, where more than half of girls end up getting married before they turn 18, according to the United Nations, even though child marriage is banned.

Rahman said he came up with the idea of a movie about surfing in Bangladesh when he met Nasima Akter, a female surfer from the southern beach town of Cox’s Bazar who received global media coverage after out-surfing her male peers.

Akter was made homeless at the age of seven and found hope in surfing in Cox’s Bazar, which boasts the world’s longest uninterrupted sandy beach.

She was featured in a documentary by US filmmaker Heather Kessinger, called The Most Fearless: An Unexpected Surf Story, that was released four years ago, when Akter was 18.

Rahman said Akter is now married with two children and rarely surfs.

No Dorai, however, ends on a different note, with Ayesha fighting back to continue surfing.

“In Bangladesh and many places, women are oppressed and not allowed to do what they like … we gave a different ending and made the protagonist very strong so that she fights back and inspires more women,” said Rahman.