"I am four-fifths salt water and I may be going back to Mother Earth after my three dozen goes around the sun. I’ve done my time watching the tides. Sandbars form and melt away. Storms. Rock ledges. Learning winds, and how they swirl down valleys, equating it to long period swell wrapping around seafloor features. All little tidbits of info with no relevance to my now landlocked life, but it gives me joy to know the natural world by force of confronting it and understanding my place in it." Offrocker, in Tasmania, Australia. | Photo: offrocker

Quit-lit in the face of cancer: reflections on my last surf ever (maybe)

Surfing is brutal. Bobbing around the lineup with my ten kilograms of weight loss and the dead fatigue of metastatic cancer eating me from the inside, I was easy pickings for the hungry mob.

It’s three am and I can’t sleep.

I have had a pretty heavy fortnight, diagnosed out of the blue with metastatic colon cancer at the age of thirty-five. It’s all through my pelvis, and I have secondaries in the liver.

I’m currently lying in a hospital bed awaiting my second operation in ten days, this one to fix complications of the first. What I would give to eat solid food, and sleep in my own bed.

I have been probed, scanned, pumped with radioactive dye, and spoken to three specialists in five days. My odds would not tempt even our most inveterate gamblers. The word “inoperable” is bouncing around my head.

Why, at this time, do I even care enough to write an article for the Grit degenerates? Because I learned something invaluable on my last surf that I want to share with the quitters. An ethic you won’t find espoused in the sanitised corpo-surf culture, an attitude you won’t find in the hearts of those that wade around in the shorebreak between the flags.

So why, at this time, do I even care enough to write an article for the Grit degenerates?

Because I learned something invaluable on my last surf that I want to share with the quitters. An ethic you won’t find espoused in the sanitised corpo-surf culture, an attitude you won’t find in the hearts of those that wade around in the shorebreak between the flags.

And that’s the reality that no-one gives a fuck in the lineup. I got backpaddled by smiling hipsters on twins. I got dropped in on by murfers on logs. I got shoulder hopped by aggressive entitled adolescents unaware that their post-grom transition is complete and they are now legitimately bottom of the foodchain, no longer protected by minority.

That day was just like every other day, except it was my last surf for the foreseeable future and maybe forever.

It has given me reassurance that the world will go on, with or without me. Everywhere else I go, I’m surrounded by crying relatives, well-meaning do gooders who “have just heard the news, I’m so so sorry.”

No-one gives a fuck in the lineup. I got backpaddled by smiling hipsters on twins. I got dropped in on by murfers on logs. I got shoulder hopped by aggressive entitled adolescents unaware that their post-grom transition is complete and they are now legitimately bottom of the foodchain, no longer protected by minority.

Life in the ocean is fast and brutal. Bobbing around the lineup with my ten kilograms of weight loss and the dead fatigue of metastatic cancer eating me from the inside, I was a weak and easy mark. Easy pickings for the hungry mob. They had no idea, but knew just what to do nonetheless.

It was the only time since I was diagnosed I felt normal, and at home in the order of the world.

And in the midst of this, I had my own perfect moments of peak existence. Crystaline waves, sliding across poorly formed sandbanks. Mini-closeout shoreys giving me that one last moment of vis, aka orders of magnitude less, but the only order magnitude I could currently handle.

This aspect of surfing gives me strength as I face a long road of multiple operations, chemo and radiotherapy: knowing that peak moments of transcendence intersperse the shite even on the worst of days in the worst conditions.

Also that I am four-fifths salt water and I may be going back to Mother Earth after my three dozen goes around the sun.

I’ve done my time watching the tides.

Sandbars form and melt away.

Storms.

Rock ledges.

Learning winds, and how they swirl down valleys, equating it to long-period swell wrapping around seafloor features.

All little tidbits of info with no relevance to my now landlocked life, but it gives me joy to know the natural world by force of confronting it and understanding my place in it.

Surfing has taught me to not be greedy with my expectations, to take opportunities as they present themselves, to fight and hunt, and the capacity to dine out on those very few peak moments for weeks and months – and that’s just what I need now to get me through this medieval ordeal.

I might be dying, but I’m not quitting.


Hello, Fabien...

Horrifying: Universally accepted “world’s sexiest explorer” nearly eaten by Great Whites as shark-shaped mini-submarine malfunctions!

We live in incredibly harrowing times.

I’m going to be honest with you here. When I read the headline “world’s sexiest explorer” I was expecting a lot more. A whole lot more. I don’t know what, exactly, but… more. Cascading blonde hair? A come-hither stare? Peter O’Toole playing T.E. Lawrence? Yes, and nothing against Fabien Costeau at all. His father, Jacques, obviously a legend in sexy exploration but…

…I don’t know. World’s sexiest explorer?

I’ll let you be the judge.

Thoughts?

First impressions?

Let’s not get needlessly hung up. Let’s continue learning about how the, arguably, world’s sexiest explorer was nearly eaten by vicious, woke Great Whites and let’s then celebrate his overcoming incredible odds.

Fabien Cousteau, dubbed the “world’s sexiest explorer”, has revealed how he risked attack whilst swimming with dangerous great white sharks after his underwater submarine broke down.

This forced the Frenchman to swim to shore entirely unprotected in an area heavily populated by sharks. The incident took place during the filming of ‘Shark: Mind of a Demon’, a documentary for CBS, in 2004.

To get close to the apex predators Mr Cousteau used a mini submarine, shaped like a shark, called Troy.

However he was exposed to danger after it stopped working and the explorer was forced to swim to shore through shark infested waters in the dark.

Etc.

Of course Fabien survives and later delivers a stirring TED talk on the harrowing encounter but…

…really?

The world’s sexiest explorer?

I’m having a hard time here and wipe that smirk off your face. What I meant is that I’m having a difficult time here.

Who, in your opinion, is the world’s sexiest explorer?

I have been places in Yemen that no white man has ever trod just FYI.

More as the story develops.

Also, today is not a good day to surf. Maybe stay out of the water for at least one week. Many sharks.

Many, many sharks.


Comment Live: Seeding rounds etc. Lululemon Maui Pro/Vans Triple Crown of Sunset!

Much on the line!

The extended Thanksgiving weekend, in America, starting Wednesday night and extending through Sunday late is the sportingest time of the year with almost too much action, from college football to the pros, college basketball to the pros, and professional surfing.

Right now the women are in unruly Honolua Bay with much on the line.

World titles, Olympic berths, etc.

The swell is set to build through the day. “Pretty sizey fashion” according to Ron Blakey. Barton Lynch is currently advising the meditation in order to keep emotions in check.

Also, the men have just kicked off in burgeoning Sunset.

What does that mean?

I don’t know.

But shall we watch together and chat?

Who do you have?

What are your hopes?

Click here!

And here (for Sunset)!


"These sixteen hours have been some of the most blissful of my life..."

Miracle: Surfer swept out to sea in New Jersey, leading to scramble of multiple Coast Guard units, found safe in bed sixteen hours later!

An ode to joy!

And I use the word “surfer” broadly, here, as in “kite surfer” but, honestly, feel that strange bunch of oddities is nearer and dearer to the surfer heart than stand-up paddleboarders, goat boaters, foilers and whatever it is that World Surf League President of Content, Media, Storytelling and Transformation Erik “ELo” Logan is straddling.

In my experience, the kite surfer only unfurls her wares when the lineup has become an unruly wind-wipped mess. And then he provides much entertainment with his jumps and loops, bobs and weaves.

Well, one of these “brethren” got swept out to sea over the weekend and let us read of his harrowing tale from the pages of CNN. Let us push our morning slice of leftover rhubarb pie to the side and really dig in here.

Two helicopters, two rescue boats and members of a local police force all jumped into action after a kite surfer was seen drifting out to sea on Thanksgiving near Ocean City, New Jersey.

Turns out, all it took to find the guy was a phone call.

Some 16 hours after three US Coast Guard stations began deploying crews in response to a 911 call about a black-clad surfer getting pushed out by waves, the missing person “called and reported themselves to be safe,” officials of the branch’s 5th District Mid-Atlantic region said Friday.

“The missing kite surfer contacted (Coast Guard) watchstanders to inform them that after his kite malfunctioned, he had cut it free and used the board to paddle ashore and return home,” they said in a news release.

“Kite surfer located!” the Ocean City Police Department posted late Friday on Facebook. “Unaware of rescue efforts, he went about his Thanksgiving.”
Coast Guard and police officials did not release the name of the kite surfer.

Search parties had found a black and white “Ocean Rodeo Cypher 10” kite in the water but did not find the board or missing surfer, the Ocean City Police Department said.

“Cases like this … illustrate the importance of labeling your kayaks, canoes, kite boards and other recreational marine vehicles, so that in the event they are lost, or you are missing, we can reach out to contact you or return it,” said Coast Guard Petty Officer 1st Class Alex Castonguay, a watchstander at the Sector Delaware Bay command center.

What a happy ending and while CNN’s reportage does not state the unnamed kite surfer was discovered in his bed I must assume he was because of all that turkey and rhubarb pie etc. Much tryptophan.

Now, a few questions for you.

Will you label your surfboard with your name, phone number and address? I think it might be a good idea. I think you should ask your shaper to glass all of that important information right on.

And what is your favorite sort of pie?

I’m a rhubarb man through and through but where do you dip your fork?


Gonna go get some of the swell? That'd be great.

Polite but firm request: Please don’t ever try to talk to me about surfing while at work!

Or really anywhere, for that matter.

When one has a creative idea, like for a painting or a sculpture, or a novel, or it even could be just a simple little sketch of what you want your kitchen to look like, that idea is a like tiny baby. More accurately, it’s like a fetus in the womb, a whisper of life, and it needs care and safety to come into being.

I think most artists learn this at some point in their life, and they become reluctant and avoidant when it comes to discussing the next “thing” they intend to create. Putting an idea for a work of art into words makes it “something”, but only the act of doing can make it real.

Talking about it sometimes just kills it.

And, I think you all know these types. We all have them, most often and unfortunately at work. They come up behind us at the water-cooler uttering, “Yeah, I hear there’s a big newzealandsouthswell coming, dude!, going out?” Oh hell, my cover is getting blown, I think. But also, “going out?” what kind of dumb question is that? And, for the love of god, why do they make New Zealand south swell into one long word? I turn and head straight back to my work station.

Or then there’s the one that, during a break in a meeting, will rattle off the long winded brag-y story of the family surf trip to Samoa, and how beautiful it was, and the warm water, and the exotic smells, etc, but wait for it, because the punchline comes at the end: “actually we didn’t really surf much, it wasn’t very conducive for it.” Which translates to: “the surf was so fucking big with such ugly square tubes scraping off the dry reef, there was no way my weekend-warrior ass was even paddling out!” I walk away silently and hope the cringe-face I have doesn’t show.

Here’s another one, “Oh wow, such beautiful weather we’re having, too bad there’s no waves!” I just smile, and try my best to make my face look very quizzical, so it says: “what are waves?, and why would you want them?” Then I do a half swallowed fake laugh and change to subject to gardening.

Dude? Bro? No. Do not try to talk to me about surf at work. Surf belongs to me. It is my sacred special place, and I won’t have it sullied by some weak-sauce small talk. Surfing is not like that. It isn’t, to coin a phrase, like tennis.

Not talking about surfing is one of our many wonderful and complex rules. When you’ve hung out in the car park (I think that’s what our Aussie friends say), or on the rail, shooting the shit, heckling, getting heckled, telling jokes, complaining, whining, hooting, occasionally offering a much needed hug, then you’re allowed, but you won’t want to.

You won’t have to, you can just let it be what it is.