Jamie O on Kohl Christensen’s near-death, head-busting wipeout at Pipe: “If he wasn’t wearing his float suit it would’ve been a different scenario!”

Life and death at mean old Pipe.

On New Year’s Eve, the Eddie Aikau-invitee Kohl Christenen, as famous for his off-the-grid lifestyle as his big-wave wrangling, was belted by his surfboard while surfing twelve-to-fifteen-foot Pipe.

Fractured skull, a little bleeding on the brain, ear drum maybe blown to the heavens.

Could’ve been worse for forty-two-year old Kohl.

Jamie O’Brien, the carrot-topped vlogger who grew up at Pipe and whose house is directly behind the famous Lopez mansion, saw the whole thing from his upstairs perch.

“He was on this second reef double-up roll-in and he was trimming and the wave before had some turbulence in front of it and he went over the turbulence and then he skipped out.”

Jamie didn’t think much of it.

“Kohl’s a great surfer, he knows what he’s doing. He’s the kinda guy you don’t see until it’s bigger than ten feet.”

Pretty standard sorta wipeout at a wave given to sudden flourishes of unpredictable violence more than most.

“And then he popped up, it took a while, and I was, like, something’s wrong. He was looking the wrong way and the lip of an eight-foot wave was landing on him. His board was sideways and he was right behind the board. From my point of view it looked the lip launched the board straight into his head and knocked him out. I’m not sure if he broke his eardrum first and that was why he was out of it.”

Dressed in baggy sweat shorts, Jamie tightened up the legs, grabbed an eight-foot soft-top and ran down the beach. He thought, ‘Ok, I need to act right now.’

A life or death moment.

“I saw his board tombstoning right when I got to the beach. The jetski was already on him, Makua Rothman was already swimming out. It was super gnarly. I knew there was nothing I could do. He was in good hands. It was lucky help was there faster than I was. I was trying my best.”

Jamie in makeshift rescue outfit, sweat pants with legs secured, soft-board.

The accident gave the former Pipe Master pause.

“It was one of those days. I had to make that decision, should I go surf, is it worth or is it not? It wasn’t worth it. Twelve-to-fifteen-footers, it was as gnarly and as big as Pipe gets. I was talking to Dave Wassel briefly about it and he said that if Kohl wasn’t wearing his float suit, it would’ve been a different scenario. Apparently, that made a big difference in getting him to the beach. He was unconscious and out of it on the beach. He didn’t know what was going on. I heard he wasn’t really doing that well.”

https://www.instagram.com/p/B61IhVzAAXY/

Later in the afternoon, Jamie, who wears his Buell float-suit whenever Pipe is over five-foot, decided to paddle out and, “Yeah, I got some sick ones.”

Until he copped it.

“I hit the reef really bad. I hit my leg, my hip, my elbow, my knee, my arm. The hardest slam on the reef for a couple of years.”

And then he went back for more.

“I went to the lifeguard jetski, checked to see what was going on, went out and ended up getting my best wave.”

Skip through to 10:16 for Kohl’s wipeout.

(Thanks to BeachGrit’s Superworm for the link.)

Jamie’s vlog will drop its version of the day, which may or may not include Kohl’s wipeout (“It’s pretty personal, I haven’t talked to any of the boys about it yet,” says Jamie), on Monday, US time.


Kelly Slater, left, and Mike Stewart, far right, a long time ago in a galaxy far far away etc.

Meet: the surfing god who holds magical key to Kelly Slater’s eternal happiness!

He is simultaneously the Duke Kahanamoku, Miki Dora, Tom Curren and Kelly Slater of his sport; its godfather figure, its biggest legend, its most stylish practitioner and its greatest champion.

A genre has formed within surf journalism around dissecting the motivations of Kelly Slater.

Why does Kelly do what Kelly does? 

The killer competitive drive and all its associated personality traits that fuelled 11 world titles and 20 plus years at the highest level have also proven to be a little of his undoing.

With every passing year, Kelly isolates himself with a need to stay relevant. 

The now infamous “Sound Waves” episode offered a telling window into the depths he is prepared to plunge to stay in the game.

How does Kelly, as a once omnipotent surf god, manage the later stages of his  career?

Kelly has said he feels like he’s alone and that no one understands him.

But, what if there is someone who has been through similar experiences that he could turn to for guidance?

Mike Stewart, owner of nine world bodyboard titles and fourteen world bodysurfing titles knows what it’s like to be venerated within a surfing sport.

He is simultaneously the Duke Kahanamoku, Miki Dora, Tom Curren and Kelly Slater of the bodyboard world; its godfather figure, its biggest legend, its most stylish practitioner and its greatest champion.

But next year, at fifty-six years old, Mike won’t be on the bodyboarding professional tour, known as the APB. For the first time since 1982(!) he won’t directly qualify to compete on the grand stage at the highest level.

That’s thirty-seven years at the top.

Listening to Stewart speak in a recent episode of the “Le Boogie” podcast, the commonalities between his and Slater’s hyper-competitive personalities become clear.

At one stage, Stewart rattles off a list of things he feels he needs to improve to remain competitive against riders who may be up to a third his age: get more flexible, get stronger and adjust his mindset so he’s willing to endure the punishment of landing moves after hitting heavy sections on sizeable waves.

Says Stewart, “If you want it bad enough, you’re going to have to endure some mean poundings. It’s not a fun thing.”

Remember, he’s fifty-six and has been at the top of the sport since its inception.

The competitive desire to achieve obviously still burns strong. It’s just that these days, the goalposts have shifted.

“I’m competing, but I’m not here to win contests. I’m here to participate, which is a totally different mindset, just to be able to go out there and still mix it up, is a super big thrill for me, and I’m just stoked to do it.”

It’s a headspace that sounds eerily familiar to the one supernatural healer Charlie Goldsmith was trying to impart to Kelly. 

Which is, find the joy within the opportunity and experience, rather than the thrill of vanquishing all before you to reach the top.

During the commentary of the last day of the Pipe Masters, Shane Dorian said that Kelly had expressed a desire to do the tour again next year, although this time exclusively riding a twin fin.

Why not?

It sounds like a perfect fit for 2020 Slater. An opportunity to push and explore board design possibilities.To continue to expand the parameters of what people have assumed possible. The possibility of new and novel experiences.

The chance to still compete, but on his own terms.

So, Kelly, forget about an Aussie shaman and go seek out the one other man on the planet whose competitive drive and wave riding experience is comparable to your own for a little advice.

I’m sure you might be able to bump into him at pipe.

Or at the very least, listen to the podcast.


Diver stumbles upon “ghastly” Great White executed “gangland-style” with bullet to back of head, buried in reef cave under famed surf break Margaret River!

"Some of the fishermen here are real cowboys..."

Well if this isn’t an understandable, yet horrific, turn in our current, ongoing Shark Apocalypse. The one where Great Whites are using sophisticated military tactics to surround and squeeze Florida, Tigers are eating people whole in Réunion and Bulls, generally intransigent, carry on as normal. T.S. Eliot, inspiration behind the worst movie ever made, once declared, “This is the way the world ends, not with a bang, but whimper.”

Poignant, starkly beautiful but wrong.

The world ends in the jaws of a prehistoric apex predator.

It ends in the jaws of a Great White, likely, but if mankind is born with one trait it is self-preservation. If born with with two, self-preservation and a love for Martin Scorsese mob films where many people become executed, gangland-style, with a bullet from very close range to the head.

And this is, allegedly, what a scuba diver discovered buried in a shallow reef cave underneath stop number 3 on the World Surf League’s Championship Tour Margaret River.

Oh you already know that West Australia is home to a vibrant, aggressive band of Great Whites, that they regularly threaten to bite, chew, eat surfers. It is illegal to hunt them but fishermen are known to take justice into their own hands.

Our source on the ground says, “Some of the fishermen here are real cowboys. They carry guns when they go out in case of, uh, emergency.”

Other divers have confirmed the shark’s existence, each declaring it to be “huge” and “massive.”

Still other, third-hand, reports declare the shark may have a rope still tied to its tail suggesting it had been possibly “dragged and drowned.”

The sharks presence, noted on West Australia’s shark spotting and tracking app SharkSmart, has reportedly not been dissuading surfers from enjoying Main Break’s big scary.

BeachGrit has commissioned a diver to confirm the shark’s presence, current state and cause of death.

More as the story develops.


Mick Fanning watches as years fall off beloved Pomeranian Harper.

Behold: Champion surfer Mick Fanning buys into miracle age-reversing dog-food start-up!

"The health of (dog) Harper is just as important as my health," says three-time king of pro surfing.

The three-time world champion Mick Fanning is quickly revealing himself to be the canniest surfer-investor ever, moreso even than the real-estate tycoons Luke Egan and Taj Burrow.

One month ago, Balter, the beer brand he started with pals was sold to the Asahi-owned Carlton United Breweries for a figure up to $150 million if sales targets are hit. For Mick, it’s a minimum four-mill payday. 

And, earlier today, Mick, who has crammed several lifetimes into his thirty-eight years, announced he was adding to his start-up portfolio, this time with healthy home delivered dog-food biz, Scratch Pet Food.

“The health of Harper is just as important as my health,” Mick told his one-point-two million followers, “but it hadn’t been easy to find a business who made decisions that way. Since using @worldofscratch, Harpers skin as cleaned up, her digestion has become amazing and she’s got puppy like energy again.”

https://www.instagram.com/p/B6y9uBKnILU/

The founders have got a pretty good story.

Mike Halligan is the former digital marketing manager for clothing brands Barney Cools and Zanerobe and Doug Spiegelhauer comes from six years as Operations Manager at a pet food biz.

From their site. 

“So far, not a lot in common. But they both love dogs. And they hate that Australians were getting charged mega bucks for dry dog food that was pretty average.

“Ground up dodgy meat, cheap ingredients, heavy bags, little transparency and 80% of it being headed up by two massive chocolate companies.

“Not on.

“They decided, they were going to fix it once and for all. From the supply chain right down to how it’s delivered.

Even if miracles don’t occur with your own dog, no lustrous skin, eyes velvety and nostrils healthily dilated, it ain’t a bad thing to reduce waste, get the industry out of the hands of factory farming etc.


Great White (pictured) feasting like a disgusting, amoral glutton.
Great White (pictured) feasting like a disgusting, amoral glutton.

Terrible mob of “monstrous” Great Whites descend upon hometown of Australia’s most beloved surfer, feast on whale in “orgy of flesh and blood!”

No respect.

At the very end of 2019, I thought for one brief second, that shark and man could live together in harmony. That there was a way forward for us. That we could dance a beautiful tango. The sun came up on 2020, however, and shown its light on a terrible mob of monstrous Great Whites, fifteen to sixteen feet long, very heavy in weight, who had descended upon the peaceful burgh of Yallingup, there in Western Australia, to feast on a dead Sperm whale in such an uncontrolled frenzy that onlookers described it as “an orgy of flesh and blood.”

But you know Yallingup, don’t you? Hometown of Australia’s most beloved surfer Taj Burrow?

Do you disagree?

You think Mick Fanning, Joel Parkinson, Mark Occhilupo, Rabbit Bartholomew, Jack Robinson have more fans, represent the Lucky Country better?

Oh, you are wrong, and much so. Taj Burrow, the perpetual bridesmaid, surfed like we all should, like we all would if gifted the greatest combination of skill, guts and panache. He surfed so good… excuse me, well… that he never once needed a World Title to prove his worth.

Confident.

Though I wonder if his confidence is slipping as he likely watched, through binoculars, those sociopathic apex predators ripping a stately whale to bits? We must turn to Australia’s 7 News for the gory details and try to keep our eyes all the way open.

Two great white sharks have been captured in a feeding frenzy by an astounded fisherman off Western Australia’s coast.

Jesse Gibson and his friend James Powley filmed the 40 minute encounter while fishing about 12 kilometres off Yallingup on Saturday morning.

The four and a half metre monsters were feeding on a dead sperm whale, taking turns biting into the flesh of the floating carcass.

Gibson told Sunrise the sharks circled his boat for about ten minutes before heading to their main meal.

“It made me a little nervous,” he admitted.

I should think “a little nervous.” I should think that I would never ever want to enter those waters again.

The imperial Sperm whale deserved better, don’t you think?

Deserved respect.