Angelika does a little modelling, too. This, from Ok magazine, Russia. | Photo: @evgeniymim/@okmagazine_ru

Gold Medal-winning Russian Olympian switches from synchro swimming to surfing; gets coached by deaf former pro; shreds after 18 months!

Can a VAL learn to shred in under two years? Maybe yes!

The name Angelika Timanina ain’t gonna ring any bells, not unless the pretty ladies of synchronised swimming stole your eye during the 2012 London games.

Angelika won a gold medal in London, and over the course of her career has won the World Championships eight times.

A titan in synchronised swimming.

Now, Angelika, who is thirty and lives in Moscow, has turned to surfing and is backed by an unknown benefactor paying Australian former pro surfer and coach, Andy King, to whip her into something for the Russian Olympic surf team.

Andy King?

Yeah, the Australian WQS pro from Cronulla who lost his hearing after a street fight in 2004, a hard-charging goofy footer who grew up with an alcoholic pops (Andy kept a knife under his pillow for protection) and who shifted to surf coaching after his tour comeback was stymied by his deafness.

I heard about Angelika from the big-waver Mark Mathews who told me it was one of the most remarkable switcharoos he’d ever seen. Eighteen months on a board and sorta shredding.

When I called Andy, now forty-three, to talk about his charge, the pair were at Tallows in Byron Bay, part of their hundred days a year of personal coaching that has seen ‘em travel to Indo, to the Maldives, Australia, Portugal.

It’d been maybe three or four years since I’d spoken to Andy and his voice was sharp, clear, different to the low monotone of a man whose speech has been muddied by his cochlear implants.

Turns out he has a bluetooth connection straight from his phone and into his head.

Andy King, iPhone compatible.

“There’s no external sound. Technology is fucking incredible,” he laughs.

“Coaching is a bit of a fucking magician show,” says Andy. “I wanted to see if there’s any value in coaching, that it had any grounds, that it wasn’t a farce. Angelika is a complete, clean canvas. She’d only surfed a very short amount of time and was from such a random environment. It was a rare opportunity.”

He says he got the gig with Angelika via the Portuguese pro Tiago Pires who’d been approached to coach but told ‘em they needed someone special, someone like Andy.

And Andy, who had the feeling that coaching high-level pro’s was all smoke and mirrors (“Was I just security to make their life easier? I didn’t know,” he says), was thrilled by the chance to test his coaching theories.

“Coaching is a bit of a fucking magician show,” he says. “I wanted to see if there’s any value in coaching, that it had any grounds, that it wasn’t a farce. Angelika is a complete, clean canvas. She’d only surfed a very short amount of time and was from such a random environment. It was a rare opportunity.”

The Russian came into surf with at least one crossover ability: she can hold her breath for four minutes.

“We surfed some pretty big waves in the Maldives and when she gets into trouble she sits on the bottom and waits the set out. Fuck, it’s amazing.”

Over the course of their eighteen months working together, Angelika has gone from VAL riding the whitewater on a softie to surfing in the pocket, riding six-foot waves, finding tubes.

Andy says her body awareness is like nothing he’s ever seen.

“She explained to me that she spent fifteen years of her life in a pool, training sixteen hours a day. Said she’s like a cosmonaut, suspended in water for so much of her life. She’s so aware of her body that she’s already above-average level, doing reos and snaps.”

One downside of all that pool time.

“She’s so used to being suspended that it’s hard for her to feel pressure on a surfboard, to be able to engage and push a rail and feel the flex patterns on a board.”

It’s here that Andy comes into his own as a coach.

His big theory is trying to get his charges to “respect the shape”, to get their stance in the exact spot on the surfboard where the shaper has designed it to displace water.

“Breaking it down to respecting the shape of the board and the concave and having a neutral stance,” he says.

Andy says the Russian loves surfing so much it lifts his own spirit.

“She’s obsessed with it, like when we were groms.”

There’s a howevs.

Unless the Russians mount a successful court challenge, there’ll be no Russian team in Tokyo after the country was banned for four years for doping.

Still, Angelika and Andy are pushing hard.

“My goal is to get her into a huge one out at Cloudbreak, a nice south swell. I want to get her to a skill level to ride a ten-to-twelve-footer, a proper Cloudbreak one. She’s got the physical ability to do it and she can make a statement if she gets big Cloudbreak. It’d be an Everest for her.”

Oh, and, like many things from the former Soviet state, there’s a wonderful mystery to who’s funding Andy’s salary.

“I don’t know who pays me and I’m not allowed to ask where the money comes from,” he says. “They transfer what I ask for, deliver what I ask for and told me not to ask who’s sending it. I honestly can’t tell if it’s from a sponsor or the government.”

Memory Lane: “Voice of Pipeline” Sal Masekela was once too afraid to drive in the rain but when he finally mustered the courage said, “I lend credibility to extreme surfing!”

Plus a warning to Mandy Moore.

Sal Masakela, fallen from the heights of E! Entertainment Television fame to Red Bull’s third or fourth extreme sport option is in the booth, right now, calling gorgeously pumping Volcom Pro Pipe Pipeline. John John is allegedly out. Others are too but it is gorgeously pumping and Chris Cote is shining, Vaughn Dead neé Blakey is outshining his brother, Dave Wassel is making it clear that the ’89 World Champ is, in fact, mummified and has been for years.

And damned Sal Masekela. Damned hackneyed bro brah bro brah bro brah Sal Masekela.

But can I tell you a quick story, one that I swore I told you before but couldn’t find even after googling “BeachGrit Sal Masekela New York” and “BeachGrit Sal Masekela Hurricane?” One that popped right into my brain once I heard his “Bro brah big Pipe I surf Cloudbreak brah bro.” Is that ok?



The year was 2011 or some such and Quiksilver had secured the rights to a New York-based Association of Surfing Professionals World Championship Tour event so sensational, so bombastic, that few imagined it could be pulled off. It would be, weeks later, in some of the best surf New York had ever seen but our story begins, weeks earlier, in Manhattan’s Meatpacking District’s Standard Hotel.

It was the “event hotel” and the keycards had already been embossed with “Quiksilver Pro New York” imagery. Very chic but I was there not for future surf but because the professional skateboarding tour Street League was being held across the Hudson in Newark, New Jersey. My gorgeous wife represented famous skateboards and I was merely along for the ride.

In any case, some hurricane was threatening to hit the region but the Street League organizers decided they would have enough time to run the event no problem. My wife and I drove through the Holland Tunnel or Lincoln Tunnel or whichever Tunnel, watched, then drove back to the Standard.

Rain was already lashing the windows when we arrived to our home-away-from-home.

Strong-ish wind.

We went downstairs to eat dinner and happened upon Sal’s then girlfriend who we invited to join as she was solo.

“Where’s Sal?” My wife asked.

“He is staying in New Jersey because he is too afraid of the potential hurricane…” she responded.

“Oh bullshit.” My wife, notoriously opinionated, fired back. “I’ll hire you a car. You go get him.”

Sal’s girlfriend, inspired, agreed and left as soon as dinner ended.

I didn’t think much of it until, a few hours later, she invited us back downstairs to join her and Sal for a drink. I had already fallen asleep like a fat li’l Arab and was confused, off-kilter, but perpetually agreeable.

My wife and I went downstairs and there sat Sal and his then-girlfriend. He seemed upset and announced that he was frustrated that his then-girlfriend had put them both in danger by driving through steady rain and almost steady wind to get him.

An apparent “hurricane.”

I thought, “Oh.”

Then he proceeded to tell me that Nike, teasing Nike 6.0 representing the “six stars of extreme sports” and Hurley, had “credibility” in the “surfing and extreme sports” space thanks to him. That without Sal Masakela they would be seen as frauds and interlopers but because of him were accepted as “core participants.”

I thought, “I must still be sleeping…” while looking outside at the rain and possible wind.

Many months later he advised one-time pop celebrity Mandy Moore against climbing Mt. Everest due danger etc.

It currently has 1900 views.


Image: @surfmags
Image: @surfmags

Watch: Wild POV footage shows chilling encounter with “tank-sized” Great White shark stalking famed Oahu surf break Makaha!

"You want me to stay with it or warn everybody?"

Great White sharks, in my newly developed legal/analytical mind, are mostly cold water beasts. Cold, dark, rocky water teeming with paranoid seals and thickly jacketed tug boat captains. Water off the coast of northern California and Oregon and so it regularly comes as a surprise to hear of the apex predators roaming southern Florida, for instance, or to see them, tank-sized and full of terror, stalking the crystalline warmth of Hawaii.

But there, yesterday, just off Makaha a giant beast slithered menacingly. Maybe hungry for the ghost of Da Bull, who helped bring fame to the bigger wave spot. Maybe hungry for a flesh and bone man and let’s watch the wild point of view footage as captured from the seat of a water rescue jet ski.

The radio can be heard crackling, “Copy that, how far offshore approximately?” to which the brave pilot replies, “About 200 yards. I’m tracking him right now to see if he’s going to the lineup.”

Then, “You want me to stay with it or warn everybody?”

Eventually the shark is scared back into deeper waters but chilling nonetheless.


No surfing in Hawaii for six days.

Possibly even seven.

Singer (pictured) being washed.
Singer (pictured) being washed.

British musician “too ill to wash, clothe herself” receiving disability benefits charged with fraud after releasing music video “boasting of her surfing skills!”

Chas Smith, Esq. is on the case.

Oh this surfing life we live, this surfing life we love. Cold mornings, cold water, ice cream headaches, reef cuts, fin cuts, late to work, late to pick up kids, calling in sick to work, surfing. We’re all masochists, no? Or at the very least have a little masochist in us and definitely a lot of deviant.

Well, in a case roiling the British press, a self described “professional surfer, shark enthusiast and musician” has been charged with fraud for allegedly surfing in a contest and performing in a music video “boasting of her skills” and it is only appropriate to learn more of this heroine. This symbol of our best qualities. Or at the very least our most accurate qualities.

A musician, 36, got £27,000 benefits after claiming was too ill dress or wash herself despite allegedly saying she competed in a Boardmasters surfing competition, a court heard.

October Hamlyn-Wright, of Newquay, Cornwall, is on a fraud charge after authorities found evidence of her jet-setting lifestyle.

She toured Australia and Scandinavia, and played Glastonbury despite receiving the disability benefits across two years, it was alleged.

Hamlyn-Wright, now of Surrey, also made a music video boasting her surfing skills.

According to the Sun, Prosecutor Andrew Price said: ‘In the biography on her October Rocks website, she says she is a professional singer, songwriter, surfer and shark enthusiast and a surfing competitor with Boardmasters.’

This is despite providing a ‘considerable number of ailments and illnesses’ in benefit applications in New Malden, Surrey, in 2013 and 2015.

On the story goes and of course October is fighting the charges but… might a surf journalist lend his hand and solve the case?

I was very curious about the music video with the boasting but couldn’t find. What I did discover, however, was reference to the surf contest wherein Ms. Hamlyn-Wright placed 3rd.

The English Adaptive Surfing Championships.


Innocent, I say!

Now, would you like to hire me as your lawyer? Your barrister? Got a tough case?

I promise to bring a certain flair to courtroom proceedings. And a mind like a steel trap.

Longtom on Tokyo 2020: “Is Australian surfing that far down the toilet even the Olympic Committee doesn’t recognise the existence of its Olympic representatives?”

Bad omens.

In all the excitement and giddy schadenfreude over the John Florence Hurley walk-out and the Bristol scale we’ve taken our eyes off the countdown to the main prize, which is now looming in the near distance, 180 days hence, to be precise.

I’m talking about surfing’s debut as an Olympic Sport at the Tokyo Olympics of course.

During the course of researching an article for ASL about surfing’s inclusion as an Olympic sport during the closing stages of 2017, when all options were still on the table, including Slater’s wave systems, I came across a Japanese man on the organising committee who bravely stood up against the WSL juggernaut to fight for surfing in the ocean.

Alas, despite many hours of searching he now appears to be lost to history.

I like to imagine him, subjected to the passionate advocacy of our dearly departed Sophie as she hustled for the debut to take place in the basin. A long pause follows Sophie’s spiel before our hero gently raises a hand.

“No”, he says inscrutably, “surfing will take place in the ocean. At Tsurigasaki Beach.”

So, that it is written, so that it will be done.

In the course of the research I discovered something even more shocking and newsworthy.

More on that in a second.

But first, are you a fan of Japan? Me, very much.

Even though I’ve never been it occupies a very large place in my heart. In these culturally relativistic times it’s unacceptable discourse to extol the virtues of one culture over another, but could we sneak in a little list of the things Japan has a clearly superior record in?


OK: cuisine*, religion, variety of output from vending machines, high-speed trains, futuristic cities, fishing tackle, bike gears, adult entertainment, animation, automotive engineering (Toyota being the number one car of the people, Lexus being far superior as a luxury vee-hickle to the Stuttgart manufacturers), cults, animation, nature worship, forms of poetry (haiku, koan), kawaii**, work ethic, beer, architecture, snow monkeys, communal bathing, powder snow etc etc.

All undisputable facts.

The one area they are clearly deficient in, unless they meant to disrespect on purpose, is knowledge of Australian surfing. My research uncovered a video and short spiel on surfings inclusion in Tokyo titled One Minute, One Sport: Surfing. I found it right next to One Minute, One Sport: Canoe and One Minute, One Sport: Artistic Swimming.

It’s pretty good.

The written spiel accompanying also pretty good.

Until they get to the section titled “Ruling the waves at Tokyo 2020.”

John John and Kelly get mentioned for USA, as does Kolohe. Respectful.

The Brazilian Storm is referenced, appropriately. Gabriel and Adriano and Italo all make the cut. No Filipe, but no harm: he missed out.

Jordy Smith for South Africa and former World Number One Kanoa Igarashi, surfing for Japan are brought into the fold.

When it comes to the Australian contingent, we get the long sword in the guts. Joel Parkinson and Mick Fanning are touted as our potential representatives. Fanning retired two years before the Olympics!

Parkinson hasn’t been seen in a coloured jersey for almost as long.

I’m right now, writing pre-emptive letters of protest on behalf of Owen Wright and Julian Wilson. This disrespect cannot stand. Is Australian competitive surfing that far down the shitter that even the Olympic committee, with it’s legendary wisdom in facing down the WSL onslaught, doesn’t recognise the existence of our Olympic representatives?

Bad omens for Aus surfing.

Tell me, how pumped are you on surfings Olympic debut, on a scale of one to ten where one is you’d rather shoot heroin in the eyeball than watch and ten is cashing in your kids education fund to be there in person?

I’m hovering between a four and a six. Maybe a high seven if Italo surfs it in cut-offs during a typhoon swell.

*Any cuisine where the belly flap of the toadfish with it’s potentially lethal dose of tetrodotoxin is served up for culinary kicks has to be number one.

** Japanese cute culture.