Surf Ads, in pool, and snatched by Urbnsurf's house shooter, Surf Chimp.

Melbourne wavepool review: “A whirlwind, a dazzling frenzied whirlwind that tore me up by the roots and carried me high into the heavens!”

"It was the strangest thing I ever saw, a tableau of the surfing experience painted so perfectly you couldn’t deny its brilliance, even if you disagreed with its right to exist."

So that’s what it feels like.

My surf pool cherry’s been popped, after a lifetime of waiting. No last-minute injuries or mud storms could stop me: a 24 hr FIFO mission to URBNSURF Melbourne (at my own expense), with six hrs spent in the pool.

It was the strangest thing I ever saw, a tableau of the surfing experience painted so perfectly you couldn’t deny its brilliance, even if you disagreed with its right to exist.

Yes, it raises many ethical quandaries.

It will continue to have its opponents, and in some cases rightly so.

But jeez, it was fun as fuck. An artificial high indistinguishable from the real thing. Stoke on demand.

Or, to quote one barrel-soaked punter after our twilight Beast mode session, “That was better than my first pinger.”

Here’s some notes:

I managed to jag a group booking with thirty-five other souls. All “advanced” surfers, to use the pool lingo. This meant we had the entire tub to ourselves and could switch from left to right at will, as long as we kept the numbers balanced. Plus, we could change the settings as conditions dictated.

We had two x three-hour sessions. Two hours on turns, one hour on advanced tube, three hours on Beast.

I spent five hours and forty-five minutes of my six hours on the right. Because, why go left when you can go right?

(A fun tidbit: I’m not actually a goofyfooter. I’m also not actually Munga Barry.)

I took my Holy Grail and a back up Sam Egan fish. Would take a performance twinny as an all-rounder next time.

The wind affected the tube, as nature intended. First session under a light WNW breeze had most barrels makeable. A brisk southerly on the second day ruined the party like, well, a brisk southerly.

(Surely there is an easy fix for this? Stack some of those shipping containers up the southern end as a wind break?)

Water temp hovered around twenty (sixty-eight Fahrenheit). Air temp typically fluctuated. Long arm springy was comfy for the evening, two mm steamer for the cool early morning. Boardies and vest (or less if particularly hot) would be fine during the day.

For now.

Eleven-to-twelve wave sets. A minute or two downtime between. Guaranteed a wave almost every set. Not once was I left wanting, or feeling the wait was too long.

Lost count of total waves ridden.

When at full complement, the eighteen surfers per side were packed very tightly. You ran more risk of damaging a board in the queue then you did on the wave.

No hassling observed. Everybody got their fill. Some card counting came into play towards the end of the second, wind-affected day – the first four waves of each set on the tube settings were always the best, whereas backwash started to impact some (but not all) waves thereafter. The twelfth wave only broke every second set and was sometimes a bit smaller.

There were no injuries reported from the entire group. Only one snapped nose, and a lot of very sore bodies. The Beast packs a punch and I copped a few nasal blastings, but I never truly hit the bottom. Had more run-ins with the wiring mesh on the pier than I did with anything else.

The amount of water moving around, particularly towards the end of the set, made paddling back to the pier difficult if you blew a wave. Better to ride it all the way in catch the rip back out from the inside.

Sitting at the top of the queue facing the wall felt like being a petulant child placed in the naughty corner. There was no way a wave could come from here, you would think. But on cue the whistling would start, the water would dip and a triangle would form in front of you.

Spin, paddle, hug the wall and drop in.

Take off on all settings was easy. I have a habit of getting in my own head and often fucking up basic functions – and you are ridiculously close to the wall – but I only blew one take off the entire time. That was towards the end of hour six and more due to fatigue than anything else. (I also fucked up countless turns/barrels FWIW.)

Advanced turns: A fun drop into the first section naturally loaned itself to an off the top. But immediately the effect of the freshwater was felt. Top turns stuck and even with my well-volumed EPS I wriggled from rail to rail like an eighties quey warrior. I’m not usually much of a fin person, I’ll just go with whatever, but for the pool I had a new set of Kolohe larges in the Holy Grail. I’d ridden a borrowed set on fun bowly rights (in the ocean) and was so impressed I immediately went and bought some.

But in the pool they felt draggy, slow. Something looser was needed.

Regardless, it was still eminently rippable once you adjusted. Most waves offered ample space for two or three turns, with an end section of varying quality.

Advanced tube setting was a lot of fun, despite being slightly wind affected. Another easy roll-in with a gentle cutty/carve section to begin with, before a speed stall and squish into an enjoyable little tunnel. The below photo was wave three of the set so still quite clean, after that they were more warble and chandelier-affected.

Ahhh Beast mode. My sin, my soul.

I was expecting some sort of old school Kirra groyne below sea level grinder with the associated low make rate. It certainly was thick, but I actually found it relatively manageable, again thanks to the easy roll-in, and similarity to a local ledge. These were legit, heavingt nuggets that opened up a lot more cleanly than the advanced tube setting.

I took the advice of Swellnet‘s Stu Nettle to stay low, and angle lower. Nose directed almost to the beach to wipe off speed before a quick correction to get up and under the lip. An immediate short but intense cover up, no slow-motion cascading lip or time to appreciate it. But a damn fun tube with some wickedly surreal vision, especially when the lights came on late.

I had a solid tube make rate on day one, way better than I would in the wild, and I’m no Jim Banks. However, this was impacted again by the wind on the second day, I made less in two hours than I did in one hour the night before.

It was my absolute personal highlight, though, and the thought of getting it on a true “offshore” day has me salivating.

But each of the settings on their own was worth more than the price of admission.

What else?

There was way less paperwork and red tape than I imagined, and super friendly staff. Very keen to help in any way. One of the guys even threw a directional shaka when I asked where I could buy a bottle of water from.

How stoked must he be?

We pretty much had the joint to ourselves the whole time and only caught a glimpse of the session before ours. But it was immediately obvious the skill set of other surfers varied widely… Whether this would be a plus or a minus for a competent surfer, I cannot say.

My quick take?

Qui- lit has already established the decrepit nature of the contemporary surf grump. Lives, family, loved ones are placed on the sacrificial altar in exchange for our fix.

We are all compromised by our selfishness, our wonton gluttony. Why not at least condense it?

So just do it.

Leave your apprehensions at the door, and score some guilty pleasure.

For me, the only real question is: when should we book the BG group day?


"Everybody surfs great!"
"Everybody surfs great!"

Roof on Fire: The Death of the Establishment and what it means for professional surfing’s “Wall of Positive Noise” and other purveyors of “That Chubby Life!”

You can't script this!

The end is officially here and don’t it feel grand? Don’t it feel thrilling? Better than you could have even imagined? A Volcom tagline victory 20 years late but better late than never?

It is better than I could have even imagined and I’m only glad I have the luxury of witnessing it now instead of later.

Today instead of tomorrow.

Ding dong the establishment is dead.

Officially, unequivocally dead. Lying there on the floor, eyes rolled back, belly protruding, pulse gone.

Laying there too.

Youth won.

20 years late but won.

The fraudulent debacle that is Iowa and its caucuses (bringing a harsh association shame to Chechnya) is laughably rich. Love Trump or hate him he destroyed establishment Republican politics with a hammer four years ago. Love Bernie Sanders or hate him he just destroyed establishment Democratic politics and the final death rattle, the last gasp, escaped the establishment’s chubby corpse last night in Iowa.

Pete Buttigieg.

Yeah.

#MayorCheat.

If you haven’t been paying attention, the first political primary in these United States of America was conducted last night. It is a normally staid affair but this year a candidate the ailing establishment didn’t want was threatening to crush before rolling to an easy victory.

So salt was thrown and a completely false Wall of Positive Noise™ narrative pushed forward, claiming after an almost 24 delay and after a poll got scrapped because it didn’t align with the desired outcome of a complete bland corporate patsy and now the Democratic Party is in the same exact position as the Republican Party.

Absolutely broken but better yet controlled by outsiders.

Owned by outsiders.

Brought low by a billionaire-funded app.

The billionaire-funded World Surf League is next with it’s bland, transparent appeal to some false, cowed, idiotic, shrunk-to-nothing audience and its “punk but bloated” surrogate is next.

The People™ are outside and in numbers great enough to rip the Wall of Positive Noise™ down brick by brick, spraying the whole thing with gasoline then pitching a match while the roof, an unfortunate casualty, motherfucking burns.

I ain’t young anymore but so fucking long establishment.

It was almost fun.


Which should go?
Which should go?

Famous South African Surfer asks: “Only 10k Great Whites estimated left in the world and 7 Billion people. Who needs a culling more?”

Thought provoking.

But do you belong to any helpful organizations like PETA or NOW or Teamsters Local 542 or the Surfrider Foundation? I’ll admit to being perpetually intrigued but generally lack the courage of my convictions when it comes to filling out paperwork etc.

Still, jealously bubbles and FOMO too when I see activists having a fine time. Enjoying themselves etc.

On a similar note, the very famous South African surfer Grant “Twiggy” Baker proposed a provocative question on BeachGrit’s semi-famous Instagram account late last night. Derek Rielly, reporting on a second possible Great White carcass stuffed under Margaret River’s famed reef, posted a little teaser and encouraged people to visit BeachGrit’s anti-depressive website for more.

https://www.instagram.com/p/B8IiAXtD_xD/

In the comments Mr. Baker wondered, “Crazy shit, only 10000 whites estimated left in the world and 7 Billion people. Who needs a culling more”.

A very interesting hypothetical but before I could come to a conclusion @jordossr asked where he got the stat to which Twiggy replied, “NatGeo said 5000 I just doubled it Incase”.

Is it true? Only 5000 Great Whites left worldwide?

As the leading shark-cum-surf journalist, I immediately got down to work and discovered that treehugger.com claims only 3500 “left in the wild” while phys.org declares there are 8000 in Australian waters alone.

Hmmm.

Still, both numbers are very much less than the 7.8 billion people on earth.

Culling people is a very slippery slope, though Shirley Jackson might have been on to something with her famous short story The Lottery.

Did you read in school?

Did it terrify?

Also, do you think Twiggy is more famous than Jordy Smith?

I would make the argument that he is.

But back to this human cull. Could shark cages filled with children (above) be a possible answer? A lottery for which kids go in and how long they stay down?

No?


Mike Huckabee (pictured) threatening hopeful surfers with a golf club.
Mike Huckabee (pictured) threatening hopeful surfers with a golf club.

Outrage: Florida beaches becoming privatized at record clip as wealthy homeowners seek to “put an end to that degenerate surfing life!”

"Get lost bums!"

Public beach access is very much taken for granted in the windy and cold (this morning) state of California. Oh there are certainly some crotchety homeowners in enclaves like Malibu who dillydally with fences and/or sit on modern steel and glass decks gripping 1928 Purdey hammerless shotguns but they are the exception as opposed to the rule.

Across this great nation, however, in the state of Florida, the public beach is on the verge of extinction as one-time governor of Arkansas and prominent television host Mike Huckabee leads a campaign to shut out the masses and, very likely, put an end to that degenerate surfing life he so loathes while also having them pay for upkeep etc. with their dirty, wax tainted pennies.

It’s almost too fantastical to believe but let us turn to the Tallahassee Democrat and stoke our outrage.

Beachfront property owners, aided by high-priced lobbyists, have stripped local governments’ power to oversee your ability to enjoy the beach.

In 2016, Walton County adopted a “customary use” ordinance, reorganizing the public’s long-time use of the coast for traditional fishing and recreation, while codifying the ability of residents and tourists to continue to do so.

Wealthy beachfront property owners, however, led by former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, rebelled. They lobbied the Legislature into passing House Bill 631, making it easy for beachfront owners to employ the courts to block the beach. Threatening signs, fences and security guards have been employed to block public beach use.

Similar efforts are being planned throughout the state. Indian River County for instance has been forced to file suit to establish public access to a large portion of its beach line, while beach blocking attempts are being looked at in Sarasota, Pinellas, Palmetto and elsewhere.

Threatening signs? Security guards? I wish there were more than thirty-thousand surfers in America so we could stage an impressive march and carry our own threatening signs.

What would they say?

What is the surfer version of the wonderful pussy hat?

Maybe we should march anyhow? All twelve of us?


Just in: Second Great White shark found killed and wedged under reef at Margaret River!

Good times etc.

They don’t mess around in the West, home to the great Kanga Cairns and waves that make the nostrils of even the hardiest big-waver dilate.

Four weeks ago, as reported here, “a scuba diver discovered buried in a shallow reef cave underneath stop number three on the World Surf League’s Championship Tour Margaret River…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.’”

BeachGrit commissioned divers to photograph and video the grisly discovery but by the time the swell had dropped enough to get into the cave, the shark was gone.

Now, according to Surf Life Saving WA there’s been a report of another dead Great White found “wedged under reef between South side and Rifle Butt beach.”

Two questions, I suppose.

Did the original dead shark get pushed deeper into its hole, giving the impression of its disappearance, before getting squeezed back out?

Or did the area’s cowboy fishermen kill a second Great White and jam it under the ledge, if that was possible, as a grim warning to other sharks?

And, a caveat:

If Western Australia’s healthy shark population causes you worry, don’t go near the SLSWA twitter account, a sorta porn site for people who get off on hearing about sharks at their local surf spots.

Since Feb 1, they’ve reported the dead White at Margs, an eight-footer fifty metres off Rocky Point in Dunsborough, another eight-footer two hundred metres off Windmills in Dunsborough, two eight-footers circling near Margs main break, a ten-foot Tiger a hundred metres off a Busselton groyne, an hour north, an eight-foot Tiger caught, tagged and released near The Womb in Gracetown, two eight-foot Tigers just off Rocky Point in Dunsborough, the closure of Bunker Bay in Dunsborough because of sharks, an eight-foot Bronzie near The Farm in Dunsborough and thirty swimmers evacuated from the water at Yallingup ’cause of a “loitering” eight-footer. Species unknown.”

Good times etc.