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.

Shock reveal: backward fins work; Vissla/BeachGrit release movie, clothing range to celebrate!

A collaboration to break your heart.

It’s safe to say that the highlight of 2018, from a surf culture point of view, was the Backward Fins Beth imbroglio, when the WSL’s new chief commercial officer, their “purveyor of cool, Beth Greves, appeared on @kookoftheday with her fins put in, yeah, backwards.

We ate and regurgitated that morsel here, here, here, here, here and here and bookended the saga with a billboard near Kelly Slater’s wave pool in Lemoore, and installed just before The Surf Ranch Pro.

Charlie Smith, with billboard.

The New Yorker’s Pulitzer Prize-winning staffer Bill Finnegan adored the stunt, writing in the famous magazine, 

Slater saw it. He is a tireless online poster, with a rare degree of patience. On his Instagram feed, a magnet for cranks of all kinds, he has spent years debating flat-Earthers, laying out innumerable scientific proofs that the planet is round. He’s a well-informed environmentalist; right-wing flamethrowers rain hellfire on him for that, and he often takes the trouble to reply to them individually. When the Backward Fins Beth billboard went viral, Slater showed a tiny bit of pique. On the BeachGrit Instagram feed, he wrote, “Funny. Cheap. Character Revealing.” The BeachGrit crew was ecstatic. They had successfully trolled the king.

Lovely Nick Carroll called BeachGrit “horribly clever.”

Now, and with much egg on our faces etc, it’s been revealed that putting your fins in backward ain’t such a bad thing.

It works.

And, so, with eyes filled with an empathic warmth towards the pioneer of the backward fins movement, we announce a collaboration with Paul Naude’s Vissla, featuring two t-shirts and a pair of surf trunks with the backward fins motif, as well as our cry for help tee.

(Which you can examine below and buy here.)


All meaningless, of course, without video proof of the backward fins theory being tested.

Want to see if Pipe shredder Cam Richards and pals can fly with reverse fins?