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.
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.
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.
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.
Man from Futures Fins to Chas Smith: "Get this you clown! Backward fins work!"
Shock reveal: backward fins work; Vissla/BeachGrit release movie, clothing range to celebrate!
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.
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.
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.
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.
And I’ll admit to being jealous of Australia and Canada and their infantile suckling on the teat of Britain’s proud monarchy. Oh the history, the pomp, the comfort in being tucked into bed, nightly, knowing a steady hand is at or near the wheel. We Americans are let to bob up and down, swinging from the jowls of one highly unpredictable politician to the next. Our “king” is basically Mike Bloomberg and imagine that.
The horror, the horror.
In any case, Australia’s “republican” movement has gained sudden steam over perceived mistreatment of “Australian-esque” Prince Harry and his beautiful wife Meghan Markle. Their “surf-like” qualities are admired in the land down under but let’s learn more and then, as Americans, give some advice.
Harry and Meghan’s decision comes at a time when Australians are talking very seriously about becoming a republic, although recent polling has provided mixed results. A February 2018 poll by Research Now found 52% supported a republic with 25% unsure and just 22% supporting the monarchy.
A Newspoll in November 2018, just after a royal tour by Harry and Meghan, found only 40% supported a republic with 48% against. This was the first time since 1999 that a poll found more people opposed the change.
In 2019, it was even reportedly proposed that Harry might be made the governor-general of Australia. This move would have potentially boosted royal support but was ultimately dismissed.
A Dynata poll in June 2019 then found that support for a republic among under 25-year-olds had grown to 57%, with 50% of those 25-34 supporting a change.
A large part of the couple’s appeal is that they appear relatable (read: surfy) when compared to the Queen or Prince Charles. It certainly is relatable for a couple in their 30s with a young family to want to move from home and be financially independent. The catch for monarchists is that much of the couple’s popularity comes from their rejecting traditional royal roles.
DON’T LEAVE THE CROWN! Freedom may look good but one day you wake up sandwiched between Bill and Hillary Clinton, Bill mouth-breathing, Hillary binge watching episodes of Friends while passive-aggressively hate-texting Seema Nanda and think… “Whoa. How’d I end up here?”