Surfboard shapers (pictured) celebrating.
Surfboard shapers (pictured) celebrating.

Happy Days: New Zealand surfers “panic buy” surfboards giving local surf shops “Coronavirus Kick” and revitalizing once stagnant industry!

Pop the champagne!

And in New Zealand, the other country Down Under, we are seeing one apocalypse wane as another apocalypse waxes. You are, by now, aware that the entire globe has lost its collective mind over the sniffle-inducing Coronavirus. Schools shut, restaurants shut, bars shut, Kelly Slater crooning from a secret Gold Coast hideaway.

But there was an apocalypse predating this Coronavirus one. The surf industry apocalypse. Two decades plus of death, destruction, famine, sallow eyes, pale skin.

Well, the “Chinese Flu” has put an end to one corner of the surf industry apocalypse and in stunning fashion. Should we read from the New Zealand Herald?

It is both our right and our duty.

While the country prepares for lockdown, one Kiwi surfing franchise had their busiest weekend since Christmas.

Backdoor chief executive Geoff Hutchison said surfboards were flying off the shelves ahead of the lockdown.

“We had a really strong day on Saturday and Sunday wasn’t too bad as well, it was sort of like Christmas shopping.”

Hutchison thinks the rush is due to people hoping to catch waves during the nationwide shutdown.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced yesterday that New Zealand was at Covid-19 alert level 3 and would rise to alert level 4 on Wednesday, for at least four weeks.

Backdoor isn’t the only surf company seeing a boost in sales – Wellington’s Lyall Bay surf shop Organic Dynamic also reported being “flat-out” over the weekend.

“There was clearly a bit of panic buying of surfboards and surf equipment, but not so well with apparel.”

And I can hear champagne corks popping from Jon Pyzel’s North Shore home, from Matt Biolos’s San Clemente shaping bay. All across Australia’s Gold Coast up to Matt Parker from Album and Britt Merrick from Channel Islands.

Happy days are here again!

Except for the apparel market where the surf industry apocalypse sallies forth.

Showing ribs, sleepless nights, thirsty throats etc.

Discovered: World’s Greatest Surfer Kelly Slater found broadcasting original, uplifting Coronavirus Ballads from secret Gold Coast compound!

"When I feel trouble, I'll be right there for you."

Days ago, I became very worried about the world’s greatest surfer and international icon Kelly Slater. Our hero had gone missing, normally robust Instagram darkened, and no news other than the fact he had been spotted, somewhat recently, by overjoyed locals in New Zealand.

With the globe quickly shutting down over the Coronavirus pandemic, a disease that allegedly causes many bad sniffles, I hoped that he was ok. Safe. Somewhere with much cultural texture and intelligent people for engaging conversations.

Selfishly, I also wanted him to comfort us, to sing us a song like Gal Gadot and other celebrities, helping us to feel better and less scared.

Well, dreams come true. Kelly Slater is safe and sound, sheltering in place on Australia’s Gold Coast and singing us original songs.

Oh he doesn’t tell us he’s on the Gold Coast, likely hoarding the cultural texture and intelligent people, but his Instagram story holds clues.

Nut butters from Australia’s Naked Foods. Apparently, the coconut cashew spread is divine.

And the song he sings for us? Our The voice of an angel. Like Jack Johnson tenderly mixed with Yanni. It also appears in his Instagram story but since I cannot post, I’ll dutifully copy the lyrics.

“I wrote this many years ago but just realized the lyrics are fitting for right now…” Kelly tells the camera with such gorgeously serene confidence before launching in.

“Days are passing so fast may not make it through this but I myself believe, I’m better on my own. We made a plan one day to spend our lives let’s do this if our time is now please don’t let it go. So let’s just sail away, and find our place today, forget the yesterdays that we’re living. And ugly things we’ve said, time we’ve spent in vain and the mistakes we’ve made are forgiven. When I feel trouble, I’ll be right there for you. When I feel trouble you’ll be right there for me…”

Such an overwhelming flood of human connection. When Kelly feels trouble, he’ll be there for me. When Kelly feels trouble, I’ll be there for him.

And I am.

We all are.

To the point. | Photo: White Monkey Surf Shop

Covid-19 wretchedness: Bali closes beaches, including Uluwatu, Padang, as island emerges as likely virus hot-spot; Amputee surfer arrested in northern Sumatra, deported!

The Indonesian jackboot comes down, hard…

If, as the saying goes, good news travels fast then, it must follow that the wretched moves with the swiftness of supersonic air travel.

In Bali, a Frenchman, seventy-two, has died while riding his scooter. Locals thought he’d had a heart attack. Covid.

A British woman, fifty-two, died in Denpasar hospital. Covid. The doctor who treated the woman is Covid poz.

At an Uluwatu guesthouse, paramedics were called when a young tourist from Kazakhstan was found wheezing and gasping for air. His wife, who had an abnormal fever, was also taken to Denpasar hospital.

So far only seventy-one people on the island of four million have been tested. And those tests have to be sent to Jakarta, with a week turnaround on results.

It ain’t a recipe for containment.

Meanwhile, tens of thousands of Hindus will be celebrating what’s called Nyepi or the famous Day of Silence today, pushing back against the Indonesian government’s call for social distancing.

The Bukit peninsula has closed for biz, the Uluwatu lineup resembling a 1950s version of itself, empty of surfers.

“Respect, go home or die,” is the motto from the never-shy-of-coming-foward Balinese.

(Who can forget the “anti-Communist” slaughters of 1965 when “Bali’s eagerness to kill was so great and spontaneous that, having initially provided logistic support, the Army eventually had to step in to prevent chaos.“)

And on the remote northern Sumatra island of Simeulue, which ain’t short of epic set-ups, surfers have been forcibly removed from resorts by masked soldiers and deported back to whence they came.

Alex Wakey, a one-legged surfer from Jersey (I know, I know, there’s a joke in there somewhere, a t-shirt to the writer of the best amputee gag in the comments), was staying at Aura Surf Resort when the army came “flexing their stupid lack of logic.”

“The world gets a cough so officials throw people out of places that are them fit and healthy, hypocritically tell us to lock ourselves away while they don’t,” Alex wrote to me while en route home via Qatar. “We’ve collectively used this planet as a bus bin and now wonder why it’s clearing the decks. People being all kind words and recipes online when we know they’ll go back to being selfish cunts the second they can walk the streets again. Nature is changing humans; just a shame it can’t change human nature.”

Ironbound (pictured) being feisty and "difficult."
Ironbound (pictured) being feisty and "difficult."

Sensing weakness in Florida, “tough, feisty” Great White shark peels away from pack and swims south, instead of north, horrifying researchers!

"[This] was one of the toughest sharks he has seen..."

It has long been suggested that members in good standing of the Animal Kingdom can sense events before they happen. Horses know when earthquakes will strike sometimes days before they do. Jackrabbits can smell a developing tornado forty minutes out and it is possible that Great White sharks can read the apocalypse and/or create it.

Thus, scientists are both fascinated and horrified by the actions of a 12-foot Great White shark named Ironbound. There he was, off the coast of North Carolina with many other Great White sharks when he suddenly peeled away and began heading to the Florida Keys.


According to OCEARCH, the research organization responsible for keeping mankind safe from the vicious apex predators:

Ironbound was first tagged by OCEARCH researchers last fall in the waters off West Ironbound Island, Nova Scotia, Canada. Since then, the 998-pound male has traveled more than 2,700 miles along the North American coast.

The tracking data indicates that the shark traveled all the way down to the tip of Florida before deciding to move north again. However, Ironbound seems to have had a change of heart, making a U-turn in order to head back towards the Gulf. It is currently not clear why.

The OCEARCH team say that Ironbound was a particularly challenging shark to catch and haul onto the research vessel.

“Our Fishing Master Captain Brett McBride said that [this] was one of the toughest sharks he has seen, especially considering [its] size,” OCEARCH Expedition Leader Chris Fischer previously told Newsweek. “At 12 foot, 4 inches and right about 1,000 pounds, [it] fought like some of the much bigger sharks we’ve encountered in places like Guadalupe Island, Mexico and South Africa that were 15 feet long or more.”

What is this unusually feisty beast sensing in southern Florida and/or Mexico’s Gulf?

Why there and not north with his “man-eating” brothers and sisters?

Coronavirus related?

Everything else is so we must assume. We might even assume that Ironbound has Coronavirus and is practicing social distancing but is also very hungry for age’d Parrotheads all chewy like leather.

Extremely scary.

More as the story develops.

From the Hear-Ye Hear-Ye Dept: Second largest surf website in the world issues rare edict, orders surfers to stop surfing!

"Bottom line: We need to take this thing seriously."

The Great Coronavirus Kerfuffle of ’20 sure has taken many strange and twisting turns. Economies locked down, otherwise healthy people “sheltering in place,” fear, paranoia, latex gloves and face masks once reserved solely for weed-whacking the yard worn into grocery stores that are employing Soviet-era systems to ensure there are enough blue jeans and toilet paper for all.

The strangest and most twisted turn, though, is Surfline’s CEO issuing a rare and king-like edict to surfers everywhere and let us read, together some choice bits from “A Statement From Surfline on Surfing and the Coronavirus.

With regard to surfing, it’s simple: If you can’t get to the beach alone and surf alone — no standing next to your buddies in the parking lot, no chilling on the beach with a group of people — please don’t. Stay six feet apart. Always. There are many asymptomatic folks out there who can spread this thing.

Michel Bourez is leading by example: “There is a big swell coming this weekend,” he posted. “Personally, I will not go to Teahupo’o to avoid the spread of the virus. We are all in the same boat and this is very serious. The sooner we make the effort to stay at home the sooner the spread of the virus will decrease.”

Bottom line: We need to take this thing seriously, which means we all practice social distancing. Be safe and let’s watch out for each other as best we can.

And shall you heed? Were you just waiting for this royal pronouncement to sort your day’s activities which is now limited to staying in doors and watching Surfline cams feature empty lineups?

Isn’t it ironic that the surf website most credited with crowding lineups from Lowers to Lunada Bay would only now recognize the trouble of surfing in a giant pack of folk? That the website known for pushing epoxy funboards onto legions of VALs would now be circumspect?

BeachGrit has always been a social distancing pioneer, having doubled the now accepted “six feet apart” rule from inception and preaching “when three or more surfers are gathered together, one of them shall become eaten by a shark.”

Ironic like rain on a wedding day. A free ride, when that ride has already been purchased.

Good advice that just wasn’t taken.