Intrepid surfer-father races to get young daughter into Germany before border shutters for “Exclusive Krautrock Extravaganza!”

Coronavirus über alles.

“Italians crave the sweet life. The French prefer theirs in pink but the Germans are who we need to kick this Coronavirus Zombie Apocalypse up to the next level…” I tell my young daughter as she’s picking and choosing among various music boxes in front of the Eiffel Tower.

“How do the Germans like their life?” she asks through a classically Gaulish flat tire sigh, annoyed at my pontifications but also vaguely curious. La Vie en Rose plinking along at the random rate with which she is spinning the music box’s miniature handle.

“Black. Brutal. Serious. The attitude we need right now.” I tell her, appreciating her cultural appropriation, “…but they also produce some of the world’s best techno and have some of the world’s best clubs. Have you ever heard of Krautrock?”

She shakes her head no.

“Well get ready.”

The next afternoon, after many more croissants etc. we sneak a plane out of Charles de Gaulle to Berlin’s Schönefeld airport. A wonderful counterpoint to Berlin’s Tegel or maybe just a wonderful counterpoint because it is wildly empty. I’ve been traveling the world for the better part of two decades now. Traveled right around 9/11, major airplane crashes etc. and have never seen the world so entirely shut down.

Stopped in its tracks.

“Germans.” I tell my daughter while waiting for our luggage. “The nihilism that’s going to get the whole of humanity moving again. They don’t ever give up. Did you know they tried to take over all of Europe twice and failed? Failed badly too, losing millions of people and billions of dollars but they didn’t quit and on try number three succeeded. Now everyone from Italy to Greece to Spain… even everyone inFrance is part of Germany. The entire thing. Conquered. Spending German money in ways that Germans dictate. Living the German life in shades of sweet and pink.”

She pulls a coin from her purse and studies it before saying, “It says ‘Euro’ not ‘German.'”

“Exactly.” I respond. “All they had to do was rebrand the thing. The Coronavirus Zombie Apocalypse is going to be incredible there and we’re going to have some black, brutal, serious fun plus there’s an amazing zoo and I bet it’ll be so empty we can hop into the animal cages and pet them all. ”

She smiles broadly.

“Rebranding. It’s something we core surfers need to figure out so we can rebrand the whole World Surf League.”

She rolls her eyes.

F1's last superstar driver, a welcome swing back to the old days of glamorous studs who ain't afraid to wear jewels, dress pretty etc.

World’s Greatest-Ever Formula One Driver Gives Hell to Melbourne wavepool!

Lewis Hamilton, hosted by super shaper Hayden Cox, at Tullamarine tank…

Briton Lewis Hamilton is the six-time champion of Formula One, all-time record holder for most pole pozzies, like the sport’s Kelly Slater, not quite, but close.

And, Lewis, thirty-five and gorgeous, a man who would make anyone dizzy with a hot roaring in their head, surfs.

Last year he hit Kelly’s tank, middle of winter, hood, gloves, booties etc, did pretty good.

The pair remain pals, Kelly not afraid to dive into Lewis’ comments pane to express his support, love and so on.

On Tuesday, and three days before his first practice session for the Melbourne Grand Prix which runs on Sunday, Lewis gave hell, relatively speaking, to the pool at 389 Melrose Drive, Tullamarine.

Fortuitously, for Lewis, a private booking had cancelled giving him the option of spending $1250 to own the left for an hour while the regular punters lined up for the right.

Lewis, in tracksuit, left, and Hayden with quiver.

He started on a mid-length HS Plunder, in noir before switching down to a six-two Hypto, riding the pool on a variety of turn settings.

Lewis, y’see, is also a pal of Hayden Cox, the Sydney-based shaper whose boards are a popular choice at the tank and which are available for rental there, the pairing coming via their mutual connection with Swiss watchmaker IWC

Afterwards, Lewis went rockclimbing, then skydiving before his obligatory gym session.

He also indicated that post-Grand Prix he’d be skipping his usual victory party for another swing at the pool.

“He’s the full madman. He ran as fast to the water as Parko,” says the pool’s PR man Rupert Partridge.

Still open for biz but if you want out and a refund, that's cool, too.

Open for trading: Join BeachGrit’s Winner-take-all Survivor League!

Easy to play, limited numbers, a thousand bucks to the champ…

Maybe you’ll remember the sorta sad story of Shane Starling, the Berlin-based data analyst who won the WSL’s Fantasy Surfer League last year. 

Shane picked ten of the eleven winners and didn’t get a damn thing for his year’s work, the victory unremarked and unacknowledged by the owner of the game. 

Shane called the game, a “dead platform, really. You can’t communicate with other players, you can’t banter. And if they gave even a small prize it would make the competition more lively. You play the game and that’s it.”

(The WSL has since promised an upgrade, which’ll be announced March 16.)

Another surfer who feels the same is Taylor Lobdell, thirty-one, from Costa Mesa but who works in the tech biz in San Francisco. 

Taylor describes himself as the “biggest fan of the WSL. I know everybody shits on it but I can’t get enough of it.” 

Still, despite his buzz, Taylor couldn’t get into their Fantasy League. 

“Every year I sign-up, set a lineup and I won’t even remember who I picked by the time the finals come around. My friends and I all play fantasy football together, we watch surfing contests, but the fantasy element is lacking. And if they can’t capture somebody like me, a huge fan, I think there’s a problem.”

What does the WSL get wrong? 

“They overcomplicate it. Look at their rules page, it’s paragraph upon paragraph. The tiers are arbitrary and the points are kinda hard to understand. Historically, everyone picks pretty much the same eight-person team and it comes down to the lower-tier guys that’ll make a difference.”

So Taylor, with us underwriting the thousand-bucks prizemoney in case we don’t get enough subscribers to cover it, has come up with a game that is so easy even the dumbest among us can get it. 

The rules. 

1. Pick one surfer each event.

2. Surfer must advance past round of 32.

3. You can’t pick same surfer twice.

4. Winner takes all.


Taylor says he got the idea from a pal who made a similar version for NFL ten years ago.

“I play it with all my friends, it’s a whole cool community and it makes it easy to talk about with your friends. You got Italo for Snapper? It makes rounds one fun again. I don’t know what eight-man teams my friends might have on Fantasy League but I’ll know if he has Jack Freestone or Italo at Snapper.”

Last year, not one surfer made it through the season without a seventeenth or thirty-third. Italo, the world champ, had three of ‘em, Gabby and Jordy, two.

Kelly had a seventeenth and two thirty-thirds. 

Ain't nobody able to get through a season without multiple last or second-last finishes.
Ain’t nobody able to get through a season without multiple last or second-last finishes.

What else? 

It costs twenty American dollars (which goes up to twenty-five after March 22) and the cut-off for the year is March 26. 

No ties, no divided cash.

One winner, one thousand buck cheque.

“If there are multiple people left at Pipe, the remaining players must pick their two surfers and the combined heat score of the final. If both surfers advance, the tie will be settle by the closest final heat score.”

If you don’t get in on time, you can’t join mid-year.

More details here. 

Before and after each contest, we’ll run a story, league standings and in December the winner will be interviewed and celebrated even if pudgy and comical looking etc.

Who’s in? 

Kelly Slater arrives in NZ, takes time out for happy children. | Photo: John Keoghan

World Champ Three-Way: Kelly Slater, Adriano De Souza and Carissa Moore to surf in NZ Qualifying Event!

"I'm excited," says Kelly.

A couple of days ago, we all posited on the reasons behind Carissa Moore’s December announcement of a one-year sabbatical from the tour and her March appearance at a qualifying event in Sydney.

The pendants pointed out Carissa was only taking the CT events off and said nothing about surfing on the qualifying series although the reasons given, need to refresh, rejuvenate excitement etc, suggested contests were the last thing she’d be doing.

Was it a fork in the eye to her on-again-off-again, recently sold sponsor Hurley?

An urge to see the sights of Sydney in autumn?

Appearance money?

Italicise that.

Appearance money.

Earlier today, Kelly Slater landed in New Zealand to compete, along with fellow world champions Adriano de Souza and Carissa Moore, in the unfortunately named Corona Piha Pro, which offers ten-thousand qualifying points.

One Slater fan did a bit of sleuthing, worked out Kelly would be coming on a Hawaiian Airlines plane and took his two kids to the arrivals hall to meet the eleven-time champ, environmentalist, property developer and bringer of gated wavepools to deserts.

“As soon as he saw there was someone there to welcome him to New Zealand he popped over and was more than happy to have a nice chat – asking the kids their names and that sort of thing,” Auckland man John Keoghan told the NZ Herald. “They were so stoked. They’ve probably been drip fed stuff from me for so many years, but they’re budding little surfers as well.”

The IG post that altered surf fan of Kelly Slater’s imminent arrival to New Zealand.

The last time Kelly was in New Zealand was 1993.

“I’m excited to be surfing again in an event in New Zealand and seeing all my fans there,” Slater told the WSL. “I love the country and all it has to offer. New Zealand is a place with incredible surf, amazing golf courses and so much more. I’m also looking forward to starting my 2020 WSL season by competing at a Challenger Series event.”

Do you like press release quotes almost as much as me?

Of course, you know, we know, everyone knows, the reason all three champs are there is for the cash.

So, how much?

Ten k for Adriano?

Fifteen for Carissa?

Fifty for Kelly?

Or does the equal pay thing apply here, too?

Why would you rob fans of the potential dramas in a rivalry that could sustain the sport for a decade? | Photo: WSL

Gabriel Medina hogtied by WSL rule change: “By removing an avenue for the Medina character flaws to express themselves you remove drama and theatre from the sport!”

The WSL finds a solution to a non-existent problem…

The WSL, as we learned from Gra Murdoch on Australian surf forecast site Swellnet, has changed the rules in an attempt to hogtie its biggest star and dual world champ Gabby Medina.

They now threaten disqualification for any last-minute interferences like the one he laid on Caio at Pipe.

(Watch Gabriel’s deliberate interference on Caio here.)

Gra did a great job putting the rule change into context by comparing it with other sports where rules had been changed to bring single dominant athletes back to the pack.

Missing was the bigger question: why?

And also: to what effect?

For a league that has now pivoted to be an entertainment/media organisation devoted to storytelling it seems a bizarre oversight – or is it sheer ignorance? – that the greatest story in its league remains opaque, and now under threat from zealous rule changes.

I’m talking about the Yin-Yang dynamic and rivalry between it’s two biggest draws.

Character is destiny, character flaws even more so.

For athletes in a professional sport over-aggression can be equally as damaging as submissiveness. For that theatre to play out we have the two greatest surfers of the generation, John John Florence and Gabriel Medina to witness.

Why would you rob fans of the potential dramas in a rivalry that could sustain the sport for a decade?

Imagine Shakespeare’s plays getting the WSL rewrite: “Ah look mate, that Hamlet is too indecisive. That King Lear, we’re going to need to tone down those passionate outbursts, he’s a bit too mad.’

One too aggressive, one too submissive.

The difference between what you expect to see and what you actually see is drama.

Take the drama away from heats, even the possibility of it and pro surfing becomes an incredibly tough sell for an audience saturated with digital opportunities for entertainment. That’s what made Zeke’s physical dominance over John so compelling. We suspected John John’s unwillingness to “go to the mat” in competition but until we witnessed his capitulation we had no idea how that would play out in real time.

Ergo for Medina.

Chas and David Lee Scales made the point in The Grit podcast after the Caio priority incident in Portugal that Medina is a shitty villain. In the sense that being a bad villain means he’s bad at it I totally agree. It backfires on him as often as it helps him. It’s cost him world titles.

In terms of shitty being inauthentic, I totally disagree.

His acts of aggression are spontaneous and ingrained as well as calculated and pre-meditated. There’s nothing manufactured about it. When he came to the Gold Coast as a newly minted twenty-one-year-old world champ and threatened physical violence against “enigmatic” Irishman Glenn “Micro” Hall Pete Mel couldn’t pull the mic away from him fast enough.

Which is what makes it so fascinating, you never know when the next Medina drama will unfold.

Something is happening here and I may not know what that is: that’s a Medina heat. That’s what keeps me watching.

It’s what makes the rule change so incomprehensible.

By removing an avenue for the Medina character flaws to express themselves you remove drama and theatre from the sport. You reduce the strength of the yin and yang polarity between him and JJF.

Why would you rob fans of the potential dramas in a rivalry that could sustain the sport for a decade?

Imagine Shakespeare’s plays getting the WSL rewrite: “Ah look mate, that Hamlet is too indecisive. That King Lear, we’re going to need to tone down those passionate outbursts, he’s a bit too mad”.

You want to witness a sport without drama and intrigue, minus any of the possible Game of Thrones dramas, watch the current Aussie QS events being held in two-foot beachbreaks. An endless grind of two turns and a closeout finish.

Whole hours pass of four-man heats separated by a point or two.

The difference between first and last practically unintelligible. Vaughan Blakey is doing a heroic job in the booth, should get the call-up to partner his brother for the big leagues, but the actual content of the heats is dull as cold dishwater.

As a guiding principle the WSL rule book should have a commitment to making the Sport more interesting over time, not less. And the deeper irony is that Gabs wasn’t even exploiting a competitive advantage via the rules that needed to be shut down.

It was a solution to a non-existent problem.

In the final analysis, by legislating Gabs aggressive instincts out of the sport they help him more than any other surfer on Tour.

They remove the possibility of those sudden explosions that came from nowhere and totally blow up heats.

It just makes a thirty-minute heat a more boring, stale and predictable way to pass the time.

I don’t see how that is good for the Sport.

What about you Medina haters, what do you see?