Watch: Audi and Stephanie Gilmore recreate Kai Neville’s epoch-defining 2010 wavepool session!

Obvious question: who did it better?

In 2010, the filmmaker Kai Neville was shooting for what would become his, and the epoch’s, defining masterwork, Lost Atlas. 

That golden period. All collaborative artists have ’em.

It’s only years later, upon reflection, that we can trawl through their work and call it.

Kai Neville, the now thirty-seven-year-old filmmaker and sunglass company co-owner had grabbed the performance surf film space after his debut Modern Collective.

But for Kai, it was his second film, Lost Atlas, that built his reputation into a profitable exercise.

A decade later it’s still his masterwork. It came at a time when he had John John Florence, Jordy Smith, Dusty Payne and Dane Reynolds in his pocket.

And, in the middle of 2010, Kai joined your ol pal DR and the Stab gang to shoot Oakley teamriders Julian Wilson, Kolohe Andino, Adam Melling and Evan Geiselman in a Canary Islands wavepool, with lighting and stills by master technician Richard Freeman. 

The clip, which starts twenty-eight minutes into Lost Atlas, is most surreal, an ethereal interlude in a most prosaic film.

Recently, the German motorcar company Audi, employed the surfers Stephanie Gilmore, Coco Ho and Leah Dawson to, and one must suppose here, recreate the Lost Atlas sequence, and which you can watch below.

The obvious question is who did it better?

Do bear in mind that Kai shot and edited his sequence solo, and using a seven-hundred dollar Canon 7D camera, while the Audi team hired the noted Australian filmmaker and artist Daniel Askill (Chanel, with Kristen Stewart, Dior, with Jude Law, BMW, Air France) and a cast of many.

(Watch the behind-the-scenes clip of Audi film here.)


“Self-integrating” surfer-father and young daughter honor their Coronavirus banishment by visiting Berlin Wall!

An abundance of lacking caution.

“Did you know that all of East Berlin was forcibly quarantined, like we are now, except theirs lasted 30 years or some such and none of them were sick with anything other than questionable taste?” I ask my young daughter as we’re standing in front of Checkpoint Charlie, a sleight of hand Gypsy tugging on my pant leg, insisting we watch his dumb show.

“That’s super duper sad…” she says “but what did they like that was bad?”

“Well, some of the same things they like today. Sausage, theatrical rock n roll, mullets but, more importantly, this is history. We’ve become so lulled by decades of relative stability that we forget how easy we have it in comparison. 20 million people died in WW I, 75 million in WW II, and that’s nothing compared to the Black Plague…”

“Are the Black Plague a theatrical German rock n roll band?” She interjects.

“Probably.” I say and we fall into silence again, studying the graffiti. Feeling its weight.

We may be stuck in Western Europe for 30 days but, worst case scenario, we’re stuck in Western Europe for 30 days. An absolute dream and I’ve been salivating over the road trips we can take, places we can go, mountains we can ski, rivers we can surf, food we can eat, subsidized medical institutions we can tax.

Nothing against the very real threat of a Chinese manufactured cold but…



And with the World Surf League canceling March, likely April too, what has become of fortitude? Of knowing millions of people are going to be “self-quarantined” with nothing to do?

Professional surfing could have been their savior this “you can’t script this” moment but no. World Surf League CEO and Lord Commander over the Wall of Positive Noise Erik “ELo” Logan made his first executive decision, yesterday, lopping the first month, maybe two, off the season.

The reason?

“An abundance of caution.”

“Out of an abundance of caution for the safety of our athletes, fans and staff…”

Certainly the WSL will point at Australia for shutting down events attracting more than 500 people but live professional surfing isn’t really a “thing.” Santa Monica could have easily hosted the Coronavirus Corona event, 32 surfers in the water, 3 men in the booth (’89 World Champion gifted the of his life off), all the judges in Santa Monica where they should be anyhow. A total of 40 folk very much under the limit. For the hundreds upon hundreds of jobless, school-less, entertainment-less surfers around the globe it would have been rebellious art. Others would have glommed on too with no basketball, baseball or soccer.

The unicorn moment professional surfing has been waiting for since 1976.

Official mainstreaming. Being a real sport.

But no.

“An abundance of caution” and we surfers, we true grumpy locals, know what happens anytime an abundance of caution is exercised in the lineup. Either a rightly deserved burn or a trip over the falls.

“Well, ELo just took a trip over the falls…” I mumble after some time as the Berliner wind almost blows us both into that damned Gypsy.

My young daughter looks up at me, her confusion having turned into pure annoyance over the past week.

“Never mind.” I say. “Want to go get matching tracksuits for you and mama at the Adidas flagship store?”

She nods, happy again.

I’ll find a place to embroider Covid-19 on them later.

Happier days in exotic China.

Longtom on World Surf League’s tour postponement: “Dominoes falling quickly; Money has gone down the drain big-time and the whole year may yet be written off!”

Elo looks solid, on the right side of cancel culture and a ballsy decision that, even within the space of a twelve-hour day, looks to have shown the wisdom of Solomon.

May have been no surprise but it’s still one of the ballsiest moves in World Sport to cancel the opening event of the 2020 CT season.

A very, very bold move from Elo, considering the backing at the highest levels of the Australian Government, which is a major under-writer of the Pro Tour in Australia. The chief reason Australia can sustain three coastal CT events and the USA cannot sustain a single oceanic event.

Crazy, crazy day.

This article has had to be rewritten three times to keep up with this horrendous black swan which carried away Snapper and possibly the entire year.

As of last night Australian time, our Prime Minister was still urging Aussie (surf) fans to whip out and attend major sporting events.

Nothing to see, go about your business as usual.

At approx 9.45 AEST WSL dropped the statement on its website cancelling the March events, an event which according to John Shimooka commentating the Sydney Pro immediately went “global and viral.”

According to Shmoo, “Every stakeholder would have known about it”.

A phone call to the QLD Tourism Minister’s office, one of the main stakeholders of the Gold Coast event at 10.42am revealed that they had no knowledge the WSL had pulled the pin on one of the Gold Coast’s premier sporting events.

Fatal comms fail?

Of course, the dominoes have fallen and are falling quickly.

Formula One cancelled as fans were lining up to enter.

Like the WSL, the taxpayer is a major under-writer of the event, to the tune of around 60 million. Unlike the WSL, sports like Formula One also have serious revenue streams from gate receipts (over a hundred thousand people expected to attend), huge broadcast deals, food and bev, merch etc etc. They are legitimate global sports, not “enablement platforms”.

Wozzle is much more dependent on government underwriting, as we learned from the Fijian event, which was deemed unviable by then CEO Sophie Goldschmidt due to a lack of support from Fiji’s Government, despite a three-year deal with Kelly Slater’s OuterKnown clothing company.

Those deals, deemed valuable by Australian tourism promotion authorities in three states are now shredded, at least for this year.

At three pm AEST Australia’s nominal head of state, Scott Morrison, or ScoMo, effectively killed the Australian leg by banning all public gatherings over five hundred people.

Chances of events running minus spectators defeat all principles of government tourism funding and will result in contract terms being reneged on all over the shop.

A twenty-million dollar deal with Facebook does not keep the deep fryers going at Rainbow Bay. Who pays for dishonoured contract terms in an act of God is yet to be determined.

Calls to Tourism and Events QLD, who administer the funding for the Gold Coast event, were not answered.

Money has gone down the drain big-time and the whole year may yet be written off.

It’s not all bad news of course.

The WSL is likely to keep its pledge to be Carbon Neutral by 2019 now, a year later, and in a canter, if the 2020 calendar is voided.

Organisers of the Tokyo Olympics are putting on a brave face and staring down the virus.

The country’s Olympics minister, Seiko Hashimoto, said Tokyo 2020 organisers would continue to plan for a “safe and secure” Games, due to open on 24 July.

That was an hour ago.

If a truncated tour does go ahead comparisons will be made with CJ Hopgood’s 2001 Title, cut short by the Sep 11 attacks in NYC, Virginia and Pennsylvania.

It’s a very different world now and those comparisons will be largely meaningless.

Webcasts were in their infancy; we largely consumed surf contests via heavily curated surf media content. A savvy, web-educated fan base, as minuscule as it is (1200 people watching the Sydney Surf Pro live on Facebook) will not tolerate an uncredible champ if the Tour haemmorhages contests due to pandemic.

Biggest losers?

Well, me of course.

And other hacks.

Can’t write about a comp that don’t run.

Plus, I’m down a face mask invested in in case I rubbed shoulders with virus carriers in the steamy Snapper cauldron.

Dirk Ziff will take a massive bath, billions of paper money wiped off due to the market crash.

Owen Wright and his wife, pop singer, Kita Alexander both lose big. Owen a minimum of ten grand, which is the purse for a last place finish at a CT event. Kita, who was booked to play the Drop Festival, run concurrently with the Aussie leg, also loses gigs as they get cancelled.

Owen’s extensive real estate book, focussed on Air BnB and boutique hotel development will take a haircut, at best. At worst, assets will need to be liquidated.

The days of windfall gains from real estate speculation are probably over, at least for now.

Elo looks solid, on the right side of cancel culture and a ballsy decision that, even within the space of a twelve-hour day, looks to have shown the wisdom of Solomon.

Pro surfing itself?

That depends on the largesse of its two greatest benefactors, Dirk Ziff and the taxpayer. Both show no signs of blinking, as yet, in this highly fluid scenario.

Me, I’m prepped to the eyeballs.

How’s about you?

Historical: For first time ever, scientists witness “legendary” Great White shark attacking live Humpback Whale!

"Bite and spit."

The wheels have come completely off the civilized world and it appears our uncivilized friends in the animal kingdom have taken note, deciding to get in on some unhinged fun. Just really lose their minds and go all out crazy. And why not? What’s to stop them? Who?

Order has been damned. Vanquished. Chaos reigns.

And as you are well aware, apex predatory Great White have long feasted on whale carcasses floating in their ocean. Ripping into that blubber and mush but very recently, and for the first time in recorded history, scientists above a research vessel cruising South Africa’s vibrant coast witnessed two Great White’s take down a live Humpback Whale or, “Songbird of the Sea”, and let’s not take any more precious time. Let’s hear directly from them in the very entertaining Marine and Freshwater Journal.

Over the next 90 minutes, both white sharks approached the whale and each attacked it while still alive. The first shark positioned its initial attack from the rear of the whale, targeting the left flank behind the pectoral fin. However, although it bit the whale and a large amount of blood was released, it immediately let it go and swam away without removing any much blubber or muscle.

It waited for about 42 minutes to allow the whale to lose blood and slow its swimming patterns before biting beneath the tailstock. But like the bite before, it let go and swam away without removing any meat or blubber. It was then that the second shark (at about 13 ft/4m in length) showed up and took this opportunity to do the same thing, scaring off the smaller shark. After these two back-to-back bites, the whale stayed very still at the surface until the second shark bumped its snout.

The whale tried to dive, dipping its head under the water’s surface and arching its body but unable to move its tail. This new shark took advantage of that and bit the tail stock again, this time sharking its head, but released the whale once blood spurted out. That last bite sealed the fate of the whale, and it sank three minutes after that final bite.

Do you weep for the beautiful Humpback, extremely endangered, or cheer the Great White and his gumption?

More to the point for us surfers, us “Operatics of the Ocean”, it has long been thought that when a Great White hits one of our kind it takes a taste then realizes its mistake and refuses to finish the meal. The whale business above, though, proved the “bite and spit” tactic first hypothesized in 1958 by the wonderful ichthyologist John McCosker who declared that the prehistoric beasts prefer to bite then hang around until its prey bleeds out before returning to the feast.

Does it make you happy to know we are, likely, as delicious as whale?

Oowee! We got us some Texas Tea right down there in Osstralia!

While you were sleeping: ExxonMobil has started drilling Australia’s “deepest-ever oil and gas well”; Makes Equinor’s proposal look “Like kiddy pool!”

Deep water drilling six hundred clicks closer to Bells than failed Equinor proposal…

Remember the mass protests by surfers over a proposal by Norwegian energy company Equinor to bite into the Great Australian Bight in the hunt for black gold?

Longtom wrote poetically of the Byron paddle-out,

Representatives of every little sub-tribe out in the hot sunshine and howling onshore wind. Gurfers, murfers with their stock-broker and hedge fund husbands, rockstars, movie stars, slightly anorexic goddesses with logs, hipsters with finless foamies, sinewy old sea dogs, spanish-speaking Euro babes, sultry tattooed Peruvian, Argentinian and Brazilian studs, ageing local shredders on nineties thrusters and their progeny, kiddies, cops, magistrates, bankers, dentists, doctors, ex-pros, “soul” pros, scumbags and every other flavour of surfer. Surf witches were there, no doubt, but likely the blue bands were left behind.

You know how it played out.

If Australians weren’t going to be nice, Equinor was out. No social license to drill etc.

But while that was going down, Texas-based ExxonMobil, was given approval to drill to a depth of 2300 metres (2500 yards) in Bass Straight, deeper even than the proposed Equinor Stromlo-1 well.

ExxonMobil is a name familiar to those who were around in 1989 when its tanker the Exxon Valdez hit a reef in Alaska and bled 37,000 metric tonnes of crude. Worst oil spill in history. Otters, the cutest animal in any ecosystem, very badly hit. Poor optics although no social media back then meant many opportunities lost.

In a piece published today in Spectator Australia, Fred Pawle writes,

The protesters’ victory is small beer in the grander scheme of things in Australia. While the protesters were preoccupied with Equinor throughout last year, ExxonMobil managed to submit an application for an even deeper offshore well, have it approved and has already started drilling. That well is about 600km closer than Equinor’s proposed well would have been to Damien Cole’s home surf break at Bells.

Smart surfers will be secretly relieved that ExxonMobil dodged the protest gauntlet and has quietly got to work. It means surfboard makers will still have the raw materials for surfboards and airlines will still be able to fly keen surfers for their annual trip to Indonesia, where the waves are even better than at Bells.

Fred also rips into the frankly infallible Nick Carroll who, he says, “falsely claimed that ‘a worst-case spill would put oil on every surfable coast of Australia south of 30 degrees S.’ ”

Read here.