New York City, June 2020. | Photo: The Omega Man

Life and pro surfing in a post-COVID world: “Shit is bleak, bleak, bleak. The tour looks viable no more. Who will step in and take over the show once the WSL is buried in a Santa Monica ditch?”

Who gives a fuck about surfing, other than our globally dispersed splattering of non-conformists and authority-thumbers? The battle for middle America/Australia was never fought, let alone won.

So. This is where we find ourselves.

The 2020 WSL season wrapped in plastic and thrown in a ditch somewhere along Santa Monica Boulevard.

#homesurfchallenges and Russian surf bots assume its place, with E-Lo hoping nobody notices.

And nobody does, ‘cause they’re too busy tearing former comrades limb from limb, seething with incredulous rage over who should and shouldn’t be allowed to surf their shithouse local.

Meanwhile, Matt George fills the void of real surf news with stories of the time he didn’t do shrooms with Darrick Doerner and the bro from Poison on a beach in Bali.

Or was it Sam George with Jeff Hakman and the guy from Bros on a beach in Cabo?

I don’t even know anymore.

But I do know we’ve reached peak Covid, at least for this first wave.

It’s time, I think, to take a peek over the other side and wonder what professional surfing might look like in an A.C. world.

Shit is bleak.

Let’s start with the international aviation industry.

The carbon-pumping, border-opening lifeblood of the world tour.

Like a house built on the low tide mark, the WSL has benefited from decades of cost-cutting carrier companies making international travel the cheapest and most accessible it has ever been. The tour and its supporting infrastructure rely on that low water mark holding.

But the tide has turned.

Most countries have shut their borders for who knows how long. The ones that are open generally come with mandatory quarantine periods. Expect that to continue indefinitely for countries with poor health systems, i.e. the ones with all the good waves.

Carrier companies, especially the povvo cheap ones, are collapsing.

When things do come back online the price of a ticket will take a drastic hike as mandatory one seat spacings between passengers are enforced.

What will this mean for tour operating costs?

And what will the ROI be for Quey warriors flying year ‘round to chase points and meagre pay cheques?

The days of easy global travel are no more.

Then there’s the sponsor income streams.

Even before the virus industry brands were being decimated, Soviet style.

Now the cull’s looking more like a Pol Pot bloodbath.

What endemic and surf-adjacent companies will a) be left standing and b) in any position to throw the type of coin needed to rescue an already spluttering tour from its demise?

This is probably the biggest challenge the sport will face.

The Olympics and its supposed shot in the arm for surfing?

About as safe a bet as a Deivid Silva world title.

Then there’s the surfers themselves.

Across the board professional athletes are seeing their earnings cut, if they’re still lucky enough to have a sponsor.

And while the few elite ‘CT should be fine, anybody below, say, the top 16 is gonna feel the pinch.

(Is that a bad thing, though?)

Finally, who is gonna be there to help advocate for the tour when it is ready to navigate the post-Covid world?

In Australia, we’re seeing the national sports fast tracked back to competition. Thank fuck.

But that’s because they’re operating on home soil, with a large percentage of the population pushing for their return. They have solid support from corporate and government interests.

Getting them back online is a money spinner and a vote winner.

Who gives a fuck about surfing, other than our globally dispersed splattering of non-conformists and authority-thumbers?

The battle for middle America / Australia was never fought, let alone won.

Ergo, who is gonna champion surfing to the myriad of stakeholders, stretched across multiple continents, governments, jurisdictions etc, that are responsible for green lighting competition, while the effects of the worst economic crisis in over 100 years play out before them?

Shit is bleak, bleak, bleak.

The tour looks viable no more.

As laughable as it is, E-Lo’s pivot to the WSL as content farm is his only logical choice at this point. Expect the convolution of inanity and click chasing to intensify, to the point where the WSL as surfing’s peak competitive and administrative body is no longer recognisable.

It is a dead man walking.

Thing is though, I like competitive surfing.

I want it to continue.

And, I know you do too.

Who will step in and take over the show once the Woz is buried in that same Santa Monica ditch?

What is it it all gonna look like in a post covid world?

Spunky surf commenter seeking advice.

Matt George on worst film ever made: “Think of In God’s Hands as a ten-million dollar disaster movie!”

Heartbreaking but good times!

Think of it as a disaster movie.

I have.

For many years now.

To be invited to Hollywood to write a movie about surfing and then have them actually want to make it and then to talk them into hiring all your friends to do it with you and then to have to stand by and watch the Hollywood machine turn the story into a compost heap was absolutely heart breaking.

But at least my friends and I had a ball making it.

People like Matty Liu (who surfed that giant day at Jaws but did not make the final cut), Shane Dorian (who I believe was at a contest in Brazil when I called him and asked him to star. He was fifth in the world I think but jumped…uhm…on board just to get out of two-foot slop there), Shaun Tomson (who when I called him asked “Will they clear the line-ups?”), Brian Keaulana (who no surf movie in their right mind would not call), Darrick Doerner (who provided the name for the movie after describing a terrifying wipeout at Waimea), Dave Kalama (who was convinced we were all gonna die doing our own stunts without any jet-ski experience and came damned close to being right), Pete Cabrinha (genius, and the best actor in the bunch, who had just invented kite surfing, which did not make the final cut either), Rush Randle (who was the strongest man in the world who when he hugged me in thanks bruised two of my ribs), and yes, even the band Poison’s front man Bret Michaels, (but more, much more, on that later).

So for those self isolated, and those brave enough to sit through In God’s Hands again (If you watch it with German subtitles it actually has a plot), here is a series of behind-the-scene capers to keep you occupied during the love scenes.


I had never heard anyone laugh at ten million dollars before.

But that was our budget.

I learned very quickly that movie producers are like government officials. They make alot of promises but keep all the money.

The joke goes: Why do producers hate making movies for a million bucks?

Answer: How the hell are they gonna steal half of it? Ha ha..yeah I know…not funny. I fucking lived it.

So yeah, as much as ten million dollars sounds, we were strapped the whole time and quite often making shit happen was up to me.

Anyway, we were in Bali and I wrote this huge party scene that was to take place at Padang Padang. I needed at least fifty people but the producers came to me and said that they couldn’t pay for any extras.

So the way I remember it, Shane Dorian, Matty Liu and I walked down Jalan Legian handing out my home-made flyers for a huge blow-out full moon party the next night at Padang Padang (even though the full moon was ten days away)

“All the free beer you could swill!” said the flyer.

I also spread the rumor that it was going to be a shroomfest. Remember, this was 1996 and mushroom shakes were still legal in Bali.

The thing was, we didn’t have any shrooms and between the three of us, we could afford about three beers, which we drank while we handed out the flyers. So I guess you could say we left it In God’s Hands.

But wait.

We needed a band, we’d at least promised that.

That’s when we heard a noise that sounded alot like an electronic cat fight in a slaughterhouse.

It was coming from one of the more notorious…uhm…welcome bars on the Legian strip.

A few of the ladies and, well, a few of the…uhm… dressed up boys, were hanging out front looking for early customers.

Matty realized we had found exactly what we needed.

Dragging us into the place Matty introduced us to the source of the catfight. It was a Russian industrial metal band called KAOS who had rented the place for band practice for a jug of black market Vodka. All KAOS demanded from us for the gig was a tip jar, a stage and ice cubes for their last jug of vodka (Which was honest to God black by the way. Christ, I’ve never figured that out).

I said sure, easy.

Have you ever accidentally thrown a baseball through a window?

We should have known when we pulled up and the scooters were backed up to the White Monkey Surf Shop.

We were chewing our nails worrying about how we were gonna throw a party with no favors when over a thousand people had shown up with their own eski’s and stash.

If you watch the big party scene, which we shot live, in the rain, and all night, you can see most of the famous cast all gone nuts. And we were. Me, Matty and Shane nuts with relief that we pulled it off, most others gone nuts on shrooms.

(Including a female cameramen, which explains the core of the movie in many ways, but more on that later…).

So under the deluge the rain poured down, the river broke through, generators blew out, the stage collapsed, someone’s hair was set on fire by the sparklers, the tide came in, the body painting contest got way out of hand and there was even a spaced out impromptu marriage between the female camera operator mentioned above and the mohawked drummer of KAOS.

Which was officiated by Bret Michaels in his famous male mascara (lead singer of the band Poison, if you have forgotten that point and for you romantics rumor has it the happy couple are still together).

By dawn the beach looked like the morning after the D-Day invasion combined with a human version of a turtle breeding season.

Dozing new couples lying in humps in each others arms and the walking dead making their way up through the cave with hangovers that I swear to God you could actually hear.

Meanwhile, Shane, Matty, Shaun Tomson, Bret Michaels and I were up on the shaded remnants of the listing bamboo stage.

(The band had fled fearing immigration reprisals, but they made sure we knew where to find them if we did this sort of thing again).

Being very South African, Shaun had somehow found some morning tea that wasn’t spiked and we all sat considering the impressive wreckage.

Shaun broke the silence.

“So Shane…If you didn’t body shave you’d be quite a hairy bastard, yeah?”

Even the female survivor on Bret Michaels lap busted up. (She was the Italian fire dancer and hula hoop instructor who had thoughtfully provided all the sparklers).

And that was when Bret grabbed his guitar and serenaded in the new day of what was one of the many mad moments in the remarkable surfing production that was In God’s Hands.

Bret, in very amused frame of mind, chose to sing the acoustic version of his number one hit from 1988.

And it could not have been more fitting.

“Every rose has it’s thorn

Just like every night has it’s dawn

Just like every cowboy sings his sad, sad song

Every rose has it’s thorn
. Yeah it does…”

Revealed: Overweight, diabetic surfers with underlying heart conditions make up vast majority of Coronavirus hospital patients!

"The findings, published Wednesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association, confirm what physicians nationwide have noted anecdotally."

Do you recall when the entire world tossed its economy in a burn barrel then lit it on fire, closed beaches, outlawed surfing, accosted those who dared eat Asian fusion cuisine under the sun and otherwise locked itself indoors, drawing the blinds and hiding under various futons because a man ate a bat in China and/or scientists fiddled with a bat in China?

What a very odd season but these are the days of our Coronavirus life.

Social distancing, mass unemployment, staggering debt, crippling anxiety, debilitating fear.

Well, it was revealed today, in a large-scale study, that overweight, diabetic surfers* with underlying heart conditions make up the vast majority of New York’s Coronavirus hospital patients.

Shall we learn more?

People with obesity, diabetes and high blood pressure are at greater risk for complications from the coronavirus, according to a large study of patients hospitalized with the illness it causes.

The findings, published Wednesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association, confirm what physicians nationwide have noted anecdotally.

The study included data on 5,700 people hospitalized with COVID-19 in the New York City area.

Underlying conditions were common. The researchers found that, among all patients, 57 percent had high blood pressure, 41 percent were obese and just over a third had diabetes.

People with those chronic health problems should call their physicians if they experience new or unusual symptoms or have contact with a person diagnosed with COVID-19, said the researchers, from the Feinstein Institutes for Medical Research at Northwell Health in New York.

That’s “because those patients, at least from our description, are highly represented in the people who have a severe course of the disease,” said Karina Davidson, senior vice president at the Feinstein Institutes for Medical Research.


Well, at least we had fun.


More as the story develops.

*Read: people.

Watch: Exclusive “bone-chilling” footage reveals massive shark lurking in the shallows, waiting to “maim or devour” unsuspecting family!

Death in the Afternoon.

We surfers, we brave daughters and sons of Poseidon, are well acquainted with the many risks hiding in that ocean blue. Waves, large angry waves, hoping to drown us. A novel Coronavirus making haste on its saline mist. Other surfers, hearts hardened by greed, hoping to watch us drown.

Sharks, untamed lust in their eyes and appetites craving the bones of our feet.


We play Russian Roulette with every paddle but have accepted our fates with steely resolve.

Come what may, come what may.

The same cannot be said for beach going families who think of that same ocean blue as a benevolent mother. A life-giving, life-affirming Pleasure Palace where fun is but a splash away.

Fun or a missing limb.

And here we witness, exclusively, a terror from the deep coming within striking distance of two fathers and three sons enjoying an autumn afternoon five hours north of Sydney very near Crescent Head, that soft but iconic point.

The make, model, of the shark is unknown and there is some debate surrounding. It could be a sand tiger, bronze whaler, bull, maybe even a nurse.

Two will rip a grown man in half and feast on his intestines to say nothing of a tasty child. Two can be petted like dolphins in a marine-themed amusement park.

Russian Roulette with a four chambered pistol and two bullets.

The shark stayed in the shallows for much of the day while the fathers taught their sons the joys of fishing, mothers looked on happily.

Watching them.

The mullet are currently running on this stretch of coast and teeming with sharks. There have been tons of sightings. A squad of bronze whalers were spotted up the beach the other day, a ten-foot hammerhead, Whites, packs of six-to-eight-foot shovel nose sharks, long-tailed tuna jumping out of the surf. A woman had her foot tasted at Crescent Head just yesterday.

Scary times.

Terrifying even.

But we surfers, we bold sons and daughters of Neptune, continue to live the shred life.

Unstoppable and rad.

"You've got to ask yourself one question do I feel lucky? Well do you bunker?"

Cuckolds in COVID-19 era: “What would it be like to be told to leave the ocean by another man and obey? Is there ever any coming back?”

"Fuck off with your shit board and crap wetty and go surf Broken Head with Rasta and the rest of those pussies."

In this time of apocalyptic-pandemic lockdowns and isolationism, surfers in northern NW are returning to heights of tribalism not seen in decades.

Biblical connotations present themselves at every turn. Amid public outrage as the Australian cardinal George Pell walks free threats of mid-session baptisms are on the rise.

I should know.

I narrowly avoided one last week at one of Australia’s premier point breaks.

Admittedly, I sinned.

Over excited, I paddled straight to an outside take off the spot and sat five metres deep of everyone.

“Do you always paddle straight to the inside at a new spot mate?”

He is sitting there half-sunken – tattooed and snarling – like a wild and bronzed deity.

“No,” I say, stunned and fearful.

There is a terribly awkward stillness in the ocean.

Silence in the chasm between us.

People are watching in wonder.

I can feel myself becoming part of this week’s carpark folklore. The latest blow-in to get called out by the enforcer. I’m thinking all this while I stare out at the serene ocean awaiting his next remark.

Then he lays it on me.

“Where you from?”


He doesn’t like that.

Doesn’t like that at all.

“Well fuck off back to Byron and don’t come back to this shire.”

It’s an improbable request.

Am I simply being subjected to a verbal territorial ritual that will run its course without incident?

Or am I quite literally about to be punched in the head?

Now he’s paddling right at me.

Parting the waters like a fuckin’ P&O cruiser with his white-blonde hair and his huge back.

Then he sits up and we’re sitting shoulder to shoulder.

Social distancing is all but out the window and I’m thinking this guy better not have COVID, but I don’t say anything.

I just look at the two stars I can see tattooed on his chest and the outline of Australia underneath his armpit and his head.

Now he’s looking straight at me

“Are you not fuckin listening cunt? FUCK OFF. GO IN.”

I hold my ground because like him my whole identity, my manhood, my honour, hinges on the way this situation is going to unfold.

What would it be like to live with the fact that you were sent in? Not in Hawaii after a fatal error but here in sunny Australia surfing a three-foot pointbreak.

What would it be like to be told to leave the ocean by another man and obey?

Is there ever any coming back from that?

I tell him

“I’m gonna get a wave here then after that I’ll sit down the point and we don’t need to know about each other.”

By my judgement it’s sensible compromise. I

don’t really want to get decked by this guy but there’s also no way I’m paddling in.

That’s not happening.

What is he going to do?

What am I going to do?

When is a wave going to pop up and interrupt this masculine stalemate?

Then it happens. A wave does pop up and the enforcer is forced to choose.

Dopamine or testosterone?

Surf the wave or show me the strangle-hold.

He goes.

Last year some guy paddled past the enforcer on a pink fish wearing a front-zip vest and was instructed to fuck off with his “shit board and crap wetty and go surf Broken Head with Rasta and the rest of those pussies.”

I’m left out there in the stillness remembering a story.

A story I was told by a credible source. Last year some guy paddled past the enforcer on a pink fish wearing a front-zip vest and was instructed to fuck off with his “shit board and crap wetty and go surf Broken Head with Rasta and the rest of those pussies.”

Not a bad line, I’m thinking to myself.

By the time I emerge from this little reverie the enforcer is steaming back out through the lineup with his eyes locked on me.

This time, god is on my side.

A set pops up and I go, and I leave it all behind.

Two days later, I am sent (via social media) information about another enforcer-incident. He has sent out a public warning message to the people of QLD and the Byron Shire to stay away from his local until this virus-nightmare is over.

It appears his hostility was part of a righteous, if not virtuous, COVID-19 crowd thinning campaign.

After all this many questions remain unanswered.

Is the man a genius or a fool?

Is he the only one seeing this public health scare for the opportunity it is?

Should we all reclaim the territories we were born to defend?

Should we revert to old-school localism under the guise of sensible social distancing?

Or is COVID 19 being exploited in the name of unjust and unruly behaviour?

Are we witnessing a return to natural order or a descent into out-dated brutality?

In this volatile time when even democracy, the very fabric of our civility, seems to be in a state of uncertainty let all have an equal say.

The hardened enforcer. The friendly visitor. The bemused tourist. The kook. The pro.

Comment below.