Rage against the machine.
Rage against the machine.

Watch: Jonah Hill, Jaden Smith become faces of surfer rebellion in the time of Coronavirus!

Raised fist!

To surf or not to surf, that is the question roiling wave sliders from Bondi to Bagram and everywhere in between. Pitched battles on Instagram, insults hurled, accusations, threats, much head slapping emoji.

But while surfers argue the merits of this or that, two unlikely heroes have risen, becoming the faces of surfer rebellion in the time of Coronavirus.

The first was Jonah Hill as reported by the Daily Mail:

While many residents of Los Angeles heeded the statewide ‘stay at home’ mandate to curb the coronavirus, that didn’t stop Jonah Hill from catching a few waves.

The 36-year-old actor and filmmaker was spotted surfing the swells in Malibu on Sunday morning.

The Superbad star recently shared on Instagram that he’s been surfing for seven months, adding that, ‘anything is possible.

After his surfing session, he was seen with his wetsuit pulled down to his waist, exposing the multiple tattoos on his chest and arms.

Watch here.

Then, days later Will and Jada Smith’s fine boy Jaden raised a fist, shook it at the man and, also according to the Daily Mail:

Despite the closure of the beaches, Jaden Smith appeared to ignored the latest order and went surfing in Malibu – which is located in LA County – on Sunday, March 29.

The 21-year-old actor/singer, who is the son of superstars Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith, hit the waves on the deserted beach.

The star wore a full body wetsuit as he rode several waves before heading back to his car with his board in hand.

He was seen putting his board in the back of his neon pink Tesla Model X car.

Watch here.

Both appear to be firmly on Team Tudor and do you embrace their devil-may-care or will you boycott their next creative efforts? Movie and music video respectively?

More as the story develops.

Dear God, about this trading halt, the pay cut etc. I mean, Deus todo poderoso, cut us a little slack here. | Photo: WSL

Rumour: All pro surfer salaries at Rip Curl, including two-time champs Gabriel Medina and Tyler Wright’s, slashed by fifty percent; more cuts likely!

Better than nothing, though, yes?

Want to talk exquisite timing?

Do you remember, as October opened, when Rip Curl, the last of the big three to sell, cashed in its chips to New Zealand camping retailer Kathmandu for $350 million?

The deal ended fifty years of continuous private ownership for a company founded in Torquay in 1969 by Doug Warbrick and Brian Singer, two wild gunslingers whose surf DNA allowed Rip Curl to thrive while Billabong and Quiksilver went public, soared, then sunk.

Kathmandu’s bullish CEO Xavier Simonet said that, “Rip Curl transforms Kathmandu into a highly complementary, seasonally balanced, global outdoor and action sports business. The combination will support the acceleration of our brands’ global expansion into new channels and markets. Sharing a focus on quality, innovation and sustainability, Kathmandu and Rip Curl make for a great cultural fit.”

What’s that investment worth to Kathmandu now?

Rip Curl stores shuttered, consumer confidence kicked in the pussy, a world tour the company has dominated for the last decade (world champs in 2007, 2009, 2013, 2014, 2016, 2017, 2018) suffering the effects of verdigris as it oxidises on a billionaire’s desk.

And what’s Kathmandu worth?

Four days ago, it closed all its Australian stores, its New Zealand online operation and iced four thousand jobs.

It’s share price a few weeks ago was three bucks forty.

Now, it’s under a dollar. 

(Update: Kathmandu shares have just been in a trading halt pending a “material announcement” by Kathmandu. These sorta things happen when shares are going through the floor and the company wants to get a little breathing space.)

All of which suggests today’s rumour, which comes from a source one might called impeccable, might actually be good news for pro surfers. 

From Wednesday, April 1, all of Rip Curl’s pro surfer salaries will be slashed by half, with a wait-and-see attitude in place in case they have to bite off the other chunk.

The surfer affected include Mick Fanning, Gabriel Medina, Owen Wright, his sis Tyler, Mason Ho, Conner Coffin and the luckless Bethany Hamilton and tour rookie Morgan Cibillic.

If there’s any sense in that damn company, Mason Ho’s salary, a pittance of what he’s worth, will remain steady.

“You know where this is going,” the source wrote.

I can guess.

And you?

Question: Should the World Surf League follow Red Bull motorsport’s lead and throw a “Coronavirus Party” at the Corona Open?

Bold. Out of the box. Progressive.

And by sure now you have read the progressive news coming from sport, the only news coming from sport, featuring Red Bull’s renowned Formula One boss Helmut Marko but if you have not let us quickly turn to the BBC for proper reporting and correct details.

Red Bull motorsport boss Helmut Marko said he advised his drivers to become infected with coronavirus while the season is in hiatus.

The 76-year-old said he had the idea to bring his Formula 1 drivers and juniors together in a camp, which “would be the ideal time for the infection to come”.

“They are all strong young men in good health. That way they would be prepared whenever the action starts,” he said.

The rest of Red Bull management were against the idea, which was abandoned.

“Let’s put it this way: it has not been well received,” Marko said.

The Austrian was speaking in an interview with his country’s television channel ORF, in which he added: “We have four Formula 1 drivers and eight or 10 juniors, and the idea was that we would organise a camp to mentally and physically bridge the dead time.”

And there we have it. A “Coronavirus Party” like chickenpox parties of old.

Now, F1 may have abandoned the idea but should professional surfing embrace? Surfers, I would imagine, are fitter, more robust than race car drivers, for one. Professional surfing could use a jolt to snag headlines, for two, with new fans embracing a progressive, “outside the box” action. And, for three, the first event of the year is already sponsored by Corona.

Oh, I’m not suggesting professional surfing do this, how dare you suggest, I’m merely asking a question and also have a new sporting hero.

Helmet Marko. I mean, the name alone…

But, back to our matter at hand, what would Joel Tudor think?

What about Ken Skindog?

Much to ponder.

Opportunity Knocks: WSL CEO Erik Logan wants YOU to help him re-imagine the future of professional surfing!

"A once in a lifetime opportunity."

Silver linings, poking, peeking, making theirselves visible from around the every darkening Coronavirus Clouds. In the United States of America, President Donald J. Trump just announced that the country would be shuttered for a further 30 days. An absolute blessing as we’ll need each and every one of those to re-imagine professional surfing from the ground up alongside our fearless leader and World Surf League CEO Erik Logan.

And let us first turn to his latest interview in Sports Pro Media for his exact words, his precise frame of mind.

Never in my three decades of being media have I ever had a chance, really, to take a step back. You did at off-sites, you do it at retreats, but then you wake up the next day and go right back to work. This, because of the economic pressure, what’s happening with your employees, what’s happening with global sport, basically the economy in every country is going through its version of a downturn, really puts the big questions on the table.

If you look at that from a point of view, which I do, that this is a massive opportunity to reshape an organisation for the next ten to 15 years, it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity. It’s painful when you’re in it, but I’m really focusing on what is the organisation going to be like on the other side of this. Because of this, we absolutely know, is temporary, so I look at it as a real gift and an opportunity.

There is much more fruit on the trees, read here, but back to your job… not the one you’re currently not allowed to go to but your new consulting gig. Our new consulting gig. CEO Logan is there in Manhattan Beach unable to surf as empowered lifeguards patrol the beach demanding respect. There both inspired and bored. He takes his surf candy ultra hard, like you, like me, and so now is the time to reshape professional surfing for the next ten to fifteen years.

How does it look, exactly?

Tell him!

Tabloids eatin' it up! | Photo: @dailymail

Report from Australia: “The wheels are falling off the world and we’re crawling over the top of each other to chase two-foot of windswell!”

"I got angrier the longer I stayed out. Everyone’s face looked punchable. The rain and wind kicked up a notch. Conditions deteriorated. More people kept coming out off the rocks."

Recently, in some imagined bout of creeping fever, I liberated an old favourite from the surfads bookshelf.

On the Beach, by Nevil Shute. Published 1959.

Post-apocalyptic pulp before it was cool.

Set in ‘50s Australia after a global nuclear war has wiped the bulk of the human race. A cloud of radioactivity drifts slowly south, clearing out what’s left.

Melbourne is one of the last cities in the world breathing.

But not for long.

The novel follows various characters as they go stoically about their business, knowing death is drawing in on them.

Their ends are met in a very formal, downturned, British manner.

Politely. Discreetly. Still doing their jobs and with minimum fuss. Social order maintained until the very last.

A morbid choice, maybe.

But why not now, if ever?

It certainly gives stark contrast to our current bin fire. In 2020, the first whiff of a breakdown in societal mechanics has Australians clawing at each other while simultaneously disregarding the government’s pleas for social distancing.

Grocery workers stabbed for toilet paper.

Medical supplies stolen from hospital loading docks.

Fist fights in waiting lines.

Record crowds still meeting at our beaches.

And the worst hasn’t even hit here, yet.

It’s different in Europe, where the dead are piling up. Different in America, too, where the nightmare that is neo-capitalism unravels one uninsured patient at a time. Different in Costa Rica, where cops fire warning shots and arrest pro surfers. Different in South Africa, where Jeffrey’s locals hold firm and do their part for the greater good, even in the face of pumping waves.

Here in Oz, outside of Sydney’s eastern suburbs where beach closures have forced local surfers’ hands, an uneasy detente rests.

Our virus numbers are still sorta kinda low.

Beaches are open, even though attendance is discouraged. The volunteer clubbies have finished their season early, but the professionals are still on duty.

The flags are up, for now.

To surf or not to surf?

I’ve been following the guidelines, even though ‘rona cases in my local area are even smaller still. Surfing, yes, but alone, away from most others.

Working from home, and lucky enough to still have a job. Keeping clean and laying low.

But on the weekend I cracked.

I needed a wave, and the only place breaking was my usual local. Inner city, always crowded. A stormy day. Wrong wind. The beach doing its best impersonation of Point Break’s final scene.

Driving rain, no one about on the usually bustling promenade.

Despite the onshore there was a wave. A small ENE swell pulsing runner lefts and short ramps on the rights.

I paddled out.

The lineup was teeming. Thirty-five surfers blanketed across the one bank. More than there would be for these conditions usually, even.

There were party wave gals on mini-mals. Hurley/JS/gym bro warriors. Surf dads with groms in tow. Only a handful of regulars.

Who were these cunts?

Were people deliberately defying government recommendations, just ‘cause they can?

“They can’t tell me I’m not surfing. The ocean doesn’t belong to anyone. YOLO!”

I cursed them just for being in the water.

Why were they out here?

Didn’t they know the world was ending?

Didn’t they know our chief medical officer was enforcing a one-and-a-half-metre distancing rule?

But then I also asked: why was I out here? YOLO too?

Whatever, I grumbled in the realisation I was just as shit as them.

I don’t give a fuck.

I got angrier the longer I stayed out. Everyone’s face looked punchable. The rain and wind kicked up a notch. Conditions deteriorated. More people kept coming out off the rocks.

I paddled in. Which is rare for me. Rare for anyone, probably.

I was annoyed. Confused.

The wheels are falling off the world and here we are in Australia crawling over the top of each other to chase two-foot of windswell.

We’re the same sorta people who will cry out when we’ve run out of ventilators or are stuck overseas and the government won’t rescue us.

But I get it, this is a big change.

The sort of systemic disruption that’s usually only forced by war, or death.

The way we operated in 2019 is not the way we will operate now.

Adjustment will take time.

And while our YOLO culture runs hard, Australia is suffering from a lack of leadership. We have a conservative PM too scared to make a hard shut down if it’s gonna hurt the budget’s bottom line.

Plus there’s state v federal confusion in messaging.

Picture Cuomo v Trump.

We sit in this open but closed, business as sorta usual limbo, where nobody really knows how to act.

To surf or not to surf?

Nick Carroll asked Dr Karl, our very own Neil de Grasse Tyson, if surfing can transmit the virus. Even the smartest man in Australia didn’t know. There’s just too much we don’t know.

What’s the moral imperative here?

Will we be able to keep surfing?

Should we?

Will you flout the laws when your beach is closed?

How long can you hold out for?

Are we all fucked until they find a vaccine?

Perturbed, hunky surfer seeking answers.

Post script: The Prime Minister has just announced a ban on public gatherings of more than two people. Skate parks, playgrounds etc are being closed. But does that include the beach? A Monday morning surf check would suggest not. That same bank, even smaller again, had another thirty packed onto it. Surely it won’t be long now ‘til we get the ban hammer too. Cough cough.