Report from Santa Barbara: “Seventy percent of Yankee Doodles will contract Covid and hiding in isolation only delays the inevitable!”

"I know as a lifelong surfer that I am not part of the beach-going scene, but I resent it now more than ever."

A series of peaks refracted beyond the jetty shadow.

The rights broke cross current elbowing toward shore while the lefts ran a fair bit straighter.

Each side featured a hit on the oncoming section, super fun.

The water had cooled and there were other people out, a surprise that only Covid could supply. I didn’t mind, I had three peaks to myself and the incessant chatter from the chickens just south of my position was being suffocated by a crisp offshore.

I milked the morning dry and took a photo before I left.

Forecast was more of the same and I settled into the potential of a week with something to do, however illegal it was to park or cross the sands of this quiet beach.

I love eyeing up an oncoming left, dropping into the forward trough, squaring off the bottom and burying my fins through a bang.

Love love love.

The drive home was becoming so usual, another empty highway and nowhere to eat with pretty waitresses.

Decided to check the parkway on the incoming tide.

Another lonely drive except for the six sheriff SUV’s strategically parked every mile… more than I’ve ever seen on this stretch of road. Police tape must be in as short a supply as toilet paper because this six-mile section of road is taped off against parking on both sides of the two-lane road.

To even slow incurs a visit from the bored sheriff.

Points were not worth that stall, but the sand above one point looked promising and I had to have a quick look.

Where the two Sheriff on bikes arrived from I do not know and I left the scene before our conversation.

Roadway signs on the highway flash “Closed Beaches”, but the reality is in our town, the coppers will not enforce any sign.

“Signs, signs, everywhere the signs, do this don’t do that can’t you read the sign.”

Arriving home, the estuary bar deserves a check so I grab the pup for a stroll. All of our parking signs now include caustic warnings, but all the cops are on the empty stretch of road leading into town.

Beach is packed with fuckwits. I know as a lifelong surfer that I am not part of the beach-going scene, but I resent it now more than ever.

Our town is asked to distance and the closure of beach parking just means inland hordes parking on our streets instead of city lots. To call the plan counterintuitive only justifies the strategy as an actual plan.

And did I mention, unenforced.

Distancing is as unheard of as gas conservation or recycling to these mindless fucks.

The bar looks wonky, backwash from the seawall is making cheddar of the wind swell.

I missed the tide here by an hour.

Coop is happy as fuck though and she prances back to the house having successfully pooped and peed. She makes me happy.

As is my process, I check in with email as I feed her a sweet potato treat.

Client for August wants me to explain the “Act of God” clause in my retainer contract.

Shall I mention my Atheism?

Gay boys for Labor Day weekend want to know what their cancelation opportunity may be; it appears the Ritz Carlton isn’t returning their deposit?

But the third email floored me.

As of April 2019, my health insurance premium with Anthem Blue Cross is rising again for the third time for 20%. Haven’t seen a doctor officially for more than four years and the deductible renders the policy unusable except for disaster.

I call a trusted doctor. I’ve been on some sick boat trips with him and although we don’t agree politically, he and I have shared moments that define our lives.

“Doc, what do I do?”

His take was, seventy percent of Yankee Doodles will contract Covid and hiding in isolation only delays the inevitable. His only lament was I missed my annual trip down under. He wanted to go, but is suffering from a recent divorce.

I look at Coop again and she is smiling.

How do dogs do that? So content to eat and shit.

We curl up in a ball and I resist looking at porn for at least a nap.

Eric Dickerson (pictured) beng manly.
Eric Dickerson (pictured) beng manly.

Legendary football player Eric Dickerson declares: “Surfing ain’t a man’s sport… it’s soft!”

This ain't nothing to do with waves.

I really don’t know what we’ve done to deserve all the scorn heaped upon our bowed heads. Don’t know why the entire world has suddenly decided that we are not only vacuous, silly, generally worthless but should also be on the receiving end of discriminatory laws and hurtful discriminatory jokes.

But alas, here we are.

Standing in the public square, placard around necks reading “HERE STANDS A SUPER SPREADER OF THE NOVEL CORONAVIRUS AND AN UNMANLY MAN.”

Jen See stands next to us, not caring so much about the slur. Stab magazine stands off to the side, not having to wear a placard in exchange for busily printing them.

But where did this “unmanly man” business come from?

Well legendary football player Eric Dickerson of course and let us turn to his discussion over the Los Angeles Rams and their new uniform design.

Dickerson, who set the NFL single-season rushing record with 2,105 yards in 1984 for the Rams, had previously criticized the logo. Now he took aim at the uniforms.

Among his comments, he said the horns on the helmet look like “two bananas” and that the changes make the team look “soft.”

“This is football. This ain’t nothing to do with surfing. This ain’t nothing to do with waves. This is football. This is a man’s sport,” Dickerson said in the interview. “And to me, it just looks soft. It don’t look like football. It don’t look hard.”

All our heads are very bowed except for Jen See and Stab magazine where the writers keep their eyes up, alert, so as to tattle on any surfer behaving badly.

Ingenuity: 15 x World Champion surfer gives quarantine surf lessons throughout the land using Miss Hawaii 2018 as model!

“If you can get up out of your bed in the morning from laying down to standing on land, I tell you what, you can get up on a surfboard.”

A week ago, Kelly Slater blocked BeachGrit and me on Instagram and my whole world began to crumble. How could I know what the world’s greatest surfer was doing? What he thought about this or that? Depression washed in like a flood, rotting my very foundation, plaster falling off the walls in sickening thuds.

How could I continue to call my self a surf journalist?

Well, the sun also rises and the very next day I rolled out of bed feeling inspired. Eyes opened. Seeing things fresh through the holes in my world’s walls, the massive visage of the World’s Greatest Surfer no longer blocking my view.

There are other surfers out there, surfers with more titles and accolades to whom I’d been blind.

Surfers like 15 x World Champion surfer Zane Schweitzer… 15 x World Champion (4 x more World Championships than Kelly Slater)… who just happens to be teaching remote surf lessons during quarantine and using Miss Hawaii 2018 as his model.

Unbelievable? Let’s bend our ears and listen.

“Surfing itself is something that comes with a few simple steps that I can share with you right here, right now,” Schweitzer said.

And just like that my cyber surf lesson begins.

“This is Kim, she’s Miss Hawaii here in 2018. Actually our first date was surfing and now she is a very avid surfer. She’s like a prime example and gonna be our model today to help you guys understand our surf tips,” Schweitzer said.

First up — paddling.

“We’re gonna keep our head arched and reach out with forward with our hands paddling and that’s step No. 1,” Schweitzer said.

Now the hardest part, the pop-up.

“Now, step No. 2. We’re gonna lift up nice and tall, we’re going to bring our back knee under our hips, then we’re gonna bring our front foot forward under the chest. Now comes the fun part, twist your hips, plant your back foot from knee to the foot and lift,” Schweitzer said.

Finally the key to it all — balance.

“If you can get up out of your bed in the morning from laying down to standing on land, I tell you what, you can get up on a surfboard,” Schweitzer said.

Wonderful and if your partner would like a surf lesson you can order it for him/her here but before you go can I ask a quick few questions?

How’s Kelly doing? Does he look happy? Healthy? Is he still on Australia’s Gold Coast or has he fled?

Any new, exiting developments with Outerknown? Breitling?


Is he eating well?

Using sunscreen?

Taking care of his emotional health?

You’ll let me know, yes?

Flip file shot, do a little eraser work in Photoshop, drop in waving tourist and, oowee, Humpback Man come to life! | Photo: @growndesigns/WDCS Sue Rocca

Update: Happy Man Waving From Mouth of Humpback Whale in Byron Bay revealed as fake!

Too good to be true but excellent marketing play etc.

Just in from everyone-is-happy eco-paradise Byron Bay is the wildly comic photograph of a man riding in the mouth of a Humpback whale.

Every year, from May to November, the animals, which can hit fifty feet and then some, migrate five thousand clicks from their Antarctic hunting grounds to tropical waters in north Queensland where their babies are spat out.

And, earlier today, according to a local sunglass manufacturer, one lucky tourist got a ride inside the jaws of one of the happy mammals.

Per their IG Account,

WOW! Today in the bay… One minute you’re out for your morning swim, the next you’re inside a whale!

Before he realised what was happening, he’d been scooped up by the Humpback while another emerged in the back. Luckily for the swimmer, the whole thing was over quickly and he was freed.

He seemingly didn’t sustain any injuries nevertheless, it must have been a terrifying experience! He managed to make it back to shore, where he walked toward main beach. If anyone has any other photos, videos or further details about the swimmer, please get in touch!

Do you think true?

(When I contacted Grown Designs they said, yeah, all true, and were setting up interviews with a few TV channels and trying to source other photos and maybe vids.)

More as the story unfurls.

(Update: And unfurl it did, a French reporter, Vincent Girard from The Rider Post, finding the original photo, minus jaw rider, here.)

After and before! 

A very good marketing play by sunglass company etc.

Why do I shape surfboards? Well... I guess it’s just something I’ve done since I was a kid. A sort of escape from an overly-stressed world to a simpler more creative space! What has started as a way to fuel my own surfing passion has now become a way to stoke out my fellow surfers, and that is truly fulfilling to me. It’s the way I have found to give back to others. Thanks for all the support and love along the way! | Photo: Per Jerner/Ben Kelly

Confirmed: Santa Cruz shaper Ben Kelly killed by a Great White shark “bigger than ten feet”

"It feels like the ultimate form of betrayal to fall victim to the one thing a surfer recognizes and fears as a possibility."

An autopsy on Santa Cruz shaper Ben Kelly, who was killed by a shark while surfing Sand Dollar beach aka Shark Park on Saturday, May 9, has revealed the animal to be a ten-foot plus Great White.

Sean Van Sommeran, the founder and director of the Pelagic Shark Research Foundation which was created in 1990 to push for the protection Great Whites in California and whose own story is worth your time reading, attended the autopsy.

He posted his findings on the PSRF Facebook page.

I attended the autopsy yesterday, the shark is almost certainly to be subadult white shark estimated to be 10′ plus.

Mr Kelly was on the inside of his friend while surfing on a short board.

Kelly was seen by his companion to be pulled underwater amid commotion at Kelly’s board.

Kelly surfaced and immediately exited the water with companion however the bleeding could not be stopped.

DNA and Xray will be used in attempts to recover potential teeth frags or shark tissue and pending final report.

It is most likely that a subadult shark 10’ft or over was cause of the tragic mortality and the juvenile and yearling sharks not at all likely to be implicated.

The shark most likely responsible for the fatality is of the generational category that has always been known to frequent that particular location prior to 2015 arrival of yearling and juvenile shark pups. Test results and lab report still pending.

As these sharks mature from subadult 10′-14′ to adult (14.5’ft and over) they change course and migration routes and begin to circuit the open ocean and deep sea and return seasonally to large seal colonies such as the Big Sur, ANI, SEFI and other well known seal and shark associated sites and seasonal way points.

It should not be presumed that the younger and smaller sharks we see in the Shark Park and La Selva areas will continue to hang out at these locations until they are 20 foot long massive dangerous sharks.
They rotate out as they mature and graduate to wide migratory routes mostly associated with pelagic offshores or coastal seal colonies that can support their energetic requirements.

The Mercury News spoke to witnesses and reports, 

“Kelly was…bitten on the leg and knocked off his board. He quickly got back on and began paddling to shore — as did his friend who was surfing further outside. Once they got to shore, they used a surf leash from one of their boards as a tourniquet but couldn’t stop the bleeding in time.”

Leashes ain’t tourniquets, however, although surfing doc John Cohen has created a sixty-dollar device all surfers in Santa Cruz, WA, Byron Bay, South Africa, Reunion, should use.

“In thirty seconds, using a tourniquet, you’ve saved a friend’s life,” says Cohen.

Want to help out Ben’s wife Katie? Funeral, living expenses etc? Donate here.

As his buddy Zachary Shull writes, “It feels like the ultimate form of betrayal to fall victim to the one thing a surfer recognizes and fears as a possibility. We sign the proverbial liability waiver every time we paddle out, but the thought of such a horrific event is dismissed as an extreme rarity. Those thoughts are quickly overshadowed by the joy and refreshment that comes from surfing and getting a good wave, and so we still choose to paddle out.”