Shark season officially open in southern California as “larger than typical” Great Whites stalk the coast in heretofore unseen numbers!

"...there’s no good data showing sharks are actually dangerous."

If it ain’t one thing then it’s another, am I right? A few short months ago, in southern California, a microscopic virus, hand-crafted in Wuhan, shuttered beaches from San Diego up to Santa Barbara leaving surfers frustrated and sad.

Now, with beaches open and “silent spreaders” doing their work on the sand, Great Whites have arrived in both numbers and sizes that terrify or titillate, depending on profession and pastime of choice.

Per The Orange County Register:

Shark season in Southern California is officially here.

The spring season is when the water starts to warm and younger sharks start to hang around, spooking surfers and swimmers who share the ocean with the mysterious sea creature – but as experts learn more about the great white sharks, the more they are finding sharks, for the most part, don’t care much for humans.

“We have to remind people they need to share the waves with the locals,” Cal State Long Beach Shark Lab Director Chris Lowe said. “And the locals are really those sharks.”

Early season reports of juvenile shark hot spots have been reported mostly in Santa Barbara and Ventura – there haven’t been many further south so far this year, Lowe said. That is a drastic difference from the El Nino years that brought large groups of sharks to the South Bay, Long Beach, Huntington Beach and San Clemente a few seasons back.

A 12-foot White chased surfers out of the water in Coronado over the weekend, another in San Clemente and another still in Manhattan Beach, home of the World Surf League’s Chief Executive Erik “ELo” Logan who, thankfully, was not on his SUP but rather in Lemoore getting the monster tubes of his young life (more as the story develops).

I happened to be sailing home from Catalina, enjoying the setting sun, when I spotted a fin about halfway to Newport. Undeniably a White, moving slow, lazy, but the biggest fin I’d ever seen with my own two eyes.

Menacingly big.

Will there be hits?

According to Shark Lab, “…there’s no good data showing sharks are actually dangerous. We are getting data to suggest sharks and people are interacting more than we thought. Our data, so far … as long as people aren’t bothering them, they don’t seem to care.”

A relief, certainly.

But do you think sharks should engage in a re-branding now that they are not dangerous or do you think they enjoy their naughty cloak?

Much to ponder.

Kelly Slater (right) pictured with one of his fans.
Kelly Slater (right) pictured with one of his fans.

Kelly Slater’s legion of dedicated fans defend their hero, viciously turn on surf-lite tabloid BeachGrit: “Please, read more books, study a bit more, then write interesting articles!”

"What kind of undesirable human being are you?"

BeachGrit was torn asunder over the weekend as the world’s greatest surfer’s Kelly Slater’s fans rounded on the surf-lite tabloid mostly famous for a snarky wit that went out of fashion in 2015.

Or not famous at all, as pointed out by @perifreal. “Ummm. This is confusing. Who the fuck is beach grit? I know Slater, cause hes… Iconic.”

The rage grew out of an article titled WATCH: WORLD’S GREATEST SURFER KELLY SLATER DEALT HARSH PUNISHMENT FOR BLOCKING BEACHGRIT ON INSTAGRAM, HAS BOARD SNAPPED AND IS PUBLICLY SHAMED IN AUSTRALIA! and detailed how Slater had his board snapped on a big day just north Carroll-ville there near Sydney’s northern beaches likely because he blocked BeachGrit on Instagram.

The 11 x World Champion’s legion of supporters did not like the premise and let their fury burn hot on Instagram. A sampling:

@_mattbuchanan_: “Beach grit talking down on a man that has 500x’s the amount of talent, accomplishments, and respect than the social media influencer of this account…… just stop.”

@therealsurfbum: “Beach grit is fucking kook shit.”

@kevomick: “I wonder what tomorrow will bring?! More satirical bull shit shark articles perhaps? Or more bull shit pro surfer gossip click bait? Fuckin hacks sucking the teet of pro surfing but bashing the GOAT of surfing. Go home your drunk.”

@milnesurf: “Best surfer that ever lived got a standard board breakage in big waves. nothing unusual. What legend for going out in that swell. You seriously sound like a spoilt little girl. Unfollowed- probably lost a lot of followers didn’t ya.”

@t_plass: “You guys trying to be a bigger dumpster fire than the Biden campaign?”

@ericsnemesis: “Unfollowing ………………… Now… fucking worms.”

@savage: “Wowwwwww if you think this is a good move calling out our goat you’re fucked.”

@jemalexwill: “You’re hanging shit on the greatest sportsman of all time when your page is absolute rubbish, you sound like a bunch of petulant children.”

@augustovillaran: “Mommy ! ; Slater unfollow me ! I am going to make fun of him while he is struggling so people will like me!!! Seriously @beach_grit ??? What kind of undesirable human being are you? This is a fucking IG account . Grow up !”

@Yeah you muppets just lost another follower .. not funny, not witty not anything at all really. 100% would Bet, whoever is behind the keyboard on this one would line up in a heartbeat to ask his autograph.

@drists: “Horrible article. Lost my time reading bullshit. He’s a legend of surf. While surfing we are dealing with uncontrolled condition… This can happen with anyone else. Please, read more books, study a bit more, then write interesting articles.”

If only surf journalism was as easy as reading more books, studying a bit more then writing interesting articles.

Well, duly shamed, and also pleased that “our goat” has such a robust personal brand.

Aren’t you?

Swimmers infuriated as New York Police Department declares: “The water is not for swimming but surfing is allowed!”

“If I carry a surfboard, can I go in the water even if I don’t know how to surf?”

And we have just concluded Memorial Day weekend, in these United States of America, the unofficial kickoff to summer. But did you have a good one? Enjoyable? Able to go outside and enjoy the weather, maybe even go for a surf, or were you locked indoors, shackled by fear or the authorities prohibiting activity in order to stop the spread of disease?

I had a very good one, sailing out to Catalina Island, SCUBA diving, peering into the unmasked faces of giant grouper refusing to practice social distancing.

Catalina is normally packed during this time but Coronavirus rendered it a virtual ghost island, only a small handful of boats moored in the harbor. Still, everything was allowed from 1980s style jet-skiing to SCUBA diving to fishing to jumping off high rocks into the cool brine.

A happy-though-small water-based community.

Things are not such in New York City where the authorities are attempting to drive a wedge between surfers and swimmers, possibly with the intention of starting a civil war, but shall we learn more?

City beaches will be a surfers’ paradise, but swimmers will be sidelined under a wishy-washy set of rules dropped by the city and the NYPD on the eve of Memorial Day Weekend.

“The beaches are open, but the water is not for swimming,” said Brian Conroy, assistant chief of the NYPD’s Patrol Borough Brooklyn South, in a press briefing at the Abe Stark Sports Center in Coney Island.

“You can go in ankle deep, wade in the water,” Conroy continued. “Surfers will be allowed into the water.”

The half-measure move was swiftly blasted as all wet.

“This is just more mixed messaging,” said City Councilman Justin Brannan (D-Brooklyn). “We need to have very clear guidelines here, because if you don’t you’re just setting yourself up for tragedy and-or confrontation.

“If I carry a surfboard, can I go in the water even if I don’t know how to surf?”

City Councilman Donovan Richards, a Queens Democrat representing sandy Far Rockaway, said that he was left “scratching my head” over the gnarly policy.

The policy does seem arbitrary, or “gnarly”, and will likely inflame long dormant rage between surfers and swimmers. Pitched battles in the parking lots etc. Slap fights in the lineup between swimmers dragging surfboards behind them, clogging up the works.

Do you like ocean swimming? I tried to get into it, once, but couldn’t figure out how to breathe properly with so much chop splashing my face.

Also, do you like when the mainstream media writes about surfing and uses terms like gnarly?

I do.

Gaming in the eighties. Hot then as it is now. | Photo: Starfighter

The fantastic story of man who plunged life-savings into a groundbreaking “motion-sensitive” surf game; the pre-sales for 200,000 units that promised to net millions and the bankruptcy and heartbreak that followed!

"We had one shot and we missed it…"

Heard the story of an Irish scientist who, in 1985, invented a “motion-sensitive” game so good it threatened to knock the gaming world off its axis?

It’s a good one.

Along with an astrophysicist who would later work with Russian and American space agencies on international space missions to Mars, Venus and Moon, and another fellow academic, Dr Norman McMillan “wanted to conquer the sporting world with the help of his complex algorithms.”

All three developers threw twenty thousand quid apiece into building Surf Champ, the 2020 equivalent of almost quarter of a million pounds.

As reported by BBC Sport,

They wanted a joint project that would allow them to pursue their individual interests, but could be commercially viable too. The UK’s burgeoning home computer gaming market seemed ideal, but what should be the first subject?

“I was a surfer,” explains Dr McMillan. “So, I knew about surfing and as a physicist I said I could do a computer game with a proper mathematical algorithm so it would be accurate, which of course it was.

“That was how Surf Champ started out, then John came up with the idea of the surfboard overlay for the keyboard. Susan’s speciality was ultra-fast programming for the latest space technology of the time, which would help make it all work.

The set-up is wild for 1985.

A little plastic surfboard sits on the keyboard and the movement of your fingers hits the various buttons and shifts the surfer around on the screen. 

Let’s read a little more.  

In autumn 1985, McMillan and his son Doug headed for Rossnowlagh beach in Ireland for the European Surfing Championships, and had a huge slice of luck.

“There was not a wave in sight,” remembers McMillan. “It was perfect for us because the surfers had nothing to do. They played the game non-stop instead, and all of them said it was absolutely accurate.”

Among them was Jed Stone, then the reigning English surfing champion, who would soon collect another title – at the inaugural World Computer Surfing Championship.

“They set up some computers and showed us how to play,” recalls Stone. “Your fingers are on the board so you are actually riding the wave in that way. I know it is not your feet, but your mind is thinking the same way it would be if you were standing up – so, in that respect, it was accurate, yes. The graphics look simple now, of course, but at the time there was nothing else like it, so it was a case of ‘wow, look at this’.

And then, of course, disaster.

Money lost, hearts broken etc.

“We had one shot, and we missed it,” says Dr McMillan.

Read here. 

Strong like bull! No fear etc.

Dirty grandpa: Australia’s east coast stops as senior citizen surf writer tames once-in-a-decade swell: “I don’t feel afraid at all, I just kind of lie down there and enjoy it. It’s only water!”

Sixty one year old says, “I don’t know if it’s having a screw loose or what…”

A wild and relentless south swell, scratching fifteen-feet at usually dormant outer reefs, has lit up Australia’s east coast.

And, surf writer Nick Carroll, who is sixty-one, and “an expert in virtually every surfing-related subject, but returning often to board design, contest reportage, profiles, and wave-related meteorology” according to Warshaw’s Encyclopedia of Surfing, has been thrilling spectators at his favourite Sydney big-wave haunts.

(Read Nick’s thrilling account of paddling thirty-two miles between Molokai and Oahu in the “crazy, fucking ultra-marathon” here.)

As The Sydney Morning Herald reports,

Spending close to 20 violent seconds being contorted underwater by a monster wave can be enjoyable if you want it to be.

At least that’s what Sydney surfer Nick Carroll thinks.

Nick and his brother, former world champion surfer Tom, were among a select few who braved the five metre swell on Saturday as it lashed the NSW coastline.

The brothers spent Saturday morning paddling into some of the biggest, cleanest surf to land on Sydney’s coastline in years.

“I don’t know if it’s having a screw loose or what, but I kind of enjoy those moments,” Nick said shortly after returning to shore near Long Reef on Sydney’s northern beaches. “I don’t feel afraid at all, I just kind of lie down there and enjoy it. It’s only water.”

Tom, who since winning surfing world titles in the 1980s has made a name for himself as a big wave surfer, said he was excited to see his hometown light up.

“I love it, I love it when it gets like this. It’s just been such a big part of my life when these storms come in,” he said. “It all feels safe, then bingo, it all comes in.”

Did you see?

Were you there?

And, big waves, do you like to lie down and enjoy it, too?