WSL anchors from right to left, Ron, Rosie, Pete, Martin and Joey, pensive at news of possible sale.

Longtom analyses rumoured $US150-million sale of WSL: “Will anyone pick up the corpse? Few buyers spring to mind.”

"The transformation of the WSL from sporting league to media content creation company is allegedly part of the deal behind the sale. It's hard to define that transition as a success."

There’s never been a historical riposte like the one uttered by the old San Clemente crook Richard Nixon at his 1962 presser* where he took aim at his pursuing press pack and claimed, “You won’t have Nixon to kick around anymore”.

We raise that spectre because rumours persist that WSL is for sale which would mean the death of the organisation and pro surfing as we have known it for decades.

Which would obviously mean parasites like me would not have the undisputed pleasure of kicking the League and it’s risible management at every turn.

So, what now?

To borrow the title of Dane’s latest foray, how does it end?

The press moved on without Nixon, found new targets to kick after a turbulent time and the surf media has largely moved on alright without the WSL, which has presented a huge gulf between expectation and reality for the League and its CEO.

In short, without pro surfing we’ve all managed to float on OK.

We’ve found new things to kick. We’ll be fine.

It’s very unfair to compare a reactionary crook like Tricky Dick with the titular head of maybe the wokest and greenest organisation in world history (fair, yes?) but one thing they did share was welcoming the opportunity to “test wits with the press.”

Elo has fronted up a few times to get feather dusted by the surf media, and we credit him for that.

He’s more accessible than the previous 37 CEO’s of the WSL in the preceding half decade.

It’s doubtful history will record any such wonderful fightback from Elo, probably the closest thing we’ll get is snippets from Ziff’s wonderful masterpiece when he received the Waterman of the Year award.

He took aim at us, the surf fan, in an almost Nixonian way, albeit incomparably gentler.

Elo will be remembered far more as a charming flim-flam man, and a gold medallist in corpo-speak.

Ratcheting up of corpo-speak in the pro surfing universe almost always guarantees bad news behind the scenes. It has an inverse relationship to truth.

It’s incumbent on us, I think, to do some of the grunt work for future historians now and construct a simple timeline, upon which we could place upcoming events onto.

The Australian leg and the tour itself was cancelled by the WSL on Friday March 13. Slightly ahead of the cancellation curve, at least as far as Australian sport went.

A very long forty-six days later a clearly distressed Elo fronted a video presser announcing the Tour as we knew it was gone and a total restructured Tour was in the offing.

Details were to be announced June 1.

The distress and hyper corpo-speak conjured up Virginia Woolf’s dying moth. She found the extraordinary efforts of the tiny fluttering legs against an impending doom “superb”.

Her sympathies, like ours for Elo, were on the side of life; this struggle “to retain what no one else valued or desired”.

On June 3 the can was kicked down the road until early July.


Assuming the moth is close to kicking the bucket. Is there anyone who could pick up the corpse, asking price 150 million (US dollars presumably).

Few buyers spring to mind.

But, if we think of the largest stakeholders there could be some promising tyre-kickers. The Australian taxpayer has been one of the most loyal underwriters of the pro surfing dream.

And, if we can largely accept that pro surfing is an Australian project then nationalising the dream doesn’t sound so outlandish. Give it back to the people who have invested the most into it. With dollars and access to publicly owned land.

It’s always seemed perverse to have an American billionaire controlling coastal access via WSL comps.

Give the permits to the people.

Hawaii can take back their permits. Europe likewise**.

Obvs, much more to flesh out there.

The other obvious owners would be the pro surfers themselves. Take it back to being an Association of Surfing Professionals and let them have a go at running it. Expensive ask if owned by the Top 34, $4.4 million a person. If the top hundred pro surfers chipped for equity stakes then we’re looking at steep but not insurmountable 1.5 million each.

Or Kelly buys it.

At time of publishing Kelly did not respond to my enquiry about purchasing.

The transformation of the WSL from sporting league to media content creation company is allegedly part of the deal behind the sale. It’s hard to define that transition as a success. Elo has now had 104 days of non-sport in which to claim the room.

One hundred and four days of re-runs and a steady dribble of Inertia-lite content that has hooked nobody.

The ambit claims of the new ownership of the WSL, née ASP were extreme.

They claimed almost everything they could, and by and large they succeeded. By claiming to own the stories themselves they’ve committed massive over-reach.

That wasn’t theirs to take, let alone claim.

If this was to be the end, or the end until there is a new beginning under new ownership, then I think there could not have been a more fitting farewell to professional surfing than the last day of live broadcast surfing.

The finals day of the Pipe Masters, 2019.

A very, very fine high point to go out on.


*Not the final post-Watergate presser but a showing at the Beverly Hilton Hotel 7 November after losing the California Gubernatorial race to Edmund “Pat” Brown.

**They already love socialism, like Australians.

Act of Kindness: International Surfing Assoc. chief Fernando Aguerre reveals the sport was saved by cash infusion from International Olympic Committee!

"The support from the IOC came not a moment too soon."

Yesterday, or maybe today, was/is Olympic Day, that most wonderful time of year when we gather together with our loved ones and remember the anniversary of the formation of the International Olympic Committee in Paris, in 1894, by the great Pierre de Coubertin.

How do you usually celebrate?

By sitting around the hearth and eating a fresh baked cake in the shape of the Olympic rings (the blue one flavored blueberry, black dark chocolate, red red velvet, yellow lemon meringue, green yucky green apple)?

By dancing turn of the century Parisian dances included but not limited to the chassé?

Typically, I run up and down my street waving the Olympic flag and singing Les Champs-Elysees at the top of my lungs but this year, alas, the dastardly Coronavirus is raining on my parade as the mask I am forced to wear outdoors really hampers my tenor.

The Coronavirus is also raining on the International Surfing Association’s parade as revealed by its chief Fernando Aguerre. In a wide ranging interview with Inside The Games, he discusses how the ISA usually celebrates International Olympic Day with festive beach clean-ups but this year, due restrictions, the ISA is celebrating with Justine Dupont leading a home workout on Instagram Live.


Aguerre also revealed how his International Surfing Association was almost undone but saved from the gallows at the very last second.

“It became very clear when the pandemic came that the ISA was not going to survive without financial support,” he told Inside the Games. “The support from the IOC came not a moment too soon. It was needed and we made a very good presentation for it. We’re the first Federation to receive this financial compensation. It shows in the Olympic family, surfing and the ISA are seen as credible and bring enormous value to the Olympic Games.”

Wonderful but what do you suppose was in the very good presentation?

An at-home Justine Dupont workout?

More as the story develops.

I can picture what I want to be doing on a wave and know how to get there, but I just don’t have the skill or coordination to put it all together. Imagine trying to play a symphony through clock radio speakers. Right tune, wrong instrument etc.

Childhood trauma: “I was taunted as ‘Mr Wiggles’ in surf movie; my entire surfing life, everything I’d built, squashed into five seconds of comic relief!”

Twelve-year-old boy becomes figure of ridicule after inglorious appearance in surf film…

Confession time. I have a shitty surfing style.

When I get to my feet my stance is stiff and knock-kneed, my legs locked into a survival stoop. And then I’ve got these crazy, cocked arms that shoot off on right angles like a scarecrow.

On the wave I look less like a wounded gull than a drunken pigeon, wings akimbo.

I gyrate through turns like an ‘80s Brazillian Quey warrior.

Like Elaine Bennis dancing. Like, whatever.

A hot mess.

I can picture what I want to be doing on a wave and know how to get there, but I just don’t have the skill or coordination to put it all together. Imagine trying to play a symphony through clock radio speakers.

Right tune, wrong instrument etc.

It’s ok though. I’ve learned to live with it.

I’ll never be a pro, or even necessarily good at surfing, despite the fact I’ve dedicated the better part of my life to it.

We all compromise our dreams at some point.

But a recent screening of Inherent Bummer’s Surf Film did, to borrow a phrase from Derek Hynd, open up my past like a masochist.

Have you seen?

The movie itself is red hot. Vivid, energetic. A thousand new faces to process. A fantastic pastiche of contemporary surf culture.

For me, it recalled a certain brand of underground vids that would circulate through the scene back in the day. VHS tapes, usually pirated, shot by local filmers and featuring the current crew of regional rippers, underground lords, up and coming groms.

These were gritty, low-production value jobs. But they held a cultural currency that even the most cashed-up corporates could never hope to copy.

If you featured in one of these, you were like a god in your local crew.

This is what Ferré has recreated. I tips my hat to him.

But it’s also where my childhood trauma comes in.

Y’see, I was in one once. I was twelve years old. I still remember my grommy mate excitedly telling me I’d scored a wave on the latest cut. At a novelty reef that rarely breaks, no less.

Massive core points in itself.

I was expecting it to be that turn I’m pretty sure I’d let the tail slide on, or some heaving pit I’d somehow not realised I was in.

Check it out, grommy mate had said with a wry smile. You’ll be stoked.

Finally after a couple of weeks searching and wrangling I got my hands on a copy.

This is it, I thought as I slid it into the tape player.

Time to hit the big time. I fast forwarded straight to the spot I’d been told. Watched through the first few waves. Not me, not me, not me. Finally I found a figure that looked familiar paddling into a set.

Blonde mop. Spindly frame. Me.

But as I took off, a name popped up on the screen


Wiggles? Who the fuck is that? I read it again.

Wiggles. Okay.

I watched on, horrified, as I dropped down the face. And wiggled. I wiggled like a drunken pigeon. My wings flapped as if I’d just copped a slug in the ribcage. I somehow forced a slight change of angle that could maybe be described as a bottom turn. I wiggled some more. Pushed out another turn, this one even more subdued, but one that in my mind had been a vulgar display of power, a violent shower of buckets to the heavens.

A turn that was, in fact, just a wiggle.

Then I caught a rail and fell off.

And that was it.

One wave. No barrels. No turns. Just wiggles.

I stood there, remote in hand, dumfounded. My entire surfing life, everything I’d built towards at that point, squashed into five seconds of comic relief for the local surfing community.

All that was missing was a fucking slide whistle.

Motherfucking Wiggles. The name I’ll never forget.

So yeah, fuck you, Ferré.

But anyway, it’s still a good film.

I had a chat about it, and Pentacoastal, and surfing representation in Hollywood, and my top five surf movies of all time, and a whole heap of other bullshit, with Tyler from Swellseason Surf over in New York.

Check it out here, or on all the usual podcast services.

And please, do share some of your childhood surf trauma too.

Tell me I wasn’t the only one.

Watch: Likely Trump supporter wrestles shark with bare hands, pries jaws open and shows teeth to stunned onlookers in Joe Biden’s back yard!


Oh the things a person can find in the state of Delaware, including blue crabs, saltwater taffy, one-time Senator and presidential hopeful Joe Biden and Cape Henlopen State Beach Park where we lay our scene, from ancient grudge break to new mutiny, where civil blood makes civil hands unclean.

Cape Henlopen does have occasional waves for surfing but also sharks including Sand Tiger Sharks, Bull Sharks and Dusky Sharks.

Over the weekend a bronzed man waded into those waters wearing trunks reminiscent of Greg “Da Bull” Noll and caught a fairly large shark with his bare hands, wrestling it for a moment before prying its jaws apart and showing its razor sharp teeth to onlookers.

The way he grabbed the shark without first asking permission, instead of draping himself uncomfortably over the shark and whispering something in its ear without first asking permission, lends credence to the working theory that he is a Trump supporter.

Those who witnessed the spectacle were both shocked and impressed with one woman stating, “Wow. That’s a big ass shark.”

The shark was said to have been released back into the water though the video does not show the moment.

Rumor: WSL Studios’ “highly anticipated” reality show Ultimate Surfer set to begin filming next month at Kelly Slater’s Surf Ranch!

A gift for the weary.

A great fear hovers just beyond the horizon, past worries about pandemic re-spiking, boiling racial tension, impending economic collapse.

The Great Fear, even, and it is that we will all run out of entertainment soon.

Production on television shows and films went into a freeze months ago and have yet to restart. Nighttime talk show hosts are looking increasingly silly in their casual attire and clearly flawed skin.

The most dire predictions declare we will be all the way out of previously unaired material by September, if things stay as they are, but a hot, hot rumor suggests that the World Surf League, our World Surf League is set to roll cameras next month behind the wooden gates of Kelly Slater’s Surf Ranch in Lemoore, California.

The reality show, Ultimate Surfer, was announced last autumn. Per the press release:

ABC has greenlighted surfing competition reality series Ultimate Surfer, headlined by 11-time World Surf League champion Kelly Slater. The eight-episode series, from prolific unscripted producer Craig Piligian’s Lionsgate-owned Pilgrim Media Group and WSL Studios, will feature top up-and-coming surfers. They will train and live together as they battle it out at WSL’s state-of-the-art Surf Ranch in Lemoore, California, which employs by Kelly Slater’s man-made wave technology. (You can watch a video about the facility below)

Slater will serve as on-air talent and special correspondent for the show, executive produced by Pilgrim CEO and President Piligian, WSL Studios President of Content and Media Erik Logan, and UFC President Dana White.

As you well know, Kelly Slater has mysteriously returned to the United States of America from his Australian quarantine.

Is this the reason?

Also, I hope it is the reason. I have been to Lemoore, myself, in July and will be returning this July in order to attempt surf journalism and catch unscripted moments from the unscripted show. Do you think they will allow participants to play the pokies at the Tachi Palace?

Do you think they will make the participants wear masks?

Will the “surfers falling in love with other surfers” storylines be shelved because of those masks?

Lemoore is not pleasant in July but I am very excited for this show and wonder if, alongside wildcards into future World Championship Tour events, the winner gets to visit World Surf League owner and co-Waterperson of the Year Dirk Ziff’s plantation?