Coleborn, one of the few redheads to cut through the surf industry's inherent, systemic and often brutal racism, retired at thirty-three.
Australian surfer Mitch Coleborn, a staple of Kai Neville’s era-defining films from 2009’s Modern Collective to Cluster in 2015, and whose frontside fin-throws became a staple of every teen, has split from his sponsor of twenty years, Juicy Couture aka Volcom.
In a plantive note to his fifty-one thousand followers, Coleborn, who turned thirty-three in January, and who was barely fourteen when his preternatural talent was discovered by the flying vee, wrote,
Happiest 14 year old kid in the world turned into 20 years of nothing but good times. Forever grateful for all the support and friendships made. Much love, Mitch
Coleborn’s ten-year career on the world qualifying series, 2011 to the abbreviated season of 2020, yielded no wins but three seconds, two thirds and a fifth. His highest rating was in 2015 when he finished twenty-sixth.
A pal called a couple of days back and said the site of breaching Whites had become almost as common as the whales that pass the coast every June.
So far, solutions have danced around three poles: the proven, if brutal, efficiency of nets, surveillance by drone and tagged sharks linked to social media; and various trinkets calling ‘emselves shark deterrents.
The first works, but society don’t have the stomach for seeing photos of sharks being winched, dead or dying, to the surface.
Surveillance is patchy. It works when the water’s clear and a drone is in the air and if the entire population of Great Whites has been tagged.
Shark deterrents? No.
A new angle works on the premise that as hits on surfers have become the new reality and since there’s only going to be more Great Whites, how about we minimise the impact of a shark bite.
The NSW Department of Primary Industries has tossed ninety-gees to researchers at Flinders University in Adelaide toward the development of a Great White-proof wetsuit.
Kevlar was the first choice, and it works, but while it might be ok under your combat uniform it ain’t much fun as a wetsuit.
Instead, the researchers are testing two types of protective fabrics that incorporate ultra-high molecular weight polyethylene fibres (UHMWPE)
“We tested the fabric on White sharks because it is the species responsible for the most fatalities from shark bites,” says Associate Professor Charlie Huveneers, co-author a paper that reminds surfers, “Although the risk of being bitten by a shark is intrinsically low, the occurrence of shark bites has increased globally in the last 30 years. For example, the incidence of shark bites in Australia has increased from 1–3 per year in the 1980s to more than 10 per year in the 2010s.”
The results from the test have been fairly encouraging.
It ain’t gonna stop the jaws but it might limit the damage.
Human trials to begin soon.
Wild as hell: Kelly Slater’s outrageously narrow, parallel-rail seven-six big-wave gun! “It takes guts to make a mad board!”
World champ puts truism that best surfers can ride even a plank of wood to the test…
A few years back, there was a shot circulating of Kelly Slater at Duranbah. He was two-thirds of the way though the sorta cutback one might’ve previously thought impossible, rail buried through the nose, trail left an almost complete circle.
(Couldn’t find that shot, but how about these frame grabs on the same board.)
The board was a Greg Webber shaped surfboard he calls Electra and, lately, Webber and Slater have taken to applying the same principles tobigger waves.
“He had the idea that is a design that could allow him to do proper turns in big waves and his guess was the amount of grip the design has could correspond nicely to face turns in big waves,” says Greg, who is fiddling with various things at a surfboard factory on the Gold Coast when I call.
“But instead of altering it to such a degree that it only had a hint of the Electra, mainly a giant gun with a stinger in it, I used the exact file and…stretched…it.”
I’ve just seen the photos of the board on Facebook; Greg ain’t calling me.
He knows the reaction he’s gonna get.
“In forums you always one or two who say he could ride a door. I adore that one because it’s pure idiocy. What appears to be a truism, that the best can ride anything is misleading because they can make a board that isn’t feeling great look like it’s still ok.”
The dimensions of the gun are a wild 7’6” x 17 7/8” x 2 9/16”, coming in at a little under thirty-five litres.
When Slater saw the board he told Webber it was too narrow. Said it was “stupid” and that he was going to give it to Shane Dorian’s thirteen-year-old son Jackson.
“He’s right, of course,” says Webber, who was playing a game where he experiments with zero curve in the planshape and “lots” of rocker, to see what effect the outline curve has on turns.
But if he didn’t go outrageously narrow, and started at nineteen-inches wide, how would he know the parameters?
Let me interject.
You can make a board loose, or easy to turn, a few ways. Little fins. Curvy outline. Ton of rocker.
Same with speed. Straight outline. Low rocker.
Sorta same result but they all feel different.
And Webber wanted to take the outline out of the equation.
He also wanted to prove deep concaves, a matter close to his heart, in big waves.
“It’s not what you want in big waves. You want to shed speed, grip not lift. So it’s then narrowness that I wanted to test. Shortboard style lift in a gun that’s narrow. I wanted to see what that mix would do.”
“It takes guts to make a mad board. And it’s meaningless unless someone is testing it at the highest level in decent size.”
How did it go? Slater was all over a once-in-a-decade swell that lit up the east coast of Australia.
“He said there’s two really good things. The lack of plan shape made it hard to turn but the ability to get grip mid-face was great. You’ll get to turn with that parallel planshape like a snowboard.”
Webber describes his relationship with Slater as “funny” and says, “It’s amusing for both of us. He gets pissed off at me but he’s also, ok, ‘I kinda get you.’”
And, before you ask, Webber says there’s no point in him taking about his pools.
“I’ve crapped on for so many years, most of my shareholders don’t want to hear another word out of my mouth.”
He says the majority owners of his company made a decision to never build a proof-of-concept pool “on some farmland out in the middle of nowhere. They want to do everything in the one go and it’s taking a lot longer.”
I hope you are holding up okay! This whole Corona thing has been such a huge bummer. I can’t believe they actually closed the beaches for like a whole month.
Fortunately, you could still score if you knew where to go. I defnitely got in some solid sessions, no one around, waves for miles. I hope you bros got some!!
Anyway, I feel like we all totally need a stress release and I can’t think of a better cure for the Corona Blues than a surf trip with my best bros. Perfect waves, cold brews, hot girls. Livin’ the dream, man!
I’ve heard such great things about Nicaragua. Like, so many good set-ups down there. And cheap! This is the perfect time of year to hit that zone. Shack-o-rama!
I don’t know, maybe flying is still too sketchy right now? I mean, I’m down if you are.
But we could just like, keep it local. Maybe hit the wave pool down in Texas?
All the pros are going there and even the chicks are landing some sweet airs! Bet we could all hit an air reverse with just a few hours of practice.
Check out this video with Taj,
Looks pretty easy, really.
At Waco, we can get five sessions for $449 on the advanced wave, which I feel like is totally our speed.
I am currently on an overseas surf vacation and enjoying myself thoroughly. Fear of Covid-19 still crackles in the humid air and tourists have not returned leaving normally crowded breaks near empty.
And today found me bobbing alongside two locals who waved for me to join them in the prime location.
I happily acquiesced.
One, an eighteen-year-old, told me he was an aspiring professional surfer, sponsored by a local shaper etc. Looking forward to being able to travel the world, competing in iconic locations etc.
I told him that was very fine at which point he complimented me on my surf attire.
I was wearing an official tank top singlet from the World Surf League Longboard Classic, New York. Devon Howard generously gifted me. Coincidentally, I was not riding a midlength but rather a 5’8 Mayhem Bottom Feeder quad.
In any case, I thanked him and told him it came from the World Surf League. He scrunched up his face and repeated “World Surf League?”
He pondered this “World Surf League” while nodding me into a very fine right.
When I arrived back to the takeoff spot he said something like, “I maybe have seen the WSL logo thing before.”
I told him he wasn’t missing much but… CEO Erik Logan, turning the spotlight over to you, concerning, no? I must say, without a bold move, very soon, an entire generation of professional surfers will be lost.