Happier days at WSL pool. Jordy Smith, centre, hammerhead victim Michel Bourez with embrace. | Photo: Steve Sherman/@tsherms

Longtom on the WSL in its death throes: “Surfing as a sport, dead…yet surfing more popular than ever…ergo, surfing is not sport!”

We forget how young pro surfing is. How tender, how fragile.

Be very honest now.

Organised “competitive” surfing is wandering round in a dark alley in a night-dress calling for help from a mid-western police department, possibly in a terminal condition.

Completely cancelled by Covid-19.

Have you missed it?

Hankering for it? 

Of those who put their hand up, put it down if you are in the local boardriders. You represent less than 10% of surfers, in Australia at least, a far, far smaller percentage anywhere else.

Surfing as Sport has effectively been completely and wholly absent planet-wide since Black Friday March 13 , 2020 and crowds, people actually surfing, as long as beaches are open, have been bigger than ever.


Surfing as a sport, dead.

Yet surfing more popular than ever. 

Ergo, surfing is not sport.

Too quick to rush to the conclusion?

Hold on, poor Nicolas Carroll is choking on his cornflakes, I can read his mind – even over the internets he claims massive overreach.

Let’s walk it back a step: six months or so into the Covid crisis and surfing has never seemed less like a sport that at any time since pre-colonial Hawaii when wave sliding on boards was  the subject of something like a sport.

I don’t know the details of the Hawaiian system, let’s hope Matt Warshaw or even better, someone from the islands themselves like Huli Opu or CkT might fill us in on the sporting aspects of the he’e nalu as it was practised prior to Jimmy Cook’s visitations during  ka wā kahiko.

Notwithstanding that, since George Freeth passed it to Alex Hume Ford, who begat Jack and Charmian London’s embrace, promoted the Duke, who fired up Tom Blake, surfing has drifted away from sport towards Blakes “Church of the Open Sky.”

Ford himself started up the Outrigger Canoe Club in Waikiki as a way to quarantine beachfront land for surfing which “made it possible for every kid with guts to live at least half the day fighting the surf.”

We forget how young pro surfing is.

How tender, how fragile.

Green shoots die off, even established branches like Japan can dieback.

England was once home to CT events. Now, no more.

Even the USA with its coveted consumer market cannot sustain a single long-standing CT event.

Its status in Australia has been more assured thanks to the support of the taxpayer. But you could easily mount an argument that it reached it’s peak there sometime between 1976 and ’86 and has slowly been trading down on the social licence it banked in that golden decade. 

Now, even the owners and governing body of the nominal Sport itself have lost confidence in their baby.

By their own hand they’ve lost focus and tried to pivot towards a “storytelling” organisation. Covid-19 has merely accelerated and put under the glare of unforgiving spotlights a process started by the governing body itself.

An own goal that will go down in History and spawn a thousand unread PhD’s in surf studies. 

Meanwhile, the legends of the Sport who could be called on in these dark times to philosophically buttress the activity that gave them fame and a livelihood are busy spruiking wavepools. Drowning their legacies in an evolutionary billabong for the sport which will never provide the stadium atmosphere or spectacle needed to capture the mythical Middle American market. 

MR says it’s better than any natural wave.

Really? Says who?

If it was that fucking good the punters would be flocking to come watch instead of staying away in droves.

Gerry Lopez, says this “quintessential” perfect wave is going to really “push the envelope of surfing”.

Gezza, I’ve watched every minute of all three pro comps held there and snippets of the proof of concept “dummy” comp and I’d say there is literally nothing more false.

You want the actual truth of surfing progression, go watch one single clip of Italo Ferreira on his black Timmy Patterson at his shitty brown water sideshore beach break in the beautiful bay.

Oh, it’ll be like snowboarding half-pipe or skateboarding, they say.

One simple thought experiment will banish the fantasy. 

What is a skateboarding half-pipe compared to?

Another skateboarding half-pipe.

A snowboard half-pipe can be compared to a mountain but the comparison can be engineered to be favourable.

A wavepool is now, and will be forever, compared to the ocean.

And even the dustiest Okie when asked to conjure surfing in the ocean will have a mental image of Laird at Teahupoo or G-Mac sliding down a hundred foot burger at Nazare.

Why would a head-high streak of pelican shit in a tub ever capture their imagination in comparison to that?

I say why, but I mean, how? 

That’s Joe Blow and the armies of VAL’s. If you have any skin in the pro surfing game, then it’s compared to Chopes and Cloudbreak and even the electric blue cylinders of Kirra rifling down golden sandbanks.

Build ’em bigger you say.

This useless science degree I hold tells me the physics of moving water is brutal, and brutally expensive.

You build the half-pipe, you build it once.

The wave has to be built over and over and over.

Every. Single. Time.

And each time that plough runs through the water, the bank balance dribbles away. 

Don’t worry, the dream won’t die.

We’ll figure something out.

We always do, even if we have to mow a few lawns to keep the rent paid in the interim.

In the meantime I think much fun taking the chat further with Chas and Derek tomoz on Dirty Water.

I got my brown sangas all ready to go.


God, I hope Carroll calls in.

Josh Kerr and Bede Durbidge, coaxed out of retirement. | Photo: WSL

World champs Mick Fanning, Joel Parkinson coaxed out of retirement and nineties journeymen wrenched out of obscurity to star in reality TV series!

"This will be the most-watched event in Australian surfing history," says ambitious presser. 

Back in March, when the coronavirus first started wrapping its fingers around the world’s neck, my boardriders club committee got together to discuss what it was all gonna mean for the rest of our season.

Comps weren’t looking like much of a chance and we wanted to keep that sweet esprit de corps singing through the dead zone.

“How ‘bout we run something online for the groms, at least?” came one suggestion. “Everyone’s got an iPhone. Let them submit clips of them surfing during lockdown and we can judge them all virtually. Keep things moving for the club even if we can’t get together in person. Plus, it’s a piece of piss to run.”

Think Taylor Steele’s Innersection, but with $100 voucher and a few cakes of wax up for grabs, as opposed to worldwide exposure and major sponsorship contract.

Shit’s easy.


Fun to do.

Why wouldn’t ya?

And so the ‘”Instagrom Challenge” was born (I’ll let you know the winners in September).

As it turned out, we weren’t the only ones who had the idea.

The concept popped up in different clubs across Australia, and has now culminated in RIVALS – Surfing Australia’s made for TV broadcast surf comp.

Eleven of Australia’s iconic competitive male surfers will open up old battle scars in an innovative three month, 13 consecutive episode TV series set to air on Channel Nine from 12 pm on Saturday the 8th August 2020.

“This will be the most-watched event in Australian surfing history,” says the presser. 


MICK FANNING – Snapper Rocks – Queensland

JOEL PARKINSON – Snapper Rocks – Queensland

DEAN MORRISON – Snapper Rocks – Queensland

BEDE DURBIDGE – South Stradbroke Island – Queensland

JOSH KERR – Duranbah Beach – New South Wales

DANNY WILLS – Broken Head – New South Wales

SHAUN CANSDELL – Coffs Harbour – New South Wales

JAY THOMPSON – Burleigh Heads – Queensland

GLEN HALL – Avoca Point – New South Wales

KAI OTTON – South Coast Slab – New South Wales

NATHAN HEDGE – North Narrabeen – New South Wales

Each surfer has two hours at their ‘local’ wave to surf however they want, on as many waves as they want, with their best three rides to be scored by the public via online platform www.clippero.com and Olympic Surfing Head Judge Glen Elliott.

Back To News

You’ll know I’m the biggest fan girl going when it comes to nineties and noughties Australian power surfing.

This line-up’s got me gooeyer in the fork than a big government intervention during an unprecedented fiscal downturn.

(Though, where’s Mick Campbell?)

But also, this concept, as pointed out in my boardrider’s committee meeting, is an absolute piece of piss to run.

So easy that it took a few volunteers all of five minutes to set up an amatuer version.

So easy that Surfing Fucking Australia have signed on two former world champs and Australia’s largest commercial television station within a matter of months for the same format.

How good would it be if you set the same challenge for the top 16?

Yet, we’re still putting up with re-runs of the quarter finals at France 2009 and motherfucking Lawn Patrol.


The ball’s in your court.





I know you guys are there somewhere.


Mate, we all just want to know you’re all ok.

Kick-flip three times in your next Insta vid if you need us to send help.

Hot, slutty, older model waitresses were not scared to flirt. Ugly slutty waitresses were not scared to flirt in between ciggy breaks and it was exceptionally rowdy at times. | Photo: @beachbum

Remembering the great long-gone beach bars of Newport Beach: Malarky’s, Cassidy’s, Mutt Lynch’s, Ho Sum Bistro, Snug Harbor!

Hot, older model waitresses were not scared to flirt. Ugly waitresses were not scared to flirt in between ciggy breaks. Glory days etc.

Newport Beach, Ca. 1993: Divorced, living in my warehouse in a business park on the cliff above River Jetties, I decided to move back into the surf hood.

Smallest one-bedroom on earth… living room was literally a surfboard rack.

No TV.

Donated couch and I had my mattress on the floor, no box spring or bed frame.

Two dinner plates, two knives (thank you Carl’s Jr), two forks, two drinking glasses and a hibachi.

That’s all I needed.

Women always tripped out seeing the bed (top grade mattress, btw) on the floor.

Clothes relatively neatly folded, also against the wall on the ground.

Magic boards lie awake in the closet inside the primitive coffin of that day.

The Cave was austerity on steroids except for the obscene amount of surfboards piled about.

Shower was clean, but the neighboring bath tub was filled with wetsuits “drying”…. Lucky the pad always smelled like weed.

Good waves one block west, bar district one block inland.

The obvious pubs with food, Malarky’s, Cassidy’s, Mutt Lynch’s, Ho Sum Bistro. All places to pluck a bird, varying food and nightly specials, tap beers.

Another short two blocks away, nestled against the harbor warehouses in a district soon to gentrified into homogeny, was the divest dive of dive bars known to Orange County.

Snug Harbor.

Over the years, surfers began infiltrating the commercial fisherman hang out. Maybe 40 square feet and a third of that was a circular bar.

One of those small english billiard tables, forgot the name. That’s it.

The real estate became so valuable, the commercial fishing industry went away and our crew took over the bar. I never had to call anyone or make plans, just peddled the beach cruiser to Snug.

Never had to lock it, everyone knew it was mine.

Bartender was a relic… looked like Herman Munster on heroin. His face was a cartoon and he was grumpy as all fuck, we had replaced his drinking buddies.

Unsettled scores from the water were settled outside Snug.

Fights were no longer settled on the sand during altercations. Lawyers had litigated in favor of chaos.

In the mornings, the best grub breakfast in town by yards.

Hot, slutty, older model waitresses were not scared to flirt. Ugly slutty waitresses were not scared to flirt in between ciggy breaks and it was exceptionally rowdy at times.

It was said that you could tell if the surf was good by who was eating breakie (good swell, joint empty).

Today, Snug has been mowed down to build a sterile live/work/loft two-bedroom one-and-a-half bath, vertical and skinny, ugly row of glass, reclaimed wood, stone and cement walls.

Too many to count.

None of the residents remember Snug Harbor.

Lemoore Goat Rodeo does.

Lonely Boy: Exiled Royal Prince Harry spotted surf-checking Malibu all by himself days ahead of impending lockdown!

Somebody ripped my stick.

I have never cared much for Great Britain’s ruling family, the Windsors, even though my father once told me that we were 12th cousins with Queen Elizabeth making me part of that family.

Much of my childhood was spent pondering how many princes and princesses, dukes and duchesses, would have to meet untimely deaths before Sir Charles from Coos Bay could ascend to the throne.

A lot, huh.

12th cousins is farther away from Buckingham Palace than Sal Masekela is from attending Kelly Slater’s Cocoa Beach 4th of July party, I think.

But back to never caring much, since Prince Harry and his wife the Duchess of Sussex Meg Markle moved to greater Los Angeles my news feed has been littered with stories about them.

Incredibly mean stories.

Like, vindictive gossip featuring a violent sort of nastiness that I never knew existed. Really going for the throat of trying to rip families apart and make them hate each other and plot against each other etc.

I used to think I was an asshole but now realize my air kisses blown toward Herr Paul Speaker, Backward Fin Beth, Li’l Zach Weisberg, Ashton “Bilbo” Goggans, Kelly Slater’s sixteenth best friend Sal Masekela, Erik Logan’s undersized canoe, co-Waterperson of the Year and co-Owner of a Southern Plantation Dirk Ziff, etc. were so gentle as not even to register on the royal scale.

Well, that’s that.

Also, Prince Harry was spotted on a bike yesterday surf checking Malibu all by himself mere days ahead of the impending re-closure. If you saw him in the lineup would you leave him alone? Gift him a wave? Throw a loose shaka? Back paddle and send him to shore?

Have you ever fanned out on another man, or woman, surfing?

I saw Perry Ferrell coming up the stairs after surfing my local once but kept my mouth shut and my hands to myself.

But back to Ashton, how do you think he’s handling quarantine while being discouraged from awkwardly draping himself over his favorite professionals? Has he already moved through all the stages of grief or has he high-centered on the “eating ice cream straight out of the carton” phase?

Much to ponder.

One of those summers.

Summer of blood continues: French Olympian Michel Bourez attacked by twelve-foot hammerhead, only the eighteenth person since 1580 to be hit by species: “I put my foil in between him and I to protect myself!”

"I felt like surfing at Teahupoo when it’s ten-to-twelve foot!"

French Polynesian surfer Michel Bourez has posted a breathless account of being hit by a “three-to-four-metre hammerhead shark” while piloting a foil-board thereby confirming the summer of 2020 as the season of the shark.

Or, more colourfully, The Summer of Blood.

See here, here and here. 

“I was doing a down wind from Tahiti (Mahina ) to Moorea (Vaiare) when a hammer shark chased my foil and bite it. He broke the tail of my @signaturefoils so I could not keep going,” wrote Michel, employing excellent use of Instagram handles.

“Then I sat on my @firewiresurfboards and waved at my friends on the boat to come and pick me up. After two-to-three minutes by myself, I felt something was wrong so I looked around me and stayed in alert just in case the shark would come back again.

“I was right!

“The three-to-four-metre hammer shark came back again at me so I put my foil in between him and I to protect myself. He bit my foil for the second time realizing it was definitely not eatable and swam back away from me. The boat picked me up a few minutes after and I was safe.

“Fifteen minutes later I decided to go foil again and finished the race we had.

“I felt like surfing at Teahupoo when it’s ten-to-twelve foot! We know the risk to get hurt or even dying but the love of our sport is too strong. EVERY TIME I go foiling in the deep blue, I’ve seen hammers sharks cruising around so I know the risk since the beginning. The ocean is their world and I respect that! No bad feelings at all! He just owe me a new foil…”


Hammerheads are unfathomably rare.

According to the International Shark Attack File there have only been seventeen recorded attacks (make that eighteen) since 1580, none fatal.