Watch: Great White Shark named “Helen” drowns a thirty-five foot humpback whale off the coast of South Africa!

"Very strategic."

Remember back when the world was pre-apocalyptic, hair salons were open, refillable sodas were the norm and we humans had two main concerns?

1) Keep the Country Country

2) Save the Whales

We have done a good job, all things considered, with number one. Country is still, ostensibly, Country thanks to many brave North Shore property owners painting the slogan on signs and putting them Kamehameha adjacent.

Number two, though, seems to have fallen through the cracks and let us not tarry. Let us fly to South Africa where a tagged ten-foot Great White named Helen “very strategically” drowned a thirty-five foot humpback while negligent humans watched via drone (watch here).

According to Ryan Johnson, a marine biologist reached for comment, Helen knew exactly what she was doing in heading for the tail, finding an artery then letting the poor humpback bleed for thirty minutes before attacking the sweet creature’s face.

“There was no hesitation. It’s as if she knew exactly how to go about it. Even though she was a fraction of his weight, she was attempting to roll him over, pulling him down to get his blow hole under the water, apparently in an effort to drown him. She managed to weigh him down under the water and he just didn’t come up again.”

Do you think there are any tagged sharks out there named Karen?

Are they depressed?

Are you depressed for not saving the whales?

You should be. Just this past year a humpback saved a diver named Karen from death by shark.

Rumor: “Major” World Surf League announcement regarding 2020-21 season “coming soon”; Pipeline start and champion to possibly be crowned at Trestles in fabulous one day event!

Kolohe Andino for 2020-21 champ. Caroline Marks on the women's side.

Tease me once, shame on me. Tease me twice, shame on me. Tease me three times, shame on me. Tease me four times… wait. No shame at all. We live in the future where predilections and kinks of every make and model are not only acceptable but to be celebrated.

Tease me, World Surf League, one more time!

And apparently my predilections and kinks are all being sated for a new, hot rumor floating out of Santa Monica on tickly feathered wings.

You well know that Erik Logan and team have titillated us much since the Coronavirus descended and cancelled our culture.

No professional surfing. Only Lawn Patrol.

And yet announcements announced. Announcements coming soon. “Major” announcement at the beginning of June. “Major” announcement at the beginning of July. But no “major” announcement forthcoming. The League not even explaining where the “major” announcements went.


And we’ve been left to our own devices, as Erik Logan and team have silently retrenched, to monger in rumor. But substantiated rumor from inside the belly of Santa Monica’a beast. True rumor or true-ish.



A source “close to the levers of power but also very much involved in franchising Subway sandwich restaurants” has floated that a “major” announcement is coming on Tuesday and will cement the already rumored rumor that the 2020-21 season will be mashed together, beginning this December at the Banzai Pipeline.

Where will it end?

According to the source, ending the whole shootin’ match “…at Trestles in September with a one day surf-off between the top four men and women” is being heavily discussed.

Imagine, Trestles there in North County, San Diego once tossed onto the scrapheap of modernity, replaced by a giant blue plow in a long Lemoore lake now back and the crowner of champions.

Do you like?


I do. It’s a wonderful parable for hanging in there, not giving up, not losing heart when the chips are down.

Kolohe Andino for 2020-21 champ. Caroline Marks on the women’s side.

Tell me I’m wrong.

A ten-foot White caught, tagged, released off Angourie on Australia's east coast by the Department of Primary Industry's Shark Smart program. | Photo: @nsw_ sharksmart

Australia’s Great White Shark Crisis: “How do you protect your kids from shark attack when the evidence is stacking up that it could happen at any time, in any conditions?”

"The ocean, always a place of transformative powers with the ability to wash away sadness and depression, now feels foreboding and dark."

I’m lost.

I’ve got two weeks off in the middle of prime surf time on the NSW North Coast: offshore winds, pulsing southerly swells, nominally smaller crowds.

This should be peak surf pig time.

Up early, twice or thrice daily surfs, road trips.

This is accentuated by the fact I’ve now got two surf stoked teens, both on winter school vacay, in tow. Daughter and son both surf bug-bitten.

You remember what it’s like to be a grom. You’ll surf anything, anywhere, anytime.

So week one of the holidays, we had been doing a whole heap of surfing.

Now, this binge of surf piggery has been brought to a shuddering halt by the death of 15-year-old Mani Hart-Deville in a shark attack in a neighboring surf community.

The other end of the stretch of national park that I usually surf.

A student at the school I used to teach at.

Too close to home.

I got the full rundown of the whole harrowing event from a first responder. The scariest, most traumatic shit you can imagine. Made all too real by the similarity in age to my own sprogs and the recounted experience of what the young man’s parents had to endure.

From full throttle to flatlining in the space of a day.

The ocean, always a place of transformative powers with the ability to wash away sadness, anger, frustration, depression and tension with nothing more than a quick dip, now feels foreboding and dark.

I’ve already modified my own surf behaviour, due to the spate of attacks to the north of me in the Ballina/Byron area in years previous. I was on a surf alone at sunrise, out of the water before 7.30 am rotation when that shit all went down. No longer.

When I was a kid, there seemed to be concrete rules for avoiding becoming prey for something built for ocean predation: don’t surf at sunrise or sunset, don’t surf alone, don’t surf in murky water, avoid deep water, avoid reefs and rivermouths.

Now all the old paradigms are out the window.

The weekend attack happened at two pm on a sunny winter’s day. Small beachbreak peaks not fifty metres off the shore.

The same with the majority of the Ballina “cluster” attacks in years previous.

Middle of the day, sunny, fun swells, very inviting.

I’m flummoxed as to how to modify my behaviour any more to avoid an attack. When I say my behaviour, I’m thinking primarily of how I’m going to manage my kids.

If I get hit, I get hit.

I don’t know how I could face the idea of knowing that I put my kids in harm’s way through my example and guidance. A parent’s primary responsibility is to teach and nurture.

To dispense advice and information to help their offspring navigate situations safely.

But how do you protect your kids and yourself from attack, when the evidence is stacking up that it could happen at any time, in any conditions?

While I know it has probably always been this way, it just feels that the dial on the likelihood of a shark interaction here on the North Coast has moved from implausible to distinctly possible.

Two days after the attack I’m at a loss with what to do.

Normally I’d get up, we’d pack the car and go find a wave. Now I don’t want to. Well, I do want to, but I’m hesitant to.

This is the rhythm and rhyme of my life, but now it’s out of sync.

I lag.

I do the washing, tidy the house.


It’s sunny, it’s offshore, a classic winters day. So we pack the car with boards, wetsuits, and towels. Just in case.

We arrive to be greeted with groomed little two-foot peaks under a light offshore. God, it looks tempting.

I bump into an old local. He’s a member of the bite club. Took a hit from a bull shark at the local back beach after a flood, surfing in murky water in 2001. Used a leg rope to tourniquet his thigh, climbed the headland, drove himself fifteen minutes to the local hospital and passed out laying into the horn as he rolled into the emergency bay.

The kids look, wait for me to give them the cue.

Are we going out?


Not today.

We walk the beach, climb the headland, continually scan the waves, kick a football on the beach, try to resist temptation.

I bump into an old local, now in his late sixties, still as surf stoked as ever. The number of days he has left to surf are winding down he knows, got to get as many go-outs in as he can before he can’t go out no more.

He’s a member of the bite club. Took a hit from a bull shark at the local back beach after a flood, surfing in murky water in 2001. Used a leg rope to tourniquet his thigh, climbed the headland, drove himself fifteen minutes to the local hospital and passed out laying into the horn as he rolled into the emergency bay.

“You’ll be right to go out” I joke. “What are the odds of getting hit twice?”

“Not today,” he says. “Best to leave it for a bit.”

The rational part of both of us knows that the chances of anyone getting hit today are the same as any other day. But it just doesn’t feel right. It just doesn’t feel responsible for me to allow my kids into that environment, barely twenty-five kilometres and under forty-eight hours from where a kid basically the same age died a traumatic death simply enjoying what my kids want to enjoy right now.

I know all the arguments.

I’ve subscribed and parroted them myself. You’ve got more chance of dying on the way to the beach, you enter their environment at your own risk, a life lived in fear is a life half lived. But today I look at the ocean, and I look at my son and daughter and I just can’t bring myself to allow them to enter the water. Not today.

I know it can’t last.

The lure of surf is now as much a part of their lives as it is mine.

And a small part of me now curses that.

Curses the fact that my kids are now infatuated and enamored with this lifestyle and environmental interaction we call surfing.

Mani Hart-Deville, there for the grace of God go I, could have been my son or daughter in the great game of chance that now seems to be the act of surfing on the NSW North Coast.

One day soon, we’ll go surfing again.

We’ll be wary at first, tentative and skittish.

And if we’re lucky, with time things will again begin to feel, well, normal.

The ocean will hopefully become a place again of feeling joy and exhilaration, rather than of trepidation.

I want my kids to still love surfing, to still feel alive in the ocean.

But I don’t want to lose my kids in the ocean, don’t want to see them pulled clinging to life from the sea.

Breaking: Austrian-owned Red Bull fires North American president, CEO, as alleged “retaliation” after leaked internal memos criticize company’s “public silence” on racial unrest!

Big trouble in little Salzburg!

According to an explosive report, Austria’s Red Bull has carried out a “Night of Long Cans” against North American top executives, including CEO Stefan Kozak and and President/CMO Amy Taylor, after leaked memos dated from June 1 detailed employee frustration and criticism regarding Red Bull’s “public silence” on Black Lives Matter.

It is alleged that top Austrian officials held Kozak and Taylor responsible for the leaks and the “internal tensions behind them.”

Employees declared the move was retaliatory.

“Several insiders close to the situation said it was widely believed that Kozak and Taylor were fired by Austrian leadership over the leak and internal tension over diversity issues. Two employees said Taylor had been working on a project to increase Black representation at Red Bull but that the leadership wasn’t interested.”

Both Kozak and Taylor were well-respected and seen as rising stars. Taylor had been with the company since 1999 and a considered a “true leader.”

Florian Klaass, the global head of music, entertainment and culture marketing, was also fired after a corporate presentation slide was leaked to Business Insider that showed a map of the world labeling the Middle East and Southeast Asia as “evil doers,” continental Europe as “pussies” and South America as “coffee comes from here I think.”

Images from a 2015 Russian Red Bull Flugtag event featuring Barack Obama and men in blackface chasing a banana have also resurfaced, increasing scrutiny of the brand’s culture.

But what does this mean for No Contest and the questionable touching of professional surfers with ring adorned salchichas?

More as the story develops.

MT, centre, with his More Core Division. Best surf team ever? Yeah, it was.

Surf great famous for Busting Down the Door, game-changing surf brand and bristling coke addiction gravely ill with throat cancer. “He is tragic and fantastical!” says Matt Warshaw

"I hope he is lauded for the way he left surfing — for Paris, Tokyo, New York; for ateliers, design studios, clubs, foreign-language magazine racks — then just as eagerly returned to cross-pollinate our beautiful but woefully inbred sport."

I have no doctor’s note to prove it, but at the south end of my duodenal bulb, hard against the superior flexure, is a nubbin of scar tissue marking the place where an ulcer sprouted and flourished over a six-month period in 1986 when I dated Michael Tomson’s not-quite-ex-girlfriend.

Just an extended summer romance. Nothing at the outset, flirty and harmless, haha, nobody even knew!

Then a friend of mine who was also a friend Michael’s pulled me aside and matter-of-factly reported that Michael found out and was going to “serve my head on a platter,” and I didn’t get a restful night’s sleep until late 1987.

Michael Tomson was overwhelming.

In all things, for better and worse. I use the past tense, which is not technically right, although week before last I got a message that he had advanced throat cancer, followed by a second message that he had died, then a third and final message that he was alive but in bad shape and not expected to recover.

Write about him now, while he still might read it, I was urged. Do not hold back, jump all the way in, that’s what he’ll want.

Michael’s legacy is and will always be divided into three parts. The easy, uncomplicated, foundational part was built wave-by-grinding-wave at Pipeline in the winter of ’75-’76.

At that epochal Free Riding moment in time, Michael was, let’s say, 60% the surfer his cousin Shaun was in terms of raw talent.

Was that hard to live with?


But my guess is that playing second banana throughout his formative years to a younger and slightly better-looking relative had much to do with what Michael achieved in his career, beginning at Pipeline, where he never out-surfed Shaun but often out-gritted him.

Shaun was a surgeon on those big hollow walls. Michael was a bull at full charge with six banderillas stuck in his back.

You couldn’t take your eyes off either of them. (How did Michael get ready for Pipe? Easy, surf Waimea. “After Waimea, it makes going back to Pipeline much easier. And Sunset’s a joke after Pipeline.” Read the full interview here.)

The second part of Michael’s legacy is Gotcha, the wildly innovative and successful company that he co-founded in 1978 and into which he poured all of his fissioning talent, taste, ambition, and vanity.

Gotcha was, above all things, a big blaring Moulin Rouge-level spectacle.

Throughout the 1980s, you never knew what the company would do next, except that, like Michael himself, it would be outsized and extreme. For me, the Gotcha project was always hit or miss. The Gotcha Pro, spawn of Mardi Gras and the Op Pro, was a gaudy, bloated world tour setback.

Gotcha’s infamous “If You Don’t Surf, Don’t Start” ad campaign, with its gallery of American non-surfing and therefore unworthy archetypes (fat kid, old person, street-tough) juxtaposed against color action shots of Gotcha team riders — the cool kids — was mean, petty, awful.

But the energy pouring forth from Gotcha’s Costa Mesa HQ, month after month — the sheer creative horsepower, the audacity — was miles ahead of any surf commerce entity, and I don’t just mean Quiksilver and Billabong, but all of it, the mags, the boardmakers, filmmakers, everything.

It’s only a slight exaggeration to say the whole sport was slipstreaming behind Michael and Gotcha. Nobody else could have made Surfers: the Movie, for example, which I’m glad to see is now in the Best Surf Film Ever conversation. 

The third and final part of Michael’s legacy will be his enduring and literally all-consuming cocaine addiction, which Chas Smith calls “Shakespearean . . . a forty-year dance.”

Tomson’s longtime friend Phil Jarratt wrote about it in 2015. Tomson himself unapologetically spoke of his drug use, and much more, during a conversation with Smith less than three years ago (read here), in which he throws his head like a bull and is thus recognizable as the surfer he was in 1975, but is now swaying and about to buckle at the knees.

Both pieces are difficult to read.

I hope that Michael Tomson is further remembered and lauded for the way he happily, eagerly, relentlessly left surfing — for Paris, Tokyo, New York; for ateliers, design studios, clubs, foreign-language magazine racks — then just as eagerly returned to cross-pollinate our beautiful but woefully inbred sport.

That was the plan (read here) from the very beginning.

If you have a Gotcha-era surf mag handy, open it up and look how flat every non-Gotcha page looks by comparison. When you watch Surfers, remember that Michael was stealing, to our great benefit, from Rolling Stone, not Bruce Brown.

Hell, at one point this crazy bastard had us all wearing elastic-band madras-plaid Bermuda shorts!

For 35 years I have been both awestruck and ambivalent about Michael Tomson. He is tragic and fantastical, but familiar.

His love of surfing is mine.

His nihilism is a distant cousin to my mostly outgrown but still vibrantly recalled selfishness.

Maybe some of you feel the same way.

“I’m not bold enough to be Michael Tomson,” Chas Smith writes, “so I need him to be Michael Tomson for me and to hell with the price — physical, financial, emotional, mental — that he has to pay.”

(Editor’s note: Every Sunday, Matt Warshaw, keeper of the Encylopedia of Surfing, sends subscribers a longish form email describing his historical adventures of the week, with nods to contemporary events. It’s a fine thing to receive amid the tidal wash of emails offering clothing sales and discounted trinkets and, if you surf, it’s as essential as wax and, for three bucks or whatever it is a month, cheaper.)