Bombshell: Kelly Slater’s green bonafides shattered as surfing’s largest environmental organization decries wave pools as “excessive consumption… unnecessary and irresponsible” in scathing missive!


Surfrider Europe delivered a massive blow to student of Chinese culture and 11x World Champion Kelly Slater by releasing its official position on wave pools and there is little to nothing about it which the part-owner and spokesman for KSWaveCo. can find reassuring.

The world’s largest surf-specific environmental organization pulled no punches in its recent missive titled Wave Pools: Concerns Outweigh their Value moving point by point through how projects like Slater’s Surf Ranch and proposed Surf Ranch Australia “artificialize” the land, destroy habitats, add to the decline of biodiversity, suck enormous amounts of water and power, weaken ecosystems and promises to fight any such project along the European coastline.


As you well know, Kelly Slater is also an environmentalist, and has a deep love of the ocean, having first become aware of how important it is to protect them whilst, maybe coincidentally, surfing in France.

“There were so many plastic bags in the water that I remember at one point thinking that if I fall and get a mouthful of water, I might choke on a plastic bag.” he told noted marine conservationist Dr. Stone in a wide ranging interview. “Once you have an awareness around something, (you) change immediately.”

Here, you can see the great passion he feels for our saline playground.

Aside from his artificial wave pools potentially solving the great “surfers-choking-on-plastic-bags-after-falling scenario (controlled environment, pool cleaners with long poles to gather bags from the water etc., it is difficult to argue with Surfrider Europe’s position vis-á-vis the environmental impact. Many, many buckets of greenwash would be necessary but what then will professional surfing’s greatest of all time do?

It is uncertain how, or if, Slater will respond to Surfrider Europe as they are now likely blocked across his social media channels.

More as the story develops.

The massive Spider crawled right toward my driver side window with a speed and agility I had never experienced.

IN MEMORY OF THE SURF REPORT (BY SURFER): “In a surf traveler’s stash of essentials, an ugly orange, perfunctorily font typefaced ‘guide’ was in everyone’s backpack.”

Not all information contained therein necessarily accurate…

There was a time when man used paper products to convey information, as archaic as that sounds now.

In a surf traveler’s stash of essentials, an ugly orange, perfunctorily font typefaced “guide” was in everyone’s backpack.

It was called The Surf Report and it took traveling somewhere to realize how much bullshit it contained, but information was not accessible and at least it gave us some info to explore beyond.

Personally scribbled, the added texts beyond the margins of the original report were gold.

We guarded these “secrets” like they were actually secret. Technically, they were our secrets.

It was on a trip to an unfamiliar stretch of New South Wales coastline that I remember scanning the dog-eared copy yet again for that region.

I had driven past or through this stretch a dozen times without even stopping for petrol. We considered Newie a “drive through town” which we now use to condescend the mid-west US as we fly over.

The drive from Coffs (I used to love that left off the headland just north of town) to Sydney was not urgent, our flight did not leave for another two days. Redhead Beach was the call, we saw a glimmer of waves before dusk, the wind was good and the nearby cabins were cheap as dirt.

We had two boxes of beers to dust and one joint left from the Hippy girl at Nimbin who got me fucked up on mushy tea a few weeks earlier.

My bro handled the booking while I scoured The Surf Report for info on the area.

We were given the key to our abode and my smiling friend cracked the first beer as he sarcastically asked if I had learned anything?

We made fun of each other, laughed and got wasted and the normal protocol of deciding who got the lone bed was decided in his favor.

I pulled out the tattered Report and began a thorough reading for items I missed during my last thorough reading.

One defining section of the Report was “Hazards”.

Sure, pretty obvious. Sharks, sharp rocks, blah blah blah, but the shit that always freaked me out was the small critters.

Snakes specifically and in this issue, Spiders.

The list of Spiders of concern was lengthy. The weed had had its effect and I began to obsess over the brown funnel web spider description.

Suddenly, I dropped the flashlight that I was reading by and picked it up light first shining the battery powered illumination onto the ceiling briefly, then again and again.

The ceiling of this fucking rental was almost completely covered in Spider webs.

My buddy is soundly passed out and now I’m off the floor and setting up my sleeping bag on the kitchen table. Which seemed a good plan, yet closer to the intricately spun hunting ground above my head.

You’ve know the phrase, sleeping with one eye open?

I think it was more romanticized in its historic sense. Clint Eastwood taking a nap while the local inbreds surrounded him for a gunfight he would win anyway.

Not this time, just a mid-twenties surfer freaking out over deadly spiders in cave of spiders.

“What the fuck is wrong Hip, you didn’t get any sleep?”

I was outside well before light and he had awoken to piss. I was still clutching that fucking Orange report in my hand, too scared to let it go although I had the thing memorized.

“We’re sleeping in a spider’s den… well, you were sleeping.”

He looked up to the spot that I pointed to.

“Holy fuck, that is a curtain of webs.”

He grabbed the report and read the warnings. His eyes opened as he scanned his bed and the proximity to the A-frame ceiling close to the wall next to the bed.

Surf looked very fun and I quickly forgot the long night. North-ish direction of the swell was sweeping lefts south and there were cross current rights on offer too.

I made a mental note to revise The Surf Report to exclude another stay at the cabin and to note the good beachbreak.
We were laughing about our good fortune as the fisherman parked around us groused about a poor morning’s luck finding lunch.

You know that feeling, being so happy when others are fucking angry.

Like Malibu ’83 when I’m skipping back to Topanga and my parked car while huge surf and mudslides ruined people’s homes.

Or surfing through fires while all the residents evacuate and it’s pumping.

I remember a hurricane forcing mass evacuations and the San Jose River mouth dialing as good as it gets. Man, that was a good day, long before the new harbor ruined the iconic break.

Three-hundred yard tubes. Chicken-skin pinch-worthy.

Anyway, on this day, the fishermen were the grumpy locals and we were the elated tourists.

I got into the car, both side windows were rolled down all night and I turned on the ignition to defrost the front window screen as it was time to say au revoir to the disgruntled oldies packing away their tackle boxes.

As the Holden sputtered to life, directly in front of my window emerged an enormous spider caught under the screen and flushed by the defrost cycle.

The massive Spider crawled right toward my driver side window with a speed and agility I had never experienced.

My buddy roared and I climbed over him to “escape” out the passenger side.

Full-scale panic.

The car lurched to a stop as I let go of the clutch.

The Fisho’s had the laugh of their lives as the mood tables had turned.

One grabbed a broken branch and invited the spider to the nearby brush as we caught our breath. We had barely escaped death it seemed.

“Mate, what are you guys so scared of?”

I handed The Surf Report to him, opened to the small paragraph on the brown recluse.

He read the passage to his crew and they all fell about laughing.

Apparently, the brown recluse was not the spider “attacking” me and was diminutive of size and rarely seen round those parts according to the oldies.

We tried to look cool pulling away, but the boys waved to us with more jeer than cheer.

We arrived in Narrabeen and got a proper room that night.

That peak was going off, but crowded as fuck with a very capable crew owning it. We surfed the beach park as I had on trips before and it was so much fucking fun.

Somewhere, in a box of discarded school papers and report cards in my Mom’s attic laid a plethora of Surf Reports, each customized in my own hand writing.

When she died, I never thought to look for the collection.

Great Lakes surfer visits San Diego, is made sad: “I’m missing mid-west polite, especially in the lineup. And there’s something special about not expecting much. Can’t really be disappointed by a freshwater lake.”

"The lineup lacks etiquette, but it also lacks the joy inherent in mid-western lineups."

I’ve been listening to those of you from Southern California complain about this summer for weeks, my resentment growing as I reluctantly throw on my running shoes, wishing I could go swim in the Pacific.

Had a friend tell me the other day that this was the smallest, windiest, and coldest summer he could remember.

Shaking his head, he muttered something about July 4 weekend.

It was difficult to resist engaging in a pissing match of who had to worst.

Even more so knowing that I had a winner.

But, after only a few days on the coast, I’ve become less sure.

I flew into San Diego the other morning and I was in the water a few hours later.

It was beautiful out – sunny and clean. Ankle slappers slowly pushed onto shore.

A lifeguard mounted on a jetski idled into the lineup.

My buddy looked at me.

“I’m not getting out.”

We were still gun shy after being shooed from the water back in March.

“We’re letting everyone know, there’s been sharks sighted in the area.”

We brush it off, but every time I fall I’m quick to get back on my board. On my way back up the beach, I resolve to read BeachGrit less.

It’s a first for us in South San Diego, and I can’t keep myself from chuckling about the Great Lakes motto – no salt, no sharks, no problem.

Maybe I’ve had it wrong all along.

The next morning my friend Adam and I paddle out at another underwhelming beachbreak. The meager wind swell has dropped off even further.

I gasp when the water level reaches the holes in the crotch of my wetsuit. It’s August in San Diego and Adam is wearing a 4/3.

“It was bigger and warmer last time I surfed the Lakes.”

Adam grins. “It’s been brutal man.”

That afternoon, my Dad and I pull into the last spot at the same beachbreak. The parking lot is dotted with Arizona license plates; our California plate is in the minority.

The water is warmer but the windswell the same. The beach is a mess. ‘Zonies have co-opted this stretch of San Diego. Guys bob in the water on yellowed nineties-era “performance” shortboards.

The lineup lacks etiquette, but it also lacks the joy inherent in mid-western lineups.

The session is characterized by rented wetsuits and a conscious disregard for the surfer on the inside.

Passive aggressive glares permeate the lineup.

My Dad mentions something about how the heat drives ‘Zonies west. I contemplate a way to screen out tourists. Seems even more apt in the times of Covid-19.

I’m looking forward to returning to Michigan. I’m missing mid-west polite, especially in the lineup. And there’s something special about not expecting much. Can’t really be disappointed by a freshwater lake.

That river wave in Ohio is calling to me. Fall is supposedly epic on Lake Huron.

Arizona will be 1900 miles away.

And I’m looking forward to throwing on the 6/5. Can’t wait to post a very contrived selfie of my ice beard.

In the legendary words of Erik Elo Logan, “If it’s not on Instagram, did you really surf?”

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

Witness describes Great White attack on woman saved by husband jumping on shark’s back: “He got off his board and started punching the shark. If he hadn’t put his own life at risk, it would have been strong enough to take her out to sea.”

The fourth hit on a surfer by a Great White in two months.

Pretty little Shelly Beach, in pretty Port Macquarie, two-foot waves smoothed by an offshore, sun well above the horizon, a little pack on a bank thirty metres from the beach.

Ten-foot reat White hits thirty-five-year-old woman Chantelle Doyle.

Husband Mark Rapley surfing nearby jumps on the shark and belts it until it releases its grip.

A wild story, but not entirely unfamiliar, the fourth hit on a surfer by a Great White in two months.

Read here, here, here, ponder the ethics of roughing up Great Whites here and debate what the tipping point might be before government decides enough is enough, here. 

In all instances, other surfers tried to fight off the White.

Two deaths could’ve been four.

In an interview with Australia’s Sunday Telegraph, Mark Rapley was prosaic, “The shark was latched on to her leg. I just jumped into the water. I did what anyone would have done in that moment.”

Another witness Jed Toohey said,

“It was unbelievable, the scream was incredible and there was splashing everywhere. Mark, her partner, got her up on the board. Mark was a hero. He started laying into the shark because it wouldn’t let go. He saved her life. He got off his board and started punching the shark. If he hadn’t put his own life at risk, it would have been strong enough to take her out to sea.”

Read more here. 

Advice from Surf Life Saving NSW was, as it usually is in these cases, pointless and contradictory.

“Everyone has to accept we enter the domain of any sea creatures. We have to be shark smart. Realistically we shouldn’t be surfing at dusk or at dawn. But most attacks we’ve seen this year have been at all times of the day, so it’s difficult,” said chief executive officer Steven Pearce.


Listen: “If Donald Trump was a surfer he’d ride a Stewart funboard featuring a wonderful flame spray!”

A very special birthday edition.

Yesterday was my birthday and I only mention because I received the most wonderful gift from David Lee Scales as we sat appropriate six feet away from each other in Album surfboard’s upper room.

Devon Howard.

Yes there he was, looking as smooth, stylish as ever when I bounded in for our regularly scheduled Friday morning podcast recording. Beard extra full. Hair slicked back just right, magically, without any glistening product.

We chatted about this and that.

Life at the World Surf League where Howard is the commissioner for the longboard tour although there is no LB tour to speak of and for some strange reason CEO Erik Logan doesn’t even follow him on social media and other thises and that’s while David Lee readied the mics.

We discussed which presidential candidate would ride which surfboard. Devon claimed Trump would be a craft surfboard enthusiast while Biden “a full Wavestorm guy.”

I had to apologize to both, then, for I had a birthday sailing date and was going to have to leave early. Lo and behold, David Lee had already known it was by birthday, brought me a delicious box of donuts and Devon Howard who brought me a delicious bottle of Cuervo reserve extra añejo tequila.

Extremely delicious and I almost cried as we toasted.

The greatest gift?

I leave midway though the episode so you don’t have to hear me force my unnecessary opinion into every tiny pause.