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.


Okay, okay, this is how we get it through. First we urge, we cajole, we fly the premier and the minister over to Lemoore, dazzling ‘em, usual. If that don’t work, we tell ‘em we’ll pull the whole thing and move it across the border. Tell me that ain’t gonna get these weenies moving.

WSL threatens to pull “incredible” $1.2 billion wavepool resort development planned for Queensland flood plain and move across border: “We certainly have…other states of Australia available to us to activate.”

"We need to seek alternative options…"

Nothing like a little brinkmanship to get the levers of power moving.

In part two of a series of stories by surfer-reporter Greg Stolz for Brisbane’s The Courier-Mail on the WSL’s “billion-dollar” wavepool-eco resort slated for Coolum on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast, the WSL has threatened to ice the whole deal and move it to rival state NSW.

Yesterday, it was reported that self-described environment and wildlife advocate Kelly Slater had “urged” the Queensland government to push the development, which is to be built on a flood plain and had been stalled because of environmental concerns.

The Courier-Mail also noted that Queensland premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and Tourism Minister Kate Jones had visited Surf Ranch last year and “publicly welcomed the Coolum proposal.”

The paper reported that the development would create twelve-thousand jobs and pump over two billion dollars into the local economy.

Now, the WSL has said it will “need to seek alternative options” if the Queensland gov doesn’t override the local council and get the deal done.

The WSL’s boss of getting pools built, Andrew Stark, said, “If the state government, however, cannot provide the necessary way forward for the project very soon, then we need to seek alternative options. We certainly have these in other states of Australia available to us to activate.”

Queensland’s Tourism and Development minister Kate Jones said it would be an economic “wipeout” if the state was to lose the development.

“Queensland is the home of surfing in Australia,” she told The Courier-Mail. 

Pat Curren, eighty-eight and "drowning in poverty", thanks benefactors.

Surfboard design pioneer and daddy of three-time world champ Pat Curren addresses benefactors over controversial $100,000 GoFundMe: “Just…beyond what I expected!”

GoFundMe hits sixty-five k of hundred gee goal…

The great Pat Curren, just turned eighty-eight and living in an Encinitas carpark with his wife and special needs kid, has addressed surf fans who’ve so far contributed sixty-five gees of a hundred k goal via GoFundMe.

But this is a story in three parts. 

In part one, New York shaper Paul Schmidt bumps into the wife of big-wave surfboard design pioneer Pat Curren in Encinitas carpark. Is introduced to the legend, who also happens to’ve fathered a three-time world champ, and the pair hit it off. Moved by the family’s plight, which includes living in two vans in a carpark along with their special needs kid, New York shaper gets legend’s approval to launch a GoFundMe with a goal of a hundred gees. 

“You can help raise funds to get a more permanent roof over their heads, room for them to breathe and get some much needed rest, health care, food, and space for Pat to work,” wrote Schmidt. 

A common theme among comments on IG was, why aren’t his kids Tom and Joe helping the old man out.

In part two,

Pat’s second-most famous son Joe Curren responds on Instagram. 

I’ve been getting a lot of questions and reading stories about a go fund me campaign recently set up for my dad asking for $100,000 to help him with financial issues. Yes, it’s true he’s struggling financially. The truth is, this has been going on for a long time.

We don’t know the person who started the go fund me. We first heard about the campaign Sunday morning on my dad’s birthday, after it was launched. We were surprised and disappointed that we were not notified about the campaign beforehand. 

Comments revealed a friction between the family and GoFundMe organiser Paul Schmidt. 

joecurren: We’re all having a difficult time understating why we weren’t contacted before this was launched. @joecurren I don’t think you are, I fully understand, and have explained in my past correspondence with you that this was a gesture made on behalf of your father and Mary, who are my friends. I was given permission by them to create the campaign and to post the story. They have had a hand in every step of the process. It was not my place to contact you, as I do not know you. If either Pat or Mary wanted to contact you, I imagine they would have. 50k and counting 🙂 we are excited for Pat and Mary to received some no-strings-attached help from all of the people in the community who support and care for them. 🙏 @joecurren I’ll be sure to pass that message on to Pat and Mary for you.

joecurren I speak for the entire Curren family when I say, it would have been the right thing to do not sure why you deleted your original comment, but again, I’ll be happy to pass that message on to Pat and Mary.

A few other readers turned on Schmidt, one writing, “Gag me with a spoon.”

Part three is the still-burning friction between Curren’s extended family and good samaritan Paul Schmidt.

Under Pat’s message, you can read,

“Unreal that you’re so blind to the damage you’re doing to this family as a whole.”

From Tom Curren’s kid, Nathan, “My dad has been helping and loving his father and his family so much it’s very painful for us to read those negative thoughts about him. You should have contact them before create the gofund.”

Schmidt, meanwhile, has remained pretty dignified throughout the thing.

“Let me just again say simply, we here at apologize for any unintended hurt the rest of the family may have felt in relation to the post and GoFundMe, which we made public on behalf of Pat and Mary. Our objective was to help our friends out of a tough situation.”