Fanning and sharks from new Nat Geo documentary. | Photo: Save This Shark

Long read: Mick Fanning on Great White J-Bay hit and the continuing nightmares, “I still have this PTSD… I was so insignificant to that shark”

"The most brutal conclusion imaginable wrapped inside an ocean monster six metres long, weighing two tonnes, with an open mouth that is red, the colour of blood, and white, the colour of teeth."

It’s a quirk of fate that Mick Fanning, three-time world champion, will be remembered, forever, as the surfer who was almost cleaved in two, live, by a fifteen-foot White at Jeffreys Bay in 2015.

In a profile in today’s The Weekend Australian, the decorated journalist and author Trent Dalton works his lyrical alchemy, wrapping the attack around the death of two brothers, a divorce and a new documentary Fanning stars in called Save This Shark.

Five years on, Fanning tells his interlocutor that he still dreams about the hit.

The nightmare is mostly the same every time. He’s back in the water on his surfboard and he’s waiting for a wave and he knows it’s ­Jeffreys Bay, South Africa, where all the madness began in 2015 and if he knows where he is in the dream then he knows what’s coming. Death. A splash behind him because that’s how it happened in real life. He turns around on his board and what he sees is the end of the ride. The end of all good things. A finale to an impossibly full life of only 39 years. The most brutal conclusion imaginable wrapped inside an ocean monster six metres long, weighing two tonnes, with an open mouth that is red, the colour of blood, and white, the colour of teeth.

And then he wakes and he realises he’s still alive. Still in one piece. Same ol’ unassuming, uncomplaining, knockabout, sun-bleached Gold Coast surfing genius Mick Fanning, flat on his back and sucking deep breaths in the darkness of early morning, sweaty head full of dreaming, ­beating heart too full of muscle remembering.

The most brutal conclusion imaginable wrapped inside an ocean monster six metres long, weighing two tonnes, with an open mouth that is red, the colour of blood, and white, the colour of teeth.

“I mean, it’s like I’m in the actual position I was in,” Fanning says. “It’s a reality dream. You sort of learn your body can do so many things to make things real and not real and I just had to learn, ‘OK, that moment’s been done. It’s not real. These dreams are just coming back’.”

He shakes his head in the cool winter air of Coolangatta, shivers with his hands in the pockets of a black winter coat, seated at a cafe table beside the footpath of a bustling post-morning-surf ­dining precinct. “I still have this PTSD where, if people splash behind me, it freaks me out,” he says. He chuckles when he says this. It’s not the laugh of a man trying to put on a brave face. It’s the laugh of a man trying to make sense of the absurd; a man grappling with a trauma that he realises he avoided confronting for close to five years.

Most of The Weekend Australian’s stories are shackled by a paywall.

This ain’t.

Read here.

Cult hype man Erik Logan (left) wonders if your life needs a spark.

Listen: “Kelly Slater as guru, Erik Logan as pie-eyed number two, and how to fix the World Surf League by turning it into a cult!”


Professional surfing is hanging on by the thinnest of threads. Whatever rosy (Hodge and other) cord is anchoring our World Surf League, it ain’t thick. Hundreds (tens?) have lost their jobs. Kanoa Igarashi’s name is now Igarshi because… CEO Erik Logan is the last employee in the room and he hasn’t spelled since mangling Orpah to Oprah.

It’s an utter apocalypse with zero hope for survival.

Zero hope except swerving the entire thing into a cult.

Track with me here.

Surfing is “spiritual.” Cults are “successful.”

Get it?

Scientology, NXVIM, Branch Davidian… etc.

There’s gold in them hills and professional surfing has the tools to mine.

A bizarre guru (Kelly Slater)?


A pie-eyed preacher who don’t have a lick of sense (Erik Logan)?


I honestly don’t see how it goes bad if “professional surfing” becomes a “new religion.”



Imagine how happy Co-Waterperson of the Year Dirk Ziff would be not to pay taxes and also to be benefactor of a whole “new religion.” To be honest, it seems like what he’s been angling for all along.


David Lee Koresh and I also discuss distance learning for seven-year-olds on today’s podcast.

Certain to excite.

Shock: Joe Biden speaks coherently, Donald J. Trump in carefully measured tone, at respective conventions!

A dull new world!

I’ll tell you, I thought I could not be surprised this 2020 running of the presidential hopefuls (USA). On the Democratic side we have “Bad Grandpa” Joe Biden, a political fixture for decades and the choice zero Democrats actually wanted but the one they probably deserved.

Republicans have Donald J. Trump. An obese man with a funny tongue.

Zero nuance in either.

No possible revelation.

Except look at me, positively shocked.

Both parties have now concluded their conventions. Once the high water mark of political theater, Covid has decimated them to the third most interesting Zoom call of any given day.

A bummer except even in the bummer both candidates soared*.

Bad Grandpa spoke coherently enough to force the Trump campaign to swerve away from the “He’s senile!” messaging and try to embrace “He’ll be a tool of the extreme left.”

Trump was so careful, so measured, in his speech last night that National Public Radio gave him very high marks for decorum.

National Public Radio.

Is election 2020 actually going to be… boring? Like straight old-white-men-acting-their-dull-old-age boring?

On one hand, say it ain’t so.

On the other, whoa.


*Crawled like geriatrics.


Joystick: The International Surfing Assoc. joins World Archery, World Squash, as part of Global Esports Federation!

Positioned on the wave of virtual sport!

It’s not often that news this wonderful rolls across BeachGrit‘s Cardiff by the Sea desk so I would encourage you to stop what your doing, maybe find a comfortable seat and a pleasing thing to drink, before continuing. Put yourself in a position to savor.

Now, here we go, the International Surfing Association has joined World Archery, World Taekwondo and the World Squash Federation as part of the Global Esports Federation.

GEF President Chris Chan said, “We welcome the interest and support from the International Federations to join the esports community and work on evolving physical sport experiences in the digital age. There are powerful opportunities to collaborate with our technology partners through the Global Esports Federation’s #worldconnected platform and connect with the world’s youth.”

Esports are, of course, video games.

ISA President Fernando Aguerre excitedly declared esports have “a whole new relevance” in modern times, continuing, “We are optimistic the partnership with the GEF will help position us on the wave of virtual sport, fulfilling the ISA’s mission to drive accessibility and universal participation.”

Video games.

And if President Aguerre can peel even 3% of surfers out of the lineup and put them onto couches he would be hailed a hero and many statues must be built in his honor.

5% and the World Surf League has to be renamed the World Aguerre League.

Video Games.


Anthony Walsh, no money worries if landing goes bad. | Photo: @anthony_walsh_

BeachGrit endorses: Start-up uses loophole to help USA surfers avoid ruinous medical costs!

I live in Australia where you can roll into a hospital, limbless after a Great White attack, and walk out with sparkling new prosthetics, all for free. Rehab and boiled chicken dinners included. Ain’t quite the same in the US.

There’s very little to be gained by diving into the political quagmire that is the American healthcare system.

Where Australia, Canada, the UK, Scandinavia and various European countries exist, reasonably happily, with a quasi-socialised system, the United States splits, electorally, on the concept that good healthcare should be available whatever your means.

Whichever way you swing, the bottom line is this:

Don’t get a board in the head in the US.

Because you gonna be slugged thousands before your health insurance, if you’ve got it, kicks in.

I live in Australia where you can roll into a hospital, limbless after a Great White attack, and walk out with sparkling new prosthetics, all for free.

Rehab and boiled chicken dinners included.

Ain’t quite the same in the US.

But, a start-up called Spot, which sponsors surfer Anthony Walsh and snowboarder Travis Rice, has exposed a loophole in the system and cut a deal with the world’s largest insurance companies to back a twenty-five-dollars-a-month, accident-only insurance policy that will cover the first twenty gees of your visit to a doc.

Each time you get injured. No limits.

Bust a leg. Twenty. Break a nose. Twenty. Guts ripped out by VAL. Twenty.

Y’see, if you strip cancer treatment and other catastrophic long-term illness out of the health insurance policy costs drop dramatically.

Matt Randall, a thirty-six-year-old entrepreneur, was turned onto the idea of by his wife’s pal Maria Miller who worked in the insurance biz.

Randall’s wife said he might wanna jump on Maria’s idea of an affordable injury-only insurance.

“It was massive. I said, ‘Why hasn’t this been done?’” he says.

It’s a no-brainer for Americans, I suggest to Randall. Three hundred bucks a year or thereabouts and you’ll never have to cop for the first twenty gees for injury-related surgery.

“Well, it’s an amazing concept if you live in America; if you live in a place where there’s universal healthcare it’s a terrible concept,” he says.

So far, forty-three of the fifty American states allow Spot to offer coverage, although you’ll be covered 24/7 whatever state, or country, you get busted in.

Randall says the Texas-based company’s biggest challenge is proving to people they’re legit.

“We could’ve charged more but we’re going for the volume play,” he says.

Gotta be a catch, no?


“If immediate failure is death, we don’t cover it,” says Matt. “If you fail at base jumping there’s no option but death. On Everest, if you fail, you can survive. We cover that. Skydiving, you fall, you die. Most people aren’t getting injured skydiving.”

The company doesn’t just cover boards in the head or fins in the guts, either.

“One of our ambassadors, a top skier in the world, a guy called Julian Carr who does two-hundred foot jumps off clips, had never filed a claim. Two weeks ago, he was walking his dog, the leash wrapped around his little finger and broke it. Two thousand bucks. We cover that.”

Travel overseas and you’re covered.

Roll your car off a cliff, come out alive but torn to shreds.


I can’t find holes in this thing, hence the ringing endorsement.

Am I wrong?

(Editor’s note: This is a sponsored post although some readers may find it useful.)