Redemption: Jailed wife-beater and former world #11 surfer Chris Ward praised by ex for behavioural switcharoo: “Chris has learned tremendously… This story has a happy ending!”

"I am VERY proud of Chris…"

Four years ago, the messy biz of former world number eleven Chris Ward and his then wife, Michelle, was revealed.

In December 2015, his wife had grabbed the keys to Ward’s IG account and posted a photo of her swollen face with the caption, “I’m a professional athlete. I love my wife. But I spread lies about her. So here’s the truth. This is how I love. Truth is here.”

Ward eventually pleaded guilty to inflicting corporal injury on a spouse and was sentenced to three years probation, 60 days in jail, eight hours of community service, enrolment in a year-long “Batterers’ Treatment Program,” (which he apparently failed to turn up to), restitution, and was required to make a contribution to a Victim Witness Emergency Fund.

In 2008, Ward was arrested outside of a bar in the mountain town Mammoth Lakes and charged with assault with a deadly weapon other than a firearm” after an altercation with three women turned into a fight.

Officers found Ward lying on the ground outside of the bar, possibly beaten by additional unknown male suspects.

“This whole event has gotten out of hand. I’ve never hit a woman. I was jumped by a bunch of people, and this has become a big misunderstanding. I should be the one pressing charges,” Ward said.


Anyway, according to ex-wife Michelle who now runs a charity for victims of domestic violence, and in response to a bit by Dave Scales and Charlie Smith on The Grit, yesterday, Ward has completed a stunning behavioural switcharoo.

Writes Michelle,

As his ex wife i can happily say that Chris has learned tremendously from these experiences and through classes and therapy we both have grown and get along amazing now just co-parenting. I have seen an ENTIRELY different side of Chris in the last two years and his love and devotion to our son is absolutely remarkable. So….with that being said…I now am running a charity and business for Women Surviving Domestic Violence and am raising awareness during this time of “stay at home orders “. Right now for ALOT of women and children at home is the most dangerous place to be. We offer a safe place fk come with yiur children and be sheltered and safe.  We offer fun day outing activities like doing styled photoshoots with chosen brands that are working with us to raise awareness for this kind of hush hush topic.  

As for Chris…he is of course still RIPPING and to correct I never pressed charges on Chris…the DA picked up the case when photos of me where seen in the media. I dropped all alleged charges while the DA picked them up and ran with them.  

Personally I  am VERY proud of Chris’ present and the fact that during this very hard year k have had Chris has taken our son and on his own has been raising him and doing Surfing Autism Therapy in the ocean everyday with our boy and i must say they are both ripping! 

Love you Chris and MY CJ! Gladly this story has a happy ending!!

A new surfboard? No you don't…

From the no-you-don’t department: Girlfriend won’t let man buy surfboard; says “not prudent”!”

Californian moves to middle America, makes poor life choices…

I’ve been missing the ocean lately.

Also been sweating to death in middle America. Humidity is antithetical to human existence; the scorn of my existence.

I regularly question why people deal with it.

My dad just chuckles while sipping a Pacifico in his Southern California backyard.

“I told you so.”

I’ve taken up running to fill the time that used to be spent surfing. Ran my first half-marathon the other day. I don’t particularly like running, especially when it’s eighty percent humidity, but I’ve discovered that a few surf podcasts and two hours of running somewhat satiates me, though if I’m being honest the vast majority of that time is spent trying to figure out what my first board order will be when I triumphantly return from my exile.

Until then, my girlfriend won’t let me buy one, as it would not be “prudent.”

I usually counter with something to the tune of “it’s never prudent” but I’m starting to realize that argument may be more detrimental than effective.

The worst part is, I know she’s right, though I refuse to admit it.

My lack of income, absurd tuition payments and ever accruing student debt, and the two-hour drive to a freshwater lake that rarely produces waist-high waves doesn’t really warrant a new board.

It likely doesn’t warrant any board, but that’s another discussion to be had.

Starved for waves, I’ve started googling obscure surf spots.

I’m becoming a bit of a poor man’s Dylan Graves.

There are a few promising river waves within a few hours, which is honestly incredible given how flat it is here, but I’m still waiting on a little rain.

Things are looking up though.

I’m starting to fully embrace the “No Salt, No Sharks, No Problems” lifestyle.

I might even buy a sweatshirt with the motto. They’re more or less the equivalent to the white and red lifeguard sweatshirts sold by coastal cities to Midwesterners, so I feel obligated to buy as the role has been reversed.

It’s also looking like I might get vibed out my next Lake Michigan session.

My article condemning the most welcoming of all surf cultures has been circulating a bit on the freshwater web.

I’m not too hopeful, though.

From what I’ve gleaned they’ve celebrated the positive lines and ignored any of the criticism. I haven’t even received one hateful DM. Was really looking forward to a mid-west polite condemnation.

We’ll see if I can find the breaking point of their positivity.

I’ve been contemplating a few new strategies, but I’m going to really have to think outside the box. A Wavestorm takeover will be more welcomed than denounced here.

Maybe when you surf a wave that rarely breaks and has forty-degree temperature swings, positivity is all you have.

On the shark front, I’m seeing some potential too. Spurred by boredom and BeachGrit’s commitment to documenting shark attacks, I recently googled “shark Great Lakes.”

According to the Global Shark Attack File, in 1955 there was a bull shark attack just outside of Chicago. Now, there’s little scientific evidence, but as this is BeachGrit, it would go against my journalistic integrity not to take it as fact.

I like to think there’s some rogue bull shark roaming Lake Michigan as we speak.

A Loch Ness monster type keeping the dream alive in the mid-west.

Its lone dorsal fin filtering through the pollution spurred algae blooms, preserving the one tether I have left to the ocean.

About as anti-depressive as I can get.

Listen: “Would you rather be Jack from Jack-in-the-Box or Subway’s Jared Fogle?”

Important surf talk.

“I don’t have a ton of research on child molesters…” David Lee Scales said around the 5o minute mark of today’s The Grit! podcast “…but if someone wears a Polo shirt that he tucks into pleated Dockers you had better hide your kids.”

Sound advice, I think.

David Lee and I also speak further about Rumble at the Ranch, much further, dissecting potential winners and losers, segue into a long discussion about ranch dressing that bends toward American fast food chain Jack-in-the-Box, begin deciding who will win the 2020 CJ Hobgood World Championship and speak about Chris Ward’s surprise, wonderful path to redemption (see the YouTube comment).

A fine show, all things considered, and two hours you will not ragret wasting.

Coming soon: World Surf League announces co-ed teams for this weekend’s thrilling “Rumble at the Ranch!”

I can't quit pro surfing!

And in a mere 48 hours we professional surf fans, we exalted amongst professional in-line skating, professional lip-synching, professional shadow-boxing fans, shall have our game back again.

Can you believe?

The Rumble at the Ranch kicks off this Sunday, August 9 at 12:00 pm Pacific Standard Time and unveils a never-before-seen format.

Girls and boys making up teams that fight against other girls and boys in a bracket tournament.

Very cool.

Who those girls and boys were, though, has been a mystery, until just today (or something) and now the picture is complete.

As you can see, Round 1 pits Coco Ho x Filipe Toledo against Alyssa Spencer and Kolohe Andino

Carissa Moore and Seth Moniz against Sage Erickson and Kelly Slater

Kirra Pinkerton and Conner Coffin against Sweet Caroline Marks and Adriano de Souza

Lakey Peterson and Griff Colapinto against the Mother of Dragons and Kanoa Igarashi

Really awesome.

But, quickly, let’s fill our brackets in together. I’ll start.

Round 2: Ho/Pip against Sage/Kelly

Marks/ADS against Mother of Dragons/Kanoa

Final: Ho/Pip vs Marks/ADS

Winner: Marks/ADS

Now your turn.

Listen: Kai Lenny on foiling with Mark Zuckerberg, sailing from Alcatraz to Maui and “t-boning God by accident! It scared the hell out of me! We’ve since formed a pretty good relationship…”

Daring and aristocratic… 

There’ll be no bad things said, no sarcasm aimed, at Kai Lenny, the daring twenty-seven-year-old multi-discipline surfer with sea-spray eyes shaped like pecans, skin the colour of buttered cocoa and lips as red as if he’d just applied a fresh coat of pomegranate lipstick.

His legend grows each day.

The first windsurfer to cross mighty Lake Michigan.

A world record time for the Molokai-Oahu paddle race.

Winner of the WSL’s XXL biggest wave award and the overall performance award.

Youngest surfer ever to be inducted into the surfing hall of fame.

Like WSL owner, the billionaire non-surfer Dirk Ziff, a former Waterman of the Year.

In February 2020, he dropped jaws worldwide with vision of a chop-hop-to-monster-drop on a thirty-footer at Nazaré.

Over the course of ninety minutes, we hear exciting stories about foiling with a trillionaire, Twiggy Baker fighting off a shark at Jaws and big-wavers threatening to beat hell out of each other in heats, t-boning a twelve-foot tiger shark fishermen called God on his windsurfer when he was thirteen and so on.

The episode ends with Kai accepting an invite to the first contest of snowboarder Travis Rice’s Natural Selection tour at Jackson Hole.