Beachgoers run for cover in Durban.

Watch: Terrified (illegal) beachgoers flee cops at beach in Durban, South Africa!

But from prohibition springs a swinging online surf contest… 

The situation is pretty bad in South Africa, with COVID hitting new highs most days and big numbers on the board.

We all know that numbers lie, and SA do have a good recovery rate, but the country is straining under the lockdown laws.

Many businesses are still closed, and there is still the banning of alcohol and cigarettes, as well as so many other silly things.

Beaches are closed, and while most of the country flaunts it and carries on surfing, this is what happened when the police came to the beach in Durban on Sunday.

So the Rip Curl E-Pro South Africa came into being.

An online surf event that is quite simply a video contest that has been very smartly skinned to have every appearance and nuance of a competition.

It is a great little concept, and the man behind it is the upbeat contest organizer Gustavo Duccini, and he has the perennial Gary Linden on his team. Gigs Cilliers is doing the commentating and the judges are some of the best in South Africa.

It is legit.

South African surfers have embraced the concept. There is very little chance of any surf event running in South Africa this year. Beaches will only open when South Africa gets to Level 1, which is months away, and then people will need to start applying for event permits, will be quagmired for many months to come.

So this is the only chance that the surfers have a chance to showcase a few waves and give their sponsors a little love. There have been some bombs.

The first round was a mixed bag, but two waves were the standouts.

Heat two saw Dan Redman parking in a backhand barrel that has about eight seconds or more in the tube and Mike Frew’s barrel in Heat six is a mean ole Cave Rock slab.

Mike Frew at forever sexy Cave Rock. Photo bay Marck Botha.

There were more, but those two were epic.

Rip Curl South Africa is always ready to try something new, and to give something a punt, and they embraced the concept, ensuring that the surfers got some coin out of the deal.

Red Bull South Africa also deployed a R10k (five-hundred US) Best Tube Award.

A surfboard fin company called Shaka Surf, an eco-surf store that makes exquisite, bespoke surfboard fins from recycled bottle tops, loved the concept and climbed on board as a main sponsor as well, topping up the prize pool.

Round two runs tomorrow, and in a few days the event will be joined by the wonderful women surfers from South Africa, in their very own contest.

Equal pay? Oh yes!

Where to from here?

Well, there is some interest in a Big Wave Surf Web Series, longboarding and bodyboarding. There is also other little twist in the story that uniquely meshes a web event with a real event, that will blow minds when revealed.

The Surf Web Series is not rocket science, but it is great entertainment.

One just has to look at the South African surf community climbing onboard social media with gusto. The views are high, the engagement is solid, and in a world gone mad, where surfing competitions have disappeared from the beaches of South Africa for now, it is the only surf event giving away any prizemoney.

So there is that.

Examine it all here. 

The great Ben Gravy, experiencing Great Lakes epic. | Photo: Ben Gravy

Lake Michigan turns on day of the year: “Untouched by vile, hateful surf culture, something wonderfully beautiful has blossomed in middle America”

A surf utopia difficult to stomach.

Today was the swell of the summer on Lake Michigan. Conditions were being called epic, a rare day where the surf wouldn’t be decimated by onshore winds.

I park behind a red, 1980’s Ford Fiesta. Its license plate reads “SURF UP.” There’s a longboard strapped to its roof. I look around. Longboards are strapped to the tops of several small cars.

It strikes me as odd. Boards were rarely left out in California.

There are ten guys in the water riding a variety of mid-lengths and logs. An eleventh sits on the inside, taking photos. The surf is clean, waist-high rights running down the beach.

I’m instantly greeted by the lineup, even though I’m sitting twenty yards south.

I drift north.

The lineup is mellow, jovial. There are only a few days of summer with clean surf and it seems like most of the lineup knows one another.

A guy on a foamboard with a camo, short sleeved Hurley wetsuit paddles out and sits on top of me. I’m instantly annoyed.

I glance over. He’s smiling.

“Crazy waves today, eh?”

I nod back, nervous of his proximity.

A green wetsuited man flies down the line on a beautiful, turquoise longboard.

There is a mix of colored wetsuits. Black and logo-less is the exception.

A bearded man sits in two feet of water on the inside with a water housing, hooting at his buddies as they come down the line.

I rarely see a set ridden by less than two people.

There is small-talk instead of stoicism.

I’m the only one who duckdives. Everyone else holds their leash at the base.

A man in a long john wetsuit slides out on his bottom turn.

As he pops up, he’s greeted by hoots.

“That head dip was sick!”

The lineup is devoid of any of the cynicism, judgement, or animosity that permeates all other ocean lineups. There is a collective exuberance. Even though this swell will likely last only a few hours, and waves of this size are hard to come by, the lineup lacks any of the usual anger or suspicion.

It’s as if I’ve found myself in a surf utopia.

Untouched by vile, hateful surf culture, something wonderfully beautiful has blossomed in middle America.

I hate it.

I should love it, especially being the only outsider in the lineup, but I hate it.

There is no adherence to the (arbitrary) wardrobe rules we have created.

Every time a set rolls through, I’m back paddled or dropped in on. The worst part is I can’t even be mad. While back-paddling me, they hoot me into waves. After dropping in on me, the interloper comes up smiling, flashing a quick shaka.

It’s like a puppy tracking mud into the house.

My glaring looks are met with exclamations about how epic it is.

I leave the water confused.

Walking up the beach, I hear a whistle. One of the better surfers is smiling up at me, throwing a shaka.

It is the most gracious, good-willed lineup I’ve ever been a part of.

I miss the cynicism and judgement and loathing. I love that when I paddle out in the ocean I’m immediately sized up.

I love how when a good longboarder cross steps gracefully, his ankle attached to the tail of his board, he is still discounted.

I love how when a college fraternity member paddles out in a brand new neon Hurley wetsuit, the nose of board sticking out of the water like a flag, he is collectively loathed.

Or that weird nonverbal agreement to collectively snake a serial back-paddler.

I love the stoic stares out to sea that are only broken by sideways looks to see who’s paddling for the peak.

It’s why we hate the Disney-ification of the WSL. It’s not that Elo is kooky or that we don’t want more surfers in the water (rising housing prices are plenty sufficient on that end).

We hate collective joy.

For a fairly spiritual bunch, we really enjoy self-flagellation.

I wish I had been vibed out today. It would have made the drive home far less introspective.

I wonder if that guy got any shots of me today.

Breaking: John John Florence, Hurley family, buy controlling interest in iconic 1990s shoe brand Simple!

Celebrate like it's 1999!

Right when you thought everything in the world had gone to complete hell, to unredeemable trash, with 2020 being the worst-year-ever including, but not limited to, the years that basically everyone died from Black Plague, John John Florence and the Hurley family come swinging in to save us all once again.

Out today is exciting news that the family’s Kandui Holdings, with John John as a rumored stakeholder, has purchased the iconic 1990s shoe brand Simple.

They’re rich. They’re sexy. They’re totally out-of-control!

Per the press release:

Kandui Holdings LLC, founded by the Hurley family, through its new operating entity Simple Shoes LLC, has acquired the outstanding assets and intellectual property of Simple from KTSimple LLC.

Simple Shoes LLC will continue all ongoing operations with plans to enhance and evolve the Simple brand over time.

Simple, founded in the early 90s by Eric Meyer, enjoyed growth and success throughout the early 2000s until the brand eventually went dormant in 2011. Deckers Brands discontinued the eco-conscious label in part due to some overlap with its Sanuk acquisition made in May 2011.

In 2015, the Simple trademarks were acquired by Denis Ryan, a design-focused shoe industry veteran who has since revived the brand, running a primarily direct-to-consumer business at for the last two years. Ryan, who also owns ICB, Int’l, a footwear design and development group, will work closely with the Simple team as both a partner and an owner in Simple Shoes LLC.

Jeff Hurley, Kandui co-founder and CEO, said, “We are really excited about the future of Simple and honored to have a talent like Denis as a partner in this venture. Simple always had a cool vibe – consumer-focused, no-nonsense, anti-hype way of approaching things. They were way ahead of their time in terms of innovation and sustainable manufacturing practices and prioritized making the right decisions for the benefit of the planet at a time when the masses didn’t necessarily care about lofty concepts like sustainability. We’ve always been fans of Simple and, when this opportunity presented itself, it just seemed like a great fit.”

Bob Hurley, Kandui co-founder, added: “Aside from being a great brand name, Simple always had a clear and differentiated point of view. Simple’s reason for being feels more relevant in today’s mixed-up world than ever before. We are energized about this acquisition and looking forward to delivering footwear, apparel, and accessories that live up to the Simple name.”

Kandui is planning to acquire additional brands., Kandui said it is “creating a network of brands and services to serve the next generation. Kandui’s priority is building long term brand value for acquired brands, start-ups and other partnerships leveraging Kandui’s core competencies in innovation, design, sales, marketing, and operations.”

As you well know, everything the Hurleys touch turns to gold and I trust Simple will also turn to gold, possibly sponsoring the 2025 Trestles Pro and/or buying the entire World Surf League and rebranding as the Simple Surf League.

Much better in my opinion but what is yours?

Also, please provide a detailed sentence about your very first pair of Simple shoes.

I was a junior in high school, I think, when I got mine and “slower than my classmates” but showed everyone they were wrong, decades later, by reaching the very top rung of surf journalism.

Or near the very top rung.

Fucking Nick Carroll. When is he going to retire?

Your turn.

Watch: The last asterisk World Champion, and part-time genius, C.J. Hobgood suggests a whole new way to crown abandoned 2020’s King or Queen!

I'm losing it!

The World Surf League, weeks ago, abandoned its 2020 season with very little fanfare. No tour, no champion, no even attempt to turn Coronavirus into Corona Extra Mexican Lager.

This, rightly, did not sit proper with Clifton James Hobgood who won his singular World Title in a 9/11 shortened year. He did not win one event and three were cancelled, due al-Qaeda’s attack on New York City but 2001, still had a champion and it was he.

Fine and deserving.

Therefore he has suggested that we, The People™, crown 2020’s king or queen in lieu of any leadership from Santa Monica.


David Lee and I discussed after I ended a long rant about Kelly Slater gagging to be made fun of and calling him a dumbshit (1:04ish) but it is all half-baked and needs you.

Needs your part-time genius.

2020 will belong to us. And, very likely, 2021 too.

More as the story develops.

The World Surf League reels as President Trump threatens to cancel only success story, robust TikTok growth among pre-teen girls who enjoy choreographed dancing!

"It's so endemic to who we are as a sport."

As with many business, the Covid years have not been kind to our World Surf League. 2019 ended with such promise, one of the more exciting finals in professional surfing history delivering an Italo Ferreira title. Co-Waterperson of the Year and League owner, Dirk Ziff, buoyed by the thrill, quietly floated its availability on the market for $150m+. A newly appointed CEO Erik “ELo” Logan getting to work creating the programming of his dreams including unboxing shows and home tours. A Chief Community Officer, Tim Greenberg, sensing opportunity on new predominately pre-teen Chinese social media platform TikTok, declaring, “It’s so endemic to who we are as a sport.”

Enter the Peking Suck.

The 2020 World Championship Tour wiped off the books, much staff furloughed, Rumbles at the Ranch.

But at least the League still had TikTok, which it had grown its follower account to a robust 600,000, making it the fifth largest of any sporting league.

Greenberg, further declaring, “As [TikTok] creates enhanced tools and more opportunities for us to reach newer audiences, we want to make sure that we’re focused on what’s going to drive our business and that consumer journey that connects back to the WSL.”

Did those “enhanced tools” creating “newer audiences” involve Beijing spying, stealing user information, etc.?

Possibly, and last President Trump threatened to ban TikTok entirely from the U.S. market, something entirely within his power so to do.

Thankfully for girls aged 7 – 10 and the World Surf League, Trump reversed course over the weekend and gave Microsoft a 45-day window in which to purchase TikTok’s U.S., Canada, Australia and New Zealand operations.

Cautious relief could be sensed emanating from the World Surf League’s Santa Monica headquarters in the form of cute little dancing videos.

More as the story develops.