The WSL, happy in diversity.

From the BeachGrit legal department: The WSL, an alleged “story of naked greed and orchestrated concealment.”

And, the WSL valued, according to court docs in 2016, at $US600 million!

A little history.

The ASP was acquired in 2013 by Zosea Media, a startup owned by Paul Speaker and Terrance Hardy.

Speaker and Hardy were the original architects of the WSL we so love today, becoming controlling owners of the new joint venue along “with the billionaire who invested all $25 million of its capitalization.”

I assume you can guess who this mysterious “billionaire” might be.

In 2016, the WSL was merged with the Kelly Slater Wave Company.

After the merger, the new venture was valued at $600 million, allegedly resulting in Zosea’s 50% share tripling from $100 million to $300 million.

It’s also alleged that after the acquisition of KSWC, “the billionaire investor would have invested approximately $50 million into the combined company, and it was natural that he expected Zosea to relinquish its voting control over the combined venture.”

In 2016, Paul Speaker was terminated as the CEO of the WSL, with approval of Hardy and Zosea chairman Jonathan Miller. Speaker allegedly negotiated an exit deal that included selling 60% of his Zosea stake back to Zosea, which Zosea sold back to the billionaire, effectively reducing its ownership share.

Zosea then paid out $12 million to Paul Speaker.

According to a complaint filed in 2017 by the Barnes Firm, a personal injury law firm, a year before the 2016 acquisition of KSWC, Michael Barnes, the owner of the Barnes Firm, and two other persons had been admitted as small equity owners of Zosea in 2015 in return for providing legal services.

Barnes alleged that the small equity owners posed a significant problem to Zosea, as they could have upset the new merger deal or the $12 million buyout.

Barnes also claimed that he had contractual rights to be bought out “upon a change of control of Zosea . . . and also the right to tag-along in exit sales.”

Hardy, Miller, and Speaker allegedly circumvented the minority owners’ right to exit “at that $600 million combined value” and thus circumvented paying “at least $5 million to the ZoSea minority holders.”

According to Barnes, Zosea concealed the change of ownership and Speaker’s exit deal from the minority owners.

In 2017, Barnes initiated arbitration against Zosea, which allegedly prompted them to claim “that Barnes was not entitled to any documents because of some nebulous ‘malpractice’ and ‘conflict’ by Barnes.”

The alleged malpractice was attributed to Barnes having become a member of Zosea.

In response, Barnes brought suit in California state court.

Zosea, Hardy, Speaker, and Miller filed a cross complaint against Barnes in January 2018, alleging breaches of ethical duty, fiduciary duty, and legal malpractice. They alleged that after closing the deal, Barnes “conditioned the release of the deal documents and his future legal work on obtaining a larger percentage interest in Zosea, effectively holding the deal hostage.”

They also claimed that after the deal was closed, they had to obtain additional counsel to rectify Barnes’ errors.

Zosea sought to rescind the issuance of Barnes’ ownership and take the case to arbitration.

The parties agreed to confidential arbitration in April 2018, so much of the litigation is not public.

On August 19, 2020 the parties settled for an unknown amount.

Read Michael Barnes vs Zosea etc here. A surprisingly fascinating twenty-one page read.

A black portrait painted deftly.
A black portrait painted deftly.

Best surf journalist in biz invited to new Surf Lakes for press day, dispenses with typical praise and breaks scathing story of multiple failures, dangerous conditions: “We are asked to leave the water immediately!”

"Something's not quite right."

I will now tell you a secret, surf journalism is not an honest profession and surf journalists are not honest professionals. Invite one anywhere, third class, feed hot dogs and tap water for meals, provide shared accommodation with underpaid day laborers and you will receive, in return, the most glowing review of whichever hotel, boat, camp is being junketed.

So starving for recognition, so famished for trinkets, handouts from those who tug the levers of surf power is he (or Jen See) that flowery praise is the only thing that flows.

It was with much shock, then, turning to pride, that I read Tim Baker’s bold, scathing description of new wave technology Surf Lakes as it opened for the press.

Baker, you certainly know, is considered by most to be the best surf journalist in the biz, an environmentalist of some note, and began the piece in typically ebullient fashion:

It all began with the proverbial pebble dropped in a pond.

Eight years ago, Aaron Trevis was skipping rocks with his kids when he threw a larger rock and watched the ripples radiate out from it and tiny waves peel along the bank of the pond, like countless others have before him.

Before deftly breaking out the knives:

They are producing sets of waves every six minutes, but there are frequent delays while they tinker with the machinery or attend to glitches in the system. When a crack in the lake’s cement floor begins turning the water from an aqua blue to a muddy brown we are encouraged to help lug rocks from an on-site quarry into a trailer to help plug the cracks.

And delivering a coup de grace:

By the end of the second day, it appears we may have pushed the Surf Lakes prototype to its limits. There’s a lengthy delay in the afternoon to attend to some mechanical issue, and when we eventually resume, after only a couple of sets, Occy sounds the alarm that something’s not quite right. The large concrete tower that the air compressor sits on top of looks dangerously off kilter. The force of the swells has knocked it off its footings and we are asked to clear the water immediately.

It is doubtful that Baker will be invited anywhere for a long time but fans of truth and honesty rejoice this morning for a brave surf journalist has finally been found.

Baker (middle) pictured practicing the art of surf journalism.
Baker (middle) pictured practicing the art of surf journalism.

Long live Tim Baker.

Read in its entirety here.

Mathews and old-ish wound.

Listen: Big-wave storyteller Mark Mathews on the intellectual dark web, kicking opiates and the extravagance of evil, “There’s darkness in you and if you don’t manage your life and frame it with meaning, you can become bitter… very fast.”

Crippled innumerable times, told he'd never walk again, now a keynote speaker of considerable note…

Today’s guest on Dirty Water, Mark Mathews, presents, irresistibly, as a keynote speaker of considerable fame and even a little fortune who came from the bruising circuit of Maroubra, Sydney, via the cutthroat athleticism of professional big-wave surfing.

He is a ruminative man, as you’ll soon hear.

Give him one little opening for the point he wants to make and down he comes upon you, in under your guard, flashing and relentless as a rapier.

Mathews has been crippled and winged innumerable times,

Told he’ll never surf again,

Never walk again.

A cracked plate that can never be warmed on the stove nor brought out for company. Good only to hold crackers late at night or to go into the fridge under the leftovers.

But where a lesser man might sink into the velvet lazy chair of opiates and pity, descending, eventually, into a hell of despondency, he is optimism radiant and roaring.

Faith vindicated.

Vice-ridden 15-foot Great White Shark knocks man out of kayak in Northern California, attempts to “smoke it like a cigar!”

"I’ve had a good life. I hope it doesn’t hurt too much."

The shark apocalypse entered a dangerous new phase, over the weekend, one that social scientists and normal scientists did not see coming as it appears Northern California’s “man-eating” Great Whites have discovered heretofore unknown “pleasures of the flesh.”

David Alexander, superintendent of a local school district, was out fishing in his kayak in Shelter Cove, enjoying a bright day. As he rounded the lighthouse he heard a “thud” which lead directly to a truly disturbing moment.

“It felt like the front of my boat was lifting up.” Alexander told a local blog. “I heard a sound sort of sandpaperish, a grinding sound. For a second I thought I was being lifted up onto a wash rock. I saw grey and then I said, ‘That’s not a rock. That’s a shark!”

The Great White was estimated to be fifteen-feet long.

“He had the front of my kayak literally in his mouth,” Alexander continued. “It was like he was smoking it like a cigar. It was surreal.”

The impact rolled the superintendent into the water and he was certain of his demise, thinking, “I’ve had a good life. I hope it doesn’t hurt too much.”

Well, the Great White didn’t attack, finished smoking the kayak then swam off likely in search of brandy, maybe a nice satin robe, a fine dame in pearls, Frank Sinatra’s Someone to Watch Over Me on vinyl.

We each know that moderation is key for all these things but I don’t imagine sharks have much self-control and worry that they will traipse into a vice-ridden life with much debauchery, many broken hearts, etc.


"I'm looking for professional surfing."
"I'm looking for professional surfing."

World Surf League’s grand December re-start plans thrown into turmoil as Covid-19 cases spike 10-fold in Hawaii!


But oh my goodness things were going along so well for our World Surf League, whom we have not heard from since a wildly successful Rumble at the Ranch. Santa Monica had rolled out the restart plan weeks earlier that included an exciting mid-season something and also something else about the Qualifying Series.

And the whole shootin’ match was set to get underway this December on The Gathering Place.

Oahu’s famed North Shore (buy here).

Well, somehow Hawaii has bungled its Coronavirus response and now the state that once had the least infections is near the top, spiking 10-fold in the last few months.

Surfer and congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard blamed Governor David Ige for the current mess.

“Back when our cases were very low, in the single digits, our leaders were talking about how we can’t be complacent and had to prepare to do all we can to prevent a second wave from occurring and prepare for it if it comes. That would have been the moment to execute on all this. If [Ige] had done his job back when our numbers were low, we wouldn’t be in this position.”


New stay at home orders have been issued throughout Oahu as well as well as a cap on how many people can hang out together at one time. Currently the number is five which would still be OK for the World Surf League as there are only four employees left (CEO Erik Logan, podcast impresario Dave Prodan, photographer/ELo hypewoman Jessi-Miley Cyrus and somebody else) but it is all too close for comfort.

Along with keeping people away from people, many tests are being flown to the island etc. but will the situation turn around within the next few months? The head of Hawaii’s health department has been fired for misleading residents about the state of preparedness so… doubtful.

Still, Kelly Slater’s girlfriend is Chinese which is a great win, overall.