Longtom: Aussie taxpayer gazumps WSL with new model of pro surfing!

A glimpse of a post-WSL future…

Some time a little while back in the early days of Covid chaos the posit was made that if, or when, pro surfing fell over one of the potential outcomes was the Aussie taxpayer, pro surfing’s most faithful stakeholder whose deep pockets never run dry when it comes time to rattle the tin, could pick up the pieces and run their own Tour.

That vision has now come to pass with the development and broadcast (on free-to-air TV) of a new concept tagged Rivals.

Rivals is a Surfing Australia joint, an organisation generously plumped by a spigot of gubbermint funding and made even more flush by the entrepreneurial zeal of its former and most successful CEO, Andrew Stark.

Starky, if you are new to the game, is now head honcho of WSL Australasia and chief pitch man for the Kelly Slater tub proposal at Coolum.

The premise of Rivals is simple yet brilliant.

Take former pros, film them shit-talking each other to generate some pre-”match” heat, add some biographical sauce to the sausage, then document a single two-hour session at their homebreak culled from a forty-five day waiting period with the best three waves chosen by the surfer and judged by the audience.

We’re used to seeing the ageless Kelly Slater as the avatar of the middle-aged surfer but Hog, and others in Rivals provide a more representative sample of the effects of a life in the church of the open sky.

It ain’t pretty. We age terribly.

It offers an elegant circumvention of pro surfing’s thorniest challenges in this accursed 2020. That being Covid travel restrictions and the environmental indulgence of excess travel.

I paid no attention to the flurry of promo emails and caught up with the series by mistake on YouTube, starting with episode three featuring Nathan “Hog” Hedge. We’re used to seeing the ageless Kelly Slater as the avatar of the middle-aged surfer but Hog, and others in Rivals provide a more representative sample of the effects of a life in the church of the open sky.

It ain’t pretty.

We age terribly.

Still, Hog rips and the cameos of the Carroll brothers, muscles rippling in their dotage and heads that would scare a dog out of a butcher’s shop, are inspirational.

It’s worth the watch for that alone.

The Hog segment of Rivals confirmed an impression I hold as a truism: pro surfers get more media attention at the beginning of their CT careers but become far more interesting once they are off Tour. Kelly being one exception; he’s far more interesting now.

Fanning is another, at the other end of the scale. He’s as interesting as he’s ever been but gets far more attention now off the Tour.

Not sure about the states but in Australia Fanning is bigger than Jesus right now.

Sixty Minutes segment on his new bub, front page in glossy magazines, a bona fide celebrity down under.

His omniscience continues in Rivals, where it makes a nice contrast with his former Coolie Kid honchos Joel Parkinson and Dean Morrison. Parko looks like every second fifty-year-old Deus Dad walking the streets of Byron Bay with a salt and pepper beard nursing a kombucha and a mild hangover.

Dingo wears the countenance of the man used to physical labour signed up to cage fight in twent-one days.

The chemistry between the Coolie kids illustrates a weakness of the series. Not everyone can carry an Ep.

Hog pulls it off, as does Josh Kerr.

Jay Bottle Thompson’s segment is much weaker. The high point is Botts trying to negotiate his way through Sunday morning Burleigh with a wave count artificially inflated by some very cunty behaviour. I say high point when I mean low point but it does foreground pro surfing’s elephant in the room.

Which is the very uneasy detente between pro surfing and the vast majority of recreational surfers upon which it depends for it’s fan base and access to venues.

How fucking exciting would it be to see the local concretor after a night on the meth and a bad row with the missus aimed up at Dingo or even Saint Mick?

Rivals, which takes place in amongst the recreational rabble, features the very real potential for true carnage. No disrespect to Bottle but he has the mien of a man who couldn’t punch his way out of a wet paper bag. I’m not condoning it, or even encouraging it but how fucking exciting would it be to see the local concretor after a night on the meth and a bad row with the missus aimed up at Dingo or even Saint Mick?

Thats always been a black irony of the govt funded surfing bureaucratic-industrial state. They foment chaos and violence amongst the very people who’s interests they are supposed to represent.

Would Rivals keep any incident in the final show?

I think, yes.

The excellent narration is written and delivered by Jed Smith, one half of the Ain’t that Swell team. Jed plays it for laughs with a hyper-bogan delivery and realism that is the anti-Turpel in almost every way.

Maybe a delivery that is too Australian for an international audience?

Judging by some of the comments below the line in YouTube, yes.

If the producers of Rivals have missed a trick it’s by keeping the talent confirmed to old pros. How much more entertaining to have an Ep with Noa Deane, Creed or Craig Anderson, rather than old warhorses like Bottle or “Micro” Hall.

That would bridge the pro surfer/freesurfer divide perfectly in a post contest world.

Still, as a glimpse of a post-WSL future or even as alternative to being smothered in the slow moving sludge river of schmaltz that is their commissioned content, Rivals is as thirst quenching as an ice cold VB and as brilliant as the blazing sunshine in an Antipodean sky.

Now, who’ll give me odds on the first pro to get their porthole punched out by a cuckolded reccie.


Florida man shows best of humanity by gently and lovingly cradling shark that viciously attacked him, refusing to let go, for multiple hours!

Who we strive to be.

Humans get a very bad rap these days, especially mans and most especially Florida mans. The Sunshine State’s ten million males are known for wanton weirdness, misplaced rage, poor decision making, Jimmy Buffett. An XY blend so seemingly corrupted there is a whole website dedicated to making men, and women, who live in other states feel better about themselves.

Well, as of a few days ago all that may change.

For it was there on Jensen Beach, very near Port St. Lucie, that a Florida man simply named Jeremy was severely bitten by a confused nurse shark. A poor animal so befuddled, so perplexed that it refused to let go for hours.

What did Jeremy do? Bash the creature on the head with a conch shell until its unnecessarily aggressive brain matter filled the Atlantic?


He lovingly cradled the chronrichthye as if it were his own child, likely knowing that he had entered its environment and deserved the whatever manner of dismemberment befell him, while lifeguards and firemen gathered trying to figure out how to dislodge the sharp, extremely painful teeth.

Jeremy continued smiling and joking as a crowd gathered. After much time, shark still affixed to arm, the lifeguards and firemen gave up and transferred him to a local hospital where the shark was removed and thrown into a medical waste bag.

“You’re a hero!” one man on the beach shouted as he was wheeled away.

A hero indeed, displaying the very best of humanity. Showing what makes us very cool and sharks beautiful but completely un-evolved.

The Florida Man I strive to be.

Man, I sure am gonna miss Santa Monica.

From the BeachGrit legal department: “What will the WSL’s death rattle look like? Kelly Slater’s retirement? Elo’s return to Oklahoma?”

WSL hit with new suit… 

Are we witnessing the end of the WSL?

Rumors abound of pitches to sell.

Pipe in December a seemingly guaranteed no go.

The Stumble at the Ranch.

(Read Longtom’s “Niggling boredom, jarring resentment” here…)

And now, the death of all corporations, litigation.

ASP Holdings, LLC, aka the WSL, is currently being sued in federal court by Evanston Insurance Company.

Evanston and the WSL allegedly entered into an insurance contract in 2017 that covered Paul Speaker, Terrance Hardy, and Jonathan Miller in their capacities as Executives of the WSL.

Speaker, Hardy, and Miller were sued in 2017 over alleged actions stemming from Zosea’s acquisition of the WSL.

Evanston is seeking “a judicial declaration to the effect that the [policy] does not provide any coverage for a lawsuit captioned, Michael Barnes, et al. v. Zosea ASP Holdings.”

According to the complaint filed in June of this year, the WSL tried to invoke their insurance policy in the Barnes dispute.

At issue is the fact that the policy allegedly only covered WSL executives in their official duties.

The litigation was stayed pending completion of Barnes v. Zosea.

That suit was settled last month.

What will the WSL’s death rattle look like?

Kelly’s retirement?

Elo’s return to Oklahoma?

The shuttering of the Surf Ranch?

Greatest surfer ever Kelly Slater burnishes bonafides in east Asia as Slater Designs surfboard appears in Korean mega-group BTS’s music video!

A man for all seasons.

Kelly Slater, arguably the greatest surfer ever, environmentalist and artificial wave pool impresario won many fans in China, when he hit back at an historically inaccurate troll last month with the defense, “Writing me out of the blue talking shit is such a crock of shit. Accusing me of being a racist? My girlfriend is Chinese. You’re on glue. You’re a miserable coward. And now you’re blocked.”

The well-meaning but slightly off commenter had suggested that U.S. intervention was a great global negative, overall, after Slater had suggested America should bomb many Chinese fishing vessels illegally trolling, as irony would have it, near the Galapagos Islands.

The two went back and forth before Slater’s coup de grace, which thrilled residents from Shanghai to Lhasa and maybe even planted a little hope in many Chinese female hearts. The King not being married and all.

Very great and similar to Richard M. Nixon’s Ping Pong Diplomacy.

Now, Korea is, of course, not China but it appears that Slater’s charm, his warmth, his profound cultural understanding is welcome there too as mega-group BTS just released a video featuring a Slater Designs surfboard.

Is it a Cymatic?

Sci-Fi 2.0?


Watch here at the 27 second mark and you tell me!

WSL CEO/Vanguard Erik Logan (left) wearing his storytelling cap and tie that signify his preeminent position on the "Road to Stoke."

Just in: World Surf League partners with analytics company Comscore to help with “explosive audience growth” as it dedicates itself to “changing the world through the inspirational power of surfing!”

The move to "cult" in full swing!

There has not been a World Surf League Championship Tour event since Brazilian Italo Fereirra dispatched countryman Gabriel Medina to take the crown near the beginning of December, 2019. Not one heat, not one round, not one blow of the hooter over Joe Turpel’s muffled, “Oooooh. Exciting, Pottz.”

Professional surfing is not alone in its inability to host live action in the Covid-era but may be singular in its wild, unchecked success. While other leagues, confederations, associations have stumbled while trying to connect with audiences in a new way, our WSL has experienced “explosive growth” in not only audience numbers but also corporate partnerships and sponsorships.

A true unicorn but how?


Let us read about the new union with Comscore (Nasdaq: SCOR), a trusted partner for planning, transacting and evaluating media across platforms. And to the press release we go.

Comscore will provide the WSL with access to Comscore’s signature Media Ratings solutions, including Comscore Video Metrix® in the United States, Australia and Brazil, and Media Metrix® Multi-Platform in the U.S., to better understand audience behavior and media consumption across desktop and mobile devices.

This deal, which comes as the WSL is seeing explosive audience growth and in partnerships and sponsorships, signals the power of the sport of surfing. The World Surf League is dedicated to changing the world through the inspirational power of surfing by creating authentic events, experiences, and storytelling to inspire a growing, global community to live with purpose, originality, and stoke.

Oh yeah. I sometimes underestimate the “power of the sport of surfing” and short-change the League’s dedication to “changing the world through the inspirational power of surfing by creating authentic events, experiences, and storytelling to inspire a growing, global community to live with purpose, originality, and stoke.”

Very cool.

But do you remember when I sagely suggested Santa Monica shift its mission, slightly, from professional surf events to becoming a religious organization/cult?

Changing the world through the inspirational power of surfing.

Living with purpose, originality and stoke.

Have we arrived?