This morning I woke up at first light, rubbed my eyes, watched a seabird dance then reached for my phone and read a text from an entirely reliable source.
“Eddie paddle out, usually first Thurs in Dec, cancelled. Event in doubt but no official word.”
As every surfer knows, “Eddie” is shorthand for “The Eddie Aikau Big Wave Invitational” formerly known as “Quiksilver in Memory of Eddie Aikau.” A fantastic competition that takes place in Oahu’s Waimea Bay when the waves reach heights of 60 feet or more between Dec. 1 and Feb. 29. Invited surfers only allowed to participate.
Though it has run only 5 times since 2000, the traditional paddle out, which honors both invitees, the Aikau family and Hawaiian culture, is a sure bet…
…except this year and, if true, quite a shame.
The paddle out cancellation also throws the planned World Surf League restart into very much doubt. CEO Erik Logan announced, months ago, that “The 2021 tour will start in November 2020 in Maui, Hawaii for the women and in December 2020 in Oahu, Hawaii for the men, subject to the approval of the State of Hawaii and local government agencies, as well as effective protocols that allow for safe international travel. The 2021 CT season will finish with ‘The WSL Finals,’ a new single-day World Title Event in September 2021.”
With the rest of the season looking thusly:
If Hawaii is, indeed, an impossibility could the tour start in February in Portugal? Maybe autumnal Australia?
Surf Ranch in June?
2021 wiped off the books along with 2020?
How much longer does the World Surf League survive with no professional surfing competition or has the professional surfing competition fan already migrated to handball?
More as the story develops.
Sign of the times: Gold Coast funeral home offers Superbank-themed coffins
A passion for photography meets accoutrements of death.
A Gold Coast funeral company has released a series of wave-themed coffins, including a “Waves of Snapper Rocks” and “Snapper Rock Sunrise” casket, the catalogue also including a Burleigh Heads and a Byron Bay model.
Keen photographer and undertaker Mark Hobson, who is a part-owner of the family biz A Gentle Touch Funerals, has married a passion for photography with the accoutrements of death, coffins and urns built to hold the cindered remains of loved ones, as well as unloved ones, I suppose.
“Snapper is the home and backyard playground too (sic) many aspiring young surfers from today’s grommets to the current World Surfing Champions. The Roxy Pro World Surfing Titles has put Snapper Rock on the world stage, show casing our magnificent beaches, surfing and our laid back lifestyle.”
The wave on the box doesn’t look like Snapper to me, but what do I know?
And, is there any only one Snapper Rock?
Or is it plural?
The price of the colourful coffin is undisclosed although the urn will cost $A489.
I often reflect on the manner of my death and the funeral that might follow.
As a child, fearing burial while still alive, little fingernails tearing at the mahogany lid, breath becoming more laboured as the available oxygen evaporates, face frozen in a mask of terror at moment of death, I requested that my parents stuff my corpse into a box, drive to a quarry and dynamite me.
The body is anointed in oils with pleasing vanilla aromas, wrapped in an off-white cotton shroud before being shoved over the side a few clicks out to sea, where I might be eaten by sea creatures, animals whose descendants often filled my own plate.
“The Sport of Poets” is generally soothing to the mind, spirit and body. Shark attacks on snorkelers are rare and even more rare in the Florida Keys where Jimmy Buffett croons.
Not yesterday, though, and shrieks filled with horrible terror replaced Cheeseburgers in Paradise. But also, a legend was born out of the din. Police reports on the incident, just released, reveal that Eddy was saved by a hero.
His pregnant wife.
Margot Dukes-Eddy was standing on the boat when she saw a dorsal fin then blood fill the water. Without fear or hesitation she threw herself into the cauldron, drug her husband onto the boat and very likely saved his life.
But have you ever read anything so incredible?
So selflessly selfless?
Let’s be quite honest here. You have never saved anyone from the jaws of certain death nor have you ever been pregnant. Both are, individually, remarkable feats. Together?
The pinnacle of human accomplishment.
Florida has already erected a statue in 11x surfing champion Kelly Slater’s honor but I think if the Keys do not erect one in honor of Margot Dukes-Eddy than it will be a rotten precedent. Kelly Slater has never saved anyone from the jaws of certain death nor has ever been pregnant.
More as the story develops.
World Surf League gambit to emotionally defraud French surfer Justine Dupont pays off as mainstream media crows about Maya Gabeira: “Meet Brazilian Bombshell Beating the Boys in Big Waves!”
Two short weeks ago the surf world was set on fire as Justine Dupont exploded in anger at the World Surf League. The Frenchwoman had been up for cbdMD XXL Biggest Wave Award though lost to Brazilian Maya Gabeira in an approximate game of centimeters.
The @wsl announced that the record for the biggest wave surfed would be awarded to a surfer who does not finish her wave. I decided to smile about it even though I am deeply hurt to be subjected to a decision that I believe is totally unfairI’m especially disappointed and ashamed of this league which claims to represent our sport . They are based on a report from scientists who use the word “approximate” in front of each of their statements. It is stipulated among other things that:
-The size of the 2 surfer girls is approximately identical: FALSE (at + or – 10cm) -Our two waves are approximately the same distance from the photographer: FALSE these are 2 different peaks on the biggest beach break in the world. -They define the bottom of the wave of my competitor about 2m below where the lip of the wave breaks. -Images of the other surfer were used after the publication deadline.
The World Surf League’s dubious decision to award an unfinished ride when all other things are relatively equal was confusing, at the time, but clearer today as the mainstream media appears to be embracing the “Brazilian bombshell beating the boys.”
It’s official. Maya Gabeira’s 73.5-foot monster wave at Nazare wasn’t just the biggest ever surfed by a woman, it was also the largest wave surfed by anyone — man or woman — in the world this year.
In the crowning moment of an incredible career, the 33-year-old Brazilian charged down the face of a giant wall of water at the same beach in Portugal where she nearly drowned in 2013.
“If there’s one thing I’ll never forget about this wave, it’s the noise it made when it broke behind me,” Gabeira said. “It was scary.”
“Brazilian Bombshell” + “Big Waves” = A clear marketing win for the beleaguered World Surf League which has rumbled through a series of gaffs since Coronavirus pulled the plug on competition. CEO Erik Logan, who had come from the Oprah Winfrey Network and styled himself as a “storyteller,” was only able to mimic already-out-of-date YouTube unboxing videos and maybe something else embarrassing that nobody watched.
And, six days ago, at the mouth of Tallebudgera Creek, a thin cord of water that separates Palm Beach from Burleigh Heads, and where you might paddle out when Burleigh is big, a twelve-foot Great White was spotted.
Three days ago, photographer Chris Laught (@mrmysto), born in South Oz but living in Cabarita while he studies film at a vocational college in nearly Kingscliff, was shooting Duranbah, a few hundred metres from where Nick Slater was killed by a Great White two weeks earlier.
The waves, three-foot, a little bigger on the sets, dreamy as hell. Not even six am and already forty guys were out chasing a morning hit before the spring onshore.
The following day Chris is processing his shots on his laptop when he sees a Great White swimming through a wave, fifteen feet from surfers.
“I immediately thought I should right a shark hotline but figured it’s already twelve hours too late,” he says.
Chris, who rides a bodyboard, knows about sharks.
He’s photographed, swam and surfed desert South Australia plenty of times, seen Whites, knows guys who’ve been brushed.
And, he was hit, literally, by a bronze whaler while surfing at Goolwa Beach south of Adelaide in 2012, the animal hitting his leg with speed, “a massive collision” he calls it, “way harder than being hit by a cricket ball.”
The collision crushed his calf muscle, gave him a thing called compartment syndrome where pressure within the muscles builds to dangerous levels. He’s had three bouts with deep vein thrombosis and if he wants to fly anywhere he has to walk up and down the aisles for most of the flight.
He laughs, a little uneasily maybe, when we talk about the White at D-Bah. When he left South Oz to live on the NSW South Coast in 2016 he was thrilled to be in an area that, historically at least, wasn’t known for big sharks.
But this year’s shift to the north coast, to Cabarita, has coincided with the greatest concentration of Great White attacks on surfers, anywhere, in history.
First, he was told to avoid South Wall Ballina. Then he started seeing bait balls everywhere at Caba and started to think, this doesn’t feel like the tropical sea change I thought it’d be.
“You don’t associate Great Whites with Queensland,” he says.
Chris was there, in the Caba carpark, when Christian Bungate survived the hit by the eighteen-footer.
“The beach had just been evacuated and he showed me the tooth in his foil,” says Chris. “He was really shaking, he juste wanted to get out of there.”
Whites here, Whites there, now turning up close to shore, close to surfers at D-Bah?
The photo put the wind up him?
“Oh man, I’d love to get the boog out at D-Bah, I still do, but you have that wariness, the same you get when you surf desert South Australia. You’re playing the numbers game up here, to be honest.”