Nihilism shouldn’t be looked on as negative. If you disappear the world doesn’t care. Making peace with that allows you to deal with what’s in front of your face without being overwhelmed by things you can never understand or control. This is the paradox of nihilism: caring less for the world at large allows you to care more for the things that are close to you. And it frees you to surf, to engage in something fruitless without the need for justification.

Opinion: “Nihilism among the shrinking core of surf culture is the only response to being backed snarling into a corner by foamies and yoga pants and Eric Logan’s teeth. What else is there to do?” 

Come warm your hands over the bonfire of white male nihilism.

So BG is a hotbed of (white male) nihilists?

I say good. I say (paradoxically) there’s value in that.

But let’s just bat off the “white male” adjunct – added purely to clarify nihilism in the pejorative sense. Because in 2020 it’s a loaded flare gun, and it’s how you fire the toxic alert that’s a precursor to full cancellation.

It’s a lazy insult, really.

I don’t have the stats, but I don’t need them.

Is BG’s audience predominantly white male? More than likely.

Is the sport of surfing 95% white male in a white male controlled industry? Absolutely.

(It’s also narrow-minded, thinly-cultured and broadly elitist, just while we’re at it.)

So if you want to attack the sport of surfing with accusations of being predominantly white male then fine, but to single out BG as unique in harbouring this demographic is patently false.

And, in my estimation, it undermines the BG community.

You do value things.

In no particular order, I believe you appreciate: good art (in all mediums); good writing; strong effort; cutting loose; hard work; paying your dues; substance, craftsmanship, humour, forthrightness, and both hard and soft drugs.

Above all, I believe you care about the preservation of a pastime that has given you deep joy, embodied many of the values above, and, in some cases, provided a clear sense of identity.

As for nihilism, let’s examine that.

Now, more than ever, I find it difficult to understand how to get on with the business of living without being nihilistic.

In a world of deepfakes, planetary extinction and Donald Trump, where’s the value in engaging?

There’s no way to make sense of it, let alone change it. I would argue it’s impossible to exist without shutting yourself off from the endless surges of misinformation that cause nothing but anxiety.

You might call this nihilism, but you could equally call it self-preservation.

How do you not become disenfranchised with a society ripping apart at the seams? Especially when you, by virtue of the skin/passport colour or gender assigned (or misassigned) to you by birth, are often the root cause.

Is it any wonder there’s a mental health crisis?

We systematically inject young people with existential guilt from the moment they become self-aware. And at that moment they are the rabbit in the headlights, blinded and paralysed.

And what are we left with? A gender-undecided, ironically homogenised pool of e-boys and e-girls, too terrified by the world to live their subculture IRL, lip-syncing and hip gyrating at their phone screens but saying absolutely nothing.

It has become not only difficult to state opinions and thoughts (and sometimes even objective truths) but dangerous.

And the result? You stop having them.

There’s a Newspeak word for the type of thoughtcrime involving original thoughts and ideas. It’s called ownlife. 

Surfing is both a product of and response to a world in which nihilism is the only choice.

You might reasonably argue that if it wasn’t for nihilistic tendencies then surfing wouldn’t, or couldn’t, exist.

We’re concerned with riding waves, an activity that has no set goals, purpose or structure; no point of mastery; and no natural end other than death.

To surf is to embrace nihilism.

If we weren’t nihilists we might be engaged in things that were actually useful, or beneficial to someone other than ourselves.

Be honest: what good has your surfing life done outside of your own, narrow sphere?

It’s wishy-washy, effete and narcissistic.

It breeds aggression, selfishness and self-loathing; punctuated by brief periods of (personal) bliss, a sense of oneness, and, very occasionally, a bond with others who understand how good it feels to be self-serving.

And nihilism among the shrinking core of surf culture is the only response. Backed snarling into a corner by foamies and yoga pants and Eric Logan’s teeth, what else is there to do?

You could quit: that’s a valid response.

Or you could say fuck it, fuck them, it’s all shit, and I’ma keep doing my thing.

That’s just as valid as quitting, and arguably more noble.

I’ve just written a story for Wavelength magazine about an event Derek Hynd ran on a remote Scottish island in September 2001.

While they were there, 9/11 happened. They heard sporadic radio reports and some didn’t see the TV footage for a couple of days.

I asked everyone what it was like to pursue something as frivolous as surfing in this context. What value did it have? Most of them told me that it was the only response when nothing else made sense.

Nihilism shouldn’t be looked on as negative.

If you disappear the world doesn’t care. Making peace with that allows you to deal with what’s in front of your face without being overwhelmed by things you can never understand or control. This is the paradox of nihilism: caring less for the world at large allows you to care more for the things that are close to you. And it frees you to surf, to engage in something fruitless without the need for justification.

And that, to me, is a virtue.

Question: Surfboards have always been loss-leaders for surf fashion but, in the dystopia, they are the only thing being purchased. Have shapers, glassers, Costco adjusted?

Also... are you blowing it?

Earlier this morning you were treated to the high-water mark of surf journalism and I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did. But now, let us return to your regularly scheduled programing.

In theory, I could call, text, email a number of wonderful folk in the surfboard industry right now and ask this question then write a meaningful, well-researched piece that would actually matter.

But it is late-ish in the day, baseball’s World Series is about to launch game two, I’m writing a book and the most wonderful folk in the surfboard industry are here, commenting daily.


I have a question for you (wonderful folk in the surfboard industry).

Surfboards used to be a loss-leader for surf fashion with razor thin margins. And I understand that Pyzel, Merrick, Parker, future Prime Minister Maurice Cole, Wavestorm etc. have carved out fine livings carving fine foam but… billions of dollars were never there like they were t-shirts ‘n trunks.

Surf fashion is, at time of publication, dead. Surfboard sales are, on the other hand, dystopically too alive.

So are you bros getting rich?

Like, crushing it or forgetting to adjust those razor thin margins?

Inquiring surf journalistic minds want to know.

And if you’re not getting rich….

…. are you blowing it and being all poor and overworked?

Like surf journalists.

Photo courtesy: Patrick Jambura/Icthyological Research
Photo courtesy: Patrick Jambura/Icthyological Research

Swordfish stabs shark through the heart in deadly sea battle, alarming scientists and signaling new potential threat to surfers: “It is another case that shows how aggressive swordfish are.”

En garde.

In yet another sign that we are living in a surf dystopia, scientists have become alarmed, recently, with the “increasingly aggressive” behavior of swordfish. And you, of course, are well versed with swordfish likely from your youth, as its name is evocative, and its depiction in the whimsical Fish card game was very fun.

It may have even been your favorite animal at some point but, alas, the fastest creature on earth may very well be out to lop your head from your shoulders.

And let us travel to Libya, where a thresher shark recently washed up on shore, dead, with a broken swordfish sword lodged in its body, nudging its heart.

Researchers determined the attacking fish was 10-feet long.

The trouble, now, is that thresher sharks don’t prey on swordfish meaning the swordfish went out of its way to plunge its blade deep. Mr. Jambura, a PhD student, said it was “an alarming signal.”

Alarming because do you imagine that swordfish will stop with sharks?

Of course not and of course surfers, heads and shoulders bobbing above the water, would be next.

Such easy marks.

Such deserving marks.


"Don't forget to ask if he is scared of sharks."
"Don't forget to ask if he is scared of sharks."

Financial Review magazine issues most exhaustive, best, interview in surf journalism’s storied history: “How often do you surf and where?”


I have been a surf journalist for the better part of my working life, now, and have conducted many interviews but none so thorough, so exhaustive, as the one just conducted by Financial Review (officially Australian Financial Review).

The business and finance magazine, founded in 1950 and publishing six days a week, sat down across from Nick Garnham, a Victoria-based director of a furniture company, yesterday, and asked every single surf question possible, including:

How long have you been surfing and how did you get into it?

Goofy footer or natural?

How often do you surf and where?

What are the biggest waves you will tackle?

Do you surf in all temperatures?

What are your favourite surfing spots in Australia?

What about elsewhere in the world?

Has COVID-19 affected your surfing?

How do you feel about travelling overseas to surf?

What have been your most memorable times surfing?

How many boards do you own and what are they?

Do you surf on your own?

Who’s your favourite surfer?

Who would you most like to go surfing with?

Any tips to become a better surfer?

Have you ever been scared in the water?

Any injuries or catastrophes in the water?

What’s your favourite surf gear?

Is there anything you dislike about surfing?

What’s your view on sharks?

What do you most like about surfing?

What do you think about when you’re sitting out there on your board?


First, I am deeply ashamed of my entire past body of surf journalism. Profoundly ashamed. But, second, as we round the bend toward another holiday season, one fraught with political/pandemic-related pitfalls, I think these questions can form the entirety of our interactions with co-workers, family members. I think we can print them up and tape them to the insides of our fedoras and quickly review if cornered by any non-middle-aged, white, male nihilists.

Very helpful.

Seven-timer Stephanie Gilmore with Caz Marks. | Photo: Steve Sherman/@tsherms

Sixty-six-year-old man convicted of stalking seven-time world surfing champion Stephanie Gilmore; magistrate describes case as “Chilling with a menacing undertone”

According to the police prosecutor, Gilmore's stalker has a “long history” of violence and breaching apprehended violence orders and he feared for Gilmore’s wellbeing.

A man, previously banned from coming within even half-a-click of seven-time world champ Stephanie Gilmore, has been convicted and fined after approaching Gilmore at the Tweed Coast Pro in September.

Squires Winter, a sixty-six-year-old, told police he was a surf coach who’d “briefly worked with Steph” and that his understanding of the court order was that he only to stay one hundred metres away from Gilmore in the surf.

Winter had scared hell out of Gilmore in previous incidents earlier in the year and had sought a personal violence order.

Squires Winter, sixty-six, convicted of contravening an apprehended violence order.

As part of the order, Winter wasn’t allowed to contact Gilmore, look for her or come within five hundred metres of her workplace.

In facts tendered to court, Winter appeared next to Gilmore as she was unloading a surfboard from her car.

Police allege Winter said, “Hi, how are you going?”

Gilmore responded, “Great, thank you,” before recognising Winter.

When he suggested “catching up later” she said, “No, no we won’t. Bye.”

Police allege Winter said, “We are going to catch up later, aren’t we?”

Gilmore said “No” and walked away.

Winter was allegedly found by police fifty metres from the carpark.

He allegedly told ‘em he was on his way to Brisbane, an hour or so north, and that he saw Gilmore on his way back from the shitter.

The police prosecutor Sarge Chris Martin opposed bail at the time and said Winter had a “long history” of violence and breaching apprehended violence orders and that he feared for Gilmore’s wellbeing.

The magistrate agreed, noting the distance Winter had travelled to allegedly bump into Gilmore and that it “indicated fixated behaviour and some degree in planning.”

Yesterday in Tweed Heads Local Court, Winter appeared via videolink from custody, and was convicted and fined $1000 for breaching the protection order.

The police prosecutor told the court Winter’s story “did not make any sense” as he wasn’t able to swing across the border due to COID-19 restrictions.

Winter has form.

He’d previously been convicted of breaching apprehended and personal violence orders eleven times, convicted of assault occasioning bodily harm, three times, and twice for assault.

Magistrate Geoff Dunlevy described the case as “chilling with a menacing undertone.”

In 2012, a homeless schizophrenic junkie, Julius Fox, was sentenced to four years in jail after bashing Gilmore with an iron bar, breaking her wrist, outside her Tweed Heads apartment in 2010.

He was released in 2014.

In March, 2020, a “mysterious strawberry blonde” was charged with stalking Mick Fanning and sending letters accusing him of pedophilia (and confessing her love).

The Gold Coast, eh?