"Welcome to Costco. Wavestorms on aisles 1 - 76."
"Welcome to Costco. Wavestorms on aisles 1 - 76."

Pop the Champagne: We’ve officially made it to the long-promised, highly-anticipated, surf dystopia!

We're home.

When I was but a young surfer, alone, awkwardly plying the Pastime of Kings in Oregon’s freezing cold waters, I would become infuriated by classmates who wore Quiksilver, Billabonic, Gotcha to school and seethe to anyone who would listen that they were poseurs.

“Zach is a poseur. Doesn’t even surf.”

“Look at JJ. Such a poseur.”

“Hey, did you know that Shane is a poseur?”

Little did I know that being alone in the water and surrounded by people, on land, tossing their hard-earned money at the surf brands to simply look the part was the apex. Those brands would, in turn, sponsor surfers, sponsor contests, advertise in magazines, make VHS tapes etc. and everything shone.

Well, the surf industry apocalypse has been upon us for a while, now, but this morning I woke up realizing that it is over and that we have officially made it to the other side.

The long-promised, highly-anticipated, surf dystopia.

Competitive surfing for entertainment is a thing of the past as are the surf magazines. Instagram clips have replaced longer form video parts and even those have dipped in quality. Surf branded clothing, accessories, are a retro gag. Nobody poses anymore because everyone, literally everyone, is in the water surfing and the only way to make a dime is to produce plant-based coffee creamer to say nothing at all of Kelly Slater’s Surf Ranch or SUP foils.

And look around. Take it in. Breathe deep.

We’re home.

Rumour: Girlfriend of KSWaveCo’s chief scientist Adam Fincham made offer on Waco pool, “he was walking the pool, feeling the bottom contours. You could see he was kinda measuring in his head.”

Our kinda woman… 

A few months ago, bubbling with optimism, I sat down to watch the now infamous Bumble at the Ranch.

The event was largely forgettable, a delightful typo the only thing worth mentioning, but something else stuck with me.

Trying to navigate the 240-second period, the commentary inevitably drifted away from the Ranch, leading one commentator to briefly mention “a wave system in Texas.”

The pool who may not be named.

I assumed it was some corporate gag rule. A product of the WSL’s regret in choosing the wrong pool to hitch their wagon to, perhaps.

Don’t gift your rival free advertising, etc.

I’m sure Elo wouldn’t let Oprah discuss Ellen either.

Given the Disneyification of the WSL, I wasn’t that surprised.

It seemed logical that the commentators’ inability to criticize their employ would extend to the mentioning of rogue (and better) wave pools.

But it seems that the deliberate non-mention of the Waco pool may have had more substance.

According to a former BSR employee, in the spring of 2019, the girlfriend of Adam Fincham, the architect of Kelly’s pool, and Bruce McFarland, the founder of American Wave Machines, put in an offer for BSR.

“When [Fincham] was there, he was walking the pool, feeling the bottom contours. You could see he was kinda measuring in his head.”

Fincham is known for developing Kelly’s pool, and, according to his LinkedIn, is currently Chief Scientist at the Kelly Slater Wave Company, which, as you may know, is owned by the WSL following a 2016 merger.

Stuart Parsons, the owner of BSR, apparently wasn’t too enticed by the offer, as he (attempted) to sell the park to a separate set of investors later that year.

Still, given the state of our world, let’s just take a moment and imagine a world where the WSL was involved in the Waco pool.

How many photos of Elo SUP’ing BSR would we have been gifted?

How would Kelly have taken credit for the pool’s technology?

And, what historic event would have been cut in lieu of another wave pool?

I’d say Bells, but I think its cameo in Point Break just nudges it over the line.

Meanwhile, a wrongful death lawsuit continues against the owners of Waco. 

More on that very soon.

Teenager films twelve-foot Great White stalking his kayak near popular Australian surf spot; pal watches helplessly via drone from above: “(The shark) was looking straight at me!”

Kid on plastic boat sees life flash before him etc.

It’s the year of the Great White in Australia, to put it mildly.

Over the course of four months,

Nick Slater, dead, killed at the Superbank, Mani Hart-Deville, dead, killed at Wooli, Rob Pedretti, dead, killed at Kingscliff, Chantelle Doyle, maimed, at Port Macquarie, Andrew Sharpe, dead, Esperance, Phil Mummert, disfigured, Bunker Bay.

All surfers. All attacks via Great White.

Two divers also killed by Whites this year. Gary Johnson, Esperance, Matthew Tratt, Fraser Island.

And, then there’s Matt Wilkinson, tailed by an eight-footer, while surfing a lonely stretch on the NSW North Coast. 

Therefore, it doesn’t come as a tremendous surprise that a kid in his kayak was able to film himself being stalked by a twelve-foot Great White while fishing for snapper a mile off Black Head Beach, just north of Forster in NSW.

Matthew Smith was on his little kayak, couple of fishing rods out, when he was visited by the White.

“I just looked next to me and the shark was just gliding past, looking straight at me,” the kid told 9News.

Meanwhile, Matt’s pal, Nick O’Brien, watched it all via his drone.

A demonstration of human vulnerability and a what-if scenario that will find its way, I think, into the kid’s night thoughts.

Climate change, bad luck, held responsible for Australia’s shark attack fatality crisis: “One centimeter to the left, if you get bitten on the leg, and you can die in seconds or minutes at least.”

Welcome to the rest of your life.

Australia has had seven fatal shark attacks this year, the most since 1934, spreading an eerie chill across the proud and once-happy land. There were zero fatalities last year and only one or two annually for a long, long stretch before that.

In a recent interview with CNN, Culum Brown, a professor at Macquarie University’s Department of Biological Sciences in Sydney, said, “In Australia, (this year is) a bit of a blip. And in fact the long-term average is one — one fatality per year. So seven is a long way above that, there’s no doubt.”

But what is causing such a statistical anomaly?

According to The Most Trusted Name in News™, climate change and bad luck should, likely, be held responsible.

Drastic changes in water temperature have altered typical fish migration patterns which, have in turn, altered where the Tigers, Bulls and Great Whites, the three species responsible for most deaths, do their feeding and general malingering.

Bull sharks enjoy warm water and are spending more time in the south. Great Whites prefer cooler water and are pulled closer to shore where pockets of chill can be found. Tigers used to enjoy the wild north but have developed a taste for city livin’ and are now common around Sydney.

Robert Harcourt, a researcher of shark ecology and director of Macquarie’s marine predator research group, said, “I would foresee that there’s going to be greater movement, an increase in geographic range, in a lot of these species. That’s because the dynamics of climate change mean their suitable habitat in terms of water temperature and prey distribution is changing as well. And these animals are large, far-ranging apex predators. They will potentially come more in contact with people, and at the same time, human use of the ocean is increasing all the time.”

Dang VALs.

Climate change is certainly tough enough but coupled with bad luck? Well, a nasty combination that is basically impossible to shirk.

“We managed to save several people over the last couple of years, just by the fortune of having somebody qualified on site to deal with the trauma immediately, and that makes a massive difference. It also depends where the victim is bitten.” Brown said.

“One centimeter to the left, if you get bitten on the leg, and you can die in seconds or minutes at least,” Harcourt interjected. “You know, one centimeter to the right, you get a terrible scar and a lot of pain but if you don’t go into shock you’ve got a good chance of survival.”

Climate change and bad luck.

Welcome to the rest of your life.

But this is BeachGrit where lemons are turned into lemonade, daily, so… welcome to the rest of your life!

Acetone, vol 2.

Start the presses: iconic surf filmmaker launches newspaper-style surf mag as bulwark against the great WSL/VAL cultural replacement: “The surf industry is in an embarrassing state; it’s the fatal structure of capitalism!”

A magazine called Acetone "dedicated to keeping alive alternatives to the internet and computers."

Did you weep when Surfer magazine shuttered after sixty years?

Yeah, me neither, for it was a grape long withered on the vine, a repository for drink cooler and cruiser skateboard advertisements and “brave” outrage suited to teenage girls on TikTok.

But print mags disappearing, one by one, well, that might break your heart a little if you grew up on ’em.

Now, Andrew Kidman, creator of game-changing surf film Litmus in 1996, its 2019 sequel Beyond Litmus and the surfboard design documentary On the Edge of a Dream where an impossible to ride board is filmed ruining the live of myriad surfers, has made a newspaper magazine that will act, I believe, as a cultural bulwark to the great WSL/VAL replacement.

He works from the angle that he has to produce work that offsets the WSL’s “utter bastardisation” of his beloved sport.

Kidman, along with surfer Sam Rhodes, who is a student of writing at Southern Cross University in Lismore, launched Acetone six or so months ago, with issue two landing over the past two weeks.

The pair edit, write, design the whole thing, with San Francisco artist Barry McGee providing pockets of illustrations throughout the compendium of sprawling interviews, photos and drawings.


Issue two features a cover photo of Tom Curren in white face, a rare piece of writing by Dave Parmenter, Wade Goodall on cartooning, George Greenough and the most detailed account you’ll ever read of two waves ridden fifty years ago, drawings by Kidman, all sorts of wild gear that appeals to a niche within a niche.

If you got surf in your veins, you’ll feel it.

Sam Rhodes, who is twenty-nine, stopped by Bondi three days ago to deliver a copy of issue two, and which BeachGrit has a quarter-page ad contained within.

He’s a juvenescent part-blond who cut himself loose from following pro surfing when Andy Irons died in 2010, although he has started following WSL CEO Erik Logan on Instagram, for laughs.

“The other day he put a story up during that crap contest on the Goldie or Cabba, wherever, and he had three screens open at once. On one screen was the basketball, another one the NFL or some other American sport and on the other was surfing.

And he wrote, ‘Such an exciting day to be a sports fan.’”

It makes Sam want to regurgitate his barbecue chicken.

“It implies that surfing is just another thing,” says Sam, “and I don’t want to get too earnest, surfing is this supernatural thing elevated above all else, but it…isn’t… in the same realm as those sports. It goes back to that old cliché when Nat Young said, “When they asked us what is surfing, I wish I said that it’s a spiritual activity, and not just a sport, cause that’s what put us on the wrong track”. Again, I don’t want to subscribe to the melodramatic spiritual stuff but surfing does feel a more sacred than football or basketball.”

I ask Sam about the magazine being a tiny niche within a niche, but, conversely, an important bulwark against intruding kook culture.

“Well, the surf industry is in a pretty embarrassing state,” he says. “It’s a classic example of the fatal flaw of capitalism, something becomes of interest, people jump on it, don’t really know anything about it, and the reason why it’s interesting, a small, unique culture full of freaks, becomes this big monetised thing, and then it no longer exists.”

Sam and Kidman ain’t gonna make any money off of this venture.

There’s 104 pages of editorial, including the cover, and eight pages of ads.

Every cent that comes in from online sales, twelve bucks plus shipping, goes into a bank account to pay for the printing of issue three. If you don’t wanna pay, go into a surf shop that has ‘em and if you’re quick, ‘cause they only print two thousand worldwide, you’ll get a copy for free.

The next issue, which’ll be out in six months, maybe, Sam has to wrap up his writing degree, will be built around a story Kidman describes as “crazy” although he won’t tell anyone what it is until the magazine gets a little closer.

“Ank (Kidman) is heavily committed, and so am I, to keeping alive alternatives to the internet and computers. His feeling was that the surf mags still surviving had disintegrated from their heydays and he’s committed to not doing advertorial-style articles and having total control on what we think is interesting and important.”

Does he imagine great riches from Acetone?

“I hope there’s enough support to keep it open,” he says.

Buy issues one and two here.