Surfing's Robert Plant, Mr Terry Fitz. | Photo: EOS

Blood Feud: World’s Greatest Surf Journalist and Seattle Scrabble aficionado joust over Terry Fitzgerald story: “There’s a lot of cheap shots…  not cool”

"A stallion, a revelation, god-like!"

One week or so ago, on the occasion of surf icon Terry Fitzgerald’s birthday, Seattle scrabble aficionado and surf archivist Matt Warshaw published a moving tribute on his Encylopedia of Surfing website called, Ode to a Sultan and which you should read, and published without Warshaw’s permission, below.

Fitz was a rock star. Not in our newly popularized middle-management use of the phrase (“thanks for getting these numbers to me so fast, you’re a rock star!”), but more like he belongs to a species of performer that includes Robert Plant and Roger Daltrey, more so than Gerry Lopez and Jeff Hakman. Had Fitzgerland picked up a guitar instead of a surfboard, his biography would be spiked with trashed hotel rooms, dozens of groupie-spawned bastard children, and a messed-up hush-hush story involving a mudshark.

Anyway, as it was, Fitz played stadiums (Sunset and J-Bay), and performed all the way to the back seats. Striking poses. Moving and grinding that 28-inch-waist. At the end of a well-executed ride, it would have been fully appropriate, rather than throwing a two-fisted claim, for Fitz to bang a huge flaming gong.

Two or three weeks ago, Lewis Samuels got up in my business after one of my periodic Barry Kanaiaupuni swoons. BK’s surfing, Lewis said via Twitter, “hasn’t aged well,” and I’m 97% sure that Samuels’ feels the same about Fitzgerald. I’m so sure, in fact, that it makes me wonder if I am maybe a bit too enamored of my little gang of Zeppelin-age favorites. Fitz, especially, is open to critique. If the surf didn’t have the requisite push and thrust, he’d try and make up the difference by amping up the hip wiggles and arm gyrations. Oversell. I cringe a little when I see those clips. (And edit my own clips accordingly, using just the flower-top stuff.)

On the other hand, Fitz was operating in shortboard surfing’s Great Age of Style. In terms of basic performance—cutbacks, bottom turns, off the tops—those gunned-out, wide-point-forward single-fins everybody was using were being ridden to their outermost limit. Twins and tri-fins would reset everything, but those were still a few years off. What to do in the meantime? When 15 other top surfers have a fiberglass-buckling bottom turn and a G-force line off the top, how do set yourself apart? Form. Interpretation. Presence. “Skill and style,” said Wayne Bartholomew, who came of age in this period, “has never been more closely related than in the early ’70s.” Nobody understood this better than the Terry Fitzgerald.

As much as any other single surfer, Fitzgerald made the early ’70s. But the early ’70s also made Fitzgerald. I can’t imagine him in the pre-shortboard-era. And in the multi-fin era, Fitz’ vogue-heavy style of riding was left in the dust. Other surfers of the period, you can trace their stylistic progeny: Lopez to Machado to Craig Anderson. MP to Kong to Bourez. The Fitzgerald method, though, began and ended with Fitzgerald. (Derek Hynd was and remains a great Fitz disciple, but Derek, true to the master’s example, crafted his own unique way of riding waves.)

When I was a kid, older guys raved about Joey Cabell and “speed surfing,” but nobody in years to come picked up on his style, and looking back at video of Cabell from the late ’60s I don’t really get what the big deal was.

Will the same thing happen to Fitz? I wonder. I’ll put this question to anybody reading this under the age of 35: in the clip posted at the top of the page, the last shot, of Fitz going Mach 3 at Jeffreys Bay—does that ride sing to you at all? Or am I a sentimental old fool?

(Editor’s note: You gotta subscribe, here, to see the vid and the photo.)

All pretty above board, yeah?

The great Nick Carroll, howevs, was having none of it.

“Matt, there’s a lot of cheap shots in this mate. Not cool,” Nick wrote on Facebook, prompting surfing’s first men’s world champion Peter Townend to chime in, “Agreed! As one of my peer group, slightly older, Fitz had his unique approach to his surfing as many of us did as well as the equipment we shaped and road, that was the beauty of that Seventies era!”

Warshaw, of course, ain’t afraid even of mighty Nick and superstar PT, although he was diplomatic.

“What about the part where it goes: “you might say—I would, for sure—that Terry Fitzgerald is one of the greatest surfers of all time, just as surely as Robert Plant is one of the greatest rock singers of all time… My take on Fitz is just that he’s maybe the ultimate “horses for courses” surfer. But on the courses that counted most—Sunset and J-Bay—he was a stallion, a revelation, god-like. Less so in waves that didn’t suit his style, or that bored him. Same could be said for half or more of those in the all-time-greatest pantheon, to which Terry is a platinum-card member. Apologies if my comments came off disrespectful, that was not my intention.”

Now, where are the cheap shots? Can you find?

Wanna be the king of the world? | Photo: JJ

Extraordinary: Family of surf journalist to sell Sydney’s last great swathe of undeveloped coastal land: “I imagine the buyer being some cashed-up dot com person or Hugh Jackman or Nicole Kidman wanting solitude among the trees”

The greatest piece of surf real estate in the world?

Johnny Jenkins, a former editor of Surfing Life and semi-pro surfer sponsored by various brands, lived the sorta childhood that, even in the third or fourth retelling, I still find hard to believe.

His daddy John, an international flight attendant for Qantas back when the job had money and prestige, made the very sensible decision in 1976 to begin accumulating parcels of land which would become three-acres of cliff-top dirt on the ridge behind Whale Beach, also home to the then counter-culture surfing magazine Tracks.

On it, a small wooden house, which would grow, organically, with mismatched doors and windows, and a shed, which little Johnny commandeered, that had a mattress on the floor, an old wardrobe and a cable running electricity from the main house, and with gun-barrel views straight into the Whale Beach Wedge.

Daddy John, with birds, in old tree house at Whale Beach.

With daddy away, sometimes for two weeks on an international haul and with the Wedge beckoning, Johnny, now forty-six, achieved the Barrenjoey High record of most late attendances in one year, a never-to-be-broken fifty seven late notes.

He was also privy to the belle epoch of the nineties when the Wedge was populated by Barton Lynch, Tom Carroll, Martin Potter, Stuart Bedford-Brown, Kelly Slater, Lisa Andersen, Michael Rommelse, Ces Wilson and co.

Now, with daddy almost eighty and unable to keep the land free of brush and whatever to stop fires, and the spectre of COVID putting the wind up the fam, they figure, time to sell.

(Last year, they carved two pieces off the original 11,000 m2 for three mill, leaving 8000 m2.)


Seven-ish mill for 8000 m2 or roughly two acres. Convert to US dollars and y’gonna own the best joint in Sydney, a city relatively free of lethal bugs, for a little under five mill.

“Two mins from the balcony to putting your legrope on at the sand at South Whaley,” says Johnny.

The real estate sell is a little underwhelming, but if you know the joint, and know the wave, ooowee, it don’t get any better.

Apply here.

Vans reminds Americans that the election is days away and to vote; iconic team rider Joel Tudor issues own ultimatum, “Neither party will ever get my support until one of them does the right thing and sets the plant free!”


And for certain you are aware that a very electric election is but days away in these United States of America. Odd seeing as the two main candidates are doddering septuagenarians but here we are and exciting. Trump Trains driving Biden Busses off the road. Historic turnout.

Do you have an opinion? A favorite candidate? Many celebrities and brands are posturing as apolitical, not wanting to exacerbate fans/customers, simply encouraging people to vote.

Vans, for example, posted a message on its Instagram account reading:

The US election is just days away. @SteveCaballero, @PerrisBenegas, @PatrickGud, @R.Barbee, @BigAirMare, @DylanGraves, @GeoffRowley, & @LeilaHurst are here to remind you to get out and vote! Head to for resources.

Notably missing from the list is iconic team writer Joel Tudor.

The professional longboarder and BJJ enthusiast, elsewhere on Instagram, wrote, “Neither party will ever get my support until one of them does the right thing and sets the plant free.”

Actress Lysa Cooper begged him to change his mind, “Joel!!!! YOU have to vote for it. Also… VOTE for my VAGINA. It needs to be protected. As well as the reproductive rights of your 2 SONS!! You got 3 days to step up!!! Please. I beg you as your best friend!!!!”

Tudor, unbowed, responded, “You are ruining my coffee and bong hit – love you!! Go green babe …it’s a better look than red and blue awoooooooooooo”

Many questions but mostly which plant is being locked up and is Joel Tudor referring to the Green Party?

I have been a member of the Green Party for 26 years as I thought registering for a color was funny.

Very mature.

More as the story develops.

UFC’s number 12 ranked featherweight Dan Ige declares surfing “Probably scarier than any fighting, any training experience that I’ve ever witnessed.”

We are tough.

Aside from The Melee at Nazare, Hawaiian outer reefs, Mavericks, Great White Sharks, crowded Superbank, Tiger Sharks, Puerto Escondido, etc. surfing is not seen as a particularly frightening pastime and especially not when compared with the mixed martial arts what with blood on the mat, broken teeth, knock outs, tap outs, etc.

Thus, it comes as a rather large surprise to learn that the UFC’s number 12 ranked featherweight declared on the Fightful program that surfing is, in fact, scarier.

The scariest would be outside of MMA or training. It was a surfing accident. I was surfing in my home town of Haleiwa, Hawaii. We were surfing and it was pretty big. When it’s big, the current gets insane and super strong out there.

I remember a big set came in. I was taking off on this wave and I went over the falls and I just got held under for a super long time. My head hit the reef. I was all discumbobled [sic]. I didn’t know where I was. I was trying to come back up. They have this section called the toilet bowl because the water kind of vortexes and pulls you down.

There’s the reef and the current is really strong. I just remember almost not making it up. Barely making it up. Another wave came and held me down again. It was scary. Super scary. Probably scarier than any fighting, any training experience that I’ve ever witnessed.

Does that make you proud to be a surfer? Tough? Wanna go pick fights?

Very cool.

Bugs, beautiful since forever. | Photo: EOS

World champion surfer Wayne “Rabbit” Bartholomew in knife-edge race for seat of Burleigh Heads in Queensland election as voters desert incumbent member: “I fully acknowledge my ability to fly through cliffs and shoulder the mountains themselves.”

"I am the legacy of ancient warriors and kings."

You can’t put a thing past ol’ Bugs, the 1978 world champ and ten-year prez of the ASP, back when it pivoted to the Dream Tour, a format still largely in play today. 

Bugs, who is sixty-six and with a shock of dyed maroon hair, is attempting to try and win back the seat of Burleigh Heads for the Australian Labor Party, a seat held by the conservatives since 2012, Labor figuring Bugs could use his surf celebrity to achieve the necessary four-percent swing. 

A three-to-one outsider, according to betting agencies, and with sixty-two percent of the vote counted, Bugs is six hundred votes off the pace, a considerable, but possibly not enough, three-and-a-half per cent swing to the ALP.

In his autobiography, Bugs wrote: “I am the legacy of ancient warriors and kings. I’ve passed through the dark caverns of fear, I’ve overcome the pain barrier and now fully acknowledge my ability to fly through cliffs and shoulder the mountains themselves.”

When asked about his bid for parliament, he said, “I’ve always seen impossible as just another challenge!” 

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