The great Sean Doherty, main photo, faithful acolytes in smaller frames.

Listen: Superstar surf journalist Sean Doherty on his counterintuitive lunge into print, the WSL’s tenuous grip on pro surfing and the enduring legacy of Truman Capote: “I am a drunkard, I am a dope addict, I am a homosexual, I am a genius!”

And, writing drunk, giving hell to foreign oil interests etc… 

Professional surfing would be a drab affair without two writers, BeachGrit’s Steve “Longtom” Shearer and, before Surfer magazine’s sudden and deserved death, its chief tour reporter, Sean Doherty.

Both will crumble bones and drink blood in the pursuit of a story.

Today on Dirty Water, Doherty, who is also the author of the definitive MP: the Life of Michael Peterson and My Brother’s Keeper: the official Bra Boy’s story, and who was once voted the World’s Best Surf Reporter, explains why he bought the print magazine Surfing World, writing drunk, how he helped run Norwegian oil drillers out of Australian waters and why 1993 world champ Pauline Menczer is his favourite surf interview.

Among other things.

Listen: “I am Chas Smith and I see a whole army of my North Countymen, here, in defiance of tyranny. You’ve come to fight as free shapers, glassers etc. and free you are. What will you do without freedom? Will you fight?”


I’ll be truly honest here. I love Australia. I love Australia so much that, as a six and seven-year-old boy in Papua New Guinea I told everyone that I was, in fact, Australian even eating Vegemite to prove it (even though I thought Vegemite was chocolate spread and when I first tasted it wondered what in the world Australians had done to chocolate).

Waltzing Matilda.

Baz Luhrmann.


Though as much as I love Australia, I love a good old fashioned surf turf war more. Locals rising up a la the Blackshorts, Bra Boys, Westside Santa Cruzers, whoever claims Silver Strand as home.

But we’ve all gone as soft as our beards, let’s be completely honest, and now Wavestorms clog every lineup while we keep our hands in our armpits grumbling.

Except for Oceanside, California and God bless each and every Oceansider.

JS Industries, as you certainly read, recently moved a warehouse into the North County, San Diego’s beating heart. Oceanside, as you may not know, is the actual epicenter of southern California’s shaping industry with many shapers, glassers, etc. plying their trade just east of the 5 freeway.

All fine and good except JS is Australian and a warehouse ain’t a factory. Simply storing boards being shipped in from overseas.

The local board building community revolted, tagged the JS warehouse’s freshly painted black walls (freshly painted black over an iconic-ish mural) “you fuk up! fuck ozz. O’side. Get out!!!

Like good old fashioned times but do you think the Oceansiders will keep turning up the heat or do you think JS Industries’ business model superiority will crush the plucky locals?

The sunny place for shady people?

I am Team North County and will do my damndest to pour gas all over this fire. Listen here, also, for a thoughtful discussion on talk therapy.

Not to be missed.

Surfer magazine subscribers magically turned into Men’s Journal subscribers overnight: “You will discover tips, guides and expert advice on style!”

Very exciting news.

But who would have ever thought, even just ten years ago, that the surfer of 2020 is a style-conscious, woke, healthy, upper-ish middle class man with cool cocktail mixing tricks up his sleeve and a penchant for knock-off mid-century modern chairs?

I did not see the Hurley Person coming but that is, apparently, what we have all turned into.

The iconic surf brand, founded by shaper Bob Hurley, defined the very best of our surf life those ten years ago. A fine team, very technical boardshorts, Pat O’Connell etc. Sure Bob had sold to Nike but that had made it all even better.

Then came Bluestar Alliance.

The company, which purchased Hurley from Nike just over a year ago, is not looking to lose money. Per its website:

Bluestar Alliance is uniquely positioned to evaluate brands, brand acquisition, sale and licensing activities. We value brands by conducting detailed field assessment and research. Due diligence is prepared onsite where we begin a reviewing process that starts with historic data/industry analysis and brand positioning.

And so field assessment and research, due diligence etc. re. their Hurley and the decision was made that the Hurley Person, i.e. surfers, craved beard softener and face-peels.

Following suit, David J. Pecker’s American Media Inc., which purchased Surfer magazine just over a year ago, is transitioning that subscription base to Men’s Journal, after killing the title.

Per its mailer:

Tips, guides and expert advice on gear, adventure, style and more.

The surfer of 2020, i.e. us, is a full on weiner.

Hurley Person. Gorgeous. A little dangerous.

Surf Anthropology: Meet “Hurley Person”, target demographic of the World Surf League!

“A new day has dawned. Another opportunity to better myself as a person. And as a consumer.”

(Editor’s note: Following a proud history of surf anthropology as pioneered by Jen See in her Surfline Man series, here, here, here, here, here and here, today BeachGrit introduces Hurley Person.)

Hurley Person stirs from a dreamless sleep as the first wisps of light meander in through his bedroom window, dancing across the sheer white walls of his tastefully austere studio apartment.

The velvety beats of Moby begin to play through an unseen pair of Sonos speakers as Hurley Person blinks once, twice.

“A new day has dawned,” he thinks to himself as he wakes. “Another opportunity to better myself as a person. And as a consumer.”

Hurley Person cracks his neck as he sits up in bed, his hazel green eyes and coffee brown skin contrasting perfectly against the muted alabaster of his expensive linen sheets. The sheets, like every other product he owns, are of the highest quality, and made to last.

The only thing disposable in this household is Hurley Person’s income.

He runs his fingers through his fine brown beard.

“Siri,” he says as he stifles a yawn, “find me some engaging, inspiring and inclusive content to view this morning before I prepare for my busy day of work at the tech entrepreneur hub I recently founded that provides venture capital and mentoring to small and medium-sized enterprises dedicated to upskilling their corporate social integrity.”

“Yes, Hurley Person,” comes a smooth feminine voice as the last strains of Moby melt seamlessly away.

Hurley Person rises from bed and begins his morning stretches.

A $9,000 BenQu laser projector whirs from a hidden recess in the roof, and a series of blurred images play across the far white wall as Siri finetunes her algorithm.

“Siri, I’m feeling a little lonely today,” says Hurley Person. “Make it content related to a sport or pastime that could offer me a sense of belonging to a culture that aligns with my personal values of fitness, environmental awareness and social inclusiveness while also filling the existential void that sits at the base of my soul. Something that will remedy my pedestrian, sterile sheltered existence and the lack of any real personality or sense of human connection that has been a hallmark of my life.”

“Yes, Hurley Person.”

“Oh, and Siri,” …Hurley Person stops his stretching and looks off somewhere in the half distance… “Can you get a bit of T&A in there too? But don’t include that in my search history!”

He lets out an involuntarily feminine chuckle.

“Of course, Hurley Person.”

The miasma of blurred imagery being projected on his wall slows to a single, sickly frame. A beautiful, statuesque blonde woman in tight mountain biking gear stands in the middle of a back country trail.

“Matches found,” says Siri

“Mountain biking: do you want to go down, down down? “

“Hmm,” says Hurley Person. “It looks pretty cool, but I’m pretty sure Anan from marketing broke his shoulder mountain biking last year. Plus, I don’t appreciate the crass entendre. Next.”

Two women in Lycra and headgear appear, grappling each other in a loving embrace.

“MMA: you’ll never guess the strength of these two warrior princesses.”

“No thanks,” says Hurley Person. “Despite the health benefits I still find MMA… problematic. Next.”

For a moment, just before the next image displays on his wall, Hurley Person thinks he hears an almost audible sigh come from the speaker.

“Your third option.”

A beaming surfer girl appears, her athletic body hidden under the contours of her full length wetsuit as she rides over the curl of a blue wave.

World Surf League presents Lawn Patrol with Carissa Moore: Follow world champion Carissa Moore as she takes us through her backyard and explores the heaven on earth that is the North Shore of Hawaii.”

“Surfing, huh?” says Hurley Person. “I’ve always wanted to be closer to nature, and those surfer guys I saw being arrested in South Beach that time had great muscle definition.”

A look of steeled determination creeps across Hurley Person’s face as he starts his rep of more intensive pilates stretches.

“Siri, let’s try it.”

A series of error noises bip from the speakers.

“Sorry Hurley Person, it is asking us to leave YouTube and visit an external page to view the video – www dot worldsurfleague dot com,” says Siri.

“Are these guys for real,” Hurley Person guffaws, “expecting me to leave a native video hosting platform and to view content on their own site? Have they not heard of UX?”

Hurley Person stares at the life-size image of Carissa on his bedroom wall. That beautiful smile. Those all-knowing eyes. She looks content. Happy. Like she belongs somewhere in this world.

“Whatever,” he says finally. “I’m sure it’s worth it. Take me to that place.”

For the next twenty minutes Hurley Person watches on enthralled, as Lawn Patrol melds into Sound Waves melds into Transformed melds into the latest video of Koa unboxing.

Each video speaks more and more to the sense of self constructed in his psyche by a lifetime of subconscious corporate conditioning.

“Wow, this WSL really feels like an organisation I align with,” Hurley Person says as the shows finally finish.

“Siri, please follow them on across all of their social media platforms and sign me up for any newsletters, competitions, or databases they have available. Be sure to include as much of my personal information as possible so that they can best tailor their marketing and communications to me.”

“Yes, Hurley Person.”

“Also,” Hurley Person says, “I want to make sure they can bundle up my personal data and demographic information to use as alongside all of the other WSL followers, my new friends, my new tribe, so that they can attract the investment of other big corporates that might like to advertise their products to us.

“Of course, Hurley Person.”

Hurley Person drops to the ground and begins doing push ups while Siri gets to work. He’s barely raised a sweat before she comes back online.

“You are now a certified member of the World Surf League,” Siri dutifully reports. “You should now receive notifications of their updated content via their social media platforms and a bespoke RSS feed I have specially created for you. I have also signed you up for an air BnB experience at their next major competition, likely run date June 2023.”

“Neat-o,” says Hurley Person.

Would you now like to buy some associated products?”

“Well of course I fucking do Siri. What sort of a stupid fucking question is that?”

A catalogue of items project against the wall.

Hurley man swipes through the album with the wave of a finger, the biosensors implanted in his fingertips tracking his excited heart rate as he considers each new product. Each new opportunity to belong.

“What’s this?” he asks as he pauses on one strange looking item.

“A Wavestorm Softboard. Perfect for learners and new starters looking to become waterpeople overnight.”

Hurley Person nods his head.

“But can I also suggest a *Siri’s voice immediately alters into a coarse, mechanical delivery, that sounds strangely Australian * J-S Monsta-Box? There are seven salespoints located within a ten-mile radius of your home.”

“Hmm, no thanks,” says Hurley Person. “I’ll go the softy”

“You will also need a rash vest,” says Siri in her more calming, feminine voice.

“Can I suggest the Carissa Moore x WSL signature series? Blue, with white arms.”


“You will also need a GoPro to capture all of your surfing adventures, as well as to record any collisions you may have in the water for future legal use. Can I suggest the GoPro 10 Hero?”

“Yep, says Hurley Person. “In fact, better get me two.”

“Finally, says Siri., you will need a…” Siri’s voice stops, as if she is taking a second herself to compute the next item. “A… beard softener.”

“Oh, word?” Hurley Person fingers his fine brown beard again.

“Siri, give me the best fucking beard softener there is.”

“Purchasing Hurley brand beard softener.”

A blue ‘verified’ tick appears on Hurley Person’s bedroom wall, just as the full light of the morning sun fills the room.

“Congratulations,” says Siri as the apartment explodes into a thousand brilliant shades of white.

“You are now a surfer. Next item for the day: What would you like me to order you for breakfast?”

“Hmmm,” says Hurley Person. “Now that’s a tough one.”

Photo: Icon Steve Sherman aka Sherm.
Photo: Icon Steve Sherman aka Sherm.

CNN fingers “most environmentally damaging person on earth” and iconic surf champion Kelly Slater as accounting for more than 50% of total aviation emissions from passenger air travel!


Oh man and oh hell. Just got off the horn (and by horn I mean glitchy Zoom connection) with the one-and-only Derek Rielly and the iconic Sean Doherty, author of many books including the upcoming History of the World Surf League (Dirty Water soon).

It is a fine conversation, maybe best podcast ever, and Sean spoke openly and honestly about very many things including Kelly Slater’s proposed Surf Ranch build on/in an Australian protected wetland where many birds, fish, etc. will die forever while the ocean, that produces the intermittent waves Surf Ranch is set to reproduce, is but a mere 1+ kilometer away.

For those that use the non-metric system, that equals spitting distance.

“Cognitive dissonance” is what Sean called Kelly’s environmentalism and a new report from CNN highlights the dissonance.

Slater perpetually banging the environmental drum. His actions, aside from digging up a wetland basically on the beach to make a fake wave driven by fossil fuels, hmmmmmmmm.

Per CNN Climate:

Frequent fliers representing just 1% of the world’s population accounted for more than half of total aviation emissions from passenger air travel in 2018, a new study says. “In a world that seeks to reduce carbon emissions, we need to look at those emitting the most,” said Stefan Gössling, a professor at Sweden’s Linnaeus University who led the study. “It seems difficult, if not impossible, to achieve the UN climate goals without addressing the super emitters.” Gössling defined “super emitters” as people who fly 34,000 miles per year, once a month or take three long-haul flights a year.⁠

Imagine how many times the world’s greatest surfer has flown around the world for its greatest waves over the course of his life.



A Gavin Newsom “do as I say, not as I do” moment?

I would love a response directly from The King (not Peter) but he has blocked me from social media and certainly doesn’t take my calls.

Probably because I am unnecessarily rude and very jealous of all his jet-setting.

Pointing out hypocrisy is, though, the Sport of Plebs and pretty darn fun.

More as the story develops.