Tracks introduces Spitting the Winkle to readers. Widely regarded as the magazine's finest moment. | Photo: Tracks/Sarge

Iconic magazine returns to surfer roots after forty years of corporate ownership, “Tracks truly defined the Australian surf mag!”

Power to the little people etc.

Tracks magazine has returned to its surfer roots after more than four decades in the paws of various corporate masters.

The magazine’s editor Luke Kennedy along with Peter Strain, David Mulham, Greg Cooper and Damian Martin have bought the title from nextmedia who bought it from Britain’s emap in 2007 who, in turn, bought it from MasonStewart in 1997.

Founded in 1970 in a little beach shack at Whale Beach by Dave Elfick, John Witzig and Alby Falzon, and launched to capture the counter-culture movement then sweeping through surfing, Tracks was a newsprint version of Falzon’s zeitgeist snatching Morning of the Earth.

A little history from Warshaw’s EOS.

Tracks shifted tone in 1974 with the hiring of arch wit Phil Jarratt, one of surfing’s finest and funniest writers. Tracks paid close attention to the rise of professional surfing, and jettisoned much of its nonsurfing editorial platform. Editor Jarratt wrote a kneeboard column titled “Cripple’s Corner,” and Queensland’s soon-to-be world champion Wayne Bartholomew surfed in the nude for a 1976 cover story. A new and hugely popular Tracks feature was Captain Goodvibes, a boorish cartoon surf-pig superhero. Tracks’ circulation by mid-decade was 40,000, larger by far than any previous Australian surf publication. The magazine’s reputation held steady under the editorial stewardship of Paul Holmes, followed by Nick Carroll (both of whom went on to edit American surf magazines). Articles continued in the Jarratt style: smart, funny, and more often than not snide.

As Carroll later put it, Tracks “truly defined the Australian surf mag.”

By the late ’80s, Tracks was being challenged by 1985-founded Australia’s Surfing Life and the 1987- founded Waves, both eager to probe the raunchier limits of sophomoric surf-related humor. The new material caught on; by the time Tracks editor Tim Baker left in 1991 to work for Australia’s Surfing Life, the older magazine was a deflated, if not defeated, power.

The employee buy-out continues a new trend in surf media ownership where surfers get back into the game after decades of surf magazines being the golden eggs of non-surf co’s.

Think, Doherty and Jon Frank, Surfing World; Murdoch, Bainy and co, White Horses.

Once-in-a-Lifetime Opportunity: Buy surf shop, half-built cafe, three homes on Newport Beach’s Balboa Peninsula for a neat $27 mil!

A finer life not lived.

It is often said that a price tag can’t be placed on a dream but a new opportunity on Newport Beach’s Balboa Peninsula is directly challenging the maxim. For there, on 1504 W Oceanfront, very near the famed Echo Beach, is a surf shop, half-built cafe and three home bundled together for a neat $27 mil.

Per the listing, “Have you ever dreamed of owning your own surf shop to rent surfboards, boogie boards and sell souvenirs to tourists in the summer? Right next door, the Stuft Surfer, a famed cafe still under renovation, sits right on the strand with outdoor dining ideal for hungry surfers just in off the waves.”

The realtor says the surf shop and cafe are “true pieces of Orange County surf history.” The biggest of the three homes features a panoramic expansive rooftop deck with bubbling spa, fireplace, and bbq area. Together, the properties have 100 feet of ocean frontage and two garages with two carports.

Very cool and imagine sitting in your bubbling spa, gazing out at the panoramic view when you hear a little bell ring.


You hop out of the tub, grab your towel and hustle downstairs to greet a wonderful tourist family from Omaha, Nebraska looking for boogie boards to rent and a “One Tequila, Two Tequila, Three Tequila, Floor Newport Beach!” t-shirt to buy.

After the transaction, you head back upstairs to throw a hot dog on the BBQ.

A finer life not lived.

Buy here.

"I couldn’t be prouder to see it get underway in my home town," says Ryan Callinan. | Photo: @tsherms

WSL confirms Merewether as “fourth” championship tour event after Lennox Head fiasco; Bells, Margaret River and Gold Coast still “tentative”!

"I couldn’t be prouder to see it get underway in my home town," said Ryan Callinan.

The World Surf League has pivoted, successfully, from a disastrous campaign to host an event at Lennox Head, to Merewether, a couple of hours north of Sydney.

Merewether, famous for its multi-generational talent, including four-time world champ Mark Richards, Matt Hoy, Ryan Callinan, and Craig Anderson, was an irresistible choice for the WSL, given the NSW state government had been strung up on a rack of frustration after Lennox locals turned on the event and was desperate to get a contest, anywhere.

Some quotes.

“The NSW government and World Surf League worked together to ensure that this competition went ahead,” said NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro. “Sun, surf and sand are a way of life in our regional coastal towns and we’re doing everything we can to ensure our coastal communities can reap the recreational, tourism and economic benefits that surfing provides.”

“WSL is excited to be commencing the Australian leg of the CT at the world-class break in Newcastle,” said WSL APAC General Manager, Andrew Stark. “We sincerely thank the NSW Government for all of their support in not only holding a CT event but for also agreeing to land our flight and accommodating our quarantining international competitors. We’re also extremely thankful for the support of the City of Newcastle to enable the event to proceed and we look forward to working with the local community in the delivery of the event.”

“I couldn’t be prouder to see it get underway in my home town,” said Ryan Callinan.

A chartered bird is gonna bring the tour’s surfers, men and women, into Sydney, mid-March, for two weeks quarantine before the tour leg starts.

Event dates are April 1 to May 31, although this encompasses the other three “tentative” CT events, Bells, Margaret River and the Gold Coast.

Victoria, WA and Queensland have been real trigger-happy on border closures and deeply hostile to opening their doors even to Australians travelling interstate.

Word on the street is the WSL has been sniffing around Pacific Palms, a dreamy stretch of beachbreaks a little north of Newy.

More if it develops.

Scientifically Proven: Surfing included on list of human activities creating a “destructive sound environment” under water thus damaging precious marine life!

Losing Nemo.

Anyone who surfs, actually surfs and is not all VAL-ish about it, knows well that surfing is neither healthy nor good. It is a bad habit for generally bad people as evidenced time, time and time again. I have, of course, spent my surf journalism life hammering this point home here and my various surf-adjacent memoirs but science, real science, is finally backing me up.

According to a just published article in the journal Science, the ocean is becoming toxically loud and destroying the breeding, eating, migrating, etc. habits of marine animals. Oil spills, chemical dumps and whatnot dissipate within a few hundred miles but even the thickest amongst us knows that sound travels well through water, making noise pollution a serious menace. The New York Times, never one to pass up pointing a finger, jumped on the story and identified major culprits including big shipping boats but also…

Explosions of mines, missiles, and bombs during naval warfare or military exercises also represent a source of destructive sound. On a small scale, even coastal recreational activities—such as small motorboats, swimming, SCUBA diving, surfing, paddling, flying unmanned aerial vehicles (drones), or fireworks—contribute anthrophony to marine soundscapes.

Surfing, you see, making it difficult for fish to hear and find their homes and not just bad fish like sharks but cute ones like the clown fish featured in Finding Nemo.

Imagine if that Disney classic had ended with Marlin and Dory swimming aimlessly while Nemo just stayed with that crew of tank fish.

Actually, that wouldn’t have been so bad.

Those tank fish were very chill.

Losing Nemo: A Surf Story.

Making being mad look good.

"Hey, man, what I’m offering is a professional situation here. I’m offering you a WCT."

Newspaper for eco-left virtue signallers reports on WSL’s Lennox Head fiasco: “Quaint little surf town opposes lure of vulgar capitalist super-spreader!”

"Why a beachside Australian village turned down the World Surf League."

The Guardian is the UK broadsheet for the discerning eco-left virtue signaller who cares deeply about the working class as long as they stay out of their garden and think buying a five quid pack of vegan sausages is radical direct action. 

They do occasionally print some actual journalism though, one of the only UK nationals that still do that these days. 

They’re also the only example of an internationally known paper, as far as I can ascertain, that’s printed anything about The Lennox Head WSL Fiasco.

Quite a long piece in fact, that isn’t even that embarrassing.

(Read here.)

They appear to have gone for the classic “quaint little surf town opposes lure of vulgar capitalist super-spreader” angle, plus the usual references to John John, Gabby, Slater, et al for the clicks. 

The whole thing kind of reminds me of that film Local Hero. 

There’re some quotes from both the mayor, deputy mayor and the “head local”, and a reference to a possible protest paddle-out, almost certainly the first time that phrase has ever been printed in any international broadsheet. 

Weird though that the disgruntlement of locals is referred to under the umbrella grievance of not being “able to use headlands for seventeen days over period the competition held and set up [sic]”.

Aforementioned vulgar capitalist super-spreaders are given their say right at the end.

“Unfortunately, the timing is not right to move forward with the event as planned as the council did not approve our proposed event permit. We appreciate the feedback from all stakeholders who were consulted and look forward to exploring alternative locations for a fourth championship tour event in Australia in 2021.”

So dry and corporate you can barely detect the reek of sour grapes. 

The only serious major omission?

Stab gets a mention but no credit at all to BeachGrit’s own tireless investigative efforts.

They’ll be getting a strongly worded letter.