In my favourite sequence of the movie, desert rat Geoff “Camel” Goulden rides a variety of high volume guns* at various slab reefs, outer bommies and north-west reefs. There will be mixed opinions on Camel, summed up perhaps by his cryptic statement in reference to surfing being the best and that “he had tried other stuff”.

Movie Review: “How much of a life devoted to surfing is praiseworthy and how much is running away?”

The existential question at the heart of Outdated Children.

An interesting development in the last year with the cancellation of the WSL CT tour has been the emergence of what I call Non-CT ripping to fill the vacuum created in the surfing media landscape.

This phenomenon, if we agree on that basic premise, makes Mick Waters’ film Outdated Children a more mandatory watch then it was a year ago when the film was released.

It’s an antidote to the WSL, not quite a throwback but a realistic counter-factual to the question: how might surfing have evolved or how might it be now if the WSL, nee ASP, nee IPS had never existed, or if it was to go the way of the Dodo.

It’s soul porn set primarily in the Southern Ocean and I certainly don’t intend any derogatory meaning in that.

How much of a life devoted to surfing is praiseworthy and how much is running away?

That’s the existential question at the heart of Outdated Children. I fall heavily on the side of the filmmaker who declares his position by placing at the beginning of the film a quote from Wayne Lynch who declares surfing a “wonderful way to grow old; a way to stay childlike without being childish”.

Partners of surfers may have a different view, of course.

To answer that central question, Waters presents a series of vignettes of surfers who have stayed the course and have (mostly) got an act on dry land. We won’t spoil the film by detailing them all; just discuss a few who exemplify the main theme.

Glen Casey brought the Patagonia franchise to Australia, helped save forest in the Otways and built himself a timber cabin in the woods. He’s also late fifties, raising a kid, two hip replacements in and shredding.

How old can you be and still get properly barrelled? Still throw proper buckets?

We probably won’t know the upper limit to that until Kelly kicks the bucket but late fifties, sixties is now looking grand if you can keep yourself near the beach.

Case kicks it hard on a 6’9” Maurice Cole Metro which shows if you can fuck pride before it fucks you and get on decent equipment there are many happy days ahead. I rang Case to confirm the board and he’d just got out of the water at the Point, riding a 7’10” mid-length twin, which I think we should not hold against him.

Beach clean-ups in remote south-west Tasmania, much non-CT shredding, tales of derring do at Shipsterns, a wonderful sequence of no name Sandy Ryan who hikes in to paddle surf all day.

It’s all gloriously hard core.

I was shocked to see in the film, living a Thoreau-ean dream on the edge of Tasmania, a guy who I used to share a hovel with on the Goldy and get on the end of many Orchy bottles with, they may have been dual paw paw stems in a beer bottle.

Addy Jones is making surfboards from entirely recycled materials, getting the job done in the vegie garden and nursing baby wombats back to health. I always knew him as a very loose cat but to see him walking the walk like that bought up many conflicting thoughts.

How the fuck is an environmental vandal like Kelly Slater being lauded while the real deal is there doing it in plain sight?

Kudos to Mick Waters for putting Addy’s story out there.

Many different varieties of whip ridden in the fillum. My personal fav was Heath Joske on a single fin shredding solid lefts and a single fin gun at a triple OH bommie off the southern Australian coastline.

In my favourite sequence of the movie, desert rat Geoff “Camel” Goulden rides a variety of high volume guns* at various slab reefs, outer bommies and north-west reefs. There will be mixed opinions on Camel, summed up perhaps by his cryptic statement in reference to surfing being the best and that “he had tried other stuff”.

Camel is the antipodean and less articulate Miki Dora of the times. His sequence, in my opinion, elevates the film to a must watch.

Outdated Children left a slightly odd taste in my mouth.

After watching these southern men, and women build houses, tend vegie gardens, wrangle White shark-infested slabs in the (successful) pursuit of pure fun, and something far more intense than that a tangled mix of emotions wrestled for dominance.

I felt like a loser, a jerk, a hillbilly, a wastrel, a dilettante.

A voice inside me said “you should be doing this. Cuddling baby wombats, planting olive trees and taking on that wild Southern Ocean”.

More than anything, it reminded me of the classic closing line in Rainer Maria Rilke’s poem Torso of an Archaic Apollo whereby the protagonist of the poem upon viewing the statue is exhorted “You must change your life”.

Mick Waters did.

Packed up the family, took ’em on the road around the Island continent, built himself a shack on Tassie. Divides his time between there and the North Coast. This film is the flourishing and the fruit of that labour and that decision. It wasn’t easy. Southern folk don’t always appreciate the moving picture.

Mick shot some of it hiding in a blanket in the back of a Landy.

Nothing is named, nothing is blown out, ratted on. It’s just the Southern Ocean, maybe the most VAL-unfriendly place on earth. At least as well known for its submarine size sharks as its backpacker serial killers.

A heaven worth protecting. Too hard-core for me, though.

Whats your vice(s)? Mine are strictly norm-core. Prawn and garlic pies from the servo, mid-strengths from Four Pines brewery. For less than two prawn and garlic pies, which I believe to be the greatest thing ever invented, I can rent Outdated Children.

Take your time with it. It rewards the rewatch in the same way watching Curren’s film did.

You must change your life.

You probably won’t though, so, like me watch the film and live vicariously through those who did.

Rent or buy Outdated Children via Vimeo here. 

*Mostly the Webster Desert Storm, review to come.

Photo of Ben and family, happy days. Credit: Ben Searancke.
Photo of Ben and family, happy days. Credit: Ben Searancke.

New Zealand surfer saved after scrawling “HELP” in sand reveals Tom Hanks inspiration, how close to death he skirted: “My legs were gashed to the bone and lungs clogged with seawater!”

Cast Away II!

Days ago, now, we all learned the wonderful story of a New Zealand surfer who became bashed on the rocks, made it to the sand, scrawled a giant “HELP” before passing out and was rescued when two hikers saw his plea.

So happy… or at least I hoped so happy.

The original story contained no details on what happened post-saving. Did he make it to the hospital? Succumb to injuries on the way?

I, in any case, named and claimed a joyful ending then held my breath until this very moment when, whew, it has been revealed that Aucklander Ben Searancke, 43-year-old father to a 9-day-old daughter is sweating out opioids but otherwise fine.

And we must, at this very second, get the whole harrowing story.

Searancke went out for a surf shortly before 11 am when his leash plug pulled out of his board on a duck dive.

“I wasn’t panicking really because I thought I could make my way in,” he said. “Then I put my head up and I was 500 metres around the northern end, which was nothing but rock. I tried to start swimming back towards Karekarei but I just couldn’t. I was looking around and all I could see was just swell hitting rocks and I knew I wasn’t going to be able to swim back around.”


He knew he was in big trouble.

“I had nothing. I was in the middle of the ocean. No beach in sight. No people in sight. Then getting pushed towards rocks with heavy water. A wave just grabbed me and threw me against the rocks and I covered my head and got scratches all over my body but I felt my leg get a really bad bang. I think eventually I managed to climb up and I looked down at my leg and my bone was showing on my right hand side.”


He clung to the rocks for a few hours, fashioning a tourniquet out of his leash, trying to get some strength.

“[I was] bleeding and getting pretty cold, and every time I thought I was nearly there, there was like a point between rocks where you couldn’t make it around. So I had to make a call to try and swim across. I looked at the waves, timed it, and I looked at a point on the first one and I went I’ve just got to go. I got smashed against the rocks, on top of my head. I felt a bit dizzy, I was held down for long enough to start thinking this is it, it’s definitely over, and then I struggled to get back up. That time my brain was definitely going. I could see my daughter, I could see my missus and I was going ‘this is it’. Then I finally made it round to Mercer Beach and then I kind of realised shit, there’s no one here. I don’t even know if there’s a way out of here. I started to feel like I was going to faint.”

It was at that moment that he let Tom Hanks be his guide.

“Honestly I had watched this movie Cast Away two weeks ago and Tom Hanks wrote help in the sand. Kiwis are Kiwis, I know that they might just walk past and I was desperate. If they just walked past I would be stuffed so I thought if I wrote HELP and they were looking at me, surely that’ll engage them enough to do something. I did it as good as I could, and then literally as I got the P, I collapsed, trying to stay conscious.”


Kiwis are Kiwis? What does that mean? Do New Zealanders not like to help people?

Well, in any case, legends and non-typical Kiwis Vanessa Ingraham, 36, and her friend Dace Kalnina, 32, were hiking on a coastal track, saw the message and sorted help.


Searancke was snatched up by lifesavers, transported to a hospital and stitched right up. “I haven’t slept a lot. I didn’t sleep at all last night for the pain, that’s why I went back [to the hospital] this morning [Saturday]. So they’ve put me on really heavy meds. I’m sweating like a maniac.”

Very cool.

The only part of the original story I got wrong was attributing Searancke’s inspiration to Sting instead of Tom Hanks.

Which is your favorite Hanks vehicle?

I’ve got to go with Joe versus the Volcano.

More inspiration.

Ben versus the Rocky Outcroppings.


Bubby wants dinner.

Populist Australian politician’s stunning claim his government saved the “WSL World Championship Tour” after cancellation of Sunset and Steamer Lane events!

“If it were not for New South Wales, the WSL Championship Tour would not be happening globally."

The deputy premier of NSW has made the stunning and, in my opinion correct, claim that his government is responsible for saving the world tour. 

Speaking in Parliament, and after ripping into Lennox locals for knocking back the gov’s millions, Giovanni “John” Barilaro said, “The opportunity that came out of the rejection from Lennox Head was that we were able to steal two events. Attracting the best surfers in the world to New South Wales supports our locals and sports stars of the future. That is a fact. Santa Cruz and Hawaii were shut down. Bells Beach and Snapper Rocks are, of course, no longer happening.”

And the zinger, “If it were not for New South Wales, the WSL Championship Tour would not be happening globally.”

John Borilaro is a name that has become familiar to Australian surfers over the past month; while his opposite numbers in Victoria and Queensland fastened their nursing bras, Barilaro gave a reeling WSL the free-flowing NSW taxpayer’s teat. 

It ain’t such a bad idea, politically and on the ground.

Five mill per event, say, and you trump your idealogical rivals interstate and drive a bit of life into a pandemic-depressed economy. 

He’s a wildcat, ol Giovanni Barilaro.

Last September he brought his government, of which his conservative National Party is the bit-player in a coalition with the Liberal Party, to its knees over the protection of koalas. 

Libs wanted to pass legalisation to protect the furry bastards, meaning farmers and property owners would have to jump through a few loopholes before they bulldozed native trees etc. 

Barilaro said, essentially, fuck the bears.

The legislation, he said, would be a “nail in the coffin for farmers.”

“Imagine being so out of touch and arrogant you thought it was a good idea to spit the dummy because you wanted to be able to wipe out koalas,” said Greens MP Jenny Leong.

Libs didn’t want to lose government to the socialist ALP and therefore capitulated.

As we’ve posited before, the teats of state governments in Australia have long been a source of nourishing funds for pro surfing, although as Longtom pointed out after the Lennox Head fiasco, “It looks like cheap rent-seeking for a product that few want in their backyards and a story that has never really made sense except for a few rare birds who live at an altitude the rest of us will never attain.”

And, “Without a functioning business model to wean itself off State Tourism bodies the WSL is locked in a prison of its own making.” ­

Breaking: World Surf League brushes off “Debacle in December,” applies for Pipeline, Sunset Beach permits for men’s and women’s events!

Loco moco on face.

Saturday early afternoon found me sitting outside, enjoying a bit of sun, catching up on some light reading. There seemed nothing of note in the news. A little of this and a little of that. A woman was bit on her bottom by a bear when she tried to use an outhouse in Alaska.


Right when I was about to head inside, though, I stumbled upon the headline Oahu surf meet permits are due Feb. 26 amid new gender equity changes and was immediately drawn in.

Was the World Surf League going to apply for permits?

Would it receive permits after The Debacle in December?

No word until 3/4 of the way down and…

“The World Surf League is continuing its commitment to local and international surfers, men and women, to pursue professional surfing careers in the islands, ” Robin Erb, WSL senior manager of operations and marketing for North America /Hawaii, said in an email. WSL is seeking permits for North Shore events for men and women at Pipeline and Sunset Beach.

Pipeline and Sunset Beach.

Men and women.

Do you think Robin Erb was blushing, extensively, when handing in the application?

Loco moco all over face?

I hope so.

Simply the best.
Simply the best.

New field “surfonomics” delights with surprising discoveries of largesse: “You guys have got to be kidding me. Surfers are spending that much? But, like, they are!”

We are a blessing.

2020/21 has been a banner year for surfing with booming participation, exploding participation, robust growth in participation. Of course, we, here, all feel very grouchy about it and salve our grump by openly mocking a World Surf League that, somehow, has not been able to take advantage of a participatory windfall but, still, those stuffed lineups hurt.

Well, at least the spike is both doing wonderful things for the environment and local economies as spotlighted in the delightful new field of “surfonomics” just profiled in the august BBC.

Per the story, “The idea of using economics to assess the value of surfing resources, branded “surfonomics”, has been around for a little over a decade. An early study in the field centred on Mavericks in California, a famous break that throws up waves of 10-30ft (3-9m), and draws in huge crowds of spectators. Big wave surfer João de Macedo, a campaigner who was involved in the research, says Mavericks already had legal protection as a national marine sanctuary, but surfonomics “was something that when you talk to a politician [they could use to] justify conservation in a more practical way”. The net economic value of Mavericks was finally estimated at about $24m (£17m) a year filtering through its local tourism industry.”

$24m a year.

Does the figure surprise?

A drop in the bucket compared to jolly old Great Britain where local surfonomists estimate our Pastime of Queens squirts an extra $2.5b into the coffers which can then be used to solve mental health crises related to feeling isolated from Europe etc.

The International Association of Surfing Academics studied Lobitos in Peru, and showed how protecting its environment, reefs, etc. was important to wave health and surfers would then kick down $3.6m while they came to enjoy. The government was so impressed that it became the very first country to give legal protection to waves.

Other nations are now following suit.

But did you know we were so generous and that our generosity made the world a better place?

I didn’t.

Thank you, surfonomics.

I shall sleep well tonight for the first time in, like, eight years.