Observations of a BeachGrit commentariat from Oahu’s hallowed North Shore: “Oh what beautiful, glorious chaos!”

"I may have seen a Gudaskis brother or it just may have been Koa Smith."

It’s so good to be back!

Granted, getting back is a project in and of itself. Fortunately my wife had the patience to manage the project and despite an unclear testing status before leaving LAX and a misreading on our entry papers we were ohana-adjacent enough to get through.

Waikiki is almost completely devoid of Japanese tourists which is bad for local businesses and also bad for my wife as “spotting” Japanese brides is one of her favorite past times.

But we’re here to talk about Sunday and Monday at Pipe.

Dubbed the Valentine’s Swell™️ by Surfline it was going to be big and clean on Sunday and smaller but still clean on Monday.

When we walked up the path between the Volcom houses we were greeted by Billy Kemper and Michael Ho discussing the conditions.

Billy, in case you were wondering, gets preferred parking on the path. I don’t even park on Ke Nui Road because I’m afraid of getting slapped.

But one look at the lineup and I knew it was on.

The best day, by far, that I’ve ever seen at Pipe was Saturday, December 21st 2013.
It was almost a week after Kelly had won the Pipe Masters and the day he won the Wave of the Winter.

I didn’t see him that morning because he was supposedly trying to get to a neighbor island but I did watch JOB break three boards in 20 minutes and then watch John John get Pipe bomb after Pipe bomb. There were drop ins that day and I even saw one slap!

Back to Sunday.

There were already 100 bodies in the water and I quickly picked out Jamie and Balaram Stack.

The first person I noticed catching waves was Zeke Lau. He looked good going left or right.

The conditions were challenging so going Backdoor was a commitment. Even if you made it you could expect a lengthy paddle to get back outside.

What I didn’t notice was the normal whistling and cat calling from the Gerry House when the second reef sets rolled in. Face masks and social distancing aren’t really a thing on the North Shore but I guess Volcom is doing their part to spread Aloha and not Covid.

The wave of the morning that I saw was Mark Healy. There are a few good clips floating around but he got nice and deep and was blown out. He came right out of the water and walked past us so I was able to congratulate him.

Mason Ho walked past a few minutes later. Mason, I believe, is trying to Make Short John’s Great Again because both he and Michael sported the same surfing kit. But Mason is VERY handsome so he pulls it off effortlessly.

And yes, Michael paddled out into second reef, wild and crazy Pipe. I remarked to my wife that he’s 60+ and still surfing a wave of consequence and she replied that Kelly will probably be doing that until he’s 80.

Not only does she plan Covid testing she also knows her legends!

I was very surprised to see Brother Kolohe enter the lineup mid-morning. I guess he’s putting in the time in Hawaii and he was active catching a few Pipe waves. But he still got dropped in on by a sponger so he is still fighting to gain that respect!

Roman Noses were also represented with Leo Fioravanti smiling up and down the beach. By Italian-ish American heritage was damn proud!

Shortly thereafter a solitary figure appeared in front of the beach park and your reigning Pipe Master entered the water.

I have usually seen John paddle in with his crew so I was a bit surprised to see him go in alone. Both Ivan and Nate were already in the lineup so maybe he had some Marine X boardshort designs to review? Maybe there were sustainability issues? Mogul problems, I guess.

Meanwhile Nate was catching his fair share of waves and surfing them pretty well.

I may have seen a Gudaskis brother or it just may have been Koa Smith. They certainly do resemble each other.

We took a lunch break at Ted’s and that’s when Mike O’Shaunessey almost drown. Sitting at V-Land eating our fish sandwiches and chocolate haupia pie (so Ono!) we heard the ambulance zip by. Seeing the conditions and knowing how hard guys were charging it wasnt a surprise to hear that someone got hurt.

And yes, the lineup is still 95% male. I did see a few young ladies paddle out but didn’t see them catch any waves.

I won’t even paddle out so they certainly have my respect.

Dave Wassell paddled in just in front of us during the late morning and then two hours later was saving a life while doing his “day job.” Crazy stuff.

The good news is that helmets at Pipeline are just as ubiquitous as RVCA stickers so surfers are eschewing the aesthetic and opting for safety. Who said surfers were dumb???

The lineup cleared after that and we went back to Waikiki content in knowing that Monday would be good as well.

The waves were down on Monday but the lineup was just as crowded.

There were a lot of spongers in the water and drop-ins were frequent. Even King Kelly was not immune to being dropped in by a body boarder!

I couldn’t tell if it was the same guy who dropped in on Brother but with no slaps exchanged the waves continued unabated.

JOB caught a bomb on his soft top and proceeded to paddle right in claiming exhaustion.

Jamie is an affable guy and will stop to take pictures with kids and also accept accolades from middle aged spectators like myself.

Kalani Chapman (helmeted) was very noticeable as were Zeke and Billy yet again. Billy seemed to be on every third Backdoor wave.He paid the price with at least one broken board but seemed unfazed. I guess that’s why he needs to park so close…quick access to fresh boards!

A quick chat with my fellow barrier Island resident Balaram Stack revealed his intention to stay in Hawaii until they kicked him out. I remarked that was a solid strategy gives the current winter weather in New York. I also noticed Bal going to/from the Gerry House so maybe he’s been promoted? If so, good for him!

His fellow Volcom teammate Jackie Robo was seen smiling and shaking hands both days. What’s funny though is that I didn’t notice him in the water. Wonder why?

Michael Ho made another appearance and caught a bomb that has been making the rounds. There was definitely a buzz on the beach after that.

Joel Jitsu himself, long board in tow, emerged from the lineup and right into the Gerry House. He and Slater sharing the same lineup with no slaps, cracks or choke holds? Boring!

Anastasia Ashley sat down behind us to discuss her travel plans and her recent ski trip. No mention, though, of real estate transactions (sorry, Derek!).

Then another legend made his way down the beach with his swim fins in hand. Mark Cunningham is probably the only non-European 70 year-old who can confidentially wear a banana hammock.

All three Florence brothers were very active and apparently I missed a Backdoor party wave with John and Kelly.

Despite the conditions being better on that December day seven years the lineup for these two days had a lot more talent.

Billy Kemper seems like a man possessed and once again, we have proof that legends never die!

Oh what beautiful, glorious, chaos!

Don’t make me wait: New Zealand man surfing remote beach sustains severe injuries, washes ashore, scrawls “HELP” in the sand before collapsing and is miraculously saved by hikers!


Once, many years ago, British musician Sting was a castaway on an island, lost at sea. He was lonely, nobody there but him, and felt he was suffering more loneliness than any man could bear. Well, he sent an SOS to the world and hoped somebody, anybody, would get his message in a bottle.

Miraculously, a British actress named Trudie Styler not only got Sting’s note but responded and eased his solitude through a mix of thoughtful conversation and tantric love.

A very happy ending not dissimilar to the story of a New Zealand surfer out enjoying some tasty waves on an extremely remote beach west of Aukland. As things go, he got smashed into the rocks, lost his board and washed up on the sand. He was unable to walk but had the wherewithal to scrawl a giant HELP in that sand before collapsing.

Two hikers just so happened to be in the area, saw his missive and notified the authorities.

John-Michael Swannix, a search and rescue supervisor with the Surf Life Saving Northern Region, told the local news, “The message in the sand is not visible from the walking tracks at the northern end of Mercer Bay, so it was very lucky the informant and her friend were at the southern end and able to see it.”

The surfer was transported to a local hospital, alive and on the way to a full recovery.

An extremely happy ending though I worry if I had washed up I would have accidentally scrawled a giant VAL GO HOME in the sand before collapsing and would be there this very minute suffering Pre-Trudie Sting levels of loneliness with every breath I took.

So lonely.

Big Wave Legend Laird Hamilton inks deal with U.S. Snowboarding to provide exclusive functional coffee creamer: “We are excited to help fuel the daily ritual of such dynamic high performing athletes!”

Functional mushrooms.

(As first seen on your LodgeGrit)

If you are aware of anything, or one, in the surf world it is either onetime Baywatch star and Gisele Bündchen’s ex Kelly Slater or big wave legend and ice bath activist Laird Hamilton.

Well, the later just crashed the mountain party, inking a three-year deal with U.S. Ski & Snowboard to be “the official and globally exclusive functional coffee and coffee creamer” sponsor but let us go directly to the press release for more:

Laird Superfood (NYSE American: LSF), creator of assorted superfood products, today announced a new three-year partnership with U.S. Ski & Snowboard to be their official and globally exclusive functional coffee and coffee creamer sponsor. The partnership will help nourish the U.S. Ski & Snowboard athletes on their road to gold with functional, plant-based ingredients. Laird Superfood products help elevate and support the athletes’ daily ritual with fueling ingredients. Each product is carefully selected to create the best possible experience by giving each routine a serious upgrade. Laird Superfood is defining the next wave of coffee by increasing the benefits of America’s most popular beverage with their new functional blends that are revolutionizing the way people consume their favorite drink.

“We are proud to support the U.S. Ski & Snowboard community and feel that this partnership aligns with our mission of providing real, plant-based products to support people looking to perform their best, whether on the slopes, in the office, or at home,” said Paul Hodge, CEO of Laird Superfood. “We are excited to help fuel the daily ritual of such dynamic, high performing athletes competing as members of the U.S. Ski & Snowboard teams.”

As the exclusive coffee creamer, hot chocolate, functional mushroom, and ground, whole bean, and functional coffee sponsor, Laird Superfood… etc.

Hamilton (pictured in red jacket) functional.
Hamilton (pictured in red jacket) functional.

Quickly, did you ever believe you’d live to see the day when the “official and globally exclusive functional coffee and coffee creamer” category would exist?

I didn’t and whoever claims these are troubled days filled with rancor and unrest should French press a nice mug of black coffee, stir in some functional creamer and re-evaluate.

Or maybe eat a functional mushroom


"You mean, you believe in ethical surf tourism too?"

Scientific research paper on international surf travel reveals intrinsic nihilism of shredders: “The greater the surfer’s ability, the less they value sustainability”

And girls, VALS and the destitute revealed as heroes of surf travel.

An exciting new scientific research paper, Establishing a pre-COVID-19 baseline for surf tourism: Trip expenditure and attitudes, behaviors and willingness to pay for sustainability, has revealed a shocking truth. 

The better you surf, the more high-performance craft you ride, the less y’care about whether or not the joint you’re visiting puts a little back into the host country, employees locals etc. 

You want waves, some booze and maybe a few hookers on the last night. The rest is up to the hotel owner.

That’s my view, at least.

The paper, from Leon Mach, an  Associate Professor in Environmental Policy and Socioeconomic Values from Panama and Jess Ponting, Associate Professor in sustainable tourism at San Diego State University, finds girls, VALS and the destitute are the real heroes when it comes to looking after mother earth. 

Scroll down to page seven, 5.2, to find this lil gem. 

“The results of this study indicate that female surfers, younger surfers, and lower income surfers value both sustainable attitudes and behaviors more highly than other groups. Additionally, those who predominantly ride short-boards, and those with higher ability levels see less value in selecting sustainable tourism providers. Future research could explore the implications of this finding as it is likely that expert surfers will be among the most likely to travel before the pandemic is finally under control.”

And, how about this?

“International surf tourism expenditure was valued between $31.5 to $64.9 billion USD per year and surfers reported being willing to pay between $1.99 and $4.1 billion USD more annually for sustainable surf tourism products.”

Two things. 

The word sustainable is meaningless. 

And, I’d got out of my way to avoid a joint that offered an “authentic”, “sustainable” surf experience. 

Click here to read…

Happy John John Florence wins first event of 20-21 tour.

Timeline: the World Surf League’s Annus Horribilis, six cancellations, two Heads of Competition, mass COVID infection, one “shark incident.”

Many twists, many turns.

As the WSL (somehow) soldiers on, it’s easy to lose track of of the absurdity of the last eight months.

Let’s examine.

July 17, 2020:

The WSL cancels the 2020 Tour, citing the “health and safety of athletes” and “the challenges of international travel.” While many lament the news, it seems rather prudent given the state of things.

Maybe a reset is just what the WSL needs.

In the same breath, the WSL introduces a new and improved Championship Tour. It boasts a revamped finals event (with a mystery location), new event locations, and kick-off events at Pipe and Maui.

The optimists among us muse about a finals event held at a tropical reef, but the realists remind us of a little cobblestone A-frame in Southern California.

November 10, 2020:

The WSL announces that the WSL Finals will be held at. . . Trestles.

Kolohe and Filipe rejoice.

The WSL also announces a myriad of new event locations for the 2021 Tour, axing Portugal and G-Land for Sunset and Santa Cruz.

The WSL never releases a formal statement regarding Portugal and G-Land. The November 10th press release simply reads postponed and TBD, respectively.

December 2020:

The first leg of the Tour kicks off, with the women at Honolulu Bay and the men at Pipe.

The morning before the women’s finals, a man is attacked and killed by a shark, putting the event on hold. Elo introduces us all to some new corpospeak, calling it a “shark incident.”

The women’s event is subsequently moved to Pipe, where the competitors opt for turns in lieu of tubes. Tyler Wright is crowned the winner of the Maui Pro at Pipeline.

Meanwhile, the men start the 2021 Tour at Pipe in pumping surf. Surf fans rejoice.

Then, the Billabong Pipe Masters is suddenly suspended as a result of positive COVID-19 tests “within the WSL staff, including WSL CEO Erik Logan.”

WSL viewers are largely left in the dark. Pipe continues to pump, unsullied by professional competition. Rumors abound about patient zero.

On December 15 the event resumes, albeit in smaller surf. John Florence banishes Gabriel Medina for the win and old man Slater takes a third place finish alongside Italo.

January 5, 2021:

Hawaii suspends all surfing competitions, forcing the WSL to cancel the Sunset Open and Jaws.

The WSL additionally announces the suspension of the Santa Cruz Pro, scheduled for February, citing the surge of cases in California.

Surf fans are left in the lurch. The next event isn’t scheduled until April.

January 7, 2021:

A Pulitzer Prize worthy bit of investigative journalism (snub of the year!) reveals that the WSL has failed to acquire the necessary permitting for the Trestles Final Event.

A finals event in California’s Central Valley seems more and more likely.

Kelly celebrates.

January 31, 2021:

Rumors abound of a potential CT event at Lennox Head, adding an additional contest to the Australian leg.

February 2-3, 2021:

The Lennox community rebels against the WSL, threatening protest paddle outs, while the WSL claims community support.

It appears the WSL has largely acted in the dark, leaving many community members out of the loop.

Surf journalism takes yet another step towards the edge of the cliff, with the likes of Stab and The Inertia ignoring the fallout.

Said community quickly mobilizes, forcing the issue to a head. Ballina Councillors reject the event.

WSL General Manager for Australia Andrew Stark says, “If you don’t want us to come to your town, we’re not coming.”

I mull staging a protest in Lemoore.

February 6, 2021:

The WSL quickly pivots, securing an event at Merewether.

The intention is to charter a plane for both Tours from Los Angeles to Sydney for a two-week quarantine in mid-March.

February 7, 2021:

Bells is cancelled, resulting in a reported $8 million loss for Torquay.

The WSL cites the government’s failure to approve a plan for quarantining the athletes.

The Newcastle Cup is scheduled for April 1-11. Mayor claims $15 million boost for economy.

February 15, 2021:

The WSL releases yet another updated schedule.

The new Australian leg will include events at Newcastle, Narrabeen, Margaret River, and Rottnest.

Snapper is the latest casualty, along with Pat O’Connell, who after only a year will be replaced by Jessi Miley-Dyer, the new Head of Competition.

Eight months. Six cancellations. Two Heads of Competition. Mass COVID infections. One “shark incident.”

Too many press releases.