Photographer who shot most polarizing cover in surf magazine history struggling for life with “freak neck infection” in Bali; insurer refuses payment citing freak neck infections uncovered by policy.

Tragedy on the Island of the Gods.

It seems like many lifetimes ago, but it was really only a small part of one, when our surfing world was ruled by surfing magazines. In the United States, there was three: Surfing, Surfer and Transworld Surf. The latter, edited by Joel Patterson then Chris Cotê, served a steady diet of punky fun with various bro-isms, bright colors and tongue-in-cheek ripostes.

Very fun.

But, as you know, all good things come to an end and Transworld Surf came to an end with the most polarizing cover in surf magazine history.

It was one of my all-time favorites, capturing the joie de vivre of our surfing world but others despised, thinking it unchill. Whatever your opinion, it is an undeniably magnificent image, taken by Brad Masters who hails from Fremantle in Perth.

The 41-year-old photographer/fitness guru had been in Bali, this past December, when he began to experience pain in his lower jaw. By Christmas, his neck was bigger than his head and “scarlet,” according to his partner Trish Kincaid.

For one month, the doctors tried to remove the infection but then Masters contracted a superbug and was placed in an induced coma on life support. The infection then spread to his lungs and gave him pneumonia.

He spent many more weeks in and out of surgery, before the doctors were able to clear the infection and close the wound and must spend many more weeks in the hospital while he heals but his insurance company is refusing to pay for the cost, citing the fact that neck infections are not covered by the policy, according to Kincaid.

The family has set up a GoFundMe campaign to cover the cost as well as repatriate Masters back to his native Australia.

Damned insurance companies.

Worse than all but internet providers.


Graphic footage: See Australian big-wave surfer Russ Bierke’s horror wipeout and yawning wound on East Coast’s Big Thursday!

"A gaping hole near the limb’s brachial artery, the arm’s flexor muscle exposed."

Here’s a little reminder of what can happen when you’re wrangling twelve-to-fifteen foot waves at a wild offshore reef.

Russell Bierke, twenty-three, is the diminutive and deceptively fragile looking son of noted Californian-born shaper Kirk Bierke whose boards are sold under the label KB Surf and made in Ulladulla, three hours south of Sydney.

On Thursday, Jan 21, much of Australia’s east coast was raked by a powerful south swell, igniting a bonfire in the loins of Russ who planned on cavorting at a reef nearish to home.

This is his second wave, paddled into on his seven-eight at seven-thirty am. Russ swung for a double-up, hit a little backwash from the previous wave and, as Russ explains, “bodysurfed straight onto the bottom on my elbows with arms out in front of me.”

Russ, wearing an impact suit, figured it wasn’t too bad. He’d been dragged along the bottom before, which is mostly barnacles and cungeboi, and figured he’d have a little reef rash.

Then he saw the blood pouring out of his wetsuit.

“I pulled it off and got a shock,” he says.

A gaping hole near the limb’s brachial artery, the arm’s flexor muscle exposed.

Opened.

Russ is a practical sorta cat and had a stretch tourniquet handy.

Immediately, Russ was thinking about nerve damage or muscle that could keep him out of the big-wave game for months.

In the clip, here, we see the moment, upon his return to shore, where he examines the wound with his friend Sean Mawson and filmer Andrew Kaineder.

At a nearby hospital, Russ was relieved to learn he’d avoided nerve or muscle damage and, after eleven stitches and a couple of weeks kept dry, he’d be back in the ocean.

Still, ask him what he hit and he still doesn’t know, definitely wasn’t a fin, he says, and theorises that it might’ve been a pressure split, where the skin splits upon impact.

Russ is no stranger to injury, of course.

He is one surfer who is prepared to pay, what Hawaiians call, “the ultimate price.”

In 2017, he was blue as a Smurf” and “on all fours spewing” after a wipeout in fifteen waves in Victoria, an injury that put him in intensive care.


Want some? Have some.
Want some? Have some.

We professional surf fans deserve better than the utterly failed World Surf League and now we have it thanks to Travis Rice and his Natural Selection!

The story has officially developed.

That’s it, that’s all. I’ve had it. Mad as hell and not going to take it anymore etc. The World Surf League has failed us, extraordinarily, in our moment of greatest need. They have withheld professional competitive surfing, through bungling, lack of imagination, arrogant stupidity when Plump Pip Toledo bouncing around equally oversized Sunset could have, nay would have, been the healing ointment for these uncertain times.

Pandemic, political tension, economic stressors, emotional collapse.

Professional competitive surfing as cure. Hours stretching into days pondering Kanoa Igarshi’s wave selection instead of whether granny will live to see another rotten day.

But no, nein, nyet (which is actually spelled “net” in our English script because the “e” is pronounced “ye”) nothing and I am finished looking to Santa Monica with dewy, hope-filled eyes. Done waiting on World Surf League CEO Erik Logan to un-mealy his mouth.

Instead I shall fly to Jackson, Wyoming where the world’s greatest snowboarder, Travis Rice, has willed a whole new professional competitive tour into existence, staring pandemic, political tension, economic stressors, emotional collapse in the eye and not blinking.

Natural Selection, with its first of three stops at the famed Jackson Hole Mountain Resort (Feb. 3 – 9), will wrench our attention from granny’s well-being and has a format so simple even the most salt-crusted can follow along.

Sixteen men and eight women, each one of finest snowboarders alive, hand-selected by competent snowboard journalists, podcasteers and legends (as opposed to slogging through some nitwit QS-esque nonsense) will bash off natural and lightly enhanced features for our entertainment.

Many big airs. Much rotations.

I just so happened to be with Travis over this past New Year holiday. One evening he came home tired and sweaty, having been shoveling snow on the course all day. I was drinking bourbon and working on a puzzle of planet earth in his kitchen. “I think I did the highest air of my life,” he said. “How high?” I asked. “100 feet,” he mumbled, not impressed with himself, though I was very impressed and you will certainly be too.

We understand 100 feet.

The riders will be judged on their amplitude but also their speed, their power, their flow.

We understand speed, power and flow.

It will take the best two days of a seven day waiting period to run the event.

We understand waiting periods.

The finest snowboarders alive will then go to Bald Face in British Columbia, a fantasy land owned and operated by one of the handsomest men on earth, Jeff Pensiero. The top four men, two women, after that will end in Alaska on the same spines featured in the world’s greatest extreme sport film ever (Tom Curren’s Free Scrubber exempted).

We understand that it takes a tour to make a title.

I shall be covering it all, each stop, starting tomorrow on LodgeGrit, which also happens to be anti-depressive, and encourage you, oh weary People™, to join me there daily with coverage, ill-posited opinion, live commenting.

Long live scores in the excellent range.

Long live elimination rounds.

Long live tenths of percents.

Long live hundreds of feet.

Long live competitive professional surfing.

I mean snowboarding.


Effort. Reward. Vindication. | Photo: @parkerndavis

Astonishing: Thirty-second surfing clip reveals “everything of the nature of man and fate!”

"That is life, that is man."

Did you know there are 2024 lines of dialogue in Hamlet? 

But, would Shakespeare have felt inclined to spill so much ink and time if he’d ever had the privilege of witnessing the sport of kings?

Specifically this clip in particular?

https://www.instagram.com/p/CKo6sZSHfl2/

 

I doubt it.

He would have lain down his quill with the words,“See that there? That is life, that is man.”

What is exhibited in this one thirty-second clip is nothing less than the full spectrum of humanity itself.

What’s encapsulated in this narrative is, in a word, literally, Everything.

Needless to say then it warrants a closer look.

The work opens with a familiar scene (Act one scene one: establish normality), a crowded line-up. The supporting cast. A wave approaches. Several figures scratch for the drop. Four make it.

Thus we have our leading men, our major characters. Three surfers and a bodyboarder. Questions of priority we will leave for ensuing generations of critics and scholars to mull over. For now we’ll concern ourselves principally with plot. The surfer furthest on the inside is lost early, call it timing, positioning, bad faith snaking – we can’t know. Save it for the prequel.

Regardless, his story is lost. Hopelessness.

That leaves three.

One, all in white, struggles in the foam, not gone, but lost. His cause looks futile.

This? Life.

The bodyboarder looks to have it. He pops to a drop-knee position. Does he know of the surfer on his inside, further towards the pocket and to whom many an observer might say the wave belongs? He seems oblivious, concerned only with his own ensuing gratification: Solipsism. Egocentricity.

The inside surfer looks back seemingly concerned with the fate of The Lost One: Compassion. Empathy. Curiosity.

Regardless of motive Inside Surfer’s focus on “the other” will prove fatal.

The Bodyboarder, either through hubris, a desire to get back further towards the pocket or out of territorial malevolence, cuts back into the path of Inside Surfer. Villainy.

The audience holds its breath.

Inside Surfer ploughs into Bodyboarder and stacks it over the lip. Out of shot. Out of existence. “Nice guys finish last,” the universe seems to tell us. Bodyboarder must surely have it now.

But wait.

Inside Surfer’s board pounces like a conscious animal still loyal to its fallen master and tonks Bodyboarder on the head. He could take the hit, hold his line, ride on. Instead he puts up his hands to guard himself against the blow and in doing so loses said line and swerves off up and over the lip! Vanity. Cowardice. Lulz. Justice.

And thus ends the tragedy?

Sweep to stage right to reveal: The Lost One, our angel all in white, once assumed to have gone the way of Hopelessness is resurrected, muscling through the foam, thanklessly and inexplicably chasing the lost cause. A picture of patience. Lazarus and Sisyphus combined. Tenacity.

But there’s still work to be done. No Bodyboard hubris here. He waits. After all, what’s another half-second compared to the previous twenty?

The wave jacks slightly.

He carves out of the foam and at last he’s on the wave!

And then suddenly the universe obliges further. From nowhere a barrel, and he’s in it, bent at the waist, slightly ungainly, a touch of poo-stance, but hey, who’s judging?

He emerges. Only a scoundrel would resent the claim: arms aloft in victory, in gratitude.

Effort. Reward. Vindication.

Curtain.


Lennox Head, a wildlife playground. | Photo: Photo: @9newsGoldCoast

Rumour: National Surfing Reserve Lennox Head to be site of fourth WCT event on Australian leg of 2021 WSL tour!

Local surfers refuse to rule out "weaponised ass-play"… 

As reported earlier today, the three-event Australian leg of the World Championship Tour will, likely, be extended to include a fourth contest.

Surfline suggested a double-header in Sydney but our sources have revealed the contest will actually take place at Lennox Head, eight hundred kilometres north, and home to BeachGrit’s Steve “Longtom” Shearer as well as shaper Dan Thomson and his father, the builder of “the world’s most advanced surf mat” Mark Thomson. 

You’ll also recall Lennox as being the home of “weaponised ass-play”.

Lennox is also popular with Great White sharks.

Read, BeachGrit writer eyeballed by White at Lennox: “I can feel the pressure wave on my legs; the big pectoral fins look like a plane!”and Healthy: 333 Great Whites caught on ten-mile stretch between Ballina, Lennox and Evans Head!” 

Whales, too, enjoy the area’s warm green water. 

And Sharpes Beach made headlines last October when the one-time world title contender Matt Wilkinson was stalked by an eight-foot bull shark while having a solo sesh.

“I got to feel that weird, heart-sinking but lucky feeling when I saw that footage,” Wilko said.

We’re told that the WSL’s “Competition Director at selected events”, Kieren Perrow, and Andrew Stark, the WSL’s general manager, have met with the local board riders club, Le-Ba (Lennox-Ballina), as well as stakeholders who hold the keys to unlocking a national surfing reserve to a corporate surfing event. 

The back-up site will be Sharpes Beach, a pretty average sorta wave just south of Lennox, but suddenly popular due to a surge in housing developments, including the master-planned “neighbourhood” Aureus. 

Aurea at the WSL’s back-up site, Sharpes Beach.

More as it comes.