The waves at Alaïa Bay, set up with forty-six motors, are going to be that much better than the Melbourne Urbnsurf facility, with a slightly smaller pool size translating into slightly bigger, and more powerful waves.

Swiss Wave pool built at the base of Chamonix ski resort set to open in weeks!

Bigger than Melbourne's Urbnsurf, less crowds etc.

Switzerland came twenty-third out of fifty-four teams in the ISA World Games in 2019. Great Britain was 20th, Philippines 21st, the Netherlands were 22nd.

Just below Switzerland were Ecuador, Barbados, Ireland, Fiji and Morocco.

Not a bad result then, for a nation without a coastline.

However, in the time of wave tanks, they have decided to build their own piece of coast.

Sion, in Valais, is a sunny little town nestled in the foot of the Alps. It is well-known as the area in Switzerland that receives the most sunlight annually. It is at the foot of famous ski resorts like Zermatt and Chamonix and does have quite wonderful views.

In Sion, Alaïa Bay is soon to turn on engines and make some waves for visitors and locals.

Alaïa Bay founder, Adam Bonvin, is a twenty-five-year-old surfer, who had the idea of building a wave pool in Switzerland when he was 18-years-old and traveling.

“I have always loved snowboarding, but when I discovered surfing I was hooked,” said Bonvin on his motivation behind building the Alaïa Bay facility. “The idea for the Alaïa Bay pool actually came to me after a surf trip to Hossegor in France.”

There has been much planning, as well as dealing with all the COVID details and protocols, but all is set for the grand opening in April.

The Alaïa Bay management opened up tickets for pre-0pening sessions, and they were offered in various packages and at different prices. Those pre-op tickets valid for the pre-opening period were immediately sold out.

There are two main payment structures: pay per session or join the Alpine Surf Club, pay a premium, and receive extra sessions and reduced rates. The Alpine Surf Club offers several membership options, much like the Gold memberships at Melbourne.

A big diff with Melbourne’s UrbnSurf is the number of surfers in the water. An expert session in Switzerland will consist of eight surfers on the left and right on the right, with a wave count of about twelve waves in the session.

The advanced sessions will consist of eleven surfers per side, and about thirteen waves per session.

In Melbourne, the numbers are eighteen and twelve.

Your wave count will be above ten rides for a fifty-five-minute session. That’s a wave every five minutes.

In today’s crowds, some people would be ecstatic with that wave count.

The Wavegarden Cove set up is modular, and the number of modules, which is the number of motors, effects the length and quality of ride.

The waves at Alaïa Bay, set up with forty-six motors, are going to be that much better than the Melbourne Urbnsurf facility, with a slightly smaller pool size translating into slightly bigger, and more powerful waves.

How cold is the joint going to get?  Everyone asks about the water temperatures.

For a location like Sion to have good snowboarding and ski locations twenty minutes away, the temperatures will drop through the middle of winter.

Still, good rubber and warm facilities will see any stoked surfer through the coldest patch. We all know that wetsuit quality and tech are excellent. Surfers are getting barrelled in Iceland, Norway, Kamchatka and Scotland.

In the height of summer, there are about sixteen hours of sunlight in Sion, the air temps get into the high thirties (nineties Fahrenheit)  with all sorts of heat-wave warnings and advice, like ‘stay indoors’ and ‘stay hydrated’ etc.

Surfers however, will use any sort of heatwave excuse to disrobe and surf in boardshorts and bikinis.

So there is that.

Witness: Great White Sharks stalk SUP pilots sporting “extra-juicy dad bods” off the coast of sunny Santa Barbara!

Shark incident.

There has been so much turmoil, such mess, around the winter of our World Surf League’s discontent that typical billboard material has been left on floor. I was, for instance reminded, in Cedar Hobb’s glorious timeline, of CEO Erik Logan calling a fatal Tiger hit at Honolua Bay a “shark incident.”

“Shark incident.”

Mick Fanning gets back on the ski and resets.

Shark incident.

In any case, two SUP pilots sporting extra-juicy dad bods were stalked off Santa Barbara’s sunny coast over the weekend. The moment was captured by outdoor photographer Adam Ernster who wrote on Instagram, “Respectfully enjoying nature is one of my favorite things about living in Santa Barbara. Whether you’re a fisherman, surfer, or avid hiker, SB brings together a passionate community of like minded nature lovers. Although great white sharks deserve tremendous respect and space, it’s always inspiring watching the locals safely interact with these apex predators. Sharks worldwide are going to need our help to survive into the 21st century and beyond. Connecting and coexisting with beautiful predators is the name of the game if we want to progress peacefully into the future.”

If one of the like-minded nature loving SUPpers would have slipped and fallen into the drink, do you think the Great White would have enjoyed his snack?

I think probably no. I think, of all the sorts of bods out there, dad bods are the least tasty.

Much beer basting.

Shark incident.

Rumor: World Surf League jettisons Big Wave World Tour as reeling organization continues to be buffeted by utter lack of imagination!

Poor management has a new name.

Now that we have fully celebrated professional surfing’s return with Australia birthing a quadrennial of fabulous little surfboard events, it is time to turn our attention back to the carcasses lining our World Surf League’s recent path.

Oh, I know that “quadrennial” means “occurring once every four years” but I like the word better than fourgie or quartet and, as an applied linguist, am allowed to do whatever I want.


In any case, carcasses. Sunset Beach and Santa Cruz are both fully bloated. I have heard nothing about a re-vamped professional longboard tour-ette.

Big waves?

A source very close to Santa Monica’s levers of power declares, “Done been cancelled.”

Apparently, Bill Sharp has been let go. The spikey-haired fellow has long been the face of hot big wave action, championing XXL Awards and sorting a proper series featuring Jaws, Mavericks, Nazaré, maybe etc.

He is now out in that big wave community trying to sort some non-WSL way forward.

A well-known big wave person corroborates, saying, he/she can’t get any news on the Big Wave Awards this year even though eleven months into it with surfers, and their trusty photographers, doing the hard work during the best big wave season in recent memory.

As a student of history, you certainly recall when the World Surf League promised big wavers much better than they had ever seen.

A world of riches etc.

Now, nothing. Not even a courtesy call and a proper shame.

Will there be any takers for a big wave bacchanal?


The Australian government?

Also, does losing big waves dent the World Surf League’s claim of being “The Global Home of Surfing?”

Much to ponder.

More as the story develops.

Shock: World surfing champion Mick Fanning fails to earn expected millions from sale of apartment building on Coolangatta’s “golden mile”!

An important lesson in the caprices of the Australian property market… 

One week ago, it was reported that Mick Fanning, noted survivor of a Great White attack and three-time world champion, had listed one of his Coolangatta apartment buildings for sale.

Mick, who is forty-one, bought the joint at 213 Boundary Street, Coolangatta, for $3.1 million in 2007 and, last year, turned the old red-brick fifties build into something a little easier on potential buyers’ eyes with soothing vanilla interiors, black faucets, wooden flooring and with breeze-block walls enclosing patios.

Square black taps, a lesson in edgy chic or the height of provincial vulgarity?
Real good spot.

There are two three-bedroom apartments, each with its own studio or granny flat, two garages, and the building squats on five-thousand square feet.

Mick also owns the building next door, which he bought for 2005 for $1.39 million and another two doors down, bought for $1.2 million in 2006.

The selling agent described the joint as a “luxurious homestead” and told buyers y’could rent the big apartments out for eight hundred dollars a week and you’d get five hundred for the tiny joints underneath ‘em.

Given the hot property market on the GC, I was thinking high-fours, maybe five mill.

Let’s do a lil maths.

Mick bought in at three-point-one, dropped maybe five hundred on the reno, add in buying and selling costs, and you’d expect a profit of around one to two million bucks.

Not a bad earn, but not spectacular either after thirteen years.

The result? $2.86 mill.

One-forty thou’ less than the 2007 buying price, add in thirteen years of rates, maintenance and whatever else, and, ooowee, y’got a stinker.

The auction started real slow with an opening hit of one-point-five as the auctioneer warned buyers and onlookers that photos and video were banned.

A bit of back and forth and the price stalled at 2.55 mill.

Agent called Mick.

Ten minutes later, auction was back on and at 2.75 mill it hit the reserve.

Then, strategic hits of one and five thousand-dollar bids as two buyers duked it out.

Eventually, $2.826 mill got the place.

Lesson: not all real estate, even in Australia, and especially the notoriously fickle Gold Coast, is destined for great things.

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!