World Surf League blames government inaction for cancellation of historic 40th anniversary of Bells Beach surfing contest: “We were not provided with the assurance to land the (charter) plane by the Victorian government”

Iconic surf contest shuttered for anniversary of game-changing 1981 event… 

It was gonna be a hell of a Bells contest, at least viewed through the prism of history. 

Forty Easters ago, on the second-last day of the contest, Simon Anderson, who was twenty-seven, famously rode his new six-six, three-finned surfboard, which he’d called a “thruster”, to dominate in clean fifteen-foot waves, the design legitimised further when he won the final in two-to-three-foot runners. 

“There were many skeptics [regarding the Thruster], and some people openly laughed,” Simon told the writer Drew Kampion that year. “All year they were saying that the Thruster wouldn’t work. They said it in Australia, and I proved it there; they said it in Hawaii, and I proved it there, too. It’s a complicated design, and one little thing can throw it off, and it can really turn you off on them if you don’t get hold of a good one.”

Howevs, and as reported earlier, there was little chance Bells was ever gonna run in a state famous for having the world’s strictest lockdown laws.

Entire towers of state government housing shuttered, its residents cowering inside; cops ready to wrestle at the slightest provocation. A pregnant woman, handcuffed in front of her kids and dragged away for planning an anti-lockdown protest on Facebook, despite her offer to delete the post.

Over the course of less than a month, August 4 through September 2, 2020, almost three million dollars in fines were issued.

So, yeah.

“We were not provided with the assurance to land the plane by the Victorian government and we understood and respected that position as we needed an answer right at the time the tennis issue was unfolding in early January so clearly, that was going to be challenging to achieve,” a WSL spokesperson told The Age. “We understood why a decision to land our charter in amongst the tennis issues was not possible but we needed a solution for our sport to stay alive in 2021 and we were very fortunate that NSW was able to provide this to us at extremely short notice.”

The state government said it had bigger fish to fry, frankly.

“Given the stated priority of accommodating returning Australians, we were unable to provide the World Surf League with a guarantee regarding quarantine places for international surfers within the time frame required by them. We continue to work with the World Surf League on plans for the Rip Curl Pro and will have more to say in due course.”

It is estimated the local economy will be stiffed by around eight million bucks.

Photo: @mastersindo

Tragedy: Iconic surf photographer loses battle with freak neck infection, dies in Perth hospital after courageous fight.

RIP Brad Masters.

Days ago, we learned that surf photographer Brad Masters, made famous for shooting the most-polarizing cover in surf magazine history, was in a Bali hospital after developing a “freak neck infection.” His partner, Trish Kincaid, said Masters first complained of a swollen gland in his jaw and, by December 25, his neck was “scarlet and bigger than his head.”

He then contracted a superbug and was put into a medically induced coma while doctors attempted to beat it back. After an extremely difficult month, the fight was lost early Sunday morning after being medivaced to a Perth hospital.

Masters’ heartbroken family released the following statement:

“It is with great sadness that we share the news of Brads passing in the early hours of this morning Brad tried really hard to stay with us but unfortunately his body was extremely weak to keep fighting. We will take comfort in the beautiful images he created through his photos and his quirky ways.”

He is survived by an 11-year-old son.

Chris Cotê, who edited Transworld Surf magazine and used Masters’ work regularly, said the famed Travel Issue cover is in his top three of all-time best ever.

It is my number one.

Donate to the family here.

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.