An early attempt at surfing in the Middle Kingdom.

Eminent historian eviscerates controversial author of Cocaine and Surfing for inaccuracies in reporting birth of surfing in China: “This time you passed the mark and put false words in my mouth”

"Affirming that I declared that surfing happened in China ‘Thousands of years before Polynesia’ is blatantly false and casts a bad light on my professionalism."

Three days ago, it was reported, here, that an Italian historian had made the stunning discovery that surfing began in China “thousands of years before Polynesia.”

Wrote Chas Smith,

Nicolla “Nik” Zanella stumbled on his discovery in 2006 while visiting a Buddhist temple in Kunming in the southern Yunnan province. There he saw a 19th century bas-relief depicting a group of arhats, or those who have reached Nirvana, out amongst the waves.

One, in particular, stood out.

“The guy was standing up, his pose was exactly what we teach – back foot flat, front foot at a 45-degree angle, looking 5m in front of the board. And his face – he looked stoked,” Zanella told the South China Morning Post.

It was so captivating that he climbed down 5000 years of Chinese literature, finding Song Dynasty poet Zhou Mi’s work on the way. Zanella translates, “Hundreds of brave watermen … with unfastened hair and tattoos, holding coloured flags, race to the water … they paddle towards the oncoming waves … then they leap up and perform a hundred manoeuvres without getting the tail of their flags even slightly wet. This is how they show off their skill. Hence the nobles reward them with silver prizes.”

In a lengthy email to BeachGrit, received today, Zanella has eviscerated Chas Smith, the celebrated and much loved author of best-selling books Welcome to Paradise Now Go To Hell, Cocaine and Surfing, a Sordid History of Surfing’s Greatest Love Affair and Reports From Hell.

Zanella writes,

Who did it first was not the scope of my research, but this time frame is almost simultaneous with what was happening in Polynesia. Affirming that I declared that surfing happened in China ‘Thousands of years before Polynesia’ is blatantly false and casts a bad light on my professionalism.

I hope you have the decency of erasing that article and learn to investigate what you publish in the future, what you stated was not in the SCMP article, nor in my book, nor in any interview that I ever gave to the many media, all more professional than BeachGrit, that covered my book and research. A simple google search would have clarified it.

As an avid surfer myself and a former surf editor I understand your need for click-bait titles in a starved out surf media environment.

But this time you passed the mark and put false words in my mouth.

I ask you to erase the article. I’m willing to send you a copy of my book so that you can read it and understand the scope and direction of my research.

The author of the story is yet to respond to the claims.

Business: Luxury surf resort hires professional surf photographer to capture guests’ every head-dip, each four-stage pop-up!

Everyone is a star!

If we have learned but one thing in the World Surf League CEO Erik Logan era it is that vulnerable adult learners love to have their photographs taken whilst surfing. Love to have their photographs taken pre-surf, post-surf but especially mid-surf.

ELo’s Instagram feed is a veritable garden of watery delights. Head dips, mid-wave bottom turns, squeals of joy.

The shame that used to be associated with surfing poorly vanished as the VAL utopia dawns.

A luxury surf resort in the Maldives, finger to wind, just hired a professional surf photographer to snap each guest at their lineup finest.

According to Travel + Leisure, Niyama Private Islands just welcomed Erick Proost for a three-month residency. Proost, the magazine writes, “is a seasoned cinematographer and photographer specializing in surfing and water shots. His previous clients included world champions and professional surfers Adriana De Souza and Gabriel Medina. He’s also shot and produced several surf movies, though his passion lies with photography, bringing together man and nature in one epic surf shot.”

He will accompany the boat out in the morning, shoot from the water all day, then make himself available for surf chit-chat at the resort’s rum bar featuring “snacks and a reggae soundtrack softly playing from the speakers.”

Very 1.5%.

But if you had your own surf photographer, a la John John Florence, which wave would you surf if looking your absolute finest was the end goal?

Kelly Slater’s Surf Ranch?

A safe, if uninspired, choice.

Whatever your feelings on the matter, the event does make for a compelling photograph. | Photo: Port Hacking Game Fishing Club

Ocean lovers mourn “execution” of half-ton Tiger Shark by sports fishermen just off popular Sydney surf beach: “This animal was one of the important fishes in the sea!”

“I felt sick, because sharks have been around for 400 million years and it’s only in the past 50 years that humans have been doing such a great job of getting rid of them."

Four days ago, a group of sports fishermen from the Port Hacking Game Fishing Club, competing in a contest off Cronulla in Sydney’s south, hooked an almost half-ton Tiger shark as big as their boat.

The men wrestled the fish for almost an hour before killing it and bringing it to shore for the obligatory victory photos. 

Tigers aren’t protected in NSW waters so a fisherman can do pretty much what he wants. 

Catch ‘em, drag ‘em board, belt ‘em over the head. Take selfies.

Death ain’t pretty, of course. 

And, ocean and wildlife lovers lit up, as you can imagine. 

“I had two reactions,” University of WA Professor Jessica Meeuwig, who is the director of the uni’s Centre for Marine Futures, told The West Live. “I felt sick, because sharks have been around for 400 million years and it’s only in the past 50 years that humans have been doing such a great job of getting rid of them. And the other thing is, I felt sad, because a lot of recreational fishers truly love the ocean and they love the wildlife that’s in the ocean, and they’re probably not aware that killing animals like that is basically ocean vandalism.”

Two years earlier, a ninety-pound eight year old boy from the same club spent an entire day reeling in a nine-hundred pound Tiger twenty miles off Bondi.

“The majority of sharks that are caught are let go,” he said. “With this one, fisheries will take samples for research, and the jaws will get moulded into in a plaque on the wall for Jayden. The rest is fish and chips.”

Sub-bantamweight boy vs ultra-heavy Tiger.

He that is without sin, of course, throw your rocks. 


All those pretty little lambs, mewing like the babies they are, throats hacked open, roasted in ovens, presented as happy family meal; the calves torn from mammy at birth for veal, described as “the pale and tender meat of a very sick baby cow who was tortured to death.”

All the happy salmon and tuna we mow through, gasping on the decks of fishing boats or living miserable lives in filthy pens before getting the knife through the head.

The male chicks thrown into slicing machines, useless, mostly for any commercial purpose. 

And on and on.

Photo: Steve Sherman @tsherms.
Photo: Steve Sherman @tsherms. | Photo: @tsherms/Steve Sherman

Opinion: History will now officially remember world’s greatest surfer Kelly Slater as the seventh or maybe eighth best athlete of his generation!

Not the B.O.A.T.

The world’s greatest surfer Kelly Slater is, without any shade of doubt, a once-in-a-lifetime phenomenon. Handsome, well-spoken, ridiculously talented, driven. He holds 11 World Titles, the most in history and by far, winning his first in 1992 and his last in 2011.

This year, ranked 3rd after an eye-opening performance at Pipeline, he was in position to defy all odds and take home his 12th crown, cementing his place as the best of all time, or B.O.A.T. but alas, a four-year-old injury and maybe the prospect of spending two weeks locked in an Australian Ibis has halted his campaign.

What does this mean?

He will not be the B.O.A.T. but rather the seventh or eighth best of his generation.

Let’s count Kelly’s contemporaries who are now forever above him.

1) Wayne Gretzky

2) Serena Williams

3) Roger Federer

4) Tom Brady

5) Lebron James

6) Bo Jackson

7) Kelly Slater?

I know you think Wayne Gretzky is too old to belong but with a face like that oooooooee. How can he not be included amongst his youngers?

Anyhow, do you agree or should we nitpick?

Inspiration: Honolulu boy paralyzed in rare surfing accident becomes card trick master, president of Hawaii’s Society of American Magicians!

Wonder and amazement!

We, each of us, know that this surfing life, while very fun, is otherwise worthless. Getting up, paddling out, bogging a cutback, paddling in, rinsing, washing, repeating, though I rarely rinse or wash. The salty crust that builds up is one of the great, albeit worthless, surfing life pleasures.

Magic, on the other sleight of hand, is not worthless as it brings great joy to many. Groups of children, Las Vegas convention goers, people waltzing down Santa Monica’s 3rd Street Promenade etc. Smiling faces alongside general amazement and let us learn the completely inspiring story of Hawaii’s Mycah Muranaka,

The young man lived a very active life in paradise, hiking, camping and surfing. One day in January, 2016 he was out at a well-known spot when his back started hurting and his knees became weak. He quickly paddled to shore but by the time he got there he could no longer stand up.

After being transported to the hospital and examined, the doctors declared he had suffered surfer’s myelopathy, a very rare sort of paralysis when blood vessels leading to the nerves in the back become restricted.

Paralyzed from the waist down, he was told he would never walk again and became very sad but he did not give up and focused his attention on what he could do, including mastering the art of magic.

He is now president of Hawaii’s Society of American Magicians and works for the Honolulu Magic Company, inspiring many and bringing joy to many more. He says he hopes others facing difficulties can learn from him by finding something that absorbs them too.

Completely anti-depressive.