In stunning post, The New York Times recognizes VAL-mageddon, blames social media: “What used to be a relatively niche hobby is now in full view, compounding interest!”

It's a beautiful life.

In a move that has shocked grumpy locals around the world, but especially Canada, The New York Times has gone on record, for the first time, in recognizing that Vulnerable Adult Learners are now in the majority and points a grey lady finger at social media.

This cultural appropriation by well-meaning adults looking to add a little spark into manicured lives that has been underway since The Inertia flicked on its Venice-adjacent lights, but gone full bore in Covid-era, has been generally smirked at by the powers that be or outright dismissed as “white girl problems.”

The Times, pivoting slightly but importantly, acknowledges that the overwhelming influx has likely changed the overall experience, especially for Canadians.

With two of his friends in wet suits and jackets, carrying their surfboards, walking down a forest path in a heavy snowstorm, the photographer Ryan Carter couldn’t help thinking that he was witnessing a quintessentially Canadian experience.

“The Great Lakes are becoming wintertime hot spots for the ocean-starved surfers who live in the area,” @ryancarter_photography writes for @nytimestravel. “Desperate for waves, devotees are often glued to local surf chat groups and obsessive about wind and wave forecasts.”

“Surfing on the Great Lakes is nothing new; people have been doing it for many decades,” Carter says. “But what used to be a relatively niche hobby along secluded shorelines is now in full view on social media, where interest in the sport is compounding.”

“But what used to be a relatively niche hobby along secluded shorelines is now in full view on social media, where interest in the sport is compounding.”

It must be assumed that the compounded interest is viewed as a good thing, for now that the final battle of VAL-mageddon has been waged and won by 42-year-old soft-toppers, smiles plastered on faces, going right on lefts, the VAL utopia can officially begin.

It’s a beautiful life.

Rip Curl inks three-year deal to sponsor World Surf League one-day finals, fans take out rage on star team rider Owen Wright: “Fkn dumb!”

"This format is (poo emoji)"

Owen Wright, longtime Rip Curl star, winner of the 2012 $300,000 New York Pro and brother of Tyler, took to Instagram just hours ago to announce the exciting news that his Torquay-based sponsor has signed a three-year deal with the World Surf League to title sponsor the new one-day finals day.

CEO Erik Logan, when not busy appearing in movies not about him, rolled this new format out a year ago after melting during last year’s Italo vs. Gabe Pipeline heat.

It was a winner-take-all affair, as the Brazilians were very near each other in the standings, and thrilling.

Wanting to replicate, Logan ditched the “It Takes a Tour to Make a Title” mantra and replaced it with “Filipe Toledo Might Win if He is in 5th Place at Year End and This New Final’s Day Happens to be in Gutless Little Waves.”

Owen wrote, “It’s true! Rip Curl is stoked to announce a 3-year partnership of the Rip Curl @wsl Finals, the new one-day competition that will decide the Men’s and Women’s World Surfing Champions. Follow the road to the #RipCurlWSLFinals. @ripcurl_aus @ripcurl_usa @ripcurl_europe what do you guys think of the new one day format to decide the world champion?”

And one must wonder what led to his decision to ask the question “what do you guys think of the new one day format to decide the world champion?” unless he thinks the idea is stupid though can’t say so himself?


The response has been predictable.

One creepily supportive comment, “I’m happy with it as long as you are on the podium.”

Thirteen, “This format is (poo emoji)” “A stupid idea. World Champion has to be earned in all conditions after many contests. It’ll be a shallow trophy.” “How about a rip curl raffle to decide the winner.” “The winner won’t be a real world champion. That’s a fact.” “Sorry mate not a fan of this. If you surf all year and in different spots surf and conditions your the best. If you win on one day event your the best on that day.”

“Fkn dumb!”

Is it odd that Owen gets so few comments per post?

Also, the PR on this is clearly not good. No real surf fan will like but the page has turned on that relic.

Would Jonah Hill like?

A new filter for all our questions.

Currently more of them than answers.

More as the story develops.

Photo: Tim Fairhurst.
Photo: Tim Fairhurst.

Young New Zealand fisherman reels in hefty Great White Shark near site of recent fatal hit: “It’s the most exciting catch I’ve had, I don’t know anyone else who’s caught a Great White before!”


As I shared this morning, nature has basically destroyed my self-identified career, blinding me, causing me to miss surfing’s only true paradigm shift of the last twenty years, Kelly Slater’s Surf Ranch be damned.

Jonah Hill taking his rightful place as our standard bearer.

A new era of thoughtfulness and peace.

Dumb nature, and I cannot be consoled nor comforted though did find a small measure of peace reading a story about an 18-year-old New Zealander fisherperson who reeled a Great White to himself with a small fisherpole meant for non-apex vegetarians and very near the site of a recent fatal hit.

Tim Fairhurst of Te Awamutu and some friends were there, enjoying whatever season it is in New Zealand, currently, when they felt a large tug.

“We just had a snapper frame out and it wasn’t even that long, probably half an hour of being there. It was a cool experience that’s for sure. We hooked it up and thought it was a bit more power than a normal bronze whaler. It came up on the surface and nearly jumped but we still didn’t have a real good look at it. It probably took about 400m of line on the first run. It was a pretty good fight for the size of the shark, it’s a pretty amazing animal all right.”

They eventually won, reeled it to the boat then took it to shore for pictures and whatnot before setting it loose all extra angry, filled with a lust for vengeance.

“We reported the catch to the Department of Conservation and the guy there said within a minimum of an hour they start changing colour depending on what terrain they’re over.” Tim added. “If they’re over a reef or deep blue water they’ll be a dark colour but if they’re in sand and shallow they’ll be lighter. You get a lot of confusion over the two sharks but that was definitely a great white. It has completely different eyes and the tail and dorsal fin are a lot thicker for the size of the animal.”

Nature. Am I right?

World’s most lovable surfer Jonah Hill raises banner for body positivity, strikes back at brutalist tabloid: “This is for the kids who don’t take their shirts off at the pool. You’re wonderful and awesome and perfect!”

Putting the V in VAL.

The just passed weekend found me, my best friends and our children (aged 4 – 7) smashing pickup trucks over boulders, camping near abandoned mines, skipping along a dried lakebed where the rocks move by magic in California’s Death Valley.

Very off the grid and I was loving every second. The children happy and filthy, danger lurking around every hairpin mule track turn, the nearest cell signal miles upon miles away.

I thought, “If only we could stay out of range forever…” while driving back home, phone registering “no service”… until the town of Ridgeway where its shattered screen fired to life, messages stacked upon stacked, buzzing furiously.

A sense of dread overcame me.

Through squinted eyes, I thought I made out the name “Jonah Hill” involved, or adjacent, to one.

I clicked and read the headline attached, “Jonah Hill slips into his black wetsuit for surf day in Malibu… before showing off his tattoos while going shirtless to towel off,” an informative, albeit slightly wordy, offering showing exactly what was professed.

Scanning further, I discovered that Hill had responded to the story, via Instagram, and slowly read his caption.

I don’t think I ever took my shirt off in a pool until I was in my mid 30s even in front of family and friends. Probably would have happened sooner if my childhood insecurities weren’t exacerbated by years of public mockery about my body by press and interviewers. So the idea that the media tries to play me by stalking me while surfing and printing photos like this and it can’t phase me anymore is dope. I’m 37 and finally love and accept myself. This isn’t a “good for me” post. And it’s definitely not a “feel bad for me post”. It’s for the the kids who don’t take their shirt off at the pool. Have fun. You’re wonderful and awesome and perfect. All my love.

Instantly I knew that surfing’s power of balance had fundamentally shifted.

Hill has been the face of surfing’s recent meteoric spike in popularity but has seemingly been reluctant to be its voice… until this just passed weekend. His message of inclusivity, of positivity, of empowerment sent shockwaves through the media landscape with celebrity after celebrity praising, average Joes and Janes sharing their own stories.

Surfing as vehicle for dialogue.

As vehicle for change.

An entirely beautiful moment that I missed thanks to dumb nature.

A sentiment so pure not even the grumpiest local can begrudge.

The VAL apocalypse transforming into a VAL utopia.

Note: I know that brutalist is a sort of architecture that does not reflect the Daily Mail’s overall aesthetic, which leans toward gothic, but “gothic tabloid” just don’t have the same ring.

Surf Fans raise $30,000 for Hard Knocks world surf champ turned bus driver: “I don’t have sponsors, because I don’t have big boobs, blonde hair and blue eyes!”

An ancient wrong gets put right!

Ain’t nothing ever came easy for lil Bondi shredder Pauline Menczer: five two, one hundred pounds, crippled by arthritis, taxi-driver dad murdered, a mama on welfare looking after four kids on her own. 

But she shredded.

Won the world amateur title as an eighteen year old, turned pro and hit fifth in her first year on tour.

Four years later, sponsorless (“I don’t have sponsors, because I don’t have big boobs, blonde hair and blue eyes”), the kid spent twenty-five of her thirty gees in prize money that year just to contest the tour. 

And, won it. 

“Menczer’s 1993 championship remains one of the sport’s great underdog stories, writes Matt Warshaw in his thoroughly indispensable Encyclopedia of Surfing. “Menczer won three of the first 11 events, and had a slender ratings lead going into the 12th and final contest in Hawaii. Two weeks before the event started, the 23-year-old Menczer had an arthritis attack that put her temporarily in a wheelchair; seven days later she began paddling her surfboard in a pool as a warm-up; on the day of the contest—held in windblown eight-foot surf at Sunset Beach—she scraped into the finals, and won the title. “I couldn’t even brush my own hair,” she said of her pre-title attack. “My body just shut down.”

The prize? A busted trophy. 

A little over a week ago, surf industry legends Sophie Marshall and Mimi LaMontagne put together a gofundme with the aim of raising twenty-five gees for the champ, now fifty and driving a school bus in Byron Bay. 

“Pauline helped pave the way for all women in the surf. So, as a collective group of women in the surf industry – who owe everything to these women – we decided it was time we help pay it forward to Pauline. Let’s come together as an industry, as women, and get Pauline Menczer the financial support that she never received!” 

In an episode of Dirty Water last year, the superstar surf journalist Sean Doherty, who is the author of MP: the Life of Michael Peterson and My Brother’s Keeper: the official Bra Boy’s story, described Pauline as his favourite interview.

Listen here. 

And swing to a cinema to watch Girls Can’t Surf, “a wild ride of clashing personalities, sexism, adventure and heartbreak, with each woman fighting against the odds to make their dreams of competing a reality.”

Pauline stars.