"We dictators aren't all bad. While Western countries continue to ravage our planet's resources, we preserve our land and conserve it by burying thousands of bones in single mass eco-graves."

Is the WSL’s next great pivot towards Saudi Arabia as middle east kingdom seeks legitimacy through sport?

Why has professional surfing so far passed on Saudi Arabia’s $1.5 billion Vision 2030 sports washing masterplan?

Snooker, Formula 1, golf, boxing, football – all mentioned in a report by human rights organisation Grant Liberty on Saudi Arabia’s $1.5 “Vision 2030” sports washing “masterplan”.

Sports washing is a geopolitical quid pro quo whereby a heinous Islamic monarchy hosts a big boxing match or horse race with lots of lights and famous people and broadcasting rights and in return the so-called civilised world ignores aforementioned plutocrat fascist hell-hole’s cutting up of dissident journalists. 

Wait, cutting up? Fascist? Hell-hole? Horse race?

Legitimate concerns, but forget those things for a second and focus on the pertinent question: why is the most glamourous and aspirational of sports (surfing) conspicuously absent from the aforementioned report?

Why has professional surfing thus far seemingly passed on this 1.5 billion petro-buck bonanza?

If the WSL really wants to reap the VAL dollar and bring surfing into the sporting mainstream they need to get on this bandwagon ASAP. 

Lennox Head be damned, Riyadh to the rescue.

Happily, surfing’s GOAT and unofficial global ambassador Ke11y Slater already has connections with friends in the Middle East, in the form of his new best pal Lewis Hamilton. 

Hamilton knows all about sports washing because his sport of Formula 1 reeks of the stuff.

There’s been a Grand Prix in similarly autocratic Bahrain since 2004.

Later this year, Saudi Arabia will host its first ever Grand Prix. Rather cleverly, Hamilton rides both sides of the sports-washing debate by offsetting his complicity in state violence by taking the knee before races and also being vegan. Canny operator.  

What’s stopping Lewis “surfing is my fave sport! Hamilton from asking his colleagues in the Middle East to give his newly discovered passion the same boost it gives F1?

Fair enough, there’re no waves in Saudi Arabia.

But that’s where Kelly comes in, more specifically his 30-million-dollar wave pool. Even better, he already has experience planning  surf resorts for the super-rich in the middle of a desert. 

With the £1.4 billion Saudi Arabia spent on arms from the UK in just one financial quarter last year (predominantly to drop on Yemeni civilians) they could build 46.6 Kelly Slater Wave Company wave pools.

Construction costs?

Even less of an issue should Saudi Arabia look to their Qatari neighbours for inspiration. There are currently an estimated 1.7 million migrant workers from Bangladesh, India and Nepal working on constructing stadiums and facilities for the 2022 World Cup.

Some are being subjected to forced labour. They can’t change jobs, they can’t leave the country and they often wait months to get paid.” 

I mean a job’s a job right?

Plus, imagine it, fields of wave pools.

A city of wavepools. 46.6 oases in the desert. Boardshort and (if we really push our luck) bikini-clad surfers under the hot desert sun competing in multiple heats on multiple channels all at the same time. It could be like Wimbledon. 

Who hasn’t watched a pro-surfing event and thought “I wish this was a bit more like Wimbledon?” 

Meanwhile, newly baptised VALs and their kids are initiated into the sport of kings in the “try it for yourself” grass-roots-nurturing outer pools sponsored by Red Bull. 




There will of course be the inevitable push-back from extremist groups who refuse to understand that by shining a light on Saudi Arabia we’re actually encouraging them not to torture people, like we did with China and the Olympics.

For this there exists PR companies, and advertisements in enlightened British broadsheets. 

Take us Saudi Arabia, take us and cleanse yourself in the borrowed credibility of the sexiest, hippest, most radical of all sports!

Golf? Lame. Snooker?

Not even a sport.

Bathe yourself in our chlorinated goodness!

Wash the guilt away!

Hell is murky.  

Revolutionary artwork: KVF
Revolutionary artwork: KVF

Revolutionary Project Ibelli shocks surf industry by raising 1/3 of needed amount in two days; The People™ to decide what message heroic Caio Ibelli puts on nose of board for Newcastle!

A rebel yell!

Three days, Project Ibelli was announced to the world. An audacious plan to wrest the levers of professional surfing power back to The People™. To radically alter professional surfing’s dull, ultra-bland current path. To support a professional surfing hero who has battled rottenly unfair injury wildcard fiascos, dirty water tactics, sponsor shortsightedness/cheapness.


By crowdfunding Caio Ibelli’s surfboard nose, of course, and in a move that shocked the staid surf industry, the idea became reality then caught steam with over $5,000 of the needed $15,000 raised in only two days.

The only issue, a minor one all things considered, is that we (David Lee Scales and I), had not fully thought out what should go on his nose. A sticker advertising the podcast, where the idea was hatched, seeming more and more out of place as momentum built.

So the decision has been made to turn it all over to The People™. What would you like to see up there? What image or message?

What rebel yell do you want to reverberate through all the surfing lands?

(Nothing rude or directly anti-WSL of course.)

The only other issue, we still have $10,000 to go and must get before April 1.

Dig deep comrade.

Or shallow.

There’s no minimum.

Donate here.

Bruce's Beach pre-takeover.
Bruce's Beach pre-takeover.

Famous stand-up paddle venue Manhattan Beach, California struggles with racist history: “We do not want to ignore the past, but we do not want it embroidered in a scarlet ‘R’ upon our chest!”

Difficult days.

Nearly two months ago, the coastal enclave of Manhattan Beach, California was thrust into the spotlight when two young black surfers were called profoundly disturbing epithets in the water. The incident went viral and Brick and Gage, as they are called, used the moment for good, becoming activists in the wake of, but still, it highlighted the deep vein of racism that runs through the town.

Most recently, Manhattan Beach has been most known as the backdrop of World Surf League CEO Erik Logan’s many SUP adventures, regularly geotagging it on Instagram, but before that it was virulently, meanly, anti-black. A black family’s oceanfront resort, Bruce’s Beach, was once seized by the city using crafty eminent domain laws and black beachgoers were regularly run out of town.

But how to atone?

A task force was formed earlier in the year, according to a thorough new Los Angeles Times piece on the troubles, and an apology drafted but the town’s residents have pushed back on the notion they should be held accountable for what previous generations did. Manhattan Beach mayor Suzanne Hadley going so far as declaring, “We do not want to ignore the past, but we do not want it embroidered in a scarlet R upon our chest.”

The callous response, and general lack of action, has frustrated some at the county level. Los Angeles County Supervisor Janice Hahn said, “I’m going to do whatever I can to right this wrong. There’s no doubt that this was such an injustice (Bruce’s Beach seizure) that was inflicted – not just on Charles and Willa Bruce, but generations of their descendants who almost certainly would be millionaires had they been allowed to keep that beachfront property.”

The property now holds a county lifeguard center and park and the county is trying to figure out how to right the wrong and compensate the remaining members of the Bruce family by either transferring the land back, paying fair-market rent or some other monetary payment.

Still, Manhattan Beach leaders are refusing to apologize with Mayor Hadley recently telling a virtual meeting of locals, “I don’t want an apology and I don’t think you do either.”

A two-page advertisement in the local newspaper paid for by “concerned residents of MB” called on their neighbors to “unite against FALSE accusations of racism.”

How will the stalemate end? Difficult to speculate but if I had to, I’d guess much bureaucratic foot dragging and mealy-mouthed emptiness.

A specialty of the area.

US Olympic Surf Coach responds to WSL’s hard woke pivot and claim that “conservative, whining, f*cking fascists” pollute gold-medal favourite US Olympic team!

Dirty, dirty water.

As a man, as an American, as an elite sportsman, it is very difficult to fault Brett Simpson, thirty-six years old, a two-time winner of the US open, a surfing hall of famer and the USA Olympic surf team’s coach.

He ain’t got a bad bone in that old body, even if it is held together by sheets of pigmented skin the colour of rust.

The immensely popular Simpson was a star of Peter King’s once-great #tournotes (Watch “Brett Simpson is the Unicorn of  Lowers” here), helped Filipe tutor Lake Peterson in the art of the 540 and when Filipe lost in an interference at the US Open he told the WSL to “change that fucking 1970 rulebook.”

It was a shock, three days ago, therefore, when the WSL’s Chief Strategy and Brand Officer Dave Prodan, thirty-seven, who has been with the company since he graduated from UCSB in 2005, said on the WSL’s official podcast, “The number of conservative, whining, fucking fascists in the surfing world, some of which hold esteemed positions in companies and on Olympic teams, is pathetic.”

Who are the fucking fascists on the Olympic team?

Hawaiians John John Florence and Carissa Moore or flag-waving Yankee Doodle Dandys Brett Simpson and Kolohe Andino?

The mathematics on that equation, I suggest, is simple.

“I just love freedom, man,” says Brett.

"Good mental health is over there."
"Good mental health is over there."

Unforeseen: Surf coaches, instructors, emerge in these incredibly divisive times as most-sought after, doctor prescribed mental health therapists!

Strange days.

Of all the places surfing could, might, have gone in these fraught-with-trouble times, the very bleeding edge of mental health was certainly a surprise.

But here we are.

Strange days with surf coaches, instructors, now so in demand that there is a push to get them in the same category as Xanax and Ativan.

Prescribed doctors.

Kris Primacio, the CEO of the International Surf Therapy Organization, has just launched the first-ever year-long pilot study to compare and analyze the benefits of surf therapy on various types of conditions. The findings will be presented to the medical community, which she says will be a major step toward prescribable surf therapy.

“Community is exactly what is happening in surf therapy programs,” Primacio recently told Spectrum 1 News. “We’re creating safe spaces.”

According to the report, it is these safe spaces that make surf therapy what it is. While anyone can go surf, recreational surfing is not surf therapy.

“Unlike regular surfing, which is usually done solo, surf therapy takes a structured approach and is always done with trained staff members whose goals are to foster healing.”

It is assumed that recreational surfing is, in point of fact, the opposite of surf therapy where furious women and men scream “GET OUT OF THE WAY, KOOK!” at vulnerable adult learners, further traumatizing.

And would you change your angry ways if it meant becoming a controlled substance with much street value?

Something to think about.