"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.

In astonishing move, the International Surfing Assoc. unveils controversial new logo ahead of Olympic qualifiers: “Offensive! It is visually offensive and represents toxic masculinity!”

Must see to believe.

The International Surfing Association, headquartered in La Jolla, California, is not typically known for extreme pivots, jaw-dropping announcements, but that all changed last night when it shocked the world with the revelation of a brand new logo.

The controversial new design was was immediately pounced upon by the global press with some calling it “brash” and others “foolhardy.”

ISA President Fernando Aguerre was forced to address the growing frenzy, issuing a carefully prepared statement.

“Surfing has come a long way in my journey with the ISA, and with all change taking place in the world, we felt this was an opportune time to update our image and identity. We need to represent the current – and future – state of the sport as we expose fans from all around the world to surfing, many for the first time, at the Olympic Games. We have embraced surfing’s ethos of simplicity and youth, which is effective across the array of digital mediums whether a smartphone, tablet, or desktop screen. Paying homage to our original logo, which withstood the test of time for more than two decades, we maintained the same hue of blue that draws a strong connection with the ocean and nature.”

It did little to quell the cacophony.

A video was then released, attempting to further explain the artistic choices.

It only added gasoline to the fire.

“It is as progressive as it is functional…” one critic declared.

“Offensive! It’s visually offensive and represents toxic masculinity…” another parried.

We live in extremely partisan times.

More as the story develops.

British public falls into hysterics, savage mockery, as much-loved television presenter attempts to surf The Wave in Bristol: “She couldn’t even get up to her knees on her board!”

Sea change.

Has the VAL-pocalypse taken a new and heretofore unexpected zig in the last few weeks? It certainly appears so with those who have picked up our surfing game later in life are acting uncharacteristically.

The VAL, up until this moment, has been marked by his or her general enthusiasm, lack of care in learning proper etiquette, desire to throw the doors of sliding pleasure open for VALs-in-waiting.

But no longer?.

For in Britain we see much-loved television presenter on the popular program This Morning, Josie Gibson, travel to Bristol, there on the south of the pendulum, to surf The Wave except fell before even getting to her knees.

Previously, her effort would have been cheered by VALs and VALs-in-waiting alike but on Friday, Ms. Gibson was ruthlessly mocked by viewers and co-hosts alike.

One person wrote, “I actually chuckled out loud at Josie falling in.”

Another sneered, “Poor Josie here they’ll put her through anything.”

The country’s famous tabloids piled on next, running headlines declaring “HYSTERICAL” and “FAILURE.”

And is it possible that the VAL and VAL-in-waiting will all round on each other in a spectacular bloodbath?

Probable even?

More as the story develops.

Minnesota man, self-identifying VAL, becomes hero overnight by saving drowning man, dog: “I believe that it was totally a God thing to have us be surfing and staying out that day and not coming home when we did!”


Unlikely heroes are the best sorts of heroes and about this there can be no debate. Simple men and women not chasing fame and glory but when the bell sounds, when needed, jump into action without considering the consequences but we simply must meet Darby Voeks, 26, of Minnesota.

The local news channel describes him as a surfer, and he was in fact, in Duluth to surf on the day fate knocked but he, himself, does not consider himself such as “he’s still new to the sport.”

Have you ever heard such self-awareness in a VAL?

Such beautiful clarity?

A hero already but the story gets better.

Voeks was at Park Point in Duluth, enjoying a run of early spring swell when he decided to catch one last wave.

“I was supposed to head home to meet up with my girlfriend for dinner and I thought, ‘Just one more wave. Maybe just one more wave.’ I know that what good surfers do is they’ll walk down the pier … and they’ll jump off the pier and kind of get to the main break without having to paddle all the way out there,” he said.

As he made his way down the pier a woman rolled up to him in a wheelchair, frantic.

“I need help.” She pleaded. “Can you please help? Can you please help? My dog is drowning in the water and I think my aide went in after him.”

Voeks let his surfboard fall and sprinted to the end of the pier where he looked and looked, seeing nothing, until a bellowing voice filled the cool air, “HELP! HELP! I CAN’T SWIM!”

Voeks was able to get the man a life ring and hauled him to the stairs.

Next, he spotted the dog and without a pause jumped into the chop.

He swam over to the terrified pup and then swam her back back to the pier, breathing heavily.

All safe and accounted for.

“There were way too many coincidences to just say, ‘Oh, it was right place, right time. Lucky,'” He said. “I believe that it was totally a God thing to have us be surfing and staying out that day and not coming home when we did and wanting to stay out longer and have me decide to just go one more wave, one more wave.”

The first responders have nominated Voeks for the prestigious Duluth Citizen Partnership Award.

“You saved a life today. You saved a dog and you saved a person’s life. We’re extremely grateful.”

World’s greatest VAL.

A brief history of Fuck The WSL: “The backlash against billionaire-backed organisations like the WSL acting as moral arbiters has legs”

The original comment by Noa Deane has assumed a quiet staying power and historical significance.

Fascism is very topical right now, very hot, and I will not throw two cents into the bubbling pot except to say anyone interested in the phenomenon is obliged to read Chapter 51, page 201 of Vasily Grossman’s Life and Fate.

Back to rebellion though, which was deemed “sexy” by Dave Prodan in his recent poddy with Nick Carroll and lamented for it’s lack, or lambasted for being mere “pageantry”.

I don’t believe I’ve misqoted him or misrepresented his words. If I have I’m sure he will correct me below the line.

I merely ask (apart from Medina’s revolt), what could be sexier than a genuine recreational surfer revolt against the WSL

Answer: Nothing.

As for what is mere “pageantry” and what is authentic, we will need five years to elapse before history can determine a judgement on that question.

I believe, having witnessed it first hand, that the successful recreational surfer revolt against the proposed WSL contest at Lennox Head, will pass the authentic test.

The other, more performative gestures being championed by Dual World Champion Tyler Wright, we will see.

I have an open mind on the question.

The revolt against the WSL comp at Lennox was about the loveliest, most genuine, inclusive, spontaneous thing I’ve ever witnessed in surfing. It united young and old, guys, gals, poor, rich etc etc.

No-one sought to self-aggrandise or boost their profile. Their was zero corporate sponsorship, virtue signalling or profit motive. It wasn’t sponsored by Rip Curl, not supported by Nike. There were no leaders, no followers.

I loves me a peasant revolt and this was about as pure an uprising against devious corporate control as you can get. Right up there with my fav uprising: the 1917 Kronsdadt Mutiny*.

Most beautifully, when it was done and dusted people put their heads down, waxed up whips and went back to the business of shred, without a skerrick of animosity.

By Prodan’s own measure, this was as good as it gets. It just so happens the organisation he represents was the “oppressor”, and thus surgically excised from his moral calculus.

Of course, much of the power and ready made branding of the revolt came down to the already extant slogan, #FucktheWSL.

If Prodan and Carroll wish to come to grips with anything counter-culture left in surfing, and stop chasing “sad echoes of what was cool” then it’s sitting right there in front of their noses via this simple slogan.

The response of the WSL to the overwhelming rec surfer revolt at Lennox?

Yep. No surprise. Cone of silence.

Bit of bitchy sour grapes sniping from Fanning in his “Getting Heated” ep with Ross.

The original comment by Noa Deane, who was a mere four months into his post-teen life, was ridiculed and moralised by the usual suspects but has assumed a quiet staying power and historical significance.

It’s worth a minor examination.It’s a sliding doors moment.

Then CEO Paul Speaker only announced the changeover from the ASP to the WSL on Sep 12 2014. At the time of Deane’s comments, the Surfer Poll Awards in early December of the same year the changeover hadn’t yet occurred.

It was still the ASP Pipe Masters.

If Deane had said “Fuck the ASP” the slogan would have dropped stone dead into the deep, dark well of history.

Like other outdated slogans such as “It takes a Tour to make a Title” and “world’s best surfers in the worlds best waves”.

How a twenty-year-old Deane was prescient enough to use the new organisations name in his slogan will go down as one of the great acts of future proofing what was left of the counter-cultural spirit of revolt left in surfing.

Which was the whole point: Deane’s missile was aimed at the corporatisation, the bland homogeneity of the Ziff takeover and push to Middle America.

The immediate blowback for Deane was swift, but the usual evangalizing nonsense missed the mark big time.

Fuck the WSL has endured, the blowback is long forgotten.

The results: Deane signed a five year 500K a year deal with Volcom in Jan 2017, not quite the fuck-you money Dane got from Quiksilver, but better than the deal for free wetsuits that Matty Banting signed this year.

No one knows how this will play out.

But the backlash against corporates and billionaire-backed organisations like the WSL acting as moral arbiters has legs, as evidenced by the enduring appeal of Noa Deane’s deathless phrase.

Woz might want to look in the mirror at its own social licence before they ride the woke hobby horse into the future.

Or not.

*Sailors not peasants and brutally suppressed by the Red Army.