The Angourie shredder Nav Fox stays calm despite rough handling and ass play by lil Chinese man. | Photo: Hayden Aull/newsroom

Chinese developer that destroyed a reef, dumped waste and ignored stop-work order on idyllic Fijian island to face court on raft of charges; pro surfer neighbour says, “The battle we’ve found ourselves in has become a landmark case for Fiji and its Pacific neighbours!”

“There were two or three excavators in the water, smashing through the reef and digging it out to create a massive channel. There was hydraulic fluid spilling into the water… it was shocking."

A couple of years back, BeachGrit reported on the legendary stoush between a couple of surfers from Angourie and a monied Chinese developer, and all centred on the Fijian island of Malolo in the Mamanuca chain.

Real pretty joint. Volcanic. The same place you see in the background of those lineup shots of Restaurants.

Forty minutes by speed boat from the mainland, same to Cloudbreak.

Six years ago, the pair from Angourie threw their life savings on a 99-year lease on an acre of land there. A third share went to a Fijian pal Ratu Jona Joseva, who gets his bread ferrying surfers to Cloudbreak and whose family is one of the three that own land on Mololo.

Their little patch of dirt looked straight out onto Tavarau and Namoutu, two joints the pair love to surf.

“We had a vision of putting a few bures on there and just enjoying the place for what it was. Letting friends and family come over and use it and have a bit of a creative space and a relaxing getaway,” he said.

Then they got word that a Chinese developer, called ironically enough Freesoul, had bought the land adjacent with plans to build a 370-bure (hut) resort and casino.

Their side of the island is real hard to get to except the developer, says Nav, got the excavators and chainsaws in.

“There were two or three excavators in the water, smashing through the reef and digging it out to create a massive channel. There was hydraulic fluid spilling into the water. Another excavator on the land was covering the beautiful little beach on our land with the material from the reef to build a hard zone. It was shocking. We knew they didn’t have a foreshore lease and what they were doing was illegal,” Nav told Newsroom, NZ.

Now, two years after the developers started tearing hell out of the joint, Freesoul is going to face the Suva Magistrates Court on a raft of charges.

The decision by the Fijian government to take Freesoul to local court instead of the High Court was a surprise to many given the max fine there is around $US25,000 compared to the High Court where you can get hit for $US400,000 and ten years in the pen.

Said Nav, “The battle we’ve found ourselves in has become a landmark case for Fiji and its Pacific neighbours, the world is watching to see if (Fijian PM) Mr Bainimarama’s Public Prosecutions Office and courts will uphold his strong stance against environmental vandals.”

And, it don’t end there for Freesoul.

Two hundred investors from mainland China who were emptied of $US25 mill after paying upfront for their yet-to-be-built bures are launching a class-action lawsuit against the developer.

The episode has had its moments of levity, howevs.

Click here to watch as one of the developers’ henchmen engages Nav in a rough game, though not necessarily enjoyable, of ass play. 


On love, loss and an Offrocker: “Professional surf contests, angry octopi, man-eating sharks, VAL king Jonah Hill, Backward Fin Beth, world’s greatest surfer Kelly Slater all be damned. It’s you who matters.”

Thank you.

This BeachGrit, this divine mess, kicked to life almost a century ago right here, where I sit now, on an increasingly pocked zinc countertop littered with unpaid bills, Haleiwa Joe’s slice of paradise plastic take home Mai Tai cups, homemade slime disasters.

Derek Rielly pressing the upload button. Me giggling like a damned fool. Premium surf magazine Stab, pre-premium, stealing our very first exclusive scoop (Beth Hamilton ripping an air) egregiously within minutes.

Who could have ever imagined it would become an actual community?

A place where this damned fool would cry?

But cry I did, last night, when reading that one of the derelicts who graced us was in his last days.

Offrocker, Sean Mitchell, was not only a regular but pecked out two of the best pieces we’ve ever published.

His virtual paddle out a testament.

I thank him and hope he can still read that, feel that.

I thank you.

Thank you.

Thank you for putting up with angry octopi, man-eating sharks, VAL king Jonah Hill, Backward Fin Beth, the world’s greatest surfer Kelly Slater, co-Waterperson of the Year Dirk Ziff, Gabriel Medina, Plump Pip Toledo etc.

Thank you for dancing alone, together, here.

We are family, a derelict family, and I love each of you more than you will ever know.

Thank you all, absolutely sincerely.

More as the story develops.


Professional surfers terrified as “angriest octopus in all of Australia” revealed to be lurking around stop five on World Championship Tour!

Make professional surfing exciting again.

But yesterday’s competitive professional surfing was pretty ok, no? Lightly enjoyable? I found it to be better than thinking about taxes though worse than eating carne asada burritos near the beach. Most of the elements were there but it was missing… something.

Maybe “the angriest octopus in all of Australia?”

Maybe.

That li’l menace has just shown up lurking around the corner of stop five of the 2020/21 Championship Tour Marg. River, there on the western shore, and just slapped a nice father of one in the neck for no good reason at all.

Lance Karlson, a geologist and former lifeguard, was splashing in the water with his two-year old daughter when he spotted what he thought was a stingray lashing out at a seagull before realizing it was a furious octopus.

Noticing the humans, the octopus left the gull and tried to slap them instead.

https://www.instagram.com/p/CMlnlUGFMqr/

“My response to the first encounter which I caught on film was shock, followed by fascination. I had not encountered an octopus this close before, so at the time, I was mostly intrigued. Keep in mind that I was with my daughter, and I think any dad would relate to being more protective of her than fearful of the threat,” he said.

After depositing his daughter on the beach, Karlson grabbed some goggles to go for a little swim. All of a sudden his goggles fogged and the water became murky. “I remember being shocked and confused,” he said. “I was then struck a second time, more forcefully, across my neck and upper back. I can only describe it as a ‘whipping’ sensation followed by a stinging.”

The angriest octopus in all of Australia back for seconds.

Karlson was ok though in some pain. The family rushed back to their hotel and he poured Coke on his wounds, which lessened the stinging some and I wish I would have done the same when slapped in the neck by the angriest surf groupie in all of Florida but I will say, in my personal experience, unexpected slappings make otherwise dull events exciting.

Which brings us back to the octopus.

Imagine Matt Banting making less-than-wonderful turns out at Main Break and…. THWACK!

Neck slapped.

Exciting, no?


Sunbathers revolt as Los Angeles councilman proposes moving city’s homeless to local beaches: “Did anybody ask the homeless what the best place was? Because as a society we make assumptions all the time about what is best without asking people!”

Ghettoization.

Spring has sprung in southern California and what a time to be alive. Bear’s breeches and sea lavender scenting the air, that golden sun staying up later and later, warmth and joy super spreading. Time to be outside. Time to go to the beach, flap a towel and bathe.

Except possible war is brewing between towel flappers and southern California’s largest city as a Los Angeles councilman recently proposed that the city’s homeless should be temporarily housed at three local beaches: Dockweiler, Fisherman’s Village in Marina del Rey and Will Rogers beach.

Anyone with access to the news knows that homelessness has reached a crisis in Los Angeles. City streets, particularly downtown, have become choked with tents, cardboard lean-tos, shopping carts everywhere.

A disaster.

But the beaches, warm and joyful, are right there with lots of comfy sand and parking lots too. That’s exactly where councilman Mike Bonin has motioned to move the homeless, putting them in tiny homes and tents, much to the chagrin of some.

Sunbather Marcella Debidda, frustrated, told ABC 7 news, “Did anybody ask the homeless what the best place was? Because I mean, as a society we make assumptions all the time about what is best for people without asking people. And one would argue, it’s beautiful. But I’m sure it’s cold at night and it’s not necessarily comfortable and there is no shelter when it rains. I think we can go back to history and every time people have been confined and put in ghettos there wasn’t much improvement.”

Jessica Rogers, who lives in Pacific Palisades just up the hill from Will Rogers Beach, added, “At this particular time when our economy needs it the most, this is an area that is of tremendous value. So this motion causes us a lot of concern for the safety of not only the homeless that are here and could be affected by this high traffic along PCH, along with the safety of the community of LA who comes to enjoy this beach.”

Don’t you love when people care, first, about the homeless? Not wanting to put them in ghettos, keeping them safe from traffic etc.?

I am looking forward to hearing the World Surf League’s solution to the problem, anyhow.


Rip Curl Newcastle Pro, Day Two: “The performance gap between men’s and women’s tours outside of wave of consequence continues to narrow; a non-gendered wavepool comp has to be on the agenda!”

There's a Wozzle problem with talent, or the lack of it. Guys retired three years should be not be in the conversation with hyped rookies or second-time rookies.

We didn’t get a great deal of meat on the bone for day One of the Newcastle Cup, let’s be honest.

Bit of aerial tomfoolery from current World Champ Italo Ferreira, a strong signal from JJF that he’s ready to throw down in whatever Mumma Nature sends his way, not at all spoiled by the best Hawaiian winter in a decade.

Otherwise, completely forgettable.

Today, thus, was a little more voluminous for the surf fan, starting with the surf size and shape, which was as exuberantly over forecast as day ones’ was unders.

Many, many moments where we could have been fooled into thinking we were watching Bells Beach. The thick, sloping outside wall which offered scope for two committed majors, was quite aesthetic, despite being tagged “fat and gutless” by heat winner Owen Wright and “flat” by Stephanie Gilmore.

Much dead water to plane across before a rambunctious shorebreak begging to be hammered shut.

No real dramas unfolded so a few scatter-gun observations to chew on below.

Straight up can we give props to rookie Isabella Nichols who accounted for Tatiana Weston Webb in Heat two of the round of sixteen. Some nice big chunky hacks, I want to say reminiscent of a female Matt Hoy if that were to be taken as a compliment.

But I was more impressed with the acumen of Nichols in the short profile piece they ran with the heat.

“I want to entertain,” she said.

My heart sang. She gets it.

Tyler Wright, most entertaining women surfer on Tour, also gets it.

I almost exploded on day one, when in a comment in the Booth she said she was sick of the pally-wally cutesy-wutesy charade of women’s surfing and wanted to bring more aggro, more naked competition and emotion to the caper.

It was like we were communicating on a telepathic level, the way Norman Mailer claimed he could do while watching TV in his seventies book Pieces and Pontifications. Rabbit Bartholomew was also suitably impressed. Joe Turpel managed to change the subject.

More on Tyler’s losing heat in a moment.

There were some rare moments of truth today from the booth. Well, Luke Egan leaning on the railings at least.

Egan took aim at the performance disparity between what he termed the “QS” surfers and the established CT stars. That was a fair reflection on reality specifically on Matty Banting, who had been relentlessly pumped up by the pre-tournament hype.

His failings as a CT surfer from the first go around were ruthlessly exposed on this go out in chunky, fat overhead walls.

No major turns. You can’t win heats at a CT level without big turns.

Compounding the failure were the two best surfers on Tour at almost perfect completion rates on 75% power turns. That being Adriano De Souza and Owen Wright. De Souza is retiring at the end of 2021, Owen was last runner up in 2011, a decade ago.

But they both made Banting look like a total amateur.

That sounds cruel. I don’t mean it to be.

There’s a Wozzle problem with talent, or the lack of it.

I saw a stack of CT-level surfing last year and by far the best of it was Mick Fanning. He would have won any heat out there today. He’s been flogging Ethan Ewing in mock heats all summer long.

Is this a problem?

I see this as a problem.

Guys retired three years should be not be in the conversation with hyped rookies or second-time rookies.

Julian looked great on day one in a losing heat. He looked better today. He easily smoked Mikey Wright and Jack Robinson, whose turn game in performance waves still looks a little jittery and staccato to my eye.

You could easily imagine a Tour with a start at Pipe and a finish at the Ments or Cloudbreak where Jack could rack up back-to-back Titles.

You can’t imagine him winning one at Trestles.

Tyler went back from the white Enough is Enough board of day one to a Forest Green Black Lives Matter sled for today.

It was a highly orchestrated thirty minutes. A continuation of her heat and appearance in the booth from nearly a week ago.

During that stint she evinced a heat strategy that would involve the bikini, as a method of trimming any excess weight from the board/body ensemble and allow for the maximum freedom of movement.

The first time I had heard of that strategy, but with an easy to follow logic.

I and many others will choose boardies/trunks over rubber for the same reasons. OK.

She also name checked the team strategy she and Micro had been working closely on and then proceeded to paddle out and sit in the inside rock break near the shorey.

Bugs was gobsmacked.

This is a “remarkable strategy” he claimed, calling it “dangerous” and “risky”. The problem was leaving the red wetsuited Courtney Conlogue out the back solo. There was obvious communication between Wright and Micro, and after Wright had shredded a trio of waves for a heat lead with twenty minutes remaining it looked like brilliant tactics.

Out the back she went.

All event commentators had over-cooked the importance of wave selection, when surfing performance was by far the telling factor.

In this case though, it was critical.

Conlogue cut her snaps short compared to Wrights by far superior full gouges but the large set wave that Conlogue rode for a flat seven was hard to deny.

Tyler sat and sat.

And sat.

Did she get cold in the bikini? Legs cramps a little? Was that a crucial tactical error?

I say, yes.

The winning wave came after a seventeen-minute wait and Wright over-cooked it. That fall was the end of the heat. A very good debrief awaits when they roll the tape on a heat she should have won.

Carrisa was dominant.

Marks did enough to join the dots in deteriorating conditions to get the W on Brissa Hennessy and the performance gap between men’s and women’s tours outside of wave of consequence continues to narrow.

A non-gendered wave pool comp has to be on the agenda.

Many juicy match-ups await in the mens round of thirty-two.

A rookie* bloodbath would be expected with Morgs v JJF, Julian v Jack, Medina v O’Leary, Kanoa v Ewing, Italo v Jackson Baker.

Some serious upsets if not.

A very good day awaits.

*And second timers.