World champ Italo Ferreira hit "high, tweaked straight airs, corked reverses, extravagant layback slashes, weird little combos. He was daring the judges to pay the progressive, in the way that Dane Reynolds re-set the scale a decade earlier. But they were intransigent, having rewarded Morgan Ciblic with a six for three bogged cutbacks in the earlier heat."

Rip Curl Newcastle Pro, Day one: “Like watching old whores jackhammering away for the titillation of a not quite adoring crowd of addicts; There wasn’t much love in it, but it was strangely compelling!”

Gloomy day saved by John John Florence and Italo Ferreira!

A hundred days exactly comrades, by my calculations.

One hundred long days since the last heat of CT surfing was concluded on the sands at Pipeline.

A hundred days, forty-four years into the IPS/ASP/WSL adventure to crack the uncrackable code of pro surfing and deliver something dramatic.

You’d really think they would have something nailed down by now. Some basic presentable, exciting product to broadcast to the World.

And what do we get? We get a QS location with onshore two-foot dribble. It would be too easy to flog this very sick, not quite dead, horse.

I was groaning until my boyo flagged the waves in the John Florence heat as “looking really fun”.

Which they did.

For long minutes before his heat started a cameraman feasted on the two shot of JJF in tequila sunrise jersey staring wistfully at Filipe Toledo tail drifting every minor top turn.

It was a golden broadcast moment.

What the hell was he thinking, I had to wonder, after a hundred days mostly spent gorging on bluewater Hawaiian juice. Now faced with a sickly two-foot shorebreak.

World’s best surfers in the World’s best waves? Time to get the hell out of dodge and sail around the World?

No, as it turned out.

He was mentally mapping his upcoming demolition of the line-up. Despite a higher heat score from Ryan Callinan and an outrageous freesurf from Italo Ferreira, JJF was by far my favourite performance. That line-drive off the bottom which we’ve seen in all the edits was there, the constant. That drive led to A, then to B, and C and D, where each letter was a variation in the repertoire and framed by a stillness which accentuated each manouevre. The turns were big, and they flowed beautifully.

Beatific, if we can borrow the Christian phrase at this Holy time.

I felt shocked, and relieved.

Yesterday, I wrote a piece – a counter-factual rebutting Ross Williams idea that rookies were going to dominate Pipe and explaining how they were, in fact, going to be massively advantaged at Newy. How JJF would be the biggest loser from the QS conditions and location. How Matty Banting and Connor O’Leary etc etc were going to steamroll the more fancied higher ranked CT surfers. On a bad gut feeling I spiked it at the last moment.

It’s the accepted rationale for running comps in shitty beachbreak that pro’s bring the conditions up to their skill level, rather than get dragged down by the crap.

I thought otherwise, but then had to revise that position after JJF, Toledo, Medina and especially Italo’s heat.

It was a dizzying display. Almost disrespectful in it’s insouciance.

So many waves I even lost count with a simple tally. He pretended there was no-one else in the water skipping across the funky little rights near the rocks and surfed the left shorey, with the air wind that no one else had bothered with.

High, tweaked straight airs, corked reverses, extravagant layback slashes, weird little combos. He was daring the judges to pay the progressive, in the way that Dane Reynolds re-set the scale a decade earlier.

But they were intransigent, having rewarded Morgan Ciblic with a six for three bogged cutbacks in the earlier heat.

The point spread made a mockery of his dominance, but I suspect when the judges get together for their nightly briefing that a rebalancing will be in the offing down the track.

The size dribbled away.

Blackly surreal commentary ensued from the booth with ’78 World Champion and ASP President for a decade Wayne “Rabbit” Bartholomew responding to a question from Joe Turpel about the Dream Tour which he orchestrated.

“Yeah,” said Rabbit, “Kelly quit because he was sick of surfing crappy beachbreaks” I think that is close enough to a direct quote to put the quotation marks on.

At that moment all 200 pounds and change of Australia’s premier power surfer, Wade Carmichael, had flapped and hopped into the shorebreak and finished with a visible grimace on his face. There might have been a faint golf clap audible from the artificially suppressed crowd.

The quintessential company Man Joey, sensing dangerous waters ahead, quickly changed the subject and so the subject of how we ended up back in the crappy beachbreaks that the sport had supposedly evolved away from was left to poison the rest of the heat like an unseen gas leak in an underground mine.

The Canary had been silenced.

A clearly disadvantaged Owen Wright looked disinterested. Thirty seconds to go and needing only a three he loped up the beach with a stern expression. The grovel was on, big time, and the big man wanted no part of it. He could lay claim to no solidarity because both Jordy Smith and Wade Carmichael managed to sneak past the hangmans noose of last place.

Stagmatic seemed to be the word of the day from commentator Richie Lovett. Which seemed somehow apropos of the scene, like watching old whores jackhammering away for the titillation of a not quite adoring crowd of addicts. There wasn’t much love in it, but it was strangely compelling.

Judges had set the scale for meat and potatoes surfing with a generous dollop of gravy on offer for hometown heroes and Ryan Callinan duly obliged with two well apportioned rides that were appropriately over-scored. That’s no knock on him. He won decisively but the over-cooked narrative of a hometown hero duchessing local tourism officials fatuous egos will not be indulged in this space.

What about our poor, injured GOAT, the man for whose prodigious talents the truly visionary Rabbit Bartholomew had sculpted the Dream Tour from the clay of rubbish beachbreak, a gleaming statue that would forever stand sentinel to the dream and the possibilities of pro surfing, where was he?

Surfing double overhead blue caverns at Pipeline.

Perhaps once in a while tuning in and feeling a strange deja vu.

BeachGrit’s On-Again, Off-Again Surfival League is On-Again!

Simplified Fantasy Surfer. No points. No tiers. No budgets.

It’s been a rocky start to the inaugural Surfival Season. 

We opened for trading on March 12, 2020.

The next day the rug was pulled on the opening event at Snapper Rocks, and the Surfival League sat dormant until December’s Pipeline Contest.

You remember the game?

Simplified Fantasy.

No points.
No tiers.
No budgets.


1. Pick one surfer each event.
2. Surfer must advance past The Round of 32.
3. You can’t pick same surfer twice.
4. Winner takes $1,000 and a custom-shaped Panda Surfboard.

Real easy.

Pipeline was the first event of the Surfival Season. We lost 23% of the League due mostly to early exits by Seth Moniz, Julian Wilson, and Kolohe Andino.

Will The Surfival Gods play nice at Newcastle or are we in for another bloodbath!?

Here are the Top 5 Surfival Picks for Newcastle by Percentage.

Italo Ferreira – 21%
Ryan Callinan – 20%
Kanoa Igarashi – 15%
Julian Wilson – 11%
Filipe Toledo – 9%

Chas is riding with Caio, who has 1% of the picks. Who you got?

See you in the comment section.

PS: If you missed the signups for the 2021 Season (or lost at Pipeline) were opening up a Losers Pool for the back half of the season.  Stay tuned.

Mastermind behind multi-billion dollar sheepskin boot empire to sell iconic Sydney beach house and build multi-generational compound near Chris Hemsworth in Byron Bay!

Once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to buy one of the world's great beach houses… 

The eighty-year-old inventor of the sheepskin Ugg boot, Shane Stedman, has listed his iconic Mona Vale beach house with a sale price north of four-and-a-half mill.

Readers, I ain’t never been in a house with such a benevolent ambience, a lovingly rebuilt wooden house from the thirties, squatting at the end of a cul-de-sac with elevated views of the surf that will never disappear.

Five beds, three bathrooms, almost seven thousand square feet of dirt. 

His son, Luke, a former world number eleven whom we visited a few days ago, occupied a studio at the bottom of the house, a private dwelling where the lanky Lothario was able to exercise his formidable swordsmanship.

And all under an hour’s drive from the guts of Australia’s biggest city.

Examine the house here.

Stedman, whose real first name is Anthony but who changed it after watching the 1953 western Shane, plans to use the cash to build a multi-generational compound at Tintenbar, just behind Lennox Head and only a short drive to the thirty-million dollar home of Chris Hemsworth.

“Buying some land, throwing a couple of shacks on it and moving dad up the coast so he can watch the grandkids and we can keep an eye on the old grommet,” Luke told BeachGrit.

A house at Crescent Head, near Vaughan Blakey’s Medellín-style spread, which Shane has spent years and gallons of sweat building, will be available for holiday rentals.

Comment live: Rip Curl Newcastle Easter Cup, Merewether, Australia! “Five-to-six-foot, maybe eight-foot sets,” says Surfline

Come and rejoin Ronnie Blakey and Joe Turpel and co… 

After all the drama, the tinsel dreams, the highest-rung of pro surfing returns today to Merewether, a pretty suburb of Newcastle and home to four-time world champion Mark Richards, as well as Craig Anderson, Ryan Callinan and Matt Hoy.

The waves?

Surfline’s interpretation of wave size is very different to mine, five-to-eight, to me, would be roiling lines of swell, but there’s a little something for the pro surfer’s great skills to be exercised upon.

Merewether’s Mark Richards, world champion from 1979 through 1982, restarts the season.

John John, the world number one, appears in heat three.

Watch here 


Discuss below the line, with Longtom’s analysis to follow at the close of play.

Breaking: Working class beach town known for grit, Bruce Springsteen, unites to ban world’s greatest surfer Kelly Slater from its waves!

What a place...

I fell in love with Asbury Park, New Jersey the moment my Louis Vuitton moccasins touched its slightly grimy sidewalk. There to work on a BeachGrit wetsuit fairytale alongside the great Jack Boston, I didn’t expect to become so instantly smitten but there I was, breathing that air, smelling those pork rolls, feeling my heart beat, beat, beat.

Asbury Park.

Asbury Park.

It is famous from many things including Bruce Springsteen and an unbeatable working class ethic but these days it shall also be known as the first beach seeing to ban world’s greatest surfer Kelly Slater from its waves.

Stickers, you see, have mysteriously been popping up over town as winter turns to spring. Stickers of the 11x World Champion’s face crossed out with the words “Long Hairs Only” printed underneath.

It is unknown who is responsible but nothing goes on without Springsteen’s knowledge so it may well be him or organized by him.

The Boss, always and forever.

Asbury Park.

What a place.