North Narrabeen's Nathan "The Hog" Hedge hot out of gate.

Grassroots Australian boardriders event trumps WSL’s Rottnest Island contest, “A working class barnyard jamboree while the bosses laboured through another staid, tiresome offering of enforced formality!”

The working class vs the ruling elite

Come every Autumn in Australia, as sure as the first cool morning offshores will begin their insolent tickling of backyard gum trees, I’m compelled to write about my love for the Nudie Australian Boardriders Battle teams format.

It’s our culture manifest. Surfing as socialist democracy. All of the best bits of competitive aquatic poncing rolled into a two-day shoot out.

I’ve nothing new to add, sort of. Still a massive fan

But this year did offer the juxtaposition of the ABB running at the same time as the WSL.

Newcastle and Rottnest. The working class vs the ruling elite.

Newy on finals day was unruly, messy in parts, but highly contestable. Hidden gems popped up throughout the unscripted madness.

Rotto, on the other hand, was perfectly groomed. But ever so slow. Monotonous. Droning.

I’ll let you draw your own analogies.

The Nudie teams format always delivers. Guaranteed drama every match up no matter the quality of the waves, or the surfers. Hour-long heats fly by with 20 surfers in the water.

My club was bundled out in the trials at the start of the weekend so I was able to catch a lot of the Nudie broadcast at home. Jeez it was fun. An easy choice over the WSL’s dull grey.

There were core legends, both mens and womens. WSL-adjacent rippers. A bevy of up n coming juniors. Air shows. Beach sprints. Larrikins like Jacko Baker giving mid-heat analysis. Beau ‘Nitro’ Walker still surfing in a backwards baseball hat.

Grom interviews that could have been lifted directly from a 1980s beachside vox pop. “Aww yeah it’s pretty filf out there ay.”

The passion of club surfing in Australia. North Narra captain Hedgey’s pre-final determination/death stare would make the Felipe meme look like a doe eyed puppy shot.

And all ably commentated by the likes of Vaughan Blakey, Sean Doherty, Reggae Ellis.

Yes there were technical issues.

The amount of live action missed because of wave replays was criminal. There were some commentary howlers on the frequent beach crosses.

But instead of trying to ignore it, pretend there was nothing happening, the crew took the piss. Called it as they saw it. Made the entire package even more entertaining.

Do you see big corpo sponsor Nudie tearing up its contract with Surfing Australia because not everything went to script?

Is City of Newcastle or Destinations NSW threatening to cut funding and burn the welcome mat because a commentator spoke his or her mind?

As if. They love it. And the format continues to thrive.

It begs the question: why is the WSL still scared of its own shadow?

From what LT says in his post-heat there were some small progressions made in the commentary booth yesterday. That’s good. But I thought we had turned the same corner early last year too, only for the double positive corpo speak to kick back in even harder post-Covid.

One step forward, two steps back.

Team surfing is never going to replace man-on-man (which in these gender fluid times I think should be simply renamed ‘the Drouyn format’). Not should it. There’s way too much ingrained history.

But the liveliness of Nudie was undeniable. The party atmosphere. The passion. The fun.

A working class barnyard jamboree, while the bosses laboured through another staid, tiresome offering of enforced formality.

I know where I’d rather be.


Construction on $50 million Sydney wavepool starts in six weeks; waves to run six am to midnight!

Very good news for Sydney's chlorine shredders… 

A few years later than expected, but better late than never etc, Urbnsurf are loosing the bulldozers on their second Australian wave pool, this time at Olympic Park, fourteen clicks west of Sydney.

Construction of the Wavegarden Cove at the three-hectare Hill Road site begins in July, with an estimated build cost of fifty mill, double what it was gonna cost back in 2016. 

Yoga studio, skate ramps, a rooftop bar, a swingers hot tub, and the place is going to be open in the pre-dawn all the way through to midnight.

Aerial view of Sydney tank, opening in a year and a half.

Two-fifty jobs during the build, one fifty when it’s open.

Gates open in the summer of 2022-23.

If you live in Sydney, and y’dig wave tanks, this is very good news for several reasons.

One, it ain’t easy to get a seat in the Melbourne pool, it’s been that popular, and if you want to get some chlorine turns, tubs, you gotta coordinate cheap airfares with availability of sessions. The current booking system is pretty clunky and does y’head in when you’re hitting airfares/pool sessions simultaneously.

The water temp in Melbourne is insanely cold, a couple degrees less than the ocean. Summer is bearable in a short-sleeved steamer, but winter, oowee, five-fours, booties, little hats. 

When it opened I gave myself one hundred and fifty waves to examine the flaws in my technique. A shocking revelation, which you can read here.

Urbnsurf, Sydney, brings warm water and considerably more sun.

A win and a win.


Comment live, Rip Curl Rottnest Search, Sudden-death Elimination Rounds!

The weak are put to the sword!


Watch: In moment of sublime dadaist theater, Jordy Smith gives water birth to Wade Carmichael during World Surf League heat!

Not a dry eye in the house.

Yesterday, I watched more professional surfing than I have in years. North County, San Diego was locked under a grey canopy, cold winds buffeting a flat ocean, and I thought to myself, “Why not fully indulge the Rip Curl Rottnest Search presented by Corona?”

And so I did, taking in most of heats one through eleven. And I have come away from the binge thinking “The World Surf League has just conducted one of the greatest pieces of dadaist theater in professional sporting history” out loud to you.

The great Longtom already wrapped beautifully, highlighting the nonsense, the irrationality of Taj Burrow sitting for an entire heat before putting up a score Mark Zuckerberg could best. The anti-bourgeois protest of Professor Lenny Collard talking about the brave Aboriginals who fought, died, were imprisoned in mass graves facing the “invasion of ocean-borne forces.”

Joe Turpel responding, “Very cool stories, Uncle.”

“Uncle” telling the World Surf League that it would not be invited back.

My favorite moment, though, came nearly two hours in when the World Surf League’s production team made a conscious decision to film what can only be described as Jordy Smith giving water birth to Wade Carmichael in the midst of their heat with Stu Kennedy.

Slo-motion.

Tell me this was not done on purpose, an avant-garde moment, a riff on our current state of affairs.

Something about gender, maybe.

Or not.

Very cool indeed.


A faux-hawked and Sam George-earringed Medina was the pace-setter. It took him a wave to get his specs in, once he figured out the rhythm he went nuts.

Rip Curl Rottnest Search, day one analysis: “Strickland Bay challenges the world’s best, brings forth alarming levels of Kookiness; Day saved, as per norm, by Brazilian goofyfooters!”

And performative activism backfires on WSL!

WSL played a strong indigenous hand on opening day at Rotto, or Wadjemup as it is known to the Nyungar/Whadjuk/Bibbulmun crew who had a thirty-thousand year reign over the Island before, what Professor Lenny Collard termed “invasion from ocean-borne forces”.

Which I guess would be the white man from post-Enlightenment Europe.

Lenny was in the booth with Bugs and Joe for heat two of the day. It was one of the most deeply weird scenes I’ve ever seen in pro surfing. I want to take the charitable view that this marks a new chapter of support of the WSL for indigenous surfing and a movement towards reconciliation in the most ancient country on earth. It seems so hard to avoid the cynical view that the WSL wants to be at the vanguard of companies practising what journalist Matt Taibbi calls “performative activism”.

Lenny got himself on a king hell roll in the booth.

Wadjemup served as an Aboriginal prison between 1834 and 1904 becoming in the process the “biggest deaths in custody site in Australia”. Lenny made the argument that these people were “patriots” who were “defending the homeland” against the aforementioned ocean-borne invaders.

True.

He asked why we remembered Gallipoli*, why we refused to remember mass sites of Aboriginal death like Wadjemup and advocated for the site to be granted the status of “war graves” so it could be appropriately commemorated as part of the Australian history of “dark deeds in a sunny land”.

It was one of the most stunning and powerful pieces of oratory I’ve ever heard.

Joe seemed to sense the same sort of existential danger that the Fanning shark attack posed.

His response to Prof Collard’s soliloquy?

“Sixteen thirty on the clock, we’ve got some numbers to talk about”.

The segueway from Prof Collard to the “numbers” to Mikey Wright’s presser, where he said he was “ready to kick it in the guts and eff it off” in relation to the last place finishes, was sublime.

The peak at Strickland Bay was challenging the world’s best, bringing forth an at times alarming level of Kookiness. The left lurches along at an uneven pace causing many mis-reads and flubbed turns, ending with a gurgled out closeout section.

Two turns and a closeout; it feels like the entire Aussie leg has been two turns and a closeout reo.

Peak kookiness was supplied by wildcard Taj Burrow.

Following on from the hype of Fanning’s wildcard at Narrabeen, where Getting Heated unironically posed the question, Who will stop Mick Fanning? , expectations for Burrow’s return to the jersey were very much hosed down.

He expressed a clear message that winning was off the table as a motivation, it was all about connecting with old pals and showing his family what he used to do. Which I found oddly self-indulgent as a reason to slot him in the draw.

Either he is in with a shot of winning, or at least pushing the envelope, or he gets his back slapped in the competitors’ area and entertains us in the booth.

Tuning in to watch Teeb’s heat offered up as reward a curious blend of schadenfreude and awkwardness. For twenty minutes Taj sat there grinning inanely.

Happy to be there. Great.

Taj paddles for a closeout and aborts the take-off, a ride so abysmal judges deign not to have even considered it a score.

Five minutes to go, Taj is on zero.

Three minutes. Taj on zero.

Ninety seconds to go, Taj paddles into a close-out, falls on a reo for a 0.7.

The hooter sounds. A sub-one point heat for the wildcard.

I know this sounds crazy, but I feel confident I could have beaten Taj in that heat.

Two waves, with cutting across the green face and a cut down on each, surely would have been a point each?

Apart from Jordy Smith’s one delectable power hack on a right, scored as part of a trio of turns for a 7.33 it was the lefts that proved the more high perf. Brazilian goofy foots, it will surprise nobody, were the standouts. Aussie goofies, led by Ryan Callinan and Connor O’Leary were a half step behind. A faux-hawked and Sam George-earringed Medina was the pace-setter. It took him a wave to get his specs in, once he figured out the rhythm he went nuts.

If you’re of limited time, watch his waves.

His heat marked a turning point and a slow, inexorable rise in global performance levels, with the kookiness of earlier heats dissipating. O’Leary and Callinan both swung hard at the lefts. Flores, Pupo and Moniz in heat 10 fought a pitched battle that ended in the final exchange with Pupo in front by a bee’s dick.

The next heat with Bourez, Dora and Peoples Champ Ibelli was also a cracker. As the Main Break right can dish up a rare tube, the Stricko’s left delivered a length of ride barrel for Bourez. Ibelli was strong but Dora seemed more in tune with the lefts than anyone bar Medina.

https://www.instagram.com/p/CO69aaxLa7r/

I like the way reality is now, so, so slowly and incrementally, working its way into the booth. I believe as a result of our efforts here on BG.

Ronnie Blakey finally broke the “everyone can beat everyone” myth of equality at Margs by drily noting that backmarkers were going to have to lift substantially to upset Medina/Toledo/Italo et al. Reality dawned on Bugs today when, despite a massive four-leg Aussie Tour with a massive home advantage in the offing for Aussies, it was now looking likely we would not have a surfer in the Top Five Title showdown Day.

Deivid Silva drove the nail into the coffin by manufacturing an interference call against Morgan Cibilic. Paddled right, straight into him, on a left. It caused the normally conservative Richie Lovett to proclaim, “I’m not sure they’ve called that correctly”.

But, who judges the judges?

Thirty years ago, as noted by guest commentator Scott (sorry name illegible in notes), there were indigenous surfing events in Australia, possibly a far more robust application of the “inclusive” surfing concepts the Woz loves to trumpet.

With the fracturing of the QS, now might be the opportune time for the Woz to put it’s money where its mouth is if they want to build on the good will of the Nyungar elders who have put the welcome mat out at Wadjemup.

*Disastrous World War One battleground for ANZAC forces in Turkey that has become a defining event in national self-identity.