Jordy Smith, master of claim.

Margaret River Pro, Day Three Analysis: “If words can be violence in our current safe space culture, what status do we allot to claims which offend? Can claims be a kind of violence?

And Gabriel Medina stumbles over his own aggression…

One Australian male in the quarter-finals after our Olympians failed again.

Possible, probable even, there will be no Australian in contention for a world title. No Australian at the Trestles final.

I mention, not as blunted rah-rah Aussie-Aussie-Aussie-oi-oi-oi jingoism, but merely to ask whether the dismal state of Aussie pro surfing amongst the men puts in jeopardy the CT project downunder. Will the greatest supporter of Pro Surfing yet discovered, the Australian taxpayer, continue their lusty support if the hometown heroes so continually disappoint?

I dunno, I just ask the question.

Odd day.

In greasy six-foot surf the world’s best struggled to an unnatural extent. It was light on for excellence, heavily stacked for entertainment. Certain heats verged on Keystone Cops level of slapstick, most notably the heats around and including Gabe Medina in heat five, which overlapped with Fred Morais/Ryan Callinan in heat four; Kanoa/ Matt McGillvray in heat six and Italo/Caio in heat seven

I feel like we are a ways down the track in understanding our duelling world champions John John Florence and Gabriel Medina. John has a brittle exterior, which can be easily broken in competition by aggressive tactics from those who he considers his inferiors. The template to beat him was laid down by Zeke Lau at Bells and enthusiastically embraced by Morgan Ciblic at Newcastle and Narrabeen.

John feels bothered and disrespected by hard-core competitive tactics. John gets flustered, loses composure and under or over surfs. He looks eminently beatable in this event.

By contrast, Gabe usually beats himself. He stumbles over his own aggression, as we have seen many, many times. Today he blocked Seth Moniz on an opening wave, “should have got a paddling interference, he blocked me” according to Moniz.

Took a humiliating trip over the falls then fell into a funk so complete it catalysed the worst performance of Medina’s career. Flubbed turns, mistimed turns, spin outs, bad wave choices.

Moniz wasn’t much better, he really wasn’t.

Was Medina drugged?

Seems a reasonable question. Did someone slip a Rohypnol in the morning coffee? And what was Coach King’s response? Medina claimed King was working with him on matters of technique, not strategy, but strategy is clearly Medina’s Achilles heel. Why get involved in a skirmish with Moniz in a forty-minute heat when he could easily out-surf him ninety-nine times out of one hundred?

If Coach King earns his ten percent he’ll soothe and soften Medina up for Rottnest and eliminate any of the revenge fantasies which marred his last failed title bid in 2019.

Halfway through the Medina/Moniz heat Kanoa opened his account by blatantly burning McGillvray. Automatic loss of half the second scoring wave.

Bizarre error.

Almost up there with the 0.8 heat total in Narrabeen.

This guy has literally been bred to be a pro surfer. What’s the problem here? Is it stupidity? Incompetence? Arrogance? Brain explosion under pressure? Toxic mix of all of it? Kanoa could make the top five. Kanoa could be World Champ. It’s a scary thought, but a realistic scenario.

Jordy laid on a heroic/tragic claim on a minor left to score the four-point ride needed to best Julian Wilson. Kanoa bested it on his best wave to persuade judges to give him a score to lead in his heat. If words can be violence in our current safe space culture, what status do we allot to claims which offend?

Can claims be a kind of violence?

Taj Burrow in the booth noted wryly “ no wonder people claim!” when judges awarded the (over) score. Taj called a six. Judges gave it a high 7 seven.

The surfing had been down rezzed since JJF in heat One. Safety turns for the champ. Missed opportunities on the end section. Peterson Crisanto could not capitalise. Colapinto looked more switched on, as did Ryan Callinan. He sheepishly called his three banger combo for a nine “simplified, in a way, it’s simple surfing” in the presser but it’s what gets paid. Australia’s best surfer at the moment, our only potential top five candidate.

Are Aussie kids looking at him or Noa Deane and Torryn Martin for inspo?

Maybe there is an unseen tribe of Morgan Ciblics gathering in the deep valleys like Germanic Barbarians preparing to launch total warfare on the ruling classes?

I can’t see it.

But, I never saw Morgan coming either.

Only Italo seemed comfortable in the confusion and alive to the comedy. He went left for his first wave, dodged a collision with McGilvray, cut back right, to see Medina dropping down on him, went past Medina, launched a backside air, greased it then belted the end section. Then just went to work tearing pieces out of the six-foot rights.

The turns were sharper, edgier, higher in the lip, what WA GOAT Taj Burrow called “foolproof eights”.

A very big advance on his 2019 showing where he lost to John Florence in the quarters. Based on current form, that result would be reversed. Judges are more aroused by the higher angle in the lip and more theatrical finishing turns of the goofyfoots on this Margaret River vintage.

A finals day at the Box, of course, would annul that advantage.

But you’d still bet on Italo over Filipe even with what Ronnie Blakey diplomatically termed the “added physicality” of Toledo.

Despite the baying for blood my gut feeling is Jessie Miley-Dyer will not be as positively disposed to running finals day at the proto-slab compared to Kieren Perrow.

Which means another day of six-foot Main Break to bring the event home and see whether Florence can find the magic performances which so far have seemed below 2017 levels and a three peat.

Eternal child and enduring cocksmith, Shane Stedman says goodbye to 61 Hillcrest Ave, Mona Vale.

Eighty-year-old mastermind behind multi-billion dollar ugg boot empire sells iconic Sydney beach house for over five million dollars!

Sixty-one Hillcrest Avenue, Mona Vale, is a lovingly rebuilt wooden house from the thirties with elevated views of the surf that will never disappear.

The just-turned eighty-year-old inventor of the sheepskin Ugg boot and enduring swordsman, Shane Stedman, has sold his iconic Mona Vale beach house for $5,306,000.

The figure, as impressive as it is, was a little undercooked I think given the recent sale of a relatively unimpressive garden apartment a few clicks from the beach for three point seven mill. ‘

Sixty-one Hillcrest Avenue, Mona Vale, is 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. 

Shane’s son, Luke, a former world number eleven whom Dirty Water visited one month ago, occupied a studio at the bottom of the house, a private dwelling where the lanky Lothario was able to exercise his own womb scraping.

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.

On Facebook, Shane asked for pals to recall their fondest memory from the house, the most telling a post from SurfStitch founder Lex Pedersen who wrote,

“When getting shown the upstairs room ‘Fellas, if you’re real quiet, you can hear the panties hit the floor'”.

Glory days etc.

Open thread: Comment live Margaret River Pro, Day Four, “Eight-to-ten foot, occasional twelve-foot faces!” says WSL

Get het up!

Photo: The one, the only, Damea Dorsey
Photo: The one, the only, Damea Dorsey

Question: Has world’s greatest surfer Kelly Slater set the stage perfectly to make Olympic gold his final act?

Game it out with me.

I spent much of yesterday thinking about Kelly Slater. Thinking about him on the North Shore nursing his injured foot by getting really fit, eating well, sleeping, surfing wonderful barrels, working out with top experts, chatting with renowned mental health experts.

Living his best life, likely.

Then it hit me.

Has the world’s greatest surfer set the stage so perfectly, so savvily, to make Olympic gold at Tokyo 2021 née 2020 his final act?

Game it out with me.

He would have watched the World Surf League re-imagined, re-launched tour, take form. He might have even been instrumental in creating it, pulling a few theoretical levers. Four events in Australia right ahead of the Olympics with much quarantine and many exhaustion.

He would have known that homebody John John Florence and susceptible to high ankle sprains Kolohe Andino were the only one standing in his Olympic way.

Only one would have to go.

So Australia for basically ever then, and he would have known this too, into the firming grasp of International Surfing Association chief Fernando Aguerre. He would have watched Aguerre, over the many years, angling his position, attempting to grab power and he would have known this Olympic year would be the one he insisted upon a robust World Surfing Games.

So Australia for basically ever then racing to El Salvador for more than a week.

Waving the red, white and blue in front of not so adoring fans. The banana republic years etc.

Exhausting, exhausted, but not finished.

John John Florence and Kolohe Andino would then have to race to Lemoore, California to compete at Kelly Slater’s own Surf Ranch.

Lemoore, California.

Surf Ranch.

Only one will have to go and are you telling me both Florence and Andino come through this gauntlet physically and mentally fit? With Slater, himself, pulling a few real actual levers at the very end, sending the waves their way?

The boy from Cocoa Beach then just has to win, once again, in 1.5 ft closeouts.

Full circle. Completing the journey.

Taking his final bow from atop the podium whilst The Star Spangled Banner plays.


Blowes, in a coma after the attack. | Photo: Chris Blowes

Australian surfer almost killed by twenty-foot Great White wins six-year fight to keep shark’s tooth embedded in surfboard: “I remember being in its mouth. All those thoughts come rushing through your head … ‘I don’t want to die … I don’t want to die’.”

Small recompense, but it's something… 

There is no more beautiful creature in the ocean than the White Pointer, the Great White, White Death. Those formidable teeth resting on the glistening red underlip, the beauty of her white underbody, the roundness of her girth.

Closer inspection of such titanic beauty, of course, is never wise.

Six years ago, South Australian surfer Chris Blowes was surfing an easy wave called The Right near Port Lincoln, a tuna fishing town on the Eyre Peninsula. 

Plenty of fish. Plenty of sharks.

Chris, who was twenty six, was sitting upright on his board among a pack of a dozen guys, a few metres from rocks, when what witnesses described as a 20-foot great white attacked and swam away with his leg and surfboard.

I was just watching the shark go out to the ocean with his board still attached. Obviously the shark still had his leg and he was still swimming around with it,’ one surfer told the Adelaide Advertiser.

“I remember being its mouth,” said Blowes. “All those thoughts come rushing through your head … ‘I don’t want to die … I don’t want to die’.”

Blowes went into cardiac arrest, paramedics performed CPR to keep him alive until he got to the hozzy where he was in a coma for ten days.

When the board was recovered by police, a tooth belonging to the Great White was found embedded his craft.

The Great White fang found in Blowe’s surfboard.

As per South Oz law, where it is illegal to possess, sell or purchase any part of white sharks – and those who breach the law can face a fine of up to A$100,000 or two years in the pen, cops gave the fang to the Department of Primary Industries and Regions.

For six years, Blowes, who now surfs with a prosthetic leg, pestered authorities to get the tooth.

Finally, after the intervention by a local politician, Blowes has his souvenir, the first time in South Oz history an exemption to the act has been granted.

“It was stuck in my board,” Blowes told the BBC. “I would never kill a shark for its tooth but it took my leg [so] I can’t see any reason why I can’t have that. The shark isn’t getting its tooth back [and] I’m not getting my leg back.”