Panic begins to take hold ahead of surfing’s Olympic debut as event organizers, surfers, realize likelihood of bad surf: “Typical waves are small, short and lacking in power!”

Uh oh!

A dull pall, or syrupy sweet mess of emotion as the great Longtom puts it, feels like it has been cast over professional surfing thanks to the non-test that is Rottnest.

It feels like we are all on vacation with our parents.

Oh, we were distracted when they pitched a wonderful ten-day getaway to a quaint island with no cars, spotty internet, clear water, empty dunes and said “Sure, sure, sure.”

They bought tickets, organized a house, we were reminded and reminded again until the day before departure when it actually all sunk in.

Oh no.

Oh no no no but far too late to pull out and so we woke up at 3:30 am to make the flight, since they bought the tickets, checked into a Formica cottage with no internet, since they organized the house, and are staring down the barrel of eight more days puttering around in the empty dunes watching minutes turn into hours and hours stretch into eternity.

Anyhow, Japan. Maybe it’s the Rottnest writing, but it seems like it has just dawned on the organizers and surfers alike that the waves might not be that great this summer for surfing’s grand Olympic debut.

In a scintillating take, international news agency Reuters today publish Olympics: Surfing – ‘Small and funky’ waves a concern for Games debut wherein Gabriel Medina said, “It’s going to be a tricky one because the waves in Japan, it’s kinda hard — it’s small and funky — so it will be a tricky one. But if you want to be the best, you gotta do everything in any conditions.”

Sally Fitzgibbons added, “I’ve been working really hard on it, and I really pride myself with my small wave surfing. That’s where my origins lie, so hopefully I can bring out what I’ve been training for, bring out the big manoeuvres.”

And Steph Gilmore piled on, “I know Japan has beautiful beaches and they really want to show surfing in its most authentic form. Once I thought about it that way, I like the idea of having surfing in the ocean,” after wishing that a pool would have been sorted instead.

International Surfing Association chief Fernando Aguerre, ever the optimist, said, “The place is known for being exposed to the right swells for this time of the year. It’s very consistent, it has hosted international competitions, Japanese national competitions, so we are very confident.”

“Look at that sandpiper picking shells out of the beachgrass, honey.”

“Oh cool.”


Italo Fez, locks in top five slot at Trestles.

Rip Curl Rottnest Search, day four analysis: “Turpel languished like a dying fly in the syrupy sweet mess of emotion caused by the dying of Ace Buchan’s career; beyond amateur hour, more like some kind of surreal parody of sporting coverage!”

Coverage team and booth showing clear signs of fatigue and disinterest. How's your interest? Waning? Waxing?

Last leg of a four leg Aussie tour. How’s your interest? Waning? Waxing?

My sense is that instead of gaining momentum, which was clearly on the ascendancy when John was on the rampage at Margies, the League is sputtering.

Fatigued athletes, a dearth of storylines now that the front-runners are moreorless set, most of the mid field is “safe” and we are already turning to the backmarkers to focus on who will make the cut.

Relegation to the QS is going to be an ugly prospect.

Jessi Miley-Dyer was adamant today was the best day of the waiting period so there wasn’t really any choice in the matter to run a full day of over-lapping heats, with very mixed results.

On the men’s side there were 261 rides over 16 heats. Four of the 261, or 1.53 per cent, were excellent. Even if judges were a little stingy, and sometime cuckoo clock crazy with the scoring, it wasn’t a day to write home about.

“Hard to surf,” said Medina after a comfortable but unconvincing win over wildcard Kael Walsh who went out with the ill-advised game plan to try and beat Medina in the air. Brilliant game plan.

Feels like half the field at this event are wildcards. Most are gone. Taj went without a whimper the other day for a dead last place, calling his performance embarrassing and kyboshing future invites by claiming he “doesn’t enjoy the feeling of competing anymore, it’s actually horrible”.

They should give him a slot in Mexico and see how he goes.

It’s not a world-class wave, despite Turpel calling it “flawless on the rights and lefts” and it’s not the “everyman” beachbreak the WSL likes to use as justification for running at crap surf locations.

Strickos is a tricky as fuck reef that is pounding the hapless backmarkers. Jordy got through, and with a favourable run home through the Tub, Mexico, Brazil and Tahiti (semi-favourable) will lock down a top five spot.

Ryan, Griff and Kanoa all lost, which probably shunts away all hopes to push in.

It’s having a queer inverse effect on drama having this year come down to a Final 5. As we get that group locked in, it’s sucking away the drama of the back half of the Tour. You can feel it here in Rotto. Surf Ranch will become even less compelling.

All that will matter will be a couple of results.

We’ll tune in for Barra if it pumps and for the novelty, likewise Tahiti.

Rio?……hhhmmmm, not so much.

Julian, sitting back at 17 and Owen, even further back at 28, got through. You’d think that would put them on a path to requalify, at the least.

From there it’s irrelevant whether you are 15 or 6.

The coverage team and booth was also showing clear signs of fatigue and disinterest. Ace Buchan called in and Joey Turpel got completely lost in an intense emotional whirlpool of admiration for Ace and extreme empathy over his injuries. Which is great, except over-lapping heats were in the water and the booth lost complete touch with the coverage.

Morgan Cibilic and Silva were in the water. Morgs took it at the death. Did judges get that right? They seemed to overcook late hits, same as they did with Leo against Ryan Callinan.

Filipe was up against wildcard Liam O’Brien. Liam had a 14 point heat total and not a single ride had been called while Turpel languished like a dying fly in the syrupy sweet mess of emotion caused by the dying of Ace’s career.

It was beyond amateur hour, more like some kind of surreal parody of sporting coverage performed by sophomores and bar flies.

Liam was flogging Toledo, surfing the way I imagined Ethan Ewing was going to surf when he came on Tour. Very tight. Very whipped out turns with more release than is now fashionable on tour.

He let Toledo swing at plenty without trying to play strategy but when Toledo’s best wave was only given a 6 when he needed a 7 it was obvious judges were feeling short changed.

Jack Robinson, gone. Results for the Australian leg: three second last places (17th), one 9th. He’ll requalify on the back of Pipe and Teahupoo but the small wave game needs a lot of updating.

Ethan Ewing, gone. I honestly don’t get the hype. Fanning said he was going to be Top 5 this year and challenging for a Title. Aussie results: three second last placings (17th), one 5th. Will struggle to requalify. Ewing is 22. Still young, but not really.

The problem: weak heats, bad wave selection, lack of big turns, no risk.

Zero threat.

Jack Freestone, ranked 28. Gone. Well beaten by Yago Dora. Aussie leg results: Three second last places (17th), one dead last place (33rd). May requalify based on Tahiti, Mexico and Rio.

Connor O’Leary, ranked 31. Through. Finally a dominant performance against a rampaging Kanoa Igarashi. Spiked a couple of solid lefts in maybe the days stand-out performance. Kanoa was cruelled on the best wave in the heat, a very low-balled 6.83 for a huge blast and corked air.

Mikey Wright, ranked 34, just above Kolohe Andino. Through.

I believe Griff Colapinto beat him today but judges pushed him through. Two late, awkward ill-timed hits on a left gave him were over-compensated by the panel. That was the most important heat of Mikey’s year. Still a slim chance for requalification.

He claimed to feel “no pressure” after the long string of failed results; it being just “it is what it is”.

I guess while the cheques are coming in, then there’s no need to panic. Maybe someone on his team could word him up about life in the big bad world when the boss man don’t give a fuck about the mullet.

Or maybe the old man can teach him how to clean the pipes.

Mikey’s Aussie leg results: two last places, one third last and still going here.

Four Brazilian goofy-foots in the round of 16; the biggest heat on paper would be Medina vs Owen in Heat 5.

If Owen can get through then he’s back on track.

For Medina, another win and he’s in cruise control until Trestles.

Surfer killed by Great White shark named; witness describes multiple hits in shallow-water attack by fifteen-foot leviathan, “The shark came out of the water, just smashed him, five seconds later he came round and hit him again”

Meanwhile, TV drone reveals Great Whites still cruising Tuncurry shorebreak.

An arresting moment during a TV report on Tuesday’s fatal hit on a surfer by a Great White at Tuncurry, a fishing town four hours north of Sydney.

A drone goes up, hovers over the site of the fatal hit and there, fifty feet from the shore, is a cruising White.

(Watch here.)

To get some perspective on the joint, imagine a dreamy slice of sand on the northside of a breakwall, protected from the prevailing southerlies and welcoming to any sorta swell with east in it.

Mostly, short, hollow A-frames fifty feet or so from shore.

The surfer, Mark Sanguinetti, who was fifty-nine and from Newport Beach in Sydney, died on the beach after being hit by a fifteen-foot Great White. He’d gone on a little surf trip with three of his pals.

Then the White hit.

A witness on the beach said, “The shark came out of the water, just smashed him, five seconds later he came round and hit him again… Just the whole bone exposed, not meat on him at all.”

A note written by his daughter and posted on Twitter reads,

Some knew his as Skidders, some as Big Marky, and others as Ba, but we all knew him as a legend with a heart as deep and vast as the ocean, which was his first of many loves. If you knew him, you understand how you were to.

We’re planning a paddle out in tribute of Mark – anyone who knew him, or surfed with him, we’re he’d like everyone to be there. It’ll be held on Tuesday the 24th at Palm Beach at 4:30PM.

Dad was a truly special soul. A kind, generous, thoughtful man, friend, and father. He saw the light within everyone and every situation. He’s home now, in the ocean and in our hearts, and he’ll be riding the waves of his life with us forever.

All beaches around Tuncurry remain closed.

Big-wave star and two-time Guinness World Record holder Maya Gabeira told to quit by surfing legend Kelly Slater; blames tow-partner Carlos Burle for near-death episode at Nazaré; says sexism in surfing made her bald! “It made me sad, broke my heart… hair fell out in blocks!”

Kelly writes, "I think if you continue to do what you're doing, you're gonna die. So I highly suggest you stop."

The Brazilian big-wave chaser Maya Gabeira has made a raft of stunning accusations on an upcoming episode of In Depth with Graham Bensinger, which airs this Sunday. 

Gabeira, who is thirty-four, is noted for a few things, winning a couple of gongs from the Guinness Book of World Records for biggest wave ridden by a gal, busting a leg and drowning (revived!) at Nazaré, getting belted to within an inch of her life at big Teahupoo, and being the daughter of a Brazilian revolutionary whose group famously kidnapped the US ambassador. 

In the interview with Bensinger, Gabeira reveals a DM from Kelly where he tells her she is gonna die real soon unless she cools it in big waves.

“Kelly felt like he saw me almost dying in Tahiti on a huge, huge, huge day… He felt very convicted that I was out of place… He thought it was too big for him or he wanted to save himself for a competition, but it was probably the biggest ever surfed in Teahupoʻo. So, with that said, maybe it was too big for me. I was very scared, I can tell you. And things did go wrong…”

And the DM?

“I wasn’t, like, ‘Yay, can’t wait to see what it is!’ I was like, ‘Fuck [this] can’t be any good’ …  He said something on the lines of, ‘You are unprepared. You are endangering people around you when they have to go in and rescue in such scenarios. I think if you continue to do what you’re doing, you’re gonna die. So I highly suggest you stop.’

When she got her stilt snapped at Nazaré and had to be revived on the beach, Laird said she “didn’t have the skill to be surfing in those conditions.”

Bensinger asks if she has a desire to reconnect with Slater, Hamilton.

“No, I’m okay with it. I really am. They had their points. They could have been more fortunate the way that they passed it on to me, but it was a different era too. It was a different time.I think women were treated differently back then and it was OK.It wasn’t as discussed, our role and our place in society. I think a lot has changed and it was what it was. It made me who I am, so I’m okay with it.”

When it comes to Carlos Burle, Gabeira and her current tow-bro German Seb Steudtner blame him for her near-death episode at Nazaré. 

“I was so caught in the relationship. He was so above what I could criticize that at the time him going out felt natural. I supported him. I wouldn’t right now, but that’s how important he was to me,” says Gabeira.

The bald thing happened when the WSL didn’t include her in the big-wave awards.

“I went to the awards in April in California and they never show[ed] my wave. I was like, ‘Where’s my wave? What the f*** am I doing here? I think around three or four months later I realized that it was going nowhere and that’s when I had the idea of doing something public and that would be the petition… I needed some support, exposure. With that, I also decided to retire. Because who was gonna petition against their own sport league and not retire, right? I’m gonna go out and I’m gonna say all those things about them and say how incapable they are and how they have prejudice or whatever… It made me sad, broke my heart and I lost hair over it. I had blocks of hair fall out of my head. So I could tell the stress was getting to me.”


Comment live, Rip Curl Rottnest Search, Day Three! “Five-to-seven feet!” says Surfline ruler

More tears as field gets whittled away!