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.”

Rumor: World Surf League considering dropping, shifting, just-announced Mexico event; bumping Surf Ranch up by two weeks!


What a day for the rumor mill. While you are certainly continuing to digest today’s scintillating whisper that International Surfing Association head Fernando Aguerre is pressing his advantage, attempting to break the World Surf League’s grasp on power by forcing Olympic-bound WSL surfer to march in El Salvador whilst waving flags, a new hot bit of gossip floats.

Where Aguerre remains unbent, it is alleged that the WSL is considering either dropping the just-announced Corona Open Mexico presented by Quiksilver that had been slated to run July 5 – 15, or shifting it to some other position on the calendar. The Jeep Surf Ranch Pro, scheduled for June 25 – 27, is, likewise potentially moving two weeks earlier.


Well, the Olympics is locked in from July 23 to August 8 and so much surfing, so little time. With Aguerre holding firm on his World Surfing Games dates (May 29 to June 6), it would mean those Olympic-bound WSL surfers would be flying willy nilly all over the globe in the time of Covid with scarcely any time to quarantine, much less train.

Imagine the exhaustion of Kolohe, Medina, Kanoa.

Imagine more the exhaustion of Australia’s and New Zealand’s surfers where going home equals a two week mandatory hotel stay.


A giant mess or extremely fun?

Kelly Slater, meanwhile, is busily fiddling with his doctor’s note.

A virtual lock for the Olympics, no?

More as the story develops.

Rumor: In bold power grab, ISA chief Fernando Aguerre forcing furious Olympic-bound WSL surfers to attend entire World Surfing Games in El Salvador; Kelly Slater exempted via doctor’s note!


The World Surf League, née Association of Surfing Professionals, has long been the only governing body the average surf fan cares about or pays attention to. It lays claim to the world’s best surfers, the world’s best waves, and while that notion has been challenged in recent years with the advent of Kelly Slater’s Surf Ranch and contests there, it remains true that no great competitive professional surfer surfs off the WSL.

Well, for many years the International Surfing Association has worked in the shadows, building a vast network of countries (109 and counting), their national sporting dollars, hosting “World Surfing Games” etc.

The ISA’s chief, and onetime Reef sandal founder/owner Fernando Aguerre, has been a tireless champion for its mission, to “make a better world through surfing (2 ft beachbreak closeouts),” which culminated in surfing’s being accepted into the Olympic Games, the ISA its official governing body ahead of Tokyo.

Very exciting.

Covid, of course, threw (or through depending on dialect) a wrench into the Olympic works but it is all officially back on and months away.

Before Olympic surfing, though, comes the World Surf Games in El Salvador, and here Aguerre sees his moment to wrest more, maybe all, power from the World Surf League.

In a sizzling rumor, it is whispered that the man well-known for colorful suits and playful cultural appropriation, is forcing WSL surfers who have qualified for the Olympics to attend the opening ceremonies, to surf their heats, then attend the closing ceremonies.

Ten-ish full days in El Salvador right in the midst of the WSL’s season.

The World Surfing Games are set to run from May 29th to June 6th. The World Surf League’s Rip Curl Rottnest Search is set to run May 16th to May 26th. If it goes the full window, Olympic-bound WSL surfers will have but days to cross the globe, quarantine in El Salvador, march and wave to adoring fans, surf, march and wave to adoring fans, fly home, quarantine, train, fly to Tokyo, quarantine, train.

The Olympic-bound WSL surfers are, allegedly, furious but Aguerre is unbent. This is his moment to break the World Surf League’s hold and he will not succumb to any pressure campaign.

First alternate on the U.S. team Kelly Slater, it is rumored, has received a doctor’s note that will allow him to miss the World Surfing Games yet attend the Olympics.

Dang trick foot injury that only allows him to surf pristine barrels.

With the WSL in reported financial straits, will this be it? Will owner and co-Waterperson of the Year Dirk Ziff hand surfing’s reigns to Aguerre and say, “Good riddance…”?

Next year’s World Champ crowned in Tel Aviv?

More as the story develops.

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