Today we have released 2 White sharks at Ballina - Lennox and 1 white shark at Evans Head after they caught 3 yesterday." | Photo: @nsw_ sharksmart

Question: How long after a fatal shark attack at your home beach would you get back in the water?

Is dying in the mouth of a Great White worth the kick of surfing? 

As existential questions go, it’s a doozy. How long after a fatal shark hit at your home beach would you get back in the water?

For the surfers of Tuncurry, a precious stretch of east-facing coastline a few hours north of Sydney and when y’combine its neighbour Forster maybe the best waves on the north coast, it is, literally, existential. 

Every surfer in Tuncurry has gotta ask him, herself: Is dying in the mouth of a Great White worth the kick of surfing? 

Five days ago, a visiting surfer from Newport in Sydney, fifty-nine-year-old Mark Sanguinetti, was hit fifty yards off Nine-Mile beach by a fifteen-foot Great White. 

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, no meat on him at all.”

A couple of days later, the joint was still crawling with ’em, a Channel 7 drone filmed a White cruising the shoreline, fifty feet from shore.

A little further out Whites were being caught, tagged and released. 

Now, think about it. 

You live in Tuncurry. 

You’ve surfed all your life. 

You’ve felt an increasing Great White vibe there, hard not to when a drone operator regularly releases footage of Whites swimming among surfers and swimmers and the Department of Primary Industries announces it has caught and released sixty-five Whites in a six-month period, but not enough to keep you out of the drink.

No near misses, not in Tuncurry at least, although everyone knows the story of  Colin Rowland being dragged underwater by a White at Bulls Paddock, twenty clicks away; not so many know the similar story of Chris Little getting the same treatment a few years later at nearby Boomerang Beach.

Still…

In May 2020, two Great Whites swam under three surfers at Tuncurry, the drone footage evidence it seemed at the time that the squad that patrols this stretch of beach found little of value in the bones of human beings.

“We could hear a drone going and I’m like ‘where is that coming from?’ And we turned around and there’s a dude running down the beach to come wave us out of the water yelling ‘there’s two Whites behind you!’” one of the surfers told Channel Nine’s The Today Show.

“I actually found it quite reassuring that they’re not interested in us, they were just swimming past and happened to run into us,” said another.

“I reckon it happens on a near daily basis here,” said the third.

Now? 

The Whites are still there. No one’s coming to take ‘em away. They’re protected so there’s gonna be more around every year. 

What do you do? 

I grew up in the eighties, West Oz, and the spectre of a shark attack was an abstract concept, to say the least. 

Not one surfer had been killed by a shark, in Western Australia history until 2004, long after I’d left, when Brad Smith was hit by two Great Whites at Lefthanders. 

(More fatal attacks on surfers would follow, 2005, 2010, 2o11, 12, 13, 16, 17, a couple in 2020 and a raft of non-deadly hits, along with fatal attacks on swimmers and divers)

I’d moved to Queensland where the last hit was at Moreton Island 1992; down the coast in Byron, there hadn’t been a hit on a surfer since Martin Ford at Tallows in 1982. 

All pretty safe, and easy to avoid. 

I kept an imaginary pencil in my head and would lick the nib and draw a line through joints that hosted a fatal attack. 

Until 2004, I only had to avoid Moreton Island, in Queensland, Tallows in Byron and anywhere around Cactus. 

In 2021, if you surf, and you live on Australia’s east coast, or in Western Australia, Great Whites patrol the waters in greater numbers, it is safe to presume, in living memory. 

Healthy, abundant stocks.

What do you do? 

When do you go back? 

At Snapper, Occ was back the next day. 

At J-Bay, after the non-fatal hit on Mick, Derek Hynd took an hour or two before he dived in. 

What about you? 


Kelly, bottom left, locked n loaded.
Kelly, bottom left, locked n loaded.

Watch: Diamond handed Bitcoin investor, surfer, Kelly Slater supplants Ellen DeGeneres as cruelest celebrity of the year!

Roast time!

“As you probably know, Kelly, Adriano is in his last season on tour and he was a guy who would want to win at all costs, had to learn how to surf all the heavy water waves, became a Pipe Master and a World Champion and you guys had some entertaining heats throughout that entire career, what do you think, uh, Adriano will really be remembered for as a World Champion and also a leader of that Brazilian Storm?” Joe Turpel asks the 11x title and diamond handed Bitcoin holder Kelly Slater with thirteen plus minutes in Miguel Pupo and Liam O’Brien’s quarterfinal heat.

In his contest wrap, the great Longtom wrote, “Kelly on the tools is always gripping viewing for me. Now that the focus has shifted from the sleds to the phone-in I expected big things. Rabs and Turpel gave him plenty to work with but when Turpel pitched up the biggest softball of all time and asked Kelly to comment on what Adriano De Souza’s Legacy as world champ would be, I almost squealed in delight.”

I did squeal, no “almost” about it.

Slater can be seen grinning, picture in picture, and what would he say? Praise the work ethic? Commend the drive?

Of course not, we know our Kelly and we know him well, but what? What deviousness might he have up his sleeve?

“We had a heat in Puerto Rico, a three man heat, I won the tenth that year…”

The story spools out perfectly, beautifully, Adriano surfing too aggressively, Kelly running him over, Kelly’s mom yelling at Adriano on the beach, Kelly “feeling bad for the guy already,” Kelly putting on a Brazilian accent while imitating Jadson Andre, Kelly laughing that Adriano walked two hours home, carrying three boards because he was so hurt by the loss.

Words don’t do justice, can’t adequately describe Kelly Slater’s tone, his face, cadence. The clip is tee’d up here and I suggest you watch, take notes.

And how lucky that we get to have the greatest of all time? Oh, I’m not writing about surfing, hell no. I’m writing about the greatest roaster of all-time.

Rat Pack founding member Dean Martin made the format popular with his televised Celebrity Roasts, and Comedy Central has revived, but nothing but no one is as cutting, as quick, as absolutely devastating as one Kelly Slater.

Not Martin.

Not Ricky Gervais.

Not Carrot Top.

Adriano de Souza getting sent off on his farewell tour by Slater saying how he, himself, won his tenth World Title by shaming the Li’l Plumber?

Cruel, purely effortlessly cruel.

Ellen DeGeneres is blushing.

Bravo.


Medina seemed unbeatable, with just the slightest brittle edge to him. He put the success down to the small team of Coach King and wife hanging on the beach. I didn't realise the extent to which he needed the emotional security of the entourage. “I feel safe, I feel good,” he claimed about the close bond with Coach King.

Rip Curl Rottnest Search, Day six analysis: Tyler Wright issues grave warning of emotional fatigue among pro surfers; Kelly laughs at running over Adriano De Souza and making him cry!

Are pro surfers the most pampered sports people on earth doing the least demanding sport on earth?

Brilliant day, gripping day, best day of the Aussie leg as far as wave quality goes, by far.

Cemented a few narratives, mostly that Aussie pro surfing is in the doldrums apart from Morgs, Medina is cruising, perhaps to a bruising at Trestles and, as we noted in last report and confirmed by Tyler Wright today there is a lot of fatigued, “over-it” athletes and staff.

Which does beg the question: are pro surfers the most pampered sports people on earth, doing the least demanding sport on earth?

Tyler Wright in her presser claimed emotional fatigue was entrenched amongst surfers and staff and said “Everyone is holding on” as the limp to the finish line in this four-part Australian leg.

Tyler surfed two heats at Newy, three at Narrabeen, three at Maggie River and has surfed three so far at Rotto, for a total of about five-and-a-half hours of heat surfing in almost two months.

I don’t know the maths for a lot of other sports but in Rugby League an equivalent athlete would have completed almost eight hours of intense full-contact competition and numerous hours of intense training. Perspective is everything though, and if you’ve been highly paid since a teen and never had a real job then five-and-a-half hours of surfing over two months might be completely draining.

Who knows.

I don’t have a nationalistic bone in my body but thank God for Morgan Cibilic. After watching Owen, then Mikey Wright, then Connor O’Leary get smashed it was hard to escape a conclusion that we were no longer among what Prof Lenny Collard called “the top echelons of the ocean dance”.

Save Julian Wilson not a single accomplished aerialist amongst our current crop.

How long have airs been part of competition and not just a novelty?

I wanna say a decade.

Since Kelly’s bangers at Bells and New York in 2011 at least, right?

Even Connor Coffin loosed the tail while the usual suspects performed what Prof Len termed “loop de loops”. Having no airs in the arsenal in 2021 is a strange hill for Australian surfing to choose to die on. It’s like hoping for a time machine to show up and transport the tour back to 1999 when Occy reigned supreme and the tour hoped the whole Kelly Slater new school era was some kind of historical aberration that would soon be forgotten.

More on Kelly in a moment, he provided a highlight of the day.

A perfect example of Peak Slater.

The differences in aerial approach of the Brazilian goofyfoots were stark. Medina against Owen throws the air in first turn, often un-telegraphed, then comboes it up with fins-free blitzes and carves. Theirs is very much an emphasis on surfing top to bottom.

The bottom turn is huge, like a speed boat in the turn. Each air begats the next, even if the completion is absent, it brings the next air closer to fruition.

Italo is similar. Medina has the greatest variation in the air of the Brazilians, albeit with slightly less style than Yago Dora.

With fifteen to go in his heat with Owen, Medina left him needing a ten. Then paddled out and sat right next to him. I couldn’t help but think, “Pop an air you kook” , as disrespectful as that sounds.

O’course Owen safety surfed a left for a 6.5 and faltered miserably on an air attempt with a minute to go.

Biggest heat of Conor O’Leary’s year and he was in attack mode. Twenty minutes later, Dora had him combo’ed. Brutal airs and turn combinations beats straight turns every single day of the year.

Cognitive dissonance reigned supreme in the pressers of Owen, Mikey and Connor. Grinning like Cheshire cats, smug and satisfied. Humility was the appropriate response. We got dissembling and weak excuses. Owen claimed not enough waves in the middle of the heat despite Medina teeing off on them and getting his highest score under Owen priority.

He said he “felt good, felt sharp, great boards”.

Boards looked terrible. He overpowered the rail line and fins on several occasions.

There was an abundance of offshore OH lefts in the Connor/Dora heat. Yet O’Leary claimed in the presser he “couldn’t get a look at a decent wave to let me open up”.

Poppycock, baloney, humbug, BS.

After being well beaten by aerial attacks that exposed the deficiencies in Aussie pro surfing it was the blackest comedy when Julian Wilson, who fell in his last three air attempts to lose against Morgs, claimed that Morgs power surfing was over-scored.

He claimed to be “frustrated” that Morgs’ three-turn power combo’s were being given an eight. Morgs beat him, as he has all other opponents by going straight up at it “12 o’clock” harder each wave and not backing down an inch which causes higher ranked surfers to feel chippy and drop their bundles. Julian Wilson and John John Florence being exhibits A and B.

I see Morgs as being the best chance to beat Medina, for that reason.

Kelly on the tools is always gripping viewing for me. Now that the focus has shifted from the sleds to the phone-in I expected big things. Rabs and Turpel gave him plenty to work with but when Turpel pitched up the biggest softball of all time and asked Kelly to comment on what Adriano De Souza’s Legacy as world champ would be, I almost squealed in delight.

Oh. My. God. Kelly will not be able to resist teeing off on this.

And he couldn’t.

He went, not to Adriano’s world title, but to his own tenth title at Puerto Rico. And fleshed out a very revealing anecdote of how he’d paddle battled Adriano, ran him over, put him into tears, got into a beef with Jadson Andre over it and finished up the story by laughing that Adriano was so upset he walked home for two hours with three boards under his arm.

Classic, classic, Slater. Revealing, but not about ADS.

He finished the phone-in by telling Joe he would see him at Surf Ranch, so I guess our guesses about the injury being healed by the mystical waters of Lemoore were correct.

Italo telegraphs his airs far more than Medina. The pump up can sometimes consume an entire ride with Italo never dropping to the bottom of the wave. The separation is in the sheer speed with which he hits it. The speed of the launch and the spin. He pushed an unsuccessful attempt against Dora so high it made rain fall. I prefer his safety surfing, which are turns. He tends not to combo airs with turns like Medina.

A possible winning strategy for Medina given equal opportunities.

Medina seemed unbeatable, with just the slightest brittle edge to him. He put the success down to the small team of Coach King and wife hanging on the beach. I didn’t realise the extent to which he needed the emotional security of the entourage. “I feel safe, I feel good,” he claimed about the close bond with Coach King.

Is Liam O’Brien the next Morgan Cibilic?

The under-hyped kid who can get the job done at the highest level?

I detect a dry wit beneath the unflappable exterior, a type of Simon Anderson personality that only a hard-core surf suburb like Burleigh could produce. I think he will get smashed by Medina or Italo though. No air game.

I guess we wait now, until Tuesday, for the Final Day, unless Jessi Miley-Dyer loses her bottle.

With Medina and Italo through, it seems kind of irrelevant.


Comment Live: Rip Curl Rottnest Search, completion of the cursed Round of 16 and more!

Come thrill!


Listen: Rottnest Island has fallen under a bleak curse and the only way to break the spell is with more Professor Lenny Collard!

Solution simple.

The Rip Curl Rottnest Search presented by Corona has fallen under a curse and that is the only way to describe what is currently happening. Taj Burrow turning into a hapless toad before our very eyes, judging calls that can only be described as “cuckoo clock crazy,” no John John Florence and, yesterday, no surfing after three measly rounds of sixteen.

Waves vanished, broadcast pulled down, replaced with Dave Prodan’s The Lineup.

Cursed, I tell you, but am I the only one who knows why? The only one who knows how to fix?

Professor Lenny Collard.

The scholar and Noongar elder was invited into the World Surf League pallet broadcast box that first day, everyone excited, high off quokka smiles, to share of the island’s troubled past as a penal colony for Aboriginals, the mass executions that occurred, etc.

Joe Turpel, only calling Rottnest by its Aboriginal name Wadjemup, listened and nodded, same blank smile spread across face, and said something like “Very cool, uncle. Now back to Mikey Wright’s hand jam…” in response before returning to Collard for the send-off, telling the dignified man, and surf fans alike, that he would be in the pallet box throughout the competition providing more stories, insight, etc.

He has not appeared once.

Not once.

Jimmy the Saint/Sinner remarked, in yesterday’s truncated “comment lives,” that it was yet another broken promise of the white man and it is shamefully true. The World Surf League not even being able to provide performance to its performative activism.

https://www.instagram.com/p/CO-yWqEjtFp/

Collard, now famously, invited the League not to return to the island in his send-off but the League must invite Collard back to the pallet box if they hope to finish the event without multiple heat restarts or worse.

Has no one in Santa Monica watched The Brady Bunch episodes wherein the family travels to Hawaii and finds a tiki necklace?

David Lee Scales and I discussed the stink of Rottnest, the first and second rules of Surf Club, world’s greatest surfer Kelly Slater misplaying his investment strategy and much more.

Worth a listen for certain.