In disturbing sign of what’s to come, Olympic-bound Kolohe Andino forced to explain surfing using Legos: “Here’s me right there on my… shark surfboard. I’m Chewbacca.”

Imagine the inanities our beloved Irukandjis, Brazilian Stormers, Jordy Smiths will also face.

From World Surf League CEO Erik Logan to International Surfing Association chief Fernando Aguerre to Bluestar Alliance, owner of Hurley, maker of beard cream, so much is riding on these upcoming Tokyo Olympics. Surfing’s grand debut. Oh finally but finally the nut will be cracked. Once exposed to our sport of kings, millions of people across the globe will fall in love with competitive professional surfing and seek it out.

Hungry for 6.93s.

Starving for Joe Turpel.

Unconsidered, lost in the cushions, as it were, are the professional surfers themselves.

Take, for example, Kolohe Andino’s pride as he was recently forced to sit down behind a bowlful of Legos and explain surfing to a stupefied audience using them.

“Here’s me right there on my… shark surfboard,” he begins, voice dropping slightly then uttering, “I’m Chewbacca.”

He then builds what appears to be an arch, has Chewbacca “drop in,” go inside the arch then flicks him out with his finger while explaining barrels.

The audience laughs hollowly.

Next, Andino does his best to build a wave breaking though is troubled by the lack of curved pieces. Unbent, he talks through how Olympic surfing will be scored on snaps, aerials and, he pauses, “wave height” building his small tower taller.

“So if the waves are this big and you find a wave… this big, you’re stoked. Don’t fall off.”

More hollow laughs.

Kolohe is an extremely good sport but this is only the beginning. Imagine the inanities our beloved Irukandjis, Brazilian Stormers, Jordy Smiths will face.

Imagines the Spicoli impressions they’ll be conscripted to do and all because Logan, Aguerre and Blueflame crave more eyeballs, dry beards.


Watch here.

In horrifying yet possibly justified attack, shark attempts to grab parasailer before taking flight: “One moment he was ready for glee, the next he feared he’d be an amputee!”

Historical first.

I have traveresed much of the Middle East from Morocco to Egypt, Yemen to Syria, and many more beautiful countries between though one of my more memorable stops was in Aqaba, Jordan. For it was in Aqaba that amoebic dysentery threatened to eat my guts and render me dead.

The general bummer came on slowly, in a small hotel overlooking the Red Sea. Feeling sort of unwell etc. Then it came on quickly and I became delirious and weird. Much unpleasant. My best friends in the world transported me to a local hospital, the doctor shook his head and I was hooked up to and IV for a week.

I would drag my IV bag out to the hospital’s parking lot, after regaining a touch of strength, look at the towering mountains and think about Lawrence of Arabia who famously took Aqaba from the rear.

I would look out to the Red Sea and watch parasailers soar.


A general bummer but worthy of shark attack?

Shark’s apparently, maybe, think so and in an unprecedented attack, a shark leapt out of the water and attempted to damage severely.

One moment he was feeling glee, the next he feared he’d be an amputee.

The young man was reportedly fine but taken to a different hospital, not my local one.

Happy-ish ending but parasailing.

What’s the point?

Have you been?

Can you describe?

Whatever your position on the contest, you gotta admit, it's as fun as pools get.

Surf Ranch-lit: “Great surfing is about finding a line through chaos and watching great moments in surf comps is bearing witness to that pursuit!”

"Without the chaos you’ve just got an aquatic gym."

I’ve become obsessed with the Surf Ranch.

The more you think about it the crazier it becomes. It is insane, and it’s making me insane.

Looking at the skateboarding analogy you can see why building a wave version an un-changing handrail assists the technical side of surfing: try the same air, the same turn, the same combo, over and over and over on the exact same section on the exact same wave, you get better at them. The logic is unquestionable.

But great surfing is not quantified by technical precision alone, it involves something less easily defined.

I need to stop right here to clarify that I am not heading in the turgid direction of claiming that surfing is fundamentally a spiritual exercise, of course not.

Most of the time it’s a selfish exercise for joy junkies who fiend after more and more and extreme self-gratification, as I’m sure we all know, is the very antithesis of enlightenment. That whole conversation is as absurd as it is tedious (unless it is being had by the old-timers like Alby Falzon who have genuinely earned the right to go there).

The tedium I am referring to can be attributed to people like, umm, Rasta, Rob Machado etc.

Whether it is in the front of our minds or not, when we are watching surfing in the ocean there are sub-conscious questions being asked before a surfer even gets to their feet: how did they end up in position to get that one?

How often does that spot get like that?

Is there another one behind it?

And if we extrapolate this line of questioning to its limit we arrive at the bigger picture, the elemental forces at play to produce a single wave and the complex systems that animate weather. Now we begin to appreciate that navigating a lineup so to be in the right place at the right time to get that one bomb is not just some trivial element of a surf comp.

It is the seed of the drama. The vital game that precedes the performance itself.

What you gain from the stasis of mechanical perfection and consistency is nullified by the predictability that environment produces, predictability being the enemy of excitement.

Lamenting the loss of nature as a feature in a surf comp is not just some good-vibrations esoteric peace protest. The ocean as a system, or as an arena to complete in, if you want to frame it in the hyperbolic sports-crazed language of the WSL, provides a dynamic chaos out of which unlikely perfect scores occasionally emerge. Without the chaos you’ve just got an aquatic gym.

And there’s another dimension to surfing in the actual ocean, one that specifically relates to competition, the relationships we know certain surfers have with certain waves, and how that affects the way we see them.

You watch footage of Andy or Bruce or any Hawaiian out Pipe or Backdoor and you get this kinda macho rush, not only are they the best out there but it’s their spot and they dominate it, and we all love that narrative, whether we admit it or not.

Or you see Steph Gilmore out Snapper and you have a similar feeling. It’s not necessarily the mastering of a wave but a situation in which a person has invested so much time and intention into a certain patch of ocean that they seem to be rewarded for it, and it’s a joy to witness.

Great surfing involves a level of earned intuition that is developed, knowingly or not, over years of reacting to the unpredictability of the ocean. Maybe that unpredictability is the very essence of our excitement, and not only the thing that fosters great surfing but ultimately defines it.

I can’t help but think of Andy. I’m thinking about any session he had out Cloudbreak, or even the year he won Bells out at that sketchy Johanna rip bowl doing airs where others were doing floaters and cutbacks, where others were hitting the lip or his backhand when he surfed that left shorey at Pine Trees in the Lost vids.

Andy’s unpredictability was not limited to what he did on a wave, it showed in how he caught them. Remember that Teahupoo one where he turned around late with Bruce calling him in and he free-fell into it? Or remember Bruce getting his leggy stuck on a rock when paddling out for that heat at Pipe to requalify?

Couldn’t happen at The Ranch.

Is there sand there?

Do they paddle out?

Those are moments that, try as they desperately may, the WSL could never dream of writing into the behind-the-scenes drama that they mistakenly think the tour needs. The anti-logic is incredible. The ocean itself has always provided us a limitless and unknowable script, one that is immune to human contrivance, and The Ranch just chucked it out for an exercise spectacle, and now it’s warming up for a sex sells reality TV show.

Think back to when pro surfing was still exciting, the 2003 Kelly and Andy showdown.

Kelly has just given Andy that weird pat on the back. They’ve paddled out.

It’s all over the place onshore six-foot Pipe.

You’re scanning the ocean, watching where each of them is, wondering when a waves gonna pop up and who’s gonna get it.

Andy gets the first wave. He’s late, catches an edge after the drop and falls.

A few minutes later, Kelly gets a wobbly cover up: three points.

Behind him, Andy drops into a hollow Backdoor one and comes out and whacks it then gets that novelty cover up: 8.33.

Later in the heat, Kelly gets an under-the-lip Pipe one then holds Andy off a lumpy Backdoor wave.

Andy still hasn’t found a back-up. The ocean is a wind-swept foamy mess. Parko gets a throaty Pipe barrel out of nowhere.

Phil Macca holds Andy off a Backdoor bomb.

Andy is left floating around with dying time and no way of knowing what exactly to do where exactly to be.

He paddles between peaks.

Finally, he finds one, but it closes out before he can do anything.

Behind him, Kelly rolls in at to a bowly Backdoor set, gets one solid turn then it races off and shuts down.

With minutes to go, Andy paddles into one that doesn’t look like much from the take off, but it grows, the first turn is solid, then he pulls up into a foamy cover up then comes out and get that last little floater.

In the dying minutes, Kelly snakes Andy for the best Backdoor set of the final. He pulls in, standing straight up, but it clamps.

The hooter blows and Andy wins his third world title.

Now, imagine if that Final was held at The Ranch.

Great surfing is about finding a line through chaos and watching great moments in surf comps is bearing witness to that pursuit.

Just because Kelly is going a little crazy from forty years of over-obsessing over the micro-details of his performance and has forgotten that there is a bigger story to surfing than the physics of each individual turn, doesn’t mean we should be subjected to watching great surfers master one man’s practice machine.


The only solution I can see is if winners of the Ranch come out and publicly reject its rise to prominence and petition for its removal.

Filipe? Gabriel?

(Editor’s note: Sam Rhodes is the editor of Acetone, “a magazine dedicated to keeping alive alternatives to the internet and computers.”

John Severson's iconic image of Greg Noll at Pipe in his pretty striped trunks, taken in 1964. Noll said it took an hour to paddle out. | Photo: John Severson

Big-wave icon, Greg “Da Bull” Noll, dead at 84. “Noll was a loveable blowhard, hustler, raconteur, and bullshitter. His big-wave cred extends from here to Valhalla.”

"I was overwhelmed by a feeling that there wasn't a wave that God could produce that I couldn't ride."

The Californian big-wave icon, Greg Noll, one of the first surfers to charge Waimea Bay in the nineteen fifties and who famously quit surfing in 1969 after riding a thirty-five footer, then the biggest wave ever ridden, has died, aged eighty-four. 

His fam announced Da Bull’s passing on Facebook. 

It is with a heavy heart the Noll family announces the death of our patriarch, Greg Noll. Greg died of natural causes on Monday June 28th, at the age of 84. We invite all of our friends and family to celebrate his life by sharing this post and your stories, pictures and experiences through your preferred platform.

Aloha, The Noll Family

The great surfing historian Matt Warshaw describes Noll as “Boorish but charismatic … A loveable blowhard, hustler, raconteur, and bullshitter. But not an outright fabricator. His big-wave cred, furthermore, extends from here to Valhalla. He led the opening charge at Waimea in 1957, and for the next 12 years rode anything that came his way, fearlessly. ‘I was overwhelmed by a feeling that there wasn’t a wave that God could produce that I couldn’t ride,’ he said. ‘It was sort of a blind, stupid feeling, but I had all the goddamn confidence of a rhinoceros.”‘

Of the wave at Makaha on December 4, 1969, “Greg Noll’s monster drop-to-annihilation wave” Warshaw says it was the “the defining wave of surfing’s defining big-wave swell. World champ Fred Hemmings watched from the beach and said it was the biggest wave ever ridden. Noll himself said it was five or ten feet over his previous best, and not long afterward he tapped out of the game, moved to Crescent City, and became a fisherman.”

Two men sunbaking naked on Sydney beach get spooked by deer, run into forest and become hopelessly lost: “I think they should be embarrassed!”


Sydney entered a two-week lockdown, over the weekend, in order to control spread of the new Coronavirus Delta variant but that did not stop two men, aged 30 and 49 respectively, from stripping naked and heading to a pristine beach just south of the city.

There they lay on the warm-ish sand, soaking up important vitamin D, maybe thinking about the Bra Boys just around the bend, enjoying a forbidden slice of freedom when out of nowhere popped a deer.

Now, anyone who has spent much time around deer or seen the Chris Farley classic Tommy Boy, knows that the animals can be extremely scary.

The naked men, rightfully panicked, ran into the nearby Royal National Park and became hopelessly lost, eventually calling for help in the evening.

Their rescue involved police aircraft, ambulances and many officers.

Resources etc.

Mercifully, the two were found, the younger of the two still completely naked but with backpack, the older “partially clothed” according to sources.

Police Commissioner Mick Fuller described them as “idiots” in his press conference also saying, “Clearly putting people at risk by leaving home without a proper reason… then getting lost in the national park and diverting important resources away from the health operation, I think they should be embarrassed.”

They were subsequently fined $1000 each but gave birth to the greatest sign language performance in history.

I think they should be proud.