Great White at play.

Queensland government reverses decision to remove shark nets and reveals shock haul in June, including 19 tiger sharks and two Great Whites near site of fatal attack at Snapper Rocks!

"(We) will always put human life and human safety first with the shark control program."

The Queensland government was just “hours” away from announcing the removal of shark nets on its beaches, it’s been revealed, replacing ‘em with birds in the sky during the annual winter whale migration when three hundred or so of the leviathans swim up the coast for the tropical waters of North Queensland.

And where there’s whales, Whites are gonna trail.

Despite criticism the nets were a little blunt in their application, taking out whales (tend to get tangled up on the return journey in August), dolphins and turtles etc, until last September there hadn’t been a fatal attack on Queensland’s netted beaches since their introduction sixty years earlier.

Do they work? Yeah, they do.

And, yet, before the September fatality, the Queensland shark control program’s scientific working group had recommended a scaling back of the nets, using aerial surveillance and drumlines here and there. Maybe they’d figured it was an act of God, not man, that had kept sharks and surfers away from each other.

Then Nick Slater was killed at Greenmount and all bets were off, as they say.

One of the guys who dragged the lifeless body to shore, Jade Parker, said “the whole idea that the shark was trying to single him out is not realistic”, despite the footage showing unequivocally the shark doing exactly that. It hit him then hit him again.

The Queensland government don’t fuck around.

They know the electorate well.

Now, data from June reveals thirty-five sharks, including nineteen tigers and two Great Whites, were caught in the nets, including a ten-footer at Coolangatta, right in the middle of the fabled Superbank.

A few theories were kicking around after the Greenmount hit, the most common being the build up of sand had positioned surfers right on the deep-water drop off, in the path of whales and Great Whites.

“(We) will always put human life and human safety first with the shark control program,” Fisheries Minister Mark Furner told the Courier-Mail. “The Government has no plan to remove shark control nets or drumlines from state controlled waters.”

A very different mindset to Byron Bay, an hour or so south, where the Great White, along with the leashless log, both killers, are venerated.

In wild battle of the personal brands, Kolohe Andino hires firm that made Shaun White a household name in order to steal Olympic spotlight from Kanoa Igarashi!


In a major announcement just ahead of surfing’s official Olympic debut, it was revealed that the United States’ Kolohe Andino has hired global marketing agency Finn Partners to represent him. The PR firm, which describes itself as, “one of the fastest-growing global, independent agencies with a heart and a conscience,” is a major coup for Andino’s team as it was the very same that made snowboarding’s Shaun White a household name.

Managing partner Missy Farren told trade publication PR Week, “[White] is his own kind of character with the hair and personality, and we thought, ‘Why can’t we take the Olympics out of typical sports media and do something different?’”

Partner Laura Anderson Sanchez added, “We saw the tremendous opportunity ahead for surfers who are having their Olympic debut. They may not know what’s in store for them, but want to make sure that [Andino] can fulfill his potential and reach a broader audience outside of surfing.”

It has long been assumed that Japan’s Kanoa Igarashi would be the face of Olympic surfing what with his megawatt smile, almost conversational fluency in Japanese and Huntington Beach pedigree.

Face of Olympic surfing today.

Line of boy’s clothing in Target tomorrow.

Dating rock stars etc.

The Shaun White path.

Not one surfer was even challenging that trajectory, not even the great Gabriel Medina, but Andino must see an path in which he will be able to knock Igarashi out and steal that line of boy’s clothing in Target.

This battle of the personal brands will, likely, be the most compelling subplot of Olympic surfing and we all must watch carefully.

Much pressure on Finn Partners.

“Santa Cruz used to have culture and a cool vibe but it’s just an overcrowded watered-down version of what it was. I think its lame to take a cool city and try and exploit it for a crappy car sale. Hyundai is trying hard to be cool but it’s still a Hyundai.”

Hyundai releases soft-roader called the “Santa Cruz”; Skate icon Stacey Peralta directs commercial; locals respond, “Surf culture has been totally assassinated by Kooks, so this should sell really well.”

"Should have called it The Fresno or The Bakersfield…"

If you were wandering around Santa Cruz last week, you might have seen filmmaker Stacy Peralta on the streets.

Peralta, a former pro skater who co-wrote and directed Dogtown and Z-B0ys, is directing a commercial for Hyundai’s new compact truck, the Santa Cruz. The vehicle is in production now and will be rolling off the line by fall.

The truck features a 2.5 litre four, two- or all-wheel drive, and a four-foot truck bed.

Aptly named?

Peralta is stoked on the moniker. He told the Santa Cruz weekly Good Times, “Santa Cruz is one of those extremely unique California beach towns. It’s extremely rare because this city has everything the great cities have. It has a gigantic cultural mix in a tiny area.”


“Something else that blows my mind is how much presence there is in this town for Black Lives Matter. I’m blown away.”


“A bitchin’ record store is always the sign of a great place. Because a store like this cannot exist in a town that doesn’t understand it. These kinds of places are what gives towns color.”

“There’s a really deep bed of culture here. There’s a heavy performance ethic here. If you’re a skateboarder, a surfer, a mountain biker, or a hiker, or a musician or an artist, everyone is competing with each other to be great. Which makes [Santa Cruz] great.”

What a dance ol’ Stacy taps out.

While Santa Cruz ain’t Nineveh, it ain’t what Peralta describes, either.

And notice how he curiously stops short of connecting the dots between the name and its use for the daily surfer.

Is it out-of-bounds to question Peralta and how this particular build represents Santa Cruz, that great coastal city? Can we question the lack of power, four-wheel drive and a truck bed too small to hold the shortest of shortboards?

Let’s do.

Not since the Mexican release of Chevrolet’s Nova – translated as “It does not go” – has a vehicle been so poorly named.

Hyundai labels the Santa Cruz a “sports adventure vehicle.”

Locals Ken “Skindog” Collins and Jason “Ratboy” Collins label it something else.

“Super stupid. Total bullshit. Should have called it The Fresno or The Bakersfield,” Ken says.

“I think they should have named it the Silicon Valley! Most definitely not a surf truck!” Ratboy says. “It looks like a new Subaru Brat.”

Peralta has to know that the truck isn’t really functional for surfing, right?

“He is just doing his best to help sell a piece of shit. His [BLM] comments are true without a doubt, but it’s just another selling technique to reach The Woke,” says Ken.

Ratboy adds that “Santa Cruz used to have culture and a cool vibe but it’s just an overcrowded watered-down version of what it was. I think its lame to take a cool city and try and exploit it for a crappy car sale. Hyundai is trying hard to be cool but it’s still a Hyundai.”

Ken agrees. “The surf culture has been totally assassinated by Kooks, so this should sell really well.”

He reflects briefly and says, “I ended up getting a Sprinter van. So who the hell am I to have an opinion about cars?”

Question #1: What would a car named after your town, your break look like?

Question #2: What would be a more fitting name for Hyundai’s new “sports adventure vehicle?”

Dramatic video shows volunteer lifeguards rescuing surfer from rocks in New Zealand: “He was cold and apprehensive to get back in the water!”


Every surfer worth her salt has been caught in an uncomfortable position at sea. Maybe caught in a riptide, panic starting to bubble. Maybe out just beyond a swell that has risen significantly, fear beginning to grip. Shark fin spotted, bashed-off-the-reef wipeout, leash ripped and board sucked away, etc. etc.

It feels good to get oneself out of trouble and it also feels good to get someone else out of trouble and, days ago, volunteer lifeguards in New Zealand saved a surfer from his perch stranded on rocks and felt good.

California does not have the volunteer lifeguard position available but I do believe they are called “clubbies” in Australia and NZ.

Anyhow, the dramatic rescue took place on Muriwai Beach when a member of the public spotted the surfer and called the emergency number.

Volunteer squad member Glenn Gowthorpe, accompanied by another lifeguard, jumped into action and made it across the churny water, arriving to the surfer how had been stuck there for 2 hours and was cold. A police helicopter circled overhead, shooting award-worthy video (watch here) and acting as backup.

“You never know what could happen. We might end up in trouble,” Gowthorpe said.

Eventually, they convinced the surfer to get back in the water, as he was “apprehensive,” and made it successfully to the beach.

The surfer appeared to be riding a round nose fish.

A very fun choice in playful surf but maybe not when dramatic rescues are in order.

If you had to be saved from rocks, all caught on video, which board would you want beside you?

Important to think about.

"Surfing won’t save you from meth and opioids and crack. If anything, surfing may prime you for addiction to stronger forms of intoxication, stronger rushes. The very best surfers in the world have fallen to hard drugs, after all."

Study reveals: “Surfing may prime you for addiction to stronger forms of intoxication, stronger rushes!”

Part addiction memoir, part sociological study, new book The Drop “dismantles the myth of surfing as a radiantly wholesome lifestyle immune to the darker temptations of the culture…"

It’s a sad trajectory we know all too well.

Ace surfer wins world titles and/or rides giant waves only to fall into substance abuse in the post-athletic years.

It makes no sense. And yet it makes perfect sense.

The Drop: How the Most Addictive Sport Can Help Us Understand Addiction and Recovery, by Thad Ziolkowski, explores this phenomenon at length. Part addiction memoir, part sociological study, part spiritual odyssey, Thad “dismantles the myth of surfing as a radiantly wholesome lifestyle immune to the darker temptations of the culture and discovers among the rubble a new way to understand and ultimately overcome addiction.”

A lifelong surfer, a Yale PhD, a Guggenheim fellow, the author of the memoir On A Wave, Thad lives with his family in New Jersey.

What compelled you to write The Drop?
When I started surfing, age 10, I was struck by the charisma of surfing compared to other things. I played several sports, I loved listening to music and reading, but surfing trumped all that, especially when the waves were good: it was impossible to think of anything else.

When I left the beach to go off to college, I felt that the only way I would be able to focus on my studies was to quit surfing, quit it like a drug. I was also deeply troubled by the prospect of surfing only occasionally, of being anything less than absolutely on my game. It was all or nothing. Which is itself a very addictive way of looking at things, one surf culture enforces with its contempt for dilettantes combined with the whole spirit of “go for it!”—of total commitment.

During the years when I wasn’t surfing, when I was living the life of a poet in the city, I became addicted to alcohol and drugs. I never imagined I would ever surf again and yet when I was at my lowest point I found myself at the beach in Far Rockaway. I bought a board, I went surfing, and it all came back to life, who I was and how it felt before the darkness crowded in.

Surfing was something other than drinking and drugging to feel excited about. It carried me back to when I was a child again — I was a happy, frothing grom when I was surfing. It was something to quit smoking for, to get fit for — and ultimately to get sober for.

But as soon as I started surfing again, I also felt its old power to eclipse everything else, and I had rein myself back in several times — not throw away everything I had worked for and move to Kauai, for instance.

Then there was the whole issue of surfer drug addicts — surfers I had known growing up, and famous ones —Michael Peterson, Jeff Hakman, Mike Hynson, Lynne Boyer, Tom Carroll, Kong, Buttons, Flea, Mel, Ruffo, And of course Andy Irons. But many others, of all levels and renown, known only to the surf world insiders and a few others.

So I had thought a lot about the connection between surfing and addiction, and lived it, and The Drop is the result.

What was the most surprising/unexpected thing you found in your research?
The existence of what neurologists call “opponent processes,” biochemicals that are produced in response to any experience that makes you tipsy, high, or drunk — a line of cocaine but also falling in love or violently grieving — or riding the wave of your life.

The theory that accounts for opponent processes is that at its most basic level the brain has evolved to be a contrast detector. The brain’s default setting is a clear-headed neutrality that keeps us ready to respond to our environment — to get food, sex and drink, mainly, and to respond to threats.

The upshot is that try as we might to get and stay high, or stoked, the wily brain is always bringing us back down to earth.

Did you have trouble getting surfer addicts to open up to you about this topic?
In some cases, for sure. And I respect and sympathize with the desire not to be publicly linked to addiction. It hasn’t exactly been easy for me to come out as an addict! Despite all the progress that’s been made since the 1980s, when researchers found compelling evidence that addiction is a chronic disorder of the brain, addiction still elicits a lot of knee-jerk disapproval and moralizing.

And in addition to the wider social stigma of addiction, there’s a tradition in surfing of circling the wagons and keeping mum on the darker aspects of the sport.

But I benefitted by beginning my book after the appearance of Kissed by God, the documentary in which Andy Irons’s inner circle speaks candidly about his struggles with addiction.

Luckily, I also passed muster with certain well-known surfers. Word then went out that I could be trusted and folks began to tell their stories. For addicts in recovery, it’s considered beneficial to be open about their addiction, because it teaches others the truth about it, and it helps establish self-acceptance and generosity. So in the case of surfers in recovery there was a pressure exerted by the recovery community to share and be open. Privacy can feel like secretiveness, and keeping secrets is not good for recovering addicts.

What’s the take-away of the book — what does surfing have to teach us about addiction?
Surfers often talk about getting “hooked” on surfing after their first real wave. There’s a pride and pleasure taken in being seized, a sense of specialness, of election. Surfers as the Chosen. Only a surfer knows the feeling.

And truly, surfing is a blessing, a good addiction. It’s one of the great blessings of my life, for sure.

But it won’t save you from meth and opioids and crack. If anything, surfing may prime you for addiction to stronger forms of intoxication, stronger rushes. The very best surfers in the world have fallen to hard drugs, after all. Their stories, along with the latest science on addiction, have a lot to tell us.

Get The Drop here.