Kelly Slater appears on a screen. It is weirdly holographic. Like, is he even real? Probably not, actually. Don’t fall! This is the best advice for surfing waves I’ve ever heard in my life. I’m glad he won eleven world titles to discover this vital truth.

ABC’s The Ultimate Surfer, episode one analysis: “I am so totally here for catty Anastasia Ashley. She is now my favorite character ever!”

Oooh, first challenge! Combo turns! We are learning so much here about surfing. They have to do multiple turns that are different, but also, connected together. Complicated.

In this episode: Fourteen people who apparently can surf arrive at the Surf Ranch. They go surfing. Also, there is roommate drama and plotting. Two surfers are eliminated by the end, which is very sad.

Welcome to BeachGrit’s official coverage of The Ultimate Surfer. Apparently, I am writing this thing for you. I will try to make it fun.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock or on a desert island, you know that The Ultimate Surfer is a reality show.

Fourteen surfers compete for prizes by surfing (duh) and doing random challenges.

Prizes? Money. Wildcard entries into World Championship Tour events next year.

Tantalizing, and perhaps worth the inevitable humiliations to come. Because if there’s one thing I know about reality television, and I confess, I don’t know much, there will certainly be humiliations galore.

Oh yes, yes, this whole thing is a terrible sell-out of our beloved, wondrous past time. I am wringing my hands so hard right now.

But really, surfing has been sold out over and over, decade after decade, long before any of us showed up. I’m pretty sure it will be sold out again and again long after we’re gone, too.

In truth, I have found it useful to separate surfing as a media artefact from surfing, the thing I do at the beach. This way of thinking has given me much enjoyment and happiness.

Perhaps you will find this approach helpful. Life is shitty and difficult at times, and I fully believe in laughing at whatever absurdity that comes my way.

The Ultimate Surfer takes place at the Surf Ranch, which by now is familiar, and maybe a little too familiar. The Surf Ranch sits in California’s Central Valley, and a giant wooden stockade of a fence surrounds the 700-meter pool. There’s no getting in — and no getting out.

The heat, the tall fence, the concrete, the tasty mix of industrial agriculture and chlorine in the air: It’s all so wonderful, really, if claustrophobia is your kink.

Episode One! Here we go!

Surf Ranch porn! Yes, omg, six-foot and glassy every time! This is totally fiction. Sometimes, it is onshore. You can not fool me.

Opening interviews, and everyone wants to be the best. If you’ve ever wanted to hear more post-heat interviews, this is for you! Retro guitar plays in the background to make us feel super surfy. The competitors arrive in vintage cars. Weird flex, but I’m willing to play along.

Introductions, everyone is super great at surfing, it seems! I am totally not going to be able to keep all these people straight. There are so many! And they all look like surfers. And they all want to compete against the best in the world. Hopefully, I get better at this television-watching thing soon.

Some famous guy shows up. I have no idea who he is.

Oh, he’s Jesse Palmer.

I still don’t know who he is. Someone is fangirling. He is explaining all the things about the competition. Two will win! Money and stuff. He does something on ESPN, apparently. It’s fine. I feel like I don’t need to know who he is.

The excitement is… hard for me to wrap my head around!

I have been to the Surf Ranch, and it was… not that exciting? But that’s chill. If you’re on television, everything is more exciting.

Oh! A bottle! I am so excited the bottle shows up in the very first episode. Day, made!

https://www.instagram.com/p/CS2Q4jjNGTA/

Wait, is that like a message in a bottle?

Brianna from Hawaii, she doesn’t want to kiss anyone. She did not sign up for the Bachelor. She is here to surf. Sorry, Breanna! You are on a reality television show. You do not get to make the rules.

Oh lucky Breanna! They do not have to kiss! They are going to choose partners to help each other. The bottle of destiny! I’m not sure this can be a thing in real life, but we are at the Surf Ranch where nothing is real.

Julie, her lipstick is very big, and she is partners with Koa, who is very stoked about just about everything. I don’t know how he keeps up this level of exuberance. His manbun totally defies gravity.

Okay, they’re all on teams. It’s great. I am so totally here for catty Anastasia. She is now my favorite character ever.

Oh roommate drama! Breanna and Malia Ward are sharing an Airstream trailer. So trendy! Apparently, they hate each other. Breanna does not like Malia’s energy. The vibes, they’re bad. Tia and Malia, also not friends! But Malia and Anastasia are besties. The plot, it is so thick now!

I have never watched reality television before now, and I feel like I have been missing so much. There’s like a giant hole in my life, where reality television should have been all this time. In the future, I feel I must change my ways.

I am disappointed there wasn’t any kissing. I was hoping there would be awkward kissing.

Malia, she isn’t here to make friends. She is very competitive, just like her dad, the best barrel rider in the world. She wants to win.

KELLY VISION!

Kelly Slater appears on a screen. It is weirdly holographic.

Like, is he even real? Probably not, actually. Don’t fall! This is the best advice for surfing waves I’ve ever heard in my life. I’m glad he won eleven world titles to discover this vital truth. It is even better that he has chosen to share it with the whole world.

Oooh, first challenge! Combo turns! We are learning so much here about surfing. They have to do multiple turns that are different, but also, connected together. Complicated.

Turpel sighting!

And actual pro surfing judges.

We are learning how judges work. A ton of spray! Big turns! Connecting with speed and style! Carves and snaps — these are the two things the surfers will do on the wave. Snaps, so much more risky!

Also, there is a woman, who is probably also famous.

But I don’t know her, as usual.

Oh no. Not the completion! Zeke got a completion! This is my least fave commentary quirk from Turpel. The completion. In addition to not watching reality tv, I don’t watch US football, so maybe that’s my problem. Maybe the commentary and my whole life would make so much more sense, if I did these things.

Kayla Durdan — my money is always going to be on me! That’s a good line, girl. Hope you can surf! Because you apparently need to do that now. Well, after the commercials. Network tv has very exciting commercials, and they are many. Oh, Kayla. She is very relaxed and chill. This is not the time to be chill and relaxed, Kayla! The judges don’t love it. Sorry, Kayla!

The surfing is cut very fast. I can’t even tell who is doing what. I’m not sure this matters. There is a lot of falling, on the whole. I think the surfing is mostly bad, actually. I’m not sure this matters, either.

Luke Davis and Anastasia win! I feel like I should have said something more smart about the surfing here, but it’s not that interesting.

Elimination time! There is going to be a surf-off and Luke Davis and Anastasia get to pick a team to surf in the elimination round. Losers, go home! The pressure is completely crushing.

Now, Malia and Anastasia are plotting. Anastasia wants to play the long game. She’s thinking very hard and second-guessing her first guesses. Anastasia, so stressed now! Malia is crafty. I would not want to surf a heat against her. Or, play reality tv. I feel certain either way, a double-cross is coming, and there are going to be so many tears.

Moment of truth! The surf-off is starting now. Zeke and Kayla are sent to the surf-off. And they get to choose who they compete against. So they choose Malia and Austin Clouse, because they had the lowest scores in the first round.

Austin’s dad had cancer, he says. This is very touching. He gave up his dreams of surfing contests in California, and he went home to Florida. That was the end of his Championship Tour dreams. He is going to give it all he has. A classic tear-jerker Olympic moment, and it’s not even the Olympics.

Yes! The elimination round takes place at night. Winner stays, loser leaves! This is so intense.

Kayla, everything on the line. She has better turns this time. But oooh, shit, got chopped on the barrel. This feels very tragic, actually.

Malia: Get pitted, and come out! Very good self-talk. Malia is on her back hand. She makes the barrel! Then she falls on the end section turn.

What will the judges decide? You totally can’t script this.

The suspense. I can’t wait to find out if Malia or Kayla wins! The women’s side is so catty and wonderful. The men, not as much! Perhaps they will improve upon closer acquaintance.

Oh, Austin, got chopped by the barrel. This is very sad, just like Kayla.

Zeke, hits the lip line, which I thought was what Julie had on her face, but it is apparently part of the wave. Zeke, lands an air! Omg, an actual air! Shit’s getting real now.

Drama! Zeke came through the door. He is the winner! He gets a 9.5. Malia, she survives! Anastasia is very relieved now. If Kayla had stayed, vengeance would surely have been hers. But now, there is no chance for vengeance, just sad good byes.

Kalya, and Austin, we hardly knew you! Bye!

And, we’re done. Until tomorrow, when we do the whole thing all over again.

I feel like tomorrow might be too soon, actually. It is all so much to take in. The plotting! The drama! The suspense! It seems that tomorrow there will be challenges other than surfing. And also, bribery.

I hope there is more Kelly. I felt like this whole thing needed more Kelly.

See you then!


Surfing’s great polemicist Joel Tudor harkens back to a more genteel era ahead of The Ultimate Surfer debut: “Back when surfers had style… nowadays we speak in Insta emojis, everyone is a YouTube comedian and nothing is sacred!”

Fix up. Look sharp.

Have you set aside the 10 o’clock hour (9 o’clock Central) for tonight’s grand premier of the World Surf League’s The Ultimate Surfer? The program, starring Anastasia Ashley, Austin Clouse, Mason Barnes and Erin Coscarelli as “the world’s best surfers,” has been teased for months now and will also feature Kelly Slater teaching “up and coming surf stars” how to play spin the bottle etc.

Thrilled?

Overjoyed that surfing has a new image?

Well, quickened heartbeats are not universal. Surfing’s great polemicist Joel Tudor took to Instagram, minutes ago, to decry the cheapening of our favorite pastime.

Underneath a photo featuring surfing greats (Greg Noll, Pat Curren etc.) dressed nattily he wrote, “Back when surfers had style ….nowadays we speak insta emoji’s, everyone’s a YouTube comedian & nothing is sacred …all the rules of how we got here are now taboo – I swear we are headed downhill fast! Throw a wrench in the machine sos abort abort …ship is going down captain! Ok ok I kid , we’ll be fine ….just could use some old school cool in the era of instant gratification!”

https://www.instagram.com/p/CS7HxpHFOH-/

But what do you feel? An old man shouting at the clouds or does Mr. Tudor have a point?

I have long been a proponent of fixing up, looking sharp, and agree that the best surfer is a suit wearing surfer. I have also long known that age, a calcified brain, is marked by criticizing “nowadays” as “not as cool as it used to be.”

So where do you fall?

Has surfing become idiocracized or should we all go along and get along?


War breaks out on social media after Australian surfer Jack Freestone pokes light fun of New South Wales stringent lockdown laws: “You driving too fast, jail. Too slow, jail.”

Who will win?

Jack Freestone, originally from Australia’s Gold Coast but now splitting time on the beautiful island of Kauai, put his head above the parapet, yesterday, and used light comedy to shine a light on New South Wales’ stringent lockdown laws.

On August 16th, Operation Stay At Home commenced with NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller telling Australia’s ABC News (not to be confused with America’s ABC which will be airing The Ultimate Surfer premier tonight at 10/9 central) that too many people were using excuses relating to exercise, the singles bubble and regional travel and they needed to close these gaps.

“I honestly think we can get NSW out of lockdown quicker [with these powers]. These are some of the strongest powers we’ve ever had in the history of the NSW Police Force, as part of the government’s strategy to get in front of the virus in the coming weeks – it’s all about getting ahead of Delta, not chasing it.”

Everything is now banned and breaking the rules carries hefty fines:

$5,000 on the spot fine for breaching self-isolation rules
$5,000 on the spot fine for lying on a permit
$5,000 on the spot fine for lying to a contact tracer
$3,000 on the spot fine for breaching the two-person outdoor exercise/recreation rule
$3,000 on the spot fine for breaching rules around entry into regional NSW, which restrict travel except for authorised work, inspecting real estate or travelling to your second home

Freestone took to Instagram and posted a video of the fines being announced stitched to a clip where comedian Fred Armisen appeared on the television show Parks and Recreation as a central, maybe south, American dictator, writing, “This basically sums up what Australia looks like right now. So sad seeing everything going on right now. Hope everyone is ok. Ps watch it to the end.”

https://www.instagram.com/p/CS5N78IpeMh/

Praise, initially, flowed in from all corners.

Yadin Nicol commented, “Started out a jail, ended up a jail.”

Nick Carroll’s brother Tom agreed with Nicol then added a heartfelt story about an ICU nurse.

Andy Collyer, who shapes surfboards, said, “Thanks Jack for sharing the truths of our country mate! More high profile people need to be doing this…” which was widely echoed by many wondering why the Gold Coast’s many famous surfers have maintained their silence.

CJ Hobgood wanted to fine Jack for “being so cute,” but then the worm turned and many came in, pitchforks raised, demanding that Freestone “promote vaccination,” calling him “pathetic,” and providing rejoinders like, “Pro surfers who travel the world complaining about health and safety precautions is like Phil Mickelson complaining about taxes.”

The two sides immediately went to war, commenting, replying, proving the angry red-faced emoji.

Who will win?

Us, I suppose. True comedy connoisseurs.

More as the story develops.


The Party celebrates the triumphant and infallible release of a new one-dollar bodyboard.

Brightly coloured Chinese-made bodyboards “poisoning UK beaches” and killing precious leatherback turtles, “These are the same turtles pictured on the kids’ bodyboards. How ironic is that?”

“These super-cheap boards won’t even see out the day, never mind the week. Some of them are broken within two hours."

A sinister development in the Chinese masterplan to fuck the world.

A little over eighteen months after a mutant virus escaped the ancient city of Wuhan, and as its war machine readies for a war with the west over Taiwan, it has been revealed that Chinese-made bodyboards selling for as little as sixty pence (around a buck) are “poisoning UK beaches” and killing its leatherback turtles. 

See, tourists come, buy the kids a couple of the boards, bust ‘em or tire of ‘em, and then toss ‘em in the bin or leave ‘em to self-destruct on the beach.

“We find thousands of these boards on the beaches,” said Neil Hembrow, of Keep Britain Tidy. “They’re imported from China or Asia and they last a very short time, perhaps even just one surf. They’re made of two inches of cheap polystyrene covered with nylon, sometimes a plastic sheet. But a single wave can weigh up to a ton. So the impact on these boards makes them snap.”

Holly Robertson with plastic sleds in Devon. Photo: Les Wilson

The UK’s Daily Mail did a little walk around Devon and “we saw hundreds of plastic, brightly coloured bodyboards in use and picked up handfuls of rainbow-coloured polystyrene bits as we walked along the beach.”

Beach ranger Holly Robertson told the Mail, “These super-cheap boards won’t even see out the day, never mind the week. Some of them are broken within two hours. They get dumped and they break up into tiny fragments. To birds, the pieces look like food. They think it’s a fish egg. But it’s killing them… The leatherback turtles out there between us and Lundy Island are being killed by plastic pollution. These are the same turtles pictured on the kids’ bodyboards. How ironic is that?”

Now, and in a spirit y’might called Churchillian, stores are fighting the Chinese on the streets and on the beaches, refusing to stock the shitty one-surf sleds and offering, instead, higher-priced alternatives. 

Nathan Lockwood, from the UK Bodyboarding Association, said, “They are not sustainable in any way and give the sport a bad name.”

Bodyboarding is still a sport? Who knew.


Mini ramp at 5 Faz Drive, Tugun.

Three-time world surfing champion Mick Fanning expands Gold Coast property empire with $3 million beachside masterpiece complete with indoor skate ramp!

“A statement of contemporary elegance, but with undeniable heart and soul.”

The three-time world surfing champion and shark attack survivor, Mick Fanning, has augmented his already impressive property holdings with a three-mill buy a little off the Gold Coast Highway and just under the flightpath for Coolangatta airport. 

Four hundred yards or thereabouts to the Gold Coast’s fifth best point.

The joint, which backs onto a bird sanctuary, was a hot target for buyers in an already over-heated market. Three mill for a house a ten-minute walk from the beach? A few years back, you’d be stretched to catch a buyer willing to shovel a million bucks at it.

Anyway, 5 Farrell Drive, Tugun, is pretty enough, has three-beds, features a three-foot indoor mini ramp, owner Luc Conforti is a local shredder, and the house is, if we can quote the promotional material, “A statement of contemporary elegance, but with undeniable heart and soul.”

An astute investor, Fanning made a surprise pivot away from surfing four months ago when he bought a yoga studio in Byron, a brave move as the West falls deeper into its culture wars, cultural appropriation, of course, a not-too-distant cousin of that gravest crime of all… racism. 

Brrrrrrr. Shiver up spine etc.

Yoga has been labelled the “whitest sport on earth”,and was the subject of a brave essay in The Atlantic in 2014 where its “white privilege”, “upper class privilege”  and “implicit racism” was laid bare, shattering the woke bona fides of tens of thousands of white skinny gals in plastic pants everywhere.

“I’m always looking at businesses … and Byron is one of those places where I think it’ll do really well,” explained Fanning, who has scoliosis.

No word, yet, if Sarah Foote, the mysterious strawberry blonde who invited herself into Fanning’s beachfront house at nearby Bilinga and who was subsequently charged and convicted of unlawful stalking and entering a dwelling with intent (sentenced to fifteen months in prison with immediate release on parole), will be invited to celebrate the happy purchase.