Italo fans, happy despite poor result. | Photo: Steve Sherman @tsherms

Construction boss from Colorado bests world champion surfer CJ Hobgood to win surfing’s most prestigious fantasy league; reveals amazing secret strategy!

Wins a thousand American dollars and custom Panda surfboard.

BeachGrit’s Surfival League launched this season as an alternate to Fantasy Surfer.

Think NFL football “Survivor League” for surf. 

Pick one surfer to advance past Round of 32 and you survive. 

Survive longer than everyone else and win a thousand American dollars and a custom Panda Surfboard.

The Surfival League came down to the final event, where 11 members (including 2001 World Champ CJ Hobgood) battled for the top spot.

Mark Bocksch, from Frisco, a pretty little ski town in Colorado, outlasted 300+ Surfivors to take the title. 

He had Gabriel Medina winning and picked a combined heat score of 34, only .11 away from the actual total and .03 away from runner-up CJ Hobgood.

Bocksh, who grew up surfing, moved to Colorado twenty years ago to bang his snowboard down mountains (four resorts are nearby, Breckenridge, Copper Mountain etc.) 

He heard about the Surfival League while listening to The Grit! podcast with Chas Smith and Davey Scales. 

“t seemed easy enough. I’ve never played any kind of fantasy surfer before but decided to give this a try,” he says. 

His strategy was simple. 

“Definitely didn’t want to pick who David Lee Scales and Chas Smith were picking (Editors note: they were both out within the first four events) and I didn’t try to get fancy. I just picked the best surfer at each event. My strategy for the final was picking Gabe and for the combined heat score I just cracked a beer and thought about it. I came up with 34. The final heat score was 33.89.”

How’d he feel when he won? 

“I couldn’t believe it. I was watching the final and reading the BeachGrit comment section and just could not believe I Surfived.”

The last time Bocksh surfed was in mid-July in Encinitas, real close to Chas as it happens. He says he’ll be back out there in November where he’ll shred his new custom Panda. 

Says he’ll be ordering the Dolly Dagger from the Panda site, maybe the Shiitake. 

“I actually only looked this morning at the website because I didn’t want to jinx it. The dolly dagger looked interesting and also the shiitake. I’m not the smallest guy so I want more foam.”

What else?

“I’ll take my jet ski parade whenever you guys are ready. Thanks so much for putting this on, it was a blast. I’ll be drywalling and smiling the rest of the day.”

See y’all at Pipe in January!

Listen: There is only one extravaganza that can beat the wildly successful World Surf League Finals Day and that is “Ben Gravy vs. The World!”

...a celebration of the everyman and graceful aging.

Are you still high from the World Surf League’s inaugural Finals Day there on the cobbled stone of Lower Trestles? I certainly am. Soaring on every single heat mattering, on one surfer sent packing every 30-odd minutes, on Kelly Slater blossoming into the greatest commentator of all-time, on Erik Logan emerging from a cocoon of colorful kook as a fully formed cocaine cowboy in the midst of an extramarital affair.

It was a beautiful production and Santa Monica should be praised but I thought of an even better production, on the fly, whilst chatting with David Lee Scales today.

Ben Gravy vs. The World.

The impetus came from Clifton James Hobgood, who called into the show to proffer an even better idea that I’ll make you listen to purely because CJ sounds so deliciously much like Matthew McConaughey, and my wheels began spinning.

What if BeachGrit produced a competition where, monthly, YouTube sensation Ben Gravy would surf against one aging star after another, each slightly older than the last, until beating one? Think: Gravy vs. Hobgood – New Jersey, Gravy vs. Occhilupo – Snapper, Gravy vs. Tom Curren – Mainland Mex, Gravy vs. Shaun Tomson – Rincon…

Scales thought Gravy would beat Tomson at Rincon. I think Ian Cairns at Lowers and that’s the fun of the format… what age, and which star, does the very popular and lovable Gravy take down?

A celebration of both the everyman and graceful aging.

Magnificent, no?

We also talked about the importance disliking your neighbors and what it takes for a man to suddenly, and radically, upgrade his look.

Definitively our best show yet.

Listen here.

Famous Hollywood fairy Orlando Bloom shares video of himself paddleboarding next to Great White Shark: “When fear becomes your friend!”


Actor Orlando Bloom, famous for playing the fairy Legolas in Peter Jackson’s brilliant adaptation of J.R.R. Tokien’s The Lord of the Rings, wowed fans and the rapper 2 Chainz overnight by posting a clip of himself paddleboarding next to a great white shark.

The short video, featuring Bloom using his paddleboard more like a Native-American-adjacent canoe, depicts the 44-year-old Englishman slowly moving up on the shark from behind then cruising along next to it.

He captioned it, “When fear becomes your friend.”

The video was captured off the coast of Malibu by Carolos Guana who said, “In this clip, I filmed @orlandobloom next to a nicely sized juvenile white shark. The opportunity to share some of my knowledge with Orlando, knowledge I’ve gained from the many scientists I’ve been fortunate enough to talk to and work with, was a highlight of my day. In the end, the real stars of the sea are the sharks. But having Legolas himself nearby. That’s pretty cool!”

Pretty cool indeed.

Rapper 2 Chainz, though, was unmoved and commented, “Hellllll Naw.”

Bloom’s partner Katy Perry added, “Next time go out and put some peanut butter on babe.”

I have no idea what that means.

Do sharks like peanut butter?

Or is it a shark deterrent?

Funny like when peanut butter is applied to the roof of a dog’s mouth?

More as the story develops?

The best portrait of Gabriel Medina after title win! By the king of reportage, the beautiful Steve Sherman. | Photo: @tsherms

Beloved philanthropist and surfboard pioneer reveals the shocking detail newly crowned world champion surfers Carissa Moore and Gabriel Medina missed in their victory speeches!

Can you guess? Do you know? Oowee etc.

At the conclusion of a golden Tuesday in San Clemente, and moments after a suddenly handsome“cocaine cowboy” WSL CEO was revealed, the two world champs were crowned and victory speeches made. 

Joe Turpel reached over to Gabriel Medina and explained that he’d been “teaching us to smile, teaching us to win.” 

Gabriel thanked his fans in Portuguese and, in English, praised a divine influence (“All the order and glory goes to God”) and credited his wife Yasmin for “making me comfortable even when it was stormy.”

Carissa thanked “my family, my friends, my amazing husband.”

After some thought she also thanked her coach, Newcastle’s Mitch Ross, and which point Gabriel remembered he must also thank his coach, Cronulla’s Andy King. 

I didn’t hear, or note, the shocking detail missed. 

One man who did, howevs, was pioneering surfboard shaper, Nev Hyman, who made his name, first with Nev Surfboards, later with Firewire, and who recently caused a ruckus with his plan to make billions out of selling pre-fab houses to Third World countries (the ruckus quickly subsided after he issued a stinging rebuttal on BeachGrit.)

Writing on Instagram, 

“Awesome wins for Gabriel and Carissa (love heart emoji and BIPOC shaka… But how is that shapers, Biolos and Cabianca don’t rate a mention in the acceptance speeches?”

A little rough, yeah?

Like Louie Hamilton forgetting to thank Mercedes; like Jimmy Le Bron ignoring his Nike masters.

I texted Biolos and asked if he was sad or nonplussed; he said he didn’t notice.

I didn’t hit up Johnny Cabianca ’cause of the time diff. Also, ’cause I’m so starstruck with the man. He a genius. Most underrated shaper in the world. He could lift my glistening sex works in his palm and I’d be thrilled.

Too bad he didn’t get a lil shout-out.

What’s the feeling on the street?

And, Nev, to pro surfers,

“Please, pro surfers…show some love to the world for the crew who make the surfboards under your feet that take you to your podiums of well earned glory. (we all know you love and respect them!!)”

Joe, Mick, Kelly! | Photo: @joeturpel

Kelly Slater delivers “unmatched” Finals Day commentary performance: “There was nothing he didn’t proffer opinion on, nothing he didn’t know!”

Raft of stories from the Greatest Surfer Of All Time, including new J-Bay Great White account!

Cling to Kelly Slater, ladies and gentlemen, for he is ours, and he has no equal.

Once again, when push came to shove in a major surfing competition, he delivered a performance that was unmatched.

The surfing was a sideshow.

Slater’s faux enthusiasm for the athletes merely served as segues to more stories about the most important man in surfing, now and forever.

Turpel was euthanized. The lifeforce seemed to have been sucked from him, leaving a silenced husk (still grinning inanely, of course).

It was an absence of energy comparable to the aftermath of Pete Mel standing next to Stephanie Gilmore in the locker room (before making off with her soul).

Until now, not man nor beast has managed to quell Turpel’s glassy eyed enthusiasm.

Kelly Slater is something other.

Mick Fanning was left grunting nasally every now and then, before capitulating and falling under Kelly’s spell by asking him about Kelly.

No-one analyses Kelly like Kelly.

No-one wants to talk about Kelly more than Kelly.

Medina’s third title indeed has an asterisk.

It is the moment Kelly’s future finally crystalised. The moment he saw his path to once again dominate pro surfing until death (or Stalin-esque Martin Potter disappearance).

Dressed in what I feel should be his statutory outfit, plain grandad-necked shirt, sinewy neck muscles and unfeasibly smooth, lizard-brown head in full effect, he looked for all the world like the subject of a Netflix doc on cult leaders. The shirt was a black version of the one he wore to promote his Costa Rican spiritual awakening (later revealed as stakeholder, not just tripping punter).

The shirt was white then. He was at peace.

The symbolic significance of the shirt for each occasion was lost on no-one.

This morning he dressed for blood.

We see you, Kelly. A modern day anti-hero Bram Stoker would have been proud of.

Oh, he tried to be magnanimous, some comments seemed to complement the surfing, but scratch the surface and the true colours are apparent. The cutthroat viciousness that defined his approach to competition was thinly veiled.

To beat Medina you would have to “cripple him”.

One might imagine this is exactly a scenario played out many a sweaty night in his aluminium nightmare chamber poolside. You can almost hear the desperate phone calls to Charlie Goldsmith, brain nanny extraordinaire, in these dark moments…

“The dreams again, Kelly?”

“Yes, Charlie.”

“Tell me how you killed him this time… I’m here for you.”

I’ve always felt that Slater’s true post-career calling is as a commentator on the sport he dominated for so long, and this, I hope, I truly hope, is what will come to pass.

Imagine a rogue Slater, off script entirely and bending the production to his will.

He’s in the water, paddle battling Strider for position.

Now he’s sprinting up the beach and hip checking Turpel in the booth. Now dashing back to the sand and snatching the mic derisively from Kaipo for the post heat interview…

Imagine the questions!

Yesterday we had a glimpse.

With the fervour of a cocaine aficionado on a South American sabbatical, Kelly rampaged breathlessly through the heats. There was nothing he didn’t proffer opinion on, nothing he didn’t know.

It’s a Kelly we know, of course, epidemiologist or not.

The same Kelly who appeared on Joe Rogan, tripping from non-sequitur to non-story and back round again. It’s glorious in its pantomime ridiculousness.

Not even a (deep fake) shark sighting could stop him. It was merely an opportunity. And my, did he seize it. How is it that we’ve never heard Kelly’s angle of the Mick Fanning incident? Fuck me, the subtext screamed, incredulous he’d never been asked!

It was worth the wait.

Until now, no-one had realised that Kelly diverted the shark with his mind.

He stopped short of saying he was personally responsible for the sparing of Mick’s life that day, but we know the truth.

Let’s revisit.

Strider reports from the line-up on the “splash” (that no-one actually saw), then passes to the booth wondering what Mick has to say about it.

We want to know, too. What a glorious opportunity!

Alas, we will never know.

Mick simply manages: “Look, it happens all the time, you see sharks…ummm…”

He has managed less than ten seconds of airtime. (Kelly is drumming his fingers impatiently throughout the 10 secs, a lifetime of no Kelly for Kelly).

Then, the “ummm”, a weakness.

And with it, he strikes.

“I’ve seen three breaches out here, the past few years. It’s common”, he thrusts, dismissively. “You just deal with it.”

And then, with no ummms at all, we get the story, the scoop.

“I don’t know if I’ve ever told Mick our story…”

What’s that, Kelly?

“Our story”?

Are you really co-opting Mick’s shark story? I mean, I’m sure it’s given you sleepless nights, having catapulted ol’ Mick into the mainstream consciousness in a way you never quite managed, but come on…

But, what is perhaps more egregious, is the posing that it is, in fact, a story at all.

The story, Kelly’s story, is that he had surfed there for an hour prior to the attack (and miraculously didn’t get attacked? Is that the story? I’m not sure).

When he saw the boats and skis he saw the shark attack with his third eye, but, in an astonishing feat of second sight (which he will display again later) he knew that nothing happened and no-one was hurt.

“I felt it in my heart”, he says.

He was calm, that’s the thing.


Shark diverted, Mick saved.

He finishes this “story” with what I’ve come to recognise as a vocal tick of Kelly Slater when he realises the story has gone nowhere and he has just been talking so that people will pay attention.

“It’s so weird…”

Yeah, Kelly. So weird.

But, he’s not done.

Mick offers that he’s been out there since and things haven’t felt right and he’s had to go in.

But, before he’s even managed to finish the thought, Kelly is smashing his offering out the park!

“I’ve been the last guy in the water there, after dark, by myself…”

(You know, in case we didn’t understand that “last guy in the water” meant he was on his own.)

Peak Kelly.

On Toledo, Kelly recalls how Kelly helped him at Pipe before smashing him at Pipe. Filipe fell on the easy part of the wave, according to Slater.

More so, he had surprised himself by getting that far in the first place.

“I don’t know how quickly we could pull that up?” Slater pitches to Joe.

Sure, Kelly.

I mean there’s just a world title heat playing out live, but let’s cut to historic footage of your heats…

Cut to Medina’s 9.03 for execution of the back flip. Turpel is excited (standard). Mick is speechless (“Are you keeeeding me?”).



“A small wave, probably just a four”, he offers, flatly.

(Joking, not joking, of course.)

But the pièce de résistance.

While Mick and Joe were busy talking, Kelly had employed his foresight.

He saw it coming.

“I was looking towards the ocean. I could see that coming at him. I knew something crazy was going to happen.”

In effect, a shrug.

Big deal.

I do wonder if it’s just the likes of us who can really savour Kelly, truly appreciate him in all his narcissistic weirdness.

I wonder what the Inertia crowd make of him, for example.

Do they see what we see?

Or do they see an oracle and hero, a flawless champion with no equal?

It’s hard to know.

But we should appreciate him, of that I’m sure. He’s a treasure. He’s our treasure.