Delaware contractor (pictured) checking surf report.
Delaware contractor (pictured) checking surf report.

Delaware’s beachfront homeowners reel as property repairs, renovations languish due to cursed social plague: “I was told by a friend that many contractors are surfers and only show up when the surf is down!”

Big trouble.

Delaware’s cape region, home to President Joseph R. Biden and Elisabeth Shue, is staggering under an outbreak of surf-related poor work ethic. According to a scathing new report in the Cape Gazette, beachfront property owners are unable to find able bodied men to repair or upgrade beachfront mansions due the severe social plague.

Resident and artist Pam Bounds, who lives in Milton, declares, “I was told by a friend that many contractors are surfers and only show up when the surf is down. This is a romantic vision for wannabe cougars, but hardly ever the reality!”

Ms. Bounds recounts a string of surf-contractor horror stories including unfinished jobs, poorly done jobs, bad attitudes and surly attitudes too. One drove a “beat-up old car” and forced his wife to sit in the backseat all day as he worked, when there were no waves. Another put his foot “irreverently” on her coffee table “heavily tattooed calf at eye level” though at least it was “a feast for the eyes.”

The worst was “the (surfer) who mowed our lawn in Milton for a short while when we were still living full time in Wilmington. He also painted the bottoms of boats. He wanted payment in advance and then didn’t show up, declaring, ‘I’m not mowing your [bleeping] lawn!’ OK. Finally, as my daughter was entertaining prospective in-laws in the front parlor, the Milton Police banged on the front door, looking for me on a complaint of phone harassment since I had been robo-calling him! He knew the ropes of the law for sure, and how to break it, since a few days later, broken windows and screens appeared in my backyard as a warning!”

Strange warning but also extremely surf-esque.

Residents in nearby New Jersey hope the disease doesn’t spread north but many fear it already has and especially in the best little town on earth, Asbury Park.

Difficult days.

Kauai strangler, Duzz Barca. | Photo: Vice Fightland

Exploring the nexus between the art of strangulation and surfing! “To train in BJJ is to continually drown—or, rather, to be drowned, in sudden and ingenious ways—and to be taught, again and again, how to swim.”

Surf and jiujitsu. Blood cousins!

A few years back, Kelly Slater, without a hell of a lot of prompting, advised parents to put their kids in jiujitsubefore any other sport.” 

Forget surf, get ‘em rolling. he said. It’ll teach ‘em confidence and smash their ego. 

“There’s something about it that puts you in your place.”

Slater got turned onto the art of human chess and the various ways to buckle a man in 1992 on one of his first trips to Brazil; ended up getting pally with Rickson Gracie when the BJJ legend moved to California, swapping boards for private lessons. 

“I wish that I had grown up training Jiujitsu,” said Slater, who would be put to the sword soon after in an ironic turn by Peter Maguire, black belt and ghost-writer of the Rickson Gracie biography Breathe.

Watch Slater roll here and below.

And, read about the great Slater-Tudor blood feud about the correct procedure re: wearing coloured belts, here.

In a piece called The Pleasures of Drowning, the American neuroscientist and author Sam Harris describes the feeling of being dominated and the breath squeezed outta your body as akin to being sunk in the ocean. 

“Grappling with an expert is akin to falling into deep water without knowing how to swim. You will make a furious effort to stay afloat—and you will fail. Once you learn how to swim, however, it becomes difficult to see what the problem is—why can’t a drowning man just relax and tread water? The same inscrutable difference between lethal ignorance and lifesaving knowledge can be found on the mat: To train in BJJ is to continually drown—or, rather, to be drowned, in sudden and ingenious ways—and to be taught, again and again, how to swim.”

I’d been hearing this sorta thing for years.

I saw jiujitsu swing through Maroubra, a few beaches south of where I live, in the early two-thousands. Suddenly, at parties, squeezing a pal’s carotid’s arteries to cause a temporary hypoxia was all the rage. 

“Let me put you to sleep, bruz” was a common refrain. 

I was impressed enough by it I got my kid into it when he was four. It’s the only martial art where you practise, over and over over, at a hundred percent resistance. Boxing, y’gotta slow it down in training or you’re going to get brain damaged. And when you throw a punch in the street or at school, there’s a chance one of the participants is gonna end up in hospital, the other down at the police station. 

Karate and the rest of it work on hypotheticals. 

“Students tend to trade stereotyped attacks in a predictable sequence, stopping to reset before repeating the drill,” writes Harris. “This staccato pattern of practice, while inevitable when learning a technique for the first time, can become a mere pantomime of combat that does little to prepare a person for real encounters with violence.

By the time my kid got into his first fight ten years later he’d had roughly three thousand fight simulations. The video, kids with phones weren’t gonna miss it, is instructive. 

There’s no panic. He gets low. Bigger kid tries to take him down. Sprawl. Circles to the back. Arms ring the neck. Legs hook into the other kid. Fight over. No blood spilt. 

The same way Taj Burrow’s trainer Johnny Gannon used to deal with pests hassling TB. Quickly, expertly, harmlessly. 

My kid’s trainer, a surfer called John Walton who’s been in the jiujitsu and fight game for thirty years, would always tell me, “Mate, it’s always offshore in the gym.” 

So, a little over one year ago, now, I figured, let’s compare surfing and jiujitsu. 

Are they really simpatico? Does one complement the other?

Why are so many surfers, Jack Freestone, Luke Stedman, Richie Vas, Eli Olson, Joel Tudor, Freddy Pattachia, Dustin Barca and so on, so deeply into it? 

And, at a fitness level, how’s it compare to surfing? 

I told Chas to do the same experiment in southern California, home of modern jiujitsu. Figured it might help him next time he gets slapped around at a trade show. 

To get real tricky, we were outfitted with apparently revolutionary fitness trackers called WHOOP straps. Developed by a Harvard grad who was the captain of the college’s squash team, fittest man around town, but who couldn’t work out why some days he felt like he was going to collapse. 

“I read something like 500 medical papers while I was in school, and I wrote a paper myself on how to continuously understand the human body,” he says.

Company said, write about ’em if you feel it. If you don’t, send ’em back.

Bottom line was, you want to really compare the two sports? Get some data.

John John’s got a WHOOP, been using it for three years. Says he bases his work outs, lengths of surfs by the recovery metrics. 

John John helped develop a wrist band called the Hydrosleeve to stop his precious lil WHOOP being ripped off during wipeouts.

“I have a good idea of what my recoveries will be and what I need to do to recover. I know that if I strain from 18 to 20 (it maxes out at 21) one day, two days in a row, then I know that I’m in need for a big recovery day.”

Can’t hurt to see what happens. 

I ain’t one for watches or jewellery but this is subtle enough. It’s a black plastic rectangle affixed to a webbed band. And it’s waterproof.

It uses LED lights flashing into your wrist to measure your oxygen saturation, combining heart-rate variability, resting heart rate and sleep patterns to tell when you to work out, when to rest, as well as strain, how much sleep y’should be getting.

What I wouldn’t realise, then, was how addictive tracking data is, how it’ll seize you and turn you into a fitness loon: late-night runs, extended surfs, afternoon-long wrestling sessions, just to push your strain metric into the stratosphere. You feel tension if your numbers are ordinary. 

Conversely, if you let the battery run down and it’s sitting on the charger, you have no desire to do anything. Why exert if it isn’t gonna shift the strain meter.

I also would’t realise, and didn’t think it was possible, that a new sport could steal me away from the game I’d chased and loved since I was a kid. 

But that was still a few months away. 

Next week: The blissful joys of hypoxia and the realisation that twinks shouldn’t roll with bears! 

Open Thread: Comment Live, Finals Day of the U.S. Open of Surfing presented by Shiseido!

Kolohe, Kanoa, Coco, etc.

News reporting man shot, killed, by police at yesterday’s U.S. Open of Surfing was armed and noncompliant, bystanders describe hail of gunfire: “We started hearing pop, pop, pop. I thought it was fireworks, that’s how many rounds there were.”

The incident is under investigation.

Yesterday, late afternoon and toward the very end of the U.S. Open of Surfing’s penultimate day, news began circulating that a person was shot near the south side of Huntington Beach’s pier. Details were scant but the World Surf League quickly released a statement that all “athletes and staff” were accounted for and that it was “an isolated incident.”

This morning, multiple news outlets are reporting that the person was a male, that he was armed and, according to officers, “noncompliant.”

The shooting, which occurred at 3:15 pm, according to Police Department spokeswoman Jennifer Carey, was in response to calls from bystanders who described a “suspicious man with a gun” at the beach. Contact was made with the suspect south of the pier, he did not comply with their commands and was shot.

Hector Tovar, who lives nearby, told The Orange County Register, “We started hearing pop, pop, pop. I thought it was fireworks, that’s how many rounds there were.”

Others described the same “fireworks” to The Los Angeles Times.

Many witnessed the shooting.

Police say lifesaving measures were attempted before the wounded man was taken to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead, and that a gun was recovered at the scene.

The incident is now being investigated by the Orange County Sheriffs Department.

Finals Day of the U.S. Open will take place as scheduled.

Surfing ER doctor slams reports in The Guardian and on ABC of a “brilliant, life-saving treatment”, better than tourniquets, for Great White attack, “It’s total bullshit…and it’s also unrealistic!”

Bottom line, if you surf in Australian waters, get a tourniquet leash.

Yesterday, The Guardian and the ABC, reasonably reputable news sources despite their leftist skew, reported on a “brilliant, life-saving treatment” for catastrophic shark attacks, ie Great White hits, something increasingly common in Australian waters.

The stories, “Doctor’s ‘brilliant’ new first aid technique can stem blood loss after shark attack” (The Guardian) and “Simple first-aid technique could save lives of shark attack victims according to researchers” (ABC), came after a paper published in the journal of Emergency Medicine Australasia describing a technique to stem the bleeding of a Great White hit by making a fist and pressing hard into the groin, between hip bone and genitals.

The lead author of the paper, Dr Nicholas Taylor, Associate Dean of the ANU Medical School, a surfer, said he got the idea after a vacay to Western Australia around the time of a series of Great White attacks. 

“I was looking for a few ways to make myself a bit more shark proof,” Taylor told The Guardian. 

“After speaking to surf life savers and surfers he found most would instinctually react to a shark bite wound by placing direct pressure on it or attempting to make a tourniquet from material they had on hand.”

Taylor now wants signs like this, below, at beaches detailing the technique, which can be memorised with the mnemonic “Push hard between the hip and the bits”. 

All pretty logical, yeah? 

Well, the reports drove Dr Jon Cohen, head of Taree’s Manning Base Hospital, a short-ish ambulance drive from Tuncurry where Mark Sanguinetti was mauled to death by a Great White in May, wild. 

As soon as it appeared he texted me the ABC story with the message, “Really misleading article. Happy to call bullshit.” 

Who don’t like a little bullshit calling? 

What pissed Jon off was the study’s field test where the technique was supposedly proven to be vastly superior to tourniquets.

“That’s totally false, completely false. There’s a reason military carry tourniquets,” he says. 

It wasn’t that long ago that Jon was working at the working in the emergency department of Esperance Hospital, the same joint where seventeen-year-old surfer Laeticia Brouwer was brought in and where she died in 2017 after being hit by a White. 

He had the same epiphany as Doc Taylor, as in, how could he use his expertise to solve the problem of preventable shark attack deaths?

He spent three years trying to bring to market a tourniquet that was so light it didn’t interfere with your surfing, you could apply it with one hand and you could do it ten seconds. It got to the point where all the designers and engineers he spoke to wanted fifty-grand or a hundred gees to get it ready for production.

So he pulled back, repurposed military tourniquets and now sells ’em on his site for sixty bucks apiece. It’s the same price if you want a version built into a legrope.

Jon’s read Taylor’s paper and says it makes assumptions that aren’t always true, like, it being impractical to give first aid in the water. 

Given the short period between a Great White hit on a surfer and the victim bleeding out, you’re gonna have a better chance of keeping someone alive if you’ve got a tourniquet in your wetsuit or a specialised leash.

“You…should…attempt to stop the bleeding in the water,” he says. pointing out most victims of catastrophic bites are pretty much fucked by the time they hit the sand.

“If someone is seriously mauled, a tourniquet is the go. Another assumption is there being no specialised equipment on the beach. We’re trying to change that. You should have that. We speak to councils, to the DPI (Department of Primary Industries), trying to get them to take some responsibility and have public access kits available in Esperance, Margs, along stretches of the North Coast. People do want to have that gear.” 

Jon says he was at the beach yesterday and an old bloke who swims out the shark buoy and back most days asked him if he’d heard of the miracle new technique.

“Better than a tourniquet,” he told Jon.

“Oh my fucking god! That’s why I got home and called you. I cannot believe this shit.” 

Still, there is common ground.

Stopping the bleeding, obvs, is the first thing you gotta do and sticking your fist into someone’s hip will help, although if you want to be even more effective use your knee, more surface area, less fatiguing, says Jon, referencing combat medicine.

“And, it’s fine if it’s all you’ve got although the fact is, if the person is still alive, they’re going to be so adrenalised they’ll be fighting you off. Getting them to stay still is for that pressure is extra hard. That’s why you want a tourniquet, you can set it and then got on with all the other business, getting help and so on.”

Of course, the elephant in the room, is this blithe acceptance of a new normal where Great White hits on surfers, a fatality every two months or so, is seen as a small price to pay to allow ’em to flourish, without fear, in near coastal waters.