Waco (in black) defends Kelly Slater's Surf Ranch as Wavegarden (in white) looks on befuddled.
Waco (in black) defends Kelly Slater's Surf Ranch as Wavegarden (in white) looks on befuddled.

Public shocked, flabbergasted as Kelly Slater’s Surf Ranch wins “Most Popular Surf Park for High-Performance Surfing” but loses “Most Appealing Wave Technology” to Wavegarden at inaugural Surf Park Awards!

"Ima let you finish..."

Audible gasps, shocked sighs, filled the lushly wood paneled public library community room hosting the first-ever Surf Park Central Surf Park Awards, last evening, when the penultimate satin envelope, containing the winner of the coveted “Most Appealing Wave Technology” award, was opened.

Up until that point, there had been few surprises as master of ceremony Chris Cote, nattily dressed in a short-sleeved Hawaiian print button-up buttoned all the way up, announced the results of a global consumer opinion survey which had garnered over 2,000 votes.

Most popular surf park for beginners and intermediates: URBNSurf, Australia.

Most appealing deep water standing wave technology: City Wave, Germany.

Most appealing amenities: URBNSurf, Australia.

Most popular surf park for high-performance surfing: WSL Surf Ranch, US.

Kelly Slater’s brainchild, crowning California’s industrial farming Central Valley, has experienced somewhat of a renaissance of late, what with erstwhile grouchy surf journalists being won over by its charm, and Team Surf Ranch confidently, yet graciously, accepted the honor only smirking ever so slightly toward Team Surf Lakes Yeppoon.

Cote then began another patented charming spiel before segueing into “…and the winner of the most appealing wave technology is…”

Team Surf Ranch readied itself to stand and make its way up front, gingerly fingering the acceptance speech it had written last night.

“… Wavegarden, Spain.”

Audible gasps.

Shocked sighs.

Such commotion that URBNSurf, Australia also taking “Most Appealing Surf Park Destination” went almost unheard, Melbourne quietly happy not to have lost to Lemoore.

But Wavegarden taking out Surf Ranch for “most appealing wave technology”… what do you think about that?

Which would you rather dance upon?

Watch the drama unfold here.

John John Florence wakes up, talks WHOOP with middle bro Nathan.

A plastic wrist-band convinced me to temper combat sport training with surfing, respect sleep and achieve sexual transcendence!

When John John Florence and middle bro Nathan wake up all they can talk about is WHOOP!

The last time we spoke, me admitting a fitness strap had become the fulcrum on which my life now rests, the reader outraged we could pivot so hard to an advertorial-combat sports model, I revealed my latest existential crisis. 

Was jiujitsu actually gonna work in a surf fight? 

That story followed three previous stories detailing a year of Brazilian jiujitsu.

Exploring the nexus between the art of strangulation and surfing!

The blissful joys of hypoxia and the realisation that twinks raised on surf can roll with bears!


Confession: I was grotesquely complicity in the demonisation of the vulnerable adult learner surfer but through daily suffocation and strangulation learned to find common ground even empathy for VALS. 

Had I spent six days a week learning to operate a vehicle that was already obsolete? 

No need to go into details again, click here to read that bonanza of genius, but the realisation that strangling other men wasn’t going to have any real world effect, coupled with shock data from my fitness strap that showed the combat sports of jiujitsu and wrestling didn’t come close to surfing for fitness benefits, brought me full circle.

I would now apply the John John Florence model to my life.

Surf, sleep; examine breathing and recovery. 

(The WHOOP recovery algorithm tracks four key baseline metrics—resting heart rate, heart rate variability, sleep and respiratory rate.)

Two-time world champ Florence, who has been using WHOOP for three years, is the last custodian of the old way: talk softly, carry a big stick, surf with power and brilliance. A man whose approach is effortless and fearless.

By using his WHOOP, Florence has already determined the exact amount of days he must enter a hyperbaric chamber before a surfing contest (“On the third day my recovery would go down and then a day after it would shoot back up really high… I made sure I didn’t use it a day before a heat”) and says he talks to middle brother Nathan “all the time” about his WHOOP metrics. 

When they wake up all they talk about is WHOOP!

If I shared my bedroom I’d be the same!

“Before that we never thought about heart rate or anything. Now it’s all we can talk about after we’ve surfed for six hours,” says Florence.

On the metric Recovery, he goes hard, multiple surfs when it’s green, does light exercise mixed, called active recovery, a little swimming etc, when it’s in the red. 

I prefer to hammer hard day after day, not chasing the supreme triumph of Florence, but the occasional top of the surf and jiujisu charts. (You join online groups, compete against ‘em.) 

You wake up a couple of wild days of swell, you’re suddenly in the red. And you feel it. 

Been lazing around, green.

Y’feel that, too. 

A side bonus has been the incentive to punch up the numbers during long afternoons awash in libidinal heat, imagining a sword between the hips, undulating like an eel etc. Numbers track between five and fifteen. I record it as High Intensity Training.

Buy your WHOOP here, fifteen percent discount if you use the code BEACHGRIT at checkout. 

Next week: The pro surfer, not Florence, using a WHOOP to monitor his ailing daddy!

"It's morning in Orange County..."
"It's morning in Orange County..."

Southern California’s surfers attempt to secede from inland hordes as state re-draws district map: “There’s this localist strain that if the beach is in my neighborhood then I have rights to the wave that other people don’t have and that localist strain tends to be a very White, privileged one!”

Good Republicans dead.

The Golden State of California is a magical place where starlets sprout in Hollywood Hills, butterballs wash up on Malibu beaches, Facebook founders and CEOs e-foil patriotic lakes and the people live in wonderful harmony, all showering in the warmest rain of Papa Gavin Newsom.

Except every ten years a Hunger Games-like phenomena occurs wherein the public is carved into different voting districts and then utter hell breaks loose.

This decade’s edition has seen surfers emerging as a powerful bloc able to drag the entire fortunes of California with it.

Per a just-released report in Bloomberg:

California’s mapmakers will soon decide whether to keep the district as a coastal enclave or to redraw the map so coastal towns are joined with areas further inland. Surfers and other ocean lovers have argued they need to remain in a single district so they can speak with a unified voice in Washington. The seemingly nonpartisan issue could help shape the political future of Orange County, a traditional Republican stronghold where Democrats have been making gains.

To combat gerrymandering, California and six other states have taken the job of redrawing congressional boundaries out of the hands of partisan legislators and given it to independent panels. The state requires the panels to group together communities with shared social and economic interests. But such “communities of interest” are often proxies for partisanship, especially as the U.S. becomes increasingly polarized along lines of income, education, and race. And defining them can be subjective and fraught with controversy.

In Orange County, which hugs the Pacific just south of Los Angeles, some residents say that keeping coastal neighborhoods together would help promote the vital tourism that surfing brings and the lifestyle that goes with it.

And later…

Huntington Beach, with a population of 198,711, brands itself as Surf City USA (the moniker prompted a trademark dispute with Santa Cruz, six hours to the north; Huntington Beach prevailed in 2006). It’s home to Boardriders Inc., which includes the Quiksilver, Billabong, and Roxy brands of boards and apparel, and the surf forecasting company Surfline\Wavetrak Inc., as well as dozens of retail surf shops, the annual U.S. Open of Surfing, and the Surf Walk of Fame.

Surfing historian Scott Laderman says that while issues like coastal preservation and beach access can galvanize surfers, there’s not much else that unites them politically. “Looking historically at the surfing community, they tend to be an apolitical bunch,” says Laderman, author of Empire in Waves: A Political History of Surfing. “Most surfers will tell you that’s what they like about it—it allows them to transcend the everyday concerns that they might otherwise have to deal with and escape the social, economic, political turmoil of the outside world.”

But there are commonalities that have little to do with recreation, Laderman notes. “These tend to be overwhelmingly White, upper-middle-class areas,” he says. “There’s this localist strain that if this beach is in my neighborhood, then I have rights to the wave that other people don’t have. And that localist strain tends to be a very White, privileged one. It’s probably easier from a redistricting point of view to identify that as a surfing community of interest than a White, wealthy community of interest. That probably wouldn’t fly very well.”

Before putting the whole business into greater context…

It’s not unheard of for districts to coalesce around local industries. Coal mines in western Pennsylvania, oil refineries along the Gulf of Mexico, and tourism in central Florida have all been used to draw legislative maps. Still, Orange County’s surfers will have to compete with other interests.

Before ending with a banger.

“This was the place where Ronald Reagan said good Republicans came to die,” Smoller, the political scientist, says. “Now I think Orange County doesn’t know what it is—it just knows it doesn’t want to be Los Angeles. They want to retain their separateness, but they’re holding on by their fingertips because, like the rest of the country, it’s going to be majority minority.”

California surfers: Good Republicans dead.

Very Halloween, no?

Constructing a surfing persona for him, consciously or not, would be child’s play. He gets it. | Photo: Cover shoot for GQ by Ed Templeton

Why I Love “Ultimate Instant Surf Boi” Jonah Hill!

Be like Jonah!

You can’t help but admire the way Jonah Hill has dropped in on surf culture with the insouciance of a grumpy old local.

The peroxide hair. The tattoos. The ironic shirts. The 88 soft tops. The GQ photoshoot. Chuck him in a car park at Wategos, Waikiki or Malibu and nobody’s gonna bat an eyelid. He’s the ultimate instant surfboi. The Sex Wax simulacrum.

Add in his associated social media commentary and perceived woke hypocrisy, and it’s safe to say the Oscar nominee’s got many surfing purists in a twist.

Jonah Hill ruined surfing. Or so the sticker goes.

But I reckon there’s more to it. Jonah didn’t come down in the last VAL shower like one of the core’s other recent arch villains, Mr E.Lo.

We live in a post-factual world where everything is subjective. Opinion and counter opinion rule. Objects are only made real by the meaning you attach to them.

It’s the sort of environment where a cultural agitator like Jonah can thrive. He’s a provocateur, operating in a hall of mirrors.

Consider it.

This is a guy that’s been in the mainstream media spotlight since his teens. Seen it from every angle. Experienced first hand the vapid rapaciousness of tabloid media, and by extension social media.

He knows how the game works. Probably has an axe to grind. Something to say.

He’s a character actor, a damned good one, and his Oscar nomination would agree.

To be that requires incredible self-awareness. Watch him play himself, pun intended, in The End of The World. Happily skewering his public persona, all with a knowing wink to the audience.

He’s a master at taking the piss.

Every move Hill makes in the public eye would be calculated. He knows what the reaction is going to be. The reaction to the reaction. The opinion and the counter opinion.

Jonah knows how a subculture works.

He might be a kook, but he’s not some ignorant Inertia VAL fumbling his way into a world he knows nothing about. Go and re-watch mid90s. As a film it’s not perfect. But the way he painstakingly, lovingly re-creates the minutiae of that deep sub culture is top shelf. Skate memes, by the original definition of the word, make the surf world look one dimensional.

Constructing a surfing persona for him, consciously or not, would be child’s play. He gets it.

Even the choice of 88 surfboards can be examined. The 88 team have subverted surf culture so far that they’ve travelled beyond the 360 degrees. Post-revolution. They’re the ultimate rejection of form. By riding them, Jonah’s chosen the perfect vehicle for his act.

Which gets us to his act: Jonah becomes so surf it hurts. Overtly embraces the culture, to the point of parody. Then Jonah starts a commentary around body image. Writes some impassioned messages to Chas. Says some stuff which on face value is all entirely valid and agreeable.

But Jonah knows how the commentary will play out. The point and counterpoint. The rabid and hypocritical response of the social media world, whether it’s angry surfing purists or dog-whistling wokes. The ultimate vacuousness of the entire exchange, where the original intention is so far twisted that it no longer holds any weight, pun not intended. Sharon Stone, etc etc.

This is absurdist theatre. Think Joaquin Phoenix in I’m Still Here. Jonah’s playing it like a cheap guitar. And we’re getting to enjoy it first hand, for free.

You can’t help but smile.

It’s all driven by an original, organic truth. Jonah’s been through some heavy body struggles. I certainly dunno the guy. But by all reports his embrace of both the pursuit and the culture is genuine. Jonah loves surfing. Jonah looks happy. John doesn’t like being body shamed.

Fair cop. More power to him.

But whether it’s deliberate or not, I’d argue the public character that he’s built over the last two decades can only lead us to this conclusion. That this is all performance art.

By engaging in this play he’s holding a mirror back to cancel culture. To surf culture. And having fun while he’s doing it.

So being outraged by Jonah is like being outraged by BeachGrit. It means you’re missing the point.

If you judged each article on here by its individual merit (other than mine) you’d be left curled up in the foetal position, horrified at what surfing and society have become.

But lay it out more broadly. Consider the context. The collapse of surf media. The invasion of the culture by dilettantes and manipulators trying to turn it into something it’s not. And then you realise this whole thing is an art project. Social commentary. Meta comedy.

BeachGrit and Jonah Hill are one and the same. Shit stirrers. Treating surfing with exactly the level of respect it deserves. ‘Cause  it’s equal parts the greatest and stupidest thing you could ever try and do.

As Livia Soprano says, it’s all a big nothing.

So be like Jonah.

Enjoy your journey with surfing, and comedy, and live life accordingly.

Hawaii’s state Board of Land and Natural Resources approves eight surf school permits on heretofore pristine Kahaluu Bay: “This is now officially the VALs world, we’re just caddying their soft-tops!”

Paving paradise.

Any grumpy local, worth her salt, would quietly grumble that surf schools, or places vulnerable adult learners go to discover confidence in the surf by being pushed into waves on giant soft-tops, have spread too far, too wide and should be culled. But the grumpy local, worth his salt, has not one friend, not one natural ally and so is ignored as surf schools spread like TikTok-induced tics.


Most recently, the Hawaii state Board of Land and Natural Resources has amended rules and is allowing eight surf schools to open shop on The Big Island’s heretofore pristine Kahaluu Bay.

Once home to important royal residences and a grand heiau used to view the surf, Kahaluu Bay has been a beautiful respite from VAL who, before now, had to drag their soft-tops all the way from across the street in order to bend at the waist where princesses and princes once slid proud. It is also right around the corner from Kealakekua Bay, where Hawaiians beat Capt’n James Cook to death after a small misunderstanding.

Surf schools.