(Apologies for reconstituted photo. Better ones coming from Monster of Surf Photography Pat Stacy.

Surf Journalist takes brief detour on the road to fight greatness, re-visits Kelly Slater’s Surf Ranch to face other erstwhile nemesis, fix kinks in surf game!

All Gogganses beware.

As you know, this weekend found me awash in ill-deserved wave at Kelly Slater’s Surf Ranch there in Lemoore, California’s cow stink. I was supposed to be training for the greatest trilogy fight of the decade, running, squatting, pushing up, rolling around in pajamas on a squishy mat suffocated, but opportunity knocked and I simply had to re-face the machine that once brought me low, ripping my left arm from its socket as easy as a glance from Ritchie Vas.

That Plow.

Two days of surf were on hand, two heats per day, and while surfing has not registered as an “activity” on my WHOOP strap (buy here, use BeachGrit code for much savings), I wondered if technological advancements might create fitness, revenge, improved surf style and all knitted together.

A triptych of triumph.

Now, for clarity’s sake, Surf Ranch runs the day by slotting guests into one hour heats, with each guest typically surfing two heats a day, pre and post lunch. During Surf Journalist Day, some three years ago, the heats featured four or five surfers and waves were as precious as Jonah Hill.

I surfed four before my shoulder was undone. Derek Rielly surfed maybe six. Maximum, seven. Chris Cote, could not have surfed more than eight as the absolute winner.

This weekend, my Saturday heats consisted of three people. One, wife. The other, friend who had not surfed in quite some time. Surf Ranch kicks out one right, followed by one left, every 4 to 5 minutes. That meant, roughly, 15 waves during the heat, five “priority” per person plus all the poaches* that could be stomached.

It was the first of the day, air in the low 60s, water in the low 60s, and people panicked for 4/3s even 5/4s booted and hooded. I had a secret weapon, a once-brined Billabong Furnace Comp 3/2 all black, and knew it would be plenty warm plus give me a flexibility advantage.

I was correct, surfed around nine, poorly as evidenced by thoughtful video review afterward, but surfed nine whole-ish waves nonetheless one more than Chris Cote.

Afterwards, in the wood paneled locker room, personalized wood paneled locker, below my gorgeously printed “Charles Smith” nametag, I checked the ever-clicked WHOOP app on my cellular smart device and it measured 13 on the strain meter for the activity.

Thirteen and wow.

Running three miles, pushing up intermittently, planking, pouring sweat, almost dying well over an hour registered me an 11.4.


Surfing in the regular ocean didn’t register as an “activity” at all but maybe kicked to six.

What sort of magic was this?

Surfing an artificial wave the key to a solid right hook followed by a quick jiujitsu somethingratherelse plus decent-adjacent wave twerk?

Ashton Goggans doubly smashed?

Hope sprang eternal, in my treacherous heart while I snacked on healthy nut-based snacks, drank healthy coconut pulps, waited for my second heat.

One o’clock pm, air mid-80s, water upper-60s. Poorly surfed, again, though top turn to down carve nodding at coming together. Ten plus waves. Strain 12-esque adjacent.

Kelly Slater had unlocked the secret to eternal viability (environmental not included).

After a fine dinner organic dinner, a delicious gluten-free breaded chicken business, I was beat. Fight beat. Truly and properly exhausted. Shoulders aching, neck unable to twist, torso never able to twist but now mostover.

Chased the exhaustion with late night In n Out, not gluten-free but mustard fried with chopped chilis plus cheese, across the street from hotel, the very same In n Out across the very same street that the very Alejandro Moreda lusted over and still beat.

Didn’t sleep much due physical pain and thank you, in advance, for your sympathy.

Except surfing the basin a fitness revelation.

Next morning, first heat, early morning, muscles aching, neck not moving. Water colder, air colder. Same three surfers, wife, Nova Scotian, me. Billabong Furnace Comp not faltering.

Twelve waves poorly surfed.

Strain 11.

Last heat, a super one with twenty extra minutes tacked on to traditional sixty, only wife and I, Nova Scotian being relegated to another heat, nearly unheard of in the annals of Surf Ranching.

She a goofy, I regular.

She took all the lefts save the ones I poached. I took all the rights save the ones she poached.

The wind was blowing south, a rare occurrence, opening up the barrel for her and she becoming barreled while I got blown out the back on poached lefts, attempting Andy Irons off the lip.

I worked on turns, poorly, but countless waves surfed, poorly, but surfed nonetheless, a number of waves I can’t even remember to this moment not even caring. Only thinking about form, head, arms, unmovable neck, rotten torso.


Not hundreds, a mathematical impossibility, but hundreds-adjacent.

At the end of that super heat, back in front of my “Charles Smith” locker, I re-checked WHOOP.

9.4 strain and after hundreds of waves.

Dropping precipitously from its initial glorious heights.

And it was then that I realized, familiarity breeds conceit. The heart paranoid and striving, the heart that beats fear of failure, is the heart that pushes strain, and thereby fitness gains, and a person to the next level.

Once any odd thing is encapsulated as a known it dips, dips, then dips some more.

Keeping paranoid is what keeps us progressing.

I’m actually ready to fight, to enter the paranoid fresh wasted.

Rolling etc.

All Gogganses beware.

Morey '66 courtesy: The Encyclopedia of Surfing.
Morey '66 courtesy: The Encyclopedia of Surfing.

Tuesdays with Morey: An old surfer, a young surfer and life’s greatest adventure.

"I had never met a man as dynamic as Tom."

I met Tom in 2020 shortly before the pandemic.

My friend and owner of Tandm Surf introduced us and thought we would hit it off.

He was right.

We had lunch at a French bakery in North Beach, San Clemente equidistant from our homes, that first time. We talked for three hours. We covered everything from Velzy, noserider wing tip innovation, the invention of wakesurfing (which Tom stated he and a friend pioneered in Newport Harbor 20 years before it’s perceived inception during a long flat spell), aerospace, coding, Hugh Masekala, boogieing, parenting, and faith.

I had never met a man as dynamic as Tom. Tom had what one could call a magnetism and contagious energy, even at 85. When he gave me his number and told me to keep in touch, I took that request seriously.

Not wanting to appear too eager, I waited a week to give him a ring. His response my call was surprisingly to come to his house for a hang. I arrived with his favorite pastry, a Napoleon, not wanting to arrive empty handed, unsure of how to handle myself.

Tom made it easy, he asked me to take a seat, and opened computer where he showed me his newest passion project, Hometown Aerospace. He couldn’t see that well so while I looked over the materials in his computer, Tom waxed for over an hour about the democratization of aerospace and air travel. He showed me videos of his prized “power bowl”, an impeller based propulsion system where an impeller draws air into a bowl and expels the air along the edges, controlled directionally with rudders. He showed me prototypes of mono wing aircraft he had designed from card stock. Tom told me he envisioned a world where everyone had home build dirigibles thusly lessening traffic on the 5 northbound. It was at that point that I understood this man thinks way bigger than I do and was probably a genius.

Over my next few visits with Tom, we flew a lot of paper airplanes. Every time I arrived Tom had designed and created a new plane from card stock. He would talk me through the design and then he would show me how it worked. Sometimes the planes flew a few inches from the floor propelled from the rear by a box fan. Other times they glided across his North Beach apartment, other times they Kamikazed off his balcony. Each model had been thoughtfully drawn out on card stock and precisely measured for days before being built.

Over more visits, we shifted from airplane to surf design. I shape my own equipment, nothing special, just CNC cut Aku files for San Clemente beach breaks. Tom was quick to either clown on me or truly try to innovate. Several times I left Tom’s place with duct tape folded to a fin type structure, cut vertically to produce serpentine “water breaks” all over my board. I was too skeptical to give it a go, unsure of whether he was serious or clowning on me.

Most profoundly, after many hangs, I introduced Tom to my 5 year old son who has Autism. Tom said “cool”, slapped him five, and then told me about how the autistic brain was better in many ways, which I already knew, but nobody had ever told me. In fact, my own parents told me that my sons condition was “tragic” despite being gifted with the ability to construct geometric masterpieces from magnatiles and having a keen interest (bordering on obsession) in surfing. Tom watched my son, to the best of his abilities giving his limited vision, and praised his water awareness, gave him high fives, and told him he was awesome. Tom saw my son for who he is, met him there, and appreciated what he has to offer this world.

This is all to say that herein lies the beauty of Tom-he was a man that could get a 30-something to play with paper airplanes for weeks on end. He painted the future in broad strokes. He was a guy that left you quizzical, not knowing if he was fucking with you by sending you to the beach with a board covered in duct tape or if he was sincere in his designs. He accepted everyone at face value, no matter what.

Tom’s impact is palpable, as my son refuses to stand up, and only wants to boogie.

I am grateful that I got to know Tom for who he was, a kind and innovate prankster, even if only for a couple short years.

Waikiki surfboard racks set spectacularly ablaze for second time in less than two years: “We saw the flames all the way from Aloha Towers. I asked my husband, ‘What if the whole island catches fire?'”

A total loss.

Ten Honolulu Fire Department resource units responded to reports of a fire near the Moana Surfrider Hotel at 11:18 Sunday morning. When they arrived, they found flames “clinging” to the walls of the Honolulu Police substation and the Moana Surfrider, bursting forth from the Waikiki surfboard racks occupying the space in between.

It took less than an hour to extinguish the blaze and no injuries were reported except every surfboard finding shelter in those racks was completely destroyed.

It was the second time in two years that the racks have been targeted, last burning to the ground on February 27, 2020.

“It’s more than just a rack — it’s a community,” local surfer Theresa Strange told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser. She lost a 10’6 glider shaped by Todd Ponder as well as a 10′ Nuuiwa. “It’s hard to get a spot so people tend to stay for years. The rent is roughly $25 to $45 a month and there are roughly 525 boards here.”

In the 2020 fire she lost a Takayama and a board shaped by Midget Smith.

“The board becomes an extension of yourself because you spend so much time with it,” she continued. “If you have a really good one it’s irreplaceable. There are nuances that make up each board that are translated from the shaper to you. I’ve had boards at the surfboard lockers for years,” Strange said. “In 46 years, this is only the second time that there was a fire — once in February 2020 and now.”

At time, it is unclear how the fire began with some witnesses blaming the homeless and others on rival surfing concessionaires.

The fire could be seen wide and far and worried both residents and visitors alike. Mandi Wojcicki, vacationing from Battle Ground, Washington told the Star-Advertiser, “We saw it all the way from Aloha Towers. We were nervous. I said, ‘What if the island catches on fire?’ My husband said, ‘Mandi, it’s a big island.’”

In truth, it is not. It’s Oahu and hopefully the perpetrators will be soon found.

Lifesavers break year-long silence on fatal Great White attack at Snapper Rocks and describe sliding door moment that nearly put a group of kids at the exact spot, “It was like a bus was coming through the water and took him underwater.”

The scene was “chaos” as spectators came to look while “others ran away screaming.” 

Last September 7, Nick Slater, forty-six, just finished work for the day, was shredding the little warm-water runners from Snapper through to Rainbow on his Morning of the Earth twin when he was hit again and again by a fifteen-foot Great White.

The first fatal hit on a Gold Coast beach since shark nets were installed more than sixty years earlier.  

As Longtom (RIP) wrote at the time, 

“Shallow water, it would have been waist deep on the tide. Clear water. Can’t pin mistaken identity on the shark. It must have come in like a polaris missile from the amount of water it displaced. There was no delicacy in the attack. The footage shows clubbie skis, three or four of them heading his way, to the rescue, I thought. But they didn’t respond.Others seemed to not notice, or scatter.Despite the crowd, an utterly lonely way to die.”

Dead long before he was dragged onto the beach. 

Now, more than a year after the attack, the clubbies on the skis, Iain Rogers and Geoff Carlin, along with Kane Haley, who’d just beached his ski and who split to get an ATV with first aid supplies, have spoken about the hit.

The fourth clubbie, Jason Baker, the man who paddled into the maelstrom to try and rescue Slater, is still too rattled to talk about it. 

Haley says he’d just wrapped up a training sesh with the local junior lifesavers, nippers they call ‘em in Australia.

Most times they’d head back out for a surf but, instead, he told ‘em to shower and go home.

It’s a decision he’s thought about ever since. 

“We nearly always had a surf after training,” Haley told the Courier-Mail. “And that’s exactly where we would have paddled back out. It’s such a sliding doors moment because if something had happened to one of the kids who had put their trust in me, I don’t know what I would do.”

Carlin, Rogers and Baker were on their skis after a training run to North Kirra and back when they saw Slater paddle over a wave before being hit “by an underwater bus.” 

“It was so quick,” said Carlin. “It was like a bus was coming through the water and took him underwater.”

Baker went to Slater; the others went to the beach for help. 

The scene was “chaos” as spectators came to look while “others ran away screaming.” 

Haley, whose daughter was surfing at the time, says he took a few days away from the beach but has since returned with this kid. 


“There’s not a day goes by that it’s not present,” he said.


I am a sick man, I am a spiteful man, I am an unattractive man, I believe my liver is diseased, however, I am also at Kelly Slater’s Surf Ranch feasting on a cornucopia of ill-deserved waves!


The World Surf League will not want to read this, though it will, and you will not want to either but the trigger warning rests in the title. I am sick man, spiteful man, diseased liver, possibly, etc. And yes, I am currently at Kelly Slater’s Surf Ranch feasting on ill-deserved waves.

The amount of industrial farm dairy manure I’ve tossed Lemoore’s way has been Hall of Fame worthy. The number of cow pies lobbed from Cardiff-by-the-Sea nearing number of pitches thrown by the great Nolan Ryan through his 27-year career though I haven’t been all wrong.

As a venue for Championship Tour events, it is terrible.


As a wave to surf, it is fun and the surf journalists who surfed, here, far better than me some three-years-ago can all attest except for Nick Carroll who was forced into a party wave situation by the great Vaughn Blakey.

But as a learning canvas, it is… perfection.

Kelly Slater, Adam Fincham’s brainchild showcases every single flaw in ones game, every kink, every joint right out of place but, when feasting, ramming wave after wave after wave down gullet, those can be ironed out one at a time. Arm first, head second, legs sometime after sensible, organic lunch.

Surf Ranch, you see, now videos every single wave and they are available for review directly.

Brooke, brilliant surf team supervisor, with nose for hard truths and easy explanations, walked me through the turns, opening shoulders, double hand dragging barrel to square etc. and I’ve known these truisms all my surfing years but have never actually tried to do anything about these fault in my stars. Who has the time for that sort of nonsense in the ocean, where good waves are actually more precious than all of the Instagram followers in the world, especially when the spectre of a full blown, lifelong acceptance, love even, of intermediacy has taken root in our culture?

Not me.

Until yesterday.

And today.

Many kinds left to work.
Many kinks left to work. Much more wave to climb.

A gluttonous, unjustified bacchanal just gorging on wave after wave after wave with wife, friends, Surf Ranchers, but it would be even more spiteful to leave it on the table, no? More sick and unattractive to continue top turning with both arms out front, shoulders closed and head looking wrong, yes?

More as the story develops.