It's really human of you to listen to all my bullshit. Lemme get real and let's talk surf. I'm a three-season vet. Ask me anything you want.

BeachGrit reader posits shocking three-part theory for exponential growth of the VAL, a phenomenon outpacing even Bitcoin!

Life-long surfer explains the three reasons for the coming of the vulnerable adult learner surfer… 

With the number of middle-aged men swapping lycra stockings and four-thousand dollar bikes for rubber and fifteen-hundred dollar resin-tint logs reaching plague-like proportions, there must be some scientific reasons to explain the rise of the VAL.

I have three.

No Fear of Rejection

When I was a grom growing up in Sydney’s south, I’d get off the train at Cronulla station and dread the walk along the beachfront past the patch of grass out front of Joe’s Milk Bar where all The Alley Boys would hang.

I’d pray they weren’t there as I passed with all the other train kids, but if they were I’d try to hide myself behind my board, scurry as fast as I could up to The Wall without drawing attention, and pray they didn’t throw shit at me, laugh at me, or tell me to beat it and go home.

Alternatively, I’d get off one station earlier at Woolooware and walk the back streets up to Wanda to surf alone, hoping I didn’t go past any local’s house or get seen by a local driving their car down the beach.

I’d do whatever I could to go unseen.

As teenage tenderlings we pretend not to care too much about the world around us and throw out sardonic, pimpled scoffs at those who passionately do. But, underneath the false facade we all crave acceptance and inclusion. And nothing rips the guts out of a timid teenager’s self-esteem more than humiliation and heckles from his peers, especially the ones he looks up to most.

We might look at that now through the mocking, unsympathetic eyes of salty, old sea-dogs, but acceptance and approval for a kid of thirteen is everything.

As the NY Times best-selling author Harvey Mackay says,

“Most fears of rejection rest on the desire for approval from other people.”

All I craved was inclusion in that gang of surfers on the little patch of grass at The Alley. To that end, I didn’t paddle out The Alley for years.

Not until I was comfortable with my surfing and I knew all the rules. Even then it took a good few years after that, surfing the same place day in day out, to cop a murmured hello or a muted nod from the locals that mattered, and a good few years beyond that to get a breadcrumb of acceptance.

But once you did finally get that acceptance, it was well fucking earned.

And well fucking cherished.

You felt like you belonged.

The modern-day VAL?

The VAL doesn’t give a shit about any of that. He doesn’t give a shit about acceptance or approval from a bunch of insufferable surfers. The “A” in VAL stands for adult, which means they’ve (mostly) already got the wife, kids, house, car, and portfolio. They’ve also got their well-established group of wanker banker white-collar worker mates.

VALs don’t have any need or desire to be part of the local lineup or to get the nod from the boys when they pull in to the carpark and slide into the best spots overlooking the point.

They’ve got no contextual awareness of local history or the cultural conventions of a given spot.

They couldn’t care less about hierarchy, or respect or drinking with the boys up the pub on a Sunday arvo.

They don’t give two shits about being excluded from the idle chit-chat out the back or not getting the invite to the post-boardriders contest sausage sizzle with Deano, Fanga and the lads. Even if you did invite them they’d chuckle to themselves and think the ten-buck buy-in for bread and bangers would barely cover their first craft beer up the bistro.

They’ve got the surfing bug coz it’s cool and the next door neighbour’s doing it. They’ve got their new board. And by fuck they’re going out there for some waves and fun in the glorious sun before they have to take Bella to ballet and Ozzie to Aussie Rules.

Fear of exclusion?

“Who the fuck needs inclusion from you blokes?” That’s what the VAL thinks. We think they’re ignorant to the ways of surfing and pests in the water who need to learn the rules.

They think we’re ignoramus dinosaurs living in a kiddy bubble they don’t need no part of.

No Fear of Violence

The modern era means the VAL doesn’t have to worry too much about physical confrontation or intimidation.

In the water or out.

For better or worse, nothing got the message through when I was a kid like an unexpected backhander across the chops.

I didn’t surf The Alley til my mid-teens coz: 1) I was shit and embarrassed to be seen and 2) I’d heard too many stories of guys getting knuckle sandwiches for being dickheads for all of ‘em to be tall tales devoid of truth.

Even up-and-coming local grommets got their fair share of roughing up from the older guys and no-one ever said a word. Toughening ‘em up and showing ‘em the laws of the land.

That fear factor helped me learn real fast what I should and shouldn’t do out in the surf. Drop-ins, snaking, paddling for the shoulder, swinging for the same wave as a local, bailing without your board…I watched as beginners or blow-ins copped verbal barrages and physical reprisals for such antics.

Nothing like a fist to the face to put in place some cashed-up middle-aged fuckwit being a nuisance. They soon got the message loud and clear and never repeated it or they slinked off with their humiliated heads between their tails and surfed elsewhere forevermore.

Either way, job done.

Now? Law, litigation, and ubiquitous fucking cameras mean that VALs barely have to deal with any of that shit. Put one on the button of a VAL for throwing his board in front of you? Assault charges and an AVO.

Backhander across the melon for dropping in straight down the face as you were fanging down the line? Criminal record and community service.

Slash the tyres in the carpark for paddling to the inside every fucking time? VAL’s new Jeep has a dashcam. Shit outta luck.

The days of violence and settling matters short and sharp are pretty much done. And the VALs can park their Porsches front and centre without a single fuck given about localism.

Nothing to fear here, dear.

It’s Healthy, Baby!

Finally, we live in the age of the internet. The information age. Everything we need to know is at the push of a button or the tap of an app.

Especially when it comes to health matters.

Nothing matters like health for the VAL. Biking in lycra on Mondays. Beach Yoga on Tuesdays. Jog and gym with the PT on Wednesdays. Protein shake to shake shake shake every fucking day.

And nothing screams health and fitness more to the VAL than surfing.

The call of the wild.

The spiritual engagement of riding Mother Nature.



Who needs Wim fucking Hof when you’ve got a five am duckdive on a crisp, winter morning? The wife’s got her Fitbit and the VAL’s got his funboard. He’s also got his smartwatch to track his paddling, count his calories, and spit out soft top speed stats to share on socials.

You don’t need chinups when you can work on popups. In the fucking ocean.

Are you kidding me? How good is surfing? This is living.

The fact that there are rules to surfing and basic norms of etiquette that have existed for decades is lost on the VAL.

Don’t sit in certain places in the lineup. What?

Don’t paddle for certain waves. Huh?

Always acquiesce to the perpetually grumpy, frowning old blokes. What the actual fuck, dude? It’s the ocean. It belongs to everyone. It’s for all of us to enjoy.

Whatever it is about VALs that irritates longtime surfers, the VAL doesn’t get it and he doesn’t care to get it. For the VAL, it’s all about getting his reps in out there in nature. To feel the water washing over his 9-5 skin. To thrive and feel alive and populate his Insta feed with health and positivity.

Fuck the grumpy old fools and their archaic, stupid rules. The VAL is living his best life and he doesn’t give a shit about bitter, old barnacles from yesteryear complaining.

They’re bad for his wellness.

The VAL just wants to be fit and happy.

Don't mess with the bull or you'll get the horn. Number one, jiujitsu, number one, BeachGrit, number one, Surf Splendour and a couple of waves shy of king of surf.

Surf Journalist discovers “antipatico” towards fellow surfers key to improved performance!

WHOOP leverages peer pressure to squeeze previously unheard of gains out of average shredders… 

I’m no winner, which is obvious.

The level of intensity and antipatico needed to triumph over another man, woman, non-binary fellow, business competitor, is beyond anything I’m willing to conjure. 

(Antipatico, of course, is how you feel when you see someone you dislike drowning in a river and you refuse to help even if it is a very hot day in summer and you are dreaming of having a nice swim.) 

At the beginning of the year, I began to order my life around my WHOOP strap, a digital fitness tracker that gathers multiple health metrics, monitoring heart rate variability (HRV), resting heart rate and sleep, to create a daily recovery score. WHOOP lets y’know when’s a good time to hit the water for a four-hour marathon session and when you might want to tan under an umbrella on the beach. 

All very helpful, frank advice that doesn’t care for the user’s precious feelings.

A less discussed part of WHOOP and I would suggest it’s most powerful tool is its community. You join a club –  surfing, jiujitsu, BeachGrit, Surf Splendour, running, whatevs – and you’re constantly being monitored against your peers. 

Here, I must win, even if only for an hour, for various time zones mean while I surf, others sleep, and therefore an average man, with a little effort, can triumph over thousand of other surfers or stranglers or joggers. 

BeachGrit and Surf Splendour, very easy to win, Charlie and David Lee Scales have an obstinacy to move that verges on the masochistic, Whoop on the Waves, 1500 members, Jiu Jitsu, 2500, not so much.

Feeling like the sexiest boy in the world!

So you get up a little earlier, go for a run, catch a dozen extra waves, put extra heat behind that strangle.

All to beat people I’ll never meet, never surf or roll with, but for whom I will kill myself to destroy.


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

Ultra-rare deep sea ghoul that is “the stuff nightmares are made of” washes up on San Diego most famous bigger wave nude beach!

Very unusual.

Blacks, there in the shadow of Torrey Pines just north of San Diego, is one of southern California’s most famous bigger wave spots. It lurches out of the deep water canyons running off that part of the coast and throws a meaty barrel being able to hold more size than neighboring reefs and sandbars.

All very fine but its beach is also clothing optional with many older hippies sunning their bits and bobs.


And even more unique now that an ultra-rare deep water ghoul washed up and mingled with the nudes.

According to San Diego News 7:

Jay Beiler was out walking the strand beneath the Glider Port in Torrey Pines last Saturday. It was almost sunset, he said, sometime around 4:40 p.m., when he stumbled upon … it.”

“I have never seen anything quite like this before,” Beiler said. “You know, I go to the beach fairly often, so I’m familiar with the territory, but I’ve never seen an organism that looked quite as fearsome as this.”

What was it?

“At first I thought it was a — like a jellyfish or something, and then I went and looked at it a little more carefully, and some other people were gathered around it too, and then I saw that it was this very unusual fish,” Beiler said.

What was so unusual about it?

“It’s the stuff of nightmares — mouth almost looked bloody!” Beiler said. “I’d say it was nearly a foot long.”

But what was it?

One of the seven horseman of the VALpocalypse?

A naked Jonah Hill as Jerry Garcia?

Oh no. Ben Frable of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, says it was simply, “one of the larger species of anglerfish, and it’s only been seen a few times here in California, but it’s found throughout the Pacific Ocean. How you have something from that deep in the ocean … it washing up on the beach here in San Diego has partially to do with the underwater topography of the coastline here on the coast, all the way off of La Jolla here — this was obviously found on Black’s. Up the beach a bit, you have what are called submarine canyons, where water and sediments are running off and it can get really deep, really quickly very close to shore.”

Specifically, it was a female Pacific footballfish, the very same that appeared in the heart-warming film Finding Nemo.

Perfect for the season.

One man a surfing legend, the other sceptical of Greg Long's environmental bona fides.

Wildly influential surfboard shaper and Jonah Hill lookalike Matt Biolos challenges big-wave legend Greg Long’s environmental bona fides, “I hope you back it up by not wearing the Chinese-made, oil tanker-inported clothing co that you work for!”

'We, the human race, still need a lot of oil, or millions will starve and go unclothed," says master shaper Matt Biolos.

Three days ago, Greg Long, surfing’s most decorated big-wave surfer and a man who was dragged unconscious onto the deck of a boat after nearly drowning at Cortes Bank, posted a passionate screed against Dutch company Shell hunting oil off the South African coast. 

Echoes of Sean Doherty’s masterly Fight the Bight campaign that kneecapped a Norwegian oil co sniffing around for liquid gold off the Australian coast a couple of years back. 

Greg wrote, 

The fossil fuel industry is destroying our oceans and future! Despite being just days after the COP26 climate conference where global leaders agreed on the urgent need for climate action and ecological preservation,  on Dec. 1 Shell Oil will begin catastrophic seismic surveying off the coast of South Africa in search of oil or gas deposits.

The vessel operated by Shell Exploration will, for five months, drag up to 48 air guns methodically through 6,011km² of ocean surface, from Morgan Bay to Port St Johns, (The Transkei Coast) firing extremely loud shock wave emissions that penetrate through 3km of water and 40km into the Earth’s crust below the seabed. The ship will work around the clock, firing the air guns every 10 seconds. In the process, marine life on the sensitive Wild Coast will be panicked and damaged.

It is time we hold government and industry accountable.  We need systemic change that protects our natural world, rather than exploiting it.  


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Greg Long (@gerglong)

Greg asked followers if they might join in a protest if they happened to be in South Africa and, or, sign a petition. 

All very nice, hard to argue with and so on, at least from the cocoons of our six-cylinder SUVs and with houses warmed and cooled by, mostly, coal-powered electricity. 

Matt Biolos, shaper to the stars and anything but a wallflower, was quick to point out the hypocrisy in the post. 

“I believe you’re doing good and passionate work, Greg. It’s a difficult situation,” Biolos began diplomatically before administering the fatal coup de grâce. 

“I hope you back it up by driving electric cars, eating only locally sourced food, no longer traveling by air, not wearing the the Chinese made ( oil tanker imported) clothing Co that you work for and other radical personally sacrificing changes to make a true example of what’s needed to live with out developing more oil resources. (Personally, We now have have two E-cars in our household, as a small start) but the facts are, every product is moved around the world on fossil fuel burning ships and planes. We need 1000 Elon Musk types , ballzy enough to re-create the industrialized world…which will take 50+ years, at least. In transition, we (human race) still needs a lot of oil, or millions will starve and go unclothed.”

Subsequent replies and back and forthing centred on whether or not electric cars were much of an improvement, what with their damn batteries and the need to charge those batteries with electricity sourced from fossil-fuel powered electricity. 

A circular firing squad!

Everyone dies! 

In metaphorically rich moment, bald eagle swoops down from the sky and steals man-eating shark from proud Florida fishermen thereby reinstating its, and America’s, position atop the surf food chain!

Kolohe Andino for the World Surf League Championship tour title in 2022.

In a moment beautiful enough to make any patriotic American surfer stand and salute, a bald eagle just days ago swooped down from the sky and made a shark its…. well its prey.

The metaphorically rich tableau was captured by Florida men Chad Rissman and his uncle Darren Vick who happened to be fishing on the Dunedin Causeway when they snagged a man-eater.

Vick told Fox News, the only outlet this story belongs upon, “We are just sitting there talking. The line got tight and slack.”

Rissman, providing color, added, “I was reeling it in my uncle was going to grab the line. As the leader is coming up, I said I’d get a hold of the shark.”

But Vick would not, in fact get a hold of the shark as American dominance re-asserted itself by reclaiming its spot atop the food chain both real and metaphorical.

Even though he did not get a hold of the shark, Vick accurately described the scene as “brushing the greatness of the country all into one picture and one experience.”

These colors don’t run.

Kolohe Andino for the World Surf League Championship tour title in 2022.

Smart money.