Wright (pictured) winning Teahupoo.
Wright (pictured) winning Teahupoo.

Australia’s Owen Wright extremely bullish on winning surfing gold at 2024 Paris Olympics: “I’m definitely confident in my ability at Teahupoo. I have a really solid record in any conditions out there so I’m going to back myself against anybody!”

Big talk.

And, like that, the calendar will soon flip to 2022 meaning that we are all two short years away from our second helping of professional Olympic surfing. The first serving came to us six-ish months ago from beautiful Japan where Brazil captured gold, the host nation silver (via Huntington Beach) and Australia’s Irukanjis the bronze thanks to the fine work of Owen Wright.

The World Surf League tour veteran will be 34 when Paris hosts the Games, the surfing component likely being staged in French Polynesia, which excites greatly and especially excites Wright. In a recent interview with Australia’s 9 News Wide World of Sport, the Culburra native seemed completely bullish on taking gold at the event, advanced paternal age be damned.

I’m definitely confident in my ability at Teahupoo. I have a really solid record in any conditions out there so I’m going to back myself against anybody no matter how big or small the waves are on the day,” he said, adding, “The wave can be intimidating if you don’t have the right mindset. It’s all about confidence in your own ability and backing yourself when the right wave comes. Having won an event there in the past, I’m looking for one thing only if I can qualify for Paris 2024, and that’s a gold medal.”

Wright’s track record does back up his big talk as he has made it to the quarters, or beyond, in his last seven Teahupoo starts winning in 2019 but… I don’t know. If I was a betting man, (which I am, it is just needlessly complicated to bet on surfing in the United States), I’d be pushing all my chips toward the John John Florence (gold), Gabriel Medina (silver), Jeremy Flores (bronze) trifecta.


The reef that's gonna get blasted. | Photo: World Wave Project

Surfer hypocrisy laid bare by New Zealand developer’s plan to dynamite virgin Fijian reef to create a“world-class wave” aimed at $1000-a-day tourists, “Creating more waves will lead to more surfers and more stewards of our oceans”

"This is a win-win situation!"

Surfers have a rep for being pro-environment. A remnant of the long-gone counter-culture days of the early seventies.

It ain’t true.

But still we diligently affix Big Oil Don’t Surf stickers on our SUVs and write passionate screeds on Instagram posts criticising government for inaction on climate change and for its use of fossil fuels while celebrating energy and water guzzling wave pools built on parched inland soil. 

We buy boards, we bust ‘em, we throw ‘em away. 

Our bodies are wrapped in cheap cottons and nylons made in Bangladeshi hellholes for “surf companies” owned by venture capitalists, profit-at-all-cost villains who have no idea of the beauty and brilliance of nature. 

The pro-environment thing is, therefore, a chimera, a mask we wear for whatever reason, surfer identity, ignorance. 

Now, a project by a New Zealand company, exposes surfers for what we are, as heroic butchers of the natural world. 

As reported by Newsroom’s wonderful lead investigations editor, Melanie Reid, (mama of Elliot Paerata Reid, wild shredder from our time-travel wetsuit movie a couple of years back). 

A New Zealand-registered company is facing intense opposition to its proposal to excavate 2.5 hectares of coral reef at a Fijian island group in an attempt to improve surf waves at one of the most celebrated diving spots in the world.

Ambitiously named World Wave Project (WWP), the company plans to dig up sections of coral reefs off the remote Qamea and Taveuni Islands in Fiji in what it describes as a “world leading project” to create “a world class wave”.

In its own public consultation submission, WWP boasted it believed the planned waves would bring in 200 tourists per day spending $1000 per day across 300 days, “creating long term employment.”

The proposed development, at two sites near Qamea, would use a jack-up barge mounted with an excavator to dig two channels through coral reefs in a region globally renowned for its pristine waters and popular diving.

In an extensive and highly polished list of ready-to-go answers on the company’s website, rationale for the project is described as follows:

“The surfing population has exploded in the last few decades. As a result, the number of quality surfing locations around the world have become more crowded; the demand for surf breaks is massive and continually increasing, forcing surfers to travel further and consume more resources for the same surfing experience. We believe that creating more waves will lead to more surfers and more stewards of our oceans.”


“This is a win-win project, given the works lease is temporary (only during construction), once complete the new breaks are open to everyone to utilise and are protected forever by the Fiji government, and there is the opportunity for positive ecological impact by removing algae from the top of inert reef, allowing living coral to grow again.”

Brings to mind the New Zealand-born reporter Petey Arnett’s quote from the Vietnam war, “We had to destroy the village in order to save it!”

Heroic butchers, yes?

After breathless climb, surf-adjacent website The Inertia reaches peak The Inertia: “Pairing thought-leaders from different spheres to tackle our most pressing topics and mobilizing innovators as a force for good!”

"WSL CEO Erik Logan will speak on Innovation During Unprecedented Times."

I’m just going to leave this here.


EVOLVE features powerful short films and panels that pair thought-leaders from different spheres of surf and outdoor culture to tackle our most pressing topics to mobilize innovators as a force for good.

This year’s lineup includes:

– The World Premiere of The Inertia‘s new film Peak California presented by Sierra Nevada starring big wave surfer Jojo Roper and acclaimed climber Nina Williams

– The Los Angeles Premiere of Fabric, Chapter 1 with Robin Van Gyn and Izzi Gomez

– WSL CEO Erik Logan will speak on Innovation During Unprecedented Times

– Un Mar de Colores co-founders Mario Ordonez-Caldron and Kat Williams will discuss Surf and Outdoors as a Force for Good

– Acclaimed author and meditation expert Jaimal Yogis will be speaking on the Power of Mindfulness and Meditation

It’s an inspiring gathering at a beautiful, fully green, 100 percent solar-powered venue called Smogshoppe, (which is a converted smog shop…) on Friday, December 10, 2021 from 6:30 p.m. – 10:30 p.m., so you can make a night out of it. Wahoo’s will be providing the fish tacos. Sierra Nevada, White Claw, and Liquid Death Water will keep your glass full.

The Inertia’s EVOLVE 2021 is presented by Sierra Nevada, White Claw, Chevrolet, and Klean Kanteen. Tacos by Wahoos. This year’s gathering will benefit Changing Tides Foundation and Un Mar de Colores.

No word, as yet, how Chevrolet will respond to the dig at smogging automobiles.

Tickets $35.

I’ll see you there?

Visual re-enactment of master Shaw being a hero.
Visual re-enactment of master Shaw being a hero.

Chivalrous Australian teenager defends fair lady’s honor by “smacking” shark that gave her unwanted bite, swimming her safely to shore!


They say that chivalry is dead but maybe it just moved to Australia for it is in Ocean Grove Beach near Geelong there on the Victorian coast where we lay our scene. Jack Shaw, a teenager, was out swimming with a lady friend Tiarna (like a true gentleman, master Shaw refused to give her surname) when she felt a sudden pain on her calf.

Looking down, she realized she had been given an unwanted bite by a morally prehistoric shark and to think such things happen in 2021 but happen it did and ouch.

Shaw, caring to for his own life, jumped into action.

“I did my best to get it off there, so I was smacking at it, trying to get it off,” he told the local news. “I turned around, it got me on the back and then I said, ‘swim!’ and tried as fast as we could to get back in to shore.”

In my mind’s eye, the smack was delivered via calfskin driving glove.

Peter Hobbs and his wife Diana, a trauma nurse, just so happened to be surfing with his family nearby when they saw the commotion. Their son immediately began paddling over to help them out but was called back by the worried and not entirely chivalrous parents.

Still, they did jettison their surf in order to help, Peter saying, “Di being an ex professional Trauma Emergency Nurse raced into action, Ella (daughter) brought in the boards and I ran back to the beach bag to call 000 … The ambos didn’t take long to arrive but in the mean time Di had all the volunteer helpers organised and the poor ladies leg compressed bandage and ready for the paramedics. The teens were obviously shocked but taken to hospital.”

The young lady had surgery, Jack Shaw is a hero and the Hobbs’ son should be lightly angry that his opportunity to be a hero too was robbed by his meddling parents.

Good instincts though.

The greatest holiday gift a surfer can give her family, aside from Kelly Slater’s sustainably unsustainable outerwear, is a gift to San Diego Academy of Ballet’s famed staging of The Nutcracker!

Get cultured.

It is, truly, the most wonderful time of the year. The world’s greatest surfer Kelly Slater knows it, gifting you with sustainably unsustainable mailed wish guides for his outerwear brand Outerknown. I know it too, though am gifting you something much better and longer lasting.

The opportunity to purchase tickets to a singular performance of the holiday classic The Nutcracker (if you so happen to live anywhere Southern California adjacent).

Now, you must by now be aware that I have fallen in love with ballet, staring at it through my young daughter’s eyes. The Italian to French art, made perfect in Russia, stretched in London and New York is an absolute revelation especially for a sloppy surf journalist.

Control, discipline, no quarter or room for kooks.

It is a scrupulous craft, one we should only be jealous of, one that has maintained its character through revolution, war, famine and high times too. One that has stayed entirely true to itself and I haven’t been able to turn away since seeing the world spin through my young daughter’s eyes as she sweated, cried, willed herself into dizzying pirouettes that would undo even the great 540ist Italo Ferreira.

Miraculously, I found an academy par excellence in San Diego, the prestigious San Diego Academy of Ballet and Ballet Theater, that teaches the near-perfect Vaganova method, for her.

Founded twenty years ago by the daughter of a dancer, a dancer herself whose own daughter regularly headlines performances. A rare family legacy that extends to the alumni. SDAB has sent dancers to the American Ballet Theater in New York, the Royal Ballet in London, the Bolshoi, the very best in the world, though was almost undone by Covid.

Ballet and Zoom don’t mix.

It miraculously survived, though, I miraculously found and now we are all, miraculously, around the corner from a presentation of The Nutcracker danced entirely by students and alumni.

Snow Queen an absolute vision. Sugar Plum Fairy to make you weep.

My young daughter dances four roles working Nat Young-esque hours to master.

I dance two. Mother Ginger, in drag with absolutely too many Bon Bons hiding under the folds of my skirt (1/5 of them pictured above), and a “Party Dad” surrounded by other “Party Dads” who each have children either featured or in the corps, who have been caught into something beautifully impossible but are trying to achieve anyhow.

Gift yourself, your family, a treat this holiday season.

Or just come witness this sloppy surf journalist spin.

I dare you.

Buy here.