How I used a surf and combat sport combo to almost hit maximum human strain and melt off a stunning five thousand calories!

A knuckle-duster-in-your-face exercise diary!

I woke up this morning and examined my to-do list, which I keep in a plastic sleeve inside a drawer by the side of my bed. 

The list is a perennial, find rich wife, preferably multi-ethnic, make a decision on the doctrine of the trinity and doctrine of eternal punishment and adjust personal morality in response, land a twelve-pound salmon, buy a timber boat, flush commode after morning ablution and so on. 

Today, as I ran a finger along the smooth plastics of my WHOOP strap, a relatively new but addictive addition to my life, I determined to run the miracle fitness tracker off its dial and to hit the theoretical human max of 21 points. 

WHOOP Strain is measured on a 0 to 21 scale, which is based on the Borg Scale of Perceived Exertion. 

(As a teenager I had taken my mother’s Japanese four-pot beyond its theoretical maximum, eight thousand revolutions in first gear, pistons, I think it was the pistons, breaking into pieces inside the block. I hoped the WHOOP experiment wouldn’t end in similar catastrophe.)

To take your body to the limit y’gotta understand how the WHOOP works. See, it measures cardiovascular load on the body, measuring the ability of your heart and air-bags to fuel your body with oxygen. 

What it doesn’t measure, crucially for our experiment, is muscular endurance, “the ability of your muscles to perform repetitive contractions without fatigue.” 

WHOOP measures aerobic workouts not the anaerobic. Therefore, no lifting plates or hitting push-ups. 

At six-thirty I begin with a light walk with potential girlfriend, skin, eyes and hair one colour, a rich, ripe, radiant apricot. At seven am, I have scored nine-point nine points. It is a good beginning. 

Three-quarters of an hour later, we run a few soft sand laps of the beach, a vigorous forty-five minute exercise. Heart-rate pounds, partly through exertion, partly because of this haughty and mysterious Haitian temptress. Thirteen-point-one.

At ten-thirty, a perfunctory surf, forty-three minutes, the sun shines, I’m courteous even to my enemies. Eleven-point three points. 

A one-hour class of jiujitsu at midday leaves my chest dewy with sweat but heaving smoothly. Eight-point seven points, the lower number due to much study of levers and grips, fifteen minutes of sparring at the end revving the heart to 170 bpm, briefly. 

A walk between three-thirty and four pm yields an eleven-point-three, a surprisingly high number although my stride is long and, at times, reckless. 

Twelve minutes later, one hour of surfing, very calm  vibration in the water, three waves, no jousting. Eight-point one. 

Just before six pm, a one-hour class of jiujitsu, much drilling, with short sparring at conclusion. I get strangled twice, accidental knee to opponent’s face yields excellent black eye. 

At this point, seven pm, I open the WHOOP app on telephone. 

It reads, twenty-point-five, calories burned, 4983.


Close enough to twenty-one. 

I self-examine and feel no adverse effects, a result, I’m firmly convinced, of the value of a vegetarian diet. 

Tomorrow: Charlie Smith and the transformative bliss of maximizing quality sleep, solid recovery and improvement generating strain.

Warm Water Jetty.
Warm Water Jetty.

Venice, Waikiki, Carlsbad named as three of the most dangerous beaches in The United States: “The research ranks beaches on nine factors, including crime, shark attacks and water pollution!”

Down and out.

Now, I am no stranger to danger, having spent much of my youth chasing terrorists in the gorgeous Middle East, but you must certainly appreciate my surprise when, just this morning, I learned that I currently live very close to one of the ten most dangerous beaches in The United States of America.


According to The Hill, “Outforia, a publication focused on the outdoors, recently compiled data on the nation’s beaches to determine which are the most dangerous. The research ranks beaches on nine factors, including crime, shark attacks and water pollution, and provided a score out of 10.”

Number five just so happened to be Carlsbad Beach right up the road.

“This beach north of San Diego experienced a high number of reported crimes, with 517. It also scored poorly in water pollution.”

I would have never guessed.

Venice Beach, in Los Angeles, was the most dangerous featuring, “High levels of crime in the area. There were 630 reported crimes and also the highest number of thefts and robbery, as well as violent crime. Venice also earned high marks (as in poor marks) in air and water pollution.”

Waikiki, in Honolulu, came in at third due high crime rates and Jonah Hill’s Malibu landed at ninth because of water pollution and, apparently, many shark attacks.

A pack of various Florida beaches filled out the rest.

Carlsbad, though.

Did not see that one coming.

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?