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.

Bettylou Sakura Johnson, sixteen and a contest winner in Hawaii and, soon, world tour surfer. | Photo: Brent Bielmann/WSL

Teenage Hawaiian Bettylou Sakura Johnson stuns world champ to win Haleiwa contest and qualify for world tour, “I know you are all so terribly nostalgic already for the old men’s Triple Crown, but that’s so totally over. Suck it, bros!”

A hometown fairytale!

On paper, Carissa Moore came to Haleiwa as the favorite. At the outset, her local knowledge and powerful style looked unbeatable.

Well, paper is paper and water is wet, and that is not how things turned out.

Instead, Bettylou Sakura Johnson just scored the biggest result of her career so far. Currently 16, Johnson won Haleiwa after beating Moore, Gabriela Bryan, and India Johnson in the final. She also qualified for the 2022 CT, after starting the final Challenger Series event ranked thirteenth. That is quite a run.

I know you are all so terribly nostalgic already for the old men’s Triple Crown, but that’s so totally over. We have women’s Haleiwa now! Suck it, bros!

On the subject of the new-school Triple Crown, however, I do find it hilarious that no one in surfing seems to know what to call surfboards that aren’t thrusters.

Progressive? Alternative? Metal?

Really, someone with a brain, which won’t be me, should probably figure this whole thing out. We can also just keep making caveman-like grunting sounds and pointing to the fins like, look, surfboard, has some fins, goes fast. It’s fine. We’ll survive either way.

Back to Women’s Haleiwa.

There were plenty of surprises. I have enjoyed this women’s Challenger Series for the tight rankings, hard-fought heats, new-to-me surfers, and unexpected performances. It’s been a good time.

Opening round two, Alyssa Spencer narrowly beat Moore. Spencer’s backhand looks spicy, and it propelled her through to the semifinals. Once there in a rematch with Moore, Spencer couldn’t make lightning strike twice. She went out, after finishing third behind the five-time world champ and Bryan.

I can’t find exact stats for Caity Simmers, but she is a very small human. Reportedly, she was nervous about surfing Hawaii, and she looked uncharacteristically tentative out there in her round two heat. For such a tiny flea, Simmers sure as fuck can bury a rail. But she couldn’t quite put the pieces together out at Haleiwa and went out in round three. All the same, the creative Simmers should be fun to watch on the CT next year.

Need drama?

In heat four, Dimity Stoyle came down off the top to discover Leticia Canales Bilbao paddling directly through her line. It was a Wavestorm move from Canales, really, and she should have been paying more attention to the surfer coming down the line. An obviously angry Stoyle gave her a talking-to out the back. The judges didn’t rule it an interference, but it potentially cost Stoyle her chance to advance.

The final heat of round two packed a punch with Johnson, Caroline Marks, Coco Ho, and Amuro Tsuzuki. Johnson threw down hard and won it with a 16.23 heat score. Marks looked underpowered, much as she did during the 2021 CT events. She finished fourth. It’d be nice to see her find the same smash she brought to her rookie year on Tour.

Meanwhile, it was a heartbreaker for Ho. She narrowly missed advancing after leaving the door open with a 4.73 back-up score. A savvy heat surfer, Tsuzuki beat her and put an end to Ho’s hopes of requalifying.

I’ll be honest and admit I went to lunch during the quarterfinals. I never claimed that I would watch every heat!

Sometimes, a girl just needs a sandwich. You know how it is.

In the first semi, the two Hawaiians Bryan and Moore ruled it. Moore won it in commanding style with a pair of eight’s. Bryan left the door open slightly, with a 7 and a 4.5, but neither Spencer nor Tahitian Vahine Fierro could overtake her. In another heartbreaker, Fierro only needed to make one more heat to qualify.

The second semifinal? So close. Johnson took an early lead, only to have Robinson overtake her by less than a point. Both advanced. Robinson has power to burn and a weirdly hypnotic full body twerk in her turns.

In her comeback event, Peterson put up the highest single wave score of the heat, but couldn’t back it up. Her never-say-die heat strategy was on full display and Peterson kept scrapping until the buzzer.

Picklum, meanwhile, never found her rhythm in the increasingly storm-fucked conditions and didn’t put up a challenge to the leading duo. That came as a surprise to me, after seeing her previous heats. Love her style, actually.

By the time the final came around, the wind had turned exuberantly sideshore. The lineup looked messier than ever, with more close-outs than open faces on offer. I love junk surf, as you know. I’m pretty sure I’d have gone for coffee instead.

The final featured a lot of searching for waves and comparatively low scores. Robinson only had a 2.00 heat score. It was not easy to decode out there, is what I’m saying.

But Johnson managed to do it. I remember watching her heats back at Huntington and thinking she needed better waves. She looked overpowered for the Huntington hop. In fucked up Haleiwa, she shined.

The heat started out predictably enough with Moore in the lead. She efficiently put up a pair of five’s, no doubt hoping to better them. Before she could get much further, the hungry pair Johnson and Bryan began chipping away at her lead.

With more than 20 minutes left in the heat, Johnson put up an eight-point ride. And that was the heat. The conditions worsened — rain, wind, locusts, whathaveyou. Bryan found a six to move into second, but there wasn’t much to do out there.

Haleiwa marked Bryan’s third second place finish in the four Challenger Series events. She also won the overall. Winning at home would have been a fairy tale ending for her qualifying campaign.

But it was Johnson who got the fairly tale win at home.

After finishing third in the Challenger Series, Johnson will surf the CT next year.

Rookie nerves aside, she should do well.

New girls on the CT?

Bryan, Johnson, Simmers, Robinson, and Luana Silva all qualified for the first time. After her second place finish in the CS, Brisa Hennessey is back on Tour. In a painful twist of the knife, Picklum finished equal on points with Silva, but just missed the cut, thanks to Silva’s higher event results. That has to smart.

See y’all at Pipe Masters!