Professional surfer (pictured) rich.
Professional surfer (pictured) rich.

Australian economists plead case for more robust understanding of the world’s estimated $91 billion dollar surf market: “This is a major knowledge gap we are now trying to fill!”

Pennies from heaven.

If you were to venture a guess as to what Dirk Ziff saw when he bought surfing for free that handful of years ago, would it be the deep pleasure owning beautiful boys and and girls performing the watery dance at the very top level? A chance to be a philanthropist on par with Andrew Carnegie? Or maybe billions upon billions of dollars hidden in them thar hills?

Well, four Australian economists have also seen those billions upon billions, a staggering $91b (Australian dollars) but rue the fact that the market is woefully misunderstood.

According to Drs. Manero, Spencer-Cotton, Leon and research consultant Lazarow, “There are many studies on the economic value of Australian beach pastimes such as fishing, swimming and diving. But not for surfing,” citing that “surfing’s benefits to human well-being aren’t often studied in economics terms. This is a major knowledge gap we are now trying to fill.”

What can be done to increase the bottom line? Not build things like sea walls and groyns that wreck waves, for one. Not dredge without serious environmental analysis on how it will alter the surf (see: Mundaka), for two. Partake in “planned coastal management” like the prescient geniuses on Australia’s Gold Coast, for three, who decided to pump sediment out to sea just beyond those Snapper Rocks et. voila.


“The project is costly to operate and has impacted nearby beaches. But its expenses are outweighed by improvements to surf quality and beach amenity, which underpin the local economy and the nature-based, active lifestyle the Gold Coast is famous for.”

The authors also call for good waves to be given legal protection by making them corporations.

They actually did not suggest making them corporations but I think that is a very good idea.

Lowers Inc.

There was no word on how organized professional surfing should suck off the $91b (A) teet but I have to think Ziff and co. are on it.

It’s a gold rush.

Kurt Russell as Daly-esque Captain Ron.

World’s most famous surf explorer reveals he’s been sequestered on famous yacht for past three years as he rides out pandemic, “I’ve been watching the world go mad! Everyone seems to have lost their minds!”

"I am at sea, via Satcom. Waiting for the end of this crap."

In late December I wrote a story about setting up the STARLINK receiver and WiFi modem in an incommunicado corner of Malibu Road, a street that is home to some of the world’s greatest communicators and has a GDP in the billions that still can’t get good phone service or internet. 

Early the next morning, a SpaceX launch out of Vandenberg belched 52 more STARLINK satellites to join the thousands already in orbit. 

An interesting story because the STARLINK bases on land are simple and idiot-proof and cost only $500 up front, then $99 a month. 

But that inexpensive simplicity communicates with an almost impossibly complex and costly constellation of thousands of rocket-launched satellites that are bringing high quality, high-speed internet to the world, to yachts at sea, to Tavarua, to darkest Baja and even to the tightest nooks and crannies and hollers of Malibu. 

The story went around to a bunch of people who might benefit from celestial, high-speed internet. 

Jon Roseman was one, and another was Martin Daly, captain of the Indies Trader fleet and now lord and master of a surf operation on 45-acre Beran Island hidden away on the corner of Ailinglaplap Atoll in the Marshall Islands: 4928 miles from Malibu, 4949 kilometers northeast of Sydney, 2419 miles southwest of Oahu = middle of nowhere in the middle of the Pacific.

Far from the madding crowd, and a rapidly collapsing world.

Daly responded with crypticism and beguilingness. And also sent some cool photos of his operation, similar to the photos of a freshly-solarized Tavarua.

Beran Island Resort, Marshall Islands,

So we launched some questions at Captain Daly…

Someone from Perth looked at that STARLINK story on my website. Was that you?

Probably my wife. She’s in Perth, heading up to Indo to see me for the first time in two years tomorrow.

How and where did you answer these questions? Marshall Islands? Out at sea? Where are you if that’s not classified?

I am at sea, via Satcom. Waiting for the end of this crap.

Thanks for reading that STARLINK story and commenting on it, but questions. This line you emailed me: “I believe the idea was coined on a super yacht belonging to CLASSIFIED anchored in front of my resort in the Marshalls.” Were you having a laugh or is that for real?

Signed an NDA which would preclude me from specifics but put it this way, It may have gone like this: “Gee this internet from Vsat and Inmarsat sucks, it’s so slow and ludicrously expensive. The remote parts of the world really suffer from a lack of reasonably-priced fast internet. Let’s do something about it, why not….”

I read the book on SpaceX and they were forced to move everything to Kwajalein Atoll after the Air Force pulled the football away and wouldn’t let them launch from Vandenberg. So it’s not outside the realm of possibility that Elon Musk cruised by your island and was inspired to launch tens of thousands of satellites into space.

I am unaware of any such activity or operation nor would I be disposed to discuss such an operation if it did in fact exist, sir.

Isn’t it a big deal that yachts at sea can now have lightning-fast internet anywhere on the globe?

It’s still a ways off, could be years before the maritime units are available, it’s more of a stationary service in its first iteration.  It will be really good for crew particularly so they can keep in touch with their loved ones. It’s so expensive now that it’s not practical for crew to have internet access unless they are working for a billionaire.

Can you think of instances in the past/present when you really could have used that Internet?

The Indies Trader fleet has had Inmarsat and Viasat internet onboard since 1999 at massive expense. I know that I’ve spent at least $2  million over the last 22 years. It will be such a blessing to take that cost substantially out of the operational budget. 

Email, text and weather, bit of Google Earth for the exploration and that’s operationally enough to keep things crisp. 

With the rise of social media and everyone glued to their phones half their waking life the benefits are not as clear for the operational side. For guests to have fast internet is much more appealing, they can justify longer surf trips,  keep all their balls in the air between getting shacked. Once the speed is sufficient to do most things online it’s a game-changer for many. Some people, particularly the most recent generation, seriously cannot survive a day without being online

Omelek Island is 125 miles as the bird flies from Beran. According to Wikipedia: “In total, SpaceX launched 5 rockets (all Falcon 1s) from Omelek between 2006 and 2009, with two successes (28 September 2008, 14 July 2009) and three (24 March 2006, 21 March 2007, 3 August 2008) failures.” 

Watching those launches from your place would have been epic, but I don’t think you were there then when that was going on?

Yes we were. Hmm, most people don’t realize we’ve been operating in the Marshalls since Christmas 2005 after the end of the Crossing and subsequently the crash of the surf apparel industry beginning with Quik: sixteen years now. 

At one point SpaceX was talking to me about using Indies Trader 4 for accommodation at the launch site in Kwajalein. I didn’t take it seriously and sent the boat back to Indo for the Mentawai season. 

Is there any remnant of SpaceX operations left out there? Tracking? Recovery ships?


Sitting out in the middle of the Pacific and watching civilization crumble and go to war and eat itself sounds nice to some people. Far from the madness.

Man, I’ve been on my boat watching the world go mad: 2020/ 2021 saw the death of facts and truth. Terrifying how much absolute bullshit is being spouted. Everyone seems to have lost their minds

Are you on the STARLINK net yet? 

Not yet. Won’t be available for a while unfortunately, Elon has been overpromising again and saying it would be up in 2021. Something to look forward to in these bleak times.

Do you see lines of STARLINK satellites arcing across the sky from where you are? I know people in Baja who see them all the time.

No. Haven’t been to the Marshalls since April 2019. Been locked out, borders closed.

You also said: “We’ve been registered for a year or so to get one in the Marshall Islands. Our resort has been running  on sun power and wind power exclusively for over five years by the way. Way ahead of Tavarua that I believe was purchased by CLASSIFIED a few years ago.” 

This is also true? You are 100% solar and wind out there? 

Yes we are

Are you using just the one windmill? Those things intrigue me. I’ve seen people on Maui who run their entire compound with one windmill.

Two wind turbines, one to power the boats at the dock and one to provide extra power for the PV system at the house.

The extra boost of the wind turbine producing power through the night means our generator very rarely has to kick in. Without the renewables It would cost us $70 to 80 thousand  a year in diesel fuel, freight to get it there, generator maintenance and replacement = let’s say 100k a year. The off-grid power system paid for itself in under two years, six years now so we are winning, both financially and environmentally

How is your operation out there? Looks healthy and spruced up, like Tavarua.

Was getting there before Covid, we are doing it tough now. We haven’t been able to get people in there for two years.

Ouch. Seems to me a bunch of surfers isolated out in the middle of the Marshall Islands aren’t a threat to anyone. 

The fun haters have always picked on surfers. Plenty of bookings if the border opens.

What is the cost of a week on Beran Island? I know there’s a ton of surf out there.

Similar to Tavarua but with more inclusions.

Isn’t there a spot out there that Kelly Slater loves?


How did you deal with Covid? Fiji took it very very seriously and shut the whole place down.

Marshalls tighter than Fiji. I’ve lived aboard The Indies Trader 3 for the last two years and explored Melanesia, Mentawai season last year. Been interesting and fruitful found a lot more waves than I did on the Crossing being able to manage it myself

Were you still open for business? Did you take extra precautions?

The Marshall Islands have been closed for entry since March 2020. They have had no Covid in the community, a few cases in quarantine in Kwajalein.

Did you have any minor pandemics sweep your atoll?

We had a bit of a scare with Dengue Fever in 2019

What’s up with Sea of Darkness? That could be the best surf-related movie/documentary ever made. It toured around Malibu a bit and then pulled a Manchurian Candidate and disappeared.

I got too busy with the resort and the whole thing is a mess and I haven’t got the patience to deal with it. Needs a lot of work. Had a few close calls with getting it released but there is this toxic element that keeps on turning up and making it troublesome.

What or who is the toxic element?

I don’t want to elaborate, just more negativity would be generated.

I have my opinions on why Sea of Darkness got disappeared and it had to do with diving for treasure on Chinese junks and the Indo government getting edgy and eying all your yachts, but maybe that’s wrong or something you can’t talk about.

It’s because I am an International Drug Kingpin and don’t need the attention. Ha, just kidding

Is Sea of Darkness deep sixed for all time? A shame, because it’s very very good.

One day.

Do you show it out there to select audiences sworn to secrecy?

Not really.

Is it still true you are leading diving expeditions to Bikini and other atolls? Clearest water in the world? 

Yes we will again when things open up.

Any ETA on when Marshalls/Beran will open back up?

I’m hoping for the Omnicron outbreak to infect everyone and make quarantine unnecessary ASAP

(After the email exchange, Shane Peel, a former magazine editor and photographer, sent me a long email as a sort of Postscript to Martin’s answers.)

Shane Peel here. I have been on deck as CEO at Indies Trader for a couple years now and I think you may have reached out to MD and had a chat about all the sustainability stuff in place at Beran, Starlink conception etc etc 

It’s an amazing story that Martin has just not bothered to really push. Whole place is air conditioned, fully off grid solar and wind turbines, same set-up at the dock for our charter boats all on Solar and wind turbines. lithium batteries etc etc.

I can’t add much about the stuff that is covered under non-disclosure but can add in how impressive the “Off Grid” nature of Beran Island is. I developed my own resort in Indonesia with a mate quite a decade ago and it was not as remote as Beran, so I understand the enormity of Beran. What Martin has done on Beran Island is extraordinary: the electrical supply runs a full resort, the water is all from rainfall and is very close to one of the most thoughtful surf operations you will see. 

Martin does not talk it up much as it’s not real Australian to talk about yourself but when you pull up to the dock and jump in one of the electric carts to drive off to the main building it hits you … you’re in Daly world and EVERYTHING is structured around being on the water and going surfing with the minimal impact. 

The wind and solar has been there from the get-go; it’s not a new thing by any means. From my understanding Martin planned the resort as being fully energy self-sufficient from the start. MD has this really broad knowledge of just about everything and the renewables stuff is minor compared to some of the other things he does.

We started to look pretty close at electric PWC’s and boats this past year and the boats are there now but have not quite hit the inflection point on viability but are within a whisker, ski’s are the same or perhaps a little further ahead and we are probably right at that jumping off point now.

Won’t ever be drones taking people surfing at Indies Trader mate. That’s the best part of the business being right there at the point the joy is given:) That’s when we actually transact with our guests.

I was not there for the rocket launches but geez the sooner Elon gets Starlink fully active the better, the access to information will solve many of the issues that exist for remote communities across everything from health to commerce. It will change the planet more than anything else in history I reckon.

This was all done with very little fanfare and way before it was needed for green points or market demands. Martin did it because it was the right thing to do first and foremost. 

Indies Trader has been pretty damn busy the whole pandemic we have just released an apparel line, a line of watches and next week an alcohol line … and there are the new waves which is MD’s story to tell, I guess what I am trying to say is that the surf industry has produced some amazing business people but none like Daly. He’s in the business of selling waves and treats the resource with a respect that could only be generated from a lifetime of symbiosis. 

There is only one Martin Daly that’s for fricken sure.


Slater (pictured) down under.
Slater (pictured) down under.

Australian government’s miraculous commutation of tennis champ Novak Djokovic’s “un-vaccination death sentence” juices greatest surfer ever Kelly Slater’s 12th World Title push!


Wild days, absolutely wild, what with tourists in Hawaii listening to the state’s overworked lifeguards, Jordy Smith healthy and ready to compete for the 2022 World Surf League Champion’s Trophy and Australia’s heretofore very serious government reversing course on its recent damnation of tennis champion Novak Djokovic.

The number one tennis player in the world has been lightly vocal on his stance that he shall not receive a Covid-19 vaccination and flew to Melbourne, ahead of the Australian Open, after the country’s tennis association gave him a waiver. Australia’s PM, Scott Morrison, took the nation’s temperature and decided to ban Djokovic, essentially delivering an un-vaccination death penalty to the Serbian.

Surfing great Kelly Slater, harboring vaccine skepticism of his own, was quick to bash the decision, writing that Melbourne’s citizens were suffering “Stockholm syndrome” and had been brainwashed as the Djokovic ruling essentially gutted Slater’s own pursuit of a 12th World Title.

Well, in breaking news, Australian courts have vacated Morrison’s tough talk. Per the report:

Djokovic argued he didn’t need proof of vaccination because he had contracted the illness last month. Australian medical authorities ruled that a temporary exemption for the vaccine rule can be provided to people who had been infected with COVID-19 within six months.

Circuit Court Judge Anthony Kelly noted that Djokovic had provided officials at the airport with a medical exemption given to him by Tennis Australia, which organizes the Australian Open, and two medical panels.

“The point I’m somewhat agitated about is what more could this man have done?” Kelly asked Djokovic’s lawyer Nick Wood.

Wood agreed that there was nothing more Djokovic could’ve done.

Djokovic had been placed in an immigration detention hotel used to house refugees and asylum seekers.

Lawyers for Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews said in their submission that if the judge ruled in favor of the tennis star, immigration officials might cancel his visa a second time. They said the vaccination requirement could only be deferred for arriving travelers who have had a COVID-19 infection if their illness was acute.

“There is no suggestion that the applicant (Djokovic) had ‘acute major medical illness’ in December” when he tested positive, the submission said.

Djokovic could face a three-year ban from the country if his visa is canceled and is deported.

Unprecedented times but back to Slater.

Does he have what it takes?

One final push?

Maybe this bit of good news will provide the juice he needs to soar.


Tourists and look-loos stun officials by generally obeying lifeguard orders as apocalyptically monstrous waves pound Oahu’s North Shore!

Unprecedented times.

In these unprecedented times, it is very much best to proceed with an abundance of caution but is that what the general public is doing? Definitively not. Face masks are sagging very much below noses, family gatherings are being organized, indoor restaurants are being eaten at and application-based dating is still being pursued.

People just aren’t listening to the experts, making what is currently transpiring on Oahu’s North Shore confounding.

As you know, a series of apocalyptically monstrous swells are currently lashing the Hawaiian islands. Big waves. Big waves that put a flutter in the heart, that demand attention.

Hawaii’s lifeguards, decimated by Covid, were worried that they would be understaffed and urged tourists and look-loos to exercise that abundance of caution, not paddling out into the waves themselves, standing well clear of the waterline.

A mass drowning event was expected but, lo and behold, the tourists and look-loos are thus far obeying.

Per just released reporting from Hawaii’s KHON channel 2:

Most beachgoers stayed behind the caution tape lifeguards put up.

“Lots of times people come out and it doesn’t look that big, it can be between sets. We have big surf with long lulls sometimes, and people don’t realize how dangerous it is until those sets come in,” Lt. Atwood explained.

He said people can easily be swept out to sea.

North Shore lifeguards had an early start on Sunday morning.

“We’ve had some challenges; today we had a few calls. We had a missing surfer this morning off of Pua’ena Point and luckily he was found, and everybody was OK, and we had a few other calls,” Lt. Atwood said.

Ocean Safety has been dealing with staffing shortages due to omicron, and they’re hopeful guards will remain healthy throughout the week as extra-large surf continues to hit north and west facing shores.

“Fortunately, today with the dangerous conditions we have all towers open and a full staff,” said Lt. Atwood.

Anyone who plans on going to the North Shore during the week of Jan. 9 is asked to stay behind caution tape, not go onto wet sand or rocks and to stay at guarded beaches.

“Most beachgoers stayed behind the caution tape lifeguards put up.”

A post-Christmas miracle.

What can WSL judges show the surfers when they storm the judging tower? A blank page full of empty boxes?

School teacher reveals missing “rubric” that has the power to transform professional surfing into world’s biggest global sport!

Disinterest and  indifference to pro surfing is at all-time high. Time to talk rubrics.

When the tour opens at Pipe on January 29, it’ll mark almost 10 years since the WSL began running the show. 

Back in 2013, after the tour was taken over by ZoSea, one of the chief architects of the takeover Paul Speaker said, “For the first time we’re able to approach this league as a global centralized sports league…and it’s essential for those of us who are already engaged, and those who are invited in, see it as one of the premier global sports in the world.” 

One of the premier global sports in the world? 

It’s fair to say, rather politely, that the WSL hasn’t quite reached those heights. 

The ASP gave us the world’s best surfers in the world’s best waves concept but since then the tour has stagnated badly. 

One reason is the judging system. 

And, I’m gonna tell ya why. 


Or lack thereof.

The WSL Judging Problem #1

On page 82 of the WSL rulebook, in Chapter 13, are the rules pertaining to judging WSL events. Here’s a screen grab from the section relevant to how judges score waves.

From the information contained in Section 13.05 above, I have taken that info and used it to create a scoring rubric, seen below.

If you’re not familiar with these things called rubrics, they’re just fancy info charts often used for scoring. Especially in academia land. They normally resemble something like the one below, which my university writing department uses to grade student essays. 

Comparing the two rubrics, it’s not too hard to see the problem with the WSL one, is it? 

Yep, it’s fucking blank. 

It’s got the five scoring categories along the top and the breakdown of scores down the left side… and that’s it. 

From the rule book, page eighty-two, this is what we get regarding judging and wave-scoring. A few ambiguous bullet points devoid of any detail or elaboration whatsoever. 

And when converted into standard rubric form, it’s completely fucking empty! 

This is where I become concerned. 

When your scoring rubric is completely empty and missing some scoring accoutrements that might serve to help or guide the presiding judges, how can you tell me that the scores the judges are coming up with in WSL events, including WCT events, are anything more than a hopeful, ambitious guess? 

How can they be anything else when you’re working from a blank page?

Tell me, according to the WSL judging rubric above, what separates a “Good” score and a “Very Good” score in terms of Commitment and Degree of Difficulty? 


How do you know a score is “Excellent” in the Combination of Major Maneuvers category? 


Why is something only “Fair”, and not “Good” when it comes to Speed, Power and Flow? 


Then compare the WSL’s rubric and with my uni’s essay writing rubric, and you see the difference. 

Unlike the WSL’s blank rubric, all the categories have information for graders to draw upon. 

In addition, the info included in the rubric is just the bare bones. We also have full booklets regarding each category and each square to help our marking be as accurate and consistent as possible. 

For example, in the Lexis (Vocabulary) category, we use the New General Service List (NGSL) as our standard. The NGSL is the most widely accepted and cited vocab list in English language learning. It lists the 2,800 most basic, commonly used words in English, starting from “the” at Number 1, down to “thirst” at Number 2,801. 

Therefore, when scoring the “Lexis” category, we look for fancy words in the essay that are outside the top 2,800 words from the NGSL.

For instance, if a student writes “The WSL judging system is calamitous”, then that will score well. 


Firstly, ‘cause “calamitous” is a great word that sits way outside the top 2,800 word list and, secondly, ‘cause he student has used the word in its correct adjectival form, “calamitous”, as opposed to  “calamity”, the noun form.  

What do the WSL judges have in their grading rubric? Nada. Zero. A blank page. 

That being the case, I come back to my initial point, how can the scores that the judges give for every single wave be anything but a hopeful, calculated guess?

Big problem.

The WSL Judging Problem #2

This ain’t the only issue. 

In the WSL’s official rulebook, and specifically in Chapter 13 related to judging, there’s no clear info about whether the five categories that surfers are judged on are equally weighted or not. 

Is Speed, Power and Flow as important as Variety of Maneuvers?

Is Innovative and Progressive Maneuvers deemed equally as crucial as Combination of Major Maneuvers? 

On page 82, the rulebook states, “It’s important to note that the emphasis of certain elements is contingent upon the location and the conditions on the day, as well as changes of conditions during the day.”

Very ambiguous, and perhaps a deviously cunning way to remain vague regarding distribution of scores for a surfer’s waves. 

Don’t say which category’s more, or less, important, then lean on whichever one serves your defence the best.  

However, when you take the whole “maybe, might, possibly, could; never commit and everything’s good” approach, you will always come unstuck, eventually.  

So let me give you a perfect example of why such a lack of clarity illustrates how murky and inconsistent the WSL judging can be. 

The video below is of Griffin Colapinto at Haleiwa in 2019. 

Dying seconds and he takes off on a closeout and chucks a huge frontside air. Lands it perfectly. Crowds cheer. Ross Williams in the commentary box loves it. Lots of wows. Clutch. Gets a 9.93/10. Three out of five judges give him a 10. 

Watching live, you might get caught up in the excitement of it all. 

However, objectively, we all know Haleiwa ain’t no one-turn wave. Never has been. And wasn’t on this day.

So you can immediately chuck out the whole, “It’s important to note that the emphasis of certain elements is contingent upon the location and the conditions on the day” caveat in the WSL rulebook. 

It’s Haleiwa.

We have a problem. Let’s go to the judges’ scoring categories. 

Commitment and Degree of Difficulty? 10 all day.
Innovative and Progressive Maneuvers? Pretty massive, let’s give him a 10.
Combination of Major Maneuvers? That’s a no. It was a one-turn closeout Hail Mary air. 

Variety of Maneuvers? No again. Just one air. 

Speed, Power and Flow? Objectively, no. It was a take-off to half-face bottom turn to massive air. But we might argue the case. 

Thus, even with our empty, blank rubric above, Griffin only adhered to 2/5 category criteria. Combination of Major Maneuvers wasn’t there, nor was Variety of Maneuvers. Even if you make the argument for Speed, Power and Flow successfully, it’s still only 3/5 criteria met. 

So how can he get a 9.93, including a 10 from three of the judges, when he only met 2/5 scoring criteria categories, or 3/5 at best on a reef wave that allows surfers multiple turns? 

To hammer my point home, here’s John John’s 10 at the most recent 2021 Haleiwa contest.

Frontside air to tail slide into a big layback hack into a nice tube and finished off with a faultless, frontside air reverse on the closeout section. 

Commitment and Degree of Difficulty? Yep
Innovative and Progressive Maneuvers? Yep
Combination of Major Maneuvers? Yep

Variety of Maneuvers? Yep

Speed, Power and Flow? Yep

JJF’s wave meets all criteria, he gets a 10. Fair enough. Griffin’s wave meets 3/5 criteria at best, he gets a 9.93. At the same location. 


More specifically, who is actually affected and why is it such a big problem?

The Stakeholders

Pro Surfers: How often do we see surfers in heats frustrated, baffled, or incandescent with rage when they hear the scores announced over the loudspeaker? Pretty much every round of every contest. It sure makes it hard to please the judges when the judges don’t have anything to look at or guide you with. 

You want to know how detached from reality the scoring is for surfers? 

Watch this video of JJF and Jordy discussing all things surfing and contests.

From the four-minute mark, they talk judging and scores and both vehemently agree that the most important thing in a heat, without a shadow of doubt, is making sure you’re on the best wave.  

Slight problem. Wave selection isn’t even in the five categories the judges use to score a wave.

Is that not the most insane thing you’ve ever come across in competitive sports at an organisational level?

The most important thing in a heat, according to two superstars of the sport, is a factor not even listed in the official WSL rulebook related to judging?

The Judges: I feel sorry for the judges. How are you supposed to adjudicate with any degree of consistent accuracy when your help guide is a blank page?

As someone in a similar position, I can tell you, unequivocally, those rubrics are indispensable lifesavers.

How so?

Imagine sitting in your office happily browsing BeachGrit when your door is suddenly assailed by furious bashing and crashing. Little Johnny is waving his essay in the air demanding to know why he got a D.

In those moments, there ain’t nothing like calmly, confidently pulling out those rubrics and asking Johnny to take a seat.
The conversation, paraphrased, then goes something like this:
“Oi, Johnny, did your essay have this?”
“Then fuck off and cry somewhere else. And fix your fucking essay”

What can WSL judges show the surfers when they storm the judging tower?

A blank page full of empty boxes?

The Expert Fans: You can’t con the longtime fans who know their surfing inside out. Judging controversies and blowups on social media don’t make the sport more interesting, or engaging.

Ridiculous scoring turns the hardcore fans away.

The Novice Fans: If you’re trying to attract new people, you’ve gotta be able to explain to them exactly what’s happening on a wave and why a surfer is getting X score and Y score. Commentators can’t do that ‘cause their guess is as good, or bad, as anyone else’s.

If the new fans can’t grasp what is going on, they won’t stick around.

The Commentators: They’re in a hard position because they have to explain to the viewer what the surfer’s doing and how they’ll be rewarded. Nothing like making yourself look like a giant peckerhead in front of thousands of people on air when you give a wave a six and the judges give it a nine. Or vice-versa.

Commentators should be able to predict, with confidence, what the scores will be and be able to break down exactly why.

Especially for the novice fan.

Right now, they can’t do that with any kind of confidence so you get the endless drivel dished up that’s so often meaningless and banal, and, at times, humiliating for the commentators.

The WSL: Old Man Ziff and Cocaine Cowboy handsome E-Lo and all the characters up at Santa Monica HQ might have delusions of grandeur, but if you can’t get your scoring right, nothing progresses.


Disinterest and  indifference to pro surfing is at all-time high. Yeah, more people are in the water, but they ain’t marching to the WSL’s tune.

The WSL website is seldom even in the top five  surfing websites according to most available metrics.

How do they think they’re going to attract new global fans when judges, surfers, commentators, and fans can’t really explain the scoring, and it often makes no sense?

The Solution

The good thing is that there is so much room for improvement.

The first step’s pretty obvious, fill in the blank rubric.

It also needs to work with the judges on inter-rater reliability and (re)examine the categories’ cause I imagine their internal consistency would currently be a mess.

From there, I’ll let the BeachGrit commentariat add their views in the comments section.

But if you really want to know every step necessary, send me an email at: [email protected] and I’ll tell you how to fix it.