Teenage girl in horror shark attack at notorious Western Australian beach where Great Whites have claimed the lives of two surfers in the past five years!

"You’ve got a situation where the numbers of Great Whites have built right back up again. I don’t think a lot of people understand that. The numbers are very high."

The inhabitants of Esperance, a holiday hamlet seven hundred clicks south of Perth, are in shock today, or maybe not considering it’s become a regular occurrence, after a teenage girl was attacked by a suspected Great White at Kelpies, a pretty stretch of sand on an impossibly pretty stretch of coastline.

Shortly before the attack, a ten-foot Great White was sighted at the same beach.

 The eighteen-year-old is reported to’ve suffered a “seri9us shark bite” and has been flown to Perth for surgery. 

WA’s Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) says it is “currently investigating a reported shark bite incident at Kelp Beds in the Shire of Esperance. Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) are currently involved in assisting Rangers from the Shire of Esperance with a serious shark bite incident at Kelp Beds, Wylie Bay in the Shire of Esperance. DPIRD is working with local authorities and further information will be provided as it becomes available.”

Kelpies has history. 

In October 2020, well-known local surfer Andrew Sharper was killed, no, disappeared by a Great White. 

A local surfer said he was taken “almost whole. The body is just fucking gone.”

Esperance local, Jess Anne, was swimming with her kid a kilometre away and said the water turned red.

Teenager Laticia Brouwers died in front of her family after being hit by a Great White in 2017, Sean Pollard, 23, had an arm and another hand bitten off by a Great White in 2014 and it’s just a few clicks away from where diver Gary Johnson was killed by a White in January, 2020.

Diver Greg Pickering, who’s been hit twice by sharks, the last a Great White in Esperance in 2013, called for a cull after Laticia Brouwers was hit warning, then, that WA could expect “more of the same” unless action was taken to reduce growing shark numbers.

An abalone diver for forty years, he told PerthNow, “There wasn’t any. You never saw them. That’s changed now. You’ve got a situation where the numbers have built right back up again. I don’t think a lot of people understand that. The numbers are very high. I’d say they’re similar to what they were in the 1960s. I’ve seen more sharks over the last few years than in the 20 or 30 years before that.”

The Western Australian premier Mark McGowan is currently preparing a press release saying, and I paraphrase here, nothing to see here, no need to panic, shark attacks are merely a result of man entering the beast’s domain, no evidence of increased numbers etc.

Slater writes a little more history.

Greatest athlete ever Kelly Slater wins world’s most prestigious surfing contest, one week before his fiftieth birthday! “This is a sporting miracle!”

Three decades after his first win at Pipeline, aged twenty, Kelly Slater snatches Billabong Pro Pipeline.

Thirty years after his first win at Pipeline, and in imperfect six-to-ten-foot waves, Kelly Slater has waltzed through the pack to win the Billabong Pro Pipeline, and take the number one slot in the world tour rankings. 

Slater, who ain’t one to shirk from a confrontation, began the final against Seth Moniz in a manner reminiscent of his semi with Miguel Pupo where he nailed the Brazilian with a paddling interference; this time, Moniz figured discretion was the better part of valour if you’ll excuse the shameful use of Shakespearean English, and let Kelly own the Backdoor closeout. 

It wasn’t the only closeout, with early exchanges ending with each surfer unable to find the holes in the bitch’s fishnets. 

Ultimately, Slater, looking like an old-school bull dagger with his thick neck and shaved head, rimmed Backdoor for a pair of nines which would be the difference between the two.

“This is the most aggressive I’ve ever seen Kelly Slater for a long time… he looks like a young buck… bringing the pain,” said in-water reporter Strider “Attack Dog Tits” Wasilewski.

Between sobs Slater said, “I committed my life to this.”

JP Currie’s analysis of the day to follow shortly. 

Open Thread: Comment Live on Final’s Day of the Billabong Pipeline Pro!

Day of days.

A hero(ine) will rise today and be crowned a Pipeline Pro. Does it carry as much weight as a Pipeline Master? Yes but also the World Surf League really messed that one up. In any case, it has been a thrilling event and historic too. Enjoy once more here or here. Chat with your best friends in the whole wide world below.

Kelly, 50 years old and 15 pounds above fighting weight, precision-dropped into his first wave of the contest, at Backdoor, pulled in, spelunked his way to daylight and finished with a rainmaking forehand carve, earning an 8.57 score from the judges and a pathetic flip-flopping cheer from yours truly.

Warshaw: “Kelly Slater continues to be a gnat-sized existential crisis flying inside my head. It started with the wavepool, but the buzzing gets louder with each of his new anti-vax vaporings!”

"Slater, in middle age, is anti-factual, irresponsible, and flagrantly narcissistic."

I fired this piece up last Saturday, mid-afternoon, during John Florence’s Round One heat at Pipeline, and while my feelings for the WSL remain as Pushme-Pullyu as ever, my God it feels great to again be CT live-streaming.

Professional surfing is radically, stupidly untrue to the surfing experience I’ve been living for the past three-plus decades. But along with Mason Ho clips, CT events have long been the only form of surf media I dependably enjoy—and Mason is a distant second, because the stream is both real-time and communal, and logging onto the BeachGrit comments thread this morning felt like walking into Cheers.

That said, and while the Round One surf is incredible, this is not 100% entertainment and uplift and femur-splitting tubes. WSL commentary is mealier and more corpo-speak than ever, hours pass before any surfers are actually eliminated, and I’m never more than a few minutes away from being irritated anew that Pipe is the 2022 season opener, rather than the closer, as God and logic intended.

Kelly Slater, meanwhile, continues to be a gnat-sized existential crisis flying inside my head. It started with the wavepool, but the buzzing gets louder with each of his new anti-vax vaporings, especially during the recent Novak Djokovic episode (“The Left hates logic,” Slater said in the comments section of a covid-related NYT Instagram post, adding, “It’s very clear vaccinations will not fix this situation.”), at which point I had no choice but to Neil Young my entire catalog of affection and respect for Slater.

Or that’s what I thought, anyway.

Kelly, 50 years old and 15 pounds above fighting weight, precision-dropped into his first wave of the contest, at Backdoor, pulled in, spelunked his way to daylight and finished with a rainmaking forehand carve, earning an 8.57 score from the judges and a pathetic flip-flopping cheer from yours truly.

Slater, in middle age, is anti-factual, irresponsible, and flagrantly narcissistic. But in those stretched-out moments at Backdoor, live and during the many replays to follow, watching this aging surf Jedi weave through the shadows, calm and utterly in control, I am tractor-beamed into wanting his score to go higher, and hoping that he stays on track this week all the way to the winner’s podium. This feeling leaps right over the thought process.

Then regret follows, and for a while (as in right now) the two overlap and I am as ungrounded as Buster Keaton doing the splits between two moving cars.

Reigning world champion Gabe Medina pulled out of the Masters, saying he is “not well” and has “emotional issues to deal with.” As with Slater, I have at times struggled to get past the Gabe’s politics (this video hookup with Bolsonaro and Bibi being the low point), but I have an appreciation that borders on awe for his no-fucks-given hitman approach to competition, and his polite but staunch refusal to play the happy back-slapping world champ.

What all WCT-level surfers do while competing not surfing as we commoners know it, and to repeat what I said at the top of the page, it is in many respects a perversion of the sport. I just want to get wet, raise the heart rate, and if possible snuggle up to a little piece of Zen; championship Tour surfers are doing parkour while sidearming ninja throwing-stars. Fun is not completely off the menu for a title-contending pro, but it is secondary to winning, and Medina understands this better than any pro surfer I’ve ever seen.

He is a bullshit-free competitor, and whatever his underlying reasons are for taking time off—working through issues with his family, dropping all that heavy world-tour armor, not traveling, removing himself from everybody’s expectations (his own included), checking in to see if he still loves surfing for its own sake (my guess is all of these things)—it speaks well of Medina, the most private of athletes, to enter this key juncture of his life and career with what appears to be a bullshit-free attitude.

If Medina never comes back to the CT, that’s fine. He is the best all-around competitor of his generation by a wide margin, and a fourth world title would only underline this fact, not establish it.

I expect Medina will return, though, and there are plenty of examples from surfing’s past to suggest he’ll in fact come back stronger. Tom Curren had his most dominant year as a competitor after a one-year layoff. Joey Cabell more or less quit surfing twice (once to work on cars, once to open the Chart House), and returned stronger both times, both as a free-surfer and a competitor. Margo Oberg won a world title, failed to defend, dropped out for five years, and came back to win another three titles. And Mark Occhilupo’s mental health break may have saved his life, and the return that followed is surfing’s greatest comeback story.

The thing you don’t want to do, as Andy Irons proved, is come back before the work is done.

(You like this? Matt Warshaw delivers a surf essay every Sunday, PST. All of ’em a pleasure to read. Maybe time to subscribe to Warshaw’s Encyclopedia of Surfing, yeah? Three bucks a month.)

Thanks for the laughs.

Online troll vows to boycott historic finals day at Billabong Pro Pipeline over commentators’ “lame analogies” and “bootlicking for the sake of complete kooks!”

A lonely protest!

I am writing this wrap up well before finals day because, face it, none of the little details matter anyway.

I was a little hesitant to submit this cause I am giving up any anonymity, but I am okay with my kook status, and I am pretty sure these guys have it figured out by now.

I rode my first wave around 45 years ago and have run the gambit from solid to full kook, sometimes in one session.

But one thing is for sure, like all of you reading this, I have been hooked ever since that first wave.

Surfing, and the ocean in general, gets me through the hard times and makes the good ones all that much sweeter. It has given me trials and triumph, humiliation and enlightenment. 

I owe my life to it.

I could spend the rest of my life looking at the ocean and never get bored and even if I am miles away and haven’t surfed for a while I am still always going to be dreaming of surfing good waves in good form.

Having said that, it pains me to say that I have no interest in any of this contest.

I used to be a contest junkie, and I still am, but like a shitty drug, it just gets old after awhile.

The only reason we put up with the WSL’s bullshit is that we just want to see good surfing, at spots we aspire to surf or are in awe of. 

And watching through a contest not only gives us that it also gives us a look at spots in their true light. No cropped, edited-to-death footage that totally masks the true nature of a surf spot.

That alone would usually keep me coming.

The competitive end of it is cool and there has been plenty over the years to remember and learn from.

But the WSL, in its never ending quest to market our way of life to people who don’t care, have managed to fuck all of that up.

I tuned in for five minutes of this event and that was more than I could take.

It was the tail end of the Pupo/Italo heat and they were surfing well, but listening to qualified surfers who don’t understand their base bootlicking for the sake of complete kooks, with the same lame analogies, while the production team gave the same beat-down angles and timing miscues, brought me to a realization: None of it really matters. The names, the dramas, the titles and who won them.

They all turn into a blur, like most of the waves I have ridden in my lifetime. It doesn’t matter if I tune in, I will always be able to see the footage later and comment accordingly like the troll that I am.

In the end, the current structure and format is incompatible to functional viewing for anyone but us and with clowns who don’t surf at the top calling the shots it is never going to get better. 

There will be epic moments and waves ridden, but at what cost to our collective sanity?

The WSL is better off going the way of the G-Land glory days, where there was plenty of time to put out a legendary documentary that had people eagerly waiting to see well before it came out, especially after hearing about it through the grapevine. 

It might not have shown all the nuances of competition and of the spot itself, but it spared us the gaffes we continually bash ourselves over the head with now.

I know we can’t go backwards, but we sure as hell ain’t going forward like this.

To whoever wins, congratulations, you earned it, maybe, provided the judges didn’t fuck it up.

But I for one have shit to get done, and if I am gonna waste a few days glued to a screen, I at least want to feel like it wasn’t all for naught. 

At this point I am more into finding waves on Google Maps that most people haven’t thought to look for.

I hope those who watch are rewarded with inspirational surfing.

Peace out to you all.

I know I said I was going to keep it short, but like the rest of my life, it didn’t work out as planned.