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.

Slater (right) shows John John how his legs will move when he's walking out the door. Photo: Steve Sherman @tsherms.
Slater (right) shows John John how his legs will move when he's walking out the door. Photo: Steve Sherman @tsherms.

Question: Will the world’s greatest surfer Kelly Slater retire in jaw-dropping fashion if he beats John John Florence to become Billabong’s Pipeline Pro 2022?

One more for the road!

I full well thought that the World Surf League was going to run some Billabong Pipeline Pro today and was happy that they did not for I was indisposed but did anyone steal down to Ehukai’s sand and peek at the lineup? Was it any worse than, say, historic day two when the women were trotted out to equality?

Well, happy, nonetheless and happy, also, that yesterday was a lay because it found me first in San Clemente, chatting with David Lee Scales, and second in Studio City at a famed old western recording facility speaking my next book onto tape (buy here).

But back to Lee Scales. He is convinced that if Kelly Slater becomes 2022’s Billabong Pipeline Pro in pumping surf, beating John John Florence in the final, as they are on opposite sides of the draw, he will retire.

Slater (left) waving goodbye to Florence.
Slater (left) waving goodbye to Florence.

As his reasoning goes, Slater has been vocal about Sunset, the next wave up, not being his favorite. Then, if things hold, he won’t be able to travel to Australia. With the mid-year cut looming and no throw-aways allowed, will the world’s greatest surfer let himself fade into oblivion or will he take this glorious moment to see himself out?

The tour seems as much a part of Slater’s DNA as chia pudding so I think he’ll slink around for another decade plus but what do you think?

Is this it for the BOAT?

We discuss this and whether or not a man should shake hands before entering a room. I think yes, always. David Lee is all about shedding antiquated custom.

Listen here.

Surfing officially included in the Los Angeles 2028 Summer Olympic Games; San Clemente, Huntington Beach, Malibu ready for war!

Youthful energy.

It is official. After making its 2020 Olympic debut at Tokyo, surfing (along with skateboarding and rock climbing), will be part of the 2028 Los Angeles Games and has been approved on Paris 2024’s “additional” list.

With Brisbane set to host the 2032 sporting festival, it is likely that professional surfers will be winning gold, silver and bronze for the decade to come.


Regarding Los Angeles, Casey Wasserman, chairman of the L.A. organizing committee, said, “The LA28 Games have always been about bringing more freshness, youthful energy and creativity into the Olympic and Paralympic movement.”

Fernando Aguerre, president of the surfing’s international federation, added, “We have always known that surfing was a natural fit for LA28. As the official sport of California, surfing is action, youth and energy combined.”


Now, where do you think the surfing will be staged?

Lower Trestles in beautiful San Clemente?

Iconic Malibu a pleasant drive north?

Surf City, USA Huntington Beach?

I’d imagine knives are being sharpened in the various city halls.

I’d imagine civil war is nigh.

I’m about to go walkabout for a couple of days and so won’t be here to share in the deep reverie of the live comment section, nor watch the action conclude. I’ll be hiking into a remote Scottish glen in a storm, with friends, some firewood and a bottle of  whisky each to keep us warm. A fifteen-year-old Dalmore for me. 

Prize surf journalist sensationally heads off for two-day spirit walk on eve of “the greatest surf competition ever!”

"I’ll be hiking into a remote Scottish glen in a storm, with friends, some firewood and a bottle of  whisky each to keep us warm."

On the eve of the conclusion to the Greatest Surf Competition Ever, or whatever name the WSL hype train will surely throw at it, I must apologise.

I’m about to go walkabout for a couple of days and so won’t be here to share in the deep reverie of the live comment section, nor watch the action conclude.

I’ll be hiking into a remote Scottish glen in a storm, with friends, some firewood and a bottle of whisky each to keep us warm. A fifteen-year-old Dalmore for me.

So, apologies.

This has been planned for a while and in recent days I did consider the possibility of abandoning the certain cold of two days in the wilderness in favour of the warmth of your wit and joie de vivre. I am enjoying finding my way in this, and I appreciate you as an audience.

I even made a spreadsheet to work out the time differences, should I continue.

And on a spreadsheet tip, friends and gamblers, here’s a handy bracket you can use now and going forward to work out how to lose your money best. If you go to “File” then “Make a copy” you’ll have one of your own.

Thoughts at this juncture…has Pipe been an unequivocal success?

How much of that is thanks to the WSL, and how much is simply chance and nature? Is every surf contest guaranteed to be superb when the waves march in?

The WSL spin and general self-congratulatory back-slapping is surely going to be unbearable in the wake of this competition. They might appear vindicated in shifting the comp forward and holding it first instead of last. We’re certainly off to a roaring start.

But what we’ve enjoyed has been the sheer, raw bravery of man (and woman) vs nature.

Most of us, if we’re honest, can picture those brutally perfect sets approaching the Pipe line up like a charge of valkyries and thank fuck we’re not sitting in their path.

How many of us wouldn’t like to tippity toe over Trestles’ cobblestones and waft some warm, crumbly liplines?

It’s a different ball game entirely.

And imagine: 2022 World Champion, Filipe Toledo.

How does that sit with you?

Anyway, once my spirit walk is over this weekend I’ll be catching up in full and parsing the salient points of what will surely be an epic conclusion. I’m looking forward to it.

Wish me luck.

The forecast is for snow, 50-60 mph north-westerlies and -16C.

Perhaps I’ll meet Macbeth’s witches, and perhaps they’ll tell me that one day my words will be king, and that I might write like I’m on Swellnet.

A man might dream.

“Art not without ambition”, and perhaps I’ll return with the illness to attend it.

“Handsome ginger-haired” world number ten surfer in wild deja vu moment as he rescues two drowning girls from same beach he saved six nurses four years earlier!

Eight lives saved in two separate rescues at same beach!

The former world number ten surfer, Bryce Ellis, has experienced a wild case of deja vu, literally “already seen”, on Monday when he saved two drowning teenage girls from a rip at Yamba, a pretty fishing town a little south of Byron Bay.

Ellis, who is fifty-eight and who was described, a little unfairly I think, as “ginger-haired” in Matt Warshaw’s Encyclopedia of Surfing, was fishing at Yamba’s Main Beach when he saw the girls jump into a rip at the northern end of the beach.

Ellis handed his fishing pole to a bystander and jumped, fully clothed, into the drink.

With the help of a nearby surfer, the pair saved the two kids.

“They were a little bit anxious I think,” Ellis told ABC News. “Whenever you go into an oxygen debt, I think, it does get a bit frightening… You’ve either got to get to the sandbank or let it take its course or wash over to the rocks… It really rockets out … it looks like beautiful water but there’s a certain spot where it does get very strong and it drops off.”

Four years earlier in 2018, same scenario, Ellis was fishing when he heard screams and saw a group of six nurses caught in the same rip.

“I don’t think they had very good swimming skills,” he said. “One of the five women had gone under a few times and had swallowed water.”

Ellis swam out, worked out who was in most danger, and, collecting ’em in pairs, eventually got all six women safely to shore, a feat that earned him a bravery award.

Bryce, looking sorta ginger now, gets his award in 2018 from a fellow ranger.

In the citation it was said the event could have “easily turned into a major search operation.”

Ellis says respecting the ocean and knowing your limits is real important, something 1984’s rookie of the year has always lived by.

In 1986, Ellis and fellow Australian Gary Green withdrew from the opening round of the Billabong Pro at Waimea Bay because the surf was too big.

The wonderful Mara Wolford, RIP, was Bryce’s girl in 1986 and wrote poetically about the moment.

Bryce would never live that morning down. There was a North Shore winter, a couple of years later, when Bryce and I stayed in a house right on the Bay. One morning, the friend we were rooming with woke me at dawn to go surf Pinballs, when it was just starting to cap on the Bay reef proper, so that when Bryce woke up the first thing he saw see was me out in the lineup. I had fun out there. Not until later did I discover that our friend’s motivation was to poke fun at Bryce.

It went on for years. There were articles, lots of heckling and jokes, and a perceptible freeze-out from the world tour’s League of Titans. It is crystal-clear to me now, however, and has been for decades, that Bryce did exactly as he should have that morning at the Billabong contest. He followed his own judgement, listened to his better, and acted on logic and experience—or lack thereof.

There is nothing stronger or more elegant than a man who doesn’t bow to the crowd.