The incomparable Jamie Brisick on Malibu heavy Jonah Hill, greatest surfer of all-time Kelly Slater and the indescribable joy of male pedicures!

Also surfing perpetually eating itself.

Jamie Brisick is an absolute gift. We don’t deserve the one-time professional surfer turned the best writer our world has ever produced but somehow, someway, we have him. Brisick’s intelligence, wit, work ethic, boundless curiosity and surf skill give him an entirely unique perspective, one that he graciously shares, one that he graciously shared with David Lee Scales and me when he stopped by for weekly chat.

Oh, I know this podcast is not your favorite favorite. That’s ok as my singular gift is thick skin, alongside my other singular gift of turning one small rumor into ten stories, but Brisick is worth a listen. On the boil? Malibu heavy Jonah Hill and probable hypocrisy, Kelly Slater never saying die, the joy of male pedicures and why surfing insists on eating itself.

You can, and should, also read Brisick’s latest in The Wall Street Journal.

Also, listen here.

Baz Mamiya, world number one.

Unfancied Hawaiian surfer shocks world’s best to win Sunset Beach event and steal tour lead from Kelly Slater, “Barron Mamiya has a power so evident there’s no need for theatrics, a quiet, smooth violence that greatly appeals!”

As we leave the North Shore a Hawaiian surfer who hasn’t qualified stands on top of the world, and that, ladies and gentlemen, may be an anomaly but it is not a fluke.

Finals day it was. A day where the waves will go unremembered but some sharp surfing from athletes we’re just getting to know, and perhaps beginning to love, might linger a little longer.

I worked myself into a hole early. I’d began the day with my head high and chest puffed like Ultimate Surfer Zeke Lau as he made his way to the water.

Ppppffffffff…Caio Ibelli. Both of us were thinking.

Nice run, now off home to say your prayers and comb your hair forward.

But we forgot about God.

Apparently He had infiltrated the judge’s tower. The eight-point ride awarded for Caio’s opening ride seemed like it could only have come from the land of make-believe.

Just on judging for a minute…I don’t want to dwell on it for fear of madness or smite, but it was typically erratic for the whole competition.

Why, in God’s name, can they not just get this fundamental element right? No-one’s expecting it to be perfect, but everyone expects it to be better.

They might start with a little accountability. Let’s see the judges, let’s hear from them. We want justification, transparency. You know, normal expectations of people empowered to make high-stakes decisions.

Do they review heats and produce reports? If I was an athlete or coach I’d demand it.

Or do they just get to hide in their ivory tower and toy with us? It’s no wonder god felt at home. The judging stand looked plush, like a house, said Joe. They’ve got a kitchen apparently. And presumably a massive fridge crammed full of booze.

Ultimate Surfer Zeke Lau’s loss in the first heat of the day drove a stake through my bruised and bloodied chances of redemption. After that I chased it, as you do.

Joe told us “a lot of Caio jerseys have been flying off the shelves”. It was a classic Joe Turpel segue, otherwise known as an outright lie.

Sorry if you think that’s slanderous, Joey, but I’d defy you to prove otherwise.

Barron dispatched Seth in quarter final two. I noted that Barron continued to look like he belongs here, and that was about the only thing I got right.

The WSL bucked a trend by interviewing some losers today, though notably only the nice ones. Seth Moniz spoke after his loss and appears infinitely likeable. I enjoy his surfing and the way he carries himself. Correct me if you think I’m wrong, but is he not one of the few surfers without a glaring weak spot in his game?

The universal and dizzying love affair with Ethan Ewing was in full effect next. It’s a cultish following, and although I’ve begun to understand it a little, he could become the most annoying name on Tour through no fault of his own.

Barton said we watch him surf and say aaaaaahhh, uuuhhhhhh and OOOhuuuhhhaaa…

So do the deities in the tower, apparently.

At some point Barton mentioned prizemoney. He said he’d been asked how much you got for a quarter final finish and admitted to having no idea, before finding out later it was 16k. Not bad, he reckoned. I’d disagree.

Prize money has always seemed like another big WSL hush, hush. Likely due to the embarrassing recognition that it’s utter chicken feed in comparison to other sports.

So, just to out them, here it is: $80k for a win; $45k for 2nd; $25k for a losing semi-finalist; $16k for getting to a quarter-final; $13k for going out in the round of 16; $10k for round of 32; and $9750 for a 33rd place finish.

(It bumps up slightly after the cut).

Incidentally, whilst trawling the rule book to find this, I also discovered that a surfer might be fined $2k for failing to attend a press conference if requested, including post-heat interview. This seems to give them licence to talk to the losers, particularly the sore and angry ones, and this would be a massive improvement going forward.

On hang on, there’s a slight issue with this further down the rulebook. Apparently a surfer might be fined up to $10k(!) for “using profanity on broadcast of event or media interview”.

Puritan cunts.

Which brings me to Kanoa, who dispatched Jack Robbo in the last quarter final. A shame given Robbo’s aesthetically pleasing dominance when the waves are firing, but inevitable given today’s conditions.

Kanoa surfed well today. His turn in the semi against Ethan was spectacular and he was a deserving winner. I actually thought he was underscored a bit overall in this heat and Ethan “Golden Child” Ewing was conversely overscored.

Can I tell you a secret? I don’t hate Kanoa’s surfing.

It can be sharp and clinical, maybe a little too much at times, but that’s surely nitpicking. He does carry himself a bit weird, his claims are distasteful and his fashion sense is an abomination, but I’m going to try and ignore that stuff in future. Maybe.

But the day was won by Barron Mamiya, and perhaps a little of our hearts, too.

An injury-replacement surfer stealing a win is always a good story, and whilst many would have expected the local boy to be in the mix at Pipe, few might have expected his strongest result to come just along the beach.

If the conditions were suspect for finals day, Mamiya’s surfing was not. Beyond that, he was a standout throughout the comp – big and unruly, clean and rippable, or marginal like today, Mamiya slayed it all.

Usually when an unheralded surfer goes a long way we might point to elements of luck or controversy that pushed them on, not so with Barron. I can’t remember a single score that seemed juiced or unreasonable.

It would be a tough call for the WSL to deny him the opportunity to compete for the rest of the year.

As we leave the North Shore a Hawaiian surfer who hasn’t qualified stands on top of the world, and that, ladies and gentlemen, may be an anomaly but it is not a fluke.

Barron Mamiya seems every bit a surfer we might enjoy supporting. He seemed composed, intelligent, measured. There’s something tiger-like in his demeanour, a power so evident that there’s no need for theatrics. There’s a quiet, smooth violence about his surfing that greatly appeals.

Barron’s win put me squarely even for the day but roundly trounced for the comp overall.

This morning the weather is bright and clear, a brief window of calm before the approaching storms.

I’m going splitboarding to wash off some of the filth.

See you in Portugal?

A prime hunk of Byron Bay dirt.

Australian pro surfer nearly killed in bizarre wipeout at Pipeline reveals wildly lucrative development plans for Byron Bay beach shack bought for bullish $5.1 million!

How to roll five-mill into twelve… 

A few years back Owen Wright, the one-time world title contender who suffered a delayed brain injury after a wipeout at Pipeline in 2015 that was so bad docs told him he’d never surf again, spent $A5.1 million on a an unremarkable beach shack five hundred yards from the Pass in Byron Bay. 

Of course, Owen, who is thirty-two and whose plume of golden hair, swooning eyes and bullfighter’s body suggest teen idol more than real estate developer, saw more than an idyllic little timber house surrounded by almost half-an-acre of grass and trees.


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A post shared by Owen Wright (@owright)

And, a few hours ago, Owen revealed what the joint is going to look like after the bulldozers and tradies have done their biz: two luxury beachside villas.

“When Daniels street hit the market, the vision I saw was keen long boarders surfing the pass every morning or doing the lighthouse walk, parents teaching their groms to surf in kid friendly waves and then getting their own barrels around the corner at Tallows,” wrote Owen. “Walking the kids to school up the street passing Top Shop cate for their morning coffees.

“Dreams aside I knew I had to bring this vision to life for the families in Byron who want to live on the best street in town or for anyone who has always wanted to move to Byron. So I partnered with @burkeurban Developments and @integrapartnerships . As soon as I met the family run business with @eliza.r.teague and @ben__teague , I could see the passion that they had for this thriving town, moving their young family here as I have done. We all had such a similar view on what we could see the property becoming and they had multiple, successful and award winning developments behind them. Their knowledge of this space and @hoggandlamb masterful architecture it gave me the opportunity to see this vision come to life.” 

The two villas will be yet another play in Owen’s expansive property portfolio.

You’ll remember the $1.6 million house at Lennox Head with its indoor swimming pool that meandered through the living room,  the Federation-style house in Byron Bay (a little under a million), the beachfront townhouse at Thirroul (675,000) and the gorgeous mountain-top hideaway (bought for 750k, sold for a million).

I doubt if we’ll see a family like the Wrights within surfing ever again, at least in my lifetime.

Three surfers on the tour, including a duel world champ, and all of ’em with their own aesthetic.

For added spice, mysterious illnesses have derailed two thirds of the pack. These include Owen’s aforementioned so-rare-it-didn’t-have-a-name delayed brain trauma that resulted in a push for compulsory helmets and Tyler’s potentially career-ending Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.

Ongoing spinal issues with Mikey, meanwhile, has kept that firecracker’s fuse unlit.

Visit the real estate pages, here, to examine closely Owen’s new development or browse the photos below.

I’m guessing six-ish mill apiece.


Open Thread: Comment Live on possible Final’s Day of the Hurley Pro Sunset Beach presented by Shiseido!

Unzipped souls, spread wares.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve fallen in love with Sunset all over again. Today, I read a post from surfing’s eminent, and only, historian Matt Warshaw detailing the late, great Michael Tomson’s love for the wave. The Gotcha founder and beautiful wordsmith wrote that Sunset, “unzips your soul and spreads your wares out for all to see.”

I love Tomson (buy here) and how great is that? Watch the unzipping, the spreading, here or here (unless the World Surf League pulls the plug again) and discuss with the finest batch of derelicts the internet has ever produced below. Plug will never be pulled here. Sorry ’bout it.

Goldschmidt (left) in happier-ish times.

Controversy explodes over “horrible, incompetent” snowboard judging during Winter Olympics drawing ex-World Surf League CEO, current President of U.S. Ski & Snowboard Sophie Goldschmidt back into uncomfortable extreme sport fire!

"Just when I thought I was out... they pull me back in" etc.

Our World Surf League was, not long ago, ruled by a British sporting executive with a tennis background and zero experience in surf nor skate nor snow. Sophie Goldschmidt was tasked, maybe, with professionalizing the whole business and was successful in erecting the now-famous Wall of Positive Noise as well as hiring the equally now-famous “Backward Fin” Beth Greve.

Goldschmidt was only at the helm for a year? A little more? before quietly casting off and leaving our game in the hands of an ex-Oprah Winfrey executive with a penchant for sparkling white Vans and paddleboards.

Now, it has been argued that one doesn’t need to deeply feel this surfing, to know it in any real way, in order to understand the business side but I’d counter argue that the stumbling, fumbling, bumbling since the Association of Surfing Professionals was re-branded as the World Surf League and stocked with well-educated know-nothings proves otherwise.

Well, as it so happens, Goldschmidt is now President and CEO of U.S. Ski & Snowboarding, the official national governing body for Olympic skiing and snowboarding in the United States, and, as it were, controversy has erupted over the horrible, incompetent judging during these almost wrapped Beijing Games.

In men’s Slopestyle, for example, Mark McMorris was robbed of a gold medal when the judges blatantly missed winner Max Parrot not grabbing his board and in men’s halfpipe Japan’s Ayumu Hirano performed the most difficult run in snowboarding history and was massively underscored, having to reprise the same run, going even bigger, to convince the judges and stem furious gasps.

Snowboarding, unlike surfing, has no Wall of Positive Noise and Todd Richards, in the booth for NBC, was apoplectic, directly calling out the judges, insisting on multiple replays to show how wrong they got it, generally losing his mind.

It was a great and complete shame for snowboarding, called correctly by Richards who comes from the very core, and snowboarders from all countries lit up social media with the Olympic snowboarders weighing in too.

U.S. Ski & Snowboard is, obviously, not responsible for the judging errors but will certainly feel pressure from its snowboarding constituents to make profound changes or, better, free them from “ski” and allow them to form their own union. Goldschmidt, not core, will be very much in the center dealing with livid extreme sporters firing sling and arrows, calling for blood, just like she was in her surfing days.

I don’t think she enjoyed it then.

I don’t think she will enjoy it now.

“Just when I thought I was out… they pull me back in” etc.