@sierralerback Instagram
@sierralerback Instagram

In historical first, woman beats field of men in prestigious professional surf competition thereby shattering long-held gender-based assumptions!

Let equality ring!

Yesterday, the sun set on a different Australia than the one it rose over hours earlier. A better Australia. A brighter Australia. An Australia where gender-based assumptions lay on red ground in a smoldering heap. Where equality, true equality, rang.

For yesterday a woman, Sierra Lerback from Maui, beat all-comers in the most prestigious Old Mal division of the Noosa Festival of Surfing to hoist the cup and change history.

“All-comers” referring to a who’s who of ridiculously talented males including Jared Mell, Jack Norton, Byron Chadwick and Harrison Roach.

The aforementioned Roach took to Instagram immediately, penning, “@sierralerback is the first woman in history to win the most prestigious division of the @noosa_festival_of_surfing, the Old Mal, and she’s my mate.”

Praise was universal from luminaries such as Alex Knost, Joel Tudor, Devon Howard, Robert “Wingnut” Weaver etc.

Now, students of surf journalism will be aware that I have been calling for mixed longboarding for years or maybe months. Women dance the plank as beautifully as men, even more beautifully, and so why not cast them into the same field and allow them to Battle of the Sexes regularly? I pepper World Surf League Longboard Commissioner Devon Howard with such thoughts as well anyone else who will listen.

That same World Surf League has set itself up as the most equal of governing bodies, what with equal prize money and equal-ish venues, but true equality is singular. It is one. The World Surf League Shortboard Commissioner, Jessi Miley-Dyer, has been a rumored hater of longboarders and longboarding, recently threatening to cut that tour down to one event and casting its champion into outer darkness. Will the Noosa Festival of Surfing change her mind? Help her to see the light? Miley-Dyer’s congratulatory missives were notably missing from Lerback’s accomplishment.

More as that story develops but, in the meantime, great congratulations to Sierra Lerback. May it be the first of many.

Furious monkeys.

COVID lockdowns blamed for savage monkey wars at iconic Bali surf spot Uluwatu following discovery of “rare and sacred” white monkey near death!

Usually existing in peaceful co-existence with the local people and the tourists, these simian range wars have been due to the disastrous effects of the global pandemic lockdown

A rare and sacred white monkey was discovered covered in wounds last month in Pecatu Village, South Kuta.

That’s Uluwatu, by the way.

Most people in the area consider this rare white monkey as the sacred manifestation of Hanuman, the clever hero of their religious folklore.

And the death or even minor injuries to this primate forebode disaster for the village.

And it seems they were right about the disaster part.

The white monkey suffered these injuries in clashes between the seven separate troupes of monkeys that inhabit the area surrounding Uluwatu. Usually existing in peaceful co-existence with the local people and the tourists, these simian range wars have been due to the disastrous effects of the global pandemic lockdown

The ever-present monkeys are usually both the delight and the bane of travelers with their clever thieving ways (The monkeys, not the tourists). But during the Covid era the marauding primates have had to rely on means other than the easy pickin’s from the tourists and the temple caretakers who feed them.

Emboldened by the lack of the usual human presence, the troupes have been forced to organize territorial raids on each others resources and on private villas in the area. Clearing the fruit off the trees of properties and anything else they could make off with. Outdoor picnics became primary targets in many neighborhoods.

Home invasions have been reported by a number of cliffside residents who have open plan villas or have left their dwelling windows and doors open.

One Aussie surfer returned to his rental villa and found “that they had opened my fridge and were having a hell of good time. Thank God they left the beer”.

To surfers, these wild monkeys have been an integral part of the Uluwatu experience. From the time of Morning of the Earth to our current days, the kinship surfers share with these animals is easy to see.

It was surfers who created the tourist industry of the Bukit Peninsula, changing the wild, natural monkey culture forever. And the ever-present monkeys, seemingly as carefree and as focused on simple pleasures as the surfers themselves, have always lent an exotic vibe to the cosmic tropical freedom that all surfers seek in Bali.

The good news is that extremely rare, and badly wounded white monkey has been captured and treated and is healing from his last campaign.

With tourist numbers rising as fast as a fever, a ceasefire agreement has apparently been established between the monkey troupes and new territorial boundaries have been agreed upon.

It seems it is time for all the monkeys of the Uluwatu area to heal from the wages of war.

And look to a brighter future as surfers pour back in and contribute to the balance that is so vital to the island’s culture.

Peace has fallen once again upon Uluwatu and the harmonious, if unspoken, agreements between man and beast are once again moving in greased grooves.

Says one village leader “I know the recovery of the white monkey is a positive sign. I hope we can all rise up together, the surfers, the monkey’s, the waves and us, and that the economy will come back and that all of us can recover from the disastrous conditions we have suffered”.

Get off my wave reserve, you leashless, mid-length riding sonofabitch.

New study wrongly suggests protecting waves will lead to utopia of ocean conservation, economic prosperity and human well-being!

Authors of new study forget the power of the surfer's lizard brain…

How much combined time have you put into dreaming about surfing? Into planning trips? Into sitting at airports and in airplanes and rental cars and chartered boats?

Into actually being in the water?

And, of course, into commenting on BG?

Months? Years?

Does that carry an impact?

The servers to power our phones and computers run on fossil fuels, let alone the freshwater pulled from riverine ecosystems needed to keep those servers cool.

The CO2 emissions of a cross-planet flight and diesel for ferries and boat rides or jetting off to a wave pool in the middle of Texas add their load to driving ice melt and ocean acidification, leading inexorably to those things we love eventually being destroyed.

We may not be able to have our cake, and eat it, too.

And, don’t even think about material footprints for boards, baggies, and wetsuits (unless you’re wealthy enough to afford all the “green” versions of those, which means you’re also probably taking two or five trips a year to catch waves, thus offsetting any positive impact of those consumer choices).

When younger, I was naïve to think all surfers cared about the above issues, that a wave rider’s connection to Ma Ocean and Church of Open Sky meant they intrinsically cared about the environment.

Then I found the BG community.

But hope, possibly, may still exist.

A just published study in Trends in Ecology & Evolution by Grégoire Touron-Gardic and Pierre Failler, titled A bright future for wave reserves? suggests that, per the highlighted opening, “Wave reserves, initially aimed at protecting surf spots, are becoming a way to ensure the conservation of coastal areas that are of great ecological and economic value. They foster local development and contribute to countries’ achievements toward international objectives. Several projects to implement large wave reserves are on their way.”

The authors point out that surfers have a long history of mobilizing to protect waves; that contests draw in tourists; and that tourist activities at key US surf spots generate in excess of $10 million, annually.

More importantly, they point out that, “As 90% of world-class wave locations occur within marine biodiversity hotspots and more than a quarter are located near key biodiversity areas, there is a direct link between biodiversity and wave conservation.”

Their research suggests more reserves will be proposed and become legally protected in the years to come, in large part because of their magic pudding of conservation, economic prosperity and  human well-being.

It should be noted, however, that the authors do not discuss larger trajectories ie what happens to breaks, even protected ones, which get overcrowded within 10 to 20 years.

The authors forget that surfers are selfish and greedy and that a pristine discovery does not stay that way for long.

This also creates local haves and have-nots, leading to infighting in the local community.

So, what do you think?

But first, let’s be honest — any of us with a crystal ball would have bought up acres and acres of coastal property the world over, seeing how many people want to surf in the 2020s.

Outcome? We would’ve protected ’em for our selfish use or we would’ve sold it all and become fantastically rich.

So, are wave reserves gonna lead to the protection of marine ecosystems and economic mobility for local stewards?

Or is this study too rose-tinted, and wave reserves either cater to the rich and entitled (looking at you, mud boy Parko), further making surfing an even more entitled privilege?

Revealed: Australian surf shop allegedly includes pamphlets on “surf etiquette” when selling 8-foot-plus surfboards to adult learners!


So there I was, minding my own business, thinking about surf champion Joel Parkinson and his interaction with TikTokers when I stumbled upon yet another story of an elderly writer deciding to take up surfing for the first time and meticulously detailing the journey.

These tales have become ubiquitous in these, the Covid days of our lives, but I am a surf journalist, dedicated to my craft so read each and every for you.

This one, titled ‘Never, ever look down’: a middle-aged guide to catching waves began thusly:

A group of surfers riding the break is a quintessential image of Australian summer. I have wished I could be out there on a board with them for as long as I can remember.

As a youngster I learned to ride skateboards, boogie boards and to ski. But learning to surf – especially now, on the wrong side of 50 – seemed out of reach. Still, on a four-week break in a seaside town, I decided to try anyway.

The man at the Golden Breed store in Noosa Heads suggested a board that was long, wide and light enough to carry. I told myself that the shop was some sort of sign, as my first skateboard, circa 1979, had also been from Golden Breed.

A month’s rental cost about $350, but buying a board was about $400. So I left the store with a new, 8ft 4in “foamie” named Darkhorse, and a pamphlet on surf etiquette.

A quick internet search after my purchase told me Darkhorse featured reinforced polyethylene to give “stiffness and durability”, and was “designed to withstand heavy Hawaiian conditions”. None of which I really needed. Or so I thought.


A pamphlet on surf etiquette?

The piece meandered on, I assume, but this business about handing out surf etiquette pamphlets derailed my reading.

What, do you think, was included?

And might we worm our way in and help provide better information a la Tyler Durden?

Something to also think about during the momentary break in Joel Parkinson vs. mini-adult news.

Secret journals reveal California’s great hope for its first world surfing title in 32 years was riddled with self-doubt in lead-up to debut victory in Portugal, “I feel like a little kid not knowing my place. I have bad self-talk and mind movies of myself losing!”

"One of my life purposes is to show and hopefully inspire vulnerability."

Six days ago, Californian surfer Griffin Colapinto shocked surf fans by beating the world’s sharpest surfer in waves waist-high and under at the MEO Pro Portugal.

Colapinto, who is twenty-three, beat two-time world champ John John Florence in his semi-final before besting Filipe Toledo in the final. Kelly Slater and Kolohe Andino were scalped in earlier heats. 

His bulletproof confidence shown through the event, one in which he would rule as lord and master, has now been revealed as a chimera after Colapinto released two pages of his event diary today. 

Under the heading Portugal Feels, Colapinto writes, 

“I have had mixed feelings about this contest. At 1st I think I’m going to do good then when I’m in the water I feel like a little kid not knowing my place. It’s been hard trying my different equipment not quite sure what I’m going to ride in the contests. I’ve also noticed myself having bad self-talk and mind movies of myself losing in the contest. My surfing feels inconsistent. I may be making this feel too much about the contest when the funnest things are away from it that I do with our crew and friends. I will make the fun stuff in-between what I am here for. The contest can be a bonus.

“I think about being back on the Challenger Series and what other people will think of me. The bottom line is I determine my happiness. Not what other people think. My pursuit for my World Title is a game I’m playing with myself, to see what I’m capable of.” 

Colapinto expanded upon the themes of self-doubt and not living under self-deception in the message page. 

I wasn’t sure if I really wanted to post these journal writings but I remembered that one of my life purposes is to show and hopefully inspire vulnerability. You’ll notice the vulnerability in my spelling and hand writing;) hehe I Did these writings about a quarter of the way through our Portugal trip and a day before the contest started. It’s pretty nuts what the mind will throw at you when you’re under pressure. I feel one of the best ways to handle it, is to get it out of your head and on to paper. Although the hardest part is being truly honest with your self. You really gotta ask yourself a question like, “Am I feeling confident going into this?” If you feel the friction in your stomach when you ask yourself this question then you probably aren’t feeling the way you wanna feel. So if you feel the stomach friction go from there and say “no I am Not feeling confident” so now you accept the elephant in the room. Then you ask yourself “why”. Then you will go deeper and start realizing how you are viewing your situation and More.. Moral of the story is ask yourself questions and figure out how you can get yourself to feel better. This message is for the people that seem to keep getting knocked down but never give up. Your time is coming


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A post shared by Griffin Colapinto (@griffin_cola)

History did thus record Colapinto in heroic pose on podium at Peniche, destined to shake the world.

The power of evocation sends shivers down the spine.