Matt Banting (pictured) with more stickers on board.
Matt Banting (pictured) with more stickers on board.

One-time World Surf League rookie sensation Matt Banting excoriates former sponsor for ruthless beheading: “Contracts these days mean nothing!!”

99 problems.

Australia’s Matthew Banting was, once upon a time, a heralded rookie ready to conquer hearts and minds. The electric surfer from Port Macquarie, there in the very middle of New South Wales, debuted his exciting repertoire of aerial maneuvers and slashing down carves on the World Surf League stage in 2015, drawing deeps breaths from Joe Turpel, little grunts from the 1989 World Champion Martin Potter.

The kid was going places.

Unfortunately some poor finishes and injury lightly derailed the trajectory and Banting fell from the championship tour and then, recently, became unceremoniously cut by his sponsor.

Taking to Instagram, the 27-year-old wrote:

Can’t believe I signed a 2 year deal recently with a surf company, I get injured 6 months into it, I tell them to put payments on hold out of respect I can’t do anything at the current time for the company. They say thank you for that, we’ll resume your payments when you return and obviously pay you out the rest of the 24 month contract.

I haven’t received a payment since I’ve been back, I didn’t mind because I knew I was still a little bit away from getting back to 100%.. Then I heard today they aren’t going to resume any payments. haha.

Contracts these days mean nothing!!

A ruthless beheading.

A handful of years ago, this surf industry was fertile land sprouting million dollar contracts for any surfer who could semi-successfully land an alley-oop. The apocalypse then struck, bankruptcies all around, much contraction, but the floodgates have re-opened in these Covid times with money gushing like precious electrolyte-enriched water onto the soil, making the land fertile once again, or theoretically fertile.

Is the professional surfer no longer valuable as commodity?

Too many of them?

Stock mismanagement?

If you were the SVP of Tours and Head of Competition at a surf brand, who would you pay and how much?

Surfer with Asperger’s syndrome known for unique “double-jointed” turns makes stunning case for wildcard at prestigious WSL event, the Grajagan Pro, “I am ready to battle the worlds best in the barrel. Let’s do this !“

"He knows things I don't know. He knows things that all the guys I'm surfing with don't know," says Kelly Slater.

A conga line of surfer stars has formed to support Maui-born surfer Clay Marzo’s claim on a wildcard slot at the WSL’s prestigious Grajagan event, which begins on May 28.

“Saw that the WSL is having a contest at G Land in a few months. A big long barreling left,” Marzo, who is thirty-two, wrote on Instagram. “I would love to get the wildcard into that event. Who thinks Wsl should give me the wildcard? I am ready to battle the worlds best in the barrel. Let’s do this !“


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A post shared by Clay Marzo (@_clay_marzo)

World champs and various notables quickly added their weight behind the claim.

“The guru born in the barrel,” wrote 2001 world champ CJ Hobgood.

WSL commentator Strider Wasilewski, “I think the whole world would be stoked to see @_clay_marzo in the @wsl G-Land event. You got my vote my dood.”

Former sparring partner of Kelly Slater, Shane Beschen, wrote “Wildcard for Marzo at Gland would be insane, fully justified as he is one of the best tube riders and all around surfers in the world with an incredibly entertaining and radical approach. Would be a fan favorite for sure.”

And Kelly Slater, eleven times champ, wrote “I’m all for it. Teahupoo also.”

Of Marzo, Slater has previously said, “He knows things I don’t know. He knows things that all the guys I’m surfing with don’t know.”

Laird Hamilton, also from Maui, calls Marzo “an artist who can’t be pigeon-holed. He’s something all together different that should be cherished.”

Interestingly, it was the surf writer and filmer Jamie Tierney, the director of Marzo’s 2007 signature film Just Add Water, who convinced his mama the then eighteen year old should see a doc.

“My parents are both psychologists,” Tierney told USA Today. “I could tell he was more than a typical teenager… Almost everyone has had to deal with something like this. Let’s talk about Asperger’s but not as disease or a disability. Clay is so good because he has Asperger’s, not in spite of it. His level of focus in the wave is incredible, he makes instant natural connections with the water, something very few people have.”

Six years ago, Marzo and his mama were stiffed for $400,000 by their crooked bookkeeper, who would serve three years for the crime. 

No word, as yet, from Santa Monica re: wildcard.

Rob Kelly, blizzard, trunks.

New Jersey pro surfer described as sport’s “Wim Hof” defies elements to surf iciest winter on record in only surf trunks, “The Jersey cold is a unique beast with its own set of claws that can cleave your insides in two!”

"There were a couple of days where I was thinking, 'This may be too much!'"

The typical Polar Bear Plunge usually consist of pale Nordic bodies jumping into some glacial water for charity.

Every New Year’s Day, New Jersey pro surfer Rob Kelly, who is sponsored by Billabong, takes a swim/surf sporting only trunks.

This winter, as a personal challenge and with a level of commitment that rivals Seppuku, Rob decided to dip every day.

Rob surfs when theres swell, swims when it’s flat.

In trunks.

Current NJ ocean water temperatures are hovering around 39 degrees, (4 C) outside air temps averaging 19 degrees or minus seven.

But that don’t stop Kelly.

Neither do blizzards.

The New Jersey coastal cold is a unique beast with its own set of claws that can cleave your insides in two. A simple duck dive, even clad in a five mill suit, can feel like cinder blocks being dragged across your back and will literally take your breath away after resurfacing.

Which is what makes what Rob is doing all the more jaw-dropping.


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A post shared by Rob Kelly (@robkellysurf)

Rob told ABC 6 Action News in Philadelphia, “The whole rest of January has been the coldest, snowiest on record. I wanted a challenge, of course, I got one. Be careful what you wish for. There were a couple of days before I went in I was definitely thinking ‘This may be too much.'”

Kelly is no novelty act. You may remember Kelly from last winter where he caught the best faux replica Backdoor barrel Jersey juice is capable of.


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A post shared by Rob Kelly (@robkellysurf)

In classic Jersey form, Rob even gets a chuckle from the camera crew over at ABC Philly at the end of his interview when he highly recommends civilians do not attempt to surf in a blizzard wearing only trunks.

Patrick Swayze as Bodhi in 1991's Point Break, the archetype for every surf hero.

Pantheon of world’s best surf writers slammed for lazy takes on surfing with overreliance on “flawed but holy” protagonists: “It’s an archetype that peaked with Bodhi from Point Break and never developed any further!”

"Surfing is spiritually nourishing. A way to be closer with nature. Holistic wellness. All that shit."

I’m at some form of industry event. A dark, dank pub. 

It’s a sunny afternoon outside, not that you can tell. The wind could be offshore. The waves could be good. Who knows. It’s not my focus. 

The skinful of free piss is already seeping through my pores, past any other considerations. I started before lunch. There’s no sign of stopping. 

I pour more in.

Around me is a collection of surf industry identities and assorted hanger oners you’ll often find at these gigs. Mostly male. Mostly the other side of 40.  I’ve weaseled my way in through one way or another. They snake their way to and from the bar. 

Getting their fill. Though they’re all playing catch up to me.

A palpable discord runs through the crowd as it’s announced the tab has finished. It’s time for me to step up. I yell out to the barman. 

“Oi Davo. This group here…”- I point to the four or five magazine vets scattered around me in a loose semi circle of bar stools – “…these cunts here. They’re on me for the next few rounds. Put it on my…” I stop for a second to ward off a hiccup that could be a burp that could be something else. I thump my chest. Clear the pipes.

“Put it on my card. Drinks are on me.”

“Yeah mate, whatever you say.” Davo shakes his head. It wouldn’t be the first stupid purchase I’ve made in this place. It won’t be the last.

I latch my arm around _____. We’ve only just met, I think. But in my mind we’ve been friends for years.

“Y’know, ____…” I lose my train of thought mid sentence. Lean into him closer. Hang on to keep myself upright.

“Y’know, I’ve been reading your articles since I was… Since I was, dunno. Twelve. I used to read them while I was sitting on the dunny at high school. Wopping maths. I’d just sit there and read them. Y’know?”

“Umm, not really.” 

He takes my hand off his shulder and ducks his head under my arm. He moves smoothly for his age. Looks like MMA training, maybe.

“Sorry. Covid and that. Can’t be too careful.”

“Yep no worries,” I slur. “No fucken worries. You don’t gotta worry. I’m vaccinated.” 

I wink and tap my nose. I don’t even know why.  I try to focus my eyes on his face but all I can see is a blur of skin and hair. I could be talking to anybody.

“But anyway. You. ___. ___.” I point to two of the other surf writers. At least I think it’s them. “Youse guys were my heroes growing up. So now here I am.”

 I gesture to the group with a grand sweep of my hand, the yellow VIP band on my wrist already coming undone. 

“Holding court with you bunch of legends. Ain’t that something?”

“Cunt the only thing you’re holding is the credit card for the tab,” interjects one of the other writers from under his breath.


“I said, thanks for putting on the drinks, mate.”

“Ah, yeah. No worries.“

An awkward silence. It must be filled.

“I wanna tell you all about this article I’m writing for…” a pause as I work through another burp “…the Grit.

“Oh, you write for those guys,” says ___. Or maybe it was ____

“Yep. It’s a bit of a review of that book, Jock Serong put out last year. Ya know it?”

“Yeah, Jock. Good guy. You mean his novel?”

“Nahhh, nahh. Not his, uh, novel. It was a collection of surf writing. Seemed to have slipped under the radar, so to speak.”

I shake my head again. Repeat the words over. “Not his… novel.”

They stare at me with blank faces. At least I think they’re staring at me. I’m still struggling to focus. Can’t tell one from the other.

“It was called… what was it? Oh yeah. It’s called… get this. ‘Lines to the Horizon, a collection of Australian surf writing.’”

_____ cracks the first smile of our conversation. “Lines to the horizon? That’s fucken funny. Oi ___ did you hear that? This surf writing book is called ‘Lines to the Horizon.’” 

Everybody has a good laugh. They’re all laughing looking at each other. Looking at me, then laughing some more.

“Yeah, my oath,” I continue. “Lines to the horizonses. Anyway it’s this collection of essays from all these writers. You probably only heard of one. What’s her name. Em Brugman. Used to write for Tracks.

“Oh yes Emily. Good writer, she is. Has a novel coming out herself.”

“Yep. Then there’s all these other cunts I hadn’t heard of. Fucken surf-adjacent, you’d say.”

Two of the surf writers start talking amongst themselves. I’m not having it.

“Oi, you two. listen up. I’m trying to say… something.” I take a sip from my schooner. The thickness of its bitter, aggressive head steels me. Makes me feel a little surer on my feet.

“There’s this one chick who like, writes novels and she writes her travels through Mexico chasing waves and dodging cartels and trying to write more… novels,” I continue. “It’s pretty good. “

Internally I’m chastising myself for my poor delivery. C’mon, gotta straighten up. On the big stage now. I take another sip.

“Then there’s some profiles by a fulla named Mark Smith on a few salty types from Torquay. Brugman does similar for her neck of the NSW north coast woods. Pretty heavy write up on Mick Campbell’s near death experience at the spot-I-didn’t-think-was-meant-to-be-named.”

That’s better. Though I tap my nose again, for no apparent reason.

“Coupla others that tread similar ground.”

“What did you make of it?”  asks the writer closest to me. It could be ____ but it could also be ____. Whoever it is, they seem to be taking some interest in my story now at least.

“Well…” I stumble. “Do you mind if I sit down?”

“As long as you keep paying for beers mate I don’t give a fuck what you do.”

Once I’m comfortably seated my focus increases. Lucidity grows.

It could be the passion I hold for the subject. The fact that I’m talking shop with some of the foremost writers in the business.  It could be the sharpener an old mate shouted me in the toilets ten minutes earlier finally coming into effect. Whatever the cause, I suddenly feel on my game.

“First, an admission. When I saw the title, the cheesy cover, the fact it had a quote from Tim Winton on it, I was ready to hate. Winton in particular. I could never stand the cunt.”

“Why do you hate Winton?” asks ___. “How could anyone hate Winton?”

“Don’t get me wrong. I appreciate the craft. Can’t deny the success. But his pigeon-holing of flannel-clad figures with names like Chooky, Pikelet and Donga wrestling with nature on a desolate West Australian coastline resonates with my sense of surf-self about as much as… as much as the Ultimate Surfer. You know what I mean? It’s just so tired.” 

I peer into my beer. The words are flowing. My words. It’s like I’ve hit that golden stage of drunkenness on the pool table, or in the sack. I’m confident, loose. Uninhibited, but with just enough control to keep from crashing.

“So when I borrowed Lines from the library I wanted to hate.“

“Wait, you borrowed it from the library? People still do that?”

“Yeah mate, my misso’s a librarian. What, you, got a problem with it, cunt?” I leer towards ____ menacingly. He backs away.

“No. I was just saying. You don’t hear that much any more.”

“Anyway, fuck where was? Ah yes. I wanted to brandish the red pen. Hurl off some wit laden missive like I was writing for the London Review of Books. But I gotta say. The selected essays read well. Not, you know, life changing. Like Lash Clone or The Adventures of Felch. But competent to a tee. I won’t go into story by story evaluation, suffice to say it’s all good writing. No weak links. Anchored by the effervescent Serong.”

I stop. Look up from my beer, pause for dramatic effect.

“And yet.” I clear my throat. “And yet the hater in me still stirs. Surf writing. It’s a vexxed oeuvre.”


“Oeu-vueeeerrr, cunt, says ___. “It’s French. Look it up.”

“Thanks.” I continue. “Most of the collected stories fall into the same old trap when it comes to writing surfing for the mainstream. A pre-occupation with attempting to unpick its alleged magic.”

I stand back up from the chair. Puff my chest out. Imagine I’m a Roman orator. The notes I’d started writing for my review are flooding back into my mind’s eye. Like a scene from a Beautiful Mind. Like I’m some surf-writing savant.

“This means the essays easily drift into cliched, Winton-eque waters. Surfing is spiritually nourishing. A way to be closer with nature. Holistic wellness. All that shit.  It’s not all pretty, sure. There’s sharks. Localism. Discussion around entrenched sexism. But for the most, Lines presents a squeaky clean image of surfing.”

I look at the group. Their faces in sharp focus. Each of them paying attention now. Nodding. Hanging off my every word.

“Surf writers seem to spend a lot of time explaining why people would waste their entire life engaged in the pursuit. Like it needs to be justified. That means you end up with caricatures of these buddha-wise, flawed yet holy protagonists. Warrior Poets. The Kerouac set. Leaders of a broad church of social outliers and thought leaders that have discovered some secret elixir to life.”

Much nodding from the group.

“It’s an archetype that seems to have peaked with Bodhi from Point Break. Never developed any further. It’s this fucken, Patagonia-wearing, green-voting view of the surf world. How the surfing wants to be portrayed. Like it’s some big mysto fucken secret and we’re only just now letting everyone in.”

I notice three of the surf writers are wearing Patagonia.

“Not saying there’s anything wrong with that. But it’s only one view. It’s monochromatic. Hold a mirror up to surf culture today and you will indeed find a broad church. But there’s nothing unifying us now past the low tide line. We’re grommets. Learners. Lifelong hedonists. Outdoor sports active jocks. Murfers. Aspiring athletes and Olympians. Real estate agents. Politicians. Lawyers. Tech bros. Bums. Entrepreneurs. Industry hacks.”

“All as fucked as each other,” says __

“Yep, spot on I say. “Because surfing is fucked. Surfing is a vice. It’s solipsistic narcissism of the highest order. Or for some of us it’s even a chore, like taking a shit or brushing your teeth. But then on the skip side there’s surfing as rehabilitation. Surfing as activism. Surfing as pure joy. It’s everything all at once. You know what I mean?”

They do know what I mean. I can see it in their eyes. They’re looking at me like I’m the second coming of Bill Finnegan or Steve Fucken Pezman.

“Surfing is this anarchic contradiction that constantly eludes definition. It’s the stupidest and most profound pursuit imaginable. The attraction is instantaneous but you need a lifetime to understand it. The closer  you look, the less clearer it becomes. It’s a rhetorical double bind. Trying to explain it to someone who doesn’t already know is like sweeping leaves in the wind.”

“So how do you write about it?” asks ____

“Well, you could try not.  Not everything needs to be documented. Good writing illuminates the dark corners of the human condition. But who says surfing needs to be illuminated?”

I let them mull it over for a bit.

“Obviously that’s not feasible. We gotta write something, right? But don’t focus on the surfing. Write about the characters it attracts. The idiosyncrasies and foibles and sheer absurdity it produces. Just never try and look it in the eye.”

“So you’re saying, surfing is never going to be the story? It’s always just the background?” asks ____.

“Something like that. And you’re certainly not going to learn about it by reading some manual, literary or otherwise.”

I take a breath. 

Did I really just come out with all of that? 

I’ve been in a flow state for a good ten minutes. The surf writers are taking stock too, sipping their beers and running their hands through what’s left of their hair. They look like they’ve just been told sun revolves around the moon.

But I’m not done yet. Time for my conclusion. I put my beer down on the table next to a stack of Keno cards.

“The one exception in Lines to the Horizon is the Taj story. It follows him during his final comp on tour, at Tavarua. 10,000 words or so documenting his background, his run to retirement, his mind state during the comp. His partying with the crew on Namotu. How he got to where he is. It’s over wrought at times. But is unapologetic in its delivery. Focuses less on the act itself than  the psychology behind it. Doesn’t shy away from the language. Doesn’t pretend it’s anything other than 100 per cent surf. It really is a strong piece of writing. One of the best you’ll read. But you gotta know it to appreciate it. If ya don’t know, ya don’t know. Y’know?”

I stop for a second. Hiccup once. Twice.


“Who wrote it?” asks ____

I can feel the buzz fading. I’m starting to feel a little dizzy. I look at ____ and ____ sitting next to each other. My vision blurs and they begin to meld into the one figure. Then float back out on opposite sides. I sit back down and look at my half-empty schooner on the table next to me.


“Who wrote the article?”

“What article? Oh, some cunt. I dunno. But I’ll tell you one thing. If you read that story enough, you’ll realise something.”

All of the surf writers lean in. Wait for me to finish my sentence. My grand denouement.

“You’ll realise that… this…”

The waves of dizziness build. I grip the stool with both hands.

“This is….”

The waves have a hold of me now. I’m spinning and spinning. I lurch forward. Try to grab the table as I’m falling. Knock over all of our beers. _____ reaches out to grab me with this unconscious fervour, like I’m the second coming of Christ descending to hell.

But he’s not quick enough. I come down hard. For a millisecond I’m suspended in mid air, and the upended schooners are pouring over the top of my head in a golden barrel of froth.

Then there’s an almighty crash. Beer and chips and Keno cars and broken glass everywhere.

I lie in a pool of my own filth. I can barely mouth my final words.

“This…” I whisper. “This… is …what …. surfing… is….”

The surf writers shake their turn back to each other as Davo drags me from the floor and calls a cab. ____ goes to give me back my credit card but ____ stays his hand. There’s more drinking to be done.

It’s still sunny when I’m hurled outside.

I’m resting in the gutter, looking up at the trees. The wind is offshore. The waves could be good.

Slater, left, Morrison, right. | Photo: @sensitiveseashellcollector (Slater)

Australian PM references bête noire in bizarre skinny-shaming rant against political opponent, “I can say I can surf like Kelly Slater but that doesn’t mean I can!”

The Australian prime minister Scott Morrison invokes greatest athlete of all time in wild attack on opposition leader.

Two weeks ago, the world’s greatest athlete Kelly Slater slammed the Australian prime minister Scott Morrison for his government’s dreadful inaction during calamitous flooding on the country’s north-east coast.

While posting messages from fans about the flooding, Slater wrote, 

“The lack of federal assistance in the flood zones in northern NSW has been nothing short of appalling. The stories from friends are hard to comprehend. But the gathering of local communities has been inspiring to watch from afar. So while the MP @scottmorrisonmp and cohorts pat themselves on the back or poke fun at people who ‘live in the gum trees’, the communities will continue to get on with the tasks at hand in helping their neighbors.”

(The best headline from that imbroglio, I think, was sportbible’s homo-erotic “Surfing Legend Unloads on PM Scott Morrison”).

Now, after launching a bizarre skinny-shaming attack on his political opponent Anthony Albanese, whose dramatic weight loss now allows the former socialist to squeeze into poom poom shots, Morrison, owner of a physique one might accurately describe as hippopotamically fat, concluded with a reference to Slater. 

“I’m not pretending to be anyone else. I’m still wearing the same sunglasses. Sadly, the same suits. I weigh about the same size and I don’t mind a bit of Italian cuisine … I’m not pretending to be anyone else,” Morrison told a forum for Sky News Australia’s Paul Murray Live. “When you’re Prime Minister, you can’t pretend to be anyone else. …I can say I can surf like Kelly Slater but that doesn’t mean I can.”

Slater is yet to respond.