Before e-bikes, serious training regimes, Mike Parsons and ice baths surfers had one sworn enemy and it was the malignant jock. Brawny boys to men who played organized stick and ball sports under the watchful eye of “coaches” and “umpires” or “referees.” Their way of life, all rules-based and rigid, was not ours with its radicalized “freedom” and home cut mohawks and hot war festered.
The salad years.
But leave it to our great champion, 11x, Kelly Slater to bring the enmity back for footage has just emerged of our hero taking the mound, before heading to Bells, at his hometown University of Central Florida and purposefully spiking a ball into the ground.
The Margaret River Pro began yesterday, though did not run, and all eyes are on Western Australia. Blood will soon stain that hearty earth, the claret of those professional surfers who happen to be below the cut line, included but not limited to Owen Wright. Wright’s brother, Mikey, is safe via all the wildcards he shall receive and sister, Tyler, shall not dealt the indignity of challenger serieses as she is currently number two in the world after an impressive Bells victory.
The enigmatic former world champion was ecstatic post-triumph, telling The Guardian, “I cannot put into words what this means. It’s more than a win. It’s the only event I’ve ever wanted to win. I’m over the moon, I’m stoked. Two years being out is a long time. That fire that kind of got snuffed out by illness has been re-lit. It’s been a long time since I’ve felt like I’ve surfed like myself.”
The illness a reference to the post-viral syndrome she was diagnosed with nearly two years ago. In an interview with ESPN she said, “Overnight, I lost everything, what made me Tyler Wright. I lost my personality, my physicality. I’m used to excruciating amounts of pain, but the physical pain got so bad that it would mentally break me. And it broke me every day. I didn’t get a minute where I was unbroken.”
A sports and exercise chiropractor with expertise in neuroscience, Dr. Brett Jarosz, anyhow, miraculously stitched Wright back up and now she is winning, again, and debuting exciting new partnerships with canned spice rum distilleries.
“Lots to celebrate lately,” she announced on Instagram. “Excited to partner with @reeftip as their ambassador. Celebrating feels even better when I can give back to the reef while also learning about it. 10% of @reeftip profits go to reef regeneration through the work of the @coralnurtureprogram.”
Sailors of old used rum as a medicinal to cure aches and pains and also enhance vibrato whilst singing sea shanties. It became associated with British naval might in the mid-1600s and spirits bottled above 57% alcohol by volume are still marked “Naval Strength” in that country. It is also synonymous with piracy and featured in such classics as Robert Lewis Stevenson’s Treasure Island which I just so happened to read and is very fine.
Spiced rum traces its origins back to 1879 when Myers’s, in Jamaica, produced a sweeter, spicier, darker version of the drink made from pure Jamaican molasses.
Captain Morgan became the most recognized spiced rum brand in the mid-1980s and uses a character and general tone that might be described as “toxically male” in many of its advertisements.
Reeftip, Wright’s choice, donates 10% of of profits to saving reefs and comes in at 4.5% abv.
Not “Naval Strength” but also not blatantly sexist.
A good fit, me thinks.
Barons has it all. Ridiculously good looking characters with names like Trotter and Snapper dressed in impeccably stylised recreations of ‘70s fashion. The soul surfer v consumer dichotomy. Spiritual connections with the ocean. Drug smuggling. Sex. Panel vans. Single fins. Copious amounts of incense and woollen turtlenecks. It’s all fucken there.
Big-budget TV series that skewers surf industry’s wonderfully louche drug-money funded beginnings premieres tonight!
"Barons puts an imagined microscope to the nefarious origins of Australia’s biggest surfing dynasties. It’s a story that in many ways is still yet to be told, especially to a mainstream audience."
With all the hullabaloo ‘round the release of Make or Break, another mainstream surf offering here in Australia has slipped under the radar. One that might prove more incisive, more explosive than the Woz’s docu-drama could ever hope.
Barons, premiering tonight on the Australian taxpayer-funded ABC, is the fictionalised story of two warring surf brands developed by close friends out of the same small town in the early 1970s.
Billed as an authentic recount of the birth of surf culture – and the surf industry – in Australia, Barons has it all. Ridiculously good looking characters with names like Trotter and Snapper dressed in impeccably stylised recreations of ‘70s fashion. The soul surfer v consumer dichotomy. Spiritual connections with the ocean. Drug smuggling. Sex. Panel vans. Single fins. Copious amounts of incense and woollen turtlenecks. It’s all fucken there.
But most importantly it puts an imagined microscope to the nefarious origins of Australia’s biggest surfing dynasties. It’s a story that in many ways is still yet to be told, especially to a mainstream audience.
We want the truth. But can Barons handle it?
In my recent review of Lines to the Horizon, I talked about how easy it is for surf storytellers to drift into cliche.
Call it the Bodhi complex.
If the competent writers in that collection of essays were sometimes guilty of dipping their toe in those waters, Barons looks like it has jumped head first. Judging by the preview it’s Tim Winton meets Party of 5. But then again, this was the birth of the surf guru epoch. Cliches are born from truth.
Early reviews have been kind without being effusive. Sydney Morning Herald described it as a sexy, stoner period soapie but a slow burn.
“Selling out a counterculture isn’t inherently interesting on its own.”
It does come with some bonafides. Taylor Steele was in charge of the surf cinematography as well as being involved in the script. Producers include Michael Lawrence (Bra Boys, Fighting Fear).
Check the preview here.
I’ll reserve judgment until I’ve seen the damn thing. But some observations:
Anybody with even a passing knowledge of the early days of the surf industry in Australia knows that an M-rated soap opera isn’t gonna tell half the story. Truth will always be wilder than fiction, if a producer even had the gumption to try. Plus it’s still living history. Too soon, for many that were there.
The fictionalised story is a good way of sidestepping any legal snafus. But is a TV soap really the right vehicle? A more apt setting might be Wake in Fright by the beach. A hedonistic, all-consuming world of inescapable vice. All the little devils, proud of their hell.
After all, we’re all so hungry for surf history. The culture is quickly swallowing itself. Eager to turn history into lore.
But who should be telling the story?
A little while back WSL commissioned a profile on Surfline of the founding of G Land. Proudly talking of the early Boyum, Lopez, McCabe days and the lifestyle that funded it. To see the WSL effectively coat tailing off the Sea of Darkness crew was jarring. The industry’s once dirty little secret now, seemingly, being worn as a badge of pride. Barons looks like it will lean into the same territory.
Who are they to claim ownership?
The real story is still out there. Still living and breathing. There’s narratives. Counter-narratives. Bitter rivalries. Legal disputes. Some of the players have done well for themselves. Now in boardrooms and beachside mansions. Others, not so much. They’re in outer suburb living rooms. Or tiny backyard shaping bays. Or retirement homes.
All with their own perspectives. Their own stories to tell.
What would they make of it all? This sudden mythologisation of their lives?
And the platinum hits just keep on coming for World Surf League CEO Erik Logan. “The Rusty Cudgel” is coming off what must be considered the greatest run, ever, in professional surf leadership. Things were looking shaky heading into Bells with the stench of The Ultimate Surfer still lingering and sitting champion Gabriel Medina refusing to play but then wham-o.
It began with the announcement that a cheap Chinese-made SUV was signing on as a sponsor of the environmentally-progressive league. Next, a surfer protest was brutally quashed with “feelings” and “friendship” being invoked. Then, it was revealed that Apple TV’s much-anticipated program Make or Break will be airing at the end of the month, disposable furniture manufacturer IKEA joined up for co-branded shelving and Morgan Ciblic planted a bush in Torquay.
A series of slams so undeniably grand that Logan must be the envy of Roger Goodell, Adam Silver, Rob Manfred.
Well, they can go fete him in person as it has just been announced that our Man from Muskogee is the person of honor at the upcoming environmentally-forward Heal the Bay Bring Back the Beach gala.
Following a two-year pause due to the pandemic, we are thrilled to announce the return of our Bring Back the Beach Gala on June 2, 2022. As a fundraising benefit for Heal the Bay, this exclusive West Coast event welcomes hundreds of leaders from the business, political, entertainment, and environmental communities.
And the excitement doesn’t stop there, as we will also be shining the light on the incredible achievements of this year’s honoree, Erik Logan. As CEO of World Surf League, Erik has gone to great lengths to bring clean water awareness and initiatives to the worldwide surfing community. We hope you will join us to support both Erik’s work and the wide-reaching impact of Heal the Bay.
Sipping on fruity cocktails, enjoying a beautiful sunset with the salty breeze, digging your toes in the sand, and winning an amazing getaway—does life get any better? Yes, when it all benefits healthy, safe, and clean coastal waters and watersheds!
You, too, can celebrate Logan’s greenwashing by gathering twelve of your friends and providing $50,000 (perks include recognition by event speakers from the podium and a private beach cleanup).
Don’t have twelve friends? $10,000 will allow you and nine others to rub shoulders with a who’s who of environmental stalwarts from California’s oil and gas industry (though no participating in the aforementioned private beach cleanup).
World surfing champion Gabriel Medina to make sensational return to tour at G-Land following break for “emotional issues” and split from Sports Illustrated model Yasmin Brunet, “Here we go. I’m going to Indonesia!”
“I'm motivated. I'm back to my athlete routine. Everything is back to normal."
Three months ago, the three-time world champ Gabriel Medina quit the tour just two weeks before its opening gambit at Pipe.
“I have emotional issues that I need to deal with,” he told fans via IG, referringto the breakdown of his year-long marriage to the thirty-three-year-old Sports Illustrated model Yasmin Brunet, as well as ongoing, and various, feuds between his estranged family.
“I’m motivated. I’m back to my athlete routine, waking up early, eating well,” Medina told Brazilian news outlet Esporte Espetacular. “Everything is back to normal. Here we go. I’m going to Indonesia, it’s a new stage in G-Land. That makes me even more motivated.”
In regards to his marriage, the split, estrangement from fam, quitting the tour and so on he said,
“I’ve learned a lot during that time that I’ve withdrawn from competition, and I feel like I’m 100%. That’s why I’m announcing my return. I’m excited, I miss competing, travelling, in that environment where I see all my friends there.”
Medina has already been awarded the 2023 wildcard for the first five events, as well as the back five events of 2022.
If he nails a couple of wins it’s a pretty good chance he’ll make the top five and, therefore, this year’s final at Trestles.
Grajagan, if you don’t know the story, was first surfed in 1972 by a couple of American surfers, became the site of the world’s first surf camp and, in 1995, a fabled stop on what was then the “Dream Tour”.
Jon Pyzel and Matt Biolos by @theneedforshutterspeed/Step Bros