Ronnie, his gasoline-and-battery powered sled and giving hell to a Cronulla left in photo behind him. | Photo: DR

Dirty Water: Jet-boarder Ronnie “Skull” Hill reveals the sorcery behind his big-wave slaying, reef-dominating gasoline-and-battery powered $20,000 craft!

"It's been a battle since the beginning."

A few days back, you were introduced to a Cronulla bodyboarder turned jet-boarder who ruled the day of the year at Shark Island, the heaviest of the area’s reefs.

Following a post on the Instagram account @sufads, however, the figurative knives came out from surfers apparently jealous of Skull’s innovative and effective approach to wave-riding. 


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“He’s a known pest and they’ve been trying to get him for a while now.”

“After wathcing this i think im now done with surfing forever.”

“Tbh you have to give the man credit, he has been a pest at shark island for years however on Sunday during a bodyboard comp managed to run through the lineup for about 30 mins. Every single person there told him to fuck off and he just kept doing laps kinda finding it funny hahahahahahaha.”

“Is this guy trolling? Looks like hes really trying to piss off the lids??”

“…this warrants violence.”

I figured it be instructive to meet Ronnie, a high-level bodyboarder who first rode Shark Island in 1987 and who was regularly appearing in boog magazines back when the sport was still at thing.

Ronnie knows what’s it like to be hated for his choice of craft; he lived through the boog-surfer wars of the nineties, a conflict stoked into a fever pitch by the non-surfing photographer Paul “Sarge” Sargeant, who would later be banned from the pro tour “for performing an unsolicited sexual act on another male journalist in his sleep, who suffered from violent nightmares for two years afterwards.”

This interview took place at a joint called Island Inflatables in Menai, west of Cronulla, and where Ronnie keeps a workshop.

Gorgeous new road to rim Bukit!

Iconic Bali surf spots Uluwatu and Padang Padang under threat as plan revealed to “rim” entire Bukit Peninsula with a two-lane highway, “suspended off the cliff and ploughing through the lineups!”

“The proposed South Bali Ring Road is intended to increase tourist access to our popular sun-bathing beaches."

In a terrifying kneejerk reaction to the deluge of  international surfers and tourists swamping Bali, a plan to ring the entire Bukit Peninsula with a two-lane highway, one often suspended off the cliffs and ploughing through the line-ups of Uluwatu, Padang Padang and Bingin, has been revealed.

“The proposed South Bali Ring Road,” said a spokeperson, “is intended to increase tourist access to our popular sun-bathing beaches and rim the east, south, and western perimeter of Bali’s southern Bukit peninsula” .

Well, there you have it. An IDR2.7 trillion, or 250-mill US, rim job.

Those supporting the project are now calling for the 37 kilometer roadway to be designated as a ”National Strategic Project” .

For surfers it will be more like a National Ruination project.

Must tourist progress always mean the destruction of the natural beauty that people come to worship in the first place?

A rough diagram of South Bali Ring Road.

Not showing the segments that will be built on the reefs. Complete with selfie points.

Segment #1:  13.2 kilometers (Nusa Dua, Mushrooms, Sri Lanka, Geger and other soon to be not secret spots)
Segment #2:   9.9. kilometers (Pandawa and other soon to be not secret spots)
Segment #3:   7.8 Kilometers (Green Balls, Yang Yang and other soon not to be secret spots
Segment #4:   5.5 – 5.6 Kilometers ( Uluwatu, Padang Padang, Bingin Dreamland).

For now all they need for the go ahead is for the central government designate the project of “strategic national importance”.

So here’s the rub: It started with a fire that burnt down this semi-secret luxury beachside club near Balangan up in the Bukit (Voted among the top 50 best beach bars in the world near a benevolent left breaking wave beloved by all) .

Warung owners go to war with corrupt officials as Bali reopens to world, “Why keep the charm of the place when you can bury it under a mountain of cash and cement in the form of overseas resort investors?”

Bali needs more modern development, yes?

With the current onslaught of no-quarantine-required tourists here on the Island of the Gods comes yet another controversy.

And it affects the surf and sunset beers crowd directly.

Having opened its borders to such tourist rich countries as Tunisia, Cambodia and Belgium, “the powers that be” have deemed it necessary at this jubilant junction to pour ice down the pants of beachfront businesses, both humble and luxurious.

This is rumored to be with an eye to save these prime pieces of real estate for more lucrative investors.

After all, Bali needs more modern development, yes?

Why keep the charm of the place when you can bury it under a mountain of cash and cement in the form of overseas resort investors?

So here’s the rub: It started with a fire that burnt down this semi-secret luxury beachside club near Balangan up in the Bukit (Voted among the top 50 best beach bars in the world near a benevolent left breaking wave beloved by all) .

While rebuilding, an access road was hastily built to fight possible future fires. This drew attention to the prime location and a case of suspected misappropriation of a seaside parcel of public land was slapped on the owners.

Now, the traditional villagers and the restaurant owners they had a pretty sweet deal with are ensnared in a labyrinthine legal horn lock with “the powers that be.”

And everybody knows how it will turn out.

Special fees, fees and more fees.

So, fresh from this success, “the powers that be” have now turned there attention to the 30-odd illegal businesses “discovered” near Berawa Beach, Canggu’s latest hot spot for the surf and sunset cocktails crowd (if you are thinking of visiting you might want to brush up on your Russian language skills).

No word yet on any scrutiny of nearby Echo Beach, Old Man’s, and its longboard haven stalwarts extraordinaire.

Anyway, it seems these illegal “buildings” on Berawa were built by local residents who then lease them out to “outside interests” who, smart enough, offer the village inducements like employment guarantees and high-blown rental payments for the right to use these prime locations otherwise banned from private use.

Says one disgruntled investor in a heavy Russian accent, “You gotta realize that Villagers view these beachfront lands as part of their ancestral legacy and can be disposed of as they please. And we like that”.

In contrast, provincial officials insist that any “public lands” are forever held by all Indonesians and regional laws take precedence.

In other words, a total shit fight with one side heavily favored.

The final dispositions in these cases may have far-reaching surfing effects in Bali, where so many surfside warungs have broken every building code in the book.

JP Currie on Mason Ho’s wild month-long Scottish romp, “What value there is in talented, personable surfers willing to seek waves both murderous and beautiful!”

You can’t help but admire his aesthetic. It’s like a dog chasing its own tail. Even if it ends in success it’s going to hurt.

Is there a more marketable freesurfer than Mason Ho?

Perhaps Torren Martyn, but the two are so different they can happily co-exist. As consumers of surfing we’re lucky to have them, just as their respective wetsuit sponsors are.

What value there is in talented, personable surfers willing to seek waves both murderous and beautiful.

Both have made recent trips to savour the delights of a Scottish winter in the interests of content creation and to test the extremities of rubber.


Mason and filmer Rory Pringle scored a solid period of waves whilst they were here.

This part-time surf scribe was aware of their presence in his beloved homeland but stuck some miles away, baw-deep (to use a local colloquialism) in covid-afflicted pedagogy.

The first offering was eighteen minutes of more-or-less raw footage (complete with car radio soundtrack) of Ho surfing a “wee slab” as he calls it (in another nod to local colloquialism) and it is compelling in its lunacy.

The “wave” is on the north coast, and the inverted commas are to designate that no-one but Mason Ho might consider it as such. There are other options in the vicinity, but perhaps none quite so aligned with Ho’s masochistic talents.

You might call it a novelty wave, but the connotations are far too light-hearted and belie the seriousness of what it might feel like to have your face or neck or elbow joint driven into unerring Caithness flagstone.

Bodyboarder Ben Player made an overly dramatic Red Bull produced film about the same wave. In his clip, he named it “The Bull”.

It seems a bit presumptuous to claim naming rights for a wave on the other side of the world, but actually it’s probably fair enough since he and Mason are the only people I know to surf it.

In Ben Player’s film he pitches it like he’s about to confront a Tyrannosaurus Rex on a football field, wears motocross armour and a full-face helmet, and says several times that he might die.

Mason simply paddles out with a GoPro in his mouth, goes chip-in to barrel to ragdoll, over and over again, trashes some boards and fins, then posts the raw footage.

You can’t help but admire his aesthetic.

It’s a bit like a dog chasing its own tail.

He’s clearly having a lot of fun but even if it ends in success it’s going to hurt.

And, now, part second in the seven-part series.

Bring on the next.

"You should go solo..."
"You should go solo..."

Did gorgeous Brazilian models break up “The Brazilian Storm” before surf supergroup reached its vast multiplatinum potential?


I distinctly remember, after Italo Ferreira undid Gabriel Medina at Pipeline to become world champion, thinking “I shall not see another non-Brazilian world champion in my lifetime.”

A supergroup.

Ferreira, on drums and vocals, seemed unstoppable, like he had a good three to four more titles wrapped up in his jovial demeanor. Medina, lead guitar, taciturn, seemed like he had a good three or four more too and Filipe Toledo, on rhythm guitar, seemed like he had one or two if the waves turned off for the year.

And who knows how many superstar Brazilians were just offstage, waiting in the wings?

An endless run of green and gold. Progress and order to the moon.

But then something happened, and happened quickly. Medina decided to take some personal time after his just wrapped title, Ferreira seems a different person altogether, Toledo seems like he may be putting together a run but that’s it with Seth Moniz and Kanoa Igarashi seemingly more likely to own the future.

Weird, no? But who is to blame.

Gorgeous Brazilian models? Did the country’s other finest export Yoko Ono the band?

David Lee offered this theory during our weekly chat and I found myself, maybe, agreeing. We also discussed marijuana potentially being performance enhancing when it comes to longboarding. What do you think?