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?

Box to Box Films understand that where there are people under pressure there’s drama. You don’t need to manufacture it, you just need to ask the right questions and be there in the right moments. The WSL have never grasped this.

“World’s most Orwellian sports league” in shock pivot to Netflix-style tell-all documentary series, “My faith in the WSL, like yours, is damaged…Trust from the core fanbase has been eroded and the casual fan finds it unwatchable”

"This new series is a chance to turn things round. But this can only happen if the filmmakers have been given enough freedom."

Would you believe me, friends, if I told you that Kelly Slater’s wildest, most unlikely dream might come true?

A grapple with Joe Rogan followed by a buffet of veterinary medicine and cutting edge performance enhancers?

A 12th world title?

Commissioning me to write his biography? (Working title: “Peaks and Trolls: How Kelly Slater Surfed Decades of Waves on Water and Online”)

None of the above.

Kelly’s dream, as we surely know, is worldwide recognition and fame. Being mobbed in supermarkets, appearing on mainstream chatshows, hobnobbing with the world of true celebrity.

He’s not content to watch from the sidelines, he wants to be slapped in the face.

And maybe, just maybe, this is about to become reality.

Apple TV have just announced that their (terribly titled) docuseries following the WCT, “Make or Break”, will drop on April 29th with a full seven episodes for your delectation and pleasure.

Not only that, but they’ve already commissioned the second season which is currently following the 2022 tour.

(Pardon me a moment whilst I channel Charlie Smith…)

But let us go to the press release:

“Make or Break” offers an intimate deep dive into the aspirations, challenges, accomplishments, and personal lives of the surfers who compete to remain on the elite 2021 Men’s and Women’s WSL Championship Tour (CT), and takes viewers on a journey to stunning surfing locations across the globe. The series follows the 2021 competition, navigating as the league responds to the global pandemic, while exploring the dynamic surfing culture along with timely issues, including diversity, mental health, and the physical impact of the sport.

Each episode in the seven-part first season of the series spotlights internationally recognized surfers and features never-before-seen interviews with:

11-Time World Champion and 56-Time Career Victory Winner Kelly Slater
Seven-Time World Champion Stephanie Gilmore
Three-Time World Champion Gabriel Medina
Two-Time World Champion Tyler Wright
2019 World Champion and Olympic Gold Medalist Italo Ferreira
2021 Olympian Tatiana Weston-Webb

Additional notable surfers featured in “Make or Break” include Morgan Cibilic, Johanne Defay, Leonardo Fioravanti, Jeremy Flores, John John Florence, Filipe Toledo, Kanoa Igarashi, Matt McGillivray, Isabella Nichols, and Jack Robinson.

Big deal, you say?

Well IMO it is a pretty fucking big deal, as it happens.

If you’ve watched the Netflix series “Drive to Survive” about Formula One you might understand a little of why.

“Make or Break” is produced by the same people, a UK based film production company called “Box to Box Films” helmed by James Gay-Rees and Paul Martin.

I was a latecomer to “Drive to Survive”. People kept recommending it and I kept brushing it off.

Formula 1, the most boring, unrelatable “sport” on earth?

Why on earth would I watch that?

But then I did, and from a cold and standing start I was immediately captivated.

And I do mean cold. I hadn’t watched F1 since I was a kid, and only then because my old man’s a fan. It would be accurate to say that not only did I have zero interest in it, I actively disliked it. Couldn’t see the entertainment or value at all.

Consider now, then, after I’ve binged all four seasons of “Drive to Survive” on Netflix and I find myself checking in on qualifying times for the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.

Being utterly hooked on the docuseries has transitioned into an interest in the sport itself.

I’m not alone.

“Drive to Survive” has lit a flare in the global popularity of F1 racing. Interest and audiences exploded along with revenue.

It doesn’t matter if you have any prior knowledge or interest, within a couple of episodes you’ll be drawn in. Try it and see.

What the series does so expertly is craft narrative and create human interest in a world for which we have no context. The races are part of it, but they’re secondary to the people. And it’s not just the drivers, but agents and managers and wives and bosses and coaches and journalists*, and all the people that contribute to the billion dollar circus that is F1 racing.

Beyond the sums of money involved, Formula One and professional surfing aren’t so different.

Both involve a small and select group of elite performers and their entourages travelling the globe to compete in something that most people can’t possibly understand. Both involve long periods of monotony punctuated by random periods of intense action.

To be successful, the primary goal of both must be captivating audiences who can’t understand anything about the environment or performing at that level.

The key to this is skilful storytelling. You find characters we can root for and identify broad themes we can recognise – vulnerability, pressure, uncertainty, balancing lifestyles, trauma, relationships…

The “Drive to Survive” series found these characters and excavated the themes. In doing so it compelled us to watch a sport that most people thought was dead, dull or alien.

If Box to Box Films have been allowed to take the same formula to the “Make or Break” series, professional surfing might finally be catapulted into mainstream consciousness that has been desired and promised since the Tour began.

For this to happen, the filmmakers must have been given free reign and access to anyone they like, and I would hope they’ve been met with candidness from their subjects. I’d like to hear from everyone involved, the surfers, coaches, sponsors, caddies, significant others, journalists*, even judges… (Imagine that!)

I hope there’s no greenwashing.

The lack of this in “Drive to Survive” was refreshing. They didn’t acknowledge the thousands of kilos of rubber and fuel that was incinerated by each team every couple of hours (as if it weren’t obvious) but at least they didn’t try to dress it up or pay lip service to green initiatives. There was no pretence.

I very much hope the WSL can buck their own trend and do the same. You can’t compare the impact of pro surfing to F1, of course, but they’re still flying around the globe en-masse, often to places with fragile eco-systems, and they’re still churning through foam and fibreglass.

Let’s not pretend we’re saving the world. It’s entertainment, and we’re all trying to make money from it.

The WSL’s objectivity problem is well established. The Wall of Positive Noise is tall and unscalable, and this has created situations both comical and farcical. Trust from the core fanbase has been eroded and the casual fan finds it unwatchable. They are undoubtedly the most Orwellian sporting organisation in the world.

My faith in the WSL, like yours, is damaged, but I do want them to succeed. This new series is a chance to turn things round. There’s a new audience waiting to be found, and an old one waiting to be fulfilled, but this can only happen if the filmmakers have been given enough freedom.

Box to Box Films understand that where there are people under pressure there’s drama. You don’t need to manufacture it, you just need to ask the right questions and be there in the right moments. The WSL have never grasped this.

It’s a little worrying to me that every press release that has accompanied news of this series has included “in partnership with the WSL” and listed Erik Logan as an executive producer.

Professional surfing has long needed an outside perspective to drive mainstream interest, but Logan has proven by now that his perspective is flawed. But as much as we’ve critiqued his understanding of surf culture, we have at least acknowledged his political and media savvy.

There’s no doubt that Erik Logan wants to be the saviour of professional surfing. We can only hope that in this instance he has understood that sometimes in order to save something you have to let it go.

*As the premier reporter of professional surfing working in 2022, and surely the most personable, handsome and objective, I’ll be deeply disappointed if I’m not offered a similar role to F1 journalist Will Buxton in “Make or Break” at some point.