San Diego surfer leaves water after shark scare only to get ambushed on land by evil rattlesnake: “It felt like someone dropped a knife on my foot…”

"Is this going to be how it's going to end? After surfing and getting bitten by a rattlesnake?"

As fate would have it, I was in California’s desert interior over the weekend, far away from civilization and cell phone coverage, surrounded by various cacti, reddish boulders, cowboy death. My very best friends, the same with whom I traveled to Yemen post 9/11, Syria, played war correspondent in Lebanon etc., decided at the dawn of Covid that it would be better if we just educated our collected children together. It’s a wild experiment, now rounding year two’s bend, and part of the curriculum includes adventure like sailing to Mexico in the middle of a storm, riding the rails from Paris to Moscow, pitching trucks off cliffs, letting them free to explore this world on their own.

The only worry I usually have, at least in California, is that mean ol’ rattlesnake.

It turns out my fears are justified for a San Diego surfer, Matt Gmyr, just became bitten by one after cutting a surf session short at South Torrey Pines, because a shark was circling.

“I like to just step up onto this little section of dirt next to the curb and just check out the surf one last time and watch my buddies catch some waves,” he told San Diego’s CBS affiliate. “I felt like someone dropped a knife on my foot, like it was sharp pain and I look down and there’s a snake attached to my foot.”

The snake happened to be a diamond back and he knew he needed care, quickly, so called the paramedics. By the time they arrived, though, he was already feeling the poison.

“I was feeling the full body tingling, the lips, the face, the numbness, swelling, and it was crazy,” he said. “There’s a point when I was calling out to God saying, ‘Oh, I don’t want to die like this. Is this going to be how it’s going to end? After surfing and getting bitten by a rattlesnake?’”

He was rushed to Scripps in La Jolla where doctors discovered five bite marks on his foot and consider him lucky to be alive. He’s still in the hospital though hopes to be released Friday.

Rattlesnakes. Ugh. But what would Mick Fanning have done? Something to ponder.

Comment live, Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach! “We’re going to see some long rides! The wave height is really, really nice!”

Drop everything! Pro surfing is back!

Keramas during a WSL event there a few years back. | Photo: WSL

Fears of “worst crowds ever” at once secret surf spot following listing in “world’s best black sand beaches”!

"Especially popular among surfers…"

With locals already pining away for the pandemic days of yore when Keramas was empty and local kids could become really good surfers in under two years, the prestigious Travel + Leisure Magazine just had to go and list it as one of the world’s finest black sand beaches for tourism.

Now that the borders are open the last line-up count on a good day at Keramas came in at fifty-five. And, this is a one-man, or one-gal, wave.

Still, you can fantasize that you are Rizal Tandjung, who is still out-surfing the 18 year olds at age 47. He is our Indonesian Kelly Slater. Such is his level of local respect that he gets the pick of the litter on any set that he damn well pleases.

Dream on.

Due to the combo of local crowds and new visitors these days, the common salute to any overseas visitor headed over to surf Keramas is “Good luck, mate”.

Along with such secret spots such as as Iceland’s Jökulsárlón Beach, Italy’s Spiaggia di Ficogrande beneath Stromboli and Japan’s Miho no Matsubara in Shizuoka, Travel + Leisure has described Keramas Beach as “stunning” and “especially popular among surfers, so it’s a great place to hit the waves or at least watch as the surfers ride in over the black sand.”

Oh Christ.

Anyone who has bounced off the reef at Keramas can sneer at the wisdom of that.

But isn’t it comforting that squares will never understand the sport of kings?

The magazine feature also fails to mention that the word Keramas translates to “Washing Hair”. The rivermouth that has honed the reef to perfection having once been the perfect place for Balinese women to bathe.

The Travel + Leisure feature also notes that Keramas Beach is “perhaps the only surfing beach in Bali offering nighttime illuminated surfing”.


It’s the only one. Thank the Gods.

And other than the deadly virus of wavepools sweeping the globe, any surfer in the world would be hard pressed to name any others.

Yet, it is true.

You can actually pay the Komune resort to flip the switch on their stadium lights and surf by an “illumination” that expat John Anderson describes as “about as good as surfing by the lights of a Ute parked on Seven Mile Beach”.

Also, surfing at night is strictly forbidden by the deeper Balinese culture.

The ocean at night here is the realm of child stealing spirits and must be respected.

No joke.

And so it goes. Open borders and prestigious awards.

After all, Bali loves the smell of tourists in the morning…it smells like…victory.

Four thousand clicks from Bells. Unhappy cropping angers fans.

Surf fans in wild pile-on following WSL and surf forecast partner Surfline’s embarrassing social media blunder on eve of Australian leg of world tour, “Bells is now in WA?”

“Has Bells gone mobile? Like REALLY mobile? 

The World Surf League has been forced onto the back foot again following an embarrassing blunder on their various surf media channels. 

In a post to the billionaire-owned organisation’s 3.4 million Instagram followers, a map of Western Australia is presented with the line,

“With less than 24 hours until the first call, let’s take a look at the official @surfline forecast for the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach…” etc. 

Surf fans, predictably, went wild. 

“Bells is now in WA?”

“Where is Bells?”

“At least they had the right country. Maybe next time try to get the right coastline.” 

“Has Bells gone mobile? Like REALLY mobile? 

“I hope the judges haven’t flown to WA.” 

The effort was, likely, the work of an inexperienced intern or a non-surfer, Surfline’s graphic cropped to fit the IG square.

The post has since been amended to include Bells Beach.


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Meanwhile, the event looks like it’ll run in unpretty three-foot, maybe four-foot, junk.



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.