Blistering new documentary plunges into exploitation of Hawaii by developers, corporations, world surf leagues: “An indispensable watch that focuses on the image of the islands as a paradise for white people at indigenous expense!”

Trouble in paradise.

We surfers, we wave sliders, are forever indebted to the Hawaiian islands. While some scholars and eminent journalists believe that our favorite pastime sprang from Peru’s fertile cocaine, we know that it was the proud Hawaiian who truly made surfing what it is. Now, the battle over paradise is not unfamiliar to us. Haoles flying in by the jumbo jet load to crowd iconic breaks catching cracks every now and again but, even worse, hotel developers, industrialists, magnates all “borrowing” and/or “appropriating” the land from its indigenous.

Well, a new film, Cane Fire, explores this troubled dynamic in depth. According to The Wrap:

(It is) an indispensable watch, (director) Banua-Simon’s first feature focuses on the island of Kauaʻi and the history of its exploitation as a colony, which endures under the guise of statehood. First desired for its fertile soil (for sugar cane and pineapple plantations that employed underpaid and overworked migrants from Asia), the island later became a sought-after Hollywood location and, eventually, a paradisiacal tourist playground for the rich.

After detailing how the five major sugar companies carried out union-busting practices, and even deported those who demanded better wages and living conditions, the director takes to task Hollywood’s willing participation in creating the image of Hawaii, and specifically Kauaʻi, as a welcoming getaway for white outsiders.

I do not believe that the World Surf League is, specifically, singled out but do you recall when the Santa Monica-based appropriators of professional surfing carved the number of local Hawaiian wildcards competing in the Pipeline event from eighteen, or something, to two?


Cane Fire opens May 20 in United States theaters.

Australian Russell Crowe becoming rightly enraged.
Australian Russell Crowe becoming rightly enraged.

All of Southern California’s myriad problems would instantly and easily be solved if its many residents, visitors, surfers simply respected the left lane!


Southern California has, let us be frank, seen better days. The onetime most desirable place to live in the entire United States of America is now an overcrowded, expensive, boggy mess with headaches more popular than the iconic orange poppy. Trouble percolating. Rage and dissatisfaction growing. Residents fleeing the Golden State for Austin, Texas and Nashville, Tennessee in droves.

The issues seem, on the surface, myriad and insurmountable but a light went on in my head this morning, sitting across from David Lee Scales, as he played a recorded call as part of our weekly podcasted chat.

The gentleman on the other end was commenting that disembodied spirits do not much haunt these parts because hell has become preferable to Southern California and he may well be right but the solution presented itself in a flash.

If only people respected the left lane, on the many highways and freeways criss-crossing Los Angeles, Orange, San Diego counties, then this southland would once again transform into a utopia.

The left lane, you see, is supposed to be a passing lane and/or the “fast” one wherein trucks, cars, SUVs with places to be zip unencumbered. These days, though, slow moving vehicles of all makes and models choke the left lane, insisting on keeping speeds sub-70, refusing to move when sped toward, flashed, honked, otherwise shamed. Are the drivers unaware? Self-absorbed? passive-aggressive? Insistent on forcing a personal understanding of “safety” on the general public?


And imagine that all those aforementioned traits were suddenly vanished overnight.


David Lee and I, anyhow, discussed and also discussed fairness in sport. An enlightened conversation. Enjoy here.

Ghosts of epic ’97 Quiksilver Pro set to haunt upcoming G-Land contest, “For two weeks, Grajagan was soaked with waves ranging from ‘very good’ to ‘call the wife and kids, tell ‘em I ain’t coming home!'”

Derek Ho severed a tendon on a drainer, Slater toyed with 10-foot double-ups, Machado and Egan surfed one of the highest scoring heats ever.

If you follow my eponymous, sporadically intriguing surf nostalgia account @surfads on Instagram you would have seen a few recent posts celebrating the Quik G-Land ‘97 Pro.

That infamous, pre-internet jungle slam that cooked up one of the most memorable CT events of all time.

Up there with Bells in ‘81, Pipe in ‘95, Mexico in ‘05 or Fiji in 2012. An entire competition window blessed with primo swell at one of the best waves in the world. A draw sporting names like Tom Carroll, Vetea David, Martin Potter, Rob Machado, Mark Occhilupo, Rizal Tanjung, Matt Hoy, and eventual winner Luke Egan.

All documented by Dick Hoole, Don King and the brothers Carroll with a nineties Handycam.


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Fucken nuts.

Indonesia in 1997 was a wild time, man.

The county was smashed by the ‘97 Asian financial crisis. The political situation tidak bagus. After decades of autocratic rule the US-backed strongman President Suharto was finally coming undone. A swelling of democratic support not seen since the days of Sukarno had the country on a knife edge.

Set to that backdrop, it’s a miracle the comp even went ahead.

The current WSL and its abundance of caution wouldn’t go near that shit with a ten-foot selfie stick if it was going down today.

But, to quote surf journalism doyen Nick Carroll, this was a time when companies had cool ideas and sorta just did ‘em. Pre internet. Pre long-range forecast. No worries.

The Indian Ocean wasn’t paying any attention to domestik politik either. For two weeks, Grajagan was soaked with waves ranging from “very good” to “call the wife and kids, tell ‘em I ain’t coming home.”


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Derek Ho severed his patellar tendon on a Speedies drainer before the comp even started. Slater toyed with ten-foot double-ups like it was two-foot Macaronis. Machado and Egan surfed one of the highest scoring heats of all time. Fourteen ten-point rides dropped across the comp in total.

Egan bulldozing the lot to take his maiden ‘CT win.

Watch these clips.


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Tell me how much tube riding technique has progressed in the last quarter century. How many of these surfers would hold a candle to the current crop.

Or still do, in Slater’s case.

The VHS released to surf shops worldwide later that year sold for $9.95 a pop, and instantly became a cult classic for those who got a hold of it. Easily in my top three movies of all time.

For a long time the film, only ever released on VHS, lay dormant.

In the ensuing years its legend only grew. But Quiksilver have recently digitised the movie and pulled together some of the primo clips you see here.

Dunno if it’s gonna be made publicly available but good on ‘em regardless.

We all know how the rest of the song goes.

Suharto finally fell in early ‘98 and the subsequent comp was canned by Quik (another story in itself).

The wave fell off the tour completely until its recent Covid-delayed resurrection.

So how’s the 2022 redux gonna compare?

The forecast for the comp window is looking promising, though as Swellnet points out, tidewise it’s been planned on the wrong side of the lunar cycle, and the wrong time of the day. Grajagan wants as much tide as you can get, preferable around early afternoon.

Most of the window falls on early morning, low new-moon highs.

But still, it’s hard to miss at G Land.

A new, leaner CT.

Plus Gabby.

Plus chicks.

It’s gonna be an instant classic, right? Right?

Slater (pictured) holding bottle of inexpensive champagne which he should be very careful about drinking away from his house as cheap champagne is a known diuretic.
Slater (pictured) holding bottle of inexpensive champagne which he should be very careful about drinking away from his house as cheap champagne is a known diuretic.

World’s most recognized surfer Kelly Slater admits to suffering from debilitating syndrome: “The condition is also known as ‘avoidant paruresis’, ‘psychogenic urinary retention’ and ‘pee-phobia!'”


In these slower surf news days, I find myself drawn like a moth to Kelly Slater’s instagram profile. The world’s most recognized surfer has won 11 titles, starred in movies, presented awards at the Oscars and eviscerated the globe’s richest man Elon Musk. He is also a social media master, never afraid to share opinion or spar with others.

Now, of course I am blocked from his instagram profile, like many others, but when there’s a will there’s a way and my will to observe Kelly Slater in the wild is great.

Thus, today, I clicked over and while there were no new postings or stories, his biography had changed, merely reading “Paruresisist.”

“Paruresisist?” I wondered, having never encountered the word before, and quickly searched it up.

Paruresis, as it turns out, is a social phobia that involves a discomfort, or inability, to urinate in front of, or near, others.

Per Australia’s Better Health resource:

A person with paruresis (shy bladder syndrome) finds it difficult or impossible to urinate (pee) when other people are around. Paruresis is believed to be a common type of social phobia, ranking second only to the fear of public speaking. Paruresis is often first experienced at school. The condition affects men and women of all races. In mild cases, paruresis is an occasional event, like a form of performance anxiety. For example, a man at a public urinal may find that he is unable to urinate when flanked by other men. In severe cases, a person with paruresis can only urinate when alone at home. The condition is also known as ‘avoidant paruresis’, ‘psychogenic urinary retention’ and ‘pee-phobia’.


The fact that such an accomplished professional surfer is so open about what may be considered embarrassing is wonderful, no? But do you suffer “pee-phobia” as well? Will Slater’s bold declaration free you to admit that it’s ok? That you are not only among others but great others? Or do you toil under the invisible yoke of some other syndrome like nomophobia or plutophobia that you will now be willing to publicly embrace?

Inspirational, in any case. Inspirational and uplifting. Kelly Slater the Cesar Chavez of paruresisists.

Rescuers work to free buried teenager on Jersey Shore.
Rescuers work to free buried teenager on Jersey Shore.

Officials warn bored surfers, beachgoers about dangers of digging giant sand holes as tragic collapse on Jersey shore claims life of young man.

A new menace.

Tragedy struck Toms River, there on the Jersey Shore, days ago, when two teenager siblings on vacation with their parents became trapped in a giant hole they were digging in the sand using frisbees. The sister, seventeen, was quickly rescued while the brother, eighteen, was not and was pronounced dead at the scene.

It took rescue crews over three hours, using heavy machinery, to recover his body.

Toms River’s mayor wrote in a statement, “The Jersey Shore is a place where families come to make memories, bond and enjoy all that the beach has to offer. This tragedy is a reminder to us all to be vigilant for our loved ones safety. Let me remind all of our beach goers, visitors and locals, to never dig more than knee deep in the sand. Doing so puts yourself and others at risk.”

The unimaginable nightmare has highlighted a recent spate of New Jersey sand hole collapses with multiple trapping young children up and down the coastline during the past few years. Officials are warning of similar deep holes being dug by bored surfers on North Carolina’s Outer Banks whilst taking breaks from the waves.

These holes remain gaping after the surfers back up and head home, becoming potential menaces to children or emergency vehicles.

Ocean rescue supervisor for Kill Devil Hills, David Elder, told NPR news that the they’ve had people break limbs by falling into pits and even dying. “Sadly, this is the way that people choose to spend their time,” he bemoaned.