Fitness buff Spenser Mestel, happy in and out of the water! | Photo: @spensermestel

Brooklyn-based stringer for The Atlantic reports from Melbourne wavepool; says tank has “its share of assholes” and is oversubscribed with VALS, “Nearly every person before me buried the nose of their board and face-planted into the water!”

Sexy New York fitness buff visits Urbnsurf!

A Brooklyn-based freelancer, or stringer as they used to be called before all the staffers were sacked and everyone turned into piece workers, has written a long-form story for The Atlantic following a recent visit to Melbourne’s Urbnsurf. 

Spenser Mestel, a well-muscled white man whose Instagram profile pic finds him in underpants, quadriceps flared, scrotum aggressive like carnivorous jaws, opens the piece. “I Went Surfing in an Office Park” with a quote from Chas. 

“Surf Ranch is a satanic mirror!” the surfing journalist Chas Smith wrote in reference to a park in California built by the surfing legend Kelly Slater. “It shows you who and what you are but the worst possible version.”

A session is booked.

Before going surfing, I’m used to lugging my board onto a bus. I’m not used to booking a session online. Using the descriptions, we debated which level was right for us. Could we “paddle, take-off, trim along the wave face, and safely dismount?” Yeah, of course. Well … maybe. We’re both consistent surfers, but it depends on the board, the wave, the day. To cover all our bases, we signed up for the two easiest levels. Still, three weeks out, all we could book were left-breaking waves, which are supposed to be harder if, like us, you surf with your right foot back.

Mestel arrives at tank, a five-minute drive from Melbourne’s Tullamarine airport. 

When we got to Urbnsurf, it looked like we’d just boarded a Royal Caribbean Cruise. Where was the weed-smoking, the dogs with sunglasses, the sleeper vans with Instagram handles painted on the back?

At the rental shop, the man working the front desk had his nails painted, like me. I’d never seen that while surfing, either.

After we got our boards—embarrassing bright-blue, 7-foot-6 foamies—we caught the tail end of the safety briefing. Finally, we could surf—well, “surf.” After scanning our wristbands at the turnstile, we paddled out in the chlorinated water toward the massive metal cylinder capable of spitting out all types of waves, from a slow, gentle roller to a six-foot-high barrel. One by one, we’d maneuver out to the label on the concrete wall that corresponded to the difficulty level of our wave and wait for our turn. For most of the four years I’ve surfed, I’d see a promising wave, turn toward the shore, and paddle furiously until I either caught it or didn’t. But recently, I’d learned to look back at the wave as I prepared to drop in, to read the shape and color to figure out where and when it would break. At Urbnsurf, I didn’t have to do all of that: I already knew I was in the right position. As soon as I heard the whurl of the machine, I’d start kicking my legs uselessly up and down.

For the first time in my life, I was able to trace along the face of the wave, turning down to gain speed and turning up to build momentum, all without being afraid that the wave would suddenly topple over and roll me so many times, I wouldn’t know which way was up.

Mestel discovers flotilla of VALS.

After our first session, we moved up a difficulty level. While I waited my turn, I saw nearly every person before me bury the nose of their board and face-plant into the water. Even in a single session you could see a huge spectrum of ability, from an overconfident beginner who left halfway through to a woman who absolutely shredded on a little potato chip of a fiberglass board. On my first attempt, I managed to stand up and ride for a few glorious and exhilarating seconds, but when I jumped off there was no familiar tug on my right leg.

A bad man, probably white!

Urbnsurf had its share of assholes, like the man who cut between a mother and her teenage daughter and then yelled at them both for not paddling hard enough. 

Discovers ocean still pretty good after flying from Melbourne to Sydney.

But then, on my last session out, during one of Sydney’s few perfectly sunny April days, I saw a three-footer rumbling toward me and guessed it would break to the right. To my amazement, it did, and I ran my hand through the face of the wave as I carved it up and down, opening my shoulders and looking where I wanted to go. It was a ride so perfect, it felt engineered. Seven euphoric seconds later, I’d ridden the wave all the way to the shoreline—and directly into a patch of seaweed.

Read here. 

Hot live chat, comment in real-time, day two, Boost Mobile Gold Coast Pro, “Visions of making the tour are as clear as the blue water and the competition is as dynamic as the reeling right barrels!”

Challenger Series follies!

Ultimate Surfer Tia Blanco (pictured) safe at equal 22. (photo Instagram).
Ultimate Surfer Tia Blanco (pictured) safe at equal 22. (photo Instagram).

Mainstream media opinion begins to coalesce around profoundly sexist, anti-equality nature behind the World Surf League’s “heartbreaking” mid-year cut!

Surf controversy!

I must say, the most surprising storyline following the just-finalized World Surf League mid-year cut was the ferocity with which mainstream media reacted. Headlines crowed, from major national capital to major national capital about the “devastating scenes” unspooling on Margaret River’s fatal shore, about the “unfairness” and wanton “cruelty” and “depressing.” Surprising, I suppose, because none of these publications cared much about professional surfing at the highest level prior to “the cut.”

Not knowing what to chalk the passion up to, I filed it under “HMMMM” right next to “Ben Gravy’s popularity” until this very morning when the picture began to clarify.

Stumbling upon a new piece by Yahoo! Sport titled Sally Fitzgibbons speaks out amid ‘heartbreaking’ surf controversy this morning, I first wondered what this “surf controversy” might be until putting my surf journalism hat on (one of Nick Carroll’s socks) and diving in.

Sally Fitzgibbons has vowed to fight her way back onto surfing’s top tour after falling victim to the World Surf League’s controversial new mid-year cut.

Fitzgibbons was one of a number of high-profile casualties of the new system after she was eliminated from the Margaret River Pro in the round of 16.

Only the top 10-ranked women advance to the second half of the Championship Tour, with the other surfers relegated to the Challenger Series and forced to qualify for the top tour again in 2023.

On the men’s side, the top 22 advance. Aussies Owen Wright and Morgan Cibilic fell victim to the cut, as did Brazilian young gun Joao Chianca.

And there we have it.

Blatant sexism.

Sneering anti-equality measures blaring from a league that has staked its new reputation on parity.

I was, of course, aware that the women’s field was to get cut down too and even heard the number ten bandied about but didn’t think much of it until right this minute. Ten surfers competing against each other for the rest of the year to cut it down by a whole five for final’s day at Lower Trestles?

That seems utter nonsense. Like trotting longboarders out at Manly and Huntington and telling them it’s good. Like Kelly Slater dating a woman for fifteen years and still planning on marrying her “sometime in the future.”

Like or dislike the women’s side, ten surfers is a dumb amount to then cut to five and if the “equality” push is really pure performance for the World Surf League, it should do the dignified thing and cut the men’s side to ten also.

Surf controversy is right.

Howard cutting (pictured). Photo: Grant Ellis.
Howard cutting (pictured). Photo: Grant Ellis.

In shock move, World Surf League longboard commissioner Devon Howard resigns post; speculation runs wild amidst heartbroken community and hawk-eyed pundits as to true reason!

Howard's End.

It is being reported in Log Rap that Devon Howard, the debonaire longer board surfer and commissioner of the all the way longboard World Surf League tour, has shocked the world by resigning his post forthwith, the ostensible reason being that the tour “is in a great place right now” and “the job has been completed.”

Now, anyone who is remotely aware of Howard knows that he is an old-school sort beyond the way he rides a surfboard. He prizes hard work, has a solid overall ethic, speaks when necessary, keeps quiet otherwise. It would be unbecoming for him to slander his former employer but also seems odd that he would resign as the new year, with just announced stops at Manly (just days away), Huntington and Malibu, gets underway.

So why?

It is incumbent upon us to wildly speculate.

You will recall, months ago, when the rumor floated that the WSL was going to slash the longboard tour from three events to one. Sitting champion Joel Tudor caught wind and went on a wild tear which ended with the announcement that there would be three events, Manly, Huntington, Malibu and that Tudor would be indefinitely suspended.

Now, if the WSL really had wanted to shred the longboard tour and were embarrassed by it, as evidenced by CEO Erik Logan’s dismissive eye-rolling when discussing amongst partners, why didn’t it while telling all the longboarders to go kick rocks? Forcing them to surf Manly and Huntington seems far worse punishment.

Might that decision have been made in a strange Santa Monica vacuum featuring the aforementioned Logan and the increasingly dominant Jessi Miley-Dyer then shoved down Howard’s throat while he was ordered to spin it as “brilliant” to the longboarding community?

Could more “truths” have been poured down that same throat in order to spew upon his charges?


Howard’s resignation becomes even weightier when remembering that World Surf League shortboard commissioner Pat O’Connell took the same route last year, rendering his abdication and quietly taking the lead at the John John Florence fronted Florence x Marine.

The two are, without a shadow of a doubt, surfers’ surfers having come up in the old ways. They have been around the game since birth, know all the facets and love beyond what is healthy. For both to ask out of their World Surf League postings is…. suspect.

David Lee Scales and I, in any case, wildly speculate further about Howard’s end as well as the to the reasons Kelly Slater is a longtime boyfriend. Listen now.

Pandemonium in Torquay as surf fans turn on WSL CEO Erik Logan and three-time world champ Mick Fanning squares off with former boss during taping of Ain’t That Swell, “Shirts off and into the octagon, boys!”

Elo on the offensive against hard-core surf fans and world champ!

It isn’t a stretch to describe Ain’t That Swell and its hardcore Swellian followers in the same way historians talk of the brave Apache, Aboriginal or Inca; the last remnants of a brave and brutal culture subsumed by something barren and unlovely and feeble and bland. 

Colonialists, VALS, ain’t no difference. 

During the taping of a recent episode at Torquay during the Bells Beach event, part of Ain’t That Swell’s epic Children of the Corn tour of Australia, Swellians welcomed WSL CEO Erik Logan with a volley of boos.

Show principal, Vaughan Blakey, a dignified and sincere man who don’t like hate, tried to hose down the rogue Swellians, “Who’s booing? Who was that? Fuck mate! Free contest free tour, fuck!, wake up!” 

Following suit, even Mick turned on his former boss, telling Logan he isn’t into the mid-tour cut, scissoring the SUP aficionado with “Personally, I wouldn’t do it”.

The smiling face of Logan, broadly benignant, was in no mood to back down, hosing away Mick’s claim that “rookies can’t establish themselves” with a stunning retort, “I think Barron (Mamiya) would disagree with that, he seems to be doing fine.” 

A wildly effective coup de grâce.

Mick, wounded, retreated into a series of “Look, look” etc. 

Logan, again, very good on the offensive, “I always come back to the fact, we get to a place where we’re focussing on crowning a world champion,” he said. 

Vaughan hoots, “Shirts off and into the octagon boys!” 

Good times!