Developer fears billion-dollar Kelly Slater wavepool and “intensive” housing development on rural flood plain will be lost to rival Gold Coast; warns of “dire shortage” of homes in area and “need for hotel rooms”!

The developer "used the ‘Surf Ranch’ as the ‘hook’ when it is in fact a Trojan Horse for intensive urban sprawl onto the critically important Maroochy River floodplain."

The developer behind the WSL’s billion-dollar pool and residential play on 1200 acres near the Queensland beach town of Coolum, featuring a Surf Ranch, a six-star “eco resort”, a 20,000 person stadium and 1500 homes, says the Woz will move the project to the Gold Coast unless state government red tape is slashed.

“The World Surf League that owns the Kelly Slater Wave Co system is understandably pretty frustrated by the process,” developer Don O’Rorke, chairman of Consolidated Properties which owns the land, told the Courier Mail. “It’s a significant tourist attraction, it’d be a shame if it went to the Gold Coast and that is an imminent possibility… There’s a dire shortage of residential options on the Sunshine Coast, a big need for hotel rooms and big need for employment land.”

The pool and real estate play has been kicking around the halls of power for three years, and has met with some pretty stiff push-back from local residents and environmental groups.

Spokesperson for the non-profit Sunshine Coast Environment Council (SCEC), Narelle McCarthy, whose group’s protest signs were mysteriously stolen says “Both O’Rorke and (the WSL’s Andrew) Stark have unashamedly used the ‘Surf Ranch’ as the ‘hook’ when it is in fact a Trojan Horse for intensive urban sprawl onto the critically important Maroochy River floodplain and conflicts with numerous and long-standing statutory planning instruments and intent.”

O’Rorke will meet with six reps from different community groups, including the SCEC on May 31, see if maybe they’ll ease back a little and let ‘em get the development through.

Might be tough going for O’Rorke, who “donated the land and a half-a-million dollars for the Hurley HPC and was subsequently made a life member of Surfing Australia.”

“Our position has not changed,” said Melva Hobson, from OSCAR, the Organisation Sunshine Coast Association of Residents.

“We are still opposed to the proposal. The area involved is part of the Maroochy River flood plain and does what a flood plain should do.”

In a series of stories that followed the project, the dearly missed Steve “Longtom” Shearer walked the site.

The developer’s eye eludes me. I see trees and bush. Birds, insects, frogs. I feel sad that surfers will be the ones behind the bull-dozers, erasing this wildlife, this bush from history.

From what I can see though, although there is ambivalence, distrust and even hostility to the Coolum wave pool development, that is unlikely to stop the bulldozers.

The greenwashing on the project will be immense. Next level.

But I wonder, when Kelly thinks about what is being done in his name and looks in the mirror, does he still see an environmentalist looking back at him?

Lopez (pictured) on a wave measuring 2 - 3 German male lower legs.
Lopez (pictured) on a wave measuring 2 - 3 German male lower legs.

Style Master Gerry Lopez throws delightful shade on new 86-foot big wave record, discusses probability of mythical 100-foot ride: “You just have to have big balls [laughs]. It probably already has been done. It’s just that nobody has acknowledged it yet.”


Days ago it was revealed, here, that a new record for the “biggest wave ever ridden” had become official. Sebastian Steudtner had surfed the Nazare beast eighteen-months earlier but it took a crack scientific team to discover a new way of measuring, one that could never be fooled. In a rare moment of genius, they stumbled upon a tool hiding in plain sight, the German male’s lower leg, et voila.

History will never be the same.

Well, as luck would have it, one of surf history’s most stylish creatures, Gerry Lopez, just happened to serve up a delightful interview to Forbes magazine on the heels of this accomplishment. Jim Clash was, ostensibly, speaking to Lopez about the upcoming film The Yin and Yang of Gerry Lopez, which will be released later this summer, when talk turned to monster waves.

Clash: I’ve seen amazing photos of guys surfing behemoths off of Nazare, Portugal. Sebastian Steudtner surfed one there that was 86-feet tall in 2020, a supposed world record.

Lopez: Nazare certainly has the look of the biggest wave faces in the world. Every year, you see new pictures of guys in the waves, and it looks like they are shrinking because the waves are so enormous. I often wonder, “Has this been photoshopped?” But they’re getting so much better at it, developing the equipment and skills, so that they just keep going. A wave comes along, and sometimes it’s a big one. If the guy is right there in line, he’s going to go for it. If he doesn’t, everybody will tease him, and he’s probably going to regret it.

Clash: Is it possible to surf a 100-foot wave?

Lopez: Certainly. You just have to have big balls [laughs]. It probably already has been done. It’s just that nobody has acknowledged it yet.

Such beautiful shade. More delicious than anything backhanded compliment master Kelly Slater could dish. But do you think it has been done? The 100-foot ride? When it is, finally, done will everyone think it was done a long time ago and be all “that’s sooooo 2019.”?

Hopefully not.

Hopefully everyone will be more self aware and praise appropriately.

The clichés started creeping in. The WSL’s Wall of Positive Noise was, if not resurrected, no longer under siege. Filipe Toledo’s title-snatching aversion to heavy waves is mentioned but not examined. 

Warshaw on the softening of Make or Break, “Filipe Toledo’s title-snatching aversion to heavy waves is mentioned but not examined” and the rise of the “aggressively impractical” black surfboard!

"Filipe Toledo’s all-black Sharp Eye quad looked like a panther sprinting through a gallery of Diebenkorn landscapes while listening to Charli XCX’s Pink Diamond."

I cut way back on the screentime after posting that Make or Break rave last month, and not until yesterday did I get around to the season finale, which of course takes place at Lowers and ends with Carissa Moore and Gabriel Medina crowned as 2021 WCT world champs. 

I remain a Make or Break fan.

But the show did not, for me anyway, build or improve on the first two episodes—in fact it seemed less sure of itself as it went. 

The clichés started creeping in. The WSL’s Wall of Positive Noise was, if not resurrected, no longer under siege. Filipe Toledo’s title-snatching aversion to heavy waves is mentioned but not examined. 

The Surf Ranch Pro—despised by WCT fans and pros alike, but a golden invitation to a talk about the promise and existential dread of wavepools—is offered as just another tour stop.

None of the surfers in episodes two through seven, which the exception of Medina, are anywhere near as interesting as Tyler Wright was in episode one. Ditto for the contests themselves—as you’d expect, since the CT now begins at Pipeline, which is a dumb move by the WSL, but that’s a topic for another day.

I think the Make or Break creatives will fall back and make improvements, and I’m very much looking forward to Season Two. But I’ve adjusted my Season One score from a low 9 to a high 7.

All that said, two things in the Make or Break season finale stood out. 

First, the waves at Lowers looked so much better than I recall from watching the live stream. Bigger and smoother and 100% fair, in that everybody got a fair shot, nobody was screwed by the conditions. I still believe Finals Day deserves a better venue than Trestles—but Trestles, last year, did its part.

Second, Filipe Toledo’s all-black Sharp Eye quad, even while just resting in the sand, looked like a panther sprinting through a gallery of Diebenkorn landscapes while listening to Charli XCX’s “Pink Diamond.”

Stylish, fast, and bold. Five pounds of bespoke flat-black confidence.

Stylish, fast, and bold. Five pounds of bespoke flat-black confidence.

Black is, of course, an aggressively impractical color for a surfboard. Or it was, anyway. Two minutes in the summer sun and you’ve got melted wax all over the car upholstery, towel, boardbag. Another hour, if it’s hot enough, and the glass will bubble off the foam like cheese on a skillet, and if somebody out there tells me an overheated PU board will eventually spontaneously combust and leave nothing but a crater I will not be surprised.

Carbon-wrapped EPS-core surfboards not only solved the bubble problem, but the boards are light, strong, and whip-fast. Plus they look like a million bucks compressed into a flying dagger. 

Most black boards are made at Dark Arts in San Diego, which I was expecting to be huge and high tech, but looks instead like the same three guys from every hardcore board factory between here and Dale Velzy’s garage. Owner Justin Ternes admits that the company can “add colors to the boards, to reduce sun exposure,” but then states the obvious: “I recommend staying black; black is best.”

Red used to be the best. 

Board-fashion-wise, what Filipe is doing today with black—and not just Filipe, but John Florence, Tatiana Weston-Webb, and Kanoa Igarashi, among others—is what other great statement-making surfers have traditionally done with red. 

Barry Kanaiaupuni and Tiger Espere on the North Shore in 1969. Dewey Weber at Hermosa. And maybe reddest of all—Laura Blears and her 1975 Playboy Lightning Bolt.

(Editor’s caution, link contains nudity and bush.)

My new favorite red-board surfer is Joseph “Scooter Boy” Kaopuiki, who lit up Waikiki in the 1940s and ’50s on an 11-foot-long fire-engine red hollow board, which he rode like a Benzedrine-huffing finalist in the Savoy Ballroom lindy hop dance-off. Grady Timmons, in his essential book Waikiki Beachboy, said this about Kaopuiki:

Most beachboys were not big-wave riders. They were exhibitionists, their giant surfboards their stage. It was far more common to see a beachboy on a small wave, riding in while standing on his head, or carrying a woman in his arms, much as he might carry her across a threshold. The old-style surfboards were well suited for such antics. They were as big as beds—at least ten feet in length—[and] a surfer could improvise endlessly. Few were better than Scooter Boy Kaopuiki.

When beachboys talk about Scooter Boy, they have trouble finding words to describe him adequately. Coming up short in mid-sentence, they will suddenly jump on a picnic table or begin running up and down their living-room floor, demonstrating how Scooter Boy rode a hollow board. “Scooter Boy had that board flying all over the wave,” said Buffalo Keaulana. “He would run to the front, jump up in the air, and land on the nose, kicking the water from the nose so that the board would spin right around.”

When beachboys talk about Scooter Boy, they have trouble finding words to describe him adequately. Coming up short in mid-sentence, they will suddenly jump on a picnic table or begin running up and down their living-room floor, demonstrating how Scooter Boy rode a hollow board.
When beachboys talk about Scooter Boy, they have trouble finding words to describe him adequately. Coming up short in mid-sentence, they will suddenly jump on a picnic table or begin running up and down their living-room floor, demonstrating how Scooter Boy rode a hollow board.

Scooter Boy, a fireman by trade in addition to working as a beachboy, was small and ripped—he boxed as a welterweight and was said to be the best broken-field runner in Hawaii’s wildly popular Barefoot Football League. 

He was also stubborn. In the mid-’50s, years after board styles had moved on, Kaopuiki was the only person in the Makaha International Surfing Championships riding a hollow board; the same one he’d had for years.

Incredibly, given his foot speed and gyroscopic balance, Kaopuiki—who just three months earlier had taken up hang gliding with his wife—died in 1985 after slipping from a bridge during a hike. He was 74. 

A flotilla of canoes took Kaopuiki’s ashes through the Waikiki surf where he’d kicked up his heels years earlier, red trunks matching his red board, and put him to rest just beyond the lineup.

(You like this? Matt Warshaw delivers a surf essay every Sunday, PST. All of ’em a pleasure to read. Maybe time to subscribe to Warshaw’s Encyclopedia of Surfing, yeah? Three bucks a month.)

Samuels (left) fluffs Slater (right). Photo: The one, the only, Steve Sherman.
Samuels (left) fluffs Slater (right). Photo: The one, the only, Steve Sherman.

Power Rankings Power Ranking: Of all the illustrious surf journalists to partake in the cynical art form, from Lewis Samuels to Matt Warshaw to Sean Doherty, who is the GOAT?

Plus Karl Von Fanningstadt.

There are times, in all our lives, when important questions must fall. Like what then should happen to professional longboarding? And wherefore art thou Jonah Hill? And Kelly Slater? We must take them and roll them around our mouths while sucking, seriously, in order to find true meaning, subtle nuance n shit.

With this in mind, and heart, which surf journalist has undertaken the tried and true format of “Power Rankings” and soared above contemporaries?

Oh we’ve, each of us, have feasted upon Power Rankings for a decade plus. We’ve laughed, winced, nodded while thinking “too true.”

Have you watched Ricky Gervais’ latest comedy special on Netflix?

Or read Karl Von Fanningstadt’s most recent breakdown of our heroes and heroines?

But who has done it best?


Off the top of my head, I can recall our Derek Rielly, Matt Warshaw, Sean Doherty, Lewis Samuels, the aforementioned KVF and many I’m forgetting taking pen to ego but which has soared above the field?

Who should be considered the best Power Ranker of all-time?

It’s your turn.

In order, please.

Bizarro Bruce Irons and Margaret River Pro winner, Jackie Robinson.

Post-Margaret River and pre G-Land Power Rankings, “He has a desperate bravado, a last-standedness which extracts some vitality, like clotting blood, from defunct options!”

A tour breakdown that employs both the BPEL and NBPEL measurements and many disdainful pinpricks.

With Margaret River gone, the Tour has been pruned to a manageable twenty-three surfers including Gabriel Medina.

Shall we shed tears for the hewn?

No, none of them. 

Onto G-Land! 

23. Jake Marshall

Nice to see him back to doing what he’s best at out at Margs: making no impression whatsoever. Did he surf at Margs?

22. Jackson Baker

Hanging on by the skin of his bucked teeth after surfing his Pepto-Bismol board to a disappointing loss in the Round of 32, it was thrilling, well, not thrilling, but somewhat fun to learn that he qualified for the back half of this year.

While probably not going to be a standout anywhere, at least for his surfing, it will be fun to watch the ol’ potato try his hand at good waves.

His post-heat interviews should also be fun, not so much for what he says about his heats or surfing, but for how every answer he gives solidifies my belief in him that he was one of those kids in elementary school who licked up fire ants in front of girls partially to just be weird but mostly to flirt.

The only remaining question I have is whether after eating the fire ants he was the kind to burp, say “spicy,” and laugh or the kind to act normal and pretend like they don’t taste any different than regular ants, which they don’t. 

21. Connor O’Leary

One of the previous complainers about the mid-year cut, Connor made it fine, even after losing to Sammy Pupo in the Round of 32 (after Bells, he was virtually safe anyway).

Not anywhere near the top, he has the potential to do well at G-Land because he’s reasonably well-rounded, able to put together combos on waves that are above average, it’s a left, he’s goofy, and surf contests can be random.

20. Caio Ibelli

Rated eleventh in the world, it’s hard to imagine he will be able to keep that spot, given the fact that most of the people above him are better, not to mention he’s stuck on Rustys. Still, he’s safe for next year, which should give him plenty of time to celebrate his World’s Tallest Midget plaque awarded to him by the Guinness Book of World Records upon the death of former Tour holder Deivid Silva.

19. Seth Moniz

A second straight last-place finish for Seth has precipitated him tumbling down the ratings down to sixteenth.The last two venues, Bells and Margaret River, suck and his place should improve with the better waves coming up, should he just quit dipping his feet in duck fat before every heat.

Wait, he’s sixteenth, but I rated him nineteenth?

Yeah, couldn’t help penalizing the poor performances.   

18. Samuel Pupo

Another meh performance from Sammy, who lost in the Round of 16 to Magic Matthew McGillivray aka Mr. Post-It. I would try to say something about his Round of 32 win over Connor Buchan, but I haven’t been able to get the heat analyzer player to show me the fucking video. In fact, trying to view any of Round of 32 via Heat Analyzer results in the video error message “Video unavailable Playback on other websites has been disabled by the video owner Watch on YouTube.” This is on their own dumbass website.

17. Kelly Slater

A Round of 32 loss dropped Kelly nine spots down to thirteen. I’m not usually the type of person to say older athletes should retire. I Prefer to believe that someone competing until the wheels come off is more noble and relatable than someone so concerned about their legacy that their ego can only handle going out on top, but I kind of feel like Kelly should’ve retired after winn… no, that’s dumb.

He’s still one of the best at Pipe and he will be a thrill to watch at Chopes. Rated here because I don’t think G-Land will be his best and the other three comps before Tahiti don’t suit him, even if he’s been historically great at Jeffereys. Baldo needs barrels.      

16. Matthew McGillivray

Rated only above Ryan Callinan among the full-timers before the comp, Matty needed a good result to avoid being cut. He was able to do it, bagging a semi result on the back of some solid surfing in the big slopey rights that he uses to butter his bread.

Should I have found his run inspiring? Not exactly.

The fact that he was already a replacement surfer, rather than a fully qualified surfer prior to the season start, I am less inclined to categorize it as so heartening. He wasn’t technically supposed to be on Tour anyway, so why should I care that he almost didn’t requalify?

Anyway, safe for next year, he’s now free to rack up the last places again with abandon.  

15. K-Hole Andino

Missing his losing heat live and seeing that he got a ninth because he was injured, I was forced to spend time researching what happened to K-Hole. After summoning my full capabilities, I spent approximately 30 full seconds looking. My two takeaways from that exhaustive search: 1) he is still in the draw for G-Land; 2) based on my search of “kolohe andino injury” on Google brought up one burning question “Is Kolohe Andino related to Dino Andino?”

Boy, that would be something. 

14. Jordan Michael Smith

A quarterfinal finish was a pretty good result for Ugly Duckling Parko, who should be able to make a run at the final five, with G-Land and El Salvador serving as strengths. Anything less than a win at J-Bay would be a disappointment, all the potential spray from non-alcoholic beer on the podium wasted. 

13. Kanoa Igarashi

It was a very bad comp for young Kanoa, who lost both his Round of 32 heat and his public best friend on Tour, Leonardo Fioravanti. It will be sad to not see them together, so sad in fact, that the legendary Shigeru Miyamoto was moved to tears upon learning the news.

12. Miguel Pupo

The life of a ‘CT surf fan can seem demoralizingly lonely and dispiriting, filled with times stuck staring intently at your small phone screen to view an Elimination Round heat watching Deivid Silva and two unknown Australians battle it out to a sub-ten heat total victory while your significant other continues to go out of their way to ignore you and your interests.

As bad as that sounds, getting to see Miggy surf on Tour and in the Top 10, bashing the lip standing up perfectly straight, stylishly, and baring his glorious grill in post-heat interviews with the sick sticker from his mortgage title company sponsor shows prominently on his board, makes the effort worth it.     

11. Nat Young

I have always believed Nat Young to be a Top-10 talent surfer on Tour.

Is that true?

Not at all, but with his results this year, I’m finding myself more and more being able to talk myself into the idea.

A boon for California. Definitely more well-rounded than Conner Coffin, Nat represents the Golden State’s best hope at Tour success outside of Toledo. Speaking of Fil, reviewing Nat’s win against him I can’t help but think that it was kind of a rip off for Fil, who ended up winning the heat on three of the judges’ scorecards:


How does the surfer who was deemed the winner by a majority of the judges lose the heat? Because, that’s why. 

Additionally, if there were no throwaway scores, Fil would’ve won 15.58 to 15.56, a stupidly small margin.  

10. Barron Mamiya

Barron is so good at surfing. Unfortunately, he is susceptible to being a victim of opponent overscoring, like he was in his Round of 16 heat, where he lost to local favorite, Jack Robinson. Doing the same thing I did for Nat’s and Fil’s heat, just looking at Jack’s and Barron’s two rides that counted in their clash, we get:


Taking into consideration of all judges scores, the score would’ve tightened to 16.06 for Jack and 15.96 for Barron. So, yeah, based on how I determined the previous heat analyzed, I guess Jack should’ve won anyway, considering how the waves were scored. But that doesn’t take into account Barron’s 6.77 at the end of the heat that didn’t end up counting in his heat score, which arguably have been scored at least a point higher, considering what Jack got an 8.93 for.

9. Griffin Colapinto

A nice quarterfinal result for Griff at Margaret River pushes him into the Top 10 where, based on his talent, he should be permanently, as he’s a level above most guys on Tour. One surfer he has nowhere near the talent is John John, who outsurfed him by a larger margin than the final scoreline would indicate.

It was funny, though, to listen to Griff post-heat talk to Whits and Snake and say of his opponent, “I forgot that I could surf at his level,” which made me wonder how exactly he was making the comparison.

My guess is he was using his BPEL measurement and comparing it to John’s NBPEL. In only that way it makes sense.

8. Ethan Ewing

Mixing a little bit of Mick Fanning (technically brilliant railwork and blond hair) with a little bit of Parko (an effortless, aesthetically pleasing style), Ethan surfed his way to another semi, which has him holding position on a spot for Trestles.

Like both in the early parts of their careers, he should hope to improve in heaving lefts.

For those in his already ridiculously stuffed fan club, let’s hope he develops more of Micktory’s ruthlessness and competitive savvy than more of Joel’s gold-chain-wearing, rules-for-thee-not me haughtiness.

7. Callum Robson

This year has proven to be an unmitigated success for the previously unknown Australian shredder. No one could argue that. However, to compare him to Damien Hardman, like old BeachGrit contest writer, Steve Shearer, did in his wrap for the Challenger Series event at Snapper, is blasphemy.

Iceman versus Frosty the Snowman? Not a fair comparison.

Dooma ripped and won two World Titles. Until Callum wins one, he does not measure up. He doesn’t even measure up to Bede, who not only finished runner-up to Kellz in 2008, but also has consistently beat any potential stains to be had with a nickname like The White Fijian, a feat immeasurably miraculous. 

6. Jadson Andre

Jadson made the cut and beat Slater in the process at Margs this year, marking a wildly successful comp for the former flyboy. Secure in his spot for the entire year, we will have the pleasure of seeing him chuck himself over the ledge at Chopes and at being the only Brazilian friend on Tour to the next guy on the list…

5. Italo Ferreira

Fame is weird thing sometimes. One day you’re toast-of-the-town, seducing everyone in sight with your infectious exuberance and passionately fun nature, and the next you’re an egotistical turd, turning people off with your intensity, both in your love for yourself and in liking too many models’ Instagram photos. How people see Italo as having made such a heel turn, I’ll never fully understand, dude seems essentially the same as he always has: self-absorbed, driven, theatrical, weird, somethings he has in common with a certain pro everyone has worshipped over the last 30 years. What does this have to do with my assessment of his surfing? Nothing really. Anyway, if G-Land isn’t huge, look for Italo to blow up and help solidify his place for Trestles. 

4. Jack Robinson

I’ve been hard on Robbo in the past, but in my defence, it did seem like he was heading for a career as Bruce 2.0, which no one would be happy about.

With his win, wherein he seemingly unlocked Pritamo’s favor and he was buoyed by the Certified Local scoring boost, Jack fundamentally shed that burden. With his newfound power, let’s hope we see him perform to his potential at G-Land and Teahupoo and follow his Bizarro Bruce destiny to its ultimate conclusion: a World Title runner-up.

3. Filipe Toledo

His close loss to Nat Young in the Round of 16 left me feeling disappointed. My hope was that by taking out Margs, Fil would be able to finish the year with at least four event wins (including El Salvador and J-Bay) and build up such a huge lead before Trestles (one that in pre-Finals Event years, would’ve been insurmountable prior to Pipe) that no one could use the excuse that he only won his World Title because he won one contest at Trestles. Oh well. 

2. John John Florence

Another Margaret River contest, another display by John John that he is far and away the best surfer out there. Really, even considering his approach is a bit repetitive, he’s so much better than everyone else. I can see him winning any of the contests left on the schedule. Unfortunately for him, his worst chance would be at Trestles. 

1. Gabriel Medina

The King has returned.