Kelly Slater (pictured) knower of all things.
Kelly Slater (pictured) knower of all things.

Surfing’s most dominant competitor Kelly Slater advises on trans athlete debate currently roiling extreme sport world: “Make a trans division and we don’t have this confusion (shrug emoji).”

Simple solutions.

A topic is not officially oversaturated until the world’s greatest surfer weighs in with his thoughts, advice. Slightly more than a week ago, longboarder Sasha Jane Lowerson blitzed the competition, winning the Western Australian Longboarding women’s division with the greatest of ease. She became the first surfer to win both women’s division and men’s, as Ryan Egan, division three years’ prior.

Well, days ago, respectable surf media house Stab Magazine covered Lowerson’s victory for the first time, following the FCC’s recommended guidelines before pushing hot buttons, and drew 11x champion Kelly Slater into the mix.

Slater, sagely, commented, “Make a trans division and we don’t have this confusion.” including a fine shrug emoji at the end.

Fine advice, no doubt, but one small problem, maybe. Harper’s Index, a collection of data highlighting public perception, declares that Americans believe 21% of the population is transgender.

The reality is .6%.

And the percentage of that .6% who surf professionally, I’d have to think, lightly smaller.

So, here we are, stuck. What then to do? Should fairness, in sport, be struck down as an antiquated notion? Should sport, itself, be struck down altogether as a relic of times gone by? I very much wanted to ask Sasha Jane Lowerson, herself, but after agreeing to be interviewed proceeded to block BeachGrit across social media and go dark. When I emailed, asking for account, she responded, “People have made threats on my life. I’m taking some time out! The rules are the rules!”

But I think “the rules” is where everyone aside from Kelly Slater is confused, yes? Where society and norms have shifted under our very feet? Not that anyone needs another cis male’s opinion on the matter, especially one who doesn’t hold eleven surfing world titles, but I believe gender is, like, a thing. A biological truth. To erase, or call it a racist construct, not only defies logic but becomes dangerous as meaning would simply vanish.

So if gender is real, though alterable, should transgendered athletes be allowed to compete in women’s divisions?


There’s having cake. There’s eating cake. The former doesn’t guarantee the latter.

Now drag me to the public square to be beaten black and blue with rolled up copies of Oberlin College’s summer course catalog.

Transgender action sports pioneers, Lowerson, left, and Gallagher.

LGBTQ+ community pops champagne corks again as trans-gals continue dominance of women’s action sports, skateboarder Lillian Gallagher demolishing all comers in prestigious Red Bull skate event!

But not everyone thrilled, "A biological man with a clear advantage won."

A little over a week ago, surfing’s first-ever transgender competitor Sasha Jane Lowerson mowed through the women’s division of the Western Australian longboard titles, winning the open gal’s crown easily.

A West Oz title wasn’t new for Lowerson; three years earlier she’d won the men’s division as Ryan Egan. 

The triumph was a sweet return for Lowerson, howevs, who said she had been real close to killing herself and had considered giving up surfing entirely. 

Inspiration, terrific etc. 

Now, video of a Red Bull skate event from last year has surfaced showing transgender skater Lillian Gallagher giving hell to all comers, winning the qualifiers, the women’s event as well as best trick. 

Lillian Gallagher collects three gees in the open women’s, Silverman at her right, second.


Gallagher scoops up a gee for best trick.

At the Red Bull  Cornerstone skate contest in Nebraska, Gallagher won a total of five thousand dollars, a thousand bucks for winning the qualifiers, three gees in the final and another grand for the best trick. 

A triumph of the will as well as a much needed kick in the brains to the CIS normative patriarchy and so on. 

Not everyone was thrilled, howevs.

Perennial second-place getter Taylor Silverman wrote to sponsor Red Bull giving hell to the notion that former men should be allowed into women’s sports. 

“I am done being silent… a biological man with a clear advantage won,” Silverman wrote, later posting on IG.

The issue of biological advantage aside, a question: why do men who transition always look a million times better as gals than men?

For no better example see the switcharoo of Bruce Jenner from feeble old man to sexy in candy-striped shorts Caitlyn Jenner, able to snare even the straightest CIS man with that bony behind and melon-red tongue.

Close your eyes and see it, doggy! Oooeee, I can see it daddy!


Lattanzi (pictured) deep in Jaws. Photo: Instagram @waterpeopleteam.
Lattanzi (pictured) deep in Jaws. Photo: Instagram @waterpeopleteam.

Death-defying big wave bodysurfer Kelly Slater credits as having “one of the all-time great rides in the surf world” lovingly profiled in The Gray Lady!

Winning time.

Is the confetti out of your hair, yet, after celebrating the winds of political change a’ blowin’ through Australia or is it still there dusting your crown, bejeweling your pillow? Exciting, in any case, and nothing better than waking up in the morning after a big night, sliding feet into slippers, torso into linen robe, heading downstairs to French press a cup of dark roast coffee then retreating straight back up to bed, New York Times tucked under arm, coffee in hand.

The good life.

And this morning, celebrants will be treated to a loving profile of the big wave bodysurfer from Brazil Kalani Lattanzi. The twenty-eight-year-old was made very famous, to our watery kind, for bodysurfing Jaws. Living legend Kelly Slater, who needs absolutely no introduction, called it “one of the greatest rides in the surf world.”

A compliment without parallel.

Lattanzi, who, has bodysurfed giants in Puerto Escondido, Arica and Nazare to name but a few, told the paper of record, “When I started bodysurfing, I wondered if it was possible for someone to bodysurf a big wave. Then I started to grow up and I realized, ‘OK, I am the one who is going to do this.’”

The story continues:

Lattanzi prepares like a professional athlete in order to meet the demands of his niche. He eats clean and cross-trains, lifting weights and doing yoga in order to sustain the many hours of swimming, negotiate huge waves and withstand their impact. He now has his sights set on Mavericks, a notoriously dangerous wave in Northern California that can reach heights over 60 feet, which he hopes to tackle this year.

“It takes a real tranquil mind. It takes incredible strength. Incredible lungs. Aqua Gorilla is what we all call him because he’s so strong in the water,” (fellow big wave bodysurfer Ryan) Masters said. “He’s the ultimate waterman.”

When Masters tried to conquer Mavericks in 2016, he bruised a lung, fractured his neck, broke his collarbone and seven ribs, and was airlifted to Stanford Hospital. “Mavericks is just a different animal that’s unlike any wave on the planet,” Masters said. “It’s incredibly savage.”

After much Gray Lady discussion about the savagery etc., surfing’s finest and only historian Matt Warshaw is contacted and declares, “It looks so much scarier, not having a board, but if you’re a strong swimmer, and have fins on, and know the lineup and have a high degree of big-wave knowledge, you’re better off than being on a board with no fins.”

It looks a lot harder than it is? Way to take the air out of the room, Warshaw. Sheesh.

Read the rest here.

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.