Teenage surfer killed in horror river-wave accident after being trapped under water for six minutes, “Other surfers flung themselves into the water in an attempt to free him from the underwater panels that make the wave”

“There was nothing we could do and it was a helpless situation. It was terrifying.”

In the Deschute River in Bend, Oregon, is a pretty wild construct, twenty-six air bladders stuck on the river bed that can be manipulated in real-time to create a rideable wave.

The Bend Whitewater Park was created in 2015 following “tenacious dedication, community support through a 2012 bond measure, general fund tax revenues, grants and private contributions.”

Idea was real simple: Add a little tech to nature and you get a cheap wavepool for landlocked shredders, paddlers, kids on rafts and so on.

Gerry Lopez, who lives nearby, digs it.

Now, the joint is closed following the death of seventeen-year-old local surfer Ben Murphy on Saturday.

Murphy was held underwater for six minutes, trapped by the underwater panels that make the wave, and only removed from the water when he was washed downstream after the wave was shut off.

Despite CPR on the scene and cardiac shock treatment at the hozzy, Murphy was pronounced dead. Howevs, a faint heartbeat was detected shortly after and the kid was moved to the ICU for treatment.

“The St. Charles staff was more than amazing and worked to keep Ben comfortable and his vitals slowly improved for the first eight hours,” Ben’s dad Patrick Murphy wrote on Facebook. “He was on oxygen, tons of medication and was sedated to keep him comfortable.”

A TV news report told viewers the teen had survived, although Ben’s organs gradually began to fail and he was pronounced dead, hours later, by hospital staff.

The Oregonian reports witnesses saying they saw Murphy fall and get his foot stuck in one of the underwater gates. After a minute Murphy came to the surface, took a breath, before disappearing.

Surfers jumped into the river in attempt to pull Murphy out.

Another local surfer, Stetson Talley, who’d previously worked as a lifeguard and who was one of a group of surfers who tried to free Murphy said, “There was nothing we could do and it was a helpless situation,” he said. “It was terrifying.”

Talley, who’s been surfing the wave or the past three years, said it wasn’t unheard of for surfers to get their feet caught in the cracks between the grates and that all of ‘em had been able to get their feet out before being sucked under.

According to The Oregonian, “At least six fatalities have been reported at standing wave features on other rivers in the U.S. and Canada in recent years.”

Three years ago, Dylan Graves surfed the place with Gerry Lopez as part of his Weird Waves project with Vans, the short explaining the mechanics behind the wave.

Jackie Robinson hauls up ten spots in the ratings, from thirteen to three. | Photo: WSL

“Tantric discipline” by WSL at Margaret River Pro ensures epic finals day, “If the top five surfers today were those heading to Trestles to contend for the title, would you argue with it?

Toledo, Florence, Robinson, Ewing, Ferreira. Tell me that a match-up between any two of these men, at any wave on Tour, would not be a spectacle worth watching?

I’ve got a loose approach to gardening. I keep the grass short, tend to some modest veg, and leave the rest be. There are young trees I’m protective of. Some are of uncertain origin and species, and my mind was to let them grow and see where we ended up.

Leave them alone, they’ll figure it out.

My dear mum has a very different approach. She relentlessly prunes and burns and weeds. She cuts to encourage growth.

Where my garden is charmingly unkempt and wild, hers is manicured within an inch of its life. She removes the weaker plants so that others might thrive and shine.

Lately, she turned her hand to my garden, nicking and snipping with her pruning shears. She pulled out some of my young trees by the roots. I complained. I argued. I told her not to cut that one, and just to leave that other. But she didn’t listen.

In the end she was right. It’s better for being cut back.

It was a lesson in growth.

You must consider diversity as well as beauty. Space used as well as space created. Nourish but don’t smother. Prune but don’t hack. Get rid of some things to stimulate others.

Watch them flourish.

If the top five surfers in the world today were those heading to Trestles to contend for the title, would you argue with it?

Filipe Toledo, John Florence, Jack Robinson, Ethan Ewing, Italo Ferreira.

Tell me that a match-up between any two of these men, at any wave on Tour, would not be a spectacle worth watching?

Within this group there is diversity of culture, approach, strength and character. There is no weakness.

There’s a long way to go, of course, and the return of one Gabriel Medina to consider, but this is a top five to tickle any tastes.

What began as a story about the losers became something very different. Margaret River had its own tale to tell.

It would not be a story of people hanging on by their fingernails, but instead of those showing their claws.

From dawn to dusk the entirety of the men’s competition was completed. A tantric discipline assured the best conditions of the window and we finished in the dying light of the final hours of the waiting period.

It wasn’t a particularly tricky call, given the forecast, but mark it down as a slippage of the hangman’s noose for Jessi Miley-Dyer nonetheless.

Let’s just cut to the business end and the flowers that bloomed amidst the West Australian dunescapes.

Filipe Toledo still holds a slender lead in the rankings despite losing a tight heat to Nat Young in the round of 16. The latter has buds burgeoning with as much promise as any point in the earlier iterations of his career.

However, a production disaster meant much of their heat went unseen in favour of a phone in with Medina. It was the best heat of the comp so far, with the man in the yellow jersey, no less, and we missed it.

Italo looked sparky at times, short of a little pizzazz at others. He was more like his old self, muted and relaxed in post heat pressers in a very deliberate way. He spoke about good energy with Jadson, with whom he was staying. But he’ll need to find the tipping point between vigour and rage going forward.

Barron Mamiya is a surfer I continue to admire. He has a tigerish power and poise that makes you believe he might attack a section with blinding ferocity at any given moment. He lost to Jack Robinson in one of two heats the eventual victor might have lost today. Robinson’s opening 8.93 was highly questionable, especially in context of Barron’s waves.

Just 0.13 pts separated the two at the end, and in this you might surmise that it was close enough to have gone either way, but this in itself is a problem. Several heats at Bells Beach were decided by fractions of a point. There were fewer at Margaret River, but there were incidents where the scoring range between the judges was an entire point or more.

This should be mitigated by dropping the high and low scores and taking the average, but on several occasions there were two judges with identical highest scores and two with identical lowest, therefore in the three counting scores there was still a point differential.

This isn’t just a major problem, it was decisive in the outcome of the event.

Jack Robinson had a scoring wave in his quarter, semi and final where there was a full point of difference between the judges.

In other words, for three of the six waves that won him the event, the judges couldn’t agree if the surfing was in the good or excellent range. In the case of his final with John where the differential between their heat totals was only 0.64 points, this judging discrepancy altered the outcome of the event.

See for yourself.

8.0 in the Quarter final vs Jordy – 8.5, 7.5, 8.0, 7.5, 8.5

8.10 in the semi against Ethan – 7.5, 7.5, 8.5, 8.5, 8.3

8.07 in the final against John – 7.3, 8.5, 8.5, 7.5, 8.2

To say this is simply not good enough would be a gross understatement.

How can heats be justifiably decided by fractions of points with this spread between judges?

It seems pedantic to constantly harp onto the judges, but this is a failure in basic competence.

We won’t get transparency or explanation, and I find it odd that surfers don’t demand it when careers and livelihoods are on the line. The rise of sports betting in America has led to stat corrections and in-depth referee reports. Could we see the same here?

Perhaps that way madness lies.

I’m beginning to think we should just throw the baby out with the bathwater and recalibrate how we think about professional surfing entirely.

Perhaps embracing the concept of entertainment is the way to make our peace with it. When we try to package it like sport it wriggles and squirms. So why bother? Let’s take it for what it is: a frivolous, watery dance predicated on rhythm, luck and mystical energies that none of us understand.

It’s entirely subjective. It’s simply entertainment.

And all said and done, the most entertaining surfers in the world are more or less the ones we ended up with in the finals at Margaret River.

A sagely nod to Matt McGillivray, the only surfer to step up to the plate and forge a lonely redemption arc.

Florence and Ewing were the standout surfers of the event, and it wasn’t particularly close.

I’ve fully fallen under Ethan Ewing’s spell. I’m almost compelled to go back and watch his previous stints on Tour to try and discern the differences between then and now. How did he conceal such power and talent?

He slices under the lip so precisely that his board might be an obsidian blade. His head, shoulders and arms are in perfect synchronicity. They do everything yet nothing. Watching him from a distance is like looking at clockwork. You can see that it works, but to appreciate it you need to examine it very, very closely. Even then you’ll still be baffled.

John Florence looked unbeatable even when he was eventually beaten. He seemed a victim of his own success at Margaret River. There was lots of chatter in the booth about his connection and his winning percentage of 85%. The speed he carried through transitions was unmatched. His carves buried the entire rail to within an inch of the nose.

The problem, however, was that we’d seen it before. It was still unique, but it felt familiar. Even the extraordinary can become mundane.

Perhaps John was conscious of this when he threw a hip-dislocatingly beautiful tail slide in the final. It was the most radical turn of the competition and although he was rewarded with the highest score of the match-up with an 8.5, really it should’ve been higher. Any other surfer attempting this successfully on their opening turn would surely have been given a high nine. If only anyone else could do it.

Regardless of the loss, Florence is now second in the rankings and that’s great for us and him.

But we’ll see Gabriel Medina in Indonesia.

“I see opportunity,” he said when asked how he felt about coming back. “It’s makeable. They are waves I like, they suit my surfing.”

I’d burn my whole garden to the ground just for him.

Maui hotel sued after tourist asks employee for beach recommendation, follows advice, breaks neck due being slammed into sand by wave and is permanently paralyzed!

No good deed.

We live in litigious times. There is no slight too benign, too non-existent for which to drag a friend, a foe, a service industry worker to court and attempt a financial bloodletting. A Maui hotel the latest in a long string, this particular story beginning all the way back in 2012 when a visitor to the Valley Isle approached an employee and asked for a pleasant beach he could enjoy with his family.

Though not hotel-adjacent, the employee suggested Big Beach south of Kihei and part of the Makena State Park and provided driving instructions.

Following them to a tee, the man, and his family, soon parked and found themselves gazing over the turquoise waters and natural beauty. The family went for a swim, the man did not but later changed his mind and joined them.

According to court documents, he bobbed for ten or such minutes then “as he began a half-walk, half-breaststroke towards the shore, a breaking wave struck him from behind, causing his head to strike the sandy bottom of the ocean.”

The incident led to permanent paralysis, a sad state of affairs to be sure, and if anyone, here, has ever been to Big Beach, he or she would know that it is favored by hell-seeking bodyboarders and bodysurfers. I, myself, had had enjoyable swims there with the gorgeousness of the water combining with its ferocity in creating a very fine time.

Many signs are posted on the beach, in fact, warning of this ferocity but the visitor does not remember seeing them and is pinning his troubles on the hotel itself, via lawsuit, declaring that the employee should have warned him of the dangers.

Is his case ironclad?

Windfall soon?

A golden wheelchair in the future?

More as the story develops.

"Enjoy it! Soak it up! John John Florence is your champ!" Winner Jackie Robinson and in-water interview KP laugh at faux pas.

London fashion icon Jack Robinson presses home-court advantage to slay “king of Margaret River” John John Florence in wild see-sawing final at Margaret River Pro!

A new king of Margaret River is crowned!

“If John John Florence is the king of Margaret River, Jack Robinson is its prince,” said WSL commentator Rich Lovett as John John and Jackie sat in the late afternoon Margaret River lineup, man against man, king against prince. 

Jackie, who is twenty-three, would account for the two-time world champ and two-time winner of the Margaret River Pro, using airs and a three-turn combo to cook John John like a hamburger on a griddle in the dying light.

Earlier in the day, Jackie mowed through the other two in-form surfers of the event, Jordy Smith and Ethan Ewing, before twisting John John’s nipples in the final.

Where John John used rail to build an early lead, Jackie was an artist at his peak, kicking into gear mid-final, licking his stank fingers after each near-perfect ride, including a wild end section 540.

Final score, Jackie, 16.24, John John, 15.60.

“So many hours, so much time,” Jackie, now rated third in the world, said to the water-based interview Kaipo Guerrero, the pair bathed in golden west coast light.

“Enjoy it! Soak it up! John John Florence is your champ!” hooted Kaipo before interviewer and winner exploded into laughter at faux pas.

Good times.

Full report to come. 

One scene that is impossible not to love is Sage Erickson lighting up on Tatiana Weston-Webb over a priority interference. "Fucken cheap," says angry Sage. | Photo: Apple TV

Non-surfing film critic for Mac fan-boy site slams Apple TV’s “infuriating” and “compositionally erratic” series Make or Break: “(It’s) not about surfing. It’s about modern competitive surfing culture, and that’s just not that interesting”

“This is perfectly fine television, but it does feel like an enormous missed opportunity.”

The film critic and director Scout Tafoya, author of the first book-length critical study of Tobe Hooper, the director of “The Texas Chain Saw Massacre”, has slammed Make or Break, the Apple TV series the WSL hopes will be the key that unlocks the hearts of non-surfing fans worldwide.

In a piece for cultofmac.com, “a daily news website about the world of Apple”, Tafoya is unsparing in his criticism.

Describing the green-light of a second season as “baffling.”

There’s an unfortunate trend in the way this documentary series treats its characters (which has bafflingly already been given a second season, despite having appeared as a screener on Monday of last week ahead of its premiere today). I like the idea of surfing. And as spectacle, it’s quite hypnotic and beautiful. But I don’t know anything about surfing or modern surfing culture, relatively speaking.

Make or Break opens with a surfing journalist talking about the Wright family surfing dynasty as if we all know this stuff already. Which of course means that nobody involved in this project thought for a second that anyone doesn’t already love surfing.

The series allows about 6 inches of breathing room for the uninitiated. But mostly, like the surfers here, you’re thrown under the waves. When the announcers tell us we’ve seen something extraordinary, and the judges give it a perfect 10, it would be very cool to know why.

On what works, and what don’t.

The best moments in Make or Break happen when they stop editing it like a sports competition and just show you the surfing uninterrupted. The editing on this show proves infuriating, because the creators don’t trust that the sight of surfing (you know … the reason the show exists?) is interesting enough without cutting through each few-seconds-long ride a dozen times just in case you turned completely around for a few seconds and then looked back.

On the WSL’s pivot to vanilla.

For years, the appeal (as far as I could understand, at any rate) was that surfing was one of those things like skateboarding or punk music, that people didn’t think should be taken seriously. That’s why to this day, some of the best artifacts around the idea of surfing (for my money, stuff like 1987 exploitation flick Surf Nazis Must Die or the video for Interpol’s “All the Rage Back Home“) embrace the sport’s connection to the disreputable.

Making a show about the corporate maneuvers required to make the World Surf League happen in the face of, say, a shark attack, is antithetical to the reason to watch surfing in the first place. This is perfectly fine television, but it does feel like an enormous missed opportunity.

Make or Break is not about surfing. It’s about modern competitive surfing culture, and that’s just not that interesting.

My favourite episode, currently, is episode six, Chasing the Queen.

I enjoyed, very much, the insight into Stephanie Gilmore as she navigates the autumn years of her career, and Sage Erickson lighting up on Tatiana Weston-Webb over a priority interference.

“Fucken cheap,” says Sage.

“Just playing the game,” says Tati.