"Don't surf."
"Don't surf."

VALs, Wavestormers given stark warning as critical lifeguard shortage hits U.S. beaches ahead of summer: “It’s probably best to follow the advice ‘if you don’t surf, don’t start!'”


Memorial weekend is the official start of summer in the United States what with BBQs and its fireworks displays and its U.S. Open of Surfing and its good old timey riotous fun but this summer dire warnings are being given to those who would like to swim or learn to surf. Oh no it has nothing to do with rip-roaring inflation but rather a troubling lifeguard shortage affecting sea to shining sea.

Per reporting from CNN:

Dwindling interest in lifeguarding is not a new problem, according to some experts, but was exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic, when many pools and training sessions were shuttered and many of the young applicants who would normally apply are now choosing retail or restaurant jobs that offer higher pay. Having unmanned pools can be dangerous or even deadly, Fisher said.

But leaders in the field say this moment also offers an important opportunity to reshape the narrative around the job: how it’s perceived by the public, who can do it, how much it pays and why it is so important.

“We’ve got to keep up pay rates, we’ve got to keep up motivating these lifesavers and making sure that everybody understands that at the end of the day, there is no better job than being a sort of lifesaver,” Tom Gill, vice president of the United States Lifesaving Association, a nonprofit representing beach lifeguards and open water rescuers.

And let’s hope our brave guards get their pay raises but let’s also not stress the safety net, as it were. Vulnerable adult learners and Wavestorms should likely stay on the sand for the foreseeable future. Spike ball, I hear, is very fun and I’ve played a fair deal of smash ball, which I can whole-heartedly recommend. Great for the entire family.


Brewer and Lopez.

Wildly influential Hawaiian shaper Dick Brewer dead at eighty-five, “He was the guru, the man on the mountain, the shaper everybody knelt down before. Figuratively, mostly, but maybe literally too!”

“Incredible guns, just Sabrejet-level equipment for North Shore surfers in the ’60s and ’70s.”

A couple of months back came news from Princeville, Kauai, that Dick Brewer, the eighty-five-year-old designer and shaper of “incredible North Shore guns” was facing his last days on earth.

His wife posted, “My baby will not be in this world much longer. He could use all the love and support he can get right now.”

Brewer had been sick as hell, some sorta blood cancer or bone marrow disease, and there were reports suggesting he was refusing treatments but it was “an insurance issue that’s putting them in a tight spot.”

News, now, that Brewer died at his Princeville home today.

“He was the guru, the man on the mountain, the shaper everybody knelt down before. Figuratively, mostly, but I think maybe literally too!” says surf historian Matt Warshaw. “Incredible guns, just Sabrejet-level equipment for North Shore surfers in the ’60s and ’70s.”

Brewer was born in 1936, a few miles west of Lake Superior in Minnesota, to a family of Quakers. At three, his family moved to Long Beach, California, where daddy Charles got a job working on the landing gear of DC-3s as the American war machine slowly groaned to life.

Dick started surfing in 1952, picked up a planer seven years later, and in 1960 moved to the North Shore where he developed a strong rep at big Waimea and Sunset.

A year later he set up a surf shop in Haleiwa and the rest, as they say, is a beautiful and wild history.

“Apart from the boards being gold-standard, and apart from being our first and last and greatest shaping guru,” says Warshaw, “Brewer’s contribution was to look outside of surfing. His engineering background, everything he knew about cars, about machining, about speed and drive and torque—he brought all of that to bear in the shaping room. Lucky for our sport, he wasn’t born and raised on the beach. He loved surfing best of all, but he was smart enough to look beyond surfing. To our great benefit.”

Read the definitive Dick Brewer story, written by Drew Kampion, here.

Wearing a knee brace, John John took the lead on back-to-back waves with just five minutes left. For the first, he backdoored a short, clean tube on a wave that was barely head-high, yet sufficient given the inconsistency of conditions. | Photo: WSL

Quiksilver Pro G-Land Day One: “For the world’s best, today did not deliver the waves of their pre-event fever dreams. Nor are we likely to see those types of waves during this waiting period.”

Will we see G-Land decided by psycho airs over dry reef? As admirable as that sort of bravery is, let’s hope not.

Tell me, how over is the Indo dream? I’ve been thinking about it a lot recently, the way a man does when he reaches certain ages and stages and finds himself reflective.

Surfing is the ultimate pastime for memories in hues of gold. It’ll never again be as good as it was ten years ago, last week, yesterday.

It was always better an hour ago.

My experience of Indonesia is thin. A month and a half spent flitting between Bali and Java when the Sari Club was still Bintangs not bombs, and my primary concerns were the satitations of mind and body out of the water.

Youth is wasted on the young, as we know.

But even then I’d missed the real Indo dream by decades. What has happened in a further twenty years?

Today was not the finest example of what G-Land or the archipelago at large can produce, but nor was it the worst. For most of us I’m certain it would’ve been more than welcome. To have the vastness of that line-up to ourselves? That would still be enough.

The water sparkled, the winds were light and the line-up was pristine and empty. There was a dreamlike quality about the whole thing. Despite not being perfect, it was different enough to feel fresh. Looking into the sun and at some distance away there’s an almost voyeuristic sensation. There were no crowd shots, there was no background noise of beach announcers, and no watery microphone static.

Strider lay in a hammock. There was certainly an affectation in his sleepy delivery, but it echoed the atmosphere of the event as a whole.

It was almost peaceful. Not competition, just surfing.

I wasn’t the only one dreaming of the late 90s this week. The most vivid dreams surely belonged to the pundits. The voices of Luke Egan and Tom Carroll were heavy with the weight of bliss, imbued with the memories of moments come and gone. You can hardly blame them.

Visions of the 1997 Quik Pro haunted today, as Surfads predicted. Competitors too young to remember – or not yet born – had clearly used footage of the comp as a primer. John Florence, a mere five years old at the time, noted as much in his post-heat interview.

Everyone was worried about John for the first thirty minutes of his heat. He had barely caught a wave. All we knew was that he strapped on an industrial-looking knee brace pre-heat. His face gave nothing away, silent and unfathomable as ever.

For me, Florence has an aura of power more tangible than usual at G-Land. It’s a wave that demands a degree of technicality that you never doubt in his game. More importantly, there’s less fanfare here. The scaled back production dictated by the location means the focus is squarely on surfing. This suits John. If there ever was to be a reimagined format that relied on strike missions to remote locations, one that reduced both the field and the pandering to tourist boards, would you ever doubt him?

By heat end, the worries about the mystery knee injury were quelled, for now. He was less Forrest Gump, and more Universal Soldier. He took the lead on back-to-back waves with just five minutes left. For the first, he backdoored a short, clean tube on a wave that was barely head-high, yet sufficient given the inconsistency of conditions. The second was bigger, justified with two backhand hacks and a cover-up to finish for a low eight. It was the highest score of the heat and assured a comfortable victory.

Another man with reason to be reflective was Kelly Slater. I noted the little water splashes at the beginning of his heat. They’ve become somewhat of a Slater trademark when he’s feeling spiritual and/or desperate. He believes he can conjure waves into existence. Pundits talked about how Kelly was feeling, how happy he was, that his mind was in a good place. Look out, they told us. A happy Kelly is a dangerous Kelly. True, perhaps, but not without waves. His opening wave demonstrated the flow he was obviously feeling. Right until he got clipped at the end.

His water splashing incantations will need to be more powerful than ever to summon something from this forecast. There is no doubt Slater could be masterful here if the water gods allow it.

But what we might see from Medina, both here and over the next few months, is the weight on everyone’s mind.

For us, there’s excitement; for his rivals, fear.

A pre-recorded clip of Kelly told us that Gabriel had been in Indonesia for weeks. Despite being absent from competition, he was “probably more prepared than anyone”, according to Slater.

As the sun sank low he assured a comfortable victory over Callum Robson and Sammy Pupo, but there was little in the way of a spectacular return. An eager start, he took several waves early, pumping his way down the line on shoulder-high closeouts. Each pump seemed to build the sense of anticipation we felt. We wanted a mind-blowing return where we might sit back and feel a heady mix of relief, satisfaction and joy.

But it was not to be.

Instead, it was a patchy sort of victory. Pupo and Robson had two of the better waves of the heat early on, but neither could make them count.

A surfer who did make his opportunity count was Indonesian wildcard Rio Waida. Fresh from his victory in the Sydney Challenger series event, he dispatched weighty opponents in Filipe Toledo and Nat Young.

I confess to knowing absolutely nothing about him. He’s 22, apparently. Born in Japan to mixed Japanese and Indonesian parentage, moving to Indonesia when he was five. By the look of things, this was also right around the time his profile pic for the WSL website was taken.

Let’s see what else he can do, it’s always worth supporting a wildcard who has a good dig.

For the world’s best, however, today did not deliver the waves of their pre-event fever dreams. Nor are we likely to see those types of waves during this waiting period. The week after? Pumping.

Deflating for us and the athletes? More than a little.

Richie Porta’s pre-event breakdown told us that judges would be focused on barrels and barrels only. They wanted to see surfers deep and disappeared, he said. There were some cover-ups today but they were forced and brief. It looks like that might be the story of the event to come, more’s the pity.

Will we see G-Land decided by psycho airs over dry reef? As admirable as that sort of bravery is, let’s hope not.

Open thread, comment live, Quiksilver Pro, Grajagan, “If you’ve never seen it before, it’s actually really hard to imagine!”

“It was our surfing monastery. We should never have told anyone," says G-Land pioneer Gerry Lopez.

Triple world champ Gabriel Medina, a gambler's best pal. | Photo: Steve Sherman/@tsherms

Sports bookmaker responds to wild betting plunge on returning triple world champ Gabriel Medina by slashing odds and cancelling bets, “Gabby was at $21 to win the title, then $12, then they cancelled my multi with him saying they made mistake with the odds!”

Gamblers go wild for Medina, subsequently freak out online gambling daddy… 

Nothing it seems, not a messy estrangement from family nor the sudden separation from a wife of only one year, can convince sports fans Medina is anything but the dead favourite to win this year’s world title, his abbreviated campaign beginning today at Grajagan.

On Tuesday, the online gambling company Sportsbet was offering a return of $21 for every dollar waged on returning triple world champ Medina winning the title. 

Easy money, no?

Turn a c-note into two gees; a thousand will give you enough green to carry you for a season in Canggu admiring the rich, ripe and fantastically curvaceous bodies of the Russian modelling diaspora.

But, following a wild betting plunge by surfers shrewd enough to know that Medina is gonna waltz into the top five with almost guaranteed results at G-Land and Teahupoo, the odds were slashed to twelve bucks and any multis featuring the champ were cancelled. 

In a letter to one surf gambler from Sportsbet, 

“This correspondence serves as notification that your multi bet on the WSL Season Championship has been cancelled due to the wrong odds being posted. Your bed was cancelled in accordance with our rules” etc

Sportsbet is a little touchy these days when it comes to losing.

Last year, it paid out punters on the Melbourne Cup, Australia’s biggest horse race, two weeks before the event, so sure they were the favourite was gonna win.

Another horse won and they lost fifty mill.

Earlier this year, the Irish-owned company was hit with a $2.5 million fine and  ordered to refund customers $1.2 million after spamming ’em with texts.

Still, twelve bucks for Medina ain’t bad, John John is at three, Filipe four, Italo and five and a half.