Fitzgibbons (pictured) as Marie Antoinette.
Fitzgibbons (pictured) as Marie Antoinette.

World media, Kelly Slater react after surf darling gets publicly executed: “It’s all fun and games until Sally Fitzgibbons is marched to the guillotine!”

A reign of terror.

This mid-year cut has injected so much… life into the otherwise bloated World Surf League. Here we are on the final day of the Margaret River Pro, ecstatic. Drenched in the not-yet-dried blood of Zeke Lau, Lucas Messinas, Morgan Ciblic. But here we wait for more. Will Matthew McGillivray beat Sammy Pupo in the Round of Sixteen thereby sending Owen Wright to the executioners or will he, himself, be pulled from the water’s edge and necked?



Except, look quickly in the mirror, all that not-yet-dried blood. Do you recognize yourself? Is that the boy who once snuggled mama? The girl who made Valentine’s Day cards for daddy?

And what if I tell you that Sally Fitzgibbons’s blood mixed right in there with Deivid Silva’s?

Oh but it’s true. The surf darling with that radiant smile was marched up the steps of that guillotine yesterday, publicly, causing world media to shake its head in our direction.

Fox Sports called it “a brutal cull.”

Yahoo! Sports declared, “No one likes it.” lamented, “Harsh new rule claims Olympic medalist.”

Fitzgibbons, herself, was as gracious as ever, penning, “The unconditional love that comes with putting on my jersey #89. Everything about this sport, the surf community and my dream keeps me coming back for more. I felt every one of those cheers and hugs from you yesterday and hope I can reciprocate when we cross paths in your big moment.”

The missive prompted 11x surfing champion Kelly Slater to respond, “Legend Sally. I’m sure yesterday was a hard one but I have no doubt you’ll be back in a few months threatening tour wins and after that title.”

7x surfing champion Stephanie Gilmore, deadnaming the new Challenger Series, added, “You’ll crush the quey and be back for pipe no problemo!”

And so now it is time to gaze into the mirror once again. Are we surf fans like French radicals of old, purging an intumescent structure but getting caught up in it all a little too much, our good intentions spinning lustily out of control?

More as the story develops.

Brooke and Laird in 1983; Julia and Jackie, 2022. | Photo: Man About Town

Surf prodigy Jack Robinson channels Bruce Weber’s legendary shoot with Brooke Shields and teen Laird Hamilton in modelling debut for British fashion magazine Man About Town! “Awesome abs and belly button!”

"The musculature of his surf-honed deltoids deliver a raw sexuality rarely seen in white males."

The Australian surf prodigy Jack Robinson has appeared in a cover story for London-based fashion magazine Man About Town, channelling the iconic 1983 Bruce Weber shoot of a then teenage Laird Hamilton and movie star Brooke Shields. 

Hamilton, who was nineteen, and Shields, eighteen and three years off her breakthrough hit Blue Lagoon, were photographed by the iconic American photographer at Cabo San Lucas for Life magazine, and which you can examine here. 

Robinson, twenty-three, and his Brazilian wife of two years Julia Muniz, recreated the scene for a photo spread in the British magazine, Jackie in white Levis and Converse kicks, the pair straddling a vintage motorcycle. 

The breathtaking spread continues in an eighties vein, Jackie’s hair cut into a flattop reminiscent of Val Kilmer in Top Gun, Dolph Lundgren in Rocky IV, the musculature of his surf-honed deltoids delivering a raw sexuality generally only noted in big-dicked black guys and rarely seen in white males. 

Man About Town’s readership was thrilled with the images. 

Awesome abs and belly button and thanks for being a fitness inspiration and motivation to me your awesome.

Strong @alexisrael vibes for this shoot! 

Proper lad

And so on. 

Pre-order the magazine here. 

(You might wanna get the Corrado Martini issue, too, while y’there.)

The beautiful hunk of dirt O bought for $5.1 mill.

Surfing heartthrob turned real estate developer Owen Wright seeking “expressions of interest from $6 million each” for his two luxury Byron Bay villas!

“The vision I saw was keen longboarders surfing The Pass every morning and dads teaching their groms to surf in kid-friendly waves…"

Three years ago, the one-time title contender turned real estate developer Owen Wright paid $5.1 million for an unremarkable beach shack a few hundred metres from The Pass in Australia’s Byron Bay. 

Of course, Owen, who is thirty-three and whose plume of golden hair, swooning eyes and bullfighter’s body suggest teen idol more than real estate developer, saw more than an idyllic little timber house surrounded by almost half-an-acre of grass and trees.

The then thirty year old saw potential.

“The vision I saw was keen longboarders surfing The Pass every morning or doing the lighthouse walk, dads teaching their groms to surf in kid-friendly waves and then getting their own barrels around the corner at Tallows,” he said.  

The development at 2 Daniels St, Byron Bay, Owen’s first, comprises four villas, each joint with four bedrooms, three-and-a-half bathrooms, solar system, Tesla battery, pool and so on. 

Owen’s keeping one of the villas for himself and his fam and so is the developer Burke Urban – a good sign, for if the two principals behind the build are hanging around y’know your six-mill plus ain’t gonna fall down around your ears, or if it does you don’t have far to to go to vent spleen or chuck a poorly installed faucet at ’em.

Owen ain’t afraid of playing the real estate game.

You’ll remember the $1.6 million house at Lennox Head with its indoor swimming pool that meandered through the living room,  the Federation-style house in Byron Bay (a little under a million), the beachfront townhouse at Thirroul (675,000) and the gorgeous mountain-top hideaway (bought for 750k, sold for a million).

Express your interest for one of the Daniels Street joints here. although caveat emptor, as they say.

One real estate maven I spoke to said, “Six-mill is a hard ask after all the floods in the past few months. Sits at the bottom of a hill, smack bang beside the water run-off drains… it does require some bravo if you’re handing over six big ones.”

Stephanie Gilmore, seven times a winner, holds court with boy Haz Hendo. | Photo: Apple TV

Apple TV series Make or Break “will show you the WSL’s sheer ineptitude that has prevented mainstream audiences from appreciating the rich tapestry of characters on the pro tour!”

It’s akin to having a cellar full of chrysalises but locking the door and losing the key.

I was not wrong in my early assertion that “Make or Break” would be superb, nor that it will bring a new audience to pro surfing.

The latter will not happen overnight, but as the show gains traction, so will competitions. I’m certain of that.


Because what I underestimated was how this show might reinvigorate our enthusiasm for the game.

You, Us.

This jaded core of WSL critics who tune in regardless, as if it’s some form of penance.

Of course there is something for you, Mr Fuck The WSL, even if you just wish to extend your vitriol.

“Make or Break” will show you, as suspected, that sheer ineptitude has prevented the general audience from appreciating the rich tapestry of characters we have on the pro tour. The World Surf League have failed spectacularly in this regard.

It’s akin to having a cellar full of chrysalises but locking the door and losing the key.

“Make or Break” may not be to your personal tastes, but it is absolutely the best depiction of pro surfing to date. You surely recognise by now that the remaining naysayers are below the line, or those who haven’t watched it.

I did a test. Instead of just watching it by myself, feeling I might not be objective enough, beleaguered by pro surfing as I sometimes am, I asked my other half to watch it with me. She accepted, grudging and grumbling.

“How long is it?”

“Put it on now or I’m not watching. Like right now, Jamie, not in five minutes.”

“I’ll watch one episode.”

Her patience was thin, enthusiasm thinner.

But three episodes later she’d changed her mind entirely.

It was a melding of her comfort zone and mine, sport and reality TV. Not unlike when she made me sit down and watch an episode of “Ru Paul’s Drag Race”.

“Oh my god, HOW do they make those outfits?!”

“She’s got to go, she’s such a bitch…”


Well produced reality TV is captivating, even against your will and common sense.

So, here’s what to expect from “Make or Break”.

Episode One

This is the least engaging episode, from our perspective at least. The focus is Tyler Wright, but it doesn’t reveal much that we didn’t know already.

Tyler is fine but not especially engaging to me. Her time on camera seems self-conscious, too aware of what she’s saying. She’s not been shy of having her voice heard in the past, of course, so maybe there’s just an element of repetition.

She’s the kind of person who says “fuck” on record and it sounds deliberate, or like they’re saying for the first time.

Her close friendship with Jessi Miley-Dyer was evident. Given how often decisions about where and when the women will surf are in a state of flux, I would think this should be questioned.

My other half (let’s call her Melanie since she has a name and we’re looking at an episode dealing with the empowerment of women) thought it was refreshing that the series not only began focusing on the women, but it wasn’t in the vein of being sexually objectiifed. Instead the focus was on the equality of waves.

Tyler’s period of absence is mentioned, but not with a depth that reveals anything new. Post-viral fatigue leading to some mental struggles, though this isn’t clearly stated beyond the pictures of her kneeling in the shower that are familiar to us by now.

She certainly looked very thin when she came back on Tour. I hadn’t really appreciated the stark physical difference at the time.

“Why is she always wearing the same pants?” Melanie asked.

“Would you not wear the same bikini two days in a row?”

“Not if it was stuck up my arse.”

Of course, now men and women surf the same waves at the same times (sort of) but we see the shift that preceded this, the move from Honolua Bay to Pipe for the conclusion of the women’s event following the fatal shark attack.

On reflection, and in this context of this show it’s clear why so many gaffes were made surrounding the women’s competition at Pipe this year , amping up the history, saying they would surf when they didn’t, then pretending they weren’t there.

Clearly the whole broadcast team, and especially JMD, were conscious of the filming of “Make or Break” and the clear and desired narrative at play. It seems obvious now that the decisions and claims were driven by the ideals of this show, not the competition at hand.

It’s clear from this first episode that the actual surfing will have a bit part to play in the show as a whole. Footage of comps is limited to a couple of waves from a couple of heats. I don’t think this is a bad thing.

The surfing is shot like it’s a movie. We have stylised slo-mo. Non-diegetic sounds of surfboards moving through water are added. I don’t mind this. I’d be interested to know if they’ve shot any surfing themselves or just relied on the WSL footage. I would presume it’s an edited version of the latter.

We do have a slight revelation in episode one in that we see into the ivory towers of the judges! This, for me, is truly revelatory. When I think of the emotions (and indeed the money) hung on decisions made inside this bubble, it seems borderline scandalous that we’ve never actually been privy to the machinations of what goes on here.

Seeing WSL Head Judge Pritamo Ahrendt’s face on the screen, as an interview subject no less, was like coming across Santa Claus at the foot of your stairs. (Though possibly on his way out of your house with a sack full of valuables).

“I’ve watched pro surfing for years”, I said to Melanie, aghast, “and I have never seen that man’s face until now.”

Decent, all in all, but not a patch on episode two…

Open Thread, Comment live on penultimate day of brutally definitive Margaret River Pro, “Today there will be freshly lopped heads rolling in gutters. Today there will blood!”

Daniel Lewis Day.