Lolita, captive Killer Whale at left.

World’s second greatest surfer Kelly Slater throws hefty social clout behind liberating jailed Killer Whale in Miami: “Free Lolita!”

The other Lolita!

Kelly Slater, the world’s second greatest surfer behind German big wave hero Sebastian Steudtner, has been bumped out of the G-Land competition early. Oh, it is not his fault as the waves were neither good nor great, but the 11x champion still made his presence known by living on a yacht, offshore, and becoming critical of those camp-based surfers who fell under the spell of a jungle party, openly wondering if they were, in fact, helping to super spread a disease that he has been openly critical about.

The rare triple shade.

Slater’s hefty social clout has not only been used as a tool for light hypocritical oppression of his fellow competitors though. The last few days has seen an increase of concern for a killer whale, or orca, currently jailed in Miami.

Lolita, whose native name is Tokitae, has spent the last 50-years of her life living in the world’s smallest cell. According to EuroNews:

Taken from her mother and her seven siblings at age four, Lolita arrived at the Miami Seaquarium for a fee of just €5,500. While many other animals died in the facility, Lolita has been performing tirelessly ever since – all while living in the world’s smallest orca tank.

Over the decades, celebrities such as Johnny Depp, Lindsay Lohan and Harrison Ford have campaigned to see the animal released. But it was an inspection by the United States Department of Agriculture that finally put an end to her suffering.

“The report showed that animals were suffering and dying in the Seaquarium’s tanks because of the poor care they’ve received,” says PETA’s Vice President & Deputy General Counsel Jared Goodman.

Now the fight is on to help Lolita live out her final years in peace, far away from the torment of captivity.

Adding his name to Depp, Lohan, Ford, Slater is encouraging his 3 million followers to attend a gathering Saturday, June 4th at Shelbourne Southbeach Resort (7:30 pm) where activists can be met followed by a demonstration at Lolita’s prison the following day (noon to 2 pm).

Will you be in town or possibly living an offshore yacht? Can you lend your support to a noble cause?

I think it might be a good idea to move Lolita to Lemoore where she can frolic in almost perfect lefts and rights, one every four minutes or so.


David Lee Scales and I, anyhow, did not discuss Lolita’s plight but we did ponder the impressive transformation of World Surf League CEO Erik Logan. Have you seen him lately? David Lee was convinced that he was following George Clooney on Instagram when stumbling across his new Instagram profile picture.

Also magical.

Listen here.

Live chat, comment in real time, finals day, Quiksilver Pro, G-Land, “Jaw-dropping moments as the modern era collective let sparks fly for memorable starts!”

Get hip with the surf commentary heavy-hitters… 

No word from Java, yet, if Kelly gave his board hell as per his shock loss to Aritz Aranburu in round three of the 2014 Moche Rip Curl Pro, a defeat that would doom his run for a twelfth title that year.

Bloodbath at Grajagan as Kelly Slater, John John Florence and Italo Ferreira lose to no-frills journeymen in “worst G-Land ever…Who watched today? Degenerate gamblers and direct family members!”

"There’s nothing to wait for but delayed inevitability. Heats completed in sub-par conditions, dictated by a forecast that hasn’t changed from beginning to end and still won’t."

Dream location; nightmare forecast.

It seems to be passing in an opioid haze. Time feels thick and jelly-like, the way it can on a surf trip where all there is to do is surf. The sun rises and the sun falls.

The weather remains the same. Days merge into one.

There’s nothing to wait for but delayed inevitability. Heats completed in sub-par conditions, dictated by a forecast that hasn’t changed from beginning to end and still won’t.

In situations like this, desperate situations, there should be a contingency to move the waiting period for a couple of days. I don’t profess to know the intricacies of planning permits and jiggery-pokery of greasing palms, but what we’ve ended up with here serves no-one.

Salt rubbed vigorously into weeping wounds has been the spectre of 1997, which the WSL haven’t had the decorum nor the sense to stop banging on about.

Don’t they realise the contrast is killing us?

Images of reeling tubes and voices from the past telling us how epic it was are laced through heats, serving only to make them seem more flaccid.

Here’s what you could’ve had…

It should be a gambler’s dream, a comp like this. I can’t remember a time when it’s been so predictable. But it’s been too dull a prospect even to bet on. Mostly.

“Jungle fever” was noted a couple of times in post-heat conversations today. The dancing has clearly died. It has to happen. The worst part of a comedown is not the comedown itself, it’s the moments when you’re still immersed in revelry but you feel it coming on. It might be hours away, even days, but you see in neon flashes that it’s inevitable.

Today was the beginning of that comedown. We’ve got a surf comp to finish, and this is what we have. Sketchy lefts that run off down the line so fast even Filipe Toledo finds himself racing round sections.

Sure, there were a few, as they say.

Regardless, WSL-Speak was “high-performance lefts”.

I wait with bated breath for the next headline to spin today’s “action”. Did you see the last one?

“Moore, Medina Mesmerize Amid Modern Tour Icons’ Debuts At G-Land 

Grajagan Bay, the place where the Dream Tour got its name, provided jaw-dropping moments as the modern era collective let sparks fly for memorable starts.”

Utter mince. The worst kind of tabloid tripe.

A headline so poor it wouldn’t even fly on BeachGrit.

Who watched today? Degenerate gamblers and direct family members only is my best guess.

I did. I watched it all, waking at four am to do so. Intermittently hating myself throughout. Honestly, it would be disingenuous for me to pretend I found there was anything interesting to say about it. Despite the fact eight elimination heats then the round of 16 was completed, it had all the drama of Luke Egan’s voice.

What happened?

Well, if we look at the quarter final match-ups, more or less nothing. There are few surprises.

Significant and joyful as ever was Jadson winning. His buzzer-beater four-point-something enough to beat an injured John Florence.

Unfortunately Andre will meet Medina in the quarter final, and that’ll be the end of that.

Sammy Pupo similarly had a wave right at the horn to eliminate Slater, who could only manage to find three waves in a heat where neither man could break into double figures for their total.

I did enjoy the group flow and hivemind energy cultivated by the Brazilian support crew in the cafeteria as they celebrated these last minute wins. That’s something I can certainly get behind.

McGillivray vs O’Leary is an admittedly unusual quarter final match-up, but also unfortunately uninspiring, especially at the expense of Ewing vs Ferreira we could’ve had.

For the most part, heats were slow, overlong, and finished with the dappled shadows of two men sitting in the water waiting for waves that still weren’t coming.

It got better as the tide dropped, admittedly, but still it lacked any real urgency or verve.

If only we had more time.

That’s the message I delivered to my departing classes yesterday. It’s the end of another school year. We switch to next year’s timetable on Monday. Really it’s just treading water for three weeks, then no school til mid August.

I’m losing some classes I’ve really enjoyed. It’s not always like that.

Sometimes the end of year comes and goes with little more than apathy, a bit like this comp. Onto the next. But this year I would’ve liked more time.

What makes a good class varies, but it’s little to do with how good at English they are. What’s really important is that they accept each other’s differences yet retain individuality.

This year I had the kind of kids I’d like to tell you about. They’re not like you think. They’re not like I generally perceive teenagers. They wanted to read, they wanted to write.

More importantly, they were willing to think.

They’re all different, as any thirty adolescents will be. But although some of these kids might never talk to each other outwith the classroom, they will all get up and dance unselfconsciously in front of each other. That’s what they did yesterday, and not for the first time this year.

So I’ll miss them. And so I left them with some advice.

Language skills will take you anywhere you want to go, I said, like a ship under full sail.

But it’s more important to simply be curious about things. Be interested in the world. Ask questions. Challenge opinions. Listen as well as you talk. Care about stuff.

Find what you love and let it kill you.

Because that’s the point of it all.

In the face of algorithms and automation, it’s more important than ever to cling to what we have, what the machines can never do.

Creativity, empathy, critical thinking, humility, wonder…

They’re our superpowers. Our keys to unlock the world. And language is the foundation of it all.

A machine can’t ever know inspiration like a sudden flare in the dark. Or what it feels like to run through the woods in spring. Or what it means to comfort or connect with someone, even just through the subtlety of a single word or touch.

We can know all of this and more.

So today, instead of trying to parse and overthink a professional surfing contest in less than mediocre waves that no-one’s really watching anyway, I’m taking my kids out. We’re going go-karting, then to the pumptrack, then for a walk through some Caledonian pinewoods that encircle a loch with a ruined castle on a tiny island.

And tomorrow I’m racing 18 miles along a mountain ridge on the Isle of Skye that I had to sign a death waiver for.

And I’m going to enjoy it all a lot more than this contest.

See you on finals day?

Huntington locals (pictured) upon hearing the gloriously news.
Huntington locals (pictured) upon hearing the gloriously news.

In move that leaves Olympic hopefuls riotously joyful, Huntington Beach officially announced as host of 2022 qualifier World Surfing Games!

Jail House Rock.

I’ll tell you one true thing. I am very much more excited for the upcoming Baz Luhrmann picture Elvis than I am for the upcoming Surf City El Salvador Pro. Both will hit the world stage near the same time but only one will be fabulous and that will be the upcoming Baz Luhrmann picture Elvis.

Be still my beating heart.

The King of Rock n Roll has long been a very favorite of mine, so much so that I am currently not caring about finding deeper surfing truths in Germany but rather the home where Presley met Pricilla and kicked off a fairy tale romance. Students of history will know that Elvis served in the United States Army, doing his time in the German town Bad Nauheim, occupying a quaint two story home near its center. Priscilla née Beaulieu was a fourteen-year-old firecracker there with her mother and United States Air Force officer step-father Paul.

While Pricilla’s youth would be very much frowned upon today, it was an acceptable marrying age in the fourteenth century and the two went on to make beautiful history.

In any case, there is a shrine outside the home, today, and I find a spot to sit and sip a perfect cappuccino and ponder his life, which included surfing turns in Hawaii, wooing local kine girls and also ponder the just-announced news that the World Surfing Games will, officially, be hosted this year in Huntington Beach, California.

Per the report:

The ISA has announced that its flagship event will return to the Californian coastal venue, known as “Surf City USA”, for the first time in 16 years.

The world’s top surfers are expected to hit the waves at Huntington Beach when it plays host to the World Surfing Games from September 17 to 24.

Huntington Beach previously staged the World Surfing Games in 1984, 1996 and 2006 and hosted the World Junior Surfing Championship in 2005, 2018 and 2019.

This year’s edition will see Olympic places up for grabs for Paris 2024, with the winners of the men’s and women’s team events each earning a quota spot for their country.

“Huntington Beach becomes the first step in our exciting paddle towards the 2024 Olympic Games,” said ISA President Fernando Aguerre.

“Excellent waves and the strong Southern California surf culture, made Huntington Beach a natural choice for this iconic event.

“With an extra Olympic slot up for grabs for the top men’s and women’s teams at these 2022 ISA World Surfing Games, the competition for the coveted ISA World Team Champion Trophy is going to be epic and the most important ever.”

Question: Are Huntington Beach’s excellent waves currently better than those licking Grajagan?

Something to think about.

Live chat, comment in real time, Quiksilver Pro, G-Land, “World title favourite Filipe Toledo and Yago Dora to open stacked day of heats!”

The merry-go-round continues at Grajagan synched with "Smirking" Joe Turpel's sensual voice!