New York Times investigation reveals co-founder of RVCA and minor celebrity in “election denial network” Conan Hayes received $200,000 and “dressed as a computer nerd” to investigate “stolen” 2020 election!

From tamer of giant Cloudbreak and Teahupoo to toy merchant to detective uncovering electoral frauds!

One of the better post pro-surfing careers belongs to the Hawaiian Conan Hayes, a tamer of big Cloudbreak and Teahupoo, pivotal member of the Momentum Generation, who would retire from the game at the turn of the century to co-found a label that would eventually be worth thirty-ish mill. 

(After selling RVCA to his biz partner for a little over seven mill, Hayes was erased from its history. The website claims “RVCA is the brainchild of company founder PM Tenore”. Tenore also says the use of the V instead of U contrasts with the A to represent the brand’s ethos of “The Balance of Opposites.” I remember asking Conan about it at the time and he says his mom used to dig BVGLARI and so he swiped the idea, RVCA instead of RUCA.)

Following the sale, Hayes operated a warehouse in LA importing children’s toys. 

In 2015, Hayes was hit with grand theft charges by the Orange County DA, who alleged Hayes had committed short sale fraud against the Bank of America “by providing Bank of America with false information concerning his financial net worth, which was in the millions of dollars, in order to qualify for short sale relief.”

The charges were dropped two years later “among a myriad of scandals following the prosecution.”

Now, his career has taken a wild pivot as a “minor celebrity in, what the NY Times describes as, “an election denial network.” 

In the latest instalment and via a Times investigation into a Colorado election official accused of leaking data from her county’s voting machines, Hayes has been revealed as a major player in the game. 

The Mesa County breach involved a former surfer who was dressed as a computer “nerd” and made a FaceTime call during the operation, reporting by The New York Times shows. Afterward, the crew shared their loot — images of voting machine data — at a conference streamed online, advertising the effort to thousands.

…another member of the election denier network did attend, according to court records and interviews. Conan Hayes was a former pro surfer who had worked with Mr. Trump’s legal team as it challenged the 2020 results. In 2021, Mr. Byrne paid him around $200,000 to continue his work for a year, according to Mr. Byrne.

According to an account from Mr. Byrne, and confirmed by Mr. Hayes, he attended the trusted build on May 25, 2021. Mr. Hayes called Mr. Byrne from inside the Mesa County election offices, speaking in a hushed voice and explaining that he’d been invited to make backup copies of machines by a government official who thought that a cover-up was underway, Mr. Byrne said. When the two spoke over FaceTime, Mr. Byrne saw Mr. Hayes was dressed like a computer “nerd” and wearing someone else’s identification tag, Mr. Byrne said.

Climb into the labyrinth of Trumpism here!  

Slater (right) interviewed by the great Kaipo Guerrero.
Slater (right) interviewed by the great Kaipo Guerrero.

Journalist who interviewed pant-less Kelly Slater for stirring Sports Illustrated feature graciously shares exclusive intimate details of time spent with world’s greatest surfer!

Boxer brief.

As you know, I am not allowed within a certain number of metaphorical feet of Kelly Slater. The world’s greatest surfer has, likely appropriately, taken umbrage at some of my ponderings and blocked me, and your BeachGrit, across all social media channels. Emails go unanswered. Texts ignored. As example of the fairly vigorous animosity, BeachGrit recently had its Instagram account ripped down. A new one was started and blocked within the hour by the 11x world champ.

Sad, so you can imagine my thrill when an offer came to interview the journalist who just penned the insightful new Sports Illustrated feature starring the aforementioned.

Kelly Slater-adjacent is as close to unbridled greatness as I will ever come.

I, anyhow, led the interview with the truth that Slater is not a “Chas Smith” or “BeachGrit” fan and immediately put journalist Brandon Sneed on his back heel. Neither smart nor professional. Sneed was leery throughout the chat, though exceedingly gracious, answering questions about the days he spent in Cocoa Beach and San Clemente penning the most intimate profile of Slater in the last decade plus, adding details and nuggets based upon his personal observations.

That portion begins today’s podcast and worth a listen. Glean what you can. David Lee Scales and I then pivot to the just-wrapped Oi Rio Pro featuring Filipe Toledo’s shock win over countryman Sammy Pupo, his 4th championship tour trophy hoist on home soil. For those who did not watch, it was a fine event riddled with the adjective “passionate” and its noun for “passion” by World Surf League commentators and its executive suite on various social media postings. Brazilian fans are passionate, its surfers are passionate, its culture passionate, everything passionate.

My question, at which point does using one adjective/noun over and over and over and over again to describe one group of people become overtly xenophobic/racist?

If the WSL held an event in China, for example, with commentators and the executive suite mentioning, over and over and over and over again, the diligence, worker bee nature, of the surfers and surf fans would it raise eyebrows?

Or Israel with commentators and the executive suite focusing solely on the enviable fiscal responsibility of the surfers and surf fans would it cause a pause?

Food for thought. Listen above.

World Surf League suffers embarrassing spate of typos and grammar errors leading fans to wonder if the “home of professional surfing” actively hates the English language!

Heaf to Head.

They say those who live in glass houses should not throw stones but this morning happens to find me outside my little see through cottage, arm cocked, stone in palm ready to zing. Ill-advised? Likely though, well, what the heck. I have been inundated over the past two World Surf League events with emails, text messages, DMs showcasing typos, spelling and grammar errors, names botched etc. on WSL propaganda. Everything from the most basic accident to complex absurdist messes.

Oh you know that here at BeachGrit abusing the English language is a way of life but why does the Santa Monica-based home of professional surfing have such open disdain for our tongue?

WSL CEO Erik Logan recently declared in a stirring interview that growth across all platforms was through the roof and a new Chief Financial Officer was just poached away from the mighty NBA in order to put those coins in the right purses but clearly the League’s copy editing offices have been throttled.

Is it on purpose?

The potential goal being to transition to Portuguese as official language partner?

Why Papa Barton has been unceremoniously lynched?

I have to say, I wouldn’t be so mad. As an applied linguist, my love of language knows no bounds but as an American I have never been forced to become competent in any. I have a elementary grasp of Spanish, can get around in Arabic and have done work on Russian grammar, can read the Cyrillic alphabet, but no mastery.

Might I become fluent in Portuguese with enough heats under the belt?

Might you?

Muito legal.

Sister of Maui aerialist Matt Meola stuns on America’s Got Talent after revealing “life flipped upside down” when she became the full-time carer of their terminally ill mama, “She’d be so mad at me if I wasn’t pursuing what I love”

A real weepy!

The sister of the Maui aerialist Matt Meola has stunned judges Simon Cowell, Heidi Klum, Sofia Vergara and Howie Mandel on America’s Got Talent with a compelling combo of dazzling talent and tragic story, earning a standing ovation and the coveted golden buzzer.

Lily Meola’s been exercising those velveteen tonsils since ol Willy Nelson spotted her singing in a cafe as a teen and got her to open for him on tour.

Soon, the kid was on a record deal and touring solo. 

Then, as she tells Heidi and co, her “life flipped upside down” when mama Nancy was hit with cancer. 

Lily became her full-time carer, losing the record deal in the process. 

“I think maybe it was a bit of a blessing because it gave me some extra time to really be there for her,” Meola said. “She was my biggest cheerleader.”

Nancy died in 2020 and, now, Lily is back into her music, AGT the first stop.

“Singing was something my mom and I really connected with, and it’s how I fell in love with music in the first place, her playing music in the car,” Meola said. “So I’m just trying to make her proud and continue to live my daydream.”

Judge Simon Cowell, man with wild hair said, “There is something special about you. And I know you’ve gone through a very difficult period. I think the fact that you’ve come back after what you’ve gone through, that says a lot about you, Lily, so good for you.”

“She’d be so mad at me if I wasn’t pursuing what I love,” Meola said. “And ‘Daydream’ was one of her favorite songs. So I think she’d be really happy.”

Saint Barton.
Saint Barton.

World’s most popular surf commentator Papa Barton unceremoniously lynched by World Surf League: “I reached out to the WSL, offered my services but was unfortunately told that I wasn’t needed this year!”

Argh. But silver (beard) lining?

If there is one thing the World Surf League’s core fanbase can agree upon it is that Barton Lynch is, by far and away, the game’s best commentator. Any time the 1987 world champion is in the booth a sort of lightness reigns. Lightness coupled with intelligence, a fine vocabulary, the good attitude, vibes, that Joe Turpel attempts to replicate except cannot because his interior universe is like a Barney and Friends episode on loop.

Fairly vacant.

Papa Barton, though, has not been in the booth of late leaving the aforementioned core fanbase restless and confused. Is everything ok? Did he stumble into the same net of transit visa issues that so snared Tyler Wright?

More questions than answers until today when Lynch revealed that the World Surf League has unceremoniously hung his career, with them, from a tree. In a direct-to-camera explanation, thus he begins:

Hi guys, I’ve been getting a lot of questions lately from people about my commentary, when they can listen to me and when I might be back in the booth, and what the situation is there. So a couple weeks ago, just to update you, I reached out to the WSL and offered my services, let them know that I was available for any upcoming events but was unfortunately told that I wasn’t needed this year so I won’t be back, I won’t be commentating this year and, uh, well that’s not altogether to be unexpected, I suppose. In reality, I’m happy about the opportunities that opens up for me to share what I know, what I see and what I understand of competitive surfing with people outside of that official capacity. So some great things we’re working on, I’m going to let you know about them very soon but, unfortunately, I won’t be back in the booth this year. Have a great day, people, all good though. Love yous.

The surf community was, rightly, apoplectic with father of competitive surfing Ian Cairns writing, “The comments on here speak for themselves. You’re the only commentator that illuminates concepts and situations in heats, that former champions recognize as well. These insights are critical explanations to the hoped for expanded WSL audience. Otherwise it’s ongoing blah blah blah. Their loss and your gain!”

Filipe Toledo’s daddy Rich adding, “Let’s go!!! We missing u papa Smurf.”

And the great Mike Stewart declaring, “Would love to hear your commentary on various significant heats. Maybe a YouTube channel?”

Oh wait.

Is that what is happening here? A pirate stream? Please let it be true. Silver Beard would absolutely crush with a salty non-sanctioned mutiny and we raise our various cutlasses in support.

Viva the revolution, to mix communist and piracy metaphors, or as Noa Deane said…

…well, you know what he said.