The wonderful Nick Chalmers and Angus McNicol, classic examples of Mr Frictions!

Australia’s legendary surf culture “on the brink of total collapse!” says anthropologist following two-week tour of coastal towns!

And how it might just be saved by a country boy from the nineties who once threatened Kelly Slater's dominance!

This writer was recently afforded the opportunity for a two-and-a-half-week road trip along Australia’s east coast, travelling from Newcastle in the south to Noosa in the north. A distance of roughly 570 miles each way.

Late winter.

Cusp of spring.

Usually a dormant time along this stretch, wave-wise, but an active La Nina cycle has seen a conveyor belt of easterly trade swells keeping conditions alive. A family holiday, so not dedicated entirely to surfing. But enough time was spent in the water to form a rough contemporaneous sketch.

In that time approximately ten different locations were surfed:

Saltwater
Queens
Delicate nobby
Broken head x 3
Suffolk Park
Sunshine beach x 3
Noosa (Tea Tree and First Point)
Superbank
Pippys x 2
Turners
Angourie x 3

Such a mix of high-profile and lesser known spots allows the observer a unique transect of the current species of littoral fauna active in the Australian surf biosphere.

This is not a comprehensive list.

I have not attempted to catalogue all species encountered at each location given a) levels of duplication b) some rare solitary surfs and c) some people not being as funny as others.

This is meant purely as a guide. A reference point. A record of a moment in time. Picture a crystal, held in direct sunlight, its many faces beaming.

Let us begin.

Saltwater

Conditions: Glassy, 3-4’ SE swell hitting the inside section on a mid to low tide. Approx 20 subjects in water in total

Species observed:

Mr Go with the Flow
A middle-aged male raised on a steady diet of surf media consumption. Competent without rising above the pack. Likely to follow prevailing trends of board design though generally surfs well enough to understand the nuances of each. Rode a 6’3 x 18 ½ x 2 /14 in the ‘90s, a 5’10 x 19 x 2 ½ in the noughties and is now on a mid length when the conditions dictate. Will generally ride whatever he feels he is being told to. Being a wobbly right point with a flatter face, this particular subject was riding a new looking Christenson tracker, single fin, with no legrope. He subsequently lost his board on his first wave. Board went up and over the cobblestone point with owner catfishing behind it. Last seen heading back to car for said legrope.

Status: Of little concern. Plays an integral role as both predator and prey in the ecosystem. Population steady.

The big Aussie Battler
Usually a 40+ toiler who has been riding the same dimensions for the last twenty years with the motto Give me a 6’1 or give me death. Generally well built but with an expansive middle section, often alternatively referred to as a skinny fat cunt. Takes to a meandering, flat faced point wave with the same gusto he would a heaving Indo wall or a mid-morning pie from the local bakery. Admirable in dedication to the cause despite the overwhelming reality of the situation with which he is faced.

Status: While aggressive in small pockets and an important apex predator in the food chain, the big Aussie battler’s overall sparse distribution, dwindling population numbers and fatty diet mean that this species will soon be classified as protected.

Broken Head

Conditions: wobbly 2-3’ swell with ENE onshore winds. Coupla runners but.

Species observed

Mr Friction
Early-to-mid 30s. Tanned, taut skin. Impeccably built. Eyes to lose yourself in. Mr Friction most often works in the industry or industry-adjacent, and is a highly competent surfer. Most likely has been sponsored at some point. Always ahead of the pack. Rejecting the form and function of traditional high performance equipment, Mr Friction now rides a finless foamy in anything under 3 foot. Yet he still sprays innocent bystanders with the same fury he unleashed on his competitors in the U14s division at the 1998 Rusty Gromfest in Lennox Head.
Status: Steady. Plays an important role in the overall ecosystem, especially in crowded point waves.

The She-Rahs
An introduced species, usually hailing from European or South American countries. The She-Rahs travel in packs of 3-4, riding those DHD twins with the floral inlays and wearing hi cut Rip Curl wetties. They love good vibes, hi-5s and post-surf gin and kombuchas.

Status: A welcome addition to the ecosystem, though they do need to chill the fuck out sometimes. To monitor and evaluate at a later date.

Tea Tree

Conditions: 3’ runners, cleaner than an Inertia afterparty.

Species observed:

The Skullet
I dunno about this one. Was just a guy ripping on a mal at Tea Trees who looked like a cross between Owen Wright and Martin Bryant and had one of the best skullets (long hair with a bald crown) I’ve ever seen.

Status: a rare and beautiful creature. To be protected at all costs.

Sunshine Beach

Conditions: 4-5 E swell on the open beach with occasional bigger ones. some push to it. Solid wide sets regularly sweeping the line up.

Species observed:

The Board Guide Baron
The littoral zone encompasses not just the sea itself but the adjacent land. This particular species was observed in the Sunshine beach surf club, a popular watering hole that attracts a broad cross species of endemic and exotic fauna. Time was 330pm, Friday afternoon. Peak libation period.

The Board Guide Baron is the Antipodean cousin to the well known Surfline Man. Usually found buying overpriced surf gear and gentrifying coastal suburbs. Similarities to Mr Go with the Flow but two notable discerning features: Board Guide Barons have only recently started surfing and will take anything read online regarding boards as gospel. Kale Broccoli acolytes. Skill level is such that the minutiae of design they discuss make little to no difference to their overall performance.

Two subjects spotted on this occasion. Post surf. Well presented. Early 40s with youthful, soft faces. Dressed in what could best be described as Casual Friday work wear. Well-fitted jeans, unblemished Vans sneakers. Keys to late model SUVs, big-screen smartphone, schooner of mid-strength craft beer by their side.

“Bro I saw you have the new JS, tell me about it?

“Well I felt like it went really well out there today but I probably could have used something with a few more litres through the nose. From what I was reading online I think the Sharpeye would have been a better purchase for my skillset given the lower rocker entry but the online guide at Board Warehouse suggestd the JS with its more forgiving outline was the go. If it continues to disappoint I’ll most definitely be leaving them a bad Google review.”

“Right on.”

Status: Already overwhelming certain ecosystems. Targeted cull recommended.

SuperBank

Conditions: lazy 3 foot of E swell resulting in some runners but baby food in between. No sand behind the rock, so takeoff is around little mali. Paddle out is now behind take off zone, meaning anybody can make it out the back. An entire book could be written on this joint alone. Not just a microcosm of the genus surf but an exacerbation of it.

Ms. Ripper
Female version of Mr Go With the Flow, or even the Big Aussie Battler, but infinitely cooler. Usually a little older, still riding high-performance equipment. Practical. Wears a springsuit or utilitarian swimsuit. Could be riding a bigger board to be more competitive, but like the Aussie Battler steadfastly refuses to cede defeat. This makes her an easy mark, but anybody that paddles around or snakes her is a straight up kook. If you know, you know. Subsequently, she still gets her fill.

Status: to be protected, proserved, and promoted

The Transplant
A close cousin to The Board Guide Baron but usually on a mini mal or oversized funboard, wearing below the knees and bright rash shirt. Can surf but exploits extra length and width for own purposes. Talks loudly about how much more relaxed it is up the coast than back on the Northern Beaches as he takes his third set in a row.
Status: Quickly becoming a pest, but the transplant usually disappears once the surf gets over 4’ – as such he can be tolerated / burned in any other conditions.

Mr POV
The Go-Pro-in-mouth-clasping, barely intermediate bro. He writhes his way down the point on his new FireWire, filming content for his Nathan Florence knock off youtube channel with titles like ‘POV surfing crowded Snapper Rocks’ and is likely to sue you for assault when he drops in on you and dings his board.

Status: Cull with extreme prejudice.

Angourie

Conditions: 4-5’ SE swell, slow but with the odd wrapper

Species observed:

Shane Powell
Powelly, man. Wow. He was looking lithe. Healthy. A little less grass on the dome but otherwise fighting fit. A walking contradiction in that he was wearing a camouflage wetsuit with a bright red board. Do you want to be seen or not?

But any chance of staying low-key went out the window on his first wave. Scintillating surfing. Tight, concise lines. Incredible to watch up close. Stylish, swooping turns, the type Angourie loves to tease out of you. But seeing Shane’s approach was mind blowing. There was one insane double tap of a slightly crumbling lip that appeared to defy the laws of physics. Even the Universe couldn’t keep up with what he was doing.

The sun pixellated.

Clocks clicked twice.

A cosmic moment.

Status: Shane Powell


"Please leave your employee Surfline subscription at HR on your way out."

Forecasting juggernaut Surfline rips hearts out ahead of Labor Day, shreds advertising, content, design and data science departments sending stunned employees to bread line!

Damn it feels good to be a gangsta.

The World Surf League exciting final’s day opens its window in days with forecasting partner Surfline calling for likely head-high surf which should excite all but current number one Filipe Toledo. Rosy, rosy, rosy sun shining bright on everyone. And, so, you can imagine the absolute shock when thunderclouds rolled over the aforementioned Surfline’s Huntington Beach offices and rained pink slips on disbelieving employees.

Per initial whispers from sources who have been chopped, the advertising, content, design, and data science departments suffered heavy casualties along with the entire brand team.

The shock made all the greater seeing that just over two years ago, Surfline was juiced with $30 million from investment and advisory firm The Chernin Group.

At the time, Mike Kerns, Chernin Group co-founder and partner, declared, “Surfline has established itself as one of the largest and most respected surf brands in the world through a decades-long commitment to serving its global community. At TCG, we achieve growth by partnering with passionate teams, engaged entrepreneurs who build out of love, and world class management. With Surfline, we have that combination in Jeff, Kyle and the entire team.”

Troubling wave calls have plagued the 2022 World Surf League’s Championship Tour, reaching peak absurdity with “cartoonish” nuttiness at the most recent Outerknown Tahiti Pro, but enough for a gutting?

Equity, I suppose, works in mysterious ways.

More as the story develops.


Hamilton (pictured) with devilock.

Revealed: Laird Hamilton punching Kelly Slater in the mouth by releasing ecologically superior luxury watch directly related to unprecedented increase in surf violence!

The Misfits.

Two months ago, the headline Blood Feud: World’s Greatest Surfer Laird Hamilton Punches other World’s Greatest Surfer Kelly Slater in the Mouth by Releasing Even More Ecologically Sound Luxury Watch! rocked the internet. Surfers and non-surfers, alike, flocked in, not able to believe that Hamilton’s offering from relatively new brand Britain’s Bremont was, in fact, better for our planet earth than Kelly Slater’s own from more established Swiss-made Breitling.

While Slater’s did feature a band made from ocean junk on some models, all proceeds from Hamilton go toward preserving the great shark.

Right in the kisser.

Well, little did surfers and non-surfers know, at the time, but the blow felt ’round the world has led directly to a historically unprecedented spike in wanton surf violence. Foils getting smashed, foils smashing people, rocks into boards, police patrolling Windansea after alleged attempted drownings, calls for old-school enforcement, calls for regulation, surf champions being viciously and brutally spanked on the buttocks.

Out of control.

The only thing that could lead to such a bump is cover given by the two world’s greatest surfers metaphorically bashing each other in the luxury watch space.

David Lee Scales and I discussed this, on our weekly chat, and also the fantastic new Museu de Italo Ferriera.

Have you booked your visit?

Get inspired here.


Kelly Slater (pictured) receiving head massage in Cocoa Beach.

Surfrider Foundation releases damning list of America’s “most threatened surf areas” including Oahu’s fabled North Shore, champion-crowning Trestles and Kelly Slater’s Cocoa Beach!

But silver lining?

Climate change is, apparently, here to stay and really throwing wrenches into the works, or spanners, depending on whether your climate speaks the Queen’s English or in American vernacular. While violent wave-causing storms are said to be on the increase, iconic surf breaks will also be threatened due sea level rise and Surfrider Foundation just released a troubling list of the ten most vulnerable in the United States or United States-ish.

In order from worst to bad:

HAWAIʻI—THE NORTH SHORE, OʻAHU

CALIFORNIA—SURFERS POINT

CALIFORNIA—TRESTLES

FLORIDA—COCOA BEACH

NORTH CAROLINA—CAROLINA BEACH

PUERTO RICO—TRES PALMAS

NEW YORK—THE ROCKAWAYS

TEXAS—CORPUS CHRISTI

MAINE–HIGGINS BEACH

WASHINGTON–WESTPORT

As it happens, the world’s greatest surfer Kelly Slater makes his home in three of the top four (North Shore, San Clemente and Cocoa Beach) though has released a luxury watch with Swiss manufacturer Breitling that may help stem the tide, as it were, or at least take some plastics out of the hurting oceans and transforming them into sleek bands.

Every thorn has its rose, though, and forward-thinking surfers may be thinking about which breaks might benefit from a little extra water. I’d like to think my childhood hometown of Coos Bay, Oregon might benefit. There was a cove, there, that had a nice setup with shallow rock reef tapering impressively from point to sand. It was often too shallow but maybe in a decade could host the World Surf League’s championship day.

There is currently an oceanfront home on the market for $599,000.

A new next gen Volcom House all your own?

Fortune favors the bold.


Brolin (pictured) pre-prime.

Amityville Horror star James Brolin credits surf great Laird Hamilton with keeping him spry and sexy at 82-years young: “Laird said, ‘Why don’t you come on up to the pool and work out with us on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday?'”

Like fine sourdough.

James Brolin, father of Josh, star of The Amityville Horror, longtime husband of Barbara Streisand would seem, from the outside, to have it all. Rugged good looks, financial security, Josh, Amityville, Babs but something just wasn’t right. The 82-year-old was feeling his age, unhappy, cranky. As fate would have it, one night, he was dragged to a dinner party where the world’s greatest surfer Laird Hamilton and his wife Gabby Reese also happened to be.

Hamilton took one look at Brolin and, according to the actor, said, “Why don’t you come on up to the pool and work out with us on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday?”

Well, rolled over the creepy offer until one day deciding to give in to love and go hop in Hamilton’s pool.

“His deal is, ‘Oh, do you want to breathe?'” he told People Magazine. ‘”You have to get to the top.’ I said, ‘But I got the weights. I can’t.’ He said, ‘Yeah, no, you have to take the weights with you.'”

“Once you get used to 10 lbs., then we move you to 15 lbs. Then we move you to 20 lbs. and it’s a jumping exercise to start. Then next, they’ve got you swimming the length of the pool with a weight.”

“I started to change. Everything started to change. I just started to look better. Body, face, eyes, thinking and therefore proving the old, boring thing that exercise really works.”

Sexy.

Brolin later tells the magazine that he eats a whole loaf of sourdough bread, from time to time, when Streisand tells him he deserves a little treat.

That bit turned my stomach for some reason. Oh, it’s not that I dislike sourdough, just, I don’t know, a whole loaf seems excessive.

Read the rest here.