Australia’s Mad Max-inspired Surf Lakes, dubbed “celebrity” wave pool by press, set to open to public for first time!

Come one, come all!

But if Kelly Slater was to wave a magic wand above your head and grant you admission to one of the world’s wave pools, which would you choose? His eponymous Surf Ranch, there in the cow stink of Lemoore? The tank formerly known as BSR deep in the heart of Texas? Wales’ original Wavegarden? URBNSRF very near Melbourne’s airport or the Mad Max-inspired Surf Lakes planted right in Yeppoon?

If I can offer some advice, I’d say to pick Surf Ranch, as it is a hard/expensive ticket to come by, exclusive, and not exactly open to the public like Surf Lakes just yesterday announced it is planning to be.

Per the press release:

The site, located midway between Rockhampton and Yeppoon, has been in use since 2018, but being a prototype, has served only to successfully prove, test and improve the capability of Surf Lakes unique wave making technology. To date, invitations to selected guests have been extended to enjoy, and provide feedback, on the incredible surf experience on offer.

“We are extremely happy that Surf Lakes International and GSP have been able to come to an agreement whereby a significant community asset may be finally opened to the public,” said GSP Business Development and Media Director, Wayne Dart. “Having worked with Surf Lakes over the past few years to develop and manage the in-water experience, we know just how incredible the experience will be and we know that the technology is by far and wide the best in the world.”

The press has dubbed Surf Lakes a “celebrity” tank, as opposed to Slater’s Surf Ranch, which feels a fairly heavy repudiation.

Who is more famous, Mark Occhilupo or DJ Diplo?

A no brainer.

Medina, little sis Sophie and guy-pal Jair Bolsonaro, inset. | Photo: @gabrielmedina

World surfing champ Gabriel Medina turns to song following pal Jair Bolsonaro’s shock loss in country’s presidential election, “I wish I could spend more time with the people I love!”

"When you're 95, one hundred years old, you'll look back throughout your life, you won't think... I wish I had a better phone...."

You’ll recall, four years ago, when livid surf fans blamed three-time world champion Gabriel Medina’s exit from that year’s Quiksilver Pro on his friendship with Brazil’s right-wing president Jair Bolsonaro.

Medina, who seemed to have the Quiksilver Pro’s balls on the point of his knife exited in a dull quarter-final with a sub-ten point two-wave total.

His fans, of which there are many millions, blamed the controversial Bolsonaro, with whom Medina and his guy-pal, the soccer player Neymar, had been trading video messages.

Now that the tinsel has fallen off Bolsonaro’s Christmas tree, losing the country’s election to leftish rival Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, although he has yet to accept defeat and remains in the presidential residence in Brasília, Medina has turned to song as a balm to the loss of a friend, mentor etc.

In a poorly tended back yard, although a little lawn seed and water would quickly amend things, Medina sits with his sister Sophie, the pair crooning as Medina adroitly handles a three-quarter sized acoustic guitar.

“It’s not the best voice and we’re not the best musicians, but it’s the best feeling, being with the one you love,” writes the three-time champ. “When you’re 95, one hundred years old, and you’ll look back throughout your life, you won’t think… I wish I had a better phone…. I either want to spend more time on the internet, or I want to spend more times at work or sleeping. Won’t be any of those things It will be… I wish I could spend more time with the people I love. @sophiamedina always together my little one who’s grown up. Hahaha ❤️ 🥰 I love you so much.”


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Previously, Bolsonaro had said he faces three alternatives for his future: prison, death or victory in next year’s presidential election.

Exciting times.

Nervous surf fans flock to bookies, candles in hand, as Kelly Slater comes in eighth on official betting odds to be Gisele Bündchen’s next beau; Pete Davidson, Jason Momoa top list!

A Halloween miracle!

All that candle lighting, it appears… is working! Not working perfectly, mind you, and it could be working much better, as I imagine some out there are yet to participate, their windowsills unwaxed, but let us, the tried-and-true, count our small victories this morning. Our inch-by-inch gains.

Namely, sports’ books have officially released odds on who Gisele Bündchen’s next boyfriend will be and our Kelly Slater is currently EIGHTH!

As you know, well, rumors began percolating early in the month that not all was well between the Brazilian supermodel and her then-husband Tom Brady. While the news, later confirmed, was sad, surf fans secretly hoped for a grand reunion between Bündchen and the world’s greatest surfer and began quietly lighting candles by windows for such. Hope sprang as she seemingly sent many signs to Slater, saging her car, visiting a faith healer, and the aforementioned surf fans began imagining, even seeing in minds’ eyes, the most handsome couple strolling various beaches hand in hand.

And now we have official odds.

According to, the comedian Pete Davidson is the favorite to land Bündchen’s hand at +1200. The actor Jason Momoa is second at +1800 followed by Leonardo DiCaprio, John Mayer and Neymar all at +2000, Chris Evans and Bradley Cooper at +2500 and then our Kelly Slater at +3300.

Now, Davidson is a good bet, as well as Momoa, but I think we can rule out DiCaprio (Leo’s Law), John Mayer (Taylor Swift’s effective smear), and Neymar Jr. (Gabriel Medina). I don’t know much about Chris Evans or Bradley Cooper’s relative attractiveness, but nothing greater than Slater. Nothing a few extra lit candles can’t solve.

If you have yet to spark a flame, please do so now whilst on your way to your local bookie.

It’s Halloween, after all.

In act of pure benevolence, Japanese heartthrob Kanoa Igarashi gifts blueprint for beating fear at “big and scary” Teahupo’o to current world champ Filipe Toledo!

Surprise tips!

The 2024 Olympics are coming and, with them, the opportunity for athletes who toil at less popular sports like badminton, synchronized swimming and surfing a chance to shine on a global stage. While the bulk of games will be played in Paris, the surfing will be offloaded to French Polynesia and its glorious “Place of Broken Skulls.”

It will be surfing’s second Olympic running. The summer before last, brave men and women paddled out into two-foot Japanese beachbreak in order to showcase skill and thrill. Teahupo’o, there at the end of the road, serves up a different sort of challenge.

Namely, big scary.

Surfing’s first silver medalist, the heartthrob Kanoa Igarashi, recently sat down with Japan’s Kyodo News to discuss how he would go about the business at hand, saying, “The first time I was there, I felt very scared. I stayed for a week but could only catch a few waves. But…I made myself promise to make riding those kind of waves my strength. It became a project. It was pretty much always tough…but in the last couple of years I am finding it much more comfortable. I’m more confident now riding there.”

Ahhhh and what a benevolent gift.

As you know, surfing’s current champion, Filipe Toledo, has a distinct aversion to Teahupo’o, famously refusing to paddle for waves during two separate contests. If things continue the way they are, though, he will have to face fear and drop himself over the ledge. Lower Trestles, you see, is not an 2024 Olympic back-up site. There will be no final five.

But look, again, at Igarashi’s secret advice to Toledo. Making a project of riding big ledgy lefts.

Exactly like equally helpful BeachGrit tried to make happen five-ish years ago.

Benevolence all around. Benevolence and good cheer.

Spielberg, Milius and Lucas examine the script for Jaws. All laughs here, not so happy when Big Wednesday tanked. "The deal worked out better for some than others," Spielberg later told MacGillivray. "We haven't repeated the practice."

“Small and pretty” filmmaking phenom reveals the surf movie gamble that cost superstar directors George Lucas and Steven Spielberg millions!

John Milius trades Hollywood surf movie stinker Big Wednesday for Close Encounters of the First Kind and Star Wars!

Greg MacGillivray was 14 in 1960, the son of a Corona Beach lifeguard, small and pretty (his older sister was Miss Newport Beach) and absolutely relentless at whatever he put his mind to: paper route, math class, Boy Scouts—or, by 8th grade, making a surf movie.

Nobody saw Greg coming. He looked like a kid dressed up for Halloween as a surf movie-maker. He was almost invisible.

MacGillivray’s other superpower was that he could not be rushed.

Miss the deadline if you have to, but do the job right.

Greg later said he spent all his money (and borrowed from dad as well) and 90% of his free time on A Cool Wave of Color, his debut film, which took five years to make. He did the poster art. He painstakingly crafted little interstitial stop-motion animated graphics, which flash by onscreen in just a few seconds but really light the movie up.

Cool Wave debuted midway through MacGillivray’s freshman year at UC Santa Barbara. It screened a few times at various local Elks Lodges and high school auditoriums, and that was enough to earn a mostly-good review in SURFER.

“Cool Wave of Color shows blessed signs of creativity, [and] a musical score fitting to California waves.” (The criticism came near the end of the review, and was a small but literal kick to the nuts: “Greg is a young man and has a high-pitched voice.”)

Most of this I learned from MacGillivray’s new book, Five Hundred Summer Stories—the title is a riff on Five Summer Stories, Greg’s best-known surf movie, made with partner Jim Freeman.

Two other parts of the book caught my attention.

First, in the Fall of 1964 MacGillivray gassed up his new white-on-white Ford Econoline van—and again, the ambition and drive cannot be overstated; Greg’s work ethic is two-parts inspiring and one-part grotesque and while I’ve never met MacGillivray face-to-face he is in my Spirit Animal starting-five—and set out on a 6,300-mile coast-to-coast Cool Wave tour in which the film played at three locations.


A pair of shows at the North Hollywood Women’s Club, another in Daytona Beach, another in Virginia Beach. Driving cross-country and back for four shows seems insane.

But no, just the opposite. The whole point, as Greg well knew, was not to turn a profit, but to get out there and be seen, build momentum, gather experience—and the experiences came one after the other, big and small, high and low.

Driving through Alabama, just a few weeks after 30-plus black men, women, and children were hospitalized after being beaten and gassed during a peaceful march in Tuscaloosa, Greg grabbed a KKK rally poster from a telephone pole as a memento and was escorted out of town by a group of locals in a gun-racked pickup. Later, in a side trip to Manhattan, he visited MoMA and splurged on a Central Park carriage ride for his wife-to-be. MacGillivray loved surfing but also loved new experiences of any kind.

He was never not learning, always pushing forward. 

The other thing: Greg headed up the second unit on the Big Wednesday shoot, and his description of that episode in Five Hundred Summer Stories reminded me yet again of that film’s humiliating public debut and its otherworldly rehabilitation.

Sharpen those knives, folks.

If you’ve been with me here awhile you know that time and tide have not mellowed my view of Big Wednesday, which was directed by John Milius and released in 1978 by Warner Brothers.

I first spaghetti-whipped it here, and did it again here. I make an exception for Gary Busey, who singled-handedly carries the first reel of Big Wednesday, and I also have a soft spot for Bear, the fallen shaper whose “lemon next to the pie” quote is sad and poignant while at the same time, and not intentionally, the movie’s comic highpoint.

But I stand by the idea that the Big Wednesday bad-review dogpile—read the Times takedown here and the Surfing magazine review here—was totally deserved, and that Big Wednesday getting unceremoniously yanked from theaters after a week or two was a mercy to all involved.

And you know who agrees with those dogpiling reviewers, according to MacGillivray’s book? John Milius himself, who called Greg personally to apologize for the film and to say that he “let everybody down.” 

Except Milius, of course, got the last laugh—many laughs in fact.

Big Wednesday found new life in the 1980s as a video-rental favorite and then found a place into the Baby Boomer treasure chest of once-scorned-now-sacred cultural artifacts, right next to the Monkees and Ronald Reagan.

But before that happened, there was a second and maybe more astounding Big Wednesday consolation prize, which I believe is a one-off in the history of Hollywood. MacGillivray tells the story:

I began making day trips to Milius’ office at Warner Bros. In the adjoining office sat Steven Spielberg [who was] working with Milius, writing and prepping the comedy feature “1941.” The unions still had incredible control over Hollywood, but Spielberg, Milius, and their friend George Lucas were challenging the status quo with enormously profitable films. One day the three of them were at John’s office and we were all joking around about filmmaking. I would later learn that they had each agreed to share some of the profits from the three personal projects they each had in production. Incredibly, Lucas’ film was Star Wars and Spielberg’s film was Close Encounters of the Third Kind. John’s film was Big Wednesday. [Each filmmaker] gave each away two points from the net profits they owned in their own creations [to the other two filmmakers]. This was their way to show the old-time studio bosses that a new era had begun of youthful, creative collaboration. 

“The deal worked out better for some than others,” Spielberg later told MacGillivray, laughing at the lost millions of dollars. “We haven’t repeated the practice.”

Here is my favorite scene in Big Wednesday. Gary Busey of course is the star, but I’m looking at the little kid who defuses the situation by lending Matt Johnson his board, and imagining the actor is actually Greg MacGillivray at 31 years old, setting and controlling the scene while still looking like the Cool Wave middle schooler he was in 1960. The man is small and crafty and very good at what he does. 

(You like this? Matt Warshaw delivers a surf essay every Sunday, PST. All of ’em a pleasure to read. Maybe time to subscribe to Warshaw’s Encyclopedia of Surfing, yeah? Three bucks a month.)