Italo, on wave and carrying surfboard. Inset, a movie representation of a shark attack on a surfer.

World champion surfer Italo Ferreira thrown from surfboard by shark in wild near-death encounter, “The shark appeared and knocked me out of the water!”

"I was alone, I was his only option! It's crazy."

The electric life of the 2019 world surfing champ, a man who already has the countenance of a surprised big-eyed animal, took a wild turn earlier today when he was attacked by a shark while surfing alone in Brazil.

Ferreira, who is twenty-eight, and a noted shark-phobic, alarmed his 150k followers when he wrote,

“In the best part of the surf session yesterday the shark appeared and knocked me out of the sea. I was alone, I was his only option! It’s crazy. The animal was about 2.5 meters.”

One sage fan wrote, “Lesson taught by an Australian: never go alone in the sea where there are sharks, you have a 100% chance in case of an attack.”

You’ll remember, Ferreira’s mortal fear of sharks following a couple of minor-ish hits around Margaret River, resulting in the cancellation of the event.

The Australian writer Tim Winton, whose surfing-themed book Breath had just been turned into a movie, described Italo and his countryman Gabriel Medina’s lobbying for the contest’s cancellation as “conniving”, as if their concern was contrived for competitive advantage.

If you could see Italo now when you start talking hits by Great Whites, the panic in his eyes, the stutter in his voice, you’d know the fear isn’t a confection.

“The energy is bad,” he told me.

Less existential, though no less alarming, was a post the day before where Ferreira spoke of a mysterious heartbreak.

Prayers etc.

 


Surf Journalist does hardest yards of life, heads into exclusive therapy session with “Heir to Miki Dora’s Malibu Throne” Jonah Hill for deep understanding of journey on learning to be happy!

Is your mother worried? Would you like us to assign someone to worry your mother?

Jonah Hill, actor famous for playing sexless butterballs, has also been famous at this BeachGrit since he discovered the profound glories of surfing, some few years ago, and thus staked his claim as heir to Miki Dora’s Malibu Throne. There was an attempt, earlier, to have him on the on-again-off-again podcast Dirty Water and a back and forth that ended him wishing this surf journalist “I hope you enjoy the journey of learning to be funny.”

As salient today as it was then.

Apt.

Hill, in any case, has continued his stratospheric rise in both surfing and pop culture, signing on to play the Grating Dead’s Jerry Garcia in an up and coming biopic, transitioning to electric trucks for local longer board sessions, signing on to play golfer John Daly in another biopic.

Dating surf instructors, breaking up, dating others in the surf.

Releasing his directed and starred in Stuz on Netflix though bravely following Filipe Toledo’s lead and refusing to promote it publicly.

The film is an ostensible vehicle to share the wisdom he has learned from years of therapy with noted shrink Phil Stutz and before commenting upon felt it my duty, as a surf journalist, to watch the entire thing instead of just the trailer.

Hard yards.

And so, today, I sat down to do the work.

The film opens with Hill and Phil Stutz in a room, black and white, therapist explaining his philosophy, “tools,” Hill responding and reacting, attempting to deflect from himself, insisting this is a story about Stutz.

It quickly becomes a film about Hill.

There are bobs, weaves, peeks behind the fourth wall and purposeful tweaks of that fourth wall. Honestly, I’d image there is something to the overall message. Oh, it all smacks hard of the hero’s journey, which I loathe and purposefully mock in the properly uncelebrated Cocaine + Surfing, but Phil Stutz seems epic.

Hill?

He seems gorgeously likable if not entirely obsessed with himself and his own journey of learning how to discover his own happiness.

Hell.

Childhood trauma, self doubt, self realization, self, self, self, self, self, self, self, self, self, self, self, self, self, self.

It smacks of pure luxury.

Having the time to spend worrying and fixating upon the self, and the fourteen-year-old self, instead of having to get out of bed each morning and doing what it takes to get to bed each night.

Is your mother worried? Would you like us to assign someone to worry your mother?

I don’t know. I’m neither certified nor qualified to be offering mental help but ain’t a fixation upon self part of the problem if not the problem in its entirety?

Also, who amongst us looks upon our fourteen-year-old selves with great admiration? I was a straight kook at fourteen. Mark Hacker, quarterback, was not but who knows where that bro is now? I’d imagine nowhere. Both of us grew up in Coos Bay, Oregon.

Back around, though, ain’t that what has infected lineups, worldwide, in this the era of the Vulnerable Adult Learner?

Me.

A me obsession?

Me and my shit skills and my lack of understanding, research, care of me in a broader context?

Me, me, me, me, me, me, me, me, me, me, me, me, me, me.

Me floating in a glorious universe of me.

Ugh.

But also watch the entire film, yourself, and react.

Me is certainly off in me’s opinion.


Ask yourself this: if Kelly Slater, the man who has all you want and more, can’t find salvation in the ocean, how will you? | Photo: Four Seasons Maldives

Kelly Slater bares all in rawest interview of career, “The level of detail is incredible. Kelly’s history and insecurities all laid bare. So too his relationships, his rootlessness, his fragility.”

“It’s the most honest depiction of the chaos, contradiction and tortured genius that most of us know as Kelly Slater I’ve ever read.”

What drives you?

What’s the thing that keeps you wide-eyed and restless in long nights, or wakes you from a roiling, sweated sleep?

Our answers, of course, will vary on a wild spectrum of seediness, but I’ll presume that for most of us here surfing forms a large part of your agonies and ecstasies.

I’ve been interrogating surfing recently, as I am wont to do, and most especially after a recent trip to Portugal that took me through the rollercoaster of emotions that only surfing can – bliss, dejection, rage, longing…

The good moments were great. The kind that make me want to upend my life in service of this objectively pointless activity.

But this was marred by unpleasant, crowded line-ups. Deep, vicious tension in the water that escalated on a couple of occasions to punches thrown, boards speared, and drownings simulated.

I loved this area of Portugal once, but I can’t see myself rushing back.

It was infested with the Digital Nomad. Seemingly lacking any self-awareness in and out of the water and joyful in their amateurism. Perfectly happy, or so it seemed, with pearling take-offs and fruitless flirtations.

I listened one day to a conversation next to where I was changing. Some middle-european long-hair was making advances towards a middling girl shoving a midlength into the back of her van. He was showing her the t-shirts he’d made. Just knocked up the designs on someone’s borrowed laptop at the hostel, he announced, like he was Steve Jobs. She seemed genuinely impressed. I can only assume it was the residual decency of human politeness.

But the truth was, I was jealous. I didn’t want to be the embittered veteran. I wanted the simple joy of a new obsession once again. I was envious of their ignorance.

What to do?

Take up something new, leaving surfing to the angry, clueless masses?

Quit?

Again?

In my existential despair, salvation and answers came from paradoxically the most likely and unlikely source.

I found Kelly.

I hadn’t been looking for him. It began by trawling through the archives of Sports Illustrated, specifically the work of Gary Smith.

If you don’t know Smith, treat yourself to some of his archive. In the late 90s and early 00s his deep-dive profiles of the most recognisable figures in sport were revered.

This Smith is the antithesis of our Smith in his approach to journalism. He wrote just four pieces a year, believing it was impossible to produce quality work quicker. His profiles asked Big Questions. The type of questions we’re all searching for the answers to.

A dream gig.

I read a profile of Mike Tyson. One of those rare things with the power to affirm or recalibrate your sense of the world.

Then, hungry for more, I came across a 2009 profile of our own Kelly Slater. It had the uninspiring title “Ready For The Next Wave”.

My instinct was to keep scrolling. Regardless of author, what could I possibly learn about Slater? Smith might be a far superior writer and mind than me, but when it comes to Kelly, I’d back myself.

(The offer to be your biographer remains open, Mr Slater, sir.)

I’ll have missed a few things along the way, like this Smith piece, but I believe I’ve read most of what’s been written about Kelly. But in all that’s been said, there’s very little I’ve actually found insightful.

Endemic surf media fawns over achievements and the way he rides waves; non-endemic coverage gets wrapped up in what surfing is supposed to be, rather than what it is. Much like the remote workers of Portugal’s Atlantic coast.

I’ve often considered that Kelly would be a particularly difficult profile subject. So little of what he says could be seen as objectively true, even when he’s talking about his own thoughts. There’s a chaoticness to Kelly’s mind and existence that I think has left him as confused as anyone else. What is the truth about Kelly? I doubt even he knows.

So on that basis I had little hope for this profile, regardless of the skill of the writer. Kelly will wriggle and squirm and present any side of himself he feels is the order of the day. Kelly controls Kelly’s narrative.

But I was wrong. The Smith profile is masterful.

Somehow, he acknowledges yet palms away all Kelly’s smoke and mirrors. He cuts to the heart of the things that make the man.

For the first time, reading this profile, it occurred to me exactly why Slater’s mind is so unruly. Why does he obsess over conspiracy theories? Why does he get embroiled in tit-for-tat arguments on social media? Why does he jump on every emerging trend or controversial take?

It’s because he feels there must be something else.

If he, a man with a lifestyle of travel, experience, beautiful women, adoration, passion and mastery, is still not content, there must be something else…

Smith identifies Slater’s discontent immediately, and doesn’t allow himself to be derailed by Kelly’s sleights of hand.

The level of detail is incredible. Kelly’s history and insecurities all laid bare. So too his relationships, his rootlessness, his fragility.

It’s the most honest depiction of the chaos, contradiction and tortured genius that most of us know as Kelly Slater I’ve ever read.

But as with all great profile writing, it’s what we can apply to our own lives that’s most valuable. We can’t ever be Kelly Slater (would you want to be?) but we can look at the blueprint he’s created in pursuit of something we also know and love. And we can lay that blueprint over our own experience and see what, if anything, shines through.

We all want to surf more. We think surfing gives us purpose, like it’s going to make us happy.

If all I could do was just surf, things would be great, you’ve certainly thought.

This is the dream. The one we’ve been sold and perpetuated. The archetypal narrative of what it means to be “a surfer”. The one all those crowds in Portugal are chasing: surf all you can, abandon all else. Saviour lies in the waves.

But ask yourself this: if Kelly Slater, the man who has all you want and more, can’t find salvation in the ocean, how will you?

If Kelly still wonders Why, then we know two things – surfing is not the answer, and neither is mastery.

Somehow, one of the most talented, wealthy and handsome men of our lifetime, a god in a sport of kings, is still just trying to find peace.

That’s not only a compelling story, but a valuable lesson for all of us.


"You need some Hurley, my friend."

In second stunning win for big wave surfing in as many days, world-famous beard oil purveyor signs on as sponsor of upcoming Nazaré Tow Surfing Challenge!

Winning.

There is winning and then there is big wave surfing over the last two days. The world of giants is oft a neglected backwater amongst our kind. Oh certainly, we will tune in for a few minute of Jaws competitions and occasionally swoon over video drips from OnlyFans star Nathan Florence but, generally, big wave surfing is lightly considered and, its heroes and heroines, outside the few Kai Lennys and Laird Hamiltons, poorly compensated.

All that is set to radically change, though, after a blistering forty-eight hours.

Yesterday, we learned that the World Surf League is set to turn the XXL portion of its offering over to the Guinness Book of World Records. A major victory for novelty buffs and ten-year-old boys.

Today, we hear that a purveyor of world-famous beard oil is signing on as sponsor of upcoming Nazaré Tow Challenge.

Per the press release:

Hurley, the iconic action-sports brand, announces sponsorship of the World Surf League’s 2022-2023 TUDOR Nazaré Tow Surfing Challenge. The competition will showcase the best of big wave surfing as world-class surfers pursue their quest to capture a ride on big wave surfing’s Holy Grail of waves. The competition will take place at Praia de Norte in Nazaré, Portugal, home to some of the biggest waves in the world; and will showcase the best of big wave surfing in the tow-in discipline.

The competition will feature nine teams made up of two competitors, surfers and jet ski drivers, hoping to make surfing history. Team Hurley is pleased to present its own legendary big wave surfers including Kai Lenny of Hawaii; Nazaré local, Nic von Rupp; and New York icon, Will Skudin. Known for its spectacular waves, including the current Guinness World Record for largest wave ever surfed — a colossal eighty-six-footer — the 2023 TUDOR Nazaré Tow Challenge is sure to be a headline-making event, as contestants may even have a chance to shatter that record during the event. To capture the excitement, Hurley has commissioned local Portugal surf artist, Waves by Johny Viera, to paint the event poster, which will also be available across a limited Nazaré collection of merchandise.

“The Nazaré Challenge is an event where simply making a wave doesn’t mean you’re safe. It is survival the entire time. That being said, pressure makes diamonds and the best rides I’ve ever had out there have been in this event,” explains Kai Lenny. ”Nazaré is the biggest wave in the world, the most consistent, the most dangerous, the most challenging wave. It’s an honor to be in this event, it’s an honor to surf with and against the best big wave surfers in the world. Let the show begin,” adds Nic von Rupp.

Can you picture Kai Lenny with a beard?

Me neither.


@ivankatrump

As Ivanka Trump declares she is finished with politics, speculation runs wild that former first daughter has developed severe addiction to meddlesome surfing!

No Work City.

It is political season in great America again and, no doubt, you are thrilled to death with the intrigue, posturing, red or blue waves either materializing or not. Thinking about Iowa. Various caucuses. Republicans vs. Democrats for the soul of the free world etc. but where do you find yourself on this exciting spectrum?

Hanging on every chad?

Frustrated when person behind you in line for coffee mentions Nate Silver and his perpetually off prognostications?

Oh, I know you are a surfer, more than anything, and thereby really only care about the issues that relate to us including subsidies for Kelly Slater’s Outerknown, World Surf League tax breaks, Conan Hayes costumery and Ivanka Trump bowing out of politics just as her father announced his presidential candidacy for 2024 in a gilded evening.

The 45th President’s oldest daughter was at Donald Trump’s side, non-stop, during his first term, there helping with policy, being an ambassador and senior advisor etc. but, yesterday, declared, “While I will always love and support my father, going forward I will do so outside the political arena. This time around, I am choosing to prioritize my young children and the private life we are creating as a family. I do not plan to be involved in politics.”

The “private life” they are “creating as a family,” it must be noted, very much involves surfing.

You’ll certainly recall when Trump nearly decapitated her son with a waterlogged soft top in Miami. That might have been enough to shake even the most motivated VAL but, in the months since, the taller blonde has been seen regularly surfing all around greater southern Florida both with and without her children.

Lately, mostly without.

Surfers, everywhere, both understanding and recognizing this affliction, disease as it were. The act of riding waves getting placed above every and anything until the aforementioned “private life” is in shambles.

Addiction.

Light a candle for the children.