Kohl Christensen, back in biz at Pipe. | Photo: Daniel Russo

Hawaiian big-wave icon who nearly quit surfing after brain injury at Pipeline makes triumphant return on swell of the year, “Do I really need to be back out here? Does that glorious glide through her aquatic cavern outweigh the risk?”

"Brain injuries are traumatic. A lot of things were off."

The Eddie Aikau-invitee Kohl Christenen, as famous for his off-the-grid lifestyle as his big-wave wrangling, has made a triumphant return to the Pipe arena, lacing a bomb set at the world’s most dangerous wave three years after suffering a brain injury that nearly ended his career.

On New Year’s Eve in 2019, Christensen, who is forty-five and stands six-five in heels, was belted by his surfboard while surfing twelve-to-fifteen-foot Pipe.

Fractured skull, a little bleeding on the brain, ear drum blown to the heavens.

Jamie O’Brien, the carrot-topped vlogger who grew up at Pipe and whose house is directly behind the famous Lopez mansion, saw the whole thing from his upstairs perch.

“He was on this second reef double-up roll-in and he was trimming and the wave before had some turbulence in front of it and he went over the turbulence and then he skipped out.”

Jamie didn’t think much of it.

“Kohl’s a great surfer, he knows what he’s doing. He’s the kinda guy you don’t see until it’s bigger than ten feet.”

Pretty standard sorta wipeout at a wave given to sudden flourishes of unpredictable violence more than most.

“And then he popped up, it took a while, and I was, like, something’s wrong. He was looking the wrong way and the lip of an eight-foot wave was landing on him. His board was sideways and he was right behind the board. From my point of view it looked the lip launched the board straight into his head and knocked him out. I’m not sure if he broke his eardrum first and that was why he was out of it.”

Dressed in baggy sweat shorts, Jamie tightened up the legs, grabbed an eight-foot soft-top and ran down the beach. He thought, ‘Ok, I need to act right now.’

A life or death moment.

“I saw his board tombstoning right when I got to the beach. The jetski was already on him, Makua Rothman was already swimming out. It was super gnarly. I knew there was nothing I could do. He was in good hands. It was lucky help was there faster than I was. I was trying my best.”

At the hozzy, Kohl had his head sawed open, and brain tweaked back into biz.

Wild, yeah?

It was enough to give Kohl pause about whether or not he wanted to keep chasing big waves.

Until Pipe lit up last week.

“I didn’t know if I would ever surf again,” Kohl posted on his IG account @deepeatersurf , alongside a sequence of an epic Pipe cave. “Brain injuries are traumatic. A lot of things were off. I still remember my first wave months into recovery, a simple slide over crystal clear water on a longboard. That sweet flying sensation conjuring memories of my first surf’s as a youth. I can do this again… Now, surfing more and happier than ever, except… somewhere back there, haunting and challenging me has been Pipeline… I’ve been a few times since without connecting. Minutes into my first session back I witnessed Mikey Redd’s accident. Dejavú all over again.

“Do I really need to be back out here? Two beautiful daughters and a loving wife. Does that glorious glide through her aquatic cavern outweigh the risk?

“I can’t answer that, but something pulled me out there this last swell. As I waited a backlight silhouette 20 yards away waved to me. I instinctually returned the wave without knowing who it was but as he turned, the sun lit his face. Andrew Logreco the life guard that saved me nearly three years prior. He waved again and as he did the swell line stretched out towards where I was sitting. A gift from both him , the Ocean and of course Pipeline. I can’t put in words the emotions.

“And of course, as I kicked out of the wave, donning Biff’s old helmet my buddy Daniel Russowas there to capture the moment. Giddyup…”

Here come the piranhas!

Total collapse of surf industry near as owner of Hurley about to swallow Billabong, Quiksilver and RVCA in takeover of the century!

A surf industry bloodbath!

Just slipped onto my desk is more news from the imminent takeover of those once iconic surf brands, Billabong, Quiksilver and RVCA. 

For those who came into surf in the past few years it might be hard to comprehend, even to frame in some sort of conceptual framework, but there was a time when Quiksilver, Billabong and Hurley were the archest of rivals, each brand pushing each other to build the best surf team, host the best surf event, dazzle with latest innovation for wetsuits or trunks. 

That all ended when Billabong and Quiksilver flew too close to the sun, their balance sheets melted by hubris and financial extravagance, and were sold to vulture capitalists. 

Now, after being circled by the parent company of Vans (VF) and the Authentic Brands Group (“a robust house that includes the licensing rights to Elvis Presley, Marilyn Monroe and Muhammad Ali”), Bluestar Alliance, which bought Hurley from Nike in 2019, is in the “exclusivity phase” with an offer pending this week.

What exclusivity phase means is, the Authentic Brands Group can only counter-offer if the Bluestar offer comes in too low. 

The way Bluestar works is it identifies brands it wants to buy and once they get the keys, “our team of experts embark on a complete and thorough understanding of the brand’s potential channels of distribution and price point strategies. We create tools such as brand development profiles, trend guides, style guides and marketing strategies. These marketing materials portray graphic illustrations and a strategic marketing road map to enhance consumer brand recognition.”

In layman’s terms, throw a logo on anything that moves, inflatable pool toys, beard oil, whatever dumb stuff people will buy ’cause it has a heritage banner on it.

If Bluestar gets the keys to the three iconic brands, it’ll create the greatest assemblage of surf brands ever created, rivalling even those honied days a decade or so ago when Billabong and Quik were throwing millions at even the silliest of provincial surf brands.

A little ironic for Billabong as its never been as lean and healthy, and therefore profitable, as it is right now. 

Meanwhile, if you wanna support those few remaining independent surf labels, go see our pals at Vissla, The Critical Slide Society, Country Club Surf Club and Brothers Marshall. 

Wetsuit wise, plenty of indies out there, still, even after Rip Curl was sold to camping retailer Kathmandu for $350 mill a few years back.

See O’Neill, Feral, Need Essentials, Project Blank etc.

Jackson Baker (left) spitting rizz. Photo: Facebook
Jackson Baker (left) spitting rizz. Photo: Facebook

As new slang word “rizz” explodes amongst in-the-know youth, surf fans go bonkers trying to discern what it means and which surfers have it!

Currently more questions than answers.

Surfers have long been arbiters of fresh new slang. Hang ten, rip curl, kook, hand jam, the list goes on and on and on and on and our kind has gotten used to being chill and cool and unintelligible to outsiders but code talking diggish* words to each other.

Or at least we used to be.

Sometime within the last few years the TikketyTokkety took over and now in-the-know youth are no longer dropping wave jargon but rather unintelligible gibberish like SMH and sus and other such nonsense. The word currently trending? “Rizz.”

Coined by YouTuber Kai Cenet, it roughly translates to “One’s ability to seduce a potential (usually female) love interest.” Or, per Urban Dictionary, “Another word for spitting game/how good you are with pulling and sustaining bitches.”

Surf fans, thus, have been attempting to apply to our favorite professionals.

Which Championship Tour surfer has rizz?

Like, if you were at a bar with any of the top 44, who would “spit game” the very best?

Gabriel Medina?

Kanoa Igarashi?

Matthew McGillivray?

Nat Young, Kolohe Andino, Jackson Baker?

Mark Richards?


Professional surfers (pictured) with trowels. Photo: WSL
Professional surfers (pictured) with trowels. Photo: WSL

World Surf League blows environmental doors off hinges as 2022’s progress report reveals emissions slashed by 50%, 35,000 global youth educated, 100 tons of plastic vanished from Indonesia!

Go, WSL!

Aside from its commitment to equality, the World Surf League has really leaned into environmental stewardship in these past few years. Professional surfers, on the Championship Tour, can regularly be seen planting small bushes in various bluffs, much booth talk can be heard from Joe Turpel and gang about various environment and Jessi Miley-Dyer plus Erik Logan things.

But who could have guessed, who might have imagined how robust the efforts actually were.

With 2022 drawing to a close, the World Surf League’s Chief People and Purpose Officer, Emily Hofer, has shared, “The ocean is our arena, it’s our office — many of us would describe it as home. We believe that the future of surfing depends on the health of the ocean; and it’s our duty to ensure that the ocean is protected for surfers to come.”

The successes this year?

According to the WSL:

-Reduced emissions by almost 50 percent from the 2018 baseline year;

-Educated 35,000 global youth on cultural and environmental stewardship;

-Removed 100 tons of plastic from Indonesian waterways;

-Conserved almost 350,000 hectares of coastal land — including prime surf ecosystems at Playa Hermosa, Costa Rica and Grajagan Bay, Java, Indonesia (famously known to those in the know as “G-Land”).

“Sports have the power to inspire hearts and minds,” Hofer added at the end. “Anything related to protecting the ocean or the earth is a really good way to leverage sports and the inspirational power of sports.”

Sports sports sports.



But how do you think the reduced emissions came to be?

Ahhhh, the mid-season cut. Professional surfers told they are no longer allowed to get on to airplanes and fly to exotic locations.

Less helping hands in planting small bushes, I suppose, but an overall win.

Go, WSL.

Adult learner Parker Seidels, inset, says sorry, man, to Makana, wearing his board in the main photo.

Adult learner surfer who nearly decapitated Pipeline star issues brave mea culpa on YouTube, “I’ve received a lot of death threats and a lot of hate. I know what I did was wrong and stupid and disrespectful!”

"I apologise to Makana Pang for paddling out at Pipeline two days ago and seriously almost injuring Makana, and possibly ruining his career."

Do you watch any of those surfing blogs on YouTube? I do. It’s a guilty indulgence.

Sorta like secretly enjoying Hollywood rom-coms or bikie-grade methamphetamine.

I can’t get enough of it.

Nathan Florence is the standout.

There’s something about the unproduced, uncut rawness of his videos that encapsulates the surfing experience so much more closely than a tightly edited performance clip.

The paddle out. The sets on the head. The lineup chat.

Jazz is what’s between the notes ‘n that. Plus he hooks.

It’s obviously a model that resonates. His audience and view rates are through the wazoo.

But for every one Nathan Florence there’s a thousand Parker Seidels.

For a while now I’ve had a story bubbling in the back of my mind about the YouTube surfer. This second generation of GoPro-weilding content creators holding up the likes of JOB and Ben Gravy as their heroes.

Never not online. Dedicated to recording every aspect of the lineup. Slow-mo non head-dips.Going over the falls. Hi-5s and bro-slaps with their buddies on the beach.

Actual surfing skill not required.

Parker is one such acolyte. Only he plies his trade out at Pipeline.

There’s dozens of videos posted to his YouTube Channel with titles like:





Wild, right?

Anyway, the kid has lived up to his clickbait clips, outing himself as the non-duckdiving VAL who almost decapitated young Pipe charger Makana Pang out there the other day.

You read Makana’s impassioned, level-headed plea for kooks to stop paddling out in conditions they can’t handle, after his mid-tube collision with an errant learner’s board.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by M A K A N A (@m_pang)

A bit of instagram sleuthing quickly uncovered Parker as the board’s owner.

Now, Parker, a fresh-faced teen who has apparently only started surfing in the last 18 months, has taken to YouTube to apologise for his actions.

Only thing is, this wasn’t the only strife he’d gotten himself into chasing content over the last few days.

I just want to make this video to apologise for my actions this past week. I just want to express how sorry and how terrible I feel right now, and I just wish I could take back what i have done because i was being so stupid. I was being an idiot. For going to the Big Island and being super uneducated and getting super close to the lava and not knowing anything about what I was doing.”

Turns out Parker had also hopped over to the slopes of active volcano Mauna Loa and tried to roast some marshmallows in the lava flow, which has been threatening homes on the Big Island for a couple of weeks now. Of course he recorded clips of it all for his YouTube channel. Big sign of disrespect to local Hawaiian customs. Then he and his group apparently became lost for hours on the volcanic slopes, putting themselves at further risk.

“I want to apologise to all the people I have offended and I have definitely learned from this experience. I’ve received a lot of death threats and a lot of hate. I know what i did was wrong and stupid and disrespectful.

“From the bottom of my heart I want to apologise and I know saying sorry isn’t enough. I know this will take time to fix. I am educating myself about what I have done. I just feel terrible. I want to apologise to all the natives on the Big Island for what I have done.”

Cue Pipe, Makana.

“I also want to apologise to Makana Pang for paddling out at Pipeline two days ago and seriously almost injuring Makana, and possibly ruining his career. I just wanted to say I was very, very selfish in that moment. I shouldn’t have been out there. The waves were way too big. Not only did I put myself at risk but I also put a lot of other surfers at risk who have trained their whole lives to be there and it was just super selfish for me to paddle out in those waves. I’m glad that he’s ok but it could have been way worse. I know what I did was wrong. Just wanted to make this video to apologise even though I know this is going to take a lot of time to fix.”

It was all enough for young Parker to finally see the error of his ways.

“I am definitely taking a break from social media. I am definitely getting off Instagram. And YouTube. For a long long time. I just want to own up to my mistakes and my wrongs. I have learned a lot from this. I will learn and I will grow. I lost my job this morning. I feel like people are basically out there to kill me right now. It’s kinda scary but I just wanted to let you guys know I am taking a break and I am deeply, deeply sorry for my actions and I will do better and think more before I do things. I apologise. I’m sorry.”

Where to from here?

Parker, who looks to be barely out of his teens, is less a cause of the problem than a symptom.

No one’s begrudging the likes of Nathan Florence, JOB, Koa etc making a living with their videos. They’re professionals. They belong in the line-=up.

But should they now be posting warnings at the start of their clips?


Or could we even go a step further?

Have a guided discussion, a collective moment of introspection, on the levels of self-aggrandising narcissism we have descended to as a society in the social media age?

This cultural morasse we find ourselves in?

Could YouTube be disbanded? Instragram disconnected? Modems tossed in the bin, Smart phones placed in bedside drawers. Humanity strolling out into the sunlight together. Finally unfiltered. Finally unplugged.

Or will the content creation machine continue on its inexorable roll?

Probs. Cunts’ll do anything for a click nowadays.

‘Cept here on Beach Grit.