Picklum (pictured) safe from WSL torture (for now). Photo: WSL
Picklum (pictured) safe from WSL torture (for now). Photo: WSL

Current world number one Molly Picklum describes devastating emotional toll of World Surf League’s “sadistic like a snuff film” mid-year cull!

Evil has a name.

We are now two events into the World Surf League’s 2023 season which means, officially, three to go before the purposefully sadistic mid-year cull. Oh you certainly recall the joy, the sheer glee, displayed by the top brass leading up to the mass decapitation and the absolute pleasure Chief of Sport Jessi Miley-Dyer oozed when looking forward to re-watching the bloodletting on Make or Break.

Like a snuff film.

Well, the emotional toll on the surfers has been, more or less, kept under wraps, or at least until now, as Molly Picklum, Australia’s great hope, has shared details of the torture.

In a tender interview with The Sydney Morning Herald, the current world number one said it would “hours to unpack” the damage with her coach, Glen “Micro” Hall adding that she “couldn’t surf” afterward.

“There were these really fun little waves at a [Qualifying Series] contest in Ballito, just perfect waves,” He said. “But Molly just couldn’t surf it. It sounds like I’m exaggerating, but she just could not complete a wave: couldn’t stay up and finish her turns, couldn’t make manoeuvres she’d normally do with her eyes closed. She was trying so hard, had pushed herself so long. You could just see that she cared too much; she was trying to improve her surfing and compete and go to another level. That’s where the mid-year cut, all the emotions of it just bubbled to the surface.”

World Surf League sadism did not derail Picklum entirely, and thank goodness, but do you imagine the aforementioned Miley-Dyer, her Chief of Executives Erik Logan and gang have other tools in the dungeon to illicit pain from its charges.

A quarter-year cull, for example.

I suppose we’ll all soon find out.

“I am a woman living alone – I wish protection from the wind and privacy from the road and a house as enduring as the rocks but as transparent and charming as the waves and delicate as the seashore. You are the only man who can do this – will you help me?”

Frank Lloyd Wright house fronting surf spot described as “one of the prettiest beaches in the world with electric blue water” sells for eye-watering $22 million!

“Where architecture and surf join in perfect melody!”

You know Frank Lloyd Wright, yeah? The American architect famous for his organic builds (who don’t love Fallingwwater) and a wild personal life that included mass-murder and a near-lynching (read TC Boyle’s The Women for a heated-up version of the story)?

Yeah, well, the only oceanfront he ever designed, called Cabin on the Rocks at Carmel-by-the-Sea in Monterey County and  built in 1952, has just sold for $22 mill. 

Ol man Wright only agreed to design the joint, whose front looks like a ship’s bow setting forth into the ocean, after the client, Della Walker, wrote an impossible-to-ignore brief. 

“I am a woman living alone – I wish protection from the wind and privacy from the road and a house as enduring as the rocks but as transparent and charming as the waves and delicate as the seashore. You are the only man who can do this – will you help me?”

“The overall effect is quiet,” Wright said a couple of years after the build, “and the long white surf lines of the sea seem to join the lines of the house to make a natural melody.”

After staying in the Walker family for seventy years, it just got sold to Monaco businessman Patrice Pastor, whose been buying up land in town over the past eight years. 

“I have admired this wonderful ‘Cabin on the Rocks’ for many years, now, and have always dreamed of one day owning it,” Pastor told The Carmel Pine Cone. “It is truly a fantastic piece of land and an amazing house by one of the world’s most renowned architects.”

And surf? 

Gonna turn to Surfline for this. 

“One of the prettiest beaches in the world. The sand at Carmel Beach is fine and white and squeaky clean, and sometimes the surf is, too… The water is electric blue…The kelp and cove protect it from winds, so it can be offshore when everywhere else is blown out. Every now and then, there are serious tubes to be had. It’s all just a matter of looking.”

As historic storm pounds Southern California, hand-wringing mommy blogs beg region’s surfers to stay out of the water: “It’s really dangerous and a health hazard!”

"Steep seas" etc.

Anyone who has access to news is well aware that Southern California is getting pounded by a historic storm system. Snow falling at very low levels. The skies open and showering everywhere else. The Pacific whipped into a brown froth. It is not an inviting surf day and I would imagine only those attempting to set some sort of “consecutive day” Guinness record, or the like, would even be giving it a thought.

Even thus, the region’s hand-wringing mommy blogs are imploring the devil-may-care to avoid paddling.

LAist, for example, begins by leaning on experts, declaring, “Los Angeles County officials alerted residents to ‘bacteria, chemicals, debris, trash, and other public health hazards’ that are likely to drain into the ocean. The National Weather Service advised Angelenos to stay out of the water due to ‘gusty winds, large steep seas, and high surf.'”

And then transitions to pieces that appear on The Inertia comparing surfing to mystical spirituality.


Surfline’s San Diego forecaster describes conditions as, “A junky mixture of fading S swell with some WNW combination joining in means small to moderate sized surf out there. The current storm front moving through the area is dumping rain on us while gusty Southerly winds shred the surface conditions. End result is real junky and mixed up surf with filthy water quality.”

And the adds “The Health Board advises against all ocean contact during and within 72 hours following significant rains due to increased bacterial levels, especially around storm drains, river/creek mouths and other areas of concentrated runoff.”

Not bold.

But when it dumps rain what are your thoughts on surfing? I have heard that it increases the likelihood of disease by some tiny margin and nothing more.

Is that information correct?

Should I pass on to Guinness hopefuls?

Brave chevalier dives headlong into seedy world of online surf coaching programs (Part One)!

Be best.

Should life-long mediocre surfers who strive to improve upon said mediocrity for the first time as an adult be relegated to the same surf caste as the VALs?

In turn, should these mediocre adult developing surfers (“MADs”, if you will) who first attempted in earnest to improve upon said mediocrity during the Covid era be counted among the reviled ranks of the “Covid Surfers”?

Has the array of “internet surf coaching” programs that have sprouted up like weeds in a neglected garden over the last few years created this MAD phenomenon, or is this merely a symptom of the overall MADness?

And, are these programs (we’ll refer to them under the penumbra of “iSarf Programs”) actually as effective as advertised, or is there just good money to be made by prolonging a problem under the guise of offering a solution, much akin to hiring an outside marketing consultant to promote an irredeemably sub-par product?

This is a multi-part, deep-dive piece that will answer absolutely none of these questions. This is 2023 after all—who needs data or any modicum of investigative research when you can have one man’s barely informed, shortsighted, anecdotal experience? If it’s good enough for The Inertia, well then, it’s good enough.

So what is a MAD and where did MADs come from? Again, you’re not going to get actual investigative answers here, so I’ve created a mathematical equation that seems like it might make sense, though it has not and cannot be tested, empirically or otherwise:

Lockdowns + Mediocrity + Technology = MADness.

Lest I bore you with an in depth breakdown of each of these elements, this is the gist—during the pandemic, people who grew up surfing but never became incredibly proficient found themselves with a lot of time and a little bit of disposable income, they were painfully reminded of their own mediocrity via the Surfline Rewind Cam and/or a significant other on the beach filming their awful surfing, and then they thought they could use their newfound free time to become better surfers by subscribing the iSarf Programs that started popping up in their Instagram feeds.

In short, the MADs became duped by the same snake oil that had already been successfully peddled to the VALs, i.e., that doing stuff on land like skating around soccer cones was going to make you a better surfer.

It’s a rabbit hole that I too went down, chasing that elusive white rabbit of making significant gains in my surfing ability as an adult. And I still might be down in that rabbit hole, so take everything that I say with a grain of salt.

But enough with the exposition—swallow that red pill and let’s find how deep this rabbit hole goes.

The iSarf Program: OMBE (a/k/a “Surf Hacks”)
The Pro Surfer Owner: Clayton Nienaber
Website: ombe.co

OMBE first popped up in my Insta feed after a particularly frustrating morning of surf at my local in the early stages of the pandemic. It was almost as if the algorithm knew that my recent purchase of the first pointy thruster I’d ridden in the better part of a decade was going to result in sobering disappointment.

My research revealed that OMBE was owned and operated by Clayton Nienaber, a South African former WQS warrior and one-time coach of a junior Jordy Smith who moved to Queensland, presumably to start a surf school.

This of course, is a lot like a Russian moving to Alaska and having the audacity to purport to teach the Inuit how to make igloos, as the Aussies are not a people who tend to suck at surfing. Even the Hobbit Hemsworth, for instance, who is half a foot shorter and half a foot wider than his more famous, better looking, and more athletic younger brothers, might be able to lay claim to surfing better than you (I daresay that he appears to have fared far better at the Kelly Tub than Chas does here).

The OMBE concept is simple—you do things like stand on bosu balls and pieces of cardboard with the goal of standing straight forward on your board with your arms out in front of you like a T-Rex. Next, you get yourself a surf skate and skate around some soccer cones, making sure that you maintain this all-important T-Rex stance. Finally, you go find yourself a bowl or a quarter/half pipe and do some turns whilst maintaining this aforementioned T-Rex stance.

There are also plenty of mnemonic devices to make sure that you maintain this proper surfing form (e.g., imagining that you are holding a coffee cup in one of your T-Rex hands) to surf stylishly and like a dinosaur. This is all supposed to make you surf better over the course of twelve weeks.

So, I bought myself a Carver surf skate and I followed the OMBE program precisely to a T-Rex. To my surprise, after twelve weeks of resolute reptilian repetition, I was still every bit as mediocre of a surfer as I was when I started.

Perhaps my arms are a little too long vis a vis my legs and torso to be able to surf like a proper dinosaur, though I have to say, riding around on a surf skate pretending to be a T-Rex is an undeniably fun time, even if it weirds out the kids at the local skate park to such an extent that their moms threaten to obtain a court order requiring me to stay at least 300 yards away therefrom.

One day, when we are able to successfully merge dinosaur and human DNA ala Jurassic Park sequels I’ve never watched, the ideal OMBE surfer might finally be realized. Alas though, I am not that surfer.

But if you are dino-curious, have very short arms, and have access to some cardboard, a bosu ball, a surf skate, and some soccer cones, OMBE just might your ticket out of mediocrity into some serious Cretaceous-period style ripping.

In the next segment, we’ll cover an iSarf Program owned and operated by someone was able to make it to and stay on the big boy tour for a respectable amount of time.

Stay tuned!

In bombshell revelation, Kelly Slater says he threatened to beat his mother’s ex-suitor to death with a baseball bat shortly after winning his second world title, “It was a bad split. I went to his house and said I’ll f**ken kill you!”

"Step-dads can be dicks!"

The eleven-time number one surfer in the world Kelly Slater, who is still a competitive threat even in his fifty-second year, has rocked the surf world to its core with the revelation that he threatened to beat his mother’s ex-lover to death with a baseball bat.

In Slater’s most revealing interview yet, and that sure is saying something, bombshells being dropped by the champ every other day it might seem, friends and family dying or gravely wounded ‘cause of the COVID vax, threats of retirement and so on, he has blown the lid on his wildest story ever.

“Step-dads can be dicks,” he tells Dax Shepard on the The Armchair Expert podcast, recalling the time his mama brought in a homeless man, “a mechanic and a redneck” who slept on the couch next to Slater for two months before progressing to a relationship with the mammy.

“It was very weird,” says the Champ.

Later, when the relationship went south, Slater, then twenty-two and a two-time world champ, paid the man a visit armed with a baseball bat.

“I had the bat in my hand and said I’ll fucking kill you.”