West not caring about surfing. Thank you, Next
West not caring about surfing. Thank you, Next

Kanye West and Australian wife currently holed up in Nobu’s “adult oriented Malibu retreat” just down from Miki Dora’s stomping grounds while $57 million surf-front home is renovated!

But surfing?

The sun is currently shining in Malibu and though the surf is 1 – 2ft at First Point, there’s always a taker or seventeen. This iconic stretch of coast is deeply embedded in our history, from the brave pioneers who first trespassed upon that sacred land to Miki Dora to Laird Hamilton.

And now Kanye West and his Australian wife.

You may have not known the very famous rapper, and onetime husband of Kim Kardashian, became re-married, and to a sheila to boot, but it is true and the happy couple was ready to move into his 2021-purchased $57 million home but it is under renovation and what to do?


Check into the Nobu Ryokan.

According to the website:

Drifting above the Pacific, the Nobu Ryokan Malibu is a triumph of architectural carpentry and subdued hospitality. This intimate 16 room, adult oriented retreat honors the traditional Japanese Ryokan, featuring teak soaking tubs, indoor/outdoor fireplaces, serene outdoor patios, timeless artwork and gracious accents. Seamlessly blending traditional Japanese minimalism with the elegant flair of the California coastline, this discerning sanctuary boasts a rich, natural aesthetic and an ethos of pure tranquility.

From the moment you arrive, the unforgettable views of Pacific Ocean and tranquil landscaping sets the tone for a private oasis. Exclusivity and privacy are foremost, with an emphasis on low-key comfort and high-end indulgence. A host of luxurious amenities awaits you, coupled with gracious service and Nobu comforts.


And you wanted to eat the rich?

For shame, for if you have ever had Nobu Matsuhisa’s sushi than you would know it tastes much better than, I imagine, Dirk Ziff.

Hamchi with jalapeño.


Back to the hotel, though, it is but a short jog to First Point though it appears that West and his Aussie are simply “hanging out, working together and playing board games.”

Not surfing.

Even with an Australian in tow.

Has the wave crested?

Celebrity interest in our sport of kings no longer du jour?

Hope springs?

Larry Haynes and his last-ever wave. "He had an incredible life right to the end! He couldn’t fit anymore into his life than he did!” | Photo: Larry Haynes

Legendary surf cinematographer Larry Haynes filmed his last-ever wave before collapsing and dying in beach carpark minutes later!

“He caught this beautiful wave and he rode it for a long time and by the end we were cheering and yelling and crying…”

If you knew Larry Haynes, like I knew Larry, you’d know this beautiful man with the extravagant, well-used smile would’ve loved to’ve gone out with his boots on, as they say.

Four days ago, Larry died of a suspected heart attack while crossing the road after a surf at Laniakea on Oahu’s North Shore, and only a couple of weeks after capturing the most dramatic water footage from the epic Eddie Aikau Invitational.

A Californian transplant who moved to the North Shore thirty years ago and who was sixty-one, Larry was without peer.

“To me, Larry is a precious character in the surf world and a living legend,” the photographer Rob Gilley wrote for Surfer. “I have seen him shooting wide-angle in-water film at giant closed-out Off The Wall, Backdoor, Maverick’s, Teahupoo, and Waimea. I once was in Australia with him when he shot wide-angle water movies at the sharky Easter Reef when the faces of sets were 25-foot. Before GoPro existed, Larry used to surf with a 10-pound camera attached to his head—a camera that would break your neck if the lip hit you unexpectedly. The guy is a human bulldog.”

“The man is a staple in our lives,” wrote Kelly Slater. “It’s hard to imagine a surfing world without Larry in it always screaming us into waves and throwing good vibes.”

Brian Bielmann, who downloaded the footage from Larry’s GoPro after his death, told Hawaiian TV,

“He caught this beautiful wave and he rode it for a long time and by the end we were cheering and yelling and crying…He had an incredible life right to the end! He couldn’t fit anymore into his life than he did!”

Kelly Slater-inspired sneaker set to conquer upcoming Paris Fashion Week: “Kelly Slater was one of my idols growing up, and it felt fitting to channel my love!”

The perfect Valentine's Day gift.

Everyone, here, is certain to know that Paris Fashion Week kicks off in mere days. The, arguably, most important of the various Fashion Weeks (including New York and Milan), the streets of that glorious City of Light will see the looks, silhouettes, statements that we will be drooling over for the rest of the year.


But nothing will be as exciting, for us, as designer Anthony Alvarez’s BLUEMARBLE. The streetwear brand that “blends cultural references like skateboarding, surfing, punk, and Y2K undertones with a certain je ne sais quoi” is set to unveil its very first sneaker and, would you believe, Kelly Slater is the inspiration.

Alvarez told HypeBeast, “Kelly Slater was one of my idols growing up, and it felt fitting to channel my love of board sports into the first BLUEMARBLE sneakers. I wanted to develop a design that would enhance our men’s wear and be embraced by our community. These Kellys are just the beginning.”

Retailing for around $300 USD, the Kellys sport “an upper crafted from distressed cotton twill, implying that they have been well-loved and used for their intended purpose. Flame motifs, curvaceous in their nature, are a frequent reference in BLUEMARBLE’s collections. Naturally, the wavy lines appear on the shoe as well, wrapping around the uppers alongside a unique lace system that goes all around. That’s thanks to a number of additional eyelets hitting up the mids and collar, allowing the laces to tie at the rear for another board sport-indebted touch.”

Who do you know, or love, that would look best in a fresh pair of Kellys?


Ethan Ewing sure as hell looking like Double J! | Photo: WSL/Tony Heff

John John Florence makes “silent mockery of amateur surfers’ unrelenting desire for new surfboards” at Sunset after riding same Pyzel model two contests in a row!

And two-time champ Florence scores highest heat total of the day!

Eight heats of men’s professional surfing were completed today at an unruly Sunset Beach.

It always seems a difficult beast to wrangle. More often than not it looks like surfers are scrabbling for position, or in the wrong place entirely. Heavy use of drone footage in the broadcast exemplified this and showcased the “huge playing field…lot of water…” we’re continually reminded of.

If you’re a proponent of Sunset, you’ll argue it’s a good test of well-rounded skills. You’ll enjoy the variety in the waves that might reward both creativity in terms of equipment or approach, or just dumb luck.

If you’re a non-believer you won’t be alone.

And you might question the value of holding a top-tier surf competition at a wave that doesn’t facilitate nor showcase the evolution of surfing.

But it’s iconic, you might argue.

So was the queen, you might respond. And she dead.

I can see both arguments, but I err on the side of seeing something different, and that’s what Sunset provides in the context of this Tour.

There seemed little beyond luck as a strategy of identifying the really good ones at Sunset Beach today. Three Hawaiian surfers headed to the elimination round are evidence of that point, including Sunset aficionado Zeke Lau.

In a change of programming, the women were sent out first this morning, meaning a long night for me. As JMD made the call on the YouTube stream she was bluntly cut off mid-sentence by an advert for some sleep product. I couldn’t help feeling the algorithms were mocking me.

Commentators today couldn’t seem to agree if long or short boards were the way forward. The majority on longer equipment were praised for their inferred understanding that drawn out turns and lack of chatter in the board was desirable.

Yet concurrently, the likes of John Florence and Barron Mamiya were venerated for not deviating from their standard sizes. Their surfing was said to be sharp and, of course, “spicy”.

Florence’s choice of a standard 6’2” Ghost, the very same board he rode at Pipe, made silent mockery of our amateur and unending desires for new surfboards.

Commentary fell back into the house-style of broad agreement and positive noise, even in the face of clear contradictions like this.

Megan Abubo fell victim to the machine, as was inevitable. Spending so much time that close to Kaipo would cause anyone to start glitching.

By my scoring, she blotted her copybook twice today. Offence number one was getting stuck on the word “spicy”, a habit she picked up at Pipe and seems to have morphed into something akin to Tourette’s.

Offence number two was comparing Ethan Ewing to an Irons brother.

Minor offences, perhaps, but certainly the beginning of the end. They all run out of vocabulary eventually.

The Ewing comparisons, as ever, did a disservice to his surfing. His elbow posture having little to do with how razor sharp yet fluid his turns are. There were echoes of last year as this photographic perfection emerged again. How quickly we forget. Or at least I’d forgotten that every accentuation he performs on a wave is simply beautiful.

He’ll never win a world title at Trestles, of course. But we’re not talking about that.

Echoes of last year were also present in the yellow jersey wearer being sent to elimination, but reversed in that Kelly Slater won his first round heat and Jack Robinson did not.

Slater didn’t dazzle and there wasn’t a lot to shout about, but a five-fin 6’3″ which outdueled all but Kai Lenny in radical equipment choice got the job done.

“Real rakey,” said Pete Mel of his fins.

Jack Robinson could not get the job done. Suffering an early and unlikely blitz of competency from Jake Marshall and wildcard Eli Hanneman, he looked down and out.

However, with five mins to go, he found a wave from which he elicited a 7.33, the highest score of the heat. Normal service resumed, you’d have been forgiven for thinking.

But Hanneman, now in third position, was not deterred. Needing a low five he took off on his final wave and rode it with youthful, gay abandon to turn in a 5.17 and bump an apoplectic Robinson and his yellow jersey to his first losers round in some time.

Hanneman’s surfing has a lightness that requires a little more muscle in waves like Sunset, but it’s blisteringly quick. The eye test says he was the fastest man in the water today.

Wildcards were good value. Kai Lenny might have the ugliest boards on the beach and the weirdest fins you’ve ever seen, but he was harshly penialised by the judges for what was deemed to be a non-completion after one of the best exclamation points we saw all day. He didn’t get through, but he certainly doesn’t look out of place.

The best turn of the day, according to both this reporter (how do you like this style, btw?) and Peter Mel, belonged to Filipe Toledo, but the best heat score was once again John Florence.

In Florence’s heat, Joao Chianca turned in a score that would have won any of the other seven heats today. Unfortunately, as has been his curse on Tour thus far, he was matched up with John.

For the former, you’d better believe the rivalry is real in his mind.

For the latter, well, he’s just surfing. On current form, everyone else should be very afraid.

However, my money’s on Medina, who we’re yet to see. And I do mean that literally. He’s an unpopular backhand choice at a wave like Sunset, so say the experts and the bookies.

But, well…he’s also Gabriel Medina.

Let’s get it.

Hemmes, inset, and Byron pied-à-terre. | Photo: Sothebys

Iconic Australian surf town described as “Abu Dhabi with cafes and warm-water peelers instead of air-conditioned malls” reels as billionaire smashes records spending $17 million on two-bed “beach shack”!

"The bastard spawn of unhinged neoliberalism and grinning hippy capitalists. Ayn Rand on a mid-length."

The glamorous Australian billionaire Justin Hemmes, a man who gives women a muscular reaction in their nether parts despite looking like a benevolent old sea turtle, has peeled seventeen million dollars from his billfold to buy a Byron Bay beach shack built in 1962 that last sold for a little under three mill in 2012.

Hemmes, who is fifty, is the driver of his family’s pub, hotel and restaurant fortunes, gobbling up failing venues, giving ‘en a lick of paint and a swish of cool, and turning ‘em into the hottest joints in town.

The sale of the two-bedder at 20 Childe Street, Belongil Beach has set a beachfront record for the gorgeous little sandspit that drew headlines one year ago when a Great White nearly stole the world’s most-loved broadcaster from his fans.

Do you remember? Jed Smith, the rowdy and insolent half of Ain’t That Swell whose writing is part Hemingway, part Mao Zedong and which is a highlight on the Stab website, was surfing four-for brown water tubes when the shark hit.

Smith said the White “smashed a fish near me and did a triple spinning pike flip”. Shortly after, he issued a public service announcement about the encounter, warning surfers of the danger of sharks, all gassed up and feisty as hell as they feed on livestock washed into the ocean.

Belongil ain’t a stranger to hits from Whites.

Four years ago, a Byron surfer had to be airlifted to hozzy after being bitten on the thigh by a juvie White.
A pal described the scene as, “a lot of thrashing and splashing. He started screaming, we didn’t realise until we paddled back to the beach that there was a big chunk taken out of his leg. There was a lot of blood, a lot of bleeding. When I heard the screams he was making in the water and then I saw a chunk of his board floating off, that’s when I realised it was pretty bad. He was conscious but … his eyes were drifting around a bit, he seemed a bit dizzy. He was saying his breathing was labouring … overall I think he was alright, he was just in a bit of shock.”

If you’re wondering, the Hemmes joint is on 20,000 square feet and apart from the two rooms for sexing, has one shitter and a single carport.

Shortly before his disappearance, the writer Longtom , who lives in nearby Lennox Head, penned his best work for BeachGrit with a stinging take on Byron Bay and surrounds.

If New York City is the spiritual and actual home of VAL-lit, inspired, perhaps by Bill Finnegan’s Pulitzer Prize-winning memoir, then Byron Bay is it’s Mt Everest, Valhalla and Nirvana. The apex of the peak for the lifestyle obsessed VAL.

Six am and the carparks are packed.

Range Rover, Audis, idle in the carparks, the scent of diesel fumes wafts over the line-up. The serfs have had their hit, time to man and woman the cafes. Byron is Abu Dhabi with cafes and warm-water peelers instead of air-conditioned malls. Euro-babes and Brazilian studs do the coolie labour instead of South Asians.
It’s a monument to greed wearing a spiritual cloak. A glittering dream metastasized into a malignant nightmare. The bastard spawn of unhinged neoliberalism and grinning hippy capitalists running riot in an orgy of aimless consumption in the spiritual supermarket. Ayn Rand on a mid-length.

Glory days. Sorely missed.