Byron Bay, led by ol man Wills, second from left, take the cake!

Maligned surf town described as “a monument to greed wearing a spiritual cloak” shocks fans to win world’s most prestigious teams surfing event!

The format never fails, despite the conditions. The prestige grows.

Fuck, I love the ABB. I’ve written about it before. The Australian Boardriders Battle competition. An annual teams event pitting Aus’s best boardriders clubs in two days of feverish competition. Held in my hometown, at my home break. Newcastle Beach.

It’s one of the best weekends on the local calendar. You might remember my efforts last year. I had good reason to miss finals day. A category 10 hangover saw to it.

But this year I wasn’t in Newy, and was lucky enough to catch the webcast instead.

What a treat it was.

Byron Bay Boardriders, led by former ‘CT stalwart Danny Wills along with Soli Bailey, Dakoda Walters and a few others, took the title in a trademark nailbiter.

It was a classic final. BB came out swinging with eights and nines, leaving fellow finalists Merewether, Avoca, and Snapper Rocks reeling. But with father and daughter combo Josh and Sierra Kerr keeping Snapper on track, solid as a rock Ace Buchan ripping for Avoca and Morgan Ciblic taking control for Merewether it was always going to be tight.

Merewether were brilliant. Down and out two-thirds of the way through the hour long final, languishing in last place. Only for CT-adjacent Phillipa Anderson, sister of Craig, to drop an absolute smoker back into the rocks at Shark Alley. An 8.8 put them right back into first with only five or so minutes remaining.

Each club’s power surfer was required to paddle out, get a wave and make it back to shore and through the gate 50 metres up from the shoreline. Less than a couple of points between all four of them. A flurry of last-minute action action. Boards ditched on the rocks as competitors raced to beat the clock. BB coming out tops, just.

It’s heart pumping stuff. Always is.

Fuck, I love the ABB.

Do you know the format?

Each team has an open. A junior. A woman. An over-35.

One hour, five surfers (one goes twice for a nominated power wave).

Penalties if you don’t get through all of your surfers. Penalties if you don’t make it back up the beach in time. Bonuses if you’re first across the finish line. That’s 4 x 4 surfers per hour long heat. Very little down time. Lots of waves ridden. There’s tactics. Intrigue. Running races.

Every club in Australia worth its salt gets involved. And there’s more than a few. I know of at least five or six qualifying conferences that filter into the final comp. Must be 40 or more clubs in total.

You get father and son combos like the Kerrs. Former elite pros. Up and coming juniors. Core underground rippers. Legions of flag-waving support crews.They’re passionate. Committed. Ready to have fun.

It’s a festival atmosphere set to a backdrop of top tier surfing.

Then chuck in a professional webcast with the likes of Sean Doherty, Vaughan Blakey, Reggae Ellis, and a few women whose names I didn’t catch, doing the call (please let me know who I missed!).

Plus there’s Stace Galbraith doing vox pops with competitors on the beach. Stacy is great. Surely the most tuned in man to Australian surfing. Not afraid to stick a microphone in front of a surfer when they’ve just ran full pace back up the beach after nailing a score. Or lost a heat for their club. Yet they always answer. And it’s all in good spirit.

As a package the commentary is honest. Insightful. More often than not very fucking funny.

The format never fails, despite the conditions. It’s akin to the glory days of the Uncle Toby’s Iron Man broadcasts in the nineties.

Now in its tenth year at Newcastle beach, the prestige of the title continues to grow. As does the surfing level. As does the quality of the production. As does the entire package.

When it’s going to be elevated to the ISA?

The Olympics?

Can you imagine teams USA, Brazil and Australia battling out for medals?

Who would you back?

And to the WSL.

The poor old WSL.

We’re only one month into the year and they’re already running behind Da Hui, da Aikaus and now da ABB and Surfing Australia in terms of overall product quality.

I wouldn’t even know where to start.

But how about this: fuck, I love the ABB.

Inspiration Bethany Hamilton comes out swinging against World Surf League allowing for transgender women to compete at highest level, vows boycott!

"Have the girls on tour been consulted?"

Few in this our surf world have transcended like Bethany Hamilton. The Kauai surfer inspired the masses after getting her arm chewed off by a tiger shark but refusing to bend. Hamilton re-learned the game and awed all with her tenacity, fearlessness and skill.

Her memoir, Soul Surfer, became a major motion picture and, again, transcendent. Millions of copies sold. Millions upon millions of screenings held.

Well, as word has rippled out that the World Surf League has adopted a new policy that allows for transgendered women to compete at the highest level, Hamilton is using her large platform to decry and even vow boycott. In a to-camera piece, the 32-year-old wonders why the change in rules, if other surfers were consulted and what it will all lead to.

She sides with 11x champion Kelly Slater that there should be a separate division and vows to boycott the World Surf League if they continue down the road.

But what do you think the general feeling is in Santa Monica? Scared that maybe a more thoughtful approach should have been taken? Boldly awake, knowing that haters gonna hate?

Out to plate lunch?

The latter seems most likely.


More as the story develops.

Murf (pictured) center. Photo: Murf the Surf.
Murf (pictured) center. Photo: Murf the Surf.

Semi-recently deceased surf champion-cum-jewel thief Murf the Surf gets second life with new documentary from award-winning director!

Hot fuss!

The Billabong Pro Pipeline is off, will likely be off tomorrow, and only fairly bleak days of waves look to be over the horizon. Oh, we shall undoubtedly gather together whenever it runs and open thread this, while live chatting that, because there are multiple storylines at stake. Which professional surfer will kick the year off well even in subpar conditions, for example? Who will put themselves square behind the eight ball with only four more events prior to the dreaded mid-year cut? Is there an early favorite in the World Surf League’s appropriated “Stab in the Dark” now called “Poke in the Pants” competition?



Matt Mayhem?

While on the subject of mayhem, a new documentary has just been released about Murf the Surf by award-winning filmmaker R.J. Cutler titled “Murf the Surf: Jewels, Jesus and Mayhem.”

Do you have thoughts on the man?

The movie, which chronicles a truly wild tale of professional surfing, jewel thievery and prison stints/stunts, seems like a fun ride and I appreciate the over-the-top cinematic elements that Murf, or Jack Murphy, adopted in his life though have ringing in the back of my head the impression David Lee Scales was left with after interviewing him for his Surf Splendor podcast. In a word, or so, and if I properly recall, he found Murphy to be a great showman but also unable, or willing, to own up to real nasty bits in his story. Namely, I suppose, that of being involved in the grisly murder of two women.

Well you can, and should, learn more about Murphy at the Encyclopedia of Surfing whilst subscribing.

Be better.

Also, listen to the interview here.

Be best.

Just another day in New Smyrna (pictured).
Just another day in New Smyrna (pictured).

Florida’s New Smyrna beats out the fearsome Banzai Pipeline to be named “deadliest beach in United States!”

A shocker.

The Billabong Pro Pipeline will very likely be off again today with a positively rotten forecast. Surfline, not even beginning to pretend anymore, calling the typically menacing Banzai Pipeline 3 – 4ft with lousy winds and, honestly, nothing really over the horizon. A slight bump on Monday with strong easterly trades all but guaranteed to chew it up.

So far, on the men’s side, Josh Moniz, Imaikalani deVault, Matt McGillivray and Jadson Andre have been sent packing. Four names in two days, though they might be pleased to not have to splish-splash in the ugly.

The upcoming round of 32, rebranded the “bracket round,” will likely be a bloodbath of big names going down in sloppy conditions but at least sitting world champion Filipe Toledo, up against Carlos Munoz, will not have to be scared of big towering waves. Those who picked him to surfive must be pleased.

In another blow to Pipe’s fearsome reputation, Florida’s New Smyrna smashed it to be named “America’s Deadliest Beach” by Travel Lens. Per a commissioned study, the excursion website examined “hurricanes, surfing fatalities and shark attacks” to determine which stretch of coast was the most frightening and it was New Smyrna with scored an 8.4 out of a possible ten.

“The deadliest beach in the US is Florida’s New Smyrna Beach,” as the piece goes, “with an overall danger score of 8.14. New Smyrna Beach had more shark attacks than any other beach at 32. This was more than twice as many as any other US beach. However, this beach isn’t all bad. The food scene is excellent, where you can visit some of the best restaurants in New Smyrna Beach.”

Second place was Kelly Slater’s Cocoa.

Sixth, the Hobgoods’ Melbourne.

Pipeline was, in fact, nowhere on the list.

When it comes to surfing fatalities, alone, Warren Smith’s Panama City, Florida beat all-comers by a whopping amount.

Whatever happened to Warren Smith?

Should we send out an SOS?

Two of the most influential surfers in 2023, Sasha Jane Lowerson, left, and Kelly Slater.

LGBTQ+ community cock-a-hoop as World Surf League tentatively opens door for transgender women to compete at highest level despite Kelly Slater arguing for a “trans-only division”!

But opposition! "Women’s sports is not a backup plan where you can’t win a trophy (and $) in the men’s division."

Through the middle of last year surf fans were gifted the rare sight of a transgender woman tearing hell through the women’s long boarding league over there in Western Australia. 

Sasha Jane Lowerson, a svelte forty five year old with terrific arms, transitioned into womanhood in 2020 shortly after winning the men’s longboard div as Ryan Egan and didn’t look back, adding a new trophy ever other weekend it seemed to a mantlepiece already groaning with trophies.

“Trans-girls aren’t going to take over the world, we just want to be included, we’re humans too,” Lowerson said. “I’ve been hiding in this male shell up… for 42 years. To still be made to be that guy that I’m not, it’s shattering,”

A feel-good story for the times.

Surfing’s reactionary core was laid bare, however, when Momentum Generation funnyman and Kelly Slater bandmate Peter King waded into the trans-athlete imbroglio saying,

“Stay out of women’s sports where you miraculously win after being an average performing man. Women’s sports is not a backup plan where you can’t win a trophy (And $) in the men’s division. Leagues like WSL and sponsors like Red Bull will you now stand up to this now instead of harming women’s sports?”

Kelly Slater added, “Make a trans division and we don’t have this confusion.”

Of course, when Lowerson failed to win the  Australian longboard title, the media was conspicuously silent.

“It’s pretty amazing the message that you guys the media send to us all!” Lowerson wrote in an Instagram DM. “I just finished fourth in the Australian titles and nothing but the sound of crickets! Listen, I am happy that there isn’t disgusting skewed opinions being published about my inclusion. However, I’m sure as two well-educated men that you two are, both of you can surely see the irony of what I’m pointing out right now! The press love to chant about how it’s only unfair when we (trans-athletes) win!”

Now, the World Surf League, has tentatively opened the door to trans-women competing so long as they’ve been a gal for at least twelve months and their hormone levels are real low ie less than 5 nanomoles per liter continuously for the previous 12 months (biological men hover between 10 and 35, bio-gals under three), although the WSL won’t be doing the testing.

Instead, each athlete will supply their own supporting documents. 

“The WSL is working hard to balance equity and fairness and it’s important for a policy to be in place,” the WSL’s newly anointed Chief of Sport Jessi Miley-Dyer told the oft-controversial adult learner surfer website The Inertia. “We recognize that the policy may need to evolve over time as we get feedback and see new research in the field.”

Now, again, one more time, and more importantly, and since we couldn’t agree last two times, what are your favourite tranny-themed movies?

Or, perhaps closer to home, describe your favourite encounter with this exotic species?