"Woaahhh when do we know the line up for the festival? Only djs or we also have bands?"
The Hurley Pro Sunset Beach opens its window in exactly one day and seventeen minutes, at time of writing, and the outlook is not out-looking great. Surfline, the World Surf League’s official forecast partner, is predicting double overhead surf tomorrow which fades through midweek and gets chewed up by various winds and whatnots. Kai Lenny, as you certainly know, is one of the wildcards and birthday boy Kelly Slater will be up against his nemesis Miguel Pupo in heat seven.
And while the attention of surf fans should be clearly and cleanly locked into the other heat draws, it is being spent either defending or slandering the extremely controversial artwork rolled out in celebration of the event.
Today, February 11, is Kelly Slater’s 51st birthday. Last year, on his 50th, he was fresh off a Pro Pipeline win, wearing the yellow jersey and feted by World Surf League executives across multiple blue checked Instagram accounts. This year, he is equal 17th heading into Sunset and there appears to be no official love or recognition, leaving the door wide open for this community, here, to show that we are with the Florida born legend through thick and thin.
Do you have plans on how you will celebrate the milestone?
The World Surf League is known for many things included, but not limited to, hosting professional surfing competitions, employing Joe Turpel, being owned by Harvey Weinstein pal Dirk Ziff, having a “Chief of Sport” etc. Generally not included in that list is “having a sense of humor” though it appears one might be blossoming in the aftermath of Bethany Hamilton-gate.
As you know, the world’s best known surfer took to Instagram, less than a week ago, to decry a change in World Surf League policy allowing for transgender women to compete at the very highest level. Hamilton’s impassioned questioning about why the move was done in secrecy, if any of the tour’s current surfers have been consulted etc. has since gone viral with mainstream headlines picking it up and progressive TikTokers fighting back by enlisting sharks as allies.
Culture World War III.
The League, though, has been deathly silent and I took that as rabid petrification amongst proudly awake executives who didn’t know if they should sacrifice women or other women. But could I have been wrong?
Might Santa Monica have been stealthily crafting the most subtle joke ever?
For hours ago, 22 at time of writing, the official WSL Twitter account tweeted the “Men’s Championship Tour Rankings after the #BillabongProPipeline” as 1) Carissa Moore, 2) Tyler Wright, 3) Lakey Peterson etc. etc. etc.
David Lee Scales and I discussed the Hamilton v. WSL business, anyhow, on our weekly chat that went on for a surprisingly long time. I think you just might find as humorous as Jessi Miley-Dyer, Erik Logan and gang.
I don’t know who that gang is and also take it back.
Nothing is as funny.
Progressive TikTokers recruit shark as “ally” in war against Bethany Hamilton after one-armed soul surfer vocalizes frustration over World Surf League trans-inclusive policy shift!
Bethany Hamilton may well be the best known surfer in the world. The Kauai local, who burst on the scene as a 13-year-old after a nightmare shark attack took her arm, inspired all with her courage, tenacity, unwillingness to quit. She re-learned how to surf at a tip-top level, wrote an inspiring book which became an inspiring movie and is impossible for all not to appreciate.
Or, I suppose, was impossible for all not to appreciate for progressive TikTokers have gone to war against the icon, recruiting the aforementioned shark as an “ally.”
Less than one week ago, you’ll recall, Hamilton took to Instagram in order to question the quietly changed World Surf League policy that allows for transgendered women to surf competitively. According to BuzzFeed News, “The WSL’s new policy requires transgender women to maintain testosterone levels lower than 5 nanomoles per liter for at least a year, in addition to having a “female” or “X” gender marker on a passport or national identity card.For transgender men, the WSL does not state any hormone threshold and only requires athletes to have a “male” gender marker on official identification documents.”
Citing fairness, Hamilton sided with Kelly Slater and other notable surfers in calling for a trans division.
Back to the progressive TikTokers. They are rage-filled at the Soul Surfer’s “TERF” or “trans-exclusive radical feminist” stance and are lobbing many micro-videos featuring the shark saying things like “nom nom” on the popular Chinese spying platform.
What makes matters worse, TikTok is the most popular World Surf League application leading some to wonder if Santa Monica is quietly behind the attacks or, at least, tacitly approving.
More as the story develops.
Tributes pour in for legendary surf cinematographer Larry Haynes, dead of a suspected post-surf heart attack, “Larry used his athletic talent, courage and oceanic instinct to hold firm in the pit and then dodge potential catastrophes!”
The beautiful Larry Haynes, Hollywood’s number one go-to when it came to shooting anything in giant surf, has died of a suspected heart attack while crossing the road after a surf at Laniakea on Oahu’s North Shore.
Details are pretty brief, but Larry, a Californian transplant who moved to the North Shore thirty years ago and who was in his late-fifties by my estimation, was without peer, seriously.
“Some horrible news tonight,” wrote Kelly Slater. “The man is a staple in our lives…It’s hard to imagine a surfing world without Larry in it always screaming us into waves and throwing good vibes.”
Originally from Central California, Larry moved to Hawaii decades ago and never looked back. On every major swell for over 20 years, he has been swimming with a heavy water-housed movie camera in the heaviest conditions. And he does so with a refreshingly positive attitude and a huge smile on his face.
Larry has every reason to be bitter and condescending, but he’s not. He’s constantly stoked. He has been sand-bagged, double-crossed, and taken advantage of in the business world, but he keeps on spreading the aloha, and for that he should be highly praised.
To me, Larry is a precious character in the surf world and a living legend.
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.
Larry has used his athletic talent, considerable courage, and oceanic instinct to hold firm in the pit and then dodge potential catastrophes with the thinnest of margins for what seems like forever.
No one is paying Larry Haynes a salary or providing him with health insurance. He is a freelancer who shoots for the pure love of it, and has routinely put his life at risk hundreds of times.
Larry Haynes swims in the pit to get the ultimate shot, to provide the viewer with an intimate view of the sport we all love so much.
Together with an elite crew of still photographers, he consistently puts his life on the line—not for piles of money, but for love of his craft, and for love of the ocean.