Legendary surfboard co. Channel Islands a phoenix rising as Britt Merrick takes direct aim at “Mayhem” Matt Biolos, Darren Handley in World Surf League Vissla Shaper Rankings!

Happy days here again.

The jaw-dropping storylines continue to… drop now days after the World Surf League’s third Championship Tour stop, the poetically named MEO Rip Curl Pro Portugal, has wrapped. You know that Caitlin Simmers created the beginning of history in winning her first CT event in three tries against veteran Courtney Conlogue. You also know that Joao Chianca, a dark horse favorite now in the light, smashed Australia’s Jack Robinson to hoist his first CT trophy after being culled off tour just last year.


But what of the shapers, those brave men and men crafting sculptures under their very feet who have, for the first time, been recognized by the aforementioned World Surf League via the Vissla CT Shaper Rankings, much ignored on official channels but ballyhooed at announcement.

If you recall, the man or man who formed the winning board would get some glory and where do we currently stand?

Ahhh, as predicted Sharp Eye’s Marco Zouvi is well out in front thanks to stellar boards, no doubt, but also the likes of Jack Robinson and fantastic Filipe Toledo who slide them. “Mayhem” Matt Biolos is second, thanks to the likes of Carissa Moore, and Australia’s Darren Handley is third which leads us to a resurgent Channel Islands.

The Santa Barbara co. was a mainstay at the top of the podium during those magical Kelly Slater years. Al Merrick and the 11x World Champion seemed to have a bond forged in the heavens. Well, time and tide wait for no man. Slater left to found Slater Designs, Merrick retired and surf fans wondered if the iconic hexagon would ever return to glory.

Like a phoenix rising, it certainly has. Britt Merrick took the reigns and quietly went about carving excellence which reached a crescendo underneath Chianca’s feet in Portugal.

Note the logo placement on the Brazilian’s winning round tail CI Pro (above).

Same same as Slater’s from the good times.

Happy days here again etc.

Tom Sandoval and Raquel Leviss (I think) doing Gerry (insert) dirty. Photo: Coachella
Tom Sandoval and Raquel Leviss (I think) doing Gerry (insert) dirty. Photo: Coachella

Surf legend Gerry Lopez at center of extra-naughty “Vanderpump Rules” affair ripping beloved television couple apart!


I’ll be completely honest. I have never watched the reality television program Vanderpump Rules nor know anything about it, where it’s set, what the rules are etc., but news of an affair between stars has dominated my news feed over the past few weeks. Apparently a man named Tom Sandoval, who may be a bartender, was dating a woman named Ariana Madix, occupation unknown, for many years though she just found naughty pictures, texts etc. on his phone from another woman named Raquel Leviss, occupation also unknown.

Leviss, who first appeared in season three, had a “scandalous” fling with Sandoval’s best friend Tom Schwartz, occupation unknown, who had just broken up with his wife of five years Katie Maloney, occupation unknown. The coupling was frowned upon because Maloney had a hard and fast rule that Schwartz was not allowed to “hook up” with anyone in the “friend group.”

Well, that whole business was going on while Sandoval was making naughty FaceTimes with Leviss. After the affair became public, Sandoval took to social media to declare, “I want to first and foremost apologize to everyone I’ve hurt through this process. Most of all I want to apologize to Ariana. I made mistakes, I was selfish, and made reckless decisions that hurt somebody I love. No one deserves to feel that pain so traumatically and publicly.”

Except his true feelings of guilt and remorse are now being called into question.

Eagle-eye’d fans have spotted that Sandoval and Leviss both wear Gerry Lopez’s iconic lightning bolt logo, in necklace form, as a secret message to each other.

According to Matt Warshaw’s must-have Encyclopedia of Surfing:

(Lightning Bolt ) Surfboard and surf accessories company founded in Honolulu, Hawaii, in 1970, by Gerry Lopez and Jack Shipley, and turned into an industry powerhouse with the help of California surfwear executive Duke Boyd. Lopez and Shipley were both working at a Honolulu shop called Surf Line Hawaii in early 1970; the 21-year-old Lopez was on the cusp of becoming the universally acknowledged master at Pipeline, and had been shaping surfboards since 1968; Shipley was an ace Surf Line Hawaii salesman and a surf competition judge. They joined up and bought the old Hobie Surfboards outlet on nearby Kapiolani Boulevard in the summer of 1970. Lopez had been using a colored lightning bolt emblem on his boards since 1969, and since the dark-haired goofyfooter was going to be the new company’s one and only marketing tool, they named the new shop Lightning Bolt Surfboards. (Hansen Surfboards in California had introduced a short-lived Lopez-designed Lightning Bolt model in early 1970.)

That lightning bolt emblem sure was a good one and it is sad to see it tarnished by forbidden love.

While you are here, what is your favorite surf logo of all time?

Volcom’s Stone?

Quiksilver’s mountain and wave?

Body Glove’s hand?

Rip Curl’s squiggly words inside circle?

Many options.

Looking to buy on Florida's Space Coast? Hit up Cliff, tell 'em your pals at BeachGrit sent ya.

World champion surfer CJ Hobgood launches “Space Coast” real estate team including surfer-specific channel for finding perfect beach house!

You like little waves and rockets? CJ got the beach house for you!

Many years ago, twenty or thereabouts, I met the world champion surfer Clifton Hobgood at a homestay in Teahupoo called Papa Teva. 

I was struck, then, by the depth of his character and good humour despite my relentless barrage of theologically immature attacks.

And, a few years back, when Chas and I ate him up on Dirty Water ol Cliff was in classic form. He talked about the meth dealer who lived three doors down from him in Orlando, the infidelity that stomped his first marriage and why he refused to hide behind a public mask.

“The only way I can understand being free is to totally expose everything about me,” he said. “I want to be free in this world. That’s what fights off the depression, feeling super lonely, feeling what every human feels. I gotta face the unknown.”

How could you not love a man who possessed such candour?

Now, and following his success in surfing, a surf shop, his epic documentary (“And Two If By Sea”) and the clothing brand Salty Crew, Cliff and his wife Cortney have launched their own real estate team, Florida only at this point and specifically the Space Coast. 

“Selling real estate relies heavily on people knowing and trusting you and CJ built up alot of friends and followers in his career as a professional surfer,” says Cortney, “so his transition to becoming a real estate agent was very seamless. I was already selling houses so it just made sense. 

Cliff says he’s got more including selling real estate to surfers specific to their favourite kinda waves.

“I don’t want to give too much away right now, but I have something in the works to really capitalize on the growth of the sport of surfing and helping surfers around the world find a vacation home in a place that suites their surfing. More to come.”

Hard-line Bali governor to ban tourists renting motorbikes and scooters following wild Instagram pranks, multiple deaths and boozy hijinks, “Bali successfully trying to nuke its own tourist industry!”

You know how it is. Y’got a skinful of booze, no helmet, no license, fanging around as if the laws of physics can’t touch you. 

Only three months after becoming a local hero when he exempted Bali’s tourists from Indonesia’s puritanical sex laws that included year-long jail terms if an unmarried person’s sexual energy became such you had no choice but to come, full blast, into a woman, man or beast, the island’s governor has asked the federal government to ban tourists riding scooters and motorbikes. 

Y’see the authorities in Bali ain’t too impressed with how tourists conduct ‘emselves when they get on two wheels.

You know how it is. Y’got a skinful of booze, no helmet, no license, chick or, if late tranny, on the back, fanging around as if the laws of physics can’t touch you. 

The problem of tourists doin’ dumb things on bikes was brought into relief three years when a Russian influencer with five-million followers uploaded two videos of him and his gal launching off of a Balinese jetty on his scooter.

The no-helmet, no-license, fake numberplate thing has also been driving ‘em nuts. 

“So the tourists have to travel using cars from travel agents. They are no longer allowed to use motorbikes or anything that is not from a travel agent,” Bali’s governor Wayan Koster told ABC. 

Pretty wild, yeah? 

Try getting anywhere in Bali in a car and it’ll do your head in although maybe better than losing it when you hit a truck ‘cause you didn’t look when you overtook on that blind corner. 

If you’re Russian or Ukrainian, it gets worse. Koster has asked the government in Jakarta to revoke visas on arrival for ‘em. 

Eighty-five thousand Russians and Ukrainians arrived in Bali in the back half of last year. 

“If they make it hard to get visas for Russians, Ukrainians, we will look for other places to go. South-East Asia is not Indonesia alone. Thailand has beautiful places,” ussian tourist Alexander Ivanov told ABC. “We can move there. It will be a big loss for Indonesia itself.”

Not the worst thing that could happen, I’d suggest.

President of Portugal attends MEO Rip Curl Pro, makes universal face of “person watching competitive professional surfing for the very first time!”

"This isn't real, is it?"

There is much that divides us, seemingly more all the time. Language, left/right positioning, opinion regarding transgendered athletes and their participation in sport which makes the just-wrapped MEO Rip Curl Portugal Pro that much more endearing. Oh, the third event on the World Surf League Championship Tour schedule was not without alienation. Absurd crowd size was viciously argued over as well as the commentary value of Jesse Mendes.

One moment, though, united everyone.

Portugal’s President Marcelo Nuno Duarte Rebelo de Sousa taking in the action, live, from the stands.

While his politics certainly cause some to frown, his face was the universal visage of “person watching competitive professional surfing for the very first time.”

The same face made by grandmas in Chicago, co-workers in London, nieces in Timbuktu and nephews in Shangai.

Squinty eyes, mouth lightly agape, utter confusion spreading from ear to ear.

One silent thought repeating in a mind quickly draining.

“This isn’t real, is it?”

Yes, for one brief and glorious moment, President Rebelo de Sousa was all of our mothers.

Viva Portugal.