The enduring thrill of surfing and the even greater thrill of power!

Byron Bay council to debate “legrope police on the beach and $1100 fines” after rash of gruesome injuries caused by loose surfboards

“How do you look your wife in the eye if you’ve knocked a kid out just because you didn’t want to wear a legrope?”

The ongoing battle between VALS living the retro-nostalgia dream of riding leashless logs in crowded lineups and regular joes wanting to swish around on a few waves without being decapitated will reach a head this week when a Byron Bay councillor introduces a motion to enforce the use of leashes. 

Cate Coorey, a progressive councillor who says “we must heal and restore this land and plan for a climate disrupted future” wants fines of up to $1100 and rangers and cops wandering the beach enforcing the law. 

“We would have to have the signage at the entrances to the beaches and then we would have compliance officers that would be on the alert for it,” Coorey told ABC. “We have officers that go along the beach, we have rangers and we have people in the parks.”

It ain’t the first time Coorey’s had a swing at leashless VALS. Four years ago, she campaigned for a safety awareness program to address the problem of “hipsters” surfing leashless in and around the Byron area.

“It’s mostly people riding long boards who seem to be having a love affair with times past, but we also used to drive without seat belts and there were many fatalities,” Coorey said. “A couple of times I’ve actually grabbed kids to keep them out of the way of the board.”

The latest motion comes two months after pro surfer Matt Cassidy “nearly bled out on the beach and nearly lost my arm when someone dropped in one me out two-foot Wategos without a legrope. After an hour on the beach being held together by some absolutely legendary humans I was rushed via ambulance then helicopter to GC where I’m currently awaiting specialist advice.”

You don’t have to trawl too far into the BeachGrit archives to examine the ongoing debate about leashless longboarders in Byron Bay. 

Six months back, an aged care worker and mother of a disabled kid was crippled after she got belted by an out-of-control surf pilot who then criticised her for damaging his board with her bone and tissue. 

“The Pass is full of kids, and I think there have been four incidents outside of mine in the last month or so,” Matt Cassidy told ABC from hospital. “How do you look your wife in the eye if you’ve knocked a kid out just because you didn’t want to wear a legrope?”

A man who doesn't wear BeachGrit has no future!

Surfers calling controversial website “the Supreme of Surfing” following release of ultra-limited edition board shorts critics say are “ambitious, beautifully made and stunning!”

"The leg is sixteen inches long, short enough to exhibit the musculature of your surf-honed quadriceps, but not so short as to invite indiscretion."

In one of our better collaborations, BeachGrit has joined paws with Bondi surf company The Critical Slide Society to produce a pair of surf trunks critics say are “ambitious, beautifully made and stunning.” 

This pair of trunks, which you can examine here and below, feature a custom-made badge from iconic Australian artist Paul McNeil showcasing the founders’ ethos, “I Don’t Need Life I’m High” and with Eric Stoltz’s “Stoner Bud” from Fast Time at Ridgemont High representing BeachGrit’s spirit animal. 

The Critical Slide Society, of course, are intelligent and intuitive designers who make clothes surfers really, really want to wear.

Made from high-quality nylon, and produced only in black, these trunks will absorb most unpleasant odours and staining and therefore can be, must be, worn at all times. 

The leg is sixteen inches long, short enough to exhibit the musculature of your surf-honed quadriceps, but not so short as to invite indiscretion. A lean silhouette, naturally. 

Extremely limited quantities as per the Supreme model so, by the time you read this, most of the decent sorta sizes will be gobbled up, but do have a swing. 

Roughly sixty American dollars, plus some sort of freight charge.

Vulnerable adult learners stand and cheer as notorious Lunada Bay locals dealt heavy legal blow: “We’re gonna turn that place into Waikiki!”

Palos Verdes, here we come!

Localism, and its associated evils, has been back in the news, of late, thanks to the brutal punching of female pro Sara Taylor in Bali. Yes, the whole business, the debates back and forth on the value of gatekeepers versus freedom for all, etc. has been a much discussed for years, in our surfing, and nowhere more than Lunada Bay.

The stretch of coastline hugging Southern California’s most populous region is home to Palos Verdes, its estates and Bay Boys.

Long notorious with their rock clubhouse and snarling attitudes, the Boys made outsiders feel unwelcome for years, throwing rocks at interlopers and cutting them off in the water.

“We’ve protected this beach for years,” a local told the Los Angeles Times some years ago, “so we can have driftwood on the beach rather than Kentucky Fried Chicken boxes. If this place was ever opened up … the rocks would be marked with graffiti, and the beach wouldn’t be safe at night.”

Scary grafitti.

In any case, two lawyers, who like surfing, sued the Palos Verdes Estates claiming that not reining in the Bay Boys was anti-Costal Act, enshrined in California’s constitution. Basically, all have equal rights to the beach and those cannot be stomped upon.

It wound through the system for years before being dismissed by a judge in 2020 but, months ago, it was revived by the 2nd District Court of Appeal.

“What I find to be so important about this case is that it addresses behavior, not just physical development,” Coastal Commission Executive Director Kate Huckelbridge told the Times on Thursday. “In other words, throwing rocks or cutting a surfer off in the water, just like a gate across a trail, could be considered an illegal impediment to public beach and ocean access.”

Hawaiian-born surfer Chris Taloa, who staged a paddle out at Lunada Bay on Martin Luther King Jr. day in 2014 and was met with racism and rudeness, celebrated by saying as soon as the lawsuit is won “we are going to turn that place into Waikiki.”


Italo’s 6.77 for a huge rotation going left (one of the best we’ve seen all year) was vastly underscored. You could not make that air more dynamic or land it cleaner. How far did he travel through the air? Ten feet? Fifteen? And he followed it with a seamless transition into a clean wrap that judges go weak at the knees for when Ewing does it. This scoring should be interrogated. | Photo: Aaron Hughes/WSL

Margaret River Pro unlikely site of sudden, and wild, progression in surfing, “Does the 2023 Tour have the greatest depth of talent we’ve ever seen?”

John John Florence, Italo Ferreira, Gabriel Medina deliver masterclasses in hi-fidelity surfing…

Better conditions than expected today saw us work through the men’s round of 16 and set up some salivating quarter-finals.

Does the 2023 Tour have the greatest depth of talent we’ve ever seen?

The top five looks tight. Surely four of the final eight men remaining in this competition (plus Jack Robinson) will make the Finals. But who misses out?

Chianca, Toledo and Robinson seem assured. They’ve racked up enough points to support even moderate performances in the remaining events. If this is true, I challenge you to pick the next two from Ewing, Medina, Ferreira, Colapinto and Florence.

And what about some of the form outsiders? The likes of Dora, O’Leary and Callinan.

The Cut might have passed, but it’s a much tighter race than last year.

Current world number one, Joao Chianca, will be here for yet another finals day. He hasn’t looked quite as impervious as in earlier competitions, but his consistency is remarkable, especially considering he’s basically a rookie.

He bested Callum Robson by just over half a point today. His surfing looked a little chattery on a smaller board, a fact noted by our favourite floating head, Richie Porta. But a win’s a win.

The scary thing about Chianca is that we might not even have seen him in his favourite conditions. He would’ve liked to be tested at The Box here, he noted. I predict he’ll be a contender at Teahupo’o, but Surf Ranch will be a better marker of his potential to win at a venue like Trestles.

And that’s still the great frustration of this whole charade, isn’t it? It doesn’t matter who the most well rounded surfers are. What matters is who can win at Trestles. Or more accurately: who might challenge Filipe.

Gabriel Medina certainly can, which is why it’s been so gratifying to see him hit his stride at Margaret River. His surfing once again gives the impression of having just come off a whetstone. He hasn’t been the strongest surfer in this event by the numbers, but it feels like he’s building something. I sense Medina heading towards that echelon where perhaps only he belongs, as the most feared man in a competition vest.

I thought of Trestles again watching Italo lose to Ewing in what was always going to be a clash of styles, but became a perversion of justice.

Ewing’s carving wraps are pretty, but they’re not risky enough. His 8.07 was scandalously over-scored. The tweak he puts at the end of his top turn flatters to deceive. There’s a twitch in his bottom turn that seems to be ignored because of pleasing arm placement.

By contrast, Italo’s 6.77 for a huge rotation going left (one of the best we’ve seen all year) was vastly underscored. You could not make that air more dynamic or land it cleaner. How far did he travel through the air? Ten feet? Fifteen? And he followed it with a seamless transition into a clean wrap that judges go weak at the knees for when Ewing does it. This scoring should be interrogated.

I love Ewing’s game, but the judging favourtism is starting to make me hate it. Plus, and this is wholly a WSL error, the optic needs to be who you would rather see at Trestles.

The unwelcome ghost of Pottz was in the room as Ronnie Blakey called Ewing’s waves “razor sharp, mistake-free surfing.”

Blakey compared them to artists. Ewing was an impressionist, he said, whereas Italo was a graffiti artist. I disagree. Italo is the mad genius. He might cut off his ear or stun you with creativity you never imagined. Ewing is becoming a bog standard portrait artist. His work is accurate, often beautiful, but it’s becoming unsurprising.

Over the whole heat, Ferreira’s surfing was more radical, more explosive, and a lot more entertaining to watch.

Is that not what this game is about?

And who would rather see at Trestles? Only one of these men has a chance of beating Filipe Toledo at that venue, that’s obvious.

The problems with the judging were laid bare by the overlapping heat format, and the juxtaposition of John Florence’s waves with Ethan Ewing’s. Florence shows that you can be beautiful and explosive.

I implore you to go to the replays.

Watch Ethan’s 8.07. The contrast with Italo’s 6.77 might come down to a question of taste (not in my opinion) but compare it to Florence’s 6.33 then 7.50. These two waves contained the two most skullfuckingly radical turns of the entire competition, if not the whole year.

Florence’s double arm drag layback, even as a single manoeuvre, was light years more radical, more oozing with personality and verve, than anything Ewing did. By contrast, Ethan looks to be playing it safe. I recognise that there’s a case of the Joel Parkinsons with Ewing, he makes the difficult look easy, but honestly, I’m not sure he’s even as good as Parko was.

Interrogate these judges or sack the lot of them.

They got it right eventually, awarding Florence a 9.43 for a two-turn final wave.

“While we went meandering down memory lane,” said Rabbit Bartholomew, referencing the classic event highlights that were being shown mid-heat, “John John Florence was back in the future with a 9.43”.

Ewing and Florence will match up in the quarter. Watch closely. You’ll see Florence’s rail work is every bit as clean as Ewing’s. His bottom turns are less twitchy, and his top turns come from somewhere far beyond the realms of mortal men.

Anything other than a Medina vs Florence final will feel like a letdown.

Surfing superstar and queer icon Tyler Wright unleashes on “drastic and extreme circumstances I was raised in” in latest tell-all confessional, “I’m not the first child star this has happened to!”

“Different emotional and psychological abuse…I experienced that.”

After a shocker in Portugal a few weeks back, the two-time world champ Tyler Wright revealed she was “no longer leaving home without her psychologist or her wife again.” 

Wright, who won her first big event at fourteen and two consecutive world titles at twenty-two and twenty-three, told the Sydney Morning Herald, “I’m the only queer person on tour, so my wife is the only other queer person I know most of the time. I love everyone around me but she makes such a difference in a way only she really can.”

Now, in her latest confessional Wright says she suffered “different emotional and psychological abuse” from the Wright’s patriarch Rob, the old boy now on the ropes, suffering from dementia and being cared for by her big brother Owen. 

“I experienced that and I worked with a psychologist for years to understand my relationship with surfing and understand how that was born, how it was really unhealthy for me,” Wright told Dave Prodan on his usually milquetoast podcast The Lineup. “I’m rebuilding a relationship with surfing because of the drastic and extreme circumstances that I was raised in…Look, this is not uncommon. Which is baffling for someone like me. If this is not uncommon, why don’t we have better solutions, better parenting programs, better informed industry? I’m not the first child this has happened to. I’m not the first child star this has happened to.”

(It’s easy to be enchanted by Dave, his big eyes, delicate hands, never dirty, and silky hair that he smooths vigorously each morning in the hope of flattening a cow-lick which rears from the top of his skull. The living embodiment of the World Surf League’s pivot away from surfing’s roots and to its generously inclusive, diverse, LGBTQ+ friendly model.)

Anyway, the WSL’s followers were divided by Wright’s candour re: her Daddy.

Not so thrilled,

“Shame she publicly threw her Dad under the bus during this interview, disappointing and I wonder what Kirby (her sister) thinks of her comments.”

“Least coherent guest. Highly narcissistic.”

“This shit was toooo much. I feel for her Dad. He is the father of three professional surfers. Guy deserves some credit.”


“Deeply thought-provoking podcast. Loved the honesty on two very difficult subjects. Thanks Tyler Wright. It’s important.”

“It’s a joy to watch her find her grand and express her truth inside and outside the surfing arena. Her bravery and voice is a gift to the sport.”

After laying the boot into the old boy, Tyler later bemoans the “white, male” surf industry etc.

Listen here.