Morita (pictured) still fighting. Photo: Today
Morita (pictured) still fighting. Photo: Today

Hawaiian surfer recounts punching and wrestling eight-foot tiger shark while beast feasted on his leg: “My hand went right to the gills and as soon as I got to the gills, (it) released me!”

"I just felt the pressure and the strength of it..."

We all, each of, have read many tales from shark attack survivors. As surfers, I suppose, we imagine what we would do if a shark began molesting us in the ocean blue. Be strong and brave, fighting back, and making a good show of it or melt into a puddle of scare and cry?

Impossible to know or, as Iron Mike Tyson says, “Everyone has a plan until they get bit on the leg.”

Well, days ago we learned the harrowing tale of a then-unnamed 58-year-old surfer who was attacked by an eight-foot tiger near Honolulu. The horrible business occurred early in the morning, surfers helped him to shore and he was transported to the local hospital where he was announced to be in critical condition.

Today, we learn that his name is Mike Morita and he is as heroic as it comes. Sitting down with Today, he described the moment when he lost his foot.

“I just felt the pressure and the strength of it,” he said after initially believing it was a seal. “I started to pray to God and I said, ‘God let this shark let go of my leg. ‘I was going back and forth, back and forth with it, and it didn’t let go. So I guess God wanted me to fight.”

Fight he did. Morita began punching the shark in the head, even though his fists felt slow and weak. He then wrapped his legs around the beast and tried to squeeze. When that didn’t work his h”and went right to the gills and as soon as I got to the gills, (it) released me.”

“I have God in my life and I have a lot of faith and trust and at no point was I scared,” he added. “At no point was I thinking that I was going to die.”

As other surfers rushed to help he looked back to examine the damage, realizing his leg was only bone from ankle to mid-shin.

No meat.

But how does he feel now, in the hospital, that bone sawed off? “So with the pain medication, and this nice, soft hospital bed, I’m at about a two or three as far as pain,” he declared before pivoting to praise his friends.

“I cannot believe the courage my friends had because I’m getting attacked and they paddled towards me,” he continued. “They’re my heroes.”

They don’t build them quite like Mike Morita anymore. Here’s to a quick recovery.

Pitch in for his care here.

Aleks Kwon Do. Photo: Lipsmack
Aleks Kwon Do. Photo: Lipsmack

New Los Angeles surf school promises to shield vulnerable adult learners from the horrible, violent scourge of surfers!

Bow to your sensei.

These times, man. Crazy. From an erosion of faith in the World Surf League to Kelly Slater getting pushed to retire a year plus earlier than he had planned. Dangerous and bleak but in dark days heroes often rise and shall we hasten to meet Aleks Pevec, founder and personal surf coach at Lipsmack.

But what is Lipsmack? Pevec defines thusly:

Lipsmack: when a surfer turns up their surfboard to hit the falling lip of ​the wave, allowing the surfboard to be smashed down.

Then continues on with his mission.

Our mission is to guarantee every person, and every couple, a safe space to learn how to catch a wave. If you ever felt like surfing was something that you wanted to try, but feared that it might not be the kind of warm community that you seek, Lipsmack is the perfect place to start. We offer a place to learn and grow as a surfer, in a supportive environment where you can be yourself.

We specialize in surf lessons for new beginners, individuals, couples, friendships, anniversaries, and life partners. We are especially interested in spreading a love of surfing throughout the LGBTQ+ community. The ocean, waves, and sandy beaches are for everyone.

Come bring a date (or jump in solo!) and smack that lip.

Pevec grew up in Honolulu where he learned the art of surfing then moved to Los Angeles in order to major in musical theater at UCLA. He took his skills to Broadway, where he appeared in Evita and Aladdin, before returning to the City of Angeles in order to Lipsmack.

But we are all aware how horrible and violent surfers are. How rude and grouchy and insufferable. How adult learners are ever more vulnerable and need safeguarding from evils like locals and their localism.

Protection runs $175 for an hour and a half, which has been discounted from $225. Couples can become protected for $275.

Sam Cahn, happy customer, declared, “I was hesitant to learn how to surf, but it was something I wanted to mark off my bucket list. After arriving, Aleks taught me form and technique on the sand. In the ocean, Aleks was by my side guiding me the entire lesson. I couldn’t have felt more safe.” Dan Bennett added, “My very first time surfing was with Lipsmack, in Malibu. As someone who works in finance and isn’t the most athletic, I’m so grateful that Aleks was there to coach me through the process. Surfing always seemed so intimidating, but Aleks made the learning experience feel safe, welcoming, supportive, and immensely enjoyable.”


Book here.

Surf fans round on World Surf League following shock elimination of Filipe Toledo at Bells Beach, “The distance the WSL has made to their only inherent market, surfers, grows more distant every day”

Huey has a vengeance for them.

Our moms came up with a great plan to get rid of us for four hours on a Saturday afternoon. We were thrilled.

KCOP had a sound studio near our home that filmed all the Roller Derby and Pro Wrestling shows that peppered their programming. These shows were very popular, especially to us ten-year-old boys.

Jumping out of my skin, we entered the studio and there it was!

Not as glamorous as I had imagined, or large for that matter, just a roped-out square ring with five levels of bench seating surrounding it. Pretty ghetto considering OSHA standards.

An hour of over violence ends as John Tolos, the Golden Greek, pulls out a metal object from the waistline of his tights and nearly decapitates Freddie Blassie’s head. Blood everywhere.

I was too young to think about whether there was medical attention nearby.

Remember Jordy dislocating a shoulder at Chopes with no medical crew in the channel and an hour away from any hospital during a tour event?

It’s like promoting challenge and risk without staffing contingencies to respond.

Very Republican.

The iconic Pink’s Hot Dogs was just a block away on La Brea from the studio and we could score chilli dogs on the break between 2 shows.


We would miss the drama of the Blassie’s ambulance rescue to eat delicious poison!

Cake and eat it too.

Perfect Saturday and we’re walking back to the studio for the second filming, we show our arm bands to the gate security and I look over to see John Tolos smoking cigarettes with Freddie Blassie in the corner of the parking lot.


Shouldn’t Freddie be getting surgery to reattach his head right now?

I never watched wrestling or roller derby again. Santa Claus was revealed to be your drunken dad. It’s all a ruse. Fuck you for believing us.

Think about that?

“Fuck you for believing us.”

In surfing, the signs have all been there for years.

The distance the WSL has made to their only inherent market, surfers, grows more distant every day.

Huey has a vengeance for them.

The WSL is a marketing company desperately scratching to break even. Sophie left the bar so low.

Truth told, Rabbit’s bar was low too. He was the latest surfer submissive to the clothing elite. Pig bottom.

Jackson Baker is so solid. Dude is of the highest floors.

It wasn’t that long ago that Wade Carmichael occupied his position on tour. Wade had more spice, but Jackson is rock solid, for sure.

He is also incapable of a nine in head-high soft point break.

Correct score from my seat? 7.2

Ok, generous, 7.5.

Considering most heats were won with sixes.


But this is the challenge when a business focuses more on image than its product.

Objectivity loses to self-interest.

Or influenced by an overt claim?

Oh the horror.

That wasn’t the only judging anomaly.

Ethan can win without gifts. No push required.

But the show must go on.

“Make or Break” episode 325 airing this weekend, tune in, like and subscribe!

Between the homer announcing booth (incompetence) and the homer judging, I had seen enough. I shut my computer down.

I had just recalled John Tolos smoking cigarettes with Freddie Blassie in the parking lot of a Hollywood Sound Studio.

Fool me twice.

Wright (pictured) getting hosed. Photo: WSL
Wright (pictured) getting hosed. Photo: WSL

Australia’s Tyler Wright answers age old question “if a bell rings in Wada Wurrung land and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound?” with a resounding “NO!”

All quiet on the southern front.

Let us be all the way honest. The surf, yesterday, around the corner from Bells Beach was terrible. Like, baby yuck yucks. I was with you, computer open, anticipating the start of final’s day though when World Surf League Chief of Sport Jessi Miley-Dyer, festooned in a yellow anorak, said it was on and “contestable.” Ronald Blakey and Richard Lovett, in the booth, said they were excited to see the performances. That it was “chicken skin” inducing.

All displaying a shared insanity.

There are certainly other things that could have been said. Things like, “Look, we have eyes and we see how bad these waves are but let’s see what the surfers can make out of them.”

But no.

Goose bumps.

In any case, Ethan Ewing won, etching his name alongside his late dear mother’s who won exactly 40 years earlier. The surf press, rightly, loved the story and spilled much ink.

Inspirational etc.

C’est la fin.


Did you know there was a women’s contest running concurrently with the men’s?

It is true and won by Tyler Wright, her second Bell in a row, moving through a murderers’ row of Stephanie Gilmore, Carissa Moore and Molly Picklum to avenge her decapitated brother Owen Wright.

“I didn’t expect too much this week … last year there was so much emotion in it as it took me 12 years to try and get the first one,” she told Australia’s ABC news, who tacked the quip onto the end of a story about Ethan Ewing. “Both wins are incredible,” she added “and I felt I learnt a lot from last year on how to manage Bells.”

Wright is now second in the world, nipping at Picklum’s heels heading into Margaret River.

Mallard pimples.

Relive the magic along with 1700 others now.

Ewing (pictured) riding high. Photo: WSL
Ewing (pictured) riding high. Photo: WSL

Objectivity damned at Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach as judges hoist emotional favorite Australian nice guy Ethan Ewing onto shoulders and parade him through town!

"It’s no conspiracy, it’s just the way things are. Whether conscious or not, we’re never subjective when it comes to emotions."

Martin McDonagh’s tragicomedy The Banshees Of Inisherin has been an unlikely tour de force in the film world. Despite multiple awards and gushing accolades, it’s a film with an understated, or even uncertain, appeal. Set on a fictional Irish island, the film is about the breakdown of a lifelong friendship between two men for little reason other than one gets fed up of the other.

For me, it was overrated, but it does contain some ideas I’ve found myself returning to time and again. Today, as the Rip Curl Pro from Bells Beach played out in weak windswell and confusing, controversial scores, I found myself thinking of it often.

In the film, during a confrontation in the pub, a desperate Padraic berates his estranged friend, Colm, for ending their friendship so abruptly. “You used to be nice!’, he exclaims.

“Ah well, I suppose niceness just doesn’t last.”, replies Colm. “Do you know who we remember for being nice?”, he retorts. “Absolutely no-one.”

This idea has haunted me.

I thought of it in the very first heat of today as Gabriel Medina lost to Ethan Ewing. In the booth, pundits Blakey and Lovett discussed the fact that Medina was more approachable and less intimidating these days, and questioned whether he’d lost some of his edge as a result.

The conventional wisdom in sport at the highest level is that niceness gets you nowhere. All the greats exist on a scale from prickly to outright cunt. Tiger Woods, Michael Jordan, Lionel Messi, even our own Kelly Slater. To be the best you must forgo politeness, family and friends, a balanced lifestyle. If you want to win, you need a bit of mongrel in you, so goes Australian vernacular.

Yet today at Bells Beach, this wisdom was challenged. Finalists Ryan Callinan and Ethan Ewing are considered two of our sport’s “nice guys”. Today they seemed rewarded for this niceness, eventual winner Ewing greatest of all.

When conditions are solid or consequential, scores are often unequivocal. On days like today, the field is flattened. Perhaps niceness gets overscored. Perhaps the man is scored more than the surfing.

From the beginning it was clear that airs would not be rewarded. Medina was the unfortunate guinea pig who elicited this unspoken decision from the judges, believing aerial manoeuvres in mediocre conditions could be a point of difference. Their preference was for linking turns. If only Medina had known.

Any surfer on Tour, or any solid intermediate, could string a few turns together on waves like today. Only a handful could manufacture the speed and technique for full rotations. It’s worth questioning why they weren’t rewarded.

Filipe Toledo had cause to question things. It was a twitchy, wiggly sort of day for most as they hunted speed, but less so for Toledo who has striking velocity on days like this. And he knows it. He knows that in marginal conditions, barring judging discrepancies or acts of god, no-one can touch him.

Which is why, when Jackson Baker dropped a nine point ride at the close of their quarter final, seeming to turn the heat at the death, Filipe fell back to his native tongue as he ranted and raved on the stairs. It took no interpreter to decipher this language of passion. But just to clarify, his face loomed into the nearby camera lens. “Nine? Nine!?”, he exclaimed.

He’d seen Baker’s wave from the back, of course. Understandably, given he saw little of Baker’s fins, he must have wondered what sorcery was conducted on the face of the wave to warrant that score. Having seen it now, he might be less aggrieved, as it was surely a well-surfed wave. Whether it was worth a nine is up for debate.

In conditions like this, an opponent like Baker must seem like a walkthrough for Toledo, and his reaction certainly suggested as much. It was the most animated we’ve seen him in some time. Throughout his whole world title run he seemed almost demure. Perhaps even nice.

The tension was palpable as we waited for Filipe’s final score. He needed a 6.91. Eventually the judges awarded him a flat seven.

Once again, he grabbed the nearest camera, thrusting his face into our screens. “Keep trying! Keep trying!”, he spat. The niceness of last year had been shattered, by Jackson Baker, of all people. The camera cut to a break (of course it did) just as Toledo was having his shoulders massaged by a countryman in an effort to calm him down. He’d won, but he was far from happy.

“There’s scoring that I don’t understand sometimes”, he said to Rosie. How might he deal with Ewing in the semi, given he’s been surfing so well, Hodge asked next in a manner that seemed uncharacteristically provocative. “I’ve been surfing good too”, Filipe snapped back. “Bigger scores, if they allow me to”.

But if judge’s good graces awarded bigger scores last year on account of niceness, today he would be punished for his vitriol.

He seemed the dominant surfer in his semi-final bout with Ewing. Riding eight waves over the course of the heat whilst Ewing sat dormant, Toledo racked up five scores that might be keepers in these conditions, and held a comfortable lead with a pair of sevens. His surfing looked sparky and agile. He had the ability to spin above the lip, an advantage over Ewing much like Medina, yet similarly unrewarded.

Ewing’s surfing is undoubtedly silkier than Toledo’s, and there’s little to separate the men in terms of flat out speed, but Filipe’s is higher risk, more dynamic and more radical. That’s just the truth.

Ethan caught only three waves. The definitive score, his 8.43 for his last wave, was ludicrous. It’s as blatant a judging cock-up as we’ve seen all year. Richie Lovett knew it. Not as good as Toledo’s 7.17 he stated. “Gets a bit sleepy…little foam climb”, he said in his breakdown. Then the score came in and in typical WSL fashion no-one voiced their dissent.

Watching it back now, I still can’t see the score. It was nice surfing, but that’s about it. By Ewing’s standards it looked lackadaisical. The fact that Toledo can bust a full rotation above the lip on his first turn, before finishing with a couple more, and still be scored a point-and-a-half less is scandalous.

For me, Ewing was similarly overscored in his quarter final match with McGillivray. See Ethan’s 6.10 (speedy foam climb to mushy end section layback) vs Matt’s 6.17 (two solid turns, one with fins out, ending with a full rotation and clean landing) as evidence.

On the other side of the draw Ryan Callinan progressed via a tight win over Colapinto in the quarter, and a convincing one over Florence in the semi. Two solid opponents downed by Callinan’s backhand which lent a smooth approach to the weak waves.

Colapinto was superb throughout the contest, particularly in his grudge match against Kanoa, and he looked a certainty to be in the final. I’m conscious I haven’t mentioned Florence’s name once in three reports, despite the fact he’s reached the semi. The truth is I’m not seeing a lot to be excited about in John’s surfing. Wake us both up when the waves get good.

Ewing went on to win the battle of the good guys in an uneventful final. Both men vault up the overall leaderboard, Ewing into fourth, Callinan into sixth.

Pundits are in love with Ethan Ewing. Everyone is. I see the appeal, in surfing and character. Because he’s quiet, we assume he’s nice. We look at his interviews as humble rather than bland. We shower him with compliments, as we often do to talented people who don’t seek the limelight. And his surfing encapsulates everything we value, commitment without showiness, effortless style and flow, a smooth aggressiveness. No claims, no over-exuberance.

But it would be remiss of me as a reporter, and all of us as fans, not to point out the potential lack of objectivity in days like today, and the ways in which we might be influenced by emotion, empathy and the cult of popular opinion.

You might watch The Banshees Of Inisherin because it’s won so many awards, or because people have talked about it. You might even watch it because I’ve mentioned it now. Perhaps you’ll get it, perhaps you won’t, but regardless of what you really think, some of you will pretend to love it, simply because so many others do. Or you’ll look harder for the appeal, convincing yourself you really do.

When scoring is subjective, like film awards or professional surfing, opinions create waves of support that build exponentially. It makes sense. We’re human beings, communal animals who feel strengthened by our connections to others. Shared views make us feel validated.

Ethan Ewing’s surfing is extremely pleasing to the eye, as is his demeanour. He’s probably a nice guy. All of this is important. There’s no secret judging mandate to juice his scores, but human beings collude silently in matters of the heart.

And we exist on the power of stories, a fact not lost on the WSL. On an emotional level, you’ll find no detractors to Ewing’s victory at Bells. After all, it’s the sixtieth version of this prestigious competition, and not only were two young Australians in the final, both of whom tragically lost their parents to cancer at a young age, but it’s forty years to the day since Ewing’s mum, Helen Lambert, rang the bell herself.

It’s no conspiracy, it’s just the way things are. Whether conscious or not, we’re never subjective when it comes to emotions. And maybe no-one remembers niceness, but they do remember wins. The names on the Bells stairs come without asterisks. Ethan Ewing’s will be there beside his mum’s for evermore.

Objectivity be dammed, that’s a nice story.