Tommy Gun in hozzy.

British surfer Tom Lowe almost killed in catastrophic Tahitian wipeout reveals how close he came to death, “I’ve never nearly died like that, not to that level. This was as real as it’s ever been!”

"It’s incredible what the mind and spirit can do when you know you’re fucked."

One week back, as big-wave daddies shucked responsibilities to chase and wrangle a wild Teahupoo swell, British surfer Tom Lowe very nearly never saw his soon-to-be-born kid after he was pitched on the takeoff, busting six ribs and puncturing a lung in the collision with the notorious reef.

How bad was it?

Jamie Mitchell, an Australian big-wave surfer who ain’t scared of a few catastrophic wipeouts himself, see here, and here, here, and yeah here, asked the twenty-nine-year-old Brit what it’s like to feel the fist of God on your head.


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“I went and sat on the shoulder to wait for my wave,” says Tom. “One of the bigger waves of the day popped up, the channel went all blue. By no means do I have much experience out there, but I turned and went late. I jumped [from the lip], but I wouldn’t even say it was an awkward jump. I’ve jumped like that a million times. When I hit the water, I put my hands over my head, and was ready to get sucked over. I was on autopilot. I’ve done that a million times in a million waves.

“But as soon as I went up and over, I knew I was gonna hit [the reef]. It hit so hard on my side, that I knew it was gonna be bad. When I came up, I couldn’t breathe. I had this big cut going on. My shoulder, elbow, ribs…I was all broke up. I couldn’t shout or wave. My shoulder was broken, too. All I could do was use my other arm to keep my head above water.

“In my mind, I was like ‘I will make it; I will make it to the beach. I need medical help.’ It was the most pain I’ve ever felt. It’s incredible what the mind and spirit can do when you know you’re fucked.

“This was the heaviest situation I’ve ever been in by far. I’ve never nearly died like that, not to that level. This was as real as it’s ever been.”

Shortly after Lowe’s hospitalisation it was revealed his travel insurance policy didn’t cover his medical costs and Tahitian authorities subsequently wouldn’t let him leave French Polynesia until all his bills, totalling fifty gees, were paid.

Lowe, who earns one thousand dollars a month at Vans and hence broke as hell after slinging ten gees at chasing this swell, was stuck until friends and fans, although not his multi-billion dollar sponsor Vans, raised the required cash to get him out.

Open Thread: Comment Live, Day One of the Gold Coast Pro where hope and hopelessness are the ingredients of a nouveau béchamel!

Death becomes her.

Slater (left) in The Lineup. Photo: Instagram
Slater (left) in The Lineup. Photo: Instagram

Surf royalty Kelly Slater avoids Snapper and its grotesque local enforcers ahead of Gold Coast Pro, warms up on “world’s deepest standing wave” in Hawaii!

Money moves.

The Gold Coast Pro, there stage right of Snapper Rocks, will officially kick off today, by all accounts, and professional surfers are ready. As you know, Coolangatta’s most famous wave once commenced the entire Association of Surfing Professionals then World Surf League Championship Tour season. There was a gilded ball in nearby Surfers Paradise, first, then many fine performances in the water before the production moved south to Bells.

Alas, those were different time. Since, a smarmy Oklahoman has decided that Snapper ain’t good enough and relegated it to the scrub Challenger Series. It’s value, now, based upon the fact that it is the first stop after the new “mid-season cull” and allows beheaded professional surfers their first possibility of redemption.

Points toward requalification.

Nat Young, Zeke Lau, Jackson Baker, Michele Rodrigues et. al. will be surfing in the round of 64 after their decapitations. 11x world champion Kelly Slater will be surfing there too even though it is unnecessary for him so to do. The aforementioned smarmy Oklahoman, World Surf League Chief of Executives Erik Logan, changed the rules overnight allowing the 51-year-old to earn points from wildcard entries into Championship Tour events and then gave him wildcard entries into ALL Championship Tour events.


But there he is anyhow, in the round of 64, heat 12.

Now, most of the hopefuls have been in town for days, warming their legs and spirits on Snapper’s lengthy rights though a terror has reared its head.

Enforcing locals.

First brought to light by the “bastion of kook” Surfer magazine, this new grotesque breed appears to horrify and bully by donning springsuits, dropping in and surfing so poorly that the idea of skill, of style, is sucked from the very souls of all nearby.

We will see how this affects Young, Lau, Baker, Rodrigues et. al. but Kelly Slater took absolutely no chance. He chose, instead, to warm up at The Lineup at Wai Kai.

Just west of Honolulu, The Lineup is said to be “the world’s deepest standing wave” and sources on the ground declare that Slater very much enjoyed the experience, even tiring himself out on an extremely long ride.

He was, anyhow, on a flight to Australia yesterday and will likely be ready to “earn” his way back to the bigs.

Get excited.

But, quickly, does Slater’s excursion to, and approval of, The Lineup make you want to sample? It sure does me.

See you there.

“The mass of the rich and the poor are differentiated by their incomes and nothing else, and the average millionaire is only the average dishwasher dressed in a new suit.”

Hawaiian authorities ramp up “bold” plan to send homeless Americans back to mainland, “Aloha also means goodbye!”

"No one wants to be homeless or without a job, without a place to go every day, without a future, that's not paradise."

Who needs a homeless haole, am I right?

The Hawaiian state gov, pragmatists who know the fabled island chain is a magnet for the destitute ‘cause if you’re poor y’might as well be warm instead of freezing to death back home on the mainland, plans to ramp up its program of shipping mainlanders back to where the hell they came from.

“It saves the state millions of dollars in the finite amount of resources we have for our local homeless,” Rep. John Mizuno told Local 8. “We’re getting them back to their family, their support group where the homeless can get back on their feet.”

The program was launched in 2015 to tamp down on Waikiki’s growing homeless problem, with out-of-state JOJ’s swelling numbers. So far 599 out-of-staters have been given seats home on Southwest airline jets.

In a piece for KITV4, two Boston men, Michael McCann and Michael French, spoke of living on the Honolulu streets.

“No one wants to be homeless or without a job, without a place to go every day, without a future,” McCann said. “I mean, that’s not paradise. That’s torture. Everybody needs to have help, absolutely. If you could help anybody here get back home. People are suffering here.”

His pal Michael French, howevs, ain’t going nowhere, free airfare home or not.

“This is going to be my home. I’m going to stay in Hawaii. I have no wants to go back to Boston. I don’t like the cold weather there, can’t push a wheelchair around in the snow too good. I’ll be here until the day I die.”

Dunno about you, but I  get a shiver whenever I pass a homeless man, roughly my age, ’cause I know I’m maybe six bad months away from joining him on his cardboard carpet, old paw extended to grasp your offered coins.

I remember, once, a prominent surf magazine photo editor telling me he was living in his car.

Like Orwell said in Down and Out in Paris and London, “the average millionaire is only the average dishwasher dressed in a new suit.”

Anyone done it or doing it tough?

Twin flames. Photo: Instagram
Twin flames. Photo: Instagram

Adult learner website The Inertia follows surf guru Sam George’s lead, outs San Francisco secret spot known for its enforcing locals on Instagram!

A match made in heaven.

One of the more enriching moments we shared this spring (autumn in Oceania) was Sam George declared “Death to Secret Spots” on adult learner website The Inertia.

The surf guru opened his missive thusly…

Back in 2003 I got the call that just about every other surfer in the world dreamed of: an invitation to join the Quiksilver Crossing, and a berth on the Indies Trader as it made its way down the largely unknown coast of Nicaragua. Granted, I was editor of SURFER magazine at the time, yet it was still to be like no other surf trip I’d ever experienced. Not exploring a remote coast by boat — I’d been fortunate enough to do that a number of times before — but for being asked to sign a nondisclosure agreement before joining the ship.

“While the basic route is outlined,” read the project’s official website. “no specific references are given in regards to surf spots. Everyone connected with the project respects keeping known and unknown surf spots a mystery.”

Everyone but me. Seeing as how on my watch at the top of SURFER’s masthead, my editorial policy concerning exotic travel stories was to place the trip on a map without necessarily drawing a map, I took exception to this particular ethic.

“That sounds great,” I said, in discussion with Martin Daly, the eminently colorful and opinionated skipper of the Indies Trader. “You want us to reveal the place, promote the place to the benefit of Quiksilver’s brand, but not say where it is. I think you’d better know that my current motto here at the mag is, ‘Death To Secret Spots.’”

And then proceeded to carry on for much time, writing about how the idea of secret spots is anathema to stoke or soul or some such.


He followed it with a second, equally inspiring, piece leaving The Inertia to lead the campaign.

Making good on his promise, the Zach Weisberg-fronted soft space days ago released a photograph of a San Francisco secret spot certainly thrilling regional Thai funboard enthusiasts.

But have you surfed ________ before?

Did the usually grumpy locals treat you kindly?

How will they treat Ben Gravy when he follows The Inertia’s easy to follow map to YouTube glory?

Many questions.