Conventional wisdom shockingly upended as new study suggests surfing actually good for those suffering traumatic brain injury!

Happy days are here again!

Months ago, professional surfing saw the official retirement of Owen Wright. The 33-year-old had, earlier, delighted his fans by releasing the “gut-wrenching, heroic” must-read memoir Against the Water in which he shared the story of suffering a traumatic brain injury whilst duck diving a wave in Hawaii, having to re-learn to walk, talk etc. and eventually winning bronze for his Australian home at surfing’s Olympic debut.

The massive damage done without actually receiving a knock on the head was a real wake up call to surfers around the world, though.

Is surfing, in any capacity, massively dangerous to the brain?

Conventional wisdom suggested “yes” but a new Welsh study undermines those very notions.

According to a neuro-rehabilitation program run by Swansea Bay and Hywel Dda University health boards, those who have suffered traumatic brain injury can actually improve their overall well-being by “immersing themselves in the dynamic elements of the, wind and sea.”

Per the academically rigorous yet fun The Conversation:

Some of our participants reported that surfing had taught them that all types of emotions – whether positive or negative – are an important part of the human experience. Instead of trying to control them, accepting them can help people find meaning in their lives.

Making room for difficult thoughts enabled some of our brain injury survivors to reconnect with their values and hobbies too. Surfing gave them meaning and a “valid reason for being alive”. It also showed them that “despite being a bit broken in some places,” they were still capable people. This helped them to renegotiate their identity.

Connecting with people in similar situations can also be crucial after brain injury. Many report that they don’t feel understood by family and friends. Yet belonging is a basic psychological need.

Happy days are here again.


Photo: Jaws

15-year-old surfer who considered shark attacks a “joke” after seeing Jaws brutally mauled off coast of New Jersey!

Fate strikes.

Fate is a wily beast, man. It has a way of lulling folks like you, I, or a fifteen-year-old New Jersey girl into a worn out old rut. The sun comes up. The sun goes down. The hours in between are spent more or less the same. Scrolling news to find surf related stories, drinking a glass of refreshing Athletic Greens, scrolling some more, making an Americano, finding one, publishing it, looking at World Surf League Chief Executive Erik Logan’s Instagram, looking at World Surf League Sport Chief Jessi Miley-Dyer’s too, rinse, repeat.

The magic sorta drains away, you know? Surprise but an old folktale.

And BOOM!

That’s when fate strikes.

Take the aforementioned teen, one Maggie Drozdowski who just so happened to be surfing in Stone Harbor with a friend when she felt… something.

“I felt something around my foot, and it pulled me down a little bit,” she told the local Fox News affiliate. “I shook my leg as hard as I could to get it off, but it just wouldn’t.”

Her friend, Sarah O’Donnell, said, “I went over the wave and she went under it, she screamed and I turned around because I thought she was drowning or something, but she got up and she said ‘I think something bit me.”

Something is right. A toothy, nasty shark.

Drozdowski was transported to a local hospital where she received not nearly as many stitches as she might have had she not been wearing a wetsuit, though she was still stunned the by encounter.

“I’m just in shock, I just thought that wouldn’t be something that would ever happen to me because I watched all the Jaws movies and stuff, and I thought it was a joke,” she concluded.

Fate, man. A cagey weirdo.

New Jersey officials, in any case, have not closed the beach but have warned surfers that they might be next.

The last unprovoked shark attack in New Jersey was in 2017.

BeachGrit’s gory years.

I meant glory years.


Kelly Slater lists “problematic and overly white” eighties film as second greatest of all time, “Anti-LGTBQ+ aspects, racism by omission, underage sex and abortion!”

“Moments that are no longer acceptable in modern society…”

The world’s greatest surfer, athlete if my opinion is to be weighed, Kelly Slater, has listed the eighties classic Fast Times at Ridgemont High as “one of my top 2 films of all time.” 

The film, which was built around Academy Award-winning writerCameron Crowe’s wild undercover experiences at Clairemont High School in San Diego, follows a bunch of kids as they navigate life, love, sex, drugs etc, Sean Penn’s Jeff Spicoli still the defining surfer stereotype.

However, many problematic themes and scenes, as Literate Ape’s Don Hall explains. 

In the first two minutes of the film, we see a high school guy tape a sign on the back of another guy that says “I Am A Homo” and later, Spicoli, in a dream sequence, as he has won the big surfing competition, calls his competitors “Fags.”

There are only two black characters in this thing: Charles Jefferson (Forest Whittaker) and his brother (known only in the credits as “Jefferson’s Brother”) This film is overwhelmingly white.

In the first twenty minutes, Stacy (Jennifer Jason Leigh), a fifteen year old mall worker, has sex in an abandoned baseball dugout with a twenty-six year old dude. She subsequently has sex with Damone in her parents’ pool room, gets pregnant, has an abortion by herself, and hides it all from her parents.

In the first twenty minutes, Stacy (Jennifer Jason Leigh), a fifteen year old mall worker, has sex in an abandoned baseball dugout with a twenty-six year old dude. She subsequently has sex with Damone in her parents’ pool room, gets pregnant, has an abortion by herself, and hides it all from her parents.

There is, of course, the Phoebe Cates fantasy sequence where Brad is caught masturbating to his mental image of her slo-mo coming out of the pool and pulling off her bikini top. 

So we have nods to anti-LGTBQ+ aspects, racism by omission, underage sex and abortion. Definitely a few moments that are no longer acceptable in modern society.

Heavy, yeah, and who knew!

But there’s a surprise twist, maybe not problematic at all! 

Read to end here! 


Photo: @Instagram

Wild environmental debate erupts after World Surf League CEO Erik Logan claims to have saved the earth: “This is virtue signaling at its best!”

THE MOMENTUM IS REAL.

Surf Ranch swings wide its wooden gates in just five days and I would have to imagine there is great joy in Santa Monica. Oh the event is the very least favorite on the World Surf League Championship Tour hated by surfers and surf fans alike and has been a critical failure with ticket prices slashed to near nothing in an attempt to have someone, anyone, come and watch.

Still, much happiness amongst the World Surf League chiefs as the patented Wall of Positive Noise™ grows stronger and stronger and stronger. So strong, in fact, and sturdy that not one ounce of criticism seeps in. A whole separate universe exists behind it. One where Chief of Sport Jessi Miley-Dyer has saved women and Chief of Executives Erik Logan has saved the earth.

In an Instagram message celebrating his great accomplishment of planting a plant, Logan stated, “One of the principles of the @wsl is sustainability. As a global community of surfers, we are working hard to make sure the ocean stays healthy. One way we do that is by replanting and honoring the land so fresh water flows back into the ocean. To be able to be a small part of something that will be here hundreds of years from now was an incredibly humbling experience.”

While many applauded, one loan critic lobbed a devastating insult asking for an offset of the wild amount of air travel the World Surf League creates along with the volume of single use surfboards and called the planting of a plant “virtue signaling at its best.”

The World Surf League Positive Brigade pounced, responding directly with the message, “Thanks for your comment! We are fully committed to our environmental initiatives and realize sport has the power to inspire, engage and set new trends globally. We aim to reduce first and then offset any unavoidable emissions and have been carbon neutral since 2018, including all Championship Tour staff and athlete travel, and have reduced emissions by 49% since our 2018 baseline. If interested, you can learn more at wsloneocean.org.”

Unbent, the Negative Nelly responded, “Thanks for the reply however I don’t see a few plants make a difference. Good luck with your Winkipop viewing platform.”

Ouch.

But if you could, would you live in a world where you believed all of your own lies? Where you could live life one wave at a time whilst making your passion your life?

Me too.


World-first surfboard design that changed the sport in 1975 and made surfing “explosive” returns in much-anticipated collaboration!

"It was one of the biggest bangs in surfing there ever was!"

Can you believe it’s been two years since the legendary Hawaiian shaper Ben Aipa, a man so fierce-looking Gerry Lopez described him thus, “When you see Ben coming, don’t think, just get out of the way” died of multiple illnesses?

Ben, who was seventy-eight, had heart issues, diabetes, dementia and had been hit by myriad strokes.

But what he left behind, apart from two fine sons, Duke and Akila, two arch-craftsman whose own boards are prized by shredders as well as collectors, was a design legacy that sits there in the pantheon alongside Simon Anderson’s thruster.

Y’see, in 1971 Ben invented the swallow tail, or at least refined the early work of Tom Blake and Bob Simmons, his team riders Larry Bertlemann and Michael Ho riding ‘em to such acclaim in a mainland contest by day two of the event the other competitors were cutting swallows into their boards and duck-taping up their mutilated crafts.

That’s design breakthrough one, but not what we came here for. ‘Cause, landing in stores around about now, is a design collab between Duke Aipa and Matt Biolos, Aipa-powered Losts.

Duke went to Biolos on a whim, told him how cool it’d be to a modern version of his boards but with a Sting. The pair back and forthed over their CAD programs down there in the San Clemente surf ghetto and came up with a version that worked on Biolos’ famously advanced crafts. In this case, the skateboard inspired Puddle Jumper and the small-wave ripper the Sub Scorcher. 

Duke Aipa, proudly continuing the Aipa tradition. Photo: @tsherms

“The Stings we’re doing are specific to his designs, which makes it cooler, it’s not like we threw a wing on it. There was a lot of trial and error to correctly compliment his already successful models,” says Duke. “I have to say they make his boards look…whooooo…way sexier!”

Matt Biolos, left, and Duke Aipa, and the Lost/Aipa Sting.

Let’s dive back into the story of the Sting, yes?

A couple of years after the swallow, in 1974, Ben was at a boat race in Hawaii and watched fascinated as a speed boat with a hydroplane hull gave hell to the other boats. Instead of slowing to turn, it would accelerate through the turn, keeping its momentum. Ben was so inspired he spoke to the drivers, learned about its wing and headed straight to the shaping bay.

“My Dad’s process,” says his son Duke, who is forty eight, “is he would finish a blank top and bottom before cutting the outline, rough shape the top, finish shape the bottom. This day he etched in the arc of the wing a third of the way up on one of these almost finished blanks, like a hydro-plane speed boat. He got it under Larry Bertlemann’s feet at Lighthouse in Diamond Head, walked up the hill to get a vantage point to watch and saw that the cut-out allowed the board to react faster. In single fins, the reaction is limited but the wing did the same thing for the surfboard as the hydro-plane boat, it released and pivoted faster.”

Ben was spellbound.

“Larry’s stinging the wave,” he said to himself.

And, so, the Sting, which was later bastardised to stinger by third-parties copying the design, was born.

In the winter of 74/75, Mark Liddell and Buttons Kaluhiokalani were photographed by Warren Bolster standing on the rocks at Kaisers, both holding Aipa stings, Buttons’ sled emblazoned with flames.

Buttons and Mark Liddell, with Aipa Stings in the winter of 74/75.

By the time the shot made it on the cover of Surfer it was 1976 and the design exploded.

Who didn’t want a board with flames and an Aipa sting?

The sting got toned down as boards shifted to two and three fins, the massive cut-out turned into a little wing near the tail, but the wing lived on.

And, now, “my goal is to see the Sting become a secret weapon on the CT as the ultimate homage to my father,” says Duke.

In 2020, when I heard that Ben was sick, I’d called his other son Akila who grew up with a front-row seat to the North Shore, with his famous, and famously loved Dad. A rare soul connected to surfing’s cultural continuum.

“Yeah, man, well, everyone knows him for his Sting but his greatest contribution was how long he shaped for, how consistent he was, the attention to craftsmanship… there was a level of integrity in his boards for sixty years,” said Akila. “For my brother and I there’s a sense of pride in how we build boards. We carry on the tradition.”

Duke feels it.

“The thing I’m most excited about is it gives us the opportunity to include some surf history into a mainstream popular brand. It ushered in a whole era, a whole movement, it allowed Mark Richards, Mark Liddell, Buttons, Dane Kealoha and Larry Bertlemann to push surfing to another level. It was one of the biggest bangs in performance surfing there ever was. When the Sting came, that’s when guys were going crash, bang, getting experimental, doing carving 360s. Carving 360s! In 1974! On a single fin! I want young people to understand part of their history, because, for surfing, our culture is everything. We’re at a point in surfing where it could potentially get watered down very fast. Wavepools, surfing in the Olympics, all good things, but there’s also a possibility to lose some culture. It’s more than a cool design collaboration. We’re re-making history! It’s going to go viral one more time!”