Chas Smith (not pictured) on a CI Pro. Photo: Channel Islands
Chas Smith (not pictured) on a CI Pro. Photo: Channel Islands

Surf journalist born again, dispenses with alternative craft tomfoolery and rediscovers pure joy of high performance pointy thruster!

6'0" 19 2 3/8 29.0

And I’m back! After years of wandering through a desert of alternative craft, 4’11 stubby quads and drawn out mid-lengths, asymmetricals and fishies, foam all the way forward and hefty I am back to my heart’s true, to our hearts’ true home, the pointy chippy thruster.

6’0″ 19 2 3/8 29.0

It arrived at my doorstep a few weeks back after the iconic shaper Britt Merrick heard me discussing a soul pang on my weekly chat with David Lee Scales, a desire to return to the high performance shortboard. I’d hopped off that business over a decade ago, now, a Mayhem opening that door to perdition by moving the wide point of the board up thereby allowing for more paddling power, control, resignation to a life of suck. The round squash tail hole in my ticker never went away, though, and I openly pondered a return and not just any return. A return to the ultimate high performance shortboard. The Channel Islands Pro. Lee Scales mocked me. Said he was happy with his user friendly shapes and I was sad.

Was sad until Merrick, a saint, texted “Hey! It’s Britt Merrick… heard you on The Grit saying you wanted to try a CI Pro. Send me your dimensions and I’ll shape you one.”

Tears filled my eyes.

Now, I had absolutely no idea what my dimensions should be, what measurements were even appropriate for a real surfboard as opposed to some bit of mystical oddness, and had to come clean.

I didn’t know.

5’10 something?

He understood that my brain had turned to mush in that desert of alternative craft, did not hold it against me, and a few weeks later 6’0″ 19 2 3/8 29.0 arrived at my door.


It sat on the rack for too many days, poor conditions and travel conspiring against our reunion, but then, yesterday, it all came together. A pulse of clean swell, three free hours. I gingerly applied a BeachGrit tail pad, gently circled some BeachGrit x Sticky Bumps wax, perfumed to the heavens, on her deck and headed to the beach.


The paddle out felt odd, I’ll be honest. I looked at the nose, where all that foam used to be, and thought “How is this thing even floating me?” I looked at the other surfers in the lineup straddling all manner of thick, riding high in the water. When I saddled up I rode very low. Nipples almost dipping beneath the brine.

I looked at the horizon and thought “Was David Lee Scales right?”

Then a wave came, maybe three feet with an open right, and I instinctively spun, stroked and popped to my feet. Surfing muscle memory is a true gift, I suppose, years and years and years of the same motion taking over, eradicating the need for cognition, and there I was surfing a high performance surfboard.

It truly felt like home, fitting right into the pocket, wildly maneuverable. Oh, I didn’t surf it well, neither the board nor the wave, but I surfed it and surfing had never felt better. I kicked out, at the end, sprinted back and caught another, sprinted back and caught another.

Again, I didn’t surf well, neither the board nor the wave, but it was the best feeling I’d had in years. I was in the seat of a Ferrari and maybe I was just going straight, with herky-jerky burst of speed, but I was still in a Ferrari and I would much rather drive a Ferrari poorly than a Toyota Camry expertly. A vista of graspable progression opened up before me. Sharper turns, better turns, bursting fins loose and David Lee Scales was wrong alongside all those who have given up and given in.

Childhood dreams of a run at the World Qualifying Series reignited.

I am a CI Pro and you can too.

The forty-six-year-old science and sports teacher who’d only moved to the coastal town in January was surfing the lefthander with a dozen others in the water, including kids.

Surfer killed by Great White in South Australian attack bravely warned others to go to shore as the shark swam towards him, “We saw the shark thrashing around out the back. (It came) back and got him for a third time”

“It was such a confronting incident. It could have been anyone. The worst part was there was a 13 year old out there and he witnessed everything."

The surfer hit and killed by a Great White shark on a crowded day at Walkers Rocks yesterday has been named as popular Elliston teacher Simon Baccanello, a brave soul who warned others to split as the shark started swimming towards him. 

The forty-six-year-old science and sports teacher who’d only moved to the coastal town known for its epic waves as well as its dark history of shark attacks, in January was surfing the lefthander with a dozen others in the water, including kids. 

When the White appeared, Baccanello told the terrified kids, “Don’t worry, get yourself to shore”.

Jaiden Millar, a twenty two year old, saw the whole damn thing.

“It was such a confronting incident. It could have been anyone. The worst part was there was a 13-year-old out there and he witnessed everything,” Millar told Adelaide Now. “There was a bloke on the beach tooting his horn and as I turned around I saw everyone paddling in. I saw his board tombstoning, which means he’s underwater and his board’s getting dragged under … trying to fight his way back up to the surface… He was gone. (We) saw the shark just thrashing around out the back. The shark’s obviously let go and come back and got him for a third time”.

No body recovered yet, unlikely, although his board was found. 

“That was picked up pretty quickly,” Streaky Bay SES unit manager Trevlyn Smith told 7NEWS. “It had just one bite in the middle,” he said.

Ken Rosato (RIP) and the WSL's Joe Turpel. Photo: Instagram
Ken Rosato (RIP) and the WSL's Joe Turpel. Photo: Instagram

World Surf League broadcast team reels as New York morning show anchor fired immediately after hot mic catches “off-color” remark!

Troublesome times.

There is absolutely no denying that we live in extremely fraught times. Tensions high. Margin for error non-existent. Stray remarks that were once casually disregarded or ignored are now elevated to the apex of criminality and treated as such. Capital punishment. Oh there are a million and one traps in which to fall, racial, gender, political, religious, tonal, contextual plus any combination, and fall, daily, broadcasters do.

Those who make their living behind a microphone are, of course, in a much riskier position than the general public. Days ago an Oakland A’s on-air commentator uttered a slur and was suspended indefinitely. Hours ago the longtime anchor of New York’s “Eyewitness This Morning,” Ken Rosato, was immediately fired after making an “off-color” remark that was picked up by a hot mic.


Speculation ran wild that he too expressed a slur though that notion was struck down by his representative who released a statement reading, “Being fired for any racial slur is 100 percent inaccurate and untrue. Ken Rosato had a benchmark of 20 years at WABC of supporting all equality.”

Whatever the case, the World Surf League commentary team of Joe Turpel, Ronald Blakey, Kaipo Guerrero, Peter Mel, Rosy Hodge, Strider Wasilewski et. al. must certainly feel even more unstable this morning. Having to fill endless hours of air during professional surfing competitions, like, endless endless, the climate is absolutely ripe for one of them to “misspeak” and be relegated to the margins of Page Six before receiving ruthless execution at the hands of Chief of Sport Jessi Miley-Dyer.

While “hand jams” and “foamball monsters” toe the line of appropriate, the biggest current worry is likely the inability of any one of the crew to describe Brazilian surfers without using the word “passionate.”


Which is to say nothing about the sort of hot mic incident that undid Ken Rosato.

But do you imagine that the World Surf League Santa Monica headquarters has a running compendium of troublesome talk from each that is used in contract negotiations?

If we were to place odds on who would get fired for unacceptable speech, would Guerrero or Wasilewski be the favorite?

Joe Turpel is, honestly, so bland that he could sit in the booth and read from Mein Kampf and only succeed in gently annoying the censors.

It pays to be insipid.

Where did Pottz go again?

Great White shark “thrashed around with surfer for five minutes” before disappearing with body in horror South Australian attack

The attack has echoes of last year’s Great White hit on a swimmer at Sydney’s Malabar beach where rock fishermen watched as the swimmer was mauled and disappeared.

The small surf town of Elliston, six hundred clicks west of Adelaide, is in mourning tonight after a popular local surfer was killed in front of horrified onlookers at around ten am today.

The man, who was forty-six, was surfing Walkers Rocks, an intermediate sorta lefthander on the inside of the bay that’s also the home to Blackfellas, the wildly hollow left slab that is a favourite of Craig Anderson, Chippa Wilson and co and which has featured in innumerable surf movies.

According to reports, after the initial hit, the Great White continued to attack for five minutes before disappearing with the body which is unlikely to be recovered.

The attack has echoes of last year’s Great White hit on a swimmer at Sydney’s Malabar beach, where rock fishermen watched as the swimmer was mauled and disappeared.

“I heard a scream and the shark was just chomping on his body and the body was in half just off the rocks here,” said one witness.

Three years ago in Esperance in Western Australia, along the same migratory route for Great Whites, the well-known local surfer Andrew Sharpe was also killed and disappeared by a fifteen-foot White, his body never recovered.

A witness there said the dorsal fin and tail fin of the White were so big his initial thought was there were two sharks.

“I’ve never seen a dorsal fin that big before, not even in media footage,” he said.

Great White.

Surfer missing after being mauled by Great White shark at South Australian wave notorious for attacks, “Something needs to be done, there’s an imbalance!”

"All experienced surfers, particularly people who surf on the West Coast of South Australia, must be aware of the risk.”

A surfer in his forties is either missing or being treated for life-threatning injuries, depending on which news report y’read, after being mauled by a Great White shark while surfing at Elliston, a town of less than four hundred souls four hundred miles west of Adelaide and home to one of Australia’s best waves.

Details real light so far, authorities saying the attack happened around ten-fifteen this morning.

Hits by Great Whites around Elliston aren’t new.

In 2014, after being belted by a fifteen-foot White, local surfer Andrew McLeod called for an immediate cull.

“Just felt a massive force, like a car crash and I got thrown off my board,” he said. “It is an absolute fluke that I didn’t get killed because if it had taken any of my flesh, I think it would have come back for more. It is ridiculous that they’re classified as endangered and they should be harvested like every other resource.”

Another surfer Sam Board backed him up.

“Something needs to be done, there’s an imbalance. We don’t hesitate to take every other fish out of the ocean, but we leave the biggest ones.”

In 2000, two Great White attacks in two days shone a spotlight on the area’s shark population.

On September 24, New Zealand surfer Cameron Bayes was killed by a White at Cactus a few hours east of Elliston and the following day, seventeen-year-old surfer, Jevon Wright, was killed by a White while surfing around Elliston.

As the coroner later said,

“All experienced surfers, particularly people who surf on the West Coast of South Australia, must be aware of the risk.”

Elliston, y’might know, has a nasty history, and not just locals who weren’t afraid to light you up with shotgun pellets.

In 1839, on the sandstone cliffs above Elliston’s best wave Blackfellas, two hundred and fifty indigenous men, women and kids were pushed to their deaths in retribution for the death of the local magistrate.

As Hawaiian surfer Albee Layer said in 2015, “It feels like you’re tiptoeing around a sleeping beast and at any point you could be gone forever without a trace.”