Shepardson (pictured) dropping into fame. Photo: The Eddie
Shepardson (pictured) dropping into fame. Photo: The Eddie

Eddie winner and blue collar hero Luke Shepardson takes one step closer to Hollywood fame as GQ publishes exhaustive profile!

Popcorn ready.

Five, or such, months ago, surfer hearts around the world were warmed all toasty when The Eddie was won by a working lifeguard. Surfing’s most prestigious contest had not run in eight years at the hallowed Waimea Bay and fans were dying for it, breaking into lusty sobs when it was greenlit, crowding around various iPhone and MacBooks or, if lucky, wedging their automobiles into Kamehameha gridlock.

There were great storylines even before the hooter sounded, like former Eddie champ Kelly Slater gifting his slot to local standout Chris Owens in an act of blazing love, and there were phenomenal performances after the hooter sounded as the waves lived up to expectation. A veritable who’s who paddling their iconic guns, pitching themselves into history.

And yet the most unlikely hero of all emerged victorious at the end of the day.

“In building twenty-to-thirty-foot surf, Luke Shepardson, twenty-seven, who started the morning by clocking in to his gig as a North Shore lifeguard, took a few hours off work and by day’s end had beaten the most stacked field in the event’s history,” Derek Rielly wrote in the near aftermath. “Apart from defending champ John John Florence, who finished second, Shepardson outsurfed big-wave world champs Makua Rothman and Billy Kemper, both surprise competitors after suffering injuries at the Backdoor Shootout, Kai Lenny, Zeke Lau, Grant Baker, Ross Clarke-Jones and so on.”

A blue collar hero was born.

Shepardson did the rounds in the following weeks, appearing on surf-centric podcasts and what not, and then surf fans’ attention turned to other matters. The World Surf League securing a ladder sponsorship, for example.

The World Surf League CEO turning abusive, lashing out then disappearing.

The aforementioned Kelly Slater flaunting World Surf League rules and wearing a Shark Watch instead of the mandated Apple one (more soon).

But cream always rises and our hero has made a triumphant return in the form of an exhaustive GQ profile out just hours ago. “Casual Luke Rides the Big Wave” is a multi-thousand word piece that explores not only the historic day but what led up to it. Shepardson working as an electrician in jail to support a small family, for example. His highs and lows.

It is essential reading but also an important step on the major motion picture about his life. I’d imagine Hollywood executives are waking up this morning, rubbing cocaine out of their eyes and perusing the wire for material. What could be better than Luke Shepardson?

Not much.

Except the story of a young water-fearing Oklahoman with a dream.

First, we must find him, though.

Erik? Erik Logan are you there?

Unbelievable twist in fate of Aussie surfer threatened with lash in Sharia-ruled Aceh following violent, booze-fuelled rampage!

And loses gorgeous surfer locks for Drake-style haircut while in prison!

You’ll remember, of course, the story of an Australian surfer who was facing a helluva storm after being arrested following a wild melee outside the exclusive Moon Beach resort on the Sumatran island of Simeulue. 

Bodhi Mani Risby-Jones, who is twenty-three and from the Queensland holiday hamlet Noosa, was “accused of an alcohol-fuelled, naked rampage outside a beachside resort that left a passer-by in hospital and prompted an angry mob of residents to threaten to burn down the hotel.”

He was accused of hitting a motorbike rider and throwing the moto onto him after he fell into a gutter. The resulting leg wound, cops said, needed fifty stitches. 

In retaliation, furious onlookers then tried to burn down the resort. 

If you know Indonesians, you’ll know they love a little mob-action.

It always strikes me as odd that so few travellers to the happy island of Bali are aware that beyond the superficial smiles is a history so bloody it defies the imagination. In 1965, during the great Communist purge that would lead to the downfall of Sukarno and usher in thirty years of Suharto rule, an estimated half-a-million Indonesians were murdered. The CIA reported that the massacres “rank as one of the worst mass murders of the 20th century, along with the Soviet purges of the 1930s, the Nazi mass murders during the Second World War, and the Maoist bloodbath of the early 1950s.”

In Bali, they took up the cudgel with gusto. Five per cent of the population, eighty-thousand people, women and kids included, were butchered.

Anyway, up there in the northern Sumatran province of Aceh, real good waves etc, Islamic law, aka Sharia, rules in morality matters which means flagrant homosexuals, the polyamorous, anyone from the 2SLGBTQ+ community, as well as boozers who like to get a little punchy, may be publicly caned. 

A very bad situation for the kid, although the matter was resolved after Rigby-Jones agreed to pay the injured moto-rider twenty-five thousand Australian dollars or the equivalent of two-years salary for the man. 

Along with the twenty-five gees Risby-Jones and the Moon Beach Resort had to pay for a special “cleansing ceremony” that involved the spectacular public slaughter of a goat and thirty kilograms of rice and delicious spices. 

Now, in a sensational twist, Risby-Jones, who exchanged his surfer locks for a Drake-style haircut while behind bars, says he and the family of the man he beat hell out of are on the best of terms!

“We embraced, we gave hugs, we shared laughs. They told me I was basically part of the family so I feel much better about it now, yes,” he told reporters. “I’m welcome to come back and even stay at their house whenever I want. So, that feeling of guilt is definitely much smaller than it was originally.”

After hugging prison officers, Risby-Jones was bussed to the airport before being deported back to Australia.

“It’s been a long time coming and I’m feeling amazing and super happy and grateful,” he said. “Everyone has been very nice and accommodated me well. Thank you.”


DJ Khaled (pictured) greatly worrying fans. Photo: Instagram
DJ Khaled (pictured) greatly worrying fans. Photo: Instagram

Thoughts and prayers pour in for DJ Khaled as beloved plus-sized musical artist suffers debilitating surfing injury!

Please don't stop the music...

What is your favorite DJ Khaled song? It’s a trick question! Each are works of pure art and impossible to rank. It would be like asking Megan Fox or Brian Austin Green “Who is your favorite daughter?” Futile and, frankly, rude. So you can understand the abundance of thoughts and prayers that came pouring in from all corners, yesterday, when it was revealed that the plus-sized music man was injured whilst riding an e-foil in in Miami.

Anyone who has ever dabbled knows that mastering an e-foil is… well, I guess not that difficult. I am not usually a quick study though was up and flying across a Wyoming lake on my very first attempt. A natural, maybe. There is an issue, I suppose, of finding the balance point. Too far forward and the nose dives into the water. Too far back and the thing shoots skyward, which is where we find dear DJ Khaled.

The manner in which he tumbles is particularly worrisome, as either the foil or the propeller could have removed his head from his torso. Deadly. Mercifully the damage only required a light massage.

Still debilitating.

Expert foiler Michael Schwab, anyhow, weighed in, writing, “You were attempting to e-foil, which is a lot harder than surfing, thank goodness you didn’t hit the foil! Hope you are back on the course asap!”

Oh. Is it? Well maybe I’m a sort of e-foil prodigy then.

The Kolohe Andino of still waters.

Very cool.

Back to DJ Khaled, though, light a candle for him today please.

Thank you.

Shhhh. Photo: WSL
Shhhh. Photo: WSL

Reeling World Surf League goes to war against Brazilian fan base, disables “live chat” feature on Portuguese broadcast of El Salvador Pro!

"We hope the entire WSL community stands with us in rejecting all forms of harassment and intimidation."

The Surf City El Salvador Pro is one day away from concluding and this, I suppose, is how this iteration of professional surfing ends. A last gasp of crypto and ladder sponsorships. Tourism boards defining “the world’s best waves.” A 51-year-old former champion with stunningly little shame. A truly bizarre spectacle lorded over by a billionaire, run into the ground by an Oklahoman by way of Oprah.

Bye bye bye.

The World Surf League will soon be a historical footnote, the answer to a Jeopardy question about failed sporting enterprises in the 2000s, but not, I guess, before lashing out at its most “passionate” base.

Yes, it appears that Brazil’s surf fans have been deemed a public enemy, one that needs to be silenced, and, yesterday, the Portuguese language broadcast cut its “live chat” feature taking their voices like Ursula took that little mermaid’s.

But you have certainly noticed the scrolling conversation off to the side of the YouTube feed? Oh those who participate there are not nearly as charming as those on BeachGrit’s patented Open Thread but they do seem to enjoy challenging the judges, complimenting high performance maneuvers, making small talk.

Except they are no longer allowed to if their native tongue is Portuguese.


As you know, rage against the League exploded into open hostility at the Surf Ranch Pro wherein fans, mostly from Brazil, became incensed at what certainly seemed to be suspect judging in heats featuring Gabriel Medina and Italo Ferreira. The two, each former champions, took to Instagram in the aftermath seeking clarity and the furiosity amongst their many admirers grew.

After a few days of silence, the aforementioned Oklahoman, World Surf League CEO Erik Logan, released an open letter that had a tone “somewhere between a dictator and a domestic abuser” excoriating those who had raised their voices.

“I want to respond directly to those statements,” it began, “however, we first need to address a much more important issue. In recent days, a number of surfers, WSL judges, and employees have been subject to harassment, intimidation, and threats of violence, including death threats, as a direct result of those statements. Those things should never happen in our sport or any sport, and we’re devastated that members of our community have been subject to them. It is an important reminder to us all that words have consequences. We hope the entire WSL community stands with us in rejecting all forms of harassment and intimidation.”

Heavy and now, possibly as punishment for “harassment, intimidation and threats of violence,” Portuguese has been banned.

Though do you think the move will have its intended outcome? Unable to live comment to each other during the El Salvador Pro will Brazilian surf fans come to see the light that Australian or American surfers are more marketable in the United States and therefore receive more points per move or… not?

Did China’s lashing out at brave protestors in Tiananmen Square silence dissent in that country?


I guess it did.

The half-Japanese, half-Indonesian surf Olympian Rio Waida falls to Filipe Toledo in the round of 16.

Judges at Surf City El Salvador Pro “clearly hate” Bali’s Rio Waida, “I don’t imagine Indonesian Instagram has the clout for it to matter”

"And how appropriate for the WSL to get a crypto sponsor just as the US gov launches lawsuits against the big exchanges and prices go through the floor."

How can this possibly feel like the longest event of the year with a reduced field?

Is it the inconsistency of the waves, and the fact we don’t expect anything more than three feet? Fun for us, no doubt. Not such a perfect canvas for world-class surfing.

Or is it the ungodly trio of Mitch Salaazar, Kaipo Guererro and Chris Cote? Men fond of words. Many, many words with little meaning, and all afforded more time than they should ever be given to speak them.

Whatever, it’s been painful.

Especially because Scotland is glorious right now, and watching pro surfing in mediocre waves seems like a chronic waste of daylight. It hasn’t rained in nearly three weeks here, the sun splits the sky every day, and the light stretches til midnight and beyond. The rivers and lochs we swim in every day are as warm as blood. There’s endless opportunity for all manner of fun beyond surfing, nevermind watching surfing.

The coast is largely a fading memory, as it can be in summer. The mountains, on the other hand, are green and clear and filled with bliss. I see clips of people grovelling for summer windswell and it looks like fun, in a way, but also desperate. Nothing compels me to seek it.

Yet here I am, sitting through back-to-back heat restarts, and watching scores so seemingly arbitrary that nothing makes sense anymore. Fives and sixes and sevens fall like lines on a fruit machine. It’s a delirium that casts me back to younger days when I would stand in pubs for hours feeding the machines in a stupor, leaving only to shuttle back and forth to the bar for more cashback from my student overdraft. Dark days.

But I’ll try to make no further mention of the scoring because I’m finding it genuinely perplexing.

What I can say is that eight of the top ten ranked surfers were gone before the quarter-final stage. Only Colapinto and Toledo making it through. There will be some shuffling of the top five before Rio, and at least that gives the remaining events some competitive edge.

You might say it was a day of upsets, but the waves are so inconsequential that there’s no real drama. One guy wins, another loses. In these conditions it’s mostly down to luck and judging chaos…sorry, criteria…to decide a winner.

A fucking lottery, in other words.

I do hope my mood isn’t doing any stellar performances a disservice, and please join me in a golf clap for Ian Gentil, Liam O’Brien and Barron Mamiya for dispatching Chianca, Ewing and Medina, respectively.

And now a more vigorous round of applause for Ian Gentil for his defeat of Italo in the quarter which sees the lanky Hawaiian in the first semi-final of his career.

The Toledo vs Waida heat was the slowest of the day, requiring two restarts before they were informed there would not be a third. The waves were mostly of the kind that only Toledo can make look interesting. Rio Waida did, too, just as he did yesterday, but the judges clearly hate him. I don’t imagine Indonesian Instagram has the clout for it to matter.

Leo Fiorovanti and childhood rival Kanoa Igarashi surfed an entertaining heat which saw the latter make it through to his first quarter-final of the year. A surprising stat for sure, but one that marks just how off the boil Kanoa has been this season.

He went on to lose to a typically spicy Toledo, but god only knows why he wasn’t rewarded for a Kerrupt on his final wave, a move we almost never see in competition, performed with some style and landed cleanly.

Connor O’Leary had a great run before hitting his ceiling against Colapinto in the quarter. Our current yellow jersey wearer has seemed infallible throughout the event, and it will be a joust to the death with Toledo for the victory.

“O’Leary’s backhand is filthy,” I noted at one point. And it is. And that’s all I’ll say about that, beyond noting that he’s quietly built a solidly unspectacular season, but I still don’t want to see him in a final five at Trestles.

Unfortunately that’s the way we have to look at this, isn’t it? Who will entertain us at Trestles. This comp is a pretty good marker for that, I reckon. A crumbly, cobblestone point where surfers mostly have to manufacture speed and power. What promise.

Much was made throughout the day of the physical demands of surfing two whole heats in a single day! And slippery rocks! Don’t forget the slippery rocks!

Honestly, have you ever heard such a fuss over rocks in your whole life? “Doin the rock dance…watch those rocks now…those rocks are lethal…they need to be so careful on those rocks…those rocks are so slippery…” etc etc and so on and so fucking forth.

It’s partly symptomatic of the commentators having too much time to use all their words, but you’d never believe they’re talking about professional athletes. Imagine having to surf a three-foot pointbreak for an hour a day, and walking over some rocks to get there. Imagine!

Yesterday I took part in a mountain race that was eight miles long and climbed three and half thousand feet. It was twenty six degrees centigrade. We climbed for an hour to reach the first summit, sometimes following faint paths made by stalkers and animals, sometimes none. The route traversed a long ridge, tagging two more summits before descending back to the valley.

It took me an hour and fifty three minutes of solid effort, some others three hours and more. My heart rate topped out at 193 and averaged 172.

One runner was airlifted off by helicopter, another treated for a gruesome head injury. Two more crossed the line then fainted. Others nursed scrapes and cuts and blisters.

No-one bickered or squabbled or complained about their injuries. We quietly acknowledged the toughness of the route, drank some water, exchanged smiles and well dones, jumped in the river to cool off, then went home. It was absolutely nothing like surfing, in the best possible way.

And I would guess that almost every amateur runner put in more physical effort than it takes a full time professional surfer to compete on days like today at Punta Roca, even if they do need to cross some slippery rocks.

Leo Fiorovanti joined the booth late today to explain that “Tokash”, the mysterious logo adorning the scoreboard is a cryptocurrency token exchange, and also Leo’s personal sponsor. How gloriously appropriate for the WSL to get a crypto sponsor just as the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission have launched several lawsuits against the biggest exchanges in the game and prices have gone through the floor.

Bravo, WSL, you sponsorship whores, bravo.

The day closed with Barron Mamiya and Liam O”Brien sitting largely immobile in a ruffled, lukewarm ocean. O’Brien caught his second wave of the heat with just four minutes left on the clock, and only then in desperation. Then he lucked into an inside one under Mamiya’s priority just two minutes later for a 4.87 and victory.

It was a random wave after few opportunities and a mid-range score where two judges disagreed by a whole point. A fitting closure to the day’s proceedings.

Onto the semis we trudge. Ian Gentil faces Filipe Toledo on one side, Griffin Colapinto vs Liam O’Brien on the other.

More choppy three foot windswell you say? Superb. Can’t wait.