“This ’v’ of water came streaming towards us and this tiger shark leapt at the boat and bit huge holes in it."
Almost an ironic end, I suppose, for a film crew shooting the latest instalment of Only Planet, the four-part documentary series narrated by the great biologist Davey Attenborough, still kicking, remarkably, at almost one hundred.
The Netflix crew were set upon by two fifteen-foot tiger sharks while filming in Laysan, one of the northwestern Hawaiian islands and almost one thousand miles from Honolulu.
“This ’v’ of water came streaming towards us and this tiger shark leapt at the boat and bit huge holes in it,” the nature show’s director Toby Nowland told the Radio Times. “The whole boat exploded. We were trying to get it away and it wasn’t having any of it. It was horrific. That was the second shark that day to attack us.”
The little inflatable boats the crew were using to film from had just enough air left in ‘em to get back to the beach.
“They were incredibly hungry, so there might not have been enough natural food and they were just trying anything they came across in the water,” said Nowland.
The original plan was to shoot the tigers from underwater but, as series producer Huw Cordey told Forbes, “It was like something out of Jaws. The crew was panicked, and basically made an emergency landing on the sand.”
Not all encounters with tigers end in catastrophic injury.
You must remember the moment last November when marine biologist Ocean Ramsey almost climbed into the mouth of a feisty tiger. The optics, as they say, were spectacular though the risk of injury, as it turned out, was low.
“I was actually overjoyed to see her, especially that particular individual shark. We call her Queen Nikki and I have grown up with her, we were teenagers at the same time,” Ramsey said at the time. “We have had so many beautiful interactions with her over the years and sharks are so important. They are wild animals. They are apex predators, but they’re not monsters.”
World Surf League CEO Erik Logan emerges from hiding after unprecedented absence, proceeds to mock “International Surfing Day!”
"No one person or group of people are above the integrity of the sport."
The World Surf League’s chief executive Erik Logan is back. Exactly twenty-two days ago, the Oklahoman was caught up in the ire of surf fans everywhere, but especially Brazil, after three former champions, each coincidentally from Brazil, declared that judging, on the Championship Tour, had become a confused mess.
Logan decided the the best course of action would be to deliver a scathing paternalistic open letter that began, “I want to address the conversation that happened in our community following the recent Championship Tour event at the Surf Ranch. As you likely know, a small number of athletes made statements questioning the judging of the competition and the final results,” before continuing, “I want to respond directly to those statements, 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.”
It went on to say, “In terms of the statements made, we completely reject the suggestion that the judging of our competitions is in any way unfair or biased. These claims are not supported by any evidence. Firstly, the judging criteria are provided to the athletes ahead of each competition. All athletes competing at the Surf Ranch Pro received these materials on May 20th. Every athlete had the opportunity to ask questions about the criteria at that time. None of the athletes who made these statements took advantage of this opportunity at the Surf Ranch Pro. Secondly, our rules allow any athlete to review the scoring of any wave, with the judges, and receive a more detailed explanation of how they were scored with the judges. This process has been in place for a number of years, and is the direct result of working with the surfers to bring more transparency to the judging process. It is not acceptable, and is a breach of league policy, for surfers to choose not to engage with the proper process and instead air grievances on social media. A number of athletes at the Surf Ranch Pro received points for elements such as progression and variety, so it is simply incorrect to suggest these are not taken into account in the judging criteria. Furthermore, our rules have been applied consistently throughout the season, including at events this season that were won by athletes who are now questioning those same rules.Surfing is an ever-evolving, subjective sport and we welcome a robust debate around the progression of our sport and the criteria used to judge our competitions. However, it is unacceptable for any athlete to question the integrity of our judges who, like our surfers, are elite professionals,” and concluded with, “No one person or group of people are above the integrity of the sport.”
It was not well received, surf fans flooded the former Oprah Winfrey studio boss’s usually blaring Instagram page with many harsh words and Logan fled from view.
He stayed hidden in the lead up to the next event, the Surf City El Salvador Pro. He stayed hidden surfing the event. He stayed hidden after the event as new charges of ridiculous judging were lobbed.
But he is back now.
In an ill-considered “story,” Logan can be seen bogging rail, possibly on a SUP, in celebration of International Surfing Day. A move akin to wearing a White Lives Matter t-shirt at a Black Lives Matter protest. “Hope you got out to celebrate the only way we know how,” he added.
World Shame League.
Legendary surf journalist dragged from car in wild unprovoked assault by teen gang as “other motorists parked at the rest stop ignored his screams for help during the terrifying attack”
“There was a guy watching but he told me later he was too fearful to get out of his van”
The former Tracks editor turned PR face off the Yeppoon wave pool Wayne Dart has described a wild ol night after he’d stopped to sleep in his car on the run from Sydney to the pool in Central Queensland.
Dart, who is fifty-four and who has a decent sorta striking game after twenty years of belting cunts in Muay Thai, had parked at a rest stop near Moree in Northern NSW and was about to go to sleep when his door was ripped open.
“I was fighting four of them at once while the other one was going through the car looking for my keys, wallet and phone – whatever they could lay their hands on.
“The guy was yelling out ‘I can’t find anything’ and his mates were going ‘keep looking’. Not one person in the rest area came to help – there was a guy that was watching but he told me later he was too fearful to get out of his van – so I was on my own.
“I managed to turn the tables on them a bit and they started to get on the back foot, realising I wasn’t going to stop fighting. They tried to get me on the ground but I wasn’t going down because I knew I’d be in all sorts (of strife). Once I got a couple of punches into one of the bigger guys, they started to panic a bit. I assume not many people fight back, but I did.”
Eventually, Dart fought ‘em off, even serving a little hot curry of his own.
“I ripped the car door open and was punching and kicking the driver and doing everything possible to stop him leaving, and the same with another guy who got into the back. By this stage, I was in a worked-up rage and they panicked so much they accidentally left one of their mates behind. I went straight up to him and had hold of him and they reversed the car back to get him.”
Police arrived soon after and arrested the gang, five kids aged between fourteen and eighteen, using road spikes. (Cops allege the pack had ripped off a VW SUV earlier in the night and during a wild car chase had driven “directly” at cops.)
Dart ain’t happy as you might imagine.
“The legal system just seems to be a revolving door where you’ve got these constant repeat offenders, in and out of jail. You’ve got these young hoons becoming increasingly violent, with no fear of rebuttal for their lawlessness and no knowledge of how to be a decent community-focused human.They seem to be doing it for sport, for the thrill of the theft more than anything. They only got away with my mobile phone and they chucked it into some bushes about 200m from the rest stop.”
World Surf League cements position as “most morally bankrupt on earth” finally eclipsing big tobacco and the industrial military complex!
The Surf City El Salvador Pro is now finished and if you missed the action, you can read JP Currie’s accounting. Final’s day was not good. Not good by this measure nor that measure but was helpful, at the end, for cementing the World Surf League as one of, if not most, morally bankrupt organizations on earth.
The League, you of course know, is about putting the world’s best surfers in the world’s best waves but it is equally about equality and yet happily took El Salvador tourism board dollars, gleefully promoted the brave little Central American country even though its record on equality has been slammed by human rights’ organizations.
The League is also about environmentalism with its One Ocean program, much talking about environmentalism and planting a bush in the name of environmentalism, and yet is almost finished building the world’s largest wave pool in a Middle Eastern petro kingdom desert even though its environmental impact is off the charts.
The hypocrisy is staggering.
There is now clearly nothing the World Surf League will not do for money, no place it will not go and promote, no bit of earth it will not destroy. North Korea could host a Championship Tour event, if it wanted. Ecuador could. build a wave pool in the Galápagos Islands if it wanted.
Ain’t that crazy?
I wouldn’t care if Santa Monica simply declared, “We are in the BUSINESS of surfing” but the constant sportswashing, greenwashing is embarrassing.
It’s shameful and sad to be part of.
David Lee Scales and I, anyhow, discussed on our weekly chat and I poked fun of people who drink too much water. Adult men wandering the streets with giant baby bottles is also shameful.
Surf City El Salvador Pro a “tragicomedy in real time, an indictment of the WSL’s status as a professional sporting league”
Filipe Toledo shed tears "over a contest won in poor waves, in front of a thin crowd, which doesn’t alter his ratings or season in any way whatsoever."
An all-time low for me in terms of engagement with a finals day. I mean, I watched it, for penance and payment, but I found little to get excited about in terms of clientele or conditions.
The waves were of the kind that may excite a progressing beginner. Low stakes, likely low crowds, maybe you’ll luck into two or three turns. How the pros get themselves up for this sort of day I’ll never know. But get themselves up they did, and Filipe Toledo choking back tears in his victory speech was the most intriguing part of the whole day.
Ironically, as my passion and drive to ruminate on professional surfing hit its lowest ebb, I was confronted by Toledo’s, and couldn’t help but admire it.
For all of my remembered life I have longed for the thing to throw myself headlong into, the thing that would consume me forever. I’ve seen glimpses of this light, but everything eventually drifts into greyness. I have lots of interests, lots of things I “love” but no one thing has captivated me unconditionally, not even my partner or children.
Is this true for you?
I wonder often if other people feel like this, then I watch Filipe Toledo and know they don’t. He shed tears today. Real tears. Over a contest won in poor waves, in front of a thin crowd, which doesn’t alter his ratings or season in any way whatsoever. He was second in the world to start, and would be second at the conclusion, regardless if he won or lost. His top five position and attendance at Trestles seems assured.
It was more or less meaningless. But still he cried, dedicated the win to his mum as a birthday present (shit present btw), surfed through intense back pain, and cited faith and dreams and hard work etc etc. It seemed more than a little hyperbolic, yet not inauthentic.
His rivalry with Griffin Colapinto could be motivation, the final being a reprisal of last year at the same venue, the result switched. But the two men seem such polar opposites in character, as well as genuinely decent people, that it’s hard to imagine there’s any real malice between them.
Mastery can be motivation. With it must come a deep rooted fear that you might be knocked off at any moment, a hunger to keep proving you’re the best. Toledo has a world title already, but it hasn’t lessened the chip on his shoulder. Colapinto is still laser focused on winning his first, an end goal he perhaps doesn’t realise will never be the end.
Colapinto and Toledo were the best surfers of this competition, so at least that was right. I have nothing bad to say about Ian Gentil or Liam O’Brien, but both are a tier, if not two, below the finalists in terms of talent.
I’m afraid I have neither the will nor words to comment much on the actual surfing in any of the three heats today. I watched them, even rewound them at points, but still couldn’t muster any analysis. Call it lethargy, call it ignorance, call it whatever the fuck you like.
Toledo’s nine pointer will cause some raised eyebrows and should, but really it’s a drop in the ocean when it comes to chronically horrendous judging decisions, especially recently. At some point, like in any abusive relationship, you get ground down. The bad stuff doesn’t seem so bad any more. The truly awful gives you pause, but then you pick up the pieces of your teeth, dab the blood from your lip, layer on the make-up, and just carry on.
For me, this event, and what the WSL is becoming in its slow but predictable descent to utter obscurity, was best summed up by the closing ceremony.
You didn’t watch it, of course. Few did. So allow me to recreate the scene.
Mitch Salazar stands on a very blue, very empty stage. He is dressed in board shorts and a short-sleeved shirt, each with a boldly clashing pattern that suggests the man wearing it is either a simpleton or is being deeply ironic.
His smile is that of a man for whom irony might well be a planet in the outer reaches of the solar system.
The crowd, or more appropriately, “the crowd” for they are often referenced by Salazar and the surfers who will momentarily receive their prizes, are largely a fiction. They have the enthusiasm and depth of a pub crowd at a Tuesday night open mic session.
It’s a tragi-comedy in real time, a sad indictment of the WSL’s status as a professional sporting league. No-one gives a shit, except Mitch and his mangled patterns but impressive duolingo.
A few sparse claps echo around the empty beach.
“This crowd…this crowd…” the competitors say as they receive their trophies then shuffle awkwardly on stage.
Except Toledo, who still seems caught up in the moment with a mysterious verve that even leads to speaking in tongues.
“Can I try my Spanish?” he asks, then slips into what appears to be absolute fluency, thanking all and sundry. It is the second moment of the day in which I am surprised and impressed by the man.
Caroline Marks says “Bueno”.
Lots of Corona is sprayed.
Beer, crucially, not champagne.
But aside from Toledo’s enthusiasm and spraying beer, If this is surfing’s elite professional league, then what is the future?
At least we have Rio to look forward to next. Say what you like about the waves, at least the fans are proper. Real fans with real passion and fake death threats.
Now if you’ll excuse me I’m off to my son’s fifth birthday party. There’s going to be a bouncy castle. I don’t like birthdays or kid’s parties, but I’ll be there all the same, hating every minute.
If nothing else, El Salvador was good preparation.