Kelly Slater (pictured) mocking.
Kelly Slater (pictured) mocking.

Surf fans hold breath to see if enigmatic champion Kelly Slater will openly mock proud nation of Brazil once again!

Si o no?

I am currently in New York enjoying art, culture and steak frites. The weather is mild, coffee good and overall mood elevated. A very fine vibe. I went and saw the Lagerfeld retrospective at The Met, yesterday, and was generally impressed though not as moved as I was by the Degas, The Little Dancer Aged Fourteen etc. Today, I dropped my daughter off for her first day at the American School of Ballet at Lincoln Center. She was accepted into the summer intensive program, a real feat, and stood steely-eyed at the check-in table sussing the talent.

It seemed to be of an extremely high quality.

It made me think of the Brazil contest, now hours away, and what it prove on this year’s bizarre 2024 Championship Tour. The World Surf League seems have made an entire mess of things, first of all hosting competitions in lousy spots, getting lousy waves on top of that and effectively destroying the thin idea holding it all together that professional surfing can be judged.

In ballet, talent and athleticism, performance and artistry, the ethereal grace are all felt. There are no 6.7s or 8.3s. No 9s for three identical turns. What the body does to the music, how it holds the intricate positions and moves between them is appreciated in a way numbers can’t measure.

Especially stupid numbers that fly in the face of whatever arbitrary metric had been decided upon.

What will Brazil prove?

That Felipe Toledo is the best surfer in the world of World Surf League, certainly, and that the judges are afraid of getting burnt at the stake, likely, and that Kelly Slater, the best surfer in the Association of Surfing Professionals, is either feeling guilty for accepting a make-believe season-long wildcard and/or thinks there is somehow still an Olympic pathway, if he shows.

That he really truly all the way dislikes the land of order and progress, if he does not.

The 11x champion has made sport of not going to Brazil over the course of his extremely long career and using positively laughable excuses for his absences.

It is difficult to picture him in Saquarema. It is also difficult to picture him not in Saquarema.

Neither scenario matters much, in the end. The World Surf League is increasingly inhabiting a Kafka-esque reality where equality is anti-lesbian and environmentalism is gas powered desert surf ponds.

Time for one more cappuccino.

“This clear and present aging trend forces us to accept an important and far-reaching statement: Surfing is no longer a youth sport inextricably tied to youth culture."

Youth participation in surfing plummets as bombshell study reveals average surfer a 45-to-49 year old white CIS male!

“Surfing is no longer a youth sport inextricably tied to youth culture.”

A landmark study just released by Bond University, Australia’s first private college and named after a notorious swindler, has revealed surfing ain’t the plaything of kids anymore. 

Craig Sims, who is a former South African pro surfer turned magazine publisher and university academic (he has a PHD in Media Studies from Bond), says the peak participation age for men is 45-to-49 (I added the bit about CIS and white in the headline…clickbait etc… you understand) and 35-to-44 for gals. 

“This clear and present aging trend forces us to accept an important and far-reaching statement: Surfing is no longer a youth sport inextricably tied to youth culture. Failing to accept this statement will result in surf brands missing out on forging a meaningful connection with a significant and growing segment of their market.”

Surprised? You shouldn’t be. 

A few  weeks back I went to the premiere of The Greatest Surf Movie in the Universe, the most significant thing to happen culturally in Australian surfing since Kai Neville’s films, and the cinema was a sea of polished skulls and silver manes, paunches harnessed by Quiksilver tees. So many wizened winter apples. The median age, at a guess, would’ve been sixty.

In lineups, there’s a few kids here and there, mostly tweenies getting pushed into waves by their daddies, but the absence of teens marauding the surf is stark. 

The ageing of the sport next to the influx of late-starting kooks ’cause of COVID and the rise of the murfer has enormous implications for the surf industry, says Sims. 

“There’s…potential for surf tourism operators to tap into a whole new breed of customer by accommodating travel demand from unskilled surfers who don’t have the proficiency to handle the hollow and shallow reef breaks typically associated with remote or exotic surf locations.”

Even wave pool operators have to cool their jets ’cause their customers are either old, incapable or both.

 “Most wave parks have the capacity to create technically challenging waves, yet they tend to only offer these settings in the very early and late part of their operating hours and the bulk of their day is dedicated to novice and intermediate settings.”

You’ll remember a couple of years back when the organisers of a surfing contest in New Zealand were been forced to add a new age-group after an eighty-year-old kneeboarder signed up. To accommodate older surfers, those aged seventy-five to seventy-nine, there now exists the division, “Immortals”.

All very interesting, of course, although I doubt I would go near surfing if I was twelve again, such is its decline from wild, atavistic man-against-the-elements lifestyle to its current Surfline Man goes to Surf Ranch incarnation.

Where do you stand? Is surfing a declining sport for old men and relatively aged gals or does it stand on the precipice of a great renaissance, rebirth etc?

Big-wave legend Dylan Longbottom just released from ICU after being “impaled” at Australia’s heaviest wave reveals “I was drowning in my own blood!”

"I was sent straight to the trauma ward. My ribs were badly broken, one lung was partially collapsed, the other wasn't working."

Last Saturday, the shaper and former pro Dylan Longbottom was gifted a front-row seat to his mortality after being driven chest-first into a limestone pinnacle at a wave he, and others, describe as the heaviest in Australia. 

Longbottom, who is forty-nine, is, or at least was, on a slab-hunting tour of the world with his preternaturally talented twenty-year-old daughter Summa. A few weeks back they were at Shipsterns in Tasmania, which was followed by Victoria and, last week, a detour to South Australia.

It was Dylan’s hard-charging brother Daz, who busted his neck on an Indo trip fifteen years ago and wound up in a chair, who let me know his little bro was in hozzy.

So I call Dylan, who’s in fine spirits, despite being surrounded by people in ICU who’ll never make it out of hospital alive, to hear his wild story.

“Well, first,” he says, “it was a big day. Huge period. Eighteen seconds. The biggest slabs. The gnarliest slab in Australia. I was with Kip Caddy, Nathan Florence and (Moroccan big-waver) Jerome Sahyoun and they all agreed. It was six-to-ten feet, some twelve, maybe fifteen-footers. I towed Jerome into a bunch, then Noa Deane and Harry Bryant who were down there. Then it was my turn. I got one and it turned into a mutant. I was already committed, I had my line, going for it, and it gurgled out and I fell right at the bottom. Worst spot. On the biggest wave of the day. I got sucked over the falls and then first impact I didn’t hit but on the second impact I got impaled on a limestone pinnacle. It’s not flat there, it’s like Pipeline. I landed right on my chest and, through my impact suit, I blew out my ribcage and punctured my lung. I didn’t know, I was just out of breath. I was… struggling… for breath and in a world of pain. Kip and Jerome came and saved me. That was it, one and done.”

Even so, Dylan didn’t wanna end the sesh and it was only an intervention from Sahyoun that kept him out of the water. The sight of her old boy on the sidelines wheezing didn’t deter his little gal Summa who told him, “I’ll be sweet Dad”,  but Sayhoun told her, “You’re not surfing today.” 

Blown lung, ribs shattered. What’d Dylan do? Busted the necks of a few coldies and gulped a handful of the anti-inflammatory Nurofen he found in a kitchen draw at their rental. 

“You’d never know he was so injured,” says the filmmaker Tim Bonython, “After the wipeout the painkillers and beers were  making him feel okay.” 

That night, he “woke up in a world of pain. I struggled. I took my painkillers, had a few more beers” and sat in a lounge chair until dawn when they went back to the wave and Summer got her desired bombs. 

What followed was an overnight twelve-hour drive to the South Australian capital Adelaide, which included a brief chase by the cops with Moroccan Sahyoun unsure of what to do when police lights are flashed, and a two-hour flight to Sydney.

Dylan’s been belted around in big waves before so he knows injuries. And he figured, busted ribs, maybe a cracked sternum, nothing a doctor can do, just gotta ride it out.

Still, he went to his local GP who sent him for x-rays where the extent of his injuries were revealed.

“I was sent straight to the trauma ward, my ribs were badly broken like in a car crash, and tubes were put in my lungs to drain ’em. One lung was partially collapsed, the other wasn’t working. Doc said I was lucky to survive the flight ’cause of the pressure. I could’ve gone into cardiac arrest.”

After surgery on Friday, Dylan spent the weekend in ICU but today he’s been released to recuperate at home, two months or thereabouts out of the water, but he reckons he’ll be able to shape, slowly, maybe two sleds a day.

The obvious question to ask, I suppose, is if this can happen to him, does he worry about his kid pushing not only her own limits but the boundaries of the sport?

“It’s heavy, bro,” he says. “It’s worrying but then it’s rewarding at the same thing. It’s hard to explain. People ask me, how do you do it, but the week before this, we were at Shipsterns and she got the craziest one and she was actually smiling while she was on the wave. She loves it. She has no fear. I always try to drop her right on the edge, not too deep, not in a bad zone and I get her in early. But she’s been doing it for a long time now, she surfed Nazaré when she was thirteen. She knows how to take a beating. She’s the only girl chasing class. She towed Teahupoo three weeks ago on a big swell.”

Summa taking on evil-looking Shippies on her backhand. Photo: Bonython
“She loves it. She has no fear. She’s been doing it for a long time now, she surfed Nazaré when she was thirteen. She knows how to take a beating.” Photo: Bonython

Still, a daddy is a daddy.

“It’s your daughter and you don’t want anything to go wrong but at the same time when you see how much enjoyment and fulfilment she gets from her adventuring it’s so good. It’s living life to the max and you’re doing with your daughter. She loves it and I love it. We’re going on adventures around the world, and it’s not just about the waves, the ride’s the bonus, but having fun in between. It’s the best time.”

Blue marlin fishing tournament ends in fiery World Surf League-esque judging controversy after winning fish deemed to have been “mutilated” by shark!

Wild times.

The World Surf League has fallen to an entirely low ebb of respectability. A governing body that champions equality yet greedily laps up autocratic anti-lesbian dollars. An authority that adores environmentalist yet parsimoniously digs carbon powered wave pools in petro kingdom deserts which also happen to be extremely anti-lesbian.

Craven to the max though, in certain corners, the actual running of professional surfing competitions, judging etc., is the most ludicrously bad part.


Difficult to say, exactly, but its stumbles, its mistakes, make controversies in other fringe sporting communities seem positively tame.

But let us turn our attention to professional blue marlin fishing and the just-wrapped Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament in North Carolina’s Morehead City in which a boat named Sensation caught a 619-pound fish for the win, hundreds of pounds over the nearest competitor.

And yet, as if the captain was Brazilian, was disqualified.

Organizers released a statement reading:

After careful deliberation and discussions between the Big Rock Rules Committee and Board of Directors with biologists from both NC State CMAST (Center for Marine Sciences and Technology) and NC Marine Fisheries biologists as well as an IGFA (International Game Fish Association) official, it was determined that SENSATIONS 619.4lb Blue Marlin is disqualified due to mutilation caused by a shark or other marine animal. It was deemed that the fish was mutilated before it was landed or boated and there for it was disqualified. The Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament follows IGFA rules regarding mutilated fish as outlined in Rule #23 in the Big Rock Official Rules. IGFA rules state that the following situation will disqualify a fish: ‘Mutilation to the fish, prior to landing or boating the catch, caused by sharks, other fish, mammals or propellers that remove or penetrate the flesh.

The boat Sushi was declared the winner, like Griffin Colapinto, with its 484.5 pound bit of mercury-laden flesh, and won $2.77 million.


$2.77 million?

Has Gisele Bündchen ever dated a fisherperson?

More as the story develops.

The moment Ocean Ramsey nearly climbed in old pal Queen Nikki's mouth. | Photo: @oceanramsey

Netflix crew attacked by frenzied tiger sharks in Hawaii, “It was like something out of Jaws. They leapt at the boat and bit huge holes…The whole boat exploded! It was horrific”

“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.”

Tigers have been getting wild in Hawaii over the past few years, with four attacks so far in 2023 including a surfer whose right foot was bitten off and the death of a snorkeler from Washington State in December.

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.”