Ever since the kids left and we’ve been through the lockdowns he’s just always there, you know. A presence in the house. Heavy, like. He mopes around, half working half mucking around on that bloody men’s surfing forum.

Grim fate of middle-aged surfer revealed in barely-concealed “fiction” by celebrated surf-lit author

What happens when a surfer gets old? It's worse than you think!

Me and Rudy are standing out front of the cafe in our usual morning spot. On the pathway between the two trees. Both in our hairnets and grease-stained work polos. Looking across the industrial estate as it begins to stir. The low winter sun is just protecting us from the ice-tipped westerly hurtling down the valley. It’s second smoko. Only a couple of hours now until knock off.

This is where we come to untangle life. Amongst the forklifts, the hi-vis, the beep of reversing trucks. We talk about work, kids, husbands, the footy. Whatever. Sometimes we can’t get a word in edgeways. Other times we say not much at all.

There’s shade from the trees when it’s too hot. A couple of plastic chairs from the diner when we need them. To the north, between the aluminum wholesalers and the educational supplies building, you can see a slim finger of mountains pointing off into the distance.

I light up a cigarette.

I didn’t tell you about this one, I say to Rudy as she looks at her phone. Came home the other day after my shift and found him barbequing. At lunch time.

She turns to look at me. What do you mean?

He’s out on the verandah, with the mini Weber. Cooking up a big plate of chicken. On a Tuesday.

What’s so wrong with that?

Whaddaya mean, what’s wrong with that? I take a drag of the cigarette. Think it over.

I mean, I guess there’s nothing wrong with it. At face value. But picture it. He was there with his shirt off, his big hairy belly hanging over his Ruggers like a Christmas puddin’. And he was barbequing.

Rudy shrugs, looks back to her phone.

I said to him, I said, what are you doing?

And he looks at me with those doey eyes. That expression like he knows what I’m talking about, but he’s still gonna play dumb anyway.

What? he says. I’m just cooking up some chicken.

Now? I say. It’s lunch time. On a Tuesday. Aren’t you on the clock?

Well you know he’s been working from home for almost three years. But still.

A group of office types push past us on the narrow concrete strip. I take a step back to let them through.

I’m on a break, he says. I can do what I want.

So what happened? asks Rudy.

I take another draw of the cigarette. Breathe in deep. Hold it there, for a moment. Can feel it percolating down the bottom of my lungs. I let it out.

Well, I just ignored him. Tried to, at least. Headed towards the kitchen, to make myself a sandwich. But there’s mess everywhere. Piles of washing in the lounge room. Dirty dishes in the sink. And the smell. That smokey barbeque smell. It’s just wafting through the house. Soaking into everything.

So I go back outside. I say, you know you could at least shut the doors or the windows when you’re doing that. Keep all this smoke out.

I need to keep the door open, he says. In case I hear the work phone ring.

I say, Why don’t you bring it out with you?

He just sits there, turning the chicken slowly. It’s already burned to shit. Looks like charcoal.

Because, he says, then I’d have to set it all up out here. Plus, he says, I like to get away from work a little bit. You know, keep up the barrier.

Rudy says something like mmmm but I don’t know if she’s talking to me or her phone. The wind is picking up. I have to watch that the ciggie isn’t blowing back into the diner door. The new owners don’t like it when I do that. I wish I’d worn my jacket.

Ever since the kids left and we’ve been through the lockdowns he’s just always there, you know. A presence in the house. Heavy, like. He mopes around, half working half mucking around on that bloody men’s surfing forum. Just generally making a mess.

And I can appreciate that he likes to be at home. Better than at the pub, I suppose. Or when he used to disappear for days at a time chasing waves or whatever it was. But barbequing? At lunch? On a Tuesday? I mean come on. He’s just too… comfortable.

The diner is getting busier now. More office workers stream along the path, heading for their morning coffee. I look at my watch. 8:45. We’ll have to head back in soon. I ash the cigarette under my shoe and put it in the bin.

I turn to Rudy. Eye her up directly.

I’m the one leaving for work at three am every morning.  He just wakes up whenever he wants. Sits at his desk doing god knows what for most of the day. And barbequing. Bloody barbequing at lunch.

I stop, clear my throat. Kiss my tongue to my teeth.

I look at him and think, you’re just another thing in the house now. Something I need to navigate around. Like the furniture. Or the bills. Or the washing. He just gets to me, you know?

Rudy still doesn’t say anything. She just keeps scrolling her phone, nodding silently.

And that barbeque smell. It sticks to the walls. Creeps into the roof. Marinates. Bloats the woodwork. It’s his smell. It’s suffocating. It’s-

I feel my stomach tighten. I think I know the words I’m looking for, but I expect I’ll choke on them if they make it out.

I reach for another cigarette, but remember the time. Smoko’s almost over.

I sigh.

Some days I just wanna stay at home too. Stay at home under my blanket with the power points switched off and the curtains drawn. Let it all come to me. Just once.

I look out to the mountains. If I squint my eyes tight all I can make out is their silhouette against the light blue sky. I could be anywhere.

‘Course I never will. Like my mum always told me. Ask for nothing, expect nothing in return. It’s the only way to be.

Rudy looks up from her phone.

Mmmm. What was that, hon?

I said, I’m gonna throw that fuckin’ barbeque out when I get home.

A cloud falls over the sun and we both shiver.


Now 28, Lakey has struggled through the past few years. It’s a long way from the heady days of 2018 where she put up a solid challenge for the world title against eventual winner Steph Gilmore. We have to go back to 2019 to find her most recent event win, which came at Surf Ranch. | Photo: Beatriz Ryder/World Surf League

Santa Babs Olympic hopeful Lakey Peterson returns from wilderness with inspiring win at Corona Open J-Bay!

And storms into Finals Day contention as tour moves to Tahiti!

After two seasons without a contest victory, Lakey Peterson won Jeffrey’s Bay on Wednesday. She says it’s the contest she has most wanted to win in her career. On Instagram she called it “a dream come true” and said J-Bay is “her favorite event.” Lakey’s come close in the past, with second place finishes behind Steph and Carissa. Finally this year, she made the top step.

Now 28, Lakey has struggled through the past few years. It’s a long way from the heady days of 2018 where she put up a solid challenge for the world title against eventual winner Steph Gilmore. We have to go back to 2019 to find her most recent event win, which came at Surf Ranch. She also won Margaret River, and finished third in the world that year.

What happened?

Obviously, there was the lost 2020 year. Then Lakey missed the abbreviated 2021 season to a back injury. It’s been a slow climb back. A pair of second place finishes last year stand out, and she’s twice made the semis at Pipe. Plainly, she’s been doing the work. On the whole, the small conditions this year didn’t suit Lakey’s powerful style. and she got stuck damn close to the cut line.

Fortunately, the waves turned on at J-Bay. Sure, it wasn’t perfect, but rare is the day when perfect waves show up. Isn’t that why we all keep looking for them? That one special day is special for a reason.

The fast inside runners that J-Bay offered this year suited Lakey perfectly. Her ability to generate speed gives her a distinct advantage. That speed is an underrated element of her surfing, and it allowed her to scoot through sections that derailed some of her competitors. Perhaps influenced by a coaching change — she worked with Micro Hall this time around — her surfing had more variety than usual. It looks good on her.

Despite a dropping swell with plenty of lulls, Lakey and second-place Molly Picklum brought big energy to their final. Between them, they took off on 23 waves, and a few times, I completely lost track of what was being scored. They probably did, too. Lakey rightly came out on top, but Molly didn’t make it easy for her. If you’re going to watch one heat out of the women’s comp, make it the final.

How much did you love Molly’s fuck-you claim? She’s a feisty one. Molly claims pretty much every wave, and I don’t even hate it. And in truth, she had one hell of a comp. Her path to the final ran through Steph in the quarters and Carissa in the semis, and she dispatched them both. That’s 12 world titles, smashed on the rocks. Fuck you, world titles!

Molly has benefitted from the judges’ love for close-out hits this season, and she made them count. Against both Steph and Carissa, the ability to land those finishing moves made the difference. In the final, she couldn’t match Lakey’s speed and sharp turns, but she should be proud of this one. Molly’s now sittin’ pretty in the top five.

During the elimination round I learned that Carissa wears her leash tucked under the ankle of her wetsuit. I have questions. This was Carissa’s second time breaking a board at J Bay and doing the long run around. She still managed to beat Johanne Defay, and put up her best scores — 8.50 and 7.77 — after paddling out again.

After dispatching local Sarah Baum in the quarters, Carissa ran straight into Molly. It was a low-scoring heat without a lot of waves on offer. Carissa left points on the table by falling twice on the end section. Her final wave, a 5.17 would readily have won her the heat otherwise. Molly made it through with a 6.50 and 3.50. I’m not sure if she claimed that 3.50, but I wouldn’t be surprised. Not judging!

So, what about Caity?

She went out early this time, losing to Lakey in the elimination round, and it wasn’t especially close. Caity had a pair of 4’s to Lakey’s 7 and 6. The long walls at J-Bay showed Caity’s small size. Trying to project a 5’4” down the line is going to be a challenge for her and she never really looked at home out there. I love how quickly Caity learns, and I wouldn’t be surprised if next year, she looks entirely different out there.

Caity’s new and exciting and that’s led her to become the surfing internet’s It girl. She’s won two events this year, equaling Carissa’s rookie year in 2010. That’s an impressive stat. Looking at her results, it’s been a bit all or nothing. In addition to her two wins, Caity’s also finished ninth in four events. Currently, she’s sitting fifth overall, with Tahiti left to go.

Caity’s been compared to Dane and John John, which is some heavy pressure. She’s also been cast as the anti-contest surfer, though it’s unclear to me what her true attitude might be. For some commentators, she seems to represent an avatar for their dissatisfaction with the current WSL program and with women’s surfing, more generally. I’m not sure it’s entirely fair to saddle her with all of that baggage.

For me, Caity remains a bit of an enigma. I was told several years ago to keep an eye on her and that she has a legit rare talent. I’ve seen no reason to doubt that assessment at all. To me, her inconsistent performances this year look more like growing pains than anything. Sometimes, she still looks like a grom out there — and at 17, that’s okay. Two contest wins and a shot at the final five is an awesome start to a CT career.

Before we look at the final five, a note on rankings. For this year, there’s only one dropped score. I confirmed this one with the WSL for y’all, because I’m a giver! They’ve already dropped the lowest score before the cut, so what you see is what you get for the current rankings.

On the women’s side, only one spot remains open in the top five. Carissa, Tyler, Caroline, and Molly have all made the Trestles final. Thanks to her win at J-Bay, Lakey sits sixth in the rankings, roughly 3k points behind Caity. If Caity falters in Tahiti, Lakey has a shot at overtaking her. It’s still mathematically possible for Steph to make the final five, too, though that scenario looks less likely to me.

To add a little more pressure to the mix, an Olympic spot for the UU women is also in play. Thanks to their victory at the 2022 ISA World Championship, the US women have three slots at the 2024 Olympics. Carissa and Caroline look likely to scoop up two slots, leaving a third up for grabs between Caity and Lakey. The Olympic selection is based on rankings after Tahiti, but before Trestles. Weird, but true!

The J-Bay comp always feels like a taunt with its long, gleaming walls. It comes during the flattest part of the year in my neighborhood where the point breaks are sound asleep, dreaming happy point break dreams. Someday, they will awake. In the meantime, we wait.

In fact, it’s been a slow summer all around in California so far. But I remain optimistic, and I even bought a new board recently. I put a pink pad on it, because I’m pretty sure it’s impossible to be cranky with a pink traction pad. I’ll report back on this important question. For science!

In the meantime, the CT has one event left to go in Tahiti before the Trestles final. Hopefully, some south swell finds its way to both places in time. It’s been a lot of days of small surf on Tour this year, but for one day, at least, the waves turned on at J-Bay. Maybe there’s hope for us after all.


Surf journalist gets smacked in jaw with vastness of Brazil but vows to continue search for savagely disappeared former World Surf League CEO Erik Logan in face of sinister odds!

Welcome to São Paulo.

Flying over São Paulo, the absolute vastness of Brazil begins to settle. The western hemisphere’s most populous city, eclipsing Mexico City, Chicago, Manhattan Beach, spreads over tree-dappled hillocks for as far as the eye can see. Red roof’d neighborhoods clumped everywhere, the occasional high-rise sprouting skyward all connected by ribbons of asphalt.

Former World Surf League CEO Erik Logan could be anywhere, or at least his secret. Disappeared by the organization while he was here, in Brazil, celebrating “passion” etc.

Not a peep since.

What did he do to deserve such a brutalist fate?

No thanks for service, not one well wish.

My plane lands with a thump and I disembark, stumbling bleary-eye’d into Guarulhos International Airport. It is not what would be described as “architectural.” No whiff of Oscar Niemeyer but even if it was something to look at, it would be hard to focus. The trip here, including the now-all-too-common delayed flights etc. is rough and especially from the United States west coast. I used to think Kelly Slater was a giant baby for refusing to come to Brazil, crudely and childishly inventing all manner of silly excuse.

Now I still think he is a giant baby. What sort of man can’t deal with the rigors of travel?

But I must admit to feeling off-kilter. Nervous. Sleeplessness clawing at the bits and bobs of sanity floating in an otherwise addled brain. What if my mission fails and I can’t at least sort of figure out a way into the “outrageous silence” coming from the World Surf League regarding Logan? That’s how one very well connected industry vet described it.

Outrageous.

Nobody knows nothing.

Why São Paulo? Logan was vanished in Rio so why not begin checking questionable Buffalo Bill themed bars there? Or favelas where boys might gladly part with their torso skin for a laugh?

Because I’ve got a feeling, man. An instinct.

I need a drink to straighten out but hate Heineken. How did the Dutch beer come to dominate so fully? To become the Brazil in surfing of beers? Wild how this onetime colony has completely and utterly taken over professional surfing at its highest level, though, isn’t it? Filipe Toledo is going to win the title this year. He won it last year. Yago Dora might win the year after unless Gabriel Medina decides to harness the dark power and run off five in a row.

I wonder how they’ll feel when professional surfing’s owner Dirk Ziff sells them to new Middle Eastern overlords in order to splish-splash in their Middle Eastern pools, raising World Surf League cups in Bahrain, Abu Dhabi, Riyadh while pudgy sons of princes eat powdered sugar donuts and squeal.

But where’s Erik Logan and what does his cruel beheading have to do with any of this?

São Paulo.

I’ve got a feeling, man.

An instinct.


Filipe Toledo cried in celebration when he won. He cried in his post-heat presser. He cried when he was given a trophy that looked like an alien helmet. This is Toledo’s passion and skill and career. I admire him for his dedication and effort, and for connecting to his present. He seems like a genuine person. | Photo: WSL

Pro surfing feared dead after lifeless Corona J-Bay Open, “An endless drone of punditry. Empty statistics, half-remembered anecdotes”

None of what happened at Jeffreys Bay was important in the fading years, days or seconds of your life.

In journals unpublished until four decades after his death and based on years of personal psychological journeys, Carl Jung presents his theory of the two presiding aspects of our consciousness.

The Spirit Of The Times governs our present. It is concerned with what we should do, how we are supposed to act, our image and duties and obligations.

The Spirit Of The Depths, by contrast, is our animalistic nature, our ancient self. It responds to forces of the natural world, and not always things we can understand or control.

To be content, says Jung, we must find the balance between these opposing spirits.

I am here, writing this now, not because of a deep love of professional surfing, but because I like to write. Because I can.

I’ve been flagellating myself recently for not being able to write the Big Thing I’ve been working on. And today that manifested in being fed up with the WCT. I lost a lot of money. That certainly didn’t help.

I was also annoyed at myself for posting so late yesterday. Despite the fact I got up at 0430 to finish it before the next day started, and despite the fact I sit here now watching the long lulls of Finals Day, after three hours sleep, with life happening around me that I am not part of.

Despite all of that, it was still sloppy.

But the thing was, yesterday I was Living. We hiked with the kids to a secluded beach of white sand, and swam in azure waters that might have belonged in some tropical idyll if not for several degrees. Later, her mum took the children for the night, and we had a rare night to ourselves.

Still I watched nearly every heat in snatched moments, and still I wrote something. But I didn’t feel good about it. I was paying too much heed to the Spirit Of The Times, when The Spirit Of The Depths was calling me back.

So today I’m compelled to write what I want, and that’s not the hyperbolic ins and outs of a half-formed sport, practised by skilled strangers in places we’ve never been, presided over by people we don’t know.

Lots of things are more important than this. You should recognise them now.

None of what happened at Jeffreys Bay was important in the fading years, days or seconds of your life.

None of it.

Regardless. A note or two to satiate The Spirit Of The Times.

The day began dark and grim. Moody. There was lots of talk of weather. And cold. Everyone was cold.

The waves, which happened between the lulls, were shoulder high. Goofy footers who had so entertained us in the preceding days struggled with the reduction in size.

The first semi final between Ethan Ewing and Gabriel Medina was bereft of quality opportunity. These giants of men, these monsters in the art of surfing, mostly floated and pumped and looked out of their element. I couldn’t see the hope in it.

Except there was a turn. One turn by Ethan Ewing as the closing turn of his first wave that made me gasp.

But really, it all left me a bit numb.

Medina is said to have been tinkering with boards to satisfy the whims of the judges. Why, I wondered. Why change what you do, who you are? Why search for consistency in an entirely inconsistent system?

The waves looked a little bigger in semi final number two, but the men, Kanoa Igarashi and Filipe Toledo, were just smaller.

Kanoa got an eight to start then just sat, catatonic or composed for forty minutes, doing nothing.

Toledo surfed frantically, almost making it look exciting. But it was a bit like a tight angle of an RC surfer on a miniature wave.

There were very, very

L O N G

L U L L S.

Minutes ticked away, vanished from our existence.

Joe Turpel never stopped. On and on he talked. And I questioned my present and my purpose.

The Spirit of the Times told me I should pay attention, that this was work, of a sort. That Derek was depending on me sending something in, and that it was good for me to force myself to write something under duress. And besides, it’s fun to connect with all of you.

But The Spirit of the Depths was telling me to fuck it all off. Go for a run. Immerse myself in cold water. Just write whatever I want.

And still they talked.

An endless drone of punditry. Empty statistics, half-remembered anecdotes apropos of not very much, tales of waves that were, been and gone and meaningless.

Fin templates.

Strider Wasilewski is perhaps my polar nemesis. He is chemically incapable of criticism or negativity. It would be endearing if not for the fact it often leads to bare-faced lies.

All day they announced who had made the Final Five, asking the athletes how do you feel, how do you feel, what did it take…

I just wanted someone to shrug and say Whatever. It’s Trestles. It’s shit. So I made the Final Five. What do you think I’ve been out here trying to do?

When they told Filipe he’d provisionally qualified for the Olympics at Teahupo’o, I wanted someone to ask him if he really wanted it. Or if he felt he was the right Brazilian for the job.

Cruel, maybe, but honest.

Toledo put on a one-sided performance in the final against Ewing.

When he was given a 9.93 I looked up, briefly, acknowledged the score, but realised it changed exactly nothing.

“We’ll be talking about that one for a while,” said Richie.

But we won’t.

Filipe Toledo cried in celebration when he won. He cried in his post-heat presser. He cried when he was given a trophy that looked like an alien helmet.

This is Toledo’s passion and skill and career. I admire him for his dedication and effort, and for connecting to his present. He seems like a genuine person.

But none of it compares to whatever you are doing right now in your space. Your little kernel of the present.

Your stories hold the world together and pull it apart.

Nourish that. Ignore pro surfing. It is ignorant and empty.

It is flaccid, occasionally fitful entertainment, and that is all it ever is or will be.

Unless, of course, Teahupo’o pumps.

Medina, Florence and Robinson are positions six, seven and eight on the rankings, respectively. There are only two spots left in the Final Five.

How do they FEEL?

At the End Of The Road, they must turn to the Spirit Of The Depths to find out.


"I understand that there are different cultures but in the end we all feel pain and we all feel love."

World number three Griffin Colapinto described as the “Gandhi of surfing” becomes first American surfer to qualify for 2024 Olympic Games!

“We are humans that have been born into a world run by the overthinking mind and the feeling of separation.”

The San Clemente surfer Griffin Colapinto, who helped cool heads following the furore from Brazilian surf fans after he won the Surf Ranch Pro in May, has been granted the first seat on the US Olympic bus to the 2024 Games. 

Amid death threats and promises of retribution on the blood-soaked sands of Saquarema, Brazil, Griffin had penned an open letter to the surfing community, a missive that had some calling him the “Gandhi of surfing.”

 

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“We are all human beings! We are all one. Each person seems to have something difficult that is happening in their life. Some times lashing out on others can stem from something deeper that we have no idea about. Raise your hand if you are guilty 🖐️ I know I have been before. And that’s okay, we are humans that have been born into a world run by the overthinking mind and the feeling of separation. But deep down there is a love that understands we are all one. I understand that there are different cultures but in the end we all feel pain and we all feel love. There are so many different perspectives and points of view out there. Who’s to say who’s right and who’s wrong. We grow up in different circumstances that shape our perspectives. Life really doesn’t make sense sometimes, but surely it’s more fun that way. Because now we have the unexpected. The element of surprise. There seems to be some growing pains in our surf community right now. But guess what? We are growing! Much love to everyone that is passionate about the sport of surfing. Without the passion, there would be no growth. Thank you!”

As you know, Griffin’s calm and skill in putting out fires was forged in the heat of battle.

You’ll remember after his El Sal win over Filipe Toledo in 2022, Brazilian surf fans went nuts, threatening protests, even death, claiming the fix was in for the gringo, a white conspiracy and so on, the hashtag, #worldshameleague a viral hit.

Even Filipe Toledo’s daddy got into the mix, “We really hope that something will be done, and that this will change, as it is becoming unbearable to see and hear the things we are hearing. during the events, I am embarrassed for the others.”

For further context read, Brazilian surf fans apoplectic following Californian Griffin Colapinto’s “shock” win over world title favourite Filipe Toledo, “World Shame League! This event was a joke!” and Latin surf fans vow to create chaos at next World Tour event in Brazil following Filipe Toledos controversial loss to Californian in El Salvador, “The biggest protest in history in Saquarema! Bring banners, balloons, planes, boo all the time! Make them leave due to emotional stress!”)

The world number three turns who twenty-five in one week, is a brave man. Like Mahatma Gandhi, he has the courage to believe that human society can be built only on moral principles and that no lesser means will prevail. 

“Wow, how things can flip-flop just like that. I was so depressed yesterday,” Colapinto said when his inclusion was announced. “Only thing left is to win the title.

He’s also a gun at Teahupoo, unlike Brazil’s, likely, number one surfer, Filipe Toledo.

As one WSL follower wrote: “Can I just say what everyone is thinking. Why can’t every country just choose their best left hand barrel riders to represent their country? Imagine that Brazil who has Joao, Gabby, Italo, Yago, even Ciao that could win it has to go with Toledo because he does well in small rights and that has him winning the Title and an automatic pick for Brazil. With that said Griff is still a solid pick for USA but imagine JJF and Slater not getting the call up.”

Also qualified is the number two ranked Australian surfer Ethan Ewing.