In wild piece of geopolitical theater, 11th best surfer in world Connor O’Leary defects from Australia to Japan

"I’m choosing to represent my family's heritage, and my cultural background."

Lots happening, right now, on the word stage. Yevgeny Prigozhin’s presumed death in Russia opened multiple questions. Who will lead his Wagner Group moving forward and will the fiercely loyal fighters protest or fall in line under reported new commander Anton “Lotus” Yelizorv? China’s economic growth has slowed down leading to an implosion of its real estate markets. Is there a possible upside for the west? The Spanish soccer federation’s chief, Luis Rubiales, has been suspended for kissing star Jenni Hermoso after La Roja took out the women’s World Cup. Will he argue that, as a Spaniard, kissing whatever, whenever is a national right? And that Jenni’s last name is beautiful?

Getting most attention, though, is the shock defection of the world’s current 11th best surfer, Connor O’Leary, from Australia to Japan.

The 29-year-old goofy footer announced the move on Instagram, writing:

I‘m excited to announce that in 2024 I will be representing Japan on the WSL World Tour.

I will also seek representation for Japan at the Paris 2024 Olympics by competing in the next ISA World Surfing Games.
After much reflection and consideration I am choosing Japan. I’m choosing to represent my family’s heritage, and my cultural background.

The decision was made internally back in October 2022 and it has been a challenging process to complete the transfer of nations.

I am happy it is final and i can officially share it with you all.

It feels right so Lets go!!

Excited for what’s to come.

Kanoa Igarashi, who defected from Huntington Beach, California to Japan nearly four years ago and won silver for the Land of the Rising Sun in the 2020 Olympics did not react though many surf luminaries did.

Italy’s Leo Fioravanti wrote, “Yes bro, great decision.”

Indonesia’s Rio Waida added, “Yesssss Connor san!”

Australia’s Jackson Baker swore, “Fucken oath bruva,” in unintelligible English, likely very angry about the betrayal.

The 2024 Olympics, as you know, will be held in the very scary waves of Teahupo’o on Tahiti. As O’Leary is currently ranked above Igarashi, does this mean he has now qualified and Igarashi has not?

Not that I care.

I’m mostly sad, I suppose, that defections aren’t fun like they used to be. The great Russian ballet dancer Rudolf Nureyev, for example, made a dramatic splash when he fled his KGB handlers while in Paris and ran into the arms of the French at Charles de Gaulle. Going on Instagram and pledging new allegiance such a snooze.

Three-time champ Mick Fanning, the most phenomenal surfer ever to come out of Tweed Heads, and Ethan Ewing at last year's Grand Final.

Ethan Ewing continues miracle recovery from spinal injury as sources say Australian driven by desire to keep Gabriel Medina from taking Finals Day slot

Meanwhile, world champ Toledo walks around San Clemente thrusting his jaw out like a tanned Mussolini.

The Australian world number three Ethan Ewing, a man with two busted vertebrate from a Teahupoo wipeout a couple weeks back and a talent so infernal Brazilians want to kill him, is reportedly training like hell in the gymnasium to snatch an unlikely world title at Lowers in September.

The baby-faced twenty four year old with an ass both women and men describe as “overwhelming” has surfed six times since the injury and is busy preparing his quiver of Darren Handley surfboards for the one-day surf-off that’ll run some time between September eight and sixteen at San Clemente’s Lower Trestles.


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The favourite to win the contest is the small-wave wizard and reigning world champion Filipe Toledo, who is fully aware of the glory that surrounds him and who walks around San Clemente thrusting his jaw out like a tanned Mussolini.

Not everyone is a fan of his reign, howevs.

From last year’s report by JP Currie,

Toledo’s maiden title was a predictable outcome you’d have been foolish to bet against. Luckily I didn’t in the end.

Do you accept the brittle Brazilian as your champion? His skills are not in doubt, of course. In certain conditions he’s unparalleled. His technical mastery of a surfboard is second to none.

His commitment is not so certain.

Call me old-fashioned, but I feel that our world champion should be a surfer we believe has the capacity to win at any stop on Tour. Filipe Toledo is not that surfer, and yet here we are.

I’ve no wish to belabour this point. Toledo’s history and sub-par performances at some of the world’s most iconic waves are well documented by now, to the point that it’s become trite to point it out. If he hasn’t progressed, that’s on him.

The title may not be served to Toledo on an d’oeuvres platter as per last year, as judges continue to shift from rewarding frenetic but unpretty airs to melting over smooth, highly technical combos, the domain of Colapinto and Ewing.

And Ewing, whose smile grows cold when talk turns to Medina taking his spot at Lowers despite the WSL hosing down the suggestion and Medina himself treating his troupe of handsome guy-pals to a lavish Bora Bora vacay, is reportedly at eighty percent fitness.

He is, also, extremely keen to mop up the blood from last year.

Again, from JP Currie,

Trestles was always going to be a venue that punished Ethan and Jack, two men raised on a steady diet of real waves. Their surfing has been honed by power and consequence. To see them stunted by Californian dribble fizzling over cobblestones felt a bit like trapping their nature, squeezing it into some environment in which it didn’t belong.

Ewing was an albatross in an aviary, wings clipped and saddened. To see him force his back foot through turns on weak sections was not only demoralising but borderline offensive.

Getting excited? Are you ready yet to admit the disappeared CEO created a classic?

A lot going on (pictured). Photo: Places
A lot going on (pictured). Photo: Places

Wrestle bear Hulk Hogan slips shock confession to podcast giant Joe Rogan that he wishes he’d been born surf god Laird Hamilton

Classic dysmorphia.

I’ll admit to being mostly angry at Terry Gene Bollea for much of the last decade. The man more popularly known as Hulk Hogan was an apple of my childhood eye. The WWF had become a thing during my childhood years and while the pageantry of big-time wrestling didn’t really capture my imagination, the toys were pretty cool. Our JP Currie would be pleased to know “Rowdy” Roddy Piper was my favorite, in his Scottish kilt, but Hogan was way up there.

Until, that is, he got caught in an affair, the naughty tape capturing the delicate dance published by Gawker. Well, Hogan sued, Gawker refused to bend over, as it were, and Peter Thiel, a right leaning homosexual who was outed as such by the aforementioned Gawker, paid $10 mil to fight Hogan’s battle, essentially, bankrupting the culturally important website out of spite.

The truth, in both cases, setting no one free.

In any case, Hogan is in the news again after appearing on the extremely popular Joe Rogan podcast and telling the host that he had been born in the wrong body.

According to an eagle-ear’d listener, and Sid Abruzzi fan, which means he is above reproach:

If you listen to Joe Rogan’s latest podcast featuring none other than Hulk Hogan, right around the 45 minute mark they start talking about Laird’s Superfood. Hulk, wearing a skin tight John 3:16 t- shirt, then states in a beautiful, deep bass, American voice:

“This is really gonna sound weird to say, cos I’ve never admitted this in front of anybody, but I’ve wanted to be him. When I saw him riding those big waves bro, that big, tall blonde guy that was built like crazy, I said, man I wish I could’ve been him instead of me.”

Seems the wrestling superstar would do anything to trade his silken, blonde Chinese hair and hotdog skin to look more like our Adonis. They then proceed to talk about big waves and sharks and Hulk’s surf experience for a little bit.

I get it, the wanting to be Laird, but I’m still mad at Hogan for the Gawker business.

Well, David Lee Scales and I also have a podcast. Though not nearly as famous as Rogan’s, it is still considered “sometimes ok.” On today’s episode we discussed rage and the decline in decorum and good manners. A quality listen if you happen to be over 70.


Russell (left) and what might have been. Photo: Instagram
Russell (left) and what might have been. Photo: Instagram

Horrific spate of near-fatal celebrity surf accidents continues as Formula 1 hunk George Russell injures himself riding “the devil’s cleaver”

More thoughts. More prayers.

Of all the many things to wake up worrying about including, but not limited to, inflation, war, civil unrest, pandemics, climate change, fentanyl, the top of the list is certainly the possibility that a celebrity, or notable figure, will become permanently disfigured, or dead, whilst trying an e-foil board.

Two short months ago, thoughts and prayers poured in for DJ Khaled as the beloved plus-sized musical artist suffered a debilitating injury that required a massage.

Last week, I read about another famous person who also tumbled off a foil but can’t remember who it was now.

And today we have learned that British Formula 1 hunk George Russell has bruised himself while learning to e-foil on his two-week vacation.

Appearing to be on the Mediterranean with his girlfriend, Carmen Montero Mundt, grainy footage shows Russell gliding above the turquoise waters but doom lurked below.

The devil’s cleaver.

“It was good to branch out and do these things,” he said. “Historically I never wanted to do other sports, especially in-season, in case of injury. But I felt like I wanted to try something new, and keep my sense alive. A few injuries along the way! But all recovered now. When you fall off a foil board…”

Formula 1 fans left worrying greatly by the dangling ellipses.

When you fall off a foil board, what?

Your leg gets severed?

You die?

Thankfully, the Mercedes driver finished with, “There are a lot of videos which I didn’t post, falling off big-time! I really enjoyed it. For a lot of us, when you’re so focused throughout the year, to have two full weeks of doing nothing, you get a bit bored after a bit of time. To have an activity, it was fulfilling to make progress, and to not be falling off by the first days.”


The Formula 1 season, in any case, gets underway this weekend with the Dutch Grand Prix.

Will you be watching?

Glamorous Australian dubbed “sexiest surfer alive” almost severs nipple in horror Indonesian wipeout

"Getting the nose of my board in the left side of my chest leaving me with a gaping hole for the rest of the trip."

The last time Soli Bailey came onto my radar, or at least my night thoughts, was several years ago when a commission came in from a Chinese magazine to write a piece about surfing, with Soli as its centrepiece. 

Although I won’t reprint it here, it is the most overblown story I’ve ever written, and that’s saying something, as you know. 

An excerpt. 

“It’s men like Soli who hold the new surfing, which is neither dangerous nor paltry, neither exclusive nor overblown, in his palm, watching the light, the eternal light of a gift from the gods, dance over his fingertips.” 

The editor, a handsome homosexual in his early thirties, asked me out, hardly surprising given the flowery words I’d submitted, and spoke in graphic terms of what he would do to the Byron Bay maestro and Pipeline Pro winner if he was given carte blanche. 


Bailey was in Indonesia recently and in between riding six-foot Green Bush almost severed his hirsute areola following a wipeout.

“Rolllercoaster of a trip recently…couple of crazy freight trains on day two which led to a unlucky injury, getting the nose of my board in the left side of my chest leaving me with a gaping hole for the rest of the trip but the last day was too good not to get amongst it!”

Many quips in the comments, “off your tits”, “serious nipple rash”, “free the nip” and so on.

Thoughts and prayers as the Americans say.


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