"Y'see this here? This is the sorta day only mad dogs and fools or Lewis Hamilton would attempt to ride." | Photo: Surf Channel Television Network

Racing car superstar Lewis Hamilton almost dies on “25-foot” wave at Pipeline after dare from Kelly Slater!

"This thing was massive, a huge tunnel, and I could see Kelly coming right down it in front of me."

The last time we saw the world’s greatest racing car driver and keen surfer Lewis Hamilton on these pages he was embroiled in a racism row with former FI champ Nelson Piquet after the latter described the former using an epithet outlawed to whites and to escape the noise had fled to Malibu.

With trademark sun-kissed braids pulled into a sensible bun, Hamilton was subsequently filmed polishing off a wave with a cool “what-me-worry” style.

“The guy clearly knows what he’s doing … propping himself up on the board and maintaining his balance throughout the run (no porpoising here, thankfully),” wrote TMZ Sports.

Lou’s surf bona fides have long been documented. A regular at the WSL’s Surf Ranch, he has ridden the Melbourne tank and in 2021 posted a moving tribute to Kelly Slater on his Instagram account.

“He probably doesn’t know this but Kelly changed my life for the better. I want you all to know how great of a human being this man is. I am forever grateful for the time you have given me, for the insight and your passion for the waves. Thank you @kellyslater! Can’t wait until we can hit the waves again (praying hands emoji).”

It’s a perilous relationship and reminiscent of Sean “Poopies” McInerny and Jamie O’Brien’s dangerous friendship, the master and commander of the ocean taunting his fall guy into waters far out of his depth.

In fact, Hamilton says he nearly died at “25-foot” Pipeline following a dare from Slater. 

In an interview with the Robb Report Hamilton lays bare the shocking event.

“When someone says ‘you can’t climb that tree,’ I’ll climb it, even if I’ll almost certainly fall out of it.” As if to prove the point, he tells a story about a near-death experience a couple of years ago when he paddled out to Hawaii’s notorious Banzai Pipeline, an iconic surf break, with surfing legend Kelly Slater. “Kelly was like, ‘there’s no way you’re going out there,’” Hamilton says, his eyes sparkling at the memory of the 25-foot wave. “And I was like, ‘Kelly, I’m going out.’”

He paddled to the edge of the wave. “This thing was massive, a huge tunnel, and I could see Kelly coming right down it in front of me,” he continues. “And I just had to make sure I didn’t get sucked in. So I dived down and grabbed the reef and prayed. I could hear the thing land behind me, like a bomb going off. My board got ripped off and snapped in half. I was very close to the end. But that excites me for some reason.”

Couple of takeaways.

You think Lou told the reporter the waves were twenty-five feet or was that an embellishment or presumption of the writer? If he did say it was twenty-five foot, what was the actual size?

Did Lou really grip the famous Pipeline reef and pray?

And how close to the end? Really close or vaguely adjacent?

BIPOC surfing icon Selema Masekela is a tribune for Black surfers, “I’m the son of a South African political exile and a Haitian immigrant. Surfing wasn’t supposed to happen to me”

"If I’d listened to the people who said surfing wasn’t for me due to the melanin my skin possesses, I’d have a different existence."

I doubt if there’s one person who’s ever met Selema Masekela, apart from Chas and Circe and I’m not exactly sure what happened there, some sorta heated legal poison although I don’t dare ask, who doesn’t walk away firmly under his spell. 

Let’s take a snapshot of the first time I met the extreme sports identity. It was 2017 and, along with Chas, I was visiting the Kelly Slater Surf Ranch in Lemoore, California at the invitation of the WSL’s Dave Prodan.

Occupying one of the bench seats in the Surf Ranch’s heated jacuzzi aprés after our allotted waves was Sal, he was Sal back then, and just as I was about to enter the swirling maelstrom, heated to a pleasing one hundred degrees and offering needed respite from the winter cold and a possible cure for a dreadful hangover, his telephone rang. 

Sal asked me to rummage through his colourful outfit which was bundled on a barrel, enough clothes to suggest, or was I hoping, he was nude in the tank, and to pick it up.

It was Kelly Slater. 

“Answer it,” he commanded, which I did. Kelly remained silent when he heard my voice, an early portent of the blood feud that would simmer for the following six years. 

After a howl of laughter and some chortling Sal hung up. Despite an expanded adiposity, he gobbled protein bar after protein bar, informing me of the health-giving properties of the foil-wrapped chocolate chip treats.

Stories flowed like a river of honey and I left, like everyone who spun in his orbit that day, a fan for life.


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A post shared by Selema Masekela (@selema)

I didn’t heard from Sal again, only knew in passing that he’d transitioned to  Selema, but today I saw that he had turned a ripe old fifty-two and to mark the occasion had written movingly of his life as a surfer.

Picture number one was taken 35 years ago by my Mom @b2bharmony. Picture number two was taken last week by @patstacyfilm. Today, August 28th, is my 52nd Birthday. The 17 year old in the first slide had no idea where the board under his arm would take him. All he knew was that the moment he stood up for five seconds on that first wave at Cherry Street in Carlsbad, California 1988, his life was changed forever. Addiction ensued.

Since that day, a relentless pursuit of ‘the feeling’ has taken me beyond my wildest dreams and transported me to oceans and seas across the planet. It’s given me deep, meaningful, life long friendships with some truly magnificent human beings and helped me create and evolve a storytelling career I continue to enjoy now more than ever.

On paper, none of this was supposed to happen. I’m from the St. Marks Apartments in Staten Island, NY with a brief cameo in Attleboro, Massachusetts. I’m the son of a South African political exile and a Haitian immigrant. Surfing wasn’t supposed to happen to me but it did. If I’d listened to the people who said surfing wasn’t for me due to the amount of melanin my skin possesses, I’d have an entirely different existence.

There is no box other than the one society works overtime to put you in. Get weird, try some shit that’s not supposed to be for you and see what happens. Oh, and while you’re at it… JOYFULLY TAKE UP ALL THE SPACE YOU CAN.

Ain’t that the truth!

Readers, contribute your Sal stories below. Chas, not you.

Cheap shirts and culprit (insert). Photo: Pauly_Matt_War-shore (I think).
Cheap shirts and culprit (insert). Photo: Pauly_Matt_War-shore (I think).

Boardriders new owner Authentic Brands Group wastes no time flooding Costco with “extremely uncool” Billabong and RVCA tees

And a quick question for your consideration.

BeachGrit principal Derek Rielly, just yesterday, covered the renting out of Billabong’s once-proud and palatial Gold Coast offices, also touching briefly upon big box retailers receiving dump truck loads of Billabong and RVCA t-shirts which are being sold for, basically, free.

$13.99, in fact, more than the World Surf League.

Authentic Brands Group, which almost owns Billabong, RVCA, Quiksilver, Volcom (sale finalized on August 31), wasting zero time in slashing any idea of “core.”

The issue, I suppose, is do you care?

Do those old flushes of excitement when donning a stylized wave or, for our younger brothers and sister, RVCA’s fighting poom poom shorts, feel whorish now? An embarrassment that will be taken to the grave? Or, as a price point shopper, are you excited to get your hands a new fall/spring wardrobe for pennies on the dollar?

In your opinion, is surf culture alive, just thriving in different soil, dying or dead?

If dead, who killed?

Let’s name names.

Redneck Rivierans await greatness.
Redneck Rivierans await greatness.

“Redneck Riviera” surfers let out rebel yell as new hurricane Idalia promises to turn gulf stretch into “Confederate Teahupo’o!”


Yesterday, Florida turned its eyes to Southern California for advice on how to prepare for a powerful hurricane named Franklin that had formed in the Atlantic. Should they be scared? Board up their windows? Horde? Think about possibly surfing? Great advice poured in from the Golden State, which survived its own hurricane just last week.

Today, an even greater force is whipping up in the gulf and promising to send monster waves toward the “Redneck Riviera” and neighboring Alabama turning the usually docile shore into that place of broken skulls.

A Confederate Teahupo’o.

The storm, which is quickly strengthening off of Cuba and tracking directly toward Horseshoe Beach, is fierce.

“This is going to be a major impact,” Florida’s governor Ron DeSanctimonius stated in a quickly-organized press conference. “You need to be executing your plan now. This storm is expected to hit sometime early Wednesday.”

Along with windy wind and rainy rain, though, an expected wild storm surge will create monster waves.

“Storm surge can be life threatening at just two to three feet,” Florida Division of Emergency Management Director Kevin Guthrie told CNN. “Some of these areas are going to experience storm surge well over seven foot. Storm surge is often the greatest threat to life and property from a hurricane. It happens quickly and can endanger you, your family and your home.”

Surfline, ignoring panic, is calling Pensacola a good bet on Wednesday, claiming potential 10-foot waves.

“Good confidence on Idalia now and expecting a solid shot of SSE swell for the region with N winds setting up good conditions. This is the day so would get wet. Surf peaking AM hours with smaller swell/surf toward end of the day.”

Do you think Kelly Slater might swing in for a rare session, mixing it up with locals in his home state, maybe even politely declining to drop in?

What about current world surfing champion Filipe Toledo?

That was a trick question.

End of Billabong’s once mighty surf empire official as massive Gold Coast headquarters shuttered and offered for rent!

Tumbleweeds blow through 1 Billabong Place, Burleigh Heads, former ground zero of the world's biggest surf co.

It was a bleak yuletide last year when Billabong, part of a brace of surf companies then owned by Oaktree, and including Quiksilver and RCVA, sacked sixty employees from its Burleigh Heads HQ. 

The mass layoffs were designed to streamline the biz on paper, sharpen the bottom line.

“I am confident that these changes will set us on the path to achieving our goals and creating a more agile company suited to adapt to the evolving environment,” said Boardriders CEO Arne Arens in a press release, stating the very obvious. Kill the soldiers, fill in the trenches and watch your payroll bill vanish.

Industry insiders told The Gold Coast Bulletin, the sacking were “brutal especially just before Christmas. No one knew who was going to lose their jobs or keep them.”

Now, Billabong’s once-iconic eight acre compound, with parking for 466 cars, a two-storey stand-along retail store, all amid landscaped gardens and on its own little road, is being offered to rent. 

Need space for your burgeoning t-shirt biz? Here’s the sell.

The offering comprises:

• An impressive 2 level standalone retail/showroom fronting Billabong Place; and

• A 2 level office/warehouse building serviced via 2 driveway entries off Billabong Place and capturing around 14,937sqm of GLA across office, warehouse and retail/showroom and ancillary uses.

• Onsite café with outdoor breakout area available to building occupants and their visitors

Office Component:

The main building includes air-conditioned office space over 2 levels serviced via stairs and lift. The standard of office fitout is to a high level with the overall design reflective of the creative nature of the existing business with a blend of floor, ceiling and wall finishes reflecting different zones of the business, substantial breakout and meeting spaces for collaborative working, high ceilings and plenty of natural light. The office space is sub-dividable to suit larger users from 800sqm plus.

Warehouse Component:

The warehouse is 5,456sqm with 560sqm of mezzanine air-conditioned office, kitchen/breakout space, high clearance and loading docks. The access via 2 driveway points enables access for larger vehicles.

At its peak, Billabong was valued at five billion Australian dollars, with its marquee riders all on multi-million dollar salaries, but eventually sold for $390 mill or one dollar a share. A good sponno at Billys now is twenty grand and a small plastic zip-lock bag with stickers of a stylised wave.

Good news for consumers, howevs, as tees are now being schlepped at discount retailers for $13.99 instead of, what, fifty, sixty bucks?