We surfers, we riders of the sea, are not good for much. Selfish, generally poor at time management, forever crafting plans to sneak away from family functions in order to smack a little lip. BUT there are certain times, certain places, where our expertise is absolutely essential. Navigating airline check-in counter bag weighing machines, for instance, or knowing how to properly deal with painful jellyfish stings.
And thus we have Lindsey Vonn turning her eyes, welling up with tears, in our direction, begging for our help.
Taking to Instagram, the one-time all-time leader in World Cup race victories shared:
“What started off as a great day ended in a giant jellyfish sting/bite… I literally rode over it as I was getting up on the wake surf board. thanks to everyone who gave advice on remedies. Think it’s gonna leave a mark for a while … at least I caught some waves before!”
It was, of course, the surfers in her feed who gave advice on remedies.
The most popular?
Or them telling her she was “hot AF.”
But how do you deal with the painful barbs of the mean ol’ jellyfish?
Do you soak in a nice hot tub, drinking a glass of chilled rosé or… something else?
“It’s better to burn all weekend like a flare than fizzle like a damp sparkler in a crumbling, onshore rivermouth.”
One of my odder compulsions, apart from checking Facebook marketplace every thirty minutes for Italian furniture being sold by deceased states or first editions of Golda Meir’s My Life, is reading historical quotes, letters between authors and reportage from great events years after the fact.
So, I figured, we’ve been around nine years, there’s been a fine run of writers above and below the line, let’s remember the 50 best quotes in surfing, as seen through the eyes of BeachGrit.
(Twenty-five today, twenty-five tomoz.)
“I’d be mad too if I was James Hewitt’s unacknowledged, illegitimate kid, got essentially kidnapped and held hostage by the royal family, was forced to pretend that boring, square Prince Charles was my dad all those years, then they cut off my trust fund, and disapproved of my hot, American wife cause it didn’t fit into their ongoing inbreeding program.” Kelly Slater feels Prince Harry’s pain.
“He is afraid of hitting the coral … It’s something that stays in his head.” Ricardo Toledo on two-time world champ son Filipe’s fear of Teahupoo.
“Sorry, Gray, I think you wanting suck my dick! Sorry but will not give. I am well settled sexually, and besides, my wife will you!! Fuck yourself…” Ricardo Toledo, again, this time in an online blood feud with big-wave surfer Alex Grey, words posted along with a photo of himself in a bikini brief.
“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.” JP Currie on Filipe Toledo’s win in El Salvador, 2023.
“If you keep surfing the same beachbreak with the same fuckwits and the same board (and I admit I am coming at this from a very Sydney perspective; your local might not even be a beach), you’re bound to be tempted to give up surfing.” JP Currie understands the rise in quit-lit all too well.
“It’s better to burn all weekend like a flare than fizzle like a damp sparkler in a crumbling, onshore rivermouth.”JP Currie
“Surfing ain’t rebellion from anything, least of all the trappings of the post-modern capitalist surveillance state. Still, it remains a far better addiction to grow old with. The best ever.” Steve “Longtom” Shearer ain’t down with quit-lit and gonna surf till he dies.
“I can feel the pressure wave on my legs. White shark does a slow circle around me. I can see it the whole time in the crystal clear water. Comes in nice and slow right underneath me and rolls over. The big pectoral fins look like a plane, the white belly almost gleams in the sun against the dark rocks. We eyeball each other.” Steve “Longtom” Shearer meets a Great White at Lennox Head.
“There is no fear, no frozen feelings, no panic. Just a profound moment of inter-species communication across the gulf of millions of years of evolution. In that black eye I can already see it has decided I am not prey.” Steve “Longtom” Shearer meets a Great White at Lennox Head.
“You just like to drop in but when someone returns the favor you are the biggest whining bitch in the world then after you are done whining you go call the police!!! Is that what you (t)each as a life coach, who to be a whining bitch go back to Africa Kook!” Christian Fletcher on surfing hall-of-famer Shaun Tomson.
“Fuck the WSL” NoaDeane.
“The guy has been wearing a blue belt for years in pics and always made excuses when I would call him on it! If he wants his belt , tell him to go sign up and put in the work like everybody else.” Jiujitsu black belt and three-time world longboarding champ Joel Tudor on Kelly Slater posing with a blue belt, the second in the five-belt BJJ grading system.
“So that’s it, that’s a wrap, I’m hanging up my Mavz Gunz and never going to paddle out again. I don’t want my last day to be an injury, because I feel too old, or I am bitter at the crowds. It’s because I am 50 years old (old af) and the timing is perfect. The day was perfect, the vibe was perfect, and my time to kick out…..perfect.” Ken “Skindog” Collins quits surfing Mavericks.
“In an era where Australia is being subjected to incredible levels of suppression of free speech and medical choice Kelly Slater should be applauded for taking a public stand for use of alternative treatments and opinions that have always been our prerogatives as Australians.” Testosterone-squirting big-wave icon Ian “Kanga” Cairns.
“The apex predator of the patriarchy is white men.” Lucy Small, longboarder and activist.
There’s a reason that Surfer has not been in politics and that’s because surfing is a place where we can retreat from name calling and shit-fuckery over politics, race, gender, religion etc you just shat where you eat. Surfing is about a great family where all that bullshit doesn’t matter. It’s one of the last places where we collectively agree about one thing: are the waves great.” Ian “Kanga” Cairns.
“(I’m) a direct recipient of sexism, homophobia and inequality.” Two-time world champ Tyler Wright.
“I’m rebuilding a relationship with surfing because of the drastic and extreme circumstances that I was raised in.” Two-time world champ Tyler Wright.
“I’m the only queer person on tour, so my wife is the only other queer person I know most of the time. I love everyone around me but she makes such a difference in a way only she really can.” Two-time world champ Tyler Wright.
“I’ve surfed in sharky areas my whole life, I actually love that feeling of going into the wilderness where it’s dangerous. I just don’t want my kids to get eaten.” Ian “Kanga” Cairns.
“I have a huge THANK YOU to Dirk Ziff for supporting pro surfing, but, ethically, I don’t believe in any one person being the owner of the sport.” Ian “Kanga” Cairns.
“No other place on earth is so falsifiably mytho-poetically rhapsodized over by post-modern knowledge workers.” Steve “Longtom” Shearer on Byron Bay.
“It’s a monument to greed wearing a spiritual cloak. A glittering dream metastasized into a malignant nightmare. The bastard spawn of unhinged neoliberalism and grinning hippy capitalists running riot in an orgy of aimless consumption in the spiritual supermarket. Ayn Rand on a mid-length.” Steve “Longtom” Shearer on Byron Bay.
“This thing was massive, a huge tunnel, and I could see Kelly coming right down it in front of me… 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.” Racing car driver Lewis Hamilton confronts death on a wave he describes as 25 feet.
“Take your shirt off.” Former WSL CEO Erik Logan to world champ Filipe Toledo.
Jeffreys Bay cancellation by World Surf League all but certain as South African media reports its “potentially criminal” demise
"It seems that El Salvador will be the replacement..."
Two days ago, the surf world was shocked when a rumor, or rumour, leaked that the “global home of professional surfing,” or World Surf League, was set to cancel the Jeffrey’s Bay stop after the event became “financially unviable.” Per Derek Rielly’s crack reporting:
It ain’t cheap to run a CT surfing contest. For the construction, the broadcast, for Smoking Joe Turpel to mouth inanities for a week straight, it’s gonna be three mill, and then some.
The publishing heir Ziff, who’s worth around six billion, threw twenty-five mill straight into the pro surfing hole and by 2016, according a 2017 lawsuit filed by a minority owner of the WSL, had spent fifty mill, although this did include Slater’s Lemoore pool, the WSL’s one glittering investment.
Rumours of the WSL being shopped around for sale with at ticket price of 150 million remain strong, however, including interest from oil-rich Arab states where the first Slater pool outside of Lemoore is being built.
Still, a smart man ain’t gonna throw good money after bad and, now, one of the most popular events on the ten-event tour schedule, the Jeffreys Bay Open, is on the cutting block according to sources who say the blue-chip contest is “financially unviable.”
Or, in shorthand, no government body in South Africa is prepared to throw millions into a two-week contest that delivers a short-lived boost to the local economy.
Now, according to the South African surf site Wavescape, the sad business is all but confirmed. According to the piece “J-Bay Cancelled:”
Sources close to the matter say that the J-Bay leg of the CT had a significant shortfall in 2023, and that the total income locked down for 2024 meant a similar loss next year, and time – and patience – has run out. This comes not for want of trying to secure the event’s future.
“In a country like Australia, state governments are falling over themselves to host more WSL events in an already congested lineup of events in Australia because they appreciate what this does to the local economy, with a huge economic injection when thousands of local, state and overseas visitors come to a town for 10 days.”
“It seems that El Salvador will be the replacement,” the source said, adding that it was a cruel irony that here in South Africa, there was little broader political appreciation of what it meant to host a global sport event of this magnitude, of being one of 11 high profile stops on a global tour not dissimilar to Formula 1 in some respects, especially considering things beyond the hard cash element. Things like prestige, gravitas, and a platform for local regions to showcase themselves to the world.
I’d argue that the billionaire-owned World Surf League should actually do South Africa a solid and pay for the honor of hosting an event at J-Bay, not the other way around.
Though in any case, how do you like them apples?
While I’m certain the sentiment inside the World Surf League is, “Quit your whining you degenerate ingrates,” the disappearance of one of the best waves in the world and its permanent replacement by El Salvador won’t exactly be a ratings or reputation boon. Possibly even potentially criminal with much distress and purposeful angst being caused.
As below average waves now make up the vast majority of the tour, will viewers stick around?
Further rumors that the World Surf League is set on hosting each and every finals day from here on out at Lower Trestles shreds some of the last bits of dignity though, if other rumors are true, none of it matters. Namely, the aforementioned of the whole shooting match being shopped to sheiks who would move the competitions to Qatari pools and pay enough for competitors to shut their mealy mouths.
Filipe Toledo easily surpassing Kelly Slater’s heretofore untouchable 11 titles.
Time as ripe as ever for a “rebel tour.”
Or is professional competitive surfing finally and officially dead?
Also, and last question here, will the vanishing of a true surfing icon (J-Bay) be too much for Joe Turpel, Strider Waz, Pete Mel etc. to take? They are all true surfers to the very core and I’d imagine it’d be difficult not to at least publicly mourn the world’s greatest right hander.
Or have they all sold soul entirely?
Australia, Brazil, USA put on notice as Great Britain signals ambition to become “great power in international surfing!”
The 2024 Olympic Games, which will be hosted in Paris, are less than a year away, now, and excitement should be bubbling for you and yours. Of course the standard track and field, swimming, equestrian dressage events always thrill, our surfing will be making a return, being held all the way across the world in French Polynesia and, more specifically, Teahupo’o.
The Place of Broken Skulls.
Most of the teams are already set, two men and two women from each qualifying country, via the World Surf League though who might win gold, silver and bronze is still entirely up in the air.
The only certainty is that the sitting WSL champion, Brazil’s Filipe Toledo, will bow out early if there is any size. Other than that, Brazil’s other male surfer Joao Chianca, the USA’s Griffin Colapinto or John John Florence, Australia’s Ethan Ewing or Jack Robinson are all odds on favorites.
Except not so fast.
In a bold move, GB Surfing, the “non-governmental organisation dedicated to developing exceptional British surfing talent,” has redesigned its logo to “create a new brand identity aligned with its ambition to become a great power in international surfing.”
Age of empire.
GB Surfing turned to FORM Brands Studio in order to find the perfect look/feel. “We surf ourselves,” co-founder and creative director Alex Andlaw told Creative Boom. “So we loved the idea of getting the perfect wave carved into the logo. We looked at the shapes of breaks, cutbacks and tunnels of waves to find inspiration: every line, curl and curve was carefully considered to create the final design.”
The results are striking. Simple yet identifiable. British red and blue featured. Eye catching and “atmospheric.”
Not leaving the impression of having been done by a bored and angry four-year-old like the World Surf League’s logo.
Will the GB Surfing redesign be enough to bring a medal home to Scotland?
The smart money says “Filipe Toledo will be scared.”
A terminally-ill surfer reflects on his last-ever surf
(Editor’s note: It’s been two-and-a-half years since Dr Sean Mitchell aka the below-the-line shark and contributor Offrocker died of colon cancer aged thirty-six. Although I never met him in person, shook his hand, examined his face or made a judgement of his fashion choices, I think about Sean frequently. I think about the brevity and chaos of life, of the importance of loving while you can, of family, kindness, health and maintaining a brave optimism in the face of it all. I don’t think it’s possible to read his words enough. The story below was written, from memory, around eighteen months before he died. And, yeah, death comes to us all, but this brother was taken from us far too early.)
It’s three am and I can’t sleep.
I have had a pretty heavy fortnight, diagnosed out of the blue with metastatic colon cancer at the age of thirty-five. It’s all through my pelvis, and I have secondaries in the liver.
I’m currently lying in a hospital bed awaiting my second operation in ten days, this one to fix complications of the first. What I would give to eat solid food, and sleep in my own bed.
I have been probed, scanned, pumped with radioactive dye, and spoken to three specialists in five days. My odds would not tempt even our most inveterate gamblers. The word “inoperable” is bouncing around my head.
So why, at this time, do I even care enough to write an article for the Grit degenerates?
Because I learned something invaluable on my last surf that I want to share with the quitters. An ethic you won’t find espoused in the sanitised corpo-surf culture, an attitude you won’t find in the hearts of those that wade around in the shorebreak between the flags.
And that’s the reality that no-one gives a fuck in the lineup. I got backpaddled by smiling hipsters on twins. I got dropped in on by murfers on logs. I got shoulder hopped by aggressive entitled adolescents unaware that their post-grom transition is complete and they are now legitimately bottom of the foodchain, no longer protected by minority.
That day was just like every other day, except it was my last surf for the foreseeable future and maybe forever.
It has given me reassurance that the world will go on, with or without me. Everywhere else I go, I’m surrounded by crying relatives, well-meaning do gooders who “have just heard the news, I’m so so sorry.”
Life in the ocean is fast and brutal. Bobbing around the lineup with my ten kilograms of weight loss and the dead fatigue of metastatic cancer eating me from the inside, I was a weak and easy mark. Easy pickings for the hungry mob. They had no idea, but knew just what to do nonetheless.
It was the only time since I was diagnosed I felt normal, and at home in the order of the world.
And in the midst of this, I had my own perfect moments of peak existence. Crystaline waves, sliding across poorly formed sandbanks. Mini-closeout shoreys giving me that one last moment of vis, aka orders of magnitude less, but the only order magnitude I could currently handle.
This aspect of surfing gives me strength as I face a long road of multiple operations, chemo and radiotherapy: knowing that peak moments of transcendence intersperse the shite even on the worst of days in the worst conditions.
Also that I am four-fifths salt water and I may be going back to Mother Earth after my three dozen goes around the sun.
I’ve done my time watching the tides.
Sandbars form and melt away.
Learning winds, and how they swirl down valleys, equating it to long-period swell wrapping around seafloor features.
All little tidbits of info with no relevance to my now landlocked life, but it gives me joy to know the natural world by force of confronting it and understanding my place in it.
Surfing has taught me to not be greedy with my expectations, to take opportunities as they present themselves, to fight and hunt, and the capacity to dine out on those very few peak moments for weeks and months – and that’s just what I need now to get me through this medieval ordeal.