Australia’s Gold Coast, home to Snapper, the Alley, Kirra, etc. is very famous for its waves but also its hungry locals. Men and women who don’t think twice about slithering around their fellow surfers and sliding into waves not, by rights, theirs. Snakes. It may just be the snakiest stretch of water on earth and so it was with much confusion when the world learned of a man who brought a pet snake all the way from home into the lineup.
But let us meet Higor Fiuza and his carpet python Shiva. The long-haired longboarder has owned the animal, now a few feet long, since she was a little baby and “always took her to the beach” where she would lounge on the sand. One hot day, he decided that she belong with her own kind, in the lineup, so paddled her out.
She took to it immediately.
“Usually when she doesn’t like something she starts hissing but she doesn’t hiss [in the water], she is always chill.”
Shiva clings to Higor’s neck, when they are surfing together, though not everyone loves it. “[Some] people get really scared but others think it’s amazing when they see the connection between me and her,” he told Australia’s ABC News. “I think I can get a barrel behind the rock [at Snapper Rocks] with her one day.”
As a surfer, if you saw yet another snake out amongst it would you be tickled or pretty annoyed?
Iranian activist-cum-mad-hui Reza Baluchi arrested after attempting to run to London inside human-sized hamster wheel!
Incredible feat stymied by US Coast Guard who adjudged thrillseeker as a "danger to himself."
The Iranian thrillseeker and activist Reza Baluchi has been arrested after he was dragged from his homemade contraption, a human-sized hamster wheel, by Coast Guard one hundred clicks from Tybee Island in the US state of Georgia.
He’d planned on making the four-thousand mile journey to London over the course of a damn uncomfortable six months. Odds on he would’ve drowned, starved or died of thirst.
Reza, fifty-one, is a mad hui, as they say. A pro cyclist, he was tortured in his home country for offences against Islam, defected to Germany when he was twenty and granted political asylum in the US a decade later. He’s now he’s turned his life into a series of ultra-marathons.
In 2003, he ran from LA to New York to “dispel misconceptions about the Middle East”, then he did a lap of the continental US to raise money for a kid’s hozzy in Denver, and did another LA-to-New York run in 2009, reason unknown.
A few year’s later, after saving four-and-a-half gees from his job washing dishes at a hookah bar in Newport Beach, Reza built and fitted out what he called a “hydro-pod” or what looks like, to most, a human-sized hamster wheel.
Trips to Bermuda, Puerto Rico, New York and, a couple of weeks back, London have all failed for various reasons, mostly when Coast Guard figured he was gonna drown and maybe they should save him.
Reza, a legend, let’s face it, but maybe a little on the volatile side, was charged in federal court with obstruction of boarding and violation of the Captain of the Port Order, had to cough up a surety of a quarter-mill and “may not go to the ocean or board a vessel on to the ocean.”
Indonesian pro surfer described as “sexiest man on archipelago” shuns rock star life on Bali to become de facto mayor of remote surfing outpost!
Come and melt over Dedi Gun, saviour of the wretched at Lakey Peak!
Every morning not long after sunrise his captain’s hat bobs past the walls of the beachfront hamlet, followed by a throng of bare-chested local groms, surfboards in hand.
The Pied Piper of Lakey Peak is checking the surf.
After years abroad chasing a pro surfing career with Rip Curl, Dedi Gun, who is thirty-six, has returned to Sumbawa’s south coast with a clear goal – to help shape the future of his home.
Despite its potential, Sumbawa, one of the West Nusa Tenggara provinces, has been overlooked by Indonesia’s renewed tourism push. While Flores and the Komodo national park to the west are on top of the priority list of tourism destinations, the economical drawcard on the southern side of Sumbawa is a gold and copper mine just a five-minute scooter ride from the world-class breaks.
But few locals have the necessary education to get a job there. There are stories of angry mobs stopping the trucks to the mine, demanding jobs. A tough life making a living off fishing and farming corn is the outlook for the future generation at Hu’u, the district surrounding the surf spot.
Behind the main road, the stubbly remains of barren corn fields slope towards shrub-covered hills, lacking the tropical abundance of Indonesia’s more picturesque surf destinations.
A rocky mud trail leading to the beach is guarded by a crumbling, eerie looking gyprock surfer, one of the few reminders of Lakey’s time being featured on the world qualifying circuit in the late nineties. Two judging towers of questionable integrity still stand tall on the reef in front of the Peak, Lakey’s premier wave. Built with little consideration, a clumsy concrete toilet lump blocks the view of beachfront accommodation.
On the way to Nunggas, a long lefthander good for big swells, the mosaic beach path has in large parts been gnawed away by the tide.
Easy access from Bali has plenty of surfers flocking to Lakey, but few locals have a share of the tourism pie.
Dedi, who now runs surf coaching in Lakey Peak, shakes his head after getting off the phone to one of the groms who’s running late.
“You may not get another opportunity,” he mumbles, a group of surf students eagerly waiting to paddle out.
Surfing a metaphor for life
“When there is a chance coming to you, you got to take it,” Dedi says to me as we bob in the water at Lakey Pipe.
Besides his notorious captain’s hat, Dedi wears many others. For a while he’s been leading the local Boardriders, The Lakey Peak Boys, he manages surf lodgings, sells honey and organises BBQs besides just welcoming his second child.
But opportunity didn’t come easy. At eight years old, having been sent to live with relatives to work on their farm, he left for the lure of surfing at the seaside enclave. He lived on the beach, sleeping on the tables of the beachside restaurants, doing odd jobs to get fed.
“My first board was piece of wood,” he says, flashing his noted smile.
“I was living happy …some of my friends had to find empty bottles, Coca Cola or beer, to sell, to survive. [But] we weren’t that hungry, because we have a lot of trees, we just climb.”
When he was 12 he moved to Bali under the wing of surf photographer Dustin Humphrey and at 17 he started to live on his own. He said surfing gave him the opportunity to travel the world. But his surfing career didn’t go as planned. He says he lacked the hunger to be a professional competitor, spending many years in Bali, living “like a rock star”.
“Surfing, partying … I didn’t really have a future thinking. More having fun every day. But I’m glad I learned early,” he says.
After the pandemic he returned to Lakey, keen to encourage the new generation to strive for more.
“In my generation, we never got taught nothing – zero. We had to make it our own,” he says.
“I [made myself] a promise … when I got out of Lakey Peak the first time. I had a burger on a nice plate on a nice table, I want all my friends to feel what I feel, sleeping in a nice bed.”
Surfing also gave him the opportunity to learn and have a vision of his future, something missing in Lakey.
But for him it’s more than that.
“[It] is more than just surf, it’s more than just a sport. It all comes together. Mindset, mentality, psychology. It’s meditation. Appreciation. And it teaches you to be patient. You always want to get a good wave, and there is a chance, and when there is a chance coming for you, you got to take it. There is no next. But you have to choose the right one. If that’s the chance for you, you got to follow.
He’s roped the local teens into his coaching, teaching them how to muscle in on the tourism business. He wants them to develop discipline, accountability and teach them how to make money.
Dedi says Lakey’s big problem is a lack of education.
“Not a lot of kids are going to school. From here to Nangadoro [a village 5km up from Lakey], the schools are not really active. When they go to school, they say ‘oh, the teacher is not there’”.
They are simply not getting paid enough to support their families on a teacher’s wage, he says.
The bleak outlook for the children of Lakey, many of which swap school uniforms for gruelling farm work to help their families, has drawn the attention of those visiting the wave paradise.
For almost fifteen years now the Harapan Project, set up by Spanish lawyer Carlos Ferrandiz, helps with educating local children, donating sports and health equipment. A short stroll up the hill from the main road at the entrance of the village, past cow paddies and corn stubbles, a state-of-the art skate park unravels, crowd-founded by a 13-year young Japanese girl after being in Lakey during the pandemic.
The captain’s surf team
“When I came back here since [since the pandemic] I was leading the Boardriders, trying to put [the kids] on the right path, educate them about tolerance, communication, environment, teamwork … [being] a community,” says Dedi. “I got all these ideas from travelling. When I was young, I got zero motivation. So, we tried to set up this because there is no real education in school.”
With only the national TV station on twenty-four hour hum in households and international channels reserved for those with money, he says the local kids lack input and ideas.
“It’s sort of brainwash. Put us down. There is no support to educate them to grow their own smart. Keep the small people low.”
As we walk back up the beach after our lesson his face shrouds, kicking at one of the many plastic rubbish nests made of single-sip plastic water cups, snack bags and wrappers lining the edge of the shore.
“I need to wake these people up, I don’t get how they don’t see this … It is really sad.”
It’s something that robs Dedi of his sleep, turning ideas in his head on how to instil awareness of the environment.
Him and his grom squad used to clean up the beach every week, but he says the kids are getting tired of seeing the rubbish return just days later. Despite setting up trash cans, the rubbish would still end up strewn around the picnic spots and fireplaces they leave behind.
“They are so lazy …they bring the water cup … they could bring the gallon.”
He says he has lobbied local authorities to issue hefty fines for littering but has yet to get any support for his plight.
“Many international surfers who come here they will think we don’t care. But we deeply care. It is our home.”
The thing with tourism dollars
Dedi wants to bring attention to Lakey and thinks having international surf contests back in Lakey could inspire the local kids. But government attention on its tourism is a double-edged sword.
“The government is not looking at Sumbawa as tourism priority, it’s more of a mining destination,” says Krystyna Krassowska, who runs a sustainable trail tourism business across Indonesia and has been working as team leader for the tourism master plan in Labuan Bajo (Flores). “The minute they get some sort of recognition as a potential tourism object, then it comes down to what is there – and the government’s understanding of this… Take Uluwatu for example, which was natural and amazing, which is now being destroyed by the different perception the government has of what nature-based sports tourists seek. It’s not to be able to drive mega buses up there. They make it ‘more valuable’ by infrastructure development which is not what the surf community wants. This is where the great conflict emerges – so is it a good thing or a bad thing that [Lakey Peak] is not on the priority list?”
She says it’s due to Indonesia’s decentralisation that districts, such as Hu’u, are responsible themselves of how they distribute the profits from their assets – may it be tourism or mining – back to the people.
Investment into clean water, waste management, schools, and training are up to the district leadership.
Despite his hope to give locals something to aspire to, Dedi is firm that he does not want to see his Lakey Peak descend into a new Bali.
“Imagine everyone loves Lakey Peak, all these investors out there … bang, five-star hotels, clubs,” he says.
Krystyna says to keep the integrity of the place it needs sustainable investment from individuals.
“Local communities and villages are then able to recognise their eco-tourism assets, like surfing, which is also in line what the surfing community wants. This would empower local village leaders to align district-led investment with what they actually need.”
As the sun sets, Dedi and the groms kick around a soccer ball at the lawn in front of The Peak.
Dozens of the boys have previously qualified for national surf contests in Bali, so far without any government support to help cover costs.
“I want to put them on the right path,” he says, envisioning a Boardriders club house for the kids, with some beds to sleep and a room for teaching.
“But,” he says, “the kids won’t walk out of the house without fixing their bed first.”
He wants to create a community garden where they would grow fruit and vegetables in exchange for donations, vehemently rejecting the idea of them going around ‘begging’.
“There is a life out there,” he says. “A lot of opportunity, a potential. You got to give it a shot. Don’t say you can’t. Give it a go. Don’t stay in the same place. Climb the rope to the top.”
"Rapidly intensifying" and "major hurricane" are certainly word combinations that the intrigue-averse World Surf League hates.
Students of professional surfing are growing increasingly excited for the upcoming World Surf League Finals Day. The top five men and top five women are, currently, at Lower Trestles where the window officially opens in just two days. Jack Robinson vs. Joao Chianca, winner takes Ethan Ewing, winner takes Griffin Colapinto, winner takes Filipe Toledo, for the men. Caitlin Simmers vs. Molly Picklum, winner takes Caroline Marks, winner takes Tyler Wright, winner takes Carissa Moore, for the women.
Oh, there might be plenty.
But too many?
Tropical Cyclone Jova is currently spinning and twisting in the South Pacific, smoking on the waters, pushing a hurricane swell told Lowers that should peak this Sunday.
But too peak?
Inside rumors are boiling that the World Surf League may choose to skip the biggest day over fears that it might be overly big.
The National Weather Service is sharing satellite imagery that shows the aforementioned Tropical Cyclone Jova “rapidly intensifying” and turning into a “major hurricane” as early as tonight. Southern Californians, again, forced to horde and grumble at people who sail.
Oh, it’s not expected to make landfall but “Rapidly intensifying” and “major hurricane” are certainly word combinations that the intrigue-averse World Surf League hates.
Alongside current number one Filipe Toledo.
The Brazilian flyboy, who shunned his nation in favor of San Clemente, has a well-documented fear of larger lefts breaking on coral. Thankfully, Lowers is a smaller right breaking on cobbled stone but still. Spinelessness is not rational. So he’d be happy though everyone else sad. Especially, I’d imagine, Oahu’s Carissa Moore. The legend, still in prime, was utterly ripped off by the format last year. The same could be said this year if the World Surf League chooses to “siss the ‘riss.”
Scorecard thus far, Toledo happy, everyone else sad.
But what does the World Surf League’s official forecast partner Surfline have to say?
Unfortunately not as much, or interesting, as the National Weather Service. They have gotten out of the prognostic game and into the firing everyone to bolster bottom line one.
Though here we are.
Will Sunday be the day or won’t it?
You don’t care?
Comedian Bill Maher tars Hollywood writers on strike with dirtiest surf insult, describes demands as “kooky”
For those unaware, Hollywood is an absolute mess right now. Oh, not the typical myopic silliness, gender blah blah, Kevin Spacey getting handsy but a proper disaster with both writers and actors on strike. The issue at hand is the changing environment. “Streamers,” such as Netflix, Hulu, Apple etc. were not even a glimmer on the horizon when the last labor contract was signed and, thus, those who make and star in the entertainments are toiling under a weird, outdated yoke.
While most are publicly aligned with the worker, comedian and talk show host Bill Maher has broken with the pack and tarred the writers’ demands with the worst insult in our world.
In a devastating interview will fellow comedian Jim Gaffigan, Maher said, “They’re asking for a lot of things that are, like, kooky. What I find objectionable about the philosophy of the strike [is] it seems to be, they have really morphed a long way from 2007’s strike, where they kind of believe that you’re owed a living as a writer, and you’re not. This is show business. This is the make-or-miss league.”
Much like the World Surf League’s much-ballyhooed mid-season cut, I suppose.
Maher continued, “You’re either for the strike like they’re f*cking Che Guevara out there, you know, like, this is Cesar Chavez’s lettuce picking strike — or you’re with Trump. There’s no difference — there’s only two camps. And it’s much more complicated than that.”
Much like the pitched surf camps “Filipe Toledo is a sissy” vs. “Filipe Toledo has every right to be a sissy.”
Except that whole argument is not any more complicated than that.
But where do you stand on the matter of Hollywood strikes?