The two-time world small-wave champion Filipe Toledo, winner of J-Bay in 2023. | Photo: WSL

Rumour: Reclusive billionaire owner of professional surfing set to cancel Jeffrey’s Bay Open after event revealed to be “financially unviable”

“Without a functioning business model to wean itself off State Tourism bodies the WSL is locked in a prison of its own making.” ­

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 testosterone-squirting big-wave icon Ian Cairns, who bulldozed the IPS tour in 1983 to create the ASP only for it to eventually fall into reclusive billionaire Dirk Ziff’s hands in 2012, says y’definitely ain’t getting change out of three bricks and probs gonna cost even more if you want to add in the cost of the Santa Monica HQ and so on. 

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.

The dearly departed Longtom often wrote of the WSL’s reliance on government largesse 

“Without a functioning business model to wean itself off State Tourism bodies the WSL is locked in a prison of its own making.” ­

What’ll happen if the Western Australian and Victorian state govs pull their cash (Margaret River and Bells), El Salvador decides it doesn’t need no sportswashing of its various atrocities and Corona pivots away from surf?

Do we still have a tour?

Surfers grow furious at wild appropriation as new hair product promises to give man on the street famed “surfer hair” without “beach waves!”

"Natural-looking surfer curls in any type of hair without beach waves."

Appropriation, man. The biggest problem of our day. People wandering around “culture” like it is a giant buffet just picking and choosing what they dig, trying it, seeing if it is “tasty” or not all while completely ignoring the pain and suffering associated with various items or styles. Take designer Marc Jacobs trotting his all-white models down the runway sporting dreadlocks, Avatar: Way of Water wherein actors employed “blueface” to cosplay people of color, Coldplay turning the country of India in a “white person’s fevered dream.”

Or Surf Spray 2.0 from Surf Cosmetic.

“Surf Spray 2.0…” according to the website ” …is the perfect product for those who want beach waves without the beach. Our improved formula helps create natural-looking surfer curls in any type of hair. With just a few sprays, you’ll have more volume and texture that lasts the whole day.”

Natural-looking surfer curls in any type of hair without beach waves.

Without getting pounded by an errant Wavestorm rolling though the lineup, having to yell at an errant Barney missing his Wavestorm, missing the section because of a hand slip during take-off and having it haunt the rest of your day, stepping in tar on the beach then grinding into your wax, accidentally grabbing a 4/3 instead of a 3/2 and being way to hot while bobbing so unzipping the shoulder zip but then getting flushed and being really cold etc.

Appropriation, man.


“I knew that it was going to be the biggest river wave ever ridden. It was sending me everywhere. I was like, ‘Don’t fall on this, Jamie. Don’t fall.’ I couldn’t control my board, and I honestly just fell right back. It’s like a 10 or 12 foot wave, and it sucked me back." | Photo: @whoisjob

Carrot-topped king of Pipeline Jamie O’Brien nearly killed in freak novelty wave accident!

"Death is a stone’s throw away, always, but to realise that. I was overwhelmed. It was one of the heaviest moments of my life.

The carrot-topped king of Pipeline and sad-eyed degenerate Jamie O’Brien, who is forty, has reprised his near-death at the Waimea Bay rivermouth from last winter.

Do you remember?

The famous Waimea River had become swollen like never before following wild rains (climate change, non-use of recycling bins, driving cars with internal combustion engines etc) and locals had opened it up to create the biggest rivermouth waves ever seen.

Jamie tried to ride it only to be sucked out to sea and when he eventually returned he said he’d almost died.

“Gnarliest experience ever…I got sucked into the vortex of all vortexes!”

Now, in a piece to camera on YouTube, O’Brien has taken his one million fans back to that terrible day.

“I knew that it was going to be the biggest river wave ever ridden. It was sending me everywhere. I was like, ‘Don’t fall on this, Jamie. Don’t fall.’ I couldn’t control my board, and I honestly just fell right back. It’s like a 10 or 12 foot wave, and it sucked me back. Then there was another wave, and it was just as big, and I’m like, ‘oh my god. I’m gonna die. My leash is gonna break. I’m in a very bad spot.

“That wave just tumbles me, and tumbles me, and tumbles me…then, boom. It lets me out where the river meets the ocean. And the [ocean] waves were 15 feet. Huge Waimea. Probably one of the dumbest things I’ve ever done in my life. I don’t even know where I am. I pop up in the middle of Waimea Bay, 300 yards out in the middle of the ocean and the waves are 15 feet. Not a good idea.”

Dying in novelty waves is a speciality for O’Brien. Five years ago, he almost perished among rocks at Waikiki during a one-foot swell.

Fooling around in Waikiki, Jamie was examining an interesting rock on a breakwall and “stating the obvious,” says Jamie, “I turned my back on the ocean. Honestly, I had put my hand up in front of my face at the last second and I face-planted into my hand. It almost knocked me out just hitting my hand. I almost died at one-foot Waikiki. I almost died at one-foot Waikiki. Frick. I got so lucky.

“I was thinking about it a lot. You do all this crazy shit your whole career, crazy waves, sitting yourself on fire, and you almost die at one-foot Waikiki. Death is a stone’s throw away, always, but to realise that. I was overwhelmed. It was one of the heaviest moments of my life. I still trip out when I watch the clip. That night, I was laying in bed, thinking, that I almost died at Waikiki. Literally.”


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Smith (top right) beacon of calm for a weary region. Photo: Hurricane Lee
Smith (top right) beacon of calm for a weary region. Photo: Hurricane Lee

New Englanders steadied by hurricane-seasoned California surf journalist as post-tropical cyclone Lee wreaks havoc on northeast!

Surfline code red.

I am currently sitting in the dining room of a classic New England bed and breakfast, the remains of a croque madam resting near an empty coffee mug on a fine china plate on an old farmhouse table, watching gusty winds lightly tickle the still-green leaves of maple trees outside the window.

Terror clawing at all those around.

Hurricane Lee, which has transitioned to Post-Tropical Cyclone Lee, is brushing past the coast, somewhere over the green mountains, leaving uncertainty and potential rain showers in its wake. The power is out in parts of Maine and Rhode Island was hammered with the exceedingly rare Surfline red designation.

I have only ever seen yellow (poor) and green (good).

Red, apparently, is “epic.”

Last evening, at party in an art gallery, a surfer showed me video clips of a lesser-known wave somewhere New England-ish. “Epic” seemed like an understatement. Perfect lines reeled both left and right, making barrel in either direction. I wish I could have been there in order to help those locals deal with fear and anxiety, as I am here to advise and assist after surviving Hurricane Hilary off the coast of California some three weeks ago, but alas, my advising and assistance was required elsewhere.

The sun is almost poking through clouds, now, sending shivers up spines though I swing into action, telling the guests its ok. I spotted enough local aged cheddar and maple syrup on a refurbished ice box near the front desk to last until at least 11 o’clock am. After that, I would be able to lead a recon mission to the Ben and Jerry’s ice cream factory where there may or may not be free samples.

The Ben and Jerry’s ice cream factory is whimsical and silly with an expressive color palate plus three very cute holsteins grazing in a patch of green grass near the road, or that’s what I saw yesterday afternoon while driving by on the way to a bespoke coffee roaster housed in a red barn.

Through my hurricane survival experience, I have come to understand that treating people like babies is essential to hurricane survival.

“I wish there was a vaccine for climate-induced stress,” someone at a neighboring farmhouse table mutters.

“There basically is,” I respond stoically. “Ben and Jerry’s.”

G-Mac (top left) and Laird (bottom right) eye infamy.
G-Mac (top left) and Laird (bottom right) eye infamy.

Garrett McNamara, Laird Hamilton giddy as “extreme” star with “4 million kilometer high waves” discovered!

100+ foot waves suddenly irrelevant.

Post tropical cyclone Lee is, currently, slamming into America’s northeaster seaboard wreaking havoc, causing major panic. Power outages are being reported in Maine, Canadians are counting their bacon and New Hampshirites are tying themselves to granite hills, screaming “live free or die” into the howl.

Wild times.

A surf journalist, who made his way from storm-tested Southern California in order to advice and assist, is currently advising and assisting Vermontettes on how to deal with troublesome light breezes. An important role that will be greatly detailed soon.

Before that, though, it must be noted that Garrett McNamara, Laird Hamilton and other big waves studs are positively drooling over a new discovery of an “extreme” star with HUGE waves.

Dubbed MACHO 80.7443.1718, obvs, the star is some 160,000 light years away from the Earth, has 35 times the mass of the sun and once a month lots of gravitational tug, like the moon our our ocean, creates MASSIVE waves on its surface.

Up to 10 percent of the star’s entire diameter making them, roughly, 4 million kilometers high.

Astrophysicist Jim Fuller of Caltech, who was not part of the study, said it “shows how complicated and interesting the dynamics get when you have an extreme system like this.”

The waves can get big enough that they actually break and crash across the brighter star’s surface, the study suggests. When an ocean wave is far from shore, it’s a rolling, undulating wave. But as it comes closer to shore, it rises and collapses on itself. “Something kind of parallel is happening here,” Morgan MacLeod of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics says. The top of the wave steepens, “gets out of phase with the bottom, and it folds over on itself, and it crashes.”

The 4 million kilometer business puts to absolute shame the 100+ foot stuff normally being chased here on earth and you can be certain big wave surfers will be employing means available of reaching MACHO 80.7443.1718.

Kai Lenny’s jet ski etc.

HBO busily developing “4 Million Kilometer Wave.”

The small fishing village on the star readying itself for a bright spotlight.

Exciting days.