Surf media war continues unabated as Stab co-founder slammed by top-tier journalist for “writing furious, sweaty defences of their polluted ideologies”

"You’re not a radicaliser of surf culture, nor the arbiter. You’re just another pawn, serving up the same old flim-flam for ad revenue."

Dear Mr Sam McIntosh,

We don’t know each other, but I’d like to address your recent piece on Stab, the surf blog for entertaining educational ad copy.

Firstly, I know you think it was some grand justification of ideology, but it’s just nonsense.

For one, we know how surf media works, Stab especially. For the most part, it has served us sycophancy and trojan horse ad copy since it existed. If not for that, perhaps it never would have survived. You understand that, and you know what keeps lights on and pockets lined. We get it.

But to be magnanimous about it, as if kowtowing to people of influence is doing us a favour, well that’s just shite.

To address one of your arguments specifically, you assert that “modern media is essentially worthless” because athletes and organisations can speak directly to their fans via social channels.

Now, stop me if I’ve misunderstood what social media is all these years, but does this line of  argument not prove the exact opposite of your assertion?

Is social media not just what people want us to see, from a personal or algorithmic perspective?

In which case, modern media, independent outlets with objective voices that you can trust, is more valuable than at any point in history.

Modern media should exist to challenge what people want us to hear. It should exist to combat the algorithms. It should exist to ask the questions that people don’t want to answer.

As for exhuming Orwell then murdering him to justify your existence, that was just cold. And oh so wrong.

But that’s not really the point. Stab has never been about independence and objectivity (well, maybe a brief flash in the embryonic stages).

You don’t do objective journalism because no-one wants it. The surf world is too inconsequential for anyone to care, and we’re conditioned by what we’ve been fed for so long. I mean, come on, any surf media, and especially anything that involves the WSL is of interest to such a minuscule percentage of people who surf that it’s almost unsustainable, far less important.

It’s why the WSL seem to be constantly gasping for air, even though we know they have a product that should be worth something.

But here’s a thing. What if it’s not the product?

No-one takes surf media seriously, from inside or outside the industry. Those inside understand that what they’re served up is disingenuous or tone deaf, and people outside see through the veneer, even if they don’t know exactly why.

Does the WSL deserve a bigger audience, more attention from a greater number of surfers? I think so. Probably.

But it doesn’t speak to them. It never has. Instead it treads this no-man’s land between the Dream Tour and The Inertia.

Culture doesn’t change overnight. I know you (as Stab) see yourself as this great disrupter (how many times can you tell us you once used a floating dock?), but you’re not a radicaliser of surf culture, nor the arbiter. You’re just another pawn, serving up the same old flim-flam for ad revenue. The difference is, you’re asking people to pay for it now.

To be disruptive is to change things, to go against the flow. To sacrifice the back-handers and the bottom line because you believe in the work.

I don’t read Stab. Your content doesn’t speak to me, nor appeal. (It is a shame that Paul Evans’ writing is paywalled.) I subscribed for the first time a few weeks ago because Lewis Samuels had mentioned me in his interview and I wanted to see what that was about.

Ask yourself why Samuels mentioned me, of all the established voices he might have noted, why me? (And Shearer, of course.)

It’s not because I write for a major outlet, nor that I’m even very productive. This isn’t my full time job.

And it’s not because I’m a great writer who cares deeply about his audience and craft. (Though that is true, clearly.)

No, if I had to guess, I would say it’s because I’m not affiliated with anyone in the surf industry. They don’t pay me, they’re not my friends, so my voice remains my own. I’m just some chump on the other side of the world, in a small town in the Scottish Highlands (that’s not even very close to waves), saying what I see. It’s ridiculous, really. I think about it daily. I couldn’t be further removed from the surf industry. I’m a fraud, really. But also a Real One. And maybe if I’d sooked at the industry teat it would’ve changed me. Maybe if I met some of the people I comment on, my humanity would turn me into something different, something like you. So it’s nice to remain at arm’s length, valuable even.

But if you want the truth, I’m more interested in pursuing writing outside of surfing, because I don’t trust the majority of surf media, nor respect it. There is no objectivity here, no journalism, no real future. It’s a small pool that lacks talent and freshness, and there are so few credible outlets for writers to stretch themselves.

The Surfers’ Journal and BeachGrit. That’s it. (And apologies for missing one or two Australian titles I just don’t have access to. I’d guess that Sean Doherty is producing fine work.)

I am not loyal to anyone but those I respect for their work, not their influence. My eyes are clear, as is my conscience.

Who do I respect? Those who have independent, objective voices. Samuels himself, Steve Shearer, Derek Rielly, Matt Warshaw, Surf Ads (don’t want to out him). And yes, even Chas Smith. 

And if it’s just on pure writing talent and not objectivity, I’d throw Paul Evans, Sean Doherty, Jed Smith, Nick Carroll and Vaughan Blakey in there, too. (Shit, even Ashton and Mike C can be bright writers, if they weren’t so happy in voluntary confinement.)

Yes, Derek runs BG, and does so in a way that might be challenged. But I will tell you this: people can speak freely here. He lets me say whatever I like, and I value that. Only the overtly abusive, racist or discriminatory is off limits at BeachGrit, as it should be everywhere. Aside from that, it is objective and free.

Most importantly, it’s a place to exercise creativity in writing. I mean, I don’t need to tell you that, it’s why you poached your staff from here. And it’s no coincidence they’ve never been as good since.

But this is not to fluff DR’s feathers, this is just to say that there is another way. People can trust what they read here (if they can make it through the clickbait), and hopefully they will attract a greater number of independent voices because of that. Does it make them as much money as you? Absolutely not. But they don’t need to type furious, sweaty defences of their polluted ideologies either.

Like I say, culture doesn’t change overnight. And maybe we’ve gone too far. Maybe surf media will always be seen as glorified ad copy. Certainly, if no-one challenges it then nothing will change.

If I gave my kids chocolate and sweets for every meal they’d keep eating it, but it doesn’t mean it would be good for them.

What if I started charging them when they got hooked on the sugar?

Try serving some greens, Sam. People might not like it at first, but in the end they might thank you for it.

Peas in pod. Photo: The Interview
Peas in pod. Photo: The Interview

World Surf League dubbed “a cut-rate North Korea” after revelation that its Chief of Sport requires PR flak to be on phone during interviews!

More smoke from "The Interview!"

The dust has begun to settle around Stab magazine’s stunning admission, yesterday, that it is openly and proudly a shill for the World Surf League. In exchange for receiving schedule releases hours before other surf media and the ability to license footage, the premium subscription surf blog will happily dress propaganda as news and roll it out to its audience all while heavily patrolling the discourse.

Like the China Global Television Network except without delicious noodle dishes or orange chicken!

Well, whether Stab wants to be in the “revealing details” business, or not, some very fine details were revealed in the wake of the Jessi Miley-Dyer interview that got this whole ball rolling. New editor, and onetime beloved BeachGrit contributor Michael Ciaramella, is always one to face the music. A wonderful trait. In explaining to frustrated readers why he let the World Surf League’s Chief of Sport off the hook, Ciaramella shared that he only had fifteen minutes with Miley-Dyer and a PR flak was on the phone too, trying to hurry the conversation along.


The World Surf League requires its Chief of Sport to have a minder and crazy time limit when chatting with already-collaborationist media?

How do you like them apples?

Like North Korea except cheap and pointless!

The lengths to which Santa Monica goes to tamp down honesty is… wild. Are bodies actually buried or something?

Erik Logan’s?

Erik Logan’s “mistake?”

When I first got my start covering professional surfing at its highest level, then called the Association of Surfing Professionals, I acted in much the same way that I do today. Fabulously roguish. Then CEO Brodie Carr decided he’d like to address it, challenged me to an arm wrestle and came into the bar with his hood over his head, shadow boxing.

I fell in love, then and there, and wrote a piece of fawning, so completely un-journalistic that even with Stab embracing its new ringer role, it won’t be able to top.

Those were the days.

But, seriously, what is the World Surf League trying to hide?

A very-near future sale to Bahrain?

We already know, bros.

Young hero (top left) Chris Ward approved.
Young hero (top left) Chris Ward approved.

10-year-old boy who stole mom’s car in attempt to drive from Florida to California becomes hero to surfers worldwide!

The great American surf road-trip.

Anti-depressive news broke hours ago, buoying surfers who have become extremely morose in recent days. In a whirlwind of bummer, the World Surf League announced that Filipe Toledo will be crowned champion in 2024, premium subscription surf blog Stab got to work erasing the problematic word “Teahupo’o” from its archives in preparation and the Wall of Positive Noise grew that much higher.

Dark times.

But ho! What light through yon window breaks?

It is a 10-year-old boy and his 11-year-old sister stealing their mother’s car in Florida and making it over 200 miles in an attempt to make it to California and instantly becoming the heroes a beleaguered surfing community so desperately needs.

Police deputies stopped their car near Gainesville at 3:00 am after it had been reported stolen. They were prepared to face off with some hardened criminal though were shocked when a small pair of hands flashed through the window. The young ones were, thankfully, not harmed with their mother driving three hours to fetch them. Police marveled at what a good driver the boy was while surfers remembered that great American roadtrips used to be part of our culture.

When was the last time you tossed your board into the back, buckled up and really drove somewhere far away in order to surf? Ten-ish years ago, I was rented a car in Orlando and drove to every corner of the Sunshine State, sampling waves in New Smyrna, Pensacola, Tampa, even Miami.

Just me and the open road.

It was a wonderful time and, thanks to the brave work of that brother-sister duo, front of mind once again.

Exactly what we all needed.

But where would you go on your ideal great American surf roadtrip?

Or great Australian surf roadtrip, if you happen to be down under?

Did I ever tell you about the time that I was in Margaret River for the contest? So, I was in Margaret River for the contest, fourteen, or so, years ago, standing in the parking lot when the dustiest car rolled up. Bugs splattered across windshield etc. Chris Ward got out and declared that he had rented a car, after the Bells contest, and driven across the entire continent, arriving just before his heat.

Some 3500 miles.

Later, I learned that he had to drive the rental all the way back to Torquay because they wouldn’t accept it in Perth.

That’s the sort of pluck I’m talking about.

Richo wins World Masters in El Salvador in 2011 and, inset, bloodless in Bali.

Aussie surf star gravely ill in Bali hospital, “I am in desperate need of some blood transfusions, I have lost a lot of blood.”

"My blood type is rare to find in Indo and I am looking for anyone who is a negative or O negative."

The Gold Coast shredder Mark Richardson, a four-time Aussie champ who was famously stripped of his 2011 World Masters Title two years after winning it for testing poz to weed, the first and only surfer in history to be publicly shamed for delivering a positive test, has put out a call for blood from his hospital bed in Bali. 


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A post shared by Mark Richardson (@markrichosurfcoach)

“Hey guys, this is a bit of a serious post. I am in a Bali hospital and desperate need of some blood transfusions. I have lost a lot of blood. My blood type is rare to find in Indo and I am looking for anyone who is a negative or O negative to help me recover from this problem I have been facing.

Docs call O neg blood the the universal donor, although only about seven percent  of the world’s population have got it. This rarity makes O negative donors invaluable in emergency situations and for patients with rare blood types, as O negative blood can be safely transfused to people with any Rh factor, including those with positive blood types.

Like Richo, here. 

You in Bali, maybe throw a little claret a brother’s way.

As for that 2011 World Masters gold medal, ripped away in 2013, Kelly Slater waded into the controversy, saying the system is pretty dumb, anyway, and that he, as the world champ, was only tested once. 

“They tested us at the first event and I never got tested again all year. Why talk about it and not do it? Why bother? Either do it of don’t do it.”

So funny to see my mind trying to comprehend what just happened at the end there! It’s a feeling that words just fall short trying to explain. But if I had to try I’d say it’s like jumping off a big cliff and cuddling someone you love at the same damn time

Hawaii’s almost Ultimate Surfer Koa Smith goes heartbreakingly close to breaking the one-minute long tuberiding barrier!

“It’s like jumping off a big cliff and cuddling someone you love at the same damn time.”

The three-time NSSA champ and runner-up to Zeke Lau’s Ultimate Surfer, Koa Smith, has revealed he came heartbreakingly close to completing a one-minute tuberide at Skeleton Bay recently.

Twenty-seven-year-old Smith, born in Kauai and a student of Bruce and Andy Irons, is a prized fashion model as you know, but he also dominates some of the best waves in the world including, Teahupoo, Pipeline and, yeah, Namibia’s Skeleton Bay. 

On a five-foot-six Disorder asym, Smith weaves and weaves and weaves.

Try and hold your breath for the entire ride. So hard! 


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A post shared by Koa Smith (@koasmith)

On my journey to my goal of getting the ONE MINUTE BARREL! This one felt close! Technically I would say I came out of the barrel around that 25 sec mark which resets the time clock! 

Let the drops on the lens reflect the tears in my eyes that I did come out 🥲😂. In real time it all felt like one long blurry friggin TUBE! 

So funny to see my mind trying to comprehend what just happened at the end there! It’s a feeling that words just fall short trying to explain. But if I had to try I’d say it’s like jumping off a big cliff and cuddling someone you love at the same damn time 😂!! for now… The mission for the 1 min tube continues!!!

I liked Jen See’s description of Koa when he appeared on The Ultimate Surfer,

“He is a 1950’s dad in disguise! Koa is so pumped up. He is a 1950’s dad with a coke habit in disguise.” 

Some years ago I lived with a coke daddy who would shovel me bumps as we bent down in the kitchen away from children’s eyes, the little ones thrilled by their carers’ sudden burst of energies once we appeared, again, above the island bench parapet.