Surf Snowdownia and sad boy who won't be able to ever surf it (insert).

In ominous sign for “surf-anchored developments,” world’s first modern wave pool Surf Snowdonia shutters

Bitter disappointment reigns.

Wave tanks have never been hotter with rumors of fresh ones just over the horizon floating every day. “Surf-anchored developments,” whole communities built around the idea of threading inland barrels, soaring over inland wedges, ripping and shredding and having all manner of ocean-style fun inland.

The future is now etc.

Except, in a stunner, maybe ominous in nature, the world’s first modern tank, Surf Snowdownia, has shuttered without real warning leaving a community devastated, surf-anchored developers uncertain, the very idea of inland surfing suddenly in question.

The Welsh lagoon, which opened in 2015 to much fanfare, had suffered a series of setbacks of late. Lower revenues and less Welsh interest and what have you. There was a brief thought that a Hilton Garden Inn, opening onsite in 2021, would spike wild growth but… have you ever stayed in a Hilton Garden Inn? Oh, there’s nothing wrong with the medium tier business chain but also nothing really right about it either. A Four Seasons or Ritz might have been a better option.

The Welsh government also kicked in 3.9 million Great British lbs and added an “adventure centre,” translating roughly to “adventure center,” but alas. It was not enough.

Taking to Facebook, Surf Snowdownia’s PR manager declared, “It’s with a heavy heart that we announce the immediate closure of our Parc. To all who’ve been part of this journey, we’re truly sorry. We are bitterly disappointed that once again excellent employees are being made redundant. The sad reality is that despite the joy and adventure our waves brought to many as a world-first innovation, the machine has cost us a fortune in downtime, repairs and loss of business.”

According to the BBC, Tourism Northern Wales chief Jim Jones said he was “bitterly disappointed” by the decision and made a face to prove it.

Jim Jones (pictured) bitterly disappointed.
Jim Jones (pictured) bitterly disappointed.

What might happen to the lake and its wave creating machinery?

No telling.

Ideas, please.

EE drawing circles.

“Holy sh*t” Surf world reacts as Ethan Ewing is filmed warming-up for Finals Day one month after breaking back in Teahupoo wipeout

Australian's miracle return from broken back continues as new fairytale beckons at Lower Trestles!

Four days ago, baby-faced Australian surfer Ethan Ewing shocked surf fans when he posted a photograph of himself seated in biz class en route to Los Angeles, and Finals Day, only three weeks after a potentially career-ending wipeout at Teahupoo.

Ewing, as you also know, busted two vertebrae while practising for the Tahiti Pro and the early prognosis was a three-month wait for surgery followed by six months out of the water.

A who’s who of the world’s best surfers lined up to praise the blue-eyed blond college boy looking surfer who has everything that represents paradise on earth: the style, the critical praise, the handsome body, money in the bank, worldwide popularity. 

“Love you Eth dog,” wrote Griffin Colapinto. 

Carissa Moore: “We love you Eth.” 

Mick Fanning: “Heal up strong mate. Sending lots of positive vibes.” 

Rescuer Tahurai Henry, “You’ll be back stronger than ever mate ! Wish you the best recovery and hopefully see you soon ! Thanks for the magic boards.” 

Spinal fractures aren’t a straightforward recovery, surgery, braces, physical therapy and, often, life is never quite the same after busting your back.

Now, after a series of stirring Rocky-esque clips from the striking looking Ewing reigning world champ Pip Toledo must be suffering a despair so great he’ll want to get his tubes tied. 

Ewing, with his camellia-white skin and dishwater blond hair, is so hungry and vibrant he might even be called predatory.

Ewing’s own silence on his injury was, according to one observer, his way of “playing mind games with the Brazilians”.

Ewing’s relationship with Brazilian fans has been strained ever since WSL judges preferred his velvet lines over Medina’s bag of tricks at the Surf Ranch Pro a few months back, one even threatening to murder the innocent Australian.

Two weeks ago, the World Surf League was accused of “passive aggressively trolling Ethan Ewing” after including him in promotional material so fantastic his return seemed.

The one-day surf-off will run some time between September eight and sixteen at San Clemente’s Lower Trestles, likely around 14 or 15.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Oakley Surfing (@oakleysurfing)


Saudi soccer mercenary Neymar and big-wave hotshot Pedro Scooby, subjected to terribly salacious rumours.

Soccer ace Neymar had “intimate sexual encounter” with big-wave star Pedro Scooby at secret sex party claims Brazilian influencer

"Both of them had sex with each other. Then, the girl and I got in the middle, and they kissed, everyone kissed. There were no limits."

If you follow the gossip rags (but of course you do, you’re here) you may have seen recent headlines alleging that Brazilian surfer Pedro Scooby had sex with footballer Neymar, one time Brazilian wonderkid; today a Saudi mercenary.

The allegations came via a Brazilian woman who identifies as an “influencer”, a term I find so distasteful I won’t mention her name. She alleges that she and another woman joined Neymar and Scooby for a foursome, but that the two men were far more interested in each other.

I wasn’t exactly sure who Pedro Scooby was. The name was familiar, but I couldn’t have told you anything about him. Cursory research reveals that he plys his trade mostly in big waves, which is considerably less interesting than the fact he has a staggering six million Instagram followers.

Add this to Neymar’s two hundred and thirteen million, and the sum total makes rich pickings for influencers. As such, you may take the rumours as you will.

However, it’s not the first time the tabloid press have made allegations about Neymar’s sexuality, in particular the nature of his friendship with Gabriel Medina.

But my intention is not to extrapolate salacious gossip, rather it’s to ask why, in 2023, male homosexuality is still conspicuously absent from surf culture?

According to an Ipsos global survey from 2021 incorporating twenty seven countries, just 80% of the population identify as heterosexual. Of the countries surveyed, the highest incidence of those “only, mostly or equally attracted to the same sex” were in India (17%), Australia, Brazil and Belgium (16%), with the global average 11%.

Exactly half of the men ranked on the WCT this year are either Brazilian or Australian. (Twenty of the top fifty on the CS.)

Which is enough statistical fuckery to question why the number of openly gay male pro surfers is exactly zero?

This isn’t just a surf problem, of course. Culturally we live in a time where people are more aware of LGBTQ issues than at any point in history. Yet there are still very few openly gay male athletes, and almost none in major sports or at the peak of their careers. There are certainly no gay stars.

The first male pro athlete to identify as homosexual while still active in one of the “Big Four” North American sports was NBA player Jason Collins who came out in 2013, just a year before he retired from a thirteen season career.

But Collins hardly opened the floodgates to a new wave of honesty and acceptance in sports. In the decade since, only NFL players Carl Nassib and Michael Sam have come out as gay while active in any of the Big Four sports. Neither man is still in the league today.

So rare is the admission of anything other than heteronormativity in sports, that there’s a Wikipedia page dedicated to athletes who identify as LGBTQ. It’s mostly a list of people who’ve retired, and gay women far outnumber men.

In surfing this trend is also evident. We might immediately think of Jodie Cooper, Keala Kennelly and Tyler Wright as openly gay women. (But contrary to most other sports, they are among the most talented female surfers we’ve seen.)

Yet on the men’s side there is only Australia’s Matt Branson, who waited until his forties, long after his career was over, before admitting he was gay. You might also make a case for Peter Drouyn, an Australian pro in the seventies who transitioned to Westerly Windina in 2008, before becoming Peter again in 2017. (Though as examined by Jamie Brisick, the example of Drouyn – or y –  is anything but a cut and dried case of sexuality.)

Both were notable surfers, but neither were stars. And in a history going back nearly fifty years, you might reasonably expect there should have been a few more.

So where, then, are all the gay male surfers? How many do you know? I’ll go first: none. (Though I should qualify this by saying that Scotland doesn’t have a particularly high number of surfers or any surf culture to speak of.)

But it would be both a statistical anomaly and factually incorrect to state that gay men simply don’t surf. Therefore, if we assume there are many closeted gay male surfers, and there is a statistical likelihood of the number not being zero among professionals, what is it that prevents men from being open about their sexual preferences in surf culture?

Is it the hyper-aggressiveness in surf line-ups around the world, which most often fall into hierarchical structures presided over by Alpha males?

Is it the lingering hangover from aeons of surf branding dominated by bikinis, babes and balls-out masculinity?

These questions are largely rhetorical. There’s no doubt that surfing, perhaps more so than any other sport, has been marked by the tumescent sexualisation of its participants and stars.

But the irony is, and without putting too fine a point on it, surfing’s pretty gay.

Men with tousled, sun-bleached hair and hard, bronzed bodies. All the preening and posing. Men spending long hours in study and admiration of the way other men hold themselves. The way we revere style and poise above all else.

The surfers we admire most are those who approach a wave like it’s somewhere between a catwalk and an S & M dungeon.

It stands to reason that your sexuality, who you are at your core, might manifest in any sport that has an artistic bent. (There are quite a few male figure skaters on that Wikipedia list.)

If surfing hasn’t exactly been a safe space for gay men, it’s certainly been an attractive one.

So where are they?

In competitive surfing at least, one logical reason might be that any athlete with sense keeps his personal life separate. Whether on the court, the football field, or in a man on man heat, there’s a certain type of competitor who will use anything and everything to get in your head. Michael Jordan was an infamous trash-talker. Larry Bird, too. In combat sports it’s as much part of the game as punching someone in the face.

In surfing we know Kelly Slater has been ruthless in psyching out opponents. Even if his style of trash-talking was perhaps more nuanced than slinging insults about sexual habits, you can be sure men like him would use anything at their disposal to gain an advantage, regardless of personal values.

Sexuality is just another thing to be used against you, a perceived weakness that comes with a handy armoury of historical slurs.

Perhaps it’s also because surfing has a seedy skeleton or two in the closet when it comes to male sexuality. Lest we forget Paul Sargeant, the ubiquitous and popular photo-journalist who documented the Tour in the late nineties and early noughts.

“One point needs to be made clear up front”, wrote Fred Pawle in The Bottomless Vortex Of Indulgence, one of surfing’s rare pieces of investigative journalism. “Sarge was born with enormous psychological burdens. He is bipolar, alcoholic and at various times has been openly bisexual or gay, which, in some sections of the pro tour, especially in the 1980s, was akin to leprosy in the 19th century.”

Paul Sargeant was banned from all WSL (then ASP) events in 2005, with immediate effect and under unexplained circumstances.

Sexuality isn’t always simple. Nor is it always polarised as gay or straight. In keeping with new cultural norms, perhaps there are some fluid dynamics among male pro surfers that makes it difficult to publicly declare one thing or another.

And of course they’re athletes and humans. No-one should expect them to lay bare their sexual preferences any more than we would expect them to reveal the inner workings of their bowels. Privacy still matters, and so it should.

There’s no reason why surfers should blaze a pink trail for male athletes. It is the right of everyone to declare or conceal their sexuality as they see fit. But just imagine a top tier pro came out in his prime.

What might that do for the exposure and popularity of pro surfing? What about his sponsors and personal brand? Given the sparsity of homosexual men in sport, we might presume it would mean death knells for his career.

But it might not.

Rather, it could be the marketing coup of the century.

Buffett (pictured) with Gerry Lopez paddleboard. Photo: Instagram
Buffett (pictured) with Gerry Lopez paddleboard. Photo: Instagram

“The surfer’s curse” revealed as cause of death for beloved troubadour Jimmy Buffett

"Gone too soon."

Tributes and sadness flowed, yesterday, as it was revealed that Jimmy Buffett, 76, had unexpectedly died. Former President Bill Clinton, knighted singer Sir Elton John, country star Toby Keith all paying tribute. The most poignant, without doubt, came from surf great Kelly Slater who counted Buffett as his surrogate father, ending with, “It 5 o’clock somewhere, Jimmy and I know you’d be smoking a joint with a drink in your hand and a huge smile on your face like any good pirate would.”

Many tears flowed for Slater’s personal loss.

While the account of Buffett’s shock passing made it seem peaceful, at his Sag Harbor home surrounded by loved ones and his dogs, the exact cause was not revealed.

Today, we learn that Buffett, an avid sailor, standup paddler, man of the sun and sea had been brought low due the surfer’s curse.

Skin cancer.

Per USA Today:

He had been battling Merkel cell skin cancer for four years, which the National Cancer Institute describes as a rare carcinoma which usually appears as a single painless lump on sun-exposed skin and tends to metastasize quickly. It is second to melanoma as the most common cause of skin cancer death.

He kept performing while undergoing treatment, and Buffett’s last show was a surprise 45-minute appearance at a July 2 Mac McAnally show in Portsmouth, Rhode Island, where he brought the crowd to its feet screaming when he walked out.

The Margaritaville star kept his battle with skin cancer private, a “medical issue” only becoming public in 2022 after he was forced to cancel a spate of shows.

Buffett glamorized the joys of floating listlessly on the waters, soaking up the rays, skin turning leathery and brown. Something surfers everywhere understand and enjoy. The terror the sun can inflict generally pushed to the back of the mind. A good reminder, I suppose, to wear sunscreen, visit dermatologist etc.

Flags, in any case, will fly at half staff at Margaritaville locations over the weekend.

“Gone too soon,” as Elton John declared.

Rob Lowe and Kelly Slater, beautiful beyond any human measure!

Nineties heartthrobs Kelly Slater and Rob Lowe bemoan “kook explosion” in candid interview!

“Every mummy who just dropped her kid off at school is getting pushed in on a soft top by a surf instructor! It’s a zoo!”

The acutely handsome Hollywood heartthrob Rob Lowe and Kelly Slater, greatest athlete of all time as adjudged by Lowe in an earlier podcast, have hit out at surfing’s sudden explosion with the great unwashed.

In a fairly wide-ranging interview, Kelly gets into a little pool talk, inflatable vests, his favourite films (Willy Wonka and Fast Times at Ridgemont High) and the time he cornered Sean Penn at a party and told him Fast Times at Ridgemont High was the greatest film ever ergo Penn, who played Jeff Spicoli in the 1982 hit, was the greatest actor of all-time.

It gets interesting, and more than a little ironic, when the pair dive into the wild number of people who took up surfing during the COVID epidemic.

Lowe, who is almost sixty and mostly rides a stand-up paddleboard, describes learning to surf when he was forty and entering the Point Dume lineup one year later where he earned the nickname The Honey Badger.

“Honey badger don’t care, honey badger fucking drops in on fucking everybody there now,” growls Lowe. “I’m, like, making up for lost time.”

Slater, fifty-one, is polite enough not to give hell to his kook interlocutor, but speaks pretty eloquently, I think, when it comes to crowds.

“I think once you fall in love with surfing, and if you had a lineage back to surfing before the crowds were big, you’d have a strong opinion about the crowds we have now,” he says. “It’s a different time now for sure. Back then, localism was alive and well back then, no digital era to expose you for kicking someone out of the water.”

Here Lowe, an aged stand-up kook, interjects, “Now you’ll go out and every sorta mummy who just dropped her kid off at school is getting pushed in on a soft top by a surf instructor… it’s just…it’s just…it’s a zoo!”

“It’s a funny thing, right,” says Slater. “A big thing in the world is inclusion of all people and it’s great because every walk of life is out there… but there’s not a real order in a lot of the lineups. People inadvertently going everywhere, taking every wave, not taking their turn. And the most obvious place is Malibu but Malibu’s been crowded since the fifties. The crowds are expanding to all the smaller locations now

“But there is something special in having something to yourself. You go on a hike out in the mountains to a special spot, a waterfall, haven’t been there for five years and you show up and there’s a party for fifty people. How would you feel?”

Lowe, even feistier than when he tooled a sixteen year old in a wild threesome sex tape, turns u the volume, “Indonesia! You’re on a plane, it takes forever. Jet lag. Can’t believe it! Literally seventy people on a peak!”