Olympic surf hopeful Israel Barona pictured in barrel. Photo: @Israel_barona Instagram
Olympic surf hopeful Israel Barona pictured in barrel. Photo: @Israel_barona Instagram

Olympic surf hopeful and local legend tragically dies in El Salvador

The 34-year-old was in the Central American nation for a surf contest as he attempted to punch his ticket to Tahiti for the 2024 Games.

Tragic word has trickled out of El Salvador that the Ecuadorian Olympic surf hopeful Israel Barona Matute has suddenly died. The 34-year-old was in the Central American nation for a surf contest as he attempted to punch his ticket to Tahiti for the 2024 Games. Barona, a lantern-jawed regular foot, was a mainstay of the Ecuadorian team. He had won many national competitions, represented Ecuador at the World Surfing Games and also regularly competed on the World Surf League’s Qualifying Series.

Barona’s sister, Dominic, represented Ecuador at the Tokyo 2020 Games and also at the recently-wrapped 2023 Pan American Games.

The Ecuadorian Olympic Committee released a statement reading, “The Olympic Movement extends its heartfelt condolences to the Barona Matute family, following the death of the great athlete of Team Ecuador Surf, Israel Barona Matute. Rest in peace, champion…”

No cause of death given.

Aldean (insert) wears surf-face. Photo: Papa Surf
Aldean (insert) wears surf-face. Photo: Papa Surf

Country star Jason Aldean in super hot water for appropriating surf!

"This burger bar contains un-ceded vibes."

These times, man. Wild. Surf’s great safe space is teeing off on our autistic friends. Surf guru Sam George is savaging those who surf Maverick’s. Lightning rod country singer Jason Aldean is opening a surf-themed burger bar in Florida.

You might recognize the Aldean name from his many controversies. In 2015, the Nashville local told local media, “I feel like a lot of times female singers, to me, when they’re singing – and I’ll probably kick myself for saying this – a lot of times, it just seems like I can’t distinguish one from the other sometimes if I just listen to them, you know?”

That same year he also went in blackface for Halloween.

He later refused to wear a mask at Disneyworld during the Covid pandemic and refused to wear one again later.

Some controversies greater than others, I suppose. Or maybe not.

In any case, a more recent bit of trouble came after he released the single “Try That in a Small Town” which was seen as a racist dog whistle, I think.

The greatest of controversies, though, might be his complete and utter cultural appropriation of surf. Aldean was born in Macon, Georgia and though he loves Florida, a surfing state, appreciates its inland bits.

Enter Papa Surf

His lack of surf experience notwithstanding, Aldean joined up with fellow appropriators Brian and Brittney Kelley and Hall of Fame pitcher Tom Glavine to launch Papa Surf Burger Bar. The hamburger-forward establishment has a surf theme.

Papa Surf servers burgers with coopted names like “Beach Cowboy” and “Turkey Burger” named after former World Surf League CEO Erik Logan.


“My wife Brittney and I are just so fired up that the Papa Surf Burger Bar is officially open,” country music singer Kelley. “There will be so many special moments and memories made there. The vibe is real, the energy is great, and the burgers are next level. We’re so thankful to our partners for dreaming this all up together, and our team for working so hard to bring our vision to life.”

Surfers, everywhere, stunned. Those “special moments and memories” shrouded in a lie.

Protests currently in the works.

“This burger bar contains un-ceded vibes.”

Streaky Bay fisherman who filmed Great White shark after fatal attack on surfer says, “I feel for the kids. They saw everything”

Each new attack "inflames or reignites everyone's emotions and experiences, a new fear coming over you." 

Fisherman Jeff Schmucker has been buried in calls, text messages and interviews after filming a fifteen-foot Great White shark swimming at a popular South Australian surf spot, minutes after yesterday’s attack on a surfer. 

Schmucker, who is fifty-six, had planned to go foiling out the back of Granites but had been busy pulling up his crayfish pots and arrived at the popular lefthander a little later than he would’ve liked. 

It might’ve saved his life. 

“It was cruising on the outside of the break, where I would’ve been foiling. I would’ve jumped on top of the shark with my foil. It could’ve been the end of me,” he says.

As it was, and Schmucker don’t mess around, he jumped on his ski and started looking for the Great White.

“I was looking for the legrope hanging out of its mouth,” he says. “There was still six feet of legrope on the guy’s leg (when he was attacked) which means it would be long enough to hang out of its mouth. From mouth to tummy it’s only three feet.”

Schmucker says he did six laps of the Great White, trying to film it.

I asked him if he was  rattled ‘cause jet skis can be unstable and when there’s a fifteen-foot Great White underneath it there ain’t much between you and its jaws.

“Doesn’t bother me. I”m safe on the ski… ninety percent safe,” he says. 

“(But) my heart was racing a little bit. I didn’t want to hear the motor stop.” 

He says he’s never sene any Great White at Granites before yesterday and the last fatal hit in the proximity was on abalone diver Terry Manuel in 1974.

More than anything, Schmucker says he feels for the kids who saw it all, three separate hits on the surfer.

“I fucken feel for the kids. That bothers me, kids upset. There were fifteen people within twenty, thirty, forty metres. Big splash, lots of blood, the whole bit.”

In a wild series of coincidences, or maybe it’s just South Australia, Schmucker’s two paramedic daughters were also about to paddle out at the sites of two other recent Great White attacks (a non-fatal hit on Kangaroo Island in 2020) and the fatal hit on Elliston school teacher Simon Baccanello at Walker Rocks in May this year.

On Kangaroo Island, his daughter help get the wounded surfer to an ambulance; at Elliston, his other daughter watched helplessly on the rocks. 

Schmucker says each new attack “inflames or reignites everyone’s emotions and experiences, a new fear coming over you.”

Not everyone.

One Granites local who has lived in the area for thirty-five years was keen to hit the empty lineup explaining,

“When your number’s up your number’s up.”

Erik Logan at the Harry Walker agency
"You are the one who sets the vision. And the vision will come under attack. The vision will be questioned. People will doubt you and they will test your resolve."

Sacked WSL CEO Erik Logan delivers bombshell attack on surf fans after finding new life on speaking circuit!

“Your vision will come under attack. Your vision will be questioned.”

Four months ago, Erik Logan was disappeared by the WSL mid-event at the Vivo Rio Pro, no reason given, only a curtly worded press release that neither thanked nor exalted their high-profile CEO.

“Today, the World Surf League (WSL) announced that CEO Erik Logan has departed the company, effective immediately.”

Silence ensued as per the WSL’s policy regarding transparency, ie none, despite Logan’s almost five-year reign as head of pro surfing, which took in the pivot to a one-day world champ playoff, a mid-year tour cut, as well as failed ventures including The Ultimate Surfer and WSL Studios.

As Chas Smith reported following the disappearance,

The lack of any information, whatsoever, from the World Surf League in the aftermath, alongside the “flabbergasting” lack of knowledge by those close to the levers of power, suggested an absolutely ruthless NDA.

A championship tour surfer had told me, directly, that Logan had made certain surfers “feel uncomfortable” with his behavior and by asking them to one-on-one dinners or drinks. He also, it was said, became “erratic” when he drank. The assertion of both troublesome requests and over-indulgent drinking was corroborated by at least two others, both with direct experience.

“He was getting away with it for a while,” another with first hand experience told me. “Lots of reports the last few events that he’s been drunk and making inappropriate comments to the women.”

Putting pieces together, it suggests the sort of firing that would deliver no praise and require an ironclad NDA. One almost certainly concerning personal conduct and needing the head of human resources and the head of legal to take over at a moment’s notice.

One that forced him to “fly home immediately,” according to one source, directly following his ouster.

Erik Logan has been apprised of the accusations, that the aforementioned is my understanding of what led to his extreme ouster. I gave him much time to correct the record, via phone calls, voice messages left plus text, to provide any insight.

Many tears, you’d imagine, for a man who adored the sport’s stars so much he had a t-shirt made with a replica of Filipe Toledo’s chest tattoo and ordered the world champ to take off his shirt to compare. 

Erik Logan, who is fifty-two, ain’t a man to stay on the canvas, of course.

Logan has risen from the ashes of his sacking and has transmogrified to inspirational speaker, advising CEO’s, mangers and so on, how to best run a company. 

On his LinkedIn page, we find Logan, represented by The Harry Walker Agency, delivering an inspirational speech to the Pipeline Entrepreneurial Fellowship in Nebraska. 

“I have a saying when I walk into a company that companies turn around inside out not outside in. You have to establish the culture immediately. I think as a founder/CEO what gives you that alchemy in your community, which is your company, is you have to get the trust of your people.

“You have to have the highest regard of integrity. Also, and this is the part I’d add to the third leg of this stool is the vision. And you are the one who sets the vision. And the vision will come under attack. The vision will be questioned. People will doubt you and they will test your resolve.

“And that’s where the trust comes in. The culture allows you as the leader to hear the criticism and to embrace that criticism. For me, I think what makes that alchemy work is all three of those legs. But never forget the moment that if your’e the founder, the CEO, your job is to keep establishing, reinforcing the north star of where you’re going.” 

A personal attack on surf fans, yes? The naysayers who didn’t buy his treacly brand of surfing? You’ll remember, or not, when Logan debuted Transformed, stories of surf ambassadors whose lives were transformed through surfing, and who are now transforming their communities through the power of surfing.”

The first series “sparked an emotional response from surf fans and resonated with a broader audience,” Logan said at the time.

It also led to accusations that Erik Logan’s version of the WSL was festishising people of colour and it was this patronising approach masquerading as progressive values that had its potential audience staying away in droves.

If you wanna get Logan to speak at your Christmas party, Bar Mitzvah, decoupling event, Free Palestine protest, whatever, you can select from three topics.

-Riding the Waves of Passion and Profession: An unforeseen journey through Discovery, Loss, and Rediscovery

-Beyond the Degree: Life’s Unexpected Teaching on Success and Leadership

-The Art of the Turnaround: Lessons in Resurrecting Businesses and Cultures

What do you choose?

Or is the temptation too great to hear it all and would you book three times?  

The Inertia founder Zach Weisberg (insert) mocking an autistic boy. Photo: Atypical
The Inertia founder Zach Weisberg (insert) mocking an autistic boy. Photo: Atypical

Surf website attacks autistic readers for failing to understand joke!

Kicking those on the spectrum a new low for The Inertia.

It is a dangerous and scary world for adult learners. Halloween spooky year ‘round. Those who boldly took up surfing during the pandemic deal with myriad aggressions and micro-aggressions. Grumpy locals eyeballing them, Costco employees muttering “kook” under breath while they are surfboard shopping. Various instagram accounts lurking, waiting to capture them with backward fin set-ups or wetsuits.

Thankfully there is The Inertia. The safe space surf website has long been a comfort for the vulnerable. A place they can mingle amongst the likeminded and be coddled by a sensitive leader who understands them intimately.

You can imagine their horror, then, when Zach Weisberg and his merry band turned werewolf, viciously tearing into the flesh of meek volume enthusiasts.

Safe surf website goes wild

The “definitive voice of surfing” posted a piece titled “Why You Should Rethink That Mid-Length Surfboard Purchase You’re About to Make,” days ago, wherein the contributor listed various reasons why adult learners should steer clear of boards that were trendy three years ago.

“Mid-lengths are for people who never shut their iPhone light off,” the cis-presenting white male wrote. “People who listened to vinyl before it was hip. People who think TikTok is the sound a clock makes. People who still ride potato chips, listen to Bobby Dylan and believe him when he says they’ll be…Forever Young.”

Very hurtful.

The Inertia then shared the piece on social media, punching their community in the teeth with the line “The number of people who can’t spot sarcasm on the internet when they see it in 3..2…”


The Inertia community reacted with predictable sadness, “whoever wrote this is an absolute hot dog” etc., only to get told they didn’t understand sarcasm again and again until one poor fellow declared, “Hey, inertia, there are actually plenty of people on the spectrum that can’t detect sarcasm – including yours truly, half the time. It’s comical to me, but I don’t think it’s funny for everybody.”

The Inertia merely sneered.

Kicking the autistic a new low.

A change.org demanding apology currently in the works.

More as the story develops.