Chris Cote on the killing of the surf industry and the joys of toxic positivity

"It’s a privilege and an honour to give BeachGrit so much to talk about.”

If you knew Chris Cote like I know Chris Cote, you’d find the sweetest Peewee Herman-esque lover of life, gags, tumbling, surf all day, no-alcohol parties all night, and positivity wherever he can find it.

Also a shill for the World Surf League, but we all gotta make a living, the truth be told.

The respect is mutual, as you might imagine, with Chris Cote describing Chas Smith as the Tucker Carlson of surf media and BeachGrit as the sport’s own Fox News. A heady double compliment!

“Think about it, right,” said Chris Cote. “They talk to their base. They fire up their base. Chas is kind of like the Tucker Carlson of surf media. They’ve got their Bill O’Riellys and their made-up name people. People on their message board and it’s vicious. But it’s a lot of fun and it’s a privilege and an honor to give BeachGrit so much to talk about.”

BeachGrit commenter TodaysEmpiresTomorrowsAshes describes Chris Cote as a, “a pre-pubescent boy trapped in the body of a middle-aged man wrapped in the wardrobe of a 00s So-Cal high schooler.”

When asked about the criticism he replied, “I use it for humility purposes.”


In this episode of Chas Hates Surfing,

Chris Cote talks about the killing of the surf industry, the joys of toxic positivity, the wild threats he receives, or received back when he was on the tiller at Transworld Surf, speculates on the reasons for Eric Logan’s disappearance (no he doesn’t!) and explains why the median age for surfers is now forty-five plus.

California surfer (pictured) tricked by Surfline.
California surfer (pictured) tricked by Surfline.

Premium surf forecasting site accused of under-calling wave size during California super swell event luring adult learners to their doom!

Surfline up to no good?

The surf has only gotten bigger in California, if such a thing can be imagined. Yesterday, a “swell event” arrived from tip to tail of the Golden State. Massive surf in San Diego, in San Francisco, in Santa Barbara and off Santa Claus Lane too. The only place mercifully spared, Filipe Toledo’s adopted hometown of San Clemente.

Whew for him.

Otherwise big waves everywhere. Blowing right up. Surfline, the country’s premium surf forecasting website, for example, claiming North County San Diego to be “Double Overhead surf continues to mack out the top winter areas with + on that for sure at times. Bottom line this is some serious surf.”

Swamis called 6 – 8ft. (non-Hawaiian).

Though in a stunning accusation, a surfer industry longtimer stood on the bluff, watching the monsters roll and declared the 6 – 8ft to be vicious lies. It’s 8 – 10 with occasional 12, he informed me with much gravitas.

The reason for this major under-call? Well, as you know Surfline has been busy laying-off employees left and right trying to service a massive investment. Some of the surf forecasting has even been outsourced and maybe to artificial intelligence who wishes for adult learners to “know then go” to certain doom?

Nasty, if true.

Though did you surf early today trying to beat the crowds? David Lee Scales and I not. We dutifully sat down, digitally, across from each other and discussed the most important surf-adjacent things happening currently. Like making the perfect martini.


Riderless jetski causes chaos at epic twenty-foot Mavericks session!

Ghost jetski delivers a bravura performance at California's premier big wave!

If you’re in California or you like to fiddle with cams and surf reports and so on, you’ll know there’s been waves of some magnitude hitting the Pacific coastline, including big daddy Mavericks.

The “massive extra long period west swell” belting California, and notably Mavericks, is the same damn swell that lit up Jaws and co.

Yeah, there was a little south wind on it but it didn’t stop a United Nations of surfers from Tahiti, Hawaii, Portugal, as well as the usual local heroes including the big-wave surfer turned occasional WSL commentator Peter Mel, from hitting Mavericks. 

(Three years ago, almost to the day, Mel, who wears slightly too big flannel shirts and pants with stone washing applied at the factory, rode a thirty-foot tube at Mavericks. “Everyone on earth should see this ride,” said Kelly Slater.)

Mavericks was was first surfed in 1975 by seventeen-year-old hotshot Jeff Clark, who surfed it alone for 15 years before introducing it to the world in 1990.

In 1994, the great big-wave rider Mark Foo died surfing Mavericks; in 2011, another great Hawaiian surfer Sion Milosky drowned after a two-wave hold down. One month earlier Milosky had been named the North Shore’s underground surfer of the year. He used part of his twenty-five gees prizemoney to chase the swell to Mavericks.

(It got its sexy name in 1967 after Alex Matienzo, Jim Thompson, and Dick Notmeyer were surfing way inside Mavs and Matienzo’s flatmate’s dog Maverick kept swimming out to ’em.)

Anyway, turns out a riderless jetski stole the show with a bravado performance, sticking its unmanned lance into a monster wave’s neck before running out of steam as it attempted to motor back through the Mavericks swell and out to sea. 

In the clip, captured by Jamy Donaldson, watch as the jetski roams the lineup with impunity before flying too close to the sun.

Anyone who’s ever owned one of the damn things will know they come equipped with a kill switch lanyard, which is attached to a wrist band.

You fall off, boat stops. You don’t wear one, you fall, and it’s a no-man rodeo. 

Early reports suggest the runaway jetski belonged to Brazilian Lucas Chianca, one of the best big-wave surfers inn the world although he does ride a very fine line ‘tween life and death.

Two years ago at Nazaré, Chianca and his tow partner Kai Lenny were almost killed after a rescue forced the pair to ride their seven-hundred pound jetski into a ten-foot shorebreak.

Khai Cowley killed by a Great White shark while surfing at Ethels on South Australia's Yorke Peninsula.
Khai Cowley killed by a Great White shark while surfing at Ethels on South Australia's Yorke Peninsula.

Australia reeling after teenage surfer Khai Cowley killed in yet another Great White attack as expert warns, “It’s going to get worse”

“The show is over in South Australia. The population of sharks is growing steadily and rapidly.” 

A teenage surfer from South Australia, Khai Cowley, is dead after being attacked by a Great White shark while surfing at Ethels on the state’s Yorke Peninsula a little after one pm yesterday. 

Khai Cowley, a popular fifteen year old who had recently been awarded the “most outstanding grom performer” at his boardriders club, was killed after his leg was bitten off by the Great White. 

As is the norm these days, a hero made sure the boy wasn’t abandoned in his fight.

“The shark took his leg and so another local guy ran out, jumped on his board and paddled out to help him,” a witness told the Adelaide Advertiser. “The shark was circling them as the guy pulled the boy out of the water. There was a lot of bood. He brought him to shore but I think it was too late by then.”

His horrified dad watched from the beach as paramedics tried too save the kid.

After news of his death became known, locals drew large love heart shapes in the sand. 

“They’re (the family) very well known in the surf community, which just makes this news so much more tragic,” Port Noarlunga local Luke Winter The Advertiser. 

Two months ago, 55-year-old surfer Tod Gendle was killed and disappeared by a fifteen-foot Great White at Granites, twenty clicks out of Streaky Bay, South Australia, seven hundred clicks north-west of Adelaide. 

Earlier in the year, and just a hundred clicks south, local school teacher Simon Baccanello was killed by a Great White while surfing at Walkers Rocks in Elliston.

A brave soul, Baccanello warned others to split as the shark started swimming towards him telling terrified kids in the lineup, “Don’t worry, get yourself to shore”.

A local expert, who keeps his name outta these things ‘cause the don’t-hurt-the-sharks-yay-Palestine brigade is gonna light him up and he doesn’t need the headache, says this is only the beginning. 

He points to the end of the large mesh gill net fishery, closed for over ten years now, and the protection of the Great White as the culprits. 

“It’s going to get worse,” he says. “The show is over in  South Australia. The population of sharks is growing steadily and rapidly.” 

California surfer (pictured) losing faulty mind.

California surfers lose faulty minds as massive swell event arrives!

Giant waves from golden tip to tail!

It’s heeeeeeeeeeeeeere. The promised “swell event” has arrived to California, the entire state from Imperial Beach all the way up to Pacific Shores and my goodness, my gracious. Big and growing. Blacks is currently 8-10 (non-Hawaiian) and the rare Surfline purple for “good.” El Porto, a few hours north, is also 8-10 (still non-Hawaiian) though somehow shockingly walled and closing out. Thoughts and prayers, in any case, to our dear departed Erik Logan (RIP).

Rincon is 8-12, Steamer Lane is 20-25, Humboldt Harbor is 30-35 (all non-Hawaiian) and has such a thing ever happened? Pounding surf from golden tip to tail?

The aforementioned Surfline is using language like “heavy” and “know your limits.”

Weather service meteorologist Nicole Sarment one-upped the subscription service by declaring, “We really want to hammer home that beaches will be very dangerous. People should really not even go.”

But California surfers are not known to listen to reason.

So… where are you going? Silver Strand? It is currently 5-7 (obviously non-Hawaiian) but watch out. The locals are still surly.

Mavericks? It’s 15-20 (Hawaiian) with Condors likely out and about.

El Porto? You already know what’s happening there what with the shocking walling and closing out.

No matter where you paddle, you really can’t go wrong (unless El Porto).

Or are you the sort of California surfer that might sit this one out?

A sudden and so unfortunate tweaked neck oh rats?

Well, weather service meteorologist Nicole Sarment approves of that lack of spine.

Know your limits.