ISA president Fernando Aguerre and new Teahupoo tower
ISA prez Fernando Aguerre and artist's impression of the sexy aluminium tower that'll be bolted onto the Teahupoo reef. | Photo: ISA/Paris 2024

ISA blames French Polynesian government for Teahupoo Olympic tower fiasco

ISA absolves Paris 2024 organisers of blame for environmentally catastrophic judging tower.

After maintaining a conspicuous silence on the building of a five-million dollar judging tower atop Teahupoo’s fragile coral reef, the International Surfing Association has taken a baseball bat to French Polynesia’s government while absolving Paris 2024 organisers of blame.

In a just released statement, the ISA, governing body of world surfing apparently, says its advice was the Teahupoo contest should be judged remotely via “live images shot from land, water and drones” although “subsequently the French Polynesian Government decided to go forward with a plan to build a new aluminium tower on the reef.”

You hear a little alarm bell going off?

The ISA’s advice was on December 9, three months after locals started throwing heat at Paris 2024 for the Teahupoo build.

Multiple protests followed, you’ll remember, and a visit from the mayor of Paris ensued as the ISA remained silent.

Nothing on social media, no statements, crickets, as they say.

Why silent?

The ISA didn’t care to rock Olympic masters?

A reflection of the fragility of surfing’s inclusion in the Games?

And, correct me if I’m wrong but didn’t the president of French Polynesia Moetai Brotherson tell the Pacific Islands Forum that maybe, in light of  opposition from Teahupoo locals, they should shift the three-day event to Taharuu, forty or so clicks back towards Papeete?

“At the time, it wasn’t possible. In view of the issues at stake and the protests today, perhaps we can revise this option,” said Brotherson.

Teahupoo just beat out Taharuu as the choice for Paris 2024 following a visit by delegates in 2020.

In a response to Brotherson, Paris 2024 organisers said in a statement,

“Tahiti was chosen because of the Teahupoo site and its legendary wave, one of the most beautiful in the world. As our president, Tony Estanguet, recently pointed out, our priority today is to find a solution that will enable us to organise the surfing events of the Olympic Games in Tahiti, at the Teahupoo site, in the best possible conditions.”

Wooden tower (pictured) mocking aluminum. Photo: WSL
Wooden tower (pictured) mocking aluminum. Photo: WSL

International surfing assoc. takes fierce anti-Olympic stand in Tahiti!

Big Aluminum to blame?

The Teahupoo judging tower business is a story that refuses to die. In case you need a brief refresher, Paris Olympic organizers decided that the surfing portion of the Games would be held at Teahupo’o, halfway around the world. Surfers immediately cheered save one (Filipe Toledo) though smiles soon turned upside down as the committee declared it would build a massive new aluminum judging tower on the reef.

Locals, angry, opposed the plan.

To prove how wonderful it would be, the French authorities drove a barge onto the reef.

More local rage.

Capitulating, organizers said they would build an aluminum tower in the same footprint of the existing one.

Now, the International Surfing Association, governing body for Olympic surfing, has shouted “Non!”

A wildly oppositional position by any stretch.

In a press release titled “The ISA will not support the construction of the new aluminum judges’ tower at Teahupo’o (Tahiti)” the ISA made clear that it does not support the construction of a new aluminum judges’ tower at Teahupo’o, which just so happens to be in Tahiti.

Wonderful, but how do you think the French powers that be will take this very public knock from a minor Olympic player not even two cycles in?

More importantly, how many times has the word “aluminum” been used over the past few months as it relates to the imbroglio?

Is this a Big Aluminum conspiracy?

More as the story develops.

No way this ever happened. Huntington Beach, stop 4 or something.
No way this ever happened. Huntington Beach, stop 4 or something.

World Surf League gifts most ardent fans a stunningly average “Challenger Series” ahead of Christmas!

Thank you, World Surf League!

For the five hardcore surf fans awaiting the release of the World Surf League’s “Challenger Series” schedule, Christmas came early. The “Global Home of Surfing,” dropped the lightly anticipated B-league calendar that was instantly dubbed “stunningly average” by students of the game.

Per the press release:

The 2024 Challenger Series will start in April in Australia after CT Stop No. 5 with an event at Snapper Rocks on the Gold Coast and another in Sydney at North Narrabeen. Next up, the tour heads to Ballito, South Africa, followed by the US Open of Surfing in early August and a stop in Portugal at the end of September. The Challenger Series concludes in October in Brazil, where the top 10 ranked men and top five ranked women will be decided and qualify to join the world’s best surfers on the 2025 Championship Tour. Competitors will count their four best results out of the six events.

“We’re three years into the Challenger Series format, and it feels really good to see this Series build and solidify its place in the competition pathway,” said Jessi Miley-Dyer, WSL Chief of Sport, adding a little more oatmeal to the serving of plain oatmeal. “48 surfers have earned their place in the Championship Tour via their performances in the Challenger Series since 2021, and the 2024 season will see 15 more join them.”

Each of the six stops will be broadcast, though even the aforementioned five hardcore surf fans were unsure if they’d tune in to anything except Snapper and only then to see the tears of recently shamed Championship Tour surfers who had not made the cut in higher definition.

Fine enough entertainment.

In case you actually care, and aside from the 12 men and seven women from the CT who did not make the Mid-season Cut, the rest of the Challenger Series is made up of:

-10 men and five women from the previous year’s Challenger Series rankings,

-Three men and two women who were CT surfers in the prior season that did not requalify for either the CT or the Challenger Series,

-49 men and 30 women as allocated by the seven WSL regions (Australia/Oceania, Asia, Africa, Europe, Hawaii/Tahiti Nui, North America, and South America), and

-The men’s 2023 World Junior Champion,

-The women’s 2023 World Junior Champion, and

-Five men’s and three women’s wildcards per event.

Bon appetite.

Lyon Herron, dead at 31
One week before his death Lyon Herron wrote, "I’m so comfortable with the end of this life’s journey that I honestly am welcoming the end with open arms. I don’t want anyone to mourn me when I pass, but to celebrate the life that I lived. I am so blessed and so grateful for the life that I’ve had, I’ve been living on borrowed time for a very long time now and now it’s my souls time to move on."

Miki Dora-esque Malibu icon Lyon Herron, dead at 31

“My baby traded in his broken body for golden wings this morning at 11:27am”

A little over one week ago, the wildly stylish Malibu surfer Lyon Herron wrote a moving goodbye message to friends, to family and to anyone that’d ever spun in his orbit. 

I’ve made the decision to move palliative care to hospice care, the suffering and pain has just gotten past the point of being able to handle. For those of you that know me, know that I have a very unique connection with death. I’ve been so close to it so many times and have literally been told that I wasn’t going to make it through the night more times that I can count. I’m so comfortable with the end of this life’s journey that I honestly am welcoming the end with open arms. I don’t want anyone to mourn me when I pass, but to celebrate the life that I lived. I am so blessed and so grateful for the life that I’ve had, I’ve been living on borrowed time for a very long time now and now it’s my souls time to move on. I’m doing it the natural way so who knows how long it will take but I want to thank each and everyone one of you for keeping me going through the toughest of times. Like I said, I am blessed. I love you all from the bottom of my heart and will always be here as a guardian angel to my loved ones. It’s not goodbye, it’s just see you soon. So excited to finally get to see my uncles who have passed before me. Adios friends.

“Your love for humans and your passion for life is so inspiring and is spreading into so many of us. Thank you for sharing your journey and your love. You’re a miracle,” wrote Griffin Colapinto.

Mama to John John, Ivan and Nathan, Alex Florence, wrote: “Thank you Lyon for letting us get to know you a little and showing us true bravery…my heart is so sad reading this.. I don’t have the right words to express.. just want you to know our family is truly grateful to have witnessed such courage and love. A Hui Hou.”

Lyon Herron fought one hell of a battle. Lyon was seven when he was diagnosed with Gardner Syndrome, “a rare, inherited condition where people develop hundreds and sometimes thousands of abnormal growths in their large and small intestines. These growths, called polyps, are noncancerous at first, but some have an almost 100% chance of becoming cancerous.”

A GoFundMe page set up to help ease the cost of his myriad treatments (35k of a needed 75k was raised) detailed his long trial.

It read in part:


Since November 1st, 2019, Lyon has spent 485 days at Cedars Sinai hospital dealing with an intestinal fistula (hole in his intestine), inter-abdominal abscesses, very aggressive fast growing desmoid tumors wrapped around his small intestine and mesenteric artery, sepsis, edema, low hemoglobin and so much more. Since this is the height of the pandemic, he spends most of his admissions in the hospital alone, with no visitors allowed.

In January of 2022 during a procedure to put a new clamp on the fistula, he aspirated in post-op recovery, so his lungs filled up to 80% with vomit and acidic fluid. He was placed into a medically induced coma and put on life support because his lungs started to fail. The doctors gave him a 20% chance of waking up, and miraculously with the prayers of a strong community behind him, within 3 days he started to make a remarkable come back, and within a week after being placed in a coma, he woke up.

Since then, it’s been a long and difficult road to recovery, and although he takes a couple steps forward, if feels like he always takes 3 steps back. He’s been approved for disability, and although he gets a small, subsidized amount to help with living and medical expenses, it’s still not enough to make sure he’s living with no monetary fear. We hope that we can take away any fear of getting by monetarily while he focuses on healing and recovering his body. 

BeachGrit readers would’ve immediately been reminded of late commenter Sean Mitchell aka Offrocker’s words as he, too, prepared himself for his “medieval ordeal.

“Surfing has taught me to not be greedy with my expectations, to take opportunities as they present themselves, to fight and hunt, and the capacity to dine out on those very few peak moments for weeks and months – and that’s just what I need now to get me through this medieval ordeal. I might be dying, but I’m not quitting,” wrote Sean, who died of colon cancer aged thirty-six, three years ago. 

Four days ago, Barbie, Lyon Herron’s mama, posted.

Last night I woke up from a dream that I did not want to forget so I wrote it down immediately.

I was waiting for lyon to get out of the shower and I suddenly became weightless like there was an energy that took over me. For a split second I had this fear but then I knew my brothers had something to do with it so I surrendered and became weightless. I danced around the room floating from floor to ceiling with the most beautiful blue light energy trailing me and within me. There was one person sitting on the floor in the room and I danced too close to her and felt the gravity free energy dissipate. I had this smile of warmth in my soul and calm in my body. It was heavenly.

I knew then as Lyon was exiting the shower – but it was as if he was coming out of the ocean instead of the shower- that I was suppose to guide him to that blue light I just embodied. I saw it swirling around us. I caught him as he fell into my arms and I told him to let the light find him and that it was safe and ok and right then he closed his eyes and smiled with a sense of calm and peace then I heard the angels. It was the most beautiful celestial orchestra I’ve ever heard. I can’t even put it into words. As he lay in my arms, I felt his energy shift into the blue light and leave his body as the smile remained.

I just woke up and was still hearing the angels sing.

I needed to write this down so I don’t forget but I know this was heaven giving me a glimpse of what’s to come so that I can help guide him through this portal. This was the full circle moment of my mama journey with him.

Just checked on him… he’s still breathing 🙏🏼

Written at 1:05am

I shared this with him this morning. We are ready for the beautiful blue light.


Earlier today, his mama broke the news her boy Lyon Herron had died.

My baby traded in his broken body for golden wings this morning at 11:27am.

I need a moment to process it all because honestly, I’m not sure how to do life without him.

My mama heart is shattered but at the same time resting in peace with his knowing that the suffering died alongside body.

Thank you all for sharing your tremendous hearts with us.

Again, a roll call of surfing identities sent their condolences including, again, Alex Florence.

“Sending you so much love .. mother to mother,” wrote Alex. “Rest in peace Lyon . we will forever be touched by your sweet spirit!

Chas Smith, Nick Carroll and Sports Illustrated AI bot
"Devastatingly realistic AI-generated avatars walk among us. Some borrow accredited human bylines to produce their work. Others are seemingly concocted from scratch; their entire online existence only a facsimile of a shadow of a soul’s echo." But can you pick what is real and what isn't?

Surf journalism in crisis as tight-knit community “infiltrated by insentient, ethically-blind copy farmers”

"Before, there was a general consensus that surf stories were at least written by real human beings. No more!"

Revelations that Surfer magazine and its parent company The Arena group are employing AI bots to both curate and write content have rocked the tight-knit surf journalist community to its core.

What was once a proud, well-respected profession of learned scholars and literary giants has been infiltrated by insentient, ethically-blind copy farmers.

While the last decade or so has seen a rise in Nick Carroll’s “new sarcasm” generation, many hiding behind anonymous handles and pseudonyms to produce morally spurious content, there was a general consensus that the articles they were producing were at least written by real human beings.

But now, devastatingly realistic AI-generated avatars walk among us. Some borrow accredited human bylines to produce their work. Others are seemingly concocted from scratch; their entire online existence only a facsimile of a shadow of a soul’s echo.

This is to say there is now an existential crises among the international surf journalist scene. No longer do writers congregate in small editorial offices where they can smell, taste, touch their comrades. The world is now so dispersed, that many writers may go their entire career yet never even meet each other in the flesh.

Furtive glances shoot back and forth the digital divide amongst even well-established scribes as to who is real, who is not.

Indeed, some are so contorted, so self-consumed, they may even be questioning their own existence.

To answer this fundamental question, a new approach is required.

You may remember the Voight-Kampff test from the science fiction classic Bladerunner. It is set in a near-future dystopia where androids live amongst humans, indistinguishable only to the most discerning of eyes. In it, the The Voigt-Kampff Empathy Test is designed to determine androids from humans by articulating the subject’s ability to empathize; something still impossible for the artificial mind.

I propose here a similar test, designed to specifically target the surf journalist community, and determine once and for all which were born kicking and screaming into this world and which were created on a desktop somewhere in Silicon Valley.

A sample of questions below. Do you dream of electric sheep?

Question: You are offered a full-time writing position with a well-known surfing publication. It is secure, cushy, and handsomely remunerated. However, it does require you to forego certain editorial liberties when it comes to particular sponsors and surfers.

Do you:

A. Refuse the offer and tell the bastards they’ll prise your independence from your cold, dead, amyl-nitrate stained hands; before reneging and re-accepting soon after receiving your next child support bill.

B. Accept the offer as long as you’re allowed to do key bumps before zoom meetings.

C. Accept the offer as long as you’re allowed to meet Gerry Lopez.

D. All of the above

Question: you receive an anonymous tip-off that the parent company of the publication you write for is bankrolling the development of a major hotel-marina in a developing country that will result in the destruction of a once-secret heaving reef slab. Keeping silent will mean you have to betray various moral and ethical boundaries you had committed to when you first became a surf journalist, but reporting the story will mean you lose your job.

Do you:

A. Write the story, only to have it withheld at the last minute by a former friend who is now the COO of the mooted project. You have a fist fight at the hotel bar in front a group of bewildered tourists, blood flying across the room like a sprinkler under the summertime sun, before he finally forces you to sign an NDA feat. a handsome hush payment. You walk back to your hotel room, spitting crimson shaded teeth onto the tastefully-tiled walkway, wondering what your life has become, before immediately booking a four week trip to the Ments and three new Arakawas.

B. Withhold the story, accept shares in the new development, and marry one of the local women because at least they know how to treat a man right. Also, what’s an ethical boundary?

C. Not even consider doing the story, and instead write an article promoting the development titled ‘Top 5 outdoor sports for when the ocean waves are flat.’ Also, what’s a heaving reef slab?

D. All of the above

Question: You’re offered an opportunity to surf in Kelly Slater’s new Dubai Wave Pool as an official guest of the UAE government.

Do you:

A. Tell that shiny-headed dilettante that he can take his environment-destroying, civil-liberty-depriving wavepool and shove it up his arse; without admitting you’re actually just scared of bogging a rail on your first turn.

B. Accept and wonder if this means you can now take on a harem.

C. Accept, as long as he can keep it on the intermediate setting.

D. All of the above.

If you answered:

Mostly A) You are indeed a living, breathing, grizzled surf journalist. You are free to continue raging against the machine while turning a blind eye where needed; your life a booze and pill-festooned monument to compromise. Hey, at least you still have that novel to work on.

Mostly B) You’re the best kind of surf journalist: an industry-embracing, grammar-eschewing advertorial hack who either doesn’t know or doesn’t care about journalistic integrity. And why should you? It’s just fucken surfing after all. Ignorance is bliss.

Mostly C) You are an insentient, asinine, malignant copy-bot. Artificial unintelligence. The harbinger of humanity’s downfall. Or you might just work for The Inertia. Please report to me for further testing to determine where there’s a difference between the two.

Mostly D) You are Matt George. Keep shining bright, you crazy animal.