Bethany Hamilton (pictured) causing feelings.
Bethany Hamilton (pictured) causing feelings.

Small Wisconsin town ignites after lightning rod surfer Bethany Hamilton tapped as keynote speaker for women’s event!

"Bethany Hamilton simply does not personally want to accept transgender women as women."

But who would have ever guessed that the most controversial, the most polarizing surf figure in 2024 would be Bethany Hamilton? Certainly not me. I might have selected Zeke Lau, maybe even Zeke Lay but certainly not the inspirational shark attack survivor Bethany Hamilton.

Though here we are in 2024 and it’s true.

The latest bit of contention comes from the most unlikely of places, Oshkosh, Wisconsin, where the local women’s group tapped Hamilton as its keynote speaker only to ignite the simmering culture war.

The Oshkosh Women’s Fund’s annual Power of the Purse announced, “T’S TIME! We have exciting news to share! Our 2024 POWER OF THE PURSE keynote speaker is, Bethany Hamilton. Bethany’s story of overcoming obstacles and living with resilience, perseverance, and heart has helped her live an Unstoppable life. We’re thrilled for the community to hear her message – in hopes that it will inspire others to live unstoppable.”

What should have been a moment of joy for the town best known for making children’s overalls was, instead, twisted into a five-page online letter excoriating the choice, declaring that Hamilton is transphobic and not fit to stand at the lectern.

“We, the undersigned, are members and allies of Oshkosh’s LGBTQ+ community,” it began. “We are your neighbors, supporters, volunteers, and friends. We appreciate the positive work the Oshkosh Area Community Foundation and Discover Oshkosh does to uplift our entire community. We also sincerely hope we share an understanding of the importance of supporting and including the LGBTQ+ community in all facets of daily life.”

Also, “Hamilton’s boycott (against the World Surf League) is not motivated by concerns about athlete safety or maintaining the integrity of a professional sport. Bethany Hamilton simply does not personally want to accept transgender women as women.”

And, “It undermines their community partnership initiatives toward ending isolation and loneliness, promoting youth mental and physical health, and supporting parents. It also creates and enhances a direct platform for amplifying anti-transgender bigotry in our own backyard.”

So far, the Women’s Fund has not bent to pressure and Wisconsin State Representative Ron Tusler is even swinging in with support, declaring, “Cancel culture is just going way too far in this state. This poor girl who lost her arm to a shark at age 13 is now being attacked because she doesn’t want to compete against men in sports?”

Importantly, where do you stand? Should Hamilton be allowed to inspire or will her inclusion be a metaphorical lynching of the LGBTQ+ community?

Peter King, are you there? Please weigh in.

Eimeo Czermak, cropped at Pipe Masters and, inset, Filipe Toledo.
Eimeo Czermak, crippled by wave and medical bills and, inset, two-time world champ Filipe Toledo, generous.

Filipe Toledo makes astonishing cash gift to surfer crippled in wipeout at Vans Pipe Masters

Two-time world champ Filipe Toledo drags Eimeo Czermak out of financial purgatory!

The two-time world champion surfer Filipe Toledo has bolstered the crowdfunding account of Tahitian Eimeo Czermak, the surfer sent to ICU after a wipeout at the Vans Pipe Masters.

The financial woes of Eimeo, who is twenty and a stand-out in heavy water waves, have been well documented.

To recap, every so briefly, Eimeo suffered spine and head injuries after being pitched head-first into the reef during his heat with the three Florence bros during the aforementioned Vans Pipe Masters.

Eimeo revealed he was 55k in the hole ‘cause he didn’t have travel insurance, wrongly thinking he’d be covered by the Vans-sponsored contest and was asking for a little help to get him through.

In his GoFundMe message Eimeo wrote,

I was taken by an ambulance to the ICU at a local hospital where they performed various procedures and, although I told them I did not have health insurance, they required me to stay overnight which cost me $37,000.

After that, I couldn’t feel or move my legs for a week and a half, and still to this day am dealing with the effects of the injury and concussion, which has resulted in depression. I’ve never been one to ask people for money or help, but this situation unfolded without my control and has put me and my surfing career in a very difficult position.

The combination of the ambulance ride, hospital stay, MRI and other tests, ended up costing me $55,000.

If I’m unable to pay back the hospital bills, I won’t be allowed to return to the United States or surf in Hawaii again since I am from Tahiti (French Polynesia).

This is heartbreaking for me because Hawaii is like a second home to me and has played a huge role in growing my career because of the major contests’ I’ve been able to compete in there. If I’m unable to return to Hawaii, it’ll have a huge negative impact on my surfing career.

Fans were furious about two things. His lack of insurance coverage, for one, but mostly the revelation that Vans, who recently made news by sacking most of their surf team, appear to’ve ignored the kid after he left in the event all trussed up in an ambo.

Whatever the case, and wherever you stand on the issue, Filipe Toledo has swung into town and gifted Eimeo five thousand dollars, almost ten percent of the fifty-fifty k he was chasing.

Filipe Toledo donates five thousand dollars to Eimeo Czermak.
Filipe Toledo donates five gees to Eimeo.

Eimeo is now only twelve gees short of his goal and an escape from his financial purgatory.

Also a notable donor was the co-founder of Stab magazine Sam McIntosh who pledged one thousand dollars.

Less notable is the shoe giant Vans, who are yet to contribute even one shekel. 

Robert F Kennedy Jr and Kelly Slater filmed surfing together!

"Bobby Kennedy is the kind of person I want as a President," says Kelly Slater.

News hot from the North Shore of Oahu is the just-gone-public relationship of presidential hopeful Robert F Kennedy Jr and the greatest surfer of all time and North Shore resident Kelly Slater. 

Bobby is the jacked-to-hell seventy-year-old former junkie son of murdered attorney general Robert Kennedy and nephew of murdered president John Fitz Kennedy.

Kelly Slater, who turns fifty two in three weeks and just in time for the Lexus Pipe Pro where he’ll enter as co-favourite with Filipe Toledo, is without peer in an almost one hundred year old sport with millions of participants. 

He has won eleven world titles, a whole damn lot of Pipe Masters, some Triple Crowns, back when they meant something, and singlehandedly opened the gate to the wavepool revolution. 

For a while there Robert F Kennedy Jr was eating up the news as he chased the Democratic presidential nomination, although the Republican Vivek Ramaswamy has since stolen his cute new guy thunder. 

Earlier this year, Kelly Slater used Instagram to announce his support for Robert F Kennedy Jr, posting a clip where Kennedy says:

“I started taking drugs soon after my dad’s death. I started when I was 15 years old. I didn’t like being an addict. I wanted to stop, and that’s when I picked up this book called Synchronicity by Carl Jung.”

Slater wrote, “The kind of person I want as a President. Great message.”

Now, and thanks from a pal of mine from jiujitsu who happened to be on the North Shore with his yoga teacher gal who filmed it all, we see Slater and Bobby, and their entourage which also included notable surf personality Peter King, sharing the ocean. 

Robert F Kennedy Jr has a surprisingly robust stance while Slater is statue-like on the soft surfboard.

Slater and Kennedy also went shark diving!


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by RFK Jr. (@robertfkennedyjr)

One surfer who isn’t in thrall with Kennedy however, is the “supernaturally graceful” three-time longboard champ and jiutjisu black belt Joel Tudor. 

Following an online post by Kennedy where he visits a black-run organic farm and claims “Urban African-American communities have become food deserts where you cannot find healthy food”, or redlining and racism is hoarding all the good food for da whites, Tudor came out swinging.

“Awwwww it ain’t just black people who eat like this …it’s all of poor america! Ridiculous that you are acting like this is a one sided problem…’s a nation wide problem that attacks the non wealthy! Take a trip to any trailer park in America and you’ll find this scenario has no color!”

Chas Smith Hates Surf Skates

"No phenomenon is so tainted nor so ugly as the surf skate phenomenon…"

In his latest effort to salvage what might remain of modern surf culture from the vulnerable adult learner and websites pandering to the sport’s wreckers, Chas Smith attacks the curious phenomenon of “surf skates.”

They are skateboard-esque devices designed to mimic the feeling and movement of surfing on land, characterized by a special front truck that allows for tighter turns and more fluid carving, enabling riders to pump surf skates to generate speed without pushing off the ground.

As any new surfer will tell you,

People ride surf skates for a variety of reasons, but mostly because it’s as fun and unique way to experience the feeling of surfing on land. It’s a great way to practice and improve your surfing skills, even when the waves are flat or you’re far from the ocean.

Another reason people ride ’em is for the pure enjoyment of it. The smooth, flowing motion and tight turns provide a sense of freedom and excitement that’s hard to find in other sports. Plus, it’s a great way to stay active and get some exercise while having a blast.

There are many surf skate communities around the world, and joining one can be a great way to make new friends and share tips and tricks.

In short, people ride surf skates because it’s a fun, challenging, and rewarding way to experience the thrill of surfing on land.

“No phenomena is so tainted nor so ugly as the phenomena of surf skates where we have fully capable men and women wiggling down streets, wiggling down sidewalks,” says Smith. “I don’t know where it came from and I don’t know where it’s going. But it is here now and, of course, The Inertia has reviewed the best of them. Shall we read?”

Pipeline closing out on World Surf League?
Pipeline closing out on World Surf League?

World Surf League in danger of losing Pipeline contest window as Honolulu officially changes permit rules!

“We are hoping for better diversity in the types of events organized..."

The World Surf League’s 2024 Championship Tour kicks off in just days, now, though you wouldn’t know it what with the absolute and complete silence hanging in the air. The first rule of professional surfing at its highest level is, apparently, that you don’t talk about professional surfing at its highest level. But its true, the Lexus Pro Pipeline opens its window on January 29 though it might be the last of its kind.

For a few short weeks ago, Honolulu’s local government got together and officially revised its “Shore Water Event Rules” including who will be allowed permits to host contests on Oahu’s fabled North Shore starting in 2025 and running through 2027. You can read all here, but, basically, events will be ranked based upon how they will improved diversity, mitigate community impact, solve traffic problems and provide much gender diversity alongside environmental do gooding.

“The highest ranked application will be allotted their first choice of location and time. Remaining slots will be offered to applicants in order of their ranking,” the new application process states.

“We are hoping for better diversity in the types of events organized, and equity for the various participants — particularly as it relates to gender,” Department of Parks and Recreation spokesperson Nate Serota old the Star-Advertiser, “while keeping park facilities available and mitigating the impacts of these events on the surrounding community.”

The World Surf League has famously devalued the North Shore since its inception in 2015 circa 1976. In those early days, it attempted to strong-arm Honolulu before big-footing a schedule change that flipped Pipeline to the beginning of the season and elevated Lower Trestles, in Southern California, to the crowning jewel.

Maybe none of it matters, in the end, as the World Surf League really does feel it’s on its way out the door altogether. I am certain that Oahu’s North Shore will somehow survive but what of Lowers?

Will it entirely disappear?

More as the story develops.