Maui surfer suffers fatal shark encounter while chasing super swell

A dark day.

Tragedy struck the Valley Isle of Maui, yesterday mid-morning, as a thirty-nine year old surfer died following what was dubbed a “shark encounter.” The unnamed man was out partaking in the glorious super swell event at Paia Bay, on the north shore, when hit. Ocean Safety Officers, per the report, picked him up in the water and transported him to shore where “life-saving measures were performed by first responder personnel until medic personnel arrived to transport the male to the Maui Memorial Medical Center for further treatment.”

He succumbed to his injuries at the hospital, foul play being ruled out.

The County of Maui closed Baldwin Beach and Lower Pa’ia Park while it investigates, posting signs to let visitors know of shark activity.

This is the eighth shark incident this year in Hawaii, the third in Maui. Earlier, a shark bit a surfboard, biting its tail right off and, another, bit an inflatable SUP.

Pa’ia Bay is a wonderfully scenic strip of white sand and turquoise water named after the town which is known for quaint restaurants and shops though a French tourist had her arm bitten off by shark while swimming a year ago.

The entire incident list is here.


Pipeline comes to San Diego on best-day ever!

“It was historic!”

If you live in what is called the Golden State, nine hundred miles of Pacific coast stretching from dirty border town San Diego to pristine Oregon, you might’ve become aware of a swell of extraordinary intensity overheating various reefs and beaches.

Spectators washed away at Mavs, Ventura, others enjoying the spectacle from the safety of bluffs, seated on picnic rugs eating deliciously cool sandwiches garnished with cucumber and lettuce or poking fingers into jars of gherkins as surfers pulled themselves into round and flawless and gleaming tubes.

Yesterday, December 29 in the US, was a delight, no trace of wind or heat, a divine day, and the veteran surf photographer Jimmy Wilson, famous for a slightly flabby chin and a contralto voice, captured San Diego’s waves looking like Hawaii’s famous Pipeline.

Jimmy writes,

I’m pretty dang happy right now. Today was by far the best session I’ve ever witnessed in San Diego. As you will see, it’s not the most organized or easy wave to read, but the potential for a session of this level has been in the making for a long time.

I want to send a huge thank you to Damien Hobgood who I’ve been shooting photos of here for nearly a decade. He used to paddle out in psycho conditions where no one thought it was possible, and it was borderline most of those days. His wave from the last El Niño in 2016 was seriously historic (Watch Surfing Magazine’s video: Just Up The Coast) and the same angle I shot that photo, is what I chose to film from today. He also helped babysit my daughter Koura this morning so I could shoot, and then helped line up our friend Kevin to continue babysitting all our kids when he paddled out.

I also want to thank Skip McCullough. La Jolla local and a core icon! You can tell he was waiting for the stars to align to show what he can do out there. Amazing performance. Someone pay this man!

What was originally supposed to be a short window of me filming this morning turned into 7:15am-3pm on the sticks, zero food or water.


Swami's (location secret) on Super Thursday. Photo: Jimmicane
Swami's (location secret) on Super Thursday. Photo: Jimmicane

California surfers stagger as another mammoth swell event arrives!

"Know your limits!"

This week between Christmas and New Year’s Eve will go down, in California, as one of the wildest runs of “swell events” maybe every. Giant waves detonating from San Diego’s south to Eureka’s north. Rubberneckers getting swept right out into the angry sea. The mainstream media crowing about cyclone-induced madness. Weather service experts warning, “Take caution and heed the direction of local authorities and lifeguards. Never ever turn your back to the water as damaging and life-threatening sneaker waves are likely to occur.”

Yikes!

Famed surf photographer Jimmy “Cane” Wilson captured Thursday’s wild from secret spot Swami’s bluff. The place doing its best impression of Mavericks.

“Famous pros” like Kai Lenny, Andrew Cotton and Lucas Chumbo opting for the real Mavericks instead.

Jojo Roper, who ditched Mavericks South for Mavericks North, told the BBC, “It’s been a long time since it’s been that kind of a day. It’s nice to have it in our territory, and take advantage of some waves close to home rather than travelling to Portugal or where all these other guys come from to chase their waves. They’re coming to chase our waves. It’s pretty cool. It all comes full circle.”

But, again, more today.

Surfline, which may be tricking adult learners toward their doom, is claiming, “New, pumping long period W swell is filling in strong this morning around South OC, with many spots in the overhead to well overhead range, while top winter reefs, points and deep water breaks are seeing double overhead + surf.”

And for Santa Cruz, “Overall, today is another XL day, know your limits and spend time watching the ocean before considering a surf.”

Morro Bay is 15 – 20ft.

El Porto, shockingly, closed out.

How much is too much, though?

Is it a little rude to ask for a small break in order to rest shoulders?

Maybe a warm epsom salt bath soak?

No?


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.”

Wise!

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.

Enjoy.