Billy Kemper (pictured) glowing.
Billy Kemper (pictured) glowing.

World’s most beloved surfer Billy Kemper wins Da Hui Backdoor Shootout!

"The weight of winning the Shootout is so much heavier than a WSL event or any other contest.”

It is impossible not to adore Maui’s Billy Kemper. The big wave, small wave and everything in between charger has inspired surf fans for years. But who, here, was not moved by the eponymous six-part series Billy that tracked the star as he recovered from a life-threatening injury and returned to the very heights of surfing power.

Essential, to quote the great Derek Rielly. And pivoting to modern times, just yesterday, or maybe the day before, Kemper won the prestigious Da Hui Backdoor Shootout as part of Team Peru. The waves for the final day were not what would be considered “good,” though they certainly highlighted our hero’s ability to shine in any and all conditions.

“Some of these events in surfing never really register as surf contests,” Kemper declared at the end. “To me, only two events in the entire world hold that power: The Shootout and The Eddie. They’re more like celebrations of surfing, culture and community rather than rankings, ratings or competition. At the end of the day, the weight of winning the Shootout is so much heavier than a WSL event or any other contest.”


And, please, discuss what the win means for you as you navigate various ups and downs in your own life.

Kelly Slater (pictured) gazing into a bleak future.

Surf champion Kelly Slater looks over wizened shoulder and sees mob closing in on post-surf career

Inspirational speaking circuit rapidly shutting.

The World Surf League kicks off its 2024 Championship Tour in mere days, though not that you’d know it. The sounds emanating from the “global home of surfing’s” El Segundo veterinarian office can only be described as “radio silent” with a dash of “dying cat.”

Well, no matter and it’s true. Filipe Toledo is certainly gearing up for his third crown in a row but it is unlikely that he will ever catch one Kelly Slater. Surfing’s greatest of all-time has amassed an eye-watering eleven championships over the course of his decades-long career.

Very neat.

All things come to an end, however, and now fifty-six, and only on tour thanks to a “special” season-long wildcard, Slater must be planning on what life looks like outside of the singlet.

One avenue, that of inspirational circuit speaker, likely blocked by an angry mob. For you have certainly seen the trouble shark attack survivor and icon Bethany Hamilton has faced in recent days. A woman’s group in Oshkosh, Wisconsin invited the Kauai native to address its members. All very innocent… except. A gaggle became enraged and collaborated on a five-page open letter seeking to have Hamilton removed.

“For those who may not be aware, Bethany Hamilton announced in February 2023 that she refuses to compete in World Surf League events in response to their decision to adopt the International Surfing Association (ISA) policy on transgender participation,” the framers declared. “Bethany Hamilton wants transgender surfers to be segregated into a separate athletic division. Currently, there are no transgender athletes competing in the World Surf League, and only one transgender athlete, Australian longboard surfer Sasha Jane Lowerson, has ever won a professional surfing competition.”

Bravo for our Sasha Jane to make news in Oshkosh, B’gosh, but ominous for Slater who has gone on record to state that there should be a specific transgender division in professional surfing.

Absolute fighting words in this day and age.

Fighting words or worse.

It must be assumed that five, or even six, page letters will be written to any board that dares invite Slater to the lectern. Must be assumed that protesters will gather outside Ramada Inn conference rooms, pitchforks held high.

Slater’s indelible voice drowned out by rage-filled shouts for justice and rights.

So no inspirational speaking but then what?



World Surf League (pictured) in happier times.
World Surf League (pictured) in happier times.

Troubling omen for World Surf League as International Bodyboarding Corporation appears near collapse!

Unpaid bills, cancelled events.

As mentioned exclusively on BeachGrit, and nowhere else, the World Surf League’s 2024 Championship Tour theoretically kicks off in less than two weeks at the Lexus Pro Pipe. A fresh start for each and every professional at the top of their game. Hope springing eternal and for surf fans, too, what with fresh Surfival League picks ready to ride (sign up here).

But there has been absolutely no advertising campaign reminding the public of the WSL’s grand return. No new slogans or fonts even in this Olympic year where the mainstream might actually become invested.


Is it because ultra flimflam man Erik Logan has left the building only to be replaced by two interim CEOs who seem not to understand the role?

Something more insidious like total collapse?

Well, if our bodyboarding brothers and sisters are canaries down that coal mine, the end might very well be nigh. According to a Facebook post, the very important International Bodyboarding Corporation has not paid its winning athletes, is cancelling events and is being very hush hush about matters.

Bodyboard journalist Sam Morretino writes:

What adds to the concern is the IBC’s recent decision to remove Arica from the 2024 schedule. This move comes as a surprise, given that it was anticipated the organization would prioritize resolving the outstanding payment issue before making such decisions. The removal of Arica from the schedule further undermines the credibility of the IBC, leaving athletes uncertain about the organization’s commitment to honoring its financial obligations.

Compounding the issue, the IBC continues to promote Tanner McDaniel and Pierre le Costes, despite the unresolved payment matter. This contradictory behavior prompts questions about the organization’s ethical stance and its responsibility to the athletes it represents.

The IBC’s choice to remain silent appears as an attempt to let the issue fade away, leaving fans wondering if the organization is grappling with financial instability.


And real talk. How sad will you be when the WSL collapses? Like, on a scale of 1 – 10 (10 being suicidal). Will professional surfing’s billionaire owner Mr. Ziff pull a full Nixon out the door and exclaim, “You don’t have Dirk to kick around any more, because, gentlemen, this is my last press conference.”?

Likely not because he stopped giving press conferences after publicly pooping upon his fanbase.

Jeff Spicoli and Eimeo Czermak
Happy Jeff Spicoli with checkerboard slip-ons and crippled surfer from Vans Pipe Masters, Eimeo Czermak.

Calls to boycott Vans grow after surfer left destitute following spinal injury at Vans Pipe Masters

"I just sent him the $100 I would have spent on Vans and then will burn another $100 every year instead of spending it on a new pair."

Surfers are calling for Vans shoes to be piled atop a wild ol’ pyre of canvas and rubber and burned after the Tahitian surfer Eimeo Czermak was left destitute following his wipeout at the Vans Pipe Masters. 

You know the story, no need to rake that pile of ashes over again, click here if you’ve come in late. Bottom line, surfers weren’t covered for injury at the event.

And, if it wasn’t for the two-time world champion Filipe Toledo and a few other notables, including Stab owner Sam McIntosh, French citizen Eimeo Czermak would be faced with the very real prospect of never being let into the US ever again after he was hit with medical  bills totalling fifty-five gees.

Below the line commenters here were quick to call for the obliteration of the once-iconic brand. 

Rocks local: Vans looking more pathetic by the minute. I came into this whole discussion kind of lukewarm about whether they had any obligation but getting more irritated by the minute.

Boycott them. Clearly their new CEO doesn’t know shit, if he can’t figure out that reconnecting with your “core” includes not hanging out to dry the surfers who make your flagship contest interesting by throwing themselves over insane ledges in 3 feet of water with a concrete, jagged reef underneath when they impact said reef.

WTF Vans. Get it together.

AI (for ever): I’m be burning a pair of vans shortly and posting the pictures.

Rocks local: I just sent him the $100 USD I would have spent on Vans and then will burn another $100 every year instead of spending it on a new pair.

Rocks local: VF Corp, the parent co of Vans, had $11.6 billion USD in revenue last year. Just the “active” segment of their business, which is where Vans resides and is the main driver, had $4.9 billion USD in revenue (and these numbers include their foreign currency losses).…

Their executives at the very least have received millions of US dollars worth of stocks/stock options (check out the SEC report filings at the above link), and who knows what base comp because I ran out of time to spend digging through this shit. Bottom line is they can absolutely do better.

Fingerbanger: Van’s compensation is still going through legal channels. They are trying to figure out if giving shoes to someone potentially unable to walk is going to be a PR issue. Otherwise he would have his shoes and a nice discount voucher already. Pesky PC problems and all.

Cool Mom Fab Matt Biolos, a man who ain't gonna take the ravages of ageing lightly, and, inset, median age surfer. | Photo: Screen grab of Matt Biolos by Stab

World’s best surfboard shaper Matt Biolos laments greying of formerly rebellious youth sport

“We failed to inspire the next generation.”

It was only seven months ago that a landmark study from Bond University revealed what anyone who spent any time in the water knew, that surfing ain’t the plaything of kids anymore. 

Craig Sims, a former South African pro surfer turned magazine publisher and university academic, said the peak participation age for men is 45-to-49 and 35-to-44 for gals. 

A few weeks before Sim’s report, I went to the premiere of The Greatest Surf Movie in the Universe, the most significant thing to happen culturally in Australian surfing since Kai Neville’s films, and the cinema was a sea of polished skulls and silver manes, paunches harnessed by Quiksilver tees, overblown hams in Billabong denim.

So many wizened winter apples. The median age would’ve been sixty.

In lineups, there’s a few kids here and there, mostly tweenies getting pushed into waves by their daddies, but the absence of teens marauding the surf is stark. 

In a new post from Matt Biolos, who is currently at some sorta trade show, he writes about the dramatic ageing of a sport that was once hailed as rebellious and something a decent parent must fear. 

There’s not much youth to take the torch and run with it. It’s rare to see someone under 40 walking the aisles. When we got going, in the early ‘90’s, it seemed like every brand was a start-up, run by guys in their 20’s. Brands like ours, Volcom, Counter Culture, World Jungle, Ezekiel…and so on. Just to name a few. Making it up as we went along. No white beards.
The old guard legacy brands, like Quik and Billabong, Reef, etc, were run by “old” guys in their 30’s…maybe ‘40’s.

Today’s “new” brands are headed up by guys in their 50’s n 60’s! It’s like we’ve failed to inspire another generation. No wonder there’s no rambunctious groms, young pros or pretty bikini girls, running throughthe aisles anymore. No loud music. No skate ramps, no bricks of firecrackers or surf pool parties with punk rock bands and girls gone wild.

Matt Biolos’ fans, all of ‘em over thirty-five, most over fifty, and with a few middle-aged former pro’s including Taj Burrow and Jake Paterson thrown in, supported the premise.

A culture of comfort and conformity. The far left and far right are so repulsive that the intelligent middle ground is too frightened. Groomed by AYSO participation merit mentality, our feeder group has become enamored by the safety of mediocrity…

Here’s to the pursuit of inspiring! You have this 60 year old Grom’s attention!

Absolutely right Matt, some of us started when we were 20 years old with a lot of passion for skateboarding or surfing, hunger to achieve and grow and travel, meet and many crazy parties! But now the world or the youth is asleep, only phones and social networks, without words, I don’t want to say what I think! Lucky to lived!

Ay Mayhem don’t feel bad, skateboardin is in the shitter too!!!! When the people who are in charge DONT SHReD. That’s all that’s happening. People who don’t shred are in charge. Everywhere. It’s a world problem right now

Where do you stand on this demographic shift?Do you like the lack of urgency in the lineup and the sedate conversations with hat-wearing Gen Xers?

Or did the fighting and fury and sting of trying to muscle a wave off a kid keep you young etc?


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