Griffin Colapinto (pictured) absorbing a low blow. Photo: WSL
Griffin Colapinto (pictured) absorbing a low blow. Photo: WSL

World Surf League slams “parvenu” Griffin Colapinto in announcing new documentary series “Tahiti Bound”

Burn book.

The “Global Home of Surfing” almost made news, ahead of the 2024 Championship Tour, by inking a deal with ESPN to broadcast the top-tier events on a sub-sub-sub channel. Surf fans thrilled at the possibility of catching Kelly Slater, Filipe Toledo, Caroline Marks et. al. on cable television, as opposed to new-fangled YouTube, and celebrated surfing’s mainstream acceptance.

Not satisfied, never resting on laurels, the World Surf League has just announced a collaboration with NBC for a limited documentary series following professional surfers on their Olympic journeys. Set to air on the cable television business channel CNBC, “Tahiti Bound” will undoubtedly thrill.

Per the breathless press release:

“Paris is re-imagining the presentation of the Olympics in so many exciting ways, and staging the surfing competition in Tahiti will provide one of the most evocative backdrops imaginable,” said Joe Gesue, Senior Vice President of Olympic Programming and Executive Editor, NBC Sports. “Partnering with the WSL for such in-depth access to the athletes’ personal journeys to this unique Olympic setting aligns perfectly with our commitment to storytelling.”

“2024 is set to be a transformative year for the sport thanks, in large part, to the Olympic Games, which is the biggest stage in the world,” said Cherie Cohen, WSL Chief Revenue Officer. “The WSL is in an ideal position to provide content, access, and insights that will significantly enhance NBC’s coverage of the Games. This partnership is also a fantastic opportunity to bring the compelling stories of our athletes on the road to Tahiti to NBC’s audience.”

Throughout the series, fans will get insights into the lives of surfing’s biggest stars, such as reigning Olympic champion and five-time world champion Carissa Moore, two-time world champion John John Florence, and 2023 world champion Caroline Marks, as well as up-and-comers Griffin Colapinto and surfing phenomenon Caity Simmers.


Carissa Moore, John John Florence and Caroline Marks all described as “champions,” Caity Simmers a “surfing phenomenon” while Griffin Colapinto is tarred with the demeaning “up-and-comer?”

A lowly “parvenu.”

How rude is that?

What do you think San Clemente’s second finest did to deserve such disrespect?

While you are thinking, there will also be “a single highlight show recapping the Olympic Games and the 2024 WSL CT results, “Tahiti to Trestles,” airing Sunday, Oct. 13, at 1 p.m. ET on NBC and Peacock.

Tahiti to Trestles.

Erik Logan’s stillborn idea continuing to haunt.

Poopoo touch.

Jamie O'Brien (left) pinching his enemy Ben Gravy.
Jamie O'Brien (left) pinching his enemy Ben Gravy.

Jamie O’Brien attacks Ben Gravy’s exposed flank in surfing’s increasingly violent “Battle for Beginners!”

A new Waikiki surf school has Jamie O'Brien choking Ben Gravy's supply lines.

As any surf watcher knows, the explosion in participation during, and since, the Great Coronavirus Pandemic (2019 – ) is… historically significant. Vulnerable adults flocked to the “Sport of Kings” for many reasons including, but not limited to, its naturally occurring social distancing, good vibes and provides that perfect dash of Zoom meeting clout.

Now, it might have been imagined that this new VAL would have been a boon to the flagging surf industry, an infusion of hard currency, but no and no. The late adopter cares not for “core” t-shirts and trunks and feels no shame purchasing surfboards from Costco. She is, frankly, is an economic mystery as it relates to the old ways. He an island of odd.

Though two surfers have cracked their code. Ones James Duncan O’Brien and Benjamin Franklin Graeff.

Yes, the two have, through prescience and skill, cracked the VAL market and now war over supremacy. Benjamin Graeff, more properly known as Ben Gravy, seemed to be running away with a clean victory. His YouTube channel speaks directly to the new surf enthusiast who cares nothing for history, hierarchical structures or bad vibes. Capitalizing upon, Gravy released an extremely popular line of product featuring his iconic pineapple-wearing-sunglasses.

O’Brien’s own YouTube, which pivoted later toward the VAL, was better than Gravy’s though not quite as user-friendly.

The aforementioned surf watcher was stunned, then, when seemingly overnight the Pipe Master swung on Gravy’s exposed flank and began opening surf schools, not only attracting but creating VALs. The Jamie O’Brien Experience started quietly on Oahu’s North Shore and then San Diego’s Coronado Island though just opened a front in Waikiki.

Per Hawaii Magazine:

Located in the heart of Waikīkī, the School of Surf is the latest venture of North Shore native and professional surfer Jamie O’Brien.

The School of Surf represents a new concept for O’Brien, following his Surf Experiences at Turtle Bay on the North Shore of Oʻahu and Hotel Del Coronado in San Diego. Unlike the Surf Experiences at Turtle Bay and Coronado, the School of Surf is tailored to provide a fun and affordable experience. What better way to achieve this than at the birthplace of surfing?

While many local surf schools focus on advancing skills, the School of Surf emphasizes providing a fun vibe for first-time surfers through retail, photos, and video.

From seeing O’Brien’s boards on the walls to getting signed posters and even surprise surf lessons, both Jamie’s Surf Experience and School of Surf offer a unique experience that differs from numerous schools in Hawaiʻi and is infused with his personal touches. O’Brien remarks that surfing is the only thing he’s ever known, so sharing that with others is the greatest gift.

“My goal is to be the one-stop surf school when people go to Hawaiʻi,” O’Brien says.

Meanwhile in Camp Gravy, advisors are likely being flogged for failing to establish a beachhead amongst the extremely valuable pre-VAL community. The question being asked by most: Will O’Brien press his advantage and open a school in Gravy’s New Jersey and squash his competition or will he commit the classic blunder and try to invade Russia during winter?

More as the story develops.

Cult surf horror film that had test audiences retching released on YouTube

"I must confess that there were times where I had to force myself to look at the screen."

You’ll remember, of course, Jen See’s review of the surf horror film Motel Hell in an earlier instalment of BeachGrit, a film so graphic test audiences fainted and retched.

“I must confess that there were times where I had to force myself to look at the screen,” said one.

Let’s recall.

The night’s feature is Motel Hell, a surf horror film, from Harry Bryant and filmer Dave Fox. They spent three years collecting footage for the project in Australia and around the world. The title comes from a 1970s cult horror film, which is an unexpected choice. There’s a crew of talent in Motel Hell including Shaun Manners, Craig Anderson, Eithan Osbourne, and Holly Wawn among others. I’m intrigued by the theme and the promise of barrels. I like barrelsThe film opens with Bryant lost in the desert. He finds a dilapidated bar set alone on a sand dune. It’s appropriately creepy and peopled with weirdos.

The scene sets up the surf horror film’s recurring gag, where a glass of milk sends Bryant spiraling from one adventure to the next. In an interview with Reynolds before the film, Bryant explained that he’s lactose intolerant.

The obvious challenge of making a surf film is that each wave doesn’t last long at all. Film makers have to rely on some sort of device to glue the thing together, whether it’s interviews, skits, or nature channel B-roll. Motel Hell is weird and creative and the joke at the center of it mostly works. Somehow, Fox and Bryant also managed to make a film in Australia without a single kangaroo. I did not think this was actually possible.

The surfing. You want to know about the surfing. Certainly, the waves fit the horror theme. This is not a surf film filled with cute turns and twirly things. Playful, fun-sized waves are also in short supply in Motel Hell. I was not sad about this at all. Instead, Bryant packs some monster barrels and mutant-freak peaks.

There’s some dreamy Moroccan right point break magic at the outset. And also, a camel. But the majority of the footage comes from places like unruly Ireland and remote Australia. There are a lot of waves with evil intentions. The sequence of non-makes gives a hint of the payment they’re out to extract from Bryant and his friends. I’m sure you’ll recognize some of these waves, but to his credit Bryant wanders beyond the usual destinations.

Watch below!

Is surfing really the hardest sport in the world?

Chas Smith hates surfing. And you can too!

Recently, Kelly Slater responded to an online poll asking which sport was harder, soccer or surfing, with a bombshell…neither. 

“I wouldn’t rate soccer but I don’t play,” Kelly wrote. “I would say skating, free soloing, F1, MMA, gymnastics etc are all at the cutting edge of ability for humans.”

Kelly Slater’s comment came just after ESPN had released their definitive list of “sports ranked by degree of difficulty” with surfing filling the lowly twenty-third position barely beating badminton and well behind tennis, volleyball and squash.

According to ESPN, the results were compiled by “our panel of experts, a group made up of sports scientists from the United States Olympic Committee, of academicians who study the science of muscles and movement, of a star two-sport athlete, and of journalists who spend their professional lives watching athletes succeed and fail.

In today’s episode of Chas Smith Hates Surfing, the noted author of the North Shore epic Welcome to Paradise, Now Go to Hell, as well as the best-selling Blessed Are the Bank Robbers, “a rollicking true story of Bibles and bank robberies in Southern California” examines the difficulty of surfing, or not, and the surprise coming out of retirement of current world surfing champ Filipe Toledo and his subsequent appearance at the ISA World Surfing Games in Puerto Rico.

“Filipe Toledo has joined a long line of Gen Z-era millennials where those aged in their upper twenties are calling in sick, four time the rate of their elders,” says Smith. “Kelly Slater, when was the last time he called in sick for work…foot injuries aside… Kelly Slater at fifty-eight-and-one-eighth years of age is still crushing it.”

Chinese police attempting to understand surf.
Chinese police attempting to understand surf.

Hawaii surfers on high alert after neighboring Kiribati invites Chinese police to patrol islands

Geopolitical tension.

The Hawaiian archipelago is magic. Rising up out of the Pacific in an almost identical match to the very popular car window sticker*, the chain is unique for too many reasons to list. Considered the birthplace of surfing, Hawaii is home to legends like Jon Pyzel, Mom John Florence, Foodland and the first two stops on the World Surf League’s Championship Tour. It is also the most isolated island cluster in the world, its nearest neighbor being the Republic of Kiribati some 1340 miles south of Honolulu.

And, herein, lies much trouble.

The island nation’s acting police commissioner, Eeri Aritera, has just invited Chinese police to come over and root around. They are to working with local law enforcement on “community policing and a crime database program.”

The move is infuriating United States officials as it is seen as a provocative raising of temperatures in the Pacific. A spokesperson for the U.S. State Department declaring to Reuters that, “We do not believe importing security forces from the PRC will help any Pacific Island country.  Instead, doing so risks fueling regional and international tensions. We are concerned about the potential implications security agreements and security-related cyber cooperation with the PRC may have for any Pacific Island nation’s autonomy.”

While Kiribati has many fine waves, the Chinese appear interested in a foothold due its proximity to Hawaii but also because it is one of the world’s largest exclusive economic zones and hosts a Japanese satellite tracking station.

China, for its part, is admitting that uniformed officers are indeed patrolling the streets like old-timey coppers, poking nightsticks into the ribs of truants etc., though is denying that a police station is in the works.

Hawaii’s surfer, you can imagine, not happy with this development.

Fuzz to the left of me, heat to the right. Here I am, stuck in the middle with Barron Mamiya.