Occy (left) no part of this beef with Lucy Small (right) other than being a notorious Billabong hound.
Occy (left) no part of this beef with Lucy Small (right) other than being a notorious Billabong hound.

Billabong head men’s designer scratches surf feminist hero Lucy Small in wild cat fight!

Get a life, mate.

The surf fan knows, and knows well, that the industry she once cherished has gone all the way to the birds. Iconic brands like Quiksilver, Billabong, RVCA, Roxy and DC rolled up into one mega label and publicly shamed with large Costco rollouts. Hurley turning to the robust beard oil market for growth strategies. Beard oil and pool toys.

Bleak and sad though, as happens in dark times, heroes rise and we, the beleaguered, have Lucy Small.

The diminutive Australian cross-stepper burst on to our scene decrying fair pay between regional male longboarders and regional female longboarders. Roasting the powers that be, she turned to other causes, though each sharing-ish certain qualities. The celebration of women, or men becoming women, etc.

So who could have predicted Billabong’s head designer (men’s), extending his claws and scratching the surf feminist hero deep?

The trouble, as it were, began when Small went on an academic journey and posted to her social media:

Things I have learnt about Billabong…

-Their swimwear and clothing is made in East Asian factories and they have no transparency or certification on the conditions of these factories (some pretty terrible, unregulated working conditions.)

-There is no evidence they are taking meaningful action to reduce their climate/environment/health impacts

-They pay their models more than their surfers.

-They have some diversity in their women’s surf team but this seems to lack in their men’s team and some people attribute this to racial stereotyping.

-They’re a legacy surf brand that has turned highly corporate and subsequently appear to have abandoned their surfcore base.

Hammer time.

A blow that the aforementioned head men’s designer did not take lightly. Jake Fissenden took directly to the direct messages and responded “Get a life mate!”


Small, taking the high road, sarcastically told him that she liked his profile picture which suggested “wipe on sex appeal.”

She also asked if it was Billabong’s formal response.

No word, at time of writing, if it is.

Chaos as Snapper Rocks goes XXL

Watch the best compilation of the latest Snapper Rocks swell that got the world, including Kelly Slater, dizzy…

Over the course of twenty two years, Snapper Rocks, a little volcanic outcrop of rock at the tip of Point Danger on Queensland’s Gold Coast, has become the illustrious host of the world’s best righthand barrels.

Lefts? Yeah, Namibia, but for the normative stance majority, there ain’t a place on earth like Snapper Rocks. Kelly Slater, who blew off Portugal’s tour event to surf the joint, even modelled his Surf Ranch on the bank that runs from Snapper Rocks through Rainbow Bay called Little Marley.

And, real hard to believe, but until a council-funded sand bypass system starting pumping sand from around the corner at the mouth of the Tweed River, the joint was a lowly wave t for desperadoes when the southerlies tore hell out of D-Bah, just over the hill.

It took seven years for the sand to get just…so… and link that shitty last-resort point into the five-wave miracle it is today, waves barrelling through Snapper, Rainbow Bay, Greenmount, Coolangatta beach before expiring near the old sausage groyne at north Kirra.

It goes to hell just after winter, September through to the first cyclone swell, sometimes late January, sometimes never, when it blows a terrible small-fetch northerly. No waves, and the cold water – upwelling – often brown.

A wild joint, as you know, with a cosmopolitan crowd to mix, all simultaneously having the best and worst surfs of their lives.

Then there’s the three generations of locals, as graceful, precise and rounded as a sentence written by Evelyn Waugh, Occy, Parko, Mick, Mitch Parko etc etc and etc.

An epic, and I mean it…epic… short by Jesse Little.

St. Patrick’s Day miracle as surfers save family of four from certain death off Irish beach!

“They [the surfers] were very brave.”

One of the major themes of this year, as the northern hemisphere nears spring, is surfers saving people from drowning. Sometimes just one person, exhausted from swimming lightly too far. Sometimes who families, caught out in a rip tide, or some such, and ready to join Davey Jones on the ocean floor.

Brave heroes, the lot of them, with the latest batch coming to us from Ireland and on St. Patrick’s Day. For it was there, off Garrestown Beach in County Cork, that a father, mother and their two teenage daughters became swept far and away, and not in a gorgeous Tom Cruise x Nicole Kidman sort of way.

Multiple people on the beach called the emergency services number in Ireland, 999, but calling for help only does so much. Dire times require men, and women, of action and thankfully two surfers rose out of the mist, like banshees of Insherin, and saved all souls.

“It had potential to be a big incident,” a coast guard spokesperson said. “They [the surfers] were very brave.”

No doubt.

But over to you, dear reader. I assume that you saved no lives on St. Patrick’s Day but might have spent it drinking down pints of green beer and pretending Monday was never going to come. Well, it did come and how do you feel now? Happy with your decision or regretting, terribly?

Kiss Mick Fanning. He’s Irish.

Chris Cote, on location, in Cabo with Alana Blanchard and pals.
Chris Cote, on location, in Cabo with Alana Blanchard and pals.

Surf-lit: “Bombshell Chris Cote claims rock pro surfing establishment”

"The enormity of what he is asking dawns on me. So this is how it will all go down. History in the making."

It’s only my second day working with the WSL when Chris Cote summons me to his office.

It’s a sheer white studio, off to the side of the main communal working area. One of only three individually partitioned offices in the entire WSL Commentator’s Wing. A sign of his authority.

I may only be two days in at the Global Home of Surfing but Cote’s invitation couldn’t have come soon enough. Already I have:

seen three grown men openly crying at their desks

been offered the role of chief forecaster, chief of content, chief executive

broken up a fight between Kaipo and Pete Mel over who gets the last cinnabon box at the World Albino Dugong Day morning tea.

I’m ready to leave the joint. But the pay is good. Damn good. Plus, this invite from Cote is intriguing.

His assistant quickly briefs me before I enter. Always refer to him as sir. Avoid eye contact where possible. And never, ever, touch his guitar.

I take a deep breath and head in.

The desk in Chris Cote’s office is white. His chair is white. The laptop and monitor, all white. The expensive looking work lamp, one of those big long extendable ones that you can hold down into somebody’s face like a dentist’s lamp – or a CIA interrogator – is off-white. There’s a white work bag sitting next to the white filing cabinet. A white coffee cup sits half drunk next to the latest copy of Senior Guitar Enthusiast. Everything is so white, so bright, you eyes take a second to refocus after being in the more natural lighting of the office proper.

But Chris Cote is wearing black. Black vans. Black track pants. Black Wu Tang goretex jacket. Black rimmed glasses and a plain black, peaked baseball cap. The deliberate contrast has all the subtlety of a grade 9 art project.

Cote’s on a call and it takes some time for him to notice me. He’s yelling into an unseen speakerphone.

“You tell that motherfucker, my name is Chris motherfuckin’ Cote, and if he thinks he’s getting one over me on this, he’s got another fucking thing coming!”

He leans right down into his white desk, though I can’t see any noticeable speaker or aperture on its surface.

“I. Will. Finish. Him.”

I clear my throat. Chris Cote looks up from the desk and at me. Dark, narrow eyes seems to grow even closer together behind the black rims. I remember his assistant’s instructions and avert my gaze.

“You. Who’re you?” he spits in his deep Californian accent.

“Ah, sir, you called me into your office, sir.”

“I did what? Why the in the fucken’ hell would I do that? What are you doing here?”

“Chris, this is your 3pm,” comes the soft voice of his assistant from another unseen cavity. “His resume is in your top drawer.”

“Oh… right.” He rolls his shoulders, kinks his neck, takes a breath. “Riiiiight.” He opens the draw and pulls out a printed copy of my resume. Small yellow post it notes hang from the pages.

“So, you’re the young buck that’s moved over here from Australia. Fancy yourself a surf trivia buff?”

I straighten my back, almost involuntarily. “Yessir. Yes I do.”

“I see here you grew up on the Gold Coast. Married into the industry. Got pretty close with some of the major players.”

I nod.

“Good. That’s good.”

I stand there in silence. The invisible phone line starts ringing again but goes ignored. Chris Cote sucks the stale office air through his teeth.

“Forget about whatever shitkicking task you’ve been assigned. From today, your job will be to feed me surf facts during the live call of WSL contests. I need my call to be witty. Insightful. Seamless. It has to appear….”

He stops to emphasise the point. “Has. to. Appear. That this is all my own knowledge.”

Chris Cote looks at me expectantly.

“I’m sorry sir, I uh… don’t understand,” I say. “I thought you were the king of surf trivia?”

He claps his hands. The blinds come down. The room darkens. I wonder for a second if he is going to kill me.

“Take a seat, son.” He gestures to the white chair behind his desk.

“Now, take a look at me. Take a real good look. Do I look like a surfer to you?”

Surveying him there in his all black outfit, his pale skin and accountant’s affectation, I have to agree that he does not.

“You think I like this hair, man? You think I like these clothes? You think i like this jovial fucking attitude I have to put on for the camera. This…”

He searches for the right word

“This… positivity?”

Chris Cote exhales.

“Fuck, dude, I’m 56 years old. I like gardening. Making kombucha. Buying vinyl records based off Pitchfork best-of-the-naughties lists.”

He sits on the desk next to me, so that he is almost straddling me with his legs.

“Truth is, I gave up on the game years ago, and haven’t so much as stepped foot on a surfboard since 1995. All those clips you see of me surfing on Instagram are just mirrored clips of Megan Abubo wearing a wig. I certainly don’t keep up with any of the new school of surfing. I fucking hate this sport. What it has become.”

Outside the steady hum of the WSL office continues unabated. I’m lost for words. I look over anxiously towards the windows, wondering if anybody can see in. Wondering if I’m imagining the whole thing.

“But I need to stay,” he continues. “I’m deep state. Bringing these godless motherfuckers down from the inside. I might not care a lick about surfing nowadays, but that’s only because what they,” he motions his eyes to the office outside, “have done to it.”

I follow his hand to the window. The blinds are still closed. I wish somebody would come in.

“I gotta keep the appearance up. There’s a whole team of us working undercover, like them what you call its?”

“Secret agents, sir?” I offer.

“Yeah, that’s it. Secret agents. We got me and Strider here in the US. Ronald Blakey over there in Australia. And a whole network of staff just like you embedded deep within the halls of the WSL and other key institutions. Waiting for the signal.”

“Signal, sir? What signal? From who?”

Chris Cote doesn’t answer me. Instead he picks up his guitar and starts strumming. It sounds like the opening cords to Rage Against the Machine’s ‘Killing in the name of.’

For a moment, he is lost in his own reverie. Eyes closed, nodding his head along to the tinny, acoustic riff.

“We’re surfers just like the rest of you,” he says with his eyes still closed. “We see the lame ads. The greenwashing. The ass-backwards tour schedule. The final five at Trestles. The scandals swept under the carpet. And it kills us. Deep down it kills us.”

He thrashes a power cord and ends his riff.

“So we wait for the signal. But until that signal comes, I need to keep up the charade. And to do that, I need you to be my eyes and ears.”

He puts the guitar down. Hands it to me.

“Can you do that for me, boy?”

The enormity of what he is asking dawns on me. So this is how it will all go down. History in the making. But what is this signal? And who is it coming from?

All questions for later. For now, there’s more urgent tasks at hand.

“Yes sir, I think I can.”

“Well then, let’s get to work.”

Griffin Colapinto in sauna.
“I felt like I tapped into the source on that one," Griffin Colapinto said of his barrel from the final. It sounded corny, but somehow I believed him. I could do with something to believe in right now. I’m sure lots of us could. Some of Griffin’s energy, for focus, for luck, for transcendence."

Griffin Colapinto and his evolution from home-schooled simpleton to harnesser of mystical energies

Asked if he could win, Griffin had answered conclusively: Yes. No doubt in his mind, no uncertain scribbles in his journals, no shimmers in his visualisations.

It could just be my state of mind, but I can’t remember a less anticipated finals day.

A lacklustre forecast, stretched out til the very last day of the waiting period. The prospect of watching thoroughbreds masticate absentmindedly in an overgrown field.

Regardless, Paul Evans carried the commentary with the tone of man compering the local fete. Admirably upbeat, at least. Kaipo, graciously, appeared to have gone home. (And where exactly is Jesse Miley-Dyer?)

But I could find little joy in watching favourites canter to a finish.

I had no bets withstanding on finals day, and even less hope.

It’s a headstate poisoned by years of betting on sport. The two things are intrinsically and forever linked.

Yes, as I said in an earlier report, you could win your life’s fortune with a few lucky choices.

Or you could watch it ebb away day by day. The weight of loss holding you down, like a giant hand pressing your face into the cold, stony earth. Stay down, a voice says. An alien utterance of your own being. Stay down where you belong and watch life trample by around you.

But you only lose when you stop playing.

If we can take lessons from the finalists in Portugal today, it’s that you play your own game. And you keep playing, despite outside influences.

Ethan Ewing continues to play his own game, steadfastly refusing to compromise the purity of his lines and rails. It must take some degree of fortitude, to stick to what you do best against surfers with more in their repertoire.

Ewing is as technically gifted a surfer as they come. You’d think he has the capacity to introduce more aerial surfing to his game. But then, why would he? Especially when his surfing is endlessly validated by judges and pundits alike.

But it wasn’t enough against Griffin Colapinto in the final. Lefts were better than rights, and waves on the whole were not conducive to Ewing’s major skillset.

And in truth, Griffin Colapinto didn’t look like losing either his semi-final against Medina or the final against Ewing.

It was the kind of run we’ve seen Griffin Colapinto on before. The kind where he is entirely in his own zone, seemingly impermeable to pressure.

Against Medina, who had been one of the form surfers of the event, Colapinto controlled the heat early and throughout. Both surfers opened with high sevens that they would keep in their final tally, but Colapinto backed up quicker, then bettered it again.

Medina likes to control heats. When he loses, it’s inevitably when his opponent scores early.

But Griffin Colapinto’s rhythm was relentless, and in this the best opportunities came to him.

Griffin’s best waves came late in the final, an 8.27 immediately backed up by a 9.67 for one of the few deep barrels of the whole event. But he’d already won, and the scores he threw away would’ve been enough to take the victory.

The barrel Griffin Colapinto got seemed to materialise from thin air. There were few if any waves all day that would’ve offered such an opportunity.

And it was a situation unique to the sport of surfing, where a wave meets a man who is not only ready for it, but has been expecting it.

Asked earlier in the event if he could win, Griffin had answered conclusively: Yes.

There was no doubt in his mind, no uncertain scribbles in his journals, no shimmers in his visualisations.

Play your own game. Block out the noise. Wear an eye mask if you must.

And when the fire is burning, throw another log on and watch it burn stronger, so Colapinto said in his post victory interview.

All easier said than done, of course.

And it’s curious that this approach seems to work in surfing. It works for Colapinto, it works for Jack Robinson, and it’s worked for others who’ve perhaps been less vocal about their methods.

Curious because so much comes down to chance in surfing. So much comes down to the sheer luck of being in the right place at the right time, on the best waves.

But Griffin Colapinto’s evolution from home-schooled simpleton to spiritual guru and harnesser of mystical energies should be studied.

“I felt like I tapped into the source on that one,” he said of his barrel from the final. It sounded corny, but somehow I believed him.

I could do with something to believe in right now. I’m sure lots of us could. Some of Griffin’s energy, for focus, for luck, for transcendence.

I’d take anything.

I keep thinking about writing a redemption story.

That’s the unique insidiousness of this habit, you’re always on the cusp of being free.

I keep imagining a big win, quitting on the spot, then telling everyone properly about where I’ve been and what it’s been like. I can’t face it right now, can’t face the sordid details, because I’m still not ready to have lost.

After all, you only lose when you stop playing.