Kelly Slater (left) Baby Kelly Slater.
Kelly Slater (left) Baby Kelly Slater.

Jack Robinson breaks silence on unbearable weight of being “the next Kelly Slater!”

"It came with its challenges, for sure..."

The Olympics, as you may or may not know, is almost around the corner with excitement building by the second. The slots for the surfing component, which will be held at the “Cave of Skulls,” are now all, officially, filled with jingoists ready to tear each other apart, limb from limb.

One of the better parts of this lead up, as a surf journalist, is getting to know characters whom I thought I already did. Japan-by-way-of-Huntington-Beach’s Kanoa Igarashi, for example, who used his heritage to overcome all of the troubles and tribulations of professional surfing competition in order to capture the silver medal at Tokyo 2020 by circa 2021.

Or the fact that Jack Robinson was once dubbed “the next Kelly Slater.”

In a wide ranging interview with the Olympics official online organ, the Australian standout discussed his unconventional upbringing, charging meaty waves at a tender age, feeling that pressure from sponsors etc. but most of all staggering under the unbreakable weight of the greatest competitive male surfer of all-time.

The current World Surf League number two was introduced to the broader public thusly:

Robinson’s talent and fearless nature growing up quickly caught the attention of surfing connoisseurs. Magazine covers introducing him as “the next Kelly Slater”, sponsorship deals and trips around the world followed. And all this before he was a teenager.

While his childhood was far from ordinary, Robinson has no regrets.

“I think it was a full childhood just because of where I grew up,” he said. “I still got to have fun and be a kid, but it was full. It came with its challenges, for sure, when I travelled, and sponsors, everything. But in the long run, you got to get through it. That’s part of the job.”

To be honest, I don’t recall Robinson being touted as “the next Kelly Slater” when I worked for the aforementioned magazines. It seems lazy, frankly, and weird, and I can certainly understand those challenges.

Robinson, anyhow, plans to use that burden in order to crush all-comers at Teahupo’o, declaring, “I feel like if you can make it through that time when you’re in the spotlight as a kid – because it’s so many expectations on your shoulders and you don’t really know how to handle it because you’re so young – if you can make it through that and have the right people around you, then it’s better for the long run because now having expectations and people all hyped, it would almost be too new. You’d be like, ‘Oh, how do I handle it?’ So, I feel like I handled it at a young age and got it out of the way.”

Australian nationalists, certainly, ready to rub the southern cross in Brazil, America, France’s proverbial face.

Oi, oi, oi.

Bethany Hamilton and Sasha Jane Lowerson
Bethany Hamilton, left, and trans-star Sasha Jane Lowerson, one of the best competitors on the women's longboard circuit.

WSL cancels celebration of “trailblazing women” following Bethany Hamilton trans brouhaha

“Imagine being so woke you cancel International Women’s Day because don’t want people to choose Bethany Hamilton.”

One of surfing’s most adored identities, pro surfer, musician and close friend of Kelly Slater, Peter King, has slammed the WSL for its decision not to celebrate International Women’s Day by emblazoning the name of a fav athlete on each surfer’s jersey at the Portugal event, blaming their beef with Bethany Hamilton.

“Imagine being so woke,” writes King, “that instead of celebrating international women’s day like you have the last couple of years at your event…by having everyone choose a jersey with an inspirational women’s name… you cancel that because don’t want people to choose Bethany Hamilton. WSL, always making the shameful choice.” 

WSL cancels international women's day because of Bethany Hamilton
Peter King, furious at WSL for perceived snub of amputee Bethany Hamilton.

For the last couple of years, and, amid a blitzkrieg of publicity the WSL made the Portugal event a place to “honour trailblazing women in sports…In this athlete-led initiative, each WSL CT surfer will compete wearing the jersey of a woman in sport who inspires them. 

“Every CT competitor has personally selected a woman to honor on the back of their jersey. The honorees come from a range of sports, countries, and backgrounds, showcasing the vast impact of female athletes around the world.”

All trailblazing women, that is, except for trailblazing amputee Bethany Hamilton whose belief that newly anointed women, the T-Girl, some only a  year or two into their new gender, shouldn’t be allowed to compete in gal’s sports flies in the face of the WSL’s rule to the contrary. 

From these pages last year, 

You certainly recall, two months ago, when the World Surf League quietly announced a change allowing for transgender athletes to compete at the highest level of the sport. Bethany  Hamilton joined a chorus of frustrated voices and in a to-camera piece, declared that she would be boycotting the WSL until the policy was undone.

Even though WSL Chief of Exective Erik Logan said he “respected her views,” her name was mysteriously missing from the long list on celebrated women even though it had been chosen three times the year before.


And now the pettiness has been confirmed. One of the Championship Tour surfers, on the men’s side, requested to wear “Hamilton” but was told he was not allowed. The reason given?

“She doesn’t support the WSL and she doesn’t support equality.”

Hmmm. That doesn’t read overly “respectful,” no?

Do you also see the link between Bethany Hamilton and the WSL’s sudden no-name-on-back-of-jersey decision?

Or maybe no shekels left in the can for these sorta things in the new-slimmed down tour etc?

New Yorker writer snakes great Bill Finnegan, writes best highfalutin surf piece yet!

Kooks gone wild.

When thinking of high society writing and surf, only one name comes to mind. William Finnegan. The New Yorker staple, and author of Pulitzer Prize winning Barbarian Days, took our generally illiterate pastime and turned it into fodder worthy of salon discussions in well-lit pied-à-terres, tea being served with heady discussion and insight on wave sliding.

You can imagine my shock, then, when clicking on to high-society’s favorite magazine this morning and reading a surf piece so poignant, so thoughtful, that my grumpy heart felt seen and not by William Fenster Finnegan but rather a San Franciscite Jay Caspian Kang.

Arguing Ourselves to Death began thusly:

About ten miles south of San Francisco, there’s a public beach called Linda Mar. As far as Northern California beaches go, Lindy isn’t particularly pleasant or pretty; the sand is gross, the water’s cold and slate gray on account of the persistent fog that hangs around the area. The spot is best known for an oceanfront Taco Bell, which is great in theory, but in practice is plagued by a perpetual sogginess and the hundreds of surfers who clog its parking lot every weekend.

I’ve been surfing at Linda Mar on and off for about fifteen years now. At first, it was because I was a beginner, and Lindy is one of the few places you can surf within a short drive of San Francisco without being sucked out to sea. Now I go because I am older and the waves at the better beaches are sometimes too big and scary. (I won’t name the other spots here; perhaps the most illuminating thing I can say about Lindy is that I can break surfer taboo and publish its name because it’s already the most packed spot in the area.)

Linda Mar was always crowded, but it’s become much worse recently, thanks to three separate innovations. The first is the wide-scale production of cheap soft-top surfboards, which are floaty enough to catch pretty much every mushy wave that rolls through. The second is the ubiquity of surf-camera Web sites that live-stream the waves and provide constantly updating, color-coded reports on the conditions. The third is the popularity of short-form surf content on social media, which, like so much of what you find on the Internet, highlights little fights or asks stupid rhetorical questions aimed at inciting as much conflict as possible.

All this has undeniably changed Linda Mar. Some shifts are obvious. When the color-coded report is green, for example, the crowds arrive. When it’s yellow, you might find fewer than twenty people in the water, even if the actual waves are no different from supposedly green conditions. Other changes are more subjective and harder to parse. Since the widespread distribution of WorldStarHipHop-style surf videos—which show surfers screaming at one another over snaked rides and tussling on the beach—I have noticed a discomforting edge in the water. Before, a typical kook at Linda Mar would cut you off, fall, and apologize while laughing at himself. Most of the time, he wouldn’t even know the surf etiquette he had violated, and, if you explained it to him, he’d listen.

Today, it’s as though the kooks are replaying, in their heads, the hundreds of social-media videos they’ve watched. They have a vague but often errant understanding of surf ethics, and it rarely translates into politeness. If they feel like you cut them off or snaked their wave, they will transform, however fleetingly and unconvincingly, into the saltiest local they’ve seen on Instagram.

And that’s as far as I read but good, no? Kooks transforming fleetingly and unconvincingly into the saltiest local they’ve seen on Instagram? Kang’s own proper placing of self into the hierarchy as adult learner who learned on mush that he continues to frequent because Ocean Beach is unchill? Hating both Wavestorm and Surfline?

Hammer time.

I image the rest of the piece went on to tie the culture wars into the same phenomena plaguing surfing. Namely, intellectual soft tops and color coding but I didn’t read it cuz duh. Plus I have to hop on a podcast with David Lee Scales unpacking whether men should shave before or after a shower etc and other important adjacency.

Finnegan, anyhow, served. Will be respond with a backside hack to Kang’s face?

More as the story develops.

Mick Fanning splits from Red Bull
Mick Fanning and Red Bull pals.

Mick Fanning in shock split from Red Bull after twenty-three years

Goodnight and thanks for the laughs!

The Tugun-based surfer Mick Fanning, a three-time world champion, has announced his shock split from the multi-billion dollar sugar-and-caffeine merchant Red Bull after twenty three years.

Mick Fanning, who is forty-three or thereabouts, broke the news to his over million followers earlier today.

“Cheers Red Bull! After 23 amazing years packed with fun projects, unique experiences and wild adventures I’m moving on. Red Bull has always provided next level support to me, my family and my team in my professional and personal life. In recent years I’ve loved having opportunities to connect with other Red Bull athletes and aspiring young surfers to impart some of the knowledge I’ve collected along the way. Over the years we achieved great things but when I reflect on my time with Red Bull it’s the life long friendships with the staff and athletes that I’m most grateful for.”


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Mick Fanning (@mfanno)

It’s been a remarkable career for a man born into hard-scrabble circumstances in Sydney’s outer west, an hour from the beach.

Three months ago, the immensity of his worth, thirteen million dollars, was revealed as well as the revelation Mick Fanning was so depressed he struggled to get out of bed following his premature retirement at the end of 2015, his Great White encounter, a world title loss to Adriano de Souza, the death of his brother Peter and divorce from wife Karissa.

Mick Fanning accrued his riches via his sponsorship with Red Bull, various property plays as well as co-founding the craft brewery Balter with a few pals and selling it for $128 mill.


Mick Fanning has parlayed his cash into a wildly diverse series of businesses, including “ethical” dog food brand Scratch, biotech company Sea Forest, a burger chain Fritzenberger and a Byron Bay yoga studio.

Billy Kemper Fiji wipeout of the century
The vision is compelling, the wildly virile tattooed daddy-of-four Billy Kemper getting airborne on a takeoff that by any stretch might be regarded even by surfers of this level as impossible.

Watch Billy Kemper’s wipeout of the century as Jackass Johnny Knoxville exclaims, “That’s some warmup!”

"Cloudbreak turned it on today! She’s a beautiful thing. Glad you're ok Billy Kemper."

The Big Wave World Tour champion and four-time Jaws winner Billy Kemper has thrilled masochists worldwide with a wipeout at fifteen-foot Cloudbreak.

The vision is compelling, the wildly virile tattooed daddy-of-four Billy Kemper getting airborne on a takeoff that by any stretch might be regarded even by surfers of this level as impossible.

Even a brief viewing has the viewer crouching in his armchair like an animal that is cold, the pit of his stomach churning as Billy Kemper goes helter-skelter into the void.

As you might imagine, the world’s best surfers, as well as silver-haired stuntman Phil Clapp aka Johnny Knoxville, dived into his commentary pane to dress him with compliments and back pats.
Nathan Florence:  That was next level flight time😂, injuries are a mindset, mayonnaise is a superfood

Tom Carroll: l: Yeeeeeew💯🌊🎉 Cloudbreak turned it on today!!! She’s a beautiful thing❤️glad your ok @billykemper

“That’s some warmup,” said Johnny Knoxville.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Billy Kemper (@billykemper)

The last time we spent any time in the strong-ish arms of Billy Kemper was three years ago when WSL visionary Erik Logan produced the six-part series ‘Billy‘, which followed his trip to Morocco, his terrible injury there, a long rehabilitation and his triumphant return to contests.

Episode four was a particular thrill.

It followed his triumphant return to America (thanks to executive producer and WSL CEO Erik Logan who, in episode three, tearfully whispered to his wounded comrade, “Gonna bring you home, Billy”), a visit from Laird Hamilton who offered Billy his home, with its gymnasium and pool and ice baths, to rebuilt his busted body and the revelation that the death of shredder older bro, Eric Diaz, of a drug overdose has driven everything.