Slater (in red) becoming comforted.
Slater (in red) becoming comforted.

Shock and concern as “old man of the sea” Kelly Slater withdraws suddenly from Rip Curl Pro Portugal

Is this the end?

The World Surf League kicked off its third event of the 2024 Championship Tour season late last night, west coast America time, in Portugal with much joy and many huzzahs. The Hawaii leg, though plagued by questionable surf and questionable decision making, provided just enough pump to have surf fans hungry for more. Amongst the main storylines: will the women’s draw continue to be more exciting than the men’s? Has Gabriel Medina uncaged his competitive animal? Is Kelly Slater, widely considered the greatest of all-time, ever going to win another heat?

Alas, the aforementioned surf fan is going to have to wait until Australia for answers as the 11-time champion has just stunned by withdrawing, suddenly, from the MEO Rip Curl Pro citing hip health.

Taking to Instagram, his home away from home, Slater shared, “Still dealing with hip recovery and still in pain with basic mobility. thanks for the messages from Portuguese fans and apologies I won’t be seeing you in Supertubos. Hoping to feel better for Bell’s (the first event I surfed as a full time tour surfer in 1992). Fingers crossed the World Surf League scores some good waves in Portugal and good luck to everyone.”

The former actor would have been cut from the Championship Tour in Australia last year, of course, though was granted a golden Kelly Slater wildcard that allows him to surf forever, hip willing.

The question, I suppose. Will 57-year-old ever surf a competitive heat again?

Should he?

Cybertruck (pictured) bogging rail.
Cybertruck (pictured) bogging rail.

California man causes scandal after taking new Cybertruck surfing and getting stuck in sand

If you don't surf, don't start.

It is a simple fact that cars and trucks are essential for a healthy surfing lifestyle. Very few of us live close enough to walk to the waves comfortably. I tried, the other day, and when I got back home my shoulder was lightly sore from carrying wetsuit draped board uphill. Driving is key but what to drive? I have long been a proponent of the Toyota Tacoma though sometimes get my head turned by older model Toyota Landcruisers, certain Jeeps, any convertible Saab or Ford F-350s.

Teslas rarely do it for me, though I must admit, the new Cybertruck is dynamic.

The new must-have lorry with its striking shape and brushed metal body is as eye-catching as it is polarizing. I’ve seen three or four, now, with my own two peepers and feel an attraction but also fear the man, always man, behind the wheel is a status-chasing tool.

Well, one of them decided to test the Cybertruck’s claim that it is “built for any planet” by attempting to take it surfing at California’s Marina State Beach just south of tech apocalypse San Francisco, just north of ritzy Carmel. It was a sunny day, Surfline calling it 3 – 4 and fair with light offshores grooming neat little peaks. The man, though, had trouble making it to the lineup, getting stuck in the sand before authorities descended.

Illegal, of course, to drive on beaches in the very flute of California’s oldest champagne liberal community.

The law helped him deflate his tires, anyhow, and pushed his outward display of internal inadequacy off the sand before any surfing happened. He was promptly ticketed but likely doesn’t care though should care that he didn’t deflate his tires ahead of time.

What do you think he does for work?

What sort of personality does he have?

More as the story develops.

Open thread, Rip Curl MEO Pro Portugal, “Will on-fire Gabriel Medina scorch tour leader John John Florence?”

Comment live!

Foreign surf instructor (pictured) making venereal disease in Costa Rica.
Foreign surf instructor (pictured) making venereal disease in Costa Rica.

Local Costa Rican surf instructors band together to fight greasy foreign horde!

A blood feud of sorts!

The noble profession of surf instruction is coming under attack in Costa Rica. Central America’s famously stable country, filled to the brim with yoga retreats, henna stalls, murderous expats hiding from the law is, by all accounts, a paradise. The perfect place for white girls to culturally appropriate cornrows or chubsters to learn how to surf.

Herein lies a major malfunction.

Greasy foreigners from the United States, Australia and New Zealand are backing packs, moving down and teaching wave sliding thereby stealing ceviche from baby Tico mouths.

So rude.

But the locals have decided enough is enough. Per an exciting new report, homegrown surf instructors are banding together to fight the invading devils. Per The Tico Times:

The movement, known as Surfistas Locales CR, is a non-political and non-religious civil society initiative dedicated to fighting for the employment rights of hundreds of Costa Rican surf instructors. Comprising Costa Ricans, residents, and naturalized citizens who adhere to all legal requirements for employment, the movement aims to promote decent work that contributes to the country’s development through compliance with social security and tax regulations.

Representatives from popular coastal communities such as Tamarindo, Negra, Hermosa, Avellanas, Guiones, Nosara, Santa Teresa, Jacó, Dominical, Dominicalito, and Pavones have come together under this initiative. The group of 87 instructors has launched a vigorous campaign to expose and address the issue of foreigners engaging in unauthorized surf instruction.

I hope the Surfistas Locales win both the battle and the war.

Burn all foreign surf instructors.

Everywhere in the world.

Surfer Dad and son
One of the best surf daddies around, Yadin Nicol and son King Nicol.

The profound importance of Surfer Dads

"You pushed me in to it at just the right time. I felt the momentum of the wave and was shocked by its immediate power."

(Editor’s note: BeachGrit reader Nathan Reza sent the letter, below, following the death of his surfer dad on February 23. The kid wrote it as a high school project and, while going through his dad’s possessions, discovered he’d kept it. Reza asked if we might run the letter as a tribute to his old boy, sorely missed etc. What can I say, I get a little misty when it comes to kids, the passage of time, death.)


“Do you still want to go?”

I’m not sure you realize how many times that question has played in my head over the years, and how much I think of what my life would have been if my answer was “no.”

The truth is, I really didn’t want to go. Watching Mad TV and playing Super Nintendo all night had me exhausted, but I didn’t want to disappoint you. The smell of chorizo burritos informed me that you’d been up for a while getting ready, so there was no turning back now. Saying “No,” I knew I would have regretted it the rest of the day. I’ll never forget the artificial street lights in the room, no sunlight yet. I was confused whether it was day or night.

You had me go in to the garage and fetch the boards to put in the back of your black Toyota pickup truck with the matching shell, the one with the heart drawn on the top and our names in the middle. It seemed like an easy job until I stepped outside barefoot into subzero weather.

I’ll never forget the smell of dawn that early in the morning; the fresh, dewy smell of the backyard as I made my way deeper in to the garage. I remember the feel of dusty wax on the boards, caked and black from sitting for years untouched. The boards we’d use that day were broken, trashed, yellow, missing fins, and useless by any standard. They were perfect. Then, I pulled out your miraculous blue Bark Surfboards’ “Rhino Chaser” in perfect condition with green fins. I threw them all in the back of the truck without a care of knocking them into each other or the further damage I was doing to them.

I remember church. The condition of letting us surf with you was that we had to wake up for church first, the 6:30am service. Maybe you thought that would deter us from pestering you about going. However, the night before, when we finally made the deal to go surfing, church seemed like a minor sidestep in what would be an exciting day. After standing and sitting and kneeling and shaking hands and faking going to the bathroom so I could step outside for the readings, we left the church and greeted fellow parishioners with small talk. The sun was fully out and the day once again had promise for some kind of adventure.

Straight to the donut shop we went for your morning coffee and our morning hot chocolate and donuts. This is when the adventure really started. I never knew how fun it could be to lay in the back of that Toyota with the boards. Laying on the carpet under the boards, I was in my own little world, replaying the opening scene of Big Wednesday in my head.

Up until that point, Ernie and I fought to the all the time for that front seat, but thank God you made the verdict that he was older and could have it. Laying under my surfboard fort, the smell of old wax and resin went perfectly with my hot chocolate and sprinkled donut. I remember the Skid Row tape we listen to on the way to the beach. At the highest volume possible we blasted 18 and Life and Youth Gone Wild on repeat until we were there. There’s not a time I listen to either of those songs without thinking of this morning.

We got to the Liquor store on the corner of PCH and Seal Beach Blvd. As we stepped out of the truck, the smell of fish from the bait and tackle shop next door hit us. It’s a smell that takes me back to this day. The fog was just beginning to rise. The navy ship in between Seal and Sunset was just coming in to view. The liquor store always had a huge box full of Sex Wax. I remember grabbing one as fast as I could, the smell of it, putting in on the boards & making the smell even more potent in the back of the truck. I fuckin love that smell!

We got to the beach in no time. And before I knew it we were standing in the jetty parking lot. The restaurant that stands today was an old fish market, the bathrooms weren’t renovated, and there was a peacefull quiet in the air. The fog came back down, making it impossible to see more than twenty feet down the beach. This didn’t seem to matter, and we headed along the rocks toward the ocean. No wetsuit, no booties, just swim trunks and our boards.

I didn’t mention that I couldn’t feel my feet on the freezing cold sand. The board was too wide for my arms, so I put it over my head and threw my towel over my shoulders as you lead us down the beach with your board under your arm and towel draped over your board. I’d never felt so cool. The nervousness grew as we got closer to the water, and I could only imagine how cold it was going to be. You turned back and noticed my shivering. “The water is warmer than the air, it’ll be fine.”

Surfer dad and kids
Surfer Daddy with Nathan, front right I think, could be wrong, and another bro and a sis.

The tide was low, the wet sand was wide and the waves were small. Nothing intimidating and nothing to be afraid of, but the realization set in that I was actually going to do this. Terrified and cold, I walked out to the one-foot waves and did everything I could to get a wave, but couldn’t balance on the board to paddle more than a couple feet. I lost interest fast and I got out and played on the beach.

There were about six people on the beach getting ready to paddle out, only they were going in to the “real jetty.” We were surfing inside Crabs. I remember thinking to myself that they were crazy for waking up this early, coming to this freezing beach, and paddling in to the dense fog without knowing what was out there.

After watching on the beach for about fifteen minutes, I saw Ernie catch two white-water waves with you hooting from deeper water; this didn’t sit well with me. I grabbed my board and ran back in to the water. This time I got closer to you so you’d help me out. A bigger set came in and knocked me over. This happened another four times. I was audibly pissed at this point and ready to give up again. I made my way to you. You grabbed my board and said I needed to practice my duck dives, only you said it with the Australian accent from the movie North Shore, trying to make me laugh, but I wasn’t amused.

As another wave came, you pushed me in to it at just the right time. I felt the momentum of the wave and was shocked by its immediate power. I made my way to one knee, then the other, then to my feet and caught it all the way to the beach. I’ll never be able to accurately put that feeling in to words but it was the most exciting feeling I’d ever had at this point in my life. I only got that single wave that day, but it was enough to send me running and jumping on the beach.

We got out and rinsed off in the longboarders’ area where there was a hose and a wooden stand for the boards. The walk back didn’t feel nearly as cold as the walk up. The dawn patrol guys were rinsing off and talking about their waves.

“Did you get any today?” one asked. “Ya! I got to my feet and rode all the way in!”

I’ll never forget you grin of happiness and pride when I looked back at you.

I can’t tell you what we did when we got home, what we had for dinner, or even what month or season it was. I remember every second of getting dressed in the parking lot, packing our boards back up and the ride home. That entire day was eclipsed by those moments: Skid Row, the smell of wax and the feeling of being a surfer for the first time.

That day has stayed with me my entire life, and is one of the best memories I have.

I love you and I miss you.

Thank you Dad.