Surf journalist cited as “Kelly Slater’s secret weapon” following 52-year-old’s historic heat win at Bells Beach

“What did Kelly need? I sat back as a surf journalist and thought, the man needs spite! Kelly Slater needs spite!"

It will come as no surprise to followers of BeachGrit and fans of Chas Smith that his multi-medium attacks on Kelly Slater have been revealed as a ruse to push the greatest-ever surfer into hitherto unseen levels of performance. 

In the latest episode of Chas Smith Hates Surfing, the Cardiff-based linguistics professor says he was motivated by a desire to prove that age is unimportant even at the highest levels of sport. 

“Today we find ourselves in a historic moment for yesterday the fifty-five-year-old from Coco Beach Kelly Slater won…a surf heat. History said this was not supposed to happen. That a man above certain age is no longer able to perform at the highest levels, to win surfing competitions, or running or rowing or tennis or ping pong competitions. 

“It’s a young man’s game, all games, apparently.

“We, the ageing, then, are forced to say, I guess so, and that getting older means getting irrelevant, just passing time until you fall into an open grave. Sad, depressing, downright bleak.

“And here we have Kelly. I saw him coming down the pipe and said, Kelly Slater is going to be the one who sends everything on its head. Kelly Slater, flipping the script. 

“But what does he need? He hasn’t won in a year or more! It seemed over. It seemed dark.

“What did Kelly need? I sat back as a surf journalist and thought, the man needs spite! Kelly needs spite! So I began a campaign declaring he would never win another heat in his career, that we had witnessed the last professional win of the Kelly Slater era knowing that these little seeds get planted in the greatest ever’s heart. And a spite tree grows!

Kelly Slater spite tree
Chas Smith helps Kelly Slater build spite tree.

“It takes a village to build a GOAT, as the great Hillary Rodham Carter once said. I knew I had work to do, paint the story, re-engage the story, get this story to have a traction for Kelly Slater to win a heat.” 

Chas Smith also used the same technique to ensure Kelly Slater fathered a boy. 

And, here we are. 

Ed Fanning, left, and world surf champion bother Mick.
"I know at times you found it hard to find your happy place. It warms my heart to know you found it these last few years. To hear the excitement in your voice each time we talked filled me with hope."

Mick Fanning posts emotional tribute to late brother Ed, “I wish you could accept all the love people would give you.”

“Ed you had the biggest heart and were too loyal for your own good.”

The three-time world champ Mick Fanning has posted a long and emotional tribute to his brother Ed, who died at a surf camp n Madagascar two days ago. 

Ed Fanning was Mick’s last surviving brother. Older brother Peter died of an enlarged heart in 2015 and his other brother Sean died in a car accident in Coolangatta when Mick was seventeen. 


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A post shared by Mick Fanning (@mfanno)

“Love you my brother,” writes Mick. “You taught me so much over the years about everything that life could deal up. The good and the bad you were my teacher. You introduced us all to surfing, the joy and freedom of riding a wave. The meaning of going to the ends of the earth to find waves to following a passion in the belief that surfing could be that ultimate job. As the years went on you would fall in and out of the ocean but your pure talent would always shine through. To where you ended up in teaching kids the joy of riding a wave. With out you I’m not sure what the world would of made of me so Thank you 🙏🏼

“Ed you had the biggest heart and were too loyal for your own good. Always sticking up for the underdog and caring for those who needed help. You gave everyone everything you had, and if you didn’t have it you’d still give it to them. You made your friends feel like super heroes and gave so many people the funniest memories that will last a life time.

“I know at times you found it hard to find your happy place. It warms my heart to know you found it these last few years. To hear the excitement in your voice each time we talked filled me with hope.

“I wish you could accept all the love people would give you. You weren’t perfect but no one wanted you to be. We just loved Ed. The Larikin who would throw a Shaka in every photo and would scream yeeeeew at the top of his lungs. As you dance down that final road into that eternal sunset please know we all love you mate. 🤙🏼🤙🏼 YEEEEEEEEEWWW HAHA🤙🏼🤙🏼

“Thank you to all the family and friends that have shown us love and supported us during this difficult time. And thank you to Ed’s family and friends in Madagascar that showed him happiness is real. Much love.”

Open Thread: Comment Live on Day Two of the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach!

Welcome to the Bonsoy Pipeline.

Ladies and gentlemen... Kelly Slater.
Ladies and gentlemen... Kelly Slater.

History made on opening day at Bells Beach as surfing’s undisputed GOAT Kelly Slater wins heat!

"And against the finest opposition imaginable in John Florence, no less."

Nothing existential from me today. Sometimes life just calls for a practical approach. Go through the motions, stick to what you know, get to the moment when your eyes and brain release you from the taloned grip of consciousness.

Bells Beach served up clean head-and-a-half walls to begin the day. The wind was light and variable, but did not blight the swell until late in the evening.

This facilitated a full day of professional surfing. It’s just a shame they didn’t grasp the chance to run overlapping heats. I see no disadvantage in getting through these early rounds a little faster when the waves are good.

0700 in the state of Victoria is 2000 in the Highlands of Scotland. I’m not sure what time Turpel lulled me to sleep. But when I woke at 0620, competition churned on still with men’s elimination heats.

Seth Moniz, Eli Hanneman and Devide Silva are all gone and make no impact in the grand scheme of things. After thirteen hours of competition, this is insufficient.

But let’s not dwell on the minor negatives, lest someone accuse me of being depressed again. Today was fundamentally a success in the annals of pro surfing history, and it was fundamentals that won the day.

When it’s good, Bells simplifies things. It’s comforting. It requires patience, flow and impeccable timing. Most of all it requires strong turns. The bottom turn is arguably the crux of all good performances here.

Heat winners were broadly categorised into two main categories: Good Guys and Villains.

The Good Guys first: Ramzi Boukhiam, Miggy Pupo, Ethan Ewing, Griffin Colapinto, Ryan Callinan and Yago Dora.

Boukhiam was competing at Bells for the first time, yet there was no sense of that in his surfing. He attacked on his backhand early, setting the tone for some superb goofy foot performances throughout the day.

I’ve warmed to him quickly this year, in and out of the water. Pre-season he seemed atypical of the kind of rookie who’d be cut after Margaret River, but that judgement would’ve been far from the mark. Boukhiam looks like he belongs at this level, and it’s curious it’s taken him so long to get here.

Miggy Pupo continued the theme of likeable goofy foots. He’d surfed for seven hours the previous day, he said. His recipe for success was following this with a nice warm bath.

The day seemed built for an exceptional Ethan Ewing performance, but it did not transpire. Somehow, he won his heat with fewer than ten points. He has plenty more in his locker, but the draw dictates a confrontation with Gabriel Medina if he hopes to repeat his victory of last year.

Colapinto and Dora took similar unspectacular victories, and Ryan Callinan flirted with the spectacular in his win.

But dark forces were afoot at Bells today, and it was the Villains who edged the narrative.

Jordy Smith erupted from hasbeen land with the sort of arcing power and flow that once gave rise to the false prophecy that he would win a world title.

That will never happen now, but that doesn’t lessen the pleasure of watching him make deals with the devil on running right handers.

But far be it from me to make unequivocal statements about Things That Will Never Happen.

Because, ladies and gentlemen, Kelly Robert Jimmy Slade Slater; surfing’s undisputed GOAT and internet technician; expectant father; a man who has defied both sinew and science for more than half a century, won his heat in a professional surfing competition.

And against the finest opposition imaginable in John Florence, no less.

Who knew that Chas Smith’s barbs were the motivation Slater has been seeking for these past few years?

Perhaps that should’ve been the moment he quit, bundled Kalani into his arms and drove off into the sunset to enter his next chapter.

But he won’t. We know that by now. In his head, Slater imagines winning here, just as he has multiple times in the past.

We know that won’t happen. And we know that poor, wonderful, resilient, glowing Kalani will need to endure the darkness once again. The low hung cloud of a man with all his chips pushed in and nowhere to go.

I feel you Kelly, I really do.

But the performance of the day belonged to Gabriel Medina, returning once again to his villainous roots with Charlie at his side, all low brows and hands thrust in pockets.

“Cool family vibe”, said Joe Turpel during the first shot of Charlie on the stairs, the moment the audience knew he was back in the fold.

It was nothing if not reminiscent of Joe’s iconic “Just a little splash” call, as the world watched Mick Fanning almost devoured on a live broadcast by a twelve foot Great White shark.

How might Joe Turpel have called the Twin Towers attack? “A little bump. Puff of smoke.”

Joe on the Holocaust: “Just a little trip to the showers…”

It’s a game you can play yourself in the pub: What Would Joe Say?

Whether it was the return of Charlie or otherwise, Medina had one of those days where it looks like an impossibility that he’ll ever fall.

He notched by far the highest single wave score of the day with a 9.33 on his way to a 17.33 total. The transitions between sections that leave people exposed at Bells were smoothed by Medina’s hitchless bottom turns.

In the booth, Occy made the case for the defence of Medina’s often criticised wide stance. Drawing parallels with his own approach, Occy pointed out the practicality of the more neutral stance at Bells, giving Medina the ability to make subtle weight shifts between front and back foot. It was the key to flow between sections that is made difficult by a more traditional stance at Bells, he said.

Whether it was a conscious retort to style puritans or not, it’s hard to disagree with tips from Mark Occhilupo about the most effective way to approach Bells Beach.

Medina’s 9.33 was best appreciated on replay. Partly to savour the finer details of his approach, and because live it was somewhat blighted by conjecture in the booth about the merits of different brands of yeast extract.

Aside from this, there were lots of positives to take away from the production on day one of Bells. Occy was actually very good. He seems a genuine fan of pro surfing rather than just an old head parachuted in because they once played the game.

And of course there was the introduction and re-introduction of two Blakeys to the punditry. Ronnie returned from the wilderness to assume his rightful position as the best commentator the WSL have. Elder brother Vaughn was introduced as a roving reporter.

Both are universally popular voices in surfing. Their credibility and intelligence is an asset to the WSL, though it’s likely they’ll only be utilised at Australian events and we’ll still be subjected to the travelling circus of Turpel, Kaipo et al.

Thankfully, today Kaipo was neutralised by a beanie and a thick wetsuit.

Onwards we go, in darkness or in light.

Mick Fanning, Liz Fanning and Ed Fanning, RIP.
Mick Fanning and brother Ed with mum Liz. | Photo: ASP

Unimaginable tragedy as Mick Fanning loses third brother

RIP Ed Fanning, Peter Fanning, Sean Fanning.

Family and friends are rallying around the three-time world surfing champ Mick Fanning tonight after the death of his last surviving brother Ed who was reportedly working at a surf camp in Madagascar.

Ed’s best mate, Coolangatta bodyboarder Stevie Maher, was the first to publicly announce his passing, writing on Facebook.

“Firstly I want to send my condolences to the Fanning family … mum Liz, dad John, sister Rachel and brother Mick.

“My heart is broken to hear the passing of my best mate. I enjoyed and had so many amazing times with you Eddie.You were in my wedding party, had so many epic times together in Indo and we were just best mates.”

Mick Fanning and brother Ed Fanning.
Mick Fanning, right, and brother Ed Fanning, RIP.

No details on the cause of the tragedy have been released. 

Nine years ago, and on the eve of a dramatic world title showdown at Pipeline, Mick Fanning received news that his older brother Peter, a daddy to three who had been suffering from a “serious hyperthyroid disease” had died in his sleep.

Peter Mel comforts Mick Fanning in 2015.
Peter Mel comforts Mick Fanning in 2015.

In 1998, Mick’s twenty-year-old brother Sean, along with another talented local surfer Joel Green, was killed in a car accident. Mick Fanning was seventeen.

From the SMH’s Will Swanton in 2008,

Four youths were in a car on the Gold Coast on August 14, 1998. Control of the vehicle was lost. There was the panic-stricken acceleration and braking of the driver, gasps of disbelief from all four passengers, the turning of the night from fun to something more sinister. There was the screeching of tyres and a collision – an almighty collision. Two passengers were in the back of the car and they both died. One of them was Joel Green. The other was Sean Fanning.

Nobody on the Gold Coast saw Mick Fanning for a while after that. Not the real Mick Fanning. Mick was offered a ride in the car that killed Sean. He declined in favour of walking. He had imagined the future. He had not imagined this.

They were so close,” their mother Liz Osborne says. Her eyes drift. “We called them ‘the little ones’. They did everything together.” Liz is a warm and lovely woman. She has an open face and curly hair. She is the type of person who will treat a stranger as though she’s known them all her life. “I hope the universe shines on him,” she says of Mick. “He’s a decent young man. He deserves it so much.”