Kelly Slater, last appearance ever at Margaret River.
Kelly Slater, still mesmerising surf fans even in his fifty-third year. | Photo: WSL

WSL tour correspondent asks, “Must I lay Kelly Slater on the pathologist’s slab and slice a fine blade from sternum to groin?”

Do you need me to fawn over Ethan Ewing’s rapier rail work? Should I pontificate on the future of John Florence and his persistent self-flagellation?

Last night, at quarter past midnight, just as my eyes were closing, competition was called on for the Margaret River Pro.

I squinted at my phone screen, casting pixels of pre-dawn light all the way from Western Australia in the shape of Eli Hanneman, Imaikalani deVault and Barron Mamiya.

It was not inspiring. Nor, given the forecast, had I expected it to be.

Any wave you must milk into Achilles depth water in an effort to score arbitrary points is hardly worth watching.

Dutifully and regardless, I wanted to watch. But today was my first day back at work after the Easter break. There’s a crucial week ahead. Next week my seniors go on study leave, and some I won’t ever see again. They’re set free, cast adrift of timetables and assignments, free to dictate their own lives from this point forward.

And I’m struck dumb by a sense of helplessness. Inert in the raw light of day.

I want them to succeed, and in that there’s always a pervasive uselessness. I’ve told them all I can at this stage. Now it’s up to them to practise. Some will, some won’t. There’s nothing I can do about that.

You always feel inadequate in this job. My senior classes are fifty-five individuals, all with their own complex web of needs and wants; strengths and weaknesses; tribulations and tragedy.

You can never know them all, let alone account for what they need.

Teaching is a job that never feels complete. Everything feels like a light skim over a very rough surface. You want to perfect it. To spend time building the layers, allowing them to cure, then smoothing them again and again.

You want the finished product to be flawless, but it never can be. After all, you’re flawed yourself.

This is why I’m quitting my job in a couple of months. Why I’m giving up a guaranteed salary, mortgage repayments, support and security for my family.

To chase something that might not exist. Contentment, maybe. Purpose, certainly. Perhaps perfection in impossible contexts.

Also, because I want to exert control over my own life. I don’t want it to be dictated by ringing bells and working-time agreements and bureaucracy.

I want to confront my flaws, to see if I can do anything that slows my desperate gasps, that helps breath come a little more steadily.

A self-inflicting, self-medicating gambler betting on himself.

Betting on a polythene bag of ideas, stretched and bulging in fragile suspension.

What could go wrong?

So this is the context in which I lay my head each night and wake each day.

And last night, in the half-world between consciousness and sleep, I heard Richie Lovett say something diminishing about the conditions. And that was it. I gave into a restless night, walking periodically to check scores and glimpse waves. I didn’t make much of it.

But in the netherworld of dreams I did meet Gabriel Medina.

He was fishing with bait and float, reclined against a rock in the glinting sun, as relaxed as a man can be. He wore trousers, rolled at the ankles like Huckleberry Finn.

It was an odd image, certainly. There was no fire, no fury. Just a sun-drenched man on a riverbank, squinting at his float bobbing and drifting in the dappled flow.

He did not speak to me, nor I to him.

He did not wear a cowl, nor ask for coin to pay my passage across the river.

I have no idea what it meant, but a large bet resting on Medina’s success might tie in.

Some time around three am I woke to see Medina’s silent dream confidence had been well founded. He’d dispatched Jack Robinson and Deivid Silva. No worries. Just fishing in the stream.

Though his 8.50 was…curious.

Surely it was a panicked flapping from the judges after he questioned them at Bells? Like gulls trapped behind glass.

There were other dreams, too, but they detached like bubbles at the break of day, drifting airily out of semi-consciousness and into the harsh, grey light.

There was snow this morning on the hills above me. Below this, raw silence. Wind-blown rain braiding panes of glass.

And so I write this now, dear reader, admittedly having watched precious little of the opening round from Margaret River’s imaginatively named “Main Break” and unsure whether it matters.

Yet still I’m eager to give you something, you slack-jawed, slavering hoards. Your gaze is blank and pitiless as the sun. And rightly so.

Do you need me to fawn over Ethan Ewing’s rapier rail work?

Should I pontificate on the future of John Florence and his persistent self-flagellation?

Must I lay Kelly Robert Slater on the pathologist’s slab, douse him in UV light and slice a fine blade from sternum to groin?

Does it matter? Do you care?

Does anyone?

The forecast’s better for tomorrow, though. Maybe I’ll endeavour to watch.

Or maybe I’ll just take peyote and go on a spirit walk with Deivid Silva.

Brazil (pictured) in prime.
Brazil (pictured) in prime.

Professional surfing in disarray as Brazil lashes American, Australian surfers with “uncomfortable” new visa requirements!

Extreme retaliation in response to a fading storm.

The dissipation of the Brazilian Storm was as unexpected as it was quiet. Not eight months ago, the South American nation’s absolute dominance of professional surfing at its highest level seemed assured for decades to come. The small wave wizard Filipe Toledo had just won his second title with Lower Trestles to host at least three more “Finals Days” on the non-intimidating cobbled stone. Gabriel Medina was returning to fierce form after various extracurriculars appeared to dull his rage. Italo Ferreira was inhumanly pumped.

Then, like that, the clouds evaporated.

Toledo got so scared of bigger waves that he was forced to take a mental health year. Medina, still fierce, found no grace in the judges’ eyes and is in real jeopardy of the dreaded mid-season cull. Ferreira has overdosed on stoke-ed. The highest ranking Brazilian surfer is Yago Dora at 17.

And as the sun came back out, utterly dominant American surfers are there, flag waving and taunting. Griffin Colapinto number 1, Jake Marshall number 4, Cole Houshmand and Crosby Colapinto numbers 8 and 9 respectively and all to say nothing about Hawaiians John John Florence and Barron Mamiya at numbers 3 and 6.

Australia’s Ethan Ewing, of course, number 2.

Red, white, in any case, and blue.

Well, Brazil appears mad as hell and not going to take it anymore. The country’s left-leaning government has just announced that next year American and Australian surfers will not only be forced to get visas prior to arrival, they will also have to share that they are well-ish to do.

Per The Hill:

Travelers from the U.S., Canada, and Australia will need to obtain a visa before entering the country, beginning April 10, 2025, according to a Brazilian government-authorized website.

To complete the visa application, visitors must provide proof of income for travel by showing their last three checking or savings account statements or their six previous pay stubs.

If you don’t have at least $2,000 in your bank account you’ll need a sponsor — typically a friend or family member — to sign a document called an affidavit of support, accepting financial responsibility for you.


But do you think if, say, regional alternative milk manufacturer Bonsoy does not see continued value in its Ethan Ewing sponsorship, thereby cutting off his income, that Charlie Medina will “sponsor” him?

At what cost?

Also, what will happen to Kade Matson?

The new rules will not be enforced until 2025, leaving this year’s VIVO Rio Pro safe but all hell is expected to break loose next July.

Certainly diplomats are feverishly working to sort out a solution. Maybe having U.S. and Australian surf governing bodies declare that Filipe Toledo is not a giant chicken and can surf Teahupo’o better than anyone if he feels like it?

A small price to pay, to be honest.

More as the story develops.

Lennox Head beach shack at 47 Gibbon Street, Lennox Head,
Pretty little Lennox Head beach shack, frangipani sheltering the front rooms from the late-afternoon sun.

Lennox Head property boom continues unabated as beach shack sells for eye-watering $2.375 million!

Pretty blue beach shack a few hundred yards from the beach set to be demolished and replaced with three townhouses.

Six month after house prices in the once-blue collar surf town Lennox Head were recalibrated following an $18 million sale, an old beach shack has sold for almost two-and-a-half mill. 

The latest sale is a three-bedroom weatherboard shack, a few hundred yards from the drink at 47 Gibbon Street, Lennox Head, and which had been in the same fam for fifty years, for $2,375,000 Australian shekels. 

It’s a beautiful old joint, painted a pretty pale blue, front windows looking into an old frangipani tree, and with a back yard so vast and lush you can almost hear the squeals of little kids flying down a slip and slide or bouncing around on a backyard trampoline. 

Lennox Head beach shack at  47 Gibbon Street, Lennox Head,
Pretty little Lennox Head beach shack, frangipani sheltering the front rooms from the late-afternoon sun.
47 Gibbon St Lennox Head
Living the North Coast country soul dream in Lennox Head.
47 Gibbon St Lennox Head
Three hundred yards from the Lennox Head beachies.
47 Gibbon St Lennox Head
Pretty little Lennox Head beach shack pre-bulldozers and townhouses.

Probs ain’t gonna happen.

The house is on seven thousand square feet and is zoned multi-density so, likely, the dirt will be carved up and three townhouses of zero architectural value and devoid of the joy the old shack would’ve brought to generations will be built.

According to the selling realtor, 

“This 753sqm medium-density block offers a multitude of options for the buyer looking to capitalize on this amazing location in Lennox Head. Just 300m to Lake Ainsworth and 7 Mile Beach, this somewhat blank canvas includes the original beach shack with rear lane access. You could choose to keep the current home, build out the back, or redevelop the entire block with the option for 3 homes (STCA). This could be the perfect opportunity for those seeking to do a joint venture with a friend, allowing you to move into the village and enjoy all that it has to offer.”

Further proof, as if proof was necessary, that the Northern Rivers, that hallowed stretch of coast and hinterland surrounding Byron Bay, has inflated into the sorta bubble not seen since the fabled tulip mania in the seventeenth century when a single bulb costs the equivalent of seven hundred and fifty gees. 

Boatload of migrants arrive in Carlsbad, nearly killing surfer in beach landing.
A surfer nearly wears a speedboat as the dozen New Americans make final lunge for life in promised land.

Carlsbad surfer almost run over by migrant speedboat as number of new Americans hitting San Diego beaches leaps to over 7000…in one week!

San Diego county now on track to becoming the hottest migrant hub in the union surpassing border town Tucson, Arizona. 

In another bold and inspiring beach landing, albeit one that nearly claimed the life of a surfer, a boatload of new Americans arrived on the shores of Carlsbad overnight. 

In what has become the new norm in a country that has swung open its golden door to the huddled masses, the wretched refuse, 7.2 million so far under the Biden admin, the new Americans made their beach landing near the pretty town famous for its celebrity residents including Chris Cote and Tony Hawke. 

(BeachGrit principal Charlie Smith, meanwhile, powders his wig five miles south in Cardiff by the Sea.) 

After zooming through the lineup, the dozen new Americans, each committed to bringing prosperity to the greatest union of states on earth, disembarked, with haste, and ran to waiting black SUVs in Carlsbad village. 

San Diego county is now on track to becoming the hottest migrant hub in the union surpassing Tucson, Arizona. 

“Tucson has been the number one sector for migrant arrivals since July 2023, but numbers have been dropping,” Adam Isacson from the Washington Office on Latin America said.

“While one week’s data is not enough evidence to go by, it is possible that San Diego may be supplanting Tucson as the number-one sector.”

These heart-warming scenes, boat landing on beach, new Americans jogging off to their new lives, are being played up and down the southern Californian coastline. 

You’ll recall a few months back when Malibu was put into a state of euphoria after a boat filled with twenty-five New Americans disembarked on its privileged shores.

The twenty-five new Americans scattered once they hit the golden sands of what used to be Chumash lands, and just under the $100-million clifftop compound of chanteuse Barbara Streisand.

The location of the Malibu landing was significant.

In 2019, Streisand, who is a long-time donor to the Democratic Party, criticised Donald Trump for his plans to build a border wall.

“Trump only cares about this ‘wall’ in order to build a monument to himself. Just like the bankrupt ‘Trump’ buildings, the nation cannot afford to pay for his ego – not financially, not morally,” Streisand wrote on X.

And to Vogue magazine,

“Unless you’re an American Indian, you know, you’re a child or grandchild or great-grandchild of immigrants, even the president,,” she said.

Streisand’s house at 6838 Zumirez Drive in Malibu ain’t that far from Paradise Cove, the upscale trailer park famous for its celebrity residents including iconic surf writer Sam George.

Open Thread: Comment Live on Day Two of the Margaret River Pro!

Is this seriously only day two?