Bodysurfer (pictured) being dangerous.
Bodysurfer (pictured) being dangerous.

Surfing’s most dangerous wrinkle back in spotlight after expert bodysurfer dies from horror neck injury in India

"The person was doing bodysurfing on the waves when a rough wave swept him and crashed him onto the dune."

Surfers, and let’s be honest, this includes you, very much secretly love when the conversation around the dinner table turns to how dangerous this Sport of Kings is. Eyes lightly widened, lips pursed a touch as undertows, man eating great white sharks, drownings, etc. are brought up in hushed tones. Surfers, you too, sitting back slightly and feeling as tough as Jake Gyllenhaal in the new Road House reboot.

But we, each of us, know that our surfing, practiced on foam and fiberglass tables ranging from 5’5 to 6’10 in waves from 3 to 6 feet, is safer than rollerblading.

Other forms, of course, much more worthy of the aforementioned lightly widened eyes, pursed lips, hushed tones, including rhino chasing Jaws, boogie boarding the Box and bodysurfing anywhere.

Skin sliding, back arched, neck extended, forehead ready to kiss sandbar is, tragically, back in the news after an expert died whilst practicing in India.

According to authorities, the British man was giving hell to Varkala Beach in Kerala when a “rough wave swept him and crashed him onto the dune.” An on-duty lifeguard told The Independent, “The person was doing body surfing on the waves when a rough wave swept him and crashed him onto the dune. He suffered injuries on the head and neck and we gave him first aid and took him to the hospital.”

Alas, nothing could be done and his injuries proved fatal.

The British government confirmed the calamity and is working with the man’s family to bring his body home.

Calls of increased attention to safety delivered to all visiting India’s mystical shore.

Leo Fioravanti (pictured) hair back on handsome Roman forehead. Photo: Flaunt Magazine
Leo Fioravanti (pictured) hair back on handsome Roman forehead. Photo: Flaunt Magazine

Hair blows off Leo Fioravanti handsome Roman forehead as World Surf League’s Apple Watch collab nominated for award!

“I just wanna say, our freaking watches weren’t working and that’s pretty heavy..."

Longtime World Surf League watchers know there is nothing the “Global Home of Surfing” cannot wreck. Be it definitions of progression, the very concept of environmentalism or trusty ol’ ladders, the World Surf League will somehow find a way to retard.

You can imagine the shock this morning, then, when the League’s much ballyhooed partnership with Apple Watches was officially nominated for a Webby Award in not one, but two categories. Apps & Software – connected products & wearables plus Apps & Software – experimental & innovation.

The collaboration was rolled out only last year, promising professional surfers real time heat scores and priority information, though not the time.

Former champion Italo Ferreira allowed the League his name and likeness, at launch, declaring, “The noise of the wind and the waves can sometimes make it impossible to hear the announcers while competing, and that means you miss crucial information. Challenging conditions can make it hard to see the beach and a priority penalty could cost you the heat, so not needing to rely on seeing the beach or hearing the announcers makes a huge difference and prevents guesswork. When it’s all on the line, scoring and priority are critical. You have so much on your mind at that point, so having an Apple Watch helps you stay on track in those situations and is a total game changer.”

The “game changing” aspect of the technology was immediately questioned after the first competition with Italy’s very handsome Leonardo Fioravanti shattering the Wall of Positive Noise, post-heat, sharing, “I just wanna say, our freaking watches weren’t working and that’s pretty heavy. My watch wasn’t working. And nothing to take away from Apple or WSL. I mean, what they’re doing is great, trying to bring in some technology into our world. But if my watch doesn’t work from start to finish and I gotta ask for time, like, I’ve been used to having the time on me at all times in heats. And we’re fighting for our careers so I hope they figure it out because my watch didn’t work from start to finish. So that’s pretty heavy.”

After that moment, the Apple Watches were never mentioned again.

But here we are on the cusp of history. And who do you think will except the Webby, if the World Surf League so happens to win? Will the various chiefs force Fioravanti to the stage, dressed to the nines in Gucci, as a form of public humiliation or will Erik Logan come back from the proverbial dead in order to taste that one last bit of surf spotlight?

The Webby Awards, for the curious, have been around since 1995 though have recently come under fire for “pay to win policies” and called a “money-making scam.”

The World Surf League would never.

Would it?

Kelly Slater reveals shock heartache surrounding birth of his son in emotional interview

“It always comes home to roost…and there’s a lot of that for me right now with an impending birth.”

Earlier today, an online sleuth screenshot a comment from Kelly Slater’s daughter Taylor below an interview her daddy made with his long-time pal Tom Carroll.

Although it was subsequently deleted, whether by Surfline or by Taylor isn’t clear and we ain’t gonna run the screenshot out of a, yeah, surprising respect for the Champ, it revealed a window into the life of a man facing the consequences of decisions he made when he was still a kid.

Three weeks ago, Kelly Slater and his Chinese-American girlfriend Kalani Miller, revealed Miller’s pregnancy in a poignant black-and-white short shared to both their social media channels. Set to the moving sounds of the old Ben Harper tune The Three of Us, we see Slater, fifty-two, and thirty-six-year-old Kalani strolling the Hawaiian sands, embracing, Slater’s hands wrapped protectively around Kalani’s pregnant stomach.

The interview with Tom, filmed on the stairs overlooking Winkipop and created by surf forecaster Surfline, is Kelly Slater at his vulnerable best. Slater chokes back tears as he lists, one by one, the cavalcade of dead friends, Shmoo, Mikala, Dozer Dave, Jimmy Buffett, Derek Ho, as well as the living hell of old sparring partner Sunny Garcia.

“Fuck, it’s been heartbreaking, man,” says Kelly Slater. “Getting old sucks, man.”

He talks of revelations after his date with the psychedelic drug ayahuasca at a resort in Costa Rica and the discovery to his key to competitive success.

“My heart was made of stone,” he says.

It’s this comment that provoked the reaction from his daughter Taylor.

To Tom Carroll, he admits the impending birth of his second kid has kicked open a door that’s been shut for decades: “There’s a lot of deep stuff there for me that I’m trying to unwind myself with my own daughter who’s twenty-seven now and married. And when she was born I was just starting, the thick of my career and I had these lofty goals and dreams and ambitions. And, to be perfectly honest, that caused some suffering for her and for me as well. But for her, it was unbeknownst to me at the time because my sights were set on this thing.”

Poignantly, “It always comes home to roost at some point and there’s a lot of that for me right now with an impending birth. There’s a lot of excitement but also some heartache in there, lessons to look at.

Will Ivan “Mr Cool” Florence join brothers Nathan and John John in family biz?

“Mr Cool does what Mr Cool wants.”

Surf fans were gifted terrific news five days ago when Nathan Florence announced he’d quit Vans to ride for his big brother’s eponymous brand, Florence. 

Launched in 2020, the $12 million startup Florence Marine X, but now called Florence, was born out of John John’s departure from Hurley and his vision to create quality surf gear, including the now-famous male chador, inspired by his connection with the ocean. 

The almost thirty-year-old Nathan Florence wrote on Instagram:

What a life! The day has come to join forces! So fired up to announce that i will be Surfing under my own Name and will be moving forward under the FLORENCE flag🚩, beyond excited to bet on myself, my brother you may have heard of him (@john_john_florence ) who pioneered this epic endeavor and the incredible team at @florence_marine_x, the future is very exciting, we have the power to reshape the surf industry for future generations and pave a new way for upcoming surfers, to build something great together as a family, imagine the projects and trips that are about to happen! All hail the Slab Tour! The continued innovation in great gear made to push the limits of our relationship with our oceans and coastlines, protect us from all elements hot or cold, and allow us surfers and outdoor people to spend more time doing what we love, Surfing, Adventuring and exploring our natural world!! So stoked to take this on lets do this!

Surf fans are aware of the collapse of the surf industry, Billabong, Quiksilver, RVCA, Hurley, all bought at firesafe prices by fuck-and-dump behemoths.

Echoing Nathan Florence, Chas Smith described Florence as the saviour of the surf industry. 

“Florence Marine X is a core surf brand, making quality surf products for you, the surfer. Florence Marine X has what it takes to recreate the surf industry. John John Florence is the saviour of the surf industry. And maybe one less reasons to hate surfing.”

The question, of course, was, and is, whether or not little brother Ivan Florence will be joining the family biz. And, earlier today, on his wildly popular vlog Nathan Florence delivered a long, but stirring, soliloquy about his decision to leave the troubled shoe brand (although he might still have a footwear-only deal) and shift into an equity deal with Florence.

He also spoke about whether or not Ivan Florence, whom he calls Mr Cool, would be joining.

“What’s Ivan going to do?” says Nathan Florence. “Mr Cool has always done what Mr Cool wants. It looks like he’s stay with Vans, surf, skate, snow, Ivan’s a true bad-to-the-bone surf snow skate athlete. He makes his own decisions. We’d never pressure him, hey, Mr Cool, what do you want to do? We’re a family, we’re here for him.”

Nathan Florence added, “Who knows what happens down the line…obviously we’d love to have him.”

Ivan Florence, who turns twenty-seven in May, has emerged from the shadow of his overachieving oldest brother and hilariously absurdist middle bro in the past couple of Hawaiian seasons, proving magnetic in the water as well as the skate park, creative energies suddenly liberated. 

Describing the hierarchy between the three brothers Nathan told BeachGrit a few years back, “John’s obviously way ahead of me and Ivan performance-wise, I feel like. He has the super competitive drive. He loves the contests whereas I… hate contests. I can’t stand them. I’d rather chase a swell and surf by myself in bigger waves than go grind it out in the CT. Ivan’s the same way, kinda. But then, Ivan has a sicker style. His style is way sicker me or John’s. I don’t even know how he’s so smooth, like, Tom Curren and then he has that little drop-knee like…that guy…that air guy… with the long, curly hair and he kinda drop knees…(Craig Anderson).”

Later in the short, a dolphin attacks Florence’s filmer’s drone.



Zeke Lau (right) shoots board at hometown hero Jacob Willcox in order to test safety response.
Zeke Lau (right) shoots board at hometown hero Jacob Willcox in order to test safety response.

Margaret River a “tinderbox of rage” as surfers and government go to war over water safety!

“Without jetskis, it’s really just body retrieval..."

And as the top thirty-six men and eighteen women whisk in and out of West Oz for this week’s Margaret River Pro, community tensions boil.

Promises of increased water safety outside of the contest times and zones fell short as Shire of Augusta Margaret River officials continue to frustrate locals. The call for Hawaiian-style life saving systems and resources have gone unanswered.

Seventy-five drownings were reported in AU last year. That number isn’t expected to drop without additional support, some say.

“Without jetskis, it’s really just body retrieval,” water rescue trainer Shanan Worall said.

A host of high-class waves decorate Margaret’s edges: Main break, of course, and the Box to the left; heavy Redgate and Boat Ramps; Yallingup (push a little east wind on it, and it absolutely rolls) alongside plenty of undercard waves.

It was the blackboard of former world number two Taj Burrow and current number five Jack Robinson. Toss in the vineyards and bespoke restaurants against the coastline, it’s an easy draw for tourists to spread their cheddar.

A multiyear marketing plan of the Shire of Augusta-Margaret River aims to increase travelers to the region to stimulate regional commerce. After all, flowing cash makes everyone happy, does it not? Who can blame them?

Apparently, locals. The Shire are pimps, they say, but mother nature ain’t no tramp and they want to turn off the red light. Too many bodies in the water, they say. Mix the relentless marketing campaign with the annual WSL broadcast and you’ve got a perfect recipe for breaks crusted in black rubber.


There’s not much to do about it, either. While groups such as the Margaret River Recreational Surfers maintain pressure on the authorities to scratch the permits for the contest, a change is unlikely as the WSL inked a deal securing the spot for another four years.

But, hey, we all know the feeling of packing too much foam into a break on any given three-foot swell. Whaddya gonna do?

The more immediate issue is the lack of promised support for water safety. While the group Surf Life Saving WA is contracted to patrol Rivermouth and a few other hotspots, they still lack the resources for quick water rescues. With so many bodies bobbing around in serious waves drownings should be expected.

Bec Sheedy-Ryan, a de-facto spokesperson for area surfers, says the Shire can’t have it both ways. You can’t promote tourism but fail to adequately protect the tourists.

“Nothing’s changed in terms of safety for the past 20 years.” But “Come to our beautiful place—it’s notorious!”

Sheedy-Ryan concedes that the Shire allocated a little funding over the past two years for rescue training and the installation of a defibrillator at Mainbreak. (Da Fin Australia also threw in some flippers for the cause.)

Still, she feels the government needs to bear more responsibility for protecting the influx of surfers drawn to the area.

“Look at the safety set up of the [WSL] contest. Alone, it should be a guideline as to what is required from a duty of care aspect for a notorious section of coastline that is heavily promoted by the surfing world and the Department of Tourism WA,” Sheedy-Ryan said.

It’s a fair question. Why are safety protocols, drones, rescuers, and skis put into the lineup for WSL surfers but are withdrawn after the final horn? After all, the WA government funds the contest.

In defense, a state spokesman suggested that “beachgoers can find a patrolled beach by visiting Surf Like Saving Australia’s Beachsafe website.”

To me, that website will do as much good in preventing the masses from entering the water as keeping a dog away from a tossed frisbee.

It’s all economics, of course. Sure, Augusta-Margaret River officials want to see everyone who paddles out paddles in, but securing perpetual funds to do this is tough. The Marg’s coast is long and the cost for professional rescuers and their trimmings is hefty.

Maybe the Portuguese have an answer. The Association of Surf Schools of Portugal recently banded together to provide training to local surfers in a handful of municipalities. They’ve trained over 350 volunteers so far, right on the beach.

Participants learn rescue techniques with and without boards and life support steps. AESP director Afonso Teixeira said, the trainings “not only teach how to help drowning victims but how to act in situations in which they may be in danger.”

It’s a good start.

Still, without skis, there’s only so much savin’ to be done in Algarve or Margaret River or anywhere else.

But what say you? Should the Shire swing their advertising bucks toward safety? How much responsibility should local governments shoulder for keeping surfers afloat?