Pretty blue water at Urbnsurf Sydney, surfer: Gard Rielly.
Mini-DR, Gard Rielly, giving daddy's Biolos a wash at the Sydney tank.

$75 million Sydney wavepool swings door open to surfers, quickly books out

While the revelatory thrill might be gone, there’s still something that hits you in the guts when the water starts sucking backwards in that tight little apex of the tank and a tube appears out of nowhere…

On a rain-soaked Friday afternoon two weeks ago, I had the enormous pleasure of examining the new $75 million Sydney wavepool alongside the noted sexagenarian surfing brothers, Nicholas and Thomas Carroll, men for whom age does not weary nor years condemn etc.

Nick Carroll, Urbnsurf Sydney.
The great Nick Carroll, sixty-five and still a geyser of testosterone, treats the tube with contempt. Photo: Matt Dunbar

Also in attendance, an entourage of Instagram influencers, the photographer Billy Morris, eighties tour shredder Rob Bain and the Bondi-based editor of Tracks magazine, Luke Kennedy.

There’s a helluva lot less excitement when it comes to pools opening than there was four years ago when the Melbourne tank became Australian’s first wavepool, when you’d peer through the wire construction fences to see the first test waves rolling through, bringing shrieks of delight even when they were punched to pieces by that raw Victorian wind.

Back then, I enjoyed Urbnsurf’s hospitality from one through til six as part of a media reveal. It was very hot that day, one hundred degrees Fahrenheit. With fourteen surfers in the water and eight-wave sets every two minute one wave was caught every four minutes.

Staff still call it the day of days.

Derek Rielly at Urbnsurf Melbourne.
Tanning poolside at the pre-opening of the Melbourne tank.

That same week, on the Friday, I joined the party of an old friend who had hired the joint from nine am until eight pm.

I spent seven hours or thereabouts in the water and caught, at a conservative estimate, one hundred waves.

Two very exciting days, and both still warm in my memory.

It’s a different experience this time. Daddy’s leg don’t work, operation forthcoming in three weeks, so he gifts his kids the two sessions, the first turns, the second, barrels.

And, while the revelatory thrill might be gone, there’s still something that hits you in the guts when the water starts sucking backwards in the apex of the tank and a three-foot tube appears out of nowhere and no one is there to hassle you for it; no one’s gonna push the lip down on your head, push you too deep or too wide.

Jones Rielly, Urbnsurf Sydney.
Another mini-DR, Jones Rielly, folds the rear hinge to max time in the cabana. Photo: Matt Dunbar

And the water colour, oowee, it’s a shocking cobalt blue, as inviting as a warm fire cutting through logs.

So what’s difference between the Melbourne tank and Sydney?

Well, both are Wavegarden tech but there’s been four years to work out the kinks and while it may not be immediately obvious there are improvements.

The first is, Melbourne was built next to an airport and adjacent to an Aussie Rules football ground nicknamed Windy Hill. And even if you’re told the wind don’t affect the waves ‘cause there’s zero fetch for the wind to do its terrible biz, they do, even if it’s an aesthetic thing. Sydney crouches below a hill and dips away from any exposure to a raw wind.

So, yeah, waves are smooth.

Second thing is the water temp. It gets insanely cold in a Melbourne winter and the water temp will dip below ten degrees celsius, 50F.

So, Sydney, down to maybe fourteen, fifteen, 57, 59F, at the peak of the winter. Right now, a couple weeks out of winter, it’s eighteen or 65 F.

Sessions cost either $109 or $159. The cheaper sessions you’ll share with 17 other surfers, netting you ten or twelve waves, depending if the session is full and if you milk the things to the bitter end and lose your place in line.

The more expensive expert session has twelve surfers, meaning you’ll get eighteen waves and plenty of room and time to decipher how to thread the so-called Beast. Tip: punch down on your tail after the takeoff and you’ll ride the length of the drainpipe.

Helmets aren’t compulsory but, as in the snow game, they’re starting to become more popular and you can hire ‘em if you want a little extra confidence heading into a Beast sesh.

It ain’t such a bad idea. I’ve seen two head injuries, and at the presser this time a kid belted his head on the bottom.

If you’re into the idea of using pools as air-camps, you might’ve written off the Wavegardens preferring the American Wave Machine ramps of Waco and Brazil’s Boa Vista.

Until real recently, if they wanted to create an air section, Wavegarden would install a temporary reef. Now, they can do it using the existing modules. Only prob is they can only use one side of the pool and there’s only forty waves instead of 216 an hour.

Still, they plan on opening up some sorta air session to the public this Christmas-ish.

Book here if you can find an opening.

Adam Neumann buys Montauk surfing magazine Whalebone.
Let me tell you this. Eighteen feet. Very big. My finger, not my trigger finger, not my tequila boom boom finger, but a finger nevertheless, it snaps. Very big waves. Eighteen feet. Now I have surfing magazine. I tell you all about then we go disco, disco.

Big wave-riding billionaire Adam Neumann buys world’s hippest surfing magazine, shelves iconic name, rebrands as Flow Trip!

Hard pivot into surf media!

The halls of every surf media outlet, from San Clemente to Byron Bay, are abuzz today with the electrifying news that big-wave billionaire and founder of WeWork Adam Neumann had pivoted hard into surf media.

Adam Nuemann, forty-five, is an Israeli-American who was raised on the collective farming miracle called kibbutz and who served three years with a M4 machine gun protecting Israel from its vicious enemies.

He was described, here, as “the most important man in surf. He’s got wavepools, Laird Superfood and big-wave skills…”

Neumann even broke his finger surfing “18-foot” waves with pal Laird Hamilton.

Neumann made his billions, and lost plenty, with his company WeWork, which was based on similar collective principals as the kibbutzim he was raised on, various workers share office space, enjoying the cross-pollination of ideas as well as the reduced cost of renting an office.

Anyway, Adam Nuemann, who moved on from the wreckage of WeWork with his new company Flow, a real estate play where renters get equity in the joints they live in, has bought Montauk surf mag Whalebone, quickly renaming it Flow Trip.

Plans are for the mag to drive Flow’s content. Hip quasi-homeowners meet hipster media etc.


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In a message to readers from the editors,

“Flow is helping good people live a connected life in buildings and environments that make them feel good and valued, while feeling like a home. The Flow Trip is the media side of that with quality storytelling, content, and experiences that showcase what Flow is all about.”



Feminist hero Lucy Small telling us now's the time. Photo: Owen Tozer
Feminist hero Lucy Small telling us now's the time. Photo: Owen Tozer

Feminist hero Lucy Small invites BeachGrit community to select surfing’s political bent

Is surfing a Democrat or a Republican?

Now, I don’t have to tell you that we live in hyper polarized times. Those on the left, haughty and cocksure, growling at those on the right, angry and befuddled. Folk generally sticking with people who share the same bent, fraternizing in similar spaces where challenges to an overarching worldview are non-existent. Echoes bouncing off digital walls.

Except, that is, for BeachGrit where people from all walks come together and share in the simple joys of Kelly Slater.

Well, it appears those days are over. In an overnight call to action, feminist hero Lucy Small has declared this, and other, surf communities must once and for all sign surfing up for a political party. “Surfing is political whether we like it or not,” she plainly stated. “So it’s up to us to choose what those politics are.”

Further explaining, she wrote, “I’m working on this theory that basically everything we do is political (I did not make that up) but the access we have to the beach, to surfboards, to travel, to hotels, to surf media, to social media, to surf films, the health of the ocean we surf in etc is all political and our surfer dollars and surfer voices are always contributing to something.”

And continued, “I have been doing some deep deep thinking about all these things lately, reading some books and watching lots of films, trying to understand where surfing is situated in this political universe. Its role in history has mattered a lot and it continues to matter now. So yes, I do understand surfing as a political thing and us surfers are little political beings riding our little political wet energy mounds. Would love to hear your thoughts in the comments and welcome the opportunity to learn more :).”

I honestly have zero idea how “everything we do is political” or what utterly myopic thinker came up with that as the governing principle for life but here we are, I guess. The moment of truth. Is surfing a Democrat? A Republican? Labour? Comités Jeanne? Khmer Rouge? Shining Path?


Please be a good sport, once we decide, and accept the group decision. Surfing certainly doesn’t need any more splinter factions.

Coffs Harbour surfer Kye Schaefer, stabbed to death in beach carpark.
Coffs Harbour surfer Kye Schaefer, killed in beach carpark after morning surf.

Parents of young surfer stabbed in beach carpark plead for killer to turn himself in

"He didn't do anything wrong. He was just going for a surf before he went to work."

A couple of weeks back bright-faced young surfer Kye Schaefer, twenty-one, a stonemason, had just wrapped up a surf and was readying for work when, well, no one knows exactly what happened, but he was stabbed by an unknown assailant and found dying in the beach carpark, still in his wetsuit.

A local homeless man told local news he saw the surfer, Kye Schaefer, drive into the carpark at six am.

‘This guy’s been coming about six o clock, last three or four days, putting on a wetsuit and going surfing even when it’s flat. Likes to get wet, I guess. I just saw him drive in… did some stretching, came back, and it looked like he was sitting down on the ground against his driver’s door. All I could see was his black legs in his wetsuit. I just thought it was another guy on his phone.”

Kye Schaefer was found suffering multiple stab wounds in his chest and neck beside an orange sedan just before seven am and taken to hospital where he died.

With his alleged killer yet to be caught, Kyle’s parents, ruined by grief, their lives irrevocably darkened, are pleading with the man, or woman, to turn ’emselves into the local cops and atone for his, her, “senseless” act.

“Just be honest and own up for your mistakes in life,” Kye’s Dad, Tony Schaefer, told the press. “Everyone makes them, that’s all I can say.”

“I think no words can sort of ultimately describe how we’re feeling,” said Kye’s mum, Pam Schaefer. “Just the sheer loss of our faith in humanity, really — that’s pretty much it… He didn’t do anything wrong. He was just going for a surf before he went to work.”

Mama Schaefer went on to thank the Coffs Harbour community for their support.

“The love and support of our family and friends have been absolutely phenomenal,” Pam Schaefer said. “That’s what’s kept us out of this black hole.”

As I wrote at the time, the darkest secret of the supposed milk-and-honey run from Sydney to Byron is how soaked so many of these supposedly happy holiday hamlets are in meth and its various cuz’s, its mesmeric pull and fascination swallowing so many souls, as well as the accompanying gun-wielding outlaw motorbike gangs and a general gangster mentality.

Tom Cruise (pictured) naked from the waist up. Maybe.
Tom Cruise (pictured) naked from the waist up. Maybe.

Aged male surfers gape as Tom Cruise takes shirt off on beach

Essential viewing.

An important part of surfing is, of course, getting undressed. Whether in warm climates where toplessness is required or cold where toplessness is a step from clothing to wetsuit, male surfers are forced to take off their shirts. Now, as happens, and especially with surfers, judgements of small details are both important and encouraged. Did the fellow standing nearby shave his chest, for example, and was it a good idea? Did the other fellow, showering off, drink too many beer? As the male surfer ages, these critical perceptions become even more nuanced and valuable.

Enter Tom Cruise.

The 61-year-old movie star is currently filming Mission Impossible 8 in Spain and went to the beach for a swim break thereby jettisoning his blouse.

Fox News described his “toned abs.”

Page Six opted for “chiseled physique.”

New York Post went with “ripped abs and strong muscles.”

While Daily Mail went hard rude, commenting on his “sagging” skin and openly posited that the Top Gun hero had undergone some sort of cosmetic surgery.

And, thus, your expertise is required. If you saw a topless Tom Cruise next to you in the car park, what would you immediately think?

Peek here.