Surfer moves away from coast for love.
What if he did indeed leave the Atlantic behind and pack all of his meager belongings in a rattling, decade-old, out-of-production Subaru and drive 18 hours to a land he’d never truly experienced, to sleep every night in the arms of a lady he decided was worth everything, to risk dry rot for his beloved 5/4?

Essay: “I gave up surfing for love!”

Am I still a “core” surfer? I don’t know.

Let’s say, hypothetically speaking, you’re an American male in his mid to late forties who has lived virtually his entire life on the east coast of North America within a zone of relatively easy access to the ocean.

Let’s say you’ve been surfing since at least the early eighties and did the requisite trips to tropical destinations from time to time, going off grid here and there to chase empty barrels and lined up walls, sometimes successfully.

And let’s say that, even though the halcyon days of youth are behind you, and in spite of some rather tumultuous and chaotic situations on land, you are still getting in the water regularly, catching just about every hurricane or nor’easter swell, paddling out before first light, cultivating a first name relationship with the early morning regulars, catching your share of set waves breaking on the outer bar, and all the while further refining that spray-hurling cutback you first leaned into back in the eighties.

Now, let’s also say in the midst of this set wave catching, spray hurling, land chaos run, you simultaneously fall hard for a woman, and you’re convinced life’s kaleidoscope would fade away if you let her go — in fact, let’s say for sake of discussion that she is the kaleidoscope, in all the ways that you used to believe were merely fairy tales and discovered to be true only after you found her.

But, to add some spice to this purely hypothetical scenario, let’s pretend this real life princess isn’t living on the east coast or the west coast; indeed, for purposes of our discussion let’s assume that she lives in a landlocked state, one without a wave pool or a great lake or even a foaming mountain rapid.

And, let’s say that given certain immutable features of life, the details of which are unimportant here, her location is locked in, a move to either coast is simply not possible.

The choice between these two divergent paths, hypothetical though they may be, could be agonizing.

On the one hand, true love and all of its eternal promise, celebrated by every great artist from Shakespeare to Sublime. On the other, shimmering lines at dawn, visions from the aquatic cathedral, that anticipation when you’re in the spot and turn to take those last few strokes before dropping in (plus wriggling out of 5/4 chest zips in sub-freezing parking lots, dealing with grueling beach break paddle outs, and managing cranky local wannabes, but I digress).

Yet, are these the only choices?

What if, hypothetically speaking of course, there were a third way?

What if true love and surfing could co-exist, even thrive?

What if quality could trump quantity?

What if select surf trips to prime waves could replace, even eclipse, regular paddle outs at the onshore local?

What if it didn’t matter if everybody (in the lineup) knew your name?

And, what if this road less traveled were after all was said and done and considered and perused the actual path our middle-aged American pursued?

What if he did indeed leave the Atlantic behind and pack all of his meager belongings in a rattling, decade-old, out-of-production Subaru and drive 18 hours to a land he’d never truly experienced, to sleep every night in the arms of a lady he decided was worth everything, to risk dry rot for his beloved 5/4?

If you haven’t figured out yet that this isn’t really a hypothetical, you’re probably lacking in mental capacity, much like a WCT judge. In non-hypothetical real life, that 18-hour drive was nearly five years ago. Pre-COVID, pre-Pipe Pro 2022, back when KS11 was only on retirement #12, Snapper was still on the WCT, Fisher’s dick board wasn’t getting any action, and Medina didn’t get fucked in every heat of consequence.

That fall day in 2019 was when the life of this full-time blow-in began. No more last-minute dawn patrols just to get wet. No more checking it out in victory at sea conditions to see if the jetty might be blocking the wind just enough to make it worth a paddle out. No more lunch break surfs to catch the two hours of tropical storm swell window. And no more asshole wannabe locals talking smack thinking you’re from out of town because they’ve never been in the water before ten am.

But, the actual surfing never stopped.

Now the Pacific, not the Atlantic, is surf home away from home. Regular post-ups in surf-rich zones. Side trips to places where localism doesn’t exist, like Waco. There’s even a stretch of the West Coast never explored until a few years ago that now feels almost as familiar as East Coast waves that were surfed dozens of times.

I may have even offered you, dear California reader, a cup of steaming hot coffee at such a place without you even realizing I was just a nomad blowing through your sacred homeland. You may have felt the refreshing spray of my trademark cutback (the only decent maneuver left in my bag) and smiled, never realizing the shower came off the buried rail of a surf immigrant who more likely than not had practiced that very move on a surf skate in a far away inland parking lot just days before, Raglan surf report’s views on such blasphemy be damned.

And, speaking of cutbacks, turns out that pre-dawn paddle outs are the best strategy to avoid crowds just about anywhere on earth. I have a blown-up photo hanging on my wall (taken by the princess) of me on a solid lined up wave without a single other surfer in sight, with the sun just peaking over the mountains in the background, at the most famous section of what is generally heralded to be one of the most crowded spots in the USA.

Wait you say, you’re a sell out! What a kook! You can’t be a “core” surfer and not live within spitting distance of an ocean! Fuck that, you can’t even call yourself a surfer, period! You’re shittier than the shittiest VAL! This is basically the equivalent of the Dead Kennedys selling songs to Walmart for TV commercials, but at least the DKs, unlike you, have talent!

Worse still, you’re making a mockery of all the true surfers who’ve sacrificed love and family and career and literally everything on the altar of Mother Ocean! Do you think you’re the first man who’s ever had to pick between love and surfing! What a self-involved prick! Fuck off, asshole! Don’t ever comment here again!

I guess. I hear you. I can see the comments. “Fuck off kook” leading over “live and let live” by a healthy margin.

But everyone has to follow their own path. For me, the tradeoffs have absolutely been worth it. For you, maybe not, who knows.

Am I still a “core” surfer?

I don’t know.

I still love the ocean, maybe more than ever. I still get short of breath when I’m kneeling on the sand waxing up, looking out at a firing lineup. I still think heaven is watching the sun come up from the lineup as a pod of dolphins cruises by and a far away shadow on the ocean’s face indicates a set is on the way. And when I realize I’m in just the right spot for that next peaking wave, I still feel twelve years old all over again.

In fact, I might say that getting your shit worked out and finding true love on land opens your mind to greater appreciation of everything in life.

I might say that I love surfing more than ever.

And maybe that just sounds like self-justification bullshit to you.

I get it.

But she was worth it.

Surf journalist (pictured0 trying to hold it together. Photo: Owen Tozer
Surf journalist (pictured0 trying to hold it together. Photo: Owen Tozer

Surf journalist has heart soar, then crash, after being teased with Kelly Slater approval


Now, I’ve always looked askance at those folk who glow after receiving some positive word from Kelly Slater. A comment, say, on a social media feed or a stray bit of conversation while the greatest surfer ever goes hither or thither. These folk suddenly transform, shaking, glee bubbling up in hearts that is generally followed by a gushing bit of praise for the 11x champion.

“Pshaw,” I mutter to myself. “Who cares. He’s only flesh, blood and professional surfing singlet. No different than Brett Simpson or CJ Hobgood, really.”

Last night, though, everything changed as my own heart bubbled with glee. For you certainly read the piece Wall Street Explodes as “Age-Defying Biohacker” Kelly Slater Introduces New Skincare Line which introduced Freaks of Nature to the BeachGrit community. While it was very well crafted, thoughtful etc. I did not except much from it and so when a “thank you” from the firm managing Freaks of Nature roll-out popped into my inbox, I was lightly surprised.

Surprise turned to a giddy flush when I read the first line.

“Thank you SO much for the wonderful feature on Freaks of Nature’s launch. The team, including Kelly, is THRILLED!”


Kelly Slater is THRILLED?

I immediately responded, trying to breathe evenly and control myself, penning, “Are you sure Kelly is thrilled?”

I did not hear anything back but crazy gonna crazy and I could not help but imagine a future just over the horizon where he and I were friends. My dreams, that night, were positively technicolor. It was me, sitting in the Surf Ranch hot tub instead of Selema Masekela, eating rich protein bars and phone ringing. Having Derek Rielly rummage through my plus-sized clothing, answer and having it be Slater on the other end.

Alas, this morning all was dashed when clarification from the wonderful PR maven reading, “Yes – the team is happy with the piece.”

No “including Kelly.”

A heavy crash landing in reality.


Tyler Wright (pictured) showing timid Filipe Toledo how it's done.
Tyler Wright (pictured) showing timid Filipe Toledo how it's done.

Timid surf champ Filipe Toledo under major pressure after Tyler Wright, Molly Picklum open up about “beautiful, raw” but terrifying Teahupo’o

Time running out to move through stages of acceptance.

Two-time World Surf League champion, and LBTQ+ icon, Tyler Wright is currently sitting 8th on the leaderboard, as the tour swings across the blue ocean and to Tahiti for stop number six. The Mouth of Skulls will host the greatest surfers on earth from May 22 through 31 for the Shiseido Tahiti Pro with surf fans around the globe primed and ready to open thread: comment live. The spectacle will, of course, be a preview of the coming summer Olympics when international sport fans will join in and be awed by the ocean folding in half, flashing its power.

Teahupo’o is, without doubt, one of the most striking waves in the world and Wright, who will be competing for Team Australia in July, opened up about her terrors in a wide-ranging new interview.

“Teahupo’o is a massive wave of consequence. It’s beautiful, it’s raw and it’s a wave where you don’t want to find out the consequences. You want to go in with a really humble and respectful approach to mother nature and what she produces,” she told The Guardian’s Martin Pegan.

She continued, “More than likely I’m going to be scared, but it’s being honest with that and sticking to what’s important for me in that opportunity, that’s all I can ask for myself.”

Admitting fear, of course, a fine and necessary final step in overcoming strife and while Wright will not be a favorite, what with teammate Molly Picklum and American’s Carissa Moore plus Caity Simmers in the draw, speaking truth will certainly be of great service.

Picklum, a fierce barrel rider who has tossed herself over the ledge and into history this year also declared, “Tahiti is a pretty scary wave. Our surfing team is really strong and this team is ideal for this location – the boys and Tyler are such good barrel riders, and this wave is all about barrel riding.”

The ball, now, squarely in timid surf champ Filipe Toledo’s court.

The 29-year-old, who took the year off ahead of the Olympics, will be representing Brazil at “the end of the road.” Unlike Wright and Picklum, though, Toledo has steadfastly refused to paddle into any wave of consequence. Also unlike them, he has taken a defiant stance as it relates to his historic 0.0 heat totals and being out-surfed by two geriatrics.

With less than three months until the torch is lit, will the brave coward have enough time to move through the five stages of acceptance and the possibility of not embarrassing his country on live television? Toledo currently finds himself somewhere between denial and anger. He sill must conquer bargaining and depression before arriving at the truth and putting himself in a position to overcome his fear.

Tick, tock, tick, tock.

Or is this still all part of his master plan?

Big if true.

Jake and Callum Robinson, killed in Mexico
Jake and Callum Robinson, killed alongside their buddy Jack Carter Rhoad in Baja California.

Police carjacking theory for killing of three surfers in Mexico “makes no sense and is deeply disturbing” say sources

“My guess is (the three surfers) were mistakenly identified as a rival criminal organization and murdered."

Last week, the bodies of Western Australian surfer brothers Jake and Callum Robinson, and their San Diego buddy, Jack Carter Rhoad, were found dumped in a fifty-foot well in Baja, California, four miles from where they were shot dead and their tents burned.

Baja’s chief state prosecutor María Elena Andrade Ramírez told press the alleged killers “approached with the intention of stealing their vehicle and taking the tires and other parts to put them on the older-model pickup they were driving.

“When they (the foreigners) came up and caught them, surely, they resisted. And these people, the assailants, took out a gun and first they killed the one who was putting up resistance against the vehicle theft, and then others came along and joined the fight to defend their property and their companion who had been attacked, and they killed them too.”

Now, a new theory has emerged with sources telling the New York Post the Mexican cops’ version of events was “deeply disturbing.” 

“Basically, the reasoning of them being carjack victims gone wrong makes very little sense. These surfers were well traveled and would most likely know better than to try to fend off a truck jacking,

“My guess is they were mistakenly identified as a rival criminal organization and murdered. That being exposed would create an ongoing investigation that no cartel wants to deal with and would create a devastating impact on tourism in the area.”

Life is cheap in Mexico and death is delivered with insouciance. Last year 111,916 souls were disappeared, with an extraordinary 403,000 people killed or missing since 2006.  

Eight years ago, two Australian surfers, Dean Lucas and Adam Coleman, were killed in mainland Mex, their burnt-out corpses found in their surf van.

The US State Department has been advising tourists to stay out of Baja Mex since last August.

“Violent crime, such as homicide, kidnapping, carjacking and robbery, is widespread and common in Mexico. Use toll roads when you can and do not drive alone or at night. Be extra cautious when visiting local bars, nightclubs or casinos. Do not show any signs of wealth (i.e. jewellery, etc). Be vigilant around banks and ATMs.”

Three people, Jesús Gerardo Garcia Cota, his partner Ari Gisel García Cota, and brother Cristian Alejandro Garcia have been arrested over the disappearance of the surfers, although no one has yet been charged with murder. 

Shane Dorian and Anthony Walsh, double tube.
The best tube riders in the biz melted over the short clip.  “Wow absolutely insane,” wrote Cloudbreak’s patriarch Jon Roseman. 

Shane Dorian stuns with double tube POV footage alongside “gorilla chested” Anthony Walsh

“One of the most memorable waves I’ve ever shared,” says Shane Dorian.

The big-wave superstar Shane Dorian, whom you’ll remember from his epic debut on BeachGrit in 2014 where he instructed readers on how to catch a twenty-foot wave and discussed what it’s like to have an infant deer die in your arms, has stunned with his double tube POV footage alongside Australian Anthony Walsh. 

“One of the most memorable waves I’ve ever shared. In the wild Australian desert with my buddy @anthony_walsh_ for a @gopro trip. We tried this a few times but this was the one that worked best.” 


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A post shared by Shane Dorian (@shanedorian)

The best tube riders in the biz melted over the short clip. 

“Wow absolutely insane,” wrote Cloudbreak’s patriarch Jon Roseman. 

Two of my favorite surfers and humans on that wave. Epic!! wrote Canadian surf sensation Erin Brooks, whose five seconds of tube riding glory at Snapper Rocks earned the teenager a gilded chair in the palace of surf history.

Peter Mel, “That thing blew away our Eddie share. Geez!!”

The Australian-born, Hawaii-living surfer Anthony Walsh, a man with a gorilla chest and unwashed straw hair who will ride the tube behind Laird at Teahupoo for a clip, is the screw foot you see in frame. 

Anthony Walsh has long been a favourite of BeachGrit, his paddler’s perspective of big Cloudbreak in 2018 viewed twenty million or so times on YouTube.