WSL and shark at Lowers
WSL officials fend off Great White during Finals Day surf off.

San Clemente, California, world’s latest Great White hotspot after all beaches closed following “aggressive shark behaviour”

"We have been put in harm’s way due to the change in regulations and the elimination of what had been working for as any can remember."

The explosion of the Great White population in southern California is hardly news to the surfers who see the happy, maligned, majestic (etc) animals frolicking at close range. 

You’ll remember when a breaching eight-foot Great White close to where Gabriel Medina and Filipe Toledo were competing in the second of a best-of-three heats for the world title forced the WSL’s Finals Day to be put on hold.

In the last decade, Great Whites have become synonymous with this stretch of coastline. Whether, as experts say it’s the natural result of protection or a healthier ecosystem (more seals and seal lions) is immaterial, really, because they ain’t going anywhere and therefore the OC surfer must live with this fact.

(Something the central coast and northern Californian surfer has always had to do. Click here to recall the day the noted writer Lewis Samuels either bravely went to the aid of a pal who’d been hit by a Great White or left him to die…)

But breaching juveniles at Lowers is one thing, fully grown adults is another. And city officials were quick to close all beaches in San Clemente yesterday after a surfer was knocked off his board by a Great White shark. 

“The surfer and one other surfer were sitting on their boards waiting for a wave when they saw a dark gray object approach and knock one of the surfers off their surfboard,” said San Clemente Marine Safety Lt. Sean Staudenbaur. “The surfers then came to the shore and reported the incident, at which point officials made the decision to close water access for 24 hours.”

Six years ago, the OC Register was onto it:

“The Southern California coastline has seen an influx of sharks close to shore in recent years, groups of dozens and more gathering in “hot spots,” first noticed frequently near surfers and swimmers in the South Bay, Santa Monica and Ventura about six years ago, then showing up in Huntington, Surfside Beach and Seal Beach in higher-than-normal numbers about four years ago.

“Maria Korcsmaros nearly lost her life while training for a triathlon when a shark attacked her near Corona del Mar in May of 2016.  In April 2017, swimmer Leeanne Ericson lost a piece of her leg and buttock to an estimated 10-foot shark off San Onofre State Beach.

“Last summer, a group of juvenile sharks took residence in shallow waters off Long Beach, as well as further south off Dana Point and San Clemente. Their presence made headlines and even led to the creation of shark tours to give people up-close looks at the predators.

“Dana Wharf Whale Watching launched Shark Searches last year to give spectators an up-close look at the sharks, selling out seats week after with week. Manager Donna Kalez said that if sightings do increase, early-morning whale watching charters may start also looking for sharks.”

In 2021, Joel Tudor posted footage of a ten-foot Great White breaching off Cardiff, a little south of San Clemente, and in the exact town where BeachGrit principal Chas Smith twirls his corn-coloured hair on painted fingernails. 

“Don’t surf Cardiff,” wrote Tudor. “It’s infested with ten-foot White sharks that are attracted to soft tops, stand-up paddlers and tourist swimmers. Stay safe and find a lake or go take a hike. This was today at 8:12 am.”

The post opened a floodgate of Great White chatter.

Former tour surfer Shea Lopez wrote, “When these pups grow up it’s gonna be a different story in SoCal waters. They were all over Lowers the past three days.”

“Result of almost thirty years of no local net fishing inshore,” Tudor replied. “Those dudes used to cull the count quite a bit and helped keep the balance. Since they have been gone the numbers are crazy.”

“Same in Florida,” wrote Lopez, “Used to be we were protected by the actions of the fisherman understanding the ecosystem and being in charge of doing not only what is best for them but also the community that they live in as it affects everyone from their children to their grandparents. Now we have been put in harm’s way due to the change in regulations and the elimination of what had been working for as any can remember. And working well. What next. We have to make an effort to stop the inevitable.”

A  daddy to a shredder I know in San Clemente said his kid begged to go surfing when he saw four surfers in the water at Lowers.

“I told him no,” he said. ”

Which raises the perennial question: to kill or no.

Where do you stand?


John John Florence and Ocean Grove beach.
If it wasn't for the wild conservatism of her home town, Ocean Grove, ain't no way Alex Florence would've fled for the North Shore and, ultimately, create the greatest three-pack of surf brothers ever birthed.

New Jersey Christians fight back after being ordered to keep beach with links to John John Florence open on Sundays

“For 155 years, we have closed our beach on Sunday mornings to honor God – a core pillar of this community."

In the otherwise dreary year of 1986, a pretty sixteen-year-old girl broke out of the shackles of her upbringing in a Christian seaside community in New Jersey called Ocean Grove, and split for the North Shore.

That was Alex Florence who’d go on to birth a two-time world champ, John John, the reigning surfer of the year, Nathan, and the coolest of them ‘em all, a man so sexy he makes your hair stand up and your stomach turn to buttermilk, skate-surf maestro Ivan.

Ocean Grove, established by Methodists in 1869, is, also known as “God’s Square Mile.” You can’t buy booze, the Christian flag (red cross on a white banner) flaps near the beach and wooden crosses have been dug into the sand. Even the pier is in the shape of a cross.

And, for surfers, who want a little taste of those occasionally epic hurricane-generated tubes, well, it ain’t gonna happen on a Sunday morn when, by all rights, you should be giving it to Jesus in church.

Y’see, as a mark of the community’s piety, the beach is closed until midday on Sunday although that rule was overturned by the state last October when the Department of Environmental Protection ordered ‘em to stop close the beach Sunday or else risk twenty-five gees a day in fines.

The Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association, which owns the beach, appealed the decision and lost.

“All members of the public are welcome [onto the beach] 365 days a year. Anyone, regardless of race, creed, religion or orientation is welcome onto this private property 99.5% of the year,” the Association argued.

Now, the joint is open, temporarily, while the group continues to fight the decision.

“For 155 years, we have closed our beach on Sunday mornings to honor God – a core pillar of this community since the founding of the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association,” the group’s said in a statement. “We are challenging this order to preserve our property rights and religious freedom.”

I kinda like the idea of no pressure Sundays, ain’t no need to wake up for the early, but also the notion that I might slip into an empty tube while the good burghers of Ocean Grove are getting their fix in church.

Tyler Wright (pictured) ready for more. Photo: WSL
Tyler Wright (pictured) ready for more. Photo: WSL

World Surf League breaks hard with theater protocol, predicts “best ever conditions in history” for end of Tahiti Pro

"A massive swell expected to bring sizeable waves, potentially matching the memorable CT event here in 2014."

Now, there is longstanding tradition in the theater to not jinx an upcoming performance by wishing “good luck” or telegraphing maximum success. Dancers, actors and musicians are generally superstitious, not wanting to spoil the future by being overly bullish. Thus, ballerinas tell each other “merde” before the curtain opens, or shit, actors pine for broken legs and violin, cello, timpani etc. players go “toi toi toi,” spitting three times in each other’s faces.

The World Surf League, though, is bucking that trend and boldly predicting that the waves will be so good, come Wednesday, or maybe Thursday, that it needs Monday to gloat. Yes, in an overnight missive, the “global home of surfing” declared that folk should tune in Monday at noon Tahiti time in order to hear the gang talk up the upcoming swell, sparing no superlative.

Per the release:

The WSL Commissioner’s Office is eyeing a massive swell expected to bring sizeable waves, potentially matching the memorable CT event here in 2014. More updates will be shared tomorrow afternoon for the call times and anticipated schedules for Tuesday, May 28, and Wednesday, May 29.

“Even though there were some remnants of yesterday’s swell, the biggest set was the size of the average sets yesterday,” said Renato Hickel, WSL Deputy Commissioner. “With this swell forecast to fade further, it was an easy decision to wait for the next set of bigger swells starting on Wednesday. Wednesday and Thursday are looking great to run the competition with the anticipated swell, and we’re looking at Friday as our backup day. We’ll share more details about the call tomorrow afternoon, but we might have a look on Tuesday, and we’re expecting to have a big day on Wednesday.”

Do you think the fates will reward this boldness or might some devil wind be conjured in order to ruin the proceedings?

Also, do you think Pip is still scared by even the thought of “massive swell” hitting the Cave of Skulls?

Recall the aforementioned 2014 Billabong Pro while formulating your thoughts.

Sasha Jane Lowerson out and amongst it. Photo: Instagram
Sasha Jane Lowerson out and amongst it. Photo: Instagram

Transgender surfer Sasha Jane Lowerson delivers bombshell after bombshell in stunning new Rolling Stone profile

"There’s one girl out there that opens your magazine and says, ‘She’s doing it. I can do it.’”

Sasha Jane Lowerson is a household name throughout this, our small and ofttimes backward surfing community. The celebrated transgender surfer, who was one of Australia’s leading male longboarders, even winning the men’s longboard division as Ryan Egan before transitioning four years ago and joining the women’s side of the draw, has crushed all-comers since. Lowerson has won many fans through her dominance, but also a small handful of detractors who question the fairness of it all.

Well, in a stunning new Rolling Stone profile, the strawberry blonde delivers bombshell after bombshell, detailing her wild journey. Amongst the most surprising bits, Sasha Jane Lowerson…

-Finds California much more supportive than Australia, declaring, “Even the middle-aged cis white guy [here] accepts me in the water. Whereas, generally, in Western Australia, it’s the polar opposite. Hopefully it changes.”

-Is a design genius, shaping a board called the “Shrimp Taco” which can “support a 250-pound rider and fits in the average car trunk.”

-Calls Rip Curl pulling its controversial ad featuring her “The biggest load of bullshit ever.”

-Is penning a memoir about the wild 1990s surf industry boom.

-Hopes to encourage others along the way, saying, “There’s one girl out there that opens your magazine and says, ‘She’s doing it. I can do it.’”

The thought of anyone, much less a young girl, finding a physical copy of Rolling Stone and being even remotely interested enough to open it is the kind of pie in sky dreaming that allows humanity to reach its perpetually new heights.

Utopia near.

Read in its entirety, online, here.

Dior releases first photos of Olympic ambassador surfer Carissa Moore ahead of Paris 2024 Games

"An invitation to continually push the boundaries of creativity in the name of passion and freedom."

Surfing champ Carissa Moore, the smiling Hawaiian girl with the hip swivels, hand stands, all the herky-jerky including an Olympic gold medal from Tokyo, and the the best thing since Kelly Slater was baptised, was signed a few months back by Dior to be one of its fifteen Olympic ambassadors.

Carissa Moore, of course, joined the exodus of retiring world champs earlier this year, with five titles on the shelf and the crushed dreams of two more sitting in bitter pieces at the bottom of her heart, although she would allow one more swing at Olympic gold.

Carissa’s manager told BeachGrit in January, “As the only surfer in the world to have attained multiple World Titles plus an Olympic Gold Medal, there isn’t a surfer alive who can lay claim to this unparalleled level of achievement.”

Now, Dior has released first photos of Carissa Moore, along with fourteen other Olympic athletes which also includes Jamaica’s five-time Olympic gold medalist Elaine Thompson-Herah, U.S. soccer player Alex Morgan and Australia’s most decorated Olympian Emma McKeon, who has a stack of eleven medals in her treasure chest.

As you might already guess, Carissa Moore, with those eyes like ripe olives and the smile of someone who has gingerbread baking in the oven, is the belle of this particular ball.

We see the thirty one year old, limber as Haitian dancer, riding a billowing wave of hyacinth dyed silk, her surfboard a giant pair of scissors and dressed in Dior’s D-Unit boots, $2850, and a $6500 hooded anorak, cut in a technical taffeta jacquard, which forms part of Maria Grazia Chiuri’s soon-to-be-iconic collection.

Carissa Moore for Dior.
“As the only surfer in the world to have attained multiple World Titles plus an Olympic Gold Medal, there isn’t a surfer alive who can lay claim to this unparalleled level of achievement.”

The portraits of will go on show at Le Café Dior in La Galerie Dior at their in Paris from July 24 to Sept. 9.

“The exhibition is a celebration of surpassing performance and an invitation to continually push the boundaries of creativity in the name of passion and freedom,” Dior said.

Here, from earlier this year, Chas Smith reacts to Carissa, and Stephanie Gilmore’s, sudden retirement.