Harry Bryant (left) and Prince William enjoying some brother time in the days before that dastardly Meghan Markel came around.
Harry Bryant (left) and Prince William enjoying some brother time in the days before that dastardly Meghan Markel came around.

Surfing dealt major blow as Prince William opts to play beach volleyball instead

Move over, surfing. There's a new Sport of Kings in town.

I am currently in Nashville, Tennessee attending my very talented daughter’s university graduation. She made it through with honors, playing soccer on full scholarship and generally crushing. I am very proud, prouder, likely, than England’s King Charles whose genealogically talented son is currently in that country’s surf capital, thrusting a blade into, funny enough, the Sport of Kings.

Prince William and his estranged brother Harry Bryant have surf dabbled for much of their gilded lives, sometimes soft-topping, sometimes putting their bodies on a boogie. You can imagine, then, the hope and thrill in Cornwall when the heir came galloping into town.

Local media was boasting “the warm spring weather, with temperatures of around 16C and a gentle breeze” there off Fistral Beach. Surfline calling it 2 -3 and fair.

Perfect surfing weather.

And yet, the fair prince neither wetsuited nor paddled nor glided upon the face of the ocean, instead opting to play beach volleyball.


Per Daily Mail:

William showed off his volleyball skills as his serving proved too much as the opposition repeatedly knocked the ball into the net while attempting a return.

William, who is also the Duke of Cornwall, a title inherited from his father after the Queen’s death, runs the Duchy of Cornwall, a portfolio of land, property and investments valued at more than £1 billion, which provide an income for the heir to the throne.

Despite the warm weather – one of the hottest days so far this year – William appeared cool, calm and collected in a light-blue shirt and navy chinos.

He added a pair of snazzy shades for the relaxed outing and made a face of pure concentration as he served the ball in the game.

It must be noted that the “opposition” happened to be teenagers from the local lifesaving club.

Surfing, in any case, dealt a major blow. Will it entirely disappear from merry old England, being wholly replaced by beach volleyball.

Hope springs.

The burnt out Chevy Colorado of Callum and Jake Robinson, killed in Mexico.
The thieves and 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."

Man accused of killing three surfers in Baja Mexico allegedly told girlfriend, “I f**ked up three gringos”

Girlfriend of alleged killer turns prosecution witness, says Jesus Gerardo confessed to triple murder… 

The man accused of killing two Australian brothers Jake and Callum Robinson and their American pal Jack Carter Rhoad has appeared in an Ensenada court charged with kidnapping, although the charges are now expected to be upgraded to murder after his girl turned prosecution witness. 

Last week, the bodies of the three surfers were found dumped in a fifty-foot well in Baja, California, four miles from where they were shot dead and their tents burned.

Mexican cops ID’d three people as suspects in the killings, two of ‘em caught with meth and, one, the woman who would turn proz witness, carrying one of the dead men’s phones. 

Jesus Gerardo aka El Kekas, which is slang for quesadillas, has a rap sheet for domestic violence, drug dealing and car theft. Appearing in an orange jump suit and with his hands and feet manacled to the floor, Jesus Gerado learned his gal, Ari Gisell, had told the cops he had admitted to the killings. 

According to the State’s case, his girl said Jesus Gerado arrived at her house on the Sunday after the killings and said, “I fucked up three gringos.” 

She asked what he meant and he said, “I killed them.” 

He then gave her one of the men’s phones and took her outside to show her the new tyres on his car, allegedly stolen from the surfers’ Chevy Colorado. 

The case continues.

Matthew McConaughey and John John Florence.
Matthew McConaughey and John John Florence recreate the Slater-Machado paw-swipe from 1995.

Matthew McConaughey and John John Florence recreate greatest moment in surf history at Kelly Slater Surf Ranch!

"Magic carpets."

In the Hawaiian winter of 1995, the two world title combatants Rob Machado and Kelly Slater called a momentary truce in their crucial semi-final when the pair slapped palms after a Machado tube. 

Of course, cynics were quick to claim that Kelly Slater swiped at Machado’s paw to force his opponent to stay on the wave longer than necessary and lose priority and, therefore, the world title. 

I was there on the beach, as it happened, and it felt as if Slater was a cat carrying a dead bird in its mouth, eating his prey slowly, then licking himself clean. 

Fast forward almost thirty years and we find the Hollywood hunk Matthew McConaughey, who stunned surf fans last September with an inspirational speech to Griffin Colapinto prior to the kid’s world title showdown with Filipe Toledo and which contained a still-unexplained prophecy, recreating the famous event at the Kelly Slater Surf Ranch.

In a two-shot sequence posted on Matthew McConaughey’s official Instagram account, we first see the fifty-four-year-old with tail stiff and fur bristling steaming towards John John Florence, who has his arms raised.

Matthew McConaughey, wearing a black t-shirt that outlines a forceful torso and with blue shorts cradling his handsome glands, squats low and accepts John John Florence’s palm.

“Magic carpets,” writes McConaughey.

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.