Coffs Harbour stabbing
Police forensics and dead surfer's board.

Young Aussie surfer dead after being stabbed in beach carpark; alleged killer still on run

"All I could see was his black legs in his wetsuit. I just thought it was another guy on his phone."

A young surfer is dead after being stabbed in the neck in a Coffs Harbour beach car park minutes after wrapping up a pre-work surf yesterday. 

The twenty-two-year-old surfer and stone mason was found suffering multiple stab wounds beside an orange sedan just before seven am and taken to hospital where he died. 

A BeachGrit source from the area reckons a pal of his drove past the kid “but thought he was bending down to dry off.” 

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

‘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.”

Coffs Harbour mayor Paul Amos described the attack as “random” adding, “I like other people in Coffs Harbour do the early morning swim, have the early morning walk along the beach … and some poor person has decided to do just that and for some random reason this event has occurred.”

Yeah, it ain’t that big a surprise. 

One of the darker secrets 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. 

Sharks, too. 

A crime scene has been set-up and the cops are looking for the alleged killer who, if rumours are to be believed, is a homeless ice head.

Open Thread: Comment Live on Day 5 of the Bonsoy Gold Coast Pro

Drink up, kids.

Australian brothers Callum and Jake Robinson and American friend Jack Carter Rhoad (pictured) in Mexico.
Australian brothers Callum and Jake Robinson and American friend Jack Carter Rhoad (pictured) in Mexico.

Australian brothers vanish on Baja Mexico surf trip

"When we do send our young men and women overseas to enjoy that adventure holiday, they invite an element of risk."

The parents of Callum and Jake Robinson are pleading with the public, today, for any information on their two sons’ whereabouts after they vanished on a Baja surf trip. The two, who are both in their 30s and from Perth, had traveled to California, driving into Mexico, at the end of April. They were last seen surfing and camping near Ensenada and did not arrive at their planned rental in Rosarito, just north.

Mother, Debra Robinson, took to social media in order to find any details. “They have not contacted us since April 27 … they are travelling with another friend; an American citizen,” she wrote, adding, “Callum is a Type 1 diabetic so there is also a medical concern. We sincerely appreciate everyone’s concern and thoughts at this time. We continue to have hope that our two beautiful boys are found.”

It has been reported that a woman, 25, was found with one of the missing men’s cellphones and also carrying drugs. She was subsequently arrested and turned over to the state prosecutor.

The Western Australia premier Roger Cook said he was monitoring the situation and very distressed. “This must be very worrying for the families involved,” he shared. “When we do send our young men and women overseas to enjoy that adventure holiday, they invite an element of risk. I understand one of the individuals has a medical condition that would need ongoing care. I share [the] concerns of all Western Australians in terms of their welfare.”

Mexico, of course, has its share of security concerns with the ongoing cartel wars. Baja California Sur and Baja California are, unfortunately, among the states with the highest homicide rates.

Kelly Slater. Great.
Kelly Slater. Great.

Petition circulates demanding “saint” Kelly Slater be allowed to surf the Olympics

"I encourage you to find other things you care about within once you’ve signed this."

Kelly Slater’s twenty-seventh annual retirement tour is only just getting underway and it has already been one of the greatest in recent memory. From the outpouring of affection for the 11 x surf champion to the wildcards he has been gifted which will allow him to retire next year again, the mise-en-scene has been nothing short of spectacular.

Well, when it rains it pours and things are getting better. Overnight, a petition began circulating demanding that the greatest to ever wear a professional surfing singlet be allowed to compete in this summer’s Olympiad. Righting a wrong.

New Zealander Paul Whitaker, taking to, writes:

Kia ora/hi

First up, this isn’t about addressing injustice or anything like and death. This is about making this year’s Olympics as interesting and enjoyable as possible from a surfer’s perspective and about giving something back to the G.O.A.T. I encourage you to find other things you care about within once you’ve signed this.

Kelly Slater is the greatest competitive surfer of all time. You can find a brief bio about him on the Olympics website. The vast majority of surfers and surfing fans would love to see Kelly Slater surfing @ Teahupoo in this year’s Olympic games. This includes other competitors – they’d either love to compete against him because doing so, in Tahiti is likely to be the highlight of their competitive surfing career…or, if they don’t want to surf against him it’s probably because they know he could beat them.

Kelly hasn’t qualified via standard processes but it might not be too late for the International Olympics Committee to adjust entry criteria to accommodate him. Some may feel this wouldn’t be fair to others. On the flipside – if the Olympics exist in order to showcase the best talent in any given arena I feel allowing Slater to surf in this year’s games would allow the committee to show they know how to achieve their goal. Please sign if you agree.

Well, do you?

Please sign anyhow.

WSL judges at work.
Is this really how it works? Have the internet commentators been right all along? That the process of judging surfing contests is just a debauched ritual controlled by Men of Power? | Photo: Derek Rielly

Confessions of a pro surfing judge!

Sex for scores! Cash for priority! Men of power and their cockmongers!

It should be just another bright summer morning in Huntington Beach, California. Golden parcels of light parachute through the roofs and there is no air pollution to clutter the molecules. It is perfect, if you believe in perfection.

But the scene that greets the reporter inside the judging tower resembles Fascist Italy circa 1944. Hello Republic of Salo! 

I have been instructed, if I wish to see the judging process, to appear at the bottom of the stairs leading to the great beachfront structure at seven am. No one is there to meet me. I hear laughing (older men), weeping (very young) and some kind of barking, but by humans. I climb the stairs

As I enter what I will later learn is called the “Circle of Overscore”, pro surfers wander naked serving food. Two of the four “studs” or “cockmongers” (a young pro chosen for his large penis) fondle each other in front of the judges, which arouses them greatly.

“I give each of these boys one nine-point-five for two turns and a shorebreak tap per heat,” shouts a judge to much approval.

During a search for the “cockmonger” with the firmest buttocks, the Brazilian Filipe Toledo is chosen and is gifted a win in the US Open, which will conclude the following afternoon.

Could it be true? Is this really how it works? Have the internet commentators been right all along? That the process of judging surfing contests is just a debauched ritual controlled by Men of Power?

Oh how I wish!

What I do find are the loveliest and keenest surf fans you could assemble anywhere. A collection of ultimate surf geeks, although all can surf very well, some at pro level, but ready and skilled enough to compute the difference between rides that may vary by 1/100th of a point. Hair splitting as a profession! It is a relentless job that gives no respite and, to the larger surf world, may seem entirely joyless. But these men love it!

There is Richie Porta, the ASP head judge (although he has two associate head judges, Pritamo Ahrendt and Dave Shipley, that rotate through the Head Judge position at World Tour events). He’s at the US Open more as an overseer and occasional judge than in any super serious role. That’ll come at the contest in Tahiti in a couple of weeks. Of the difference between the US Open qualifier and the World Tour event, he says, “It’s like going from club football to the AFL grand final. The pressure and the nuances at the very top is remarkable. It’s that much more intense it’s not even palpable… Like, last year at Pipe. You’ve gotta have nerves of steel when it’s a game of nines. All the boys are ripping and it’s you deciding, is that nine-two better than that nine-three. At the level of the World Tour it’s that crucial.”

Next is Jeff Klugel the silver-haired former pro surfer who is head judge of the men’s heats here. He roams up and down the panel of five judges, asking the video operator to cue up various rides and says things like, “I like it, I like it. But let’s watch yellow again for a reference, the sections aren’t as critical; blue’s attack looked a little more critical in my mind!”

Rich says, “The coolest thing is, we’re all dyed-in-the-wool surf fans. I love these comparisons.”

Jeff looks at me, bouncing on his feet, and says, “At the highest level, it’s gold! Pure gold!”

The surf is two feet and will shrink toward the shore as the tide comes in. I want to find out how hard, or easy, it is to judge at an ASP event. It ain’t World Tour, I know, but it’s close. And at home my scores reflect, generally, what the judges punch in.

First heat. Mitch Crews versus Charlie Martin. A split peak. Mitch does two little tags, but with style; Maxime Huscenot, three, but with slightly less zing. I give Max a four and Mitch a three-point-eight.

I’m horrified to see the scores come in at seven and five-point-one-seven. Ah, but then I learn. You judge according to the conditions. If you score too low, says Rich Porta, “You’ll compress everything under five. We talk about opening up the scale in bad surf. Say, the surf is good in the morning and the tide comes in and wrecks it in the afternoon, like in France, Portugal or here at HB. We still have to score it out of 10, no matter what. But what would’ve been a four in the morning is now a six.”

Anyway, it’s a game of comparisons, Rich explains, and that it doesn’t matter if your scores are different to the other judges so long as you’re consistent within the heat. The highest score and lowest score is always removed thereby creating a consistent result.

Mitch swings an air. It’s not necessarily that much more difficult than the two safe backhand taps Max has just completed but there is a greater margin for error. I give it a six. It’s a three-point-six-seven.

“Eight years ago that would’ve been an eight-five, now he gets a 3.67,” says Rich. “He didn’t rotate hard, there wasn’t the trajectory in the air. The tour surfers came to us and said judge us on technicality, height and landing. Before it was ‘jump’ and get a score.”

As we get deeper into the first heat, it becomes even more of a game of comparisons. We compare Mitch’s three-six-seven air to his first wave, the five-one-seven (two turns) and three-point left that consisted of one turn.

“It’s crucial to have those smaller waves in the right spaces,” says Rich. “The surfer will come in and say, ‘My air was better than my turn at the pier…were you watching? Surely you guys know that was harder to do!’ So we don’t get flippant with our scores.”

Jeff, meanwhile, is like a conductor, spinning past the judges mounted on their pedestal chairs and punching scores into their electronic boxes that may or may not be replaced by computer tablets soon.

“Let’s go to the replays!”

The replays on a smallish television controlled by a full-time video guy are brutal. What looked rad in the water is compressed on the screen. It explains a lot about why so many people lose it at home. Rich says that most judges have their scores already in their heads and they generally don’t tweak it too much after any replays on the small television screen.

The heat finishes. “Alright!” hollers Jeff. “One done!

“You’re always comparing it to that first score,” says Dylan Feindt, an American judge.

I’m sweating. It’s tough, even one heat, so much concentration my brain aches. As the day move on my scores close in to the paid judges, but occasionally I’ll be blown away by equal scores being given to three re-entries (Brett Simpson) and Felipe Toledo (two airs, including a genuine how-the-hell-did-he-do-that-rote in the shore break).

“When we started everyone surfed the same, you were comparing apples with apples,” says Rich. “Now you’re comparing  apples to oranges to bananas and watermelons. If the surfers were to say, all we want you to score is airs, then that’s what we’d score. But it’s all kinds of surfing and the scores reflect it. If you’re not across the concept it doesn’t make sense.”

As for corruption and being blinded by a personal fav, Rich says: “I don’t care who is out there. My focus is on whether or not it’s a six or a seven or whatever and if the surf is good enough to compete.”

(Editor’s note: This story first appeared on the opening day of BeachGrit in 2014. Given the heat surrounding judges, more noise than a football coach, I figured it deserved a little re-run.)