Keala Kennelly (pictured) living her fullest life in Greece. Photo: Instagram
Keala Kennelly (pictured) living her fullest life in Greece. Photo: Instagram

Breaking: World Surf League solely to blame for “cruel and sloppy” smear of big wave icon Keala Kennelly

Surf media cleared of all wrongdoing.

I’ll be quite frank. When I discovered, this morning, that the legendary big wave maven Keala Kennelly had been done wrong by the surfing industry, and mostly media, I was both sad and taken aback. The multi-hyphenate 45-year-old has been routinely celebrated at BeachGrit here, here, here, here, etc. and I only assumed she was treasured as much elsewhere.

Her specific bone, entirely justified in my opinion, was that she had been the first ever to score a perfect 10 at Teahupo’o in 2001 though her milestone was brushed under the carpet, Tati Weston-Webb’s most recent, less than a month ago, being celebrated as unique.

“I’m getting very tired of the media diminishing the surfing legacies of my generation (and other past generations) I recently had a history making accomplishment of mine completely erased and bestowed on someone else then spread all over the internet,” Kennelly penned to Instagram

Alas, in breaking news, the surfing media has been cleared of all wrong doing in forget-gate, all blame falling onto the World Surf League itself.

Per the presser released just after the Tahiti Pro wrapped:

Despite losing to eventual event winner Fierro, Tatiana Weston-Webb (BRA) made history today with the first Perfect 10 ever from a woman at the Tahiti Pro. Weston-Webb dug deep to paddle over the ledge and into a huge set wave, making it to the bottom and almost catching her rail in the critical part of the wave only to recover and put herself deep in the barrel, behind the heavy Teahupo’o curtain. Weston-Webb then navigated the foam ball and the spit to fly out of the barrel for the Perfect score. Weston-Webb’s amazing surfing continues to push surfing’s progression even more in today’s pumping conditions.

Cruel and sloppy, especially coming from the “Global Home of Surfing.”

But might it have been on purpose?

Surf fans certainly remember, seven months ago, when Kennelly took a sledgehammer to the World Surf League, accusing it of “fraud, deception and stinginess,” declaring, “The WSL calls themselves a ‘sports league.’ They are a medium company and what does a media company need? Attention.”

Ouch though true. The League, itself, responds to criticism with old-school Stalinism, simply erasing those who counter whichever narrative is the one being pushed.

Do you recall Bethany Hamilton?

Neither does anyone behind the Wall of Positive Noise as she was disappeared after challenging the WSL’s stance on trans athletes. Brave surfers wanting to honor the inspirational shark attack survivor by wearing her name told “That person doesn’t exist.”

Keala Kennelly, it appears, victim number two.

Who’s next?

Keala Kennelly (pictured) setting the record straight.
Keala Kennelly (pictured) setting the record straight.

Big wave legend Keala Kennelly lashes surf media for not putting respect on her name

"I recently had a history making accomplishment of mine completely erased and bestowed on someone else..."

The completely epic ’24 running of the Tahiti Pro is now but a speck in the rearview mirror though still reverberating. Phenomenal performances by Gabriel Medina, John John Florence, Ramzi Boukhaim and Rio Waida, of course, but the show stoppers were Tatiana Weston-Webb, with her perfect 10, and Vahine Fierro who became a legitimate star on finals day.

But let us not forget Keala Kennelly. The big wave legend, 45, is a multi-hyphenate actor, world champion, DJ, LGBTQ+ icon is wildly respected in the surf world and reminded the stingy surf media as to such in a stirring post.

While praising the women’s Teahupo’o performance, Kennelly gently corrected the record, saying:

I’ve seen all over the internet that Tati’s was the first 10. I got the first 10 back in 2001. I had to scour the internet to find one little article about it in a local Honolulu paper. When we got the contest at Chopes everyone was rooting for the women to fail. The male surfers, the entire surfing industry. When we didn’t and we went out and shattered everyone’s expectations they just, didn’t want to acknowledge it and just brushed it under the rug. Now, 15 years later after the women have been excluded…

The message was, unfortunately, curtailed but point not lost and further filled out with the caption, reading:

I’m getting very tired of the media diminishing the surfing legacies of my generation (and other past generations) I recently had a history making accomplishment of mine completely erased and bestowed on someone else then spread all over the internet. From now on my first time in history accomplishment will be associated with someone else. I don’t completely blame the media for spreading so much misinformation because of the systemic suppression of the groundbreaking first time in history things women surfers were doing at places like Teahupoo and Tahiti, it’s almost impossible to find the accurate stories on the internet. In this video I get into that, set the record straight on some things and give credit to the women who never got proper credit for their historic accomplishments and some historical facts for the media like-

The entire surfing industry, but mostly media, should be well and truly ashamed about the rug brushing, as it were, but let it be stated right here that Keala Kennelly got the first women’s ten, ever, at Teahupo’o in 2001.


Tamayo Perry, RiP
The late, great Tamayo Perry at Teaupoo.

“Hard-charging, God-fearing Pipe specialist” Tamayo Perry killed by shark


The Hawaiian surfer turned city lifeguard Tamayo Perry, described in 2005 as Pipeline’s most dominant surfer, has reportedly been killed by a shark, likely a Tiger, near Goat Island in Kahuku.

First responders were called after a body was found with bite wounds near the notoriously sharky surf sport.

Perry, who was forty-nine, was a staple of magazines an films around the turn of the century, was always a stand-out at Pipe, obvs, and was famous for taking off on any damn thing that blackened the horizon at Teahupoo, a fifth at the Billabong Pro evidence, as if it was necessary, of his bona fides there.


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A post shared by Tamayo Perry (@oahusurfingexperience)

From Warshaw’s EOS,

Perry was born (1975) and raised on the East Side of Oahu, began surfing at age 12, and soon became best friends with future pop crooner Jack Johnson, who lived in a beachfront house at Pipeline.

Perry was known in his late teenage years as the quiet up-and-coming local boy who had to borrow surfboards because he had no sponsors.

By 1997, the wiry goofyfooter had gone a long way to developing a tuberiding style combining traits from Gerry Lopez and Tom Carroll, his two favorite old-school Pipeline surfers. He’d meanwhile become a devout born-again Christian: Asked by a surf magazine to name the last two books he’d read, Perry listed the Bible and The End: 50 Reasons Why Jesus Christ Could Return Before the Year 2000.

Perry has competed selectively, and with modest success, finishing fourth in the 2000 Pipeline Masters Trials and fifth in the Billabong Pro Trials at Teahupoo. Nonetheless, by 2005 he was generally regarded as Pipeline’s single most dominate surfer.

It’s the second shark attack on Oahu this month.

Two weeks ago, a woman was rushed to hospital with serious injuries after being attacked near Haleiwa on the North Shore.


Nathan Florence, Ivan Florence and John John Florence.
Ivan Florence, who turned twenty-eight in May, and pictured here in the middle, has emerged from the shadow of his overachieving oldest brother and Prince Harry-lookalike middle bro in the past couple of Hawaiian seasons, proving magnetic in the water as well as the skate park.

Ivan Florence sensationally quits Vans to join brothers Nathan and John John at Florence Marine X

"The brotherhood is united," says Nathan Florence.

The migration of surfers from heritage surfing companies and into surfer-owned start-ups continues at hot pace with news, today, that Ivan Florence has quit Vans to join Nathan at John John’s eponymous brand Florence Marine X. 

Launched in 2020, the $12 million startup Florence Marine X, but now called Florence, was born out of John John’s departure from Hurley and his vision to create quality surf gear, including the now-famous male chador, inspired by his connection with the ocean. 

Surf fans are aware of the collapse of the surf industry, Billabong, Quiksilver, RVCA, Hurley, all bought at firesale prices by fuck-and-dump behemoths.

Chas Smith has described Florence as the saviour of the surf industry. 

“Florence Marine X is a core surf brand, making quality surf products for you, the surfer. Florence Marine X has what it takes to recreate the surf industry. John John Florence is the saviour of the surf industry. And maybe one less reasons to hate surfing.”

And, when surfer of the year Nathan Florence dumped Vans for Florence two months back, Nathan delivered a long, but stirring, soliloquy on his wildly popular vlog about his decision to leave the troubled shoe brand and shift into an equity deal with Florence.

He also spoke about whether or not Ivan Florence, whom he calls Mr Cool, would be joining.

“What’s Ivan going to do?” says Nathan Florence. “Mr Cool has always done what Mr Cool wants. It looks like he’s stay with Vans, surf, skate, snow, Ivan’s a true bad-to-the-bone surf snow skate athlete. He makes his own decisions. We’d never pressure him, hey, Mr Cool, what do you want to do? We’re a family, we’re here for him.”

Nathan Florence added, “Who knows what happens down the line…obviously we’d love to have him.”

Ivan Florence, who turned twenty-eight in May, has emerged from the shadow of his overachieving oldest brother and Prince Harry-lookalike middle bro in the past couple of Hawaiian seasons, proving magnetic in the water as well as the skate park. 

The trio’s story from beachside poverty to a position where they can buy vast beachfront compounds is a good one.

A while back, a long while back, I spent an afternoon with Alex to find out how the pack went from here to there.

We pick up the story just before the turn of the century.

Three little boys. Ain’t a lot of cash in the house they rented at Rocky Point. Dad soon disappeared into the penal system.
Alex remembers driving in her ancient Valiant, the ex-husband gone, John, five, Nathan, three, Ivan, a baby at one-and-a-half, looking over at her little boys and saying: “What do you guys want to do? We don’t have to do anything or be anywhere? We can stay out til 10:30! We can go to thrift stores!”

Alex took her kids everywhere and despite what y’might call a massive hand break, felt this sudden freedom. A total freedom. She took them everywhere. And that summer after the Dad split Alex packed up the house and with her three little ducklings that followed her everywhere, flew to Bingin in Bali where she knew a local family who’d let ’em stay in their warung, cheap.

Sure, she didn’t have much money, but here they were living on 10 dollars a day, and they stretched out their resources ($1200) for a sublime four months. Little Ivan, who was just over two then, had broken his leg on the trampoline before they’d split but

Alex was cool, she just carried her kid everywhere.

Back on the Shore, Herbie Fletcher, a pioneer of jetskis in the surf, was towing John John into bombs when he was seven. Here they were, back at Rocky Point, just one house back from the sand, funded by taking in up to 10 boarders at a time, squeezing ’em into three bedrooms. Alex’d let floorspace for $250 a month. Whatever it took.

They built a half-pipe in the yard. Magazines British Vogue, US Vogue and Elle couldn’t help themselves when they heard about this gorgeous solo surf mom and her shaggy haired boys. Alex felt like she had a guardian angel. No money, but she was on the beach, was feeding her three boys and, well, you tell me that this ain’t the life.

Meanwhile, Alex was studying for her degree in English literature at the University of Honolulu. And, this is where it gets real good. Alex says that if you saw the size of her student loans, which she’s only just paid off, you’d think she was the “gnarliest surgeon ever.”

But, her gig was using her loans to support the family, to raise the kids. She didn’t want to leave her kids with just anybody. So she went to school at nights and took in boarders. Yeah, sometimes dinner was corn flakes, but the kids were playing outside in the sun and were getting pushed (or towed) into waves by a role call of surfing icons including Nathan Fletcher, Danny Fuller, Kala and Kamalei Alexander, Herbie Fletcher and Pete Johnson.

Jamie O’Brien, too, but he was always a little crazy and’d sometimes throw dog shit at the kids. But, he also got John into contests and pushed into waves during his first-ever heat, aged four.

And, it wasn’t all surf. Nathan, a smart kid, would gobble up whatever lit books Alex threw at him, from Bukowski to Tom Wolfe. He’d mow through a thousand-page volume in one day.

Still, these were, are, ballsy little kids. Alex has lost count of how many times she’s thrown a bleeding kid in the car and hot-dogged it to emergency. John’s broken “almost everything”, his neck, his back, legs, wrists, arms, ankles. Ivan earned 55 stitches in his face (rogue fin) after he paddled into a 25-footer that would later be nominated for the Billabong XXL wave of the year.

Eventually, they were squeezed out of the house by a sale, an owner moving back, whatever it was, Alex can’t remember.
So Alex and John John, now 10 but mature beyond his years, ’cause he’s seen some shit out there on the Shore and he knows what it’s like to live on nothing, were walking down the street that runs parallel to the beach and talking about the situation, saying stuff like, “Oh man, what are we going to do now?”

And, as they’re walking, there’s this little beach house, just on the corner of where they live now, and Alex, being Alex, sees this car in the driveway, looks at John, who nods, and they walk right up to the owner, their brown faces break into gazillion watt smiles, and they say, “How about it?”

And, suddenly, they’re at Pipe.

And, here, you might say, we are.


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A post shared by Ivan Florence (@ivanflorence_)


Sam Kendricks (pictured) cooler than any surfer.
Sam Kendricks (pictured) cooler than any surfer.

Bad boy pole vaulter puts once-rebellious surfers on blast after claiming Olympics only for “the mamas on Facebook”

But a silver lining for Filipe Toledo?

There was a time, in extreme sport history, that the Olympic Games were seen as our natural sworn enemy. Buttoned up, rule following, corpo and soulless. When snowboarding was first introduced back in 1998, for example, the Norwegian legend Terje Haakonsen famously boycotted, tarring the once-every-four-years bacchanal, saying later, “There’s just no respect for the history and culture of snowboarding at all. We don’t need FIS (skiing’s governing body) or the IOC (International Olympic Committee). We can handle snowboarding ourselves.”

Now, echoing those punk sentiments, pole vaulter Sam Kendricks, a two-time world champion, is threatening to boycott the Games, himself, if he makes the team. His reason, stated plainly, is that he was kicked off the Tokyo squad after testing positive for Covid even though he showed no symptoms and swears the reading was false.

“Why should I go? They left me behind and never even said, ‘I was sorry.’” the ectomorph told The Washington Post, adding, “Maybe I’m bitter, but I compete against the best guys all the time,” Kendricks said. “Everybody doesn’t understand: The Olympics is for the mamas. It’s for the mamas and for Facebook and everybody back home who wants to have something to watch and a dog in the fight. But the sport is done every day for four years in advance.”

The sort of snarl long missing in surfing, which will make its second Olympic appearance at Teahupo’o in exactly one month’s time.

Surf fans are, of course, mixed. Getting an extra helping of Head Place certainly not to be looked in the mouth but being attached to the lamestream games a bitter pill.

But here, maybe a way forward for our Filipe Toledo? The brave coward is notably terrified of Teahupo’o and the aforementioned surf fans will be on the edge settees wondering if he will paddle. History shows he will very likely not and another gift horse trotted right out.

Toledo can follow Kendricks lead, Haakonsen’s before him, and boldly boycott citing some form of anarchy.

As the voice of surfing Joe Turpel would say, “You’ve gotta love it.”