Bethany Hamilton (left) pictured infuriating folk. Photo: Sharkbanz
Bethany Hamilton (left) pictured infuriating folk. Photo: Sharkbanz

One-armed surf legend Bethany Hamilton flogged in public square for promoting shark deterrent device

"Burn, Bethany, burn!"

It would, and maybe should, be thought that Bethany Hamilton could do no wrong. The Kauai-based professional surfer needs no introduction. Her bravery and poise after losing an arm to a tiger shark at 13-years-old, is the stuff of legend. Hamilton went on to surf and inspire, coming as close to superhero as modern humanity has.

And yet, somehow, she has become a lightning rod. Her stance on sporting transes likely set off a snarling opposition and now, I guess, her partnership with shark deterrent bracelet (or anklet) Sharkbanz.

The mother of four took to Instagram, three days ago, in order to share that, “Sharkbanz are designed to help you overcome your fear of sharks 🦈 and to minimize the risk!”

Thus opening the floodgates of rage.

Commenters denounced her for “capitalizing on fear” following the horrific attack in Florida wherein a young girl lost an arm and a leg. Others slammed her for “those scam bracelets that supposedly give some good vibes in your life.” An underwater photographer sneered that Sharkbanz are “great for a false sense of security,” adding that an underwater photographer friend hand fed sharks while wearing one.

On and on and on it went and my goodness gracious. I understand making light fun of Sharkbanz technology (read here) but tarring and feathering the courageous Bethany Hamilton?

What have we become?

The Egan House at 411 Woolooware Road, Burraneer, NSW.
Bulldoze if you wanna destroy the ambience or give the joint a quick blow and go to make it liveable and move straight in.

“Best all-round surfer in the world after Kelly Slater” lists multi-million dollar beach shack on sprawling quarter-acre estate!

Unpolished mid-century diamond a short drive from a litany of world-class waves seeks new owner…

A little over one year ago, the former world #2 Luke Egan, described as the “the best all-around surfer in the world after Kelly Slater”, sold his redundant beachside bunker for six-mill, shovelling $3.5 mill from the sale into a a mid-century shack on a sprawling hunk of wildly fertile dirt wrapped in a downy luminous green grass.

The Morris House, as it was called, was offered for the first time in sixty-four years and, even in its slightly run-down form on Sydney’s exclusive Burraneer peninsula there it had a gorgeous skeleton that required little more than a quick blow and go, as they say, to make it spectacularly liveable.

Surprise, then, when the joint reappeared on the market recently, listed for auction on June 29 with hopes, obviously, of a little more than the three-and-a-half the Egans, which also includes his Fox Sports presenter wife Jess Yates, paid in December 2022.

With buying and selling costs hitting a quarter-of-a-mill anything under four mill will be considered a rare misstep for the home-flipping whiz, whose real estate chips are the stuff of legend. 

Egan, who turns fifty-five this year, retired from the world tour prematurely, it was felt, in 2005 to become a marketing manager for Billabong, leaving eight years later.

Egan shifted his myriad surfing skills into a gig as an elite surf coach, helping propel Joel Parkinson and Caroline Marks to world titles and, lately, was in Cole Houshmand’s corner when he drove his jackboot into the neck of Gabriel Medina to win the Bells Beach  tournament.

Want to buy 411 Woolooware Road, Burraneer, and live a decent life with sunshine on your face, grass to gambol upon and all a shortish drive to world-class waves?

Contact the selling realtor here. 

On purpose, envy and the ongoing miracle of John John Florence

When I see John John Florence I see a man frighteningly in control. And it makes me wonder how he's managed it, especially so young.

Often I feel life is too complicated. In moments of essential simplicity: survival, hunger, ecstasy, endurance or lust, life seems brighter, somehow.

These are the moments that might bookmark a life, memories like rootless flowers.

Once, surfing gave me simplicity. A clear goal, even if it shifted with the weather. But it was the force that propelled all else.

I’ve lost that now, moved on. Found it in other things. I doubt it’s gone forever. I’ve been missing it lately.

And I don’t know if it’s the act itself, or just the dedication to it. Because for me, life is mostly one long series of obsessions followed by abandonment.

I never realised it before. Not until my son was diagnosed with autism, and it made me revisit my own past through a different lens.

But I don’t want to get into that here. Partly because I’ve been writing about it in private, and for now I want it to remain that way. And partly because I think denial, or at least obliviousness, in the face of challenges like this is often a solution.

Fucking suck it up. Everyone’s got problems. Mine are lesser than most. I don’t need any more scapegoats or excuses.

But I do know that I’ve always lacked purpose. I’ve lived a life feeling elevated, somehow, yet unable to focus the burning energy I keep in reserve to set fire to the one thing I love. That’s not to say an unhappy life, just one at the threshold of some unidentified goal, never quite fully committed.

So when I see men like John John Florence, Jack Robinson, Griffin Colapinto, I see men who seem curiously, and, honestly, quite frighteningly in control. And it makes me wonder how they’ve managed it, especially so young.

“Just having fun out there” has become a trite statement in pro surfing. It’s easy to pay lip service to this sort of attitude, and I understand it can be disingenuous at times. But when I watch the likes of Florence at his best, I can believe in it. In performances like we’ve seen at Teahupoo and Punta Roca, there is little sense of the stress of competition or challenge, there is only joy.

In post-heat interviews, albeit only in the aftermath of success, there is no hint of gloom. And it’s easy to envy their talent, and the charmed life of a professional surfer.

But I am not envious of this, I am simply envious of the control John John Florence and others like him seem to have exerted over their lives.

Clearly, I don’t really know them. We only see their public persona. But still I wonder if it’s real. And I think about how thinly stretched life can be, and I’m stuck with awe in the face of those who seem to carry clear purpose and intent.

Because you realise, at some point in life, or perhaps in many, that you are not satisfied. Not full of the life you promised yourself when you stared hard into the mirror at four am and saw someone you knew you must run from.

And even when you have crawled from the past, shedding your old self like a skin, it remains, discarded, but still in the shape of you. A wraithlike thing that lies in the corners of rooms, or draped on the bed, or cast in the grass when you are pushed up against a wall. Forever a reminder of the shape of what once was, begging you to crawl back inside.

Some days you yearn for that shimmering idol, in all his chaotic, unhinged ecstasy.

Because it might not have felt like a life, but at least it felt alive.

Days when your shoulders were loose with the swerves of doorways and tenement corners. You lay, late into the day, until the light had dissipated sufficiently to emerge again into the cigarette lit night.

You were like the foxes that momentarily partitioned the lit gaps of alleyways, then held your gaze, defiant, yet always on the cusp of fleeing. You saw kinship in them, these night-shifters, nonchalant raiders of dusk and dust.

And every day you would emerge from the night as a stranger, just as the fox sloughs his smell into the cold unworldliness of water.

But you couldn’t stay this way forever.

Your body couldn’t take it. Your mind less so.

One way or another, everything that flares dies.

Still. Today, in moments that might be soundless or still, you catch a glimpse of this charred effigy, and you realise how much you miss his smile, and the callous beauty of living heart to mouth, to heart to mouth.

Does John John Florence suffer this sort of angst? Or is uber talent and unwavering dedication to one thing enough? That’s my question, eternally. And I wonder if this will be the same for him in years to come. Perhaps it will be more intense, given the heights he’s reached.

Is it true that everyone feels they can only grasp at the edges of a life?

Or are some people simply content?

I still don’t know the answer to that.

All I know is that I return home each day more distant, more removed from the world I’ve built.

Because I know he’s in there still, hunkered in a tenement close, plunging down cobbled streets, or standing at the shore before the sun he will not see has risen, calling into the blistering dark.

Diplo (pictured) XGL-ing.
Diplo (pictured) XGL-ing.

World Surf League on ropes after X Games announces its own transition to league format

"By leveraging the incredibly valuable X Games brand, we will create a durable, global business that will be good for athletes, fans, investors and sponsors.”

The World Surf League has long been standalone-ish when it comes to alternative sports shoved into a traditional format. Arbitrary points, rankings, colorful singlets, trophies and what have you. Certainly skateboarding has its Street League but that is mostly it or, rather, was mostly it.

For, hours ago, X Games announced that it was transitioning itself from a twice a year showcase into the X Games League.

Per Variety:

The X Games League teams will be composed of athletes from multiple disciplines who will compete for individual and team points to earn both individual and team prize purses. MSP and X Games plan to “secure investors for these new teams,” according to their announcement. Team investors and XGL athletes will be able to generate additional revenue streams via sponsorships and team-specific merchandise. In addition, XGL athletes will be provided with guaranteed compensation and new commercial opportunities.

The X Games followed Formula One as a model for the XGL, according to Jeff Moorad, executive chairman of X Games and principal of MSP Sports Capital. “To that end, we are creating a year-round calendar and introducing new commercial opportunities to accelerate the overall growth of X Games,” he said. “These opportunities will provide a secure and sustainable future for our most important stakeholders — the athletes. By leveraging the incredibly valuable X Games brand, we will create a durable, global business that will be good for athletes, fans, investors and sponsors.”

The worry to the WSL, of course, is that potential Saudi/Emirati buyers will want “the incredibly valuable X Games brand” more than the “global home of surfing.” Also, Diplo is an investor in the XGL. But you’ll certainly recall when the popular DJ was savaged by Minnie Driver for being a “giant kook.”

“First of all, I need to tell you what dropping in on someone is,” Driver opened her salvo on the Table Manners podcast. “In the water, there is an etiquette when you surf that people follow, and it is largely for safety, and it’s also because of respect. It’s just how (expletive deleted) works.”

She then went for the throat.

“What happens when you paddle out, first of all, you don’t take the first wave that comes because you’ve just paddled out, you let it cycle through the people that are already there. So here’s the deal.” And if you don’t? Well, “it’s a really (expletive deleted) thing to do as bad things happen in the water when people do that.”

Hammer time.

Back to the XGL, though. You gonna follow?

Kanoa Igarashi (pictured) celebrating.

LGBTQ+ nude sunbathers win stunning victory in Seattle pitching surfer allies into Dionysian celebration

We are one ocean.

The unlikely pairing of nude sunbathers and surfers, days ago, proved a glorious spark of unity in an otherwise bleak and tribal world. Like lady and the tramp, the two found common cause over blow-ins descending upon Wrecks Beach, long considered the “Topless Teahupo’o” in order to leer and perv.

Nude sunbathing enthusiasts circulated a petition, surfers rallied to their cause and people across the globe smiled, feeling the warm glow of harmony not felt since 2017.

Light warming those dark recesses where the sun usually don’t shine.

It made perfect sense, then, when surfers broke out into wild Dionysian celebrations, yesterday, after it was announced that Seattle’s Denny Blaine Park, long cherished by LGBTQ+ nude sunbathers, would remain theirs.

The “Naked Nias,” as it is often called, was under threat after a local millionaire businessman had convinced the parks and rec. dept. to install a playground in new “zones.” Nudity is legal in Washington except where it is likely to cause “affront and alarm.”

Friends of Denny Blaine Park, compromising nude sunbathing enthusiasts, was formed and forced a veto of the plan.

Co-lead Sophie Amity Debs told the Seattle Times, “We’re glad they responded to the overwhelming negative feedback from people that the zones are terrible.” Milo Kusold, who enjoys sunning his buns, added, “The parks department has not addressed at all that they’re doing deals with rich people. [With] no statement on what the article exposed, I feel like it would be pretty hard to work and collaborate with them.”

Dang rich people.

The victory, cheered loudly by surfers, also galvanized Friends of Denny Blaine Park and now they are pushing for “adding handrails to stairs, replacing invasive and thorny blackberry plants, and alleviating parking and transportation issues.”

Ouchy invasive and thorny blackberry plants.

Surfers, of course, will be available to help if needed, possibly even as part of the World Surf League’s much-lived One Ocean initiate. Usually employing top level pros to plant a bush, there is not reason they cannot be used to prune one as well.

Happy days.