Jock Sutherland for the New Yorker.
Jock Sutherland, giving it hell at Pipe and, right, giving his precious temple the ride of its life via the magic of drugs.

Pulitzer Prize-winning Surf journalist Bill Finnegan introduces New Yorker readers to “world’s best surfer” Jock Sutherland

"We used to call him the Extraterrestrial because he…he could smoke more hash than anyone, take more acid, and still go out there and surf better than anyone.”

Do you remember when you couldn’t walk outside without tripping over another fawning review of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Bill Finnegan book Barbarian Days? 

The Wall Street Journal called it “gorgeously written and intensely felt… dare I say that we all need Mr Finnegan… as a role model for a life, thrillingly, lived.”

The LA Times said,

“It’s also about a writer’s life and, even more generally, a quester’s life, more carefully observed and precisely rendered than any I’ve read in a long time.”

The Pulitzer Prize committee praised it as, “A finely crafted memoir of a youthful obsession that has propelled the author through a distinguished writing career.”

The Pulitzer Prize, of course, is America’s most prestigious award in journalism. It also includes ten thousand dollars in prize money to each category winner.

It threw me under the bus of a two-day obsessive read. Photos scattered through the pages showed the author to have visible obliques, was long-haired and tanned. Finnegan could surf, write and was a stud.

It’s a been while since ol Billy has touched surf, but this oversight has been rectified with a long piece on switchfoot maestro and king of Pipe before ol Gez Lopez swung onto the scene, Jock Sutherland, in the latest issue of The New Yorker. 

You can read it all here, and I beg that you do, but here’s a few lil bites on the neck to get you in the mood. 

Jock built a different sort of life on his home coast. He’s seemingly everybody’s favorite roofer, a part-time farmer, a revered elder with garrulous tendencies. I’ve heard him called “the mayor of the North Shore.” My old starstruck view of him was pure projection. In truth, he was, from an early age, leading a strange, half-wild, quite complicated existence.

When Jock was twelve, his mother sent him to stay with a man known as the Hermit of Kalalau, on the island of Kauai. The hermit lived in a cave on the Nāpali Coast—a roadless wilderness where sea cliffs rise as high as four thousand feet. “That was actually his summer cave, down by the beach,” Jock told me. “He had a winter cave up the valley.”

The hermit’s name was Dr. Bernard Wheatley. “I was the object of his displeasure,” Jock recalled. “Being a kid, I was unaware of the imperatives of his existence. There was a good little bodysurfing wave out front, but he didn’t want me to swim out there. He was responsible for me. I started whining, and I ended up bodysurfing it.”

Audrey Sutherland was a one-off. She grew up in California, went to U.C.L.A. at sixteen for international relations, worked as a riveter in the Second World War. She became a long-distance swimmer, married a sailor, worked in commercial fishing, and moved to Oahu in 1952. There she did substitute teaching, taught swimming, got her Army job. Her kids, growing up in the decommissioned barracks at the ocean’s edge, were all water babies. After their father left, they scrounged. “When you’re poor,” Jock told me, “you learn how to find food on the reefs, hunt, pick wild fruit, trade with your neighbors. We set out lobster traps. Spearfishing, night diving. Got a lot of fruit from the hills.”

Audrey drew up a list of things that every child should be able to do by age sixteen and stuck it on the wall. It read, in part:

—Clean a fish and dress a chicken

—Write a business letter

—Splice or put a fixture on an electric cord

—Operate a sewing machine and mend your own clothes

—Handle a boat safely and competently

—Save someone drowning using available equipment

—Read at a tenth grade level

—Listen to an adult talk with interest and empathy

—Dance with any age

This list changed with the times, adding computers and contraception, and nobody really kept score, but everybody got the idea.

But it was not in contests that he made his name. It was at Pipeline, which sits roughly halfway between Waimea and Sunset Beach. A few surfers rode Pipeline well, notably Butch Van Artsdalen, a hellion from La Jolla. But most people were afraid of it. When Pipe is working, it breaks with stupendous force in shallow water, producing one of the world’s most beautiful, deadly tubes. Jock and his buddies started riding it on small days. “I made one or two out of ten,” he said.

He kept at it, refining his approach. He started making the takeoffs, and seeing how to avoid the heavy lip, by quickly finding a ridable line and “pulling in”—crouching close to the face and letting the barrel envelop him. Then, with perfect positioning and a bit of luck, he would be thrown into the clear by the explosive force of the lip’s impact. Jock seemed to have more time as he rode than anybody else did. Dropping in to the heaviest waves, he would fade and stall, casually timing his bottom turn to set up the deepest possible barrel. He would disappear into the roaring darkness, then reappear, usually, going very fast, with that little grin.

The wave of recreational drugs that flooded American youth culture in the late sixties was a tsunami among surfers. Cannabis and psychedelics—LSD, mescaline—seemed designed to make you surf better. Jock took this inspiration to the limit. “I was pretty wild,” he says today. “I worried that I set a bad example.”

Outlandish stories swirled around Jock, who was sometimes called the Sunshine Superman, for a popular variety of LSD known as Orange Sunshine. On the North Shore, he and his pals liked to start their acid trips in the mountains of the Ko‘olau Range, which runs down the east side of Oahu. They knew the mountain streams, and where to find the old work camps from the sugarcane plantations, which had been abandoned as Hawaii’s sugar industry shrank. The workers had kept fabulous gardens, which were now full of wild fruit and vegetables. At some point, Jock’s troupe would head for the coast, to rinse off the day’s psychic grime in the surf.

Psychedelics weren’t harmless—we all came to know many acid casualties. But they had, as many contemporary researchers know, the power of revelation, the potential to expand self-awareness. Jeff Hakman, the other young haole phenom of the period, told an interviewer that the best surfing experience of his life had been enhanced by LSD, and shared with Sutherland. “We used to call him the Extraterrestrial because he was so good at everything,” Hakman said. “He could beat anyone at chess or Scrabble; he could smoke more hash than anyone, take more acid, and still go out there and surf better than anyone.” You never knew what Jock would do on a wave, except that it was likely to be something you had never seen before, like side-slipping in the barrel at Sunset or switching stance at big Waimea. It was no surprise to anyone that he took the top spot in the 1969 Surfer Reader Poll.

A gorgeous long read. Complete your education here. 

Turtle Bay Hotel to be rebadged as Ritz-Carlton.
The tired, but majestic as hell, Turtle Bay Hotel, a little way north of the seven-mile miracle.

North Shore resort where surf icon was murdered changes hands for $680 million, rebrands as Ritz Carlton

Tired ol gal built in 1972 as Del Webb's Kuilima Resort Hotel & Country Club and host to pivotal moments in surf history to get new name!

There is no other hotel on the surf circuit as storied as the Turtle Bay Hotel, a tired ol gal built in 1972 and launched as the grandiosely named Del Webb’s Kuilima Resort Hotel & Country Club a little way out of the seven-mile miracle on the Kam Highway. 

So many gorgeous memories. Hazy dreams of the Mai Tai, similar to Namotu Island’s infamous Skulldragger, that renders its owner drunk before the bottom of the tumbler is sighted; a dear pal paying five hundred bucks for a room so he could attempt to seduce a Mormon gal, a fifteen-hour marathon that began at Waimea Bay, through the Turtle Bay hot tub (and Mai Tais) and ended with the reward of a brief moment of digital pressure atop modest cotton underwear; driving back to the Pipe House after Mai Tais, windows down, music roaring, waking up the next day to find car driven into tree outside the joint, windows still down, music cranked to the stars. Dancing all night with athletic T-Girls after ASP banquet etc.

More significant moments include the Bustin Down the Door saga where the Aikau family visited the baseball bat-wielding Rabbit Bartholomew, Ian Cairns and co at the Kuilima apartments that surround the resort to defuse their war between the trash-talking Aussies and South Africans and the locals. 

And, if we’re to believe the research of writer Andy Martin, the place where the 11th Earl of Coventry and high-profile British pro surfer, Ted Deerhurst, was found dead in the tub of his condo, murdered at the behest of a shadowy North Shore gangster.

In Surf, Sweat and Tears, the epic life and mysterious death of Edward George William Omar Deerhurst, buy here etc, we find Deerhurst, besotted by a Honolulu stripper to the point where he loses his mind over her, and even when he’s warned away by a nicknamed “Pit Bull”, he keeps coming back.

Deerhurst wants to marry his stripper, and he winds up breathing his last breath, in an empty bath tub.

In SST, Martin talks to a man who found the royal’s body.

“Dan got back to 100 East Kuilima around 7:30 pm. The house was quiet…Ted was in the bath. He was naked. And he was dead. But he hadn’t been having a peaceful bath and sailed away into the great beyond. Something violent had happened to him. There was no water in the bath for one thing… Ted is face down in the bath with his legs sticking out at the side. He is not breathing. His lips have turned blue and rigorous mortis has set in. There is blood in the bath. There is a “contusion” (as it says in the report) at the back of his head. And there are injuries to his face too: cuts on his nose, a black eye. He looks, prima facie, as if he has been beaten up. But, say the price, Ted beat himself up.”

The Turtle Bay is also the sight of Kalani Robb’s scene-stealing cameo in Forgetting Sarah Marshall 

Anyway, the joint has been sold for three-quarts of a billion dollars to Host Hotels and it’ll be rebranded as a Ritz-Carlton. 

James F. Risoleo, President and Chief Executive Officer, said,

“We are thrilled to enter into an agreement to acquire Turtle Bay Resort, which will further expand and diversify our already strong presence in Hawaii. Oahu is a high demand leisure destination with consistently high occupancy, an internationally diverse demand base, and high barriers to entry, resulting in slightly negative supply growth historically and essentially no anticipated near-term supply. In addition, because of the Resort’s recent transformational renovation, we do not expect meaningful capital expenditures in the near term. We look forward to working with employees and local partners to build upon the Resort’s preeminent position on the North Shore of Oahu.

For a little overview,  

The Resort is situated in a unique location on 1,180-acres on the North Shore of Oahu with five miles of beach and coastline views. It features 450 rooms, all with ocean views, including 42 bungalows with direct beach access, a separate check-in, and a private pool. Other amenities include 18,000 square feet of indoor meeting space, a club lounge, six food and beverage outlets, seven retail spaces, a spa, fitness center, two golf courses, seven beaches, four resort pools, tennis and pickle ball courts, an equestrian center, a working farm, and access to 12 miles of oceanfront trails. The 49-acre oceanfront Land Parcel is entitled for development, and similar to the Company’s strategy at other properties, Host intends to enhance its value over the long term.

Nate Yeomans (left) and Zachary Quinto (right). Or wait...
Nate Yeomans (left) and Zachary Quinto (right). Or wait...

Surf legend Nate Yeomans under fire after doppelgänger Zachary Quinto banned from Toronto restaurant for acting like “entitled child”

"Mr. Quinto, take your bad vibes somewhere else, we have many lovely celebrities join us at Manita but you are NOT one of them."

Now there is looking like someone and then there is Zachary Quinto looking like Nate Yeomans. The actor famous for bringing Spock back to life in the second to most recent Star Trek reboot, aged 47, is the spitting image of the San Clemente screwfoot and must regularly have to disappoint autograph seekers that he is not, in fact, Big Deluxe.

As evidence play the very popular party game “Is it Nate Yeomans or is it Zachary Quinto?”

Well, there may well be trouble in the Yeomans house now that his doppelgänger has been banned from a fancy Toronto restaurant for acting like an “entitled child.” Apparently, the thespian attempted to go to Manita, which bills itself as a “Mediterranean-ish bistro” but lost the plot when he could not get seated. According to Manita’s Instagram page, which openly declared, “Zachary Quinto – an amazing Spock, but a terrible customer…”

And went on to explain:

Yelled at our staff like an entitled child after he didn’t reply to two texts to inform him his table was ready and refused to believe the empty tables in the dining room weren’t available for him despite being politely informed they were spoken for. Made our host cry and the rest of our brunch diners uncomfortable.

Mr. Quinto, take your bad vibes somewhere else, we have many lovely celebrities join us at Manita but you are NOT one of them.

The offending party has not yet explained his side of the story but the damage might already be done for the Yeomans. Imagine that they are in Toronto right now, Nate carrying some Lost surfboards, and they get the itch for some Mediterranean-ish food. Imagine they check in with the server and BAM. Rejected.

It’s the sort of thing that can damage for years.

Making a host cry is heavy, though.

Do you have any experiences doing such? Or been on the receiving end, hot tears streaming down cheeks whilst Matt Biolos glowers?

While you are thinking, please enjoy Yeomans’ part from Nobody’s Heroes here.

Smoking and gun play not included in rankings but would have pushed Florida to 100 of top 100 most dangerous beaches in US. Photo: Spring Breakers.
Smoking and gun play not included in rankings but would have pushed Florida to 100 of top 100 most dangerous beaches in US. Photo: Spring Breakers.

Shock in Sunshine State after Florida accounts for the entire top 25 most dangerous beaches in the USA

Shark attacks, hurricanes, dangerous rip currents oh my!

There are records and then there are RECORDS. Like, Sebastian Steudtner riding the biggest wave in the world is a record. Florida accounting for 100% of the top 25 most dangerous beaches in the United States of American is a RECORD and one that should be properly honored here.

The list was compiled by California criminal defense and personal injury law firm Simmrin Law Group maybe rising some questions of fairness but not rising them enough to dwell upon. According to their “experts,” hurricane strikes, shark attacks and “surf zone fatalities” were taken into consideration.

“While shark attacks often grab headlines, Florida’s beaches rank so high due to the ever-present hurricane risk,” Michael Simmrin, of Simmrin Law, told Fox News. “Hurricanes create dangerous rip currents and storm surge, raising the overall risk for beachgoers. With summer approaching and vacations on the minds of many Americans, this study shows the importance of putting safety first when considering a trip to the beach.”

Thus, without further ado:

1 New Smyrna Beach, Florida – 76.04

2 Panama City Beach, Florida – 67.75

3 Daytona Beach, Florida – 60.01

4 Miami Beach, Florida – 47.78

5 Cocoa Beach, Florida – 46.35

6 Ormond Beach, Florida – 41.57

7 Ponce Inlet, Florida – 41.54

8 Indialantic Beach, Florida – 41.02

9 Melbourne Beach, Florida – 40.92

10 Miramar Beach, Florida – 40.63

Numbers 11 – 25 more of the same.

But do you think Kelly Slater is sad that his Cocoa Beach is so deadly or do you imagine that is part of what gave him the strength to paddle over the ledge at dangerous waves like Head Place? While Brazil’s beaches were not included in this important study, I wonder where Ubatuba ranks?


In any case, raise a Hunahpu’s Imperial Stout to our Floridian friends.


Australia's Mick Fanning free to enjoy the Maldives. Photo: Instagram
Australia's Mick Fanning free to enjoy the Maldives. Photo: Instagram

Wave-rich Maldives bans Israeli surfers from crystalline barrels

The fog of war.

Israeli surfers with dreams of becoming deeply enveloped by crystalline barrels whilst, afterward, enjoying top-of-the-line lobster eggs benedicts were dealt a harsh blow this morning as wave-rich Maldives declared them not welcome. President Mohamed Muizzu, through his spokesman, shared that he has, “resolved to impose a ban on Israeli passports.”

Israel’s foreign ministry, feeling tit-for-tattish, said that Israeli surfers didn’t really want to go to the Maldives in the first place and if any are accidentally currently there, “it is recommended to consider leaving, because if they find themselves in distress for any reason, it will be difficult for us to assist.”

The move is the latest in a series designed to squeeze Israeli surfers over frustrations with the ongoing war in Gaza. Last month, Turkey banned the import and export of goods to and from Israel. Media reports suggest it has resulted in significant shortages of Turkish surf changing towels and robes, considered the best for softness and durability.

On Friday, the French noted that Israeli companies would not be allowed to have a booth in the Eurosatory Arms Fair in Europe. It is unclear in the ban will extend across the Atlantic to Surf Expo.

Official data from the first four months of this year has shown the number of Israeli surfers visiting the Maldives is already down 88%. While restrictions are generally unchill, the lack of Israeli surfers in lineups is quietly being celebrated with some hoping bans on Russian surfers, Brazilian surfers and surfers from Australia’s Gold Coast not named Paul Fisher will follow.

Paul Fisher is a universal good time.