See the Moroccan wave that almost snapped a Hawaiian big-wave champ in two! “Did he drown? Is he dead?”

Part two of the documentary series 'Billy'.

Four days ago, at the launch of the six-part documentary series Billy, which follows the travails of big-wave champ Billy Kemper, more than a few people were asking, how they gonna milk six eps out of this?

Today, in part two, the pace slows down, the rhythm falls into place, and we get to Billy’s fateful trip to North Africa.

In a follow-the-action vlog-style, Billy, and pals Koa Smith and Luke Davis, chase a swell to a wave, a rounder version of Lennox Head, that I always figured was a no-no to name. When I surfed the joint twenty years ago it was dominated by a cabal of gangster bodyboarders and any sort of exploitative behaviour, photos, vision, was strictly verboten.

Anyway, the gang is electrified by a second swell and led by their Moroccan guide Jerome Sahyoun, many a crotch fire is stoked.

And then comes the wave that almost disengages Billy Kemper from this mortal coil.

“Is he dead? Did he drown?” Koa asks a boat driver.

“Please don’t leave me here,” Billy begs.

Emotional dehydration etc.

“Indestructible” Five-foot-five, sixty-three-year-old surfer dominates at North Shore’s most demanding wave!

The continuing miracle of former world #3 Michael Ho… 

Turn off the clocks and cut the telephone cords. Give the dog a juicy bone so it stops barking. 

Stop everything, for, here, in this short film by Rory Pringle is the continuing miracle of Michael Ho, sixty-four this year, a man who won the Pipeline Masters at forty and is still tunnelling at the North Shore’s most demanding wave alongside the best in the world.

First wave, hands behind the back set at Backdoor cut to Black Magic Women, Santana. Epic.

And, here, a brief summation of Michael Ho’s career, as told by Matt Warshaw. 

Ho became one of Hawaii’s first full-time professional surfers, and in 1975 finished runner-up in the Duke Kahanamoku Classic and the Pro Class Trials. Ho was already being called the world’s finest “position” surfer, meaning he invariably placed himself in the most critical section of the wave using the simplest and cleanest line. He often rode with a ramrod straight back, knees apart, his right arm distinctively held out from his body, hand dangling at the wrist. (Younger brother Derek Ho, the 1993 world champion, surfed in much the same way.)

At 5’5″, 135 pounds, Ho was never able to explode through a turn the way his heavier peers could, but nobody was quicker on their feet, and few were as innately stylish. He was one of the world’s best tuberiders in the mid- and late ’70s (he helped invent the “pigdog” tuberiding technique), and his skills only improved throughout the ’80s.

Documentary series ‘Billy’: Big-Wave World Champ Billy Kemper and the fateful trip to Morocco that would blow his pelvis to smithereens!

Part one of a six-chapter biopic…

One year ago, almost to the day as it happens, little Billy Kemper, a four-times Jaws winner and 2017 big-wave world champ, was belted to within an inch of his life at a Moroccan ledge.

Pelvis snapped. Knee ripped from its moorings. Unconscious or close enough.

The six-part series, called ‘Billy‘, follows this trip to Morocco, the injury, his long rehabilitation and his triumphant return to contests.

Billy has four kids, a pretty wife, wears a good hat and has a revolutionary’s passion for big waves.

Plenty to like in this series, although it is heavy on the butter.

Deceptively fragile big-wave legend Russell Bierke and “why I love honeymoon dick!”

Meet the man who's nearly been ushered into heaven several times and he's only twenty three!

Russell Bierke, twenty-three, is the diminutive and deceptively fragile looking son of noted Californian-born shaper Kirk Bierke whose boards are sold under the label KB Surf and made in Ulladulla, three hours south of Sydney.

This four-minute short attempts, and with reasonable success I think, to document the trajectory of Russell’s surfing life.

He has nearly been ushered into heaven several times (read about the time he was “blue as a Smurf and all fours spewing” after a wipeout in Victoria) and Russell was the protagonist in the highly cited film Flow State, which was released one-and-half years ago.

Russell: A brief introduction was made by Andrew Kaineder, a filmmaker of quite some note.


See John John Florence apply a hitherto unseen level of mastery of Backdoor and Pipe crowd, “I want to emphasise how gnarly this clinic was, you get one crazy wave at Backdoor, you don’t get eight in a row!” says bro Nathan.

"Eight psycho waves in a row."

Nathan Florence, twenty-six or thereabouts and with reddish brown eyes like dried blood, is the most interesting of the Florence pack.

Although only worth between an estimated five thousand and thirty-two thousand dollars, somewhat short of big-brother John’s ten or so mill, he carries his YouTube vlog with a personality that is pleasingly off-centre, whimsical and cheesy like synth-laden music.

In this episode, filmed a few days ago, day two of a North Shore swell, Nathan GoPros from the water at Backdoor, Pipe, while his hired filmer points camera from beach.

You’ll want to miss the first twelve minutes of what might generously be called B-roll but do examine, first, the drainer Michael Ho threads followed by the surfing of his older brother who picked the joint apart for four hours.

Says Nathan of big bro, “I want to emphasise how gnarly this clinic was. You get one or two crazy waves at Backdoor you don’t get eight in a row. The manipulation of the crowd, navigation of the crowd, reading the ocean combined with being the best surfer in the world…eight psycho waves in one session…”