The most unpopular surfer in California

Guy Adams

slater4603 300x180 The most unpopular surfer in CaliforniaIt was “Big Thursday” in Southern California yesterday, as the tail end of a hurricane-season storm from the South Pacific made landfall, blasting monster waves towards the region’s most famous surf spots.

The swell has already spawned a thousand YouTube clips, because it hit Tahiti last week, when the world’s finest surfers were shredding it at the Billabong Open. Forecasters reckon it’ll now hang around America’s left coast until Monday.

There’s real electricity in the air whenever Mother Nature sends a big one to LA’s beachside communities. Here in Malibu, waves are currently overhead; in Orange county, they’re bigger. According to online chatter, a break called The Wedge in Newport Beach will today produce twenty footers.

But for all the excitement, a completely different is dominating talk in the region’s line-ups. It revolves around one Tom Gregg, a local surfer who claims to have suffered a “deep gash” on his right leg when he wiped-out a couple of years ago.

Mr Gregg has just filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles Superior Court holding the makers of his surfboard responsible for the injury. He claims the board’s fins, which had been sharpened to improve its performance, were “unsafe for their intended use.” Naturally, he wants tens of thousands of dollars for his pains.

The firm, Channel Island surfboards (which makes kit for world champ Kelly Slater, pictured, among others) points out that the reason its shortboards are so good is precisely because they have pointy noses and sharp fins.

Spurious lawsuits are commonplace in America, the most litigous nation on earth. But Gregg’s chutzpah has nonetheless sparked public outrage. Websites have sprung up attempting to track him down; commenters on web forums are throwing death threats in his general direction. His email inbox is no doubt overflowing more surfy insults such as “kook!” and “douchebag!”

The level of criticism is comic; but justified, all the same. You only have glance at California’s beaches today to see that big waves might hurt you. If Mr Gregg doesn’t realise that, then he surely has no business calling himself a surfer.

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