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Fucking amazing: FCS is now 12/12!

Chas Smith

by Chas Smith

In news that is rocking the surf world, FCS fins are now 12/12!

 

When Matt “Wilko” Wilkinson beat “Brother” Kolohe Andino in the Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast the world wondered one thing. What fins was he riding? Is professional sport’s most impressive streak (FCS’s 11/11 on the World Surf League’s Championship Tour in 2015) still alive?

Remember when Stab (2004-2016) reported:

Here’s a thing you probably didn’t know: In 2015, every Men’s WSL World Tour event was won by a surfer riding a set of FCS fins. Eleven events, 11 wins on FCS rudders, starting with Filipe Toledo on the Gold Coast almost a year ago, and ending with Adriano De Souza at the Pipe Masters (a fact that wouldn’t have changed even if Gabs had won Pipe, since he rides FCS too).

An ironman run matched only, maybe, by Cal Ripken Jr. playing 2,362 games in a row or Wayne Gretzky scoring in 51 straight.

But is the streak still alive?

As soon as Wilko finished his last turn I went running, alongside every other surf fan, to my computer and logged on to FCS’s website. No Matt Wilkinson on the main team page! My heart sank. I was absolutely crushed. Devastated. Somehow, even though I couldn’t see through the tears in my eyes, I made it downstairs to the freezer and started pulling directly from an icy vodka bottle. How could it be over? How could it have ended?

I put the B.B. King station on Pandora and slumped in the corner getting drunker and drunker. “The burden that I carry is so heavy, you see. It seems like there ain’t nobody in this world. Who would wanna help poor me…” I saw a dirty kitchen knife in the sink and thought, “Is life worth living?”

Before grabbing it, though, I thought I’d check one more time…

…and there he was! There was some further level of the Global Surf Team that I somehow missed and there was Matt Wilkinson! Oh the sheer joy that flooded my body! I started weeping again, uncontrollably, but this time from happiness.

Ladies and gentlemen, the streak™ liveth!

Parker: “I live by a policy of escalation!”

Rory Parker

by Rory Parker

"When I feel done wrong by I come back as hard as I can…"

It’s early Wednesday morning, which means it’s time for my weekly sprint through Kauai’s pre-dawn downpour to get my trashcan out before the truck arrives.

No shirt, bare feet squelching through mud, blindly fighting my way through the spider-webbed thicket that runs down the side of my house. One of these days I’ll remember to put the bin out the night before. Today is not that day.

Life’s a series of bad decisions.

Yesterday was my wife’s turn. She played hooky from work, joined me at the beach where I lucked into ledgy peak all by my lonesome. Very fun, made more so by the fact that my body’s been rebuilding muscle like crazy and I’m finally surfing at a level that doesn’t trigger soul crushing depression. Not that I’m some top tier ripper, but if you do anything for thirty years you should get pretty good at it. And after my years long stint of injury and illness I’m finally ringing that bell. Not loudly, but it’s making noise. Ting, ting, ting.

Two guys paddled out, couldn’t make the first section, sat on the shoulder and let me have my pick of litter. Maybe a dick move, stealing the gems and leaving them the scraps.

But I’ve always believed, if you want in the rotation you’ve gotta sit deep. It’s an incentive to try hard, take a few beatings. And the biggest waves were only a foot or so over my six foot frame, hardly life threatening.

About an hour into the session a squall rolled in. Happens out here, all the time. Bright and shiny one moment, pissing rain the next. Back to blue skies beauty shortly.

The missus decided it was time to go. Waved me in, sat in the pouring rain while I looked for a positive note to end my session. Not about to paddle in, that’s madness.

Of course it went flat and of course it kept raining. And rather than take cover under a tree, or one of the numerous sheltered picnic areas, she stood in the downpour, looking like a bedraggled rat.

Oh boy, was she angry! Not that I helped matters.

“You want an apology? Fine, I’m sorry you were too stupid to get out of the rain while you waited.”

Not the most tactful response, I know.

But she knows better than to push me, I push back. Always. Part of my personality. Right or not, I live by a policy of escalation. When I feel done wrong by I come back as hard as I can.

What’s the point?

Well, I’m feeling really pissed the WSL has decided to play DMCA crybaby and flag all our shit. Fair use, motherfuckers!

But, okay, let’s play the game. We don’t count as commentary, criticism or parody?  Fine, I’ll take the transformative approach. I’m gonna teach myself to edit and I’m gonna put dicks on everything.

 

Forecast: Brazilian Storm broken?

Chas Smith

by Chas Smith

Blonde skies peek through brunette clouds!

First I must say, as someone who occasionally introduces himself as a “surf journalist” at parties, that Longtom’s coverage of the 2016 Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast would win the Graham Stapelberg Award for Excellence in Reporting™ if we had such a thing. We don’t. Surf journalists go unloved, at best, gratingly tolerated, mostly, despised, sometimes.

But maybe we surf journalists should form an academy? Longtom are you in? Nick Carroll? Matt Warshaw, of course you, and who else should be included? Who are the greatest living surf journalists? Yes, we will form an academy and next year bring you the Graham Stapelberg Award for Excellence in Reporting™ but let’s first talk about the weather!

Filipe Toledo’s injury is a massive blow and could it be possible that the Brazilian Storm has finally broken? The system was set to push squall after squall for the foreseeable future. First Gabe then ADS then, I thought for sure Filipe, then Gabe again then Italo then Filipe then Filipe then Ciao then Filipe etc.

With Filipe’s injury, though, is there going to be a shift in pattern? Just look at the top ten. Dirty blonde, blonde, injured, blonde, ADS, Australian brunette, permed blonde, blonde, Ciao, Japanese American.

I can’t imagine another ADS jog, can you? Gabe maybe but Filipe seemed like the one to run wire to wire but with his being erased will Kolohe win it all? JJF? Disco Stu Kennedy? Parko? And if a non Brazilian wins will another non Brazilian slip in behind him? Will Brazil lose its footing? Will the clouds part never to reform with such strength again?

WSL: The Best (Worst) Game on Earth?

Longtom

by Longtom

Wilko wins Quiksilver Pro, Stu Kennedy highballed, Filipe withdraws from Bells, Margs…

The heavens opened in Lennox last night. Like the rest of the town I was awake, wandering the rainy streets looking for signs and portents, greeting my fellow night-walkers, heads hunched low in raincoats, with the sign of the cross.

Babies are slapped on the arse at birth and have their necks broken so they can’t look left. For baptism they are rolled on the barnacles until a bloody mess and are lovingly taught their first words: “fuck off cunt”.

You’ve never been to Lennox? Don’t come. We hate tourists. I’ll paint you a sketch so you can taste it’s sweet fruits vicariously. Basically, it’s Paradise on Earth for the working man and woman. Big volcanic headland, sand-bottom point that breaks from two foot to as big as it gets. Warm water all year round.

Babies are slapped on the arse at birth and have their necks broken so they can’t look left. For baptism they are rolled on the barnacles until a bloody mess and are lovingly taught their first words: “fuck off cunt”.

We like fights, sharks, lawnmowers and mixing drink and drugs. Contrary to popular opinion we are an entrepeneurial race: Lennox Heads has the second highest number of successful lawn-mowing franchisees in the southern hemisphere. Luckily this was able to supplant the towns earlier industry of pot growing which was destroyed by the war on drugs. Funnily enough we are also, in the pro surfing space at least, at the vanguard of neuro-science. More on that later.

One of the (many) beefs I’ve had with Nick Carroll over the years concerns his deference to the superiority of WSL top 34 and the inferiority of the local “king of the Point”. Whenever I argued for the unknown surfer, I had Stu Kennedy in mind. This guy is 26.

Are we now expected to believe that this guy who has just beaten the best of the best has materialised out of the Lennox ether as a barely sponsored family man and fully formed top three surfer?

Or is there something rotten in the QS system and the whole industry paradigm of casting ripe on the vine surfers into the compost heap because they have red hair (Bede) or can’t shift product or like to speak their mind (Stu Kennedy) effectively cruelling careers before they begin?

It was quite a shock to see commenters, even moderators, calling the event and the surfing lame. It didn’t seem like it at the beach. It made me reflect on emotion and perspective. Beachside, as the QF between JJF and Stu came down to the final minute the collective mood in the crowd was hyper-intense.

In fact, judges seemed in thrall to the emotional force of the crowd and highballed Stu Kennedy. Looking back at the ride on the heat analyser minus the psychic impact and it looks thin and implausible. Such is life. I thought JJF had neutralised Kennedy’s aggression with passivity. There was a sense that Stu might have exhausted his reservoir of aggressive energy against a passive opponent.

I was embedded in the Stu Crew, with brother, mother, wife, manager and entourage. People were shaking, levitating as Stu rode the final wave.

“Did he get it?” I asked the manager.

He looked over his shoulder at me as he ran down the beach”…nah”.

But he did.

In fact, judges seemed in thrall to the emotional force of the crowd and highballed him. Looking back at the ride on the heat analyser minus the psychic impact and it looks thin and implausible. Such is life. I thought JJF had neutralised Kennedy’s aggression with passivity. There was a sense that Stu might have exhausted his reservoir of aggressive energy against a passive opponent.

But in the end, passivity was trumped by emotion. It was weird feeling the crowd go silent during a JJF ride, as if to downplay it to the judges. As a collective crowd strategy it worked.

Florence’s human, all too human strategy to defeat Toledo had the weight of prophecy, except it was Wilko who would reap the reward of Toledo’s mistake and injury. Just like that the seemingly undefeatable Toledo was being carried up the beach and then bundled into a black SUV with Dickie Toledo behind the wheel looking as solemn as Marlon Brando in the Godfather.

Half of Lennox head stood in the rain to push their boy through. But the Stu K engine was spluttering. The falls became more crucial and a not very pretty Kolohe squeezed him out. The margin closer than it looked from the beach. A pro surfing speciality: the two best surfers knocked out before the final.

I couldn’t deal with the anti-climax. Like Deathstar said to me yesterday, “Why do we even watch this shit? It has nothing to do with us and what we do as surfers”. Fascination had turned to contempt.

I was still fizzing from the WSL playing hardball with the Grit over the content and blackballing their Facebook page. Remember when the surf companies started treating their core with contempt? We know how that movie ended. Dave Prodan had emailed me when I said I would kick him in the nuts and said he had nothing to do with the social media or partnership terms of the WSL. I asked him why the WSL was pursuing such a counterproductive strategy of playing hardball with content? Why kick those in the teeth who are covering “your” sport. At time of writing, there was no response.

I hit the road before the final started. Maybe I’ll get the last five minutes with Deathstar I thought. It was finished as I pulled back in front of his surf shop. Scrappy, uninspiring was his summation. Don’t get me wrong, I love Wilko, but that stance has got a bit extreme, he could at least have the decency to tuck the back leg in a little. It’s scaring the kiddies.

Oh yeah. The neuro-science. I couldn’t get much sense out of Stu in the moments after the loss. He was with his family and his people, everyone was coming back down to Earth after a pretty wild ride. But I did get a few moments with the manager, a man at the forefront of sports performance in a new field called neuro-performance.

It involves rigging the athlete up to their own EEG monitor and measuring and then changing via neuro-plasticity the thoughts and action pathways in the brain, leading to improved peak performance. You wondered why Stu was able to bring the noise at such a high level, well, it had a little more to do than the environment of Lennox Head.

Roll on Bells. Will Slater show up or will this be the start of the biggest slow motion train wreck of a late career in sporting history? I can see him two or three years down the track arguing with the jetski security in the line-up.

“I’m Kelly fucking Slater dude. I’m here to surf”

“Move along mate, before you end up in the pen for the night. It’s over Kelly.”

I can never figure out whether this is the greatest or the worst sport on Earth.

Editor’s note: Filipe Toledo just withdrew from the Bells and Margaret River events. “I’ve pulled a groin muscle doing an air… so I’ll go back home and do some physio and get ready for Rio.”

Watch how he did it here.

 

 

Gimme: $1000-per-night surf retreat!

Derek Rielly

by Derek Rielly

A Cabo vay-cay with Damo Hobgood, Rob Machado and Tim Curran!

Did you know that Rob Machado and Tim Curran have their own travel company called Mansa Vida?

Tim Curran, the pioneer of the alley-oop twenty years ago, as well as being a noted minstrel, describes it as “a travel adventure production company offering Day In The Life inspired events and trips around the world with us and some of our friends. We wanted to be able to share our experiences and stories of our travels, and also include music, art, photography and film.”

The first event is a one-thousand-dollar-a-day, three-or-five-day vay-cay with Rob and Tim as well as Damien Hobgood and the noted photographer Tom Servais at the dazzling Javier Sánchez-designed hotel, The Cape, in Cabo San Lucas.

Shall we examine the details?

  • Three Nights at The Cape, a Thompson Hotel – room options vary; can include but not limited to:
    • The Surfer Villa – a three-bedroom, two-story luxury villa with a fully-equipped, state-of-the-art kitchen; gaming room with pool table; expansive, private outdoor patio with a plunge pool and barbecue; and sauna
    • Deluxe King Suite – featuring a private balcony with hanging daybed; bespoke mid-century, Latin American-inspired furnishings; free-standing, copper-leafed tub and rain shower
  • Surfing Workshop with Curran and Hobgood – guests will hit the waves side-by-side with Curran and Hobgood, where they can test out the pros’ surfboards and experience hands-on coaching; pending surf conditions and open to surfers of all levels
  • Film Screenings on The Rooftop – cult surf films will be screened at the sixth-story rooftop lounge overlooking the Sea of Cortez and downtown Cabos San Lucas; followed by Q&A session with the pros discussing the art and craftsmanship of this niche genre
  • Photography Exhibit with Tom Servais – led by the renowned surf photographer, guests will view a collection of iconic surf images taken by Servais over the last few decades; followed by a Q&A session with Servais on capturing the culture and action of the sport
  • Live Acoustic Concert on The Rooftop – led by singer/songwriter Curran, guests will enjoy a live acoustic show at the hotel’s rooftop lounge
  • Daily Morning Yoga – often a fundamental part of surf culture, each day will begin with beachside yoga classes led by a resident teacher
  • Daily Breakfast – hosted breakfast at the resort’s casual beach-house inspired restaurant Ledge, complete with ocean views and fresh local produce
  • Surf SWAG – guests will receive assorted sporting gear from the pros’ sponsors
  • Roundtrip Airport Transfer – from San Jose del Cabo airport

According to Travel Weekly, packages “start at $3,981 for three nights in a double occupancy room… An optional five-night package in a double occupancy room is available for $5,920. Rates do not include tax and resort fees.”