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The Top 20 Surfers in the World (Part two!)

Longtom

by Longtom

What thread ties Dorian, Bede, Mick, Keala and Wilko together?

(Editor’s note: Do you remember, yesterday, when the writer Longtom announced the first five surfers in his Global Power Rankings, a list that includes the contest and non-contest surfer, guy and gal? Click to read.Here, part two, surfers ranked 14 to 10.)

14. Keala Kennelly

So, 2016, Year of Women’s Surfing. It wasn’t designated and far as I can see, absent a few remarks about Tyler Wright achieving prize money parity and a comment or two from Nick Carroll, it’s gone mostly unremarked. Seeds planted by Natasha Ziff in her backing of womens surfing have borne strange fruit, none more exotic or hard-core in the true sense than Keala Kennelly. The trend is both top down, with the prizemoney and new contests, and bottom up, with grass roots revolution in lineups world wide, particularly Australia and Hawaii. Girls are taking over. They’re not looking to a dead media fixated on old man tropes for inspiration. It’s big wave pioneers like Keala setting new limits. She didn’t win Jaws but opened the gambit and thus created history. Just like she has at Teahupoo.

13. Bede Durbidge

Thousands of words I’ve written on pro surfing and not one ever directed the way of Bede Durbidge. I found the White Fijian label trite and something about his stately three-quarter-speed power-surfing didn’t compel. Nothing trite about a comeback within a year from a smashed pelvis incurred by a vicious pile driving by a backless wedge into a lava spike. No shortcut available to circumvent the gruelling physical and psychological rehab. I have no idea whether Bede will be able to regain the looseness in the hinge to compete at the CT level again, which would make the injury a double tragedy because judges had  decided his brand of power surfing was state of the art just before the injury. The triumph is in the return, not the results.

12. Matt Wilkinson

It was devastating to see Fred Pawle malign Wilko after his Snapper win by referring to him as a yobbo, and an ugly one at that. Even worse, when our own beloved Chas Smith compounded the error by repeating it. Wilko is no yobbo. He’s a much higher and rarer species: the working class fruit. He’s a good animal, in the words of DH Lawrence, who knew a thing or two about working class fruits, who runs true to his instincts. At his best. At his worst, he becomes awfully repetitious, a victim not an engineer of a machine that demands it. Wilko’s peak this year was not the back-to-back victories to open the season and leave clean air between himself and the peloton, nor even the vicious backlash he oversaw against the injustice of the Pawle libel. It was his back to back demolitions in perfect six-to-eight-foot Cloudbreak of John Florence. He resurrected the now discarded Tom Carroll line: a straight-line-drop-to-fade, square-bottom-turn-and-tube- snap under the axe. Going in slow, coming out fast.

11. Shane Dorian

When ever I see moving images of  this stud side-slipping out of the lip of a forty-footer malignant with morning sickness and the light just over the mauka, or a fresh kill dripping blood over his camouflaged shoulders, or even with the unflattering hunch-back of a freshly inflated buoyancy wetsuit bobbing around insouciantly in a milky maelstrom I think of an interview Laird did with, what was it, Surfer’s Journal? Surfer? where he proclaimed the ascendancy of tow surfing and the absolute futility of trying to paddle in under your own steam into giant surf. It was sometime around the millenium wave if you’ll recall.

It was the end of history, tow surfing was the future and the now. Paddle-in was deady bones down in Davey Jones’ locker. The story of that reversal and the destruction of the machine by the human hand is the greatest story in surfing never told. Maybe the answer lies in some crumpled up draft of In God’s Hands now slowly rotting in landfill east of Burbank. Dorian changed the course of big wave surfing history. He gave it back it’s dignity and it’s purpose. Dorian = God. Allahu Akbar.

10. Mick Fanning

I surfed with Michael the other day. In really good overhead wedgey tubes. Great surf. It was awe inspiring. I observed him closely. He never fell. Once. He never flubbed a turn. Every part of his repertoire was on display. The fully torqued out top turn, the full-wrap-cutback-to-rebound, the high-speed-layback-fin-drift across the coping, the slight-hunchback pumping in the tube to make it from deep. I couldn’t discern any material difference between this free surf and a heat surfed at the highest level against the best in the world. It was awe inspiring, but not like seeing Niagra falls or some amazing natural event. It was awe inspiring like seeing some highly efficient technical Teutonic process. Like a Mercedes Benz factory pumping out new Mercs, each one perfect, each one repeatable, perfectly utilitarian. Mick Fanning is the zenith of professional surfing as expression of the surf-industrial complex.

Stab: “The boy jumped on the shark!”

Chas Smith

by Chas Smith

Online retailer reacts to yesterday's shark attack by blaming the victim!

Yesterday, struggling online retailer Stab magazine responded to a shark attack in Florida by victim shaming and Shark-gate has officially broken wide open. In case you missed, young Zack Davis was surfing near Vero Beach whilst wearing a Sharkbanz shark deterrent bracelet that his mom gifted him for Christmas. It was the first time he had ever worn the device and also the first time he had ever been attacked.

Stab, which actively promotes Sharkbanz technology was widely expected to issue an apology but instead doubled down by crafting a story which asserts that young Zack Davis was, in fact, the aggressor in the situation. Let’s read!

According to CBS 12, Sharkbanz contacted Zack, telling him that he was the first person to be attacked whilst wearing the device. “I’m really relieved he is ok and he was super positive about his recovery,” Sharkbanz co-founder, Nathan Garrison, told CBS 12. “What happened here is essentially the rarest of shark encounters where Zack jumped off his board and pretty much landed on the shark. If anything it probably helped clear the shark out of the area quicker.”

Though, Zack says that’s not how it went down: “I know I didn’t land on the shark, because I would have felt that, but maybe I landed close to it and scared it.”

CBS 12 spoke with scientist Dr. Eric Stroud, who had this to say: “If the surfer did land on top of the shark or very close to it, the shark would have likely acted defensively to this. While accidental and certainly unlucky, this is essentially a provoked attack from the shark’s perspective. If the animal was cornered relative to the shore, the surfer’s body and physical contact occurred near the shark’s head, the shark acted as expected. In a provoked attack situation, shark repellents are no longer effective.”

And oooo-ee! A wild claim by Sharkbanz co-founder that Zack “jumped off his board and landed on the shark” and a scientist speaking to theoretical “man jumping on shark” situation sandwich poor Zack’s denial that this is what actually occurred.

Classic victim shaming where the incident becomes partially, if not fully, the victim’s fault.

Stab goes continues on to end their report with a back-pedaling…

The fact remains that these devices are not a guarantee against shark attacks. Nor are they marketed to be. When it comes to sharks, nothing is certain.

…even though just months before the tone could not have been more effusive.

No batteries, no charging, and an unnoticeable amount of extra weight. Plus, of course, the peace of mind that comes with reduced risk. Don’t sleep on this: It ain’t hard to foresee the first release selling out.
Buy here.

So, Stab, which is it? We would like answers. Did you order the Code Red… I mean, did you know that Sharkbanz technology was suspect and actively engage in pushing it on the youth anyhow at $180 – $250 a pop? I think we’re entitled to answers here.

WE WANT THE TRUTH!

Rory’s Repeats: “Surf fights and me!”

Rory Parker

by Rory Parker

What's better than a wipeout reel? Surf fights!

I’m not proud of it, but I was in more than my fair share of fights when I was younger. If you’d asked me then I’d have sworn they were all justified, but if I’m being honest it was really all because I had a chip on my shoulder and pubescent levels of testosterone coursing through my veins. And also because I was a greasy little punk and no women would have sex with me.

In the decade-and-a-half since I’ve only hit someone twice. The first time was an unfortunate mishap at a baby shower that I won’t delve into right now. The second involved me squaring off with the senior partner of my wife’s law firm in a Honolulu parking lot. I won that one, but the dude was in his sixties, so I feel like it deserves an asterisk.

On a related note, did you know you don’t have to hit an old man very hard to hurt him pretty badly?

While I’m not an advocate of using violence to solve problems, I do think that, sometimes, not often, you’re justified in delivery a stiff right to the center of someone’s big stupid mug. And I do enjoy watching other people fight, especially over surfing. It’s just such a stupid thing to come to blows over, watching two guys bash on each other over a totally inconsequential part of life puts a huge smile on my face.

El Porto is such a garbage spot. A shitty closeout 364 days a year, home to worst ten million freaks, boomers, egos, and assholes that LA has to offer. I just love how the guy throws his nice white …Lost on the ground before they go at it like two dudes who’ve watched a ton of UFC but never actually tried to translate their sweet mental karate into action.

Getting mad at a little kid is such wasted effort. The little shit can run his mouth at you, even take a swing at you, and there’s not a damn thing you can do about it. Because, if you try, Richie Collins is gonna come flying out of nowhere and kick your ass!

I take back what I wrote earlier about surfing always being a stupid thing to fight over. It’s a little more nuanced than that. For instance, I feel like Nathan Fletcher’s reaction in this clip is totally reasonable.

Thank the good lord for giving everyone video cameras, otherwise I’d never have seen a guy come pretty close to drowning a dude while two foot mush crumbles softly in the background.

There’s a moment in here when he realizes, “Oh shit, I’m way too old for this to end well for me.”

Remember, keep your chin down and your hands up and, until next time, here’s an old man falling down an escalator.

Revealed: Stab has no shame!

Chas Smith

by Chas Smith

The online magazine/retailer still claiming that Sharkbanz technology provides "peace of mind!"

As of this evening a poor mother in Florida is beside herself with grief. Weeping into an already soaked handkerchief. Hitting her armchair’s armrest while screaming. “Why me? Why? WHY?”

And what is leading to such grief? Such sadness on the day before New Year’s Eve?

She purchased for her beloved son a Christmas present, you see. A Sharkbanz bracelet promising to protect him from watery beasts. He had never worn one before but strapped in on, paddled out and ZAP! Attacked! Attacked just last evening!

What could have made her fall for such heartless pseudo-science?

Maybe Stab!

The online surf website/retailer/fin maker just months ago promised wonders from the Sharkbanz technology being employed by very expensive Modom leashes. The writer was uncontainable in his praise. Shall we read?

Risk reduction never looked so good.

If you’re a regular to Stab, you’ll be aware that for some time, we’ve been (highly) anticipating the release of Modom’s Shark Deterrent Leash, developed in partnership with Sharkbanz.
And now… it’s finally here.

Developed over 10 years by senior marine biologists and chemists, the leash creates an electromagnetic field around the surfer which is designed to irritate the shark’s electrical sense (without causing it or any nearby sealife any harm), reducing the risk of attack by sending curious sharks on their way.

No batteries, no charging, and an unnoticeable amount of extra weight. Plus, of course, the peace of mind that comes with reduced risk. Don’t sleep on this: It ain’t hard to foresee the first release selling out.
Buy here.

The “buy here” kicked to Papa Surfstitch who was selling the product at a whopping $180 – $250 a pop.

Oh I am not casting a stone. We all make mistakes due economic pressure. I once wrote a lengthy treatise suggesting that children smoking filterless cigarettes would cure juvenile asthma. The Corvette Stingray gifted to me by Big Tobacco had nothing to do with the piece but when my research was proven less than stellar I had it removed and apologized.

Yet Stab’s THE MODOM SHARK DETERRENT LEASH IS FINALLY HERE still lives. And still kicks to SurfStitch.

Shouldn’t it be replaced with a heartfelt apology? Shouldn’t SurfStitch be offering full refunds plus $250 dollar gift cards?

BeachGrit doesn’t believe in pushing pseudo-science but if we did this would be our policy.

The BeachGrit way!

The Top 20 Surfers in the World (Right Now)!

Longtom

by Longtom

Part one in a four-part series!

Okay, so 2016 might have been a god-awful year but in our little pro surf world, it all ran to script. Legitimacy restored at the top end of the tour, continued ascendancy of women’s surfing, big waves etc.

Any critical eye trained on the WCT will see a moribund sport desperately in need of renewal. Renewal of format, of location. The whole narrative structure is looking tired: same old thing trotted out for thirty years. Too many dead heats, not enough peak performance. The format rewards conservatism and that’s exactly what we get dished up. Slater has been the exception to the rule for far too long and when he goes, that goes with it.

Since Rory abdicated hasn’t it been a hoot watching the surf writer step up? Establishing their bona fides: I’m a print journalist, I’ve got a blog, I know how to use a semi-colon. It’s grand, grand entertainment.

I feel I should establish my credentials. Surfer Mag, Surfers Journal, Surfline, Tracks, Surfing World, White Horses, Swellnet and a couple Euro ones I can’t remember.

But what if that’s all a pile of shit?

What if there is no superiority, real or imagined, of the published (surf) writer over the anonymous commenter? What if the anonymous commenter really is the highest and rarest form of the art? I believe it is, and in that spirit, I throw this take of the top 20 surfers in the world, right now, out there.

Not as any kind of definitive version but as kindling to the flame of the eternal commenter. Long may they reign.

20. Corey Colapinto

It’s a cruel but pertinent fact that California’s excessive continental shelf turns Pacific swells into surf as lugubrious and predictable as a 90’s sitcom, perfect for longboards or anything with inbuilt trim. Most surf spots between Point Conception and the border suck for shortboards, with the odd exception. Don’t shame yourself and and name the obvious counter-examples.

The reverse is true  in Australia. Thus Corey Colapinto. Thus Joel Tudor. Thus Ryan Burch. Thus the shortboard revolution and everything progressive in surfing happening in Australia (even if at the hands of beatnik Californians harnessing the power of post-war blue-collar Australia and trust-fund America) then exported back to California. Current example: Dan Thomson and micro-planing hulls. Time and time again. History repeating.

Yet still this phony, internecine war between short and long, progressive and retro persists. Take Dane Reynolds out of the equation and Colapinto is the second most progressive surfer in California, hence America, after Ryan Burch. A progressive mid-lengther, if you’ll pardon the oxymoron, who takes the white man jazz of the shortboard revolution into a whole new dimension.

19. Derek Hynd

There’s a certain orthodoxy been developing on the Grit. It’s a justifiable reaction against forty years of surfing being represented as some kind of mystical communion with nature BS in the surf media. It downplays and even denigrates the lifer, the loner, the nomad, the dedicated few who pursue surfing to its ultimate ends.

Wild Bill Finnegan said a lot of assholes surf and some of them surf well. To which I would say, so fucking what. Hemingway was a bonafide cunt, Gauguin gave Tahitian wahines syphilis, Gautama Buddha walked out on a young family etc.

The implication that surfing should improve moral character or cure cancer is ludicrous. It’s just another glorious, non-essential thing humans do between birth and death to wrest meaning out of a random and hostile universe. Hence, what separates us from the animals, hence art.

Isn’t it true that in our tiny little lives of quiet desperation we find ourselves a gal and settle down, selling ourselves like cattle for a scrap of grass and a roof, horizons shrinking every year towards infirmity and death, stripped of all hope, incubating our hate with a secret shame which seeps out through the keyboard (magnificently at the Grit!).

Surfing has been co-opted by capitalism magnificently but if you kick out of the cradle to grave consumer track and go your own way, as Dekka Hynd has done, it’s still one of the most revolutionary trips going. A pure waste of time with no measureable output. Fins-free surfing might be the last act untouched and untouchable by the domesticated and homogenized herd. A necessary antidote against the psychic impoverishment of a technocratic society. If you’ll pardon a little more pseudo-philosophical dick-gazing: isn’t it true that in our tiny little lives of quiet desperation we find ourselves a gal and settle down, selling ourselves like cattle for a scrap of grass and a roof, horizons shrinking every year towards infirmity and death, stripped of all hope, incubating our hate with a secret shame which seeps out through the keyboard (magnificently at the Grit!).

Meanwhile, Mr Hynd soars towards an a-historical death high-lining at J-Bay like an albatross who never needs to touch land, brutal and singular as Ahab. Is he sinning against life for daring to indulge this obsession with an implacable grandeur? By structuring his life to follow the lightning flash?

I say, no!

Restless, relentless non-linear exile who evades the technological whip I salute you. You Soviets of the spirit who mock him can eat a bag of dicks.

Also, practically speaking, work is a cooked goose, no matter what moral puritans like Bill Finnegan say, so you better figure out something to do to pass the time. Surfer as throw-forward as posited by Alvin Toffler might be an idea whose time has come.

18. Bob Martinez 

Why does Bob Martinez look better than Gabe Medina on a wave? Nothing controversial about that inquiry.  The answer was supplied on the Grit this by wave savant Bradley Gerlach, author of the soon to be released tantric surf manual Wave Ki. Brad ID’d the great stylistic advantage of using the hips, but limited the observation to small wave surfing.

The observation extends into other realms  and when we watch Bob M surf we can clearly see how devastatingly effective it is in medium sized surf as well, especially backhand surfing in good Point surf. The hips are the fulcrum around which the board is leveraged through the turn. Upper-body quiet, knees and ankles fluid.

The main thing I love about Bob’s surfing, and miss so much watching live, is that it is relatable to crib the parlance of Turpel. In my fantasy, idealised version of my own surfing, I’m trying to surf like Bobby, not say, Clay Marzo, whose surfing is utterly incomprehensible to me.

And you too.

17. Stu Kennedy

When you cross the border from Byron shire and get your passport stamped at the gates of the Republik of Lennox Head you are entering the finest surfing Nation on Earth. You remember the penultimate scene in Taxi Driver? Before Trav Bickle goes ham? Harvey Keitels pimp is slow-dancing with Jodie Foster’s prostitute. He leans in and whispers in her ear, “How much I need you. Come to me baby. When I’m close to you like this I feel so good.  I only wish every man could know what it’s like to be loved by you. That every woman everywhere had a man who loves her like I love you”.

That’s an accurate depiction of the interior monologue of every surfer lucky enough to reside in the shadow of of Lennox Point. Sunbeams dance out of our hearts when we surf the Point. Henry Lawson, Walt Whitman, Ralph Emerson couldn’t conjure up such an earthly paradise for the working man and woman.

No doubt this excess in nature’s blessings can be dessicating. There is nothing here for people seeking knowledge, education or self-improvement. What it demands are clear-sighted souls, and that it contains in abundance. Its principal genius lies in the innovation to the surfboard, something seen when Kennedy unleashed the Dan Thomson designed Sci-Phi at Snapper.

The Point carves chunks from bodies from pre-adolescence, a natural violence which imbues the lineup. A 52-year-old dentist from Manhattan beach, an ageing alpha male, got his teeth knocked out the other day. I’m not condoning ultra-violence as a method of constraining the more excessive impulses that human beings bring to a lineup predisposed to order, just noting it works wonderfully well here.

Do you understand Lennox Head, where our local punk band is called Booze Hag and the chief ditty written by legendary glasser/sander Kenchy glories in the title Off My Head In Lennox Head (not available on Tunes)?

Good, then you understand Stu Kennedy. Top Ten after the Aussie leg.

16. Clay Marzo

Marzo is the maestro of the late-spin-under-the-lip-and-knife-into-the-tube, a prerequisite to deep tube-riding on shallow reefs. You’ll see that guy every shallow reef you surf, sitting deepest and making calm under violent upheaval.

Sure the forehand fin-ditch-to-disaster-one-foot-recovery gets a big old, but that is a strange inversion of the pro surfing game. He saves his full-blown power turns as special sauce. I’d rather watch him surf than some ball of squat muscle wanksnap their way to the beach any day of the year.

A gaping Marzo-sized conceptual hole in the field exists every year at Cloudbreak while he is alive.

15. Mason Ho

I was slow jumping on the Ho train, mostly because in this world hype reigns and so rarely justified. What got me hooked wasn’t any of the web clips but a live heat at Bells. He rode a bigger board. There was creativity, historical lineage in every line he drew across a lumpy Bell beach canvas. He bought shit surf to life in a way that no other tour surfer keyed in to standardised testing could.

Now the wave of the winter at Pipe with a classic hood ornament look back. One more compelling argument for renewal in a conservative Tour format and locations that specialise in quashing talent like Mason Ho’s. Imagine an Indonesian leg with Mason.