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Watch: Conner Coffin’s ‘Year One’!

Michael Ciaramella

by Michael Ciaramella

Sophomore powerhouse tells all!

I just finished a multi-part series about the seven incoming rookies and how a majority of them will thrive. This is of course highly unlikely but what is BeachGrit if not a bastion of optimism?

Conner Coffin’s rookie season began with this exact type of positivity. Two solid results at Snapper and Bells placed him at second in the world. A dream run for the Cali kid.

Then horror struck. Five bad results in a row, leading to a downward spiral of negative emotions and existential questions.

Do I even want to compete, or should I just be a soul/free/still paid surfer?

Maybe if I add an extra fin on the toeside rail…

Are these chia seeds even working?

But like any working-class hero Conner picked himself by the bootstraps and rebounded, making the final in Portugal and earning himself a spot on the 2017 Championship Tour. Just like that his year went from heartbreak and disillusion to WSL fuck yeah! 

The thing that stuck out in this movie, besides Conner’s very handy railwork, is surfers’ desire to determine objective reasoning behind their good and bad results. Instead of realizing that competitive surfing is inherently random, considering the biggest piece of the puzzle is the ever-dynamic ocean, surfers attempt to boil results down to petty minutiae like “bad vibes” or a lucky pair of boardshorts.

No.

Good results happen, bad results happen. There can be external forces like your skill set at a certain venue or that elusive serpent called “confidence”, but the only objective way to explain ten consecutive losses is that you surfed worse than your competitors in every half-hour bout. Kelly and Mick win more often because they are better surfers, better competitors than the majority of their opponents.

Meanwhile “streaks” can be one of two things: either a statistical anomaly, or a psychological invention to help humans further categorize, and thus understand, the world around them.

Once this knowledge is accepted, the idea of a losing streak should have no effect on the mind of a professional athlete. A winning streak can help, but only in the sense that the surfer is made to feel like he won’t fall off his board, not that he’ll necessarily win the match.

Got it, Conner Coffin /Julian Wilson / Kolohe / Gab / John / everyonefuckingelse? None of this extra shit plays a role, really. So less thinky, more surfy!

BeachGrit’s Rookie Rankings Part 2!

Michael Ciaramella

by Michael Ciaramella

Did we get it wrong? Of course not!

Snapper could start in… like…. five minutes so let’s jump straight back into it! (Part 1 here)

4. Federico Morais

I’m not a huge proponent of Fede’s surfing, but damn if he doesn’t fit the WSL’s judging criteria to a T! Over the past couple years, we’ve learned exactly what wins heats – big turns on big waves. This is Federico’s specialty.

The handsome European is like an adult version of Caio Ibelli. He’s steady on his feet, willing to hit big sections, and has a knack for progression when necessary. It’s this type of surfing that led Fede to second place finishes at both Haleiwa and Sunset this year. He also made the quarters in the Portugal CT in 2015 and round three in 2016 as an alternate.

Federico will shine when there’s a bit of size and power on offer, like Bells and Margies and J-Bay. The man displaces ample water and rarely if never trips. When it comes down to it, Fede is the second-coming of Bede Durbidge. Nobody wants to watch him, but nobody wants to surf against him either.

3. Ian Gouveia

Ian’s surfing is like a severed telephone wire – swinging wildly out of control but fucking fun to watch! He’s quite similar to Italo Ferreira in his stocky, square, aerially adept approach. But aside from his ability to go upside-down and willingness to jump off watery cliffs, Ian’s a downright charger!

Being the son of Brazilian surfing royalty Fabio Gouveia, Ian was afforded the ability to travel the world at an early age. I remember seeing him at Pipe, maybe eight years ago, and sixteen-year-old Ian was carelessly charging. It was clear he had that innate go-for-it attitude, which has only driven him into bigger, meaner waves in recent years.

Basically, his backhand is a weapon, his air game is tight, and he’ll feel right at home at Chopes, Cloudy, and Pipe. This is the recipe for goofyfoot success on the CT, which gives me a lotta faith in the lil’ guy. I’m telling you, kid is the next Italo.

2. Leonardo Fioravanti

Was he bred into success? Sure, but who isn’t these days? At nineteen, Leo has done pretty damn well for himself. He’s got a World Junior Championship, has won multiple divisions in Surfing’s esteemed Peer Poll and is 2-0 against the GOAT in head-to-head competition.

Leo is a contest machine and has been for some time. This likely began when he inherited Kelly’s notorious caddy, Stephen “Belly” Bell, as a step-father and coach. From that point, Leo became a student of the game and transitioned from moderately talented grom to score-seducing powerhouse. Leo’s success lies in strength and consistency, but will this be enough to make a career on the CT?

Historically, and even presently, yes. But with the progression of our sport comes the loss of “weak spots” in one’s game. Mick Fanning won three world titles without any help from aerial maneuvers, but this likely won’t be possible in five or ten years’ time. If Leo wants true success, he’ll have to maintain his level of consistency and rail surfing while continuing to evolve in the air. Based on his past, I see him succeeding in this endeavor and creating a decade(plus) home on the CT.

1. Ezekiel Lau

The thoroughbred of the rookie class comes in the form of a 6’2”, 200 pound Hawaiian-native named Zeke. Growing up under the roof of a football coach father, Zeke was allowed to pursue his passion of surfing but only if it was done the “right” way. That meant training hard every day in a time before training was even a thing in professional surfing, let alone in twelve year olds.

A combination of genetics and hard work led Zeke to appear more imported-LA-bouncer than surfer-extraordinaire, but let me assure you this kid can wiggle. In bigger surf, especially the sprawling walls of Sunset or J-Bay or Bells, Zeke is top-five in the world. He’s bigger and stronger than anyone on tour, and his board control is immense. In the small stuff, well, he’s no Filipe, but I’ll be damned if he don’t impress with speed and flair and full-rotation clicks.

I was hesitant of putting Zeke in the number one spot, as he could always fall victim to Dusty Payne syndrome – unbelievable talent with a knack for doing all the wrong things in competition — but I decided to go with my gut and give Zeke the benefit of the doubt. In my eyes, he’s got the best chance in this group to vie for a title.

Though, if I’m being honest, I wouldn’t bet on any of the 2017 rookies to win a Crown.

Revealed: Taj Burrow gentrifies region!

Chas Smith

by Chas Smith

Yallingup is one of the most popular places in the world!

Do you love the upward swing of economics? When, for example, young, wealthy, socially aware folk move into a depressed town, or neighborhood, and turn it all around? Like Venice Beach 20 years ago, Bondi 15 years ago, Highland Park, California yesterday.

Oh sure locals often get priced out but that’s a small price to pay for good coffee and innovative takes on gastropub fare.

Gentrification!

And a story in today’s Australian Financial Review details how surf can lift a region from struggling to STRUGGLING! Shall we taste?

A study released on Monday by wave-chasing Sydney University academic and economist Sam Wills attempts to quantify the impact a quality surf break can have on a local economy.

By studying 5000 surf locations across 146 countries between 1992 and 2013, he and his team from the university’s School of Economics concluded that a perfect peak, peeling left-hander or freight-train right-hand reef break can add up to 2.2 percentage points a year to local gross domestic product.

Economic growth around the breaks was tracked via satellite images of night-time light emission, and by following population expansion over the same period. The theory was tested along with the influence on wave access and quality of wetsuit technology and climate patterns.

“We conducted four sets of experiments and they all confirm that good waves significantly increase growth, particularly after recent discoveries and during El Niño years [when better swells and winds prevail],” said Dr Sam Wills.

The University of Sydney research, entitled “Surfing a wave of economic growth”, has also yielded a list of Australia’s and the world’s fastest-growing surf breaks over the 21 years to 2013.

Nine of the 10 top Australian breaks are in the Margaret River-Yallingup region of Western Australia. Three of them – Rabbits, Isolators and Yallingup Beachbreak – also make the world’s top 10, after breaks in Costa Rica – a notable beneficiary of surf tourism – Peru, Malaysia and Vietnam.

Wow! The Marg River-Yallingup region is smoking it and why? I think Taj Burrow. I think Yallingup’s most famous export shined a very bright light on his hometown and now it is packed. The locals should throw him a parade! Serve him good coffee! Serve him a Japanese hot dog with wasabi aioli, bonito flakes, seaweed strips, and togarashi powder and house-made spaghetti with pork cheek, Fresno chile, and garlic.

Gaza Surf Movie Raises Jew Hackles!

Derek Rielly

by Derek Rielly

Sonofabitch Jews squash surfing in brave Palestinian territory… 

Do you know what hackles are? They’re the erectile hairs on the back of a dog. Piss a dog off and the hackles dance. It’s a warning. Don’t come any closer or this bitch gonna bite.

A couple of days ago, there was a spurt of hot water over a silly little piece of propaganda that appeared on Magic Seaweed. 

The story reported on a movie called Gaza Surf Club. The film is simple enough. It follows a couple of Palestinians as they live, and surf, in that tortured little forty-one clicks of Med coast called Gaza. The joint’s been an international football since forever. The Ottoman Empire had it. Then the Brits. The Palestinians sorta got it for a decade in the fifties. The the Egyptians, the Israelis (after the Egyptians tried to annihilate ’em in 1967) and now it’s back in the paws of the Iran-backed Sunni-Islamic militant group Hamas. They got Egypt on one border, Israel on the other.

If you’re gay, a gal, someone who doesn’t believe the Jew is your mortal enemy or you enjoy riveting Western music it ain’t the place to be.

With its fifty-one clicks of shared border with Israel it also makes an excellent place to toss munitions into their hated enemy’s backyard. You’ll remember the war in 2014. Two thousand Palestinians dead, seventy Israelis, after Hamas and the various other militias started firing thousands of rockets over the border.

Anyway, old news.

From what I hear, the Seaweed story has got Israeli surfers’ hackles up. It paints a picture, they say, of a couple of boards being shared around as all the sleds get confiscated in Tel Aviv. Of impossible Jewish oppression.

Thing is, Surfing 4 Peace, which was created in 2004, just before the Israeli government forcibly evicted 9,000 Jewish settlers, has gifted the surfers of Gaza thirty-eight surfboards, a couple of dozen wetsuits, and two hundred kilos of surf turns, tees, wax, surf mags etc.

Here’s how that went down.

On July 27, 2007 The Los Angeles Times published an article by Louise Roug detailing the plight of Palestinian surfers living in the Gaza Strip and forced to share a single surfboard between them.  Within hours, Doc Paskowitz was on the phone with his son David, Arthur Rashkovan, and Surfing World Champion Kelly Slater.  They decided then and there that something must be done.

Within several weeks, the Surfing 4 Peace crew had gathered 14 used surfboards from Israeli surf companies, for donation to the small but passionate surfing community in Gaza.  With the assistance of One Voice and with international media coverage, Doc, David and Arthur handed the boards over to the grateful Palestinian surfers at the Erez Terminal between Israel and Gaza on August 21st.  Articles detailing the donation appeared in scores of newspapers, journals and magazines around the world.

So the Israelis get a little sore that they’re painted as the architects of Gaza’s misery. A pal of mine recalls taking a couple of Arab surfers around Europe and sitting there as one of ’em regaled his crowd with his hatred of the Jews.

“But I’m a Jew,” my pal protested.

“Everyone but you!” he beamed.

It ain’t simple.

As the Israeli writer, peace advocate, and founder of Peace Now, Amos Oz, posited“What would you do if your neighbor across the street sits down on the balcony, puts his little boy on his lap and starts shooting machine gun fire into your nursery? What would you do if your neighbor across the street digs a tunnel from his nursery to your nursery in order to blow up your home or in order to kidnap your family?”

BeachGrit’s Rookie Rankings Part 1!

Michael Ciaramella

by Michael Ciaramella

Who is a virgin flower, a Venus fly-trap, an ageing sunflower?

There are seven precious flowers joining the 2017 Chlorophyllus Tour. Some are virgin tulips, elated to stake a small patch in the world’s most vivacious garden. Others are Venus fly-traps, who salivate in anticipation of a hearty meal and years of upward mobility. The last is an aging sunflower, whose inclusion to the group derives from its refusal to bend under the weight of a thousand overcast skies.

Every year we contemplate which of our rookies will devour the Kellies and Micks and Ace Buchans of the world; which will crumble under the weight of psych-outs and homesickness and 1.86 billion scrutinizing eyes. And usually we get it way wrong but not this time!

I’ve put in the hours, conducted thorough research and established a fool-proof 2017 rookie analysis. If by late December I’ve been proven correct in my prophecy, I’ll be sure to ceaselessly remind you of my knowledge and foresight. If somehow my divination is shown to be misguided, I’ll scrap the whole harvest and start the process over again in 2018.

Deal? Cool. Let’s begin!

7. Ethan Ewing

Last year I fell victim to the early season smokebomb that was Stuart Kennedy. Despite multiple warnings from my Surfing Mag coworkers that his tailslide heavy, repetitious sidewinding wasn’t actually good surfing, I took the Sci-Fi induced bait. Over the course of the year I realized my mistake.

So after being initially enamored by Ethan Ewing’s mercurial rise in the QS ranks, I decided to take a step back and look objectively at the North Straddie teen. From all the videos I’ve scoured and heats I’ve replayed, it’s become apparent that he’s not quite ready for the big leagues.

Ethan’s board control is marvelous, his competitive acumen tip-top, but he still looks a bit pubescent when it comes to turning power. He’ll have a hard time matching the likes of Jordy or Julian or even Filipe when it comes to rail surfing, and then on the flipside, Ethan lacks any semblance of an air game that could save him from the perceived lack of power. Then when you consider his inexperience in large hollow conditions, I see Ethan having a rough year in 2017.

6. Connor O’Leary

Yes, Connor won the QS. The Cronulla kid also nearly qualified in 2015, proving that he’s got immense talent and consistency. But for me, something about his shtick is very… CT-lite.

Connor’s strongpoint is his backhand. He did a few turns at the 2016 Haleiwa Pro that left my jaw hanging and eyes blinking in disbelief. Considering the year starts with three right-handers, Connor could use the backhand to propel himself to a high seed for the rest of the season, thus making life much easier on the backend.

However, I believe Connor’s fixed-stance approach is detrimental to aerial surfing and his forehand. With very little front-foot movement throughout maneuvers, Connor hinders his variety and landing percentage on tricks both below and above the lip. I’ve also seen next to nothing of Connor in big left tubes, so unless he really fires in Oz, I see his year being mediocre at best.

5. Joan Duru

I feel bad putting Joan this low in the rankings. He’s a great surfer with a wonderfully adept repertoire for any type of surf. It’s just that this year’s rookie crop is so damn strong that someone has to take the fall.

Western Europe is home to any type of wave one could imagine, from two-foot beachies to corduroy points to dredging slabs to proper big-wave venues; Joan has sampled them all. Plus, hailing from Southwest France, Joan’s especially cognizant of shifting ocean conditions, making him a clever and resilient competitor. This level of adaptability will benefit him in CT competition.

Joan’s advanced age (27) also gives him more experience than the other rookies, both in terms of water time and competitive fortitude. He’s no show-stopping talent, but when Joan’s level of know-how is combined with solid turns, surprisingly proficient airs and a penchant for weighty tubes, all the odds seem in favor of Joan succeeding on the 2017 circuit. Consider him Kai Otton’s European understudy.

Part 2 tomorrow!