Gabriel wins Teahupoo
When Kolohe paddled Gabriel up the point and out of the lineup in their quarter-final (that Gabriel won) who thought it was the work of Gabs? Yeah, all of us. And when he beat Slater? Who called it a triumph of tactic over skill? | Photo: ASP

Gabriel Medina: I can’t get no respect!

The Brazilian world champ-elect (maybe)'s PR problem…

What can I say? I drank every litre of the Billabong Pro Tahiti and I ain’t got complaints. I  adored Joey’s sing-song voice, the handsome anchoring of Ron (and Joey and Ron’s matching cuts), Occ’s kooky shout-outs, Striker’s expert earnestness, Mel in the channel, Rosie’s mainstream cute, KP’s brilliant on-off calls, the greatest heat since the last greatest heat (Slater v JJ, in Tahiti, compare it to Slater v JJ at Pipe last year. Same-ish result) and the ability of the judges to split hairs. (Hello Rich Porta!)

But how do we solve a problem like Medina?

Twenty years old. Three wins this year this year and we haven’t even hit his favs Trestles, France and Portugal. And don’t tell me he can’t slug it out at Pipe. When Kolohe paddled Gabriel up the point and out of the lineup in their quarter-final (that Gabriel won) who thought it was the work of Gabs? Yeah, all of us.

But read what the commentariat says about Gabriel (from

Fred: Medina is a pussy who didnt go on any of the big sets the entire event. Hemay have won, but everyone knows it was only becasue of his gayboy tactics going on the medium sized waves. His highlight reel is gonna be so lame and full of more gayboy claims. suck it faggot.

nicholas1992: The christ the redeemer claim in the semi on a 6ft one was the most cringe worthy thing i’ve ever seen

zbah: Congrats to medina for surfing well and surfing smart but it was a tactical victory. He did the minimum, caught smaller waves, played it safe and smart and won but he did not out surf kelly or Jjf nor did anyone get the impression that he likes charging heavy pits. One might wonder if his wipeout had something to do with letting slater catch that last wave. The judges should have given kelly the score just for that question mark alone. Medina still has an asterisk next to his name and will not be a popular champion and it isn’t because he’s brazilian.

Charlie Conway: I actually had the same thought, I bet since he finally tried to get deep on a big one and got smoked he was scared shitless.

Green Light Go: Really poor judging on Slater’s last ride. He turned on a wave ever bit as big as Gabriel’s 9.63, and Gabriel had priority and was deeper. Judges need to take into account if a surfer decides to not go on a wave (whether he pussed out or just miscalculated) and that should be an extra tenth of a point in your favor. Getting an excellent ride under priority should be rewarded.

Fadethetrade1: I can’t stand his asshole step-dad Charlie. Charlie knows Gabs is his retirement check. Its pathetic. Back the fuck off Charlie and let Gabriel do it on his own.

outer banker: Medina is the Miley Cyrus of professional surfing.

JM101: Median “played” the best game, riding non-set low risk waves, compared to almost everyone else. So good for him. Who knew watching Mick Fanning’s “How To Win The World Tour” DVD would resonate so deeply with Gabs. I apologize for the hate (not really) but the most mind-fuck barrel riding ever seen did not get the win, and those fucking claims… I can’t wait til Kolohe snaps and punches that asshole in the face.

JM101: In his one wipe-out of the whole contest, which was due to taking off on the only truly heavy AND deep wave he attempted the whole time, he came up looking for his Dad, with that pouty look he likes to throw around. The other guys claimed with some fist pumps and hand raises after finishing waves that could have KILLED them. Medina flying off the shoulder ten feet in the air after a bumpless 6 footer is lame and annoying. And that’s a microcosm for the whole contest: even at Chopes if you play your cards right you can win without the best waves or having the most surfing skill in those waves. Medina’s very clever and shreds, but its a joke that his waves were considered on the same level as JJF’s, because they weren’t. Disagree with that and you either a) don’t surf, b) are from Brazil, or c) didn’t actually watch the contest.

Comptony: Only a brazzo could do a poo stance while throwing both arms in the air

Gabriel’s crimes (in descending order) are: he’s Brazilian, his style can get a little off-axis (that bubble ass!), big waves ain’t his thing, he travels with his step-dad who ain’t the most charismatic soul on tour and he’s, like, a Brazilian.

Last month, I was swinging around the judging tower at the US Open (read Confession: I was a judge at the US Open here) and met Ricardo Francesconi, the Brazilian video operator for ASP events. Those replays that get cued up so fast? Yeah, it’s Ricardo. And he’s a sharp, cool cat. I like his opinion and so I asked him about the Gabriel PR problem. Here’s his reply (it came via Facebook).

“It’s a racist type of love and hate. We are on the beach at Snapper, the first event of the year. Taj is surfing against Gab at his home turf. Taj stands up and gets booed so loud that you can hear it on the webcast. Brazilian fans are feral and they will do what it take for a win. So I get it where it all comes from.

“Brazil is the country of football, the sport where home advantage is gigantic and the fans want to create that atmosphere. It’s not that I agree with the fans’ action but I was raised in Brazil and moved to California 10 years ago so I have the privilege of witnessing both sides and can tell you it’s so arduous being a surfer in a sport dominated by Australians and Americans. Brazil has been recognised for their soccer, by having beautiful women, on their free spirit, warm-hearted, happy and friendly attitude…

“But never for surfing.

“We are so criticised, it’s baffling. People have no mercy on a Brazilian surfer. If you pay attention to media comments, every time there is a new segment featuring a Brazilian, and doesn’t matter if he’s top-ranked, a charger or a simple freesurfer, the comments are excruciating. They are full of hate and racism. I ask why? Why does everyone talk shit if a Brazilian claims a wave?

“American sports have the biggest claims ever. How ridiculous is that every time a NBA player makes a free throw he high-fives the whole team. Football giants have the weirdest dances every time they pull someone’s shirt (which happens 100 times at a game). And baseball, the biggest claim in all sports.

“But a Brazilian claims and the surfing world hates it. But now every one is doing it so it’s kind of cool. Right?

“I get the Australians. They ruled this sport for a long time. They outnumber every country on tour by miles. They have the current world champ but for some reason Australians hate Brazilian surfers. They feel threatened? I get it. There are only four Aussies in the top 10 right now and that’s not normal.

“Gabe is leading the rating and yet there is still so many people that doubt his surfing. Will it be a good or bad thing if he wins the world title? I don’t know.”

Let me step in here. Two things will happen when Gabriel wins: Kelly will quit but make cameos at Fiji, Tahiti, maybe J-bay and Pipe (but never Snapper or Bells), Kolohe/Nat/John will step into Kelly’s void (yeah, it takes three) and… gradually…like Slater did, Gabriel will swipe away the criticisms one by one.

He’ll add bravado to his game (remember, Kelly was from Florida and big waves didn’t come easy), the style will loosen and we’ll start to get subtitles on our webcasts. Making a kid, who’s a jock, speak in a second language?

Tell me that ain’t cruel…

Paul Evans and Chas Smith at Swatch Gal's contest in France.
Swatch is the new rebellious face of surfing? "That is a rotten shame," says Chas Smith (right). Funny man in bleak striped shirt of his own choosing (Holocaust homage?) is the editor of Surf Europe Paul Evans.

Tahiti was horribly, embarrassingly wrong

Is a Swiss manufacturer of budget plastic watches the new face of surfing rebellion?

And the greatest contest in professional surfing’s history just came to an end and while the athleticism was jaw-dropping everything else was horribly, embarrassingly wrong. Juxtaposed with the perfect setting, on the perfect day, the ASP’s NFL-lite product has never looked worse. And it is time to demand better.

I would not have felt qualified to demand except guess what I was doing while Teahupo’o was rolling? I was in Hossegor, France, calling the Swatch Girls’ Pro WQS 6 star event and Pro Juniors alongside Surf Europe editor Paul Evans. The surf never got over two feet but guess who had the best time ever?

We did! We cussed on air, I cussed at the judges on air, we got drunk on air and poked fun of everything while genuinely being impressed with a ridiculously high level of surfing in the shittest waves imaginable. And I hit a pregnant lady on the head with a golf ball. It was brilliant or Paul Evans was brilliant. I was a passable naughty sidekick and I would never have thought so but the girls have heats on demand too so I could go and watch it all and there are moments nothing shy of hilarity.

Or to quote Bethany Hamilton’s Twitter feed, “Sooo glad I didn’t go to France. Grovel and grind girls! But the announcers are amazing!”

Swatch, you see, wanted us to have fun. They laughed when we messed around. They egged us on. Guess who got upset? The ASP. We were routinely lectured about getting drunk on the event sponsor’s beer whilst in the booth.

Now, watching Teahupo’o, it is so clear that the panelists and announcers are under brain-melting, top down pressure. They sit behind the strangest desk in semi-coordinated Hawaiian shirts being stiff and weird. So stiff, in fact, that Strider Wasilewski can no longer even move his neck. All of them look uncomfortable and the product is simply embarrassing. No one says anything funny, interesting, controversial. I don’t blame Joe Turpel or Ross Williams (rumour has it that the announcers haven’t been paid in months). I blame the ASP. In trying to create a “professional” look/feel, the organisation forgot the things that make surfing truly great. It is fun! And totally ridiculous! And not serious! Yes, a Swiss watch company is far, far more rebellious than the ASP and that is a rotten shame.

All, though, can be remedied. Swatch swings in to Southern California as title sponsor of the girls’ CT event at Trestles. If the ASP feels like getting fun again, I will gladly hop into the booth. I guarantee Graham Stapelberg will smile from ear to ear.

Taste Chas (and Paul’s) confiture here! 

5 things you need to stop doing (right now!)

Those sandals, the surf wear, the surf talk, ego inflation and the piety? Can 'em!


1. Stop wearing Sandals 

This is mostly directed towards mainland surfers and those bourgeois folks with shaved heads and ASP trucker hats who only surf on perfect swells during the weekends while struggling to stand up their brand new HyptoKrypto. Stop wearing sandals everywhere! There is nothing cool about sandals. Whenever I see someone wearing sandals I automatically assume that they listen to Sublime or Mumford and Sons. Notice how the drunkest people at the bar, sweating and spitting on everyone they talk to are always wearing sandals? You do not want to be that guy. I do not want you to be that guy.

2. Stop Preaching

Diet. Training. Yoga. Herbal Teas. Juice cleanses. Stretching. These are all things that nobody gives a damn about. There’s a reason why the phrase isn’t “Yoga, Tea, and Rock n’ Roll.” Imagine a …Lost video without the booze and drugs? Fuck, what a boring world that would be. Doing yoga on a cliff while drinking some mushroom tea that you foraged from your dog’s pile of shit does nothing for me and it does nothing for humanity so stop acting like you’re saving the world one.

3. Don’t Wear Surf Attire

Nothing says “I’m a jackass” more than dressing in boxy tees created by some corporation underpaying a poor child in a South-East Asian factory. Don’t be a shill for the corporation. If the boardshorts you’re wearing have more than two different colours violently clashing with crazy patterns then you MUST burn them the next time you cook a beer can chicken.

4. Stop talking about waves  

Don’t discuss your surf break back home. If you’re abroad, or you’re out at the bar, stop talking about the waves you grew up surfing.They’re all the same. When swell is present, any wave can be great. Maybe you can go read a book and learn about something new to discuss. Or get really drunk and do something stupid that you can talk about to people in a self-deprecating manner. Everyone loves self-deprecation. Anytime you feel like discussing the wave you surf, replace that thought with masturbation, and ask yourself if that person really cares about how you masturbate. Why? Because talking about the wave you surf is just like masturbating, the only person being pleased is yourself.

5. That CI you just tore to pieces

How about those conversations when an average Joe points out the myriad flaws in a Merrick or a …Lost or a JS. Doesn’t turn properly. Spins out. Looses speed through sections in fat waves. And then you see the pilot of this craft has the stance of a threatened bug and a tail-pad that’s never been dirtied by his back foot. Don’t…be…this…guy.

Neco Padaratz banned for using steroids.
One of the pioneers of the Brazilian wave, Neco Padaratz, banned in 2005 by the ASP for using roids. But, drug testing? Does it matter? Neco ain't winning world titles despite drinking the juice. | Photo: ASP/Kirstin Scholtz

TODAY’S SHMEAR: PED’s In Surfing. Mavs on Meth!

You like performance enchancing drugs? So what! A breezy Sunday read!

So a pitcher pitches perfectly on acid. The “Hand of God” graces Brazilian sinuses packed with coke. Men mount Mavericks manically on meth.

So the fuck what?

Facts are schmacks when it comes to surfing so let me tell you cretins what recreational drugs really enhance

My backyard holds hectares of pot plants in the big north-western woods and I’d get off with a fine of a few grand and a “cease and de-grow your plants” or a “spare a spliff” speech if ever a peace officer stepped foot ‘ponst me land. So I know a thing or three about these performance enhancing drugs. Call me an expert… if you must. Or a fuckwit… if you will.

However, one night I couldn’t sleep for Ambien’s sake and had to smoke a face-mask full of the purps. King Kelly ain’t kidding with his new drink name, my brothers. But I digress. So I’m walking all deep into the woods that night and see some crazy shit flying about in the haze. Since I watch the stars with x-ray lenses in my bong mask, I begin to pass out, but still feel my feet moving. The world spun before me in a joyful delirium.

I woke to a gentle prodding; the kind of probing you only get from a Cannon Beach lass, particularly the upscale summer students paying their way through school in Eugene.

The prodding produce an astounding epiphany.

“Fuck Rott, you have to stop smoking such strong herb.”

To my amusement I did awake on the balcony of the Stephanie Inn. Two girls licking my bottom, two swallowing my balls and two sucking both wieners (I’ll return to the plural in a moment). Alas, I’m having a great time and the ladies are dirty. Lesbians to my left, piss hungry Liberal Arts students to the right, with a gravity-fed hose from a Vieux Pontarlier station filling our drunken bloodlust like a Crusader dissecting a Muslim child.

A few dozen Vicodin?

Sure, why not. I’d like to use a Chick-fil-A one day but they don’t put them this far north ‘cuz of the gays. So while THESE chicks were perfect whilst sookling my Schweinsteiger and licking my butthole, I woke up like Neo from a very wet dream. And fuck me standing, they weren’t even chicks all up in my junk! They were aliens! And don’t let no redneck logger with swastika tattoos driving from Newport to Corvallis tell ya it doesn’t happen. I knew I didn’t have two wee wees and it was near impossible for two ladies to get their tongues ‘twixt my taught toot mufflers. Consequently, I told these aliens not to stop.

Lo and behold, before I could finish, Joey Turpel busted down the door and took the aliens to gawd knows where. Probably Trestles. So here I am waking up from TWO dreams about aliens and naked Duck students with a forceps in my urethra.

Yup, I said a forceps.

I pull the forceps out (praise Läird for the Vike’s), and walked barefoot back to the plantation. Mrs. Rottmouth asked me where I’d been so I told her I saw an image of Occy eating a live grizzly bear on television before leaving unconsciously from a mysterious room down at Cannon.

“Again!?” She hollers.

Anyway, the point I am merely making is re-creational drugs do not enhance your surfing, my surfing and certainly not someone who actually knows how to surf’s surfing.

Anyone remember Neco Padaratz, the one Brazilian swatted by the ASP for the use of drugs in 2005? He ain’t winning world titles.

Perhaps by the time pro surfing becomes as ubiquitous as the NFL and female college softball, or when Matt Warshaw retires from his transmedia successes and Rihanna has officially replaced Oprah… mayhaps then we can discuss the effects and affects of drugs that re-create the water world we abide.

Nevertheless, by that time, NYC and the Maldives will be six feet under water, Derek Rielly will be shilling interior decorations for FEMA eco-refugee camps and Chas Smith, living off points from his smash blockbuster Welcome To Paradise, Now Go To Hell,” will marry a blonde who is presently starting fifth grade in Barstow.

So fuck PED’s. Fuck their involvement with pro surfing. And fuck everything you love.

“Hands Up, Don’t Shoot.”


Nathan Hedge and Andy Irons Fiji Pro 2006
This photograph of Nathan Hedge (left) and AI was taken during post-contest celebrations at the 2006 Globe Pro in Fiji. At some point, in between becoming terribly ill in the swimming pool of the Namotu resort and wrestling writer Chris Cote in an exhibition match, I made Andy promise he'd beat (and continually) beat Kelly Slater in return for all the bad things Kelly had thought and said about me. | Photo: Derek Rielly

Andy Irons Died Five Years Ago Today

Get a man down to his rawest form and he'll do anything to survive, said AI.

“I was handed the keys to the kingdom, multi-million dollar deals, endorsements. Everyone wanted a piece of my shit. Just a man with a mind for victory and an arm like a fucking cannon. But sometimes when you bring the thunder, you get lost in the storm.” Kenny Powers, Eastbound and Down.

Andy Irons brought the thunder. In 2003, he was a total outside shot for the world title coming into Hawaii, his second in a row. In the front seat was 31-year-old Kelly Slater at his peak, the best, and most successful, surfer in history. The dominos fell his way and Andy made Kelly Slater, who’d never tried and lost, cry in the process.

Andy won again the next year.

In 2005, he fell just 48 points short of his fourth consecutive world title, despite winning the Pipe Masters. In 2006, he was again runner-up to Kelly Slater.

Three titles in a row, followed by two runner-ups. Now, you tell me if Andy Irons isn’t the most awesome surfer to come out of Hawaii.

In November 2009, one year before his death in Texas, I made a four-day sortie to the North Shore with my friend Sam. We shacked up with Andy and his wife Lyndie at the Billabong-owned Off The Wall house. Stacks of the most perfectly foiled Merricks and Arakawas filled the kitchen.

Andy and Lyndie ran in the midday heat, pounded sit-ups in the front yard, ate from a well-stacked fridge, and watched episodes of Eastbound and Down at night.

This interview took place in the downstairs room of the OTW crib, our  brief home. Andy wore a black long-sleeved Billabong t-shirt, low-rise black Kustom shoes teamed with white socks, and black shorts with the 33-inch waistband folded over so they didn’t slip off his suddenly narrow hips.

His skin had lost its albino pink and was a soft gold. His hair was long enough to sweep off his forehead and was smooth and an even yellow, like Barbie hair that’s been brushed to flaxen perfection.

Andy Iron might’ve got lost in a storm in 2008, but he was so back.

BEACHGRIT: Talk to me about you and Kelly coming in to Hawaii for the title in 2003.

ANDY: I went to Brazil, I was leading the ratings and Kelly needed to make semis or betters. I lost in the quarters to Taylor, literally lost my heat because I wanted to go home, because I was so homesick, and it was the worst mistake of my life. Kelly ended up winning, Taj got second, and Kelly took the lead by, like, 300 points. Back then, we had two events in Hawaii, Sunset and Pipe. I told Kelly I was coming for him. Jake and I  went all the way to the final together at Sunset. I remember when Kelly lost I told him, I’m fucking coming for ya! You left the door open! Jake looked over and went, You’re crazy! And, I was, like. I’m not, but I’m coming for ya, Kelly! I was smoking! I was pumping!

BEACHGRIT: How was your mind in 2003 when it looked like KS was going to stomp you?

ANDY: I was over it. I was ready to quit. And the funniest thing is, Mick is the one who told me to stick with it. I was staying with Mick at the Red Bull house and I told Mick, second’s a good result, runner-up to Kelly. I’ve won one world title, I never thought I’d win one, I’m done, I don’t care. I just want to party, have fun and live my life. And Mick’s like, What are you talking about? There’s still Sunset and Pipe. And, it was a long shot. It literally worked out like a storybook. Word for word, how I’d dream for it work out, in my favour. Obviously, Kelly’s book might’ve ended a little different.

BEACHGRIT: Talk about the mental fritz of a sudden-death showdown.

ANDY: Kai (Garcia, Andy’s trainer and minder) wouldn’t let me surf Pipeline until the Pipe Masters in 2002, the first title I won. He didn’t want me to hurt myself. It got to the point where he literally kept me in the house so I wouldn’t hurt myself, falling down the stairs, or going to the movies and tripping down something. I got kept in a bubble.

BEACHGRIT: Do you need to hate your enemy? When you beat Kelly, you could’ve killed him.

ANDY: HA HA HA! I didn’t hate him! I mean, shit, I wanted to punch him in the face a couple of times, but yeah, whatever! It was a pride thing! I fucking wanted to win a world title myself just like everyone wants a world title, and I thought that he was being greedy. (Thinks about it for a while) Y’know, I think there is an essence of hate. Deep down, man is fucking weird, man has holy wars, man blows people up. Deep down, human emotion, raw emotion, is weird. Get a human down to his rawest form and he’ll do whatever it takes to survive. And, competition’s the essence of being a human. I mean, shit, you mightn’t want to kill that guy to make your life go on, but if you have to, you’ll do it.

BEACHGRIT: (Warning, dreadful sycophancy to follow) You clearly had to draw on the rawest emotions to beat Kelly at his peak. No one else has done it. You beat someone who was unbeatable for the previous 12 years. Only one person has done it!

ANDY: Who else did it?

BEACHGRIT: No one, you’re it!

ANDY: Just me, huh.

(Claps all round, maybe even a few tears from the interviewer.)

BEACHGRIT: You made Kelly cry, that’s how vicious and competitive you were.

ANDY: I make my brother cry so that’s a compliment. I only hurt the ones I love.

BEACHGRIT: You know what I wish? I wish I could just hang you all the time and just, like, do whatever you do and just, like, learn from your and aid you…

ANDY: Aid me?

BEACHGRIT: Yeah! You know, like a good friend that will be there for you… always.

ANDY: Like an assistant?

BEACHGRIT: Yeah…no…yeah or, like, like a (softly) best friend.

ANDY: Fuck, dude! An assistant! I mean, this could be just the fucking key. I’m trying to get back into the big leagues, man. It’s a huge task! I could use somebody like you. To do all my bullshit, my fucken running around.

BEACHGRIT: How about next year? Is Kenny Powers back?

ANDY: Fuck yeah! I’m going back to the tour! Money’s tight these days, I got mortgages to pay, I got a wife and some kids on the way…

BEACHGRIT: You got kids in the frier?

ANDY: Not yet, but we’ll see. Practising a lot.

BEACHGRIT: I heard your new crib is pretty sweeet.

ANDY: Mine? I got a mean house, but I can’t live it. I gotta pay it off.

BEACHGRIT: Vacation rentals are v good for beachfront houses. Eight gees a week sometimes.

ANDY: Yeah, yeah, yeah, but fuck that old saying, buy property! They tell you, buy it, it’s not going anywhere! Fuck that. Nothing beats cold hard cash in the bank. the best thing you can do. I just got back from town today, deposition, with a lawyer…

BEACHGRIT: Is it to do with the thief who ripped you and Bruce off and who then died in a ravine in Florida or somewhere?

ANDY: Oh, he died alright. Good for him. He got what he deserved. I didn’t have nothing to do with it, either. By the way, on the record, I did… not… send… anyone…

(Interviewer shrieks like a girl seeing her first lover undressing)

BEACHGRIT: Tell me how you felt in 2003 when you won the title…

ANDY: I wanted to savour it. I didn’t black out! HA HA HA! You can be amazed. I… did… not… black… out. I got a hotel room at the Turtle Bay with Lyndie. I went to my suite and savoured every single second. I savoured it to the next morning and to the next week.

BEACHGRIT: If two thousand and three was a glorious win, tell me about a bad loss.

ANDY: I lost a world title in Brazil. The three years I won were the awesomest. But, the next two years, my demise, were the hardest. Fuck yeah! When I lost in Brazil to Hedgey. If I’d made that heat against Hedgey I would’ve won the world title, I would’ve won four in a row. Yep. 05. I lost by 48 points. Billabong still gave me a bonus. Not a world title bonus, but they gave me 30 per cent of the world title bonus.

BEACHGRIT: The difference was 48 points, the second closest world title in history (the closest was 38 points, when Kelly beat Mick Campbell in 1998).

ANDY: I was one heat away! I was in the fucken quarter-finals. I had Hedgey! Fuck, Hedgey in Brazil, I got him, it’s on! I came out of the gates with an eight – they were scoring me high. I was, like, oh yeah, I’m on, I’ve got this. And then, he came back and got a nine-five. And, I got a seven and he got an eight. If I’d won that one heat and then won Pipe, which I did, I would’ve won four titles in a row. No one knows that I would’ve won the world title if I’d made that heat.

BEACHGRIT: How do you deal with it and not just melt into the carpet?

ANDY: You just deal with it, fuck! What if I didn’t win any world titles? What if? What if? What if the world ended yesterday, we would not be here! What if? I mean, fuck, I could drown all day in what-ifs. I’m not going to worry about tomorrow, because you don’t even know what’s going to happen right now.