The Tahiti contest? Yeah, rad! But, listen, three things ain't quite right…

Teahupo’o gave me an attack of dizziness. Heading into the final days of the waiting period I thought Kieren Perrow was boned. He’d passed off too many good days early on, only to have conditions shut him down time and again. Bad move, leaving it until the last two days, hoping for an epic swell. Except not.

Unfortunately, not all the decisions were good ones. Since I enjoy second guessing ZoSea/ASP policy as much as the next man, here’s a list of stuff I still want to bitch about.

The commercials: It’s time for ZoSea to hire some new ad sales dorks. Watching the same few commercials play on repeat over the course of an entire contest is obnoxious as hell. It also does a good job demonstrating how little commercial interest there is in the sport.

On the bright side, whichever company was advertising their girls line did a good job of moving a half step away from the sexism rampant in the industry.  There were four waves ridden, compared to only two ass shots over the course of the ad. I’ll chalk that up as a step towards egalitarianism.

The commentators: I don’t know what’s going on here. Strider, Pottz, Williams and Occy do a pretty good job with the color, but Blakey, Turpel and the other guy seem like they’ve never taken a public speaking course in their lives. Real sports announcers draw from a wealth of knowledge to generate conversations during slow moments. Using inane banter to fill dead air is agonising. Spend your ample time between events filling manila folders with salient facts, pull them out during lulls.  Talk about local culture, sponsor changes, equipment choices, the evolution of progression at the relevant spot, anything. Just don’t spend hours repeating that JJ surfs barrels good because he grew up at Pipe. We know that.

And, for Christ’s sake, please discuss scores. It’s hard to make an argument that results are legitimate when they’re handed down by anonymous dudes based on secret reasoning and never questioned by the guys in the booth. Can you imagine a football game where the refs are all watching from off stage and the commentators aren’t allowed to talk about bad calls? Of course not, that’d be retarded.

The scoring: Starting a heat between the two best barrel riders on Earth by giving one of them a 10? Who’s dumb-ass idea was that? Rather than seeing them trade off and battle for the win we instead got to witness JJ struggle to dig himself out of a hole. Giving a 10 means that it’s impossible for someone to get a better wave in the heat, how the fuck can that be an option ten seconds in? Moves like this, combined with the head judge nonsense, reek of collusion. However, I will admit that I enjoy screaming obscenities at a computer screen, so if that’s what you were going for, well, bravo!


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.”