WSL gets slapped out of South Africa

Capetonian big wave surfers tell the World Surf League to "GO TO HELL! (or at least Mavericks or whatever)."

The waiting period for the World Surf League’s inaugural event at Snapper has been extended due to lack of surf. 11,000 kilometers away, though, a storm is brewing that threatens to knock the Surf League out for good.

The famed Dungeons, that breaks off Cape Town’s Hout Bay, has been yanked from the Big Wave World Tour by the local Cape Big Wave Trust (CBWT). The event was on this past year’s slate, even though it didn’t run, but this year’s vote was 100% unanimous to take it away. Why? Barry Futter, spokesman for the CBWT tells South Africa’s WaveScape, “There is not a reliable open and clear qualifying system meaning that surfers from the media centric areas get chosen over really good surfers from more remote areas. This would mean that in the event of an event happening here a really good and capable South African surfer may have to sit and watch a less capable, but more social media popular surfer from a different area ride waves here. Given that we only get to surf here 5-10 times a year, this is a bitter pill to swallow. Even if a South African surfer did well at Dungeons it seems unlikely that he would get into one of the major events at another location- like Jaws. We have had some magical days of big wave surfing recently and we were once again reminded that what we have got here is absolute paradise and to prostitute it for media publicity (but no sustainable financial gain) of one or two people would be an absolute sin. It is every surfers dream to be able to surf perfect waves without crowds and a good vibe in the water. We do not want the hype, crowds or politics that a competition brings specially if there is no sustainable long term reward for anyone involved.” (read full article here).

Well son of a bitch. It may seem a small thing, one stop on a the smaller Big Wave World Tour that doesn’t necessarily run every year but in standing up to the World Surf League, the South African big wave community is certainly making a statement. They were given 6 local wildcards in the first event and that number was dropped to 4 for the upcoming year. Sound like a familiar flash point? What if Hawaiians said, “Enough is enough. Go back to Santa Monica, Haoles.” ? What if Tahitians did? What if Fijians and San Clementines did too? The World Surf League operates, more or less, beneath the good graces of local populations. It owns no beach, no infrastructure, only operating licenses and with enough anger, those can disappear.

Are South African big wave surfers being unchill? Should the WSL just have allowed more local wildcards in to the event? Is Graham Stapelberg going to get slapped in Hawaii this upcoming year on the 4th anniversary of his originally getting slapped in Hawaii?

The Mad Hueys are a clothing label/jackass-esque troupe from Australia's poverty wracked Gold Coast. They dragged themselves out of poverty on their own terms in much the same way as the rapper of Chicago, Detroit, Paris or Marseilles strikes out of the ghetto with his unique rhymes and cadence. A win for the noble working class! | Photo: Courtesy The Mad Hueys

The working class are brutal, petty and intolerant!

And they should not be celebrated. But there is something much worse… 

If there is one song among the many that I do not like and could wipe from the earth, it is the song Working Class Man by the Scottish-born Australian Jimmy Barnes. (Guests from anywhere but Australia and New Zealand, click here to listen).

People tell me it’s a classic, that it’s the best pub song you’ll ever hear and even my girlfriend once drunkenly yelled it to me across an earthquake damaged street at 3am. Still, I hate it and I have no time for it, if only for the simple fact it extols The Working Class Man.

I don’t like the working class. I’m allowed to. I grew up among them and worked among them. I laid concrete, drove forklifts, processed fish, caught tuna commercially and even cleaned for a living, so I’ll stand by that statement.

The working class are jealous, petty and fiercely parochial. They can be brutal and intolerant too. As my thesis supervisor once told me, “The average British citizen is stupider, more uncouth and prone to violence than the ‘savages’ they look down upon.”

He was from Nova Scotia, so I am not sure whether to trust him on that (though he is the world’s pre-eminent scholar on Herbert Spencer and social Darwinism in 19th century political thought). My own experiences of the working class led me to adopt a similar view.

“Is their predicament because of the oppression of the masses by the rich elite?” you ask.

I am not here to answer that. And don’t you know? Marxism’s dead baby, even if he does grace my 5’7” Lost Mini Driver. Thomas Piketty? I haven’t gotten around to reading him yet.

Yet, for all my dislike of the working class they serve a purpose. Brave New World taught me at 13 that we need them for a harmonious society. If only because they can handle the grunt work better than fragile alphas. They also make excellent political pawns. Need support for a pointless war? Then rally the patriotic working class around your cause. Want to topple your political rivals in the next election or revolution? Then tell the working class that the ruling party is shafting you.

Alternatively, if you are the ruling party and want to protect your power, tell the masses that the opposition don’t care about them. Call the opposition latte-sipping liberals, which seems to work a treat in riling the working folk up. And like all human groups, there are outliers… people I’d hang out with any day. But God, they should not be celebrated.

In saying this, I don’t dislike the working class as much as I dislike the middle class. Because of life choices, I’m currently operating in their ranks and what horrors I ‘m a witness to! The middle class is a risk averse bunch who wish for everything to be wrapped in cotton wool; they are a bland vanilla in taste and the most horrible shade of beige.

The mere mention of a tale about illicit drug use, sexual adventurism or slightly illegal activity involving firearms and they turn pale. Yet, home renovation shows send them giddy with a delirious delight, as if they are about to climax in the throes of a wonderful orgasm.

Their worst trait is their tendency (despite their aversion to risk) to gravitate towards anything even slightly edgy and to ruin it in a bid to find the ‘new’ golf. Motorbikes, road cycling, and mountain biking have all fallen victims to the middle class. On weekends, you see hordes of them in leather, sitting outside of small town cafes having brunch or gaggles of them clad in lycra struggling up hills.

Nor is surfing safe.

Surfing is being sold to the middle class en masse: that lovely floaty epoxy fun shape, car ads, and those Samsung ads on the WSL webcast, they’re all geared towards the middle class.

After all, they are the ones with money to spend. And don’t they just lap it up? It seems that surfing is now the pursuit of choice in trying to convey the image of being respectable, but slightly wild. Like at any moment Respectable Joe is just going to break out, drive away in his mid-range SUV and become a beach bum. The reality is he would hate the relative poverty, his wife would threaten to leave him and due to his sensible nature he would resolve to prioritise his life better.

The middle class are coming, and they’re likely to do a better job of ruining surfing than Christianity. They will swamp the line-ups on their high-volume craft. Saturdays will become ‘Social Surf Saturday’ where the middle-class network as waves pass by, cut deals and talk about their renovations before paddling in for a seaside brunch.

The line-up will become friendlier, it’ll be about fun and networking, the old ways will be pushed out as the bitter among us turn their backs on surfing. Performance will go out the window, the debauched tales will tail off until there is nothing left other than a bland and vanilla bunch bobbing out at sea up to fuck-all.

The worst part is, that once they’ve got the bug, they will pay to watch the WSL.

Silvana Lima air, Roxy Pro, Snapper Rocks
The push and the pull, the dropping of the shoulders. Who knew one lil air reverse could overwhelm… everything! This isn't the 10 Ms Silvana Lima scored in her round four heat, by the way, it's an expression session statement. | Photo: WSL

Revolution: Silvana Lima Just Smashed Women’s Surfing!

And all it took was one little air reverse…

As far as air-revs go, this ain’t ever falling into a Kai Neville edit. In the real world of frantic little blond boys with their mama-papa-filmer entourages scratching alley-oops and air-revs by their tenth birthday, it ain’t even that exciting, at least in the grandest of schemes.

But if there’s something about women’s surfing that does it for you, as it does me, (a puzzle I’m yet to solve. Is it the accessibility of the surfing?), Silvana Lima, round four, Roxy Pro, Snapper Rocks, just messed with the narrative line that girls can’t do airs.

If you haven’t seen Silvana’s 10-point ride, click here. 

Out of context, yeah, biggish deal. Maybe you’ve landed something better.

But out there, in front of everyone, this little sub-five foot 20-year-old from Brazil (not even 50 kilos and riding tiny 17-inch wide boards) came into the clouds. It wasn’t uncomfortable. It wasn’t a fall-to-make. It was a deliberate set-up, kick, twist of the shoulders, and contrived landing on a cooperative lip.

“All the hype is on Silvana Lima and deservedly so,” the commentator Ross Williams told BeachGrit. “She has all the big rotator clips online and she backed it up by smashing Steph (in round one). There’s old school in her, too. She’s got her swagger. She’s come to compete and she’s letting everyone know.”

Silvana won last year’s qualifying series. She’s been on the A-league a few times, finishing 15th, 16th, fifth, never fulfilling her promise.

Now she’s got a ladder to the stars, the Brazil flag and an amplifier.

Watch her jump. Watch her win. Watch Silvana brazenly kidnap a world title.

A 200k dance!
A 200k dance! | Photo: laserwolf

Rip Curl’s second best decision ever!

Welcome to the team, Mason Ho!

As first reported in Stab, Rip Curl has made the second best decision in company history by signing Mason Ho to a multiple year deal. The best decision? Basing out of Torquay, Australia. Just kidding! Torquay is a total pit. The best decision is inventing Quiksilver.

In any case, Mason will be paid $200,000 dollars per year and no longer ride for …Lost clothing. How furious is …Lost co-founder Matt Mayhem Biolos? “If someone’s going to pay him, if someone’s going throw fuck-you money at Mason, well, fuck, I love you guys!”

We love Matt. Matt loves Rip Curl. Mason loves fuck-you paychecks. White Lightening Mick Fanning loves scratching his head and wondering if Dillon Perillo or Mason Ho will make a better training partner. So much love!

Exposed: Taking 40ft waves on the head is easy!

Is big wave surfing as dangerous as taking a warm shower?

This clip is years old (and also Nazare and also Garrett McNamara) but it has confounded me ever since I first saw it. Big wipeouts in giant surf, you see, are nightmarish. I picture being ragdolled underwater, unable to find my way to the surface, bile rising from stomach to throat. I picture pain and confusion and death’s cold hands wrapping around my feet pulling me down down down down. Even when I surf slightly overhead swell at my home beachbreak and a sneaker set feathers on the horizon I feel panic. I paddle for Japan with all my might. It might be a product of growing up on the Oregon coast and surfing so many unforgiving slabs and being sucked out in so many unforgiving riptides that I have PTSD. Who knows.

But this clip makes big wipeouts in giant surf seem no more threatening than putting my head underneath a bathtub’s faucet. Watch it carefully. How small does that wave look? How not bad does the ragdolling look? Is it a great secret that from head on big wipeouts in giant surf look terrifying but in reality they are no more threatening than putting my head underneath a garden hose?

I’ve had various people tell me that GoPros make things look smaller but that makes no sense so could someone explain? Peter Mel, are you there? Evan Slater can you pretty please either help me understand or paddle me out at giant Todos Santos so we can giggle in the gentle hot tub together?