Three vodka and ginger beers in, I just solved professional surfing’s problem. Ok. Watch Bells, like right now. It looks kind of fun, right? But watch how many kind of fun waves go unridden. Tons! When the surf is ok, professional surfers become pickier than attractive women. They wait for juuuuuuust the right wave to pow all over. But what about all those pretty good looking waves? They go unridden. All of them.
What if the WSL allowed surfers in the water during these sorts of days to ride the pretty good looking waves? It would be amazing. Those sitting at home on webcast could watch and either laugh at the shit show or maybe ooooh and ahhh at the undiscovered talent. A WSL surfer knows the wave he wants miles out to sea. He waves everyone off and takes. And if anyone gets in his way? Pointed to the beach and jiu jitsu in the sand. It will be like MMA and surfing combined. Ratings through the roof! No more made up numbers that embarrass!
Even more frightening, is professional surfing becoming Scientology?
A new and disturbing article appeared yesterday in the FreeRide Voice. You can and should read it here, but seeing that you are a BeachGrit man, I will sum up. Dirk Ziff, the Floridian who effectively owns the World Surf League, also owns a shale oil concession in Queensland that will do massive damage to the Great Barrier Reef.
Shale oil extraction, as you already know because you are a BeachGrit Man, has a four times bigger carbon footprint than traditional drilling. Dioxins, silt, etc. all flow from the extraction site, down rivers and settle on the reef, killing corals and sea life.
It is a very big bummer and the FreeRide Voice points out the absurdity of owning a business that does such great damage to the ocean and one that requires the relative health of the ocean. Most surfers, be they far left or far right, understand the delicate nature of the sea and our connection to it. Apparently Mr. Ziff does not?
With such troublesome news circling, it would seem that either Ziff or WSL CEO Paul Speaker would address the media, dismissing the story as absurd or explaining how shale oil will free western democracies from the tyranny of the Middle East or that extra measures are being taken to insure the health of the reef because surfers love reefs or something. But there is only ever silence from the WSL.
You know who else there is only silence from? Scientology’s leader David Miscavige. Is professional surfing the new Scientology? Is Graham Stapelberg busily penning a follow up to Dianetics? Should all surfers be on the Bridge to Total Freedom?
Most of them debated whether it was an April Fool’s joke, or if in fact the 11x World Champ was retiring (last year he announced his departure from Quiksilver on April Fool’s eve).
The post turned out to be, of course, a joke, the record corrected, first, by BeachGrit. (Click here!)
Slater will continue to win or not win contests, will continue to age effortlessly and beautifully.
Because here’s the thing: Kelly Slater doesn’t seem to give a fuck anymore. His behavior over the last year, since parting ways with Quik, has been something like an elite athlete’s version of Tom Hanks’s life in Big. Let me lay it all out for you:
In the 12 months since Slates announced the split, he founded Purps, a canned energy drink that purports to provide unparalleled natural liquid nutrition and energy, and which you couldn’t keep out of his hands during the middle-half of last year’s tour, each of his on-camera appearances marked by that white can with eep-purple graphics.
He founded his own company, Outerknown. Backing him? The Keiring Group an international clothing firm alongside upscale brands like Alexander McQueen, Gucci, Saint Laurent and, more closely related, Volcom. Then he spent the year wearing Veeco boardies and Electric sunglasses which was, in our little corner of the world, newsworthy.
Then in a year marked with barely-post-pubescent competitive domination by a crop of youngster half Slates’ age, the Old Man threw down one of the more absurd moves of 2014, a massive helicopter-like 540 air in windy, messy Portuguese beachbreak and basically broke the internet.
This year, after a disappointing finish to the 2014 season, Slates began ’15 out with a bizarre mid-heat board change (switching to a Daniel Thomson-designed Firewire hydrodynamic planing hull with just a few minutes left in a heat) and proceeded to get swatted by a rookie Brazilian.
Even in the last week he’s purchased the movie rights to a book that chronicles surfing’s lurid affair with drug smuggling, released a line of teenage home furnishings with Pottery Barn/William Sonoma’s kid sibling company, PBTeen (which you just have to go fucking see, as some of the champ’s collabo pieces are wretchedly great); and then, as mentioned above, punked his loyal followers with an April Fool’s retirement.
Which is to say, good for you, Kelly, you beautiful motherfucker.
If this is the twilight of your career, as so many seem so certain is the case, then fuck it. You do you, brother. Have the fun you so deserve. We’ll be watching until the last curtain closes. And probably long after that, disbelieving til the end.
OuterKnown is finally real because it is finally in the New York Times. Kelly Talks about his influences, brilliantly weaving Pete Townend into a conversation of surf substance and style. I love Pete Townend and Kelly’s including that brilliant little man is perfect. He also predicts his own death, claiming that he will drown when towed into an 80 foot wave. Why not 100 feet? Because Kelly is an enigma. He never does what you think he will do. The piece is well written, beautifully photographed by Morgan Maassen and totally worth a read (here).
Or, if you are overly tired, wait until tomorrow and read it on Stab.
"What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly..." says Thomas Paine. I respond, "$25? For this?"
I never meant to go to the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach. Its chunky, cold thing right on the heels of the glorious Gold Coast never got me. The tour is fresh at Snapper. Anything is possible. By Bells we know anything is not possible. That the same names, give or take a few, make it to the quarters, semis and finals year in and year out. It is both way to early to care and just too late to care. The perfect blah.
One year I was cooling my heels in Bondi, having just returned from Coolangatta and happy that I did not have to go to Victoria. Then a little exchange that I had had with Mick Fanning on the North Shore, a few months earlier, erupted onto the front pages of Australia’s papers. “Damn all…” I thought “…now I have to go to Blahs because if I don’t, everyone will think I’m chicken.”
So I went.
My first night I loitered in and around the pub, or whatever it was, where Rip Curl was holding a party. “I can’t believe you are here…” surf industry acquaintences would gasp, and I felt warm inside while responding, “What do you mean? I didn’t do anything.”
Nobody punched me.
The next day, the event was called on and I wandered to the event site. There was some semi-truck trailer operating as a …I couldn’t tell what until I got close. A ticket window. I looked at the board and saw it would cost me $25 dollars to go to the beach and watch professional surfing.
I had never been so incensed in my life.
Usually I would have found some media pass or industry hook-up or something, but I think my media privileges had been revoked at Rip Curl. So I just stood there staring at the ticket board. I literally could not believe they had the audacity to charge money to go to the beach and watch professional surfing. Charge money! To go to the beach! And watch professional surfing! And on Easter of all weeks. I threw a cup at a poster of Mick Fanning and stormed out of the area. I didn’t care if people thought I was a chicken or not. I refused, on principle, to pay money to go the beach and watch professional surfing. I am not a cheap man. I glorify in spending money as quickly as I can on pointless extravagances. Going to the beach and watching professional surfing is not one of those pointless extravagances.
I sometimes think back on that day. Was I in the knee-jerk wrong? Should all surf events charge an entrance fee? Would professional surfing be in a better place if it cost money to see? And then I think “No.”
Also, the aboriginal face painting tradition seems off.