Filipe Toledo is coming to castrate you!

He has the sharpest beak!

Earlier today, the just-turned 20-year-old Filipe Toledo won the Oakley Pro at Lower Trestles. He beat Jeremy Flores and no one was surprised, least of all Jeremy Flores.

“Under three feet and no one in the world can beat him,” Jeremy had told me the previous week.

At the time, I’d asked Jeremy, in a strictly hypothetical sense, that if he were to ever confront Filipe in a final – although what are the chances! – what would his strategy be? How would he stop himself from being castrated by Filipe’s sharp beak?

Jeremy was lost. “Pheeeeeew… I’d probably try… uh… maybe… um… work on my power. Yeah, I’d over surf with big carves and stuff like that. He’d be doing big airs and I don’t think anyone does airs like him in the small stuff. If I had a heat with him three-foot waves, I’d pray for him to fall. And, if he did, I’d try and push every turn as hard as I can.”

Let’s examine a typical Toledo ride from the Oakley Pro final, in the eight-point range. As his tail lifts and he climbs to his feet, Filipe begins to shake and quiver. Tears stream from his eyes. God is with him and no one else, at least not now!

His legs come to life and his arms thrash at the air like the wings of a wounded bird gasping its last. His father looks out to sea, facing the west, towards his son’s special fury. Floaters extend beyond the normal boundaries, a tail drops… again… twice the manoeuvre is repeated… one atrocity after another. Darting. Dashing.

Jeremy watches and weeps.

Most incredible, still, the wave, two feet at best, would be a six under anyone else’s feet. Faith will move mountains!

All who understood gazed at the final in terror. Can you imagine what Kelly Slater, for instance, must be thinking? It’s impossible for him, and anyone else for that matter (John John doesn’t have that kinda gas in small waves) to beat Filipe. What if Kelly isn’t in the game for world titles anymore? What if the usual dish of small waves on the WSL just serves the Greatest Ever one embarrassment after the next? What future is there left to ponder?

Who would’ve thought that a wholesome 20-year-old from Brazil, and not Gabriel, would come upon surfing like some great natural disaster? On surfboards that weren’t from Biolos or Merrick, Handley or JS?

But now let’s imagine a rude awakening, a plunge into reality, with everyone caught in the soup.

Fiji. Tahiti. Jeffrey’s Bay. They fire. And Filipe smashes it to pieces.

Our little friend will twist the entire tour around his finger! What then?

But things haven’t gone quite that far yet. Soon, but soon…

Which is Surfer and which The Inertia?

Opinion: The WSL could sure use some cheerleaders

The WSL would be vastly improved with the addition of professional dancing girls (and maybe boys!) … 

I was attending college in Encinitas, California, when I heard my destiny calling.

An Israeli national on my college surf team invited myself  and an Australian exchange student named Sam to accompany him to his home state of Florida for Passover.

Sam and I exchanged worried looks. The weekend coincided with Coachella and the idea of spending our spring-break eating challah bread sounded stale. Just as the Israeli national, a Jew named Yehuda, could hear our clumsy excuses, he informed us that this weekend was the National Cheerleading and Dance championships held at his local beach.

Seven thousand and five hundred college cheerleaders, the best of the deep south and Bible Belt.  Each spring they came to the dirty shores of Daytona beach for their annual “stunt fest”. Our desires turned from the desert in the west to the swamps in the east.

Sam and I finished our drinks in an audible gulp, tipped the bartender for her good service, and said “Fuck Yeah” as we  strolled into the cool desert night. We booked our tickets an hour later. It ran us $400 round-trip: San Diego to Phoenix and then on to Orlando. From there, it would be an hour or so drive to the shores of Daytona where Yehuda’s mother had arranged a condo in our honor.

It was a strike mission, get in, screw with an epic grandeur and get out. Yes, we were traveling with surfboards, but our hearts desired something more glamorous then the Floridian surf.

If you are to follow me next year to this weekend of indulgence, remember this: bring a soft board with you. Yehuda had it all figured out. I mean, he is the “Duke of Daytona” after all.

Surf lessons. 

Surf lessons for all willing women who don’t mind getting their  primed hair salty. Make a sign like we did:

Three Mates Surf Dates. $5 dollars for 10 waves.

Charge them minimally. To offer surf lessons for free would be sleazy and sleazy was too common in Daytona. We achieved legitimacy through the beauty of capitalism.

Most of these girls had never seen surfing before. The springtime banks of Daytona coupled with your soft board will make you a God in the eyes of these Southern Belles. Now, back to my story.

We were making a killing. It was impossible to meet demand. Clean twenties and fifties filled our backpack. Numbers filled our phone books, hints at nightly whereabouts were confirmed, and hotel addresses took precedence in our memory over our own. There was a ubiquitous answer among the smog of women. Rummels was where the cheerleaders were going or “stunt sluts” if you will and the delectable dance team girls were headed to 509’s right next door. With the ratio bordering 75:1, we knew we were in the running.

Attention deficit disorders fire when surrounded by this many women. Communication skills go haywire. Attempting to stay focused on one girl is like trying to maintain conversation with a passing car on the freeway. They were everywhere, coming in all shapes and sizes. Our standards rose to all-time highs.

After hours of pushing girls into knee-high waves, it was time to try another tactic. I shed my surf trunks for a more formal button up and black denim jeans. I had come here to Dayton for one other reason. I was on assignment for BeachGrit (You were? – The Bitchy Crab) in to which I was to pose the question, Does The WSL need cheerleaders?

I went to see the Georgia University Bulldogs. I asked a team mom if I could have access to her girls for an “interview.” She obliged with an ominous smile, asking me if I was with ESPN. I told her that I was a literary surf journalist.

The three girls I spoke too thought it would be an interesting change of pace moving from football fields to the beaches. That the exotic locations sounded more enticing then cities like Chicago and Cleveland. They were confused as to the whole prospect, however. Cheering for one surfer rather then a team didn’t make much sense to them.

So I broke down my reasoning. The Quiksilver Pro (Snapper Rocks) had just concluded in lacklustre conditions. Long lulls of no action plagued the viewing experience, dreary commentary put many to sleep.

I told the girls, whose attention was drawn inward with lack of understanding, that the newly minted governing body of surfing was hoping its large grandstand infrastructure would have people flocking to the beach. It was apparent that they wanted to have an audible cheer after the completion of a ride, that it gave the creative expression a more sporty feel.

The girls began to catch my drift.

“So if the WSL hires us, then they can have their contests where there isn’t a lot of people and entertain the audience when waves aren’t coming in”

“Yes!” I roared.

“And if they had us girls cheering on the beach, they could have their contests wherever they wanted”?

Yes! Sexy places like Indonesia and the Caribbean.

“We would all go together of course!”

They laughed at the notion, but the seed was planted, so to speak.

We went to Rummels and to 509’s as any opportunist would in our situation. It was a scene. Free drinks till 12 coupled with the return of the early 2000’s grinding fad.

I stand before you today, and with honesty in my heart, say that you haven’t lived until you’ve felt  hundreds of collegiate asses trying to frottage you simultaneously. It was a conga line of writhing bodies. Flesh gripped in gentle frenzies and subtle raptures. On every face, eyes closed, the same smile, calm and blissful.

I write this lengthy preface to explain my position and show that the idea of WSL cheerleaders is no wild-eyed dream; that even if the specific action, symbolic as it is, may seem farfetched, the fact remains that we are inevitably heading for something of the sort.

We need only glance at the less-than-awesome crowds on the beach to realise something needs to change.

I surf in the future

It is a bright place filled with hope and massive carving 360s.

I was at Disneyland a few days back because I am involved in a particular genre of dad porn and also because I have a 2 year-old daughter. We rode Ariel’s Undersea Adventure, ate corndogs, took pictures with Princess Jasmine and watched an extended preview of Disney’s upcoming feature Tomorrowland. It was a wonderful breath of fresh air because what I saw on the screen was a hopeful vision of the future. It was not all black and zombie and dystopian like most movies set in the coming age.

Afterwards we rode Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters, bought a personalized parasol with my daughter’s name and pictures of Princess Elsa and saw Danny Fuller. He was with his wife and 2 year-old daughter as well. We shared some laughs and I wondered if he is secretly involved in the same genre of dad porn as me.

Yesterday, I picked up a brand new, hand-shaped surfboard called the Bullshark. It is a 5’4 ¼ 19 5/8 2 3/8 vision of the future. Shaped by the quiet genius Dane Hantz, who carves under the name Vulcan Surfboards, it makes me so excited it is hard to think about anything other than surfing.

I first saw a Vulcan Bullshark on @boardporn’s instagram feed. If you do not follow it is well advised. Picture after picture after picture of gorgeous, non-standard sleds. I normally window shop except when I saw the Vulcan Bullshark I dropped my day’s plans and figured out how to get my hands on one.

Dane met me for coffee the very next day and we chatted about my progressive surf style. Progressive in that my shoulder pops out of socket all the time so I can’t really paddle and I am tall so I can’t do anything other than gentle turns off the top. He took notes and gave me a loaner to try.

It was unlike anything I had ever ridden. A “planing hull” I believe he called it, sort of like what Tomo and others are doing. I have never ridden a Tomo but wow. The Vulcan was a dream. I was catching waves and almost shredding them. So fast, so light, so shreddy.

And, yesterday, I picked up my own. It is sparkling white and pretty. It is hard to take my eyes off of even when my 2 year-old daughter is playing dangerously close to the street and I should be looking at her instead of my new surfboard. And it surfs so well I’d think about getting in the World Surf League if it wasn’t quickly going out of business. Dane says, “Good shape is important but also good construction. We are expanding the reach of what materials can do. With more people being receptive to ecological solutions we are able to keep trying different constructions. Like, wood is not as renewable so we took out the stringer and added the Convex (read about here!). It is stronger, more efficient, adds strength and loses weight…”

I paddled straight out after our conversation on my new board and ruled the lineup. I now surf in the future. It is a bright future, just like Tomorrowland, and everything is possible. Even massive carving 360s.

Order your own piece of the tomorrow here.

Surf clip of the year!

It is not entered in XXL but it should be!

Sierra Quitiquit has the best last name in action sports. She is also a quarter Filipino. Can you believe it? I can’t either. But, in any case, go Manny Pacquiao!

She is a famous model/skier/skier/model who rips very much at skiing. As a former world freefride competitor, she’s hit Fat Bastard in Jackson Hole and also models. Very beautiful. But guess what? She also surfs. Here she is being tough and surfing in Alaska. Freezing cold weird Alaska.

Watch the video. See the mountains? Hear the click? Yes. That is her shoulder going out of socket while surfing in Alaska. It is my new favorite surf clip and it will also now be yours. Sorry Chippa Wilson. And Damien Hobgood. And CJ Hobgood. Go Sierra Quitiquit!

Meet: A Cuter, Younger Version of Filipe Toledo!

His name is Victor Bernado and he's precious… 

I’d like to say I discovered this kid, this just-turned-18-year-old pal and understudy of Filipe Toledo and Miguel Pupo. But it was a fortuitous meeting on Facebook with Vice magazine’s former Brazil connection Raphael Tognini that brought me into contact, literally,with Victor Bernado.

The clip here (click on the play button on the photo) is a summer tonic to anyone swallowed by the incoming winter (Australia) and a spring determined not to fire up (Europe). Watch how Victor swats the lip hither and yon like the slaughtered goat in a game of Afghan polo.

Victor comes from the same town as Adriano de Souza, is photogenic beyond belief (click here for photos from a Surfing magazine shoot) and, according to the director of this clip Raphael Tognini (whose dad makes Victor his boards, as it happens), “he’s hypnotic. He throws airs in a crazy way but with so much class!”

But don’t think he’s a contest-hatin’ Noa or Creed or Ando.

“No, I like to compete,” says Victor. “When you win, it’s the best feeling. Even when you didn’t get to win but you know you did your best? That feels real good too. Surfing is all about being on a good board and in the moment.”