Makua Rothman
Makua Rothman, middle, flanked by Chilean Ramon Navarro on his left and squishy Cristian Merello (also Chilean) on the right.

Why the WSL shut down Chile’s Guerrilla Webcast

Smart biz sense or corpo thuggery?

After much hype regarding the size and quality of surf predicted for the first event of the 2015 BWWT, the surf world was treated to a last-minute back-pedal from the WSL.

In the days leading up to the event it was quickly and quietly announced via press release that the event would not be streamed live due to technical limitations created by the Chilean internet infrastructure. Instead surf fans would be treated to an exciting series of numbers designating scores which would be posted live sans context, commentary, or visual medium. It was a bold move on the part of the WSL, retaining all the excitement inherent in watching numbers change, but removing the unnecessary distraction of actually watching people surf.

Meanwhile, a crew of Chilean sports broadcasters gave lie to the notion of their country’s technological inadequacy, setting up beach front and preparing to stream the event to the “legions” of surf fans scouring the internet for an event stream they’d been expecting but was, curiously, no where to be found.

And, thus, internet controversy was born. The Chilean stream was shut down as the event began and the first event of the 2015 BWWT unfolded with only local eyes watching. (In case you were wondering, Makua won.)

I reached out to Carlos Gallardo, director and host of the Chilean TV program Via de Escape, the broadcasters muscled out by the WSL, to get his take on the whole shebang.

(The following has been edited for length and translated using online resources and my own somewhat rudimentary Spanish skills.  Polyglot readers can view the unedited Spanish text here:)

“We were surprised that this year’s WSL decided not to transmit the event, appealing to geographical impossibilities and technical complications that do not really go beyond the lack of a stable internet signal in the competition area, an issue that can be solved with money, which they do not lack. Since there are many people interested in watching the ceremony live, and no one was going to broadcast it, I decided to invest our time, effort and money as a company to carry out the transmission of a special program of Via de Escape from the ceremonial, this clearly being an independent and unrelated to the WSL broadcast.

“We arrived at 7am, and began installing our system in a roadside in the area of Punta de Lobos. We began broadcasting at 9:00 am, telling what was happening and mainly showing waves, giving the information to each time the first heat was delayed, and interviewing competitors (Mark Monteiro and Gabriel Villarán) just before paddling out.

“… A few minutes before noon, as I was interviewing spectators, the general producer of the event, Carlos Ferrer (a surfer and personal friend of mine), appeared with a look of despair telling me that we would have to immediately cut transmission because  it put at risk the event and he would be suspended by order of the Chief Executive Officer of the WSL.

“I did not immediately agree to stop the transmission, expecting some convincing explanation, and telling Carlos that he could not stop transmission without giving an explanation for the more than 12,000 people were connected at the time. I then agreed to end it, but not before explaining on screen what was happening. It was never my intention to cause any problems to the development of the event, nor cause problems to my friends who were hired by the WSL to produce the event.

“In the meantime they called the police who were there for the event itself, who did nothing but ask what was going on and say that the issue was not major and as they know me personally and know that I am a television host who specializes in these sports and am always my job on this and other events. Well there came two characters from the WSL demanding that I end transmission and leave.  Seeing that the situation was becoming tense and my friends could be hurt, I decided to stop transmitting but not without giving explanations of what happened to the public on screen, both in Spanish and English.

“After that the situation grew like a snowball without us to give context… the rest of the story has continued being written through feedback from fans who have repudiated the attitude of the WSL. For our part we still have doubts to the legality or the rights they have over what happens in our sea. The only thing that made me stop transmitting, I repeat, was our friendship that I have with the organization and not wanting to harm the event, and perhaps what they can appeal is that, despite being a public place, the organization had asked for permission to restrict access and produce the event.

“Now if you ask my opinion, I can only say that we are the television program with more experience, track record and credibility in our country and we will continue spreading sports and events that are important to the Chileans and the world. And with respect to the rights, Chile’s beaches are free for all Chileans, and I obviously disagree with this censorship. I only try to explain because perhaps we caused a big problem of credibility to the WSL, since they reported that they could not transmit the event due to technical limitations because of geography of the event, while a local television team with limited resources was able to  make a transmission with only the desire and the love we have for this sport, demonstrating that could be done. Turning to the facts and no desire to continue arguing we even offered provide our technical resources to carry out an official transmission late Thursday and Friday, to which they ultimately did not agree.

“We deeply regret the situation, which could have been beneficial to all but ended in controversy. I repeat, our intention was always to make Via de Escape as we always do, but this time live through our website and never an official transmission, because we as a program we have our own style and our own sponsors who accompany us always. Which was the real reason that caused the trouble and caused the WSL to make the decision is the issue of them. We have our editorial line, our people who follow us and want to now more than ever to continue working on broadcast pro sports in our country and the world through our program UCVTV (the first open channel TV Chile) and our website 

This is hardly the first time the WSL has tried to lock down images stemming from events. Early last year Pete “Joli” Wilson spoke out against a, since rescinded, policy that stated that any event images taken by those with media credentials would be the property of the then ASP tour. 

Undoubtedly WSL apologists will find justifications for the corporate thuggery the tour is employing to protect their “intellectual property.” The only real way to profit from professional surfing is to monetize its images, and a tour that fails to generate a profit is will be, eventually, shit-canned by those hoping to wring an income from it.  And you’ll never see the NHL, NFL, NBA, or MLB allow anyone but themselves to broadcast footage of events.

But the WSL faces a real problem in the fact that the differences in venue spell trouble when it comes to claiming ownership rights.

While the vast majority of professional sports take place on private property and allow owners to dictate who and what is shown, surfing utilizes public resources to generate a profit for private individuals.

In order to run an event the WSL desperately needs the cooperation of the local population, and their heavy handed tactics have already led to the loss of the Dungeons event (Click here for “WSL Gets Slapped Out of South Africa”) after the Cape Big Wave Trust decided to shut them out.

With the animosity currently being exhibited towards the WSL by Chilean locals there seems to be a real chance the 2015 Ceremonial may end up a one off event.

Click on the play button to watch the comically shitty finals video.

WSL: “Suck it, haters! But let’s also hug!”

I love the smell of Molly in the morning...

Remember when I used to make fun of the World Surf League for being super poor and super cheap? Well those days might be over! In the past two weeks Speaker and co. have unveiled two major deals with such adjectival flair!

The first is with almost luxury watch company Tag Heuer (pronounced like Josh Hoyer) who signed on as “The Official Timekeeper of the Big Wave Tour.” This move is slightly strange because our inside source says that the WSL is trying to outright kill the BWT but whatever, right? Money is money is money!

Tag Hoyer will use the tagline #dontcrackunderpressure and push out Tweets and Instas to the #kids in #newportbeach and #notjacksonvilleflorida. WSL CEO Paul Speaker issued an ecstatic press release. “When the WSL acquired the Big Wave Tour and Big Wave Awards, we believed it was an opportunity to elevate some of THE MOST INSPIRING SPORTSMEN ON THE PLANET and their PASSIONS to a bigger stage. This elevation has not only seen a SURGE IN ATTENTION to this INCREDIBLE SPORT but has also provided the League with the opportunity to partner with WORLD-CLASS ENTITIES. We’re THRILLED to announce TAG Heuer as the Official Timekeeper of Big Wave surfing…”

The second is with iconic auto brand Jeep. As of today, Jeep is the official car of the WSL and naming rights partner of both the men’s and women’s tour. This means the Samsung Galaxy Men’s World Tour will now maybe be called the Samsung Galaxy Jeep Grand Cherokee Men’s World Super Tour Feat. Tiesto and DJ Snake. Paul Speaker, once again, seems over the moon, saying, “The WSL is a sport built on the back of the PIONEERING, PROGRESSIVE and INNOVATIVE spirit and it is this common DNA that we share with the iconic Jeep brand. Coming off a RECORD-SETTING 2014, the sport of professional surfing has NEVER BEEN IN A STRONGER POSITION, in and out of the water. We are HUMBLED and GRATIFIED that a brand with the UMPARALLELED HERITAGE and authenticity of Jeep shares our vision for the WSL.”

It is unclear, at this early stage, if both the Tag Hoyer and Jeep deals were finalized in the Sahara Tent at Coachella. It is unconfirmed that balloons filled with nitrous oxide were floating within easy reach. There is also no evidence, as of yet, if the MDMA was in liquid or tablet form. Stay tuned!

10 surfers with the best senses of humor!

Surfing can be drab but to a brave few it ain't!

As totally silly as surfing is, most professional surfers are deadly serious about the craft. So serious, in fact, that they think of it as a “craft.” It is not funny, to them. It is not an utter waste of time while the world burns. It is not a less relevant version of synchronized swimming. But to a brave few it is! And without further ado, here are the top 10 surfers with the best senses of humor!

10) Kelly Slater: In a totally shocking move, Kelly Slater, the very face of professional surfing, has a wild sense of humor. It is totally bizarre and sometimes hard to codify but so was Andy Kaufmann’s! Andy wrestled girls and not that many people understood. Kelly does so many weird things and maybe he’s not trying to be funny but I think he is! I think Kelly is in on the joke!

9) Hector Santamaria: Hectorch is an amazing Puerto Rican who can see auras and also qi and also adds “ch” to the ends of many words. He is also hilarious. Brendan Buckley from Surfing magazine told about the first time he met young Hector. It was in the water at Lower Trestles, a not funny wave, and he heard a siren and he thought, “What the heck?” And so he paddled to the siren and saw Hector sitting in the line-up, without friend, throwing water on his head and howling. People were yelling at him to shut up. Hector would yell back, “You don’t pay my bill-ch!” Now that’s funny.

8) Taj Burrow: Almost as shocking as Kelly, Taj has been on the World Tour for 37 years and should be jaded and bummed and over worked. But he is a fresh little daisy. He is funny-ish and fun and a little uncomfortable around me because, like most surfers, thinks I am totally going to screw him somehow, but still smiles and still laughs and still makes jokes and still makes me smile. He just beat a 16 year old in Bali. And laughed!

7) The Hobgoods: Both CJ and Damo are very good people but also hilarious! Who would have ever guessed it, coming out of Florida but there you have it. They are my favorite people on earth, outside my own family, and have the seventh best senses of humor too. What a combo!

6) Kolohe Andino: You’d think Kolohe would be a wet rag! You’d think the weight of the world on his shoulders would bog him into a humorless existence but Kolohe is always hilarious and always self-aware and always goofy. He has a great sense of humor.

5) Danny Fuller: He shocks me. He is a model, artist, North Shore fixture. How do those things work together? I have no idea. He is also light and funny. For some reason, I run into Danny in the strangest places at the strangest times. I have run into him on Montauk. And at Disneyland. Each time we laugh. He is funny. And somehow a total tough guy. And model. And artist.

4) Luke Davis: If you only follow Luke on Instagram you think “Narcissistic pretty boy!” But he is completely aware of his own shtick and very funny about it all. Luke is good. He is great. And he is funny.

3) Peter Mel: Big Wave Pete is one of the funniest I have ever met. He came up to me, on the sands of Snapper Rock, many years ago and said, “I love what you do…the pushing buttons and the fashion…” Peter Mel should not have loved what I “do.” He should have hated, like his compatriot Mike “Snips” Parsons. But he is as light as air and wonderful!

2) Sterling Spencer: He is as witty, funny and funny. His comedy routine does not get old. It, in fact, ages like a fine wine. The surf world is better because of Sterling Spencer. We are all better, including Jeremy Flores.

1) Mason Ho: Just Google him. Naked and really funny! As far as BeachGrit is concerned, the funniest!

Help: Joe Crimo wants his face back

Surfing legend tires of the tattoos.

I once married an aspiring Broadway actress. It was not very fun. I had to go and watch many performances of Grease, Into the Woods, Funny Girl, The Marvelous Wonderettes and Twang!! It ended, mercifully, in divorce.

Joe Crimo once tattooed his entire face. It might have been fun at the moment because he was addicted to meth but, now it is not and he wants them gone.

In case you have never heard of Joe Crimo, shame. He is a pioneer who did all sorts of airs in the mid 1990s, long before airs were the norm. His were often tweaked and not because he was on speed, because he wasn’t at that time, but tweaked because they were inverted and wild. He also did pop shuv-its and other skatey things.

On land he lived fast and his fast living started very much earlier than yours or mine. He grew up in East Los Angeles and his brothers were in gangs and going to jail. “I started smoking lots of rock cocaine at age nine. It’s just what we did,” he says.

He got shot, at some point, and moved to the San Clemente, starting surfing and cleaned up. But the wheels fell off, eventually, and he traded rock cocaine in for meth and went to jail many times. He learned to tattoo, during the dark years, and tattooed his own face while looking in a mirror or sometimes not. “Sometimes I just did guess shots,” he says.

A tattooed face is a difficult cross to bear, more difficult than a Broadway wife maybe, but then again maybe not. In any case, Joe is trying to get them removed via a Gofundme campaign. “Tattoos on the face are not the best way to get a job, Joe has ben shut down to society, work, living and the way people judge him, any advice are help to get the tattoos removed from Joes face and hands will be highly appreciated, thank you,” the website says.

Have you ever made a bad decision? Have you ever had to sit through a Saturday matinee of Sunday in the Park with George while the surf is pumping? Help Joe here.


Bobby Martinez on boxing
"What's appealing, to me, about boxing is the heart it takes to fight," says Bobby Martinez. "It's such a hard, brutal sport and to have that grit to want to fight for a living is just crazy to me."

Bobby Martinez on Mayweather vs Pacquiao!

Nobody in surf knows boxing like the Santa Babs goofyfooter…

I’m guessing you might’ve slung your head into a bar yesterday to watch the Floyd Mayweather vs Manny Pacquiao fight. Who was going to miss the “Fight of the Century”? Not me, and I don’t know a damn thing about fighting, at least this century. I’ve read Mailer’s The Fight. I’ve seen When We Were Kings. 

The purse was outrageous. Three hundred million split 60-40 to the American.

It was too difficult to squeeze inside the Sydney bar I’d chosen and so I watched from an outside window. I couldn’t hear the commentary but watched as the brave little Filipino crowded a noisy black man who seemed like a worn-out magician, waving his arms, shaking his head.

I imagined the black man tightening his rump and feeling rivulets of cold sweat trickling down his thighs. How could he stop the remorseless Filipino. The mostly Asian crowd was openly hostile to the black man.

After 12 rounds, the fighters were separated and the black man was announced the winner. The howls! I didn’t get it and so I called Bobby Martinez, Santa Barbara’s great goofyfooter, the former rookie of the year, winner of Teahupoo, Mundaka, a former world number five, to explain.

Why ask Bobby?

A few years back, I’d met up with Bobby at the Primo Boxing Gym in Santa Babs to watch him train. “He’s a natural athlete. When he wants to hurt you he can hurt you,” Joe Pommier, the formerly national-ranked boxer who runs the joint had told me. Joe said that Bobby, with just a little conditioning, could be a pro light-middleweight. “He’s 165-170 pounds (77 kilos) now. We’d get him down to 154 (69 kilos).”

And when you ask Bobby about the Mayweather v Pacquiao fight you know he’s serious about it. So serious that when he shells out the $100 to watch it on pay-per-view he doesn’t invite his pals around to watch.  “I hate being in an environment where people talk too much during the fight. All of a sudden there’s al these commentators who, all of a sudden, think they know boxing,” says Bobby. “I really have to watch it.”

Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao
Floyd Mayweather, left, is the 38-year-old American with 11 world titles and, at right, we see brave little Manny Pacquiao, 37, from the Philippines. He has 10 world titles and five years ago was elected to the Filipino house of representatives. Bobby Martinez calls him an “authentic, offensive fighter.”

BeachGrit: How would you describe the two fighters?

Bobby: Manny’s an authentic fighter, such an authentic fighter. He comes to fight, throws tons of punches, is always in great shape, has really good footwork and he’s just an… offensive machine. Floyd? Fuck, he’s just super defensive. He’s just… defensive. That’s it. He tries to make you miss and then make you pay. That’s been his whole career. Defensive genius.

BeachGrit: It doesn’t make for sizzling viewing, howevs, all that defence. 

Bobby: I like it, I like it ’cause I like to watch how he can do what he does. But it’s really boring. If you’ve seen one Mayweather fight you’ve seen ’em all. He does the same thing every fight. It’s definitely not my thing. He never goes and takes chances. He hasn’t knocked anyone out in a long time. You know he’s going to do just enough to win. A couple of punches to score rounds and that’s it. That’s how he’s always fought.

BeachGrit: How did you rate the fight? I found it stunningly dull…

Bobby: It was really boring, I thought. I liked it ’cause I’m a boxing fan but at the same time, I mean, what made it so boring was all the hype up to it: the amount you had to pay, the hype-up that was going on, you were going to think you were going to get fireworks and it was really a dull fight. Espe when it’s two best guys int hew odd you think that you get more than that. I kinda thought it was a dull right. Moments, third and the fourth round ,payqui looked like he wad figuring out floyd, getting closure, got him with a few shots that sutnn3d him, manny was ble to get some shots out on the ropes, a couple of rlurries, but then he never got close again. He figure out Paquio and readjusted and kinda just… ran away and sa couple of nice shots to win the round. ALl she wrote.

BeachGrit: How did you rate the fight? 

Bobby: Fuck. I’ve been talking about it a lot.  I’ve seen so many great fights, been to great fights in person. That fight last night is going to give boxing a horrible name. It was not action packed. There’s great fights in boxing every single year and it’s a bummer that so many people, who never watch boxing, bought the fight because of the hype. It sucks because has so much more to offer. There are so many better fights. I wouldn’t even rate that fight. I wouldn’t at all.

BeachGrit: Now here’s something? I was watching from a window without any commentary and it looked like Manny won easily? Why did Floyd get the decision? 

Bobby: You know what? (Former world heavyweight champ) Evander Holyfield thought that Pacquiao won. (Click here.) It all goes to what style of fighting you like. Some people will that the guy who won the fight was guy pushing the action, pressuring, always coming forward and making the other guy fight.  Pacquiao stunned Floyd and Floyd never stunned Pacquiao. It was Manny making the fight happen. So I can see how some people thought he won. It was obvious to me that Floyd had won but I can see how people hate that style of fighting. It’s hard to give a guy who rarely fights a victory. I can see how people find that hard because it’s so… boring. 

BeachGrit: Whats beautiful about boxing? What do you love about it?

Bobby: What I find most appealing about it is the heart it takes to be these guys. It’s such a hard brutal sport and to have that grit to want to do that is just crazy to me. They fight for a living. They’re willing to put everything aside just to fight even though so many guys in boxing have died or been punched in the head so much they have Parkinsons or can’t speak properly and are completely punch drunk. To see these guys just say, fuck it, I’m fighting cause I want to fight, that’s what I love about it. On top of that, it’s its own little art within itself. Two hands. That’s it. I love watching a fighter when their back is up against the wall and how they end up fighting. You can see the dog in them and you see how good someone is. I love everything about it. I respect it all.