Since Mary Ann, Ginger and the Professor were snared from Gilligan's Island!
Last night off Oahu’s North Shore a pleasure cruise went very wrong. The boat, a 25 foot Boston Whaler, was two miles from Waimea when it fuel ran out and then the bilge pump stopped working and the hull took on water and it flipped over, tossing 14 people into the water including a five-year-old child and a dog.
The horror! The absolute horror and that horror could have ended with everyone dead, their bones chewed by tiger sharks. But guess who else was on the boat?
Australia’s hottest couple Tyron Swan and ………………………. Brinkley Davies!
Unless you are culturally gorked you will know that Tyron and Brinkley, hailing from South Australia, are magical creatures, soon to be ultra-famous. Tyron duct tapes paraplegics onto his back and takes them surfing. And he is handsome. Brinkley communes with sharks, killer whales, etc. And she gorgeous. Together they are unstoppable. And so when the boat capsized? No big deal! They floated along with it for a few hours in the black of night holding a five-year-old child and caring for a dog until the Coast Guard dropped them a boat and then came and snared them.
“It was no worries…” Brinkley told my wife afterward “…but if we had been back home we would have frozen to death.” But I disagree, positing their smoking good looks/pure hearts would have warmed the very ocean.
How thrilled do you think the Coast Guard was? For sure totally. It was definitely the world’s sexiest ocean rescue.
Underpinning Filipe Toledo's performance is a bedrock of depravity! True!
A year of two ago, I was employed by the excellent, if sexually provocative and hate-mongering, website Surfline to write the surfing equivalent of the NBA power rankings. I wrote maybe half a dozen and loved the idea of bombing anyone who’d been unkind to me during the year and festooning with flowers those with a kind word.
They were rightly condemned by readers and, occasionally, I felt like withdrawing into my little office cubicle. Lately, my fingers have again become itchy to write.
So, here, is a pre-Teahupoo power rankings, the top 10, with the second-tier bottom feeders appearing tomorrow.
1. Filipe Toledo J-Bay result: 13 WSL rating: 4 (-2)
Key question: Can he stay top five after Teahupoo?
You wouldn’t say Filipe has an oriental solemnity. He declared war on dullness back in March, back at Snapper, and, but for the weird slowness of little J-Bay, would’ve won there too. His surfing is madness, just madness. You could see the realisation in the eyes of Julian and the rest of the tour at Snapper. It was like some terrible truth had been visited upon them.
The future is… here? So soon? It wasn’t Jordy or Dane, after all? Oh, how they sobered up. Their youth was stolen overnight!
The key thing about Teahupoo is it ain’t that hard to pick unlike every other stop on tour. Sit here. Take off there. Filipe will make a respectable show of things, pick up a 13th or thereabouts, stay top five-ish, win two of the last four events, and become the second Brazilian to win a world title. He’ll also become the youngest world champion, ever, eclipsing Kelly Slater’s one breakable record by eight weeks.
2. Mick Fanning J-Bay result: 2 WSL rating: 2 (steady) Key question: Is there enough sugar in Mick’s bowl to stay in the race with three beachbreak events left?
If god (the Christian one) neglects Filipe in the last half of the season, it’ll be Mick who’ll win, what is it, his fourth world title? There’s such an electricity in the air surrounding Mick, so many bowlfuls of press cuttings, that he may become, simply, unbeatable. Mick refuses to modify his idiosyncratic attitude to surfing (those frontside lesion!), and that ain’t necessarily a bad thing.
3. Dane Reynolds J-Bay result: 13 WSL rating: 33 (steady) Key question: Apart from the Quiksilver Pro in France, how many wildcards will Dane get?
Dane surfs in such a fine, clear italic that it would be too horrible to contemplate he not seeing out his golden years on the tour. A ninth (Snapper) and a 13th (J-bay) aren’t exactly examples of over-performance, but he has a valuable message to deliver. One of… enjoyment.
4. Julian Wilson J-Bay result: 2 WSL rating: 3 (-1) Key question: Can he win an event?
To win a surfing event at WSL level is an arduous task. Round one, two maybe, three, four, or five, quarters, semi, final. It must smack as a little sour that Julian has made three finals this year and won… none of them, although paddling toward the mouth of a Great White must count for something.
Julian is better equipped than any other surfer on tour, with the exception of current champ Medina, to deal with Teahupoo, Trestles, Hossegor, Supertubes and Pipe. But such is his bag of gifts, his arsenal, you often get the sense he doesn’t know what to pull out next. His drawings are brilliant and vigorous, yeah, but sometimes, as we saw at Snapper, he can look just a little laboured.
5. Adriano de Souza J-Bay result: 5 WSL rating: 1 (steady) Key question: Can the WSL judges get over the psychological hurdle of ushering Adriano into an unpopular world title?
Oh, to hell with it. Adriano inspires such vituperation, such unimaginably offensive insults, that I wonder if he’ll find scores much harder to come by in the second half of the season. I feel he could mash his opponents skulls in with a steel can and still not win. The world title will runaway from him, again, no matter how hard he he shoots out his hind legs.
6. Owen Wright J-Bay result: 13 WSL rating: 5 (-2) Key question: Has he got more than lefthand reefs?
Second last at Snapper, second last at J-Bay, fair to middling results at Margaret River, Rio and Bells, and wins Fiji (with stained undershorts).
You see the pattern? Lefthand reefs are to Owen what a bowl of warm gruel is to a grateful refugee.
So let’s count the remaining events: Trestles (youch), Teahupoo (like glove!) Hossegor (maybe, if big), Portugal (size needed) and Pipe (hell gonna bust loose). Two possible wins, a handful of average results.
Where’s that going to lead us? Top three, possibly a runner-up if he can gallop past Mick.
7. Kelly Slater J-Bay result: 3 WSL rating: 6 (-1) Key question(s): Is Kelly going to de-horn that board of his? And can he maintain in small beachbreaks?
You could watch Slater at various points of the season and think, oowee, it looks like he’s covered in dust, or, wow, I ain’t seen him this fresh since his last world title year. Kelly’s saddled up a lot of boards over the years but the move back to a rockered, narrow board has resulted in the inconsistency y’tend to see when a surfer, anyone, even Kelly, tries to get off what we tend to incorrectly call fishes.
At Margarets we saw how hard he can push a rail when he’s on a board that doesn’t need to be nursed; same at J-Bay. Teahupoo and Pipe are great for Kelly, maybe France, if there’s swell, but Portugal ain’t gonna be pretty. Trestles could swing either way. Like me after two am!
8. Taj Burrow Result: 25 WSL rating: 8 (-2)
Key question: Honestly, can he be bothered?
You could never accuse Taj of looking old, of facing extinction. But there does come a time in a man’s life when, after 18 years of doin’ the same thing, y’think, is there anything else?
Since 2002, Taj has never finished worse than ninth. That’s a career with horns. Taj’ll miss Hossegor (a potential result) because he’ll have a kid poking its head out of mammy.
Does he care? About the kid, sure, about missing autumn in France? Not quite so much.
9. Wiggolly Dantas J-Bay result: 9 WSL rating: 13 (+4) Key question: Will he die of exhaustion given his arduous qualifying program?
So far this year, Wiggolly, the 25 year-old Brazilian rookie, has entered eleven events, including five qualifiers. He ain’t going to give up his CT shot easily.
What is constant in history is that the triers (see Adriano de Souza) will always push their chips forward over natural, but lazy, talents. Wiggolly rides a wonderful horse but how long before all that airline travel makes him smell rank and sweaty?
10. Gabriel Medina J-Bay result: 5
WSL rating: 15 (+5) Key question: Is the boot off Gabriel’s neck?
Do you remember that wave at J-Bay when we saw the boot come off the world champ’s neck, if briefly? One decent huck, though nothing particularly special, a five-five if the ride had terminated there, but then Gabriel reminded us why he became the second-youngest world champion in history, and Brazil’s first, when he loosed his wings and just… greased… the landing.
A little reminder that Filipe ain’t the only Brazilian on the catwalk. Even though his world title defence has gone to hell, Gabriel will win an event, maybe two, and finish top five.
Three years ago, Quiksilver Inc filed a patent for a wetsuit invented by Troy Brooks (yup, the former pro surfer), Josh Rush and David Mas-Bertrand.
What it is, is a super tech suit, “comprising first panels exhibiting a high-stretch and adapted to provide buoyancy to the wearer and second panels exhibiting a low-stretch and adapted to provide further buoyancy to the wearer wherein the first and the second panels are fastened together by seams and wherein the second panels are arranged according to the muscular configuration of the wearer to stimulate the muscular relaxation velocity of the wearer.”
That’s what it says on the patent app.
The theory goes that if you squeeze the muscles, they’ll bounce back in the most explosive manner thereby increasing performance.
Or, according to a piece by the Australian Sports Commission, “Some studies have reported that compression garments can improve muscular power, strength, enhance recovery following intense exercise and improve proprioception.”
Do they work? Will we ever see one? Four years since Kelly Slater wore one in San Francisco, Quiksilver says “it’s still a work in progress.”
If you really want to dive into the finer details, the patent application makes for surprisingly interesting reading.
The diversity! Everyone surfs, or at least, talks about it.
From the televisions that adorn our living rooms walls to highway billboards and shrieking cinema advertising, it’s surf, surf, surf!
But there’s a surfer and there’s a surfer. There’s the once-a-monther with his polished log that he carefully straps onto the roof of his SUV, who covers his nudity with a poncho, has bottled water in the back of his whip to remove sand, who wouldn’t know a Filipe Toledo from a Julian Wilson, and then there’s, I’m guessing, people like you and me.
We live for the minutiae of a sport that, realistically, consists of 10 five-second rides per two-hour session. But, still, we adore the tour, the often pointless changes in board design, the fads, the names, the kings and the queens.
And, therefore, let me list, below, the five characteristics of the modern surfer.
1. We hold our breath at work
Lately, every big-wave surfer, and even some small-wavers like Kolohe Andino who are currently climbing the rungs of credibility in juice, have taken to apnea training. Breath holding. Deliberately giving yourself the shakes just so you can stay underwater a little longer, therefore making you able to survive, I don’t know, 10-foot Cloudbreak? One tip the best free-divers will give you is to practise breath-holding at your work desk. I know half-a-dozen surfers who’ll practise it half-a-dozen times in a morning. A couple have even woken up at their desk having tripped the wire of consciousness.
2. We care about the sponsorship deals of millionaire athletes
Just recently, I finished working in an office where for hours, over years, everyone discussed, gravely, pro surfer sponsorships. Was the surfer under discussion being paid enough, we wondered? How would they make it last into their dotage?
I remember the concerned shaking of heads when Bobby Martinez stopped getting stickers and 50-grand a month cheques and the hesitation when we learned Quiksilver wouldn’t be resigning Kelly, whose property portfolio spans the globe.
Did it matter that the surfers made more in two weeks that most of the office made in a year or that our own situations were far more perilous than there’s would ever be?
3. We own too many boards
What other sport requires only a sturdy pair of legs, some kind of modesty protection and a $700 piece of equipment? And so we buy too many of ’em. And it defines us and it defines us to the non-surfers who swing into our houses and say things like, “You really do have a lot of surfboards.”
4. Our optimism is organic
Why wouldn’t it be? One clean turn, one in-and-out head-dip and there isn’t a problem in the world that can’t be stomped on. Meditation, yoga, therapy, it don’t even come close.
5. We don’t do “inland.”
Whether it’s international travel or setting up a crib, we never, ever, budge from our coastline perches. Yeah, it retards our cultural experiences. Yeah, we miss a lot of terribly exciting things.
But in a life that might be 25,000 days, if we’re lucky, who’s got the time to traipse the Macchu Pichu trail?
Mainstream America, here comes the pro surfing juggernaut!
Did you know that ABC was broadcasting hour long wrap ups of WSL events as part of their World of X-Games series? Neither did I, which I shameful since I’m sure I could have found a way to make fun of it.
Lucky for me, our surf table comp tour has recently managed to reach a deal with CBS television, and together they plan to air a bunch of stuff:
“The programming, which begins today, Tuesday, July 28 with the Quiksilver and Roxy Pro Gold Coast Men’s and Women’s double-header, continues through January and includes 20 two-hour episodes featuring coverage of the Semifinals and Finals from each Championship Tour event, as well as a special presentation of the Vans U.S. Open of Surfing, a nine-day event recognized as the largest professional sports competition and action sports festival in the world, on Saturday, Aug. 1 (9:00 PM, ET) and Sunday, Aug. 2 (9:00 PM, ET).”
But we won’t be seeing surfing on network TV anytime soon, not unless shark attacks become a trend. The WSL scored airtime on CBS Sports Network, formally the National College Sports Network, a channel I didn’t know existed until this morning.
(As an aside, here’s a collection of mainstream sports meltdowns)
I haven’t owned a TV in years, though, so it’s not like I’m really keyed in to all the goings on in the televised world.
In fact, I’m always a little surprised to see that people still have cable subscriptions at all. I originally let mine lapse after my move to Hawaii, where it quickly became apparent that I wouldn’t be able to afford those types of luxuries until I got my act together.
Over the ensuing years internet piracy technology got so good that cable became unnecessary. Why pay money for something I can steal for free?
But God bless the kind hearted chumps who do. Someone has to shell out for content.
Anyway… good for the WSL! This is a type of legitimacy. Maybe they can negotiate a lucrative AM radio contract to round out the whole media blitz.
Samsung Galaxy WSL Championship Tour on CBS Sports Network schedule:
– Tuesday, July 28, 10 p.m ET – Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast (Gold Coast, Australia)
– Tuesday, July 28, 12 midnight ET – Roxy Pro Gold Coast (Gold Coast, Australia)
– Saturday, August 1 and Sunday, August 2, 9 p.m. ET – Vans U.S. Open of Surfing (Huntington Beach, California, USA)
– Tuesday, August 4, 11 p.m. ET – Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach (Bells Beach, Australia)
– Tuesday, August 11, 11 p.m. ET – Rip Curl Women’s Pro Bells Beach (Bells Beach, Australia)
– Tuesday, August 18, 11 p.m. ET – Drug Aware Margaret River Pro (Margaret River, Australia)
– Tuesday, August 25, 10 p.m. ET – Drug Aware Margaret River Women’s Pro (Margaret River, Australia)
– Tuesday, August 25, 12 midnight ET – Oi Rio Pro (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)
– Tuesday, September 1, 11 p.m. ET – Oi Rio Women’s Pro (Rio de Janeiro, RJ, Brazil)
– Thursday, September 10, 9 p.m. ET – Fiji Pro (Tavarua/Namotu, Fiji)
– Thursday, September 17, 9 p.m. ET – Fiji Women’s Pro (Tavarua/Nomotu, Fiji)
– Thursday, September 24, 9 p.m. ET – J-Bay Open (Jeffreys Bay, South Africa)
– Thursday, October 1, 9 p.m. ET – Billabong Pro Tahiti (Teahupoo, Taiarapu, Tahiti)
– Thursday, October 8, 9 p.m. ET – Hurley Pro at Trestles (Trestles, California, USA)
– Thursday, November 12, 9 p.m. ET – Swatch Women’s Pro Trestles (Trestles, California, USA)
– Thursday, November 19, 9 p.m. ET – Cascais Women’s Pro (Cascais, Portugal)
– Thursday, November 26, 9 p.m. ET – Quiksilver Pro France (Landes, South West France)
– Thursday, December 3, 7:30 p.m. ET – Roxy Pro France (Landes, South West France)
– Thursday, December 10, 8 p.m. ET – Moche Rip Curl Pro Portugal (Peniche/Cascais, Portugal)
– TBD – Maui Women’s Pro (Honolua Bay, Maui, Hawaii)
– TBD – Billabong Pipe Masters (Banzai Pipeline, Oahu, Hawaii)