Terrorizing gutless Florida peaks. Ain't a thing funner!
Three months (or has it been four? Maybe five…) of gloom and doom, fog and wind have come to an end here in San Francisco.
Save a few short hours of rare light, breathless afternoons, small southerly pulses, it’s been a summer of lowered expectations or jaded proclamations.
I haven’t surfed in months, some say! But I have.
Growing up on the Gulf Coast of Florida, with even the slightest hint of swell we’d be out there, trading logs in trunks, boiling in the balmy brine. For twenty years I lived like that.
A too-many-year-long stint in New York City, a brief foray back home, and now three years of San Francisco. I’m still a goddamned child as far as groveling goes.
For three years I’ve surfed more and better than I have in my life, even these last three months. The right boards, the right drugs, the right amount of desire, and piddly windswell feels fresh and fun and easy fucking breezy.
At night, like all of you bastards, I get lost down rabbit holes of surf clips. I’ve watched Nathan Florence’s gorgeous Chopes grinder 100 times.
I’ve fallen asleep (not out of disinterest, though!) to Sampler and Brother and Cluster – ripe with boosts and barrels and boring fucking lifestyle filler – regularly, waking alone on my couch or in my office, my dog snoring like freight train.
But more than anything I’ve watched clips of Cory and Shea, Eric and Evan, Gorkin and Hopper, absolutely terrorizing gutless Florida peaks and Dirty Jerz beachies.
Because that’s the real shit right there.
Brighter and bigger days lie ahead for us here in the land of ripping tidal currents, schizophrenic wind and weather. Surely this fall will be a dream.
The “professional” surfer Jill Hansen has been found not guilty of attempted murder by reason of insanity…
A quick recap: Hansen, a self-styled “professional” surfer in her early thirties, was charged with second-degree attempted murder for an attack in which she stole a 73-year-old woman’s car, ran her over with it, and attempted to flee.
Somewhat notorious in the surf world for her delusional self aggrandizement, Hansen is also known for performing what may be the best TEDX talk ever.
The trial, delayed due to her ongoing mental health issues, was a brief affair, involving only testimony from three mental health experts, “who all agreed that she suffered from multiple symptoms including voices, paranoia, and grandiose delusions and was not capable of understanding what she was doing was wrong.”
Dr Tom Cunningham, a psychologist who’d examined Hansen both before, and after, the attack asserted on Wednesday, “She has had this very serious illness for a long time. I know that the prosecution pointed out just because you have this disorder doesn’t mean you are not responsible for what you do, but she has been seriously impaired for a long time.”
How I sometimes wish I was born in 1995 and on gorgeous Copacabana.
Yesterday’s discussion of Filipe Toledo’s brave cowardice opened my social accounts’ floodgates. Brazilians unfollowing in droves! Angry messages in the inbox!
And oh how the jealousy burns in my heart. As a middle-aged American, you see, it is very difficult to get excited about other American’s accomplishments. I grew, unfortunately, in the 1980s-1990s and it was uncool to show any sort of patriotic love for country. It was very cool to be ironic and slacky and shoe-gazey.
And oh how I’ve been robbed because I watch young Brazilians defend Filipe Toledo on the merits of him being a Brazilian and how fun does it look? Like a wonderful extra pastime. Like pure heaven.
Of course, it is thinly veiled racism to say Brazilians are “passionate” or “fiery” and that is not what I am saying. I am saying I’m jealous of the ones who have unfollowed, the ones who post screeds on message boards, who dance in their hearts when Adriano de Souza wins and cry in their caipirinhas when Gabs Medina loses because it looks a lot funner than gazing at my shoes.
Is not taking off on a wave in a WSL heat, in front of the world, the bravest thing ever?
Filipe Toledo put on a stunning display of cowardice in his heat 5 round 1 battle vs. I. Ferreira. His score total (0) matched his moxie and wow! The lowest point total in professional surfing history.
As the Brazilian bobbed in the water, not surfing, he surely must have known the haters were boiling in their tanks but he chose to bob, lonely against the steel grey sky, and brave.
Yes, brave because I would, and will, argue that it is sometimes more difficult to not get smashed in order to prove a larger point, thereby getting smashed by public opinion.
But wait. Is Filipe somehow bigger than that?
WILL he get smashed by public opinion. Hello, surf historian Matt Warshaw, curator of the Encyclopedia of Surfing (click here)!
Charlie: Is Filipe going to get smashed by public opinion after Teahupoo?
Matt: He is.
Charlie: Fair? Or not fair?
Matt: Depends on how Filipe plays it. He needs to humble this one out, big-time. Fail-wise, it was just beyond epic. And so very public. And after what Sally Fitz did at Cloudbreak, and with Flores surfing with a brain injury or whatever, you can’t play the injury card. I mean, Filipe’s deal is un-spinnable. He isn’t ready for prime time at Teahupoo. Or Cloudbreak. Or even J-Bay. I’m his biggest north-of-50 fan, and I feel sort of crushed by what I saw. All Filipe can do now is come out and say that he’s got a mile of hard work to do in the premier WCT breaks. And meanwhile, like Sean Doherty said yesterday (read here), if he does go on and win the world title, which is totally possible, it’s gonna come with an asterisk.
Charlie: But what if Filipe got really brave, steeled his backbone and said, “Guess what bitches? I love to surf head-high, puntable waves. It’s who I am, yo! And I’m going to win a title surfing only Gold Coast, Rio, Trestles and the rest if they small enough. Booya!” What if he admitted, to the entire world, that he ain’t brave. Wouldn’t that be brave?
Matt: Damien Hardman won two world titles that way, except he didn’t say anything. Gary Green didn’t paddle out for his heat at Waimea one year, I think it was the ’86 Billabong Pro, when it was huge, and if he didn’t own if with total gusto, he shrugged and said “I’m a smoker, never done a day of exercise in my life, never surfed this horrifying place, so fuck it.” Then again, Green quit the tour the following year, so maybe he wasn’t feeling so casual. Even if Filipe has the game to say he’s a small-wave specialist, God he’d just get so smashed in the media. And I think he really does want to be magical in heavy surf, like he is in small surf. He must just be choking on frustration right now. He’d never say it, but you know what makes it way harder for him I bet?
Matt: Italo, exactly. Rookie paddles out there and keeps up with every big-swinging dick on the lineup. Italo could have won the thing! First time at Teahupoo!
Charlie: Brazil-bashing isn’t so vogue this year.
Matt: Italo! Anyone who tuned this week and didn’t fall in love with guy is heartless.
Charlie: I’m heartless! Theoretically, I liked that Italo tried his best but, in real life, trying one’s best does nothing for me. For example. I was in Tahiti last year, in a boat, in the channel, obvs, because it was pumping. Mikey Wright, Owen’s brother was doing magical things but poor young Kanoa Igarashi was there and looking completely terrified. But nobody made him be there. He clearly did not like that vibe and good for him! Get back on the boat and pop a Hinano, or whatever it is young boys are drinking these days. Own the gutless or paddle the fuck in. I have done both in my life and both are wonderful in their own ways.
If you are telling me that Filipe really wants to surf those waves then why did he not surf those waves? Nobody in the line-up? Manageable size? He don’t! He wants to punt and dance!
Matt: But Filipe could kick it up. People find that gear later on. Potter didn’t like big waves as a kid, then later he did. Fanning couldn’t surf Teahupoo early on, now he can. Who knows. Could just my own wishful thinking with Filipe…
Charlie: And give me other examples guys who don’t want it? Because you just made Gary Green my fav surfer ever.
Matt: Dora said he was a “four-foot-and-under man” and gave loving long descriptions of how scared he was on the North Shore. Except then he flipped the thing on its head, because he actually charged Pipe and Waimea. Kylie Webb, you’d love her! Gorgeous blonde, and drank herself off the tour in the ’90s. But before that happened, she paddled out for a heat at Sunset, in big waves, pulled a Filipe and got a zero, then threw her 17th-place prize money check back at the contest director in disgust and said “I don’t deserve this. Buy the judges some beer.”
Watch Filipe’s zero-point heat here!
And remember when the Margaret River Pro moved to the Box? Gabriel Medina, I’m told, had to be coaxed into the lineup with the words, “You’re the world champ! You have to surf!”
There is a place nearby and you can do it in a few hours!
The crowds at most popular and accessible American, Mexican, Australian and Brazilian beaches grow thicker with each passing year, or so it seems. Longboards, hybrids, even the dreaded SUP compete for a static number of waves and sharks are not eating enough people to make a real difference.
Are you frustrated by this overcrowding? This human invasion? Do you not have the money to fly across the world and sort out a place where they ain’t? Well, it is really no problem and the solution is right under your nose. It’s called “night surfing.”
I stayed out long after sunset recently. The moon wasn’t full but it was there and my eyes adjusted to the scene quite easily. It wasn’t pumping, necessarily, but fun 3-4 ft and I was alone in Southern California. Alone. The waves were a bit hard to judge at first, but my body eventually adjusted like my eyes.
To be very honest, I am not surfing in a wildly progressive manner. What do I need clear light for? And, to continue being very honest, you are not surfing in a wildly progressive manner either. We less than progressives now have 12ish whole hours to ply our trade all alone.
Very seriously, you should go night surfing tonight and then you should come here tomorrow and tell everyone how much you loved it!
Jon Pyzel and Matt Biolos by @theneedforshutterspeed/Step Bros