South African surf journalist Craig Jarvis wrote a very nice piece on Stab late last night (California time), discussing a WSL surfer meeting that took place in France to decide if Jeffrey’s Bay should stay or go. Most, including Mick Fanning and Julian Wilson, voted yes Jarvis wrote. But, he continued, “…a few surfers are adamant that they won’t return to surf J-Bay in 2016 and voted a firm negative, putting the event in jeopardy.”
Who are these surfers? According to Jarvis, “They’re both Brazilian, both goofyfooters, neither of them are rookies, and neither are consistent standouts at J-Bay. One of them may or may not have a world title.”
Except is it hard to blame Gabs and Jadson with the sharks and the KFC etc?
No. It is not hard. I am blaming them because I would surf J-Bay at 60-40 odds because I am a regular foot. But also because it is the wave I’ve surfed more in my mind than any other so I would do really well. Like, I would probably look a lot like Tom Curren with gorgeously smooth drawn out lines and wrap arounds. People on the beach would be confused and think, “Why is Tom Curren so skinny and tall?” But then they would look toward my feet and see a gorgeous Maurice Cole Reverse Vee and think, “Well, I guess Tom lost a lot of weight and grew some.”
It is important to keep track of daily temperature. To lick a finger, put it in the air and see which way the wind is blowing that very second without regard to the way it was blowing yesterday or the way it will be blowing tomorrow. Surfers understand the importance of climate and change and how it affects the hour. And, thus, here are the 5 most influential people in surfing like right now!
5. Ken “Skindog” Collins: His calling out Kelly Slater led to a whole day of Internet fun! Rory Parker did a wonderful job encapsulating the feud from many and varied perspectives. My favorite quote, though, came from Mahdi in the comment section, who wrote, “Super sensitive professional surfers feeling a type of way over-real or perceived slights is my favorite stop on the tour.” How true.
4. Ethan Carlston: Speaking of feuds, the maybe professional surfer (?) is relentlessly dogging his erstwhile friend Jay Alvarrez for maybe having aids. The exact context of the rage is difficult to pinpoint but, not to worry, Ethan penned a rap on Instagram that goes like this:
Call me pretty poison flowin through your veins, speakin the truth no one wants to hear, go ahead shed a tear, i do this all so one day my brother will look in the mirror, see the monster that he became, all fame and nothing was ever the same…what’s the difference between peace & war? This earth is a dirty whore, she’s got fire in her core, watchin evil lurk, I’m here to merk X #sorryimnotsorry I’m on safari, one day dreams of pullin up like where the fucks my rarri…
Aside from not knowing what “merk” means this rap sounds amazing and Ken Collins would have been number four if he had written something similar aimed at Kelly. #sorryimnotsorry.
3. Brodie Carr: After yesterday’s piece on the geriatric hopes and dreams coming from the World Surf League leadership (they are contemplating a new slogan even… It’s on! Join Mick Fanning’s mom in the rec room to catch the action with BINGO following directly!) news floated across BeachGrit’s desk that Mr. Brodie Carr might very well be in France gathering resources for a hostile takeover. Certainly wild speculation but just think if the WSL was allowed to return to a younger, less gassy place?
2. Sharks: They are going bananas, maybe knocking J-Bay from the tour, eating their way through Hawaii and causing mad problems at KFC in South Africa (read here!). Will surfers decide to stop surfing in the ocean? Will Wavegarden’s stock shoot to the moon? Will Brodie Carr, who helped hold a Red Bull event at Surf Snowdonia’s Wavegarden, move the WSL to all wavepools? Damn sharks. But at least the tour will be fun again.
1. Nicolas “Daz” Dazet: Daz, as he is known in surf circles, is the man behind the strings at the world’s biggest bankrupt surf company. So long, Dane but hello future! And do you know what? There are big things in store for the Mountain and the Wave. Big things. Once millions upon millions of dollars of debt fall away along with some sizable contracts the world’s best bankrupt surf company will soar like an eagle. Like a rock n’ roll dog. Don’t believe me? Stay tuned!
Did you know there was a big-wave event at Jaws and that Danilo Couto wasn't invited? Me neither!
The very notion of the big wave world tour seems like something dreamed up by a management type with no connection to the real world. Scheduling is nearly impossible, a confluence of huge swell and perfect conditions is still a rare thing, even in an age of satellite forecasts and light speed communications.
In all but the most consistent of swells it can easily turn into a snooze-fest, viewers quickly losing interest as competitors bob around the lineup catching waves once an hour. Add the fact that many big wave surfers are… unique… individuals, and you’re left with a boondoggle of epic proportions. There’s no way to win, something the WSL just can’t seem to figure out.
Lackluster events, a wildcard “champion” crowned after only two comps, the disingenuous scuttling of the Punta be Lobos webcast, nothing is working.
And with the Pe’ahi event on Maui looming, theoretically, they’re facing another storm in a teapot.
In the WSL’s defense, the invite list is damn solid, not a single name that doesn’t belong. You could argue Slater shouldn’t be included, he’s not a true “big-wave surfer.” But he’s won the Eddie, and if that doesn’t make you legit I don’t know what does.
Still, they should have expected a ton of hurt feelings. Every wave has its crew, they’re always gonna be bummed when you shut down their spot so you can make money. And rightly so.
The best course would be to stick fingers in their ears, pretend to be confused by the anger, issue a conciliatory press release, and move forward like nothing is wrong.
The worst thing to do would be to run an ad promoting the event which features a surfer who’s been snubbed.
Which is exactly what the WSL, or more likely, the unpaid intern who manages the WSL’s social media account, did. A beautiful black and white shot of Danilo Couto, winner of the 2011 XXL ride of the year for a wave at Pe’ahi was used to pump the event, and Danilo is not pleased.
It would seem they even tagged him in it, a brutal faux pas.
And the drama was on, with everyone from Ricky Whitlock, to Shawn Dollar, to Shaun Walsh, to Evan Valiere, to Billy Kemper, to Shane Dorian and King Slater himself chiming to give the organization and Pete Mel what for.
But it was Ken “Skindog” Collins who stole the microphone:
Kelly Slater responded:
And then appeared Shane Dorian:
And Kelly, again.
There’s also some indignation regarding the fact that the WSL didn’t go with a local crew to run the water patrol, but last night Dave Prodan appeared to me in a dream and explained why.
He said they’ve decided to fly out the guys from France because J-Bay taught them that near-death experiences sell.
America’s National Football League (NFL) gets slapped with the moniker “No Fun League” from time to time due to its litigious nature, love of fining players, disallowing elaborate end zone celebration, etc. It really can be a soggy wet blanket but an even soggier, wetter blanket has just dropped on the professional sport scene and it is called the WSL!
CEO Paul Speaker and crew have gone out of their way to make pro surfing a game for geriatrics. Take this latest KFC commercial dust-up, for instance. If pressed, I have to admit that Chick-fil-a makes a better sandwich but the piece was light and funny and completely unoffensive. And yet, the WSL is siding with Mick Fanning’s mom in trying to get it removed from the airwaves. I am sure that Mick Fanning’s mom is a lovely woman (she once got very angry with me!) but she is also old. Are the sensitivities of old people really where the WSL wants to be positioning the brand? When it gets out that the league has its singlet in a bunch over a South African parody will younger consumers say, “Rad. The WSL is like the cranky elderly man who shouts at me for skateboarding down the sidewalk. I like it…”?
Likewise with forcibly removing cute videos from your very own BeachGrit and the much less provocative/totally vanilla Surfing Life. “Take those down, youngsters!” CEO Paul Speaker crows from his rocking chair. “Take those down dagnabbit!” Graham Stapelberg echoes waiting nearby to rub Vics Vapo-Rub on CEO Speaker’s chest.
I get that professional surfing is a different game than “free” surfing except for it’s not and it shouldn’t be and it used to not be. I’ve told this story many times but I will tell it again. I made tons of fun, a few years back, when the WSL was called the ASP and CEO Paul Speaker was called CEO Brodie Carr. I made fun of the surfers, events, locations, and CEO Carr, especially that he wore a deliciously tight baby blue t-shirt, like, always. What did he do? Challenge me to an arm-wrestling match. He bounded into the bar where I was drinking a beer, hood over his head like Floyd Money Mayweather, and smashed me very easily. I have loved Brodie ever since and it is because he doesn’t take himself ultra-seriously. It is because he knows, above all, surfing is a laugh.
And CEO Speaker, any time you want to have a go I’ll be waiting. Graham Stapelberg can even come rub Vics Vapo-Rub on your bicep before I smash you.
And says WSL is taking legal action against delicious fried chicken restaurant chain…
A week or so ago, KFC South Africa released an advertisement spoofing the Mick Fanning J-Bay shark hit.
“Next level awesome,” is the tagline.
Did you think it was funny and representative, perhaps, of what a loose gang we surfers are? Or were you, like Mick Fanning’s mom Liz, and the magazine Surfer, very angry?
“I think it is very disrespectful,” Liz told Fairfax media. “They’ve put a lookalike in the video. It really brings back a lot of trauma for everybody who has been attacked by a shark. Some families have had fatalities and some people are still absolutely scarred without limbs. It’s disrespectful to them and Mick is not at all happy with that.”
According to the Sydney Morning Herald, “Ms Osborne said the World Surf League last week contacted Fanning, who is in Europe preparing for a competition, to tell him it believed the ad was in breach of its rules. ‘Their lawyers were getting in touch with KFC to get it off [the air],’ Ms Osborne said. ‘The comment that Mick made [was] that it’s disrespectful to anyone who has been attacked by a shark and he wants it off as well. We’re very upset about it.’
As mentioned, Surfer magazine also gnashed teeth. “The guy quarrels with a shark on live webcast, sees his life flash before his eyes, and now a fried-chicken chain is poking fun at his close call,” said Surfer.
I liked the advertisement mainly because it got thrown to nearly three million people on BeachGrit’s little Facebook page, with 7000 shares. A BeachGrit record!