Do you think they'll give shark jaw trophies in South Africa anymore?

Ex-pro surfer wins fantasy version!

It's a fantasy come true! Like Pete Rose!

Is it your dream to be on the World Surf League’s Championship Tour? To surf those waves in front of the hundreds online and maybe win it all? To be chaired up the beach on the shoulders of your best acquaintances and sip lukewarm Red Bull?

I can only imagine that was Blake Thornton’s. Who he? Oh ye of little memory! Blake stormed onto the CT in 2010 after winning Santa Cruz’s Coldwater Classic and competed for maybe the year before maybe falling off? Surf historian Matt Warshaw…I’m looking in your direction right now. That’s what happened, yeah? In my mind’s eye he had a beard and powerful cutback.

In any case, this year saw Blake riding a hot hand all the way to first place…of Fantasy Surfer! Yes, the Australian native won it all (six nights at the North Shore’s Turtle Bay plus two welcome drinks) and did it in such fashion that he didn’t even need Pipe. Adriano, are you reading? Mick, are you? Blake crushed his competition early and crushed them often and, thus, was allowed to play golf instead of being glued to those last heats. Surfer mag interviewed the champ after his victory. Let’s tuck in!

Do you feel like your professional career helped narrow your picks?

I would be lying if I said it didn’t help in a way. I think having surfed all the spots and knowing how they break on different swells and how certain guys perform at certain venues was definitely an advantage.

As we approached the last event, did you feel confident that you were going to win the whole thing?

I wasn’t too up to speed with the whole numbers breakdown, but my buddy—who actually got me into Fantasy Surfer initially—is an accountant and a real number-cruncher. He did the math and said it would be tough for someone to overtake me as I had a pretty low throwaway.

How did you find out that you won?

I just jumped online after Pipe had finished and I saw that I was still rated number one. Not long after I received the official email and was pretty much in shock. I was actually playing golf on the finals day. It was pretty hard to sit through some of the slow heats, so I was streaming it on my phone and tuning in to the highlights.

How did Fantasy Surfer begin for you?

I joined Fantasy Surfer two years ago and it started out as a way for me and my buddy to go head-to-head each event. In the beginning, I didn’t do much research. I just picked teams based on which surfer I thought had a good chance at the event and even picked a few guys who were friends. But it wasn’t until the Trestles comp that my mate informed me I was ranked fourth in the world. From there, I started to dig into it more and looking into the forecast. But I never studied heat draws or anything like that — just the surf forecast.

Any shockers this season? Looks like you killed it at Portugal and Tahiti, but Rio and Lowers were rough. 

Yeah, Rio and Lowers are tough ones to pick, particularly Rio, I guess. It’s a funky beach break and there are always a lot of scrappy heats. It’s a place where even the best surfers struggle and there are always upsets. Trestles is such a machine. Now that the judging has evened off a bit, it feels like it’s a venue that rewards both rail and air surfing equally. There’s no guarantee that real high-performance guy like Toledo can beat a real solid rail surfer like Ace out there. So that’s why it was a tricky one for me.

Do you have any advice that you’d want to to give other players?

My biggest advantage was that I had been there and done that. Paying attention to the history of the surfer at the event would be a good start. Swell forecasts are always a good trick, too, but I reckon the best way is to keep it fun and maybe start a club with a bunch of mates like I did. Who knows — you might find yourself on top at the end of the year.

If you are racist and/or xenophobic and are angry with surfing’s two Brazilian champs in a row embrace Blake and your problems be solved!


"It's like cutting through butter with a hot knife," says Mr Domke, of surfing big waves on a skim.

Tomoz: Brad Domke to Skim Big Jaws!

Florida skimboarder brings his 52-inch disc to Peahi… 

Does your heart do somersaults at the idea of a man skidding down a forty-foot Jaws wave on a little carbon-fibre areola?

Tomorrow, in waves the excellent surf forecasting website Surfline, predicts will be “double-triple overhead” Wabasso’s Brad Domke will ride the joint, finless, towed in by his Italian-born, Maui-based pal Francisco Porcella.

A skimboarder in big waves ain’t as absurd as it sounds.

Two months ago, Domke rode Portugal’s Nazaré, describing it as an “ancient beast. There’s a monster in the water making the water move strangely and fast.”

And, Teahupoo, The Right and Puerto Escondido have all felt his dazzling grip-free surfing.

This is Brad at Teahupoo, Tahiti, in September, 2015.

And Puerto Escondido, Mexico,2014.

And a little tumble from The Right in Western Australia.

But, tomorrow? Big Jaws!

Your correspondent found Mr Domke, who’s as handsome as a male hairdresser and twice as dexterous, at Kahului airport on Maui, at the lost baggage counter.

“Oh my god, I thought about ten ways to do this. Honestly, without doing any tricks, I would say just towing-in super deep on the biggest one I can find out there and just seriously ride up into that west bowl and get blown out of a big barrel! If we could step it up, a manoeuvre before the barrel, any manoeuvre in general on the wave. But just to ride the wave is a blessing and an experience.”

No skims.

“They’re not here and that’s the ordeal right now,” he says. “But I have faith, I have faith.”

Why’s he chasing mountains at Jaws?

“It’s Jaws, it’s the biggest one, it’s the gnarliest one. It’s the… gauntlet.”

Did his Nazaré experience in November give him the taste for divinely big waves?

“Completely! That’s what got me on the bug. Nazaré was one of the most powerful big waves I’ve ever ridden, and I thought, wow, next level would be to come to Peahi… but the skim boards aren’t here and I’m pissed.”

Presuming they arrive, or you can steal a child’s Christmas toy, what would be the perfect ride at Jaws, for you?

“Oh my god, I thought about ten ways to do this. Honestly, without doing any tricks, I would say just towing-in super deep on the biggest one I can find out there and just seriously ride up into that west bowl and get blown out of a big barrel! If we could step it up, a manoeuvre before the barrel, any manoeuvre in general on the wave. But just to ride the wave is a blessing and an experience.”

Does Brad Domke ever hair-out?

“Every single time!”

Me too!

“But at the same time you get excitement from it. It’s the whole risk factor of life. Everyone has their risks they take and what gets ’em stoked, what gets ’em going. There’s always a fear factor. But you get that… joy, that satisfaction of just going for it. I’m always nervous and I wanna be safe and smart about the whole situation, but I also wanna get… stoked.”

Anastasia Ashley reads sensual poetry!

The surfer and Sports Illustrated Swimwear model reads the classic, Song for a Lady… 

I’m such a sucker, and maybe you are too, for a gal of better-than-average looks reading poetry, ideally in a backless canary yellow swimsuit.

Last year you’ll remember Ms Ashley socking us with Funeral Blues by WH Auden.  I haven’t cried so much since Anne Marie was cornered into surfing Pipeline (after a wipeout that nearly killed her) by her cruel ex-boyfriend Drew in Blue Crush.

Last month, Anastasia reprised her poetry jams with a recording of the feminist poem What Do Women Want by the American Kim Addonizio. The poem “explores the risk that women have of being stereotyped.”

Today, we present the far more subtle, but, then again, more sensual, poem Song for a Lady, written by the Pulitzer Prize-winning Anne Sexton in 1969. This poem comes from her collection Love Poems, described somewhere as “a celebration of touch… physical and emotional touch.”

Read along!

Song for a Lady by Anne Sexton (1969)

On the day of breasts and small hips
the window pocked with bad rain,
rain coming on like a minister,
we coupled, so sane and insane.
We lay like spoons while the sinister
rain dropped like flies on our lips
and our glad eyes and our small hips.

“The room is so cold with rain,” you said
and you, feminine you, with your flower
said novenas to my ankles and elbows.
You are a national product and power.
Oh my swan, my drudge, my dear wooly rose,
even a notary would notarize our bed
as you knead me and I rise like bread.

A beautiful moment tween Mason Ho (third!) and Pipe Master/world champ Adriano De Souza. Even in waves so terrible it must now force the WSL's hand to shorten events, the game's stars sure did shine… | Photo: WSL

Parker: Pointless Speculation Re: 2016

Adriano ain't gonna back up the title, paid premium content is on its way and… drug scandal!

I lost yesterday, somehow. I didn’t drink that much on New Year’s eve, but I’ve been off the sauce for a while, so I’m a bit of a lightweight. And I can only assume I decided to pop a couple benzos at some point, not a great idea. Mixing that shit with booze is an easy road to a pathetic lights out.

So I survived another series of bad decisions, not a terrible way of ending/beginning a new year. I vaguely recall planning on firing some of those spinning ground flower fireworks into the air with my slingshot, but the pack is full, so my wife must have talked me out of it. Or I was just so fucked up I forgot my terribly dangerous and irresponsible idea.

Whatever happened, my brain still ain’t working so good. No surf news to “report,” the creative well’s run dry, still need to get something on the page. It’s my job, right?

I just don’t see it happening two years in a row for De Souza, if ever again. The twenty-fifteen tour was plagued by garbage surf, conditions that play perfectly to his approach. But in the coming year we’ll either see the criteria revamped (probably not), or better surfers mimic his steez and usher in a new era of three-to-the-beach hell.

So here’s a low effort attempt at content. My predictions for 2016. Pretty much what everyone else is doing, but worse.

ADS won’t win the title: I just don’t see it happening two years in a row for De Souza, if ever again. The twenty-fifteen tour was plagued by garbage surf, conditions that play perfectly to his approach. But in the coming year we’ll either see the criteria revamped (probably not), or better surfers mimic his steez and usher in a new era of three-to-the-beach hell.

2015 WSL world title contenders

The WSL will finally unleash the might of their production house: Rent ain’t cheap in Santa Monica and up until now it seems like the WSL has used their “production house” for… I don’t know what. Providing a place for unpaid interns to show up every day?

Thus far we know they’re pumping out a Laird documentary, a brilliant decision because there’s only a million other people more relevant to competitive surfing.


My money’s still on premium content. Going whole hog PPV ain’t gonna work, but the WSL needs to find a way to suck money out of our pockets if they plan on staying solvent.

There will be a doping scandal: There’s no doubt that modern high-performance surfing is hell on your joints, and last year saw a ton of missed heats and events thanks to wrecked bodies. Recovery is a drag, and takes forever, a real problem when the clocking is ticking and there are only so many injury wildcards to give out.


Someone is going to give in to temptation and take the easy way out, get a scrip for ‘roids and rebuild at a breakneck pace. Lots of guys left on tour in their thirties, and speaking from personal experience, the road back to health is a hell of a lot longer when your bones don’t bend anymore.

The world champ won’t be from the USA: Kind of a no-brainer, right? Slater’ got other shit going on, Nat Young will never win a title. Kolohe doesn’t belong on tour, scrapping for ‘QS points to avoid the cutoff portends poorly.

Nat Young, Alana Blanchard and Kolohe Andino, as so beautifully photographed by BeachGrit's favourite print magazine What Youth!
Nat Young, Alana Blanchard and Kolohe Andino, as so beautifully photographed by BeachGrit’s favourite print magazine What Youth!

As far as Igarashi and Coffin? Yeah, they both surf real good, but I don’t see the genius. Like top-tier college recruits they’re gonna find out it’s a whole new game at the highest level.

Where have you gone Bobby Martinez?

Our surf nation turns its lonely eyes to you!

I’ve have just come up from underneath 300,000,000 lbs of American football and the fresh air smells sweet! No more (except Oregon later today and and Seattle vs. Arizona on Sunday)! For our non-US friends, this week between Christmas and New Year’s Day is crammed with football from sun up to sun down. I’ve watched bad teams and I’ve watched good teams and I’ve watched good teams play bad (Jimmicane, what happened to your ‘Noles?) but what I haven’t seen is any interesting interviews or post-game press conferences.

The NFL invented bland when it comes to serving up their personalities. Sideline reporters say into the camera, with a completely straight face, during some quarter of the game, “I just talked to coach and he says the team has to work harder at stopping the run.” Or. “Coach just let the players know that they need to stop the run.”

It is annoyingly bad, utterly drained of value or meaning. Isn’t this supposed to be entertainment? The same is true after the game. Players step to the mic and say, “Coach drew up a good game plan. He told us we needed to stop the run.” Or. “My teammates around me did a great job at stopping the run.”

Humility is a virtue on the American sport’s scene and especially so in football. The American, on the couch, wants his athlete humble and especially his football athlete. Apparently, he also wants to know nothing at all, no gossip, no insider news, from reporters during the game.

Surfing, with a number of employees coming over from the NFL and most notably CEO Paul Speaker, has seemed to adopt this ultra bland approach as its own. We still talk about Bobby Martinez lighting off on the tennis tour and that was so so so many years ago. Mason Ho is pure pleasure to watch surf, partially because when he wins heats he gets to talk and who on earth knows what will come of that man’s mouth? Entertainment!

I wish the product, out of the water, would be a little less NFL and a little more pro wrestling. I wish our heroes would call each other out, complain about the judging, make snide comments about their competition. I wish Pete Mel and Strider, though I love their work, would tease out some funny underlying gossip. I mostly wish the humble would get tossed. Humility is not generally part of the professional surfer’s DNA and when he puts it on for the camera it is ill-fitting.

Can a new Bobby Martinez rise this year and put on a show? Who might it be?