Ozzie Wright, as WSL surfer, with Joel Fitzgerald twin-fin, in Israel. What an enigma he is! | Photo: Derek Rielly

Historic: Ozzie Wright Joins WSL!

And flies to Israel to compete in first-ever WSL contest there… 

What kind of dull individual would turn down a free surf trip to Israel, that brave middle eastern democracy with Syria, right there, on its eastern flank?

Not Ozzie Wright, the Australian surfer-and-artist who may have thrown away the pro contest dream twenty years ago, but who recently agreed to compete in Israel’s first WSL contest (along with the equally dazzling Australian Otis Carey) in return for airfares and a room in a beachfront hotel.

Tel Aviv to Damascus? Two hundred clicks. Think LA to San Diego. The armies of ISIS are a day’s gallop away.

What a sight it is to see Oscar bent over a telephone trying to navigate the complexities of the WSL’s entry system. First, the surfer must register with the WSL and pay $US50. Then he must find the contest he wishes to enter and complete an entry form and pay the required fee.

But the $US150 entry fee won’t be accepted until an insurance premium of $US320 is paid.  Total, $US520. A round one win will net $US200.

The process takes three hours and a drive to the WSL’s temporary base on Netanya beach, just north of Tel Aviv.

“This is why I gave up surfing in contests,” he says.

This little cloud of gloom soon lifts, however, for Oz’s five-foot-five, almost three-inch thick Joel Fitzgerald twin fin eats up the windswell while those on two-and-a-quarter-inch thick thrusters get bogged down in a glutinous style.

So textbook! Oz in Israel.
So textbook! Oz in Israel.

And if you thought Oz’s contest skills might’ve vanished forever you would’ve seen the almost forty-year-old scooping a wave on the hooter, squeezing its teat dry, run up the beach, do the same, grab one more, again with vigorous lines and bombastic hits, and come in victorious with five minutes left.

(Otis will also win, two heats later.)

Meanwhile, in the country that has produced six Nobel Prize-winning scientists since 2002, with its world-leading solar energy and space programs, cutting-edge stem-cell research, three of the most prestigious universities in the world, a country for whom equal rights between men and women is a no-brainer, where homosexuals don’t live in fear of murder or imprisonment, the intifada of knives reigns and the ideology of ISIS spreads like cancer.

On the day we arrive, a woman is stabbed to death in her home and in front of her six kids by a Palestinian terrorist. Shortly afterwards, a pregnant woman is stabbed, her life spared by a civilian with a gun.

Since September, there have been 120 stabbings, 46 shootings, 30 car attacks and 78 fire-bombs. Twenty eight dead, nearly 300 wounded.

The Jews, so brave, so misunderstood.

But there are more important things to consider right now.

For example.

Ozzie, is this the start of a qualifier campaign?

“If I win, I might probably go in the next one…”

Really?

“No, and it’ll be a miracle if I get through one more heat.”


Josh Kerr wins Todos event!

Is he the world's most complete surfer? Well?

Who would have ever seen that coming? I mean, like, years ago when Josh was surfing air shows? Could the argument be made that Josh Kerr is the most complete surfer on earth? Well, could it be? More after I sober up. And until then, read Rory Parker’s investigative action here!

Update:

I’m sober!

Josh’s win was very fine and his after heat quote was the best of all. “To walk away with a win — I feel like one of those dogs with his head out the car window, I was smiling the whole time I was paddling around in the final.”

Bravo and I wonder if he will continue to compete in that game.

Which raises a larger question. What will happen to the Big Wave World Tour? That Jaws jam is going to be very hard to beat and Todos, on its best day, ain’t super wow. I would be very curious to know how many people tuned in and what the kick from Jaws was, if any. With money not exactly flowing in to the WSL coffers and maybe actually running out the door (upcoming hot rumor on the boil for tomorrow!) what will they chop?

P.S. Why hasn’t the Eddie run yet?


Big Waves: WSL ripping off surfers?

Is the WSL running a literal Ponzi scheme on the Big Wave World Tour?

It’s fitting the BWWT’s primary sponsor is a wristwatch peddler. So pointless, who still wears a watch? Who’s the market for bottom tier luxury watches? I understand the real nice ones are on the conspicuous consumption trip, but Tag Heuer’s priced low enough to be expensive to poor people, cheap to rich ones. Like a low end luxury car, the people you’re trying to fit in with are laughing at you, the rest of us just think you wasted your money.

(Editor’s (Chas) note: I love wristwatches more than anything else, maybe. I am wearing a vintage Rolex right now.)

On the subject of wasted money… Todos Santos, really? Are we pretending it’s still a relevant wave, in the context of top tier insanity surf? Cold, scary? Sure, but line it up against what’s going on at Pe’ahi, or Mavericks, or Nazare, and it looks like a big wave version of the US Open. The last time someone caught a wave out there that mattered was in ’98, when Taylor Knox scratched into a bomb. A big deal, at the time, but it’s been nearly twenty years, a lot has changed since then. Boards have gotten bigger, surfers have gotten crazier, I’ve grown armpit hair and a gorgeous chest pelt. Ch-ch-ch-changes…

Today ain’t great. Howling winds, interminable lulls, boredom kind of broken every twenty minutes when someone chatters down the face and kicks out. Big wave contest business as usual.

Speaking of business as usual, I wonder when the guys in the water are going to realize they’re being ripped off. Did you know that prize money changes depending on the size of the surf? It does, and in swells like today’s, running in 20 foot surf, the boys are on the low end of the scale.

First place gets $12.5K, not a substantial sum of money. Enough to buy a decent used pickup truck, though not once you’ve taken into account the cost of last minute flights and extortionate over-sized baggage fees.

But the real kick in the nuts comes lower on the totem pole. Of the twenty four guys in the event, no women because the BWWT is sexist as hell, the bottom 18 take home a whopping $1000! A little more than half my monthly rent.

Surf’s over forty five feet? Like, in the scary death realm? Then they double their money!

BWWT prize money Considering the fact that competing is a losing proposition, financially, for pretty much everyone in the event, and that no one really cares who wins, I’m hoping it’s just a matter of time until some people start realizing that their money is better spent chasing swell for clips instead of results.

Or the WSL will stop being a bunch of cheap ass motherfuckers and start paying guys a living wage, which they deserve. But I’m not holding my breath for that one. I can hold my breath a long time, but not, like, forever.

(Editor’s (Chas) note again: I had no idea this was running and clicked on it and saw Josh Kerr and Damo Hobgood surfing in the final? Maybe the final? Who knows! But I’m invested!)


Vic Secret: “We’re making surfing cool!”

Models and actresses unite in dragging a nerd-fest into the warm light of popularity!

There are many, apparently, indoor surfing studios now in New York and why not? It is a wonderful thing to do! So wonderful, even, that Victoria’s Secret models are getting their get on! Martha Hunt, a lingerie angel, told Vogue Magazine:

“My core is on fire!” while whipping her ponytail back and forth. Here, in a sun-drenched Bowery studio,  she is trying out Surfset, a surf-inspired workout class that uses a custom-built balance-training board to mimic the ocean’s waves. Having just returned from a trip to Oahu, where she successfully surfed for the first time, Hunt is keen on honing her skills. “I got up on my first wave, actually, and my face turned from absolute fear, with my eyes bulging out, to complete wonder,” she says. “Now I want to surf all the time, and am looking for that core-balancing workout.”

But that’s not all! She is not content to stay indoors and do exercises. She has caught the stoke! The article continues:

…she’s already planning a second trip to Costa Rica this spring—and that at dinner with Helena Christensen, she learned that the Danish super had just started surfing, too. “We’re making surfing cool,” she says, laughing. “No, it was already cool.” That may be true—but watching Hunt gracefully twist along the board, she makes a good case for the sport’s body-transformative powers.

Great! And thanks!


Dru Adler is a Gold Coast surfer who, yesterday, posted a clip of a backside air reverse kick-flip or, in skate terms, a backside flip. Crazy, yes? Yes! But it ain't true! "I went for a surf that afternoon at Snapper and as I pulled up in the carpark I noticed that Owen Wright had shared it! I was blown away at how crazy this was getting," says Dru. "Then later that night I noticed that The Inertia had written an entire story on me and how I pulled it off for real! At that point I was starting to think, this is getting out of control. Then I noticed a comment where Kelly Slater had been watching it frame by frame to figure out it was fake!"

Backside flip: How I fooled The World!

Dru Adler reveals why and how he created his fake backside flip… 

Yesterday, the Australian surfer Dru Adler posted a backside air-reverse kick-flip or, in skate terms, a backside flip on his Instagram account. 

It was an odd little clip, a stutter though the horizontal spin, on a wave identical to another posted earlier in the week. Fake? Yeah.

The Inertia, and Owen Wright, were sold, however. And Kelly Slater and Ozzie Wright both examined the clip closely.

When The Inertia wrote a story on it, saying in part: “Dru Adler just set the bar of surf progression by being the first person ever to successfully land a backside flip on a surfboard” Dru lifted the curtain. He wrote: “It’s not real. I thought it would be funny.”

I thought so, too, and Chas Smith wrote about it here, but I also wondered, how’d Dru create it? So I asked.

And this is Dru’s reply.

“I’ve been doing my bachelor of digital media part time/fulltime at Griffith on the Gold Coast for 4 Years, majoring in digital design. I love editing and because I’m also into skating I own movies like ‘Yeah Right’ and ‘Pretty Sweet’ that were made by Girl Skateboards which not only feature the best skating but also have some funny scenes with special effects which really inspired me to do something similar and it seemed like really fun work.

“I’ve begun working at VO Group, a digital agency in Southport which transpired through a successfull internship as part of a subject for Griffith. The Creative Director Ray Bischop is a frothing surfer which helped land me the initial internship.

“One day last week on our car pool journey back from the office I showed him on Instagram that I was following @johannesgamble, who has posted some of his effects that he created for the skate movies that I mentioned plus a few extras. I started explaining that I think I could take one of my air clips and turn it into a kick flip, shooting my board on a few angles and then working some magic. He wasn’t sure that I could make it look real due to perspective issues so I decided to take on the challenge.

“I shot my board that day on a few angles and then a few days later on the weekend started piecing it together and it only took a few hours till I was done. I could’ve made it way better but it looked pretty cool and I wasn’t going to spend my whole weekend on it. But I could have made it so it looked like I kicked the board and a few other things to make it look even more realistic. But when I was making it I just thought I’d get a bit of a laugh on it and that would be it. I actually made it from a clip that I had already posted not long ago and put a #VFX hashtag on it as a clue, but I didn’t want to completely give it away just to see if anyone would think it was real.

“Once I posted it, I actually started thinking, it would be pretty funny if one of the big magazines ran it as a joke. Not long after that thought, Wade, the editor from Surfing Life messaged me saying he wants to do exactly that. Run it as a joke and that it would be funny. So I sent him the clip. There were a few surfing legend friends of mine that were already starting to share it, saying all types of nice things about me and how stoked they were that I pulled it, so I was quick to message a few of them and let them know that I was only mucking around because I felt a bit bad that they might feel a bit embarresed. But they all took it really well and replied with comments such as, “that is a classic, keep it going a bit longer”.

“I went for a surf that afternoon at snapper and as I pulled up in the carpark I noticed that Owen Wright had shared it! I was blown away at how crazy this was getting. Then later that night I noticed that The Inertia had written an entire story on me and how I pulled it off for real! At that point I was starting to think, this is getting out of control. Then I noticed a comment where Kelly Slater had been watching it frame by frame to figure out it was fake! At that point I decided that the joke was over and I edited the caption to,

“Finally pulled off the backside 180 kickflip! 😂 It’s not real. Sorry I thought it would be funny. Turns out it looks a bit too real! Mucking around with my digital media effects. But I’ve always wanted to pull it. Hoping it’ll inspire!

“I sent this message to a few people including The Inertia and Kelly. They both took it very well and Kelly even wrote me a direct comment to say, “I think it’s classic. And Yes… it’ll plant many seeds in kids’ brains”.

“I also enjoyed Ozzy Wright’s comment from the Beach Grit page explaining that he filmed his phone in slow motion in order to see if it was real and enjoyed the short period of wondering if it were possibly real.

“There have been a very few comments that I’ve read of people who have taken offence to it but I suppose that’s always going to happen. I’m definately stoked I did it because I was never going to claim it that I did it for real.”

 

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