Are you committed enough to brave freezing temperatures? Icicles on your thick wooly beard?
Do you live in California? Australia? Brazil, Israel, Mexico, Florida? Is the thickest rubber you ever climb into three mil by four mil? Do you complain when your toes get numb? I do! I dislike booties and so never wear them but cry like a baby when my feetsies get chilled.
I grew up surfing the Oregon coast but have surfed southern California, and Bali, Mexico, Australia, warm, nice, etc. for the past two decades and don’t know how I’d react, once again, to instant frostbite. I’ve gone soft.
Which brings me to my point. How committed to surfing are you? Let’s say you did not have enough money to get on a flight to a warm locale but lived on the banks of Lake Superior. Would you brave literal freezing temperatures for a little head dip like Hardcore Dan in the video here? He says that people who don’t surf in the winter are dumb.
“I like the fact that I can go play in the water and catch waves and not just have to be in regular life on flat ground. It’s like a giant washing machine. It picks me up and throw me around. I feel like a little kid and the lake is my parent just playing with me in the water, you know?”
Does Hawaii have the best water saviors in the world?
Hot god damn, do I love our lifeguards here in Hawaii. Other places… eh, it’s a little more complicated, but these guys are true heroes. Literally risking their lives every single day, saving countless people. Underpaid, under-appreciated, but never hesitating to put themselves in harm’s way.
According to the video description, this was shot shortly after a guy paddling out was accidentally run over, knocked unconscious, and drowned. Watching the guards’ training kick into gear, struggling to save a life, is awe inspiring. Also intense, and not exactly happy, but worth a watch.
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.
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.
Ozzie, is this the start of a qualifier campaign?
“If I win, I might probably go in the next one…”
“No, and it’ll be a miracle if I get through one more heat.”
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!
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?
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!
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!)