Do you think having a contest at Jaws ruined Titans of Mavericks?
Sal Masekela surfs fairly well (Click here). Not by pro surfer standards, of course, but that’s a bit much to ask. His ability is pretty typical for surf media types, not counting those who started as pros and transitioned when the paychecks stopped coming.
It makes sense, we all wanted to surf for a living but one day realized the talent wasn’t there, and hard work only takes you so far. Maybe I’m projecting, but I remember the day it dawned on me that all those lost NSSA heats didn’t bode well for my career. Better to move behind the scenes and spend my days employing envy to tear people down.
Sal Masekela talks very well. Straight man commentator, not incapable of humor or cleverness, but he excels at using the other guys to provide context. Slow moment? Why make an inane observation when you can ask the talented fellow sitting next to you a question? Provide prompts, help them articulate all that awesome knowledge they’ve spent years acquiring but never really learned to express. Crucial for a solid broadcast. Laugh-a-minute goons are a dime-a-dozen, but the straight man carries the weight, keeps it flowing, does his damnedest to eliminate dead air.
I missed the early heats of Mav’s Tits. Burdened with a neurotic trashcan dog for the next four days. “Oh, don’t worry about him, he’s crate trained.” Code for pissing everywhere and yapping all night. Finally got to sleep around five am Hawaii time, now running on four hours and watching what’s left.
I ain’t impressed. Pe’ahi has ruined us all, the swell ain’t nothin’ special, and the back room bullshit that built the event soured me before things even began. I do adore the Committee of Five. Not its existence, just the term. Sounds like something you’d find in a fascist thesaurus, a synonym for the guys who deposed Mussolini.
The WSL is supposed to be all about promoting surfing. Building the sport, evolving performance. Get us in the Olympics, earn those dollars for the industry.
But Red Bull is all about using spectacle to sell addiction, and I love them for it. Have you ever watched the Red Bull Rampage, where they pay mountain bike psychos to flip off sheer cliffs? It’s beautiful, superbly produced, everything I want to see. Always makes me think, “I should buy a mountain bike!” Then the wife reminds me I’ll end up in the ER immediately. And she’s right, I never learned to fall off a bike safely, and 35 is way too old to start. Busted my collar bone spearfishing year before last, shit hurts, not an occurrence I’m looking to repeat.
But, good gravy, could you imagine the spectacle Red Bull could produce if they dumped the big wave angle? Run a whip-at shore pound air contest, drag some B-level kids to a bone dry barrel and let ’em have at it? Red Bull’s a big dog, the type of company that laughs at the surf industry’s combined gross. The surf world is nothing but medium sized fish in a tiny fucking pool, Red Bull could kick all the small minded fuckers to the curb and bring us something amazing. Employ their Escobarian reach to making magic.
But maybe they don’t need to dump the big waves, just shift the paradigm. That’s marketing speak.
Run a non-competition event at Pe’ahi, logistics be damned. Film from the water on an epic swell, come-one-come-all, kick down cash to the best performers of the day. No politics, not heat scores, just a clever way of snatching exposure while paying out much needed cash to dudes who do it for the love. Can the talking heads, broadcast raw. Stop partnering with low level night club promoters to bring us an endless barrage of tedious cold water slop.
After all the hype, the in-fighting, the lawsuits, the politically motivated blackballing of worthy competitors, we’re headed into the finals, with only one thing that stands out.
Chris Cote, tearing down pictures of competitors, wadding them up, throwing them away. This guy’s garbage, this guy’s garbage, that guy’s garbage. During all the effort that went into getting this event run, I can’t believe no one stopped and said, “Hey guys, that’s a bit on the nose, huh?”