Examine the six-time world surfing champion Steph Gilmore in neck-to-pelvis latex…
If you were served The Sydney Morning Herald this morning, you might’ve muttered a few medical terms when the insert magazine fell to the breakfast table. You might’ve even sent your servants for extra copies.
On the cover of the Good Weekend was the six-time world surfing champion Stephanie Gilmore poured into a latex suit, face sculptured by Photoshop, hair slicked off face, looking as in-bloom as a tree whose branches are bent under the weight of sap.
A tremulous story within completed the picture. Let’s examine.
She’s got honey-blonde hair and green eyes. She can drive a golf ball 200 metres, and hold her breath underwater for more than a minute. She plays pretty decent flamenco guitar, and has been known tobalance on a Swiss ball for two hours straight. She surfs two to three times a day, gets paid $1 million a year, and is so habitually cheerful that she’s been nicknamed Happy Gilmore.
Girl surfers love her; guy surfers love her. A recent Instagram post of her riding a wave at Waikiki while wearing a lei and playing a ukulele got more than 12,300 likes. She’s got the gait of a cat and the posture of a pine tree, and she says “please” and “thank you” more than you might expect of any other professional athlete on the planet. She is Stephanie Gilmore, and right now she’s standing in a photographic studio in inner-city Sydney, wearing a white cotton shirt over a wet bikini.
“Sorry,” says her flack. “We just came from a fashion shoot at Bondi.”
Wow,” Gilmore says, looking at her shirt. “It looks like I’m lactating.”
Gilmore, by contrast, signed a five-year, $5 million contract with Quiksilver in 2011, making her surfing’s highest-paid woman. Then there are her “partners”, which include Nikon and French fashion label Courrèges, which recently brought out a performance-wear collection in collaboration with Roxy that Gilmore flew to Paris to launch.
Gilmore is a sponsors’ dream: beautiful, articulate, and serially successful. She is also safe. She will never be caught drunk outside a nightclub. In the day I spent with her, she swore exactly once – then promptly apologised. Together with Kelly Slater, she is one of the few professional surfers who have been able to permeate the blood-brain barrier that exists between the surf world and mainstream culture. “She has a star quality that other girls have trouble matching,” Barton Lynch says.
If a head injury is bad, a busted pelvis ain’t a helluva lot better.
And, despite very good nursing, rehabilitation is yet to bring Bede Durbidge’s busted pelvis back to its full physical development. A wipeout at the Billabong Pipeline Masters in December put Bede in a wheelchair for a month, and with a 17cm rod, a metal plate, and four screws in his pelvis.
Bede told Fox Sports: “The surgeon told me it’s the kind of injury he normally sees in a really bad car crash or someone falling off a building, and that I was pretty lucky to be alive. That’s when it hit home.’’
And, so, the thirty-three year old, will miss the Quicksilver Pro at Snapper Rocks.
Let’s examine the WSL press release. (Cut, paste etc.)
“A 12-year veteran of the elite WSL Championship Tour, Durbidge’s tenure has been characterized by top-of-class power surfing and steely competitive savvy, netting him elite wins in Brazil, Trestles and at Pipeline. The Queensland-based surfer was experiencing another successful season in 2015, with Runner-Up finishes in Rio de Janeiro and Hossegor, before suffering a horrific injury at the final event of the season in Hawaii. The reef impact left Durbidge with a shattered pelvis and a considerable rehabilitation ahead of him.
“‘Heading into my 12th season on the World Tour, I’m unfortunately pulling out of the Quiksilver Pro due to the injury I suffered at Pipeline,’ Durbidge said. ‘I’ve always prided myself with looking after my physical health, and in the 11 years on tour, I’ve been fortunate enough to never miss an event due to injury until now.'”
“While Durbidge won’t be competing at the opening event of the season, he will be on-site to lend his insights to the world as part of the WSL commentary team.
‘Even though I won’t be competing at the Quiksilver Pro, I’ll be down at the event commentating and supporting my mates,’ Durbidge continued. ‘I’m 10 weeks into my injury and the last three weeks have been filled with a lot of pool therapy, which I’m making great progress at in my rehabilitation. I’ve been overwhelmed with all the support. I can’t thank everyone enough for their well wishes and look forward to putting a jersey back on in the near future.'”
“’Bede (Durbidge) is one of the most rock solid surfers of the last decade and it was horrific watching what he went through at Pipeline last winter,’ Kieren Perrow, WSL Commissioner, said. ‘We’re thankful that he is okay and his rehabilitation is moving forward. While we look forward to him returning to the water very soon, we’re very excited to have him join the WSL commentary team as an analyst at the opening event of the season.’
Bede’s replacement for the Quiksilver Pro is Stuart Kennedy who, according to the WSL, will turn 47 later this year.
And maybe no Owen Wright for the rest of the year…
Head injuries are a damn thing. This bucket on our heads, a quarter-of-an-inch of bone and a few layers of tissue forever separating us between life and catastrophe.
On December 9 last year, the Australian surfer Owen Wright was nailed by a set at Pipe, came in, went back to the Rip Curl house, felt weird, an ambulance was called and he was rushed to hospital, where he was diagnosed with a “traumatic” brain injury.
Serious concerns surround the health of 2015 surfing world title contender, Owen Wright… Fears that Wright is still having trouble speaking and even standing have spread throughout tight-lipped surfing community…revealed he was still struggling with amnesia just last week.
He hasn’t surfed since.
The Gold Coast Bulletin reported in January that, “Serious concerns surround the health of 2015 surfing world title contender, Owen Wright… Fears that Wright is still having trouble speaking and even standing have spread throughout tight-lipped surfing community…revealed he was still struggling with amnesia just last week.”
This morning, the WSL announced that Owen, a perennial world title contender, would miss, at the least, the first half of the 2016 tour.
“It’s disappointing to have to withdraw from the opening events of the year, but the important thing is to ensure that I am 100% healthy for when I return to that level of competition,’ Wright said. ‘I’ve been working regularly with top specialists in the country and they’ve given me a lengthy rehabilitation time before I’m able to feel normal again and a period of time after that before they’re confident I can perform at the elite level without additional risk. Head injuries are tricky in terms of mapping out recovery time and it’s possible that I may not be able to pull the jersey on all year. I want to thank my family, friends, fans, sponsors and the WSL for their ongoing support.’”
“A standout wildcard performer even before his elite tour debut, Wright’s CT rise has been nothing short of meteoric. The Australian has been a consistent fixture at the top of the rankings, posting major wins in New York and in Tahiti. Unfortunately, today’s announcement is not the first injury that Wright has suffered as a back issue saw the goofy-footer sit out most of 2013. Having recovered in sensational fashion once already in his career, supporters are hopeful that he will do so once again.
“‘Very sad to see someone of Owen’s caliber suffer such serious injury,” Kieren Perrow, WSL Commissioner, said. “The important thing is that he’s on the road to recovery and taking the appropriate time to ensure that he is 100% before returning to competition. While it’s unfortunate news for the sport and its fans, we’re fully supportive of Owen taking the time he needs and wish him a full and speedy recovery.'”
“Wright’s WSL Top 34 position in the opening events of the season – Gold Coast, Bells Beach, Margaret River, Rio de Janeiro, Fiji and Jeffreys Bay – will be filled by first replacement Adam Melling (AUS).”
He's knifing into a wave! Nice knifing! Knifing the takeoff! Let's knife!
Yesterday was a fabulous one by any measure. Jaws really did soften me up and I thought to myself, even while writing that The Quiksilver in Memory of Eddie Aikau is the best show on earth, that it would look weak and small compared to Maui’s right hook.
I have rarely been happier to be wrong. Those drops? Mason Ho getting obliterated? Grant Twiggy free falling from the sky? Tangled leg ropes and mixed martial arts? Jaime O’Brien? It was a tour de force.
Watching “The Bay Call the Day” and listening to the web commentary team describe the heroics like John John “knifing” into a big one was pure pleasure and how many times did the web commentary team use the word “knifing?” Every time someone caught a wave? Every other time?
I accidentally have a graduate degree in applied linguistics and so, for me, language is also accidentally a very fun thing to observe. It seems like every year there are three or four words that the WSL commentary gang get into their mouths and cannot get out. Who could forget such classics as “foam climb” or “thanks for the insight, Pete?”
Do you think “knifing” will cross the Pacific and make its presence felt as the tour kicks off on the Gold Coast? Which are your favorite oft repeated WSL words?
Best big-wave contest ever? And John John Florence wins! Yes!
Did the Bay really call the day? I know this is overly contrarian, and that everyone enjoyed watching the contest, and the competitors were stoked to paddle out, but it was a little ugly out there. Hardly the glassy perfection of years past.
Not that Quik had a choice in the matter. There’s enough swell, the contest had to run. If it hadn’t they’d be dealing with no end of outrage.
The Eddie’s a weird event, given that the extended holding period amounts to a thirty one year privatization of the very best days Waimea has to offer. And everyone is okay with it, even me. I guess because it hardly ever goes, and Quik has done always done an excellent job with the invite list. No committee of five bullshit going on, truly only the very very very best. Helps ’em skirt any “no women” criticism. “Only the best are invited and there aren’t any women at that level” rings true because it actually is.
The channel cam is the best thing to ever happen to the Bay. I grew up thinking it was a jiggly plopper of a wave, long lens perspective squashing the face flat. Looks easy, unimpressive. But swing the angle 90 degrees, holy hell!
Great to see Danilo Cuoto’s wildcard slot got him in. Gifted us a murder dive bail, then stroked into a semi closed out bomb. The WSL took a pretty big shit on him at Pe’ahi, used his face to promote an event to which he wasn’t invited. I got him on the phone back then, thought I could channel some of his rage into a nice little ‘net nugget.
No dice. Calm and collected, wasn’t interested in talking shit. Not great for an outrage hound like me, but probably the proper response. It’s a small world, after all.
How about the Makua/Kala collision in round four? Oh boy, Kala paid for that one. Skitter, skitter, boom!
Years ago, when I still had a normal job selling surfboards on the North Shore, I met a German photographer guy. Worked for Surfers magazine, and he showed me a very funny picture of Kala chasing Tom Dosland up the beach at Ehukai. Wouldn’t give me a copy, was worried he’d get blackballed on the North Shore if he did. Not a reasonable concern, but I understand the place has a reputation.
Yep, Kala’s got anger issues. Sweet as pie the few times I’ve talked to him, but definitely needs to work on his impulse control. I can relate, I’ve been in the grips of rage before.
I saw a video of the wave that led to it when I got home (search as I might I can’t find it again), pretty brutal stuff. Dosland burned him bad, Kala had to straighten out and got annihilated. Must have hurt pretty bad, made Kala’s reaction look reason.
I doubt the Rothman clan is going to crowd stomp Kala tonight, but he definitely owes Makua a beer.
It’s surprising they’re allowing spectators on the beach. I keep expecting a big double up surge to jump the berm, wash into the parking lot, and drag a thousand people to their deaths. But the guards know what they’re doing, so it must be safe.
How gnarly is Clyde Aikau? Sixty-six years old, right? Gotta be the first guy on social security to surf in a professional contest. And it’s not like he’s one of those chiseled from granite old men. Looks like a friendly uncle running the grill at someone’s baby party. Goes to show how far knowledge and commitment will take you.
Wow, is Makua complaining about the scoring? He is! That’s some competitive spirit! I thought the party line was, “It’s just an honor to be invited.” Good to know it’s more than a freesurf, at least for him. Adds something, that he’s invested in his results.
Kelly’s paddling out on an 8’6, I hope that means he’s gonna try something cool.
Something I’ve noticed, in all the promo info pumped out to hype the event, and there’s been plenty, the prize purse has been curiously absent. Used to be a big deal, Quik would crow about the $50k first prize. Used to be huge money, down payment on a house. It’ll get you a really nice pickup nowadays.
No surprise that Dorian is in the lead. Like Wassel says, “Shane Dorian is one hundred percent the world’s best big wave surfer. If you can’t acknowledge that you’re high.”
Wonder what it takes to get his heart rate up. No doubt it’s big today, but not much compared to his antics on Maui. Must still be scary.
Speaking of Wassel, he once told me he doesn’t remember any of his biggest waves. That his mind goes blank from ledge to kick out. I’ve never thought to ask anyone else if that’s the case. Probably should.
The WSL would do well to adopt the Eddie’s scoring system for the BWWT. Really works for big wave comps. Two heats each is great, evens out the scoring, makes results a better representation of ability. And it’s kind of fucked to make a guy fly thousands of miles and knock him out if he’s in a slow heat.
RCJ’s 96 was pretty good. Too bad he pussed out and didn’t pull in at the end. What a loser!
I’m loving Raspberry on the ski. When he’s chattering in the background, instead of talking into the camera, he does so much better. Early day, when the water patrol had to scream in and beach it, the audio of his rag-doll ride was classic. “Oh..eh..mup…shit…whup…” Honestly adds flavor, it’s easy to forget he’s in a pretty crazy spot.
Jesus christ, Mason Ho. Every time I think I couldn’t possibly crush on him any more he does something that makes me worship his twinkling little gremlin eyes even more.
And here comes the surge I’ve been waiting for all day. Moment of panic for the heroes watching from the beach, looks like everyone is okay
One of my favorite things about hanging out at Waimea on bigger days was listening to the lifeguards hassle people over the loudspeaker. “You, yeah you, in the white shorts. What are you doing? Stay out of the water.”
Only thing funnier is the guys at Sandy Beach. “Hey, crew cut! Don’t go in, you gonna die.”
Half-hour left in the second to last heat and it looks like Ross Clarke-Jones might be the first two time winner of the Eddie. How has his body held up all this long? Not that 49 is super old, but it’s a long time to spend putting your body through the wringer.
I just realized, as of this year the Quiksilver in Memory of Eddie Aikau has been running as long as Eddie himself was alive. As of next year he’ll have spent more time as a corporate mascot than a human being. Weird, the implications of that. Would his legend still exist? Would Eddie be a footnote, a little known pioneer lifeguard who drowned tragically one stormy day?
In fact, more than one big wave surfer has been proven to be worth more dead than alive. Sion Milosky was hardly a household name before he passed. Jay Moriarty got the Hollywood treatment.
Kind of a shame Chesser isn’t better remembered. And Mark Foo’s been more or less forgotten.
Just as my eyes were starting to glaze over, giving series thought to hitting pause and going for a swim, here’s come a set. Cuoto gets handled, JJ snags the lead.
What do you think would happen if one of the commentators whipped out his dick on camera? Beyond being fired, obviously. It’s not like webcasts get hit with broadcast fines, and last time I checked it’s not a crime to show your wang on the internet. I have no idea what made me think of that. Let’s move on, leave it unexamined.
The last heat is on and it seems like JJ’s got it in the bag. Good for him, great notch for your bedpost. I guess that’s a real downside to the system, the lack of final heat excitement. With everything spread over the course of the day there’s no big crescendo.
Sure, theoretically someone could catch a couple hundred point rides in a row, but that won’t happen.
Impressive day. Was it the best Eddie ever? Probably the biggest. 2009 was cleaner. I’ll leave it for others to decide.
It really doesn’t matter, there’s more than enough to build a top notch thirty minute edit, and it was great exposure for Quiksilver. When all is said and done, wasn’t that the point?