Real Talk: Power Rankings Pre-Snapper!

What sort of season opener would it be without the cruel honesty of a pre-event critique?

Is it really only a week until the 2016 WCT season starts? Until the dance of the best surfers in the world rouse our dormant senses? But what is a season opener without a little real talk? Here, the writer Steve Shearer aka Longtom, swarms over the top 13.

Tomorrow, he delivers The Rookies. Let’s begin.

 1. Adriano De Souza.

Rating: World Champ

Adriano De Souza world title
A thoroughly beautiful moment tween Mason Ho and Pipe Master/world champ Adriano De Souza. Photo: WSL

First principle for understanding Adriano De Souza: the ability to absorb, transmute, spiritualise and finally, alchemize the negative into the positive. To draw strength from it and return it to the world with interest.

All that internet hate? Ammunition. Kelly’s post-world title wavepool gazumping? Ammunition. All the thousand-fold subtle manifestations of racism and disrespect sent his way over the years. Pure ammo baby.

Would he, could he narrow the stance a few pleasing inches, loosen the hips and buttocks and showboat the title D? If the latest clip from Snapper is any guide probably not and why would he, he cracked the code and made Kelly his putinha*  along the way. All the perfect man-made waves in the world can’t take that away from him.

He never bothered to beautify his talent, instead figuring out and perfecting a simple and brutally efficient way of winning which exploits a psychological truth.  Namely, hit the first and last turns at 80%, with zero risk of falling. The serial position effect states that in any series the tendency is to remember the first and the last. Hence when Adriano hits the first turn hard and plants the last in a coffin, nails the lid shut and buries the fucker six feet under, judges, with no wandering corpses of half finished rides haunting their memory banks, automatically write a number beginning with eight. Two eights every heat, 16 total, will win just about everything. And it did.

My favourite moment from the Title last year was when, a month before Pipeline, he admitted that he wasn’t enjoying the pressure and finding it a real struggle. Grim little soviet demi-god! And then showed up at the Pipeline and wiped the floor with them.

Would he, could he narrow the stance a few pleasing inches, loosen the hips and buttocks and showboat the title D? If the latest clip from Snapper is any guide probably not and why would he, he cracked the code and made Kelly his putinha*  along the way. All the perfect man-made waves in the world can’t take that away from him.

*Little bitch.

2.Filipe Toledo

Rating: Four

"Board I break you!" Photo Steve Sherman/@tsherms/Photo Union Worker
“Board I break you!”
Photo Steve Sherman/@tsherms/Photo Union Worker

It might sound counter-intuitive after the year that was, but could the Brazilian storm have peaked a little, or at least be going into a period of relative calm and quietude? They won everything, it’s hard to see any real competition for them. Like Genghis Khan after conquering the Russian steppe they might feel like echoing the sentiment of his words: “ I return once more to tranquility, I return to purity”.

Waging surfing warfare is tiring. Could we really begrudge them a little profit taking, an enjoying of the spoils, what romantic french poet Arthur Rimbaud called “the feast where all hearts opened and all wines flowed”.

If so and you’ll grant me that surfing wonderfully well is nothing but sublimated sex, a fundamentally libidinous dance for the pure of instinct then our fabulous Filipe might lose some of his pop and zesty electricity. Become more like Taj and Wilko. All tip and no iceberg, if you get my drift.

Who among us could court hostility to that kind of sensuality? If you occupied the shoes of our latin studs wouldn’t you sip from the cup,  take a moment out to enjoy it all: the wine,the women, youth and allow the competition to catch up?

If so and you’ll grant me that surfing wonderfully well is nothing but sublimated sex, a fundamentally libidinous dance for the pure of instinct then our fabulous Filipe might lose some of his pop and zesty electricity. Become more like Taj and Wilko. All tip and no iceberg, if you get my drift.

We’ll see, but if this unlikely event happens and Filipe comes out at Snapper looking sluggish and spent, you read it here first. Surfing as erotic contest. Could there be a reality more Gold Coast, more suited to our beloved Brazilians!

3. Gabriel Medina.

Rating: Three

Everyone's ears are cocked!
Everyone’s ears are cocked! Photo Steve Sherman/@tsherms/Photo Union Worker

Let us not forget Gabby was the best surfer in the world last year, in the same way that Kelly Slater was the best surfer in the world the year that Joel Parkinson won his Title and even the following year when Fanning won.

We never thought that would be challenged did we? But Gabby is young enough and smart enough. He ended up one heat away from the Title. Who could have foreseen the black swan moment of the Glen Hall debacle? The “lost heat” at the Box. That won’t happen again.

There’s no cause for alarm or violent reaction in that simple observation. Everything about Gabby’s year- from the volume in the boards (which allowed the power of those tree trunk legs to be applied-buckets thrown skywards!) , the clutch tuberiding, the progression, the insouciant aerials ready to be thrown whenever needed. It all added up to a deserved title defence and a run at the Slater 11.

We never thought that would be challenged did we? But Gabby is young enough and smart enough. He ended up one heat away from the Title. Who could have foreseen the black swan moment of the Glen Hall debacle? The “lost heat” at the Box. That won’t happen again.

Four wins this year, easy Title Number Two.

4. Mick Fanning

Rating: Runner-up

Whats that thing tapping, on Michael Fannings chamber door? The Black Raven of Death? According to our favourite german Freddy Nietszsche it is danger which teaches us to know our resources, our shield and spear, our spirit, which compels us to be strong. White Lightning will take a year off to reset and hop on the sled but what happens if he takes a sharp blade to Snapper and carves it open from arsehole to breakfast, wins and then carries on at Bells?

Still a lot of gorgeous if’s to be answered in the case of Michael Fanning.

I’m just a regular recreational surfer without a nationalist bone in his body so the deification of Fanning as a mainstream Aussie celebrity is a phenomena beyond my ken. But out of all the formidable weapons life has arraigned against Fanning: from being traduced by Chas Smith, to the ripping of the hamstring off the bone, to the shark attack, to the death of the brothers. The most dangerous may be a recreational surfer that Fanning burns at the Superbank looking for revenge. Thus quoth the raven.

5. Julian Wilson

Rating: Six


Photo Steve Sherman/@tsherms/Photo Union Worker

How confounding and confusing pro surfing must be for the most handsome man on tour. He surfed the best he’s ever surfed, got knocked out repeatedly and almost failed to qualify in 2014. Won Pipe to finish the year,  developed safety surfing to make heats only to be as a effective as a wax statue in the final as guys surfing to their full potential humiliated him.

It was like he was there, but he wasn’t there. Is that the curse of great beauty? As songwriter Clem Snide put it:

“Cause those paper cuts kept you from writing 

A poem so epic and true 

About how you are cursed with a beauty so great 

I’m sure that it’s hard being you “

It was easier two or three years ago seeing J-Dub turn his talents, the best bottom-turn-to-top-turn combo in the game, aerials, flawless technique, courage, into world titles. Now it seems some fundamental flaw might have derailed what seemed destined and the rise of the Brazilians has closed the door on anything but a consolation title some time in the future.

6. Italo Ferreira 

Rating: Seven

Easily the heat of the year, from a performance perspective and for title implications, was between Italo and Gabby Medina in the quarter-finals of the Portugal comp. Gabby was on fire, Gabby was steaming to an improbable world title defence, Gabby had just won France. An apex predator in full control of his environment to speak metaphorically and literally.

In the first 15 minutes he had Italo comboed. Never seen a man look more destined to win a heat and head to the finals. Sixteen minutes in, Italo stabs a hollow left in the throat. Five minutes later, hucks a tail-high full-rote backside air and reverses the combo. He just throws it back at Gabby like he was kicking him back a soccer ball on a dusty street, like a couple of kids playing around.

The heat ended with Italo maintaining the combo, Gabby tapping out. Here I have an image of Gabby frozen in my brain. In the post-heat presser, open-mouthed, stammering with that Arnie Schwarzenegger english, trying to process what had just happened but failing utterly. He did it to Kelly too. Twice. World Title possibility? Definitely.

7. John John Florence

Rating: Fifteen

John John Florence
Photo by Justin Jay/@justinjayphoto

Surf intelligence. There, I’ve put those two words together in the same sentence.

But it is a thing, a real phenomena, right?

We all recognise it when we see it: the guy or gal always in the right spot, catching the best waves, making the heavy look relaxing, easy. Surf intelligence exists but it tends to be a vicious, tyrannical weed of a mental faculty.

Problem is, being a pro surfer who does comps requires some basic skills in cognition. Like the ability to understand that a ten and a three will be beaten by two sevens. You could invent, and I would very much like to see it, a format where Florence would be World Champ for life.

Like any tinpot dictator it crowds out, smothers and ruthlessly exterminates it’s opposition, in this case any other form of intelligence. Surfing your brains out has more than the ring of truth to it.

Problem is, being a pro surfer who does comps requires some basic skills in cognition. Like the ability to understand that a ten and a three will be beaten by two sevens. You could invent, and I would very much like to see it, a format where Florence would be World Champ for life.

We saw what it would look like during the Eddie. Nothing to worry about except surf for an hour, no calculations required except those demanded by pure surf intelligence. Until that happens Florence is a prisoner to the vicissitudes of the ocean in a way that smarter competitors are not.

8. Kelly Slater

Rating: Nine


Photo: Morgan Maassen

Leaving aside the twin objections that “athlete” is a dubious epithet whenapplied to surfers and surfing as “sport” is a concept mocked by the fact that only a minuscule percentage of surfers ever participate in competition, you have to acknowledge Slater as one of the most greatest sportspeople of any era.

Across time and space he’s been dominant like few others. Given that, can we find any useful analog sporting heroes which might help up make sense of this long tail of Slater’s career. Rory Parker called baseball’s Dead Ball Era to mind in his analysis of last years tour.

I know fuck-all about baseball but it got me thinking and researching. What I found might be pertinent. It was Babe Ruth who helped bring the Dead Ball Era to a close and who would go on to a long and storied career. The year was 1922, and Ruth got just two  hits in seventeen in the World Series and seemed washed up, an “exploded phenomenon” according to sportswriter Joe Vila.

By the time of the 1932 World Series, a hostile Chicago crowd was screaming insults at Ruth. With the count at two balls and two strikes Ruth gestured with one hand towards the centre field and hit the next pitch over the centre field fence. It became known as Babe Ruth’s called shot. The greatest answer back to hyena critics  circling the carcass of a dying career, ever.

Question: Has Kelly Slater got the called shot in him?

What calls you on Kelly? Pure spite for the baying hounds, the way Babe Ruth did? Or is there something else, some moment of greatness you are hoping to wrest from the maw of time. Do darker secrets loom? A special contract with the WSL, like the one you signed with Brodie Carr back in 2009 to forestall the rebel tour? We know alright.

The tour can carry on without you now. The slow slide down the rankings, the settling back to earth of the remnants of the exploded phenomena could be done in private.

But if you keep doing it, we’ll keep watching. Till the crack of doom, or you retire, whichever comes first.

9. Joel Parkinson

Rating: Fourteen

Photo: WSL
Photo: WSL

Idea for a ten thousand word long read: How Joel Parkinson, son of a genial bricklayer with sad eyes, became the most beautiful surfer in the world. Suffered humiliating defeats, came back from injury and late in career found himself World Champion, not by ascending to any state of grace but by crushing his art under heel and becoming a ruthless sportsman enslaved to a format requiring two sevens to progress.

Extirpated the highs and lows in his surfing, levelled the mountain and the valley, and found the Golden Mean. Not greatness but a winning mediocrity. Template for every world title since.

Where to now for Parko? Shitty last year, sitting in the middle of the rankings, 35 years of age. Remote chance of another title in this Brazilian era.

Could he reverse the instinct-atrophy required of him to become a contender, to remain a contender and rediscover that lightness of touch, that “outlaw feeling of doing something graceful”, in short, rediscover that intoxication which is a prerequisite for any kind of art or aesthetic activity to exist, not for points but for it’s own sake?

But I ask too much. Final paragraph: The tragedy of Parko.

10. Jordy Smith

Rating: Thirteen

Photo: WSL/Kirstin
Photo: WSL/Kirstin

Eight years of Jordy on tour gives us a career composed mostly of static, save the runner-up finish in 2010 and some highlights at Bells and J-Bay.

Through the white noise we can distinguish enough of  a clear signal to discern how the remainder will play out. He’s not going to charge the heavy lefts, not going to step up and dominate – do the work like a Fanning or a De Souza or even Parko did to get comfortable at Teahupoo or Pipe.

He’s happy to plod along, maybe too happy.

Why? Too much too soon, and too little expected for it. The curse of Dane and JJF.

Let us look one another in the eye, we surf commenters, and take the sacred cow of a Jordy Smith world title to the abattoir. It’s time we did so.

With the torque generated from that caboose and the finesse in the repertoire Jordy should win every event in overhead rights. Instead, we get Parko-lite and another midnight wanderer on the boulevard of broken dreams.

11. Kolohe Andino

Rating: Twenty-six

Screen Shot 2015-12-16 at 1.12.46 pm

Last December I (bravely) predicted an early exit at Pipe for California’s last great white hope. That came to pass. I now (equally bravely) predict the opposite for Snapper. Quarter-final finish minimum. Why?

The over-theatrical top turn, all paralysed force, substance without meaning, has been tamed.  There’s a willingness to engage in the blood feud, thus, anger as friend, as energy, as necessary ingredient. Happy, contented men do not make good competitors. Between the potency and the existence falls the shadow.

No more the shadow for Brother. Not a contender but a top ten finish.

12. Matt Wilkinson 

Rating: Nineteen

Photo Steve Sherman/@tsherms/Photo Union Worker

Shave him down, put him in a suit and Wilko could be like any other flabby-footed white collar suburban bean counter carrying twenty extra pounds around the mid-riff. A clock-punching nine-to-five workadaddy wage slave looking forwards to two weeks in the Maldives where he can ride an over-foamed fun board in head high reef waves over deep water.

But he ain’t, so from that perspective he’s punching well above his genetic weight and maximising return on his pro surfing investment. Every court needs a jester and Wilko fits that archetype admirably. A niche that is likely to enable him to ride the pro surfing gravy train for a few years yet.

Shave him down, put him in a suit and Wilko could be like any other flabby-footed white collar suburban bean counter carrying twenty extra pounds around the mid-riff. A clock-punching nine-to-five workadaddy wage slave looking forwards to two weeks in the Maldives

Given that he has the talent to be top ten for life we could probably remove the weight of expectation from Wilko and enjoy his career for what it is: a series of spluttering misfires that at some inexplicable and unexplainable point is likely to produce moments of unrestrained brilliance.

Surely you’d expect him to have a victory in him at some point in his career.

13. Taj Burrow

Rating: Seventeen

Taj Burrow retires
If this loosely slung rumour is true, Taj Burrow’s 19th year on tour will be his last. Will you miss his dazzling jams, and those enormous orang-utan sprays? An energy that never wavers? Twelve grand prix wins (including beating Kelly Slater in the final of the 2009 Pipe Masters, a Mundaka, and three Quiksilver Pro’s), a rookie of the year (1998) and two runner-up finishes (1999 and 2007). Photo Steve Sherman/@tsherms/Photo Union Worker

This could be Taj’s last year on tour? My understanding of his career is always linked to the Ballad of Robbie Johnson. Robbie came up against Taj in the Pro Junior at North Narrabeen, when that was the only comp that mattered for young hopefuls.

Everyone present knew Robbie beat Taj fair and square but the judges pushed Taj through. He was the golden boy of Aussie surfing and it just wouldn’t do to have him knocked out by a no-name.

Robbie tried hard but the sponsors never came. That was his big moment and the injustice took his dream and made it bitter in his heart. Robbie became a working man, one of those who you’d see somewhere and think: he coulda, shoulda been pro.

And what did we get in exchange for the death of the dreams of Robbie Johnson? For someone to prosper, others must fail. We got a long career from Taj, but one attenuated by a refusal to step up when it was most needed. The cosmic balance wasn’t restored by the rorting of Robbie Johnson.


Silvana Lima air, Roxy Pro, Snapper Rocks
The push and the pull, the dropping of the shoulders. Who knew one lil air reverse could overwhelm… everything! This isn't the 10 Ms Silvana Lima scored in her round four heat, by the way, it's an expression session statement. | Photo: WSL

Is Surfing Sexist? Hell yes!

But Silvana Lima not getting paid to surf is not a reflection of sexism.

Silvana Lima is a very fine 30-ish year-old Brazilian surfer. She is small, maybe not even five feet, and aggressive. I watched her surf lots during the Swatch Pro in France and was impressed. Like, the waves were maybe one foot yet Silvana would totally shred them. Even airs and things. Aggressive turns. If there was a one-foot contest and it was open to both men and women I bet Silvana would win.

A few days ago she was on the BBC talking about how she must raise French bulldogs in order to make enough money to compete on World Tour. She said:

I don’t look like a model. I’m not a babe. I’m a surfer a, a professional one. The surf-wear brands, when it comes to women, they want both models and surfers. So if you don’t look like a model, you end up without a sponsor, which is what happened to me. You’re excluded, you’re disposable. Men don’t have these problems.

It would be nice for her to surf and do nothing else because she is very fine and aggressive but, and let me tell you a little secret…


Surfers are not athletes. They may be dancers or…entertainers or…artists or…something but not athletes. And that means even if they are very skilled it does not mean they will get paid to surf. Because surfers are not athletes. They may be trapeze acts or…snake oil sellers or…free-form jazz aficionados or…something but not athletes. Some surfers are very athletic but no great, sponsored surfer is only an athlete and this applies equally to men and women.

Is surfing sexist?

Hell yes!

And in about 5000 ways.

But Silvana Lima not getting paid to surf is not a reflection of sexism. She just needs to figure out what kind of surfer she wants to be besides an athlete. Breeding French bulldogs seems better than lots of options anyhow.

The warm and loving embrace of the thinking surfer.
The warm and loving embrace of the thinking surfer.

The Inertia: “Let daggers pierce us!”

What did The Inertia's founder do this week? Unless you are familiar with Japanese pornography it'll come as a wonderful surprise!

The world’s favorite surf-based website is starting an edgy new column titled Who We Pissed Off This Week and it is as amazing as it sounds! Founder Zach Weisberg opens the series with a lengthy piece that lets us take a rare peek behind The Inertia‘s editorial curtain. Some gems include:

YOU MAD! Of course, you mad. I’ve long believed that if you’re not initiating conversations, you’re not a good media outlet, and our typical modus operandi is to move forward after a tempest in a teacup. No time for the rearview. Life passes. Time passes. Anger happens, and we must move on or risk turning into raisin-y, pillow-y versions of ourselves. We can’t do that. The world is spinning, folks!

Off the bat, one thing that seems most consistently misunderstood in observing feedback, no matter the issue, is that many readers do not understand that The Inertia is a platform for a broad diversity of perspectives to share their work.

We believe more strongly in the value of building a platform where conflicting and diverse perspectives coexist than exclusively publishing things we support.

And that’s us. That’s people. The only consistency we relentlessly champion is that of quality, respect, and embracing diversity, communication, and earnest self-improvement in the ocean and outdoors.

Then we are on to the main event! Part one of Who We Pissed Off This Week is Kelly Slater Super Fans. Apparently a contributor, JP Currie, wrote a piece on Kelly Slater’s interview with He described it as, “Intentionally provocative, with ‘acerbic’ humor intended to draw a reaction.” And did it ever stir the thoughtful surfer loins! Almost 50 whole comments, most very negative of Mr. Currie’s style (which, if I am being honest, is neither provocative nor humorous).

And where did the esteemed Mr. Weisberg come down? On the side of truth and justice of course!

My concern with Currie’s column revolved not around the fact that it was critical of Kelly Slater’s interview. Great writers think critically. Great media outlets are willing to challenge icons. Both deserve a meaningful place in the fabric of The Inertia’s editorial offerings. Rather, my regret around this piece is its tone. And admittedly, that’s something we did absolutely nothing to curb. So let the daggers pierce us so.

When we challenge our heroes, I would prefer that we do so more respectfully.

Brilliant! Of course you remember the Charlie Hebdo killings, when crazed Islamic radicals stormed the offices of the satirical French magazine and murdered eleven for publishing cartoons about Muhammed. While the world shouted Je Suis Charlie one American cartoonist who prides himself on being controversial, Garry Trudeau, thought it best to blame the murdered for their own deaths. He said that the Charlie Hebdo cartoonists “wandered into the realm of hate speech” and, thus, implicitly, deserved what they got.

In a similar vein, it is wonderful that Mr. Weisberg gets to paternally scold one of his writers while at the same publishing his work while at the same time poking fun of Kelly Slater Super Fans while at the same time being a Kelly Slater Super Fan. That’s what I call having your cake and eating it too! Or bukkake!

Greg Long
Greg Long brings his blood to boil at Jaws! | Photo: WSL/Kirstin Scholtz

Just in: Greg Long Big Wave World Champ!

Very impressive, considering he only competed in two events, and didn't manage to win either…

The 2015/2016 Big Wave World Tour is in the books, and Greg Long is el campeón !

Very impressive, considering he only competed in two events, and didn’t manage to win either. But the problem with the BWWT, you can talk shit all day about the events, but you can’t really hate on the competitors.

Greg Long is a top tier charger, no doubt. He’s no Shane Dorian, but who is? And Mr Dorian didn’t even break the top five, what a kook!

Now that all’s said and done it’s time to look back and nitpick. So much fun.

WSL evil empire aside, there are a ton of people behind the scenes working really hard to make shit go, and now we can tell them they suck. It was all wasted effort.

‘Cuz it’s kind of funny, despite the fact that this year has been chock full of huge swell, only three events went. Yes, Pe’ahi was glorious, but Todos was terrible. And it took me a while to remember the third contest. It’s mentioned, in passing, in today’s WSL press release:

While three events were ran during the 2015/2016 WSL Big Wave Tour, Long competed in only two – the Pe’ahi Challenge in Maui and the Todos Santos Challenge in Mexico – where his Finals’ berths garnered him enough points to best one of the most competitive fields in history. 

But it took me a good ten minutes of googling to remember it was Chile. Remember? The “secret” contest, where the WSL claimed there was no infrastructure to support a webcast, then shut down the local team that proved them wrong?

Ever gracious, Mr Long’s statement is a treat.

“The 2015/2016 winter season has been one for the record books,” Long said. “There’s been record-breaking waves, more big swells, bigger barrels – basically every single level of performance in big wave surfing has just been shattered this year. For me, it is always an honor to be a part of that. It is a tremendous feeling being crowned the 2015/2016 WSL Big Wave World Tour Champion.” 

All true, though the wast majority of those amazing occurrences took place outside of a heat. Because a big wave tour is still a stupid idea, and impossible to run, even during a year with an inordinate number of SSBBW type swells.

Let’s take a gander at the year end leader board, with bonus info featuring how much each guy won. I had to figure it out myself, because the WSL is very loud when it’s time to hype a comp, but very quiet when it’s time to dole out some bread.

Prizemoney varies based on swell size, so I had to kind of guess at what each guy won. Not too hard, I’m assuming Todos and Chile paid the lowest amount possible, Pe’ahi paid the most.

1. Greg Long: $18000 (Didn’t CJ Hobgood win the title in 2001 without any first place finishes? Or am I thinking of someone else?)

2. Makua Rothman: $15500 (Makua surfed in all three events, which means two big travel expenditures getting from his home rock to South America. And last minute inter-island flights aren’t exactly cheap either. Hawaiian Airlines has been using its monopoly to gouge the fuck out of Hawaii residents this year.)

3. Billy Kemper: $25000 (In my mind the real winner this year. That’s a nice chunk of change for a contest within driving distance of your home.)

4. Nic Lamb: $7000 (Lamb competed in all three events, which means he had to eat the cost of traveling from NorCal to Chile, then Mexico, then Hawaii. That’s brutal.)

5. Josh Kerr: $13500 (Kerr skipped Pe’ahi, and $13.5k ain’t a hell of a lot of money. Enough to ruin a life, but not enough to really improve one. But he earns real dough from this surf gig, so he’s the only guy on the list who probably doesn’t feel hammered so bad.)

I wonder what the future will bring.

Will the WSL realize the BWWT is a flop and can it, or sell it to the highest bidder?

Or does this model work for them? It’s a pretty sweet deal when they get to promo a possible swell, get everyone sharing and talking, knock that brand exposure out of the park. Then shut it down it last minute, no need to pay out.

The Eddie does much the same for Quik. Each year there’s no end of speculation, the term “Eddie swell” gets tossed about each time the buoys start to go nuts, but they’ve only had to fork out some cash slightly less than a third of the time.

Real talk: Claims are always shit!*

It is time to put childish things behind.

I grew, as I’ve written so many times, surfing very cold waves. I would wear two 3/2 wetsuits, one over the other, to try and beat the chill. I would always loose my booties and my feet would become dull stumps. It would take hours to regain body warmth afterward. Days even.

And, so, in my new Southern California existence I feel happy every day that it never gets truly “cold.” I never look at videos of cold waves and think, “I want to go there!” Except look at this! A beautifully shot little bit from a British man named Sharpy. Just look at it! Not the surfing but the waves themselves. Doesn’t it look dreamy? Doesn’t it make you want to strap on the armor? I feel that my style would be extremely conducive to these waves. A slow, lanky bottom turn and then up under the lip. Oh don’t worry. My hands would not shoot to the sky afterward. I would only feel shame that I wasn’t deeper.

And herein lies some very real talk. Be very honest with yourself. Have you ever done anything on a wave that was worth claiming? Have you ever surfed a wave to its maximum potential? Have you ever won the Eddie? Have you ever rotated, fully, in the air, hands free? Have you?

I understand the joyous reflex. The feeling that pumps through the veins when you have surfed a wave to the best of your ability but get a hold of yourself, man. The best of your ability is, on the grand scale, very much worse than Brett Simpson’s. What if he threw his hands up in triumph after getting 3/4 covered? We would laugh is what.

Yes, we, as a culture, are losing our ability to feel personal shame. Years of being told we are exceptional children has instilled too much confidence maybe. Too much pride in our own mediocre abilities. It is time to put on our contrition, like two 3/2 wetsuits, one over the other. Constricting? Certainly, but too bad for you. Too bad for me. If we want to be freed we can move somewhere warm and actually learn to surf really really really good.


*For anyone but Dane Reynolds, John John Florence, Kelly Slater and a small handful of others.