Blood Feud: Victoria vs. Western Oz!

A vicious battle over hearts and minds!

Have you been watching lots and lots of professional surfing? Did you catch each of the 3452 heats from Bells and the 1435 (and counting) heats from Marg River? Of course you have! What a wild Australian leg! Such surprise! Such drama! A never-ending story!

But let’s talk about the quieter moments when our heroes aren’t smashing, carving, dancing. Doesn’t it seem that the main World Surf League sponsors these days are tourism boards?

Victoria, the state that swaddles Bells as well as the Great Ocean Road, ran commercials between every break and during every heat of the Bog Rail Pro. “Visit Victoria!” they exhorted. I think Mick Fanning might have spoken glowingly about what the region means to him. Some others too.

And now we see Western Australia, one upping their southeastern brothers by basically snagging title sponsorship of Margaret River. Barton Lynch tells us that, while he doesn’t live in Western Australia, he always feels at home when he visits. And Tom Carroll glares at us while flying a small airplane. What are his eyes saying? Come get me or leave me alone? Nick, can you help here?

In any case, tourism is a finite resource. Only so many people visit Australia each year and Victoria and Western Australia are very far away from each other. The people must choose. The people must decide on one over the other and this is the essence of a Blood Feud™. So who is winning this vicious battle over hearts and minds? I think maybe Western Australia. I can’t get Tom’s eyes out of my head!

Caio Ibelli Margaret River Pro
Brazils Caio Ibelli just beat the Hawaiian John John Florence, who is approximate 54 times richer, for the second time in row. First Bells, now Margaret River. What a sudden and surprising blossoming! | Photo: WSL

Day Three: Caio harpoons John John!

For the second time in a row, Caio roasts JJ! Round three, Margaret River Pro… 

John John Florence is a big man. A full six-feet in height, noble shoulders, tits like well-fed crabs ready to pounce on the fleshy parts of the unwary diver. He has the best contractual arrangements on tour (roughly three million dollars a year) and, you would think, banks on better than ninths at Margaret River, Fiji, Tahiti, France and Hawaii.

Who knew he’d be cuckolded by a tiny (a full five inches shorter), balding rookie two events in a row? But you gotta love a man who slings a heat-winning eight-point five with a minute on the clock and who hacks out these gorgeous quotes, post-match.

“John John is a really good surfer and I love to watch him surf,” Ibelli said. “I spent my whole life watching him and cheering for him, but now that I am on tour I really want to beat everyone. This was the second time in a row that John John and I met. It was hard. On my second wave I almost hurt myself on the rocks and I thought the pain would not let me surf. At the last second John John let that wave go and I could land an air and make the heat last minute.”

Watch the abridged version of that heat here.

Leo Fioravanti reminds me of someone, someone very Margaret River? Someone not Taj Burrow (who also lost today) but… close. James Catto! Does anyone remember Catts and his reckless talent?

A year older than Taj, maybe better, who jumped down the rabbit hole of being too-cool-for-contests, and who, last time I heard, was doing shop fit-outs while Taj fingers his bricks of cash every night before going to bed with his model girlfriend. Anyway, Leo has the same long-limbed, tail-stomping technique as Catts. Who’d Leo stomp in round three? Adriano De Souza. Kelly Slater yesterday, the reigning world champ today.

Kolohe’s heat with Wiggoly was studded with brilliant and illuminating passages. Watch!

Gabriel? He swung and fell and won against Melling. Let’s slow-mo.

Who’s going to fling four or five more heats together and win this damn thing? These ungraspable phantoms called World Tour events?

A first for Zietz?



Drug Aware Margaret River Pro Men’s Round 3 Results:
Heat 1: Matt Wilkinson (AUS) 12.00 def. Matt Banting (AUS) 9.27
Heat 2: Joel Parkinson (AUS) 17.40 def. Michel Bourez (PYF) 11.60
Heat 3: Julian Wilson (AUS) 16.90 def. Miguel Pupo (BRA) 9.80
Heat 4: Nat Young (USA) 18.10 def. Taj Burrow (AUS) 14.77
Heat 5: Adrian Buchan (AUS) 15.50 def. Josh Kerr (AUS) 12.90
Heat 6: Leonardo Fioravanti (ITA) 15.60 def. Adriano de Souza (BRA) 15.50
Heat 7: Gabriel Medina (BRA) 14.67 def. Adam Melling (AUS) 13.10
Heat 8: Kolohe Andino (USA) 16.10 def. Wiggolly Dantas (BRA) 11.20
Heat 9: Jordy Smith (ZAF) 18.54 def. Kanoa Igarashi (USA) 14.16
Heat 10: Sebastian Zietz (HAW) 17.73 def. Jeremy Flores (FRA) 16.20
Heat 11: Caio Ibelli (BRA) 16.27 def. John John Florence (HAW) 15.54
Heat 12: Italo Ferreira (BRA) 12.43 def. Alejo Muniz (BRA) 8.23

Drug Aware Margaret River Pro Men’s Round 4 Match-Ups:
Heat 1: Matt Wilkinson (AUS), Joel Parkinson (AUS), Julian Wilson (AUS)
Heat 2: Nat Young (USA), Adrian Buchan (AUS), Leonardo Fioravanti (ITA)
Heat 3: Gabriel Medina (BRA), Kolohe Andino (USA), Jordy Smith (ZAF)
Heat 4: Sebastian Zietz (HAW), Caio Ibelli (BRA), Italo Ferreira (BRA)

Racism: Lunada Bay “boys” strike back!

"It's not about surf, it's about class war!"

Yesterday, in an amusing side note to the ongoing battle over Lunada Bay, the Palos Verdes Peninsula News published an op-ed by local realtor Frank Ponce.

It’s an amusing attempt to justify, deflect blame, continues their “outsiders are bad guys” rhetoric. Tosses out a bunch of lame red herrings, one of them pointing to some pretty ingrained racism on the part of Mr Ponce.

How about that name, Ponce? Means an effeminate man, or one who lives off a prostitute’s earnings. Too funny.

The ponce, Ponce, is trying to play the frivolous lawsuit card. Now that the city, police, and some of the xenophobic losers who live on the hill, are being sued for a decades long policy of harassing, or allowing the harassment of, outsiders, he claims it means everyone is gonna get sued.

The idea that they are being classified as a “gang” is absolutely ridiculous. Just because a group of surfers congregate to surf when the waves have good shape does NOT classify them as a “gang.” I congregate with a running club and hit the PV trails with aggression. Are we a gang? Cyclists congregate at Malaga Cove by the hundreds on the weekends and take over the streets and blow the stops signs and other traffic violations. Are they a gang? How about a group of teenagers that gather to play basketball in Compton every day? Maybe they won’t let you play on “their” court. Are they a gang? What about a group that gathers at the bowling alley, guzzles beer, and yells profanities while bowling? Perhaps the old guys from the Haggarty’s Surf Club should be called a gang. Let’s get real.

 Way to bring in the terrifying specter of black youth, Ponce, but that’s not gonna work. I know y’all are terrified of them, but the rest of us know it’s bullshit. As for the remainder of your red herring tirade, if a group of cyclists, bowlers, or runners banded together and decided to harass, intimidate, or commit vandalism, to protect the supposed sanctity of their respective road, lane, or trail, yeah, they’d be gangs. Stupid white people gangs that are banking on their privilege helping to keep them out of trouble.

I have used the Bay Boys’ surf shack to barbeque with my kids and I have slept there overnight to listen to the waves. It is NOT a fort. The Bay Boys have loaned my kids and I their kayaks, and even offered some of their old boards to surf with. It would be a true shame if the surf shack were torn down as many hikers use it as a resting place. Tearing it down will not accomplish anything. It may even cause serious erosion to the cliff above if it is torn down. Just cite, arrest or fine the few troublemakers. Most of the surfers that gather there are law abiding citizens who come to surf the point. I am certain there are much bigger problems in this city than surfers being belligerent and not sharing waves. Tax payers’ money might be best used in stopping the rash of burglaries in the area.

 Poncey-boy wants their clubhouse to stay, he likes it. He uses it to barbecue. The government shouldn’t be wasting money destroying illegal buildings on public property! That’s not their job!

Except it is. In the case of the California Coastal Commission it is, literally, their job.

And the ponce totally ignores the reality that the heart of the lawsuit is based on the fact that the cops are not citing people. They’re looking the other way. Have been doing so for decades. Finally being held accountable. Kinda. Regardless of the outcome, the cops won’t pay a dime. But the local taxpayers, the same rich assholes who have been benefiting from and supporting their look-the-other-way policy will. Which is right, and just, and above all, hilarious.

Frank Ponce travels to surf. He’s been to “Malibu, Rincon, Swamis, Trestles, Rat Beach, San Onofre, Hanalei Bay and other locations.” All bastions of localism, right? It’s been nothing but hell for me in Hawaii. Roving bands of brown lunatics shouting at me, denying me access to the beaches overlooked by their billionaire parents’ mansions. My average day in the water looks like something out of Surf Nazis Must Die.

In the end Ponce misses the point. It’s not about surf, it’s about class war! The first shot in a coming battle that’ll see them bruised and bloodied, their clifftop splendor burned to the ground, beaches overrun with the millions who live within a short drive. No more privilege, no more privacy. They’ll be forced to wallow in the muck of the common man, just like the rest of us. No more special treatment, no more deserted beaches. Just mobs on every swell, a total lack of parking for local residents.

This lawsuit will only create an opportunity for more lawsuits from Santa Cruz to San Diego by attorneys digging for gold. There will people complaining that they were verbally heckled, or they felt excluded. The reason this is such a circus is the close proximity to L.A., a city with about 10 million people and lots of media. The great swells only last about four months, so the competition for the lineup is tough. Just round up the few troublemakers and put an end to this circus.

Digging for gold! Classic! But it misses a crucial point. Verbally harassing beach-goers, excluding them from access to a public resource, both are crimes. Crimes which aren’t really committed all to often in any location other than Palos Verdes. Crimes the police have allowed, the city has supported, and from which the local residents have benefited.

My favorite thing about the whole affair? If the suit succeeds, and an injunction barring the middle aged shitheads who call the place home is granted, a few will ignore it, get popped, and go to jail.

Not for long, thanks to hellacious overcrowding in the California penal system, but something tells me a bunch of spoiled tough guy white boys won’t fair well at LA County lockup. Doesn’t matter if they’re in for a day or a year, jail’s gonna scar their softcock hearts deeply.

Just in: Slater to surf tour ’til 50!

Kelly Slater agrees to surf professionally until he reaches the half century mark!

Five years ago I met Matt Warshaw. He had written a gorgeous piece in The New York Times imploring Kelly Slater to hang it up after ten world titles and go out at his peak:

It’s been pointed out that a lot of the people who want Slater to continue are older surfers, people who need him out there performing for the same reason a few million baby boomers need the Rolling Stones out there performing — because, illusion or not, it keeps the flame of youth alive.

Hell, I’m old. I’m 50. And I say to Kelly Slater: give us a wave and a smile and walk away. Do the thing that virtually every other sports legend, from Ali to Armstrong, has been unable to do. Go out on top. Nobody’s getting close to that record. Not in your lifetime, and probably not ever.

I countered in the equally impressive Surfing Magazine with some foolishness about how Kelly should never retire:

Truth be told, Robert Kelly Slater is aging better than any living man. Better than Brad Pitt, better than George Clooney. Better than Keith Richards. He is immune to skin-crinkling UV rays. He is immune to moisture-sapping salt. His eyes, and I swear this is true, get bluer and bluer each time we speak. His skin a more even caramel. He is a perfect stasis of gravitas and youthful charm. He is wisdom and vigor. And it would be a mortal sin to deprive a surf public of that sort of genuine handsome. It would be a mortal sin to leave us with Heitor Alves.

I believed it at the time and it was worth writing because Matt and I had a good laugh about it in person and are now fast friends. This year, though, I’ve wavered before jumping completely into the camp that his career is over and watching the slow death is too sad.

But yesterday! His boards look terrible but his surfing wasn’t bad and then that post-heat interview. Not often does the loser step up to Rosy Hodge’s hot mic. Not often to we see actual pain in the eyes, hear a voice searching for answers. Kelly’s graciousness in that moment made me remember what we are going to lose. It made me want to stave off his retirement for as long as we can. I’m going to pretend he will stay professional surfing until he hits the half century mark. Would you like to join me?

John John Florence Margaret River Pro
Maybe the problem's the old guard, the decrepit fuckers in their thirties and onwards that have had a stranglehold on competitive surfing for the last decade plus. Taj, Mick, Parko, Kerr, Slater, et al., have been destroying rookie dreams for far too long. Once they're all gone, exploring life post-tour, selling real estate or shilling soft goods or drinking themselves into oblivion, the young guys will finally get a chance to come into their own. | Photo: WSL

Day Two: Slater’s Pyre, JJ’s Fire!

John John like Rommel's juggernaut, Slater rides the bleak highway out of town… 

Shrill winds buffeted the Margaret River rights today, first offshore, later crosshore, flogging the imperfect sets.

You might’ve turned your browser on early for the Slater-Andino-Pupo show this morning, not so much for the pleasure of seeing a master at work on his highly sophisticated surfboards but to see if… this is it… has the most beautiful surfer that’s ever lived suddenly become old and funky and ugly?

And so you wonder, you hope, for a little post-Easter miracle. What if Slater sucks in the south-west’s wonderful autumn air and his muscles quiver back to life?

Yeah, he was outsurfed by Brother, in round one, but you could see Slater rising on his elbows. Round two would be a jab in the arm.

Watch an abbreviated version of that round one heat here.

Y’couldn’t imagine Slater booking two lasts and a second-last from the first three events. But Italy’s Leo Fioravanti waltzed his step-daddy’s charge straight into last place.

Watch that here.

Explaining the loss(es), Kelly said, “I really can’t get in a pussy mood” or thereabouts.

John John Florence? Don’t tell me his eyes don’t bulge out monster style when he gets a little juice under his fins. He looks tranquillised on the Gold Coast, in Rio, Portugal. But WA? Big France? Tahiti? Fiji? John John Florence is a blue flame. For all the “surfing for sevens” here, John John jerks his hips for eights, nines and tens. You like this?

Do a little highlight catchup here.

Drug Aware Margaret River Pro Men’s Remaining Round 1 Results:

Heat 10: Kolohe Andino (USA) 15.70, Kelly Slater (USA) 12.16, Miguel Pupo (BRA) 5.10
Heat 11: Josh Kerr (AUS) 14.93, Wiggolly Dantas (BRA) 14.50, Jay Davis (AUS) 9.50
Heat 12: John John Florence (HAW) 18.87, Adrian Buchan (AUS) 15.27, Sebastian Zietz (HAW) 13.20

Drug Aware Margaret River Pro Men’s Round 2 Results:
Heat 1: Jeremy Flores (13.00) 14.80 def. Jay Davies (AUS) 14.60
Heat 2: Jordy Smith (ZAF) 15.94 def. Jacob Willcox (AUS) 13.73
Heat 3: Leonardo Fioravanti (ITA) 16.60 def. Kelly Slater (USA) 13.43
Heat 4: Wiggolly Dantas (BRA) 18.06 def. Jack Robinson (AUS) 14.37
Heat 5: Adrian Buchan (AUS) 18.00 def. Dusty Payne (HAW) 17.93
Heat 6: Adam Melling (AUS) 13.84 def. Conner Coffin (USA) 12.63
Heat 7: Caio Ibelli (BRA) 14.74 def. Alex Ribeiro (BRA) 12.83
Heat 8: Alejo Muniz (BRA)12.23 def. Kai Otton (AUS) 10.57
Heat 9: Matt Banting (AUS) 14.90 def. Stuart Kennedy (AUS) 13.30
Heat 10: Kanoa Igarashi (USA) 14.23 def. Ryan Callinan (AUS) 13.64
Heat 11: Miguel Pupo (BRA) 14.50 def. Davey Cathels (AUS) 13.33
Heat 12: Sebastian Zietz (HAW) 15.40 def. Keanu Asing (HAW) 13.00

Drug Aware Margaret River Pro Men’s Round 3 Match-Ups:
Heat 1: Matt Wilkinson (AUS) vs. Matt Banting (AUS)
Heat 2: Joel Parkinson (AUS) vs. Michel Bourez (PYF)
Heat 3: Julian Wilson (AUS) vs. Miguel Pupo (BRA)
Heat 4: Nat Young (USA) vs. Taj Burrow (AUS)
Heat 5: Josh Kerr (AUS) vs. Adrian Buchan (AUS)
Heat 6: Adriano de Souza (BRA) vs. Leonardo Fioravanti (ITA)
Heat 7: Gabriel Medina (BRA) vs. Adam Melling (AUS)
Heat 8: Wiggolly Dantas (BRA) vs. Kolohe Andino (USA)
Heat 9: Jordy Smith (ZAF) vs. Kanoa Igarashi (USA)
Heat 10: Jeremy Flores (FRA) vs. Sebastian Zietz (HAW)
Heat 11: John John Florence (HAW) vs. Caio Ibelli (BRA)
Heat 12: Italo Ferreira (BRA) vs. Alejo Muniz (BRA)