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

Parker: “Bring on the new guard!”

Is the tour's old man stranglehold at an end?

I’ve been watching the Florence/Ibelli heat on repeat, trying to figure out how the hell it makes me feel.

Tough call, definitely a close one. I really want to say the judges got it wrong. JJ’s coping clicker frontside three got my panties wet. Such a cool approach to a wonky section. Lickety-split rotation, right into a steezy layback into the pocket. Different, stylish, loose limbed beauty. Gotta love it. Should’ve scored higher, right?

But Caio… he done good! Went for risk in the dying moments. Pretty big rev, but not backed up by a heck of a lot. Judges gave him a hair too much credit, we’ve been there before.

JJ deserved a bit more, Caio a tad less. Would it have changed the result? I dunno.

It was enough to make me pay attention to the new Brazzo, though.

Went back through his heats, I like what I see. Don’t know what to call his approach. Aggressive-conservative seems good. A lot of commitment behind that wide stance. Sits somewhere in the middle. Dazzles better than De Souza, makes heats better than JJ. He kitesurfs, apparently. That’s weird.

Probably makes me racist, wrote him off without really looking. Figured he was a ‘QS type cat, bring some strong tactics, nothing fancy. But some of my best friends are Brazilian!

Not true. Even if it were, saying so would definitely make me racist.

Tracks hornswoggled me into defending my Dead Ball Era label. Then brought in Matt Warshaw to rebut. Son of a bitch had the nerve to disagree.

How dare he? Just because he has decades more experience behind him, knows more about pro surfing than anyone else on Earth, the guy thinks he has the right to provide a rational, thoughtful, view that differs from mine? Makes me angrier than a cat in a sack!

But maybe he’s right, maybe things are getting better.

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.

A team sport gives rookies time to transition. Sit the bench a bit, figure out that performance bump from really good to best in the world. Tack some muscle onto a pubescent frame. But surf is do or die, sink or swim, a weak first year can kill a promising career.

Don’t get me wrong, the judging still sucks, and the word “jam” is the worst. But maybe I should ditch the doom and gloom and appreciate potential, instead of lamenting reality.

Whatever the case, the first four events are almost always a drag. Tapping my feet, impatient.

Can we just get to Fiji already?

 


The forbidden post by Malibu surf brand Brothers Marshall that was yanked from Instagram. | Photo: Brothers Marshall

Dear Kelly: “Burn your surfboards!”

Kinky t-shirt company Brothers Marshall's heartfelt open letter to Champ… 

Late yesterday, the t-shirt label Brothers Marshall posted a photo on their Instagram account, calling for Kelly Slater to “please burn all your surfboards and call Al Merrick.”

The post was quickly flagged by the unseen levers of power at the photo-sharing app which is used by half a billion people. Did Kelly report the post? A fan? The WSL?

I called Trace B Marshall, one half of the kinky, incest-simulating brothers, at his home in West Adams, Los Angeles, to discuss.

BeachGrit: Are you drunk yet? 

Trace B Marshall: Not yet, I wish. But it is Sunday afternoon here so I’m contemplating opening a bottle of wine.

Tell me about the post…

Dude, it’s sad watching Slater. He’s ripping so hard, dominating so hard, in freesurfs, but when he’s in a heat it all collapses. He stutters and it’s because of his boards. They look like shit. I think it’s because he’s so stubborn. It’s him trying to do the next big thing. But, in reality, I’ve come to the conclusion that the Kelly Slater Board Co is making boards for artificial waves. They only work in wave pools.

You see him in his turns, in heats, and you know it’s not him not being able to do it. It’s his surfboards. It’s crazy, dude. He can be his own worst enemy. It’s like, dude, Outerknown? Come on man, the dude with the worst fashion taste ever making a high-end men’s fashion brand? Come on, just rip! We need you!

I can’t see a damn thing. All I see is a master tinkering on a work of genius…

Dude, it’s beyond. Have you ever once seen a stutter in that guy’s surfing? You’d see him mess up, misstep and it would be this calculated thing. He’d make an adjustment and then continue to fucking dominate. What’s so exciting about watching Kelly surf is he’s not mechanically perfect. He’s not John John, he’s not Brazilian, he’s not a fucking young dude doing sick airs. He exists between everything. His surfing is calculated and radical. You see him in his turns, in heats, and you know it’s not him not being able to do it. It’s his surfboards. It’s crazy, dude. He can be his own worst enemy. It’s like, dude, Outerknown? Come on man, the dude with the worst fashion taste ever making a high-end men’s fashion brand? Come on, just rip! We need you!

Would you think ill of me if I told you I was wearing an Ok t-shirt, like, now? And if I was to tell you that besides my Balmain collection, and maybe the ACME tees, it’s my favourite? 

Ha, well, we love the dude. We do things constantly to fuck with him. The dude has a sense of humour and is the greatest of all time. But, how bad do you want to see him take it to all these guys, you know? And you know he can! You can see it in his surfing. It’s not a physical handicap. It’s totally faulty equipment. I was watching the contest the other day, seeing him set his line for the biggest fucking cutback and… he bogged. Dude, put yourself there. You ride a board you haven’t ridden before, the waves get good and you have the wrong board. It’s those mistakes he’s making. All my friends can see it. Even his friends. Even Ross Williams and Strider. You can tell they’re frustrated for him.

What would you like to see change? Dancing on Merricks?

Put down the wavepool boards. They look like fucking pool boards. I want to see him come out in ankle-high striped Quiksilver Trunks, KS fin systems, a rainbow-striped tailpad and a CI with a giant red Quiksilver logo again and just… dominate. If he wants to be fashion forward, that’s fashion forward.

 


The Devil Wears Mada!

Chapter II!

The continuation of an epic unfinished surf novel!

Prologue

Chapter I

Chapter II

He stepped through the door and into the harsh late afternoon winter light. El Nino was bringing desperately needed rain to a parched southern California but was also bringing its unnecessary cold and ridiculously clear air. After the squalls passed, when the sun poked out from behind pregnant black clouds, you could see for miles and miles and miles. The pollution washed away. Any extra floating air particle drowned. Most would comment favorably about the purity but he found it super off-putting. It was like living in a magnifying glass. Or one of those crazy super HD televisions. He liked pollution’s fuzz. The harsh made him feel weird. Sick.

He put his sunnies on, quickly, and shoved his hands deep into the pockets of his black peacoat, pulling it tight. He was happy he had worn a beanie. Happy the sun would be down soon.

The traffic on Placentia was lighter than usual and there was no pedestrian activity. He stood out front of Avila’s El Ranchito spacing for a minute. Trying to think of what to actually do. The skinny palms waved above him in a hollow wind.

He looked both ways, waiting for a newer Toyota Tacoma pickup to pass, and then ran across the four lanes plus painted island to the other side, walking by a tan stucco two-story apartment building and the two-story cement office building next to it. Everything here, for miles and miles and miles, was two stories, or one. If happening by, it would only look like early 1980s urban sprawl. No distinct architecture or tone. Single story homes. Double story office complexes. Single story miniature warehouses with small front offices and metal rollup doors out back. Wide four lane’d streets with either painted or curbed islands. Palm trees here and there. Magnolias every so often.

On clear El Nino days one could see for miles because there was nothing to stand in the way. No geographical curvature. No manmade tower. Even Christ Lutheran Church’s brick steeple only reached two and a half stories into the sky.

He walked by FN/KY’s office. It’s pronounced “Fin Key” and they made towels and after surf mats that you put on the ground when changing out of a wetsuit. One of his bros had worked there before getting a job filling orders at Octopus’s miniature warehouse around the corner. They made surf traction. What Youth, the surf/culture mag, was around the corner and Banks Brand across the street from it and Outpost Kitchen, started by an Australian surfer who used to work for Electric sunglasses before starting an eco restaurant that served avocado toast and Proteins & Potassiums smoothies was next to it.

It would be impossible to know, without already knowing, that there was probably two billion dollars worth of surf/skate/snow industry locked here non-descript two mile Costa Mesa triangle between the Santa Ana River and the 55 freeway. He kicked a rock and it pinged off the toe of his red Vans satisfactorily skittering to a stop in the street. A newer Toyota Tacoma ran over it.

The Fouled Anchors thing wouldn’t be happening for another couple hours so he figured he’d walk to the 7-Eleven on the corner and grab a case of Coors Light to take back to house. Or whatever. He had to beat it before the chick came out, anyhow, and they needed Coors Light at home so whatever. He passed the coin laundry and the produce & meat joint that sold the greatest carne asada and was ready to push past a Mexican day laborer and through the glass doors when he felt his phone buzzing in his pocket.

It took him too long to fish it out because he had accidentally washed his raw denim jeans a few days ago and they had shrunk impossibly. They were already super skinny but this amount was too much. He was wanting to wear them back into shape but the wet weather wasn’t helping his cause and the cold just made them annoying. When he finally had it in his hand the screen read Missed Call: Kat V and his knuckles were scraped and the anchor ring he wore on his middle finger had fallen off.


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!


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?

Jordy?

Wilko…again?

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)