Gabriel Medina back flip
Gabriel Medina's back-flip enlivened round two, thrown into little one-turn beachbreak waves. | Photo: WSL

Round Two: Oi Rio Pro!

Should Wimbledon take place on cracked public concrete?

Wake up, check my email, Rio ran.

Good, great, grand! Clicked on the analyzer, surf looks kind of fun. I’d paddle out. In those conditions. Not in Rio, where everyone agrees the water is poison.

Well, not everyone. Only scientists and competitors and locals. People looking to earn a buck, the WSL/IOC, they say it’s fine. Don’t worry. You’re far more likely to die from stray gunfire between heats than some crazy waterborne illness.

And, you know, say a pro catches some mystery bug that ruins his body, makes his cock rot off? They’d probably name it after him. That’d be neat.

“I’m sorry to tell you, you’ve got a bad case of Desouzitis.”

“But that is my name, Doctor!”

“I know. I just made it up. Kind of cool, right? Also, your dick is gonna fall off.”

Maybe that’s a bit over the top. I don’t know. I’m not a doctor. I just drive around in a van offering free pap smears. Never actually claim to possess medical training. Not my fault if women assume.

Watched Adriano three tap the first wave of the day for a 6.33. Mel calling it from behind the mic.

“Exciting, electric, fast, crisp. All of those adjectives that describe the type of surfing we see from Adriano. No mistakes whatsoever there. Gets three maneuvers done, I think that’s a great way to start.”

Okay, so that’s how it’s gonna go. The Condor drew turd polishing duty. Term’s never been more literal.

“This is the kind of thing, you know, you would find at your home beach. Right? That’s the kind of wave here. And that’s why it belongs on the tour. I beat on this a lot. I apologize for all you folks in there, you know? Because there’s a lot of people who feel like Brazil shouldn’t be here. But I believe, truly, that this is a part of the year where you get to see what these world’s best would do on a beach break that you have around your house. Right? You’re not gonna have Fiji draining, you’re not gonna have Tahiti in your backyard, you’re not gonna have all, uh, all of these other breaks. You know, J Bay. But you will have something similar to this.”

Good rhetoric. Solid talking point to trot out when the surf sucks. Unfortunate reality of competitive surfing. Waves come or they don’t. Always a chance a stop’ll get skunked.

But, you know, it’s not exactly something to go looking for. If surfing is a real sport, and I guess we’re pretending it is, if the surfers are the best in the world, which I think we can agree that they mostly are, dropping them into the mundane reality of the everyman’s life don’t make much sense.

Should Wimbledon take place on cracked public concrete? Would the NFL ever schedule playoff games at terribly maintained high school fields? Would NBA players be willing to risk their joints on wobbly asphalt? Stake their careers on net-less tilted rims?

Of course not. Because no one wants to see the world’s best compete in average conditions. And the WSL knows that. If they didn’t they’d put far more effort into broadcasting the ‘QS.

Pretending Brazil is ideal, that we tune in for some sort of how-to-surf-slop tutorial is damn disingenuous. We want to see the fantasy. World’s best in the world’s best.

I think we all understand the economic aspirations inherent in the Brazilian leg. Rio’s presence on tour has nothing to do with providing entertaining viewing. Efforts to convince the public otherwise shows just how stupid the WSL thinks we are. Or how little they care whether we like what we see.

Maybe they just think we’ll keep tuning in, regardless of what’s on offer. All the talk is targeted at the non-surfers supposedly watching. Make them think it’s exciting, then it is!

That approach could work, it’s not like they know what they’re looking at. Tested the concept on my wife, the only non-surfer within arm’s reach. Showed her Medina’s ten. Asked what she thought.

“That just looks like one of those whoopity-doos they all do. Is that like technical, or something I’m not aware of?”

Oi Rio Pro Men’s Round 2 Results:
Heat 1: Adriano de Souza (BRA) 13.00 def. Bino Lopes (BRA) 4.96
Heat 2: Deivid Silva (BRA) 14.73 def. Matt Wilkinson (AUS) 14.50
Heat 3: Dusty Payne (HAW) 13.93 def. Julian Wilson (AUS) 11.34
Heat 4: Gabriel Medina (BRA) 19.40 def. Alex Ribeiro (BRA) 7.90
Heat 5: Jack Freestone (AUS) 14.57 def. Jeremy Flores (FRA) 11.77
Heat 6: Matt Banting (AUS) 14.76 def. Kolohe Andino (USA) 14.66
Heat 7: Sebastian Zietz (HAW) 14.33 def. Keanu Asing (HAW) 11.86
Heat 8: Caio Ibelli (BRA) 10.73 def. Jadson Andre (BRA) 10.27
Heat 9: Miguel Pupo (BRA) 13.30 def. Adrian Buchan (AUS) 11.73
Heat 10: Stuart Kennedy (AUS) 14.17 def. Wiggolly Dantas (BRA) 11.44
Heat 11: Kanoa Igarashi (USA) 15.33 def. Josh Kerr (AUS) 13.27
Heat 12: Michel Bourez (PYF) 13.50 def. Conner Coffin (USA) 11.74

Oi Rio Pro Men’s Round 3 Match-Ups:
Heat 1: Filipe Toledo (BRA) vs. Leonardo Fioravanti (ITA)
Heat 2: John John Florence (HAW) vs. Alejo Muniz (BRA)
Heat 3: Nat Young (USA) vs. Dusty Payne (HAW)
Heat 4: Caio Ibelli (BRA) vs. Ryan Callinan (AUS)
Heat 5: Stuart Kennedy (AUS) vs. Davey Cathels (AUS)
Heat 6: Adriano de Souza (BRA) vs. Lucas Silveira (BRA)
Heat 7: Italo Ferreira (BRA) vs. Marco Fernandez (BRA)
Heat 8: Kanoa Igarashi (USA) vs. Miguel Pupo (BRA)
Heat 9: Sebastian Zietz (HAW) vs. Adam Melling (AUS)
Heat 10: Jordy Smith (ZAF) vs. Jack Freestone (HAW)
Heat 11: Michel Bourez (PYF) vs. Matt Banting (AUS)
Heat 12: Gabriel Medina (BRA) vs. Deivid Silva (BRA)

Just in: The pros are better than you!

At surfing! Maybe other things too!

It is very early morning but not too early for the Rio Pro! Due the magic of technology, I am watching Gab Medina, Matt Banting and Keanu Asing? (it being so early and difficult for my eyes to see things under two feet tall) smash, crash and bash an under two foot lip.

Fly? Yeah. They’re doing that too.

And I totally get the complaints that are sure to rain down upon the World Surf League today. It sounds completely and utterly silly, for instance, for the commentators to discuss Kolohe’s “extremely technical surfing” when his is, quite literally, bent in half trying to push a miniature water lump but God bless them all! They only know one speed and that is hyperbole to the max!

What I am really enjoying is watching the pros smoke a wave that I would think twice about surfing. I would wander over to the fence, peer down upon it and think……..ummmmmm. But the pros! Can they surf anything? Anything at all? Gabs really did do some wonderful airs. I think Jack Freestone did something to his hair. Seabass. All I would have done, had I paddled out, is bog rail and pull into a closeout tube. I mind surf the gorgeous waves on tour, the Pipelines and Whatnots and think, “Yeah, I could surf ok if I was out with only one other man…” but watching that one other man surf trash makes me realize how much better the pros are than all of us. Me for sure but also you.

Also, what is a skateboarding track and how about that new Turtle Bay ad? 2006 techno!

kissing skaters
Could you see a similar image appearing in a surfing magazine? Oh King of the Road!

Parker: Skate vs Surf!

Imagine a surf version of King of the Road? Would lame describe it?

Thrasher is a skateboarding institution. King of the Road is a damn amusing scavenger hunt competition that’s been running for somewhere around a decade.

The concept is pretty simple. Challenges are written up, a couple different skate teams travel around in vans earning points for completing them. Winners get a cover, maybe some money too.

Good fun in the hands of skaters. I’d love to see a surfy take on it. Mainly because it’d be the lamest thing on earth. No “piss your pants in public” challenges. More like “do some sit-ups while eating an acai bowl.”

This year Thrasher decided to try and make some money off the deal. Partnered with Vice Media, gave them first crack at running it.

Because it’s Vice, which used to maybe be kind of cool, but definitely isn’t anymore, they’re making a cash grab. New episodes are free for a moment, then you’ve gotta use your cable subscription to log in. Gotta be a US provider. They go up later on the Thrasher site but are apparently blocked outside the good ol’ US of A. And aren’t the full episodes anyway.

Or so the internet comments lead me to believe. Either way, it’s not too big of a deal. They’re up on some torrent sites if you know where to look. Or you can use a proxy. Always options for bypassing regional restrictions, or just straight up “stealing.”

I can just click and stream, ‘cuz I live in the greatest-ish country on Earth!

The first two episodes are up and worth a watch. Funny, great skating. Andy Roy is present, which is entertaining.

If you’re not familiar with Andy, he’s an amazingly talented skater/cautionary tale/prison rapist who should be long dead. Read his legendary Big Brother interview HERE.

Plus you get to marvel at Jake Phelps, who increasingly looks like he’s only kept mobile by necromantic arts.

Give it a watch.  Have a laugh at what amounts to a bunch of middle aged men making money by convincing young boys to do things that are dangerous, humiliating, illegal, or some combination of the three.

Rabbit Kekai
Rabbit Kekai was the best 60-year-old surfer in the world, then the best 70-year-old, then the best 80-year old. Not sure when he actually had to quit, but I’m sure it wasn’t by choice. | Photo: @kellyslater

Rabbit Kekai is Dead!

Rabbit Kekai was surfing's last link to the Duke. Royalty? Yeah, he was.

Hawaii News Now is reporting that Rabbit Kekai passed away this morning at the age of 95.

I met Rabbit once, briefly.  San Diego tradeshow, he was very friendly. Posed for a picture with me. Exchanged some small talk.

But I didn’t know the guy.

So I’m not gonna bother writing some half-assed summary of his long life.  Pretend that it doesn’t even a poor job of representing who he was, what he did. Plenty of other people will have more worthwhile things to say in the coming days.

Check out the chat Warshaw and Derek had recently if you’d like some information about the man that isn’t the result of a fifteen minute internet search.

From Matt Warshaw,  “These were guys who made a decision to surf when surfing wasn’t a career, or anything close to respectable—that’s a big deal. That’s a hard decision. Surfing is so easy when your parents and teachers do it, and it’s all over People magazine, and John John’s making 3 mil a year or whatever. I love guys like Rabbit who had to do it by hook or crook, when nobody gave a shit, and nobody was watching, or if they were watching, they were thinking, Get a job, you bum. We were only ever interesting, surfers that is, when this was hard. Rabbit lived a great life, a spectacular life, rode a million waves, loved a thousand women.”

Rabbit Kekai from ENCYCLOPEDIA of SURFING videos on Vimeo.


Beware: “Shrunken baby brains!”

Brazil is in chaos and don't you wish you were there?

The Oi Rio Pro is off again and our heroes have yet another day to explore the host country Brazil. The problems there are clear and present and everywhere. The pollution was such they had to move the event site, crime is so bad that soccer star Rivaldo said, “Don’t come!” The Olympics, only eighty some days off, is in shambles and a Zika epidemic threatens the world. Amir Attaran, a lawyer at the University of Toronto, said, “The question is really — and it’s an ethical one — is it worth having the games in Rio when you could have it elsewhere or just delay your pleasure a little bit so as not to run the horrible risk of — I hate to say it — shrunken baby brains?”

But you know Mr. Attaran loved to say it! You know he’s been waiting much of his adult life to use the phrase “shrunken baby brains” in an appropriate context. And yesterday, to top everything off, President Dilma Rousseff was ousted in what she, and her supporters, called a coup. A coup! While our heroes are roaming the mean streets! I tell you this, and I tell you honestly, I am heartbroken not to be in Brazil right now. I cannot think of a more exciting place in the whole world. Do you think Nat Young appreciates the gravity of what he is witnessing? Do you think he wakes up, reads the news and then steps out with a notebook and camera? Do you think Ryan Callinan knows that he is nuzzled up to the bosom of history?

If I were in Brazil I would be getting detailed analysis of the geopolitical situation from the keen minds on tour. Davey Cathels on Brazil’s Budget Laws. Matt Wilkinson on double digit inflation. Adam Melling on new president Michael Temer’s cabinet choices. I feel it would be a big hit. I feel CNN would be given a run for its dwindling money.