Puerto Escondido Challenge 2016
That's a lot of juice! For your phone! | Photo: WSL

Day One: Puerto Escondido Challenge!

Jamie Mitchell scoops a monster backside cabana (ten!) and more!

Puerto started somewhere around 3am Hawaii time. No way I was waking up for it. Instead spent the time having some surreal dream about a trip to Europe. I can only assume it was because I was reading about the brexit thing before lights out.

No big deal to me that the limeys want to ruin their country because of fear and racism. I’ve gotta focus on problems at home. A bunch of fascists want to use fear and racism to ruin my country.

Woke up at six, made some coffee, caught the end of the second heat. No one caught a wave for about a half hour. Because that’s how big wave surfing rolls.

First heat, the one that I missed, ended up G. Long/Layer/Lenny. Lenny scraped through on a single score.

Internet commentary says Greg dominated.

Heat two is Skudin/Baker/Ramirez. Great to see a local wildcard advance.

Amusing myself by guessing at who’s wasted the largest amount of money competing in the event. So far it’s Billy Kemper. Getting to Nicaragua from Kauai costs me about $1200. Tickets purchased months in advance. Don’t know how much it costs to get from Maui to Puerto, but I’d guess it’s close. At least he’s in Mexico. Thousand bucks goes a bit further down there.

Makua started off heat three with a clamping monster. Pedro Galado followed on a smoker pocket ride. But it don’t score well if the judges can see you. Nice to see human wave mentality applied to sheer fucking insanity.

Tom Lowe got a long pit on an early roll in left. No exit. Nice beating, I’m sure. Bright side for Tom, even if he doesn’t make the heat he should do well. If you take the exchange rate into consideration. US$1000 is about three billion pounds at the moment. He can use the money to buy some scraps of bread.

His effort put him in first, great great great. Fuck crusts of bread, he’ll be able to afford an entire army of orphans.

Kaipo Guerrero on the mic! Love the guy. Hardest working surfer in Hawaii. I swear, the guy never slows down for a minute. Talking to Skudin, calls him blue collar. Means that big waves ain’t a real job. Gotta slave your fingers to the bone to stay alive. Then risk your life to enrich the non-surfing carpet baggers.

Gnarly shit going down in Oaxaca right now. Cops murdering peaceful protesters. Gotta smash those unions! I had no idea until yesterday.

Dave Stanfield doesn’t know how to pronounce Oaxaca.

Looking at the shoulder to shoulder construction nightmare of Puerto. Jeez, surfers ruin fucking everything, don’t we?

Makuakai straightened out on something out of a fever delirium. Getting murdered on the inside. Safety crew trying to get to him but held off at the moment. WSL needs to stick some Go Pros on those guys. I’d love to see what it looks like to hammer a PWC head-on into an overhead wall of whitewater.

Just read that David Cameron resigned. I would too. Who wants to deal with the coming hell? “Fuck y’all. I got a ton of cash hidden offshore. I’m out.” But with a British accent.

Holy shit, Burle on a bomb. Late drop on his backhand, pulls into the closeout on the inside. Like BI’s iconic Eddie wave, only twice as big. Inflated his vest, but he’s okay.

Damn hard way to earn a buck.

Bianca Valenti is very excited she gets to compete in a single event this year. Maybe.

Slow and steady, ladies. If you’re patient and don’t raise a ruckus the menfolk will eventually treat you well.

Makua has a big lead in first, gets out fifteen minutes early. Decent decision. He’s through the heat guaranteed. Not like a normal contest where he needs to sit on his competition.

Flurry of action as the heat winds down. Mex local Lozano gets a good one, Calado follows in a long tube that closes on him at the end. Burle has to straighten out on the biggest of the three and gets detonated.

Lozano pulls in high on a clamper. That’s gonna be a long hold down.

Rothman/Calado/Burle advance from heat three. Lowe takes for most money spent to earn a grand.

Where’s Healey? Why’s his instagram private? Did I miss something? Is it because he spoke out against the WSL’s monopoly during the Red Bull comp? I’m talking to Wassel later, maybe he knows.

One more heat until we’re done for the day. Thank goodness. I’ve got shit to do.

Jamie Mitchell starts off heat four on a strong note. Crazy right hand tube, back foot slips off on the exit. Jimel Corzo, local wildcard, follows on a left that almost looks manageable. Until it hits that inside sandbar and makes my asshole pucker.

Makua’s headshot on the WSL site is terrifying.

Rothman’s head shot is so intense, if you ran it with a story about eating people and I’d say something similar. Gaze burns right through you. Follows you around the room.

I highly doubt he really eats people. Impossible to get away with that on an island as small as Oahu. But he does travel quite a bit…

Mitchell grabs his second wave. Tippy toe backhand tube, all over the face, out of control. No idea how he held on and made it to the shoulder. Corzo follows on a runner left that forces him to straigten out.

Rest of the set cleans up the field. Mitchell definitely got the score, big fat 10. Wonder if he regrets taking off on the first wave of the set? Looks like he got beat all the way to the inside.

Chilean Merello grabs his first wave of the heat and has to straight-off-adolf.

Rusty Long has one run away. Fuck, I’ve been bodysurfing storm surf whompers the last few days. I feel wrung ragged. Been scrubbing sand out of every orifice. Can’t imagine what these dudes are going through.

Merello’s on the inside having some sort of trouble on the ski. This ain’t Brazil, don’t blame the driver.

Rusty Long in the lead for hideous closeout of the contest. Mitchell behind him pumping full speed on a huge board. Gets clamped on the end. Doesn’t need the score, but he’s gonna get it.

Merellos on the next one. Looks gorgeous at the start, but he can’t get the rail in at the bottom and a thousand feet of churning whitewater catches him.

Nic Lamb picks off his first forty minutes in. He’s playing it safe. Relatively.

Mitchell’s got a ten and a 9.03. It’s in the bag. R.Long got a 9.17 for one of his waves, I assume it’s that last awful closeout. Moves into second.

Who the hell is Jimel Corzo? Kid is a madman. Crazy barrel that eats him alive moves him into second. No one’s catching Mitchell though.

Who’s stayed in the lineup, even though he’s got the win wrapped up. Because he loves this shit. It ain’t about points. It definitely ain’t about money. It’s because he lives to heave that big square jawline over the ledge.

Buzzer sounds the end of heat four. Mitchell/Corzo/R.Long advance to tomorrow.

Two Mexican nationals remain in the event. I think that’s pretty neat.

Opinion: Let’s Brexit from something!

I want to be part of the problem!

I really can’t get enough of the Brexit, can you? The way it has completely thrown the globe off its axis is totally must see TV and I am taking it all in. The British woman married to a Polish man wondering if he is going to get shipped off. Ex-London mayor Boris Johnston getting mobbed while he tries to get to his car. Confused British citizens busily Googling what the EU is after voting to brexit from it. Glorious!

And yet, I didn’t have a horse in the game. I don’t live in Britain or even in part of the commonwealth (hello Australia!). I don’t have family who will be sent out on their non-British ear. I have nothing and so my joy at the chaos is muted.

But it makes me think about us, about the surf world. Is there anyway we can brexit from something? Could we, for example, maybe brexit from humanity? Surfers are total assholes. This has been established beyond any shadow of doubt. Can we then vote to brexit ourselves, reoccupying one of the abandoned sub-human forms? Like, could we be Australopithecus afarensis or something instead?

Could we brexit from global economics? It seems that the surf industry has already gone down this path, refusing to make products that are salable anymore. Should we follow suit? Should we burn our paper money, our credit cards and start trading surf wax with each other for various services?

Could we brexit from the very constricting male/female dichotomy and demand that we are watery ballerinas, nothing more, and need restrooms that reflect our asexuality?

I want to be part of the problem! What can we brexit from?

Brexit: Markets down! Surf’s up!

The world is in a tailspin after the UK votes to leave the EU. But who cares! Surf! Pumping!

Oh how the entire world just went into a massive, puke-inducing, face-peeling tailspin! The British people voting to brexit the European Union just slaughtered global markets! The Pound Sterling is at a 30 year low against the dollar! Prime Minister David Cameron is alternately weeping and shopping for property in Sydney that he can no longer afford.

But guess what?

The Mexican Pipeline is puuuuuuuuuuuuumping right now! The Big Wave World Tour stop number who cares is running and Prime Minister of Stoke David Stanfield is going absolutely bonkers!

“There are some mondo sets out there guys and gnarly and regular goofy big time surfing!”

It’s a funny thing. Our little surf bubble is so untethered to the rest of the world that it doesn’t even react to major international events.


You can watch here! (it is impressive)

Watch: The Dimitri Project!

Hector Santamaria slides and soars in this gem!

I have made no secret of my great love for Hector Santamaria. He is different. He looks different, talks differently, acts differently, sees the world differently and surfs differently. And in our monochromatic surfing world different is gold.

In his new film, The Dimitri Project, I am specifically impressed with how the young Puerto Rican weaves the tube. So much slide! So much vision! I watch and am mesmerized. Mesmerized enough to include Hector Santamaria on the shortlist of surfers to be invited to BeachGrit’s upcoming Revel Tour™ (shhhhhhhhhhh it’s happening later this year and the WSL is gonnnna be sooooo maaaadddddd)!

Watch though for yourself and see. See the wonders and if you disagree with me then….ummmmm….fuck you. Just kidding.

But seriously. Fuck you.

But seriously kidding. I love you. And you are entitled to your opinion.

P.S. WSL CEO Paul Speaker would really like to try surfing one day but is afraid that a wetsuit would less-than-flatter his winter tummy and BeachGrit doesn’t sell boardshorts in a size 42!

P.S.S. That’s not bad though. Different is gold!

P.S.S.S. I’ve been drinking again.

The Dimitri Project from EYE SYMMETRY on Vimeo.

Craig Anderson is a contest god!

Your favorite hip surfer used to dine on the flesh of vanquished foes!

Who is your favorite favorite favorite hip surfer? Is it…. Noa Deane? Creed McTaggart? Ozzie Wright? Ozzie Wrong? Dane Reynolds? Dane Reynolds? Dane Reynolds?

Or is it Craig Anderson?

Part of the hip surfer creed (not McTaggart) is to NOT do contests. The statute is enshrined in the rule book How Thusly to Be a Hip Surfer and Not a Tool of Da Man n Lame n Shit written in 1966 by Miklos Dora.

Article 3: Resolved, that section 1.4 pertaining to being a tool of da man n lame n shit is hereby amended to read as follows:

Section 1.4 It shall be established from hence forth that putting on the singlet of a contest, defined hereafter as any professionally organized surfing event wherein there are winners (i.e. losers) and losers (i.e. hodads) judged by da man, will be lame n shit evermore.

But guess who broke this rule. Guess who was once a contest god.

Craig Anderson!

I wrote this a few years back but kept it well hidden so as not to endanger Ando’s inclusion in the hip surfer clubhouse. But I feel it is time that he own his status as, also, a contest god.

Without further ado…

The sun isn’t up yet because it is 5:30 am near Margaret River and cold. An offshore winds whistles cold. The air is cold. Craig Anderson is waxing up his closeout barrel board. 6’2. Nate Lawrence, photographer, is checking his water housing. The swell is supposed to be very nice. Substantial. Rat-a-tat remixes play. Jay-Z and Biggie. So good so good.

The call comes in from Anthony Walsh at 6. Booj. We leave. It is dark and so cold.

That damned Booj, or Boodge, or whatever is totally a short drive but totally a long cold walk. Craig complains of freezing feet. The sun is peaking from the east, illuminating various beach grasses and clumps of sand, but there is no warmth. But the sky is baby blue.

And square kegs are detonating straight on shore. Thunderous! Craig has been rapping, “We gots to get paaaid.” Then says, “Oh fuck, they’re breaking right on shore.” Nate Lawrence says, “There are guys pulling into closeout barrels without photographers. That is what West Oz does to you.” Two of them are Kai Otton and Dayyan Neve (remember him?).

We post up on the sand and watch. Kai Otton takes off on a bomb, goes straight and breaks the nose off his board. Craig says, “He went straight and his board broke. Imagine if he would have pulled in? Neck break.” When he comes in Craig asks, “What were you thinking Otts?” Kai answers, “Ahhh it looked like it had a corner.”

Craig watches for a few more minutes. “It ledges up real quick. I’m probably going to go over the falls a few times.” “Look at this one. Neck snapper.” “That bit ahead…I’d reckon you’d come up with no neck.” “Why do people do this to themselves?”

An oldish man trots down to water’s edge and starts stretching. More than stretching. Yoga. Craig says, “This guy is stretching! What a fucking idiot! He knows he’s going to get bent in half, that’s why.”

Kai breaks his second board in three places. No one had ever seen that before. Craig says, “Three pieces, wow. That is the first time I’ve ever seen that.” Kai says, “It’s fucked out there.”

Craig suits up and gets ready to paddle…but then there is a zipper malfunction on Nate Lawrence’s wetsuit. He quickly runs back to apartment to repair. Craig and I sit on the sand and watch. Dede from Indonesia comes and sits nearby. Craig says, “Kai broke his board in three places.” Dede says, “Oh shit.”

The waves are getting bigger. More square. Filled with sand and death. Anthony Walsh takes off on an absolute bomb that explodes up to the heavens around his corpse. Anthony Walsh is a man’s man.

Craig’s phone rings. It is someone asking if he wants to be in the competition today. The six star prime Margaret River Drug Aware Pro. What heat would I be in?” he asks. “Ten? I should do it, eh?” He accepts the offer.

Craig laughs. “That is the funniest stuff ever! They said I could have been in the trials with 45 guys and I said no chance.”

Dayyan walks by and Craig tells him he is in the comp. Dayyan says, “How’d you manage that?” Craig answers, “Craike’s foot is still buckled.” Dayyan says, “Good on ya then. Go right. There are these big macky rights.” Craig says, “You haven’t seen me surf, have you.”

Nate Lawrence comes back ready to shoot. Craig tells him he’s in the comp, laughs again and says, “At least I’ll get a little paper today.” Nate asks him what he’s going to ride and Craig answers, “My biggest is this 6’2 closeout barrel board.” He laughs again again and the two head out to grab a few closeouts. Craig sort of wants it to break so he can ride his shorter shortboard in solid 6-8 foot Margs.

The board doesn’t break. In the car on the way to the comp site I ask who he is going to surf against in heat ten. Craig answers, “It’ll be the best surfers in the comp. The wildcard always gets shafted because he doesn’t deserve to be out there anyway. Thanks Craike, ya legend.”

We stop and get some pies. Craig nibbles on Tim Tams. “That’s two wildcards in a month. I must be doing something right.”

We arrive at Margaret River and look at the thick thick far out to sea thick surf. The day earlier I had asked Craig to describe this same, famous wave. He answered, “I’d reckon it’s shit. One word shit. But if I had to give an in depth description I would say a fat left and right. Depends what your after. If you’re after doing cutbacks on a fat wave then it is your wave. I have surfed there a bunch of times and not once have I had any fun. I’d reckon it’s absolutely fucken shit.” Dion Agius had said, “It usually cops all the swell so it is gigantic. Cops all the wind so it is gigantic and messy. Breaks halfway out to sea, breaks fat, and is surrounded by sharks. So it is a fat, messy gigantic wave surrounded by sharks and halfway out to sea.”

The wind is just starting to come up. It is big and far away. Craig says, “I don’t want to surf that! It’s almost not worth $500!” Nate Lawrence says, “You have to pay?” Craig answers, “No, I get paid. If I get a 6 footer on the head I’ll turn around and come right back in and say 500 dollars please.”

We all look back out to sea. Craig says, “Look at how big that wave is. I don’t surf big waves. I’ve got a 6’2 that goes like shit.”

We start walking toward the competitor check-in area. Craig says, “All I want to do is a big carve with my arms behind my back. Like Occy or Matty Hoy. Except not a hack, a carve.”

He checks in and we move over to a tent before he paddles. Craig says, “The first time I surfed in the QS they made us surf that wave…South Side.” He points a tanned finger to the left. “It was 1000 knot onshore and 1000 foot. It was the worst time I’d ever had.”

Look how totally cute! No smokes or boozes…just the beating heart of a warrior!

We watch a stand-up paddle boarder get chewed alive by a giant white wall at South Side.

Craig leaves for the marathon paddle out. Ben Dunn, Heitor Alves and Nat Young are in his heat.

The horn sounds at 11:30. Beeeeep. The announcers say, “It is a real shame that Craiky isn’t in. He is a Western Australia air specialist. Craig Anderson, who is taking his spot, better boost.” The waves are still 6-8 foot and thick.

On his first wave, Craig drops into a heaving bomb completes a mid-face cutback, then wipes out incredibly on the inside section. Totally upside-down. One announcer says, “Craig is hurtling himself in the wave like a rag doll.” The other announcer says, “He got done and dusted for sure.” When the replays are shown everyone in the tent moans. He gets a 2.00

Later Craig gets a 4.33 and 3.67 for a total of 8. He had guessed his heat total would be 8.2 earlier. He got 4th in his heat.

On the way out he picks up the collection form for his money. No broken neck. Paper. And not having to surf Margarets maybe ever again. How fantastic!

“Today was not fun, but it was funny,” says Craig Anderson.