Jordy Smith J-Bay
The funny thing about Jordy Smith. The waves always get so small during his heat. It's overhead all day, then he paddles out and it drops to shoulder high. Oops, wait. He's a normal-sized human man competing against a bunch of Oompa Loompas. It's a perspective thing. | Photo: WSL

J-Bay: “Mix up your turns, worm!”

I feel like I've seen it all before. Same guys, same turns. Maybe I'm jaded? Am I crazy?

There were three minutes left in Parko v. Banting when I realized I was bored. Is there something wrong with me? It’s flawless rippable J-Bay and I couldn’t care less.

I feel like I’ve seen it all before. Every year, over and over. Same guys, same turns. Maybe I’m jaded? Am I crazy?

It’s like every guy wants to win the same way. No one trying to draw a different line. Coach mentality. Win at any cost and the fans pay the price.

J-Bay’s so fast, so much opportunity to wind up for something huge. Throw some improv. Instead I’m watching high talent choreography. Everything pre-planned, nothing off the cuff.

Didn’t Callinan used to be some aerial wunderkind? Wasn’t Banting too? Did their injuries kill that part of their soul? Are they worried for their joints, thinking like men ten years older?

Maybe we can blame the Brazilians. When it came time for a new crew to storm onto the scene they grabbed the spot. Motivated contest machines from birth. Not something they grew into, ingrained in their psyches from the moment they took their first steps.

Maybe it’s because the old men held on so long this time. Mid-thirties, early-forties, still top of the game. Leading by example. But what they’re doing was new when they started. The young ones are just following suit.

John John’s different. Medina is when he needs the score. Filipe shows flashes. Coffin’s got potential.

Maybe I should blame the judges.

Ah, but it’s not that simple! They’re willing to give single maneuver waves big scores. They just aren’t willing to punish a semi-safe, tried and true, approach.

Dantas/Andre… real demonstration of skill, yes. Floater, backside bash, float. Any one of those turns would have made my year. But it’s so repetitive. There’s gotta be a way to encourage some variation.

You know what it might be? No skis! It’s a damn long paddle from halfway down. A mid wave fail has real consequences. Zip ’em back out right quick and they can risk their shit.

Melling and Coffin was a close heat, the old man took the win. And he deserved it. Mixed up his turns a tad. Coffin just kinda did the same thing over and over. He did it well, but he can do better. Maybe Gerr will give him a flogging. “Mix up your turns, worm!”

Flores beat himself. Let an underscore trigger a meltdown. Elbowed his board, bash bash bash. Used that anger to go hard on the end section. Great to watch. I love it. But you’ve gotta safety bonk for that extra point.

I don’t know why Pupo won, even so. But he did.

Conner Coffin’s got quite the chest pelt for someone his age. Maybe we should stop comparing him to Curren, start calling him Baby Pottz. Judges told him he lost because of lack of risk? Did I hear that right? That’s cool. I can understand his frustration, but he did do the same turn a bajillion times.

Kerr’s stalefish rev warmed my heart. Love how he surfs, even though Rusty’s marking guy pulled his upcoming ad campaign (and a testimonial in our media kit) when I wrote about his IV use at Snapper. I think I’d be justified to hold a grudge. They’re professional fucking athletes, I’m allowed to write about them.

BJ Penn got pulled from UFC 199 and handed a suspension for doing the exact same thing, while out of competiton.Kerrzy did it right before paddling out. It’s newsworthy, damnit.

This is how companies lean on surf media.

Dusty Payne ripped the shit out of one during his heat against Stu Kennedy. Remembered to play it safe at the end. If he’d tried to do something cool, then fell, he’d’ve got a six or something. End section maneuver makes it a 9.77.

I think that’s how it works.

The funny thing about Jordy Smith. The waves always get so small during his heat. It’s overhead all day, then he paddles out and it drops to shoulder high.

Oops, wait. He’s a normal-sized human man competing against a bunch of Oompa Loompas. It’s a perspective thing.

Smith handed Andino the younger his ass without too much difficulty. Kolohe looked out of rhythm. But he was trying to be different-ish, and I like that.

John John opened up his heat with some stylish groovitude that left my panties moist. Payne answered back with a beauty, put all that speed to good use at the end. Heaved a huge one toward the heavens but couldn’t stick it.

Which really highlights a problem with the judging. A boring turn at the end would’ve given him a bump. Might’ve been enough to grab the win. We keep seeing it happen, they get handed a reward for the “finishing maneuver.” But by trying hard he got punished, ended up losing the heat by point-nine.

Kerr manhandled Ferrari in conditions which looked difficult to surf on your backhand. Slightly lined up, crumbly lip. Makes for a target on your forehand.

A target at which Kerr aimed and soared.

Final heat of the day, GOAT v Buchan, saw the conditions continue to deteriorate. Ace was obviously struggling to deal with the semi-gutlessness. Mid face chop catching his rail, slowing him down.

Slater put his forehand advantage to good use. Didn’t really wow, but definitely won.

And that’s the end for now. Swell bump forecast for Saturday and Sunday. Hopefully it’ll add some zazz. Maybe it won’t. I don’t know.

J-Bay Open Round 2 Results:
Heat 1: Matt Wilkinson (AUS) 8.47 def. Steven Sawyer (ZAF) 7.93
Heat 2: John John Florence (HAW) 17.27 def. Alex Ribeiro (BRA) 11.77
Heat 3: Filipe Toledo (BRA) 16.54 def. Kai Otton (AUS) 14.34
Heat 4: Adrian Buchan (AUS) 10.50 def. Keanu Asing (HAW) 3.87
Heat 5: Michel Bourez (PYF) 16.07 def. Ryan Callinan (AUS) 12.90
Heat 6: Alejo Muniz (BRA) 14.27 def. Nat Young (USA) 12.93
Heat 7: Joel Parkinson (AUS) 15.17 def. Matt Banting (AUS) 12.17
Heat 8: Wiggolly Dantas (BRA) 18.27 def. Jadson Andre (BRA) 17.13
Heat 9: Adam Melling (AUS) 14.86 def. Conner Coffin (USA) 14.67
Heat 10: Miguel Pupo (BRA) 15.67 def Jeremy Flores (FRA) 13.44
Heat 11: Josh Kerr (AUS) 18.06 def. Jack Freestone (AUS) 15.26
Heat 12: Dusty Payne (HAW) 17.47 def. Stuart Kennedy (AUS) 11.44

J-Bay Open Round 3 Results:
Heat 1: Jordy Smith (ZAF) 18.20 def. Kolohe Andino (USA) 10.10
Heat 2: John John Florence (HAW) 14.83 def. Dusty Payne (HAW) 13.93
Heat 3: Josh Kerr (AUS) 16.40 def. Italo Ferreira (BRA) 14.20
Heat 4: Kelly Slater (USA) 11.73 def. Adrian Buchan (AUS) 5.20

J-Bay Open Upcoming Round 3 Match-Ups:
Heat 5: Sebastian Zietz (HAW) vs. Michel Bourez (PYF)
Heat 6: Matt Wilkinson (AUS) vs. Alejo Muniz (BRA)
Heat 7: Gabriel Medina (BRA) vs. Adam Melling (AUS)
Heat 8: Julian Wilson (AUS) vs. Joel Parkinson (AUS)
Heat 9: Filipe Toledo (BRA) vs. Miguel Pupo (BRA)
Heat 10: Mick Fanning (AUS) vs. Kanoa Igarashi (USA)
Heat 11: Caio Ibelli (BRA) vs. Wiggolly Dantas (BRA)
Heat 12: Adriano De Souza (BRA) vs. Davey Cathels (AUS)

Serially dissatisfied!
Serially dissatisfied!

Ugly truth: We are whoremongers!

Malcontents! Belly-achers!

It is time to admit a hard truth. A fact and uncomfortable flaw. As surfers, we are incorrigible sluts. We are serial polygamists. We are never satisfied with one true love but rather always want something more, something different.

We get a surfboard, a gorgeous, new 6’2 squash tail and we paddle out on a mushy day and look over at the man riding a new 5’0 fish with lust in our eyes and lust in our hearts and want what is under him. We get a 5’7 chubby thing and paddle out on a day that is perfect and hollow and look over at the man riding a 6’2 pintail and look at him in the barrel and want what is under him.

And so we build quivers. Our garages are stacked, floor to rafter, with varied and different surfboards. We gather our fishes and our squash tails and our square tails and our pintails and even some goofy fun ones, like our longboards but we are never satisfied. We always lust for more.

And it is time to stop. We are addicts and the hole in our heart will never be filled by another surfboard. It is time to find the one. To cherish the one. To travel with the one. To lay the one to rest, when it is dinged and yellowed and never surf it again. But what one? Ahhhh that is for each man to decide himself.

Maybe the one is a fish even when it is big and hollow. Maybe the one is a super high performance pintail even when it is two foot and bad. Or maybe, just maybe, the surfboard shapers are already producing the perfect board that kills the pathological need for any other. Maybe they are producing our Stepford Wife.

I submit, for discussion, Matt Biolos’s Short Round. Matt Biolos is one of our great heroes. He makes a board like no other and while many of his shapes are beautiful, his Short Round is beautiful and functional in so many different kinds of waves. She has the cutest little rounded squash behind and is fuller through her midsection. She is to be ridden shorter, and I ride my own as a 5’9”. She loves to play. She loves to jive and shake in everything from junk to overhead perfection. And she makes me feel like a man, an accomplished man.

When I am on her, I rarely look to see what others are riding, but I feel their longing gazes looking at my Short Round. “Coveting is a sin!” I shout and they turn away, disgusted with themselves. The Short Round is a one.

And I know you. I know your eyes are wandering now to the sidebar now and to the clocks up above and you are thinking, “Sellout! Sellout! Lost is paying you to say this!” I respond, in my mind, “Oh ye of little faith. Have you learned nothing from your time here? Nothing at all? We only speak the truth! Or, like, the rumor! But it is really and truly what I ride every single day and every single where!”

In finding a one, travel becomes easier. All a one needs is a simple bag. She is less expensive to check and she is less difficult to tote and, most importantly, when sitting in a hotel room, preparing to paddle out at some exotic break, there is no internal debate. There is only one.

In finding a one, living becomes easier. When the no-goods come asking to borrow a surfboard they can be vibed, heavily, and told to fuck off. There are no extras to go around. There is no orgy. There is monogamy and love and the no-goods can fuck off. Gross derelicts.

In finding a one, love becomes easier. Sweet sweet love. There is no distraction. There is only one. Or to quote a man far wiser than me, “Is it getting better, or do you feel the same? Will it make it easier on you now, you got someone to blame? You say, ‘One love, one life, when it’s one need in the night. One love, we get to share it. Leaves you, baby, if you don’t care for it.’”

Filipe Toledo J Bay
Do you wonder why Filipe Toledo, who surfs with variety and risk, never quite gets the scores you think he deserves? Maybe the judges are little contemptuous that he retreats into his shell when it's bigger? The things Filipe had to do to get an 8.77 at J-Bay! | Photo: WSL

J-Bay: “Strong wind gelds best surfers!”

I understand how hard it is for these guys to surf this unimpressively. Average Joe does not.

There’s a kava bar down the road from me I’ve been going to a bit lately. Kava’s okay. It looks and tastes like dirty dishwater, leaves your mouth and throat as numb as a bump of terrible blow. But it gets the mellow on and that works for me when I’m latched onto a subject and can’t let it go. Which happens less and less as I age, but still more frequently than I’d like.

The real reason I go is because of the woman who works there. Maybe she owns it. Tall, attractive. Got long dark curly hair. The hair deal is a thing of mine. Don’t know why but it really gets me going. Super thick, can’t run your fingers through it. You know what I mean. Jew hair. Absolutely love it.

I fell asleep on the couch with a numb mouth around 9:30. A few heats in to this year’s J-Bay comp. Not a huge deal, conditions were difficult. Watched White Lightning win his heat on a funky ankle. Sat through a kind of boring number Ferrari came out on top of.

Really only wanted to watch John John surf. Which I did. And it was weird.

Kanoa took the win, and I can’t say I was super surprised. I think the biggest problem with the rookie’s surfing is its hesitancy. He always looks like he’s trying not to fall. Backs off right before the end of a turn. Which is where the magic happens. Pushing through for that extra split-second is what separates the very good from the absolutely excellent.

But at J-Bay, in these conditions, it kind of works.

Not that I’ve ever surfed there. If I’m shelling out the type of cash it takes to get me halfway across the world I’m going somewhere warm. But, still, slightly overhead, howling side-offshores, on a fast running wave is difficult to deal with. I’m well aware that it’s a hundred times harder than they make it look.

And so Igarashi’s semi-check turn approach did well. Because it was the right one. And he got one very good wave with three (I think?) long tight tubes.

What really struck me as odd was the commentators’ jabber about him during the heat. Talking about how well he’s done his rookie year. Which he hasn’t. Only made it past the third round once.

His post heat interview with Rosie seemed scripted and awkward. And, you know, if it was scripted, or rehearsed a little beforehand, I can’t blame anyone. It’s okay trying to give the kid a PR leg up. I often forget he’s only eighteen, surfing against guys who were legends when I was his age. When I remember how young he is I think about some of the things I’ve written, then I feel bad.

I couldn’t have handle living under a microscope at eighteen.

If conditions stay like this, and he keeps surfing like this, he’ll do well in this event. But if it gets bigger or the winds backs off he’ll be in trouble.

ADS is another guy whose approach works well in these conditions. Stocky little squat man, wide stance. Low to the water so wind’s less of a problem. I think he’s surfing better than he was. Maybe it’s a confidence thing. He did a good job of surfing down the line but remembering to give it that extra little push.

The most interesting part of the heat was Kerr’s meltdown towards the end. Bad head space going on over there.

I nodded off right after this heat, so the rest of this is pulled from the analyzer.

Speaking of the WSL’s web presence, when did they start posting all the judges’ scores? Hover over the average and there they are! I like it. Definite change for the better.

Though I don’t understand why no jet ski assist during this event. Such a long paddle. Recipe for slow moments.

Anyway, a quick glance at the heat totals show they’re mostly low scoring affairs. Which happens in tough conditions.

Medina grabbed a convincing win in round one. Found a couple that went a little slower, linked his backside whacks together. Lot of skill, not a ton of engagement. Functional backhand surfing on a point break bores me to tears.

Slater snuck into round three with a heat winner in the final minute. Which is what he does. Or did. Doing again?

Kolohe surfed safe, got the numbers. Not easy to do when you’re surfing into head on gale force winds.

Which is where we run into a problem with competitive surfing in general. I understand how hard it is for these guys to surf this unimpressively. Average Joe does not. Do an aerial maneuver!

They can’t, not today!

Wiggles Dantas used some proper wave selection to find a slightly slower number, linked some very good turns together for a low nine. But it wasn’t enough to beat Jordy. Lanky local boy used his extra meat to link up big spray tosses off the top.

Julian Wilson surfed to his potential. Made Mother of Dragons and the second Nat Young look like they were struggling.

The wind backed off a bit and allowed Seabass to catch fire. Heat ended with both Bourez and Kennedy combo’ed.

Round two so far saw Wilko barely edge out the wildcard.

JJF looked loose and beautiful and smoked Ribeiro. The haole kid’s ability to thread his way through small barrels never ceases to boggle my mind.

Filipe surfed very well against Otton. Judges underscored him a bit on his 8.77. Big flowing turns, an ACL killer reverse towards the flats. On a smaller wave though, and I guess that matters?

Final heat of the day saw the wind drop. Glassy heaven looking rights.

But neither Asing nor Buchan could do much with it. Buchan took the win, Sing left the event with a heat score of 3.87.

Day one wasn’t bad. Wasn’t great. Tomorrow looks like the swell will stay steady and the wind will drop. Which will hopefully make it a little easier for the guys to really spread their wings. We’ll just have to wait and see.

Surfing, in black of course, at the moment of victory while Surfer shrinks helplessly away!
Surfing, in black of course, at the moment of victory while Surfer shrinks helplessly away! | Photo: John Severson

Just in: Surfing smashes Surfer!

Surfing magazine has vanquished Surfer! Its oldest and most cruel foe!

And so it has been officially confirmed. Surfer magazine, known as the “bible of the sport” and published since 1960 will become a quarterly thereby throwing in the towel, waving the white flag, giving up entirely (save four times a year).

Which means…

Surfing magazine wins!

The twin pillars of American surf media have been owned by the same company for the better part of the past two decades yet have maintained a wonderful animosity toward each other. I spent time with the Surfing crew as editor-at-large for a few happy years and the things we would say about the Surfer staff across the room… oh they still split my sides!

Still, I wondered, while I was there how much more gas Surfing had in the tank. It was clearly the less loved little sister of mighty Surfer and I wondered when it would be finally pillaged.

But look! At the end it was the mighty Surfer forced to take a knee, to tap out of the media game entirely (save four times a year).

And then I wondered how? How did Surfing, which will continue to run as a monthly alongside Vanity Fair and The New Yorker as real magazines, beat its oldest foe? I will attribute it to three outstanding and equally handsome men. Chato Agaza, Peter Taras and James “Jimicane” Wilson.

Chato has designed the magazine for years and kept it visually striking. Pete has cemented his position as one surfing’s best photo editors. And Jimicane not only shoots well but is an absolute firecracker.

That is why I think Surfing has beaten Surfer at the end but what does Surfing think?

I call and Pete answers and Jimmy is there. I ask, “Why? Why, at the end, did Surfing win?”

While Pete is trying to think up an answer that won’t maybe get him in trouble Jimmy answers.

Surfer prides itself on being old. Well all their subscribers have died. Congratulations.”

Congratulations indeed (especially four times a year)!

Gabriel Medina
Gabriel Medina had a fiery glow! Strutted like a hen! Gabriel comboed Dusty Payne and Alex Ribeiro in his round one heat with a nine and and an eight. | Photo: WSL

J-Bay: “Jordy, Gab’s Instinctive Cruelty!”

And Kelly Slater wins a round one heat!

Riding at a jerky trot that he’d later blame on “45 mile an hour gusts”, Kelly Slater just beat, but only just if we’re to be transparent, Filipe Toledo in three-foot waves.

Would you ever guess such a thing?

Even Fantasy Surfer has tired of the old champ, tossing him into the bargain bin, a four point seven million dollar buy, well under half his usual price tag.

Oh, if you should’ve seen Filipe, swatting the air like a pompous conductor trying to reign in a rebellious orchestra, as the scores for Kelly’s last wave came in half a point more than he needed to beat San Clemente’s best surfer.

But,  Slater aside, the thrills came entirely, again if we’re to be transparent, from Gabriel Medina, who screwed his volume knob to a new level, and Jordy Smith, who shone and delighted like a summer full moon. Wiggoly Dantas, Joel Parkinson, Caio Ibelli and Julian Wilson also appealed.

Most other surfers looked docile and inoffensive, like weevils among spiders.

Watch Gabriel and Slater win their heats here.

Jordy thrills more than a little here…

And how about a little game from Wiggoly…

Highlights wrap here.

J-Bay Open Round 1 Results:
Heat 1: Mick Fanning (AUS) 13.67, Alejo Muniz (BRA) 10.80, Conner Coffin (USA) 9.97
Heat 2: Italo Ferreira (BRA) 13.33, Miguel Pupo (BRA) 12.06, Ryan Callinan (AUS) 8.43
Heat 3: Kanoa Igarashi (USA) 15.64, John John Florence (HAW) 13.24, Keanu Asing (HAW) 12.60
Heat 4: Adriano de Souza (BRA) 14.76, Kai Otton (AUS) 10.80, Josh Kerr (AUS) 7.00
Heat 5: Gabriel Medina (BRA) 17.27, Dusty Payne (HAW) 12.77, Alex Ribeiro (BRA) 12.27
Heat 6: Davey Cathels (AUS) 11.33, Matt Wilkinson (AUS) 10.33, Steven Sawyer (ZAF) 7.43
Heat 7: Kelly Slater (USA) 12.26, Filipe Toledo (BRA) 12.00, Matt Banting (AUS) 9.43
Heat 8: Kolohe Andino (USA) 14.16, Jadson Andre (BRA) 12.66, Adrian Buchan (AUS) 12.50
Heat 9: Jordy Smith (ZAF) 16.43, Wiggolly Dantas (BRA) 15.10, Adam Melling (AUS) 9.40
Heat 10: Caio Ibelli (BRA) 15.26, Joel Parkinson (AUS) 13.60, Jeremy Flores (FRA) 12.90
Heat 11: Julian Wilson (AUS) 18.77, Jack Freestone (AUS) 10.17, Nat Young (USA) 7.50
Heat 12: Sebastian Zietz (HAW) 17.90, Michel Bourez (PYF) 9.90, Stuart Kennedy (AUS) 9.74

J-Bay Open Round 2 Results:
Heat 1: Matt Wilkinson (AUS) 8.47 def. Steven Sawyer (ZAF) 7.93
Heat 2: John John Florence (HAW) 17.27 def. Alex Ribeiro (BRA) 11.77
Heat 3: Filipe Toledo (BRA) 16.54 def. Kai Otton (AUS) 14.34
Heat 4: Adrian Buchan (AUS) 10.50 def. Keanu Asing (HAW) 3.87

J-Bay Open Round 2 Upcoming Match-Ups:
Heat 5: Michel Bourez (PYF) vs. Ryan Callinan (AUS)
Heat 6: Nat Young (USA) vs. Alejo Muniz (BRA)
Heat 7: Joel Parkinson (AUS) vs. Matt Banting (AUS)
Heat 8: Wiggolly Dantas (BRA) vs. Jadson Andre (BRA)
Heat 9: Conner Coffin (USA) vs. Adam Melling (AUS)
Heat 10: Miguel Pupo (BRA) vs. Jeremy Flores (FRA)
Heat 11: Josh Kerr (AUS) vs. Jack Freestone (AUS)
Heat 12: Dusty Payne (HAW) vs. Stuart Kennedy (AUS)