One would be inclined to believe that no matter where Kelly Slater goes, he has a pretty good time. Two hours ago at the Tahiti Pro, Slater, who is 44 years old and rated 19th in the world, conjured two tens in a round five heat against the Hawaiian Keanu Asing.
“The first 10 of that heat was a more difficult ride definitely, but the second one was a bigger, more perfect, classic tube,” said Slater. “I just thought that the first one was a lot more difficult, so I was not sure if they would throw a 10 on the second one. Had I got the second one in any other heat I thought that they would probably give me a 10. I have been feeling good all week. My first heat was a little slow and I had to grind out that first win against Michel [Bourez]. That is just how close the Championship Tour is nowadays. Had Keanu [Asing] gotten that wave, I would have lost. That heat was really close. A perfect heat is not going to happen many times in your life so I am stoked.”
The boy from Copacabana made us believe before crashing to earth and joining his ilk. But oh how we smiled along the way!
And it was a very fun run, was it not? Matt “Wilko” Wilkinson, the boy with stringy brown hair and amusing wetsuits. The boy with a crooked tooth’d easy smile. The boy who cracked under pressure in Trump-like fashion and suggested one of his detractors, the esteemed Fred Pawle, “deserved a flogging” for calling him a yobbo. Or maybe it was because Mr. Pawle also said that Wilkinson “isn’t pretty.”
But he isn’t and that is his joy! He is not cut from granite or from a hunk of Krypton like our dear Kelly Slater. He is cobbled together with mud and clay and little bits of discarded straw like the rest of us.
Having him sit atop the Jeep Leaderboard (look Joe Turpel! Your dull hammer is working! Jeep Jeep Jeep leaderboard!) for all these many months and through all these many events has been… well, it has been an inspiration.
And now a rightful champion, Medina or John John, will go and wrest the yellow jersey from Wilko’s imperfect hand but what will he do?
Will he cling to his precious like a Gollum, crouched in a corner, baring his teeth to all who come near? Will he relinquish easily and breathe a sigh of relief, knowing that he can go back to being a light-hearted clown prince once again?
Will he realize that being a clown prince is not his stock anymore and emerge from his yobbo cocoon to strike a blow for the rest of us?
I’m of the belief that surfers, at least those surfers interested in professional surfing for more than the bang and pop and ostentatiousness of big Pipe or Teahupoo, find an exuberance in the chess-like machinations of these sorts of small days. We appreciate the surfers who can fortune tell a west bowl before it breaks. The surfers who’ll swing onto the inside and into smaller, more perfect waves that cling to the reef.
I’m also of the belief that a good event runs on momentum. I’ve lost count of the times I’ve forgotten a contest was still running ’cause of lay-days, half-days and endless standbys to deal with wavering tides. A contest run over four consecutive days in occasionally good waves will always steal the show from a stuttering, two-week marathon.
Today was a cache of gold nuggets.
Did you see Kolohe’s almost-ten pulled from under Jordy’s gaping, stunned nostrils? Two minutes to go? Needs a banger? Woof! Watch it here.
Did the Slater-Santos (and Buchan) heat peel you off your chair?
Kelly Slater scores a beautiful ten, a surprising ten, scooped off the inside by virtue of his foamball jockeying, and then wildcard Bruno Santos throws Kelly into round five with pair of nines.
The contest wraps tomorrow with round five, the quarters, semis and the final. A six-thirts am start. Who you gonna pick?
Let’s all keep believing in miracles, ok? If you can even imagine… if your crusty heart can wrap around things too majestic for the mind to fully comprehend… then you know that the World Surf League, pronounced dead just hours ago, is alive again and thanks to the Angel Moroni!
Mitt Romney was right! Mitt Romney for President!
So…the WSL was dead, yeah? But then Joel gave us a thrill and what? And how? But if you look at the channel, at the boats, the answer is there.
Three Mormons, in full regalia, bob and pray and bob and adjust their holy undergarments and bob and think about sweet Salt Lake girls who they wanna make lotta babies with and bob and supplicate for us sinners!
Us demanders of entertainment!
And then the World Surf League rises, brushes off the dirt, coughs, and… and… and… lives!
Joel Parkinson, who I characterized as “less successful” in World Surf League’s obituary, was the catalyst for sweet redemption and thus it was written in 1 Nephi 1:20:
But behold, I, Nephi, will show unto you that the tender mercies of the Lord are over all those whom he hath chosen, because of their faith, to make them mighty even unto the power of deliverance.
I was wrong, so wrong, and Joseph Smith is scolding me atop a pile of virgins in heaven.
Wait. Do Mormons have virgins in heaven? What do they get again? I can’t remember.
The World Surf League died today during Round 3 Heat 3. It might be missed.
On Monday, one-time boy-band impresario and lifelong con-man World Surf League died at the age of 45 of absolute boredom in the Round 3 Heat 3 matchup between Matt Banting and Jordy Smith in the Tahiti Billabong Pro. Those who knew it best were pretty much satisfied with that ending.
In the late 1990s and early 2000s, however, World Surf League (then called Association of Surfing Professionals) was celebrated, admired and even adored, an affable King Midas of surf with a magnetic personality. It was a walking exercise in irony: The middle-aged, nasal-voiced, balding and 300-plus-pound Queens, New York, native surrounded itself with chiseled, underage surfers.
It didn’t invent surfing, but the ones it formed dominated brands, shattered boardshort records and helped propel the industry toward a multi-billion dollar run, the largest ever at the time. WSL/ASP started Kelly Slater and Andy Irons but followed its two biggest acts with a long tail of less-successful others: O-Town, LFO, Joel Parkinson, Take 5, Mick Fanning, Natural, Aaron Carter, Ace Buchan, Adriano de Souza, Matt Wilkinson, Italo Ferreira, Sebastian Zietz, Kolohe Andino, Wiggolly Dantas, Dusty Payne, Nat Young, Stuart Kennedy, Adam Melling, Alejo Muniz, Ryan Callinan, Bede Durbidge, Timothee Biso.
Etc. etc. etc.
Many who did business with WSL, though, remember it as a financial criminal. In 2008, it was convicted of two counts of conspiracy, one count of money laundering and one count of making false statements during a bankruptcy proceeding. It was sentenced to 300 months in prison, one for every million investigators said it stole in a massive Ponzi scheme involving fake savings accounts and a fake professional surf tour business.
If the league once known as “Big Poppa” to its beloved boys had his way, the story of its legacy would begin and end with its surf success and influence. But its later life was dominated by desperation to prove it was worthy of the credit it gave itself.
It all came undone during Round 3 Heat 3 when Matt Banting and Jordy Smith did not surf leaving Martin Potter and Joe Turpel to blabber about nothing for 35 full minutes.
It might be missed but not for many many many years.