Almost twelve years ago, my then business partner and I walked into a Yamaha dealer with the idea of leasing a jetski. Tow-in surfing was all the rage back then, in small and in big waves. We’d started a surfing magazine and figured we could write off the leasing costs as a business expense.
A lucrative deal with the surfing company Billabong, then worth half a billion dollars, meant we had two hundred and fifty thousand dollars in the bank.
We figured, why not live a little?
A man in potato sack trousers and a spinnaker shirt that billowed in the autumn offshore breeze pulled out a sheaf of documents we’d have to sign to get our bike. All that work for a twenty-grand buy? Studs don’t do no paperwork.
I pulled out the company credit card and within thirty minutes we’d affixed the trailer to my old four-wheel-drive and were heading to the beach.
We used that ski everywhere. When it was one-foot, when it was ten-foot, we banged it into rocks, my partner once rode it up onto a boat ramp prematurely beaching it on top of a giant boulder, we tipped it over, ran over people, ran over ourselves. Hell of a good time.
And what it showed, at least to someone like me who isn’t the most courageous surfer in the world, unlike my pal who’d eat a 10-foot day at Cape Solander before breakfast, was that deadly waves can be surfed. That you even a borderline kook can survive and maybe even get a photo for perpetuity.
Two caveats here. You gotta be able to swim. And you gotta have access to a ski.
But no more ado. Here are five deadly waves you can surf.
1. Ours aka Cape Solander, Australia: If you can stand upright on your board for a minimum of four seconds, you can survive a session at Ours. As you know and have seen, it’s a dramatic rock shelf and therefore wipeouts can be unpretty if you fall early. But… but… with a sturdy stance you can survive the few seconds before the arrive at the radically deep channel, where not a damn thing can touch you.
2. Teahupoo, Tahiti: An old pal of mine works for Red Bull. Went on holiday to Tahiti with his family one year. Because he’s high on the hierarchal ladder at the company, people want to do nice things for him. Local Tahitian stud says he’ll tow him at six-to-eight-foot Teahupoo, something you wouldn’t wanna touch usually. This pal, more a snow guy than a waterman, was impeccably whipped into a dozen stand-up tubes, his hair untouched by the Pacific.
3. Belharra, France: Do you remember when the board paddler turned big-waver Jamie Mitchell paddled into a fifty-foot wave here, and fell from the heavens? What a ruthless wave this wave, a couple of clicks from Saint-Jean-de-Luz in France’s south-west corner can be. Ruthless to paddle. Amusing to tow. You want a photo for the wall of you on a thirty-foot wave? Get a whip here. Get your photo, steer for the channel.
4. Pico Alto, Peru: A very old school burger perfect for studs on 10-foot afro-fauna chasers. Tow equipped? Easiest wave in the world.
5. Nazaré, Portugal: What the hell. Why not go big? This’ll take you to the edge, but maybe not over it. You’ve seen the big-wave tow-kooks from the most unlikely countries bouncing down three-hundred-foot waves. It could be you!
John John is knocking at the door of greatness! A perfect moment to pause and ask...
So I’m looking at John John Florence here, your Jeep Leaderboard Leader, and wondering who is the ugliest surf champ in history? Like ever? And I’m not saying it IS John John but I’m also not saying it IS NOT (because he’s not a world champion yet but also, when the sun is shining a particular way he is………..ok).
We’ve had Kelly forever and he is a certified male model. Andy Irons was as handsome as Adonis. Mick Fanning is Adolf Hitler’s dream man and Joel Parkinson is too (if he dyed his remaining hairs blonde).
Gabi Medina, no matter what your racist heart says, is traditionally handsome and Adriano de Souza, while pug-like, is… ummmmm… serviceable? The Little Plumber? Looks aren’t his high water mark but also not his total undoing.
C.J. Hobgood is an all-American.
Sunny Garcia may be most handsome ever (except for Kelly Slater).
Derek Ho is basically carved from granite.
Tom Carroll is two feel tall but good looking, as evidenced by his brother Nick.
Shaun Tomson even puts Kelly to shame.
Barton Lynch? Is he the last ugly world champ (besides kind of Adriano)?
Mark Richards? Yeah. He was a surf star but ugly.
But the ugliest? Let’s wait for this season to end!
Day Five got an early start. First glance showed fun looking, but slightly gooey, peaks. One of those slightly frustrating sessions where you have a little wall, a bit of speed, but no lip to hit.
Fish territory. Maybe even, gasp, a longboard!
I’m checking the rule book, can’t find a rule banning longboards on the ‘CT. Won’t win your heat, obviously. But it’d be punk as fuck to paddle out into shit conditions as a protest.
Not that bad today. I’m just sayin’.
Beach scene was amusing. Culture appropriating Belgians wrapped in Hawaiian flags littering the beach.
I don’t care for Belgians. Terrible people. Barely slightly better than Italians in my ranking of terrible races.
Back in 2008 I had some Belgian kid at a hostel in Argentina go off on me about my country’s history of oppression. Fair enough, dork, but I’m trying to get up inside this Israeli broad. Neither the time nor place for this discussion.
And let’s not forget the fucking Congo.
Surf looked pretty good in the first heat. Solid back and forth between Stu and Keanu. Maybe his small size gave him the edge, maybe he’s just surfing a hair better than usual. Maybe it’s just the je ne sais quoi that makes me really like him for no reason I can pinpoint. But Keanu kept it interesting for me. It was hardly a firing heat, but I enjoyed watching. Very pleased to see Keanu get the win.
ADS/JJF took place in head high mush burgers. Looked like a “good” day at El Porto. My heart dropped into my stomach. De Souza would surely win. This is his territory.
But double-John surfed safe. Flowed his cuttys together, didn’t try to do anything the wave wouldn’t let him. Things got tense in the dying moments, Adriano grabbed one with three minutes left and surfed it as well as you could, all the way to the beach. Needed a 6.64. Only got a 6.37.
Very close. I expected him to get it. Like the Hendo/Bisping fight last night, doing better doesn’t always equal winning.
De Souza scrambled back into the lineup. John John played tactics, sat on the Brazilian’s face until the buzzer sounded.
Wilson/Ibelli was a tight heat. Both men surfed good, but there wasn’t a lot to be done. Battle of the cutback to top turn combo.
I got bored. Used the half hour to invent a fun game I can play with the wife. I call it Does My Finger Smell Like a Hot Dog?
“Hey, real quick, do you think my finger smells like a hot dog?”
“What? Have you been eating hot dogs?”
“Then why would your finger smell like one?”
“I don’t know. I’m not saying my finger smells like a hot dog. I’m asking you to smell my finger and tell me if it smells like a hot dog.”
“I don’t want to do that.”
“C’mon, be a pal. Help me out. Smell my finger.”
“Don’t be a dick. Just give it a quick sniff.”
“Get your fucking finger out of my face.”
“I don’t know why you’re making this so difficult. Just give it a quick sniff. It’s not a big deal.”
“Why are you doing this to me?”
“Because I need to know if my finger smells like a hot dog.”
“Just smell it yourself.”
“I can’t. It doesn’t work that way.”
“It’s complicated. I don’t have time to explain. You’re my wife, I need your help. Just smell my damn finger already.”
“No! Seriously, fucking stop!”
“I’ll stop when I have answers! Now tell me, does my finger smell like a hot dog?”
“Fuck… fine… it smells like cigarettes.”
“And my balls too, yeah?”
ADS sounded so sad when he talked to Rosie! I feel bad for the guy.
Julian took the win with a pair of near identical frontside reverses. 7.87 for the first seemed really high.
The second sealed the deal. Took flight at the buzzer. Tossed the worst Arsenio Hall Claim ever. Hop hop hop to the the inside, mini float to dry sand docking maneuver. Needed a 5.97. Got the 6.0. I’m okay with that.
But the claim was lame and Pottz agrees.
Not a big a fan of the claim halfway through it. Finish the wave first, maybe, then do it.
Fuckin’ preach, brother.
Seabass/Andino was another tedious affair. Both guys doing the best they could with what they had. But there wasn’t enough to work with.
In my mind Seabass got hosed. Paddled into one at the midway point, surfed it to the beach, kicked the fins through the lip on his backhand five feet from the beach. Judges gave him a 3.27, didn’t seem to consider the last one a make. But it was. He was on his feet, would’ve kept going easily had the beach not got in his way. I say 4.5. I say he won.
But I’m not up in arms about it.
Time for the ladies to paddle out. Men’s event on hold. I went to bed. Sorry, it’s sexist, but I know I’m not gonna be engaged in these conditions.
Woke up to see the quarters ran sometime during the middle of my night. Stoked at first, it must have got good with the tide change. Not the case, only a hair on the right side of competition worthy.
Asing’s surfing very well this event. Knocked out Banting in the first heat of the quarters. Used his tinyness to do well. Banting threw his hands over his head with every turn, hoped to god an end of heat single maneuver standard rev would get him what he needed. Exited with his best result of the year.
Toldeo/JJF again! Such a shame the draw put these two against each other in the quarters. Without a doubt the best two surfers this event.
John John opened up with cutback to slash. Tossed a fin kicker at the end. 6.67. Filipe followed on a better wave but bobbled early and couldn’t quite get his balance back. Good opportunity to take the lead early, those small mistakes earned him a 6.
I really do love Keanu Asing. Really wish he hadn’t thrown god into the mix while he was chatting with Mel post heat. Such a turn off.
What do y’all think about John’s 7.73? It won the heat for him and I like that. But… I mean… I think you could make an argument that Filipe’s 5.07 with under a minute left was more technically sound. Whip quick rotation on a smaller wave. Not as gnarly, but maybe more difficult?
Tough heat to call. Asing and John John are going head to head in the first heat of the Semifinal. Tough draw for Keanu. But if the surf doesn’t get any bigger I think he has a real chance.
Medina/Wilson was essentially half a heat. Ocean went dead at the midpoint, the boys basically bobbed around like a pair of potatoes from that point on.
But the beginning was a back and forth slugfest. Wilson looked on form, Medina was gonna have a tough heat. Then Gabby grabbed a lined up left with a little over twenty one minutes left. Took to the sky, rotated, landed on top of the lip and stuck it. Wiggled a hot dog finger claim at the sky, grabbed Julian by the pussy and showed him who’s boss.
Crybaby Gabi for President!
Medina used his next wave to put Julian to sleep. Started off with a little bonk to set his line, bottom turned straight into another, smaller, backside spin to flats. 6.9, and there was nothing Julian could do. Mother Nature made the call, refused to offer the Australian anything he could use.
Last up were Otton and Brother.
Kolohe immediately linked into one of the better waves of the day. Big frontside gouge, beautiful flowing cutback, solid snap, dead ball bonk on the end. 7.67. Otton was fucked. Very unlikely he’d get a similar opportunity.
Otton sat on a 1.33 single score for roughly twenty minutes while Andino caught everything he could. Kolohe found a 5.03 with nine and a half left, wrapped up the win before Otton could respond.
Kai didn’t lay down. Picked up a 4.03 and a 5.03 as the heat wound down. But he didn’t really have a chance. Bump and lulls and mush. Andino got the best wave early, surfed it right, and had his shit stitched up from the get go.
Finals day is all that’s left. Exciting potential for a Florence/Medina battle royale to end the event.
But first they’ve gotta make it through the semis. JJ’s facing an on point Keanu. Ditto Medina with Andino. Normally I’d say the results are a fait accompli, but this time I’m not so sure.
There’s a decent chance the underdogs will win, we’ll all bitch and moan, and Asing will take his first event ever in tiny onshore garbage. Because that’s just how life works.
Don’t forget to watch the Presidential debate today! I’m expecting a clusterfuck to end all clusterfucks. Rape allegations and pussy grabber accusations for everyone!
QUIKSILVER PRO FRANCE SEMIFINAL MATCH-UPS:
SF 1: Keanu Asing (HAW) vs. John John Florence (HAW)
SF 2: Gabriel Medina (BRA) vs. Kolohe Andino (USA)
QUIKSILVER PRO FRANCE QUARTERFINAL RESULTS:
QF 1: Keanu Asing (HAW) 13.04 def. Matt Banting (AUS) 12.67
QF 2: John John Florence (HAW) def. Filipe Toledo (BRA)
QF 3: Gabriel Medina (BRA)15.07 def. Julian Wilson (AUS) 10.13
QF 4: Kolohe Andino (USA) 12.70 def. Kai Otton (AUS) 9.93
QUIKSILVER PRO FRANCE ROUND 5 RESULTS:
Heat 1: Keanu Asing (HAW) 11.00 def. Stuart Kennedy (AUS) 10.53
Heat 2: John John Florence (HAW) 10.64 def. Adriano de Souza (BRA) 10.37
Heat 3: Julian Wilson (AUS) 13.87 def. Caio Ibelli (BRA) 13.84
Heat 4: Kolohe Andino (USA) 12.50 def. Sebastian Zietz (HAW) 11.70
And what a day of professional surfing! What a truly fabulous day! There will be a pointed recap here and soon coming Straight outta Kauai but in the meantime can we just be happy that a true rivalry seems to be bubbling again? Something we haven’t seen since Kelly Slater vs Andy Irons?
Feel the joy!
In this corner, weighing in at 170 lbs with ankles as thick as tree stumps… John John Florence!
And in this corner, weighing in at 140 with skin so impossibly hairless… Gabriel “Gabi” Mediiiiiiinnnnnaaa!
The two men are locked in at 1,2 at the top of the Jeep Leaderboard and I don’t know how they feel about each other but I hope hate flows through their veins. This is what our professional surfing needs. This right here.
And I hope the two of them rise to the occasion. I hope they subtly dig at each other. I hope they burn in their hearts when seeing each other. I hope their camps try to sabotaj each others’ with every chance they get.
I hope, also, they take the word “rivalry” seriously. Andy Irons did, admitting to hating Kelly Slater. Oh not personally, probably, maybe, but his competitive fire cooked so hot that it colored everything. Everything!
That is what we need. That right there.
The two men will surf soon in their respective semi-final heats. John against Keanu, Gabi against Kolohe and then hopefully against each other. With burn in their hearts. Hopefully!
Come taste divine fruits on opening day at Austin's new Wavegarden…
Did you hear? Yesterday was opening day at NLand surf park, North America’s first Wavegarden, and only the second of its kind in the world.
The pool, which is twenty minutes drive from downtown Austin, promises “steep performance waves” for ninety dollars an hour, “Playful whitewater waves” at sixty an hour or you can ride alongside pals on “Party waves”, also at sixty dollars an hour.