Surf is bashing the lights out of Florida right now! Are you there? Safe? Barreled?
Much talk about the surf industry apocalypse over the last few days. Buzzes! Whispers! Rumors! Mass sackings! Mid-tiered pros openly weeping in the streets! But then, sun through the clouds! Maybe Volcom, along with most other surf brands, were simply clearing cap space to purchase the services of Noa Deane.
He looks like a baby angel! Like he was birthed from Michelangelo’s brush! He most certainly could not harken the end.
In any case, Hurricane Matthew hit Florida yesterday/today and made lots of good waves but also created/is creating havoc, destruction, death.
Do you think that humanity will basically end because sea level rise, global warming, giant uncontrollable storms or are you still of a mind that nuclear holocaust will be our finito? Could “Armageddon” actually be Biblical shorthand for “hurricane?” I supposed it would be Biblical longhand.
Have you ever surfed a hurricane swell? Lots of folk around the greater Miami did yesterday and it looked very fun as evidenced by Michael Dunphy’s nugget (above).
I’ve surfed one, once, in New York. It was very fun too. I was with What Youth‘s Scott Chenoweth. Scott? Are you there? That was a hurricane swell right?
There’s a buzz going around that Peter King’s usually excellent #TourNotes has lost some of its edge now it’s part of the WSL.
Is it true?
I think, fatigue might’ve set in a little, that the premise of snatching off-the-cuff moments still works. But how many times can surfers mug for the camera, afterall? King’s great skill is his ability to shoot on his iPhone and edit fast. If it happened, he can get it live in a day.
And a persistence. A persistence to follow what are mostly children around and feign interest in their mostly underwhelming behaviour.
The highlight of this episode, and it comes very late in the piece, is Kelly Slater’s French accent. Kelly, in case you didn’t know, is very good at mimicry, and after a couple of very tiresome minutes of asking different pro surfers what French words they know, in swings Kelly with a command of actorly French. His exchange with Kanoa Igarashi, who is surprisingly well-schooled, entertains enough to wipe away the memory of earlier minutes wasted.
Kelly’s favourite French word?
“It sums up my my thoughts of them running our heat today,” he says.
John John Florence and Gabriel Medina own day two, Quicksilver Pro, France…
I caught the first few heats of yesterday’s action while supping on a lovely meal of lobster, baked mushrooms, and mashed potatoes. Very tasty. Not so healthy. The secret ingredient of all three dishes is butter!
The early heats looked frustrating. One of those kind of lumpy, current laden, days when you’re always in the wrong spot. Unridden barrels are reeling off up and down the beach, everyone keeps getting caught out position.
The first heat of the day, Jordy/Jadson/ Otton, was a case in point. The guys struggled a bit, only Otton ended with a double digit combined score. Great for my fantasy surfer team. Otton a low seed workhorse I love. When it’s a bit heavy you can count on Kai to spoil some heats.
Starting the day off with guys pointing it out ain’t great. But you could see the swell held potential. Hopefully it’d get better throughout the day. Give us a few magic moments.
Heat four of round two wasn’t much better. Pupo grabbed the ‘w’ with 8.57. Wilko followed close behind with 8.24. Leo Fio brought up the rear with 8.14.
During heat five things started getting hotter. D Payne opened up with a lovely lay back man hack I felt was slightly underscored. Judges could’ve thrown a few more tenths of a point his way, push it into the low sixes. But he wasn’t able to establish any momentum. Next wave was a gooey plopper that earned him slightly more than four an a half. He got last, headed into round two.
Callinan surfed well, but looked to be struggling with the conditions. Understandable. Barrels weren’t really staying open. Sections were a little too heavy to hit with easy. Lump on the face, off the bottom. Doing turns looked hard, barrel hunting the better option. If you could find them. Which he couldn’t.
Medina came out swinging. Went for a big backside floater early on, but came unstuck off them bottom. Charlie Medina needs to take a Valium, or something. Dude looks like he’s on the verge of a heart attack. More gray hair every time you see him. Not like he can control a heat. All that intensity is just a recipe for an ulcer. Which I guess are actually caused by bacteria, or something. But you know what I mean.
Gabby’s first keeper, highest scoring wave of the day so far, was a solid turn linking effort. Big backside lip smash to rail-in toe-side hack. Milked it a bit into the inside. Pottz felt that was a mistake.
“To me you’re probably better off just kicking out, saving that energy. Really you’ve gotta do something special on the inside if you want to add any points. As I said before, length of ride does not come into play. It’s not how many maneuvers you do, it’s about the quality of the ones that you do.”
I don’t know about that. We’ve been seeing a heavy emphasis on end section “finishing maneuver” bonks all year. And the judges gave Gabby a 7.27. Heat winner score on a day like this.
Medina paddled around like a maniac. Caught nine waves to Payne’s two and Callinan’s five.
The Brazzo won, no doubt about that. But I’m gonna take issue with his 6.23 back up score for a… grab rail reverse. Not a proper flippy-flip club sandwich. Start of the art for the late nineties, rather unimpressive today.
Doesn’t matter, his waves both before, and after, were enough for the win. But it’s just more confusing judging.
Up next was what we were waiting for. John John in heavy beachie! OHMYGODIMUNnnnngg!
Conner Coffin is struggling to live up to expectations on his rookie year. Too bad, I love how he surfs. But I also not-so-secretly hope that all my fave pros fall off tour and concentrate on clips. That’s the world I want to live in!
The wildcard, Joan Duru was a pleasant surprise. He surfs real good. Very pretty, very smooth. The surf was cleaning up a tad, which didn’t hurt.
But I’m at a loss to explain how Duru’s three-turn combo was a full two points better than Coffin’s frontside barrel. This is a tube riding contest, yeah?
Even if it ain’t, I don’t see how Duru’s three turn 8.17 was better than JJF’s frontside carve to rev to carve to milk turn. I know you Aussies can gamble on surfing, but I don’t know why you would. Might as well lay your dough on the roulette table. Just as much random chance.
With two and a half minutes left Duru had the win. Which I don’t really think he deserved. But I always find myself rooting for wildcards. Unless they’re Fanning.
But John John once again showed he’s got that magic Slater talent. Found a nice long tube, snuck out of the closeout section. Very nice, put him in first. Did demonstrate that Coffin got shafted. JJ’s was better, but not 2.56 better.
Heat seven saw Flores flounder. I really need to stop putting him on my team. Stu Kennedy surfed well, did one really neat looking bottom turn to frontside grab boost. But it wasn’t enough to take out Ace Buchan.
Buchan snagged the best barrel of the heat. Followed up a little later with two good turns, then fell on the end section reo.
Good surfing, but not a smoker of a heat.
Heat 8 was an all Brazilian affair. Their countrymen still whinging on the WSL instagram page. #corruptjudgeswsl Whatever…
I was hoping we’d get to see a Flores post-heat interview, but I think they’ve learned not to stick a mic in his face. Too much of a wildcard.
Anyway, heat eight was boring. Solid contest surfing. Nothing worth rewatching. Maybe Italo’s floater to eat shit into his board. That’s worth a web clip.
Italian Ferrari won. Uncle Wiggly and Alex Ribeiro will need to fight their way out of the losers’ bracket.
Wilson/Ibelli/Muniz saw a dropping swell. Tons of waves ridden. More than a few falls.
Alejo took third with quick whippy surfing that doesn’t have much power behind it.
Julian took third thanks to a fumble on his first scoring wave. Mistimed a backside foam climb, took a lip to the face. He milked the fuck out his last wave, all the way to the beach. Judges didn’t give two shits.
Caio Bella won it with two two turn combos. I’m calling bullshit. I think Wilson’s last wave deserved the half point bump he needed to win. No one was doing anything super critical. Contest surfing all around, in my mind the blonde baby deserved to skip round two.
Andino won the next one. Surfed well. Powerful, quick. One real pretty lay back slash.
Seabass couldn’t make much happen.
Freestone forgot how to surf for half an hour. Tossed out a cool air at the buzzer. Front foot came unstuck during a frontside roter. Should’ve kicked it out a bit. What do you call a that? Frontside 360 slob judo? That’s a mouthful!
In these conditions, head high punchy beach break, you’d expect the Flying Llama to storm the field. Didn’t happen. His 5.97, a wicked slash to flowing finner, looked good. But he couldn’t back it up. Flailed away the rest of the heat.
Kerrzy started off with a sick little tube ride. Type of thing that’d make my decade. But the judges weren’t impressed, and that was all he had. Rest of the heat looked awkward. All his weight on his front foot, out of rhythm. He can do better. Much better.
Davey Cathels took the win, which you really don’t expect when the guy is up against Kerr and Filipe. He was on point, surfed safe but well. Won it easily.
Last heat of the day was ADS/Bourez/Melling. It looked like it’d be easy to surf, but performances through the day kind’ve point to the otherwise. De Souza did what he always does. Dead ball low risk proficiency. Easy win for him.
Bourez and Melling struggled to make something happen. Both tried to surf like ADS. But no one does ADS like ADS. Another kind of boring heat in a swell that was petering out.
Fine way to end the day, not much worth sticking around for. You hope for better. But we all know it could’ve been a hell of a lot worse.
QUIKSILVER PRO FRANCE REMAINING ROUND 1 RESULTS:
Heat 3: Kai Otton (AUS) 11.84, Jordy Smith (ZAF) 8.83, Jadson Andre (BRA) 7.03
Heat 4: Miguel Pupo (BRA) 8.57, Matt Wilkinson (AUS) 8.24, Leonardo Fioravanti (ITA) 8.14
Heat 5: Gabriel Medina (BRA) 13.50, Ryan Callinan (AUS) 12.10, Dusty Payne (HAW) 10.4
Heat 6: John John Florence (HAW) 16.10, Joan Duru (FRA) 15.34, Conner Coffin (USA) 10.74
Heat 7: Adrian Buchan (AUS) 13.26, Stuart Kennedy (AUS) 8.33, Jeremy Flores (FRA) 6.50
Heat 8: Italo Ferreira (BRA) 12.46, Alex Ribeiro (BRA) 9.74, Wiggolly Dantas (BRA) 8.53
Heat 9: Caio Ibelli (BRA) 13.36, Julian Wilson (AUS) 12.76, Alejo Muniz (BRA) 12.10
Heat 10: Kolohe Andino (USA) 14.24, Sebastian Zietz (HAW) 11.54, Jack Freestone (AUS) 10.80
Heat 11: Davey Cathels (AUS) 13.60, Filipe Toledo (BRA) 8.80, Josh Kerr (AUS) 7.83
Heat 12: Adriano De Souza (BRA) 14.00, Adam Melling (AUS) 8.97, Michel Bourez (PYF) 7.90
QUIKSILVER PRO FRANCE ROUND 2 MATCH-UPS:
Heat 1: Matt Wilkinson (AUS) vs. Joan Duru (FRA)
Heat 2: Jordy Smith (ZAF) vs. Ryan Callinan (AUS)
Heat 3: Kelly Slater (USA) vs. Leonardo Fioravanti (ITA)
Heat 4: Joel Parkinson (AUS) vs. Matt Banting (AUS)
Heat 5: Julian Wilson (AUS) vs. Jeremy Flores (FRA)
Heat 6: Filipe Toledo (BRA) vs. Alex Ribeiro (BRA)
Heat 7: Michel Bourez (PYF) vs. Alejo Muniz (BRA)
Heat 8: Josh Kerr (AUS) vs. Jack Freestone (AUS)
Heat 9: Sebastian Zietz (HAW) vs. Adam Melling (AUS)
Heat 10: Wiggolly Dantas (BRA) vs. Conner Coffin (USA)
Heat 11: Stuart Kennedy (AUS) vs. Dusty Payne (HAW)
Heat 12: Kanoa Igarashi (USA) vs. Jadson Andre (BRA)
And it is like Las Vegas as the 1990-2016 surf industry built upon a foundation of hyper-sensitivity, paranoia, self-importance, bald-faced conservatism and red-faced hypocrisy implodes.
I am not one to say, “I told you…” but, dear surf industry, “I told you!” Nobody wants a surfing packaged for fucking Christians. Not even me and I’m a fucking Christian!
Those suckling on surf’s ripe teat were so damned afraid of letting one peep of naughty whisper escape that the thing, the brands, stopped carrying any meaning.
I know but I know trends are fickle. They come and go and come and go but let’s look at Thrasher magazine for one minute. By unabashedly embracing bad/rough/untethered behavior for decades it has become the hottest thing around. It is so intent on dying on that cross that when Justin Bieber or Rihanna get caught wearing it founder Jake Phelps calls them “Fucking clowns.” and says, …”The pavement is where the real shit is. Blood and scabs. Does it get any realer than that?”
Of course surfing is not skateboarding. It is not hardcore and bloody and scabby and street ratty. But it does have its own sun-soaked rebellion that has been buried, absolutely buried, for the better part of two decades.
Unnecessary cover-ups, denials, tsk-tsking and humorlessness were, instead, left to flourish. Oh if I had all the advertisement money that various surf brands pulled over my nudge here or poke there I’d have a small vacation home somewhere near greater Orlando and a Toyota Tacoma (without any frills) to boot!
The World Surf League is now the last bastion of bland. A very funny friend pointed out yesterday they likely make $400.00 on their mid-event commercials. $400.00 as they appeal to some boring, artificial, sporting core. The same boring, artificial, sporting core that stopped buying Volcom.
What does the surf industry apocalypse mean for you? For me? We have the chance to rebuild. A majestic Bellagio atop the creaky Dunes! We have the chance to keep the fucking Christians out. Besides me!