Pssssssssst. Hey…. You looking for a good time? You wanna party?
Well don’t call the World Surf League! Oh our pastime’s governing body is many things but rarely/never does it surprise. Am I right?
Am I right?
And the just released schedule for the upcoming tour only shocks with boredom!
Let us recall that this upcoming season will be Kelly Slater’s farewell tour. Slater is waving goodbye after so many years of professional surfing. He is truly an icon, head and shoulder, above any other personality, and do you think the WSL could have mixed up his final year? Maybe showcasing different waves? Maybe injecting a spike of anticipation?
The answer is no! In the just released schedule we are dished lukewarm same.
Start on the Gold Coast
Travel to West Australia
Then back to Bells
Before going to “Rio”
And then Fiji
Ahead of J-Bay
Ahead of Teahupo’o
And COME ON Mr. CEO Paul Speaker! This was your chance to toss a wildcard. A fabulous twist. A parting gift for your beautiful boy.
Where should the World Surf League have gone? What treat should they have rolled out to Kelly Slater for his years of service?
A visual instructional on how to command a channel bottom surfboard!
A couple of days back, I had a little jam with Matt Biolos on the aesthetically beautiful, if hydrodynamically complex, channel bottom surfboard.
Read that here if water flow mixed with surfboard design history gives you a thrill.
That story was meant to be bookended with a cut of Mason Ho riding his channel bottoms, a visual representation of the design. Mason, of course, won the recent Sunset contest on a six-seven channel bottom Trouble Shooterand has been riding ’em all over the North Shore.
Thing was, Mason’s filmer Rory Pringle wanted… fresh. And when I came knocking for the short for the story, Rory was, “Sheeeeit, Mase hasn’t paddled out yet!”
Next day: “Sorry to keep ya hangin’. We’ve been filming all morning trying to max out this Pipe swell. Fuckin cooked. Made is gonna wrap tonight.”
The resulting film shows Mason on his six-seven at Sunset (watch those jams in the pocket! It’s a channel-bottom speciality), V-Land roll-ins and figure-eight cutbacks on a six-four (gotta love a channel bottom) and a few at Temples, Uluwatu on a six-nine.
And, let’s be real, any taste of Mason Ho is a good thing, right?
Clay Marzo and half-bro Cheyne Magnusson hit dazzling Mex left…
Another Clay Marzo clip, another series of unreal tube rides. Hyper-talent freakshow, this time in freezing cold offshore groomed Baja, California. Pretty bonkers going bareback that far south. The water always gets colder when you cross the border. I don’t know why. Maybe there’s a science reason, maybe it’s just my imagination.
I know I had more than a few numb foot sessions when I still lived in LA and could make the milk run south. Leave behind low-seventies, rock up on mid-fifties. Fuck that noise, I’m staying in Hawaii where it’s warm and fun and I don’t need to put on neoprene boots to surf.
I do miss the food. Tasty little tacos. So cheap, so good, I can eat so many. Seemed like there was always at least one idiot spinning the “they use cat meat” lie. Do you know how cheap you can get low-end beef, poultry or pork? Do you know how hard it is to catch and kill and skin a cat? I don’t, really, but I assume it’s difficult. And there’s hardly any meat on a cat anyway.
Let the wife get wasted on high end hop-laden garbage, then strangle fuck her in a hotel room. Which is her thing, not mine. But, again, I’ll play along. Am I a little worried I’ll leave hard to explain finger bruises around her throat one day? Absolutely. Am I dead certain she’ll tell people I abuse her when it happens? Totally. She thinks that shit is hilarious. Which it is, in theory. Not so much when people are looking at you like some an abusive monster.
This new clip comes with a great little story attached. It’s on the vimeo page. I could copy/paste it here, but I feel like we’ve been doing that too often lately. But you should read it, it’s entertaining. I had no idea that Cheyne Magnusson is Clay’s brother. Maybe you did.
Instead I’ll write about the cold weather trip I’m in the process of planning. Been looking at Portland, Oregon. Seems like the perfect spot for some good old fashioned gluttony/vice tourism. Amazing restaurants, legal weed, micro-breweries and vineyards galore.
I’m not really into the last two, but I can play along. Let the wife get wasted on high end hop-laden garbage, then strangle fuck her in a hotel room. Which is her thing, not mine. But, again, I’ll play along. Am I a little worried I’ll leave hard to explain finger bruises around her throat one day? Absolutely. Am I dead certain she’ll tell people I abuse her when it happens? Totally. She thinks that shit is hilarious. Which it is, in theory. Not so much when people are looking at you like some an abusive monster.
One time she fell down the stairs while wasted and ended up with a huge bruise on her side. It was perfectly fist shaped and she got endless joy telling people I did it. So uncomfortable.
“I didn’t hit her, she fell down the stairs.”
Who’s gonna buy that line? May as well say she walked into a door. Warning bells, red flag, whatever. I will admit, I often wish she were my size, so we could have a good clean bare knuckle fist fight. Really clear the air.
But she isn’t, so we can’t. Instead we fall into our old pattern of fighting like cats and dogs about accommodation. She wants to stay in an overpriced rock ‘n’ roll themed boutique hotel. Don’t even get our own bathroom, gotta share one in the hall with every other sucker more interested in decor than comfort. I just want a cheap roof over my head. Somewhere to pass out when I’m stuffed full of food and legal weed.
But I know this trick. I’ll pick somewhere cheap, she applies any savings to her end. Hello penthouse suite. Goodbye financial solvency.
This time I’ve sworn to choose the worst hotel in Portland. Gonna cut off my own nose to spite my face. She wants cutesy-pootsy decor and heart stopping nightly rates, I’m finding a shooting gallery shithole where we have to barricade the door and sleep on a pile of rats. She knows I’m not kidding, has begun looking for clever end-runs around my resolve.
Like, just now, she called up with a “great idea.” You should write about it, let your readers choose where we stay.”
1. I don’t trust anonymous internet commenters one fucking bit.
2. She’ll only follow through if she gets the answer she wants. I know this trick.
3. I’ll probably lose in the end anyway. No reason to make it easy on her.
Our fascination with Kelly Slater is gonna ride into the 2020s!
Yesterday, prez Trump was forgotten for a moment and we shifted noisy in our couches at the sight of Kelly Slater back at Haleiwa. For the first time in four years, the 11-timer was entered in all three Hawaiian Triple Crown events.
Was Kelly back in the Triple Crown game?Was running fifth in the all-time winner’s list suddenly insufferable?And, yeah, he looked like a whale that had received a harpoon. Darting back and forth. An easy heat win.
BeachGrit: Does it strike you as odd that Kelly doesn’t have more than two Triple Crowns, the last one almost twenty years ago?
Warshaw: Tom Carroll only has one. That’s much odder.
BeachGrit: You think it gives Tom some pain?
Warshaw: On good nights, Tom falls asleep thinking of his three Pipe Masters trophies, and on bad nights he revisits the horror of the ’88 Billabong Pro, and his stillborn third world title. But the Triple Crown, no, he’s fine with one is my guess.
BeachGrit: But, Kelly. There’s this…thing… that he can’t ride Sunset real well, hence the lack of TCs. I don’t believe that’s true. How do you see it? Is it a lack of interest in the Triple Crown on Kelly’s part?
Warshaw: Kelly fell hard for Pipe, right when he turned pro, or just before. Pipe was glamour. Pipe was new ground waiting to be broken. Sunset—not only is it a stupid amount of work, and the world’s most frustrating wave, but there wasn’t much left to do there by the time Kelly arrived. Long, deep turns, with 50 yards of travel time in-between.
Tom Carroll and Kong had already maxed out the performance level, more or less.
BeachGrit: And those skinny flip-nosed boards Kelly was riding back then . . .
Warshaw: The only place those boards really made sense was Pipe. I don’t know if Merrick shaped them specifically so Kelly could ride deeper at Backdoor, or if they just happened to work best there. Either way, Sunset wasn’t high on Kelly’s to-do list. That said, he easily could have won five events there. It’s just a lumbering heartbreaking bitch of a wave. You never put a big pile of money on anybody at Sunset. Tom Curren never won out there, and he rode the place like a god.
BeachGrit: How important is winning a Hawaiian Triple Crown? It gets talked up as the next best thing to a world title but, let’s be honest, that’s bullshit. Anyone remember Bede or Mike Rommelse or Myles Padaca or Kaipo Jaquias’ Triple Crowns? Although, I suppose, you could say that about Adriano or CJ’s world titles…
Warshaw: A Triple Crown trophy is worth more than a CT win in Rio or Portugal or Huntington, but less than a Pipe win, or an Eddie win. These days, anyway. The QS kicked the Triple Crown in the nuts, and it never really got back up. Before 1992, all three Triple Crown events had world title points. In ’92, when the QS started, it was just Pipe. Back when the Triple Crown mattered, the Ho brothers owned it. Kong got a couple. Tom got one. There was a year where Dane Kealoha won two of the three Triple Crown events, but didn’t get the title—how weird is that? Dane not having a Triple Crown seems impossible. But yeah, it really was a big deal up until the QS. And even after that, for a few years, I think all the top CT guys felt honor-bound to do all three events—but the focus shifted to Pipe. Sunny won whatever it was, 52 Triple Crowns in a row. Which he probably would have done even if all the CT contenders were involved. All the surfers you mentioned, Bede and Rommelse and Kaipo, none of them were undeserving. Apart from the fact that a lot of big boys weren’t playing, Kelly being the most obvious, there aren’t any real outliers on the Triple Crown winners list. They were all great North Shore surfers.
BeachGrit: Kelly’s hitting all three events this year, the first time in four years. What do you suppose his motivation is?
Warshaw: He’s been going to the North Shore every winter now for I think 30 years. If he hasn’t done all three Triple Crown comps for that past 20 or so, I guess he’d do it this year just to put a new twist on something that has to be getting . . . I don’t know, not boring maybe, but repetitive.
BeachGrit: If 2017 is Kelly’s last year, and he’s said enough publicly to presume it to be true, what will it mean for the tour and for pro surfing? Has he wrung the last drop of milk from the teat anyway and so little will change or matter? Or is he, in your opinion, still the hub around which the tour spins?
Warshaw: He’ll get wildcards for as long as he wants, and our fascination with Kelly’s wavepool ain’t going anywhere. So the tour will indeed spin out without him, but no doubt whatsoever that he’s gonna keep flagging our attention. My track record is horrible on trying to guess what Kelly is up to or what his motivation is. But I think he wants to win a CT event in his 50s. I really think that’s his goal, and there’s a decent chance he’ll pull it off.
BeachGrit: Over the last year, what has been your favourite moment involving Kelly’s social media? His pool announcement less than a day after Adriano gets the title? The Instagram post shortly after JJ won the title telling the world Jordy Smith made the best video parts and was the best technical surfer on tour?
Warshaw: I have a list of things to erase for memory once The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind technology is up to speed, and somewhere in the middle of that list is Slater’s face pasted onto Gene Wilder’s head.And fuck you for reminding me.
At four pm Craig sees a little nugget. A small wave with a lip that, he knows, will pitch fiercely. He strokes in, no problem, curls his back a touch, no problem and sees the lip pitch right over his head. But the section that pitches is too much. He has time to enjoy the inside of the tube before stepping off his board. One of a million closeout barrels in his life.
But somehow, underwater, in the turbulence, his board shoots at him like a missile. An out of control projectile. It shoots at him maliciously, intending to cause pain. Through the water. It hits Craig, hard, right in the rib. Right underneath his right pectoral and below-ish his arm pit. It hits him with such force that the wind is punched from his lung. Not content with just sticking his rib, the board cuts up toward his armpit and the gets carried, by water and air, in another direction.
Craig surfaces, gasping. He can’t catch his breath. He fears the worst. Maybe major internal damage. Maybe he’ll die. He tugs his board over and looks at it. From the way it hurt, the nose must have speared him. He quickly examines the nose but sees it still in tact. Thankfully no sets come in.
Ollie, Craig’s friend, sees that he is struggling and paddles over. “What’s the matter?” Craig can barely respond, “Hey?” And Ollie repeats. “My fucken board just tried to kill me. I think I’m really hurt.” Craig slides himself on board and tries to paddle. It hurts to badly to raise his right arm. He can’t even lift it much less paddle. Craig hoists himself, with left arm, into sitting position. He hunches over to the right. It hurts too much to sit straight. Ollie goes to have a look. He can see a small tear in the wetsuit. He shrugs.
Craig says again, “I think I am hurt badly.”
Ollie tells him it doesn’t look bad but also can’t really see. “What happened?” “I paddled for that little wedgy thing and it closed out. Somehow in the tube my board, like, speared me. I’m hurt.” Ollie shrugs again. A set appears and the first wave breaks far outside. Craig lays down and lets the whitewash take him into shore. As soon as he can he stands and limps the rest of the way to dry sand, dragging his board.
Matt, Craig’s filmer, can see something wrong immediately. Craig takes a while to resurface and then, Matt can see through his viewfinder, checks something on his board. Maybe he broke his board? But the way Craig dawdles, then gets up. The way Ollie comes over, Matt reckons Craig is hurt. Maybe ankle on the last air? He can see Craig making his way in so leaves his post and trots down the beach. Down toward where Craig is exiting the ocean. Thirty more minutes and the light would have been absolutely perfect. Absolutely.
When he is a few meters from Craig he calls out, “What’d you do? Tweak your ankle?” Craig is walking up the sand with a dazed look on his face. Less walking more stumbling. He is holding his board under his left arm, backwards, and brushing the hair out of his eyes, gingerly, with his left. He is hunched and keeps looking back toward the ocean. Toward whatever, maybe, hurt him.
He doesn’t hear Matt so responds with a sort of pained, breathy, “Hey?” Matt repeats. “Did you tweak your ankle?” A smile spreads across Craig’s face. “I’m happy to be alive. My board just fucken stabbed me.”
Matt asks. “Where?”
Chuckling a little bit. Craig points with his right arm to a place on the right side of his torso. “Here.” And laughs some more. “That really hurt, eh.”
Matt looks closely and sees a small tear in the wetsuit and a piece of flesh poking through. It looks a little scratched, bloody, but he can’t tell from such a small window if there is real damage. He asks, “Do you have a bruised rib?” Craig, looking back at the ocean, swaying back and forth, says, “Oyy. I don’t know. I’m lucky I have ribs. It would’ve stabbed m’ heart…”
He takes a deep breath in and exhales through pursed lips. “…I can’t even move m’ arm.” His face is shifting between amused smirk and genuine pain. Eh eh oooh. Matt asks, “Did it happen in that last barrel?” Craig answers, “Yeah that wasn’t fun. Yeah, like ah pulled into the closeout and then….” He pulls his lips tight and bobs his head a bit. His eyes are still only fixed on the surf. “…m’ board decided to stab me.”
Craig stares at the ocean longer. He is quiet. Then he says, “Ahhh action sports.” And, “Fuck you wettie.”
Jon Pyzel and Matt Biolos by @theneedforshutterspeed/Step Bros