Writer troubled by WSL signage as North Shore teen Finn McGill slays Jamie O, Jack Robinson and co…
I didn’t expect the event to run today. Bad wind, lack of swell. Figured Tuesday was a sure thing. So I went out, drank too much, slept in. Woke up as the contest was called on. Oops. Real professional.
Sucked down espresso as fast as I could, watched Jack Robinson slay it on my laptop, then hammered through traffic to the event site. My tardiness forced me to park in front of Rockpiles, hoof it down to the beach like an animal. The sun was beating down, I was sweating buckets.
Checked in, got my stupid little wrist band, headed down to the scaffolding.
Strolled past a lovely little sign the WSL decided to staple to one of the trees inside Ehukai beachpark.
When will they learn?
The nonsense about use of images or audio at the event site is technically true, but only because you need permission from the Hawaii Film Office to shoot anything commercial on Hawaii’s beaches. The HFO generally only grants one permit at a time, and it’s safe to assume that it’s currently in the WSL’s hands.
But the WSL is not a regulatory agency. They can’t do shit to enforce it other than call the police and hope HPD feels like doing something.
Ditto with the drones. BeachGrit covered their shenanigans last year.
“If they got a permit from the FAA it’s like getting a permit from us. If you apply for it first you can say that, ‘I have a permit here, I have the right to say no shooting here or whatever.’”
However any violations would fall to the FAA to enforce, meaning the WSL would need to contact them, after which the FAA would go after violators.
While I think that stuff is kind of interesting, it’s old hat. Been there, done that. No one cares but me.
But, you know what really sticks in my craw?
You agree that you WILL NOT engage in that may damage or injure property, any person, the name and brand of the WSL, the Event, an athlete, or any sponsor at the event;
Nope, nope, nope.
It’s a public space, no number of permits can cancel your first amendment right to free speech. Feel like spray painting “fuck the W$L” on a bed sheet and hanging out on the beach all day? You can, they can’t stop you, and if they tried you’d most likely have a lucrative lawsuit on your hands.
You might be thinking, “Rory has a real problem with theoretical outrage.” Well, you’re absolutely correct. I live in my own head, have a tough time accepting inconsequential injustices. It’s a personal failing, probably. And the WSL is really just giving it a shot. Tons of guys were shooting without being hassled. It’s the equivalent of me posting a sign on my front door that says, “By entering my home you agree to suck my dick.”
Maybe I’ll get lucky and you’ll fall for it. But probably not.
Kaipo Guerrero’s dulcet tones were blaring from the beachfront speakers, and the early day conditions weren’t great. Choppy morning sickness, lots of low scores. Whoever found the diamond in the rough had the heat wrapped up. I bought a cup of lemonade from the cute little girl playing entrepreneur at the foot of the Pipe access path, hoped it would help my hangover. It did not. It was terrible. The little monster was selling sugary premix garbage. I thought I was in for some homemade goodness.
Why do people bring their surfboards to surf contests? The beach was littered with them, vacationer wannabes, leashes wrapped tightly around tails, turning them into trip-up liabilities. The best was the guy in button-up, pocketed, shorts, boxers peaking from the top. No wax on his deck, no fins in his plugs, a jammed packed ABC store bag dangling from his other hand. He was walking back and forth on the beach. I don’t know what he was thinking.
I’d turned up in time for heat four. JOB found a beautiful Backdoor bomb. I found a gorgeous place in the bleachers. It’s the only real reason to get a media pass, that access to shade. Sitting in the sun all day is torture, sitting on the sand is for plebs. It was elevated, nearly empty. A heavenly way to spend the day watching some very good surfing. Some slow moments, some dull heats. But it was good, if not great.
What happened to Fredrico Morais? Why isn’t he in the event? Alejo Muniz is out with an injury, Morais gets a ticket straight into the big show. Which is really how it should work anyway, when a person is leading the Triple Crown and not a member of the WCT.
The media pass also gets me a spot in the theoretical interview bullpen. Theoretical because there was one. And anyway, what kind of questions am I going to ask? “Yeah,bro, did you totally get tubular out there?”
Mikey Bruneau made a terrible mistake in the final seconds of heat five, stuffed Kaito Kino on a crummy left. He had second wrapped up, had no chance of improving his score. Zeke Lau got a gift. Bruneau got angry.
Gave Kito a hard time in the water, threw his own board in the kiddy pool, stalked up the beach. It was a heartbreaking way to lose, easy to understand the reaction.
I wouldn’t have thrown my board in that half ocean/ half piss, body of stagnant water. It’s gross, got more so as the day passed. From clear and almost inviting, to murky and greenish and nasty.
A lot of sets were swinging wide, hitting Off the Wall. Fuck that shallow hunk of hell reef. No shortage of takers though. Throughout the day I watched guys get murdered as they gave it their best. It was a nice way to fill the slower moments.
Mason Ho lost in heat seven, it made me sad. He just couldn’t find his groove, and was up against NatFlo and a Moniz clan member. I don’t remember exactly which one, but it hardly matters. Seth and Josh were killing it the entire event. Josh made the finals.
I worried that the rising tide would conspire with an increasing North wind to kill the comp. They did not. The surf improved, and increased in size throughout the day. It never hit the flawless perfection for which we all hope, but there were moments.
Jack Robinson found them repeatedly. He was amazing, I was sure he’d repeat last year’s win. A slow semifinal heat proved his undoing.
Ditto with NatFlo. Over the course of the day he found the best waves, surfed them perfectly, only to be knocked out by Josh Moniz and the on fire Finn fucking McGill.
Cody Young stood out in my mind, as did Zeke Lau. The second there is kind of, like, duh, but Cody wasn’t on my radar. And, boy oh boy, did he ever impress.
I observed my first humans clad in WSL jerseys in the wild today. They were exactly the type you’d expect to see wearing them. I also think that Kalani Chapman and Dave Wassel must share a common ancestor.
But Finn McGill, let’s go back to Finn fucking McGill. He grabbed a hideous throater in the dying minutes to sneak his way into the final, then proceeded to go insane. I’ve never heard of Finn before today, but watching him combo the field in a final heat featuring a Moniz and a Beschen was unreal. Inspiring. Magical. Amazing.
Again and again he upstaged everyone. Surfed better than anyone had all day. He had the win locked, I was sure of it with fifteen minutes to go. So were the pod of humpbacks who showed up to watch his display.
Then a security guard singled me out and kicked me out of the contest site. “They” told him to. Who are “they?” He couldn’t tell me.
I was still allowed on the beach, obviously, but that type of treatment cannot stand. I stalked to the media trailer, no one was sure why I was told to leave. No one seemed to care. So my temper go the better of me, and I left. Fuck it, I don’t need this shit. I’ll just fly back to Kauai. Where people are kind and welcoming and, most importantly, leave me alone.
I nearly wrote a scathing email to woman in charge of dealing with us writer dorks, but decided to dial it back and just ask what was going on.
Turns out it was just a confused and over-zealous security guard. Hardly a rare creature.