Redemption: A way forward for Gabi!

The most embarrassing surfer in history could become a hero!

It doesn’t get discussed as much as it should. I bring it up semi-regularly, as often as I can wedge it in, but still. The Gabriel Medina shaving his armpits video for Gillette is the most embarrassing, tone deaf thing any professional extreme sport athlete has ever done.


It should be on daily loop in surf media. Or at least every other daily. Like, watch it again with Sterling Spencer.

Can you believe it? Can you really? Gabriel “Gabi” Medina shaved his chest and armpits for a video that was purposefully placed online.

It should have/did kill his career. But there is a way forward! A path for him to reclaim his self worth!

Do you recall the “double pits to chesty” commercial skateboarder Ryan Sheckler made for Axe body spray? Watch here.

And also embarrassing no?


I was once at a skateboarding event and Ryan Sheckler was there and some fat kid shouted “Double pits to chesty! Do a double pits to chesty!” and he sniggered to his fat friend.

Wanna know what Ryan did? He looked up to the stands, nodded, kicked over to some ramp, launched, and in the air DID THE DOUBLE PITS TO CHESTY!

Since that day I have been a massive fan of Shecks. He gets it. He knows. He got paid to do something dumb and owned it afterward.

If Gabi showed any of that self-awareness I’d be a fan of his too. If he paddled out to Pipe during the Masters with a Gillette and proceeded to shave his armpits while the world looked on I would be praying for his return to number one.

Wouldn’t you?

John John Florence Twelve
Ain't having John John Florence as the world champ a beautiful, universal thing?

Watch: Ep #6 John John Florence in Twelve!

A little reminder of how beautifully John John kicked the title… 

The web series Twelve has stolen my heart. And this ol pump is a calcified motherfucker. It ain’t easy to break into.

But, Twelve, the seven-part series that fortuitously documents John John’s world title year is something that’s going to linger. The music is subtle and sharply cut to whatever’s on screen. Slow-motion, drone, lifestyle, voiceover, nothing too much, nothing too little.

The series, called Twelve ’cause that’s roughly how long each short goes for, is the creation of the filmmaker Bill Ballard and is bankrolled by Hurley. It’s monied but it ain’t excessive.

This episode, which I suggest you watch now, throw on the headphones if you’re at work, give a kid an iPad if you’re a daddy, follows John through France (the drone angle on La Piste is sublime) and into the world title home straight in Portugal.

Remember how John won the title when Conner stomped Jordy in his semi with a nine-five tube? And remember how John John came into the final and surfed like a maniac, throwing spears on every wave?

It’s a sold to behold, to cherish, and remember.

Watch here! 

That's pretty much all of us, minus the boogs who don't count.
That's pretty much all of us, minus the boogs who don't count. | Photo: Turtle Bay

Discovered: Number of surfers worldwide!

The number 23,000,000 gets kicked around but how many of us are there really?

So I was poking around Stab yesterday for giggles and found the story Only 0.0000014 Percent Of Surfers Will Qualify For The Tour which asserted that there are 23 million surfers worldwide as its baseline. Since it was Stab no source was credited but I’ve seen this figure before and total bullshit right?


And let’s finally get to the bottom of this once and for all. We can do it!

Now, before we begin, self-identifying surfers don’t count. Those who like the image, look, feel but don’t actually get in the water. A “surfer” as far as it matters to us must surf. Also not boogie or SUP primarily.


We don’t need to put a hard number on how many times a week makes a surfer a surfer but let us suggest that at least once every ten days on average barring horrific injury or death. Once every fourteen days tops. On average.


No way are there more than 1.5 million surfers in the United States. Let’s say Europe and Australia have the same amount, 750k each and that is generous for Australia basically implying that 5% of that whole population surfs but Snapper Rocks. And Bondi.

Let’s say Brazil has another 750k and the rest of the world another million. This all seems totally fair yeah?

That is 4.75 million surfers.

Where in hell did this 23,000,000 number come from?

4.75 million is the number we will use from now on unless you have a better idea.

Parker: “I’m off to Oahu!”

Goodbye hermit life. Hello Turtle Bay!

I’m packing my bags and cleaning my house. Off to Oahu for two weeks this Thursday. Running away to join the circus.

Playing surf journo sans cell phone may prove challenging. Maybe I’ll grab a burner at Walmart before I go. Maybe I won’t. We’ll see. Time will tell.

Am I looking forward to the trip? I don’t know. Maybe? I don’t exactly play well with others. I enjoy my hermit life. But no one really knows what I look like. I’ve been trying to wrangle Pyzel onto my podcast, it’s pretty clear he doesn’t know we’ve met. Multiple times. Lurking on the fringes should come easy.

Or maybe I’ll embark on a drunken rampage, get my ass kicked over words I don’t remember writing, fly home early with my tail between my legs. That’s a definite possibility. Though Derek probably wouldn’t be too pleased, since he’s footing the bill for this little adventure.

Won’t make to it the Surfer Poll awards. That shit’s tonight. Also, I wasn’t invited.

I loved reading who won when I was younger. Don’t know why I cared about them so much, but I did. Are they still relevant? Certainly is a big to-do. Hosting stuff at the Turtle Bay don’t come cheap. Maybe they get a break on rates because of the cross-branding bar deal?

Speaking of branding, the Poll awards are sponsored by a company that makes aluminum skateboards, a tire company, and that one gig that sells expensive flavored coconut water. Makes sense to add some sort of spice to the water. Pre-packaged coconut water tastes fucking foul. But I’m not the market. When I get a hankering for some coco juice I just go pick one. It tastes better, don’t cost nothin’, and I get to open it with a machete. Pour some rum in there and you’ve got a truly tasty beverage.

You know what I watched yesterday? Surfing World‘s take on Skateline. They’re calling it Weak Wrap, which is a clever play on words.

I wasn’t expecting much, it being a Skateline ripoff and all. Which is why I’ve been aware of it for a bit, but never took the time to hit play.

I’ll admit, my initial reaction was unfair. It’s actually good. Danny Johnson’s got a great delivery, I’ve truly enjoyed the few episodes I’ve watched so far.

And it’s not like Gary Rogers invented the faux talk show format. Though Weak Wrap does give a brief nod to their inspiration in the first installment.

Here’s the latest. Give it a watch.

Jordy Smith Filipe Toledo
Is it better, overall, to be six-foot-one and tons of fun (Jordy, Stud) or four-ten in one sock (Filipe, Twink)?

WSL: It’s the Studs vs the Twinks!

Does size matter in the game of pro surfing?

The Ultimate Fighting Championships began without weight classes. Martial Artists, brawlers, wrestlers and boxers fought without gloves, matching different specialists against one another to see what fighting style reigned supreme. A new sport was born out of the bare knuckled bloodshed. Championed by Brazilian Royce Gracie, who showed the effectiveness of choking people.

The World Surf League is like the early days of the UFC in the sense that athletes of all statures surf against one another. But for the most part, size don’t mean a thing.

Or does it?

Intrigued by the far-fetched idea of weight divisions in surfing, I used the WSL profile stats of each athlete and divided the tour by height and weight, then ranked them into light, middle, and heavyweight divisions.

John John is your Heavyweight World Champion! Adriano and Wilko hold the light and middleweight belts heading into Pipeline.

Let’s examine who’s where.

Lightweight 60- 70 kg 

Adriano 167 cm 62 kg

Filipe  173 cm 64 kg

Italo    167 cm 68 kg

Caio 170 cm 69 kg

Kerr  173 cm 70 kg

Miguel 175 cm 68 kg

Keanu    163 cm 66 kg

Kanoa   175 cm 67 kg

Jadson 170 cm 66 kg

Davey    172 cm 67 k

Flores    173 cm 68 kg

Middleweight  70-75 kg

Wilko 180 cm 75 kg

Kolohe  180 cm 74 kg

Slater   175 cm 73 kg

Mick  177 cm 73 kg

Stu  175 cm 72 kg

Conner  173 cm 74 kg

Nat      180 cm 73 kg

Matt B. 180 cm 69 kg

Alejo     173 cm 70 kg

Taj            175 cm 72 kg

Heavyweight:  75 kg+

JJF   183 cm 76 kg

Gabby  180 cm 80 kg

Jordy   190 cm  80 kg

Julian  183 cm 79 kg

Parko    183 cm 84 kg

Sebastian 185 cm 79 kg

Ace    174 cm 77 kg

Michel  176 cm 76 kg

Wiggolly  175 cm 75 kg

Dusty   178 cm 75 kg

Jack  183 cm 75 kg

Alex R. 178 cm 77 kg

Ryan 178 cm 78 kg

As kinky an idea as it is, weight divisions in surf would suck. You’d lose match-ups like JJF x Slater, Parko and Mick, or Gabriel vs Filipe.

No longer convinced that weight divisions are the answer, I went through every man-on-man heat this year and tallied if the larger or smaller surfer won that heat to see if there was a clear advantage.

What I learned: Over the course of the season, weight don’t mean shit although larger surfers had a higher winning percentage at Gold Coast, Bells, Margaret’s, Rio, Fiji, Trestles and Portugal.

Smaller opponents won more often at J-Bay, Tahiti, and France.

As vastly different as these venues are, one could argue that speed is more important than power at these locations. Possibly explaining why the lighter opponent had a higher winning percentage.

Interestingly, apart from Adriano, Filipe and Italo who are sitting comfortably on the rankings, the lightweight class is struggling. Kanoa, Pupo, Davey, Jeremy, and Keanu are all on the bubble of re-qualification.

The events on tour that are thought to cater to light-footed surfers, didn’t.

Gold Coast: 1st Matt Wilkinson, 2nd Kolohe Andino

Brazil: 1st John John, 2nd Jack Freestone

Lowers: 1st Jordy Smith, 2nd Joel Parkinson

Waves that favour heavier and taller competitors… did.

  • Margaret River: 1. Sebastian Zietz, 2.  Julian Wilson
  • Bells Beach: 1. Matt Wilkinson 2. Jordy Smith
  • CloudBreak: 1. Gabriel Medina 2. Matt Wilkinson

The place where larger surfers had the most advantage was Margaret River; winning 25 of 35 in the man-on-man heats.

Size doesn’t mean a smaller surfer can’t thrive in waves of consequence (Flores at Pipe or Teahupoo for instance) or a larger fella can’t grovel (Jordy Smith and Parko’s final appearance at two-foot Trestles).

Size could only be a factor in turns. Right?

See, there are a few questions that go through a judge’s head when they see a turn.

How critical was it? Was the turn on the open face or did the surfer attack the lip?

Speed: Did the surfer come out of the turn with more or less forward momentum?

Flow: Did the surfer link the maneuver? Or did the turn put the surfer behind the pace of the wave?

Power: Was there a large displacement of water coming off the rail of the surfers board?

This last question, The spray factor, outweighs the rest. Judges love when a surfer sends a fan of water to the horizon. Spray shows how clean the carve was through the face of the wave. It is indicator of how much weight was being driven through the heels or toe edge. A forehand turn done timidly, produces less spray. A gouge done with gritted teeth sends buckets out the back.

But from what I’ve gathered, it isn’t size that dictates spray, it’s strength and timing.

Kanoa Igarashi is often told he needs to fill out to be competitive on tour. However, he didn’t think he was at a disadvantage this year for being younger and lighter than some of his more physically developed competitors..

When I asked him if he thought size was an advantage on tour, he told me: “Honestly, I don’t think so. I think being strong has a bigger advantage than height and weight. Adriano is a prime example. Size only matters when you choose the wrong board for the conditions.”

After staring at this topic for too long, I concluded that it ain’t size that matters but conviction.

Surfers come in all shapes and sizes. Those that make it onto the Dream Tour do are there not because they’re physically superior to you and me. It is their conviction, a burning desire to improve on past expectations.

It is proper equipment, physical fitness and determination that makes a surfer WCT level. Hours of practice and perseverance through barriers that make one uncomfortable, has always, and will always, lead to success.

So what if you are six three, two-fifty and can’t grovel worth a damn! Add more volume under your chest and subtract a few cheeseburgers a week and you’ll be gliding where you once sank!

Five-five in socks and a hundred pounds dripping wet? Throw yourself over the ledge. Drown a little. You’ll only get better at handling the abuse.

Lack of performance due to size is an excuse only suitable in the bedroom.