Ozzie Wright Israel
Ozzie Wright, as WSL surfer, with Joel Fitzgerald twin-fin, in Israel. What an enigma he is! | Photo: Derek Rielly

The WSL Doubles-Down on Israel!

The world qualifying series returns, with more cash and even more laughs!

There ain’t much else in this world I hate than saying no to a good time. And,  saying no to a trans-continental surf trip to the ground zero of outrageous fun kills me.


Oh, Israel.

Have I mentioned the joint before? It’s a bewitching sliver of desert and singing blue sea just to the right of Cyprus, atop Egypt, just left of Syria, and a day’s drive away from the bustling markets of Baghdad.

Of course, you already know that it’s the only country in the Middle East where democracy flourishes, where men and women are equal, where the booze flows and everyone dances and where you might meet a cute girl with a pistol strapped to her narrow waist.

A caveat: the famed machine-gut toting IDF girls are generally chubby, and only passably friendly.

Last year, I took Ozzie Wright and Otis Carey there for Israel’s first-ever WSL event. Oz was so thrilled he wrote a song called Jesus is the King of the Jews. 

This year, I’ve got an interview with a former Australian prime minister for a book project right in the middle of the waiting period.

Do I want to go to Israel? Yes!

Can I? No!

Anyway, the WSL event in 2016 was a 1500-point WQS. It was won by Pedro Henrique, studs, and Maude Le Car, gals.

This year there is more cash, the gals side of things has doubled in points, Reef has taken over from Billabong as the co-sponsor with Seat motor cars, and the event organiser, Mr Yossi Zamir, who rolls out the red carpet like no other, is asking all pro surfers to come, come, come!

The contest runs from January 19 to 28, and, as the WSL says,

The urban jungle of Tel Aviv, deserted South and the mountains in the North are just a fraction of all the beauty this country has to offer. And if you still need persuading, the locals incredible welcome will definitely win your affection.

Read more here! 

(And, for our pals who might harbour a little antipathy toward the Jews, read here.)

Trump Playboy
I'm not reproducing, what do I care about the future health of our environment? Fuck it, let's burn shit to the ground. Of course, the white bread faux-Christian mouth breathers who farted out a vote for Trump yesterday breed like a rats. Pumping out child after child, fruitlessly multiplying. They need a planet to host the poisonous detritus that springs forth from their wombs.

Rory’s Repeats: “Comedy comes from pain!”

A buffoon-in-chief will be hilarious!

Motherfucker. I truly did not see that coming.

Should’ve, probably. Just didn’t want to believe a campaign built on hate could win. But it did.  Wasn’t even close. Bigotry and fear took the day, get to run with the ball for the next four years.  Probably eight, if we’re being honest.

But the world isn’t ending.

Nothing has really changed.

We’re the same group of assholes today that we were yesterday.

Is it absurd that we elected a reality TV star to run our country? Yep.

Is he going to use the Senate and House majority to roll back every positive environmental and public health program we’ve got? Probably.

Am I allowed to call people niggers and faggots and beaners again? Looks like it.

To be fair, I’ll only be applying that license to the racial or ethnic or sexual minorities who supported him. They signed up for it.

But it’s not all doom and gloom. Well, maybe mostly, but if you want to read that type of stuff you can find it anywhere at the moment. I’d prefer to focus on the bright side.

Comedy golden era

A buffoon-in-chief will be hilarious, there’s no way around it. Whether he’s committing social gaffes among his fellow heads of state, or engaging in late night Twitter wars with detractors, the presence of a President without a filter will make for endless opportunities for solid humor.

Sure, a lot of the laughing will be the kind you do in order to avoid tears. But that’s fine. Comedy comes from pain. Saturday Night Live will catch fire for a few years, South Park has Mr Garrison in the White House.

He gave a voice to the voiceless

But not really. He exposed a lot of people for the close-minded xenophobe bigots they truly are, and tricked them into thinking they were represented. But, the truth of the matter is, that fairly large subsection of our population has been largely ignored because they are stupid. Easily led, receptive to demagoguery, willing to believe anyone who spews venom that overlaps with their own. But first and foremost, stupid.

They may think they’ll get what they want, but they don’t know what they want. And no one cares anyway. The frustration as that fact dawns on them will be delicious.

The Red State Blues

The jobs are gone, they ain’t coming back. All the Rust Belt retards who think Heir Trump will somehow bring back all the off-shored manufacturing jobs are gonna learn real quick that those were just empty promises. The Trump presidency will be about putting as much money as possible in the hands of the ruling class. You don’t do that by paying a living wage. You definitely don’t do that by supporting unions.

“BUT YOU PROMISED!” they’ll cry, while fighting for crusts of bread in the gutter. “You said you’d make us great again. This isn’t great at all.”

Goodbye Obamacare

Thank jeebus I can afford private insurance. Great coverage, the best!

But guess what? Repealing the Affordable Care Act will mean insurance companies can once again charge more, or deny coverage outright, due to pre-existing conditions. Which is a serious problem if you’re an obese redneck motherfucker with adult-onset diabetes. Ditto if you’re an aging baby boomer about to experience the litany of ailments that comes with senior status.

Global Warming isn’t real

I’m not reproducing, what do I care about the future health of our environment? Fuck it, let’s burn shit to the ground.

Of course, the white bread faux-Christian mouth-breathers who farted out a vote for Trump yesterday breed like a rats. Pumping out child after child, fruitlessly multiplying. They need a planet to host the poisonous detritus that springs forth from their wombs.

Luckily for them, the type of half wit imbecile their tainted bodies produce will be well suited to surviving the aftermath of our planet’s destruction. Retreat to caves, return to their troglodyte roots.

They set a precedent

Fuck unity. Fuck brotherhood. Fuck national identity.

It’s us versus them, ain’t no two ways about it. Hopefully the more liberal-minded souls will finally realize that, if you want to fight a pig, you’ve gotta get down in the mud. No more attempts at discussion or ideological parity. Stop pretending there are rules, start doing what it takes to win.

It’s time to throw our idealism in the garbage, where it belongs. Face the cold hard truth that you’ve gotta employ violence to get what you want. That’s it’s okay to trample another person in your quest for a brighter tomorrow. That truth has no place in reality, and that the ends always justify the means.

The closest thing I have as a portrait of the two of us together.
The closest thing I have as a portrait of the two of us together.

Chas: “Why I’ll miss Paul Speaker!”

He is gone now and I am poorer for it.

My phone lit up like a pachinko game early this Japanese morning and of course you know why. The World Surf League’s CEO Paul Speaker has resigned. He has left the building. And many smiling faces and thumbs up and “whoas!” “yeses!” and “wows!” filled my screen.

But my own heart sank like a stone. Like a boulder to the bottom of the sea.

If you are a regular here you know that I have made it a part-time job to kick at Herr WSL CEO and I have taken that part time job very seriously. Why did I kick so often? So relentlessly? So pointlessly? For so long? Oh my memory is a rotted husk but if I sift through its soft bits I think I can find the root. And it is this.

Paul Speaker would never kick back.

I don’t know what surfing meant to him since he didn’t do it himself but the way he went about trying to sell it was, in my estimation, ludicrous. I believe, truly, that professional surfing is the most beautiful expression in the world. That old and young can discover and appreciate. That the possibilities for growth are endless. That it can be explained to the non-surfer and understood by them.

But it all starts with the rabble. For those of us addicted enough to wake up at 3 am to watch Jadson Andre vs. Wiggolly D. It starts with the junkies. And BeachGrit is the home of the junkie rabble. You and I and Nick Carroll and Matt Warshaw and Longtom and Derek Rielly. We are not of the “pro surfing is lame” set.

We love this game and love it more than any other.

And Paul Speaker should have recognized this. He should have drank a cup of concrete, hardened the fuck up and come a’ callin.

His predecessor did.

I kicked at then ASP CEO Brodie Carr when I first started covering the tour so many years ago. I poked at his clothes, at his style, at his overall deal yet he did not run and hide. He took my barbs with the most gregarious laugh and smashed me on the arm wrestling table and we have been wonderful friends ever since.

I wanted to be wonderful friends with WSL CEO Paul Speaker too. I wanted him to call me up one day out of the blue and say, “Is this Chas Smith? Oh you are a worthless cocksucker. Come up to Santa Monica and let’s drink some whiskey.”

I wanted to help him help professional surfing get better. I loved landing shots on his big cornfed jaw. I wanted to be his pal. But none of this will now happen or ever happen again.

WSL CEO Paul Speaker is gone, and I am poorer for it.

Créme: Dreamy Barbados Sessions!

Josh Burke eats up Soup Bowls… 

I’ve known about Josh Burke for roughly ten years. In those days he was seen as the token white-Bajan kid at major east coast events. He surfed well enough, won a few titles. Never considered him a genuine big-league threat though.

At fourteen he went on Surfing‘s inaugural Grom Games trip to Nicaragua and was the indisputable lame duck of the group. The waves were gangbusters and the competition was fierce but it all seemed out of Josh’s league. His scrawny frame and apparent lack of tube experience left him searching for shoulders to slide his toddler-sized Futures.

But a lot has changed in four years.

The below video shows an entirely new and improved Josh Burke. Having put in the hard yards at Barbados’ famous right-hander, Josh now appears comfortable driving through heavy water. This ain’t no Kelly Slater in Sipping Jetstreams, nor Kelly Slater in Campaign 2 (no longer on the web, ugh!), but then again what really is?

The tubes are nice, but I’m most impressed by Josh’s assault of the warping Caribbean walls. The kid is obliterating pockets like an uncapped pen. His surfing is controlled yet abrasive, like some beautiful manifestation of AI and Davey Cathels. He just might have the perfect competition technique.

This idea is slightly derailed by Josh’s 2016 QS ranking of 167. To achieve that mediocre placement, he surfed in sixteen events and made a total of seven heats. This lends credence to two ideas: 1. The QS is excruciatingly difficult. 2. Chas was (almost) right! Surely one of us could make at least sevenish heats throughout the entirety of a season.

But would it be worth it? Let’s break it down.

Travel, food, accommodations: $40K
Contest fees: $10K
The ability to rightfully declare yourself as the 167th best surfer in the world on Tinder, at dinner parties, etc.: priceless.

Paul Speaker Resigns as WSL CEO!

Our benevolent leader has taken his last gasp of salt air

I know what you’re thinking. This should be Chas’s piece. Only he retains the power, privilege, and wherewithal to bid proper adieu to the WSL’s benevolent patriarch, Mr. Paul Speaker.

Believe me, I’m with you. But Chas is either asleep or boarding snow or whispering sweet nothings to a hungover and regretful Travis Rice. In which case I am the one to deliver this sullen news.

The WSL’s CEO and major financial backer, Paul Speaker, has released a statement on the WSL website announcing his resignation. After five years of developing the shriveled, dilapidated ASP into our pristine, cocksure WSL, Speaker has called it quits in order to “spend more time with family.” He will however remain financially invested.

For now, WSL majority owner Dirk Ziff will take over as interim CEO until a full-time replacement is established.

Will we get a surfer this time around, or another corporate head? Perhaps we’ll go bi-curious and steal Nick Woodman from his crumbling empire. Imagine the mandatory nose-mounted GoPros for every surfer on Tour…

Oh, and one last thing. This affair has already experienced its share of media drama.

Just this morning, noted STAB author Morgan Williamson posited that Speaker’s move could be a “get-out-while-you-can” tactic amidst a financially crumbling WSL. The article was then amended, as Morgan replaced the original thought with cookie-cutter, everything-is-always-sunny-in-Santa-Monica quotes from the WSL’s PR-control man, Dave Prodan. Coincidence? Me thinky not.

More from a lamenting Chas soon!