You think surely something has to happen. Something. In the way that something always happened when Kelly paddled out in his prime. John John chose to live or die on the back ledge and finally speared a keeper. And then a flat-spin-to-full-rote with a duck pillow landing. But still it wasn't quite… happening. | Photo: WSL/Robertson

Analysis: Margs Pro “like disaster porn!”

North Point is like Mundaka. Unless it's pumping, holding a contest there smacks of desperation.

Margaret River, Day one: 

Were you convinced after Snapper, that Slater had lost control of his fundamentals? I contacted my old buddy Nate Silver from sports/politics blog 538.com to run the ruler over the stats for Slats’ opening event as soon as Dell asked me to cover day one at Margs.

Apart from screwing the pooch on Trump like every other pollster, Nate’s the best numbers man in the biz. Me and Nate got tight after an horrific aquatic accident on Lake Okeechobee chasing a fall edge bite when Todd Kline rammed us at 50 miles per hour in his new Skeeter. That gave me an invaluable insight into the American judicial system, another story for a different time.

For now, lets look at Kelly’s numbers. They’re bad, man. How bad? Real bad.

Kelly rode 44 waves for an average wave score of, what? Take a guess. Five? Six?

3.87.

Under four in surf that was mostly good to great Snapper Rocks, one of the most rippable waves on earth. Only one of those 44 waves (2.27%) made the excellent eight-plus range. A perfect wave he flubbed so badly it should have been a 10. That wave was the source of the awks Fanning locker-room, bun-in-the-oven exchange (more on that in a minute.)

His average heat score after seven heats including today is a princely 12.57. It’s a miracle Kelly made the quarters at Snapper. His is a surfer in steep decline, according to the numbers.

You think, surely, something has to happen. Something. In the way that something always happened when Kelly paddled out in his prime. John John chose to live or die on the back ledge and finally speared a keeper. And then a flat-spin-to-full-rote with a duck-pillow landing. But still it wasn’t quite… happening.  

We won’t go heat by heat from today. That’s crazy when the heat analyser is up and the twelve rounds saw so few highlights.

But, a few observations from day one.

  • There’s now no functional difference between backside and frontside for tuberiding at the elite level. North Point is a technical tuberide with a secondary section, pinching top tube and waves that split in two. None of which bothered the goofies.
  • Pros got totally lost in the lineup whether front or backside. The cognitive dissonance between the hype from the commentary and the often embarrassing performances from pros who clearly had no clue about the lineup reached it’s sparkling apotheosis when the best wave of the heats rifled down the ledge unridden, to be mind-surfed by Strider in the channel. It was a day to give viewers blueballs. So much teasing, so little release.
  • You think, surely, something has to happen. Something. In the way that something always happened when Kelly paddled out in his prime. John John chose to live or die on the back ledge and finally speared a keeper. And then a flat-spin-to-full-rote with a duck-pillow landing. But still it wasn’t quite… happening.  

It’s tempting now to spend every minute of the webcast as an indulgence in disaster porn, as a front row seat to the last days of the Roman Empire. North Point is like Mundaka. Unless it’s fully pumping, holding a contest there smacks of quixotic desperation.

Will Margies be cut from the Tour? Put yourself into the heart and mind of a suit from the city of Perth getting duchessed by the WSL and local glad handlers. Was that an impressive spectacle? Worth the few million a year the WA state government pumps into it? That would get a whole series of comps in Indonesia. A backup plan for the WSL? Go Third World while the brown man is still cheaper than the white man. How much of a Tour do they need to make a title?

It’s tempting now to spend every minute of the webcast as an indulgence in disaster porn, as a front row seat to the last days of the Roman Empire. North Point is like Mundaka. Unless it’s fully pumping, holding a contest there smacks of quixotic desperation.

Would three events in Indo do it? So many gorgeous what if’s.

What did you think of the rookies? Yes, they can surf, as Mike C noted. But as far as a bankable skill set for pro surfers go that’s not the number one priority. You need a marketable narrative. Unless your name is Bede Durbidge, pro surfing hates a hype-free rookie, a potential journeyman. A story is shield and spear for pro surfers. A story-less pro is a wounded gazelle on the savannah. They get chewed up and spat out and no-one laments their passing. Shrinking surf industry money meant a shrivelled up ad revenue for mags and hence less copy space, less ads for chancers on the QS. They now come to the CT as rank unknowns, a pretty queer turn of events for a pro sport.

I found one today though. Ian Gouveia. What a little card. He’s the Brazilian Mason Ho. An insanely stylish little hyper-active fire plug of a surfer. How was that little double shaka kick out and the instinctive backside tube-riding? Brazilian goofies got the best waves of the day. That’s truth.

Owen Wright made the millions watching online all over the world wince when he wore a sledgehammer lip to the head. He paddled away. Is that a successful stress test of the brain? I say yes.

Unlike Chas I see surf journalism as noble, as spiritual defence against days like these. I aspire to be the very best under-employed ( by choice, motherfucker) surf journalist in the game. It’s hard to come up with the words to summarise the game today.

The day got weird. Those backlit buffed Indian Ocean lines but no scores. It was a patient with the lifeforce ebbing away, leaving a beautiful corpse.

Those Drug Aware ads killed me. Aspire to be the best you can be. I haven’t touched a drug for months/weeks (at least weeks), not a beer, not a joint, nothing, apart from one dexy when my mate sold his house.

Unlike Chas I see surf journalism as noble, as spiritual defence against days like these. I aspire to be the very best under-employed ( by choice, motherfucker) surf journalist in the game. It’s hard to come up with the words to summarise the game today.

In the grand scheme it signifies nothing apart from a governing body looking for novelty to energise a stale Aussie leg.

Now go home and get your fucking shine box Sebastien Zietz for dropping that ten as I was about to hit send.

How sick was that? This sport kills me.


Could you fathom a more idyllic form? | Photo: What Youth

Watch: Our Competitor’s Film!

Whose dick do I need to suck to surf like Yago Dora?

Chas Smith says surf media is petty and I agree. Specifically, Chas (and I) finds it ridiculous how the three-to-five main purveyors of surf content (Surfline, STAB, Surfer, Surfing, What Youth etc.) refuse to recognize each other’s existence.

Like… we’re all talking about the same shit 24/7, and somehow these sites believe that by mentioning another curator, they’ll either grant them legitimacy and/or directly attract viewers to their competitors’ domains. And even if that is the case, who cares? Yeah, you’re technically “competing”, but not in that way that a few clicks here or there would really matter.

So watch out world, I’m about to break protocol!

I’d like to present a film by our bitter rivals over at What Youth. But don’t click on their site, because Travis Ferré has a babyface and that Stuart guy is skinny.

The movie is called Hello Sea, and it takes place on a medium-sized boat in the Mentawai Islands. The surfers on this trip include: Chippa Wilson, Craig Ando, Eric Geiselman, Dillon Perillo, Lee Wilson, Yago Dora, and it takes place during Indo’s “off-season”, which puts the emphasis on high-octane rotations rather than liquid coffers.

Of course film is subjective, and for whatever reason this may not be your cuppa, but Hello Sea was also granted a Vimeo Staff Pick, which is hardly negligible.

Surf-geek-wise, I’m particularly fond of Chippa and Yago. The way the board sticks to their feet is something that will never not baffle me. I’m also confused why the entire end section, where the boys surf a playful and rampacious left-hander, is almost completely without Lee, Eric and Dillon. Do they not know how to backside?

The film!


Gimme: Mason Ho’s VooDoo Child!

Would you like to get experienced?

Can we be serious for just one moment? Can we bring it straight from the heart? Does anything in this world feel better than running your hands down the rails of a brand new surfboard? Oh. Yes. Three things feel better but the fourth, running your hands down the rails of a brand new surfboard is near heaven and especially if Matt Biolos shaped that brand new surfboard and especially if it encapsulates dreams of riding like a superstar.

Like Mason Ho!

Who doesn’t want to surf with his flair? With his devil-may-care? I sure do and would trade…. my pinkie finger for his ability. Maybe even my pinkie finger and…. my little toe.

Or maybe I could just buy his VooDoo child. Should we watch it get built then read about it?

…Lost Voodoo Child with Mason Ho from Lost Video Productions on Vimeo.

The “ VOODOO CHILD “ …Mason Ho’s first ever Pro Model. Designed with creative input and vision from the freewheeling, freethinking freesurfer… Mason Ho. The “VooDoo Child” is Mason’s mash-up of classic and current performance surfboard characteristics. Mason likes effortless forward glide projecting from his front foot, but demands quick and loose release off the tail. To do this we started with a lower than typical nose rocker, a relaxed curve through the center and a healthy kick in the tail.

The VooDoo Child features a modern, cutting edge, high performance, concave hull. There is a generous single and double concave cutting through curvy rail rocker, with the deepest concave being through the fins, directly under the rear foot. These elements work together to easily generate speed, and whip tight radius carves, still allowing controlled release for tail free surfing. Other elements include a more noticeably parallel outline through the center (for drive) that blends rapidly into a pulled in nose tip. There is a noticeable bump/hip into a wide squash tail, which encourages quick, angular surfing and harkens back to some classic lines from late 80’s design ethos.

We built a slight double concave deck into the tail. This helps Mason lock his rear foot in the board (especially with Mason’s typical no traction pad approach) and gives the board that magic “surfed in“ feeling, right off the sanding rack. One thing Mason demanded was a classic, 1980s influenced “beak”nose. Visually pleasing, and a nod back to the days when Mason’s pop (Michael Ho) and Uncle Derek, ruled the North Shore and beyond. It actually helps to carry a bit of extra volume forward into the nose (helping with momentum, a bit of paddle power and lessens risk of breaks ) then rapidly reduces thickness in a stylish way. It works well with low nose rockers, like the that of the Voodoo Child, in reducing the thickness without kicking up the rocker from the bottom. Finally, the rails are modern (full, forgiving and tucked soft) throughout the length of the board, but unlike current trends utilizing a thin square tail block, we foiled the the rails down in the last 12’ of the tail, allowing us to retain some more volume under the rear foot for stability, and allows Mason to “knife in” the wide and deeply concaved tail block. All in all, the elements combine to not only make a creative expression of Mason’s concepts and interests, but they balance out into an easy to ride, generously proportioned all around short board with post modern and retro chick influences.

Is your mouth watering? Are you hot?


The surf journalist and CEO discuss very secret and important things. | Photo: Nate Lawrence

How to: Be a brilliant surf journalist!

It is better than you could ever imagine!

Have you ever wanted to be a surf journalist? To travel the world filling notebooks with fascinating insights from our best and brightest? To uncover stories that make readers both laugh and think? To dig deeper and shine a light on real but sometimes uncomfortable truths?

Well now you can learn how at the University of Southern California!

The school’s newspaper, The Daily Trojan, features this new course offering and let’s read about it!

Standing on the sand at Venice Beach, Soraya Simi knew her best view of her subject – a stand-up paddleboarder – would be from the water.

So she grabbed her wetsuit, fins and GoPro and jumped in. This is the life of a surf journalist.

Simi, a sophomore at USC, is in Keith Plocek’s class, “Shoot the Curl: Digital Storytelling and Surf Journalism,” the first surf journalism class to be offered at the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism.

Plocek, a surf journalist and the former head of digital for Village Voice Media, is giving undergrads the chance to, ahem, get their feet wet in the world of surf journalism.

Brilliant!

But do you want to know something even better?

Ready?

Zach Weisberg, THE Zach Weisberg, is a guest speaker!

A core component of Plocek’s class, which is a new offering this spring, is guest speakers. One was 31-year-old surf journalist Zach Weisberg MBA ’13

Weisberg, a former editor for Surfer magazine, now runs a surf and outdoors website called The Inertia, based in Venice (adjacent). He answered questions from students about everything from advertising to what makes a good story.

When it comes down to it, it’s about telling a story anyone can relate to – surfer or not, he said.

“We approach stories from a very human perspective,” he said of The Inertia. “We care about action and getting barrels and the waves getting big – but I think it’s really about relating to people at a personal level and that comes down to storytelling.”

Weisberg applauded Plocek’s multimedia focus. Beyond writing, students are tasked to shoot photo essays and create videos with GoPros. They even got a day at the beach to work with a drone.

SIGN ME UP!

I have written a little something about being a surf journalist is the upcoming book. I’ll give you a little taste here from Chapter 2 which is titled Refusal of the Call!

There are more unwritten rules than there are Hindu gods and the sum of these subtleties, utterly devoid of any real value, is what make up the surfer’s mind. It is why he is so oppressively shallow because his mind is stuttering over things like this, over where to put his hands in the lineup, how to put his boards on his car, if his neck tan is as delineated as it should be for the better part of each day.

And it is the surf journalist who takes it all one step further by contextualizing this utter vapidity. Can you imagine that? Can you imagine writing about it? Can you imagine writing about how a grown man wears his surf trunks? Thinking about it even? Well, I’ve been doing for the better part of my life now. Penning such instant classics REVEALED: LAIRD HAMILTON’S SECRET UNLOCKED! and DECIDED: THE SEXIEST VOICE IN SURFING! and HOW TO: WEAR SURF TRUNKS!

Nobody dreams of becoming a surf journalist. Nobody ever.

THE END!


What if I told you Martin Jeri survived this elevator crash?

Watch: No-Namer Drops Jaws in HI!

Let this firecracker blow your mind!

Are you ever surprised by how well someone surfs? Like when the 50-year-old dreadhead does a mean layback, or the 13-year-old girl does a serious lipper, or Adriano stomps another wide-kneed rotation? Same same.

My most recent case of astonishment was delivered in the form of a Peruvian man, Martin Jeri. His clip starts with a profound quote, which goes exactly like this: “The ocean has taught me that, no matter how sketchy the surface is, we have to be calm like under the sea.” I think that’s nice.

The Martin goes fuckin’ loony! The biggest elevator drop I’ve seen by a backsider at Backdoor, followed by some oversized right where he survives a brutal drumming from the foam, and then a flurry of small wave magic. Of course he’s not the only guy to excel in all facets of the sport, but… he just doesn’t look like he should be that good!

Because his stance is boxy and style is strange and, I don’t know… it just doesn’t add up. Then he again he’s sponsored by Hurley and lands several impressive airs and one especially good turn (2:18), so I guess my judgement is way off. Good on ya Martin, keep ripping.

P.S. Gritters, who is the most underrated shredder you know?