Better believe this guy's on my team! | Photo: WSL

Holy Shit: Bells Starts Today!

Haste! Prep thine squadron!

Well, this is a surprise! I was just coming back to life from a post-Margies hangover when the WSL handed me a beer bong consisting of three, maybe four Victoria Bitters. That’s right, Bells starts in three hours! Here’s a Fantasy team I just threw together.

1. John Florence: 12.5 mil

John’s another guy who won’t be leaving my my team this year. He’s lethal, literally everywhere. Bells doesn’t suit his surfing as well as Margaret’s but with some chunky swell on tap there’s no one I’d rather have gouging through sections or flying above the lip. If he loses before the quarterers I’ll be baffled.

2. Joel Parkinson: 8 mil

In what will likely be his last year on Tour, Joel is surely hoping for a farewell victory. No place left on the schedule suits him as well as Bells, in my opinion. The whole thing for Parko is wave selection. The man is an artist, seen most clearly through his fussiness of canvas. If he finds himself on big, clean walls, it’s eights and nines all day. If not, expect frustration and defeat.

3. Jordy Smith: 11 mil

I had to choose between Wilko, ADS and Jordy, and I couldn’t get the big man out of my head. All three of these guys will go great in Bells’ lumpy, oversized playing field, but if there’s someone who can make my heart race it’s Michael Jordan Smith. Definitely not the best way to pick a Fantasy team, but I swear logic doesn’t work either. It’s all bloody random!

4. Mick Fanning: 4.5 mil

And who’da guessed Eugene would be holding two turds heading into event number three? Not me, and not most of you considering Mick’s ownership rates at Snapper and Margs. But Mick remains cheap and is coming into one of the most successful venues throughout his entire career. Easy decision.

5. Leonardo Fioravanti: 3 mil

He hasn’t delivered his potential just yet, and what time better than now? Leo is strong enough to handle Bells’ lumps and bumps and smart enough to play the style of cat and mouse that this lineup demands. One strong heat and he’ll be off to the races.

6. Conner Coffin: 6.25 mil

Conner killed it here last year, and judges appear in favor of his half-turn layback thing, so why not? He’s also got a decent seeding, which makes this decision even easier. Conner could flame out early or go all the way to the finals. We’ll just have to wait and see.

7. Nat Young 1.5 mil

The WSL sure is being generous to Santa Cruz’s favorite half-ginger. Bells suits Nat’s surfing to a T, so I could see him taking out some big names without a hitch. Remember when he almost won here in his rookie season? Let’s see what he can do as a wildcard.

8. Jeremy Flores: 3.25 mil

His frontside carve is too strong to keep losing. He’s also got the sorta verve that’s so damn fun to cheer for. This perennial underdog has my heart, and therefore a spot on my team.

Good luck to all!

The face of a winner!

Math: Alex Gray Is in the Black!

Living up to his middle name!

Do you remember, two days ago, when Alex Gray’s boards were utterly demolished by American Airlines? It hit every major surf site other than BeachGrit because, well, I was busy or something.

A quick recap: Alex flew five CI blades from Oahu to LAX, only to find four of them brutally bisected. Evidence implied that the board bag had been opened and the boards had been purposefully tampered with. Who would do that or why is as much a mystery to me as it is to you.

Alex filed a formal complaint against American Air and started an Instgram crusade against the company, much like John and Jet Blue or Kelly and Hawaiian. Gray claims that this movement isn’t about him or his surfboards, but rather the surfing community as a whole. For too long we’ve been treated like second-class citizens by ski-and-golf-fetishizing bureaucratic skycorps.

It’s safe to assume that Alex will be refunded in whole. To not oblige him would be against the interests of American Air, as they’d have face the consequence of further social media lashings and We’ll never fly with you agains from the larger surfing community, all over a couple thousand bucks. And hey, they’ve still got a chance to stay above United in this whole scandal.

So assuming he gets paid for those boards, Alex is already winning. It’s unlikely he paid much (if at all) for those CIs, so to be compensated for their retail value (~$750 apiece) is to come out way on top. But Alex’s luck doesn’t end here.

As reported by Surfline, Alex Gray has won the GoPro of the World Best Wave category for the winter season with his 4-8x (I lost count) tube ride on a Moroccan slave runner. For his efforts, Alex will receive $25,000 of GoPro cash.

Oh and, this is Gray’s second time winning the GOTW grand prize.

So, let’s recount: Alex spends his year traveling the world to places where he gets really, really tubed. He then videos those tubes and often turns the most euphoric moments of his existence into a serious payday. When returning from these idyllic locales, his boards get destroyed by an airline only to (probably) be refunded by a helluva lot more than he ever paid for said boards.

Not bad, Mr. Gray. Not bad at all.

Now if he could just find a main sponsor…

Low-Carb: WSL unveils new sponsor!

Welcome to the family Michelob Ultra!

Move over…ummm Monster? and make way for something better! The World Surf League just rolled out a sponsor for its American events, including the U.S. Open of Surfing and Trestles, and things are gonna get ULTRA cool!

That’s right my dawgs. Michelob Ultra, the beer for people who like to work out and also don’t like to drink beer, has found a market and it is you and it is me and it is Kolohe Andino’s dad Dino. Shall we learn about our new brew?

Michelob Ultra has (per 12 fl. oz.):

0.0 g fat

2.6 g carbs

95 calories

0.6 g protein

4.2% alcohol by volume

A Michelob Ultra spokesperson said:

“As our brand continues to gain momentum, our new partnership with the World Surf League will further connect us to those who are passionate about living the active and balanced lifestyle that Michelob Ultra celebrates.”

Michelob Ultra says the new deal is part of its strategy to reach ‘drinkers who embrace and prioritise an active, balanced lifestyle.’ Financial terms have not been released.

And while I appreciate that Michelob’s parent company Anheuser-Busch feels that surfers are interested in a superior tasting light beer that promotes an active, social lifestyle part of me wishes we could have been sponsored by the -Rita series which features beer masquerading as margaritas. We have Lime-a-Rita, Straw-Ber-Rita, Lemon-ade-Rita, Mang-o-Rita and Grape-a-Rita.

Lime-a-Rita etc. have (per 12 fl. 0z):

8% alcohol by volume

But beggars can’t be choosers and welcome aboard Michelob Ultra. Things gonna get WILD!

(quick question… how many Michelob Ultra’s does it take to get drunk?)

Was John mauled by a rogue emu?

Watch: “Is the WSL a Buncha Babies?”

Jack Robbo says yes!

I’ve still not calibrated the full significance of this moment, but something tells me JJF’s 2017 performance at Margies will be remembered long after the WSL has been replaced by the Bud Lite Lime International SUP Tour.

John’s rail-to rail approach was more meaningful than any number of tens at North Point or the Box could ever be. It was the best maneuvering of a surfboard we’ve witnessed to date.

But do you know what Finals Day’s second-biggest story was? The infamous “Shark Scare” — because apparently that’s what we’re calling bait balls now.

Given the circumstances, postponing the Filipe/Kolohe was the right call. They had only one more heat to run, so taking a twenty-minute breather while the sea life dispersed had no real impact on the day. But the way they all talked about it was so…

They were being a bunch’a babies!

No one even “saw” a shark besides Kolohe, who said: “I was scared for sure. I didn’t see a huge shark but I think I saw a little shark.” I think I saw a little shark, he said.

That is exactly what someone who didn’t see a damn thing would say.

“Lotta sharks in our heat,” continued Filipe. “They came up to play a little bit. I was bleeding, and all the shark was like [wild hand movements].”

Filipe, son… most sharks are fish (what is a whale shark again?), but not all fish are sharks. I’ll take it easy on the guy though, he did well to punch out of his weight class. As did Kolohe. And Freestone.

Then John, bless his prodigal heart. The kid jumped off a wave at the worst possible moment and slammed into a reefy partition, resulting in a little blood and a lotta lump. But did you see how they wrapped that thing pre-final? Looks like some type of suicide-bomber splint. Probably just ice and bandages, but these WSL docs aren’t messing around!

At least John was having a little fun with the shark hysteria. “I told Jack [Freestone] I was chumming the water for him,” he said, while eating a pre-final pear.

The voice of reason came in the form of teenage wonderkid (who, to be fair, didn’t have to surf this day) Jack Robbo. “It’s probably a Wobbegong they saw,” he told Peter King with a face of stone. “There’s nothing to be freaked out about — not this time of year. There is when the cold water moves up and they follow the whales, but it’s just small Bronze Whalers [today].”

All of this and more in the latest #TourNotes!

Literature: “I’m basically finished!”

The last words of the world's greatest surf book have just been laid down.

Have you ever written a book? Have you ever written a fucking book? Let me tell you right now, if you have not then don’t. Trust me and thank me later. I am almost done with my second. My first, Welcome to Paradise, Now Go to Hell is currently ranked the 53 best book in Amazon’s Books> Sports & Outdoors > Outdoor Recreation > Surfing category. If you go on and buy one right now you can probably kick it up to 5. I think that’s how few people buy surf books which is why I wrote another.

My back aches, my skin is a sickly shade of alcohol pale. My eyes. They burn and don’t focus anymore. I’m getting glasses soon.

But I am almost done. Just hundreds of hours of editing, changing, adding, subtracting, re-writing left. Maybe even thousands of hours. How many hours til May 1st?


But I just wrote the last word and I think it will stick. Would you like to know what it is? A little sneak peek? Hell, we’re family! I’ll give you the whole last paragraph!

The road is mostly empty and the sunset is straight from God’s brush, all manner of orange, pink, red, fire, passion, glory. I sit on a wooden bench, pull the Stella Artois out of my pocket, reach down, pull off one of my Reef’s Mick Fanning beer bottle opening sandals and pop its cap. It tastes good. Refreshing. Washing away the last remnants of my life’s total failure. Until I taste the distinct and unmistakable bang of dog shit and think, “Shit.”

See you at the motherfucking Pulitzer Prize awards’ ceremony.