Frederico builds a house.
Frederico builds a house.

Ron Blakey and the magic “R!”

Plus other observations from a fabulous day of professional surfing!

I don’t know how any true surf fan could be frustrated whilst enjoying yesterday’s Round 1 action of the Rip Curl Classic. What was lacking in high risk/high reward was more than made up for by statesmen-like approaches to simple 2-3 foot waves. The true surf fan doesn’t always need to be wowed. He appreciates the subtleties. The “small but sturdy house” to steal a phrase from Matt Warshaw.

Here are my questions:

Is Ron Blakey now your official favorite commentator? Do you think he is more handsome than Turps? More well-spoken than The Condor? Do you love his easy-going Australian flair? His adding the letter “R” to Brazilian names? That’s one of my favorite parts. Gabe Medinar, Ian Gouvier, Adriano de Souzer, Miguel Pooper, Filipe Toleder…  It is good.

Is Ross Williams the best coach ever? John John Florence is fresh of his maiden world title yet is exhibiting zero sophomore slump. His foot, if anything, is pressing even harder on the necks of the competition. At this rate he will have title two wrapped by Fiji and I think we have to credit Ross. Don’t you? Like San Antonio Spur’s coach Gregg Popovich, he digs under what should be complacency and lights a fire.

Will Kolohe Andino someday win a title? He looked good out there. Not John John good but good enough to win if John John got hurt which makes me wonder if Kolohe is currently the second best surfer in the world? What do you think? Do you think he is better, at this moment, than Gabe Medinar?

When will professional surfing finally become what it was built for? I watched many heats with a good friend and it was, as previously noted, enjoyable but it would have been much better in a comfortable velvet chair in Las Vegas beneath a giant screen. Imagine the bets you could make. Obviously which surfer will win each heat but the over/under on, say, Glyndon Ringrose. If Barton Lynch will start his post-heat interview with the word “Mate.” The number of times Gabe Medinar will look back at the judges. It would be the greatest five hours ever spent.

How to: Sue a North Shore Lifeguard!

Almost drown. Get saved. Hire a lawyer…

One of the lesser known treats of being in the life-saving game is the potential for a ruinous lawsuit.

Man goes for swim, gets in trouble, his ass is pulled out of the water, winds up a little brain-damaged ‘cause of the time he spent underwater, hits the lifeguard who pulled him out with court action. Makes a million bucks, spends it on hookers and reefer. (The rest he wastes on nursing care.)

It’s why for the last fifteen years North Shore lifeguards, those studs who’ll drag you off the reef at Pipe or out of the rip at Waimea, have had a state-funded limited liability protection.

However that protection is going to expire in June and hopes that the immunity was going to be extended were squashed yesterday by State House lawmakers.

And, according to Khon2,

The Hawaii Association for Justice does not support immunity for lifeguards. In written testimony, it stated “only lifeguards are allowed to perform at a substandard level by providing them with immunity against their negligent performance of lifeguard services.”

State Representative Scott Nishimoto said in a statement that the amendments created a fair bill that protects lifeguards and the public. He said, “No other first responders, such as firefighters, police officers, or EMT ambulance personnel have statutory immunity to perform their duties at a level below reasonable care.”

Mark Healey, who rides Great Whites and Great Waves, ain’t buying the change in the game.

Lawmakers in Hawaii have gutted and replaced language of SB 562 in an effort to remove limited liability protections for lifeguards. These recent amendments will put 90% of Hawaii’s Lifeguards at risk of personal lawsuits, cost taxpayers more dollars and put beachgoers at risk. Personal injury lawyers will be the only ones to benefit from frivolous lawsuits against our lifeguards. Please call or email Joe Souki 808-586-6100 [email protected] and Ron Kouchi 808-586-6030 [email protected] to urge them to oppose the recent amendments to SB 562 and leave the liability immunity intact. Please share with family and friends by reposting this image and #PROTECTHAWAIILIFEGUARDS @civilbeat article in our bio for more info.

A post shared by Mark Healey (@healeywaterops) on

What’s your take? Should a lifeguard be dragged through a civil court for a rescue that goes wrong? Would the threat of opportunistic lawsuits turn ’em into whistle-blowing-don’t-go-near-the-fucking-water nazis even when it’s three foot, like Australia’s volunteer surf lifesavers?

Watch ’em in action here.

And if you want more, how about the time Ev Geiselman nearly got iced.



Question: Could you win Bells today?

Honestly. Measure your talent against the tableau!

Are you watching the contest? Of course you are and you are seeing those soft little rights working through the “Bells Bowl” and you are thinking, “That looks fun!” Oh I know the contest has just been called off for an hour so they can move the shootin’ match to Winkipop because Kelly Slater threw an absolute fit, but back to Bells. Doesn’t it look fun for you and me?

Of course it does! These are the waves you and I surf fairly regularly! Soft little rights that flatten out and burger yet we feel, in our sinews, “Sick. Just scored the wave of the winter.”

I watched the first five heats of the first round and, truly, honestly, thought “I could put up a 3.75 and a 3.21 on these waves.” Not a world title, obvs, but an almost respectable almost 7.00 heat total.

I would start with the take-off, “bottom turn” then head into the lip and “top turn.” After that I’d straighten out and pump down the line for a minute before thinking, “This wave is still running!” and starting my wrap around carve which would gently take me back to the whitewash and then a conservative rebound followed by a “What? This wave is still running!” and a “smack” off the top to end it all.

I would have finished the wave. The judges would be forced to score me a high three. Or a low three. Respectable.

Am I right?

I Twittered Matt Warshaw to make sure I was and he responded, “I could maybe build a small but sturdy little house out there today, yes.”

Yes, I am right. And does this make you love Bells more? That you could lose the heat to two professionals but feel “I only lost by a couple points to two professionals!” in your sinews?

Now that is gold.

Filipe Toledo

Watch: Filipe Toledo hiss and roar!

Get pelted with Filipe's missiles in "Smile Now Cry Later!"

Did I mention somewhere that I spent a marvellous week in Mexico with Filipe Toledo? Oh I did?

Maybe here, here and here? 

What I may not have mentioned was how hard I fell under his spell. When little Pat O’Connell, who commands an important job at Hurley, suggested we take Filipe to coach Lakey Peterson on our Girl Goes Into Orbit series, I can’t describe how thrilled I was.

But I travel enough with pro’s to know how fast the crush disappears when even a tropical sun and handsome waves can’t thaw their addiction to laptops and telephones and some  distant, demanding spouse who must be carpet-bombed with calls.

And then there’s Filipe.

Refuses a bedroom so he can bunk with his buddies Bruno Baroni and Erick Proost in a makeshift loungeroom. When I can sense burnout after five hours of surfing on day three, I offer Filipe an early ride back to the house with Brett and Lakey.

“Nah, I want to keep surfing,” he says, only taking a break to beatbox with Erick and Bruno in the shade of a makeshift shelter of palm fronds.

When he has to drive three hours into Guadalajara to deal with his re-entry visa back into the US, something that will take three tedious days, he takes it as an adventure.

On our last surf, just me and he, as the citrus sun turns red and bleeds into the ocean, Filipe breaks into spontaneous cheering and belts his hands together.

“How good is this, man!” he whoops.

This his latest edit (from pal Bruno), shot around the Margaret River contest, where Filipe finished third.

Get pelted with Filipe’s missiles here!

Is there anything sexier than a limp cigarette?

Watch: Brad Flora Justifies Slayer!

A man in his element!

BeachGrit has been critical of recent surf/music pairings, specifically those of Africa’s number one and two surfers. The song choices felt forced, as if Jordy and Brendon were portraying an image inconsistent with their character, their surfing.

This is not the case for Maryland’s Bradley Flora.

Slayer’s Black Magic functions only to reinforce the waves Brad surfs and how he surfs them. The technical approach ain’t quite there with Jords or Beeg, but there’s something to be said for synchronicity of vision, feeling, and sound. For me, this video induced more guttural emotion than both of the aforementioned clips combined. It made me want to go surf or drink or jump off something.

The story behind Peixe Podre (Rotten Fish) makes it even more enchanting. Having been dropped by sponsor Rip Curl and forced to move back home to O.C., MD, Brad spent the last of his savings on a two-week trip to Portugal. While there he became enamored with the unhinged style of surf, but more importantly, he fell in love with a local gal.

Brad returned home only to sell his car and pick up the rest of his surfboards, then was on the next flight back to Lisbon. He spent the past three months living with his Latin muse and surfing every day. When his high-flying, slab-stabbing approach resulted in a dismantled quiver, Brad grabbed a dilapidated twinny and made the best of it for the remainder of his stay.

When man sacrifices all for wave and woman, art is the inevitable byproduct.

A story of passion!