Should Jackie Free be on your team? Why not!

Fantasy: Brazil Is a Toss Up!

Italo wins our hearts

I’m fresh off a $40 Fantasy win at Bells, which means I’ll likely crash and burn in Brazil. In golf they call this a PBFU (post-birdie-fuck-up), in Fantasy Surfer it’s just the law of averages.

Brazil is especially difficult to call due to a number of unforeseeable circumstances. Will the comp run at Saquarema’s lefthand point or a nearby beachie? Will it be tubes, turns or punts that decide most heats? Will there be an attempted murder witnessed by formerly-sheltered CT competitors?

Your guesses are as good as mine. Here’s who you (probably) should(n’t) pick.

John John Florence: 12.5 mil
Would you believe that Brazil is the most fruitful CT stop in John’s career? No wins at Pipe, Teahupo’o, or Cloudbreak but two of ’em in Rio. Besides John’s historical success, it doesn’t make much sense to drop the world’s best surfer at his competitive peak. Maybe he’ll flail, but are you really willing to bet against him?

Adriano de Souza: 8.75 mil
As long as his board keeps treating me right, Adriano will hold a large chunk of my heart. Also, if they do end up at that left point, there’s almost no one I’d rather have blowing massive rooster tails out the back

Filipe Toledo: 8.5 mil
This guy has been on a heater, and in waves outside of his perceived range. Filipe flubbed one at Snapper, but I hardly see him doing the same here. His ability to drop a ten at any moment makes Fil a must-have in the short period South Atlantic swells.

Julian Wilson: 7.5 mil
Somehow, Brazil has been a major handcuff to one of the world’s most progressive surfers. Julian has suffered early round defeat after early round defeat in Rio, meaning he’s due for a breakout win. Right?

Mick Fanning: 4.5 mil
Having a weird year but still too cheap to pass up. One starts to wonder, if Mick doesn’t final in Brazil, will he be committed to the rest of the season? He’s already mentioned how his motivation isn’t quite there, but a big result in Saqua puts Mick right back in title talk.

Jack Freestone: 3.25
As a Fantasy player, I’ve found it almost pointless to care about your low-rank picks. Either you’ll get lucky and they’ll make a few heats, or probability will run its course and they’ll fall to a high seed. Jack got second here last year and I like his surfing, so he gets the nod.

Leonardo Fioravanti: 3 mil
Because he finally swung his hog at Bells and he dominated beach breaks on the QS last year. I’m still a BeLeover.

Jesse Mendes: 1.5 mil
Between Jesse and Nat at a left point or a beach break, I’m going Jesse all day. Nat may have a slight advantage on rights, but Jesse’s forehand and air game are far superior. And while there are no easy heats these days, I like his round one matchup against Jordy and Kerr on a long left.

Italo Ferreira: free!
The poor guy is still hurt, but that puts him in a perfect position to win this year’s Pussy Hound award. Instead of focusing on waves and nailing full-toters, Italo can invest his energy into chasing surgically-enhanced tail. Though he’ll be at a slight disadvantage, chase-wise, with that giant boot on his paw.

Not this one in particular, but you get the idea.

Magic: I Bought Adriano’s Surfboard!

Like Excalibur beneath my feet!

This week I visited the Channel Islands surfboard factory for a project with a Japanese surf mag. I was guided by Britt Merrick (Al’s son and lead shaper/designer at CI) and Blake Howard (CI marketing director) and was genuinely impressed by their production. I’d never seen a board factory so large, so efficient. But then I’ve also never been to Taiwan.

After touring the whole assembly line (machine, shaper, glasser, sander, QC), we arrived at the used board rack. The foamy graveyard consisted of three rows, the sum of which would cover the length a football field.

Sleds of Jordy, Dane, Lakey, Kanoa and every shredder under the sun could be recognized by their stickers and board art. But I’m a tiny fucker, so it was Adriano de Souza’s board that caught my eye.

A 5’8″ x 18 1/4″ x 2 3/16″ Rook 15 with a rounded pin. Plenty of rocker, moderately used, with an homage to Ricardo dos Santos, scribed by ADS himself, on the bottom. I snagged it for $250.

“The worst part about this purchase is having to remove all these stickers,” I told Blake.

“You should leave them on,” he replied. “At least for the first session. That way if you don’t like it, you can always sell it for a profit. He is the world champ.”

Shit. He was right.

And I could hardly bear the thought of paddling out on Adriano’s Formula-One racer. The snickers from the lineup would be unbearable. The pressure to perform like a million Hawaiian Dreams on my shoulders.

The next day I was supposed to go to Lowers but a guilt-trip from my lady (sharks!) led me to Blacks instead. A new south had filled in and the surf was as fun as it gets for a non-barreling beach break.

I carried the board, cloaked under a towel, to the middle of the beach. In a calculated effort I removed the towel and sprinted for the surf, successfully submerging the craft before anyone could witness the atrocity.

The paranoia was real, but my first wave masked every Mitsubishi-laden insecurity.

Instead of having to nurse it off the bottom, this board gripped the water in a way I had never experienced. My rail drove through the surface and brought me to the lip faster than anticipated. I check-snapped off the coping and set up for the money section.

Carrying as much speed as a head-high wave will allow, I threw all my weight off the incoming wedge and carved back to the pocket. Rather than catching an edge or getting stuck behind the foam, I was able to lean on my toes and float-climb the lip for a finishing maneuver.

Never had I felt so connected with, and in control of, a surfboard. There was no adjusting my surfing to suit the craft; the board simply followed my every direction. It was stuck to my feet.

A Magic Board.

And this got me thinking, maybe pros are actually riding better equipment. Maybe the shapes are more refined or the foam more carefully selected. Maybe it’s the lighter glassing?

All I know is, I felt like I was drawing Adriano-esque lines on the damn thing. His decades-long bottom turns and seamless carves finally made sense.

Have any of you had a similar experience? Ridden a pro’s stick and felt an immediate difference in ability and control? Maybe even inherited some of said pro’s powers?

I know it seems loony but I have no other explanation! It’s not like I got better at surfing overnight.

Shark strikes back: Attack in Los Angeles!

And just like that another southern California bite!

Remember when an angry mob pulled a baby white onto Huntington’s pier yesterday? Of course you do! I posted the story just minutes ago! Did the shark’s mama read, perhaps, and bite a nice girl in Pacific Palisades to the north?

Let’s now turn to KTLA!

Sophia Raab, 18, was paddling back to shore along Pacific Coast Highway and Sunset Boulevard about 2:30 p.m. Wednesday when she fell off board.

When Raab got back on her surf board, she described being in excruciating pain. She looked down at her leg and found a chunk of her thigh missing.

“I was standing up looking down at my leg and it was peeled open. I could see the inside of my leg,” she told KTLA. “It was the goriest sight I’ve seen in my entire life.”

“I have no idea how it happened,” she added.

With the help of other beachgoers, Raab managed to get back along PCH and into an ambulance. She was taken to a hospital, where she underwent surgery.

Raab suffered a laceration that was described as being 10 inches by 10 inches and 4 inches deep. Her orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Bert Mandelbaum, said the injury is consistent with a shark bite.

What is going on here? Are the inmates running the asylum? Is this armageddon?

Sophia Raab, smartly, changed her Instagram handle to @shark_bite_sophia. Now that is the sort of sharp marketing mind BeachGrit needs to lead us to The Inertia levels of fortune Chazz Michael Michael’s has promised.

Shark Bite Sophia? Are you there?

Shark Invasion: Baby white tortured in HB!

Totally illegal but... “In reality, no one is going to jail.”

It is man vs. beast in Southern California with no end in sight! Beast struck in San Onofre a week ago, taking the leg of a single mother. Man struck back yesterday, pulling a six-foot baby white out of Huntington’s lineup and hauling him/her onto the pier near Ruby’s.

Let’s read a snippet from Laylan Connelly’s wonderful story, gleaned off a South Carolina man who happened to catch the action whilst on his way down the pier after trying to eat at Ruby’s, in the Orange County Register!

That’s when a commotion stopped him in his tracks – anglers wrestling to pull a 6-foot shark from the water, something Hefner had never seen before. Like others who had gathered around as people cheered, he pulled out his phone and recorded video.

“Someone caught something, so I stayed and watched,” Hefner said via e-mail. “I’ve seen sharks caught on other piers in different states, but this was my first time seeing a great white. By reading the comments on my Facebook, I guess it’s illegal to pull a great white out of the water. The guys could have easily cut their line and let it go, but they decided to try to net it and then when that failed, they used a gaff hook in its gill to pull it onto the pier.”

The comments on social media show mixed response to the incident. The video showed the shark hitting a concrete pier pillar as it was pulled up toward the deck, with people surrounding it and appearing to be posing for selfies. Some argue the incident was not just illegal, but also cruel. Others say a flurry of great white activity off the coast represents a healthy ecosystem and they should be legal to catch.

Lifeguards worry anglers catching great whites off the pier can cause them to be agitated and attack nearby surfers and other ocean users, similar to an incident that happened a few years ago in Manhattan Beach when a swimmer was bitten after anglers snagged a great white. But lifeguards have no authority to enforce fishing laws on piers, which is regulated by Fish and Game.

State law protects the great white from being caught off California. Hughan said it’s a misdemeanor to capture a great white, and if those in the video are convicted, they likely would not face jail time or the maximum penalty of $10,000.

“If they were convicted, the Orange County judge would decide the penalty. It depends on the charge and how the judge feels about it,” he said. “In reality, no one is going to jail.”

And doesn’t that last “in reality, no is going to jail…” sort of seem like a tacit wink, wink toward “personalized culling?” It so does to me! And doesn’t the whole scene, as described by Mr. Hefner as well as captured by his phone (look here!) feel like when the townspeople formed an angry mob to get the beast in Beauty and the Beast? I just watched yesterday afternoon!

In any case, should southern Californians form angry mobs to pull great white babies from the sea, bashing their heads on concrete for good measure or should southern Californians stay out of the ocean altogether? Is there a happy medium? Will the sharks ever turn into handsome princes and beautiful princess if given enough love?

Australia, help!

Kelly Slater
"I wanted to make a wave that mixed Teahupoo with Kirra," says Kelly.

Slater: “Everyone’s got a fucking opinion!”

A fine documentary made by and starring Kelly Slater… 

Think about it. How often do you see Kelly Slater really loosen up? How often do you hear him unholster his thoughts without a feeling that it’s all part of a bigger game?

In part one of a two-part documentary called Continuance, we find Kelly, who has just turned forty-five, warming up for the first event of the tour at Snapper.

Cut to his Palm Beach apartment where he keeps a stash of world title and, curiously, 2012-2013 runner-up trophies.

“Fricken Parko and Fanning, gotta have ’em on the Gold Coast, right?” says Kelly.

Cut to a shaping bay with the Lennox Head surfboard shaper Daniel Thomson talking board design.

“Everybody’s got a fucking opinion,” says Kelly.

Cut to new vision from the Surf Ranch.

“I wanted to make a wave that mixed Teahupoo with Kirra.”

Cut to talk about trying very hard to win a farewell world title this year.

Cut to Slater, post-heat, and a forensic examination of how his board looked.

The documentary was produced by Kelly, his OuterKnown biz partner John Moore and Jeremy Groff, and made by Alek Parker and Group Films.

I found it thoroughly compelling.

Watch here.