Richie Vas found the wrong side of a widow's peak.

Documentary: 2016’s Best Surf Comp!

We still get chills!

And it was one year ago yesterday that Mark Matthew’s sadistic brainchild, Red Bull Cape Fear, graced the screens of terrified spectators across the world.

On the competition’s one-year anniversary, Red Bull dropped a comprehensive documentary on the 2016 event. You should watch that here or, if short on time, read a brief synopsis below.

When Mark Matthews first saw the forecast, he didn’t believe it. In all his time as an east coast Aussie surfer, he’d never seen a storm of this magnitude marching its way across the Pacific. The fact that it fell within the waiting period for his signature “Big Wave” event, Red Bull Cape Fear, seemed to good to be true.

Then he saw the surf. Fifteen-foot Ours Cape Fear Cape Solander might sound cool on paper, but in reality it’s like watching one of those crash-test videos stuck on repeat. Considering Mark was unable to compete in the event (due to an injury suffered at Jaws a few months prior), he didn’t feel comfortable deciding whether or not it was safe enough to hold the event.

The decision went to an anonymous vote amongst the competitors, but it was longtime slab-specialist, Koby Abberton, who truly made the decision.

“I said, ‘We’re having this contest. This is what makes us’,” Koby explains in his motivational speech to competitors before the vote. “Before Tahiti I wasn’t that known. After Tahiti I was a worldwide name. Someone here will be a worldwide name at the end of this contest.”

From what I’ve heard, it’s not generally a good idea to tell Koby no — even if the alternative is a fifteen foot death slab. The event was called on, somehow nobody died, and the rest is history.

You really need to watch the doco though… high quality viewing!

Blood Feud: Peter King v. Climate Change!

Surfing's stenographer thrilled that America is great again!

Last week Donald J. Trump pulled the United States out of the Paris Accord. The international environmental agreement had been signed by 196 countries last year including then President Obama and sought to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions. It was non-binding and considered generally flawed but also many found it a positive step toward recognizing the dangers posed by climate change.

(Read the agreement here.)

As Trump stood in the White House’s rose garden on a cloud dappled day he said, “We are getting out. We want fair treatment. We don’t want other countries and other leaders to laugh at us anymore. I was elected by the citizens of Pittsburgh not Paris.”

And the globe melted into a collective puddle of bewilderment and rage. Tesla founder Elon Musk withdrew from Trump’s advisory council in protest. The deposed president of the Maldives declared that Trump had sentenced the planet to death.

Halfway across the world, though, on the bucolic islands of Fiji, professional surfing’s favorite stenographer adjusted his red Make America Great Again hat and applauded. He is not from Pittsburgh nor is he from Paris. He hails from La Jolla, California but took to Facebook in praise of his supreme leader. After noting various Trump’s accomplishments…

3.3 trillion added to the economy already, recent overseas trip netted 350 billion in investment creating 1000 of new jobs, repealing crappy healthcare… PK turned his eye toward the Paris Accord.

(Trump) saved America by getting ripped off in the pointless Paris Accord. Funny that not many people know that ONLY OBAMA signed us into that deal. No congress, no voters… Under that agreement India would double their coal mines and China can build hundreds more…but we are supposed to get rid of ours? Makes sense…it doesn’t eliminate coal, it transfers it to other countries…complete scam…

Before going on to write about the 100 billion dollar fund the United States was supposed to pay into and other problems he has with not only the financial burden but also the suppositions underpinning the environmentalist argument.

Later, on his feed, he posts a YouTube video of energy theorist Alex Epstein, author of The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels, disputing the notion that scientists are in agreement as to what actually causes global warming.

It’s a classic blood feud! Peter King vs. Climate Change!

But what do you think? Do you believe, like Elon Musk, that the United States of America and its industrial revolution has polluted for more, and far longer, than any other nation on earth or, like Peter King, do you feel the US was fed a bad deal under the Paris Accord and if China and India get to keep their coal mines we should get to keep ours too?

Are you a fossil fuel fan? Do you argue their moral case?

Is America officially great again?

Oliver Kurtz embraces the stoke despite a Middle Eastern shake-up!

Help: Surfers Stranded in Qatar!

This one hits close to home...

Imagine you’re a pro surfer, or, fuck it, imagine you’re just you. Imagine having (quickly) heeded yesterday’s advice and booked a ticket to the world’s best wave on the biggest swell of the year. Imagine the money you spent. The indignation of your bosses and spouse. Imagine your excitement.

This was almost me. I spent days looking at forecasts and tickets, tickets and forecasts. I was anxious, barely sleeping, and my behaviors were those of a fiending addict. I’d built my whole year around visiting the jewel of west Africa, and this could very well be my chance.

At the last second, I pulled out. A combination of a dicey forecast (the swell jumps up and dies very quickly due to its proximity to the coast, and during the one day that it appears to be big enough and west enough to surf, it could potentially overload the joint) and relationship pressures (“You were just in Mexico” (…fair)) forced me to pull the plug.

Since that moment, I’ve been praying that the swell isn’t so great. That it’s too big or too small or too something, meaning that I made the right call by waiting for the next one.

Since then I’ve seen evidence of multiple pros headed that way. Anthony Walsh, Cory Lopez, Brett Barley, and Oliver Kurtz just to name a few. Their committal to the trip increased my FOMO exponentially, but a recent occurrence has changed my perspective.

Just this morning, Oliver Kurtz made a plea to his friends on Facebook.

And… holy shit! Doha, Qatar was the very place where my flight would have connected. In fact, Oliver had taken the same plane that I was planning to board. Now he’s stuck in the throes of a Middle Eastern brouhaha, something that should probably be scary but at the moment is likely more infuriating for the Floridian goofy-foot.

Oliver has (to my knowledge) never been to Skeleton Bay, meaning, much like with me, this trip was a longtime dream. To have it squandered by such a shitstorm would be utterly heartbreaking.

I can’t tell you how happy I am that I pulled out.

I’ve yet to see updates from the other surfers listed above, but considering they all left from different parts of the U.S., there’s a decent chance they avoided the Qatar kerfuffle with connections through other parts Africa or the Mid East.

Will Oliver (and perhaps many other surfers) find his way out of this stronghold? Who knows? But his most recent update is telling:

If anybody knows anything/anyone in the area that would be able to help Mr. Kurtz, please let us know in the comments! I’ll update as the story unfolds.

Kelly's number five, looking damn fine!

List: Kelly Slater’s Favorite Travel Zones!

Not included: Lemoore, CA

Outerknown is rolling out all the stops for its 2017 #OKFijiPro. There are fresh ads, hourly Instagram updates and now original web content!

Just this morning I stumbled across a slideshow on the Outerknown IG, featuring five drone-captured coastlines. I recognized two or three but the others remained a mystery. The caption poked at my curiosity with a big stick.

And my fingers have never moved so fast! Two clicks later and I was face-to-screen with a picturesque breach into Kelly Slater’s life and history. A snippet, here:

5. Jeffrey’s Bay, South Africa

Our last few times to J-Bay we’ve spent lay days at nature reserves. I’ve been part of an anti poaching initiative there that’s protecting Rhinos. The wildlife in South Africa is pretty insane in and out of the water. This past summer right after I lost my semi final heat to Mick Fanning he was hit by the shark during the finals, I had just reached the beach after having surfed right there for an hour. It’s probably the first final I was happy not to make as that could just as easily have been me in the encounter. It’s not the first attack at J-Bay there and it surely won’t be the last. The raw nature makes this part of he world so special and unpredictable.

4: Anglet, France

I stayed in Anglet and surfed Hossegor with Tom Curren when I was 17 (1989) and we were on the same team. He took me around to every good spot in the region for two weeks and showed me the ropes. Pretty cool to have your surfing hero take you into his home and share his secrets with you. In 1992 I won my first ASP event at Hossegor and because of that it’s always been a special place for me. You can’t compare the food in southwestern France to anywhere else in the world; I’ve definitely eaten the best meals of my life there.

And don’t you love these lessons on Kel’s past and present influences? The list goes on to divulge his three favorite places in the world, at least one of which may surprise you.

I recommend you read the entire article, here!

Wigg Dantas and poofs of spit! | Photo: WSL/Kelly Cestari

Fiji Pro, Day 2: “Poof of spit on doggy door!”

Bye-Bye Gabby, Bye-Bye Owen.

I clicked on this morning and got a nappy commercial. I think they are called Diapers in the US of A.

That was the first of many cognitive dissonances for the day. Cloudbreak was serving up another confusing mixed grill of over-cooked and under-cooked ingredients. Short-period waves that went nowhere, mid-period, west swell waves that closed out the lineup and the odd wide open one that steam-rolled the reef.

Not an easy read for anyone. The kind of surf that would see a boatload of aging alpha male dentists from Manhattan Beach back in the boat after one set to surf waist-high Restaurants. As a rec surfer you’d watch the boatmen deep-throat a few juicy peaches while copping donuts all day long.

Ace inexplicably dropped his bundle against the Italian Stallion, paddling around like a headless chook in the last ten minutes when he was well ahead. A series of blunders gave Fioravanti priority and he duly iced the heat for his first heat win of the year. It was a heat Ace should have won all day, every day.

Rosie spent most of the next heat between Kelly and Ethan Ewing bigging up Ewing, continually comparing him to AI. That hype eventually took on the dimensions of an entirely separate reality – Rosie’s World? – as Ewing surfed a heat I could’ve smashed him in. Kelly was just solid, without being amazing. It was a walk through for him. How did that idea that Ethan Ewing surfs like AI take hold?

And why did Volcom, flush with cash after the sale to Kering group, “let go” the Fiji comp after two of the most successful surf comps in history? Two thousand and twelve’s big-wave guerilla insurrection in twenty-foot tubes and Kellys 2013 masterclass back to back.

You’re flush with fashion cash and you let that go? Why?

Richard “Wooly” Woolcott, I spend the day trying to track you down without success. I know you are reading, so why did the Stone hit the eject button on Fiji?

Web journalism is a derelict little cubby hole to crawl down into. Web surf journalism might be the nadir of human creative endeavour. It could easily be.  I feel like a turd for insinuating that Joey Turpel might shuffle off and be a coach and spare us the verbal treacle. And he did. But his absence got me thinking: about the lack of a distinct lexicon related to pro surfing. Joey was inventing that for us. For good or ill. The sled reset euphemism for shark attacks, the high-line wraps and other linguistic treats he laid down for us. For a sport supposedly rich with it’s own inpenetrable jargon the cupboard can seem bare for commentators supplying colour.

As Owen got obliterated on the shish-kebabs section going for broke on a final manoeuvre needing a nine, Rosie came up with this piece of gold. “There is a little poof of spit as he finds the doggy door.” No further comment.

But I’m overjoyed to report that Rosie Hodge has made an incredible contribution to the pro surfing dictionary of phrases. Sometime during the Ian Gouveia/O-Dog heat, a heat that supplied genuine drama as Owen got obliterated on the shish-kebabs section going for broke on a final manoeuvre needing a nine, Rosie came up with this piece of gold. “There is a little poof of spit as he finds the doggy door.” No further comment.

Excuse while I clean up this little poof of spit on my computer screen.

Ian Gouveia looked like Italo did a couple of years ago when he beat Kelly. Totally at ease, frothing. He beat Owen easily, really. Owen carried on the Aussie goofyfoot meltdown that Ace had started. He fell when he should have been standing and ended up pasted and bleeding.  More cognitive dissonance.

It took the last couple heats of the day, with a few goofy foots led by Matt Wilko to really crack the day open. Wilko….sizzled.Then Italo stayed down the reef from Gabe Medina, destroying his tactical advantage and threading high tide shish-kebabs tubes all day.

Bye-Bye Gabby, Bye-Bye Owen. Weird though.

Barton asked Kelly about World Ocean Day, about what the ocean meant to him.

“Everything,” he said. But it didn’t ring true.

Not when you put Nick Carroll’s summation of the next moves for the WSL into the equation.

“This chunk of the main game is all about Kelly’s wave pool, the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, and the doors that the WSL board thinks will then open up to wave pools and associated events in both traditional and ‘new’ surf markets. By ‘new’ read places where there isn’t a surf culture yet – Korea, China and the like.”

So the ocean isn’t “everything” at all.

Even a day in Fiji at Cloudbreak now carries this haunting shadow with it.

What is the main game, if this ain’t it?

Outerknown Fiji Men’s Pro Remaining Round 2 Results:
Heat 2: Joel Parkinson (AUS) 10.66 def. Yago Dora (BRA) 10.33
Heat 3: Sebastian Zietz (HAW) 18.43 def. Bino Lopes (BRA) 9.53
Heat 4: Leonardo Fioravanti (ITA) 12.26 def. Adrian Buchan (AUS) 11.87
Heat 5: Kelly Slater (USA) 12.90 def. Ethan Ewing (AUS) 4.27
Heat 6: Joan Duru (FRA) 13.00 def. Conner Coffin (USA) 10.30
Heat 7: Wiggolly Dantas (BRA) 14.77 def. Jadson Andre (BRA) 12.27
Heat 8: Jeremy Flores (FRA) 17.57 def. Nat Young (USA) 11.10
Heat 9: Stuart Kennedy (AUS) 10.74 def. Ezekiel Lau (HAW) 9.10
Heat 10: Ian Gouveia (BRA) 15.10 def. Kanoa Igarashi (USA) 7.13
Heat 11: Miguel Pupo (BRA) 12.00 def. Jack Freestone (AUS) 9.23
Heat 12: Bede Durbidge (AUS) 13.10 def. Josh Kerr (AUS) 9.90

Outerknown Fiji Men’s Pro Round 3 Results:
Heat 1: Ian Gouveia (BRA) 15.66 def. Owen Wright (AUS) 15.26
Heat 2: Julian Wilson (AUS) 15.04 def. Frederico Morais (PRT) 10.20
Heat 3: Matt Wilkinson (AUS) 16.84 def. Miguel Pupo (BRA) 5.67
Heat 4: Italo Ferreira (BRA) 15.83 def. Gabriel Medina (BRA) 15.47
Upcoming Outerknown Fiji Men’s Pro Round 3 Match-Ups:
Heat 5: Mick Fanning (AUS) vs. Michel Bourez (PYF)
Heat 6: John John Florence (HAW) vs. Leonardo Fioravanti (ITA)
Heat 7: Jordy Smith (ZAF) vs. Joan Duru (FRA)
Heat 8: Kelly Slater (USA) vs. Connor O’Leary (AUS)
Heat 9: Joel Parkinson (AUS) vs. Jeremy Flores (FRA)
Heat 10: Kolohe Andino (USA) vs. Bede Durbidge (AUS)
Heat 11: Sebastian Zietz (HAW) vs. Wiggolly Dantas (BRA)
Heat 12: Adriano de Souza (BRA) vs. Stuart Kennedy (AUS