What's that? Lots and lots and lots of views?
What's that? Lots and lots and lots of views?

Breaking: Paul Speaker was right!

More people watched surfing last year than anything else!

Ex-WSL CEO Paul Speaker is gone and I am poorer for it. He, in trademark polo shirt and white pant, was the perfect foil. A man so out of touch with surfing, so ludicrously ignorant, that it would have been impossible to make him up.

Oh I loved to torment him, always writing that if he would agree to an interview the barrage would stop. He never agreed and, instead, went on Fox Business and said ridiculous things like Kelly Slater makes well north of 20 million dollars a year and more people would someday watch surfing than any other sport.

What a tool! What a goddamn nerd! He didn’t know anything about professional surfing and the small core of people who actually care.

Well, today the industry publication Sports Business Daily reported that the World Surf League had the most watched video, globally, over the last year.

California-based analytics and valuation company Hookit looked at the Facebook, Twitter and Instagram posts of 1,255 leagues, teams and federations across the globe from June 16, 2016-June 15, 2017, and ranked them based on a composite score that took into account factors such as views…

That’s how the story begins and then slides behind a paywall but the title is the only thing we really need.

Data Shows World Surf League Had Most-Watched Video Globally Over Last Year.

Data Shows World Surf League Had Most-Watched Video Globally Over Last Year.

Data Shows World Surf League Had Most-Watched Video Globally Over Last Year.

I have to think it was Mick Fanning being touched by a shark but it was still surfing and Paul Speaker was right.

Mr. Ex-WSL CEO? Can I bring two roses to your house alongside my apology?

Rate: Your fav ex-BeachGrit writer!

Michael Ciaramella has left for a new gig at Stab! Cry it out!

Ladies and gentlemen it is my sad duty to inform you that Michael Ciaramella has just left us for SurfStitch property in association with FCS and House Beer Stab magazine. Oh there there. Dry your tears. Come, put your head on my shoulder and let us remember the good times we all had together. The laughs. The fun.

And while we’re at it let’s rate all of BeachGrit‘s ex-writers!

Ali Klinkenberg: At the very dawn of BeachGrit a handsome, tall Australian (I think) came to us and wrote almost a dozen pieces before he too was poached by Stab. (That Stab sure does like to sift through BeachGrit‘s underwear drawer!) In any case, Ali’s best piece might have been Candid: All my friends are racist! which included the line, “I’ve never been to Brazil, but I’ve experienced its fruits. I once dated a Brazilian garota linda (beautiful gal) who looked like Penelope Cruz (no shit), and my good amigo Gui used to be addicted to condensed milk (four cans a day!).”

Fate: Unknown.

Ashton Goggans: Ashton was a treasure and I was actually sad to see him go. Not pretend sad like with Michael. A handsome, well-dressed man who could hold his drink and cuff his pants. He came from San Francisco, I believe, and brightened our sky with many pieces (here) and was the actual one to write about Mick Fanning getting loved up by a curious White in J-Bay those two years ago.

Fate: Became an editor at Surfer and might still be there.

Rory Parker: The man from Kauai stole your heart with tales of freediving, killing chickens and the legalities behind airbnb rentals on the islands. His high water mark may have been a trip to Nicaragua with his wife in order to have a threesome. The hilarious details spilled forth, including versions from wife and mark!

Fate: Stuck in an endless cycle interviewing Cori Schumacher. Like Groundhog Day!

Michael Kocher: Michael grabbed your attention and money. The poor ex-Marine out of Colorado developed brain cancer and needed you to GoFund his healing. You responded, out of the goodness of your heart, and he bought drugs and prostitutes because, just kidding, he didn’t have brain cancer! The ruse infuriated many but the Man from Manassa wielded a wicked pen. He also established the bar for how all BeachGrit ex-writers should go out.

Fate: Killed by police after taking people hostage.

Michael Ciaramella: And the latest. Michael came to us via Surfing and boy could he surf! Airs etc. His best work was when he got very specifically technical about surfing but I don’t think he really liked this sort of thing. He also took Christian Fletcher head on in a wonderful series that might even better Rory’s threesome. Michael was handsome too and he could handle your slings and arrows well, which is a rare trait.

Fate: Moving to Stab where he and Morgan Williamson will recite poetry to each other under the pale moonlight.

So which was your favorite? Let them know in the comment section (or say a prayer if ol’ Kocher was your #1)!

Expert: “Slater scamming system!”

Is the world's greatest surfer gaming the WSL?

Now that J-Bay’s dust has settled and the rightful winner dutifully crowned let us return our attention back to Kelly Slater. Have you forgotten, amidst the flurry of airs the barrage of wraps, that the world’s greatest surfer broke his foot and had to withdraw from not only the South African leg of the tour but maybe the rest of the year?

It is truly a shame.

Many posit that now is the time for Slater to trot into retirement. His body breaking down etc. Many more are confused about what would bring him back to the World Surf League Championship Tour. One dashing expert, though, interviewed for Australia’s ABC news suggested that Kelly is gaming the system. Shall we read?

The Jeffreys Bay event again garnered international attention due to several stoppages due to sightings of large sharks and 11-time world champion Kelly Slater breaking bones in his foot while preparing for a heat.

Slater hinted on Instagram the injury will see him out of action for up to six weeks effectively ending his 2017 campaign and chance of winning at 12th world title.

“The challenge will be healing with awareness, patience and good health,” the 45-year-old posted.

“Not one of the better days in recent memory, I can’t even touch my foot right now.”

Surf writer and author Chas Smith was one of many to speculate the injury would not lead to Slater leaving professional surfing after over 25 years and 55 professional wins.

“He is way past the point of no return as it relates to retiring gracefully,” Smith told the ABC.

“Kelly can’t stop traveling the world and loves surfing the world’s most iconic waves with just one other man in the lineup. He will continue surfing professionally-and is good enough to do so-until the WSL pulls him aside and says, ‘Kelly-you’re fired'”.

And what? Could this bald-faced conspiracy from one Chas Smith possibly be true? Might Kelly Slater be surfing on tour not for championships or even heat victories but merely to surf basically alone?

I like replica pistols, playing Guitar Hero and rail surfing.

Switcharoo: Is rail surfing the new “gay”?

Is rail surfing for studs only, airs for the fragile and sexually transcendent? 

A couple of days back, Filipe Toledo put together the most extravagant ride in the history of pro surfing. He made J-Bay whimper in his arms and his competitors look like haggard masturbators.

But when I posited as much on Instagram, there erupted a debate as ancient as surfing itself, the whole “rail” versus “air” thing. Now, you would’ve thought this sorta argument would’ve disappeared long ago as surfers came to realise that doing a cutback is a hell of a lot easier than an alley-oop.

But, no!

As the noted filmmaker Rory Pringle wrote, “Uhhhhhh, can I get a rail carve in there? WTF is this, Ubatuba?”

Another commenter wrote, “Airs are shit. Lay down some power carves.”

Another, “Fuckn bullshit overhyped shite. This ain’t Trestles.”

Back to Rory, ” And doing two identical moves back to back is progress? … We’ve got six year olds in Hawaii dropping alley-oops.”

Filipe, meanwhile, replied thus:


What do you think?

Is rail surfing for studs only, airs for the fragile and sexually transcendent?

Or do you think a fabulous switcharoo has taken place and rail surfing, inhibited, safe, is the “new gay”?

For reference, here’s Filipe’s double oop, multi-hack, ten.


Watch: Every 10-point ride at J-Bay!

The comparisons are brutal!

Oh how J-Bay fed our open mouths with tens. Eight of ’em!

You can watch every single ten below (thanks to The Inertia for finding the clip).

But what’s gonna strike you is that not every so-called perfect ride is created equal.

Compare the ecstasy of Filipe’s double-oop, multi-hack wave with the beautiful, if not exactly white-knuckle, surfing of Frederico Morais.

Of course, as was once revealed to me in the judging tower, heats are judged according to the conditions and all that matters is consistency within that heat. i.e. if you’re throwing everything eights, then a markedly better ride is going to steal a ten. Similarly, if nothing makes you dizzy and a surfer’s gotta work like hell to get a six, you might throw out one ten a year.

But it don’t matter. Consistency does.

And, therefore, there can never be any meaningful comparisons of tens throughout an event, as this clip demonstrates.

Just as the entire 36 surfer, four-day format has proven to be utterly unworkable, J-Bay the rarest of exception, a judging format that renders any sort of heat by heat or contest by contest comparison deprives history of markers.


As I cribbed from a copy of The New Yorker a year ago after a similar raft of tens, maybe the answer lies with gymnastics.

Gymnastics was all about the perfect 10-pointer, a mix of artistry and athleticism, but then in 2006 they tweaked the game for a system that rewarded difficulty over everything.

Ten pointers? Gone!

Was there a consensus?

Not exactly.

“It’s crazy, terrible, the stupidest thing that ever happened to the sport of gymnastics,” the gymnastics supercoach Bela Karolyi told the New York Times. “How could they take away this beautiful, this most perfect thing from us, the one thing that separated our sport from the others?”

Reeves Wiedeman in The New Yorker explains:

“By the turn of the century the limitations of the ten-point scale had begun to stunt the sport’s growth. To score well, a gymnast simply had to meet a minimum level of difficulty and not screw up. Gold medals were being given to safe routines that limited mistakes, while gymnasts who pushed the sport’s boundaries received no reward… The new system, laid out in the Code of Points, is an open-ended one, in which gymnasts are given two marks: one for execution, worth up to ten points, and another for difficulty, which is theoretically infinite.”

Change gymnast to surfer and you start to feel it, right?

Should there be two scores, each from its own panel of judges, given to a ride?

The first, say, is the usual, best moves in the most critical part of the wave, combos, speed and flow etc. The second, is a score given to the technical difficulty of the moves, of the wave.

Do you say yes?