Hey WSL: “Get your shit together!”

Is the World Surf League sleeping on the job?

These days of near perfection are starting to weigh on me. Every morning I wake up, bleary-headed, begging for respite. Begging for a break in the professional surf action. And every morning I learn that the just wrapped J-Bay day was somehow, in some way, bigger/better/crazier than the day before.

I pull myself out of bed, press a cup of coffee and get to it.

But would you like to know who stays in bed nestled like a little joey in mama kangaroo’s pouch?

The World Surf League!

It’s true!

www.worldsurfleague.com is my first stop of the day and there is nothing there, even by 8:00 AM California time. Nothing but the entire event being played on a long, unnecessary loop. Some mornings it’ll have a daily wrap show posted by 9:30 AM. Sometimes 10:00 AM. Its youtube channel slow drips heats throughout the day. By evening most everything is up.

Usually.

And that ain’t fast enough for this surf journalist. I want it packaged into digestible morsels right away. I want it all right there first thing, west coast time, in both video and prose form. I want the daily wrap from the event and also a different nuanced take from other surf experts shot in the WSL’s Santa Monica studio. And I want it by 5:30 AM. The exact moment Reveille for Surf Journalists rattles me awake.

It is cruel to ask for more, no? Professional surfing has never looked better but… I don’t know. Maybe it is the determination of this particular event and its distance from both Australia and California. Maybe its near perfection has awoken the Kraken of Relentless Poking that sleeps on my medulla oblongata.

But, and then again, it was this very same Kraken that chewed up ex-WSL CEO Paul Speaker and spat him out. I think we were 45% responsible for his departure. Maybe even 48%. And I think him packing his Lacoste bags, folding up the NFL polos and the nonsense talk and getting out of town is why professional surfing has never looked better.

In any case, one thing I do like about the League’s retardation is that the first thing I read is Steve “Longtom” Shearer’s analysis as I post it. He has taken this event. He has beaten Nick Carroll, who was tapped on the shoulder by Sean Doherty because maybe Sean’s rapier got bent in Fiji. It may be some of the best professional surf contest coverage of all time even if he is too much of a chickenshit to go hisself to South Africa and face Sixto Rodriguez’s music.


Fred Morais. What a beast. What a monstrous beast. Wait, do they have beasts left in Portugal?

J-Bay Anaylsis: “Greatest day ever!”

Great White stalks lineup again! Water patrol boat surfs monstrous set! John John crucified by rookie!

J-Bay is killing me. Not just the late nights and having to watch all those perfect point waves, many going unridden. Not the drinking, the car smash, the spectre of the debt collector. It’s killing me that Nick Carroll is there and I am here and Chas thinks the reason I am here is because, “It is just as easy to flame-throw then sit at home and snipe without ever coming face to face with those you demean.”

I mad. He mad. And I got a bone to pick.

We are all of us weird little creatures, expert at self deception, but I honestly don’t believe my words demean. They may prod or poke but they are never cruel or malicious and I have faced those on the receiving end many times.

Does Chas think my skin so thin I couldn’t handle a few thin grins, sideways stares, name left off lists? My elbows not sharp enough to find a little room amongst earnest millenials with SLR’s  in the press area, all wondering what glittering stop on their career will be next (this one being tepid, temporary and provisional) and how they’ll make payments on the 75k college debt?

Does he think I will break down in tears and not file when the man in the Biltong shop says, “Sorry Mr Shearer, no biltong for you today bru, you can eat dog caca, free”, be distressed if I need to find lodgings off broadway, maybe a short 10 mile jog into J-Bay each day? Who amongst us would be worse off with a little extra exercise?

What hardman amongst the Top 34 or their entourage would there to be scared of? Connor Coffin? Wilko? Even big blubbery Jordy or sobby Gabby? Maybe Charlie Medina might false crack you with a chair over the back while you weren’t looking, but no harm, no foul.

There would be only one man to truly fear and that is Kelly Slater who might loudly announce to everyone present with cold eyes and thin lips that I was a “kook who had wasted my talent.” That would be terrible but one would survive. I think.

And maybe, equally devastating, one might receive unsolicited writing advice from one Messrs Carroll Esq. “Son, your sentences are too long. It shows a disordered thought process and a lack of discipline.” One can always jump off a tall building if it gets too much.

No-one will talk to me?

Dear Chas, surely you have heard of the brilliant Gay Talese and his focus on peripheral characters whom only Talese would care about and who are far more interesting than the ones in the center. His profile on Frank Sinatra, the best feature ever published, was written with Frank giving him the cold shoulder the whole time.

Back to the action.

Were you watching last night when the shark scare closed the days play? Wonderful moments as the cameras went behind the scenes into the engine room of the comp and Julian Wilson, Jordy and Filipe got into earnest discussion with the commissioner Kieren Perrow. Poor old Jordy seemed a bit gormless but J-Dub sniffed an opportunity and put a nice little hustle on KP. There was talk of just finishing the heat but Wilson was pushing for a fresh heat, thinking he could hit refresh and blitz his opponents. I made a note.

“Be careful what you wish for Jules”.

What he was thinking he might get – blitzing his opponents at perfect J-Bay – and what he actually got. Thirty-five  minutes of Filipe Toledo launching into a perfect air wind at J-Bay. Well, put it this way, it won’t make any sporting manuals in terms of winning strategy.

Filipe’s Ten with two stratospheric Oops made a mockery of yesterdays Ten-fest. Greatest ride in competition History? Maybe, maybe one of Slater’s freak show disaster to impossible tubs at Teahupoo might compete. But otherwise, Toledo is first amongst equals. He made the rest of the field look like “haggard masturbators*.” It was a total demisting of the window into the future.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BWt7TfEgT58/?taken-by=wsl&hl=en

A long, anti-climactic period ensued. Fanning knocked out Duru on the strength of one wave. JJF vs Owen was a fizzer and Jordy overpowered Connor Coffin with ease into a devil wind that refused to die. Wilson looked sharp and Bourez was beaten by his own equipment which skipped out when pushed in the bump and grind.

Short kip on the couch then, what? A resurf?

Jordy had made it clear he wasn’t chuffed on the morning’s reset clock from the shark interrupted heat calling it “poor form.” Isn’t he magnificent when angry? If he wins bring the tissues, floods of tears will saturate the landscape. Still, judges dry0-fucked the opening point spread. Connor should have had a nine-plus ride as well. That would have made the heat a contest, even allowing for Jordy’s next ten. Not to be.

Do you not care about Pro Surfing, find it boring, have no interest, zero, zilch, nada? I can relate. When I’m not thinking about it, it’s on another planet. But when I heard that faintest tremolo quiver in Joe Turpels voice as the ski’s raced up to Fanning and Medina in their quarter final, ”looks like we’ve gone on hold” (Turpel, again!)., it just concentrated the mind wonderfully, probably not as much as Mick Fanning, but how amazing, how insane.

Fucking submarine-sized White doing water patrol of the lineup. And Turpel could finally utter the word “shark”. Fanning, Turpel, White shark. Is there a better, more compelling lineup in world sport?

Could any world sport be more entertaining?

Three waves from Fanning. Three unforced errors to end a campaign where he never really clicked into gear.

Someone who did is Fred Morais. What a beast. What a monstrous beast. Wait, do they have beasts left in Portugal? Surely there must be a wolf still roaming the mountains. To combo John Florence who had three nine-pointers was yyuuuuuuuuuggge. Florence shook his head in disbelief in the lineup. He looked like a winner all event.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BWtYY-Lgk_B/?taken-by=wsl&hl=en

The claims, the surfing, the re-starts, the shark, the shark boat, the Toledo Super-10, the Jordy 10, the Morais comeback, lots to chew the cud over. Hasta manyana.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BWuo-frgjhY/?taken-by=wsl&hl=en

https://www.instagram.com/p/BWt-cJtg-Ey/?taken-by=wsl&hl=en

Imagine blowing up a tuna.*

*Via D. Rielly.

*Via Mick Fanning.


Mel: “Best Wave I’ve ever seen!”

Filipe just sent us to 2024!

Peter Mel, bless his once-drug-addled heart, is the anti-Turpel.

Where Joe hops on the sled and resets, Pete screams like a little girl. Where Joe has a little moment in the water, Pete calks his neoprene.

And that’s a wonderful thing. Surf commentary, like all aspects of life, thrives on diversity. Need more evidence?

Where Joe Turpel teeters on kookhood, Pete Mel has the fifth best drop wallet on Tour. Where Joe uses Pantene Smooth & Sleek, Pete’s pelt survives on salt and sand.

Which is why, in my opinion, we are so lucky that Pete Mel was the one to call Filipe’s Super-Ten. Here are a few Pete quotes:

“One of the most athletic things I’ve ever seen!”

“A perfect heat on one wave!”

“Fuck off Filipe!”

Admittedly that last one was me. Due to a completely irrelevant golf achievement, I switched Filipe for Julian on my Fantasy team and found myself in a momentary state of regret. That quickly subsided when I realized that professional surfing, and hence my meager livelihood, would be much better off for Filipe’s extravagant display. That my Fantasy woes were, in the long term, meaningless.

So. Filipe’s ten.

What is there to say? He completed two airs, back-to-back, that were almost definitely better than any punt Mick Fanning, a three-time world champ, has done in his 36 years.

Don’t believe? Just watch:

…Does the scale go to 11? / Tem nota 11? 😱 #Perfect10 @filipetoledo #CoronaOpenJbay @corona

A post shared by World Surf League (@wsl) on

And are you convinced? Convinced that Filipe is, by all lofty standards, the most futuristic surfer on tour? In the world?

Was this the best wave you’ve ever seen?

To be fair, it’ll take some time and perspective to give credence to those claims. I watched the wave live (online), which, for lack of a superior descriptor, was fucking insane. Stand up off the couch, screaming into the void at 11:30 PM insane. Dog looks at me like I’m crazy insane. Film the screen and post it directly to Instagram insane.

Here’s Filipe’s description:

“The wind is really good for airs right now. It’s hard to put your rail in the water, so I went to the air, and it worked out, thanks God!”

In his eyes, a classic cause and effect scenario.

The waves are a tad bumpy, so I’ll just jump over them.

Twice.

Fuck off Filipe!


A few years ago Matt Wilkinson was wondering, "Does my hair have more sheen than hers?" No longer. Matt Wilkinson has achieved maximum sheen + body!
A few years ago Matt Wilkinson was wondering, "Does my hair have more sheen than hers?" No longer. Matt Wilkinson has achieved maximum sheen + body!

Style: Jordy Smith vs. Matt Wilkinson!

A power ranking that will leave you in envious shock!

Two years ago our Negatron posted the seminal echelon Style: The WSL Haircut Power Rankings! and changed the course of modern history. Oh, of course you don’t remember. BeachGrit was just a baby back then and not widely popular but when you click on the above link you’ll instantly recognize brilliance.

I’ve been thinking about this work lately and, coincidentally perhaps, our Mariano Landa commented about it today on an earlier already forgotten story. About the necessity of a new one because two years ago is an eternity in WSL years and because there are many new cuts on tour.

Enlivened, I went straight to the World Surf League Rankings Men’s Championship Tour subhead in order to dig right in. The fun we’d have again!

But was was struck dumb, entirely dumbstruck, three haircuts in.

What the hell happened?

Did Pert Plus pay two of the world’s top three surfers lots of money to wash, blow dry and pose in front of a WSL camera?

Did Pantene?

Let us first examine current world number III Jordy Smith.

Have you ever seen that much sheen? That much body? That much fierce appreciation of clean, luxurious hair?

Yes. You have. Two spots up.

And now let us examine world number I Matt Wilkinson.

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And that is the sound of stunned silence.

Ladies and gentlemen, I present a Power Rankings where only one man is invited because only one man has the haircut of a 37 year-old mother of two who still enjoys getting to Buffalo Wild Wings for Thursday night happy hour because #yolo.

Matt Wilkinson.

 


Turpel: “A little moment in the water!”

Surfing's golden voice in the booth for another shark incident!

Do you think that Ron Blakey wakes up every morning of his life burning with jealousy? Crippled by envy? Flipping the calendar back to July 19, 2015 and staring at the day when one Joe Turpel was catapulted right over his creamy Australian baritone into the sort of fame only whispered about by World Surf League commentators and Association of Surfing Professionals commentators before them?

For it was on that day, July 19, 2015, that a great white shark came to eat Mick Fanning, wrestling him in the water, petrifying viewers around the world. Did Mick lose a limb? Was he bleeding profusely? No one knew in that moment and chaos reverberated. Except for Joe “Cool” Turpel, who without even breaking a sweat said, “He’ll hop on the sled and reset.”

“Hop on the sled and reset” entered the English vernacular at that moment and has been used by world leaders and important personalities alike. When Hillary Clinton was shocked by Donald J. Trump and liberal metropolises melted down around the globe Anderson Cooper calmly looked into the camera and said, “Looks like she’ll hop on the sled and reset.”

When ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was told of the fall of his stronghold Mosul he is reported to have looked at his number two and said, “Let’s just hop on the sled and reset.”

Joe Turpel is famous. Ron Blakey is not and don’t you think before he goes to sleep every night he looks up to heaven and offers a prayer? “Dear God… if there is another shark incident please let me be the one in the booth.”

Well, yesterday there was another shark incident and Ron Blakey was outside looking at Joe Turpel behind the mic. Confusion reigned again but Joe kept his tone and said, “Taking some time to investigate. A little moment in the water here.”

A little moment in the water here! Not as instantly iconic as hopping on the sled and resetting but a piece of solid gold nonetheless!

And don’t you wish Joe Turpel could have been on the beach calling the action during the Invasion of Normandy? “Allied troops taking just a little heat as they stroll up the sand…”

Or at the stabbing of Julius Caesar? “And Julius looks like he’s going to take a breather…”

What about the assassination of John F. Kennedy? “JFK does a little jam off the top and is running through that end section, taking a high line… ”

I could go on all day but suppose I should just be satisfied that Joe Turpel is ours and not all of history’s.

And sorry Ron.

Listen for yourself!