I can only think of four great leaps in performance during a career. JJF, with his massive leap forwards in carving surfing, ADS with the greatest bottom turn/top turn combination improvement in history; Kelly Slater 2010-13 as he followed through on the Dane Reynolds revolution with huge air rotations at Bells Beach and New York and finally, Filipe Toledo who added the fastest turn speed and rail game in the biz onto his aerial attack.

J-Bay Analysis: Filipe’s Great Creative Leap!

Filipe Toledo's dazzling frottage rips hole in fabric of universe!

Like the great Camus, and the incomparably great Melville, I’m not a full-time professional (surf) writer.

I’m a working man who has a job (bus driver) and for that I am truly grateful because it’s meant never having had to cup balls or fondle the shafts of the industry or the pro surfers I write about. God knows some surf journalists have fulfilled those job descriptors, literally. I only mention to put the following scene into context.

Halfway between Byron and the Goldy, speeding along the Pacific Motorway in the night, paying passengers, cute couple, she French, he German and maybe a Pommy Australian working in the building industry. J-Bay playing awkwardly loudly through the phone on the car radio.

Jordy vs Staples. Pottz and Turpel on the call.

Staples rides the last wave , needing a four-something and, it’s not enough. A little while later Turpel brings up the ride. What followed was extraordinary, as extraordinary in it’s own way as the shark call. It went like this:

Heavy sigh, dead air. Long dead air. High laugh. Grunt.

Turpel: “Pottz, there’s lots of theories outside the numbers. Maybe Dale didn’t show the judges he wanted it enough.”

Pottz: “Absolutely. His body language was very nonchalant, he was really cruising. I’m not surprised, I think maybe subconsciously maybe he had that Sean Holmes scenario where he didn’t want to upset the World Title Race. Dale and Jordy are super good friends and maybe he didn’t want to get in the way of his World Title Race. Maybe he tapped off.”

Turpel: long silence…

Huh? Say fucking what? He tapped off?

I hit the brakes, pulled the bus over, off the road and pulled out some lined note=paper to write it down, a habit I learned off the New Yorker’s Gay Talese. 

Did Pottz just insinuate that a professional athlete threw a heat, tanked? Did he imply that the working gal was robbed of an honest exchange?

From the Australian Institute of Sport: Activities and behaviours that define sport as lacking integrity include: creating an unfair advantage or the manipulation of results through performance enhancing drugs, match fixing or tanking.

I’m not accusing Staples of tanking. But Pottz’s loose lips do bring up a big potential problem for a  a sport now in thrall to the easy cash of online gambling. Could there be a sport with more easy potential for tanking and throwing heats to influence results?

Who would know?

The only sure thing has been wherever sports betting has become entrenched in a sport, corruption and match fixing have followed as sure as night follows day.

Ever have a dog day afternoon? I left the wife’s car running in the front yard after my car blew up and a debt collector’s demand notice showed up in the mail. Unpaid tax. Ran inside to check the computer to see if the comp was on and heard a loud bang and the house shook. Car had rolled back, gathered steam and smashed into the house. That, like a spaz pump @ J-Bay, is a bad error for the working man. Real bad. Thus, a mood in need of some serious entertainment descended.

Six heats, including four this evening (Aus time) in perfect J-Bay without a single excellent wave score. The peak moment of entertainment was seeing Kolohe get stuffed in the tub by a boogieboarder down the Impossibles section. There was a request for a re-surf , denied by the commissioner. Great joy to hear Shaun Tomson come out so strongly contra spaz pumps, although he diplomatically referred to them as “rail changes” and called them superfluous.

Finally, the day kicked into gear. Leo Fioravanti and Seabass lit up, braces of eights tossed into the breeze like spin-drift, Seabass should have got a 10. Seabass couldn’t get a back-up, Seabass lost. It broke the ice of a mediocre morning for Toledo.

There was consternation from some commenters that Toledo didn’t get a mention on day one. That’s because I didn’t get to see him surf, probably drinking shots of some foul aniseed liquor, but that mistake won’t be repeated. His flow wasn’t perfect, little twitchy for mine, but the gaffs were real. The tuberiding was sublime, the “speed management” to employ the phrase du jour, was lakka I tune you bru. Judges got the score order wrong: the first wave, given a 9.63, was the Ten. The lady in red look, the bleached blonde; it was like he was channeling his own past master like Kelly. In this case Peter Drouyn around the time of the MR Super Challenge.

I still hold a grudge against Caio Ibelli for beating JJF at Bells and robbing us of a Jordy/JJF final and his low squat style offends my sense of taste, but he swung that board like a club at six-foot J-Bay and beat Stu Kennedy all over the head with it.

Ever wonder how someone achieves excellence, I mean a truly elite performance in an aesthetic endeavour like surfing?

And it is aesthetic.

Judges score it with their eyes. Out of all the ham-fisted efforts at explaining judging the only thing that Richie Porta said that has ever made sense is his statement that judges feel a ten. I think about it all the time. According to peak performance expert Anders Ericsson, just practising, or doing the same thing over and over again (think Malcolm Gladwell’s ten thousand hours) isn’t enough. We just end up seeing the same thing over and over.

Is this not the story of, not just the vast majority of rec surfers, but pro’s as well? Most surf the same all through their career.

I can only think of four great leaps in performance during a career. JJF, with his massive leap forward in carving surfing, ADS with the greatest bottom turn/top turn combination improvement in history, Kelly Slater 2010-13 as he followed through on the Dane Reynolds revolution with huge air rotations at Bells Beach and New York and, finally, Filipe Toledo who added the fastest turn speed and rail-game in the biz onto his aerial attack.

It’s not a question of coaching or technique or equipment, although these are all vital ingredients. It’s primarily a creative act, an effort of imagination.

Too weird, too hippie? I’m just passing on the latest science is all.

Ace and Joan Duru put me to bed. I’m sure if I missed something we’ll get it in the comments. I’ll deal with reality in the morning. It won’t be pretty, but I couldn’t be more cheerful. Sit down bitch, be humble.

Oh yeah, Kelly ….Mistah Kurtz, he dead.

Corona Open J-Bay Round 2 Results:
Heat 1: Jordy Smith (ZAF) 10.67 def. Dale Staples (ZAF) 10.27
Heat 2: Matt Wilkinson (AUS) 13.10 def. Michael February (ZAF) 11.67
Heat 3: Owen Wright (AUS) 12.34 def. Ethan Ewing (AUS) 11.10
Heat 4: Jadson Andre (BRA) 15.80 def. Kolohe Andino (USA) 13.20
Heat 5: Julian Wilson (AUS) 14.27 def. Josh Kerr (AUS) 12.53
Heat 6: Connor O’Leary (AUS) 13.40 def. Miguel Pupo (BRA) 13.10
Heat 7: Leonardo Fioravanti (ITA) 16.63 def. Sebastian Zietz (HAW) 15.76
Heat 8: Filipe Toledo (BRA) 19.63 def. Kanoa Igarashi (USA) 12.83
Heat 9: Caio Ibelli (BRA) 16.43 def. Stuart Kennedy (AUS) 14.80
Heat 10: Joan Duru (FRA) 15.87 def. Adrian Buchan (AUS) 14.00
Heat 11: Ezekiel Lau (HAW) 17.03 def. Wiggolly Dantas (BRA) 16.37
Heat 12: Frederico Morais (PRT) 15.73 def. Ian Gouveia (BRA) 14.00

Corona Open J-Bay Round 3 Match-Ups:
Heat 1: Adriano de Souza (BRA) vs. Joan Duru (FRA)
Heat 2: Gabriel Medina (BRA) vs. Bede Durbidge (AUS)
Heat 3: Owen Wright (AUS) vs. Ezekiel Lau (HAW)
Heat 4: Connor O’Leary (AUS) vs. Frederico Morais (PRT)
Heat 5: Mick Fanning (AUS) vs. Caio Ibelli (BRA)
Heat 6: John John Florence (HAW) vs. Jadson Andre (BRA)
Heat 7: Jordy Smith (ZAF) vs. Leonardo Fioravanti (ITA)
Heat 8: Filipe Toledo (BRA) vs. Kelly Slater (USA)
Heat 9: Julian Wilson (AUS) vs. Jeremy Flores (FRA)
Heat 10: Joel Parkinson (AUS) vs. Conner Coffin (USA)
Heat 11: Michel Bourez (PYF) vs. Italo Ferreira (BRA)
Heat 12: Matt Wilkinson (AUS) vs. Jack Freestone (AUS)

Sexy: Filipe Toledo scores fashion 10!

The man from Ipanema and professional surfing's first ever perfect sartorial heat!

What a day of professional surfing! It literally had everything and I dare not even touch the action as I look forward to Steve Shearer’s daily wraps like I look forward to that first 2 PM cocktail. Crisp, clear, invigorating. Knocking life straight back into true perspective, or at the very least a more balance one.

But there is one thing I know he won’t talk about and that is Filipe Toledo’s J-Bay perfection.

Oh not his 10 point ride, that will be discussed I’m sure, but his sartorial perfection. The first heat ever given a full fashion 10!

Andy Irons almost got a 10 many years ago for this singlet/trunk combo…

Through no fault of his own professional surfing was dealing singlets that looked NASCAR back then and he didn’t quite match his reds so he got a fashion 9.87.

Yesterday, though, Filipe Toledo went red on red with peroxide blonde hair and 93 pounds of sartorial boom…

The black kneecaps on his wetsuit set off the white Corona lettering on his singlet. His hair, black peeking through white. Peroxided mustache and goatee lending an air of Greek demi-god. The skin, a nut brown hue also nodding toward Mt. Olympus, pulling the ensemble together…

I could really go on all day but must retreat to the swimming pool to celebrate this momentous day because I just got the finest pair of Etro trunks.

In pain, or meditating on the perfect Instagram caption? | Photo: Stab

Breaking: Slater Breaks Foot at J-Bay!

Right in the metatarsals!

Oh this surfing, it’s a painful game.

Just yesterday my buddy messaged me, inquiring which orthopedic specialist I had seen for my ACL/MCL.

Turns out that, while surfing in Puerto Escondido this past week, he too bent his knee backwards — sending shockwaves up his spine and a distinct tenderness to his hinge.

“It’s alright,” he assured me. “Now both my knees are evened out.”

While not quite on the level of skating or motocross, surfing has a way of putting you on your ass, or head, or… metatarsals.

Just ask the greatest surfer of all time, Kelly Slater, who hours ago suffered a broken foot while surfing in Jeffrey’s Bay, South Africa. Let’s read from the Gram:

You ever folded your entire foot backwards? If you try it sometime, this is what it might look like. I pulled into a barrel this morning and the whitewash bounced the board back into my foot as I hit the closeout, taking all the pressure into the metatarsals. Kinda like smashing my foot with a big hammer as hard as I can. Sorta feels like I’m giving birth out of my foot right now! I’m guessing surgery and 6 week holiday is in order. Not looking forward to 30 hour flight home before surgery though. Ouch! It sucks but so many people deal with such horrible things around this world everyday that a broken foot is pretty minor in the scheme of things. Sometimes a bad thing is a good thing. I’ll make the best of my time off. #ThatsGonnaLeaveAMark #INeedElephantTranquilizers

A post shared by Kelly Slater (@kellyslater) on

Sheesh. Six weeks means Teahupo’o and likely Trestles are out of the cards, which would leave Slater, currently rated eighteenth in the world, in a very vulnerable position.

Let’s just guesstimate that, by losing third round here and 25th at both Chopes and Lowers, Kelly would fall somewhere around the 26-mark in the standings.

Do you think he’d be able to crawl out of that hole, with only France, Portugal, and Pipe remaining in the season? Five years ago, it’d be without question. You’d have put five grand on Kelly finalling at Pipe if that’s what he needed to do. He was too good and too stubborn to lose like that.

But now… who knows?

And isn’t that terrifying!

Like, what if Slater fell off Tour? Sure, he’d almost definitely be saved by an Injury Wildcard, but the idea of Kelly being carried along by some technicality hurts my soul.

Before the season started, Kelly stated that this would likely be his final game of connect-the-same-eleven-dots. But do you really think he could go out like this?

It feels like he’s waiting for a highlight occasion, his Freddy P. moment, if you will, to turn his back on competitive surfing for good. Save a win at Pipe, that seems improbable in 2017.

So what the hell does he do? Try to scrape his way back into the Top-22 by year’s end? Or fail to do so and cling to the injury wildcard, just for another swing at increasingly unlikely success? Does he drop the game altogether?

The Goat is in a serious hole, with no obvious way out.

I wish him the best with his foot and otherwise.

Meet: Slater’s “kook and wasted talent”!

Inspect the Instagram warrior who madly possessed the world champ!

Three days ago, Kelly Slater applied a wet napkin to a fellow Instagram warrior who suggested his boards were hurting his surfing.

Kelly responded: “You’ve literally done and continue to do nothing worthwhile in your life but be an envious loudmouth. It’s a feeble attempt for some attention so here ya go.”


“You come on here insulting me and attacking other people, throwing vitriol. Always looking for attention but the wrong kind. You’re the same guy you’ve always been, that’s the problem. Nobody said you were scared but nobody is scared of you either. Now move along.”

(Read that here.)

Yesterday, Chucky Rigano, whom you might remember when he smeared Dane Reynolds’ makeup at Sandspit (read, Barneys act like I spat on Dane’s baby” here), pointed us to an old Lost film where Sean delivers a monologue to camera.

“Hi, I’m Sean Volland. I’m a pretty good surfer and a very good drinker and have fire for breath. I’m gonna send my portfolio to Marlboro and say, look, dude, I smoke menthols. I smoke lights. I’ll smoke Reds. I’ll smoke the butts out of the ashtray in the morning and drink warm beer so ytou guys should hook me up – 100 grand a year, a business account all the Marlboro gear, a company gold card, company ride. Send me to Kirra, dude, I’ll smoke cigs in the tbe backside while cutting rabbit off – I’m serious, I’m not even kidding…”

Where is he now? Dying of lupus! Says he wants to die surfing big Teahupoo!

Mr Volland enters at four minutes and fifty seconds!

Sydney: “Gladiatorial exercise in futility!”

CNN puts Australia's second favorite city in its crosshairs!

One of my great pleasures is when the mainstream media (#msm #fakenews #failing #lowratings) covers surfing and this morning I was very satisfied with Donald J. Trump’s number one enemy CNN’s take on surfing in Sydney. Let’s read from the top.

Surfing. It conjures up images of exotic locales, palm-fringed shorelines, adventure and discovery and of a lifestyle that basks in the sun’s warming embrace. While Tahiti or The Solomons offer this dream in abundance, Sydney’s version of donning rubber or boardshorts has become a gladiatorial exercise in frustration and at times futility.

Welcome to the combative nature of urban surfing. Sydney style.

While that iconic movie, “The Endless Summer,” may echo in older memories, Sydney surfing is a juxtaposed conundrum of how far we’ve come and of how much we’ve lost. The simple pleasure gained from one good turn, a cover up, or the chance to meditate upon the day, belies the stark reality of crowded line-ups, localism, injuries, and competition for waves.
Where to surf in Sydney has become an endless question.

Does this sound like surfing in Sydney to you? Has CNN captured the essence?

The top places to surf are then listed in what appears to be random order.

1) Garie Beach: “An entry fee is required.”

2) Shark Island: “A deposit of skin is the usual transaction required should you not judge the takeoff correctly.”

3) Wanda Beach: “The location for the 1980s coming-of-age movie, “Puberty Blues.”

4) Palm Beach: “Go to the kiddies corner.”

5) Macca’s: “If you make it out unscathed, it’s a short walk to a beer at the Bondi Icebergs.”

6) Curl Curl: “you should find a wave to satisfy your surfing appetite.”

7) Whale Beach: “Situated amongst some of the most expensive real estate in Sydney.”

8) Long Reef: “Keep your head down.”

9) Narrabeen: “Frequent close-outs and rips.”

10) Bilgola Beach: “One of the most satisfying.”

Does this seem like a fine enough assessment or will you take to Twitter and post short videos of you smashing CNN in the face?