J-Bay Analysis: “The end of the beginning!”

Is pro surfing evolving? Progressing, remaining stagnant or regressing?

It’s fashionable to imagine the end of Pro Surfing is nigh, but I believe we are at the end of the beginning, not the beginning of the End and that Pro Surfing will stretch out into deep time, as one of the favoured tropes of human evolution.

Sorry I missed the start.

I was drinking with Sicilians at a family function but Chas did beautiful on the opening play by play. I actually had plans to develop a pod-cast for the event as coverage because there seems to be an opening in the market for another surf podcast.

Maybe there is room for another twenty?

This one, to be named, the Talking Parrot 2.0, and to be hosted by my parrot Dexter. He has a penchant for ultra-progressive surfboard design, spending large amounts of time at the Dan (Tomo) Thomson family home (true). It was all these surf journo turf wars that got me fired up for the Talking Parrot 2.0, that and the words of American genius Jay Reatard: 

It’s not complete.

I must compete. 

Stand on my feet.

Live with these creeps. 

Not saying surf podcasters are creepy cats, just that the average surf podcast is far too short. So I planned the opening Podcast: Historical evolution of pro surfing performance as seen through the prism of Jeffreys Bay, to run for 27 months and 16 days. Upcoming podcasts were planned to be 73 years long and were to be played in birthing units to unborn kiddies in case they accidentally expired before the peak moments were broadcast.

Anyhoo, I ran over Dexter in my Camry wagon (true) and he dead now, so the idea is scuttled. Very sad. But we continue the thread of evolution herewith.

Jay Reatard: I’m sitting here waiting for something to evolve.

Kelly Slater: “You ever stand up on a wave and feel yourself channeling someone else, almost like an entity takes over your body ….you can’t help but be mesmerized…Tom Curren flow, Terry Fitz speed lines..”

Which raises the question of the most important issue in Pro Surfing. Is it evolving? Progressing, remaining stagnant or regressing?

According to Kelly it is completely progressing. He said so himself during a presser in Fiji where he slammed the surfing of his peers when he came on tour as deplorable, in which case, why look back? Why nominate Tom Curren and the Sultan of Speed as the desirable templates and spiritual entities to be channeled if progression is the ultimate aim?

He has friends, including Professor Anders Ericsson, the world’s reigning expert on peak performance, who sees in most athletic endeavours a clear and consistent line of progress and improvement and claims the “horizons of human potential are expanding with each new generation”.

I argue the former and that there has been one true revolution in pro surfing history and that was Dane Reynolds. Dane brutalised the judging criteria, completely reshaping it to fit his own vision. Slater tried to run on with it. Then Dane quit and the judges returned to stagnation. So sad. So very sad. But not for us who can afford to take the long view.

On the other hand, German philosopher Fred Nietzsche observed that evolution did not proceed with straight line progress, that the mediocre could overwhelm the great, that evolution was rife with blind alleys, stagnant waterholes, regressions and wrong turns of every description.

Derek Hynd observed that surfing performance at J-Bay had declined with every inch the wide point migrated back towards the tail.

Which is the correct view? Who is right? Freddy and Hynd or Slater and the Swede?

I argue the former and that there has been one true revolution in pro surfing history and that was Dane Reynolds. Dane brutalised the judging criteria, completely reshaping it to fit his own vision. Slater tried to run on with it. Then Dane quit and the judges returned to stagnation. So sad. So very sad. But not for us who can afford to take the long view.

Now John Florence puts his wide point forwards on the ghost face wave killah and voila, the drive comes back. Evolution by going backwards.

And Slater who claims the inspiration of channeling past masters goes the other way and makes his equipment twitchier and less drivey. He moves away from what he himself considers the highwater mark and template!

Tres Ironic!

Is this the greatest evolutionary wrong turn and blind alley in pro surfing history, this late stage equipment and let us be honest and call it for what it is, an atrocity, by Kelly Slater? An atrocity so blatant even his childhood friends feel the need to bring it to his attention?

Just to make sure this wasn’t old man thinking I tapped one of my intelligence assets on the ground here. The best 15-year-old surfer in Australia, Lennox Heads’ Mikey McDonough who said in answer to who was the best surfer at J-Bay,

“Mick, yeah Mick.”

And historically, Mikey, who is the best of all time?

Tom Curren, I guess”.

There it’s settled. This sport has officially gone backwards.

Let us all examine it forensically over the coming days and compare it to the highwater mark of Tom Curren and adjudicate accordingly. Spaz pumps are clearly a sign of devolution. Kelly did three between every turn.

You go count them yourself.

And remember that name: Mikey McDonough.

Faux/Real: Surfing in a Speedo!

BeachGrit's guide to your water-based fashion!

Welcome to a brand new BeachGrit feature called Faux/Real™ where we examine beach + water fashion and tell you if it is FAUX or REAL!

(For those who don’t speak French “faux” means “artificial or not real. For those who don’t speak English “real” means réal.)

And first up we have surfing in a speedo.

Which is totally REAL.

Surfing speedo man don’t care all. He don’t care about you. He don’t care about me. He don’t care about the hair on his upper thigh that is now part of his wax. Surfing speedo man is going to breeze through the coming apocalypse and, fingers crossed, still be able to breed. If he runs over you in the lineup apologize to him for being embarrassed about your own wiener.

J-Bay: The Curse of the Promo Video!

World number 1 Wilko performs badly on day 1! Whose fault is it?

The world’s best surfers have returned to the world’s best waves with the world’s best announcer back in his rightful place next to the world’s best color man. That’s right! Turpel n Pottz! Joe Turpel n Martin “Pottz” Potter! How much did you miss their dance? Their conversation? Their florid call of the watery ballet?

If I was the World Surf League, I would use my Santa Monica studio to make the world’s best buddy movie titled Turpel n Pottz Go to the G20! Synopsis. Turpel n Pottz are on their way to South Africa to call the 2017 Corona beer J-Bay Open when their plane is accidentally diverted to Hamburg, Germany. A series of hilarious mishaps ensue and the duo eventually end up with the world’s most powerful leaders, solving problems with simple but effective solutions.

It would be a hit and it is exactly what the World Surf League should do but what they are doing is making promotional videos that curse their number ones.

The latest victim? Matt Wilko Wilkinson!

The current number one’s bit is title Crack! Now He’s #1 and goes, “No one saw Wilko coming until we heard the crack of a new world number 1 now he’s marching to JBay with everyone’s undivided attention.”

Well, he proceeded to lose and lose big time in his heat vs J-Flo and Patrick Ewing.

Jeremy Flores looked very good on his waves, even claiming in the middle of one, and Patrick looked ok but Wilko looked bad, netting two low scores in gorgeous surf.

And don’t you think it is the Curse of the Promo? It has taken both John John and Jordy down and I think there is some scientific truth here.

What else happened at J-Bay? Oh I don’t want to spoil Steve Shearer’s magic but hint:

Kelly has something to prove, John John didn’t fail, Parko, Gabs gonna win it all, Jordy did fail.

And we’re back!

Do you want to soar like I. Crane? Try this ...Lost fighter jet!

Watch: A Surfboard You Should Consider!

You know, for those small summer days...

I used to think that ‘good surfboards’ and ‘bad surfboards’ were bullshit.

That it was the Indian, not the arrow, who determined a graceful slide. And while it’s true that exceptional riders can make any board, plank of wood, or esky lid look good, there’s something to be said for a superior board.

I was forced to change my mind just this year when, on two separate occasions, I stumbled upon the best boards in the world (for their respective conditions).

The first was a …Lost Puddle Jumper.

I ride mine at 5′ x 19.5′ x 2.25′ which equates to 26 liters of foam… three more liters than my standard shorty. The extra foam lends itself to increased paddle power, flat-section speed and somehow, thanks to the incredible design of the board, unaffected maneuverability. It can carve, it can air, and considering its chodey nature, the thing does a damn good job of stabbing through the lip. I’ll never ride another board below chest high.

The second was a Channel Islands Rook 15 — Adriano’s hand-me-down, to be specific.

Mine is 5’8 x 18.25 x 2.2 and the only way to describe its glide is with a Muhammad Ali quote: floats like a butterfly, stings like a bee. Just today I emailed my CI contact, attempting to procure more of Adriano’s throwaways — one, two, maybe even three! I’m out of the water for a few months, but it’d make me so happy to have them in my garage. To look at them. Touch them. Bring them inside and wax ’em all over the couch.

I can only imagine that Ian Crane feels a similar affinity to his …Lost V3 Stealth. Notice the control, the speed that Ian carries through gutless conditions. It looks incredibly fun, and user-friendly to boot!

Could this be the board for you, or will you keep your C+ rating thank-you-very-much?

Rory Parker North Shore

Quiz: What shaper would you sex?

Who would you invite for the ultimate private drink?

Two days ago I wrote what I would regard as an asexual report on the surfboards Jon Pyzel had made for John John Florence to ride at J-Bay.

(Read here)

But where I saw concaves and pin-tails and the thrill of discovering the hitherto unknown elements of his surfboards, the commentariat was sodden with cocks, punctuating my civility with their perverse delight.

Typical examples:

This is a public forum and such advances toward him I think are not warranted publicly. Derek would be better to invite him for a drink privately if that’s his angle!!

SharkAttack575: look at some past pieces on Pyzel from this same senior surf journalist and see similar references to to his sex appeal! Personally I think it’s unfair toward the shaper! I do not know if he’s straight, gay, bi or even trans tilted nor do I care but this is a public forum and such advances toward him I think are not warranted publicly. Derek would be better to invite him for a drink privately if that’s his angle!!

Jocks: Jon Pyzel and Derek would make a super cute couple. 

SharkAttack575: I am not bigoted on this topic — I just think it was super creepy the way Derek has advanced on him publicly. poor use of his own forum

The line, “Derek would be better to invite him for a drink privately if that’s his angle” did make me think.

Who would I invite for a private drink? Oh, entirely hypothetically, of course, but I wondered who would I like to dissolve under?

Whose heavy arms would you like to melt in? 

Let’s wander through the game park.

Matt Biolos: 

For: Very good conversation, with an emphasis on World War Two weaponry and California-skewed eighties punk. Can drink although doesn’t like to dance. Excellent surf partner who will help you secure a set wave at Lowers.

Against: Brusqueness can be mistaken for unfriendliness.

Jon Pyzel

For: A Hawaiian version of Matt Biolos in many ways. Good conversation. Is curious. Excellent sense of humour. Small agile rump.

Against: Only has eyes for John John.

Darren Handley

For: I didn’t write a story called The Most Beautiful Shaper in the World for ironic kicks. Twenty five years ago, DHD could be spotted by his waterfall of Rapunzel hair and by the nymphets who pulsated whenever his radiant limbs appeared. Beauty fades for all of us, and not even Darren has been spared, although the famous charisma remains.

Against: You’ll have to get past Mick Fanning.

Maurice Cole

For: The stories! You could sit at his feet all night long and never become bored by his explosive stories of life, love, prison, superstars, money won and lost, cancers that come and go and so forth.

Against: Has a tendency to over-dramatise.

Now who have I missed?

Jason Stevenson? (Lithe)

Ryan Burch? (Overbite)

Mark Richards? (Chronic back problem)

Tomo? (Perfect)