Filipe Toledo
Did you, like me, have a terrible fear that Filipe, who let's be frank won this event a dozen times already this week, would accidentally lose the final? That judges wouldn't separate the scores of the two finalists with enough gusto?

J-Bay Final: “Filipe makes hearts sing!”

Toledo's insane edge work beats Fred Morais' safety swoops!

Perspective is everything and I confess mine was sorely scrambled last night, drunk on Pro Surfing, and I was literally caught napping by events.

I had been thinking all event of a new CEO for the WSL, binge watching Oliver Stone’s interviews with Putin and reading the foreword for William S Burroughs Cities of the Red Night where the pirates live a life of free association and wondering if there was some possible universe where Putin could come aboard as putative CEO and somehow restore freedom to pro surfing.

Freedom through strength.

And no corpo speak, just black russian KGB humour. Not ignoring critics, but making them disappear. Completely.

Imagine how great that could be. Which BeachGrit writer do you think would look most pitiful hairless in the hospital crib stuck with tubes and how much would you contribute to a crowdfunding campaign to pay for an emergency Polonium-210 treatment to extend a life?

Me ?

A fifty for Derek, sixty for Chas and twenty dollar for Mike C. Chas would take the hair loss hardest so he gets the most money. He’d look like a little orphaned irradiated baby chihuahua from Hiroshima with no hair.

The Putin x WSL x KGB Collab will have to wait for now. We have a new Queen. Parsing Sophie’s Messerschmidt’s statement I read, there are no young people watching and they are betting the house on a chlorine dream. Money follows cool and wave tubs will be as cool as roller-blading the Santa Monica boulevard within a year.

In 1959, the poet Lawrence Lipton wrote The Holy Barbarians, depicting the lives of beatniks living in Venice Beach. In it he wrote, “The gulf between the cat and the square has become so great they can scarcely understand each other.” The quote fits the WSL. It’s impossible to overstate just how unaware WSL is of how deeply uncool is the marriage between Jock surfing and corpo-speak and how alienating it is to the young.

Back in the bus, driving busloads of kids to Splendour in the Grass (US equivalent Coachella) and not one little velvet bellbottom clad gal with mid-riff exposed, not one tatooed stud checking the WSL App.

The interest among the young is subterranean. The last flicker of cool snuffed out when Dane left the building and ZoSEa failed to capitalise on the fresh start by revamping the Tour. Speaker put the white surgical gloves on, scrubbed it bloodless and here we are.

Please let no-one offer John Florence as a counter-argument. John is not cool. He’s a fantasy wet dream for every locked in middle-aged work-a-daddy who dreams of putting a Beneateau 54 Oceanis (with mahogany interior, not oak) on a  broad reach between the Islands while they take the tiller and a loose-limbed backpacking lass in denim cut-offs salts up a margarita in the galley.

Still digesting the import of the  Big Bad Portugese Wolf gobbling up little Johnny Florence yesterday when the day started. I, finished work, with a turmeric Tequila shot at a local bar watching garage bands. Mark Twain observed there will always be the benign and the belligerent.

Which Jordy would show up? We know which one surfs better. But we got the soggy, philosophical Jordy and Toledo had him comboed all heat. Next. Jordy’s coach needs to get some slabs of meat and slap him around the head before each heat. Get him angry.

More comboes. A day lacking drama. The surf edging a little too big for the high performance we’d seen. I kept thinking it would look better with Derek Hynd weightless with the wind for a hundred metres across the coping than what we saw, which was surfers struggling to set the edge into a raw swell with wind.

Medina fell to the Wolf. Comboed. Wilson failed to draw blood on Toledo. And we had our Final two.

Morais was giving us safety swoops, Toledo insane edge work, roof top floats that weren’t finishing moves but punctuation marks. Hang on. Was this the Morais I saw yesterday, who I thought had comfortably beaten JJF not once but twice?

Was I completely fucking hallucinating? John has a “weak” turn and a “strong” turn, we agree on that. I saw too many weak turns to compete with a surfer, serving up meat and potatoes, yes, but so sizzling hot it burned everything it touched.

Now I wasn’t so sure. It felt like the justice of a JJF/Toledo Final, which was destiny, had been thwarted. And that didn’t feel good. Even surf journalist Nick Carroll, who in his 217 years of service to the craft has never written a paragraph questioning a judging decision was saying John wuz robbed.

I went back to my notes from last night as Toledo edged ahead in the final, where he remained at the end. Our Filipe, who makes our hearts sing. There was nothing, no record. Comments missing. A grand conspiracy. Where was the money at?

I conclude the coverage with an open Letter to Sophie Messerschmidt new CEO of the WSL.

Dear Sophie, you must admit now, after Toledos J-Bay performance, the greatest in Pro Surfing History that the WSL management look like pissant little ratfuckers disqualifying him from Fiji based on nothing more than youthful hijinks and ill-directed passion. To remedy that injustice and prevent this years World Champion from having an asterisk next to his name I implore you to order a resurf of the entire Fiji event sometime between now and Pipeline. We know now that there is provision in the rule book to accomplish this. 

Oh, and that personal welcome you have sent out to some surf journalists. I would like mine in handwriting please, sent Longtom Post Restante, Lennox Head.

Your faithful servant, L. Tom.

Turpel: “Another incident in the lineup!”

Is WSL commentator Joe Turpel the coolest customer ever?

And really, what do you think Joe Turpel has done in his life? Do you think that he might actually be in the witness protection program because he was a hitman for the mafia and gunned down 20 men in cold blood? Watching their guts spill across Italian restaurant floors before flicking a half-smoked cigarette at their corpses?

Do you think he served three tours of duty in Iraq watching mothers ripped from children and IEDs cutting down his best pals on earth?

Do you think he has spent time in a North Korean labor camp?

Was he a CIA operative stationed in Benghazi, Libya right when shit hit the fan?


How can the man be so cool whilst watching sharks try to eat professional surfers and calling the action live?

Two years ago, when Mick Fanning was almost gobbled whole, Joe Turpel encouraged him in an emotionless surf bro to “hop on the sled and reset.”

Two days ago, when a shark threatened Julian Wilson and some one else, Joe Turpel said, “A little moment in the water here.”

And yesterday, when the biggest shark in the entire world swam straight for Mick Fanning, Joe Turpel said, “Another incident in the lineup.”

It is the sort of cool only bred in the hottest of fires.

So what was Joe Turpel before he was a World Surf League commentator?

Also, what has Ron Blakey done to close God’s ear?

Listen here!

Is Hyperlaxity breaking Slater?

What happens to the ultra-bendy as they age? They break… 

Two days ago, Kelly Slater smashed the precious little bones in his foot while surfing at Jeffreys Bay and, likely, won’t be seen in competition again until December.

The childish lust for Kelly to retire before his legacy is tarnished might’ve just come true. (The considered reader, and viewer, of course, is painfully aware of the gap Kelly will leave.)

A few days ago, I was talking to an old friend about the imperative to continually resuscitate the career of Kelly Slater, however low he goes, when he told me his theory about hyperlaxity aka hypermobility slowly breaking Kelly.

See, as a kid, Kelly could walk up and down stairs on his hands with his feet laced behind his head ’cause of his hyperlaxity. Oh people loved it!

Great party trick.

Thing is, as they age, folks with hyperlaxity are prone to joint instability, terrible and chronic joint pain, osteoarthritis even in their teenage years, frequent dislocations and so forth.

Yoga and stretching is discouraged.

Kelly Slater passes out during yoga session! from BeachGrit on Vimeo.

My pal tells me Kelly’s disappearance from the tour in 1999 was because of a possible hip replacement, or at the very least hip surgery, brought on by teenage osteoarthritis that required a one year convalescence in Capbreton, France.

And, now, without ligaments holding taut his body, he’s slowly breaking, the hammered foot part of an ongoing, and perhaps futile, battle to keep that beautiful, iconic body together.

Let me be candid.

Only a dimwit could find anything positive in a tour without Kelly.

This is an undoubted fact.


Welcome: WSL announces new CEO!

Sophie Goldschmidt takes the reins of our favorite performance lifestyle!

And look who was really sleeping on the job. Me! No sooner had I pressed publish on a story chastising the World Surf League for being slow than I was informed the League had just announced their new CEO and I had missed it.

Those who live in houses with large sliding glass doors, I suppose, and forgive my own retardation but let’s hurry and meet Sophie Goldschmidt!

The press release announcing her reads:

Relocating from London, Goldschmidt joins WSL from CSM Sport and Entertainment where she served as Group Managing Director and was responsible for developing and driving new business initiatives and commercial growth across the company’s global operations, in addition to managing the group’s brand development and marketing. Passionate about surfing, she has strong relationships and international experience working across global markets in both sports management and marketing and communications having held executive roles in the Rugby Football Union, National Basketball Association (NBA), Women’s Tennis Association (WTA), and Adidas.

And this sounds like she’s got something for everyone especially Bobby Martinez!

But what does she say?

First and foremost, I am committed to protecting the interests of our extraordinary athletes and ensuring that our various athlete development programs are further enhanced. A key mission will also be to further build out global recognition and appreciation for the skill and technical rigor of the League’s elite athletes. I hold a true passion for surfing and as a fan of the sport, I will also be focused on bringing this passion to new consumers.

Then a few paragraphs later…

Surfing sits at the intersection between performance sport and lifestyle more than ever before and we can mobilize younger generations to be a part of a culture we have been enhancing for 40 plus years.

Now that is well put. Don’t you think? Even if you are a crusty bastard you have to agree that “surfing sitting at the intersection between performance sport and lifestyle…” is inspired. Performance lifestyle is how I will describe surfing from now on and I am not joking.

Well, I am thrilled at this new leaf anyhow. The WSL got its shit together and quick!

They listen to us. They really really listen to us.

Read Sophie’s complete statement here!

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! 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.


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.