Australian bodyboarder James Kates, only five feet tall and ninety pounds in wetsuit, has the heart of a lion. | Photo: Luke Shadbolt

Meet: Bodyboarder who killed Kolohe’s J-Bay dream!

"You can't see it on the footage but he actually nose dives…"

A little scene setting.

As round two of the J-Bay contest turned on yesterday, surfers like springboks in flight on the vast green plains, one bodyboarder took exception to a wave of Kolohe Andino that promised to yield a ten. Far, far down the line, with Kolohe vulnerable inside the tube, a bodyboarder kicked into the wave, a decision so reckless many believed it cost Kolohe the heat.

Today, the bodyboarder was named as James Kates, an Australian bodyboarder, a very good one, stickers and so forth, who had apparently timed his South African vacation perfectly.

His board sponsor dragboardsco made the announcement via Instagram.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BWpInqzlKFA/?taken-by=dragboardco

That post was followed up with more provocation. “Katesy’s over there seeing family. He’s stressing,” added dragboardco.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BWpSWPhlUH1/?taken-by=dragboardco

Encouraged by his sponsor’s antagonistic behaviour, BeachGrit called James, who’d miraculously flown from South Africa to his Thirroul home in Australia in less than a dozen hours, for his version of the event.

“Aw, he wasn’t making it,” Kates, who is also the drummer in an eighties-aspired guitar band called The Pinheads, said. “You can’t see it on the footage but he actually nose-dives. I have faster reflexes so I was straight onto it.”

Kates laughs.

And laughs.

And laughs.

And laughs so much more he sounds like he might convulse and vomit.

His battery goes flat.

Instagram is a hysterical and unreliable organ is it not?

Comments invited.


A 90th-percentile pit in 2017. | Photo: WSL

Opinion: Tuberides Overscored at J-bay!

Rule of thumb: If you can shove your whole arm in it, you probably don't want to be inside!

I was waiting to post this, out of respect for Longtom’s contest-wrap territory.

From a writing standpoint, the offense of diluting someone else’s topic warrants nothing short of a SharkAttack, and I’ve already enough issues in regards to vital limbs.

(Somewhat) thankfully, Shearer touched on the very topic I wish to discuss, if only in passing. He said, in regards to Filipe Toledo’s 19.63 performance, “Judges got the score order wrong: the first wave, given a 9.63, was the Ten.”

And while I don’t agree with the general sentiment that either of those waves deserved a ten, or, as Longtom says, the judges should have felt a ten, I believe the point within his point was this: tubes are being overscored at J-Bay.

And I would agree, to the nth.

Now, this argument is built upon the feeble shoulders of subjectivity, meaning that you have the right to lambast, ridicule, and poke fun at every facet of my person. But doesn’t it bother you that guys are getting eights, nines, tens even, for flimsy, stall-heavy tubes? The types of tubes that you’d claim to your friends for weeks, but also the types of tubes would warrant fours and fives at Cloudbreak?

J-Bay is a performance wave, plain and simple. Can you get very barreled? Yes, but when we think of J-Bay, we think of Fanning and Curren drawing impossibly long lines, not Johnny Pintail threading a double-up down the end.

The barrels at this event have been mostly high, tight, and unimpressive, aside from the surfers’ abilities in limberness and “speed management”, noted also by Long T. But do we remember Snapper, or any other event for that matter, where Richie Porta has said, without equivocation, that the judges don’t want to see soft, stally tubes? That they want to see freight trains running down the track and the surfer, the symbolic just-too-late lover in this instance, chasing down the locomotive for his last chance at romance?

Then why the hell did Jeremy Flores get a nine for his top third of the wave, nose sticking out the whole way, capped off only with a non-commital drop wallet barrel ride?

Keep in mind Jeremy is on my Fantasy Team when I say, that was complete and utter bullshit.

The same is true for Leo F. and Filipe T and maybe even John.

The way I see it is this — most anyone can luck into one of those long, tight, J-Bay runners. The pros ride them exceptionally well, but to equate stalling and squeezing with driving off the bottom and turning the lip inside-out is a travesty, especially at a wave with such an incredible canvas for maneuvers. I often feel they’d be better off dodging the barrel altogether, unless it’s one of the throaty runners down the end.

In making this argument, I feel it’s necessary to divulge one important fact: given the timezone disparity between CA and SA, I’ve not been able to watch any of the event live. Watching in realtime, I think, is a vital component to wholly understanding the judging scale of any given day, or heat.

But let me ask you this — when 2018 rolls around, and the WSL drops a 2017 highlight package to hype the upcoming J-Bay event, what clips do you think they’ll use? John threading a waist-high tube on an overhead wave, or John laying down a vicious, fin-flashing frontside hack?

You know, like Gabby’s 6.97 at Cloudbreak that has broken the WSL’s VHS…

Stick that in your judging criteria.


Opinion: Kelly Slater must never die!

Now is the time for us to stand behind the world's greatest surfer!

Fucking son of a bitch Surfer magazine. Damned motherfucking piece of shit. And let me catch my breath……… Ohhhhhh hell. Surfer magazine…. you are a bastard publication. An unloved asshole. A rim lick. A ball kick. And I am coming for your ginger-haired Editor-in-Queef Todd Prodanovich.

I am coming for him hard.

The Inertia‘s Zach Weisberg has been vanquished. Me n Stab‘s Morgan Williamson are now best pals. It’s only Todd Prodanovich of Surfer magazine, the backbone-less wonder. Todd Prodddddanovich of Surfer magazine, the King of All Chickens.

I know what happened on the North Shore. I know, am coming and hell (BeachGrit) is coming with me.

In any case, I once wrote a story titled Grace, Kelly for Surfing magazine but Todd Prodanovich at Surfer has apparently appropriated the brilliant header and used it for a Scott Bass piece about surfing or some shit.

Grace, Kelly was a seminal piece of surf writing because it was how I met surfing’s grandest poobah of all the one, the only, Matt Warshaw.

He had penned a story in the New York Times almost 10 years ago about how Kelly Slater should retire. I disagreed in Surfing.

Now the story is gone, disappeared by that cowardly Todd Prodanovich, but we (me n Matt) first met in New York at a film festival. It was the high water mark of my career. We drank beer, we laughed, we hugged and have been fast friends ever since.

In any other case, I was looking for that story today because today there is also much chatter that Kelly Slater, with his broken J-Bay foot, should retire. I wanted to reference it and reference Matt Warshaw’s New York Times piece because I disagree more now than I did then.

Kelly Slater needs to surf until he’s 50 and probably until he’s 60 and maybe until he’s 70. He needs to stick around and not go off and really get serious about his brand or his boards or his pool. He needs to stick around and do what he does. Surf professionally.

Why?

I don’t exactly know for sure but I feel it. I feel that he should push beyond the Favre absurdity into new realms of possibility. Oh I don’t think Kelly Slater will ever win another world title but I think he could compete and be interesting and surf well for another two decades at least and especially if he changes his boards.

I think as long as Kelly Slater is surfing professionally then global warming will stay in check, that Kim Jong Un will not really be able to develop a nuclear warhead, that the earth will keep spinning.

Kelly Slater is as essential as chemical bonding.

Do you dare disagree?


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.