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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
One of the great joys of international travel is being stuck in a hotel room with one or maybe two English television channels. It allows the curious to dip into subcultures he would have never otherwise considered. I, for example, have watched a handful of Bachelorette episodes whilst stuck in wartime Ukraine. Here I learned that very handsome American men emotionally shift into thirteen-year-old girls if they are still looking for love in their 30s.
I have also watched two entire stand-up routines from Gabriel Iglesias in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
The Mexican-American comedian is described thusly by San Antonio’s Express-News: “He employs storytelling, affected voices and sound effects in his act, whose other trademarks include references to his weight and his use of Hawaiian shirts.”
Mr. Iglesias’s comedy did seem family-friendly as regaled the audience with tales of his size. He is a short, portly man which he called “fluffy.”
I had forgotten all about fluffy until this morning after reading Steve Shearer’s almost too perfect J-Bay analysis:
I know Chas will make any apposite calls required on fashion or physique but did Conner Coffin look like he had been sneaking fried peanut butter sandwiches for a midnight snack or was it just a soggy jersey flapping in the breeze?
And I immediately returned to Addis, to Gabriel Iglesias, to fluffy.
Doesn’t the word describe young Conner to a tittle?
Oh I don’t mean this as an insult in the slightest. I mean it as a compliment.
Conner Coffin is professional surfing circa 2017’s perfect shaped man!
Low to the board, round but not too heavy. He can fit into any size tube. He can throw massive amounts of spray. He can hold a line all the way through its arc. Smooth bottom turn? He’s got. Quick wrap? He’s got. Little jam off the top? He’s got a lot!
I don’t know that I’ve ever seen Conner do an air in competition but airs don’t matter anymore. The judges witness a hands’ free full rotation, shrug, and mark down 4.2.
This is the dawning of the Age of Fluffy and I am very much looking forward to Conner Coffin’s rule.
Speaking of fried peanut butter sandwiches, they spread peanut butter on their hamburgers in Addis. It is beyond delicious.
What is the best strange thing you have ever put on a hamburger?
Another glorious day of professional surfing this time featuring a shark!
Do you understand anti-depression? No, me neither. All I know is that with everything pear shaped I skipped out of the house this morning whistling a happy tune*, took a crow bar to the broken door of my wifes car, jimmied it back in place, gave it a belt with the back of an axe, stretched one Dakine legrope from the other door to it to hold it in place. Made a pot of coffee, though, If there is a happier working gal on the planet this fine morning then God bless her, took it into my beloved and said, “Your car is good to go babes”.
Hang on, also what made cheerful, reading Kelly Slater this morning: “Sometimes a bad thing is a good thing.”
Yes, of course.
His career maybe over, mine is just beginning. Or as Polish salty dawg Joe Conrad put it “Art is long, life is short and success is very far off”. Don’t quit Kelly. Ever.
It’s not to provide a career path for “project kiddies” whose Daddios never got to surf for money, it’s not to pacify sponsors or attract tourists. That’s all putting the cart before the horse. The principal thing is to entertain the working stiff. Hawaiians understood that before Cook and the missionaries emasculated the Polynesian culture of surfing. Speaker, not so much.
First up, to steal a phrase and give some credit to a top five surf writer Craig Braithwaite: The WSL has been kissed on the dick by an angel this week at J-Bay. Repeatedly. J-Bay normally provides one, maybe two days of peak surf per waiting period thus exposing the core deficit in the WSL long form format and reliably producing some of the most brutal anti-climaxes in world sport. Not this time.
At some point, right about halfway through Jordy’s heat the judges became completely emotionally overwhelmed in a day exalted with sunshine and perfect surf. I missed his first ten getting a beer out of the fridge but the second one, for a tailslide and a floater, I thought, no way.
For every scoring wave of Florences you could feel the judges getting antsy.
Was that a ten?
Looks over shoulder to Richie Porta.
Did he feel it? Nope.
And then boom, the skies opened and it started raining tens, everywhere : all over the lineup, in the South African savannah on the high veldt little baby gazelles grazing on perfect 10’s, lions roaring with perfect ten smiles, Rainbow Nation on Mandela day blowing perfect tens out of vuvuzelas all over South Africa. Vulva. Perfect 20 for Jordy. It was a feel good pair of 10’s par excellence. I’ll watch it again in the cold light of day but they never quite look as good taken out of context.
Seriously I thought Julian surfed more perfectly… and it seemed no-one else could see it. The most beautiful, critical edge work. He got his ten, claim-called it when he got it.
The super heats kept coming. Coffin v Parko and Coffin dropped the secret turn twice ; it’s an extended layback used as a finishing move. He used it to combo Parko and keep him there the entire heat. I know Chas will make any apposite calls required on fashion or physique but did Connor Coffin look like he had been sneaking fried peanut butter sandwiches for a midnight snack or was it just a soggy jersey flapping in the breeze?
The biggest super heat of the day was marked absent. Kelly vs Filipe. Do you think Kelly faked the injury, called an ambulance and posted a fake X-Ray (available on the dark web) to avoid getting smoked by Filipe at perfect J-Bay, or does that sound a little far fetched? A little too conspiracy? What odds would you give, if responsible for a betting agency for Kelly to takedown Toledo on current form? I say very low. And what odds that Kelly is tested for banned substances out of competition? Again, I say very low to nil.
After the storm of perfect tens had passed and the sky cleared judges critically underscored Italo Ferreira. They were probably suffering a scoring fatigue and Italo was the unfortunate recipient. After one brilliant ride Joey Turps said, “Those verticals, they can’t be denied.”
I was the best backhand surfing of the day and it was denied.
Every other goofy looked soggy, blunt and ill-formed by comparison to Italo, including Medina, Duru and Wright in the opening heat of round four.
Heat two, found four. My head was swimming, seeing double, I could feel my old friend, a mild dose of Tourettes syndrome tapping me upside the head. Vulva. But there was an inescapable feeling that John Florence would score a perfect Ten. Vulva. Shithead. The one hybrid hook, top turn, savagely tweaked into a cutback manouevre shut the book on the question of historical high water marks. John hit it, John reset it.
Should have been game over but Fred Morais started landing haymakers left right and centre. Incredible huge hacks. Two mid nines. He put John into a situation needing a frigging nine after the best wave ever ridden at J-Bay. Nutty. Nutty nutty vulva.
John rode a beautiful wave. Throwaway deadpanned Pottz. Six. Eight minutes remaining.
Cut to the boat out the back. A shark boat? Where are the shark boats, the jetskis with all the shark detection gear they announced with such fanfare last year? Gone? Has the white shark abandoned J-Bay? Real Estate too expensive? The clock ticks down. Morais victory.
You’d have to be a churlish little person with a grey little soul to not appreciate the genius of round four, heat two. That was incredible. An incredible, incredible spectacle vulva.
Huh….a horn sounds in the next heat with Jordy, Julian and Filipe…. Turpel carries on, smooth, ….in the background we can hear Gigs on the beach mic say we are on hold. Julian and Filipe are ferried to a rigid inflatable vessel just out the back. Is it a shark? A white shark? Rosie supplies the update: Safety first and everyone seems to be in a panic deciding what the protocol is. But what the fuck happened? A breaching shark, they say Mako, I say juvenile white….that was a shark boat! I bet Nick Carroll never saw that. And we’re done, and I’m done. So done. See you tomorrow.
Every so often when angels appear on the Earth Pro surfing transcends sport, not because of itself, but in spite of itself. So it was today in Jeffreys Bay, Republic of South Africa.
* Liftr Pullr Flex and the Buff result: You know the chain smoker, he called the stock broker, he said “Hell I hate to sell when we’re doing really well but I need a little liquidity, you know I think they might be onto me.”