Crime: Is Filipe’s season being stolen?

Will the winner of 2017's WSL crown forever wear an asterisk?*

Could it be argued, right at this moment, that Filipe Toledo is the best surfer in the world? I think it could! Oh of course there is a possible hole in his game (plus-size Teahupo’o) but otherwise… what?

He was magnificent at J-Bay, surfing the best wave in competitive history during a contest that saw nothing but A+ swell. He was set to win Huntington in what would charitably be called “below average” conditions.

He truly seems unstoppable. Doesn’t even the great John John Florence seem kind of yawn at this very moment in time? Doesn’t the whole rest of the tour feel a touch outclassed?

And yet he has been stopped. By the machinations. By the structure. By the rulez.

Let us quickly rewind the tape. Filipe came out of the gate on Australia’s Gold Coast surfing poorly and netting at 25th. He turned it around at the Drug Aware Pro with a 3rd and backed that up with a 5th at Bells and onto Rio where he was totally going to win until the judges screamed interference and he was bumped to 13th and also cancelled from Fiji.

But let us say the judges didn’t ding Filipe on a technicality in Rio. Let us say he won the event like he was totally going to and then traveled to Fiji. The waves that came forth during the very slow OuterKnown Pro were custom made for him and just imagine if he would have surfed them like he surfed the following J-Bay.

He would have won. And he did win J-Bay. Which means his score line would read 25th, 3rd, 5th, 1st, 1st, 1st.

The young man could have refused to surf Tahiti just for fun and still easily win Trestles, France, Portugal and which point Pipe would be nothing but his coronation.

Just yesterday he really should have won Huntington Beach’s U.S. Open of Surfing and of course it is not a championship tour event but still. He was called out. Denied $100,000.00 (is the purse still $100,000.00?) on an interference decision the great Brett Simpson lambasted publicly. Kanoa Igarashi went on to win but examine his picture holding the trophy.

Those sad eyes hidden by sunglasses, a disingenuous smile pulled taut. One limp finger half-heartedly raised to the sky.

Kanoa knows he was not, in fact, number 1 this day. He knows he was only saved by rules and regulations.

His face is an asterisk.

And don’t you think whoever wins the title this year, if it is not Filipe Toledo, might also forever carry an asterisk?

Let’s wait and see but I think Kanoa’s asterisk face is a clear and present possibility for the winner of the World Surf League’s 2017 season.

Wilko should probably practice his.

*If the winner is not Filipe Toledo

Filipe Toledo Kanoa Igarashi
I know the conditions and the left was going to fucking die out into a trenchcoat. It was going trenchcoat. The right was the only wave.

Simpo: “Change that fucking 1970 rulebook!”

An interview with back-to-back US Open winner Brett Simpson on the Toledo-Igarashi interference… 

When Brett Simpson opined on the WSL’s Instagram that its rule book needed refreshment after another interference hit on Filipe, well, I had to call.

Brett, who is thirty two years old, a back-to-back winner of the US Open and who lives a short drive north of HB pier, invites the WSL to re-examine its “fucking 1970 rulebook.”

“As a surfer,” says Brett, “the goal is to be as deep as you can to maximise the ride, whether it’s a ride or a left. I look at that wage, I surf there a bunch. I know the conditions and the left was going to fucking die out into a trenchcoat. It was going trenchcoat. The right was the only wave. Filipe got a seven something on the wave even after the collision. I understand that the rule book simplifies it for the judges. But even then, one guy gave it a double, another guy gave it to red (Filipe). It wasn’t conclusive.

“I’m sure Rich told ’em, ‘This is what the rule book states’ and it obviously makes it easy for him. The call was right as in the sense of what the fucking 1970 rulebook says. But as it’s 2017 I feel like, we’re looking at waves and we know which one is better, which wave has more of a score. That’s the most irritating part. Kanoa’s a smart competitive surfer, he’s my friend, and I’m not saying he’s wrong, but I look at the wave and Kanoa goes left and even if he did a huge air in the shorey he gets a five. Kanoa was up against the best surfer in the fucking world right now and probably the only way he was going to win was to get an interference.

“The waves are shitty, the one wave that was going to break was the right. The time has come for the rule book to say, look at this wave, well he was going from the deepest spot and was going to get the bigger score. But he gets the interference! Obviously Filipe will tell you one thing but in his gut he probably knew it was a remix of fricken Brazil.”

Watch again!



Filipe, blue, Kanoa, red, clatter in their semi final at the US Open. Again, like Rio, Kanoa wins the interference battle. Oh the perilous magic of nymphets! | Photo: WSL

Encore: Filipe Interferes with Kanoa at US Open!

"It's 2017 and the judges are still 1970!" says Filipe Toledo

If this was cinema, the camera would pan over the surfer’s face, striped in afternoon shadow. His little paws cradle a sad face as family gather around to provide humanitarian shade.

And the viewer, recoils from the screen, made aware, again, of the perilous magic of nymphets.

Just then, Filipe Toledo and Kanoa Igarashi clattered rails on a peak in their semi-final at the US Open. Kanoa “commanded the peak” and took out Filipe on an interference.

You remember Rio a few months ago? When Filipe, who should’ve won the damn thing, lost in round three to Kanoa Igarashi on an interference? And how Filipe, who is as threatening as a baby animal in distress, boiled so much he told the judges, frankly, what he thought? And was subsequently banned fro Fiji? 

Today it happened all over again.

And, as always, Instagram was instructive.

Brett Simpson: Stupid rule. The only score on that wave was the right, Change that crap already @richieporta. It’s 2017! 

And from Filipe Toledo: @brettsimpson. Hahaha. The boys up there are too old for that! 2017 and they are still 1970!

Watch the wave here and head judge Rich Porta’s explanation.

Martinez: “Surfers can’t say shit!”

The mouth from the south is back!

Bobby Martinez was a bright comet that streaked across our sky. Oh we all cranked our neck to the heaven’s and admired the Santa Barabarans’ backhand attack, his fearless tube weaving, his opinions on this and that. He was a beautiful distraction. And then, just like that in 2011, he was gone and we looked back toward earth. Toward each other.

Toward Todd Kline.

Truth and honesty are two rare traits in our surf world and Bobby wasn’t afraid to share and still isn’t afraid. A just-published, wide-ranging interview in the Men’s Journal brings him back. It is vital that you read the whole thing but here are some outtakes.

On his 2011 explosion: They wanted a ranking system like they use in tennis. They wanted surfing to be this broad-scale sport — like soccer or something. I knew it was wrong, and so did a lot of other people.

On his relationship with the WSL: I never heard from them ever again. I haven’t heard shit from these people.

On being part of the surf industry: I get nothing from the surf industry. I didn’t want to stay in their little box and be a yes man.

On the surf industry in general: But I’m so thankful that they have been with me like that because other companies like Billabong and Quicksilver — that are 100 percent about the tour and all this fucking surfing blah, blah, blah — would have cut me regardless. You can’t be yourself with those companies. The industry is horrible. It’s hard to find a company that just respects you and is going to let you be yourself. Surfers can’t say shit because where are they going to go?

On surfing in the Olympics: It’s the dumbest thing in the world.

On small waves: Brazilians are the only ones who surf good in small waves…

On surfers who will surf in the Olympics: I think they’re just going wherever their sponsors tell them to go. I don’t think they have a voice, or else they would have been speaking out when I spoke out.

On wave pools: Surfing isn’t done in a pool. Surfing’s done in the ocean. I mean, are you fucking really going to travel to Kansas to surf the world’s best wave pool?

On surfing Kelly’s wave pool: Maybe if it was literally in my backyard. But, no, I wouldn’t drive to it.

What is your favorite line? I can’t choose. Each is like a beautiful but different child.

Dirk Ziff Saves Margaret River Pro!

"It didn't have a pulse!"

I’m not sure what your feelings are about the Margaret River Pro, one of the few events on tour underwritten by a major sponsor.

I thought it was insane to drag the best surfers in the world across Australia to surf a B-grade peak, even with the promise of North Point or The Box if the gods were to gift an agreeable confluence of wind and swell.

From the pale turquoise fluff of Snapper to the wiggles and whorls of Margarets to the garbage of Bells. It wasn’t much of a way to start a tour.

But then John John got to it, snowboarding the imperfect faces on one of his Pyzel Ghosts and…yeah… maybe Margaret River was worth something. Filipe Toledo, too, impatient, salacious, beautiful to watch.

New approaches, new angles. Right surfers, right boards.

Best event on the Australian slice? Yeah it is, was.

Did you know that it was going to be axed, the Australian tour reduced to two events, Snapper and Bells? And that it was Paul Speaker leaving the WSL and the intervention of the WSL’s owner Dirk Ziff that saved the event?

From PerthNow,

THE organisers of WA’s premier surfing event have admitted the contest was to be axed from next year until a last-minute intervention from the owner of the sport’s global governing body.

Surfing WA chief executive Mark Lane revealed on Friday that the Margaret River Pro “didn’t have a pulse” last year when the event’s place on the elite world tour from 2018 came up for negotiation with the World Surf League.

But it has emerged that a change of management at the top of the WSL – billionaire owner Dirk Ziff replaced former boss Paul Speaker – spared Margaret River from the chop.

Mr Lane joined by Tourism Minister Paul Papalia on Friday to confirm the Margaret River Pro would stay on the World Championship Tour until at least 2019 after the WSL agreed to renew its contract for another two years.

Under the multimillion-dollar deal, which is being largely funded by Tourism WA, the contract for the Pro will be extended at least two years, with the option of a further extension.
Mr Lane said the agreement almost never happened after the WSL earmarked Margaret River as the event to be axed from Australia rather than the Gold Coast of Bells Beach in Victoria – both longstanding events.

“It didn’t actually have a pulse at all,” Mr Lane said.

I’m thrilled, and florid faced over the news.

Et toi?