Oh it's emotional! Combed with five minutes to go, Julian Wilson pulls two rabbits out of the single hat. Here, squeezed by Mick Fanning post-final.

Tahiti Pro: “Medina blows final against Wilson!”

Gives away priority and Julian nails a bomb to win Tahiti Pro. It's done! An insane final.

The Universe. Benign, indifferent or hostile?

I say benign.

Why else would God/Nature/Evolution make glacial blue head-high peelers on a reef in the South Pacific and give us the ability to ride inside them? Or let us marinate a bunch of diced tailor (bluefish) fillets in  lime juice and coconut milk* for a morning poisson cru to start the day?

Are we, as a sport, disabused of the notion of white supremacy? I believe so but Medina’s people took great umbrage to my assessment of his attitude yesterday. My inbox was full of angry emails despite my record of being one of Medina’s biggest fans.

And although it was neglected in previous coverage I had made a call on Medina, to be confirmed by Beachgrit publisher D. Rielly via text message yesterday. Further confirmation, via a tube-ride to alley-oop in round five against Connor O’Leary, a clear statement of intent.

Then a 10-point ride to start against Owen in the first quarter final. Maybe a little overcooked by the judges but an inevitable result of cumulative pressure. A gripping heat ensued. The Gabby strategy: advancement by making mistakes, saw many nervous moments as he hunted and stalked  half-rides and low scores. The clincher, an 8.23, looked a dramatic over-score designed to put Owen out of contention but was fair balls in the wash-up.

Can we finally put this one to the big sleep. The spelling/pronunciation of Teahupoo that is. Okina or apostrophe in Polynesian languages is a glottal stop and signifies the enunciation of both vowel sounds. In the case of Teahupo’o it would make the last two sounds oh-oh. Which it ain’t. Chope-oo. The oo is Polynesian deep, from the back of the throat not southern Californian nasal.

What did it take to let that wave go to John Florence? “Mainly that thing between my legs. It took big balls” On heat strategy? “You learn as you get older- every day you learn something new” And my favourite, “All the crumbs make a loaf of bread.”

John Florence employed the Medina strategy in his super heat against Jordy. Opened with two mistakes. Jordy caught the better waves, riding without distinction but solidly. Was I the only surf fan pining for a Superman over dry reef? Not to be. John clawed back the lead with a skilled ride on a wave that Jordy passed up, paddled back and sat in right up in Jordy’s grill. Jordy calmly slotted the only set wave of the heat and that was that. Yellow jersey for California.

One thing that did enter the excellent range was Jordy’s post-heat pressers. The homespun wisdom was beautifully delivered. What did it take to let that wave go to John Florence?

“Mainly that thing between my legs. It took big balls”

On heat strategy? “You learn as you get older- every day you learn something new”

And my favourite, “All the crumbs make a loaf of bread.”

I got straight on the phone to Jordy’s people back in South Africa and suggested a coffee table book of Proverbs, maybe something that could be tacked onto the end of Gideon Bibles (after the Book of Revelations, as a source of hope) and placed in hotel rooms. Possibly even a new religion, with Jordy as the white-robed leader. Could be a real goer as a post-professional surfing career option.

Strange memories of the night before Andy’s last event win, right here in Tahiti 2010, just months before he died. Golden light and perfect head-high backlit tubes. Andy was glowing, ethereal, gliding around the lineup like a ghost. Death had already seemed to have cast its shadow upon the living but in reality he was probably high, in that strange euphoric semi-death familiar to the opiate addict. No judgement here, I love the oxy.

John got the AI award, a downbeat presentation given the conditions. Strange memories of the night before Andy’s last event win, right here in Tahiti 2010, just months before he died. Golden light and perfect head-high backlit tubes. Andy was glowing, ethereal, gliding around the lineup like a ghost. Death had already seemed to have cast its shadow upon the living but in reality he was probably high, in that strange euphoric semi-death familiar to the opiate addict. No judgement here, I love the oxy. And If I end up shuffling off the mortal coil on the end of a couple of oxy’s and too many tallie’s don’t posit any nonsense about dying doing what he loved. Just the machinations of an indifferent universe.

Nothing indifferent about the Medina/Kolohe semi. It began and ended with  tactical supremacy from Medina. Trolling Kolohe deep up the reef, then doubling back to spike the opening score. Paddling him around, blocking, putting his body in his face. I didn’t see a board flick by Kolohe against Medina, did you? It has been reported. Chas will elaborate.

With a stranglehold on the heat, Medina paddled Kolohe right up the reef to close it out. Masterful. Same thing he did to him in 2014 in ten-foot surf.

Medina starts the final with continuing physical intimidation. How you like that action? Repulsed or turned on? Me, thrilled. Then tube-threading and full-rail-cutdown-to-fins-free hooking. Taking off deeper and there’s no need for the most ugly stance in surfing: the double armed forehand stall, with that gross bent elbow leading instead of delicately splayed fingertips. Wilson combo-ed at the halfway point on the back of two sizzling rides from Gabs. Wilson breaks combo with ten to go on the back of a long soft tube and strong basic turns. Then roars back with a fins free sideways take-off on a west bowl.

Medina blew it. He gave away priority and Julian nails a bomb to get it. It’s done! An insane final.

Wilson dominates a benign day at Teahupoo, master for the day of a benign universe that smiles on boldness and audacity.

Thus endeth the coverage of the Indo-Pacific (Grand Slam) leg of the Tour. I hope you have, like me, enjoyed the highs and learnt from the lows. We give the final shovel load to Henry Miller and his concluding words from Tropic of Cancer, written about professional surfing in the 1930’s.

“Human beings make a strange fauna and flora. From a distance they appear negligible; close up they are apt to appear ugly and malicious. More than anything they need to be surrounded with sufficient space ― space even more than time.”

Just in: Julian Wilson takes Tahiti!

One of the finest finals of all time!

Can you believe that Teahupoo (Better Mr. Longtom? Proper enough?) is over? Can you believe that nothing but nothing stopped its march straight to the final? Not the many sides of white supremacy, not lower quality surf, not temper tantrum surf board shooting, not Gabriel Medina’s apparent demon possession.


Longtom will, of course, bring the most scintillating full coverage in just a few moments but until then let’s just celebrate Australia’s Julian Wilson.

And let’s also talk about Joe Turpel!

Most men, as they age, turn crackly and haggard. Too much time in the sun. Too much hard livin. Too much vodka and it all goes straight to the face. And the face turns crackly and haggard. Skin that leathers. Red patches mix in with white patches. Eyes that lose spark and stare dull-like, angry even, into the distance.

But look at Joe Turpel!

His face looks softer than a baby’s bottom. Fuller too. Skin such an even shade of tan without one blemish. Eyes that gaze, innocent and naive, into the distance. He looks like a doll. Like a Russian Matryoshka doll and, speaking of, how much would you pay for a set of WSL Matryoshka dolls? Waz inside Pete inside Pottz inside Ron inside Joe.



Joe Turpel is surfing’s Benjamin Button. He is our fountain of youth.

And congrats again to Julian Wilson coming back from a combo situation in one of the greatest ever heats in professional surfing history. Have you ever read a worse analysis of one of the greatest ever heats in professional surfing history?

Stay tuned for real coverage coming soon!

Linguistics: “Cho-po” or “Cho-poo?”

A guide for the rest of us!

Ain’t it the most wonderful thing in the entire world to have our boys back in the water? Professional surfing! Days that were, just last week, filled with dark depression now shine. My best friends Ron, Joe, Marty, Pete, the Waz and Kaipo!

Oh how their voices fill me with joy. How their voices chase my demons back to the recesses of my mind.

They are all at “The End of the Road” in “Tahiti” which is pronounced “taHIti” by Americans and TAhiti by Kaipo and Australians. They are at Teahupo’o.

But what does Teahupo’o mean? Either “heap pile” or “place of crushed skulls” or “pile of heads” I think.

But how is it supposed to be pronounced?


Why then do Ron, Joe, Marty, Pete and the Waz say, “Cho-poo?” Why then does only Kaipo get it right?

Linguists, the scientific study of language and my graduate degree, tells us that Kaipo is Hawaiian and does everything right.



White on White!

Science: “Better to kill than protect sharks!”

Oowee, who saw that coming? But dry your tears! They're fish!

A new survey of shark scientists has revealed ninety percent of ’em believe sustainable shark fishing is preferable to sanctuaries and bans, and that hysterical voices in the conversation movement are overriding an evidence-based approach.

Oowee, who saw that coming?

Let’s get straight into the story, as reported by a cute as hell magazine called Hakai. 

The result may seem counterintuitive, acknowledges lead author David Shiffman, but the finding points to the fact that wildlife conservation is more nuanced than the general public tends to appreciate. While people may believe that all shark species are endangered, and that any form of shark fishing threatens to push populations to collapse, Shiffman says the best available science evidence does not support those ideas.

The survey also reflects a concern among scientists that more extreme voices in the conservation community may be overshadowing a more evidence-based approach to protection.

“One of our conclusions from this is that those in the research community and those in the advocacy community should talk to one another more,” Shiffman says.

In general, the scientists favor policies that protect specific species, rather than those that set regional limits on shark fishing. Out of 12 conservation policies considered, shark sanctuaries and bans on shark finning received the least support from the researchers.

Does this sort of intellectual rigour excite you as much as it excites me?

That, and let’s use the example of Reunion Island here, it ain’t doing anyone any favours by protecting bull sharks inside the marine reserve there. All it’s done is create a length of coastline that has become unusable for humans.

Where, says Jeremy Flores, who ain’t a scientist but who grew up living in the ocean on Reunion, he won’t even surf anymore.

“Getting attacked is a fifty-fifty proposition,” he says.  “I would say, stay out of the water. Stay… out… of… the… water.”

The greatest beneficiary of small Chopes is/was not Toledo but Jordy Smith and he is capitalising like Gordon Gekko on insider stock options. | Photo: WSL

Day Two, Tahiti: “Can you live with a Jordy World Title?”

And what will Kelly Slater do to subtly delegitimise it?

Night sleeping is a bogey-man at Teahupoo. According to poet Morgan Williamson*, of all the elemental sounds of nature the sound of the ocean is the most awesome, beautiful and varied.

Subconscious dreams at Teahupoo are invaded by sharp rifle cracks, hollow boomings, vague roarings, splashing, whisperings, grave and solemn groaning and moanings.

Sleep is fitful. I slept fitfully, woken by sober, racing thoughts: why does the world title race suddenly feel so flat? The schizophrenic performances of Toledo? By turns bloodless and blazing.

Surfing has never been more omnipresent and felt more professionally impotent. It’s everywhere and it’s nowhere.

Or the absence, finally, of Slater who may come back but will never again challenge for a title. Fanning is making noises of retirement an Parko can’t be far behind. Bede is doing a testimonial lap.

Combined, that represents the loss of 15 world titles worth of experience. Not replaceable by the current rookie crop or anyone else on the QS radar. Surfing has never been more omnipresent and felt more professionally impotent. It’s everywhere and it’s nowhere.

Medina sat lifeless against Bede for an age, looking vague and uninterested before spiking a clutch bomb with a minute to go, making a mockery of my premise.

Who could replace the retiring veterans? Medina, JJF, Wilko? Yes.

Julian, Owen: Maybe.

Kolohe, Connor Coffin: Yeah, but nah.

Italo F: Definitely.

Did anyone else get the ad on the website for vaginal leaking pads? Market research from big data or a wild guess? As much of a mystery as the phenomenon of the boardshort riding up on the thigh of the backside tuberider.

No more off-message impressionistic wanderings – Derek hates it – and seeing as a new Pyzel Ghost is still in negotiation as part of the coverage fee, let’s go back to sportswriting, and nothing but.

Slow starts and sleepy heats were a symptom of a somnolent South Pacific and a funky breeze that laid down lips across sections that wouldn’t stay open. Zeke Lau and Wiggoly Dantas sat too deep up the reef for half a heat, while absolutely nothing happened. Emblematic. Zeke got pinched twice, Wiggoly racked up a couple of makes and that was the heat.

Wilko maintained command of his own performance against Ewing in the last scrappy heat of the day. Threaded one for a mid seven, incomplete on a bomb which could have been close to a ten. Ewing got, not much, but walks away with a heat win for the year.

Caulerpa is the brown seaweed that embraced and enhanced the vision of John Florence as he sat on the foam ball for a pair of nines against Nat Young. Edible, favoured by Okinawans and claimed to help increase longevity and virility. Available to citizens of the coterminous United States according to Ed Ricketts in the Log from the Sea of Cortez. If JJF goes through to the quarter-finals or better and Wilko makes round five or better then Teahupoo is essentially a dead rubber and we walk away and dream of Trestles.

Fear is an essential element of surfing Teahupoo, no doubt. Life changing wipeouts, according to Strider. The most fearsome image for the recreational surfer, sprint paddling for the horizon as the ocean sucks dry, paddling downhill, then uphill, up into the blue sky against the blue lip, so impossibly thick, looking over your shoulder into the pit and seeing someone beside you scratching into it, maybe Owen maybe a Tahitian, and looking into the pit. The mind rebels, goes blank, freezes in fear. Head snaps back to the horizon, no more waves, then back to the channel to see surfer gliding over the shoulder in a huge shower of spray. There’s no other wave like it.

But still, not the scariest thing about Teahupoo.

That is seeing Toothless and his mates well sauced on a weekend, getting corralled , fed warm beer after warm beer. Giving up on escaping and then being physically frog-marched down the road to the end of the road, gaining new drinking companions. Bottles getting smashed, shouts, preparing for some street fighting with “townies” from Papeete down for the weekend in jacked-up pickups and lithe girls lounging in tropical sun. A little whitey caught in a scrimmage of jacked up, tense drunk, hefty Polynesian men. The romance of the South Aeas. Bit of play fighting going amiss, someone throws a punch, Toothless has me in a headlock, friendly for now but too firm. Marching onwards, stuck in a granite strata of destiny. Cold fear. Drunk fear.

But no more digressions, I need that fucking Pyzel Ghost.

Winds turned trade, tubes stayed open. J-Dub and Ferriera indulged a tube duel in conditions that verged on the magical. I thought judges got the result wrong way around because they failed to give any account of Italo’s full speed, full-rail punctuation points on the ride.

Beatings to start the Fanning/Ace heat. Fanning should have had a ten for the biggest chamber of the day– what were judges waiting for? An aquatic unicorn? A new Global tour sponsor? Both would have been more likely than a better wave and better surfed wave than that today. Fanning made a critical error giving too much latitude to Ace, who, without priority, collected crucial scores under Fanning’s watch.

Last heat. Steinbeck looked forwards, with a masochistic contempt, to confounding his critics with Log from the Sea of Cortez, and knew it was likely to have limited appeal, but he never wrote for the internet and coveted a new Pyzel.

The greatest beneficiary of small Chopes is/was not Toledo but Jordy Smith and he is capitalising like Gordon Gekko on insider stock options.

Can you live with a Jordy Smith world title and what will Kelly Slater do to subtly delegitimise it?

Join us here tomorrow comrades for Finals Day and the final instalment in the Indo-Pacific leg of the coverage.

*Henry Beston actually, but Morgan woulda if he coulda.

Billabong Pro Tahiti Round 2 Results:
Heat 1: Jordy Smith (ZAF) 11.83 def. Taumata Puhetini (PYF) 9.60
Heat 2: Owen Wright (AUS) 14.50 def. Aritz Aranburu (ESP) 12.10
Heat 3: Ethan Ewing (AUS) 10.06 def. Filipe Toledo (BRA) 6.56
Heat 4: Mick Fanning (AUS) 13.00 def. Josh Kerr (AUS) 8.16
Heat 5: Nat Young (USA) 10.74 def. Frederico Morais (PRT) 8.93
Heat 6: Michel Bourez (PYF) 14.97 def. Jadson Andre (BRA) 14.77
Heat 7: Sebastian Zietz (HAW) 11.50 def. Miguel Pupo (BRA) 2.67
Heat 8: Kanoa Igarashi (USA) 10.53 def. Caio Ibelli (BRA) 5.60
Heat 9: Conner Coffin (USA) 12.56 def. Stu Kennedy (AUS) 7.10
Heat 10: Jeremy Flores (FRA) 18.77 def. Leonardo Fioravanti (ITA) 16.60
Heat 11: Bede Durbidge (AUS) 10.50 def. Jack Freestone (AUS) 7.27
Heat 12: Wiggolly Dantas (BRA) 12.57 def. Ezekiel Lau (HAW) 8.03

Billabong Pro Tahiti Round 3 Results:
Heat 1: Owen Wright (AUS) 13.77 def. Ian Gouveia (BRA) 10.60
Heat 2: Connor O’Leary (AUS) def 14.33. Jeremy Flores (FRA) 13.27
Heat 3: Wiggolly Dantas (BRA) 13.33 def. Adriano De Souza (BRA) 9.57
Heat 4: Gabriel Medina (BRA) 14.60 def. Bede Durbidge (AUS) 13.23
Heat 5: Kolohe Andino (USA) 12.67 def. Sebastian Zietz (HAW) 12.27
Heat 6: Matt Wilkinson (AUS) 11.57 def. Ethan Ewing (AUS) 8.67
Heat 7: John John Florence (HAW) 18.70 def. Nat Young (USA) 15.23
Heat 8: Conner Coffin (USA) 13.77 def. Michel Bourez (PYF) 12.90
Heat 9: Julian Wilson (AUS) 17.46 def. Italo Ferreira (BRA) 16.54
Heat 10: Joan Duru (FRA) 16.40 def. Joel Parkinson (AUS) 14.40
Heat 11: Adrian Buchan (AUS) 16.70 def. Mick Fanning (AUS) 15.90
Heat 12: Jordy Smith (ZAF) 15.00 def. Kanoa Igarashi (USA) 2.26

Billabong Pro Tahiti Round 4 Match-Ups:
Heat 1: Owen Wright (AUS), Connor O’Leary (AUS), Wiggolly Dantas (BRA)
Heat 2: Gabriel Medina (BRA), Kolohe Andino (USA), Matt Wilkinson (AUS)
Heat 3: John John Florence (HAW), Conner Coffin (USA), Julian Wilson (AUS)
Heat 4: Joan Duru (FRA), Adrian Buchan (AUS), Jordy Smith (ZAF) \