A near perfect score for one hiccup, one full-buttocked bash and one hiccup…
Whew. The elixir of the people has worn off and I’ve returned to my comfortably cynical and virtually heartless position. Hello, again!
And can we discuss Jordy Smith’s nine-point wave in the Hurley Pro final against the new best surfer in the world Filipe Toledo?
It was a 9.
A 9 for one hiccup, one full-buttocked bash and one hiccup.
And what the hell?
I understand that the judges are under enormous pressure, generally do very well, being critical is easy etc. etc.
But what the hell?
Jordy basically safety surfed his way though the quarters and semis and finals and he was almost rewarded with the highest gift in the land for so doing. The WSL needs to figure this out because 75% surfing is going to be a Chinese water torture death. They have to figure some way to incorporate a reward for risk. Like gymnastics. Degree of difficulty being factored in alongside makes and misses.
Conspiracists might suggest that Jordy’s 9 was the judges punishing Filipe for storming the tower and shouting swears some three events ago. They might also suggest that a Jordy Smith championship is being preordained.
Are you a conspiracist?
Or do you think doing one turn on a head-high wave is worthy of a 9?
I pulled the covers over my head when the slate grey sky became too bright to ignore. Its dull glow represented hard truth. Represented that the last twenty-four hours had not been but a very bad dream. Had I really put ground parsley on my yesterday morning’s poached eggs, smoked Scottish salmon and hollandaise sauce? Ground parsley? Oh sure the jar said it was freshly ground along with being organic but still. Jarred ground parsley. The very height of petit bourgeois. And it was Nick Carroll of all people, Manly Australia’s Nick Carroll, Lifesaving Association belonging Nick Carroll who called me out.
“‘Freshly ground parsley'”? Who grinds parsley?”
Simply Organic is who and they grind it for the petit bourgeois. A terrible nightmare.
Quarterfinal number three paddled into the Lowers obsidian but I didn’t care. John John Florence and Jeremy Flores but I didn’t care. The elites were in their tabernacle drinking hot coffee and nibbling madeleine but I didn’t care. The people were on the dirt and the stone, their children gnawing driftwood but I didn’t care.
I didn’t care and stayed put under the covers trying to find an episode of Sex in the City on my phone to momentarily drown the sorrows. When Carrie and Samantha, Miranda and Charlotte’s punchline-filled debate about soul mates refuses to elicit a smile, though, I know it is time for me to face my new and uncomfortable life.
The shower was warm but not all of the Hermès soap in the entire world could scrub my shame. Nick Carroll for pity’s sake. Nick Carroll.
Oh sure, when I had first gone down to the Hurley Pro at Lower Trestles I had received a revelation. “Forget the small comforts. Forget the elites. Forget the free Michelob Ultra and chicken caesar salad wraps and shade from tents. Get thee amongst the people. Be one with them.”
And I had heeded its clarion call, standing shoulder to shoulder with them in their dirt and filth and the Africanized trash bees. I brought them pears. I carried their sunburn. But never did I imagine that the people would become one with me. That their naturally gauche taste would become my own. Ground parsley. Ground parsley.
My phone rang and a photographer friend said, “Are you here? Standing in your spot? John John just beat Jeremy! He’s going to the semis!” But I didn’t care.
I went downstairs to make breakfast and stood in front of the cupboards paralyzed. Not being able to trust my instincts anymore. Not being able to know if caviar on small toasts with a Veuve Clicquot mimosa is fair or foul. Not even being able to know if I was pronouncing Veuve Clicquot properly.
My phone rang again and a team manager friend said, “Are you here? Near the trashcan? Filipe just beat Kanoa! He’s going to the semis and against John!” But I didn’t care.
What was my life going to look like now? Was I going to accidentally end up wearing Teva sandals, zip-off travel pants a The Inertia t-shirt and SPF 50 wide-brimmed hat and not even know? I buried my face face in my hands.
And didn’t move until my phone rang again. It was a low tier professional surfer who said, “Are you here? Next to the fat shirtless man? Jordy beat Ace. Jordy is going to the finals!” But I didn’t care.
I decided to pour a damned Veuve Clicquot, or however the hell you say it, and Sunny Delight. Screw it. Just screw it all. I was going to sit until both bottles were empty then go to the Red Rooster in Oceanside which came recommended in the BeachGrit comment section. I’d get onion rings covered in packet gravy and cheese-whiz and drink Smirnoff and cran-apple juice. I’d…
…my phone rang again and a surf journalist friend said, “Are you there? On the cobbled stone? I wish I could see it but they moved the media tent down to Tijuana and President Trump has just Tweeted that we won’t be let back into the country. Filipe just beat John John! He’s going to the finals against Jordy!”
And suddenly I cared! Filipe Toldeo! The new Kelly Slater! The world’s current best and most exciting surfer! I sprinted upstairs, taking them two at a time, and ripped into my closet without even thinking, pulling on an old pair of unwashed APC jeans, Turbonegro t-shirt and rammed my feet into a stinky red pair of Vans smashed at the heel. I sprinted to the driveway and the wife had taken the Panamera to Los Angeles for the day so I jumped into five year old Volkswagen station wagon filled with melted crayons and SeaSnax wrappers.
I sped as fast as I could north, past Camp Pendleton, past the immigration control center, past the San Onofre nuclear power plant and said a silent prayer my surviving surf journalist brothers and their difficulties. I sped past the Basilone exit knowing that $20 dollar parking would surely be filled. I sped up Cristianitos and, as if gifted by God, there was a spot available in a dirt patch next to a dumpster. I parked and sprinted.
Sprinted across the 5 freeway bridge, sprinted down the bike path, sprinted though the parking lot, sprinted down the trail and sprinted through the reeds.
I was back! The Hurley Pro at Lower Trestles! And the dirt and the cobbled stone and the sand were filled. Completely filled with all manner of men and women, boys and girls. Old, young. Fresh, haggard. Rich, poor. Surf industry, mechanics, yogis, teachers and landscape engineers. Brazilian and non.
The tents stood empty. Completely abandoned.
“What happened?” I asked a large man with a barbed wire tattoo and a Brazilian flag tied around his neck. “Is it over?”
He looked at me, smiling, and said, “You wouldn’t even believe. Silvana Lima won! And then… Filipe! Filipe Toledo! The judges tried to steal from his pants but God didn’t let them! Nós somos um!”
It made me sad, for a moment, that the current most exciting surfing in the world was almost robbed blind by the judges but then I looked around at the melange of humanity, threw my head back to the sun, which had broken though and was shining full and bright and shouted from my heart, “I am people! We are all people!”
Hurley Pro Final Results:
1 -Filipe Toledo (BRA) 15.67
2 – Jordy Smith (ZAF) 9.80
Hurley Pro Semifinal Results:
SF 1: Jordy Smith (ZAF) 14.33 def. Adrian Buchan (AUS) 10.17
SF 2: Filipe Toledo (BRA) 14.90 def. John John Florence (HAW) 12.66
Hurley Pro Remaining Quarterfinal Results:
QF 3: John John Florence (HAW) 14.84 def. Jeremy Flores (FRA) 13.80
QF 4: Filipe Toledo (BRA) 15.26 def. Kanoa Igarashi (USA) 11.10
Swatch Pro Final Results:
1 -Silvana Lima (BRA) 17.60
2 – Keely Andrew (AUS) 10.93
Swatch Pro Semifinal Results:
SF 1: Silvana Lima (BRA) 16.90 def. Lakey Peterson (USA) 15.60
SF 2: Keely Andrew (AUS) 13.43 def. Courtney Conlogue (USA) 13.17
2017 WSL Men’s Jeep Leaderboard (After Hurley Pro at Trestles):
1 – Jordy Smith (ZAF) 45,850 pts
2 – John John Florence (HAW) 43,400 pts
3 – Julian Wilson (AUS) 37,200 pts
4 – Matt Wilkinson (AUS) 36,450 pts
5 – Owen Wright (AUS) 35,850 pts
Rare swell brings pro's to your beach. Do you join them like man or flee like baby?
Three weeks ago, the New York, Jersey region got blown a kiss from tropical depression 10, born from the Nor’easter family. This occurrence is very different from its naughty cousins (hurricanes) born in Cape Verde, tantrum-ing through the Caribbean and pumping long period, semi-closed out lines to the north east.
TD 10, as it’s baptized by the science guys, plays nicer.
It sits benign, off the coast of New York harbor, gently pushing lines of east-south0-east groundswell with trimmed north (west) offshore winds. After a summer of knee-high pain barely remedied by 5’6” fishes, New York and Jersey surfers have a legitimate reason to wax their 6’3”s.
But what if there is a Candyman crawling across the Cross Bronx Expressway salivating, rubbing his palms, waiting to scoop up all your sweets? In this case, our specter takes the form of the Volcom_east team. It’s fingers personified in the form of Mitch Coleborn, Chippa Wilson and Balaram Stack.
As a local, you know what specific jetty will be working (angle, buoy reading, wind etc.). Sunrise hours spent inspecting jetties, groynes and sandbars, compiling secrets over years, are easily diluted and given up to Volcom via a simple phone call to a local surf shop owner.
Can’t blame him. If Gordon Ramsey called your kitchen and asked for your recipe to tuna tar tar, you’d sing faster than a star witness gifted a million-dollar reward and the promise of protection from the FBI.
Now, this is a quiz.
So let’s place you in the scene.
You wake up at 5:30 am Sunday. Walk up to a jetty you know will be firing. You expect to find Christmas morning in September. You do, but only to discover other kids unwrapping your gifts. You watch them. Taking off deeper than you ever could, slicing lips with precision. A cadre of filmers, drones and cheerleaders litter the sand and lineup hooting and yewww-ing every move like it’s Super Bowl Sunday.
And a kind of bile sits in your throat. Just when you thought last week’s three hooks in the pocket were timed perfectly you are reminded where you sit on the surf-timeline-evolution chart. In context, somewhere around enlarged forehead and dragging knuckles .
While there is no shame in “respected, capable local” there is a sobering effect knowing you can be over run at your home spot.
The next step.
Get into the ring and take a chance sparring with nobility and a good possibility of getting boxed out or head to the kiddie pool (still a tantalizing three-to-four foot ) where there is still some sense of perverted pride in saying you’re the best 40 something among soft toppers, 10-year-olds and very old studs wearing hats and sunglasses?
Don't veer too far away from the popular Sri Lankan point…
List the ways a surfer can be disappeared and you don’t, as rule, include death by ancient reptile. But, at the picturesque righthand point Arugam Bay in Sri Lanka, a wave popular with beginners and small-wave shredders, you may now include the crocodile.
A journalist for the Financial Times as well as a newly annointed surfer, Paul McClean, was staying at a nearby surf camp, and had gone to the toilet and then went to wash his hands in a lagoon “known to be crawling with crocodiles,” reports London’s The Sun.
Fawas Lafeer, owner of Safa Surf School, located up the coast from where the incident happened, said: “A local fisherman witnessed a man being dragged into a river, set back from the beach, by a crocodile. The fisherman was on the opposite side of the river and downstream of the incident location.”
He added:“This is the first known crocodile attack in Sri Lanka. Both tourists and locals surf at Elephant Rock, which is a beautiful secluded beach and very safe.
“Crocodiles in Sri Lanka live only in the fresh, back waters of the jungle. It is almost unheard of for them to come close to the beach. The salt water actually turns them blind.
“Local search and rescue teams are working alongside the police and British Embassy in attempt to locate the man’s body.”
Meanwhile, a Scottish tourist, who wishes to remain anonymous, said: “A British tourist was at a surf spot called Elephant rock.
“There’s a lagoon right next to the sea. He went to the toilet next to the lagoon and was grabbed by a crocodile.
“There are lots in the lagoon. People last saw his arms in the air in the water and then was grabbed under. Horrible.
The body of Mr McClean, who was twenty five, is yet to be recovered.
A day of revelation on the cobbled stones with the people.
I peeked at my Rolex before the sun came up and it said, “Get thee to the people.” Not literally of course, though I do think Rolex would do well incorporating some Marxist design elements. I sprung out of bed, unfettered by a hangover only having had three Trust Me vodka and organic strawberry lemonades the night before.
Completely refreshed, I took the stairs two at a time toward the kitchen to quickly make a coffee and head out the door. To the Trestle. To you.
But while the grounds were steeping I became hungry and set about preparing poached eggs, smoked Scottish salmon, freshly ground parsley and a quickly whipped hollandaise sauce that would have made Chef Auguste Escoffier smile.
By the time I started driving Mick Fanning and Kanoa Igarashi were in the water surfing their heat re-do from yesterday’s unfortunate mixed call. I didn’t write about that nor did I see it because I was taking my role as object lesson to the people’s children in their utopian professional surf school seriously. Don’t go looking for Coopers and dance, dear children, lest you become a hungover surf journalist like me.
Whilst passing the media tent, which had been moved further south from yesterday’s location inside one of the San Onofre nuclear power reactors to a structure in the United State’s Marine base Camp Pendleton, I listened to Kanoa again getting the jump on Mick with a quick 8 something right at the opening horn. A very fine wave surfed elegantly.
And the heat ended right as I pulled into the $20 parking lot. I was clutching my phone, staring holes through the screen as a set approached, almost running over an electric bicyclist. Kanoa had surfed a few waves, though the ocean did appear very finicky. Mick had seemed to be on the same retirement tour as his good friend Joel, enjoying the gluttony of just sitting in the ocean and not surfing but there was a one wave set approaching and Mick only needed a small score to win. He paddled over it and looked casually out to sea. Into the salad years.
“White lightening is the penultimate competitor. Such a glassy guy…” Joe Turpel said, or something similarly malapropriate, as I backed the ’17 Panamera into its spot. “…And now on to the women. We’ve got Steph Gilmore and coming up next.”
“The women?” I thought but felt energized. “The women! No possible better way to spend my morning for women are the people too!” I quickened my pace, winking at the California State Park policeman who had threatened to give me a ticket when I was driving in for being on my phone.
Hurrying down the trail, over the trestle and through the reeds I marveled. It had been naked, scorching sun for the first three days of the Hurley Pro. Hot unrelenting sun everywhere that the people stood. But this day God had decided enough is enough and given the people a VIP tent of their own. High, thickish grey clouds.
And then I got my first glimpse of Steph Gilmore in the water, arcing one of the most gorgeous turns I have ever seen in my life. So fluid, so on rail, such poetry. The finicky waves of Kanoa and Mick’s heat had given way to pumping oil glass sets and watching Stephanie bag two nines made me wonder, “Could she compete against the men at pointbreaks when the surf is head high and perfect? Could she beat them all?” I know it is unfair to compare men’s surfing and women’s. They are unique flowers. But Steph’s turns mesmerized, although Lima won later in the day with more rad.
I was so mesmerized, in fact, that I ran smack dab into Surfline’s very handsome Marcus Sanders, though he looked perturbed.
“Heading to the media tent?” I asked.
“Didn’t you hear?” He responded. “The Marines are using it in a simulation drill for a North Korean invasion. Bombing sorties, tanks, heavy artillery, battalions of troops running in and all live fire. I’d be shocked if there are any survivors.”
“But I saw Michael Ciaramella and Morgan Williamson from Stab there or at least I saw their cars parked near the Camp Pendleton entrance gate!” I shrieked.
“There’s little hope.” He said while slowly shaking his head. “Notifications have already been sent to next of kin.”
The news saddened me greatly and I was unable to enjoy any more of the women’s heats, instead crouching amongst the people and drawing up plans for Stab-style funerals with a stick in the dirt. It would have to be something fantastic. Something very grand. Maybe their ashes could be taken to Uluwatu and shot into the barrel while Bruce Irons spread his arms blindfolded? Or maybe their bones could be carved by anonymous surfboard shaper and tested in the lineup by Taj Burrow?
I was leaning toward the second option when a sort of grinding sound distracted me. Looking up I saw one of the people’s very small children sating her hunger by gnawing on a piece of driftwood. Her precious small teeth working overtime trying to find some relief for her hunger.
My heart instantly went out to her. Oh the good Lord had provided shade for the people today but no bread and I had used my morning’s sandwich making time on hollandaise sauce instead. It is of course impossible, and not recommended at all, for the children’s parents to turn away from professional surf action but still.
Suddenly I had an idea. Standing just across the way, talking important surf business with someone, was Hurley’s Evan Slater. And in his pant pocket I spied a small glimpse of a VIP wristband.
“Yes!” I thought. “Yes! I will sneak that VIP wristband out of Evan’s pants and go into the tented areas in order to bring the people’s children their nutrition! I will be a modern Robin Hood. A reverse Bernie Madoff lavishing the people with undeserved, unearned gifts and will become a hero to them but will not allow them to build statues in my likeness on Lowers’ cobbled stone nor will I allow HBO to make a special about me starring Alexander Skarsgård.
“No!” I will shout. “No! Spend your time and energy building statues of working class hero Stu Kennedy instead for he is not a real Kennedy but a grimy Australian one. Make HBO specials about Bede Durbidge starring Rhys Ifans and the people will come.”
I hurried and snuck over to wear Evan was standing, wishing I had worn the Louis Vuitton drivers of two days ago instead of the Prada penny loafers of today as they are much softer and quieter. Better for sneaking. Somehow, though I pulled it off and now had a silver ’17 WSL GUEST VIP wristband in my possession.
Should I just give it to the people?
The people will get caught very quickly as it will be very instantly clear they don’t belong. Brazilian flags and dirty Reef sandals being dead giveaways. They will be ushered out and maybe ejected from the beach altogether or worse, taken to the remains of the media tent.
I must go for them and so I marched south with the gilded paravel directly in my sights. I made it to the stairs and said hello to Jon Pyzel who was hurrying back toward the competitor’s area, “John John is in the next heat…” I heard him say.
Which made my mission that much more urgent. Up the stairs I strode, two at a time, and into the place of earthly delights. An exclusive eagle’s nest. A perch where the privileged feast upon handmade breakfast burritos and wash them down with bottomless Michelob Ultras. Shade. Cushioned couches. Water with hints of watermelon flavor hidden inside. It had been so long since I’d been surrounded in luxury I almost forgot how to act, tugging the neck of my pink Balmain button-down until a few of those buttons popped off.
But I could not let the people down.
And so I hurried to a bowl overflowing with fruit resting on a silky blue tablecloth. Strawberries and apples, grapes and bananas, kiwi and dragon fruit. I spotted a juicy pear nestling between a stack of one-hundred dollar bills and a brick of gold bullion.
I moved with vigor and snatched it then fled as quickly as I could to the dirt and rock and Africanized trash bees. Stealing from the rich and bringing to the poor. A modern day Bruce Springsteen.
By the time I had arrived back where I belonged John John was indeed in the water, fighting Jeremy Flores and Kanoa Igarashi in the no losers’ round. I handed the pear to the people’s little angel and she took it from my palm before letting it roll into the sand and then a puddle of Monster Energy Drink.
John John, out the back, was doing the most magnificent arcing turn much like Steph Gilmore’s. The man can do it all. Turn, arc, carve, barrel and air. The people do not need food when John John Florence is in the water. The peoples’ little angels can fill their empty bellies on driftwood and saltwater and greatness instead.
And the rest of the action as witnessed from the shoreline.
Heat 3: (Jeremy vs. John vs. Kanoa)
I have disliked this part of the WSL programing, quite publicly, before but today it was perfect because John John surfed magnificently, filling the people’s li but Jeremy Flores surfed more so and Kanoa Igarashi less so. Kanoa had already beat Mick. John John is John John. Jeremy is revitalized. I wanted to see them all again and thanks to the format I get to. Egalitarian! Jeremy won but John made the better turns but look out for Kanoa.
Heat 4: (Filipe vs. Julian vs. Bede)
Julian is surfing at the very top of his game but watching Filipe in person it almost seems unfair. He sticks 100% of the airs he throws without any doubt ever. He turns on a rail. He can beat any section and the people love him. The people, surrounding me, whooped and hollered his every move in a tongue I couldn’t quite understand. He has it all. He is the new Kelly Slater and if he can put his heat strategy together he may soon be completely unstoppable. Filipe won.
Heat 1: (Ace vs. Jadson)
And we are back to the perilous. Lose and go home. The people, of course, enjoy bloodsport and tension rose amongst them. Jadson, even though he drives a simple Toyota RAV-4 and is generally one of their favorites, was simply out-surfed by Ace. The waves were slow but no care and no matter. Ace for the win.
Heat 2: (Jordy vs. Seb Z.)
Never count Sebastian out. No not ever. Only count him out when there are no waves and there is 30 seconds left and Jordy Smith is winning. Is Jordy getting closer to a stranglehold on the title?
Heat 3: (John vs. Bede)
No not a stranglehold for behold, John John! The man with two working-class first names! There was a full seventeen minute lull in the middle here and the people became very uneasy and hungry once again because of the no surfing. I would have gone to the high VIP places and brought them steaming pasta alfredo and caviar but… John John. He is a magician. And I was right not to leave. The waves turned on and he put on a show that will fill the people’s bellies until dinner.
Heat 4: (Kanoa vs. Julian)
Very tense. Wrought with tension. Much for you to discuss in the comments. Kanoa won.
Heat 1: (Li’l Plumber vs. Ace)
So close. Heat restart. Ace stoked to be alive on finals day. And I’ll admit, I’ve left the people. I’ve driven the Panamera home and am sipping more Trust Me vodka and organic strawberry lemonades and feeling so invigorated. When was the last time you were with the people? I’m telling you, their scent is even more stirring than cocaine.
Heat 2: (Fred vs. Jordan)
Are they the same person or is that the vodka writing? Is Frederico like Weight Watchers Jordy? The “before” of the “before and after” Jordy? I passed Jordy on the trail. I was hot. Hurrying. Thinking about what else I could steal from the rich to give to the poor. Should I put one of the people in the Panamera and drive him to an Occupy Wall Street protest? Is Occupy Wall Street still a thing? Jordy was so crazy focused. He was like a boxer with his hype boys behind carrying surfboards. Maybe I should ask one of his hype boys? But they were gone before I could and now he is surfing against Fred and it is a seesaw battle. Pottz is getting hot. Bothered. He loves it. Jordy gets a good wave and does a better claim. Double shaka to chesty.
Oh yes there were no losers today. The people were given benevolent gifts. Heaven’s shade, man’s pear, Steph, John John and Filipe’s free and public performance art.
No losers at all.
Except for Jadson, Sea-bass, Bede, Julian, Adriano and Fred.