It has been a year or such since the announcement that surfing will be included in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and we’ve all had time to digest. While I have gone on record to point out that surfing in the Olympics will be “stupid,” I am quietly intrigued by various storylines.
Like… the nationalist fires that will begin to burn. Maybe? I mean, I can’t imagine caring if an American wins and I can’t imagine you caring if an Australian wins but for sure all of Brazil will care if a Brazilian wins. They will care to the point of becoming super annoying thus pushing Americans and Australians into naturally xenophobic positions which could easily be mistaken as broadly racist positions. Will surfing then become the favorite sport of the alt-right? Will BeachGrit do a deal with Breitbart? I told you. Intriguing.
Also… coaching. Bede “The White Fijian” Durbidge has already been tapped to lead Australia’s contingent but today Mick Fanning raised his hand and asked for an assistantship. Let’s read olympics.com!
Back to the sport he has served with such distinction for the past 14 years. Fanning was over the moon when he heard that surfing will be on the programme in Tokyo in 2020.
“I’m a big sports fan and I always enjoy watching the Olympics so I can’t wait to see what kind of performances and pressure we see with medals up for grabs,” said the man who was champion surfer in 2007, 2009 and 2013.
At 36 and currently sitting outside the top 10 of the WSL Tour ranking, Fanning is not certain of exactly how he wants to be involved, he just knows he has to be there.
“I guess I wouldn’t completely rule it out (competing in 2020) but there’s so much talent coming through the ranks at the moment and my guess is that by 2020 there will be better prospects for medals for Australia,” he said. “If that’s the case I’d love to assist an Aussie team in a coaching role.”
Now that is a super coaching duo. Bede n Mick. I totally bet Joel comes on too and they all aggressively drink Balter in between heats.
But who do you think will coach the U.S. team? I’m putting my money on Brett Simpson. I think he would do well. And I think he will tap Taylor “Cap’n America” Knox for his number two.
And Brazil? I’m going with the surprise announcement of player/coach Neco Padaratz with the surprise selection of Sunny Garcia as his second.
And when they do come, you’ll want a board that fits whatever pool you’re swishing around in.
And Matt Biolos aka Mayhem, the San Clemente-based shaper to the stars and owner of Lost Surfboards, has ridden the original Wavegarden in the Basque country (hint to visitors to that swathe of land that south of Biarritz and around looping around Bilbao: don’t call it Spain), their new version called Cove, twice, with all its different wave settings and the Wavegarden in Texas. And he’s had feedback from his teamriders Kolohe Andino and Carissa Moore on the Slater pool.
He knows what works.
In between watching his gal Carissa own the Roxy event in France, Biolos whispered a few secrets about boards in pools.
BeachGrit: You’ve surfed Wavegarden #1 and #2, the fabulous Cove. So tell me, what did riding those joints tell you about board design?
Biolos: My personal opinion is that wavepools are like natural waves. Each one is its own animal and each one benefits from different tweaks in boards. No different to the idea that Snapper and Bells or Pipe and Sunset lend themselves to different boards. The Cove is short and punchy with quick transitions. It likes a little bit of rocker and epoxy seems really good there. You don’t need a lot of momentum. It’s more about quickness. The original, Wavegarden, N-Land, are more momentum and inertia-based waves – long rollers where flat rockers tend to keep you going better and stay in the wave better when coming off the top. We took Jett Schilling, Eli Hanneman and Eric Geiselman to N-Land. Jett had a lowish-rockered Driverthat just looked like on an invisible underwater track. Eli had a rockered-out Whiplashand that looked twitchy and over sensitive. A little PU weight helps as well. Like when surfing mushy offshore waves. That said, I think
a low-rocker epoxy ( like a RNF in carbon wrap) works great at N-Land. My GM, Ben Kelly, was ripping on one there. So, really, you’re not designing boards for pools so much as boards for specific pools. Just like natural waves.
BeachGrit: For your top-shelf rider, how’s the board going to differ if he’s in a contest in Lemoore compared to, say, Snapper?
Biolos: Well, Carissa won The Test. She said she was perfectly stoked on her normal board. But looking at the footage, I think her board could have had a bit more drive and resistance under the rear foot during her full-rail turns. A little more momentum and stiffness. But I think I know exactly what to do after watching the clips. Next time she will have a couple of specific boards. I did not get to have a guy in the comp but Kolohe went a week or so before – a consolation prize? – and felt his super grovel boards worked best. Flat rockers for momentum but short to fit into the on again/off again tight and kinky transitions. I saw a wave of him on the left that was more impressive than any complete waves I saw from the comp footage.
BeachGrit: Do you see tanks as great testing machines? For fins, designs, or are they, necessarily, specific, and whatever you learn about design in a pool doesn’t necessarily translate to the ocean?
Biolos: I know the relentless repetition will advance design quickly but how those quick advancements directed at specific waves translates to varied ocean waves remains to be seen. That said, one afternoon at Cove last week allowed Kolohe, Carissa, Griffin and grom Winter Vincent, and me, to quickly ride close to 50 waves each. Once your over the novelty and laughing and playing, you could easily get a lot of work done testing boards and fins. Progress will happen shockingly fast. Like all these soccer parents teaching eight year olds to do technical airs in giant halfpipes on snowboards and skateboards. The static playing field will drive radically fast progression. This is an undeniable fact. How that relates to eight-foot Sunset Beach, Teahupoo or or Pipeline is another story.
BeachGrit: And, tell me, as an every man, or better than every man, describe your wavepool experiences. Fabulous beyond belief?
Biolos: Harder than you think. I would say the same thing when describing Surfing at J-Bay. “Easy to surf / Hard to surf well.”
Cracks are forming in the WSL's wall of oppression!
I have had a number of important jobs in my life (submarine driver, zipline operator) but none more satisfying than the Voice of the People. None more important. For where would you be without? If you were mute? I will tell you where. Trodden under the World Surf League’s authoritarian foot. Forced to endure a khaki-hued professional surf world with Ross William’s new slow-motion 1000 yard stare the most exciting bit of commentary.
I treat the responsibility bestowed up me with the upmost gravitas.
I also know how the great James Hoffa feels for, if you recall, I was forced to unionize surf media as a response to unilateral WSL exclusivizing. Turning our egalitarian spirit into a place where the 1% hide behind a wall and feast upon Michelob Ultra, mocking those outside. I was forced to threaten a boycott of the finals of the France Pro.
Well, I can report great success. While I was busily working the phones, barking at heads of the World Surf League in order to improve the people’s position, Longtom was undermining their product by detailing the very core of the League’s problem.
“The problem: too safe surfing when big numbers were needed….” he wrote “And that is a structural problem for both. Becoming so used to conservative surfing they lack the neuro-muscular circuitry and psychological toughness to go big.”
Stab, meanwhile, was holding the line on the boycott, refusing to publish anything about the finals because they couldn’t get Longtom to write their coverage. And Surfline put out fake fake news about Kelly Slater not surfing in Portugal, which he is.
When the day ended, I sat back, smiling, and sipped a humble Stolichnaya and pamplemousse. I could feel the cracks in the WSL’s wall of oppression. The people are on the march. The people are coming.
Yes, this is the most important job in my life and the most satisfying.
Venice Beach's leading surf mag hops time machine to 2015!
It was the greatest day in modern surf journalism history when Stab bought itself back from SurfStitch just weeks ago. Didn’t you think? Gone was the tyranny of bad advertorial. Of forced FCS fin champion stories and embarrassing spiels about “liquidity events.”
But how was this new entity going to position itself in the crowded surf landscape? Surf journalism was not the same place it was when Stab became Australia’s leading online surfwear retailer’s leading online magazine.
The answer revealed itself today. It is going to position itself exactly like your li’l old BeachGrit from two years ago!
The tides have been turning that way for quite some time with BeachGrit luminary after BeachGrit luminary finding a soft landing near Venice Beach, California. Today another penned his maiden piece.
Ladies and gentleman may I reintroduce… Rory Parker!
Yes that Rory Parker!
Are you thrilled to have him back (and by “back” I mean not writing for The Inertia)? I am. BeachGrit ’15 had such promise until that dastardly Cori Schumacher showed up. And until Rory went to the North Shore and…
Nervous moments, as Pottz would say, when you hit send at three am in a stupor and wake in fright nek day wondering what the fuck that was all about.
Did I miss something? Over-egg the omelette, insult a powerful ally, send a steaming pile into cyber-space?
One concept that was sent out under-cooked is the continuing chokes from Jordy and Julian. Nick Carroll will bust a hemorrhoid reading this but I was struck, in both pressers, by the tone.
It was as if they had been body-snatched by zombie therapy bots. They were both uncomprehending but self-satisfied at the same time. Rationalisations, lack of insight. The problem: too safe surfing when big numbers were needed. And that is a structural problem for both. Becoming so used to conservative surfing they lack the neuro-muscular circuitry and psychological toughness to go big.
It was as if Jordy and Julian had been body-snatched by zombie therapy bots. They were both uncomprehending but self-satisfied at the same time. Rationalisations, lack of insight. The problem: too safe surfing when big numbers were needed.
The first problem I call the technique or hard problem, the actual surfing manoeuvres needed. The second is the mind or “soft” problem. Without a lock on both the Title choke is inevitable.
You disagree Team Julian? Then demolish the theory.
One man without a soft problem is Mick Fanning. Best mind game in the biz and now a willingness to deal with the hard problem and expand technique. One air yesterday, cute but legit then a tail high throw today against Joan Duru in round five. He didn’t need it. Short-arc power carving got the job done but the intent was clear.
The day kicked off in two-foot closeouts, a move that infuriated Owen Wright. Beaten by the luck that flowed to Seabass and not much more.
Fanning brought, by far, the sharpest knife to the round five draw with Parko and Kolohe finding wins. The first by huge first turns, the second by repertoire.
Jed Smith called me a veteran surf writer and I guess if you count a couple of decades of under-employment and fringe dwelling as a career that’s true.
But I’ve never been, like Carroll or Doherty, a true believer in the pro surfing project. I love its stupidity, it’s vacuity, its epic convulsions and compulsive tilting at a mainstream audience that seems to retreat, always tantalisingly just out of reach, into the near distance. The actual product, the surfing itself, is almost always the least interesting thing. To me anyhow.
I love pro surfing’s stupidity, its vacuity, its epic convulsions and compulsive tilting at a mainstream audience that seems to retreat, always tantalisingly just out of reach, into the near distance.
But if I squint my eyes into the french sunshine with Fanning and Florence heading out into headhigh beachbreaks I can feel somewhere the stirrings of how it must feel to be a true believer. Florence is not a man with a weak grip on either the hard or soft problem. He fixed the technical deficiencies in his surfing, the slightly gammy cutback, the weird arms, and reinforced the hi-fi strengths. And sorted out the mind game.
He prowled the lineup with Fanning, sometimes paddling cheek-to-cheek, other times paddling in opposite directions to different parts of the bank. It was a relentless continuation of what he brought to the game yesterday. Upping the ante. He dropped it on Fanning and Mick had no answer.
I called the judges counter-revolutionary scum yesterday for not dishing out a 10 for John’s lofted backside rotation but on reflection maybe we should be praising their restraint.
I called the judges counter-revolutionary scum yesterday for not dishing out a 10 for John’s lofted backside rotation but on reflection maybe we should be praising their restraint. Just a weird irony that the man who seems to be most often subjected to a rational restrained judging panel is most deserving of being on the end of the kind of judging exuberance that saw it raining 10’s in J-Bay.
As happened to Fanning, so too for Parkinson, with feeling. Gabe Medina turned him into a spectator. Sitting out the back looking shoreward anxiously as Medina spiked the sky with a clean oop.
You don’t do Pro Surfing to feel good about yourself. It’s not therapy. You do it to win. Which is why I like watching Gabe Medina do pro surfing. When those black eyes start glittering with malicious intent and he’s up in someone’s grill I’m glued to the screen. He reminds me of the anecdote told by one of Richard Nixon’s secret service agents who came upon his boss punching the chair on an Airforce One flight. “Gotta be tougher, gotta be tougher.”
The Medina /JJF semi-final started with a long waveless period. Both surfers stalking the lineup. With a minute to go before a fresh clock John broke for a small right. It was to be the fateful decision of the heat. He fell on an air, landing hard in the flats. Then fell again doing a regulation Oop after a small but defined tube. Both mistakes compounded in the back half of a now truncated heat as Medina capitalised, first with a powerhouse display of backside hooks then a semi-botched big spin that nonetheless put John in a combination. Relentless strength.
John didn’t crumble. The soft problem solved he backed himself and nailed the best wave of the heat for a nine but the earlier mistakes robbed him of what he needed most; time and it was Medina through.
There’s a documentary film doing the rounds on Netflix right now called Generation Iron 2. Bulging muscles ain’t my kink but the film was instructive, in terms of it’s analysis of how bodybuilding had made a big play to make it as a mainstream sport on the back of superstars like Arnie Schwarzenegger. One of the kingpins came on and delivered his conclusion that they hadn’t made the mainstream, that bodybuilding was a niche activity. It is what is and we all have to learn to live with it.
How long until Pro Surfing has a similar Come to Jesus moment? When the True Believers realise it’s a mid-tier niche sport that even lifelong surfers ignore, barely tolerate or openly despise?
I don’t see that moment happening any time soon. As Israeli historian Yuval Harari noted we are sustained by our fictions. They bind us together, help us and nothing helps bind together the true believers of Pro Surfing more than the fantasy of mainstream acceptance.
The final was an anti-climax. Medina’s win had an air of inevitability and Seabass couldn’t get started. The Final Horn sounded and Charlie ran into the shorebreak to chair his stepson up the beach, through the throng of an adoring crowd.
It was a gnarly contest and to quote the Austrian Oak, we’ll be back. Thank you and goodnight.
Quiksilver Pro France Final Results:
1: Gabriel Medina (BRA) 16.00
2: Sebastian Zietz (HAW) 9.30
Quiksilver Pro France Semifinal Results:
SF 1: Sebastian Zietz (HAW) 16.26 def. Kolohe Andino (USA) 14.00
SF 2: Gabriel Medina (BRA) 16.40 def. John John Florence (HAW) 16.00
Quiksilver Pro France Quarterfinal Results:
QF 1: Sebastian Zietz (HAW) 15.93 def. Miguel Pupo (BRA) 14.10
QF 2: Kolohe Andino (USA) 11.60 def. Marc Lacomare (FRA) 6.10
QF 3: John John Florence (HAW) 19.67 def. Mick Fanning (AUS) 10.67
QF 4: Gabriel Medina (BRA) 15.20 def. Joel Parkinson (AUS) 1.20
Quiksilver Pro France Round 5 Results:
Heat 1: Sebastian Zietz (HAW) 14.40 def. Owen Wright (AUS) 11.73
Heat 2: Kolohe Andino (USA) 14.94 def. Caio Ibelli (BRA) 11.96
Heat 3: Mick Fanning (AUS) 15.70 def. Joan Duru (FRA) 13.37
Heat 4: Joel Parkinson (AUS) 14.03 def. Nat Young (USA) 10.24
2017 WSL Men’s Jeep Leaderboard (After Quiksilver Pro France):
1 – John John Florence (HAW) 49,900 pts
2 – Jordy Smith (ZAF) 47,600 pts
3 – Gabriel Medina (BRA) 40,750 pts
4 – Owen Wright (AUS) 39,850 pts
5 – Matt Wilkinson (AUS) 38,200 pts