France Day 1: “Julian Wilson choked out!”

Professional surfing is back with surprising highs and unsurprising lows!

What do you believe in my friends? Existentially. God? Dead.

Sure, it’s taking a while to bury the body but deady bones. The Ocean? Even though the transcendent Steph Gilmore told us the ocean is magnetic, now we know the Not-Ocean is the future.She said so. Liberalism, humanism, secularism, communism, feminism blah blah? All about to be crushed under the heel of techno-utopianism and algorithms. It’s a done deal, shipmates.

The cruellest shattering of illusion? Now we can’t even believe in the perfectly meaningless entertainment of watching fit young(ish) men and gals gyrating on waves for our pleasure. Head judge Richie Porte has confirmed that the magnificent broadcast from the WSL (Speakers’ enduring and crowning achievement), all those glorious slo-mo’s and different angles, are nothing more than illusions offering unreliable testimony with no relation to actual reality. He said so.

What the fuck is real now that Pro Surfing has declared war on reality? Sharks? Opioids? Waitresses?

You know the sound of gallic indifference? A shrug of the shoulders and the deflating tyre through pursed lips: pfffftttt. That was the first four heats of the Quik Pro France held in new swell on a gloomy Atlantic as wobbly as fresh set gelatine.

Enter Italo Ferreira, with the charisma and machismo of an Australian fast bowler on a 70’s tour of the West Indies. He threw ham on a rye baguette at the French sky on his opening wave, a huge rotation landed clean as a whistle to underscore his critical underdog status for CT 2017. Not just criminally underscored at crucial junctures but misunderstood, by Pottz in particular. Martin thinks he sees something but sees nothing more than his own misperceptions when it comes to Italo.

John Florence answers back with a straight air sticking a thorny landing and using what he termed “composure” to start hacking away at clean french walls to overtake Italo. Two thoughts: 1. Thanks be to Allah that accidental champion Keanu Asing didn’t upset Florence again and 2. there will only be one true and unassailable travesty come the ASP banquet at Turtle Bay this year, and it won’t be Kelly Slater’s dress sense. It’ll be someone other than John John Florence hoisting the World Title trophy skywards. I will lose my composure if that happens.

I tend to think of the European leg as the hardest slog for spectating, with the French myth in particular as one of the worst oversold hype jobs in the surf world. More often than not it’s brutal closeouts and low percentage dross winning heats. Not today. By Jordy’s heat the sun was shining, spray rainbowing seaward of groomed walls….buttery. Dreamy. Jordy put his body into it like a springbok flanker, translating body mass into displaced water, for a convincing win.

Everyone has their weaknesses. Big Jordy’s is heavy water, Gabriel Medina has sleepy starts to the season and a fiery temper that throws him off balance. Mine is waitresses. I’d swap all the qat in Yemen for a sharp tongued , snaggle toothed waitress with a well thumbed copy of Simone De Beauvoir in a rucksack who looks like she’d been messing where she shouldn’t be messing. French or Southern Californian. Oh I’m only speaking theoretical, friends. I have my gal and my keikis and I wouldn’t risk that love for all the waitresses in the world. That is one thing I share with Joel Parkinson. We keep tight with our fams.

Parko has gone greybeard but he still laid down the smoothest, most classical arcs. Diary of the working man as artist, the Joel Parkinson Documentary will be ready for theatrical release Fall 2019. Investors welcome. In the interim, he proceeds.

Rewinding, Gabe Medina applied lethal force to sculpted french beachbreaks, very much underscored on a final wave that didn’t affect the result to escort Leo Fioravanti and Jeremy Flores to round two. Toledo shuffled off after an indifferent heat in pain with a hip/rib injury that spells the end of his Title aspirations.

Seabass got shacked in the shorebreak, Ian Gouveia plugged away and Ace surfed better than Kolohe and Zeke in a thirty minute period in the south of France. The Lofty Backhand Float was the manoeuvre du jour.

Twelve heats and not one mention of The People. The Outsider has become the most coveted position in surf writing, in fact the default position – Je suis L’Etranger – a stance I look upon with wry amusement. Sure, it’s not just surfing and surf writing, Trump took the Whitehouse playing it. The cultural takeover was complete when Joey Turpel referred to a non-descript ride from Connor O’Leary as a “working man’s wave”. Ladies and gentlemen, our work is done. Whats happening with the WSL/media boycott? I never got the memo. (Ed’s note: It is on for the final’s day unless otherwise noted.)

Ps: Rnd two. Marc Lacomare chokes out a listless Julian Wilson.
Owen Wright knocks out the last year’s winner Keanu Asing. I am relieved. Not because I have anything against Asing. It’s just one less honest meat and potato slugger to knock out John Florence. I’m a traitor to the people because I loathe the honest slugger.

Fade to unconsciousness.

Quiksilver Pro France Round 1 Results:
Heat 1: Stuart Kennedy (AUS) 12.00, Adriano de Souza (BRA) 10.77, Conner Coffin (USA) 6.33
Heat 2: Nat Young (USA) 11.00, Bede Durbidge (AUS) 9.17, Owen Wright (AUS) 7.20
Heat 3: Matt Wilkinson (AUS) 13.77, Wiggolly Dantas (BRA) 12.50, Josh Kerr (AUS) 10.76
Heat 4: Ethan Ewing (AUS) 15.57, Caio Ibelli (BRA) 15.33, Julian Wilson (AUS) 9.13
Heat 5: John John Florence (HAW) 15.67, Italo Ferreira (BRA) 15.60, Keanu Asing (HAW) 5.10
Heat 6: Jordy Smith (ZAF) 16.10, Marc Lacomare (FRA) 12.70, Kanoa Igarashi (USA) 10.47
Heat 7: Joan Duru (FRA) 18.00, Filipe Toledo (BRA) 11.43, Miguel Pupo (BRA) 9.14
Heat 8: Gabriel Medina (BRA) 15.86, Jeremy Flores (FRA) 15.27, Leonardo Fioravanti (ITA) 13.26
Heat 9: Joel Parkinson (AUS) 13.20, Jack Freestone (AUS) 11.96, Michel Bourez (PYF) 11.40
Heat 10: Sebastian Zietz (HAW) 12.74, Jadson Andre (BRA) 10.74, Connor O’Leary (AUS) 10.57
Heat 11: Ian Gouveia (BRA) 15.57, Mick Fanning (AUS) 15.27, Frederico Morais (PRT) 12.16
Heat 12: Adrian Buchan (AUS) 15.60, Kolohe Andino (USA) 10.63, Ezekiel Lau (HAW) 10.60

Quiksilver Pro France Round 2 Results:
Heat 1: Marc Lacomare (FRA) 13.27 def. Julian Wilson (AUS) 12.23
Heat 2: Owen Wright (AUS) 13.60 def. Keanu Asing (HAW) 11.17
Heat 3: Adriano de Souza (BRA) 15.97 def. Josh Kerr (AUS) 13.00
Heat 4: Miguel Pupo (BRA) 12.27 def. Filipe Toledo (BRA) 8.50
Heat 5: Leonardo Fioravanti (ITA) 14.60 def. Connor O’Leary (AUS) 11.87
Heat 6: Frederico Morais (PRT) 15.26 def. Jack Freestone (AUS) 11.37
Heat 7: Kolohe Andino (USA) 13.50 def. Jadson Andre (BRA) 12.60
Heat 8: Mick Fanning (AUS) 13.20 def. Ezekiel Lau (HAW) 12.84

Remaining Quiksilver Pro France Round 2 Match-Ups:
Heat 9: Michel Bourez (PYF) vs. Kanoa Igarashi (USA)
Heat 10: Jeremy Flores (FRA) vs. Italo Ferreira (BRA)
Heat 11: Conner Coffin (USA) vs.Caio Ibelli (BRA)
Heat 12: Bede Durbidge (AUS) vs. Wiggolly Dantas (BRA)

Revealed: Santa Cruz’s dirty secret!

Will surf's other city be forever changed?

Santa Cruz is a fantastic town, one of California’s greatest, with a surf history as storied as any. I think it was two Hawaiian princes who first brought surfing to the cold kelp and the locals took to it with gusto. Many years later we have Steamer Lane, O’Neill, Pleasure Point, The Big Dipper, Maverick (kind of) and methamphetamine. Surfing would be a dull penny without Santa Cruz.

But guess what? Things may be changing for it has been revealed that Amazon, the biggest company in the world, has opened a secret office in Surf’s Other City and let’s read about it in CNBC:

Santa Cruz, located 75 miles south of San Francisco, is a popular surf town best known for its nice weather and beachfront amusement park.

But soon we may start associating the city more closely with one of the largest tech companies in the world: Amazon.

According to the Silicon Valley Business Journal, Amazon has been quietly growing its presence in Santa Cruz over the past two years, now employing over 100 people in a 40,000 square feet office space.

It’s unclear what exactly the team there is working on or why Amazon has picked Santa Cruz as an office location. But the report says the office has a group of engineers working on the Alexa voice technology and could possibly expand up to 200 people.

I would way rather have a meth problem then an Alexa problem but what about you? Are you a fan of voice activated robot help? Or, like me, do you prefer methamphetamine? If the nerds take over and Santa Cruz becomes like Venice Beach and Venice-adjacent then… well… then it will be a very sad day indeed.

Real quick… do you use any voice activated robot help like Siri or Alexa or anything? I never have but should I?

Guarantee me a tight back door, daddy?

Watch: Kelly Slater hosts “Only in LA”

Champ drags gimp foot along for behind-the-scenes romp at the Hurley Pro!

Last month, Kelly Slater hosted ESPN’s Only In LA segment with a behind-the-scenes look at the Hurley Pro, which was held at Lowers, in San Clemente.

Although too smart to achieve the vapidity required of the modern television host, Slater, first, engages in riveting dialogue with the 1988 world-champ-turned-commentator Barton Lynch (Kelly tells Barton he has a photograph of him being beaten up by US marines in Japan).

He then surprises Joe Turpel and Martin Potter in the broadcast booth. Joe’s startled look is a chilling portent of what goes on behind the scenes.

Kelly takes the viewer through the competitors’ locker room where Matt Wilkinson, affixing his contest jersey, appears on the brink of tears.

Ultimately, Kelly delivers his prize – an interview with the iconic photographer Steve Sherman, whose pencil moustache sings of padded booths in dirty bars and drinking Crystal with a sloe-eyed beauty in a tight pink dress.

Watch here!

Just in: “Laird can fuck himself!”

When will the superlative deluge stop?

The world has demanded a third Laird Hamilton documentary and what the hell is wrong with us? Laird and Riding Giants were apparently not enough to fill our insatiable cravings. We needed Take Every Wave. A third bio-doc about Laird Hamilton truly and earnestly titled Take Every Wave.

Take Every Wave.

We begged for it.

The film is directed Robert Kennedy’s daughter. She, of course, a legend from a legendarily liberal family but somehow she has become swept up in the Trumpification of language.


A curse!

And come on. Are you not tired of everything being the biggest, greatest, grandest, estest? I am. I am exhausted by the never ending stream of superlatives that infect every bit of our media. Why can’t things just be ok? Why can’t they quietly be what they are? The superlative storm has rendered our speech meaningless. If everything is the greatest than nothing is.

Rory Kennedy.

Laird Hamilton.

They should both know better. Especially Rory Kennedy since she is a Kennedy.

Fucking hyperbole.

And would you like to read some hyperbolic statements from the Take Every Wave 1:30 trailer? Too bad.

Intensity no one has ever seen. Hawaii’s biggest swell in years. It’s the largest ever recorded. We heard it was undoable. It was just asking to die. Legendary surfer Laird Hamilton has pioneered the sport of riding huge waves. He was fearless. We all thought he was crazy. Laird would do these things that nobody had ever seen. He’s as radical as they come. Visionary. Laird completely redefined what it meant to be a surfer.

Yeah. Not one word of that is true. But if Laird Hamilton could fuck himself then we’d be on to something. Then we’d have a story.

Yemen: The world’s greatest surf town!

Chapter 9: Forget Huntington Beach.

(I am writing a series about Yemen because what is currently happening there is terrible beyond. My inaction disgusts me and so I am going to introduce you to to the country because… the place, people, culture all deserve to be saved. Catch up, if you wish, on the links right here… (Prologue, Chapter 1, Chapter 2, Chapter 3, Chapter 4, Chapter 5, Chapter 6, Chapter 7, Chapter 8)

(Part 1)

We dragged worn carcasses from the water, from the best wave in the entire world, after I don’t know how long. It was one of those surfs where time stops or rather ceases. We stood on mossy rocks and felt exhilarated. Tired. Happy. Genuinely happy. A few Yemenis had found perches in the cliff across the road and were chewing qat, watching us. Vaguely unimpressed.

We threw our boards into the Landcruiser jabbering about how happy Sam George would be with our discovery, wondering if it was a typical day or an out of the ordinary bump, asking our photographer if he captured any photos of our shredding? He lowered his Blue Blocker slightly and said, “Totally…” though clearly had no idea. He was not a surf photographer and new fangled digital cameras were not good enough for magazine quality yet so he was shooting film.

It was probably better that way. Visions of little jams danced in my head as we hit suburban Mukallah. The outskirts were typical Arab. Three story cement buildings. Wide streets. Mosques. Photos of president Al Abdullah Ali Saleh looking down from light posts. Qat. But there was a feeling in the air that was… otherworldly. Maybe it was the electricity of that surf slowly dissipating. Maybe it was the eons of history floating between Chinese motorcycles and Russian tractors. A Greek navigator commented about the nomads and fish eaters that had set up a trading post on the town to send frankincense to the far corners of of the known world which explained the Indian, Persian and central Asian architecture in city’s center.

It was a perfect set up, hugging a bay and facing the sun. Naked, towering hills proudly flanked the city. The water was surprisingly blue. We drove to the far end and found a perfect ancient hotel with giant bay windows that swung open to a square. We negotiated with the proprietor for a while and he seemed uninterested in renting us a room. A crowd of serious men began to gather and listen to our handicapped blend of Egyptian and scholarly Arabic. Suddenly Ghamdan elbowed us and said, “Let’s go.” We had stopped listening to him by now, more or less, but his urgency seemed out of character so decided to shuffle after him back to the Landcruiser. When we got there we asked what was up. He said, “Too many beards.” And didn’t elaborate further which was also out character. Ghamdan was always one to wink at perceived danger. He was not winking now. He was nervously fiddling with his Kalashnikov.

We agreed to move to a hotel a kilometer up the river that flows through town, just outside the old city. Annoyed because it didn’t have giant bay windows and was named Al-Khail. The Horse. A few years later we would end up staying at the ancient hotel and it was everything it should have been. A few years after that the city became the home of a revitalized Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and the target of poorly guided Saudi bombs. Sickly and cruelly decimated.

But that day the sun was setting as the call to prayer began to filter and I knew that no better surf town existed on the face of the earth.