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
Questions surrounding Venice-adjacent website's existence finally answered!
It all finally makes sense. Every bit of it. For the last three or so years, you see, I have been absolutely dumbfounded by Venice-adjacent’s downhill skateboarding website The Inertia. How on earth does it exist? Who on earth visits? It didn’t seem there were enough never-before-sexed 45-year-old egg-riders to justify its URL. And so I was left scratching my head in sheer confusion.
Well, today it was revealed that the website does indeed hate sex. Shall we read from its posting Why Surfing is Better than Sex: A Philosophical Examination? I know we shouldn’t but let’s anyhow.
As teenage surfers, I recall that it seemed important to us, in our philosophical moments, to comparesurfing and sex, wondering which is better, as though one has to choose between them. Three decades of surfing later, now a professional philosopher, I have returned to consider the question in my recent book, Surfing with Sartre. I’m still comfortable with my teenage answer.
You don’t have to choose between surfing and sex, if you play your cards right. Yet, if you have to focus more of your energies on one rather than the other (because life gets complicated), surfing is worthier. If I really had to give up one, but only one, forever, I’d give up sex.
Yes, surfing is that good. It’s totally wonderful, at least when you’re good enough at it and the waves are pumping.
How so? How are sex and surfing even comparable? We teenagers noted certain structural isomorphisms, especially when it comes to the “tube ride,” the act of riding inside the tube of a wave. You insert yourself inside of the tube when the wave offers the opportunity. You’re sliding along, perhaps “pumping” for speed, and then exiting, in some cases while the wave “spits.” I suppose the surfboard even has something of a phallic shape.
What really motivates the comparison, though, is that surfing and sex are both joyous and climactic and enthralling when they happen. They’re something wonderful enough to wait for or chase as a peak of human experience.
Yet if surfing is better than sex, it surely can’t be just that it is more intensely pleasurable than an orgasm, as though anything could be more intensely pleasurable than an orgasm. (Doesn’t a heroin high mainly prolong something like the same mental state?) Yes, surfing is really, really fun, but it is wonderful precisely because it is about much more than having a pleasurable state of mind. It draws you out of yourself.
This is totally for reals and goes on and on and on and on and on talking up surfing and talking down sex.
Yeah. I guess at the end there are enough never-before-sexed 45-year-old egg-riders to justify its URL and I’m sort of sorry for making so much fun of The Inertia’s founder-in-chief Zach Weisberg now. His life is clearly hell. Like, really and truly hell.
Jordy loses in round three; John John Florence soars into quarter finals.
Round two is the surf writer’s horror show. I could have kicked Trav ‘The Angry Inch’ Logie in the nuts last night when he ran the contest into round two but that feeling turned to deep gratitude when the contest kicked off again today 8.30am CEST, which is a terrible timezone for viewers either side of the Pacific.
Hence, Chas rings Derek. Skypes? Does anyone still Skype? Snapchat?
Hey Derek, France timezone sucks, get Shearer to cover it.
I’m the contract toilet cleaner of contest coverage. I get called in to clean up the messes no-one wants to deal with. Chas and Derek can sleep soundly at night knowing that in the morning, there might be a little mess to mop up but at least the dunny won’t be overflowing with unflushable turds.
Which is not to say France today was an unflushable turd. More a series of bloodless coups as the swell couldn’t quite find accommodation on the La Graviere sandbars and surfers schlepped around under delicate sunshine in curvaceous but soul destroying closeouts. Kind of the opposite to what French stud Andre Breton aimed for in his second Surrealist Manifesto: an attempt to liberate the imagination by the “long, immense, reasoned derangement of the senses”.
This was more a long, immense period of semi-sedation waiting for something to happen, knowing it would eventually but not knowing when and in the meantime having to settle for long stretches of mediocrity.
Italo got marooned in the lineup, going down to J-Flo with a super weird ending.
Owen pipped Stu K on the strength of one wave and Kolohe downed Bede.
It took the inscrutable talent of Miguel Pupo to finally crack the day open after lighting up two nugs in two minutes comboing Adriano. Inscrutable to me that he is not Top 10 surfer every year.
I carry the burden of a secret dread of a Jordy world Title. I don’t know why. Examining my heart of hearts I think it’s because he surfs worse now than when he came on tour with promises of an unfulfilled rivalry with Dane Reynolds.
And he’s never mastered heavy water, or even appeared to care. But I’d got my head around it based on performances in the post-heat pressers. The parables of Jordy Smith. The loaves of bread etc etc. No need to now. Marc Lacomare sent him packing with two solid tube-rides and Jordy’s world title goose is cooked.
You seen the YouTube clip of the German CoastGuard intern on his first day on the job? Check it here. Left alone with all the radar in the emergency room he gets the mayday call from a sinking ship.
“Mayday, mayday, can you hear us. We are sinking!”
“Hello, this is the German CoastGuard.”
“We are sinking!”
“What… are you sinking about?”
Somehow this cockamamie communication mix-up reminds of pro surfing, no?
With the top six let loose in Indonesian surf we might finally see the performances and the progression we only see as exception becoming the rule. Top six at time of writing is Jordy, JJF, Julian, Wilko, Owen, Adriano. Make it top eight and we get Filipe and Medina. Tell me that prospect doesn’t tantalise as a spectator.
What is pro surfing – Sophie, Joe, Dirk Z- thinking about? We know of one prong of the strategy, the wavepool, and that has commanded the attention of the surf world and rightly so.
The other prong of the strategy, the yang to that yin, being the Superbowl title showdown in the Mentawais has flown under the radar. That is red meat to the base.That prospect does excite the jaded freelancer. A turd I would gladly polish. With the top six let loose in Indonesian surf with an appropriate format we might finally see the performances and the progression we only see as exception becoming the rule. Top six at time of writing (Pre France-adjusted) is Jordy, JJF, Julian, Wilko, Owen, Adriano. Make it top eight and we get Filipe and Medina. Tell me that prospect doesn’t tantalise as a spectator. That it wouldn’t finally and irrevocably flush away the memory of a thousand unflushable round two turds and closeout contests.
Kelly gets the wildcard. That is only fair.
I am a warrior for pro surfing justice. I want a return on my spectating investment. I want the high, the refined and the metaphysical to triumph over the coarse and the corporeal. If that makes me an enemy of the people, then so be it.
John Florence and Ethan Ewing got a fresh clock after sitting motionless in a glassy ocean for 20 minutes. Counter-revolutionary forces in the judging panel refused a 10-point ride after John greased a buttery landing following a yuuuuggge backside rotation. Not, as Ronnie claimed, as good as Italo’s Gold Coast effort but easily the best controlled high air in 2017. A sign that John will not dish up conservative surfing in the home straight to the title. The second air was a flat spin Hail Mary and over-scored. But no harm no foul. It mattered not.
Nothing against snowflakes but I am a warrior for pro surfing justice. I want a return on my spectating investment. I want the high, the refined and the metaphysical to triumph over the coarse and the corporeal. If that makes me an enemy of the people, then so be it.
Fanning and Parkinson turned up the dial on classic QLD power surfing. More delight than derangement of the senses.
We’re into round four on a slowly dropping swell and gorgeous afternoon light. I meant to go up, up and away but I drank a big bowl of Kava and went…sideways… and fell into a K hole. Second day in a row France puts me on the canvas. We’ll have to hammer this out below the line. Where the real work gets done.
No, I’m back after a thirty minute nap. Fanning, Parko and Florence in silky soft focus french beachbreaks. Styles, techniques, generations.
Whatever WSL is sinking, France must stay.
Quiksilver Pro France Round 3 Results:
Heat 1: Owen Wright (AUS) 13.50 def. Stuart Kennedy (AUS) 8.60
Heat 2: Kolohe Andino (USA) 11.80 def. Bede Durbidge (AUS) 11.23
Heat 3: Miguel Pupo (BRA) 16.30 def. Adriano de Souza (BRA) 10.17
Heat 4: Caio Ibelli (BRA) 14.33 def. Frederico Morais (PRT) 9.60
Heat 5: Sebastian Zietz (HAW) 14.33 def. Michel Bourez (PYF) 5.73
Heat 6: Marc Lacomare (FRA) 14.10 def. Jordy Smith (ZAF) 13.00
Heat 7: John John Florence (HAW) 19.16 def. Ethan Ewing (AUS) 14.50
Heat 8: Mick Fanning (AUS) 16.24 def. Jeremy Flores (FRA) 16.00
Heat 9: Joel Parkinson (AUS) 15.77 def. Ian Gouveia (BRA) 14.77
Heat 10: Gabriel Medina (BRA) 15.90 def. Leonardo Fioravanti (ITA) 8.53
Heat 11: Joan Duru (FRA) 12.63 def. Adrian Buchan (AUS) 12.27
Heat 12: Nat Young (USA) 14.73 def. Matt Wilkinson (AUS) 14.43
Quiksilver Pro France Round 4 Results:
Heat 1: Miguel Pupo (BRA) 14.80, Owen Wright (AUS) 12.33, Kolohe Andino (USA) 11.60
Heat 2: Marc Lacomare (FRA) 15.43, Caio Ibelli (BRA) 9.87, Sebastian Zietz (HAW) 9.07
Heat 3: John John Florence (HAW) 18.56, Mick Fanning (AUS) 17.03, Joel Parkinson (AUS) 11.37
Heat 4: Gabriel Medina (BRA) 14.43, Nat Young (USA) 11.33, Joan Duru (FRA) 8.67
Quiksilver Pro France Round 5 Match-Ups:
Heat 1: Owen Wright (AUS) vs. Sebastian Zietz (HAW)
Heat 2: Caio Ibelli (BRA) vs. Kolohe Andino (USA)
Heat 3: Mick Fanning (AUS) vs. Joan Duru (FRA)
Heat 4: Nat Young (USA) vs. Joel Parkinson (AUS)