The boys, our boys, are ready to tackle Sunset next, the second jewel in the Triple Crown, and the forecast is for big, burly surf. Heavy, rolling surf and do you like watching Sunset? Do you love the size of the field? The unpredictability? Back in 1980, famous surf journalist and editor of Surfer magazine Drew Kampion wrote Sunset “…is the standard by which other waves are measured, and the best surfers here are the best surfers, period.”
Over the years its shine has dimmed coinciding with Pipeline’s nuclear glow but I do think that Sunset is primed for a comeback. It is a wave that mocks the very idea of wave tanks. A wave the ocean should be proud of.
I’ve sat near the lifeguard towers there for a few World Cups, watching the boys, our boys, traverse the huge canvas. It’s a marvel that anyone knows where to sit. Pipeline seems easy to understand or at least easier. Everyone has a marker. Everyone has a corner. Sunset seems unknowable.
Yes, I’ve seen many big wipeouts at both Sunset and Pipeline and always felt worse for the ones who wear Pipeline on the head but a recent conversation with the great Michael Tomson has changed my mind. Tomson, of course, made a name for himself at both waves as part of the “Bustin Down the Door” crew. And let’s listen to him compare wipeouts at both.
I’ve nearly died at Sunset twice. At 50 and 52. And this one time I was out there and this set popped up and I said, “Fuck it. I’m gonna go.” And there it was, life on the table, got pounded, held down, thought I was dying right? Next thing is I’m being pulled up on a board. I couldn’t focus on anything, had to go to the hospital, it was all fucked. So I had another one like that at Sunset and I have become so careful now because when you fall there it is worse than Pipeline. Pipeline is violent but short. Sunset gets a hold of you in a fucking half-nelson then keeps you down for the longest time and then there is always seven waves behind it. I get cold thinking about some of the wipeouts I’ve had there…
And there you have it. A little something to think about as you watch the action either today or tomorrow.
One year ago, almost to the day, I wrote about being overcome by deafness. A few months of cold winds and my left ear was as useless as a two-hundred dollar shark repellent leg-rope.
(Or Anne Frank’s drum kit, inflatable dart board, a sense of humour at a Greens Party convention etc.)
Have you ever been deaf?
You smile inappropriately in conversation and look blank when asked questions. You narrow your eyes and stare at lips, trying to read whatever they’re saying. All you hear is the thump of your heartbeat and the swishing of water when you surf, as if you were watching raw footage from a GoPro. Your voice becomes a honk and your vowels so blunt to be incomprehensible.
Then, I was talking to Tom Carroll for a political book project (the two-time world champ boycotted South Africa in the eighties because of the White Devil’s apartheid there) and we were talking about how shitty it is to be deaf.
Tom suggested I might wanna look up Surf Ears, a Swedish start-up he’s involved in. Even with Tom’s enthusiastic endorsement I wasn’t entirely convinced they’d work given his championing of the shoulder-zip wetsuit in the nineties and shark repellants recently.
But I called ’em in Malmo, spoke to an impressive man called Magnus Ekermann.
Told Magnus I was writing a story.
In return, they sent a gorgeously presented ear-plug kit (very Scandi). Aesthetically, they were better than any ear plugs I’d seen. I threw ’em in every time I surfed.
Gradually my ear dried out. Soon, I could hear.
And wearing these things wasn’t so bad ’cause there’s a small opening that allows sound to enter. You know how you talk to someone in the water and they pull out their plugs out to talk? It ain’t no way to live. The Surf Ears allow a conversation to flow.
Anyway, I liked ’em so much that when I lost my complimentary pair a month or so later I didn’t hesitate to pay full freight on a new set.
Recently, Surf Ears released a kid version. If you’ve got kids you’ll know they’re a catch-all for disease and all sorts of syndromes. And the little ingrates act as if you personally jabbed ’em with the virus, the pain. All-day, all-night whimpering.
Ears are the worst. Get ’em inflamed or infected and…oowee… tears, wailing, tantrums. There isn’t enough paracetamol in all the world to calm ’em.
My kids surf so I plug their holes up with adult Surf Ears. Which work good enough (my kids got big heads) but, as Magnus told me recently, he’d just loosed a little version for average-sized kids, aged four to twelve.
Prove the earth is flat and win money from Kelly Slater!
Do you remember, in July this year, when flat-earthers turned on Kelly Slater? It’s a must read! (Click here.)
Pertinent quotes: “WHAT DON’T YOU UNDERSTAND ABOUT THIS YOU DUMB SHIT? WHAT AREN’T YOU GETTING? I KNOW YOU ARE STUPID, BUT I DIDN’T KNOW YOU WERE THIS FUCKING STUPID! NO VERIFIABLE CURVE MEANS NO CURVE DUMMY.”
“NOW GO FIND THAT CURVE WITH YOUR MILLIONS OR SHUT THE FUCK UP OR CHOOSE TO CONTINUE TO LOOK LIKE A BITCH! ALL YOUR DUMB ASS HAS TO DO IS SHOW US WHERE TO VERIFY THIS CURVE OF EARTH!”
Amid the 864 comments came Kelly Slater, with a challenge!
“The education system has truly failed half the people on here in disseminating information and analyzing truth. The govt has made you all paranoid. I told Eddie this,” wrote Kelly. “You flat earthers get your money together, charter a flight from Santiago Chile across the South Pole to Perth, Australia. If you find an edge I’ll reimburse the price of the flight. Let’s quit talking and be done with this conjecture and assumption you have. I think flat earth people want truth and are attempting to fight division in society at their core yet they’ve gotten stuck in the pitfall and created more division in its wake. Let’s do this. Put your money where your mouth is. We can hold the money in escrow while the flight happens.”
Quickly followed by.
“Study storms and swell charts. Watch where the swells begin and how we follow them around the great circle lines of the earth. A swell can start off the east coast of Africa and reach Alaska about two weeks later measurably while being followed across the entirety of the ocean in between. Go study your maps and tell me how that’s possible on the flat earth. I’ll be waiting.”
Now, the problem with going to battle with people who believe the earth is flat, the moon landing was faked, chemtrails are poisoning us all, the Jews were the real villains behind 9-11 etc, is the debate becomes very silly, very fast.
Bravo’s follows flew into battle:
…yelling at and over people in debates to get your point across shows you’re uncomfortable with a rational conversation about actual factual evidence. 24 hour sun in Antarctica thoroughly disproves and debunks any theory of flat earth. So does the flight from Sydney to Santiago alone! This photo just looks wide angle/fisheye. That would be too great a curve at this altitude.
kellyslater@timbeathamit proves a lot actually. Truth fears no scrutiny. Not letting people get a word in is just avoidance or immaturity. @king_khan21 wrong about what? Saying someone is wrong doesn’t make it so. Use some facts here if you want a rational debate on topic.
kellyslater@kvnblckdrkeep parroting. While you’re at it go and debate someone who actually shows proven tests on his YouTube channel and attempt to debunk flight paths, surveyor’s level testing horizons, ships disappearing etc. wolfie6020.
kellyslater@kvnblckdrname any flight and let’s talk about it. Or should I? Use the ones dubay talks about. He’s wrong about most of the flight paths he references cause I’ve taken them. I’m fine to be proven wrong also so let’s have one.
omarlcc@kellyslaterI don’t think I’ve seen Eddie yelling at it over anybody in a debate. He is normally pretty level headed and is usually the one being yelled at and ganged up on for pointing out what is seemingly obvious. The flight from Sydney to Santiago doesn’t prove that we are on a spinning ball or that we are not on a flat plane (haha get it, airplane), if thats what you were implying. If you like facts whydont you look into the physics of airplane flight. Planes can’t stop in midair to turn land on a runway perpendicular to the takeoff runway without veering off. Also you speak of factual evidence about 24 hour sun in Antarctica but I doubt you’ve been there. What factual evidence of 24 hour sun Antarctica do you have? I haven’t seen any and believe me I’ve looked. I have on the other hand seen morphed videos, cameras cutting out for a few hours every day, and other simple tricks. Please do tell.
kellyslater@omarlccI’ve had numerous friends see the 24 hour sun in Antarctica. But I suppose they’re lying also? And every clip anyone has ever made of it cause they were paid to be in on the conspiracy also, right? Do you know how many things that are proven you have to disprove to have a flat earth? The flat earth map has Santiago and Sydney about 23 hour flight or roughly 13,000 miles apart yet I’ve flown that many times in about 13 hours. Spherical geometry and distances and direction between cities easily proves a globe. Please go educate yourself. Learn
omarlcc@kellyslaterYou’ve had numerous friends go to Antarctica? What were they researchers? Sightseeing? Doesn’t pass my smell test tbh and regardless that’s not proof to me or you. Proof is proof, and I don’t know you beyond your surfing abilities, so sorry it’s nothing personal. Not sure what map you’re talking about but I’ve never seen a flat map that was 13k miles in diameter let alone from Sydney to Santiago. No map is perfect, especially not flat projections of a globe.
Forgive my scatterbrained and silly output of late. I received the first round of edits for my upcoming book from the publisher, you see, and ooooo-ee. Jumping back into those weeds with a sharpened machete feels both good and terrifying. I haven’t looked at the thing in six months and am swinging at every bloated piece of nonsense, trying to lop and trim without totally destroying. It is strange work. Odd.
Yesterday I cut a ramble about my first taste of cocaine. Oh I know coca and cocaine are not the same thing but let’s not get hung up on semantics here ok? Can we just agree not to get caught up on semantics? And without further ado I present a bloated piece of nonsense that will never see the light of day except briefly here and now.
But I know this feeling or at least a hint of it. I was in Bolivia once many years ago right when famed cocaine grower Evo Morales assumed political power and in Potosí where the silver mines drop thousands of feet into Mother Earth. I can’t remember why but outside it was miserable. That bitter sort of cold that hovers in thin above the tree line. A very bland color palette compounded the chill. The regional delicacy, if I recall, was frozen potatoes kept in the permafrost then stomped on with dirty feet. Maybe this isn’t entirely accurate but I know that I was wearing the most unfortunate herringbone sport coat over hooded sweatshirt combo. Not only was it not warm, I looked like a 5th grade teacher at a Christian school. Very embarrassing. Very un-chic.
Since there is nothing to do in Potosí except be depressed and eat frozen dirty foot potatoes I decided to drop deep into one of those silver mines that gouge the surrounding hills. There was a longish walk in the thin air from a bus stop to the mine’s entrance and I was given a bag of coca leaves and some sort of ash tea to sip and activate the leaves on the way.
I popped some into my mouth and began chewing and chewing and chewing. Munching. That’s what they say to do. Munch, don’t chew. Munching and building a little green ball in my cheek and saturating it was ash tea every once in a while.
It was difficult at first. The taste of leaves is not pleasant really and the ash tea made it worse. I’ve chewed loads of qat, the leaf that natives munch in Yemen, Somalia, Djibouti, Nigeria and Ethiopia, and in my poor memory, coca was much worse. Much more bitter with much less initial thrill. Like coca, qat is a stimulant. Unlike coca it cannot be made into cocaine and so remains an internationally outlawed, but not generally prosecuted, local novelty. I will say, it provides a nice buzz and would work well in American, European or Australian hipster circles if any of them ever got around to chewing plants besides kale.
In any case, I walked ugly and bored munching my coca until reaching the mine’s gaping mouth, climbed into an ancient elevator and dropped a thousand or so feet into the middle of planet Earth and suddenly the chill was gone and the high altitude was gone. It was thick and warm. Almost tropical. Tiny dug passageways shot every which way where hunched backed and put upon miners crawled on hands and knees still digging silver from the Earth. My mouth was numb and my spirits were relatively high. Not like “let’s-talk-about-all-the-bad-things-in-the-world-and-make-them-better-with-our-shared-genius” high but happy. And to be happy near hell is something.
There were hundreds of years of passages dug this way and that and I took the ones I was allowed to take, eventually ending up in front of a red satanic looking statue the miners call El Tio. They say Jesus has no power in the mine, that El Tio rules down here, and they stick cigarettes in his mouth and lay coca leaves at his feet as offerings and maybe weird pornography feat. short ladies in weird poses.
As one Parko star fades, another comes to snatch the limelight!
Yesterday, the Gold Coast surfer Mitch Parkinson, who was once proclaimed (by me) as the best ten-year-old surfer in the world, won a QS event in Taiwan.
The win delivered Mitchell, who is twenty-two years old and lives on the beach at Kirra with his model girlfriend Abbie Weir, ten thousand dollars and a seeded entry into the biggest qualifying events of 2018.
As Joel, his first cousin and not his uncle as most people think, likely exits in 2019 might we see a replacement Parkinson on tour?
Oh we must ask!
Thirteen years ago, Stab claimed you were the best ten-year-old surfer in the world. And now, look at you, The King of Taiwan! Did you see that one coming?
Well, yeah, it’s great. I definitely don’t think I was the best ten-year-old in the world but to be labelled that was pretty sick. I think I’ve been underachieving my own expectations for the last two years.
Taiwan, real odd place, possibly the flash point that could drive world war three between the US and China. You like it there? Did the Taiwanese warm to you?
Ha! Well, I didn’t really think about that stuff. History, as you might’ve guessed, isn’t my game. Me and Sheldon (Simkus, whom Mitch beat in the final) stayed with a family this year and it was really cool. We ate traditional food and surfed other waves also so I had a much better experience than the last time I came. A little hit of local culture will do that.
In the last five contests you’ve had a win, a second, and three fifths. Are you on the yellow brick road to becoming a big ol WCT surfer?
I feel reignited with competing. I’ve become a lot more competitive now but I feel like I’m holding my emotions better. It’s what I want to do now.
Have you ever gone off surfing? Like, totally got the shits with it and were seriously considering something else?
I went through a crazy year this year. At the start, I was completely burnt from contest surfing I wasn’t enjoying it. I was trying to balance working to fund my surfing and going to such shitty waves I just had to stop doing it. I needed some time off. Now after about six months off I find myself really hungry for it. I’ve got a great life and I really had time to think about what I want to do with it.
What’s it like being a twenty-something in Coolangatta? Do you feel young with the world at your feet or do you feel that time is slipping away, at least to do something dramatic with surfing?
Coolangatta is a crazy place. They don’t call it the Cooly Vortex for no reason. There’s a lot of amazing surfers here that have all the ability in the world but just don’t seem to have the drive to make it. I’m only twenty-two so I know I’m still young but saying that I’ll blink and be thirty. I haven’t got any time to waste, how about we put it that way.
Joel talk to you about being a top-shelf pro? What does he tell you?
He doesn’t really say to much to me about it. Joel’s different to most on tour. I think he does better when he is just having fun. The last time he won a contest I was with him in Bali and we were just having a ball over there, not super serious just surfing a lot and enjoying it. That’s a great way to compete.