Controversy: WSL picks John John!

The WSL throws its hat into the ring and announces who it wants as champ!

You are a sport fan, of course, but are you a massive sport fan or a passive sport fan? Like, do you live for your various teams or do you watch the big games but mostly just to socialize? And what of the various leagues? Do you like one over another? I’m partial to Major League Baseball but that’s mostly just because I love baseball, mostly the Padres. I suppose the National Basketball Association is the best run and the National Football League is probably the worst.

The leagues don’t generally pick favorite teams of course. That would be very unfair and equally unseemly. What if the Australian Football League put out statements rooting for the Pies, for example? Oh I know Australian’s call “rooting” “barracking” when it comes to cheering a squad but what if? Do you think Essendon, Richmond and Carlton would think? I’d imagine not too happy.

And what if the World Surf League actively advocated for John John over Gabriel in this final push to the title? It would be strange, to be sure, but that is exactly what is happening. BeachGrit‘s on-the-ground network spied the WSL’s North Shore offices today and look at this photo here. What does it say in the window? Does it say “Go John John”?

Well it sure does.

And do you think Gabriel has an appeal on his hands if John John goes and wins?

I do. I think he has an appeal and a lawsuit. Go Lawsuit!

An early drawing by Greg Webber of his circular wave pool. Patient and fucking determined? Oh yes he is! | Photo: Greg Webber

Webber: “I’m patient and fucking determined!”

The noted Australian shaper on misery, Jesus and Muhammad and pools (of course)… 

Two months ago, I edited a print edition of the Australian magazine Surfing Life. It was called The Surfboard Issue and one of the features was a series of interviews, made in the Esquire What I’ve Learned style, of noted surfboard shapers.

Last week, I ran the interview with Maurice Cole on BeachGrit, although the story was quickly pulled down when I was reminded I’d sent a longer version to the The Surfers Journal.

Today, the man you know, the man you love, the divine delicacy Greg Webber, pioneer of concave and curve. Inventor of the banana board for Shane Herring in 1992 and Kelly Slater in 2016. Creator of Webber wavepools.

Come inhale those vapours.

I was shaping the nose of a board, deck up with the nose pointing towards my chest, and I had this incredible feeling that what I take off with this tool right now will influence how the board goes through the water. How could I not fall in love with shaping after that?

I’ve pushed the high performance side as far as I or it can go. My boards are already a touch too high performance for the top guys, so what’s the use in pushing even further out?

My strength as a shaper is that I see the surfboard as a unit and not a nose, a middle and a tail.

I don’t always do what pro surfers asks. Pro’s might know more than the average guy but they think they know, with certainty, how one part of the board works yet don’t recognise the three or four or five other areas that also influence it.

I’ll always do what a customer wants since they’ll listen to my points and engage in a meaningful back and forth.

My biggest fault as a designer, and as a man, is being shape and surface and function obsessed.

Shane Herring did the hardest, tightest fastest turns that anyone has ever done and now only Kelly has come close to doing the same. In fact, Kelly has explored the banana more than Shane ever had the chance to. I’m indebted to him for that.

Kelly and I have talked about pools for about 15 years and then boards a few years ago. He approached me after seeing Herring riding the most extreme banana in my brother Monty’s profile on Shane.

It’s what Kelly feels. It’s more than just a moment. He feels connected to the banana board from nose to tail. They’re more advanced than what he is. If the best surfer in the world does a turn on a board and it comes underneath his feet with grip and keeps going around in the same direction he was heading but his weight is now over the top of the board, because he’s expecting that turn to be finished but it’s not flattening off it’s still going, well, that’s a good thing. Because it means he’s got more to do!

How do you ride a banana? Forward. Don’t stand on the tail. Stand in the middle. You’re standing in the same place for your bottom turns as you are for most of your carve turns.

But guess what happens. People get on a banana and ride it like they riding a flatter rocker board. You’ve gotta forget about your manoeuvres and just get to know the board by feeling where it fits in the wave. It can ride higher. It can get to places you can’t normally.

Where have I been? The wave pool has been occupying my thoughts since 1999. The process of getting a prototype built is insanely difficult. It’s bizarre to have something you know will be by far the best, and that it will make huge amounts of money for brands and developers, yet the people with the big dollars seem to be doing everything in their power to not invest in my company. Maybe having Kelly as a rival has played a big part in that.

I’m patient and fucking determined.

Misery is letting subtle things get to you.

If I could shape boards for anyone in history, it would be Muhammad and Jesus. I’d make them two boards each, one which does nothing but cause issues like rail grabs and nose dives while another one that glides and carves so well you don’t even realise there was a board under your feet. Then I’d ask them to make sure the religions that they founded will be like the invisible magic board that lets you enjoy what you are doing without knowing why.

You can buy the magazine here, single issues, subscription, whatever y’hot for. 

Professional surfer Dusty Payne looking for a handout. Or a giant salami and cheese tray from big box retailer Costco.
Professional surfer Dusty Payne looking for a handout. Or a giant salami and cheese tray from big box retailer Costco. | Photo: WSL/Steve Sherman

Revealed: Pro surfers cheap, have bad taste!

Free handouts and meals from Costco!

It is Sunday morning in America and the Pipeline Masters may run in a few hours. It also may not but, irregardless, I’m taking these moments in, enjoying each and every because this is the end. Once the remade tour comes online and the season starts on the North Shore instead of finishing things will be… different. Not as intense. Not as… important. Oh, I’m just a sucker for the seven-mile miracle, I suppose.

An old nostalgic queen.

Did you know that the entire Triple Crown season pumps an estimated millions of dollars into Oahu’s economy? Hawaii Business Magazine writes:

A economic study of the 2010 Triple Crown calculated the series pumped $21 million into Oahu’s economy. The study, directed by Lenard Huff, a marketing expert in the Business Management Department of Brigham Young University Hawaii, was commissioned by Vans. Huff estimates that this year’s event will have a similar economic impact, which will include money spent locally by organizers and sponsors, and money spent locally by people who come to see the event.

What do you think happens to this number when the Triple Crown loses its status and the Pipeline Masters simply becomes the first event on the calendar? Will the 21 million figure be halved? Thirded? Will the small businesses weep?

Apparently not all of them will for it was revealed in the same article that professional surfers are not only cheap but have bad taste:

A frustrated Haleiwa restaurant owner had a different perspective. “Families are more likely to come to the North Shore and spend money than a sponsored surfer who is looking for free handouts and meals from Costco,” said the owner, who asked to remain anonymous because he was speaking negatively about an event that is loved by many people on the North Shore. He said vacationing families are priced out by the rates paid by event sponsors and other companies.

Free handouts and meals from Costco seems slightly less than what Hawaii’s burgeoning homeless population expects. Is the surf industry truly in this bad of shape or are pro surfers just cheap with bad taste?

Here's Kelly, winning the Volcom Pipe contest in 2016. | Photo: WSL/Cestari

Moneyball: How Kelly Can Requalify!

And why John John will win the title, according to the stats… 

Yesterday, the second-best red-haired surfer in the world, Dusty Payne, fiddled his way to first place at the Pipe Trials.

You can read about that miracle here, although the story will have you groping for tissues. Did you know, for example, the episode of Dusty and the stolen panties at LAX and… oh you have to read!


Today, another potential miracle is revealed.

How Kelly Slater, who is two months away from his forty-sixth-birthday (the same age as American president Johnny Kennedy when Oswald’s bullet rearranged his skull) could requalify for the 2018 tour and therefore keep the two injury wildcards, which will be announced the day after Pipe, for tour minnows.

What’s Kelly gotta do? Make the final. That’s it.

Miss half the season, appear dramatically on stage in the closing act, and liberate the last spot on tour. It ain’t a stretch. Kelly has won the event seven times, the first in 1992, three times in a row (94, 95 and 96) and, most recently, in 2013, aged forty-one.

But you come to Pipe to dump a crown on a world champ, yes?

And Balyn McDonald, whose website Surf-Stats has just launched its own version of Fantasy Surfer (click here for why they did it and why you should jump on in), explains who’s going to see sunlight at Pipe.

First John John v Gabe:

“The data consistently points to John. Sure, he hasn’t won the event yet, but he dominates almost every conditions stat that is relevant: lefts, reefs, all wave heights. He has a far greater average heat score (AHS) for the season than the rest of the tour, and his win rate of 75% is more than 5% above Medina. The only significant areas that put Medina above John are average place result, and recent form (Medina hasn’t lost a heat since Trestles).
Given that John only needs to make a few more heats to sew it up, the numbers definitely favour him.”

The outliers:

“Jordy and Julian are statistically fucked, but, hey, reality has a way of giving historical stats the finger so we will wait and see.”

Statistically fucked? I haven’t laughed this much since the neighbour’s child fell out of my fig tree!

Breaking: Kelly Slater to surf Pipe!

Gab and John look over their shoulders!

Do you remember that hot, yet fringe, rumor from just months ago wherein Kelly Slater was going to surf in the Portugal contest? Even though he broke his foot just months prior in multiple places? A fine one to be sure and basically correct because yesterday it was revealed that Cocoa Beach’s first son is going to be surfing in the Pipeline Masters! Florida Today first reported:

Less than five months after breaking five bones in his right foot, surfing legend Kelly Slater is in the official lineup for this coming week’s Billabong Pipe Masters in Memory of Andy Irons contest, on the North Shore of Oahu, Hawaii.

Slater, who sustained the multiple fractures while free-surfing between heats at Jeffreys Bay, South Africa, in mid-July, and required plates and screws in a surgery later that month, has tested his skills at least three times, most recently in his hometown of Cocoa Beach, at the beach behind Coconuts during the National Kidney Foundation Team Challenge two weeks ago.

“Anytime he can get out on the water, he is willing to test it,” said Phil Salick, originator of the NKF Labor Day Surf Festival, along with his late brother, Rich. “He absolutely, definitely wants to surf Pipeline. Of course, there’s a big difference on the pressure of the water on his foot at Pipeline (perhaps 10- to 20-foot waves) and 4-foot offshore” here.

Are you going to quickly reshuffle your fantasy team or do you not believe that the 11 x world champ has any gas left in the tank?