Just in: God hates Gab, John wins crown!

And we have a 2017 World Champion!

God is an ever-present figure in sports, from the National Football League all the way to the World Surf League. He helps teams win, players score and surfers title. Yesterday, after winning his heat, Brazil’s Gabriel Medina was supremely confident that God was firmly cheering for a Gabriel Media championship, telling South Africa’s Rose Hodge, “I feel great, I feel good, I feel God is on my side. Now is just to trust, believe and go for it.”

Well, things started a little dicey for Medina during his Round Four heat against Jeremy Flores and someone else. Jeremy jumped into a quick lead while someone else paddled around the lineup lost. Gabriel sat, waiting, before pouncing on a backdoor tube that looked ok and was judged a stellar 8 +. J-Flo was furious, kicking the water, screaming French obscenities, not because Gabriel caught a wave but because Gabriel had effectively blocked him on the three best waves of the day. Interference was not called and “WSL is playing favorites again…” would have become the refrain except Jeremy snagged a little runner at the end of the heat and was rewarded an even more stellar 8 +.

Off went Gabriel to Round Five where he faced the World’s Greatest Surfer and ’88 Pipeline Master Kelly Slater.

(Just kidding about the ’88 Pipeline Master. That was Barton Lynch.)

Kelly Slater is, I think, agnostic at best. Maybe he believes in a “higher power” but definitely not God. Would God push Gab through?

It started looking good. Kelly paddled for the first wave of the heat, a gorgeous Backdoor thing, and inexplicably couldn’t get to his feet. Or maybe explicably? Maybe the Corner Man Upstairs? Yes, I don’t think it could be argued any other wave, because a turtle swam though the lineup and knocked Kelly Slater off his board.

Kelly locked into another sneaky one but then here comes God! Gabriel got a small one which turned into an 8.9 then another weird one that turned into a 9.07! God sitting in the judges booth, locking in scores! God proving Gabriel Medina right.

Kelly took off on another bomb but God positioned Gabriel just so and he dropped in on Kelly’s head, destroying the wave’s “scoring potential” as they say. Barton Lynch won the 1988 Pipeline Masters.

And then he won. Gabriel Medina and God. But won the heat, not the Title or not yet.

And let us fast forward through John John and Julian’s quarterfinal heat wherein John John won handily.

And let us fast forward through Gabriel Medina and Julian Wilson’s quarterfinal heat wherein Medina was crushed by the Frenchman.

John John wins the World Championship Trophy! The day’s true chosen one!

Heck yes! | Photo: @worldsurflols

Gamble: Win (Lose) on Pipe Masters!

Ready to put your money where your large mouth is?

Let’s be frank. We all like to throw a little cash into the wind, now and then.

Gambling separates us from the beasts, gives a spark of passion (or a galaxy of nausea) as we grind away and grind away at jobs, working like billy goats until eternity etc.

“Gambling is colourful and dramatic and theatrical,” Vegas hotelier (Bellagio, Wynn etc) Steve Wynn said.

Recently, BeachGrit and the Australian betting house PalmerBet held hands, one greasing the other.

We’d offer a gambling-on-surfing service to readers (Australia only unless you circumvent your country’s geo-blocking law via a VPN) and for every bet you make, BeachGrit gets a little piece.

If you lose, think of it as a donation; if you win we’re thrilled for you.


Pipe Masters. If you’re quick, you can bet on John John v Julian onwards.

Sign up on that little banner on the side and BeachGrit/PalmerBet will match your first bet, up to $250.

Early in the new year, odds will drop for the 2018 World Title.

Start winning or losing by clicking here! 


Scandal: Degenerate gambling on set!

A stain!

Do you remember, four years ago, when the greatest commentary duo in professional surfing’s history were fired for illicit gambling? How could anyone forget. There sat Jake “Snake” Paterson and there sat Damien “Dooma” Fahrenfort in the WSL née ASP booth and there in the water floated now-forgotten Frenchman Marc Lacomare and forgotten-tomorrow Australian Joel Parkinson. It was a relatively uneventful heat, though many thought Marc was robbed seeing as he caught better waves.

Snake and Dooma, anyhow, bet beers on the outcome. Our very own Derek Rielly transcribed for us.

Jake: “I don’t know. I’m going to leave it up to the professionals. That’s what they get paid for…”

Dooma: “Let’s leave t up to the judges. It’s going to be a crazy finish.”

Jake: “(Bet a) Beer on it?”

Dooma: “I don’t know. I have a feeling they’ll give it to Joel.”

Jake: “World title points?”

The judges did give it to Joel, the French got mad and then Snake and Dooma were fired. Then head judge Renato Hickel wrote:

To have Web Announcers betting beers, guessing judges scores in almost every single wave, and telling thousands of web viewers that Joel would receive World Title bonus points, is completely unacceptable! A stain on a great Webcast.

A stain!

Well, guess what happened yesterday?

Kelly Slater, who had just beaten Jordy Smith out of his last thread of hope, stood in front of the step-and-repeat being interviewed by Kaipo. And here I have the transcript for you.

Kelly: Jordy pay up… uhhh not Jordy… (turns to Kaipo) who did you bet with? Strider?

Kaipo: (Sheepishly) I’m not gonna bet… I didn’t…

Kelly: Yoosh… Strider pay up. You gotta pay him ten bucks (pointing at Kaipo).

Kaipo: (Trying to cut Kelly off) Hey but…

Kelly: (Undaunted) I know Strider bet for Jordy…

Kaipo: (Stuck. Mumbling)

Kelly: Hey that’s ok. I kinda wanted Jordy to win that heat too.

Oh we know that gambling is considered a great sin by the World Surf League née Association of Surfing Professionals, Renato Hickel himself calling it “a stain.” Precedent tells us there is a zero tolerance policy for such actions. Will the wonderful Kaipo Guerrero and Strider Wasilewski be quickly and brutally canned via righteous email?

Will they be punished in some other way?

Stay tuned!

The fix is in says Albee Layer! | Photo: @albeelayer/live.fast.die.old/@unholypotato/Stab

Pipe: No title for Julian or Jordy; Fanning retires!

A fix? A champ retired before his time?

At four pm on a North Shore afternoon, with the sun a giant grapefruit, the curtin was drawn on a dreadful day for two of the four title contenders, while a thirty-six-year-old three-time world champ took a final bow.

Within the rules of probability it was unlikely that John John Florence or Gabriel Medina would oblige outliers Jordy Smith and Julian Wilson by losing early or that Jordy, especially, would win.

But the ghosts of history, of Sunny Garcia, Tom Carroll, Damien Hardman and so forth, whisper (in husky voices)… anything is possible.

In 1995, all Sunny Garcia had to do to win the title was to make it into round three.

He surfed against Occy in round two. Lost his board. Occy offered him his. Occy didn’t hassle for sets (“It was a very hard heat to surf,” said Occ after). Caught a couple of insiders just to get a score for appearances sake. Then it was all Machado’s until Slater cooked him alive in their high-five semi-final.

Seven years earlier, Barton Lynch had to finish runner-up or better at 10-foot Pipe to snatch the title off Damien Hardman or Tom Carroll. Barton won the damn thing.

So, today.

If John John got better than a ninth, didn’t matter what Julian did, he was out.

And it happened, despite some last-minute burlesque by Ethan Ewing. John John won by zero-point sevenths of a point, 10.87 to 10.80.

Watch it here and tell me if Ethan won or the fix was in, as Albee Layer suggested on Instagram.

“I don’t like winning heats like that,” said John John afterwards.

In the last heat of the day, Jordy Smith surfed against the partial cripple Kelly Slater, who turns forty-six in eight weeks. Oh the fire’s out but the fowl lives!

“I wanted Jordy to win that heat but sorta not really,” said Kelly, who expressed astonishment that Jordy didn’t push the button on his priority on what would become Kelly’s heat winning wave.

Watch that here.

And Mick Fanning?

The most searched-for surfer on Google and therefore the most famous surfer in the world?

He’s out, at least according to Conner Coffin.

“I don’t think I’ve surfed against [Mick] man-on-on man this year so I was really stoked to have that opportunity today,” said Conner in his post-heat presser. “But he made me feel bad like, ‘Aw, this is the last time I’ll ever surf out here.’ And I was like ‘Don’t make me feel bad about that!’ Because at the same time, if I didn’t make that heat I might not have ever surfed out here again either…”

Mick refused to confirm, or deny, the retirement suggestion afterwards.

I do ask: is thirty-six too young to retire? Or has Mick, who still surfs with a barbarous power, realised his use-by date has arrived? Is he, therefore, an expert in legacy preservation unlike, say, Kelly?

(Oh! Rookie of the year. Conner O’Leary.)

Full results.

Billabong Pipe Masters Round 2 Results:
Heat 1: Gabriel Medina (BRA) 15.33 def. Dusty Payne (HAW) 8.50
Heat 2: Ethan Ewing (AUS) 11.54 def. Owen Wright (AUS) 10.77
Heat 3: Julian Wilson (AUS) 8.56 def. Benji Brand (HAW) 6.87
Heat 4: Matt Wilkinson (AUS) def. Stuart Kennedy (AUS) INJ
Heat 5: Adriano de Souza (BRA) 11.93 def. Jadson Andre (BRA) 8.33
Heat 6: Kolohe Andino (USA) 17.10 def. Jack Freestone (AUS) 14.96
Heat 7: Ian Gouveia (BRA) 13.40 def. Filipe Toledo (BRA) 11.30
Heat 8: Leonardo Fioravanti (ITA) 13.17 def. Sebastian Zietz (HAW) 10.00
Heat 9: Joel Parkinson (AUS) 6.10 def. Wiggolly Dantas (BRA) 5.13
Heat 10: Mick Fanning (AUS) 8.90 def. Bede Durbidge (AUS) 8.87
Heat 11: Kanoa Igarashi (USA) 12.67 def. Frederico Morais (PRT) 6.00
Heat 12: Michel Bourez (PYF) 16.40 def. Joan Duru (FRA) 6.54

Billabong Pipe Masters Round 3 Results:
Heat 1: Julian Wilson (AUS) 15.26 def. Ezekiel Lau (HAW) 8.34
Heat 2: Conner Coffin (USA) 14.03 def. Mick Fanning (AUS) 12.60
Heat 3: Ian Gouveia (BRA) 8.60 def. Matt Wilkinson (AUS) 6.83
Heat 4: Joel Parkinson (AUS) 8.50 def. Miguel Pupo (BRA) 5.47
Heat 5: Caio Ibelli (BRA) 10.13 def. Michel Bourez (PYF) 6.57
Heat 6: John John Florence (HAW) 10.87 def. Ethan Ewing (AUS) 10.80
Heat 7: Jeremy Flores (FRA) 6.60 def. Adrian Buchan (AUS) 2.26
Heat 8: Gabriel Medina (BRA) 10.00 def. Josh Kerr (AUS) 9.83
Heat 9: Italo Ferreira (BRA) 10.26 def. Kolohe Andino (USA) 4.17
Heat 10: Leonardo Fioravanti (ITA) 15.87 def. Adriano de Souza (BRA) 6.13
Heat 11: Kanoa Igarashi (USA) 13.34 def. Connor O’Leary (AUS) 9.73
Heat 12: Kelly Slater (USA) 11.87 def. Jordy Smith (ZAF) 7.87

Billabong Pipe Masters Round 4 Match-Ups:
Heat 1:Julian Wilson (AUS), Conner Coffin (USA), Ian Gouveia (BRA)
Heat 2: Joel Parkinson (AUS), Caio Ibelli (BRA), John John Florence (HAW)
Heat 3: Jeremy Flores (FRA), Gabriel Medina (BRA), Italo Ferreira (BRA)
Heat 4: Leonardo Fioravanti (ITA), Kanoa Igarashi (USA), Kelly Slater (USA)

Flying betwixt one and the other. Always sad. But always hopeful.
Flying betwixt one and the other. Always sad. But always hopeful.

Confession: I will never be happy!

My heart forever torn between two great loves.

American surfers often gaze at Australia like Narcissus gazed at his own reflection upon the waters. They stare, tenderly, into the vibrant, high-spirited nationalism staring back and think, “Having convict forbearers is much cuter, and equates to a much better time, than having Puritan ones.” They smile at the tanned, beer drinking, easy living, carefree, surf obsessed doppelganger and sigh, “Australia is perfect. Australia is us only better.”

I felt this same way when I was a young boy. My father taught school, for two years, in Papua New Guinea and many of my classmates were Australian. I envied them. I found myself calling friends “mate” and saying, “G’day” to passers by. I told my teachers that I was from Australia too and claimed the Southern Cross as my own. Australians were just so dynamic and captivating and it was only through some rude cosmic hoax that I had not been born “down under.”

Three years ago, I moved to Sydney in order to fulfill my childhood destiny. Everything seemed exactly perfect as I stepped off my Qantas flight and breathed the Eucalyptus tinged air. I was now “Australian” and things were the way they always should have been. I looked around at my new countryfolk and saw that the entire population lived within twenty minutes of fantastic surf and that living well was prized above all. Wild nights cascaded, effortlessly, into barrel-filled days cascaded back into wild nights. Men wore v-neck t-shirts so low that their tanned midsections were visible to the blonde and easy sheilas prowling for a “go.” I gazed deeply into the waters and was thrilled by the lateral inversion beaming back. Cars drove on the left instead of the right. Steering wheels were on the right instead of the left. Winter was summer and summer was winter.

Fannies were on the front of women and not the back. It was just different enough to be very very cute. And better. Everything around me was better. I believed that those first convicts, shipped across the Pacific, had created a heaven on earth for surfers. They had been seen as undesirable in their home Britain and so the crown, in its wisdom, sent them away. Left to their own devices, they cast off cultural stratification and the very idea of noblesse oblige. They were all one, dirty, fun-loving lot.

They were all one and the same. They were fathers of a nation nonpareil. And I strove to be the best Australian I could be, wearing very very low v-necks myself, cheering the footy, eating meat pies for breakfast, drinking Tooheys by the glass and pronouncing it “Choo-ees” and calling the glass a “schooner.” I surfed Bondi, Byron, Snapper and Bells. I added –ies to the end of every word I said, as in, “Mate, let’s go for a surfies at Snappies.” But I soon realized something profound. “Striving” is quintessentially un-Australian. I found that a condition called Tall Poppy Syndrome inflicts the entire continent. In Australia, to achieve anything at all is an affront to the nation. They mock excellence. They despise upward mobility. To become someone, or something, is not valued. Tall poppies are meant to be cut down to size. It was a grimy cockney pickpocket accent sneering, “What? Yous think yous betta than me, govnah’?” at the well-bred and well-fed. It was making sure everyone stayed down together.

I looked around without rose-coloured lenses. Australia has no good architecture, save the Sydney Opera House, no good university, no seriously lauded scientist or thinker or author save Derek Rielly who just released the greatest political book of all time. It has plenty of pretty actors and actresses and models and surfers but, let’s be honest, none of them strive for more. Each is happy in his or her lot. I fell into a deep existential funk. The reflection of my dream, of our dream, was no more than a fraudulent trick of light upon the waters.

I flew back to Los Angeles, one year after moving to Sydney, and wandered the streets, looking at art-deco buildings and upwardly mobile execs driving Porsches. I watched people judge other people and envy what other people had and I realized that judgment and envy makes for great art. I thanked God that he made my forbearers Puritan and not convict. But then I remembered the good times. The lack of pressure. The easy smiles.

The surf, surf, surf and surf. I missed my Australia and realized I was forever twisted. I would never be happy in either place. I would forever need both Australia’s easy going and America’s upward toil. Well, so be it. God save the queen and God bless America.

(This piece first appeared in Surf Europe)