Snowboarding's Todd Richards is the answer to WSL commentary woes!
The World Surf League’s 2018 season will commence next month and, before last night, I had completely given up on any changes to the announcing crew. Oh you’ve read the gentle prodding directed toward the booth here for years. Like when the great surf historian Matt Warshawwrote: “Martin Potter’s jaw-grinding voice sounds as if its been filtered through six espresso shots and a migraine headache.” And “Turpel hurts me on a both a professional and personal level.”
But what are we going to do? Every season the prodding gets less and less and less because I’ve lost hope. Complete and utter hope. The WSL is not going to change the lineup and, what’s even worse, before last night I couldn’t even imagine who they could/should introduce. Sal Masekela is too satisfied with his pro surfer friendships, Wassel too hyped, Todd Kline has gone fishing and Trippie Redd is busy leaning. Cote might be great but as a color man not the anchor that holds it all down.
There is no anchor to hold it all down. No savior.
Until last night.
I was watching Olympic snowboarding, you see, and into my ears flooded the velvety pipes of Todd Richards. He is NBC’s “man on the mountain” and was knowledgeable, authoritative, intelligent. He mixed the exact right amount of insider information with helpful beginner explanation all in a rich baritone. He knew when to talk and knew when to shut his mouth, letting the moment breathe.
And he’s handsome. Like, a more masculine/less pudgy Mexican nativity cherub version of Joe Turpel.
“So what?” you say. “Todd Richards ain’t no surfer…”
And I almost lunge across the coffee table right at you because yes he is. Todd Richards lives very near to me in bucolic North County San Diego, surfs often and well. He knows all the grabs, he knows all the jams off the top and squirts off the bottom. He knows it all and I don’t know how this very obvious solution had not become obvious to me before last night.
Todd Richards is the answer to all our surf commentary problems and we should all email the World Surf League’s Santa Monica office today and demand his inclusion. Maybe let’s try [email protected] and if that doesn’t work I’ll give you Dave Prodan’s phone number.
Glamorous apex predator bounces back from "near extinction"!
Few things give me more pleasure than watching the increasing abundance, the health as they say, of Australia’s Great White population.
I remember in the late nineties when Jacques-Yves Cousteau’s kid, Jean-Michel, the frumpy one and not the glamorous pilot Philippe, came to South Australia, said “Oowee, ain’t no Whites left”, put the government in a panic and shortly after, Whites were off the fishing list.
Now, a one-and-a-half-million-dollar survey by the Australian government agency the CSIRO puts the population of adult Great Whites off the Australian east coast at 5460, give or take a few, and you can add another seven thousand or so if you put the juveniles in there.
Off Margs and so forth, there are 1460 adults and an indeterminate number of juveniles.
From the Sydney Morning Herald,
The project is part of the federal government’s National Environmental Science Programme Marine Biodiversity Hub.
In recent years, shark attacks off the north coast of NSW prompted the deployment of “smart” drumlines and a shark net trial, raising conservation fears.
Shark nets operate at more than 50 NSW beaches in the warmer months, and have been known to kill great whites and other species.
Queensland also deploys nets and drumlines covering 85 beaches.
In Western Australia in 2014, the former Liberal government established “kill zones” near beaches and surf breaks, allowing sharks to be caught and destroyed. The policy was dumped after a public outcry and advice from environment officials.
Humane Society International marine scientist Jessica Morris said up to a decade of research was needed to determine how white sharks were being affected by overfishing, habitat degradation and shark control programs before decisions could be made about removing protections.
“Sharks are incredibly important for healthy ecosystems, and our government needs to be informed about the nature and necessity of these species,” she said.
“There are many studies showing killing sharks does not make our beaches safer.”
West Australian senator Linda Reynolds said the larger west coast white shark population meant “there must be an honest and informed discussion about whether great whites still need to be considered a protected species”.
She said sharks had killed 15 people in her state since 2000, compared to one death at protected beaches in NSW and Queensland in 50 years.
A suite of measures including nets and drum lines should be considered for the west coast, Senator Reynolds said.
“Environmental ideology has been allowed to take over … Human lives must come before fish,” she said.
Now, this is a slight digression, but I’m not veering too far off the topic. Jacques-Yves Cousteau’s first movie was called Le Monde du Silence and it thrilled the world with its sharks, dolphins etc.
But, watch! He dynamites fish, stabs sharks and so many other fun things which are certainly not kosher today.
Do you have one million dollars? I do, but cannot access this windfall for seven-and-a-half years, which is well into the sunset of my life. It’s a long story and typical of financial decisions I make on a whim or while riven with guilt.
Dumb, dumb, dumb.
Anyway, if this money was available, which it isn’t hence a post last week begging for bar work, or if you had the money, do you think it would be a good decision to buy one hectare of gorgeous beachfront land in Java?
Rizal Tandjung first discovered the potential beauty of Watu Karung back in 2009 when a friend took him surfing there. Rizal was amazed and blown away by the pristine, serene beach with its special landscape and rocks out in the ocean. One rock cliff in particular, stood out because of its “Sphinx”-like features, or depending on where you stand or how you look at it, it could resemble a princess or a baby’s face.What really made an impression to Rizal was its powerful waves, it reminded him of surfing in Hawaii. These waves made his pro surfer friends such as Kelly Slater, Bruce Irons and Josh Kerr (just to name a few) also come to experience Watu Karung. A photo of Bruce Irons made it on the cover of a surfing magazine and he mentioned it was “the last secret spot”. Many other photo’s and stories about WaKa eventually cicrulated in different surf mags which put it more on the spot. The goal is to slowly build up the place over time to become the beach retreat they dreamed of. Time is not a factor, they don’t want to rush “art”.
Now, this hunk of land which is for sale sounds dreamy enough.
From its owner:
Watukarung is an upcoming surfer village close to Pacitan, East Java. Indonesian Surf Champion and mentor Rizal Tanjung was the first to buy, we were the second, and so many followed. There is no beachfront or just behind beachfront land left, the hype has fully started. It is safe to say that this little spot there will develop into something like Uluwatu or Padang Padang because the waves are world class, people with the required networks have invested and are promoting. Rizal has built a resort that he naturally promotes with his name, Indonesian surf champions Marlon Gerber and Pepen Hendrix also have their holiday homes. Its so cool, from our house you paddle out to the right.
Or you just type in Watukarung in the search field of Google earth. I am sending you the screenshot with property boundaries attached. You see our land is straight in front of the righthander and just another 5 minute paddle across the channel to the lefthander. The beach belt of the peninsula belongs to Indonesia, just as any beach.
Our property consists of a part A which is beachfront and a part B which is adjacent to A just separated by a small public walkway. The rate for A (beachfront ) currently is at IDR 2 million per square meter, B (next row behind beachfront) is at IDR 1 million per square meter. Those prices are one tenth of Bali Canggu prices as by 2017.
A: Prime beach front at the wave. Land pieces 5 (3.500m) and 6 (1.236m) which total to 4.736m. Price: 4.736 x 2 million = 9.5 billion IDR
B: Next row behind beachfront. Land pieces 1,2,3,4 total to 4.352m. Price: 4.352m x 1 million = 4.35 billion IDR. The back of the property is a small hill from where you can overlook the whole bay and see the righthander, if the wind blows the coconut trees to the side you can also see the left.
The total property value would be 9.5 + 4.35 = 13.85 billion IDR which is roughly one million dollars.
In case the buyer opts only for land A (pieces 1,2,3,4) it is fine for us however land B (5,6) we only sell together with land A all in one go.
USP: We have the IMB (building permit) and legal docs to run a resort. Architectual plans are all ready. We do not charge anything, this is the bonus for the buyer. FYI hardly any other person in the village has the proper permits to build let alone run an accommodation business. Note that the position of the houses in the plan is more than 100m from the beach, so this IMB is waterproof, it corresponds to Indonesian law.
This is what I would do with the land.
I would build an all-white (colour not race) cubist resort here with chromium and leather Italian furniture, own only Pyzel Ghosts, ship in a woman (‘en) with breasts like ski jumps from the Pyeongchang Games, a basketball ass and a little round tummy and hair that is dark at the roots but turns yellow towards the end and die the happiest man. If I had the money. Which I don’t. Instead, down and out in Bondi.
You? Would you buy?
(Email [email protected] if you want to get pointed at the owner. Maybe I’ll get a little commission!)
You are certainly well aware, by now, of the current stalemate on Oahu between Honolulu’s mayor Kirk Caldwell and our own World Surf League. At issue is the current allotment of permits. The WSL, which has traditionally held its Pipeline Masters contest in December, wants to move the event to January and the slot held by Volcom for its Pipe Pro. The mayor’s office denied the WSL’s request leaving the league “very disappointed” and “exploring all possible options for our schedule moving forward.”
Now, I don’t mean to poke my nose in other people’s business but “all possible options” is a very exciting proposal and would it be too bold of me to make a suggestion?
Oh bear with me here and please let me explain. Yemen has nearly 2000 miles of coastline, a good 1200 of it surfable, and this does not include the nearby island of Soqotra. The climate, though slightly warmer than most stops on tour, is pleasant enough especially when enjoying a cheek full of qat on the veranda of an old British outpost. The largest coastal town, Aden, is a very good time and I think the surfers on tour would have fun shooting Kalashnikovs into the air and cursing the Saudis and their rotund children on their way in and out of the country.
The surf in Aden is not the best though and I think the World Surf League would do well to explore the area around Mukalla and Al Ghaydah. Mukalla has more infrastructure as well as a larger population and I do think the imams would very much like watching professional surfing but Al Ghaydah, shrouded in monsoonal mists, sparks the imagination. Pirates often come to shore here, offloading pilfered goods bound to points north, and sometimes fight with local Al-Qaeda affiliates. I do think if one of these fights happened during a heat it would get many views, maybe even as many as a great white shark attacking Mick Fanning.
Qishn and Sayhut could be used as backup locations and if the league would like another stop, it should consider Soqotra. The island is very magical and has a history of hosting semi-professional events. When I was last there with my two best friends, a day’s walk from the nearest fishing huts, some locals told us about the last time athletes dawned their shore. It was some 30 years prior and a Soviet submarine unexpectedly surfaced. The Russian submariners came ashore and played volleyball, or so it was said.
Best of all, at time of writing, Yemen currently has no surf contest scheduled for the 2018-2019 season and, thus, no permitting issues. The WSL could pick any date on the calendar and I think could have month long windows, if so desired.
I think this is a very good idea. It is called the “World” Surf League after all.
Last September, Travis Ferré, the thirty-something co-founder of What Youth magazine, wrote an anti-Surf Ranch piece in response to the WSL barring surf media from its Future Classic event there.
“The way this whole wave-pool-WSL thing has been introduced to the world feels slimy. Elitist and weird. And while I can’t argue that riding it, watching it and the general excitement around the whole thing is noteworthy, I get the same quesy feeling I get around private golf courses and churches. Or when I hear the awkward clop of flip flops. I just don’t think I can buy into this cultish wave pool culture. I’m happy to stick to what I’ve got in the ocean.”
BeachGrit‘s Chas Smith was equally pained.
“I hate itand hate it honestly and truly and with everything in me. Seriously. Much of what I write here flips between semi and hyper ironic but that fucking wave pool. Ooooooh. I want, as I said on the Grit! podcast, for Kim Jong Un to sic his hydrogen bombs upon it.
Of course, virtue never tested is no virtue at all, as they say.
So when the WSL’s Dave Prodan started sending text messages inviting anyone with any sort of involvement in the surf media to surf the pool, most critics made a swift switcharoo.
Everyone except Travis.
Yesterday I asked Travis to reflect upon his decision.
BeachGrit: Were you, or were you not, invited to play in the Surf Ranch?
Travis: I was invited! At the time, I didn’t know it was a full-blown media pool party, but I did get the invite from the wonderful people at WSL who didn’t want me to feel left out and offered an opportunity to scope it, despite my critical initial take. I was personally invited by Dave Prodan. And I fucking love Dave Prodan. He’s a dude who works for the WSL who still believes in the “magic” of surfing — be it marketing magic or surf magic or general surf lore magic. He understands it. And he’s a great guy to surf with and share a beer with. He understands his job and does it with passion but does not live with blinders on. He is the only person maybe who speaks my language at WSL I think but I’m not entirely sure. I thought it was very nice for him to reach out. My initial reaction certainly didn’t warrant any special invites. I actually did not know at the time, however, that I’d be joined by the wonderful guest list that included lots of friends in the media world, including you and Chas. Might have been worth the trip just to have a drink with you guys and converse with some pals in Lemoore, CA.
What was your response?
I said that I wasn’t going to surf it — but maybe I’d consider checking it out or possibly send a proxy in my place, but I quickly forgot and just didn’t follow up. (A few of the crew at What Youth are psyched to check it out and I don’t wanna spoil their chances, so hopefully they can go do the surfin’ slip ‘n’ slide if the opportunity presents itself.) I have my opinions of it, and am obviously not as sold on it being the future of surfing or anything. But that doesn’t mean someone at What Youth isn’t psyched to tuck into one.
What was the WSL’s response to your response?
They offered me to send someone else, but like I said, I didn’t really follow up or think much about it after that.
Why did you dig your heels in? Weren’t you curious? Was the thought of being seen as hypocritical to much to bear?
I actually really want to throw a party there. There is definitely fun to be had. I’m thinking bands and fireworks and rails and ridiculous elements that make the lunacy of a wave pool more bearable. My general curiosity has been quenched by watching people ride it those first few days. It’s impressive for a few waves, but once you’ve kind of seen most of the scenarios play out, it gets a little old. One of my favorite parts of surfing is the ceaseless wonder I get staring at the sea. Looking for peculiar instances or situations or moments or sections pop up and then the subsequent chase to find those things to stare at. Been doing it since day one. I’m a dumb romantic. Just the other day I spoke with Mason Ho and he said he loves rocks in the ocean because they present unique situations around them for rebounds or waves or opportunities. Things you can’t forecast. I like all the silly stuff that happens before and after surfing more than standing on a wave. The pursuit of new places or things. It all boils down to me hating that human nature feels we have to harness and contain everything. Surfing was pretty cool: a pursuit in nature that was spontaneous and weird and free and you could travel and search out. But you can also use it to dial in a certain location, learning moods and nuances that only that spot has. I hate the idea of mechanizing or harnessing it. Also, the pool has been pretty well surfed out by now in my opinion. Can you get deeper? I’m sure there will be some crazy tricks done in there. Will they get the same credit? I dunno. If you listen to surfers talk about it, all they wanna do now is “make it bigger” or “add sections” and you’re like, “Duh, that’s what makes being a surfer so interesting!” All the pursuits to find unique things to experience in the ocean! Now you have to ride a skim board or do an Al Knost layback in the pit to make it interesting. And we’ve only known it exists for a few months now. I find the fact that it already takes gimmicks to make it interesting should be noted. That once the initial shock and awe of a cool man-made wave wears off, what are we left with? I really hate gimmicky things.
Do you really think surf pools are that bad?
No, they’re not bad. They just take out every layer of surfing that I love. The stuff you can’t explain. The magic. I categorize it the same as a water slide. They’re fun as hell, but it’s not something you base your life around. And surfing can be that. It has enough weird nuance and culture and magic in it that you can actually base a life around it. I’ve been around this planet we got and most of the opportunities presented themselves because back in my mind I was trying to surf somewhere. Wave pools remind me of indoor skydiving, hunting in a pen, fishing in a bucket or virtual porn or something. Maybe “fun” but it ain’t the real thing. I hate the human nature that encourages us to harness and control and contain the purest of pursuits. Wave pools play into that same condition. I don’t doubt the fun and the technology is amazing and I hope some people who maybe never would surf can get some element of the thrill. But there is no chance it replaces the daily struggle to wiggle at your homebreak or wander the globe or chuck a duck dive or feel a current or chop hop a rock and surf in new places in a new ocean or sea. That’s the jazz I love.
Did friends, work pals support your decision?
No not at all. They were terrified it might jeopardize their chance by associating with me. It was not a popular decision.
What did you do on the day you were supposed to be there?
I had to go back in my phone and see. But it appears it happened around November 2 which is around the time I was in South Carolina filming a piece on Cam Richards. Our most recent Fairly Normal vid. Quite a fun trip. Shot my first gun. Caught a shark. And dove into southern culture head on. One of the most fascinating trips I’ve ever been on.
Three months on, reading about it everywhere, what’s your position now?
Sounds like it was a blast. Like hearing about someone going to a fun wedding you didn’t attend. I won’t and didn’t lose any sleep honestly though. I literally live next door to Chris Cote and he showed me his very well-surfed backhand wave and barrel one morning and it was cool! I was stoked to see him shred it, but I didn’t feel any different. I love surfing shitty waves. I love surfing good waves. But it’s the in-between it all that I love most.