Tech: WSL takes you on a virtual surf trip!

First wave tanks now this!

The World Surf League alongside partner Jeep are pleased to announce the release of a brand new virtual reality project today called Jeep Sessions: A Journey in 360. Skimming quickly through, it appears the participant (player?) once fitted with an immersive VR device, chooses to either join Jordy Smith or Malia Manuel to… wait. I’m sorry. I’m not very good at summarizing press releases.

Here, read some select passages real quick and then we’ll discuss.

Jeep® Sessions: A Surfing Journey in 360° follows WSL Championship Tour surfers Jordy Smith and Malia Manuel as each embarks on a Jeep brand adventure to find the best waves. The project can be viewed in both a 360° video and an interactive VR experience. The VR application enables users to select their journey through “gaze-based interactions,” where the user’s eyes become the controller within the 360° visuals.

“Our project goal was to push the boundaries of VR technology to show what a surf trip feels like from the first-person perspective,” said Steele, Rapid VR co-director. “I’m excited to share this. It’s pretty incredible knowing my mom can now experience riding a 20-foot wave.”

Fans have the option to choose to explore in Smith’s all-new 2018 Jeep Wrangler or Manuel’s Jeep Renegade. Filmed on the island of Oahu, both the Jeep Wrangler and Renegade demonstrated the Jeep brand’s legendary 4×4 capability and stylish design in an off-road adventure through forest terrain and beautiful beaches.

“I love that everyone can go on whichever adventure they want in this VR experience,” said Manuel. “It’s a win-win for the viewer visually whether they go with me in the Jeep Renegade, or Jordy in the Jeep Wrangler, as we go off-roading to explore the beautiful scenery in Hawaii and find these amazing waves to share with the world.”

Within the app experience, viewers also have several points of choice presented by Sunny Garcia, Hawaiian surfing royalty who has scoured every inch of the island, which affect the narrative and result in different endings, including an option where all the featured surfers share waves together.

Mmmm. I have a few questions.

What if you stare at Jordy Smith’s nipples the entire time vis a vis the “gaze-based interaction?” Is this allowed?

Would you like for your mom to experience riding a 20-foot wave?

Exploring the island of Oahu with Jordy in his Jeep Wrangler can you go anywhere? Like, Ewa Beach? Can you try to buy ice? Do locals chase you?

Did Malia Manuel really say, It’s a win-win for the viewer visually whether they go with me in the Jeep Renegade, or Jordy in the Jeep Wrangler, as we go off-roading to explore the beautiful scenery in Hawaii and find these amazing waves to share with the world.” Or was that written in the press office afterwards?

The journey is narrated by Joe Turpel and you can/should watch while thinking about my questions and coming up with some of your own.

Kelly Slater surf ranch
The drawback about working at Surf Ranch is you don't actually get to ride the wave so much. But, maybe one of these a day? Enough to quench thirst? Better than a hundred dirty closeouts at your local beach?

Hiring: Work at Surf Ranch!

Are you action oriented? Do you like watching rich people fall on waves?

Last November, the World Surf League gifted me and Charlie, along with several others, a showpiece day at Surf Ranch in Lemoore, a city in Kings County, California.

The WSL’s hospitality was excellent, as was the company, which included the noted commentator and troubadour Selema “Sal” Masekela. I‘ve dined on the story of my trip almost every day in the five months since.

What was notable, apart from the size of the joint, the tasteful furnishings, pavilion-style buildings and Sal’s consumption of protein bars, was the general glow among the workers – the lifeguards, the administrative staff and so forth; the sort of ambience that only comes when the culture you work within is kind and fair.

The one drawback, of course, is the staff don’t actually get to ride the wavepool so much, which must make them want to tug chunks of hair out.

Recently, the WSL posted a job advertisement for an Administration Manager at Surf Ranch. If I had access to a work-in-America visa, I’d be tripping over my nightdress to apply.

I have all the required skills apart from “a thorough understanding of office management practices including Accounting and Human Resources. Daily duties will include assisting with administrative business tasks such as onboarding, timecard management, payroll, work rule enforcement, account coding, financial reporting, purchase order management, and budgeting.”

Of the “personal attributes” required, “Integrity and honesty, exceptional attention to detail, masterful organizational skills, an enthusiasm for coaching, teaching, and the development of people and action-oriented — enjoys working hard and looks for challenges” I like to think of myself as “action-oriented.”

If I was asked in the interview what I don’t do well, a question designed to test your honesty, I would say, “I’d go glassy-eyed and catatonic watching kooks blow wave after wave.”

Do you have what it takes? Would you set up a home in cotton-farming Lemoore so you could work at Surf Ranch?

The salary is undisclosed although I imagine around 100 thousand dollars per year would be a rough approximation.

Apply here. 

dino Adrian cyclone marcus
Dino Adrian has his forehead lovingly kissed by Cyclone Marcus bomb.

Watch: “Fucking Unsurfable for Civilians!”

A revealing three-minute short from hyped Cyclone Marcus swell… 

Just over two weeks ago, a cyclone birthed the rarest of birds, a north swell in Western Australia. These sorts of swells happen every five, sometimes ten, years and are tracked with excitement. Even Perth, a waveless joint more famous for its insane urban sprawl and just as insane summer onshores put on a reasonable impersonation of Hossegor. 

Seven years ago, and three hours further south, Taj Burrow, Jay Davies and Dino Adrian were gifted impossibly perfect, and often impossibly hard to get into sandbottom tubes. That was Cyclone Bianca, when clean two-foot runners turned into eight-foot bombs by the afternoon.

This year it was Cyclone Marcus, although the swell direction had a little west in it which meant the most photogenic of waves was “fucking unsurfable for civilians,” according to the former Margaret River pro surfer turned real estate agent Mitch Thorson.

In this three-minute short, shot by Scott Hammond and Tom Jennings, we see Jay Davies, Dino Adrian and pals being spat into out of tubes, and sometimes into the sandy spittoon, all via tow rather than paddle, which was the preserve of bodyboarders.


I can feel your halo (halo) halo
I can feel your halo (halo) halo

Miracle: The Making of St. Mick!

The hero of Australian surfing on his greatest journey yet!

You are well-aware, by now, that the 2018 Bells Beach Classic is Mick Fanning’s last stand. The Coolangatta local and 3 x World Champion, 37, will no longer don a colorful singlet nor will his rich baritone fill a World Surf League branded microphone again. It is almost over but not quite as Mick will paddle out against stablemate Owen Wright in the quarterfinals when competition next begins.

Breathless superlatives will flow, each and every one obviously deserved, as Michael Eugene Fanning is hurtled toward full sainthood.

And I must say that I have never seen anything like this in all my days upon this earth. In order to achieve full sainthood it is a well-known fact that a holy man or woman must first die and then three miracles must occur in his or her name. The process can take anywhere from six years to hundreds of them and is by no means assured even for the holiest. But Mick is special and the hero of Australian surfing has already been marked with his first miracle.

Yes and as reported by the Daily Mail, Mick’s ex-wife, wedding industry titan Karissa Dalton, not only watched him surf on the WSL webcast and not only cheered him on but posted an image of the affair to Instagram. Let us read for it is meet and right so to do.

They ended their relationship in January 2016 after eight years of marriage.

And despite ending things romantically, Karissa Dalton and Mick Fanning are still on friendly terms.

On Tuesday, Karissa took to Instagram stories to cheer on her ex-husband during a surfing competition, alongside best friend Pia Miller.

Karissa shared a photo of her and Pia drinking martinis as they watched Mick compete on a laptop.

‘Go Mick!’ Karissa captioned the photo, while Pia shared the same image and wrote: ‘Go Mick you good thing!’

Karissa and Mick have remained on good terms, despite that the surfer is believed to have moved on with American model Breeana Randall.

Lending her support! Karissa shared a photo of her and Pia drinking martinis as they watched Mick compete on a laptop.

A true miracle without any shade of doubt. Turning on the World Surf League’s webcast, listening intently to Martin “Pottz” Potter and Joe Turpel, watching an ex muscle turns through chubby runners… one down, two to go.

And I have written a poem to celebrate. Would you permit me to publish?

Remember those walls I built
Well, baby, they’re tumbling down
And they didn’t even put up a fight
They didn’t even make a sound
I found a way to let you win
But I never really had a doubt
Standing in the light of your halo
I got my angel now

It’s like I’ve been awakened
Every rule I had you break it
It’s the risk that I’m taking
I ain’t never gonna shut you out
Everywhere I’m looking now

I’m surrounded by your embrace
Baby, I can see your halo
You know you’re my saving grace
You’re everything I need and more
It’s written all over your face
Baby, I can feel your halo
Pray it won’t fade away

I can feel your halo (halo) halo
I can see your halo (halo) halo
I can feel your halo (halo) halo
I can see your halo (halo) halo

Hit me like a ray of sun
Burning through…

John jOhn Zeke
Zeke v John John: It was thrilling and almost wincingly painful to watch, like a David Attenborough documentary where the elegant ruminant gets savaged by a lion then has its insides ripped out by a pack of hyaenas. The champ looked so helpless. All that insouciance at the Gold Coast was gone and in its place was a  lonely blond-haired kid being frowned upon by an older man on the stairs who shook his head sadly as the siren sounded. 

Bells Day 5: “Florence’s insides ripped out by hyena!”

Zeke Lay eats John John alive, Parko surfs like new-born giraffe with foetal alcohol syndrome!

Isn’t life the most whimsical, curious and inscrutable of affairs? It’s what I love about Pro Surfing, above all else: this eternal tilting at the windmill of a mainstream audience, its earnest and blackly (unintentionally) comic embrace of total corpo-speak, the smoke and mirrors faking it until you make it pieces in the mainstream business media. Its subtle and none-too-subtle shifts and changes that seem to leave all concerned – especially the surfers, sorry athletes – clueless and gawping like goldfish in a bowl.

I do not jeer. Believe me. Especially after a day like today. 

People say to me all the time: “Why do you fucken write about pro surfing if you fucking hate it so much?” Lovers of the game think I should love and true haters think any attention is legitimacy to the evil commercialisation in surfing.

Jared Diamond in his foreword to Guns, Germs and Steel said in relation to similar objections to writing about Human History : “This objection rests on a common tendency to confuse an explanation of causes with a justification or acceptance of results”, which sums up my response on the matter perfectly. 

You’d go a long way to find a more curious, bizarre in Strider’s words, morning in Pro Surfing history. I tuned in and after wrassling with the WSL webby which persisted in locking into yesterday’s stream and got live action halfway into the Zeke Lau/JJF round three heat. Replays showed Zeke, with a face like an Easter Island statue and physique to match, had monstered John, got all up in his grill and had sent the world champ into a tailspin. Combo’ed, Florence fell, then fell again as the clock ticked down. It was thrilling and almost wincingly painful to watch, like a David Attenborough documentary where the elegant ruminant gets savaged by a lion then has its insides ripped out by a pack of hyaenas. The champ looked so helpless. All that insouciance at the Gold Coast was gone and in its place was a  lonely blond-haired kid being frowned upon by an older man on the stairs who shook his head sadly as the siren sounded.

John’s presser was abject. He looked terrible. Bags under the eyes like a parkie who’d skulled a flagon of cheap port and spent the night curled up in a bus stop. He called Zeke’s aggression “kinda lame” and said “I might do it in the next event.” Which made me snort my coffee and shout aloud “As if!”

John has no aggro in his game. None. Unlike Fanning, who brings an intensity to any recreational lineup, I have no qualms getting my quota if John showed at my local breaks.

Putting it bluntly, and regretfully, Parko’s surfing in his heat with Fred Morais was farcical, almost risible. It was borderline slapstick. He looked as coordinated and solid as a new-born giraffe with foetal alcohol syndrome stumbling it’s way across New York’s central park on New years Eve. Yes, it was that surreal. Only a faint vestigial image of something graceful and elegant was visible in the bumbling performance he laid on. To be charitable, and in his own words, he had a shocker. 

Strider said it might be something in the water, as even the king of three turns and a solid finish Adriano De Souza struggled with standing on a surfboard. But what? There are drugs that make people smart, like Modafinil and Ritalin and Coffee. What could have made the best in the world stumble about like English accountants on a Friday night? Rohypnol? Ether? Had the earth’s magnetic field been reversed, as has happened before, overnight and suddenly everything was topsy turvy and upside down? Maybe it was just sleep deprivation, the Top 34 seems like Daddy Day Care these days and every Dad knows that wobbly burnt out feeling of being kept up all hours by a screaming kiddy. I don’t know. 

It took four heats before the curtain was drawn on the slapstick and Filipe and Italo took the lineup. If you read any of the Snapper coverage you’ll know Italo is my boy. Using Nick Carroll’s objective analysis method I determined him to be the fastest surfer on Tour and the best goofyfoot and believe, to date, he has been crucially underscored. Like the Gold Coast, it’s a shame he had to meet Filipe so early in the draw. It’ll probably be the best heat of the comp. Toledo made a grey, wobbly lineup and grey sky shine with the light of a thousand suns. He blitzed and shralped and threw high speed edges at every half lip and corner he could find. Alone, he made it seem like a different lineup. But Italo was better. Very, very big high-speed cornering from bottom to top and massive finishes with perfect handling. My heart was in my throat watching Italo’s second ride with six minutes to go and needing a score. when he stuck a huge landing I found myself fist-pumping and saying “Yes!” First heat I’ve watched where Occy Skins ’97 looked dated. Could have gone either way but I think the judges have finally caught on to the fact that Italo is leading this wobbly old peloton. 

An hour’s break and back to Winki with more gurgle to deal with for round four. Maybe something is biding its time, over the horizon and is ready to announce its arrival. Give this year it’s shape and definition; the way John’s performance at Margaret River did last year. 

Michel Bourez was simply sensational and for all the big new meathead journeymen on Tour with hams the size of Sally Fitzgibbon, there is no one even close to him as the premier power surfer on Tour. That reminds of a post Chas Smith wrote about the rise of midget surfers… hold that thought, we’ll come back to it. 

Mick Fanning was several shades off the pace in his round four heat with Wilko and Pat Gudauskas, and I feel like a worm for insinuating yesterday that Pat had nothing to offer except a few miserable sixes and sevens. He just looks… a little too hyped up for my taste. At least he didn’t get his coffee spiked with rohypnol this morning. Mick made a mistake, gave Wilko a scoring wave, looked resigned to losing and having his last heat, was over-scored on a ride which got him back into it and then loosed the old instincts to win the heat. Pressure now for a fairytale finish will be acute and severe.

Zeke Lau, Fred Morais, Italo and Gabe are through from round four. 

Am I seeing this correct?

I often lie awake in the wee hours, unable to sleep, listening to the whine of a mosquito, wondering. what if I’m dead wrong? I don’t do Facebook much but I saw an update from the surf journalist Nick Carroll who stated, “There’s a potentially great and very challenging round three draw in the Bells men’s event. A lot of good surf coming, and some of the heats could go very big. I don’t normally hype the CT, it gets enough of that, but whoa. Take a look if you can.” 

That is a totally different perspective to mine. I have to cleave to the view of commenter Wiggoly’s Paddling Style, who with his great flair for the scatalogical, sent me an email today saying, “This Bells is about as exciting as a half-sucked cock at a wedding.”

What are you seeing? Where does the truth lie?

Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach Remaining Round 3 Results:
Heat 7: Ezekiel Lau (HAW) 13.07 def. John John Florence (HAW) 9.76
Heat 8: Frederico Morais (PRT) 11.60 def. Joel Parkinson (AUS) 9.07
Heat 9: Conner Coffin (USA) 9.83 def. Adriano De Souza (BRA) 9.63
Heat 10: Italo Ferreira (BRA) 16.60 def. Filipe Toledo (BRA) 15.40
Heat 11: Jeremy Flores (FRA) 11.86 def. Adrian Buchan (AUS) 11.73
Heat 12: Gabriel Medina (BRA) 14.16 def. Willian Cardoso (BRA) 13.30

Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach Round 4 Results:
Heat 1: Michel Bourez (PYF) 15.77, Owen Wright (AUS) 12.00, Wade Carmichael (AUS) 10.60
Heat 2: Mick Fanning (AUS) 14.33, Patrick Gudauskas (USA) 14.00, Matt Wilkinson (AUS) 13.17
Heat 3: Ezekiel Lau (HAW) 12.57, Frederico Morais (PRT) 11.16, Conner Coffin (USA) 11.10
Heat 4: Gabriel Medina (BRA) 13.33, Italo Ferreira (BRA) 12.17, Jeremy Flores (FRA) 11.00

Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach Quarterfinal Matchups:
QF 1: Michel Bourez (PYF) vs. Patrick Gudauskas (USA)
QF 2: Mick Fanning (AUS) vs. Owen Wright (AUS)
QF 3: Ezekiel Lau (HAW) vs. Italo Ferreira (BRA)
QF 4: Gabriel Medina (BRA) vs. Frederico Morais (PRT)