Stephanie Gilmore Brazil
Steph Gilmore, Brazil winner, hero to little boys everywhere! | Photo: WSL

Gilmore: “I still want to smash everyone!”

Y'gotta have a little animal if you wanna win six titles… 

As you all know by now, unless you’re living under a rock or are getting totally shacked on a deserted island – which, if you are, what are you even doing here – Steph Gilmore won the Oi Rio Pro yesterday.

She beat out Lakey Peterson in the finals.

Don’t ask me what happened, I was busy talking to some guy in the parking lot. Knowing what happened isn’t my job around here.

A week or so ago, I had the chance to do a brief interview with Gilmore. I’d driven down to Malibu, because Quiksilver was throwing a party to celebrate their new store. It was like any surf party you’ve ever been to. We stood in the parking lot, drinking beers and telling stories. Unlike most surf parties, we didn’t have to pass the hat for another beer run.

When I first catch sight of Gilmore, I have a weird moment of confusion. Is that her or a poster of her? She is after all standing in the Roxy section of the store. She’s wearing a colorful one-piece swimsuit as a top paired with skinny jeans. She laughs at something Caroline Marks says. No, that’s not a poster.

We step outside to get some distance from the DJ. Here are a few excerpts from our brief conversation.

On changes in the sport since she began competing:

“I started on Tour in 2007 at nineteen years old. I was able to have a few years where I competed with Layne Beachley and we had Rochelle Ballard, Chelsea Hedges, and Sofia Mulanovich. I was stoked to get a few years on Tour before those women retired.

“The first two years, I had events at Sunset. When I was on Tour, you know, the women are riding really big boards and sort of charging really big waves. It was sort of a proving point in that respect.

“These women were a lot more raw. There was something about that older generation, because they had to prove themselves from day one. They were pushing so hard for what they deserved. They had to do it with an aggression that almost created friction with the men.

“I think as time went on, you can see a transition where the men started to see that we weren’t competing against them, we weren’t taking anything away from them, we are here for the same reasons. We love the sport. We love what we do and we want to evolve and get better. It wasn’t taking anything away from them.

“I know a lot of of the older women in those generations are like, hey man, we worked so hard for what you’re reaping the rewards of today. But the beautiful thing is, we have so much gratitude for that and we really respect everything they’ve done for us.”

On style:

“Mel Bartels, she really used to blow my mind with the tricks. She was like the one girl, who was like, women’s surfing can go in this direction.”

“My surfing is pretty basic, you know, I just sort of do, like what I know how to do. And I kind of, that’s always been, it’s just solid, normal surfing.”

“Mel Bartels, she really used to blow my mind with the tricks. She was like the one girl, who was like, women’s surfing can go in this direction.”

I can’t help myself, and start laughing: Right! You don’t do anything fancy!

“No, I don’t! I don’t!” She’s laughing now, too.

Every guy I know wants to surf like you, I say.

“But that’s not because I do fancy stuff, I think that’s maybe because it’s fluid to watch and people love that.”

On being a woman athlete:

“That’s the cool thing about being a woman athlete, we’re able to have this balance. We can be fierce and have that assertiveness and competitive drive with each other and then we can kind of switch out of it.

“We care for each other and we want to help each other out on Tour and you know, it’s a really special camaraderie between all the girls.”

On the Competition level on Tour:

“It’s a lot tighter. Every single heat, you could lose. Anyone can lose. It’s crazy to think Carissa and Tyler aren’t winning every single event still. It’s a true testament to, all the girls, the level all the girls are at.”

I get a sudden glimpse of Gilmore, the athlete. She’s a photographer’s dream and seeing her perfect images and video clips, it’s sometimes easy to forget what Gilmore has accomplished. Here’s the woman who’s won six world titles, and still, it seems, wants more. There’s a determined glint in her eye.

“I love it. I still want to smash everyone and do my best. That’s why we’re all here.”

Eddie Rothman: “Stone cold fucking idiots!”

No beachboys, no aloha!

If you have been perusing the news at all over this past week you have no doubt stumbled upon a story involving Waikiki’s iconic beachboys losing their concession on the world’s most famous stretch of sand. A dive operator has, apparently, won a bid to take over the spots where, for decades, Duke Kahanamoku and others have taught tourists to surf, swim and how best to enjoy the Hawaiian islands.

With the beachboy way of life threatened, notable Hawaiians have jumped in, bringing the story to national attention. I called up Eddie Rothman for more background and was gifted with his son Makua Rothman too, who was with his father crafting a battle plan. Here, without further ado, is the unedited conversation.

Chas: Eddie, Chas Smith here. I need your help. I need you to tell me about the beachboy situation.

Eddie: Yo, Makua is right here just talking about it it’s pretty fucked up, bro. Surfers from all over the world gotta get involved. (to Makua) You wanna talk? You wanna tell him about it?

Makua: (indecipherable)

Eddie: Because you know I swear when I talk.

Makua: (silent)

Eddie: Ok so here’s what happened. As far as I know, the city and county of Honolulu hates Hawaiian people. The officials. The government. They are against the Hawaiian people. I mean, really bad. Right after we lost the Duke Kahanamoku name, even though we’ll probably get the contest back because they’re caving in and gave it to a bodysurf guy who has a three and a half hour contest but whatever. For a few grand around here you can get whatever you want. So, after they flushed the name Duke Kahanamoku down the toilet, that took us over 30 years to get back, now they go after the beachboys. The beachboys put in a bid, they win the bid, then the State of Hawaii opened the sealed bid, showed it to everybody and then they re-bid it. Are you kidding me? Are you fucking kidding me? And now these new people. Did you see his Instagram (Dive Oahu) before he took it down?

Chas: I sure did.

Eddie: So here it is. Our government of stone cold fucking idiots they hate the local people they hate the Hawaiians…

Makua: (takes phone) And listen to this. So, basically, they are taking the history of beachboys which is myself, Kelly Slater, Laird Hamilton, John John anybody who has ever made their career out of surfing… you know, modern day contest surfing was put together by the Duke, you know, this is the Duke’s legacy these beachboys. This is from the Hawaiian people to all the most famous people who were ever shown aloha from Elvis to Marilyn Monroe to any famous person you can think of back in the day, the beachboys is who took care of them when they came to Hawaii. They came here to see the beachboys. This is a legacy. This is the core of Hawaii period. I can’t see why the State of Hawaii isn’t protecting this as a cultural heritage legacy and extension of Hawaii. I don’t even know how it’s up for bid at all.

Chas: How can surfers around the world help?

Makua: We just have to stand up and say we want the beachboys and we will boycott to show that they are taking the legacy of Hawaii. This is like a slap in the face to the surfing community of the world. This is the epitome of what we all do every day. Everything we do is a spin off of the beachboy lifestyle. If there’s no beachboys there is no aloha and they’re giving the permit to some country club donkey who wants the people to wear country club shoes, collared shirts and khaki shorts. They’re trying to turn it into some country club fancy group but it’s Hawaiian, brah. No shirt. I want surfers to fly here to protest with the Hawaiians. We’re going to be doing some in front of the Duke statue in Waikiki. Also, there is a petition…

So, do you want to do some good this year? Want to help? Fly to Waikiki! Tell the bastards that you want the beachboys then rent one of their boards and cruise it out to Queens. Nothing feels finer.

Or sign a petition here!

Oi Rio Pro: “Filipe Toledo saves pro surfing!”

The Brazilian wins the event and the crown!

I can say, without fear of being overly dramatic, that professional surfing was on its death bed after the Founders Cup event held in Lemoore, California. There it lay, cold and clammy. Its pulse could only be found by distressed asset management experts who merely shook their heads as they walked away, mumbling, “It won’t be long now.” The pool was a dud. It didn’t showcase the progression that the people craved. It didn’t provide any adrenalized thrill. The only benefit was that professional surfing could air live for one hour on CBS, a television channel preferred by geriatrics on their own death beds.

What a miserable end. And with the tour headed to Rio de Janeiro afterward it felt as if the damage sustained in Lemoore would metastasize in the muck and it would all be over. Distressed asset management experts sighed deeply, knowing the cadaver would be a difficult one to sell. Maybe Old Navy needs a fun backdrop to their Scorchin’ Summer Capris campaign? Maybe Bud Light Orange?

But then a miracle happened. Waves, for one, streamed into Brazil like the country hasn’t seen in decades. Fun waves, dancing waves, waves that you and I love surfing ourselves and love watching surfed by professionals too. Little sneaky barrel sections. Unexpected ramps that launched the Best Surfers in the World airborne.

And Filipe Toledo, for two. He won the event, beating Australia’s brave Wade Carmichael in a final that would not have been the same without him. There he put on yet another show of what professional surfing can actually be, how much fun it can actually look. He swished, he soared, he won the event and in so doing saved professional surfing.

The distressed asset management experts shrugged and moved on over to see what Rip Curl is up to these days. “I heard they’re not excited about the possible summit between the United States and North Korea…” one said as he walked away. “…I heard there’s worries that, if things go well, a lack of slave labor will hurt the bottom line.”

Analysis on the event and videos to come.

Dispatched: Controversial shaper disappears!

Likes games of "yellow face" and says, "Fuck Asian imports." Can you guess?

Yesterday it was revealed, via the comments pane below a Kelly Slater Don’t Like Brazil story, that the Instagram account of Peter Schroff had been disappeared.

Name familiar? Maybe.

The Newport, California, based Schroff is a shaper of note, if only regionally, who made his name in the nineteen eighties with his eye-catching graphic design and surfboards painted like happy goldfish.

In recent months, Schroff, who is sixty three years old and who calls himself “da pimp”, mounted an online attack on surfboards that were built in Asian countries.

It’s important to note… Asian countries… ’cause it ain’t Australian-made or Japanese-made boards he was going after, but those built in south-east Asia for fairly obvious labour-cost reasons.

Despite a power base of only a few hundred followers his often very funny Photoshopped images of Kelly Slater and Mark Price (who build their Firewire boards mostly in Asia) were successful in engaging everyone from Shane Dorian to Joel Tudor and innumerable shapers and surfers.

You may remember such classics as Blood Feud: Schroff v Hayden Cox, Relentless: Schroff’s War on Mark PricePeter Schroff Does Yellow Face, Modern: Peter Schroff Doubles Down and Three-Way: Dorian v Tudor v Schroff.

But now? The Peter Schroff show has gone. What…who… iced it?

Had Hayden Cox, an early target, or Mark Price/Kelly Slater, current villains of choice for Schroff mounted legal cases?

I called Hayden who said he had switched off from Schroff and hadn’t seen his account in a year or so.

Maybe I should call Price, he said.

I called Mark Price, a former pro surfer from South Africa turned Firewire CEO and whom I like, who said he hadn’t complained, via IG, Facebook or otherwise.

Price told me, “The only thing I can think of is that Facebook revised its terms of use, coming down harder on racism and homophobia and cyber-bullying. Maybe he hit that threshold in their estimation.”

Price added, “He has every right to advocate his position. Personally, I didn’t like how he did it. I’m sure it’ll rear its ugly head elsewhere. The issue is far from over.”

And Schroff?

The contact button is gone from his website, he doesn’t answer Facebook messages and, when his IG account was live, he didn’t respond to DM requests for a interview.

You out there, sissy-boy?

The look of a champion.
The look of a champion.

Championship: Is this Julian Wilson’s year?

The sneaky slider from Coolum is poised to make history!

There has been so much brouhaha surrounding this year’s World Surf League Champion’s Tour that traditional storylines are becoming lost in the weeds. Early on we had a major realignment, dropping Fiji, Trestles, Pipeline (I think) and introducing Lemoore. Mick Fanning retired in an emotionally touching Bells’ final. Sharks interrupting Margaret River. The ultimate disappointment of professional competitive wave pool surfing. Uluwatu becoming Western Australia’s Tourism Board’s new property, etc.

So many head twisting turns that it has been impossible to focus on the simple. Like, is this finally the year Julian Wilson takes home the number one trophy?

I have predicted his ascent to the very top since BeachGrit first launched some four years ago and have been stymied each. But is this his time?

It seems so. There he sits atop the Jeep Leaderboard wearing the yellow jersey. He has performed well in Brazil, still in the quarterfinals. His nearest competition, Italo Ferreira has been bumped out. Mick Fanning is now retired (emotionally touching) and the rest of the Brazilians are rabidly hungry, surfing incredibly but… I just don’t know. This feels like Julian Wilson’s year. He is a father now, as you know, and this father knows the powerful wings a child lends.

So what do you think? Sport’s gambling is basically legal now in the United States of America. Hopefully at this time next year I can wander down to my local bar and plop down $100 on Julian Wilson but this year at this time I’m stuck with mere theoreticals.

But theoretically let’s say Julian makes it to the semis in Brazil before being clubbed by Filipe. Then off they all go to Keramas and tell me there ain’t a better wave in the world suited to Julian’s game than Bali’s favorite playground. Let’s say semis and then J-Bay where Julian has been a regular finalist plus has bonus shark power™ from that incident a few years back. Chopes, France, Portugal are all quarters or above for the boy. Right? Then Pipe* and it is difficult to imagine another hoisting that number one trophy.

Tell me I’m wrong. I bet you can’t. I bet you $100 you can’t.*

*a theoretical $100 until next year.