Griffin Colapinto Keramas
Colapinto had other ideas. He effortlessly bested Jesse Mendes in an aggressive paddle battle then started throwing it into the sky. He was the best, maybe the only true hi-fi surfing of the day.

Day 1, Keramas: “Colapinto only true hi-fi surfer!”

Twenty-one scored totals under 10. At clean six-foot Keramas.

I spent the day watching the opening day of Keramas taking notes, toggling desperately between tabs to try and get a fix of giant Cloudbreak, which was falling out of the heavens.

The few clips I saw of perfect 20-foot glacial blue tubes lit me up like a junkie with a spike in the vein.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BjRbKBUHFr_/?hl=en&taken-by=owenmilnemedia

Keramas, not so much.

Still, the best live surfing I’ve ever seen was the Volcom Guerilla Freesurf session after the pros capitulated. It seemed Volcom would sponsor Fiji until the crack of doom after those epic years. But they fled, leaving Ziff to pick up the tab, and then Kelly, who inked a three-year deal and reneged after one, blaming the Fijian government.

Such is life. 

A little problem presented itself almost straight away at Keramas. A nagging one, which a very smart commenter named Toin Coss inadvertently put his finger on a couple of stories back. He called it the naturalistic fallacy, the tendency to confuse what is with what ought to be.

I reframe slightly to credit the source, that turgid Scottish cunt David Hume (kidding: he was a great laugh, apparently). Hume named the is/ought problem after the tendency to determine what ought to be, from what is. The WSL gives it to us arse about. We can all plainly see what is, but they tell us what ought to be. 

Joe and Pottz ran themselves ragged this morning telling us how Keramas was the highest performance wave on Tour now (false), how we were going to be blessed by a blitzkrieg of surfboards raining down from the high heavens, an aerial bonanza, a shredfest of greco-roman proportions. A radical sceptic like Hume would have drop-kicked the computer off a high building. 

Italo got the best shack of the first heat, but gave away priority and Parko sneaked through with a ten-point total. Owen dialled in two bombs waiting patiently, a strategy John Florence admitted he cribbed for the following heat. 

Rosie had dialed up the is/ought fiasco by claiming John, at the halfway mark without a wave ridden was “looking fantastic”. He did look good later with a coupe of slick tube-rides, but is he back?

Not to be outdone, Pottz claimed a little later that “all these guys, in my eyes, have the ability to win a World Title (false). Maybe five guys in a year, maybe three.

Did you notice the narrative change in the most subtle but delightful way when Kieren Perrow, with images starting to dribble in of Kelly spearing giant Cloudbreak, attributed Kell”s absence, not to injury but to the fact he “can’t compete at the very high level he wants to”. I appreciated that. The injury line was starting to really throw sand in my gears. 

Heat four saw Mikey Wright come out snarling and swinging like a wild animal. Unfortunately he picked the thick waves that filled up on the reef, not the bulbous mid-range waves that stayed open. He buckled a board, he couldn’t get a score. I still see the Weet-Bix-kid-Mikey I used to surf with as a grom, which is unfair. People grow up, they change. Strider was enthused at “how well he’s put together the rig.” Filipe was average and Connor snuck through with another 10-point heat total. 

With the promised high-performance bonanza starting to slip away the is/ought dilemma had to be jammed into Ronnie’s back pocket for the next heat with Gabe. Maybe it fell down the crack in the couch with all the loose change. Parko was in the booth. He was fantastic. Who woulda thought he was so fantastic as a story-teller. He raised some important issues. 

  1. The wave is hard to turn on.
  2. The seawall built to retrain the river-mouth may have negatively impacted the wave and 
  3. Gabe Medina has under-performed since 2014. 

A weird, wonky heat ensued. No waves came. With a 9.45 remaining Gabe had no scores. Finally he picked a couple of scraps and tore them to pieces. The winning total: 5.60.

I do not kid. 

Julian’s preparation was revealing. He had no preparation. Just head home and hang with the Mum and bub and leave the sled in the covers. It worked. He rode the throatiest bomb of the morning beautifully, perfectly for an easy win against C O’leary and Indonesian wildcard Oney Anwar. 

By this stage, with J-Flo in the water I had to reflect on Chas’ Olympic story with its allusions to dangerous and damaging techniques. Keramas demands a certain line. The deep tube to the  deep, deep cutback back up into the bowl. It’s a turn that demands strength and maybe good board design. Watching pro’s fail to penetrate the rail was dispiriting. Seven heats in and there had been two proper turns. J-Flo did one of them, JJF the other.

But with strength so lacking and at such a premium surely pro’s must avail themselves of “dangerous and damaging techniques”?

Jordy attacks!

Finally, what ought to be arrived on stage. Jordy hacked and gouged away and threw tail on the boiling inside section. When Jordy attacks people are happy. The crowd roused. Judges lowballed him, maybe an ongoing punishment for the safety surfing sins of events past? He looked imperious. 

It was a shame the is/ought propaganda had been shelved by heat nine. Pottz had lost steam and was in full “ a win is a win” territory.

Colapinto had other ideas. He effortlessly bested Jesse Mendes in an aggressive paddle battle then started throwing it into the sky. He was the best, maybe the only true hi-fi surfing of the day. In the presser, he made intentions clear. He’d been waiting all year for sections like that and he was glad the judges only gave him an 8.5 because there was room to grow. 

https://www.instagram.com/p/BjRCpQBDDWM/?hl=en&taken-by=lostsurfboards

They called it off after heat 11, with the trade-wind tearing strips off it and even Ronnie felt emboldened to call it slop. 

Thirty-three surfers surfed 11 heats. Three scored heat totals over 15.

Twenty-one scored totals under 10. In clean albeit wonky six-foot Keramas.

Just the facts. Just what is.

Corona Bali Protected Men’s Round 1 Results:
Heat 1: Joel Parkinson (AUS) 10.37, Italo Ferreira (BRA) 10.10, Keanu Asing (HAW) 7.17
Heat 2: Owen Wright (AUS) 14.17, Michael February (ZAF) 9.74, Ezekiel Lau (HAW) 9.57
Heat 3: John John Florence (HAW) 15.17, Michael Rodrigues (BRA) 8.00, Miguel Pupo (BRA) 4.16
Heat 4: Conner Coffin (USA) 10.94, Filipe Toledo (BRA) 9.46, Mikey Wright (AUS) 5.84
Heat 5: Gabriel Medina (BRA) 5.60, Barron Mamiya (HAW) 2.97, Tomas Hermes (BRA) 2.07
Heat 6: Julian Wilson (AUS) 11.50, Connor O’Leary (AUS) 6.44, Oney Anwar (IDN) 6.27
Heat 7: Jeremy Flores (FRA) 8.77, Kolohe Andino (USA) 8.66, Ian Gouveia (BRA) 2.73
Heat 8: Jordy Smith (ZAF) 15.10, Joan Duru (FRA) 13.04, Kanoa Igarashi (JPN) 8.33
Heat 9: Griffin Colapinto (USA) 15.07, Adrian Buchan (AUS) 10.83, Jesse Mendes (BRA) 10.40
Heat 10: Michel Bourez (PYF) 12.16, Patrick Gudauskas (USA) 8.57, Matt Wilkinson (AUS) 5.67
Heat 11: Willian Cardoso (BRA) 7.84, Frederico Morais (PRT) 6.44, Wade Carmichael (AUS) 4.83

Corona Bali Protected Remaining Matchups:
Heat 12: Adriano de Souza (BRA), Sebastian Zietz (HAW), Yago Dora (BRA)


Warning: “Unproven, damaging techniques!”

What menace lurks in professional surfing?

It is a beautiful morning in southern California after many, many grey days. The sun is shining, bunny rabbits frolicking in the dewy grass, a little hummingbird has just built a nest outside my window and is gently optimistic about the future. Little does she know that a evil lurks nearby. Like a creeping shadow spreading across the waters. Like a menacing chill. Waiting to destroy her young hatchlings’ futures.

For somewhere close surf coaches are peddling dangerous snake oil, pseudo-science, lies masquerading as truth, death.

How do I know? Well the official governing body of U.S. Olympic Surfing just convened a panel of leading experts in the medical and possibly psychological fields to give the Olympic hopefuls the best possible shot at winning gold and let us read together from the press release.

“USA Surfing will work toward impacting the whole sport of surfing in the United States, not just our elite athletes or Olympic hopefuls,” Dean said. “We have assembled a dream team of experts to help create a performance pathway that supports winning medals and progressing the sport of surfing at every level.”

Dean believes in an evidence-based approach adapted to each individual athlete and warns of unproven and even damaging techniques employed by surfers and coaches striving to improve performance. “We look forward to sharing the leading research and techniques for surf fitness and training,” Dean said. “Surfers need to demonstrate competent movement upon which to build appropriate strength”

USA Surfing CEO Greg Cruse said Team USA’s High Performance Committee reflects the vision of USA Surfing leading up to the 2020 Olympics. “Kevyn has assembled a world-class committee and surf training program,” said Cruse. “The committee’s work reflects the momentum and excitement growing in USA Surfing. Surfing is one of the most athletically demanding sports in the world and it needs the solid, medically sound training program that the High Performance Committee will bring to the sport.”

All fine and good to the casual reader but the highly trained surf journalist sniffs out the disturbance and let us read the following line, again, together:

…warns of unproven and even damaging techniques employed by surfers and coaches striving to improve performance. “We look forward to sharing the leading research and techniques for surf fitness and training,” Dean said. “Surfers need to demonstrate competent movement upon which to build appropriate strength”

What are these unproven and even damaging techniques being employed by surfers and coaches striving to improve performance? Not lifting with your legs? Sitting with poor posture? Not brushing and flossing before bed? Drinking matcha lattes instead of coffee?

Steroids?

Some surfer or coach out there must know and I’ll get to the bottom of it but in the meantime we should probably speculate steroids. Or cocaine.

Buy Cocaine + Surfing here!


The King is also a man of the peeps, travelling relatively incognito in Fiji Airways' coach… | Photo: @moralesedwin

Guess Who’s Going to Fiji?

Hint: busted foot, owns a pool, first name Robert…

Last night, shortly after officially withdrawing from the Corona Bali Protected at Keramas, Kelly Slater boarded a flight to Fiji to collide with waves Surfline says “will rival, and potentially surpass, some of the most memorable swells for Fiji.”

Kelly Slater Fiji
The Puerto Escondido photographer Edwin Morales, seated behind KS en route to Fiji. Also on the flight were “Nathan, Billy, Dame, Tom and Coco,” says Edwin. I’m guessing, Fletcher, Kemper, Hobgood, dunno and Nagales. Fill in the missing surname?

Do you remember six years ago at the Volcom Pro when the tour turned sissy, locked her thigh gates and cancelled the Fiji event?

Bigger than that maybe.

Read Ashton Goggans’ account here.

And Fred Pawle’s here. 

Right about now, some readers will be finger stroking their foreheads.

Kelly can’t surf Keramas, can surf riotous Cloudbreak?

Well… yes.

Does anyone remember the magic of Kelly Slater, Tahiti, 2003, when he stole the world title lead from Andy Irons by winning Teahupoo with a busted foot?

Ain’t that hard to take off and pull in with a busted boot, Kelly said at the time.

Forcing your heels through the board on frontside hacks and all the pushing and yanking of airs is a little harder.

And, therefore, with Cymatic packed (editor’s note: The writer Longtom is currently testing the new model at Lennox Head and beyond, report next week) and a stash of rhino chasers at Tavarua, Kelly Slater will wake up to a warrior Sunday morning and take his ruined body off to do battle.

Here, Kelly commentates John John during the 2012 swell.

More as it comes, I suppose.


Podcast: “Dane Reynolds didn’t let me ejaculate!”

Also are surfers mongo?

The velvety pipes of Todd Richards came to my home today and sat across from David Lee Scales, kitty-corner to me, at the zinc countertop and explained why surfers are culturally appropriating assholes. How surfers take the blood, sweat and tears of the skateboarders and snowboarders before them and laugh and mock and then call things that happen above the lip of the wave “Gorkin Flips” and “Bologna Sandwiches” instead of their proper nomenclatures born in the Fires of Mordor.

We are sons of bitches and no one would argue except Todd Richards is on a mission. He wants us to come correct. To unite with our brethren and treat aerial maneuvers in the same way or, at the very least, to call them the same things.

If you are unfamiliar with Todd Richards he is a professional snowboarder, wonderful skateboarder, very good surfer and the voice of professional Olympic snowboarding (the most professional kind). You can hear a little bit of his story on the podcast and then it is gloves off but this time it is me sitting quietly, mixing bloody marys to drink all by myself, while Todd and David Lee Scales attack, parry, counter-attack. It is a fantastic reckoning, our best podcast yet, and worth a listen because the future of surf terminology hangs in the balance.

Since I was sitting quietly, mixing bloody marys to drink all by myself when we recorded at 10 am this morning I am in no state to post all the video evidence presented on the show (because I clearly had to play through and it is now 5:39 pm and I’m on……….vodka lemonade I think) but you can and should click right here and watch.

We also discuss trucker hats in the lineup, the merits and demerits of zinc and Dane Reynolds who left the entire surf world with blue balls. Unfulfilled. Son of a bitch.

But do you say “kitty-corner” or “katty-corner”?

My dog must have pissed somewhere in the house because I just caught a giant whiff.

LISTEN!


Breaking: Mick Fanning saves a fish!

"It kept slipping out of his hands so he started scooping up with sand..."

And just when you think you know someone. Mick Fanning, 36, was heading out for a surf today when he saw a poor little fish flopping helplessly in the sand. The normal reaction would have been to step on the fish’s head, delivering a satisfying crunch up through the heel and into the heart but that is not what Mr. Fanning did. He, instead, saved the fish’s life and let us turn to the Gold Coast Bulletin for the rest of the story.

Amateur photographer Leisa Oakes started snapping shots of Fanning when she saw him trying to pick up the slippery fish. “I wondered what he was doing, then I realised he was trying to pick up this little bream which had flipped up onto the sand,” said the Tweed Heads resident who goes by @natures_jewel.

“It kept slipping out of his hands so he started scooping up with sand on to his board.

“He eventually got it back into the water, it was pretty funny.”

Fanning is previously best known for punching a shark in the face. Do you believe in karma? Do you think this rights the wheel or whatever?

I don’t believe in karma and would have stepped the fish’s head, delivering an enjoyable crisp up through the heel and into the heart. It is why Mick Fanning is a better man than me and always will be.

To Mick!