Captain Kelly Slater, inventor of pool, leader of US team featuring John John Florence and Carissa Moore. Standards of pure gold!

Get rich (or poor): Betting opens on Founders Cup!

America and Brazil favourites! Europe no chance!

Earlier today, the betting agency William Hill opened its book on the WSL Founders Cup of Surfing, which kicks over next weekend at the Slater-Fincham Surf Ranch.

I’ve got a real good feeling about the Founders Cup. I have a vague memory of a similar teams event that seemed to thrill all involved back when I was a little kid still affixed to mammy teat (The Swan Surfing Super Series)

Mixing surf stars and nationalism, the new-look pool and a three-hour format over each day, kicks me, as I think it will kick you, right in the obliques.

If you’re in Australia or Vegas or whatever, you might want to make it even more interesting by putting a little skin in the game. The odds, as you’ll soon learn, come with enough bait.

The US and Brazil, who clearly have the best teams, come in at $2.50, Australia at six bucks, the World Team, which is captained by Jordy Smith, at eight and the European team, with Reunion Island’s Johanne Defay as skipper, a distant fifteen-to-one.

Now, who you going to throw your money at?

Y’think the US, with John John and the man who has ridden more waves there than anybody and who knows its every kink (Kelly), can be beat?

Or Brazil, with Filipe and Gabriel?

Or will Australia, with Mick Fanning coming out of retirement especially for the event, bring lustre to the tank?


Captain: Stephanie Gilmore (AUS)
Mick Fanning (AUS)
Matt Wilkinson (AUS)
Julian Wilson (AUS)
Tyler Wright (AUS)


Captain: Gabriel Medina (BRA)
Adriano de Souza (BRA)
Filipe Toledo (BRA)
Silvana Lima (BRA)
Taina Hinckel (BRA)


Captain: Johanne Defay (FRA)
Jeremy Flores (FRA)
Frederico Morais (PRT)
Leonardo Fioravanti (ITA)
Frankie Harrer (DEU)


Captain: Kelly Slater (USA)
John John Florence (USA)
Kolohe Andino (USA)
Carissa Moore (USA)
Courtney Conlogue (USA)


Captain: Jordy Smith (ZAF)
Michel Bourez (PYF)
Kanoa Igarashi (JPN)
Paige Hareb (NZL)
Bianca Buitendag (ZAF)

Fame: Who will be breakout WSL star?

The lights are about to get very bright.

Our World Surf League will appear on normal television this Saturday, May 5th for the Founders’ Cup live at Surf Ranch and I have a feeling that one of the World Surf League’s stars is going to breakout and become a household name. Oh not a professional surfer, don’t be silly. They are too busy complaining about sharks and wearing thick sunglasses/baseball hat combinations to get properly famous. No no I’m talking about the WSL’s true value. It’s announcers.

And here we have Ronald Blakey, ’89 World Champ Martin Potter, Pete “Condor” Mel, Strider Wasilewski, Rose Hodge, Jehoshaphat Turpel and someone I’m forgetting. One of them is set for bigger things. One of them is waiting to be discovered.

But who?

Ronald Blakey has all the good looks but 1/18 the charisma of his brother Vaughn. What’s an American supposed to do with a dull Australian? Not a lot and I don’t see Mr. B transcending the dais.

’89 World Champ Martin Potter has got a shot at a cooking show, I think. Like a redone Guy Fieri or that one man who yells “Bam!” after making sauces. Mr. P won’t yell “bam” that’s for sure but he might stutter, “The judges like those finishing moves at the Little Marley section…” Got a ring. No?

Peter Mel could very easily be a sturdy-jaw’d newsman, breaking stories. I see him sharing a desk with Rachel Maddow.

Strider W. is for sure the sleeper hit. Lemoore’s own Country Club Surf Club has already imagined him hosting a daytime television show (above) and I can’t disagree.

Rose Hodge could be big in South Africa and she could be big here too but she needs a little more Charlize and a little less ’89 World Champ in her dance.

J. Turpel would make a nice Scientologist.

So who? If you seriously had to put money on one of Da Crew leaving professional surfing behind to chase a real television career which would you choose?

Don’t you wish Barton Lynch was still here?

“Ahhhhhh loooooook…..”

Record: Brazilian rides biggest wave ever!

Nazaré delivers a gem!

What would our world look like without Nazaré? Without the Portuguese chub breaking so picturesquely in front of a lighthouse? Without G-Mac’s wet dream? Well I’ll tell you. Things would predictably dull and the famous XXL Big Wave Awards would be a laughingstock. Or not a laughingstock, just ignored but today nobody can ignore because of Nazaré. Sweet Nazaré and the world-record breaking wave ridden there this winter.

It was a Brazilian man by the name of Rodrigo Koxa who conquered the first ever 80 foot wave. And can you imagine surfing a wave as tall as the Trump Soho Grand? I didn’t think I could until reading a quote from Mr. Koxa on Surfline.

I had an amazing dream the night before. Where I was talking to myself, ‘You gotta go straight down. You gotta go straight down.’ I didn’t really know what it meant. But I figured somebody was talking to me. When I got my wave, I let go of the rope, I started to use my rail to angle towards the shoulder, but then realized, if I used my rail, I’d never get deep. And then I remembered: ‘go straight down.’ When I said it, I remembered my dream. I turned and I almost fell, but then I got my feet again and went super fast. I’ve never had a big wave like that where I didn’t use the rail at all. Just went straight down. It was amazing.

I hear the same small, still voice when I surf. It whispers “go straight…” “go straight…” “go straight…use neither rail nor fin and go straight all the way.”

Heeding its clarion call, I have been privileged and honored to watch shoulders race on without me. Barrels curling empty toward the horizon. I am now happy to know that someday, maybe soon, I too will go straight into the record books.

surf ranch
Sullen pond or game changer? CBS says latter!

CBS to broadcast Founders Cup Live!

Just like a real sport!

Remember the last time the Eddie ran? The one John John won? Jetskis roaring up the beach, closeout sets that brought the apocalypse etc? If you live in the US, you might’ve watched it live on CBS instead of crouching around your phone or computer.

Two years ago, CBS and the WSL signed a deal where the broadcaster would provide 40 hours of coverage, mostly after-the-fact two-hour episodes although the Eddie was too good to miss.

One day. Thirty foot waves. That’s a sport you can sell to dumb-asses on their synthetic fibre couches, jerking off into their Mac and Cheese boxes between rounds, heats, innings.

In a similar vein, CBS Sports Network will be live broadcasting The Founders Cup, which begins this Saturday, May 5 (early Sunday on the other side of the dateline) and running the entire weekend. CBS’ coverage will begin at 11am with the Sunday coverage to be announced.

Now, whether you thrill to the idea of pools or see ’em as a portent of End Times, the fact the WSL can get a little live coverage happening has less to do with it being in a pool but with a contest that starts and finishes at a fixed time.

As I wrote here, if you want to improve the WSL you gotta hit it hard and hit it fast. Reduce tour numbers. Finish an event in two days, max. The tour, as I do like to say, is a good-looking woman with poor dress sense and a permanent tension in her mouth.

Which makes The Founders Cup historic and not just because it’s being held in the intimidating witchcraft of Slater-Fincham’s man-made perfection. For the first time in surf history, a mainstream broadcaster is gifted a studio, start and finish times, guaranteed waves and a role call of the best surfers in the world.

Now, let’s extrapolate that a little.

What if non-pool contests were one or two-day events at eight-foot Cloudbreak or Teahupoo?

Wouldn’t that be a sport you’d watch?

Just in: Twelve-Foot White Closes Main Break!

Margaret River overheats with shark fever!

If you live in Margaret River, you’ll know how goodhow big… Saturday was. Ten-to-twelve feet in the morning with twenty-footers hammering reefs by the afternoon.

The pro surfer turned real estate agent Mitch Thorson, ranked #16 in the mid-eighties and noted for his jams in big waves, had just cleared up an auction, grabbed his surfing equipment and had headed to Main Break, Margs, he says, “to sit on the shoulder and watch some big ones… it was genuine Hawaiian sorta shit. It was as close to as good and as big as it gets.”

But when Mitch, who is fifty three years old, arrived he was greeted by an empty lineup. A friend stuck his head in his window and told him a Great White “as wide as those Fiats yuppies drive” had swum through the lineup, mowing through salmon. Twice the White had been seen. The entire lineup paddled in.

The Western Australian salmon, of course, and as has been previously explained, gather around Cape Leeuwin and Busselton to “spawn when the eastward flowing Leeuwin Current is strongest, and eastward-directed winds are dominant, enabling transport of pelagic larvae to the south-east.”

Which normally isn’t enough to clear the water around these parts.

Mitch knew it was serious when one surfer, a South Australian transplant who’d stayed out when his pal Rob Bruce was bumped off his board by a Bronze Whaler last week, beached it.

“When I heard that, I knew it was for real,” says Mitch. “He’s never scared.”

Shortly after, an officer from the Department of Fisheries came up, wrote his message on the now ubiquitous shark sign (above) and advised surfers not to enter the water.

A marine biologist pal of Mitch’s describes the shark fever as being directly related to the hundreds of whales floating through lineups and washing onto beaches. “It’s like when you walk into a chook pen and you’re hanging out with the chooks, they’re chilling out and cruising around you, but when you throw pellets on the ground they go berserk. That’s what the shark behaviour is at the moment.”

On the day two surfers were attacked by sharks around Gracetown, a shark watch helicopter crew member says he saw fifteen large sharks between North Point and Kilcarnup.

Mitch did go surfing on Saturday, his ten-three turned into a longboard instead of an elephant chaser, sliding along waist-high reforms in front of the Gnarabup cafe with “women, children and guys with their girlfriends.”

“A one-foot little roller, riding these rolly polly little things that go for a hundred yards. But it was nice to go surfing. I haven’t been surfing much.”