rock jump
From where you'd rather not be.

Biblical: This failed rock jump will collapse your nervous system!

See the ocean open up and attempt to swallow Brazilian big-wave surfer.

There are rock jumps and there are rock jumps, wouldn’t y’say? Some require a sort of heroism, a fifty-metre run across a bare rock shelf as sets bear down, while others aren’t much more than a skip-skip-jump.

Snapper Rocks is unsympathetic and liable to humiliate. A few of those joints in Chile will entangle you with gigantic rock formations and collapse your nervous system.

And then there’s something like this, starring the Brazilian surfer Daniel Rangel. Now Dan, who is thirty four years old, ain’t no kook. He’s been surfing competitively since he was nine, lived on Oahu’s North  Shore for ten years, tries to self-immolate at big Teahupoo every summer and currently lives on Kauai.

For kicks, he surfs a joint called Gardenal Slab, two clicks off Barra da Tijuca in Rio, and which he says is “the most dangerous wave in Brazil, if not one of the most dangerous in the world. Everyone who knows the place knows this.”

So when you see Dan in a situation of utter despair, a rock jump where, for a moment the ocean opens up and tries to swallow him, you know it’s sorta treacherous. This rock jump is at a slab called, appropriately enough, Shock near the Museum of Contemporary Art in Niteroi, Rio.

Was Dan worried when the ocean swallowed him whole?

“I was super embarrassed more than worried,” he says. “There were about 150 people watching and filming the rocks. So I was thinking to myself, what a kook move. Just trying to keep the calm face on and paddle away like nothing happened. But, yeah, when I realised I fucked up the timing I was pretty worried. Right after that, I borrowed my friend’s board ’cause mine was all fucked with no fins and caught this wave.”

Which popped Dan’s shoulder.

“I was pretty pissed,” he says. “Popped it back in and in the heat of the moment caught another one half an hour later. After that I decided to go in ’cause I was in extreme pain.”



The conjurer and his magic trick! | Photo: CXPress

Surf Quiz: “What’s your signature move?”

Jerky mid-face turns? Four-stage cutbacks?

I was a bad surfer for many years and then I died. I think that will be my epitaph. If a book was written it would be called Journal of a Pointless Life.

Still, I persist. And I persist with a manner of surfing that, although tweaked here and there, a few weeks spent doing throwaway airs, a month on backside on-the-face reverses that are more cutbacks into a long, slow slide, remains largely the same, year after year, wave after wave.

My signature is to hesitate on the take off, examine the nose of my board briefly, stay in the push-up position for a second or two, eventually take off, race to the shoulder, do a hands-in-the-air cut-down followed by a pump-pump-pump, a jerky sorta mid-face turn, race, race, race, to horizontal closeout and look to the beach for any sign of delight on faces of spectators.

What’s your signature? And what defines your signature? Are you tall and gangly (Chas) or a little pert one with round thin shoulders (me)?

Is your signature self-conscious and your volume too hot: standing upright, jerky arms, or is your signature a great self-control, as if you’re bored with the whole thing and you want to go to bed?

Stephanie Gilmore wants the Olympics in a wave tank!

"It would be strange to crown an Olympic champion in the ocean one Games and then in the pool in another."

Of course, Stephanie Gilmore is the most pleasing of all surfers to watch at Surf Ranch. The six-time world champion was raised among the girlish sand-bottom points of Coolangatta and while stodgy men (Joel) and uninterested men (John John) struggle with the pool’s reductive precision, Stephanie’s delicate gestures reveal a nobility impossible to imitate.

Just prior to the women’s event at Jeffrey’s Bay, Stephanie enjoyed a week-long “Olympics readiness” training camp at Surf Ranch courtesy of the government-funded body Surfing AustraliaThis was questioned by the shaping great Maurice Cole who wondered, very loudly, why the Australians were practising in a pool when the Games will be held in Chiba’s crummy little beachies.

But, perhaps Stephanie knows something you and I, the shielded, protected public, don’t. Yesterday, she told The Daily Telegraph,

“If we knew it would be in an ocean where the waves were consistent and there was a perfect reef break then for sure I’d be down for it… But there are so many counties where the waves aren’t there, who might not even have an ocean. I think it would be good to be consistent from the very beginning. It would be strange to crown an Olympic champion in the ocean one Games and then in the pool in another. I think they need to start it in a wave pool and keep it going. It would be terrible if you worked for four years and then there was no surf.”

She ain’t wrong.

Can you imagine the gloom and the resentment if the gold medals were awarded to some child for exaggerated turns in two-foot bouillabaisse?

Interestingly, Stephanie also said the Ranch had been excellent training for J-Bay.

“It was pretty perfect preparation for here actually. The waves are pretty similar.”

Read the entire story here. (Spoiler: the meat’s already been picked off the bone.)

Buy: Kelly Slater’s new organic light beer!

11x World Champ seeks to take out St. Archer, Balter, Parkinsuds and other surf beer start-ups!

Anyone who has spent time in greater Los Angeles is certainly aware of the 405 freeway. The magnificent road stretches from Lake Forest in Orange County runs all the way to the Granada Hills in what used to be the pornography capital of the world. Most people dislike the 405 due its congestion etc. but I love because it is always good people watching and guess who I saw today.

Kelly Slater!

Not in person, of course, but on a giant billboard up near Culver City. Kelly was advertising Michelob Ultra Pure Gold beer made with Organic Grains. I can’t find the image online but he was in a WSL singlet getting very tubed and it really made me think. How many “organic grains” must you have in beer in order to claim “organic grains?” 10%? 20%? Does “organic” matter when things are turned into alcohol? Is “organic” beer healthy?

It also really made me think about Kelly as a pitchman. Someone here in the comments, I wish I could remember who, called him the worst pitchman of all time. That he would never ever ever buy any product that Kelly was selling from K traction pads and leashes to Purps to VSTR to OuterKnown to, I’m assuming, Michelob Ultra Pure Gold beer made with Organic Grains.

Yes, whoever wrote that was very wise.

Mysterious: Tyler and Owen Wright’s “African virus”!

Two world title contenders disappear from important event. The WSL and Rip Curl refuse to comment.

I doubt if there’s a more compelling story within pro surfing than the Wright family.

Even the most cursory examination reveals myriad story lines: the two-time world champ Tyler who won a tour event at fourteen, qualified at sixteen and who threw it in briefly before returning to the tour and carving and plating her two titles.

Owen? Returns from a catastrophic brain injury, bleeding on the brain, paralysis and (temporary) inability to speak to win his first event back on tour one year later and return to his normal position as a world title contender.

Mikey? Hot and salty and greasy (like a sunbathing German) and a wildcard world title contender.

At J-Bay last week, Tyler and Owen both withdrew from their respective events citing colds, a mysterious “African flu.” The story was given little air time and no official statement was made.

I contacted the WSL who told me they’d provide me with an “update” from their “medical team.”

Shortly after, I was put in touch with Rip Curl’s Media and Communications manager, Mimi LaMontagne (disclaimer: I’ve worked with Mimi and find her a very good writer, an appealing person and so on) who said, “Unfortunately we are not making any statements on behalf of the Wrights at this time.”

Obviously, I called to ask:

Why was no statement made, either by the WSL or Rip Curl?

Was the virus so grave neither could surf?

Will they be at the next event?

Everything I was told henceforth was off the record, but nothing real exciting.

A. Virus wasn’t a big deal so no story.

2. Yep. Better to recover and be good for the next event.

3. Yep.

The lack of an official statement about significant, and potentially world-title altering withdrawals from both events (Tyler is rated #4, Owen #11) strikes me, as it does you given the various commentary here, as very odd.

But it is a year of mystery.

John John’s mysterious knee injury. One contest called off because of sharks, another that treats the arrival of  Great White sharks as a gorgeous sideshow and, now, two title contenders, one already a champion, who disappear from an important event and not a damn thing is said or written.

Oh it’s like a good old Hollywood melodrama!