Kolohe Andino, a boy with a soul pure as snow! Photo: WSL

Day One, US Open: “The most unimpressive and humiliating conditions in professional sport!”

Five observations painted in broad strokes cuz it’s about the forest not the trees!

“There is a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious, makes you so sick at heart, that you can’t take part. You can’t even passively take part. And you’ve got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels, upon the levers, upon all the apparatus, and you’ve got to make it stop! And you’ve got to indicate to the people who run it, to the people who own it – that unless you’re free, the machine will be prevented from working at all!” – Anonymous surf fans, Huntington Beach, July 30, 2018

Waist-high, tide-addled Huntington Beach. Really? A professional surf contest at Huntington Beach in 2018? In the summer?

Wait, every summer? Since, like, forever?

Yup, good old HB is still the time-tested venue of the US Open, that mid-summer affair that showers a bounty of qualification points onto an always impressive field of global surf talent as compensation for willingly subjecting themselves to some of the most unimpressive, uninspired and humiliating conditions in professional sport.

It is almost inexplicable — and wholly inexcusable — as to how and why this contest continues to dole out ten full racks of qualification points for a formula-driven tag on the outside, a coupla hops through the middle and a generic closeout bash or twist onto the sand. 

Save me the tired old “the whole industry’s around the corner, bro” spiel: Huntington should have passed from relevance as of the Momentum generation, much less when their kids are knocking on the World Tour’s front door.

And just in terms of this year’s QS, Huntington ain’t a top ten venue, not even close. Did you see Arica or Iquique? Or the string of 1500-point comps in South Africa? Acapulco pumped… for a measly 1000 points. Even the usually HB-like Los Cabos Open went batshit and this year it was exclusively a women’s contest! For anyone other than the pedestrian beachgoer or guy drinking a beer on the pier at 8:30am, there is no legitimate reason that the Huntington comp should exist.

And yet the US Open persists. One of the world’s biggest contests in some of the world’s most lackluster surf. It’s never going away, even if every other contest on the QS were to go absolutely best-day ever for the next twenty years. Much less under the WSL reign of old backward-fins whats’er name.

Huntington is as close to the stadium experience as surfing has ever had, VIP experiences included, and you betcha that the WSL is hedging their bets on replicating it in the wavepool era, even if it’s in a ski lake in scenic King’s County.

But as much as I may snipe at the OC — perhaps unfairly, but more likely completely fairly— and deride the US Open as a scam, a farce, an exercise in the futility of properly governing professional surfing, there’s something to this here contest.

There’s something, there’s lots of something, that is ridiculous and completely idiotic and devoid of reason about the US Open.

Yet there’s also something completely familiar to every California surfer. And that is why I watched. With a full docket at a new job, I watched every heat of the US Open today, a display of masochism that might only be explained by… I don’t even know how to explain it, but I’ll be damned if I don’t try.

Had I not been watching a surf contest with my very eyes, I would have thought that Mel and Coté’s responses to Kobayashi’s interviews were talking about how great the new hire from Pepperdine is at meeting his quarterly sales quota. Vanilla is not the word. Uninspired is not the word. “Professional” is.

Here are five observations from day one of the 2018 US Open, painted in broad strokes, cuz it’s about the forest, not the trees!

  1. The everyman’s struggle is real at HB. I’m not talking about the generic pro’s struggle or some other tired narrative. Oh no, not even. I’m talking about you, me, and every other plebe who crawls out of bed at five am to try to find some pocket of mediocre surf on weekend mornings around two kids, questions of livelihood, and the soul-crushing weight of adult responsibility writ large. The fact that this godforsaken contest gives away so many points and cuts a decent check puts a big segment of the world’s best onto a wave that is all too familiar to the time- and cash-strapped Californian who often has no recourse but to jump in at onshore, high-tide beachbreak X to stay sane. California has its gems. But we also have far, far more crumbly, gutless waves that are a quick turn and a couple of hops and a prayer for an end section. The US Open is impossible not to watch because of the same terrible surf that makes it so loathsome: Tom, Dick, and Harry and Mariano wanna see some top-form grom or big-name pro tear the shit out of the same surf that we subject ourselves to for too much of the year.
  2. The complete and utter lack of falling. This was in part because the waves were, well, shitty. But they were shitty in that way that enabled guys to catch the wave mid-pier, tag a round turn out the back and hop or pump to an inside reform where one last maneuver awaited. It was shitty surf complemented by perfect surfing. Perfectly safe, perfectly predictable, perfectly uninspiring, a real representation of what surfing looks like without judging criteria that can adapt to surfing post-Dane. That is, unless you’ve found yourself trying to milk that same hack-pump-pump-pump-air reverse combo out of shit surf. And if that is your struggle, then every heat was a clinic in how to best surf that crappy summer shorebreak peak just down the road from veritably every California surfer anywhere in the state. You may not get wowed, but you’d be hard-pressed not to learn something about surfing shitty waves from watching the US Open.
  3. Professionalism is the go. The poor up-and-comer on the QS who isn’t a teetotaling Ned Flanders…after every interview, your favorite voices of reason bent over backwards to congratulate the maturity, professionalism and polish of a bunch of late adolescent kids who, by my estimations, would be way more interesting if they were fucking or fighting their way through life and surfing. This was especially true with San Clemente boy wonder version 6.0 Kei Kobayashi. Had I not been watching a surf contest with my very eyes, I would have thought that Mel and Coté’s responses to Kobayashi’s interviews were talking about how great the new hire from Pepperdine is at meeting his quarterly sales quota. Vanilla is not the word. Uninspired is not the word. “Professional” is.
  4. In spite of Kobayashi’s top marks on the day, California doesn’t have another WT candidate at the moment, much less a title contender waiting in the wings. Every corner of Southern California was represented in the early heats and it is official: the next generation is hopeless for raw talent, leaps and bounds behind the Brazilians and Aussies. I don’t say it out of spite or favoritism. I say it because it’s true. The average performance by Californians reminded me of college kids interviewing for internships as tax professionals. And that was the surfing, not the interviews.
  5. WSL propaganda is, uh, lacking. Based on the fact that they talked about beer as if it was a cleaning product that my kitchen just couldn’t do without out, I’ll be passing on any Michelob purchases in the near future. After seeing them on camera, I also wouldn’t trust the people that make Michelob Gold with my children, not even the female one. I also wouldn’t trust anyone hosting an Air BnB WSL Experience with my money (or my children). And to round out the ads cycling through, I’m pretty sure Wade Carmichael put his wetsuit on over his Australian Merino wool WSL embroidered sweater in his advertising debut. Somebody please confirm whether this was homage to Victorian seafaring culture or just poor editing.

Vans US Open of Surfing Men’s QS Round 1 Results:
Heat 1: Kei Kobayashi (USA) 13.37, Reef Heazlewood (AUS) 11.83, Kalani Ball (AUS) 5.93, Imaikalani Devault (HAW) 5.83
Heat 2: Mateus Herdy (BRA) 13.34, Tomas King (CRI) 12.43, Jordy Collins (USA) 10.74, Tomas Tudela (PER) 9.76
Heat 3: OneyOnwar (IDN) 13.10, Joh Azuchi (JPN) 12.90, Shane Campbell (AUS) 10.60, Santiago Muniz (ARG) 7.30
Heat 4: Mitch Crews (AUS) 12.50, Finn McGill (HAW) 9.53, Rio Waida (IDN) 8.27, Krystian Kymerson (BRA) 2.94
Heat 5: Beyrick De Vries (ZAF) 11.87, Tanner Hendrickson (HAW), 10.83, Ryland Rubens (USA) 10.37, Raoni Monteiro (BRA) 8.94
Heat 6: Mihimana Braye (PYF) 12.60, Cody Young (HAW) 11.20, Koa Smith (HAW) 10.70, Jacob Wilcox (AUS) 9.17
Heat 7: Parker Coffin (USA) 10.33, Timothee Bisso (FRA) 10.06, Jackson Butler (AUS) 8.27, Matthew McGillivray (ZAF) 3.37
Heat 8: Marco Fernandez (BRA) 13.70, Kyuss King (AUS) 12.70, Samuel Pupo (BRA) 12.20, Marco Fernandez (BRA) 11.77

Vans US Open of Surfing Men’s QS Round 2 Results:
Heat 1: Kei Kobayashi (USA) 13.17, Ryan Callinan (AUS) 12.04, Willian Cardoso (BRA) 11.90, Carlos Munoz (CRI) 11.70
Heat 2: Keanu Asing (HAW) 14.34, Heitor Alves (BRA) 14.30, Marc Lacomare (FRA) 13.06, Stuart Kennedy (AUS) 10.77
Heat 3: Reef Heazlewood (AUS) 13.17, Yago Dora (BRA) 11.50, Marco Giorgi (ARG) 10.14, Mikey Wright (AUS) 8.74
Heat 4: Ramzi Boukhaim (MOR) 13.86, Adriano De Souza (BRA) 13.83, Alex Ribeiro (BRA) 12.13, Mateus Herdy (BRA) 11.64
Heat 5: Kolohe Andino (USA) 12.63, Dion Atkinson (AUS) 11.63, Vasco Ribeiro (PRT) 11.37, Tomas King (CRI) 8.90
Heat 6: David Van Zyl (ZAF) 14.13, Jesse Mendes (BRA) 12.56, Josh Kerr (AUS) 12.80, Wyatt McHale (HAW) 10.50
Heat 7: Tanner Gudauskas (USA) 13.23, Lucca Mesinas (PER) 12.96, Wiggolly Dantas (BRA) 8.70, Matt Wilkinson (AUS) 8.70
Heat 8: Joshua Moniz (HAW) 14.57, Griffin Colapinto (USA) 14.23, Barron Mamiya (HAW) 11.74, Oney Onwar (IDN) 9.30

Upcoming Vans US Open of Surfing Men’s QS Round 2 (H9-24) Matchups:
Heat 9: Frederico Morais (PRT), Deivid Silva (BRA), Victor Bernardo (BRA), Joh Azuchi (JPN)
Heat 10: Ezekiel Lau (HAW), Jorgann Couzinet (FRA), Noe Mar McGonagle (CRI), Mitch Crews (AUS)
Heat 11: Ian Gouveia (BRA), Miguel Pupo (BRA), Rafael Teixeira (BRA), Cam Richards (USA)
Heat 12: Luel Felipe (BRA), Bino Lopes (BRA), Thiago Camarao (BRA), Finn McGill (HAW)
Heat 13: Italo Ferreira (BRA), Hiroto Ohhara (JPN), Flavio Nakagima (BRA), Beyrick De Vries (ZAF)
Heat 14: Joan Duru (FRA), Jadson Andre (BRA), Gony Zubizarreta (ESP), Hiroto Arai (JPN)
Heat 15: Sebastian Zeitz (HAW), Peterson Crisanto (BRA), Kiron Jabour (HAW), Tanner Hendrickson (HAW)
Heat 16: Jeremy Flores (FRA), Ricardo Christie (NZL), Charly Martin (FRA), Mihimana Braye (PYF)
Heat 17: Michael Rodrigues (BRA), Seth Moniz (HAW), Soli Bailey (AUS), Cody Young (HAW)
Heat 18: Connor O’Leary (AUS), Jack Freestone (AUS), Mitch Coleborn (AUS), Matt Banting (AUS)
Heat 19: Patrick Gudauskas (USA), Ethan Ewing (AUS), Lucas Silveira (BRA), Brett Simpson (USA)
Heat 20: Conner Coffin (USA), Maxime Huscenot (FRA), Cooper Chapman (AUS), Parker Coffin (USA)
Heat 21: Kanoa Igarashi (JPN), Nat Young (USA), Aritz Aranburu (ESP), Timothee Bisso (FRA)
Heat 22: Tomas Hermes (BRA), Alejo Muniz (BRA), Ian Crane (USA), Marcos Correa (BRA)
Heat 23: Michael February (ZAF), Leonardo Fioravanti (ITA), Benji Brand (HAW), Hizunome Bettero (BRA)
Heat 24: Wade Carmichael (AUS), Evan Geiselman (USA), Davey Cathels (AUS), Kyuss King (AUS)

Matt Biolos: “The (Tesla) boards are works of fully functional art!”

And the South African wizard Elon Musk got final approval!

Hooo-eee, don’t it feel good to work a teat until the milk flow is weak and only the brownish, sluggish colostrum is still being expelled.

For the past few days we’ve taken the reader on a comprehensive ride, first, with the worldwide announcement of the Musk x Biolos collaboration surfboard (read, Genuis: Matt Biolos and Elon Musk Create Tesla Surfboard Fashioned in Black Carbon), then the news that all two hundred boards had been sold (read, Insanely Popular: Tesla Sells Out of Musk x Biolos Surfboards).

Today, a little behind-the-scenes juice from Biolos, who says the collab happened after “one of the WSL athlete’s managers reached out and told me that Tesla was looking for someone to partner with on a ‘special surfboard’. ”

“The bottom line,” says Matt, “is the boards are works of fully functional art. The Black Dart build is legit. They work really well. It’s such a true collab because we are delivering a sanded finish board and they do the flood/matte finish in the car factory!

Matt says he had a little chat with the “Tesla people” and told ’em what was realistically possible, i.e. the sled wasn’t gonna have interplanetary ability or a built-in television screen.

“The bottom line,” says Matt, “is the boards are works of fully functional art. The Black Dart build is legit. They work really well. It’s such a true collab because we are delivering a sanded finish board and they do the flood/matte finish in the car factory! I’ve never really heard of a major product collab where both brands actually contribute to real construction and labor on the finished product. It’s not like Burton X Star Wars or anything.”

Biolos says while there was no direct contact with Elon Musk himself (note to reader: all three images featured in our stories have been manipulated in Photoshop) “he signed off on the concept and was well aware of our progress and execution and got the final approval.”

Chas Smith: “Forget me! I’ve found paradise!”

And it ain't Waco (flaming death) or Lemoore (smell of shit)!

Not every wave has a corresponding beach town and not every beach town has a corresponding wave but when the two collide oooee what a treat!

Marg River, Hossegor, Mundaka, La Jolla spring instantly to mind though there are many others and I would imagine, in this era of the wave pool, mayors from Waco to Lemoore are dreaming beach town dreams and of the beach town tourist dollars.

Of course they will never come. Waco is marked by flaming death. Lemoore is marked by the smell of shit. Inland towns might be cute, they might be quaint, but they will never be beach towns.

Which makes me think, in this era of the wave pool, that the beach town is a more valuable commodity than a wave.

Of course they will never come. Waco is marked by flaming death. Lemoore is marked by the smell of shit. Inland towns might be cute, they might be quaint, but they will never be beach towns.

I am currently in a very perfect one not far from Copenhagen but not necessarily close either.

I will not tell you where it is because, at my core I’m a surfer and as such like to keep secrets and am a selfish bastard. But there are amazing spandauer, coffee to die for, meals that melt a heart and vistas for days and days and days and days.

I might stay here forever.

Find your own damned beach town.

Insanely popular: Tesla sells out of Musk x Biolos surfboards!

You wanted a Tesla surfboard? Too late!

You might’ve thought, two days ago, when Lost announced that it had combined with Tesla to make a $US1500 surfboard fashioned from carbon fibre that it might be a hard sell.

Of course, two geniuses and the might of the world’s most innovative tech giant made it a compelling sell.

For us poor men who work we must be careful how we squander our (pitiful) treasure, however. Food, a car, a little booze, maybe a gal of the night, occasionally, that’s about it.

Well, how about this?

Two days after the launch, all 200 boards had been sold.

Perhaps typical of the sorta consumer who’d buy a $US1500 Tesla board is Marques Brownlee, the tech YouTuber (six-and-a-half-million subscribers) and “ultimate frisbee pro”. New Jersey born Brownlee, who is twenty four and who doesn’t surf, announced to his almost three million Twitter followers that he’d bought the Musk x Mayhem collab.

Brownlee’s fans, predictably, went nuts, the tweet liked 11,000 times and retweeted 800 times.

Let’s do a little mathematics.

Two hundred surfboards at 1500 apiece? Why, that equals 300 gees.

Ain’t a bad biz model.

Vocation: The WSL wants “Airbnb Surf Experience” Hosts!

Must be "unique and super fun!"

The earth stood still for a moment four days ago when it was revealed you could buy the attention of a two-time US Open winner, the charismatic and taller-in-real-life Brett Simpson, for $US338.

The WSL offers these Airbnb “experiences” across the world. You can have surf lessons with the best-looking man in all of Mex, there’s an intro to shaping in Biarritz, a feel-good help-the-kids experience in Cape Town. And so on.

It ain’t such a bad way to make a little extra cash, anything to keep a man away from the stupefying toil of real work, and as the WSL’s CEO Sophie Goldschmidt pointed out there is the “potential to spread the stoke of surfing across the world…we are confident we can take surfing to a new level.”

Surfers and Airbnb, as Goldschmidt told the The New York Times, are a natural fit. “When you have a big surfboard, it’s easier to stay in a house, and many top surfing destinations don’t have a lot of hotels anyway.”

Anyway, the WSL wants hosts.

WSL Airbnb Experiences are surf activities designed and led by people like you. From lessons to SUP tours and everything in between – if it’s unique, super fun, genuine, and interesting, then its perfect for WSL x Airbnb’s program.

We’re here to help connect as many participants as possible to you and your thing. Here’s how:

  • Partnering with WSL lands you at the top of search results in the surf section. That means more clicks, more customers, and more cash.
  • There’s a wait time to get approved on Airbnb. With us, you skip it. If you’re selected, you’ll be up and running ASAP.
  • Premium! There’s limited space in this exclusive program, and we’re holding it for the best hosts out there.
  • Promotion. Once you’re in, our goal is to keep you as booked as possible.
  • Set your own price. We’re here to help you figure out how much to charge, when to change your pricing, and more.

So what’s your thing?

I suppose I could swing together an itinerary at my beach.

0600: Stand at south end of beach while I point out the non-existent banks.

0700: Paddle ’em out when the tide’s high enough to create a facsimile of a rideable wave.

0800: Staunch bleeding of first head wound when kook lets go of ten-foot board.

0900: Apply pressure to femoral artery after another charge is run down by SUP.

1100: Take broken boards to repair shop.

Noon: Visit a cold-pressed juice shop and marvel at small bottles of nine-dollar drinks.

1300: Get drunk.

1900: Beat hell out of those that’s got it coming.

Whatcha got?

(Sign up here…)