Filipe Toledo has no need for Airshows. The World Tour is his Airshow.

WSL: “Many say the future of surfing is in the air!”

WSL resurrects quarter-century old format in name of progression!

Do you sometimes feel like you live in an alternate universe? Where history doesn’t exist? All rear-view mirrors snapped off? Where everything old is new again, like neoprene shorts, oversized t-shirts with Choose Life written across the chest and ghetto blasters alive with MC Hammer?

Earlier today, it was announced that an aerial component would be added to WSL events in France and Lemoore.

The CEO of the WSL, Sophie Goldschmidt said, “Crowds love the athleticism and creativity of aerial surfing, and so do the surfers. Many say the future of surfing is in the air, and WSL is thrilled to be working with Josh (Kerr) to return a fan and surfer favorite into the competitive mix.”

The future of surfing is in the air.

Airshows. Remember ’em?

They were started by Surfing magazine at the behest of Shawn Barron (RIP both of ’em) in 1996, running alongside ASP tour event The O’Neill Coldwater Classic. Pretty soon there was a six-event tour. Christian Fletcher, naturally, won the first one.

Imitators followed.

The NSSA in the US for amateurs; the Surfing Australia Quiksilver Airshow series (owned by Gold Coaster Dave Reardon-Smith). In 2002, the Quiksilver Airshow World Championship was held at Manly and won by the Hawaiian Randy “Goose” Welch.

The vitality of the air events came from their juxtaposition with a tour that focussed on multiple manoeuvres performed on three waves to the beach, each surfer building houses with sixes not eights.

Airs in tour events? Forget about it.

“Slater would launch one now and then, when he was far enough ahead–which, come to think of it, he was most of the time. But as a rule, the World Tour was not a welcoming place for above-the-lip business,” Matt Warshaw wrote in Surfer magazine. “The Airshow withered and died a few years later as pros began to incorporate the Airshow ethic into WCT contests. Filipe Toledo has no need for Airshows. The World Tour is his Airshow.”

Well, ain’t that still the truth.

 


The kids will be thrilled to watch pro surfing instead of riding roller coasters!

Entertainment: Surf Ranch better* than theme park!

Plan your early fall family vacation now!

Early autumn is a wonderful time to be in greater southern California. The weather is generally dreamy ranging from mid 70s at the beach to mid 90s inland. The dining options are tasty and varied, from vegetable driven cuisine in Santa Monica to Michelin-starred to minimalist in Pasadena. And the entertainment options are virtually endless. Shopping, film, theater and of course theme parks.

The world’s very first was Disneyland in Anaheim, California. It opened its doors in 1955 and revolutionized how people spend time and money. Today, greater southern California boasts Magic Mountain, Knotts Berry Farm, Legoland, Seaworld, Raging Waters, Universal Studios etc. etc. Each is very popular but, if we stretch the regional definition of greater southern California to include the lower San Joaquin Valley, they are joined by a new, better* option.

Kelly Slater’s Surf Ranch!

Ticket prices were recently released for the upcoming World Surf League Championship Tour event in fall and let’s examine!

$499 nets you one VIP full event ticket that includes:

VIP seating for the duration of the Surf Ranch Pro (Friday, Saturday and Sunday, September 7-9) with: access to VIP lounge areas and bathrooms, free open bar (including alcoholic beverages for those of legal drinking age), free snacks, and access to premium VIP-only food options for purchase. In addition, you’ll get access to the Longboard Expression Session and evening concert on Friday, and the Air Show Expression Session on Saturday. Note: onsite parking pass not included. Includes parking in the offsite parking lots with shuttles to the Ranch.

$199 gets you one full day of the above.

$99 is the cost for general admission, per day, no fancy tent or all-you-can-drink Michelob Ultra and includes parking unless you prefer to drive through the magical gate and that will cost an extra $50. In addition, though, “you’ll get access to the evening concert and Longboard Expression Session” (if you go Friday), the airshow expression session (Saturday) or simply CT level professional surfing (Sunday).

The “Surf Ranch Experience” costs $9500 with a nifty $280 fee.

How does this stack up to the region’s other theme parks? Oh, it is generally much more expensive! Magic Mountain costs $84 at the gate, Knotts costs $50 if you buy online, Universal Studios costs $90. Disneyland costs $90 if you purchase mid-week and do you know what this means? Surf Ranch is better* than all of them!

I always knew professional surfing would be more popular than the NFL someday.

*better, as used in this post, only means more expensive.


Surf Rage (Part Two): Mauritius Locals Beat Hell out of Dad and Son!

Tourists surfing Tamarin Bay get gang-banged!

We all know about the White Shorts in Mauritius, and there is so much terrible examples of their uncivilised behavior all over the internet.  

There’s a whole lot of really bad stuff here.

It escalated at Tamarin Bay recently.

Kyle Kahn, a Cape Town surfer who is married to the grand daughter of John Whitmore – the doyen of South African surfing – saw his 13-year-old son get a smack from the crew and went in to intervene.

The results of this altercation can be seen here.

The 13-year-old was emulating one of his heroes in Jamie O’Brian, by surfing on a pink foamie with a GoPro on his mouth. Not acceptable. Hit the child, hit one of his friends, then gang up and wail on the dad.  

Is the wave good?

Fuck yes, and it’s a rare kind of beast is Tamarin, but there are so many other waves around the world that have sorted their shit out and understand how to deal with crowds through hierarchy and respect.

Supers in J-Bay has a pecking order and it’s hard enough to get a wave, but you will not see children getting punched out here.

Keramas is busy with blockings, and with locals getting barrelled, but there are few legitimate fisticuff incidents, much like Uluwatu.

In Hawaii, the rules are fierce, and one step out of line and you’ll have the boys on your back, but in USA and in Australia for that matter, the threat of litigation is massive and throw a punch at a kid or to anyone, and get on the wrong side of a zealous legal team and you’re going to find yourself in a world of shit. 

What is a crazy is that the White Shorts, from all accounts, are not even pure locals. They are blow-ins who arrived years ago and took over the Tamarin domain. The true locals barely surf at Tamarin, and anyone who knows the island and who knows all the variables knows that there are many other waves around. There are waves in the north-west, there are a bunch of waves in the south, and there are a few others on the Le Morne peninsula.

“It gives Mauritius a bad name and it doesn’t help me because I am from Mauritius. When people find out where I come from, there is anger pointed at me and it just makes my career path that much more difficult. These guys do need to know the far-reaching consequences of what they choose to do. Many people are affected.” Brian Furcey, a WQS surfer from Mauritius.

Most waves on the peninsula, however, have some sort of White Short dominance. You’ll get chased out the water at One Eyes on the odd day, and you’ll even get chased out the water At L’Ambulant if you happen to be out there when a local posse arrive. 

WQS hopeful Brian Furcy is a Mauritian surfer who has been travelling through South Africa over the last month or so competing in the WSL Africa series. This situation is not ideal for the travelling professional.

“Of course this does much damage to me and makes my job so much harder,” Furcy told me. “It gives Mauritius a bad name and it doesn’t help me because I am from Mauritius. When people find out where I come from, there is anger pointed at me and it just makes my career path that much more difficult. These guys do need to know the far-reaching consequences of what they choose to do. Many people are affected.”

It’s a bummer.

There are enough waves for everyone, but the vibe is horrendous. On my third to last trip I got heavily vibed at One Eyes by the other guy in the water. That’s right, there were two of us in a perfect line-up, and he had to tell me that this “‘isn’t fucking South Africa.”

We surfed excellent waves together, with him glaring at me and paddling past me after every wave. He didn’t make many of his waves because he wasn’t that good a surfer, but wouldn’t if have been cool if we had chatted about surfing, about our families, about the absolute non-real idea of surfing a perfect reef-pass on an island with one friend and no one else? If we had hooted each other into set waves, warned each other about approaching sets and claimed each others’ bombs all the way to the channel.

Instead, we didn’t become friends and we surfed in silence, kind of both enjoying the waves but hating the experience. 

The thing is, if you start hitting kids, it’s not about localism anymore.

It’s criminal behaviour. That shit’s got to be sorted out.     


"I feel bad. I mean, he's a kid. We're in waist-deep water and he starts screaming, 'You just broke my jaw! You can't hit a minor! You're going to jail! I'm going to sue you!'

Surf rage: NSSA Junior attacks Italian greyhound-loving accountant at Salt Creek!

"He lost it! He threw eight haymakers! Stabbed board at me!"

Oh to be a gorgeous Millennial. Acres of perfect skin. Soft hair. Delicate gestures. A voice like a cooing Siamese cat.

Of course, anyone born in the last twenty years has also lived without criticism (medals for everyone! You’re unique!) or rejection (everybody picked for the team!) thereby making any sort of conflict a total mind-fuck.

An accountant from Aliso Viejo, Kevin Woolwine, who is thirty nine years old and who enjoys the company of his Italian greyhound when not surfing, experienced a mind-fucked kid during the NSSA’s National Interscholastic Championships at Salt Creek in June. 

A little scene setting.

The surf is two foot. The NSSA contest eats up the point. There’s a black ball at the north end. The weekend horde is squeezed into the middle.

“I got two young kids. I only surf on weekends so I need to get out even if it’s complete dog shit,” says Woolwine. “I need that two hours of sanity away from screaming kids. I don’t care what it looks like.”

He got the screaming kid anyway.

I could see this kid on the inside but it was a garbage little wave, a crap closeout, and I wanted to go home. He absolutely lost it. He gets in my face and screams, ‘What the fuck are you doing? Get the fuck out of here?’

“After about an hour-and-a-half of catching nothing I had to get out of there. So I take off on this fucking two-foot closeout. I could see this kid on the inside but it was a garbage little wave, a crap closeout, and I wanted to go home. He absolutely lost it. He gets in my face and screams, ‘What the fuck are you doing? Get the fuck out of here?’

“I was leaving but I wasn’t going to let this kid send me in. So he steps in front of me and at this point we’re pushing forehead to forehead. Just foreheads. And I’m looking at this kid and I say, ‘There’s no way in hell I can fight you but, dude, you can hit me if you want. I can handle your punches (Kevin was a collegiate wrestler). He threw seven or eight wild-ass haymakers. All I had to do was hold my hands up with my elbows. He clipped me behind the ear once, but it was no consequence. While he’s punching me a wave picks up my board and cracks him in the head.

“I feel bad. I mean, he’s a kid. We’re in waist-deep water and he starts screaming, ‘You just broke my jaw! You can’t hit a minor! You’re going to jail! I’m going to sue you!’

He threw seven or eight wild-ass haymakers. All I had to do was hold my hands up with my elbows. He clipped me behind the ear once, but it was no consequence. While he’s punching me a wave picks up my board and cracks him in the head.

Let me provide a brief detour from the narrative here. Do we live in a brave new era of lame surf assaults? And do you remember the case of Montgomery vs Burdett in Virginia Beach, the current title holder for World’s Lamest Surf Assault?

Click here for that. 

Or the time one surf editor went after another and detectives were summonsed in Goggans vs Smith?

Click here for that. 

Anyway.

“He’s playing the victim and then he throws his board, fins first, at my head. After he missed with that he tackled me and tried to hold me underwater. I got out of his grip (wrestler, y’see) and I wanted to let loose, but, he’s kid, so I let him go. Another wave came and after we came back up he started jabbing me with the nose of his board. It was unbelievable.

“And then we get to the beach. And his dad has fire in his eyes. The lifeguard steps in and says he saw the whole thing. That I didn’t touch the kid once. Another bystander came in and said I didn’t hit him. Meanwhile, the dad and the kid were trying to turn mob on me and I was thinking, what am I going to deal with in the parking lot? One of the crew from the sponsors who was at least 260 pounds and covered in tatts told me, ‘You better get the fuck out of here now. The thing is, I understand their position. If I was over there and someone told me that someone much older had hit my kid I’d have the same reaction. But it was all based on bullshit.

“All my friends are making fun of me, having a fight with a sixteen year old but, dude, the amount of restraint I practised.

Woolwine appeals to anyone who was on the beach filming to come forth with the footage, if only to share the laughs.

“I’m telling you, it’s internet gold,” he says.

As a sweetener, BeachGrit will pay $500 for any vision.


Stab and The Inertia plotting the future.

Invasion: Reporting live from Venice!

A war for surfing's very soul!

I am currently sitting at a reclaimed wood and steel counter right in the heart of Venice’s Abbott Kinney drinking a hot fruit punch and listening to a “digital archaeologist” who “unearths deep musical emotion from obscure sounds.”

Venice.

Hot fruit punch.

It really feels that blonde roasts have become so ubiquitous in fancy coffee world that nothing is bitter anymore. Only very very very sweet with notes of cherry, Sunny Delight and Gatorade. I mourn bitter’s loss. I love bitter which may explain my general tone. It is also why I will cheer for France this Sunday in the World Cup final.

Being in Venice means I am very near to Venice-adjacent and Venice-adjacent’s own The Inertia and sister publication Stab. I am also very near to Santa Monica’s World Surf League international headquarters.

Enemies lurk around every corner. Inside every farm to table cafe and wine bistro. I already thought I saw Stab’s Sam McIntosh out on the street but it turned out to be German tourist wearing some lug soled Maison Margiela sneakers instead. I’m more worried about stumbling over The Inertia’s Zach Weisberg since he is three-feet tall and easy to miss. It would be very embarrassing to accidentally step on him after everything I’ve put him through here. An unnecessarily personal insult.

Herr Paul Speaker doesn’t seem like the coffee type and I’m not planning on taking a Segway tour of Muscle Beach so don’t plan on seeing him. Soph and Backward Fin Beth are mysterious though I don’t think they day drink and I’m going to start that at the appropriate 10:30 am.

Enemies everywhere and I wonder, has Venice and Venice-adjacent ever seen such a concentration of surf media enthusiasts? For decade Orange County held the surf industrial complex in its iron grip and, in many ways, surfing writ large came to reflect Orange County’s values. Conservative, cloistered, without imagination. What will surfing become here? The Inertia is trying desperately to morph it into a version of sport sandal bouldering. Stab is attempting to… to… I’m uncertain, to be honest. That rudderless ship will eventually wash up somewhere though and it won’t be pretty. Likely lots of Corona and party pics.

The World Surf League wants it to be broadly digestible. Understandable, relatable, clean. There is probably much head scratching in the office as to why all surfers don’t want this.

Each of these futures scare me but I don’t know which scares me most. The World Surf League’s, probably, though I have no talent whatsoever in sport sandal bouldering. I would like to hear presentations from The Inertia, Stab and the World Surf League. I’d buy lunch and listen attentively. Too bad each is more spineless than the next.

10:30 am. Time to drink.