Mickey Mouse (pictured) paddling out at Surf Ranch.

Happiest place on earth: Disney exec. takes over Surf Ranch!

We have an incredible platform to engage with passionate surfers!

It truly is a fantastic time to be alive what with global warming/bigger storms/rising ocean levels creating exciting new waves, a World Surf League and various wave pool technologies racing with each other to be the incomparable best. You of course read about Webber’s continued efforts last evening. The WSL, ears ringing, maybe sensing the early dominance of their Surf Ranch slipping away, this morning announced a compelling move certain to cause “waves” on the Gold Coast and in Waco.

And let us go directly to the press release. Let’s not waste anymore precious time.

The World Surf League (WSL) has appointed former Disney executive Nick Franklin as president of its Kelly Slater Wave Company (KSWC) operation.

Key areas of focus for Franklin (pictured) in this role will be driving the growth and development of the business globally, pursuing strategic and operational integration with the WSL and leading the continued innovation and evolution of the product, including the wave, the venues and the customer experience.

Franklin joins the WSL following a long career at the Walt Disney Company. During his 18 years with Disney, Franklin worked in corporate strategy and in the Theme Park and Resort business unit where he led teams across a wide range of functions including global strategy, business development, real estate development, and brand and operations. Following his time at Disney, Franklin served as executive vice-president of strategic operations for KB Home.

Franklin said: “Having got my feet under me in the past few weeks and having a chance to see the capabilities of this superb team, I can see all of the enormous potential and am looking forward to building on the amazing foundation of work that’s been done so far by both the KSWC team and partners at the WSL. With the wave technology, Surf Ranch in Lemoore and the connection to the WSL, we have an incredible platform to engage with passionate surfers and also connect with those new to sport to expand the business.”

Scoring a Disney exec who worked in corporate strategy and the Theme Park and Resort Business unit is very much a a shot across Webber/Waco bows. I have zero doubt that they are scouring LinkdIn for Universal Studios, Knott’s Berry Farm, Magic Mountain exes but it may be too late.

Put one up on the board for Lemoore.


The Webber tank on the GC. DA-approved.

“Epic” wavepool breakthrough: “This is going to fuck everybody up!”

"A lot of crap is going to down the second our pool proves we've got the best tube on earth," says Greg Webber.

Remember the Greg Webber wavepool? Ridiculous distortions, rides as long as behind-the-rock Snapper to Greenmount, Wavegarden being “fucking horrified” when they see it, cheaper than all of ’em and so on?

The Logan City Council just approved the development application for Tunnel Vision Holdings Pty Ltd to build a three hundred metre by two hundred metre tank on ninety-five hectares just off the Pacific Highway between the GC and Brisbane.

All they gotta do now is get a construction certificate and jump a bulldozer.

The pool’s inventor, Greg Webber, says he’s yet to feel any throb of excitement despite his debut pool inching closer.

“Something always seems to pop up,” he says. “Until I see the thing finished, I’ll wait, patiently, for that little moment of joy, of exhilaration.”

A couple of things have got his blood moving, howevs.

First, at Surf Expo on September 8, there’s going to be a “big” announcement, says Greg. BeachGrit believes his USA licensee OCD is gonna to tell the world it’s going to roll out Webber tanks across the country as part of the creation of a National Surfing League™.

But we’ll see.

More exciting, in Greg’s opinion, is his brother Dan’s “wavepool current apparatus” or underwater jets for use in wave pools, the patent filed a couple of weeks ago etc.

“It gives complete and utter control,” says Greg. “There are three elements in how you create a wave in a pool. Number one is whatever you do to create a nice-shaped wave (moving hulls, paddles, plungers etc). Then there’s altering the bottom contour which they tried to do at the Ron Jon surf park. But because water is so powerful the moving plates and machinery were ripped to pieces. Water is tough. It does what the fuck it wants to do. Varying the bottom contours is gone.

“The third element is moving the water in which the wave is breaking. That has the greatest capacity for altering wave shape than all the other factors.”

Man-made rip bowls?

“Yeah, and making currents in different parts of the pool. You can have the ability to hollow the wave radically or make it fat and have it all in a controlled fashion. But also have the ability to write a program that allows for random movements within defined parameters. No two waves are exactly the same in an entire session. No matter how many hours you ride the pool for you could never say you rode the same wave twice. Now, that’s what’s missing from wave pools. It becomes vastly more creative now.”

The jets can also be used, says Greg, to still the water flow.

What’s that mean? No down time while the previous wave’s turbulence sloshes over the side. “This allows my company to double our wave rate from 500 an hour to 1000 an hour in the main body of the pool.”

Greg says the underwater jets and their linked electronic apparatus can be retro-fitted to any pool which, in theory, means you could bolt ’em onto a Surf Ranch or American Wave Machine or Wavegarden.

Theoretically. 

“A lot of crap is going to down the second our pool proves we’ve got the best tube on earth. Then the games will really begin. I’m ready for it. There will be one company eclipses everyone else. Why would you choose a lesser version that can’t control the currents? Why would you spend the same money to have a lot less? It’s like buying a phone that was designed ten years ago? You gotta have everything, internet, a good camera, seriously, that’s how big the difference is going to be.”

 


Opinion: “I wish Montauk had waves!”

It would be the epicenter!

And have you ever been to Montauk or the Hamptons during summertime? Oh it is something to behold. Nantucket Red pants cuffed just so, popped Polo collars, lobster rolls, Jaguars, cocaine, cocaine, pills, cocaine.

Land Rovers.

I have been once though it was many years ago though it was also a famous Hollywood producer or executive producer’s birthday party with many other famous Hollywood producer or executive producer friends in tow with also a wheelbarrow full of male models.

Ooooee but I digress. One of the male models, now caught up in the #metoo scandals, tried to crawl into bed with my wife and me but I digress again.

Cocaine.

Just yesterday the bust of a lifetime happened as Newsday reports:

A monthslong investigation that struck at the “heart” of Montauk’s drug scene resulted in 16 arrests, authorities said on Thursday, as well as the seizure of cash and drugs after working cooks and barbacks sold cocaine, oxycodone and other opioids out of restaurant and bar kitchens.

The drug ring “took advantage of the tourism and commercial activity” during the Montauk summer season and jacked up drug prices by more than double the street value, Suffolk County District Attorney Timothy Sini said at news conference.

“There’s an indication that several of the defendants were coming to work in Montauk specifically to sell drugs,” Sini said, “using their jobs in the service industry as a cover for their narcotics organization.”

It’s a love story (buy here) but can you imagine if Montauk had waves? It would be the most cocaine place on earth.

When I was there with the Hollywood executive/producers and male models I ran into Danny Fuller and the famed Surf Lodge.

What was I writing about again?

Oh yeah. I wish Montauk had waves.


Undermining the hopes of every kid who lives with salt in their hair!

Can Olympic surfing save India?

I am viciously anti-Olympic, as you likely know. My beef is not about the competition itself, I’ll be thrilling right alongside you as Kanoa Igarashi paddles out in calf-high but perfectly groomed runners. No, my problem is with the amount the International Surfing Association will have to bend, twist and contort in order to fit into the Olympic model. The damned thing will be unrecognizable, I think, when Scott and Laird Hamilton reach for their microphones in order to call the action that first Chiba morn.

Fernando Aguerre, ex-Reef boss and the man responsible for Olympic surfing, is myopically focused on his grand goal and I worry he can’t see the forrest for the trees. That he will burn everything that makes surfing good in the service of acceptance.

But this morning I read a story about Indians launching surf hopes. And let us read from The New Indian Express:

There is good news for those interested in pursuing surfing as a career. With the sport set to make its Olympic debut in 2020 in Tokyo, the Surfing Federation of India (SFI) has taken baby steps towards getting the federation recognised by the Indian Olympic Association (IOA).While the sport has always been more of a leisure activity in India, SFI believes that IOA’s recognition will help the body change things. “It’s a challenging task. First, we need to create state associations. We need some strong surfing individuals from different states. We have approached sports lawyer Nandan Kamath from Bengaluru. They have drafted a policy for state associations and we have a road map,” said Ram Mohan Paranjape, vice-president of the SFI.

Ahhhh so cute. The rest of the article talks about how much they are not good BUT by 2024 there is trust that the Indians will be competitive. So what is my problem, standing in the way of a poor subcontinental youth with dreams as big as Rick Kane’s?

Then I remembered the sage words of professional surfing’s co-owner Dirk Ziff.

But don’t pretend you don’t know that when you go beyond constructive criticism and cynically try to rally negative sentiment towards the WSL, when you try to take us down, you are not just going after us. You are going after Kelly Slater. You are trying to take down Lakey Peterson. You are going after the dreams of Caroline Marks and Griffin Colapinto. You are undermining the hopes of every kid who lives with salt in their hair, dreaming of being a world champion one day.

That’s me undermining those hopes. But, and may I speak to the poor subcontinental youth real quick?

Dear Indian child,

Do you like to surf? Then I think it is time for you to pursue it whole-heartedly, destroying the relationships in your life, job prospects, future happiness and Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. You’ll end up even poorer and grumpy and not a world champion (I hope that goes without saying) but you will be part of the tribe.

Love,

Chas Smith

There we go!


What an epic, and deeply ironic, occasion it would be if Filipe, who wants to erase doubts about being able to surf big lefts more than anything, wins Teahupoo in waves sub-par to a wakeboard lake in Central California. | Photo: WSL

Day Three, Tahiti Pro: “Filipe Toledo’s Epic Story of fate and fortune!”

Brazilians Medina, Toledo and Ferreira storm to finals in teeny waves at Teahupoo…

Where are you at with the backlash to Ziff’s speech… are you part of the backlash to the backlash?

Feeling sorry for WSL?

I confess when I saw that frothy baby food on offer this morning I couldn’t help think of Richard Yates’ Revolutionary Road. The opening scenes of the novel are a brutal, brutal depiction of bush league batters and their dreams dying on the diamond.

“She was working alone and visibly weakening with every line.”

Cue Surf Ranch ad.

“She had begun to alternate between false theatrical gestures and a white-knuckled immobility… you could see the warmth of humiliation rising in her neck.”

Watching made me ponder whether there was a universe where I could come on over to the Team WSL, transgress completely, just for the sheer thrill of it. If surfing takes its rightful place among the great and elite competitive sports , says Ziff, everyone connected with it will prosper.

I am connected with it. I’ve watched, paid careful attention to more pro surfing than Jehovah himself. Written thousands and thousands of words. Do I not have a legitimate self-interest in pumping up the tyres, in grabbing a slice of the action?

Well, I’m gunna.

Straight after Surf Ranch. I’m thinking of a number, WSL, sufficient to let me spruik Blink 182 full bore, full-blast without gagging.*

Medina looked the hottest pick today, no real change to the forecast or his prospects for victory but before I go full 100% positive sicko mode I just need to clear up two little misconceptions which Coté and Mel have been pumping all comp. Coté kept saying during close losses that hard work will pay off. He said it after Jesse Mendes lost by a tenth of a point to Wade Carmichael. Mendes has been working his arse off. He needs the opposite of a Calvinist approach. Less work, more flair.

Mendes himself had a much more accurate read: “ I guess the judges don’t like my surfing.” A much tougher nut to crack.

Mel continued the innocent fraud by repeating the conventional wisdom that the “talent level keeps rising each and every season.”

I’m afraid your own judging panel disagrees with you. Talent ebbs and flows but you’d be brave or myopic to discount Dane then JJF, Medina in 2011 as great leaps forwards in talent. Many, many one-year rookies and journeymen ground to sausage meat since then. Italo is probably the one exception that proves the rule.

Great and elite competitive sports realise the rarity and the extraordinary value of marquee talents. And there will be a deficit when half the Tour retires at the end of this season. Recycled Aussie rookies will have to do a lot of heavy lifting to raise any kind performance bar if staying on Tour remains the end game.

Today in the course of the coverage I met not one, but two of the mythical unicorns the WSL once counted as “hand raisers” for pro surfing. The no- surfing surfing fan. Well close enough. A Prague local, twenty-something, now living in Sydney. Rides a 7S fish at Bondi. I gave her the screen for the ADS/Igarashi heat. Put it on full-screen and silent so she couldn’t see the scores. Told her to write a number beside every wave then add up the top two for each surfer at the end.

She had Adriano winning by three points. I told her Igarashi won.

“Why,” she said. “How?”

“In the same way we can’t understand quantum physics, we cannot understand pro surfing judging,” I assured her.

On the return journey I got a forty-something naturalised German, aid worker for the UN just back from separating warring tribes in Ethiopia. Sometime surfer. Could name Kelly and the “guy who fought the shark, the albino guy”. He correctly identified, with German precision, Yago Dora as winner against Mikey Wright.

“How did you tell he won?” I asked.

“The scarecrow with the mullet fell off too many times,” he said.

It was noted that Wright offered no handshake to his Brazilian victor.

Did you see Strider find his own version of the unicorn late in the afternoon in the channel in one of the boats? Dangerous blonde here on her own for a month. Looked like someone straight out of a Raymond Chandler novel. Poor old Strider went into full sicko mode himself when he heard she was here alone

“Whoa boys…come on down!” Settle sick boy.

Toledo was dominant on a quad against wildcard Smith in heat six. His equipment has looked a notch above all season.

Mike February won his round four heat to advance to the quarters. I’ll let that sit there, while it sinks in.
And then be a wanker by reckoning I would put even money on me beating him in barrelling four-to-six-foot Teahupoo.

Owen waited for two bombs on a day when they might not come at all. His surfing drew the high pitched yuk-yuk-yuk excited whinny from Barton that showed it was legit.

Medina blew a bomb on his opening strike against Brother and Yago Dora and then relentlessly regained control of the lead with two massive rides. Massive in the context of the day, that is.

The last heat of round four, to finish the day was epic entertainment. A worthy half-hour if you wanted to watch one heat in it’s entirety. J-Flo hula-hooped his way through a blue-hued traveller then burrowed in like a tick to suck the last drops of tube plasma from a tight and technical ride.

Connor O’leary and Italo Ferreira fought a pitched battle to progress. A flurry of rides in the last three minutes decided it. Italo launching a clean reverse then a rotation into the flats onto dry reef to better both scores. Connor answered with power surfing, spray turning golden against a low slung sun. An age passed after the heat as judges reckoned with the rides. You could not imagine our unicorns being able to split them. Italo got the nod. He roared and punched his board with delight.

Brazil remains the dominant pro surfing nation as the sun sets August 17, year of our Lord 2018.

Wait, August 16… it’s yesterday in Tahiti!

*80 Grand, plus super. Paid leave. Company car and phone. Cheap as chips.

Tahiti Pro Round 3 Results:
Heat 1: Michael February (ZAF) 9.66 def. Jordy Smith (ZAF) 4.83
Heat 2: Ezekiel Lau (HAW) 12.50 def. Michael Rodrigues (BRA) 5.07
Heat 3: Wade Carmichael (AUS) 9.50 def. Jesse Mendes (BRA) 9.40
Heat 4: Owen Wright (AUS) 14.27 def. Joel Parkinson (AUS) 10.83
Heat 5: Kanoa Igarashi (JPN) 11.40 def. Adriano De Souza (BRA) 11.17
Heat 6: Filipe Toledo (BRA) 14.66 def. Tikanui Smith (PYF) 6.90
Heat 7: Gabriel Medina (BRA) 14.73 def. Wiggolly Dantas (BRA) 13.67
Heat 8: Kolohe Andino (USA) 13.27 def. Frederico Morais (PRT) 12.36
Heat 9: Yago Dora (BRA) 12.90 def. Mikey Wright (AUS) 8.24
Heat 10: Connor O’Leary (AUS) 16.53 def. Michel Bourez (PYF) 11.34
Heat 11: Jeremy Flores (FRA) 13.14 def. Adrian Buchan (AUS) 9.93
Heat 12: Italo Ferreira (BRA) 12.14 def. Ian Gouveia (BRA) 10.34

Tahiti Pro Round 4 Results:
Heat 1: Michael February (ZAF) 14.10, Wade Carmichael (AUS) 12.07, Ezekiel Lau (HAW) 10.97
Heat 2: Owen Wright (AUS) 12.69, Filipe Toledo (BRA), Kanoa Igarashi (JPN) 8.26
Heat 3: Gabriel Medina (BRA) 13.67, Kolohe Andino (USA) 10.43, Yago Dora (BRA) 9.50
Heat 4: Jeremy Flores (FRA) 15.24, Italo Ferreira (BRA) 13.10, Connor O’Leary (AUS) 11.34

Tahiti Pro Quarterfinal Matchups:
QF 1: Michael February (ZAF) vs. Filipe Toledo (BRA)
QF 2: Owen Wright (AUS) vs. Wade Carmichael (AUS)
QF 3: Gabriel Medina (BRA) vs. Italo Ferreira (BRA)
QF 4: Jeremy Flores (FRA) vs. Kolohe Andino (USA)