Surf Ranch Pro: It’s finally here! Watch live with friends!

Come share your first impression!

We’ve been wagging our tongues about this Surf Ranch Pro (watch here!), this very moment right now, since it was announced there was going to be a real competition, not an expression session, not a Founders Cup. Jen See is in the crowd, taking notes, observing. I’ll be there Saturday but at his moment am in front of my computer, like you, watching and maybe confusedly.

Is it fun? Exciting?

Or dull?

I know there are too many ads. I know that without any help. 1 minute on 5 minutes off is how it feels and that is too much. I like Wade Carmichael and I like Merino wool but I don’t know how much more I can take about life on the Championship Tour and the necessity of Merino wool.

They knew this was coming the 1 minute on 5 minutes off and didn’t prepare fun interstitial programming?

Don’t they have a studio in Santa Monica?

Still. I don’t know what to think.

What do you think?

I’ve asked Matt Warshaw what he thinks and we shall hear from him soon.

P.S. Did Ronald Blakey change his voice for this event? Is he trying on a new persona? I thought Crocodile Dundee was in the booth for a good 10 minutes.

Naked: Events lose their sponsors for the ’19 season!

Vanished in the night!

I spent much of yesterday pondering the newly released 2019 World Surf League championship tour schedule and can we all admit that it is almost perfect? Oh of course it is our job to grumble, and we get paid very well for it, but really it feels like the WSL listened to our pleas and responded.

The season ends at Pipeline like it’s supposed to and begins on the Gold Coast, a nod to those simpler times when the Association of Surfing Professional’s offices occupied a tidy second story Coolangatta floor. Marg River might not be a favorite but I do love that the WSL is returning to a very sharky land maybe hoping for another “Mick Bump” as the sky high ratings for J-Bay ’15. The rest is as it should be, as we’ve grown accustomed,

Many openly question the viability of the World Surf League moving forward but ’19 is robust. The only thing I’m really curious about is the naked events. Sponsors disappeared into the night. Vanished without a trace except Meo and Oi which may or may not be cell service providers and Billabong for Pipeline and Rip Curl for Bells.

But the rest? Where did they go? Quiksilver has been sponsoring the Gold Coast event since I cut my teeth on surf journalism. Quiksilver has been synonymous with France since Tom Curren was a competitive threat. Same-ish with Billabong and Tahiti and Billabong and Teahupoo.

So maybe it’s only Oaktree brands which have been disappeared but still 7 out of the 11 events are nude.

And do you think it is possible, even the slightest chance, that we could crowdfund title sponsorship of one? The BeachGrit Bali Pro say or the BeachGrit Pro Bells Beach (in association with Rip Curl)?

Which do you think we should choose?

Gold Coast Men’s Pro: April 3 – 13, 2019
Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach: April 17 – 27, 2019
Bali Men’s Pro: May 13 – 24, 2019
Margaret River Pro: May 27 – June 7, 2019
Oi Rio Pro: June 20 – 28, 2019
J-Bay Open: July 9 – 22, 2019
Tahiti Pro Teahupo’o: August 21 – September 1, 2019
Surf Ranch Pro: September 19 – 22, 2019
France Men’s Pro: October 3 – 13, 2019
Meo Pro Peniche: October 16 – 28, 2019
Billabong Pipe Masters: December 8 – 20, 2019

kelly slater surf ranch
Whereas the right at Surf Ranch is remarkable, the left is merely fun and highly rippable. | Photo: KSWaveCo

Explained: Why the left (sorta) sucks at Surf Ranch!

A revealing interview with pool co-inventor Adam Fincham…

Okay. The left don’t…suck…but it ain’t no secret the right is the money shot at the Slater-Fincham pool.

Did you ever wonder why?

Is it, despite the planting of trees all around the joint, the prevailing wind that makes it crumble so? Some quirk of water volume or similar?

Earlier today, tech magazine Wired ran an interview with the pool’s co-inventor Adam Fincham, a Research Associate Professor at University of Southern California who has worked with Kelly since 2006 to create a masterpiece of bathymetry on the outskirts of a lousy cotton-farming town four hours north-east of Los Angeles.

Wade through the story and you’ll hit this.

Fincham stops our conversation again to stare at the wave, and I ask him what he’s looking for.

“I don’t want to see too much whitewater coming off the fence there,” he says, pointing to the part of the wave that’s closest to the fence. It’s that left again—a wave peeling to the left of the surfer—barreling toward the south side of the lagoon. Where there should be an unblemished, clean face of a wave, there’s a spray of surf shooting up in the direction of the hydrofoil apparatus.

“We saw it happen on one of the waves a while ago, and we’re trying to ascertain what control we have over it in this particular situation,” Fincham says. “This was designed to only make rights, and then we retrofit it to make lefts as well. So it’s not optimized for the lefts. It’s a weakness.”


It’s why he’s still obsessing over it now, that wave that’s showing just a little bit of whitewater where it shouldn’t. Fincham is nowhere to be found when I leave the Surf Ranch in the late afternoon, but there’s a good chance he’s off somewhere staring at that left, the one that’s not yet perfect.

Other notable facts: the pool is filled with fifteen million gallons of water and on a hot day, which ain’t so rare out in Lemoore, a quarter-of-a-million gallons can evaporate.

The pool’s deepest point is nine feet; shallowest is three-and-a-half.

The hydrofoil weighs 10o tons and is covered by tarps so no secrets are revealed and it has solar panels on the top so drones can’t film it.

Read here.

Forget what you read here yesterday. At 61-to-1, y'can't go past Conner O'Leary for a dark horse bet. | Photo: WSL

Surf Gambling: Meet the dark horse who could turn your thirty bucks into $2000 at the Surf Ranch Pro!

An extremely well-plotted betting slip by a former Fantasy Surfer winner…

Betting on surf contests flutters the lips, elevates the blood pressure and so on. Did you know that all the odds for WCT events are set by non-surfers using statistics and nothing else?

There is no insider trading, no quarter given to the surf forecast, no nod to a surfer’s affinity with a particular wave.

And what does that say to you, a life-long surfer, a student of the game?

Well, it screams advantage.

And, so, over the back end of the tour, BeachGrit, with a modest $500 deposit and the advice of former WCT surfer and 2015 Fantasy Surfer champion Blake Thornton, is going to beat hell out of Australia’s betting agencies.

Because the Surf Ranch Pro has evaporated the forty-year-old man-on-man format, opportunities are a little limited. You can bet on the winner and nothing else.

Still, let’s have some fun.

First, we’ll drop fifty dollars on Gabriel Medina, who is at 5-to-one. Thornton, who is thirty-three years old, says the event is, likely, a battle between Filipe Toledo and Gabriel but it’s Gab who has a slightly stronger backhand, on the face and in the tube. “Both are extremely strong on their forehands,” says Thornton, “but the amount of manoeuvres Gabriel’s able to do on his backhand and the way they’re linked together perfectly and how in the pocket they are and how he’ll go into the next one with with ease will be the difference.”

Second, forty dollars on Filipe at 3.75-to-one. This is a little hedge bet. A likely winner but at under four to one, not especially lucrative. With a hundred and fifty in the game, we’ll throw forty on Filipe to cover ourselves. “He has the wave completely dialled. Three full-rotation alley-oops on one wave is pretty unbelievable.”

Third, thirty dollars on the Australian Conner O’Leary at 61-to-one. (Yesterday, the shaper to the stars Matt Biolos said Conner had no chance. Thornton differs. )

Thornton says that because the right breaks differently to the left, two distinct barrels compared to one barrel and turns, the screw-foots have a slight advantage. And, says Thornton, “I was watching the highlights from Conner’s first trip there and I don’t think I’ve seen anyone surf a left like him.” Potential win: two gees.

Of the middle pack, Thornton says that were it a heat-by-heat event, Adriano would be a cinch to get through a few rounds but since it’s winner-only, at 26-to-one, you’d be a little nuts to go past Kolohe Andino (“He’s due for a big result”) and Kanoa Igarashi (“He’s looking amazing on those Sharp Eyes) at 41-to-one.

Throw ten bucks at the best performing surfer at the Founders’ Cup, Jordy Smith (11-to-one) and we’ve got a well plotted betting slip.

Or are we just throwing peanuts in the air?

Big changes for 2019 tour! Quiksilver pulls out of tour opener and event in Hossegor. Tour finale in the Ments cancelled. And Pipe is back. Maybe John John too! | Photo: Steve Sherman/WSL/@tsherms

Revealed: The 2019 World Surf League tour schedule!

Margaret River returns and other surprises!

Press release from Santa Monica (sorry I’ll riff in a bit but gotta run out and grab plate lunch real quick. In the meantime…):

“Very pleased to announce a healthy and diverse 2019 schedule to challenge the world’s best surfers throughout the year,” Kieren Perrow, WSL Commissioner, said. “This level has to be the proving ground and the platform for the advancement of the world’s best surfing and we’re very happy with where it’s at next season.”

Once again returning to world-class venues from Australia to Indonesia, Brazil, South Africa, North America, French Polynesia, Europe and Hawaii, a key change in the 2019 CT calendar is the breakup for the three-event Australia leg with a break following the Gold Coast and Bells Beach events before recommencing with the Bali event and returning to Margaret River as the fourth stop of the season.

“Margaret River has been a key stop on the CT for several seasons now and we had the unique and unfortunate circumstance of having to cancel this season’s event due to aggressive shark activity in the area,” Perrow said. “Working with our surfers, event partners and the local community, we’ve moved the dates of the Margaret River event later in the year to improve the pacing of the season as well as ensure the best chance for world-class conditions at all breaks.”

2019 Men’s Championship Tour Schedule*:
Gold Coast Men’s Pro: April 3 – 13, 2019
Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach: April 17 – 27, 2019
Bali Men’s Pro: May 13 – 24, 2019
Margaret River Pro: May 27 – June 7, 2019
Oi Rio Pro: June 20 – 28, 2019
J-Bay Open: July 9 – 22, 2019
Tahiti Pro Teahupo’o: August 21 – September 1, 2019
Surf Ranch Pro: September 19 – 22, 2019
France Men’s Pro: October 3 – 13, 2019
Meo Pro Peniche: October 16 – 28, 2019
Billabong Pipe Masters: December 8 – 20, 2019