kanoa igarashi
Kanoa Igarashi, put the promised progression into high-performance surfing. Kanoa has been my darkhorse pick with his brand of inscrutable pumped-up safety surfing with progressive edge. And he listens to Snake. And those Sharp Eyes look insane under his feet.  | Photo: WSL/Rowland

Surf Ranch Pro, Day Two: “If yesterday was an under-risen souffle, today had genuine moments of genius!”

The elevation in performance showed the brutal truth that pro surfing cannot sustain a 34 man Tour. There is much dead wood to be culled. 

Apart from flushing toilets and dentistry I’m not really a gal who gets moist over human engineering marvels. The cosmic fact of a watery planet with solar-driven real waves is enough intellectual and spiritual cud for me to spend a lifetime chewing on.

The last human achievement that really lit me up – in a how the fuck did they do that kind of way – was the lost ruins of Nan Madol on Pohnpei. We sailed out of Ala Moana harbour to the Marshalls, spent weeks surfing perfect waves alone then made landfall on dark at Kolonia. It took one day to find P-Pass, which we dismissed as another garden variety reef pass, before stumbling on the ruins after a fisherman in a local village took us out to the nearest reef pass. A whole city built on the water made from fifty-foot long hexagonal basalt columns in a pre-machine age. And no-one still knows how it was built.

So forgive if a plow running through a pool to create a head-high wave does not elicit an appropriately awestruck response.

So how to cover this Surf Ranch on it’s own terms. If yesterday was an under-risen souffle presented to an unappreciative and largely absent audience today had genuine moments of genius. Primarily Medina’s shock and awe opening run – may as well adopt the terminology. More on that later.

It took twenty surfers enjoying four perfect machine-made waves each before the 21st in line, Kanoa Igarashi, put the promised progression into high-performance surfing. Kanoa has been my darkhorse pick with his brand of inscrutable pumped-up safety surfing with progressive edge. And he listens to Snake. And those Sharp Eyes look insane under his feet. 

Kanoa attempted and completed the first air out the back, a fin-throw-to-reverse before spinning into the barrel. His insanely well-ridden wave was awarded an 8.93. The spread of .43 to Kellys 8.5 showed the corner the judges painted themselves into yesterday with that egregious over-score. Kelly’s wave should have had a seven in front of it with Kanoa a low eight to allow headroom for what it surely to come. 

Strider said the “crowd is pumped up”. It didn’t look like it. It didn’t sound like it. The hyped stadium vibe was funereal over the broadcast. It made me think of Dane showing up for the first heat of the year in his sophomore year. In early morning high tide three-foot Snapper you couldn’t elbow within a hundred metres through a crowd intent on getting close to the messiah. He lost riding a CI MTF twin fin. Three days later, in pouring rain, a bigger crowd watched him massacre head-high runners against Blake Thornton in round two. Grown men were openly weeping with joy. Not criticism, just putting the hype into recent historical context. 

Surf journalist Nick Carroll said yesterday the event worked better as live spectacle then broadcast event but didn’t say why or how. A curious omission. On the broadcast we got slo-mo replays, angles and most importantly expert surfer commentary. It really worked. Wilko was great, Parko was better. During the much-anticipated Griff run he expressed a frustration the average surf fan was feeling: “He’s got to start going for it”. After choking for a run, Griff put the fins out the back in the same section, just prior to the opening tube, as Kanoa. 

We seemed marooned in a weird place, where weird was nowhere near weird enough. Weird, lame, not weird good. The camera angle with Peter Mel with his back to the pool was surreal beyond belief. The new head of the WSL Kelly Slater Wave Company, Nick Franklin, has a background with the Disney Company. These basic errors in optics must surely grind his gears. The thirty-second inter-heat pressers are so rote and token as to be useless.

Kolohe was brilliant. His opening left surfed at a pace, turn speed and with repertoire that shaded his peers. The spicy attack finally bought audible cheers and whistles from the crowd. American flags hung from the …….side wall. 

The top seeds in three-packs was great. In this crude form a new format is taking place that can and should be adopted in the ocean. A day (or even two) of three-man heats with a leaderboard and all surfing against all. The separation of the wheat from the chaff is undeniable. 

Owen Wright surfed the best left of the event up to that point. The shorter equipment added zest to the rotation. His backside tuberiding, flawless.

Each high seed who surfed made a mockery of what seemed an increasingly pedestrian group of backmarkers yesterday. With few exceptions the elevation in performance came with the increasing seed, showing the relentlessly brutal truth that pro surfing cannot sustain a 34 man Tour. Talent is crucial, talent prevails. There is much dead wood to be culled.

“Each second adds points to the score,” said Pottz.

How? A half-point per second, a quarter? All we know is that judges are scoring “highlights” and maybe as Wilko indicated “the drama of the tube entry”. 

Each high seed who surfed made a mockery of what seemed an increasingly pedestrian group of backmarkers yesterday. With few exceptions the elevation in performance came with the increasing seed, showing the relentlessly brutal truth that pro surfing cannot sustain a 34 man Tour. Talent is crucial, talent prevails. There is much dead wood to be culled. 

Jordy was the first to sacrifice the end tube sections to launch. That looked unbelievably refreshing. Italo was crucially underscored in his opening left but blazed his right for an 8.27. That put Kelly outside the cut, something that would have occurred much sooner if his 8.5 was correctly scored.

In late afternoon light, with what looked like windmill vanes throwing shapes on the faces, Gabe Medina stood next to the chain fence waiting for the opening left. That wave was ridden in a terrifyingly efficient and brutal fashion. The perfect melding of man and machine. A greased Kerrupt flip on the end was like a brick to the head from the future. The game is over. The 9.3 compared to Kelly’s 8.5 was a joke. It should have a been a 15 by that scale.

Finally something like real scoreboard pressure was applied and Toledo choked on it. His last right, the last wave of the day sizzled in the darkening evening. A lofted alley-oop that made the background disappear. 

There was, as Strider said, “ Nowhere to hide”.

Cut to Strider standing alone, on an expanse of fake sand. 

Fade to black.

By my reckoning, the leaderboard looks about right.

PS: Two thousand and change watching Toledo’s incredible surfing on Facebook.

Spencer Perkins
Surf Ranch manager Spencer Perkins. Three years ago, this dazzling twenty year old learned to surf in the pool under the tutelage of Tahitian Raimiana Van Bastolaer. Now he gets barrelled! And y'know what's crazy? Kid has surfed in the ocean…once. | Photo: David Lee Scales

Meet: The Surf Ranch manager who learned to surf in the pool; surfed in the ocean once!”

Amazing revelations from Lemoore!

Did you watch all of day 2 live from Lemoore, California under the sun and sun?

Were you thrilled from opening to closing bell?

In this episode of David Lee Scale’s series of interviews from Lemoore, he has a “pure gold conversation with the twenty-year-old kid who live on, and runs, Surf Ranch, Spencer Perkins. Raimana taught him how to surf three years ago and now he gets barreled on his 5’9″. He’s only surfed in the ocean once!”

Also, Lakey Peterson reveals that she only learned how to get backside barrelled in the last three weeks.
And BeachGrit’s own Jen See calls noted longboarder and regular guest on Blood Feud, Joel Tudor, a motherfucker for claiming that he was the reason the WSL instituted equal pay.
Listen here!

Wow: Rip Curl leaves directions to Mick Fanning’s secret wave “The Snake” on GPS watch app!

Download Rip Curl app and find Mick Fanning's gorgeous African secret!

Had a fun couple of days last week. At a whim, I’d thrown a line out (a thousand bucks) for the coordinates to Mick Fanning’s secret wave The Snake, the one that blew minds, briefly at least for  this is the era of short attention spans, in February last year.

Last week, Rip Curl loosed another clip of The Snake. This time Mick went back with Rip Curl teammate Tyler Wright. It was pretty ordinary compared to the earlier reveal, but enough to re-spike my curiosity.

Within three minutes of the reward being posted a reader called with the wave’s location. Hoo-ee etc. Who would’ve thought etc. I promised. I ain’t gonna tell nobody. When conditions bloom, and it’s a southern hemisphere winter sorta spot so it might be done for the year, I’m going to drag one pal into a pretty part of Africa for a little warm-water tube wrangling.

Well. Maybe we’re not going to be so alone.

As another reader has since pointed out, all the data…the exact coordinates… are on the Rip Curl GPS watch app. All you gotta do is follow Mick Fanning, jump onto Google maps and away you go.

Interestingly, on the trip there this year, on June 26, Mick had two thirty minutes sessions for a total of twelve waves. Top speed was twenty-six clicks and the longest wave 155 metres. Long way to travel for an hour in the juice.

Question: how long’s the data gonna stay on the app?

A day?




matt warshaw
Handsome…and…smart! Sorry girls (and progressive boys) he's married!

Warshaw: “You’ve thrown away the part that makes surfing the most compelling!”

The Washington Post weighs in on the Surf Ranch Pro!

You know The Washington Post as the publication that felled Richard M. Nixon and is trying to do the same to Donald H. Trump or whatever his middle name is. It is historic, proud, incredibly important with more awards than any other publication on earth.

So of course the editorial staff would want Matt Warshaw to weigh in on the meaning of the Surf Ranch Pro.

Of course.

Who would you call?

I called Matt the very second the plow whirred to life because who would I call?

Matt Warshaw is the answer in case you can’t tell that I’m vodka drunk at 1:24 pm and not even at Surf Ranch yet (tomorrow) where I won’t be drunk at all thanks to Michelob Ultra GOLD brewed with Organic Grains because I don’t think it has alcohol but if it does not a lot.

So anyhow, politicians and etc. the United States over will read Warshaw’s account of the Surf Ranch Pro and that will be gospel for them. What was his account?

LEMOORE, Calif. — The wave shouldn’t be here, surrounded by boundless fields of nuts, vegetables and cotton. It’s an exotic crest of water six feet high, one that would be at home in Bali or the east coast of Australia. But not here, well over 100 miles from the Pacific Ocean.

The idea of belonging, of context, has always been central to those who ride the best waves. Surfing was born centuries ago in the South Pacific and Hawaiian islands, where it is called he’e nalu, then rebranded starting in the early 1900s in California. From the Golden State it spread to the rest of the world, surfers always beholden to the finicky variables of their passion — tide and wind, swell and direction — and enamored of its offbeat culture. For some, it remains less a sport than a lifestyle.

So to find a wave like the one that surfaces in the middle of the San Joaquin Valley, which is to say a nearly perfect curl, is bizarre. And very tantalizing.

This is what has drawn 54 of the planet’s best surfers, who are competing in a vast concrete pool that is intended to introduce the sport to a new audience ahead of its Olympic debut in 2020. Only once before has an international event been held nowhere near open water — the first contest, several decades ago, was a disaster — and the $30 million artificial-wave complex constructed in the small farming town of Lemoore has elicited awe within the surfing community.

“It’s a beautiful wave to surf, it’s surreal,” said a beaming Courtney Conlogue, who last year was ranked fourth in the world. “I love what it’s going to bring to the sport.”

Yet Surf Ranch has also divided the community. Surfing historian Matt Warshaw sees wave pools as direct assaults on the very nature of the sport, from the unpredictability of its ocean setting and the nuanced forces that must be understood to the experience and skills accumulated over a lifetime.

“Now it’s more like a skatepark. You’ve thrown away the part that makes surfing the most compelling,” said Warshaw, whose “Encyclopedia of Surfing” and “History of Surfing” are considered definitive texts. “Something really fundamental is changing.”

It goes on and on and on so you can read the rest here. Democracy dies in darkness, bitches.

Glenn "The Microbe" Hall, in chopper, foreground, with Ace Buchan behind. | Photo: WSL/Rowland

Listen: Glenn “Micro” Hall spills secrets of ‘The Ranch!’

David Lee Scales and Hurley present Off Script live from Surf Ranch!

David Lee Scales is posted up poolside broadcasting each and every day. Under the sun. Michelob Ultra brewed with Organic Grains just out of reach. He does it for you, because he cares about you, and he wants you to know things about professional surfing and professional surfers.

Jen See will be joining him today. I will be joining him tomorrow. But he is there everyday under the sun Michelob Ultra brewed with Organic Grains almost at his fingertips.

Anyhow that’s today and tomorrow. Yesterday though is here. David Lee describes as:

Welcome to Off Script presented by Hurley; behind the scenes conversations with the athletes, coaches, and WSL team at the Surf Ranch Pro (also) presented by Hurley. Today we delve into the history of Lemoore, chat about Kelly’s home court advantage, and this event will influence ocean events. We chat with Rosey Hodge, Alex Gray, Glenn “Micro” Hall, and Barton Lynch. Enjoy.

Between this, Longtom, Jen See and the billboard I don’t know how Surf Ranch coverage can get any better.

I’ll be up tomorrow, though, so let me know if you think of a way to improve.