Certainly the competitive animal is there sleeping. Most certainly.
It is now middle to later October and Pipeline, still the final event of the 2018 World Surf League season, is months away. Like, basically forever away but we know who’s going to win the Jeep World Trophy Cup don’t we. We know, unless there is some freakish rip in the fabric of the universe that Brazilian Gabriel Medina will be smiling, maybe even crying, probably even smiling and crying alternately, at the end.
Filipe Toledo made it interesting all year and Julian’s late charge was second only to Lord Cardigan’s in historical importance but we know there is nothing to be done now, don’t we. Gabriel Medina is not the sort to fumble.
He will mercilessly prowl Pipeline’s lineup, sitting on competitor’s boards, playing footsies under the sea if that is what needs be done for the title. It is his and likely should have been his in Portugal if only to spare us the “there’s still hope…” storylines because there is no hope. Gabriel Medina does not falter.
Which brings us to 2019. Gabriel Medina will begin there at Snapper with two trophies in his plywood locker. Who else has two trophies? John John Florence does, it’s true, and do you think being tied with Gabriel will be enough to bring him back? Well?
The thought that John John is not competitive is semi-ridiculous. I have zero doubt that the boy likes more than just competition but a person doesn’t win two of anything without having a killer instinct.
Or wait, was John John simply that good where he could paddle out and surf and beat everyone tactics, swell, etc. be damned?
I don’t know but if I was the World Surf League President of Content, Media and WSL Studios elect I would meet John John in a dark alley sometime before March with a suitcase full of cash. A suitcase full of cash but in case he wasn’t interested, I’d be carrying a giant paddle and I’d be ready to use it.
The perfect carrot and stick scenario but necessary because Gabe vs. John could save professional surfing (if the field was trimmed down by 20 at the same time).
From the how-to-shoot-an-arresting-surf-photo department: Getting chaired up the beach is cool now thanks to Steve Sherman!
I have always hated when a professional surf contest ends and the victor is chaired up the beach. Always. Hated and hated passionately. Like, as passionately as Brazilians love dancing salsa or samba or whatever. Please allow me to quote from the award-nominated book Welcome to Paradise, Now Go to Hell. Do you mind?
Getting chaired up the beach is one of the most embarrassing things in surfing. The victor’s friends, usually countrymen, will meet him at the shoreline after his victory and they will prop him on their shoulders and move through the crowd to the podium. Two men carrying one man. And it might look OK except surf events never draw hundreds of thousands of people. They draw hundreds and sometimes thousands. It would look good if a surfer was being carried through an overflowing crowd of adoring fans, throwing roses and blowing kisses and uncontrollably weeping. But at surf events, when a surfer is getting chaired up the beach, sitting on his friends’ shoulders, through spread-far-apart beach gawkers, it looks embarrassing. It looks like Christian rock ‘n’ roll.
Yes, it looks like Christian rock ‘n’ roll or at least looked like Christian rock ‘n’ roll until the master Steve Sherman threw his beautiful Brixton hat into the ring. You know Steve, of course, through his decades of excellence. Matt Warshaw describes him in the Encyclopedia of Surfing (subscribe here if you want to go to heaven) as, “Durable, diplomatic surf photographer from north San Diego County, California; best known for his portraits and behind-the-scenes candids.”
All true but a year or so ago, Steve did my favorite thing yet. He loaded a flash onto his camera and started blasting surf contest winners getting chaired. Look above at the John John shot. Flooded with light, crisp and clear, it feels like… passion. Like glory. Like beauty and excitement. Look at Jon Pyzel there holding John John’s right leg, a handsome man by any measure but stunning in full light. Look at Jamie O there in the background like a New Testament saint. Positively beatific.
It changed not only the game but the act itself as evidenced by the now nearly iconic shot of Italo being chaired in Portugal. I don’t know who took it, and it very well may have been Steve himself, but if it wasn’t than it can be credited as Steve-esque.
I’ve never wanted to sit on two men’s shoulders at once until Steve Sherman showed me the light, as it were.
#TourNotes: Italo Ferriera stars in “Eeeeeetalo! Wahhowwwwwwww!”
Get behind the scenes, feel the cosiness of the in-crowd at the MEO Rip Curl Pro, Portugal…
As the Peniche sun sank like a big orange stone into the océano Atlántico one night ago, various dreams were being played out at the Rip Curl Pro.
The Hossegor surfer Joan Duru took a swipe at requalifying, sauntering into the final and Italo Ferreira, who goes around drenched in cologne and wearing loud clothes, took his third event win of the year.
This two-minute short by the singer and filmmaker Peter King, who makes people laugh by fondling a waistline that is threatening to get out of hand (“I’m persistent. And overweight. It’s a deadly combination,” he says), appears to’ve been shot by a camera with Vaseline smeared across the lens.
Still, no one except King, can capture the cosiness and noise of the in-crowd.
He knows everybody.
Mick Fanning makes acceptable Brett Simpson-style cameos, Michel Bourez, with skin the colour of buttered cocoa, gets hot under the collar as Joan closes in on an improbable finish, and Kanoa Igarashi leaps to Italo’s aid when wax is ordered (in Portuguese! How clever is Kanoa!).
It ain’t the best episode, more like a rag doll throw in a corner by a bored child, but it’s better than most web edits.
From the go-get-the-life-you-always-dreamed-of department: The Inertia is hiring!
Italo Ferriera wins, world title goes to Pipe etc.
I had to laugh the other day. Chas did it, he always makes me laugh. Not on the Grit, but in Penthouse magazine. He was being interviewed spruiking Cocaine +Surfing, A Love Story. Running the line that surfing is a curse, a dangerous, difficult addiction that ruins lives etc etc. I know there is a clear line here, between those who think thus and others like Nick Carroll and me who think surfing is no drama, and in fact, quite a blessing.
Chas gets it ass backwards in my opinion. The curse is not surfing, but surf-writing. That’s the dangerous addiction, the slimy little hole to curl up and masturbate in. Tedious and brief is how S-Town’s John B Macklemore summed up life. He might have been summing up the “careers” of surf writers. Tedious and brief.
Two hours sleep, twelve hours driving and I got home and the beloved had the car packed.
“Whats going on?” I said.
“We’re going to Iluka, our anniversary. Remember?”
My blood froze.
“But, but I’ve got Portugal to cover”.
“You fucking dumb arse, fuck Portugal!”
So here I am, in the Iluka pub, Ipswich dogs on one screen, Wentworth trots on the other, and a whole heap of ‘splainin to do in the morning.
Travis Logie puts the finals on hold at six until seven, seven until eight, eight until 9.30. 9.30 until 10.15. 10.15 until 11.30. 11.30 until 12.15. There might have been more calls. Four quarters, a semi and a final. How could surfing ever be this much of a ball-ache? Tedious and more long winded than the Old Testament.
The pub shuts and I’m driving around Iluka backstreets parked up next to asbestos fishing shacks like a crackhead. A gaggle of drunk chicks stagger past screaming 4 Non Blondes What’s Up at the top of their lungs.
I text my lady: Late start, home by three am.
She texts back: Fuck this shit. Ring Derek and pull out. Give him his money back.
I text back: Can’t babe. Already spent it before I got it (sheepish emoji).
Only two questions remain. Can Medina win the event and will Julian fall to Duru in the Quarters? In my dirty little black heart I want Wilson to fall, Medina to win. Get some sort of climax to justify the sleep deficit and marital strife.
Italo smashed Bourez in QF1 in fluffy head-high surf, a redux of their Keramas final.
Kaipo called Medina’s performance in QF2 relentless. There’s no better word for it. He took to the air every wave. Every single one made. 100% make rate for most of a half hour heat with the World Title on the line. Judges seemed sleepy and unresponsive. There was confusion expressed by Fanning in the booth over the numbers. He called the low-balling by the judges this year “disheartening”. Medina ground ahead. Flat, fast spins with perfect landings, corked tail-high whips. Finally on wave 11 he fell on a backflip attempt. Heat analyser will not do it justice. It was an insane performance. It rendered Wilkinson mute. Medina called Wilko’s attempts to play “mind games” on Insta “pretty funny”.
Ten minutes passed in the Wilson/Duru QF with the ocean unresponsive, still in recovery after the Medina onslaught. Duru laid down the first scoring track at the half way point. A flat seven for a well surfed but forgettable right. J-dub threw forced airs into the wind with no luck, then went to meat and potatoes. No dice. Duru lanced another small right and that was it. Wilson out. My heart soared.
Crunch time in the Medina/Italo semi. Medina had promised an air show and that was what was delivered. Every wave. Pump, pump, punt. After a semi like that and France the Air Show concept has to be put back on the shelf. Completely redundant. Medina held a solid lead after greasing a slick alley oop. I desperately wanted Gabby to bring it home. Not to be. Italo launched a very lofted full-rotation reverse into the breeze for a 9.3 and the heat. We go to Pipe. Boo hoo.
The hate against the WSL on Facey was astounding. The call to run was impugned. The boggy Facebook feed drew rage. It put the WSL in full defensive mode. Trav Logie was called upon to justify the call. Kaipo implored peeps struggling with the Facey feed to go back to a desktop and watch on WSL.com. Fine if you can. Not that easy parked up in a back alley in a small fishing town watching on a phone.
Correct if wrong but when Erik brings in a premium direct-to-consumer experience, or whatever the latest business buzzwords are for pay per view, won’t the whole despised, disastrous Facebook deal have to be nixed? There can’t be a person alive amongst the 4 billion on Planet Earth who’ll stump cold hard cash for a boggy facebook feed.
Right? It’s possible at 3.30am I may not be seeing the full picture clearly. Feel free to correct.
Can’t tell you exactly much about the Final between Italo Ferreira and the giant killing Joan Duru. I noted the Facey live audience went from a more or less solid 14K to 9K and change, then magically Italo was being chaired up the beach, the winner, in a soft Portugese evening light. I must have passed out, again. Three tour victories for Italo. If not for a couple of dubious judging decisions he’d be in the race. As Fanning noted, surfers have been mystified by some of the calls.
Nothing easy about it. I feel like a whore whose done too many hard tricks. Fuck Europe, Fuck the WSL and if anyone offers a surf writing gig kids, just say no. It’s the biggest evolutionary cul de sac God ever invented. If you see a surf writer standing on the Pacific Highway outside the Iluka turnoff help a brother out, would ya. For the love of God.
See you at Pipe.
World title scenarios:
– If Gabriel Medina finishes 1st or 2nd at the Billabong Pipe Masters, he wins the World Title;
– If Gabriel Medina finishes 3rd at the Billabong Pipe Masters, Julian Wilson & Filipe Toledo will need to finish 1st;
– If Gabriel Medina finishes 5th-25th, Julian Wilson & Filipe Toledo will need a 2nd or 1st at Pipe.