Day 2, MEO Rip Curl Portugal Pro: “While tech billionaires elbow each other out of the way to throw 55k a day at the Ranch for stoked kooks to dodge the tube there is no stomach for socialized Pro Surfing in the Americas!”

So we're back, deeper than ever in the land of socialized medicine and decriminalised drug use. Portugal.

Ten years at Peniche. A decade at Supertubos. Despite the mostly crap surf it won’t cross Sophies desk marked Not to Renew. Rip Curl, the only remaining surf industry sponsor and power bloc and the main resistance to ZoSea’s 2012 hostile takeover, discovered the only successful, sustainable pro surfing business model in existence, namely the Bells model, and transferred it seamlessly to Portugal.

The model rests on two key factors: a willing government ready to stump up cold hard cash to underwrite the event and a major population centre nearby with a chunk of fans who’ll populate the bleachers. S’why Bells and Portugal remain fully sponnoed up on nexts years schedule and Fiji is not. It’s why the USA with it’s potential mid-west millions of fans cheer Kanye and have no clue about Kelly.

Basic business logic would suggest a return to a more US-friendly time zone prior to Pipe. But while tech billionaires elbow each other out of the way to throw 55k a day at the Ranch for stoked kooks to dodge the tube there is no stomach for socialized Pro Surfing in the Americas. Not my opinions, just a restating of the facts as reflected in the Tour schedule past, present and near future.

Basic business logic would suggest a return to a more US-friendly time zone prior to Pipe. Puerto Rico always struck me as a perfect place to run a CT as a penultimate event. Warm water, consistent surf, easy access to US fans and eyeballs. But while tech billionaires elbow each other out of the way to throw 55k a day at the Ranch for stoked kooks to dodge the tube there is no stomach for socialized Pro Surfing in the Americas. Not my opinions, just a restating of the facts as reflected in the Tour schedule past, present and near future.

So we’re back, deeper than ever in the land of socialized medicine and decriminalised drug use.

Portugal.

European fickleness swamped the site this morning and Asst. Comish Trav “the angry inch” Logie put the event on hold, then again before finally running six heats in slow but shreddable rippy head-high surf. The mental key to success, according to three-time World Champion Mick Fanning, who mercifully stood in between Kaipo and Mel for a second night in a row was “being OK with being uncomfortable”. As a severely sleep-deprived surf writer about to hurtle up the highway there was solace to be found in his advice.

The day started with injury drama. 2015 World Champion Adriano De Souza inexplicably buckled over in pain negotiating the shorebreak. He gestured for help, face twisted in a grimace of pain before a shoed man in long trousers helped him to the beach. Knee strapped up he returned to the water, surfed a wave with no apparent ill effects before buckling over in pain a second time as he rode a left. Popped a ligament. That gave Joan Duru a walk through and set a tone for the day of backmarkers staring down CT extinction finally getting an even break. 

https://www.instagram.com/p/BpCLojnFXz4/?utm_source=ig_embed

 

I thought an-in form Seabass would maul Wilko in junky beachbreak with air sections. That is how the heat progressed. Last stanza of the heat and Wilko needed a 5.43. A score that is everything and nothing. A position Wilko has been in all year long and been shanked. Four minutes to go Wilko diced a little right, threw down a nifty little whipped reverse and kicked out with a minor claim. Fanning was unconvinced he got the score, I wrote down, “Nope”.

Judges finally highballed him and he sneaks through. You could watch that heat on the analyser all day long and get a different result each viewing. Wilko didn’t seem too fazed. Maybe the post retirement prospect of hanging with Mick and Mason on the Search has kicked in.

Close to seven thousand people on Facebook live, more than the J-Bay Final, more than any heat in France, watched Jeremy Flores dispatch M-Feb back to the QS. It took the Quiksilver ads shown in France for me to finally appreciate the M-Feb style.

But in current incarnation he’s wounded gazelle on the savannah for any competent CT surfer. It’s incomprehensible to me why he didn’t back himself up on the QS like Kanoa and Colapinto.

MEO Rip Curl Pro Portugal Remaining Round 2 (H7-12) Results:
Heat 7: Joan Duru (FRA) 12.83 def. Adriano de Souza (BRA) 4.50
Heat 8: Matt Wilkinson (AUS) 11.33 def. Sebastian Zietz (HAW) 10.83
Heat 9: Jeremy Flores (FRA) 12.50 def. Michael February (ZAF) 9.84
Heat 10: Patrick Gudauskas (USA) 11.10 def. Griffin Colapinto (USA) 10.66
Heat 11: Ezekiel Lau (HAW) 13.26 def. Connor O’Leary (AUS) 8.36
Heat 12: Frederico Morais (PRT) 11.44 def. Yago Dora (BRA) 9.16

MEO Rip Curl Pro Portugal Round 3 Matchups:
Heat 1: Italo Ferreira (BRA) vs. Jesse Mendes (BRA)
Heat 2: Kolohe Andino (USA) vs. Ezekiel Lau (HAW)
Heat 3: Jordy Smith (ZAF) vs. Matt Wilkinson (AUS)
Heat 4: Conner Coffin (USA) vs. Frederico Morais (PRT)
Heat 5: Michel Bourez (PYF) vs. Michael Rodrigues (BRA)
Heat 6: Gabriel Medina (BRA) vs. Ryan Callinan (AUS)
Heat 7: Filipe Toledo (BRA) vs. Joan Duru (FRA)
Heat 8: Kanoa Igarashi (JPN) vs. Jeremy Flores (FRA)
Heat 9: Wade Carmichael (AUS) vs. Tomas Hermes (BRA)
Heat 10: Owen Wright (AUS) vs. Patrick Gudauskas (USA)
Heat 11: Willian Cardoso (BRA) vs. Adrian Buchan (AUS)
Heat 12: Julian Wilson (AUS) vs. Ian Gouveia (BRA)


Opinion: “Martin Potter is a man reborn! He knows professional surfing like few others, like no others!”

The '89 World Champ is in the best form!

If this is truly the ’89 World Champ Martin Potter’s retirement lap then he is making me teary-eye’d. Have you been watching his performance at the Male Rip Curl Pro Portugal?

Have you been at least listening? Rare bits of true, deep-baked, knowledge are being dropped every fourth heat, or so. Unfiltered gems that I’ve been wanting, that I’ve been waiting for, for years. He is a man reborn.

Martin Potter, who won a World Championship in ’89, knows professional surfing like few others, like no others even, having both won a World Championship in ’89 and sitting in the booth for the past goodness only knows how many years watching every turn, every stinking squirt off the top.

I’ve wanted insight, true insight not just throw away responses to Joe Turpel’s meaninglessness.

And Martin Potter (’89 W.C.) has delivered at the Mayo Rip Curl Pro Portugal.

For example, on the post-show today, speaking about the Patrick G. vs. Griffin C. heat, he dropped an absolute bomb. Pat G. had just completed an air that Griffin C. watched from the lineup and Potter, who clawed a World Championship from the maw of ’89, said, “He’s such a grommet he still likes watching good surfing.”

I stopped dead in my tracks and am still wondering about it. Is it true? Is watching good surfing an exercise for the young?

Is that part of the “grumpy local” phenomenon? That “grumpy locals” are old and can’t enjoy the spectacle anymore?

I would very much like to know more about all of this.


spicoli
Mr.Smith, You're on dangerous ground here. You're causing a major disturbance on my time. Chas: Just explain to me what a thruster is again…

Confession: “I thought a ‘thruster’ was directly related to sex. I thought ‘goofy foot’ was harsh criticism!”

And other misconstrued surf flotsam…

When Steve Shearer’s peerless work first started appearing on BeachGrit I was overjoyed. Good writing is rare, good surf writing even more rare and great professional surf writing is non-existent.

I don’t count Nick Carroll here because he is a god moving amongst us and above criticism. Anyhow, Steve writes under the name Longtom here, as you well know, and when I first read it I thought, “Well look at that, Mr. Longtom. Really bragging about your ol’ Long Tom there, ain’t you.”

In my mind “Longtom” was somehow similar to “Longshanks” which, if Braveheart taught me anything other than the futility of fighting the system, meant “Long Dick.” But it totally didn’t did it? Shanks are legs.

Right?

So Edward Longshanks who had William Wallace gutted was probably only a tall man.

Which leads me directly to my point.

Surf lingo is a cultural phenomenon. It is born amongst barely literate surf youth before filtering into the still barely literate surf masses and you must catch it quick and discern its meaning even quicker from reference points alone. Maybe easier if you are born in coastal southern California or Sydney’s eastern beaches but when you’re a kid up in the mists of Oregon trying so so hard to figure this all out many many mistakes are made.

Have you ever been tripped up by surf lingo?

I’ll start. I thought Sex Wax was directly related to sex. I thought Billabong was pronounced “Bill-a-bonic.” I thought a “thruster” was directly related to sex. I thought “goofy foot” was harsh criticism.

Your turn.


Gabriel, middle, hot for world title, but, hoo-ee, he's gotta stomp on Julian Wilson and Filipe's lifelong dream.

Surf Gambling: “There’s no greater certainty in sports right now than Gabriel Medina taking title number two!”

And more bold bets for MEO Rip Curl Portugal Pro! (Wilko at 30-1 to make the final, for instance.)

So I missed the start of the comp. While the pros were hoofing out of Hossegor on the A63 into northern Spain, before cutting out for the divine Peniche peninsula, I was visiting old haunts. I marvelled at the uniquely Glaswegian juxtaposition of ornate, olde-worldy architecture and the chillingly dull thunks of a man’s head being kicked repeatedly against concrete under Central Station bridge.

Ah, Glasgow…how I don’t fucking miss you.

But, betting! My solace and my shame.

France worked out well in the end, thanks mainly to Ryan Callinan. I cashed out the majority of the bets I wrote about previously, my instincts about Zeke Lau proving correct. I used some of those profits on a couple of multis that didn’t work out, though I did get a good return on Callinan in that banger of a round four heat. £225 @ 37/20 for a £641 ($US840) return. A rich stake for some folk’s tastes but if you don’t know, now you know…

Ultimately, I plan to wrestle the login to the BG betting account from Blake Thornton before he spunks it all away, lukewarm dribble by lukewarm dribble. By my reckoning his total so far is -250 for Surf Ranch (actually +100) , and +70 for the Quik Pro.

So a 200 loss overall? Tremendous.

(Editor’s note: $170 up.)

Portugal may well be a crap shoot for some people, but it’s one of my favourites, not least because it’s the only CT I’ve ever attended I.R.L. Yep, I’ve got down in the sand with the shit munchers and The People and been marginally entertained but less so than if I’d stayed home and watched it on my 4.7 inch phone screen.

So my stakes.

Outside bet for the finals? Wilko. He has a pep in his step in Portugal. Think wetsuits with screen printed sardines and tits, think impossible backhand smashes on close-out end sections. And think of the time I bumped into him blundering around outside the hotel, three days after the comp had finished and everyone else had gone home, in all his Worzel Gummidge glory. I miss that Wilko, but I sense his spirit still wandering around somewhere in Portugal.

I’m also betting on Italo, like I almost always do. He will be world champ one day, of that I’m sure. And until then I’ll be backing him, because on many, many days I’ve seen him as clearly the most explosive and talented surfer in the water, regardless of what the judges say.

And De Souza! How is our one time world champ and previous winner in Portugal still so disrespected? He’s surfing’s Pusha T. He puts numbers on the boards. 20/1 to make the final? 40/1 to win?! Keep his name in your mouth.

Honestly, has there ever been a guy who looked less like he belonged on Tour than Michael bloody February? He’s like an ornamental vase, an indulgent waste of space. The sooner he and his little T-Rex arms are gone the better…

My bets placed thus far are:

Rd 2+3 multi:

Wilko over Seabass; O’Leary to beat Lau; Dora to beat Morais; Rodrigues to beat Bourez; Medina to end Callinan’s run, sadly. £20 @ 35/1

The same, but with the addition of Duru over ADS (puncher’s chance); Griffin to beat Gudauskas; and Flores to best February. £10 @ 220/1

(Honestly, has there ever been a guy who looked less like he belonged on Tour than Michael bloody February? He’s like an ornamental vase, an indulgent waste of space. The sooner he and his little T-Rex arms are gone the better.)

I’ll also be betting on Wilko to make the semis (14/1), and the final (30/1); Italo to make the final (9/2) and to win (9/1); ADS to make the semi (8/1) and the final (20/1), and possibly to win (40/1); and Michael February to be whisked away by a stiff Northerly breeze (Evs).

As for the big picture.

There is no greater certainty in the wide world of sports right now than Gabriel Medina taking title number two. If you’ve got the stomach for it, carve out a sizable chunk and throw it at Gabby for the overall win (11/10).


Day one, MEO Rip Curl Pro Portugal: “Facebook-live numbers magically inflate 400%!”

While America and Australia sleeps, China and Russia tune in to pro surfing!

You might recall, way back in March, March 9 to be exact, when veteran surf journalist Sean Doherty made the statement that “after 20 years, this will be the last time Snapper will open the tour”.

Word was, that in the grand new tour restructure it would be Portugal having the season opening champagne cracked on her bows. I expressed disbelief because I didn’t think the person had been born yet who thought the optics of opening the tour in grey old wintery Europe on the shores of Melville’s “tornadoed Atlantic” were a good idea.

Thus it came to be. We got our old comfortable tour back, shorn of its sponsors and revelling in weird zeitgeisty names like Men’s Gold Coast Pro and France Women’s Pro.

An astute commentor said there is room for France or Portugal on a world tour, but not both. I lean towards France because the evening light is dreamy and that almost alone, is how locations should be determined. If no blue water or backlit evening dreams then a castle or a cobblestoned street should be clearly in the field of view.

Supertubos, with its industrial backdrop and brown, rip-ravaged line-up is a tough watch. Especially on a day like today, when we got to watch the field stooped and swinging pick-axes in a mostly vain attempt to excavate what assistant Comish Trav Logie called the “diamonds in the rough”.

The basic stat: an average wave score of 4.32 for the days 18 heats shows the poor quality of the ore, if you’ll pardon my mangling of the mining metaphor.

Italo seemed to warm the lineup with low altitude airs and punchy turns after a winning heat from Jordy which he generously described as “dressing up a pig”. The Facebook feed had somehow magically inflated from it’s typical two to three thousand viewers to over nine thousand. America snoozing, late night in Aus and a raggedy rip-torn round one Supertubos lineup bought three times the viewers to the yard?

In a day of low drama, interest focussed on the first six heats of round one, which mercifully contained the Title contenders, plus front runners.

Italo seemed to warm the lineup with low altitude airs and punchy turns after a winning heat from Jordy which he generously described as “dressing up a pig”. The Facebook feed had somehow magically inflated from its typical two to three thousand viewers to over nine thousand. America snoozing, late night in Aus and a raggedy rip-torn round one Supertubos lineup bought three times the viewers to the yard? Not doubting the brilliance and efficiency of the WSL marketing. But when a highly invested semi-pro fan like me is scouring the site for WSL news and a forecast and on the days leading up to the event there is still nothing…

Lot of hectic flak came my way over perceived unfair criticism of Keanu and his expositions on winning strategy in the booth. My counter-argument: that it’s surfing performance and not strategy that wins heats was brilliantly exemplified by France winner Julian Wilson. Wilson said something in France which caught my ear. Words to the effect that even though he won at Kirra with a busted shoulder his surfing hadn’t been where he wanted it and now at the back end of the year he was finally getting his surfing to a level he was happy with. Cliche I know, but the improvement has been marked, beginning with Surf Ranch. Manifested in a willingness to go to the air and go big in the air. He threaded a deep tube and ran an audacious line across the top of a horrowshow close-out lip for a dominant victory.

A north wind slowly cleaned up the line-up, sun came out. It looked prettier as Filipe took on Tomas Hermes and Miguel Blanco in heat five. Toledo looked, shaky. Again. Even half a world away you can sense the mojo has drained out of him. Three minutes to go and he needed a 6.97. He exploded into a inverted air reverse. Judges gave a five, preferring the meat and potatoes, lean and sweet granted, of Tomas Hermes. Hermes must have been tuned into the Asing strategy brouhaha as he pointedly told Rosie that competition came naturally to him due to his country of birth but that he required “evolution, I need to surf better.”

Remember Kelly in his heyday? I very much prefer the second act , Titles 8, 9, 10 and 11, against vastly superior opposition to the early titles. No disrespect intended to Shane Beschen et al. A day of low-scoring closeouts and Kelly would appear and conjure a massive heat score. Medina is not quite there, but he’s close enough. He motored around the lineup picking off scoring waves at will. Tube-rides, aggro two turn combos on brutal close-outs. I just can’t quite get my head around why judges are giving him sixes and Julian sevens. With Fanning in the booth as the analyst it became a joy to watch. I never quite developed the love and reverence for Fanning which seemed to become his national legacy, but as soon as his voice came through the ether I realised I had missed the bastard. He truly went out on top. Parko has stayed a couple of years too many, Kelly will never go.

Round 2 ground on. Filipe did enough to squeak past wildcard Sammy Pupo on the strength of a deep tube ridden in the opening minute. Cardoso knocked a hapless Asing. Sport is cruel. Sublimated cruelty is cathartic.

Callinan remains the sole wildcard left in the field. His round three match-up with Medina has potential to be the heat of the comp.

On a day like today of mostly stultifying routine a rule like that which introduces the potential for last-second drama and chaos is a godsend.

One last word on that technical rule that saw Pat G defeat Kolohe in France. On a day like today of mostly stultifying routine a rule like that which introduces the potential for last-second drama and chaos is a godsend. The aim of the rule: to break open the heat right at the death and allow for a last-minute buzzer beater to be ridden without being shut down by priority is pitch perfect. It functions as a stupidity tax, which is to be applauded in modern life.

Please don’t change it Mr Comish.

See you back here tonight with all our new found Chinese and Russian fans.