Day 3, MEO Rip Curl Portugal Pro: “Toledo brittle, Medina ruthless!”

A title wrapped in Portugal is Dirk Ziff's worst nightmare…

Sleep deprivation is a nasty drug, second only to a seasick hangover for bringing on a sour, joyless vibe. Seen Captain Jack Sparrow’s vision of hell in Pirates of Caribbean? The one where all the rocks turns to crabs and he tows his ship endlessly in a salty desert? That’s covering Portugal for me.

Yet watching round three heats at the Supertubos this evening I found my spirits elevated and a single rhetorical question: “how fucking good is this?” kept repeating. If you like, or even love surfing, watching live surfing from the best in the world is a total no-brainer.

How can the WSL alienate surfers from a product featuring surfing? Thats a special kind of talent. It should be the ultimate shooting-fish-in-a-bowl scenario.

New boy Erik Logan has been bought on to introduce some kind of pay per view. Will you pay? Me? A qualified yes. Most definitely on a contest by contest basis. Most definitely for some kind of Grand Slam leg featuring Indo, J-Bay, Tahiti and hopefully Fiji. Most definitely for any kind of slimmed down Super Event in the Ments to determine a World Champ.

Pipe, yes.

Would I pay a year-long subscription to watch the Tour in its current iteration and format? Probably not. Too much dross and long arduous slogs to whittle away the deadwood and get to the good match-ups. It’s punishment I’m not willing to pay for.

Looking back on the year and, inadvertently, the Tour has stumbled on some portals to a future product that appeals. The back to back Bali leg was sick. Especially because the field for Ulus had already been whittled down and we cut straight to the chase. Reduced field, Indo leg Doesn’t need to be G-Land, doesn’t need to be Deserts or No-Kandui’s. Ulus is fine. That should be carved in stone.

Surf Ranch was boring but the leaderboard and finals day after the cut was the format of the future. Will they have the vision and balls to take the opportunity to grasp that or will they stay mired in a product rejected by the market for 40 years and suffer another humiliating retreat?

The time is now. Got to be. You can’t expect people to pay for the same thing they have rejected when they get it for free. That’s a special kind of madness.

The first heat of round three was announced by Strider in a soft pink scarf and beanie. To my eye, a nice offset to the weathered head with the attack dog tits well sheathed. Mendes started strong. Italo looked over-caffeinated. With Mendes enjoying a solid lead Italo greased a far reaching air reverse. The first of many passion claims for the day followed. 7.33.

Mendes was over-scored on a chunky right to take back the lead. With 30 seconds to go, Italo aimed a solid two-turn combo into the lip of a groomed semi-close-out. In the presser that followed the close victory he announced a disdain for the human judges.

“Only God can judge me,” he said.

Strictly speaking Italo, those judges do too. But they sometimes get it wrong.

Not this time.

Heat two with Zeke and Kolohe was a classic. Zeke over-powered Kolohe. Brother answered back. There was a helluva lot of body language communication with the judging panel. Zeke rode a wave with 45 seconds to go and the judges awarded it a perfect tie. Which meant, highest score wave went to Zeke and he took the heat. A vision of surfing as jock sport heaven isn’t for everyone, true. But I think Noa Deane would have quietly applauded, in his heart of hearts.

Wilko edged out Jordy. Morais was just a whisker too good for Connor. Bourez survived a miracle tube-ride, the first deep dark drainer of the event but was judged incomplete. He got a three for a ten but still won against M-Rod.

The Medina-Callinan heat did not disappoint after a slow start. Medina laid the biggest upside down backside hook of the event into the wind to take the lead. As the heat wound down he started living all over Callinan, smothering him like an elephant seal. That forced Callinan into an interference and it was game over.

The tactic was not Fanning approved. “If the wave’s not there I don’t think you need to be that close,” he said.

With the anti-hassling rule brought in after the Zeke/John John incident, it could have backfired spectacularly for Medina. With black eyes glinting in the presser, he gave Callinan, he told Rosie “no space.”

Medina’s win put extra pressure on Toledo. A loss means Medina can clinch in Portugal. He hasn’t looked the same since that close loss to Callinan in France and against Joan Duru he again looked brittle and flaky. It was tight, and his best ride was lowballed. It could have been a low seven and not a mid six. Have a look and see what you think. The door was left open for Duru and he slammed it with a six with a minute to go.

Wilson got through. One long deep sand sucking tube was enough, with a minor back-up to get past Gouviea.

Close-out beachbreak ain’t really my bag, but you couldn’t deny the challenge. The tide dropped and the predicted North wind started howling.

Italo smashed round four heat one with a pair of sevens, the second a seriously throaty one. Wilko through, Zeke bounced.

Medina through in heat two.

The tide bottomed out, raggedy closeouts finally forced the hand of Trav Logie. He called it off after the third heat of round four.

The title is still live. Wilson out, Medina wins is Ziff’s worst nightmare.

MEO Rip Curl Pro Portugal Round 3 Results:
Heat 1: Italo Ferreira (BRA) 13.66 def. Jesse Mendes (BRA) 13.30
Heat 2: Ezekiel Lau (HAW) 13.40 def. Kolohe Andino (USA) 13.40
Heat 3: Matt Wilkinson (AUS) 12.83 def. Jordy Smith (ZAF) 12.77
Heat 4: Frederico Morais (PRT) 11.33 def. Conner Coffin (USA) 10.40
Heat 5: Michel Bourez (PYF) 12.33 def. Michael Rodrigues (BRA) 11.14
Heat 6: Gabriel Medina (BRA) 13.60 def. Ryan Callinan (AUS) 7.33
Heat 7: Joan Duru (FRA) 12.50 def. Filipe Toledo (BRA) 12.10
Heat 8: Kanoa Igarashi (JPN) 13.60 def. Jeremy Flores (FRA) 9.77
Heat 9: Wade Carmichael (AUS) 10.17 def. Tomas Hermes (BRA) 5.30
Heat 10: Owen Wright (AUS) 15.27 def. Patrick Gudauskas (USA) 6.97
Heat 11: Adrian Buchan (AUS) 9.66 def. Willian Cardoso (BRA) 7.03
Heat 12: Julian Wilson (AUS) 13.90 def. Ian Gouveia (BRA) 7.17

MEO Rip Curl Pro Portugal Round 4 (H1-3) Results:
Heat 1: Italo Ferreira (BRA) 14.60, Matt Wilkinson (AUS) 13.30, Ezekiel Lau (HAW) 6.00
Heat 2: Gabriel Medina (BRA) 11.67, Michel Bourez (PYF) 7.84, Frederico Morais (PRT) 3.63
Heat 3: Joan Duru (FRA) 11.50, Kanoa Igarashi (JPN) 9.10, Wade Carmichael (AUS) 7.93

MEO Rip Curl Pro Portugal Remaining Round 4 (H4) Matchups:
Heat 4: Owen Wright (AUS), Adrian Buchan (AUS), Julian Wilson (AUS)


Facebook, surf media, the WSL and the Great Lie!

It's a lie multiplier!

Yesterday it was revealed that Facebook had allegedly knowingly lied about the numbers of people watching videos on its platform for years. The Wall Street Journal uncovered that the possible malfeasance was much larger, and much greater, than previously reported.

And let us turn to Wired for a quick recap.

Facebook acknowledged in 2016 that it had been overstating to advertisers the average time users spent watching videos on the platform. But when exactly Facebook found out about that error—and how long the company kept it under wraps—is now the subject of a federal district court lawsuit in California. The suit, filed earlier this week, was brought by Facebook advertisers who allege that Facebook knew about the measurement error for more than a year before it was first reported publicly in The Wall Street Journal.

But advertisers aren’t the only ones seething over the prospect of Facebook knowingly inflating its video viewership; members of the press are, too.

According to the complaint, which Facebook has dismissed as being “without merit,” the company may have been alerted to the analytics error as early as 2015 by advertisers who reported seeing an unrealistic 100 percent average viewership rates on some videos. It was also around that time that many newsrooms across the country began laying off reporters, in what has become snarkily known as the “pivot to video.”

Now, of course this relates to surfing because everything relates to surfing but also because just last year the World Surf League announced a partnership with Facebook that it called “groundbreaking.” The subsequent roll-out was marred with troubles and grumbles and odd explanations for the number of viewers that is still impossibly murky.

Beyond the World Surf League, the surf media, alongside the lame-stream media, began its almost exclusive relationship with Facebook years ago. It is difficult/impossible to grow any sort of audience without the publishing giant and “likes” and “shares” became the new currency, with certain properties better at juicing those “likes” and “shares” than others.

All publishing, it seems, geared itself solely toward attracting a mass audience, a completely oddly unrealistic audience in both size and scope and Facebook fed this beast.

So, who cares?

Well, I do because I hate bullshit and Facebook is bullshit. Oh I know it’s just a tool and railing against a tool is tool-like but I still don’t understand why everything has to be such bullshit?

So damned fake and fraudy.

Everything is so damned fake and fraudy. I know it has always been sort of this way, that surf magazines used to print way more than they could ever sell, burn the extras and claim massive subscription numbers but that seemed like real work. Like, going to a burn bin and catching physical things on fire.

Facebook has streamlined the fraud and maybe even convinced people that it’s real. Like, the World Surf League. Do you think the powers that be in Santa Monica’s gilded offices really believe that there are millions upon millions of potential surf fans because Facebook has taught them that millions upon millions of “likes” and “shares” are out there or do you think the powers are in on the game, juicing the “like” and “shares”, lying about engagement to advertisers just as Facebook lied to them?

A lie multiplier.

Hell if I know and hell if my caring about it will make any difference but since when did a few hundred thousand people really loving something and engaging with something become so… small? So… immaterial?

Gimme the hardened little core and fuck the potential trillions.


Deaf, Jewish, big-wave stud Ido Dar-el chasing trinkets at Cloudbreak, Fiji. Ido says he'll "never forget the only time I actually heard a tube at Zicatela (Puerto Escondido) riding at full speed on a thick seven-six, a brown, dark, sand-sucking cave and the… kaboom… in my ears just before being spat out into the light. I had tears of joy. It was so emotional." | Photo: Scott Winer

Besieged: Do Israeli surfers have a little PR issue?

Are the most beautiful people on earth a little too feisty in the drink?

Yesterday, Nick Carroll, whom you know well, reported on the violence, real and implied, women face when they surf. The story comes just as Mark Thomson, a well-known inflatable mat-rider from Lennox Head, is due to face court for the alleged assault of eighties pro surfer Jodie Cooper.

In the piece, called The Feeling of Threat, and which you can read here, one woman described being turned on by an Israeli surfer.

An incident in Sri Lanka, when she confronted an Israeli man who’d dropped in on her, almost went very badly. The Israeli’s legrope was tangled around her arm, causing her a lot of pain. “I came up and lost it at him and he then started threatening to kill me… I was very angry at the time but his aggression and intentions were very visible and I really did get very scared for my well-being… I went in crying and had a huge purply, green and black bruise on the inside of my arm for months.”

Now, Israelis are pretty touchy about how they’re portrayed in the press. And you can get it.

For seventy years they’ve been held to a higher moral plane than their Middle Eastern neighbours, told to hold their arm while the Jew-haters plot their annihilation and so on.

So when they hear one of their brothers is behaving poorly, it shakes ’em up. An ol pal of mine, the Deaf-Big-Wave-Riding-Jew Ido Dar-el, whom I profiled here, wrote to Nick Carroll directly (via FB):

I was in tears of anger and shame reading this caption.
Many israeli surfers dont have proper etiquette in the worlds line up,similiar to brazilians we come from over crowded impatient scene in beachbreaks.i have done several articles and posts in the israeli media educating the proper way of line up and crowds universally.
We have a booming surfing and sup scene of women here.
I dont recall anyone threathening a woman in surfing in israel.since its a small country and uncool behave that way.
I apologize from the depth of my heart in the name of all cool exprienced israeli surfers for that incident.
Im going to publish this screen shot in every fb surfing israeli page.
No way it could be performed again.

Of course, Israeli surfers do have an image problem. Great on land, feisty as hell in the water. Most surfs over there in the Holy Land, and I love the joint, I’d swing in with a headache from all the hassling.

I ain’t sure whether its that genetic thing of having to fight for everything they’ve got and, who knows, a katyusha might land on their heads any second so y’might as well grab every wave that comes, or that they’re at that same point on the surf culture evolution table Brazilians were ten years ago, Australians thirty.

Another question: why do we mention the nationality in the first place?

Because of that preconceived notion?


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. 

 

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.