Quik Pro Finals: Julian Wilson wins; Wilko weeps; Gabriel Medina new world number one!”

Hossegor wraps in fine, six-foot velvet…

Justified criticism from Tired of Winning and Nick Carroll that yesterday’s wrap was unjustly harsh to Keanu Asing, or that I wasn’t qualified to deliver the message. Maybe it was but nothing personal.

The harder the WSL wraps its athletes in fairy floss and spins magical thinking into them the more disposed I feel to tell the brutal truth. They spent the majority of Keanu’s stint in the booth quizzing him on how to win heats.

That was cruel. This is a man who clearly does not know how to win heats. His rookie year was so bad that even with an event win he was kicked to the QS curb. His return year, 2018, is even worse. The better, if much harder and more awkward questions would be: why do you keep losing and what do you need to do, to improve, to win heats?

Convict logic? Jumped the shark?

Instead of pumping the guy up with false hope and a bland denial of reality wouldn’t it more humane, as well as more sporting to simply state the obvious: the guy ain’t cutting it on the CT. At least give him a chance at some honest self-reflection and chance to improve. Pete Mel could simply observe his skill set isn’t up to scratch, his surfing is well below the criteria rather than the incessant droning that “He belongs here, he’s got a huge heart etc etc”

I say the numbers don’t lie and Asing’s are woeful. Nowhere near CT standard. Instead of pumping the guy up with false hope and a bland denial of reality wouldn’t it more humane, as well as more sporting to simply state the obvious: the guy ain’t cutting it on the CT. At least give him a chance at some honest self-reflection and chance to improve. Pete Mel could simply observe his skill set isn’t up to scratch, his surfing is well below the criteria rather than the incessant droning that “He belongs here, he’s got a huge heart etc etc”

In so many cases: Ethan Ewing, Matt Banting, Mike February, just to name three off the top of my head, there are many others, pro surfers seem helplessly caught in this spider web of deceit – an innocent fraud, to be sure – being wrapped around them in the guise of …. what? Kindness? Positivity? A memo written from middle management?

Positivity and kindness are great for children and the elderly but to sports people we owe the truth. It just works out better for everyone that way. My personal qualifications to deliver that message? In a BG surfwriter man-on-man or man on woman surf off at Surf Ranch I would beat Chas, only because he has a busted wing. Otherwise, just a guy who can read and understand numbers.

Snake is doing it right. Colapinto straight away fingered the reason for his heat loss: caught between two mindsets, even with Rosie coming in too hot. And he surfed an amazing heat. Zeke, even if the chest thumping is not to your taste ( I dig), has quickly figured how to win pretty and win ugly.

Dream day today in France. Six-foot glistening beachbreak. A day when pro surfing stands and delivers. You can never really foretell these moments, they just seem to pop up randomly like a magic mushroom in a cow paddock after rain. Ready to blow your mind.

Three-man Round 4 heats seem to deliver the magic. The first one with Connor Coffin, Jordy and Wilko was tight. Connor seemed a bit highballed for point-and-shoot tube rides. Jordy had mid-rangers. The crucial wave around which the heat turned was ridden by Matt Wilkinson with 9.42 remaining in a 30 minute heat. It was a wave which defined his whole year. He went upside down tight in the pocket on a medium-sized right. Once, twice, four times. A low six all day every day. He needed a 5.9. Judges gave it a 5.57, just .3 better than a two turn wave he opened on. It was perplexing.

Wilko was close to tears in the presser. Cooked on the inside and out.

“It felt like a point better,” he said “but it wasn’t.”

What now? Back to the QS? Or a devastatingly truncated career ending? There are no good options left for Wilko unless he wins Portugal and Pipe. I may be jumping the shark again here but the chances of that are nil.

The next heat will likely be the heat of the contest. Maybe the year. De Souza, Callinan and Cardoso. It opened right up, became Rimbaud’s famous banquet from Une saison En Enfer at which all “hearts opened and all wines flowed”. Callinan blitzed the place with an improved Occy approach. Actually more like another Australian goofy-foot who came and went too quickly, Shaun Cansdell.

The great Adriano De Souza answered back. If there is anyone qualified to speak about winning heats, both through strategy, mental warfare and adapting skill set it is ADS. The first to get under Slater’s skin after AI and rattle his cage. One of the very few to totally update and perfect a skill set when most ossify and stagnate. For the first time all event a crowd on the beach felt the vibe. Callinan finished with a pair of nines. Check the analyser but it won’t have the sudden impact of the live viewing.

The next two heats mellowed out. Medina looked insane but still lost to Mikey Wright in round four. Rosie bought that to his attention and he gave a little smirk.

“We’ve had some weird heats,” he said “but I can’t say nothing.”

The Quarters were sick. Connor smacked a wave starved De Souza, who got lost paddling in the rip. I haven’t got the stats in front of me but I know R-Cal enjoys a solid winning record against Jordy and despite a patchy middle section of his heat he beat him comprehensively.

Julian and Mikey had the best Quarter of the four. Whatever Julian has done since Surf Ranch his surfing has never looked so free and so radical. He opened with a greased straight air to the flats first wave. Intention noted. A tad past the half way mark he pumped three times and launched a straight slob air, very high,that made a mockery of the red bull Air show. Judges lowballed it and in the end the heat looked closer than it was. Mikey was outclassed.

Final quarter was Medina hunting a line-up in the throes of deterioration from a niggling S wind and raging tidal flow. No man alive flenses the carcass of a decaying beachbreak like Gabe Medina. He proved that in last years Final and again, although the scores looked close at the end and Seabass surfed insane Gabby was dominant from start to final siren.

God it’s a relief when the back markers get out of the road and a man can be truly and honestly positive. I think the Tour should be stripped back after Surf Ranch and enter Europe lean and mean.

What? You think that’s convict logic too? PS: How good does Mikey Feb look on a Red Beauty?

Ah shit…. mutherfucker. I tapped again and hit the couch, thinking they would finish tomorrow. A little bing woke me up. They are finishing. They are finished.

Semi finals in classic French high tide left-hand shorebreak. Good looking crowd of mostly healthy people. R-Cal riding the wildcard dream wave over Coffin.

No great insight to pick another epic showdown between Gabe and Julian Wilson as the heat of the contest. And that was what it was. Totally nutty. Julian threw an air, Gabe launched. Wilson greased a huge corked, inverted backside rotor. Judges took an age to award a unanimous ten. Gabby rode a million more waves but couldn’t find the one to equal the boost. Again, it made the air show redundant.

What is it with all the studs getting their rigs out in the pressers? Is that building the audience?

A fog delay. Unbelieveable. They start the final. R-Cal gets a score, then another. The fog moves in again. I am hallucinating off my head. Sun sets, five minutes to go. Julian lays out another fully corked tail high backside rotation. That’s it.

Thats the victory.

Time to swill the Wilson kool-aid.

Quiksilver Pro France Final Results:
1 – Julian Wilson (AUS) 15.34
2 – Ryan Callinan (AUS) 14.23

Quiksilver Pro France Semifinal Results:
SF 1: Ryan Callinan (AUS) 15.30 def. Conner Coffin (USA) 11.43
SF 2: Julian Wilson (AUS) 16.67 def. Gabriel Medina (BRA) 15.44

Quiksilver Pro France Quarterfinal Results:
QF 1: Conner Coffin (USA) 13.50 def. Adriano De Souza (BRA) 7.83
QF 2: Ryan Callinan (AUS) 15.77 def. Jordy Smith (ZAF) 14.03
QF 3: Julian Wilson (AUS) 15.10 def. Mikey Wright (AUS) 14.23
QF 4: Gabriel Medina (BRA) 12.44 def. Sebastian Zietz (HAW) 10.73

Quiksilver Pro France Round 4 Results:
Heat 1: Conner Coffin (USA) 12.50, Jordy Smith (ZAF) 11.20, Matt Wilkinson (AUS) 10.80
Heat 2: Ryan Callinan (AUS) 18.53, Adriano De Souza (BRA) 16.50, Willian Cardoso (BRA) 12.44
Heat 3: Mikey Wright (AUS) 13.96, Gabriel Medina (BRA) 13.90, Michael Rodrigues (BRA) 6.70
Heat 4: Sebastian Zietz (HAW) 15.90, Julian Wilson (AUS) 14.10, Patrick Gudauskas (USA) 10.07

2018 WSL Men’s CT Jeep Leaderboard (After Quiksilver Pro France):
1 – Gabriel Medina (BRA) 51,770 pts
2 – Filipe Toledo (BRA) 51,450 pts
3 – Julian Wilson (AUS) 47,125 pts
4 – Italo Ferreira (BRA) 33,490 pts
5 – Jordy Smith (ZAF) 32,020 pts

I did pick a bad week to stop sniffing glue!
I did pick a bad week to stop sniffing glue!

From the fly-the-friendly-skies department: United Airlines is the best!

Free surfboard travel to and from California!

Five days ago I woke up grouchy, half-read that United Airlines was waiving surfboard baggage fees for surfers coming to California, in celebration of surfing becoming California’s official state sport, and popped off half-cocked. Something about it being an abomination, flying surfers to California from elsewhere to steal all our waves.

Something dumb.

Well, if you can believe that in my grumpy fog, I both mis-read and misunderstood the announcement. In fact, all surfboard baggage fees either going to or originating from California are waved. A glorious gift!

Now, when the United Airlines representative read and reached out do you think he was chuckling and gentle or gruff and threatening?


I’ll tell you… chuckling and gentle!

Derek & Chas,

I admit I your story on United waiving the surfboard excess-baggage fee in California made me laugh. Funny. However, there is a slight correction to it. The surfboard excess-baggage fee is being waived for itineraries that start AND end in California. In other words, if you’re going from LA to Honolulu, your board fees would be waived. So it’s not just bringing the “hordes” of surfers to California that might happen, but “hordes” of Californians could be surfing elsewhere.

Oh United, never before has an airline spokesman been so kind. In honor, I am naming you The Official Airline of Chas Smith’s Rotten Attitude.


Thom Browne wetsuit
Bring Thom Browne in to style the pretend blubber suits. He good! Here, his $3900 creation from last year.

From-the-lab: MIT Scientists use “artificial blubber” to create wetsuits twice as warm and half as thick!

Get your suit juiced! The ultimate after-market accessory!

The good news: Our wetsuits are about to take a big leap forward.

The bad: The same 14-year old sass-mouths typically seen only in summer will soon be spraying you in the once-empty dead-of-winter lineup.

Sub-50 degree water sheds the weak like fire does dross off metal. But even with the hooded 5/4, heads ache and calves cramp after not too long. Am I warm or am I numb?

But researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have been spending countless lab hours thinking about how to warm our bodies as we play in the cold.

The United States Department of Defence by way of the Navy Seals approached MIT researchers Michael Strano and Jacopo Boungiorno about producing a wetsuit that would allow the frogmen more time and warmth as they quietly rescue and kill things in frigid waters.

And they did it.

The wetsuits we wear are made from thin layers of a synthetic rubber compound structured with tiny pockets, or pores, of air. The purpose of the air-filled pores is to reduce loss of heat as it travels from the body. Thermal conductivity through air has been the working principle of wetsuits before Jack O’Neill and now we’re all bored of the science lesson.

So, what’s new about Strano and Buongiorno’s work with wetsuits?

The two have figured out a way to replace the air inside neoprene with the heavy inert gases Xenon and Krypton. A normal off-the-hanger wetsuit (or even the ripe one out of your trunk) is put in a keg-sized “autoclave”where air in the suit is replaced by the heavier gas, which is two-to-three times as slow to conduct heat. The whole process takes about twenty hours. When asked about possible damage or decrease to a suit’s longevity or flexibility, Strano says, “For all practical purposes (except thermal) the wetsuit feels the same.” However, he also stated that the gas diffuses out of the wetsuit within a couple of days, so the suit needs to be “recharged” before a second session.

Their process has two practical benefits: First, the wearer of the suit can stay warmer for twice as long. It also means that suits injected with these gases could technically be half as thick.

Strano and Boungiorno have applied for a patent and are currently in talks with several unnamed wetsuit companies. Taking the long view, it’s a trade: they’ll be rich, but we’ll be warm.

Right now, the MIT boys are juicing up my three-mil Billabong and six-mil Hyperflex then vacuum sealing them for use in January.

It’s quite a magic show, and I’m wondering how soon we’ll start tripping over these little machines on the floor of every surf shop outside of the tropics.

"Surfing is a prison!" "Yeah! On planet bullshit!" Two surfers converse.

Opinion: “Surfing is a prison! On planet bullshit!”

A reader explains the difference between a "surfer" and "someone who surfs…"

“One of the great things I love about being in the water with the tribe that’s out there is that we leave our egos on the beach, you leave everything on the shore, because it’s there when you get back. The ocean is a great equaliser. I think it’s made me a better executive of the organisation. It’s made me a better family man at home. Since I’ve discovered paddling my life’s never been fuller. My life’s in balance now. Live. Your. Passion.”

Such are the ruminations of the incoming media and content director for the WSL, Erik Logan. But compare his words to your experience with surfing, and what it means to you. Because if you’re anything like me, a lifelong surfer mired in mediocrity, surfing is, mostly, negative.

Wasted time, money and resources.

That’s the difference between a surfer, and somebody who surfs. Somebody who surfs uses the sport as a bow in their quiver of a well-balanced life. A surfer will eschew any semblance of balance in the chase of an unattainable goal.

It’s lies to yourself. You’re still a good person for following this selfish pursuit, you say. You’re doing it because it makes you a better person in the long run. At least you’re not a roaring alcoholic or a 72-hour-week career hedonist.

But you know it’s not true.

All it does is hold a mirror back up to your own selfishness.

We lord it over others when we’re in the lineup. Surfing is all about ego. Exaggerated avatars are activated as soon as we slide on a leash. Mild-mannered paper pushers on land are transformed into roaring balls of testosterone in the water. Spindly-limbed junkies run their dowried lineups like mad dictators. Retirees on surf mats will straight up try and drown a woman all because of a tribal breach.

It’s smoking snow cones with a methamphetamine-riddled local named Rocket at three am on a Thursday morning so that he’ll let you sit on surge with him on the next big south swell, while you’re wife and newborn child lie alone at home wondering when they’re ever going to see Daddy again.

Being a surfer is to fall into the abyss of solipsism.

It’s smoking snow cones with a methamphetamine-riddled local named Rocket at three am on a Thursday morning so that he’ll let you sit on surge with him on the next big south swell, while your wife and newborn child lie alone at home wondering when they’re ever going to see Daddy again.

Give it anything less than that and you’re just another blow-in. A dilettante.

That’s the difference between a surfer and somebody who surfs. A surfer will tear down everything they love for a Sisyphean pursuit.

It’s what the WSL needs to realise they have inherited.

And it’s what we need to accept.

But hey, maybe we’ve got it wrong. Maybe we need to be more like Loges?

Live.Your.Passion. Here.

Here's a hypothetical: you can only surf one wave for the rest of your life. What's it going to be? Maybe a little slice of France? No! Too damn cold! | Photo: @surflodge_seignosse

Quiz: If you had to surf…one…wave for the rest of your life…

…what would it be? It's a hypothetical that will tie you into knots!

As Bill Cosby said, perhaps while boiling a Quaalude broth, kids say the darnedest things. And ol’ fuck-everything Bill was right.

This morning, on a school run, one kid fiddling on the True Surf game, the other busy studying the lyrics to Eminem’s Killshot (“If I was three foot 11, you’d look up to me, and for the record, you would suck a dick to fuckin’ be me for a second, lick a ballsack to get on my channel…”), the gamer looked and me and asked:

“Dad, if you had to surf one wave for the rest of your life, what would it be?”

I’ve been mentally playing with a move to Hossegor, lately: cheaper than Bondi, a few less bankers throwing their SUPs around and all those photos from around the Quiksilver Pro haven’t hurt the dream.

I tell him, “Hossegor.”

“But what about winter?”

He got me.

Winter anywhere in France except the Alps sucks. The water halves in temperature. Big fronts hit the coast and it rains and blows without respite. In Hossegor, you hibernate in houses built for summer and ruin your teeth with red wine; your abdominal apron with cheese.

“So it’s gotta be tropical,” I say.

“Not necessarily,” he says. “Temperate works.”

Smart kid.

I tell him D-Bah. It ain’t my favourite wave in the world but it’s consistent, the water never gets cold and if life ain’t going the way I want it, I can always buy a package of ice and dream it away.

One wave for the rest of my life?

I move to D-Bah.

Where you gonna go?