From the wsl’s-mind-games department: John John Florence and Kelly Slater now “currently in draw” to surf Pipe Masters!

See if you can find the trivial but fateful detail!

As the afternoon ripens into evening, let’s unbutton our pinafores, pour a cherry cola and play a game. If you’re west of the date line it’s almost the weekend; east, it’s Thursday and everyone loves Thursday. Live a little.

Examine this photo and accompanying words from two days ago.

And, now, today.

The difference is subtle but significant, yes?

Did you guess the trivial but fateful detail?

Two days ago, the surf media, of which we are proud to belong, dutifully aggregated a World Surf League story that promised John John Florence, Kelly Slater and Caio Ibelli’s return to competition at the Pipeline Masters this December.

Today they’re “currently in the draw” for the Pipeline Masters.

I would suggest that one of the three made a telephone call or sent an email reeking of sap to the WSL, putting the company on notice that they may, or may not, surf the event, depending upon various things, motivation etc, and that the WSL had no right to presume their attendance.

Who made the call to the WSL you think?




From the Gavin-Belson-Signature-Box Department: Let’s Google “World Surf League” and see what we find!

An SEO surprise!

Imagine, for one moment, you are an adult-learner who just heard from Dan in accounting that there is this thing called the “World Surf League.” Dan saw you coming to work, yesterday, and you still had your Surftech Spade Fusion (7’2) strapped to the roof of your Subaru Outback.

“You surf?” Dan asked.

“Can’t get enough of it.” You responded.

“Did you catch the WSL’s last Instagram post? He continued.

“WSL?” You queried.

“World Surf League” He said before heading into the break room.

At your desk you pondered this “World Surf League” before Googling in order to discover more. Scanning the top three results you saw:

Revealed: The World Surf League unveils its vision of the perfect wave!

Meet: The World Surf League’s new President of Content, Media and WSL Studios!

Announced: The World Surf League declares war on people who surf!

Do you think the World Surf League is thrilled by this little scenario or is Bob from Search Engine Optimization getting fired right at this very moment?

Revealed: “When you fall at Sunset it’s worse than Pipeline!”

"Sunset gets a hold of you in a half-nelson then keeps you down for the longest time and then there is always seven waves behind it."

Yesterday, after being notified via an Instagram friend that the HIC un-culled Pro at Sunset Beach was running, I stopped my work and tuned directly in. As per my previous point, the World Surf League does an absolutely terrible job marketing the Triple Crown. I swore, for example, that yesterday’s event was part of it. I thought in the confusion of dropping Pipeline then reinstating Pipeline that the Triple Crown must have been shuffled, kicking off in Sunset instead of Haleiwa.

Of course I was wrong but there I sat watching, marveling at Sunset. It looks like a big wave that you or I could conquer, no? A throaty drop but then long, non-intimidating wall that ejects into the safety of a wide channel. Sunset looks like the big wave for the rest of us but that’s where we’re all wrong.

The place is a nasty kick in the pants, or so I’ve been told. Michael Tomson, one of my very favorite all-time surfers (read more about him in the hit Cocaine + Surfing!) opened my eyes to the terrors. The strong-jaw’d South African is no shrinking violet and made a name for himself fearlessly charging both Pipeline and Sunset during those late 1970s winters. He told me, one sun-dappled afternoon:

I don’t even want to ride Sunset anymore, you know what I mean? It’s just too fucking heavy. The older you get you realize… I’ve nearly died at Sunset twice. At 50 and 52. And this one time I was out there and this set popped up and I said, “Fuck it. I’m gonna go.” And there it was, life on the table, got pounded, held down, thought I was dying right? Next thing is I’m being pulled up on a board. I couldn’t focus on anything, had to go to the hospital. So I had another one like that at Sunset and I have become so careful now because when you fall there it is worse than Pipeline. Pipeline is violent but short. Sunset gets a hold of you in a half-nelson then keeps you down for the longest time and then there is always seven waves behind it. I get cold thinking about some of the wipeouts I’ve had there.

Does it give you pause? It should.

Back to yesterday, though, Kiron Jabour beat O’Neill Massin, Beyrick De Vries and Slade Prestwich in the final.

Has there ever been a final in any sport ever with better names? I defy you to find and maybe we should hold off on the cull? I’d like to see where this O’Neill is headed. Beyrick and Slade too. It’s like a lost Game of Thrones village!

In defense of Kelly Slater: Golf is not a fun game nor is it a funny game!


How glorious was it, yesterday, to see Dane Reynolds for the first time in forever? There he sat, chatting, self-aware, like he had never left. Sure sure a couple of inches wider but he wears it well. He wears dad well. And it was enjoyable to hear him crankily list off the things he hates like a true dad.

I was hanging on every single word, anyhow, and agreed with most of his positions except veered sharply when he mentioned golf. Oh I have no love for that game. I don’t watch it on television nor have I ever played a proper 18-holes and… well let’s just go though Dane’s statement:

Dane Reynolds: I hate golf for many reasons but I’ll tell you a story about the last time I ever played golf was in Tahiti with Kelly Slater and we were, like, drinking beer and kinda having fun and then he yelled at us and told us to quit fucking around and then I swore off golf from then on.

Perfection. A perfect story top to bottom and a perfect summation. My only issue, which isn’t really an issue but… well… I worry that Kelly Slater comes off as the bad guy here, as the cranky killjoy but have you ever been out surfing, a good day maybe with fun peaks etc. when a whole pack of drunk low-30-somethings celebrating a birthday or, worse, a bachelor party, paddles out loudly whooping it up, laughing, having lots of fun?

It is the worst thing ever. Of course surfing is supposed to be fun, it’s only supposed to be fun, in fact, but too much obnoxious fun wrecks it for everyone. I’d imagine that Kelly Slater, there on the greens or fairways or whatever, looked at Dane and his friends drinking beer and kinda having fun through the lens of bachelors having a bachelor party.

In this context, don’t you side with Kelly Slater? Don’t you understand his crotchety yell?

I sure do.

WSL/Tony Heff

Breaking: John John Florence set to play spoiler at the Pipeline Masters!

The young prince is back!

The World Surf League just announced, via its eponymous website, that John John Florence and Kelly Slater will both surf in the Pipeline Masters on Oahu’s North Shore. Before we get into all the implications of a John John return let us first turn our attention to handshakes and the myriad problems that can arise from a simple squeeze. I present exhibit A.

Here we have John John and Kelly caught in what was supposed to be a humorous moment. Maybe a changing of the guard? Kelly ironically passing the baton to John John? Maybe but what Kelly accidentally passed to John John was a lady’s handshake. See it there? John John’s forearm flexed, ready to take all of Kelly’s hand but only catching the fingers. Kelly’s hand looks bigger than John John’s from this angle so the lady’s handshake was certainly accidental. Was Kelly too focused on holding his ironic gaze and came up short? Very likely and once caught in a lady’s handshake it is impossible to readjust especially if a camera is there clicking.

Both of them did well not to break character. The assured awkwardness they were both feeling is not apparent on either face and this, above all, above every very deep Pipeline tube and Backdoor tube they have threaded, proves to me they each have ice-water running through their veins. For Kelly not to be shyly looking away, caught in a lady’s handshake, is something. John John playing through with the lady’s handshake is equally something.

And both of them will be surfing at Pipeline in just over one short month. Both of them playing spoiler, I’d imagine. The World Surf League writes:

Having been sidelined by injuries for the majority of the season, John John Florence, Kelly Slater and Caio Ibelli will all make their Championship Tour returns at the last event of the year – the Billabong Pipe Masters, set to kick off December 8th and run through the 20th.

I don’t know why Caio Ibelli wasn’t also pictured but that is a question for a later time. I also don’t understand how they get into the event. Do they steal one of the two Hawaiian wildcard slots? Do they steal them both? John John was born in Hawaii and Kelly owns an 8 million dollar home there.

Who is most afraid at this sudden turn?

A) Gabriel Medina

B) Filipe Toledo

C) Julian Wilson

D) Kanoa Igarashi (because he has to go surf Pipeline)