Day One, Pipeline Masters: “A way out of this sadism has to be found!”

Meanwhile, Tanner Hendrickson storms around his living room muttering, "Fuck you, fuck you!"

Did you see the first heat of round one of the Pipe Masters in Remembrance of Andy Irons? Me, sleeping like a drunken Englishman on a beach in Thailand, secure in the knowledge that the WSL would assault me with notifications if and when the event started.

I must have got 50 yesterday. This morning, nothing.

A cock crow woke me and by the time I got past the Oakley ads it was the very welcome sight of 11-time world champion Kelly Slater in his presser casting doubt on the forecast. Which to be honest looks somewhere between diabolical and what Ross Williams referred to today as “cryptic”. 

The surf  was worse than unkempt, more a bindii-infested lawn in summer with scant patches of green grass in between. Very poor Pipeline. But forced into running due to the logistics of fitting a full-scale event into a rapidly shrinking event window. 

A way out of this sporting sadism has to be found. Now that Sophie G has haired out of the tour revamp and Mentawai Super Bowl why not adapt the idea for the season-ender at Pipeline? 

Tell me a one day or two day Invitational with the Title Contenders plus extras held on the best Pipe day/s of an extended window is not a winning idea. Watching back markers grind away with twos and threes in insolent untidy scraps is not a winning formula for great sporting drama.

But everyone knows that except the WSL, or so it seems.

And the prognosis for next year has taken a turn for the worst. No elimination until round three. No three-man round four heats, which consistently provided the high point of surfing performance all year, Exhibit A being J-Bay, Exhibit B being France. A huge step backwards in an effort to appease the athletes. 

Yago Dora set down a winning template by throwing tail-high airs into the tradewind. An electric Italo followed the formula with ankle busting landings onto the flats. 

It was there for Toledo to take on. He just had to pick it up at the waters edge and follow the script. Judges were ready and willing. Inexplicably, after cleanly spiking a little left, he changed the plan. Dickie Toledo whistled him over the the rights and things got very messy for Fil. Distressingly inept is the only way to describe his heat. From the body language with Toledo Snr after the heat it’s obvious things have gone very pear shaped in the Toledo Camp. It was a heat reminiscent of  Joel Parkinson’s flame out to Gavin Gilette in 2009, which gifted the world title to Mick Fanning. Pretty much a total choke. And it does pain me to write that. 

To balance the scale, Medina’s performance in the following heat was as devastatingly efficient as Toledo’s was inept. He flipped a little full rotation oop into the breeze, strolled in and out of a few awkward tubes and laid a patina of ultra-competent hustle all over the line-up. As casual as a Miami barman. He had, as Pottz noted,  “the whereabouts to get the job done.”

Joycey Wilson also looked solid, if unspectacular. Fatherhood becomes him. I can relate. Coming home after a hard day to your babe and babe in arms fills a man with love. Those little fingers wrapped around yours. I’m on the Medina train but a little bit of #CarnJoycey is slipping in.

Colapinto laid down one perfect turn in heat seven, a sizzling fully-torqued top turn and that was the heat. 

Truthfully, the reunion of the old band, Ronnie and Ross, was more entertaining than the surfing. Never thought I would utter those words, that the commentary shaded the action. But it did. Maybe Ross is keeping his blade sharp for a return to the booth 2019? That would be good. 

The sun came out, the tradewind clocked a few degrees to the east and conditions improved for the last two heats. The storyline of the day was the hope for a retirement fairy-tale for Joel Parkinson. He egged the exit of the first real Pipe wave of the day then souled out of a follow-up. 

The final heat featured Michael Rodrigues, who bore no obvious facial disfigurement from his fracas with Tanner Hendickson vs Patty G and Willian Cardoso. A challenge to the security guards is how Ross Williams so delicately but accurately phrased it.

M-Rod stiff legged his way into a legit Backdoor nug for the highest score of the heat and backed it up enough to take an easy win. In the presser he looked relieved and ecstatic. He said he “had no words for my feelings right now”, but notably thanked his Hawaiian support team.

I can only imagine a testy Tanner Hendrickson watching and storming around his living room muttering “Fuck you, fuck you!”


Billabong Pipe Masters Round 1 Results:
Heat 1: Jordy Smith (ZAF) 12.00, Kelly Slater (USA) 11.43, Frederico Morais (PRT) 4.47
Heat 2: Yago Dora (BRA) 9.83, Owen Wright (AUS) 9.60, Miguel Pupo (BRA) 2.00
Heat 3: Italo Ferreira (BRA) 13.30, Joan Duru (FRA) 11.67, Keanu Asing (HAW) 5.66
Heat 4: Matt Wilkinson (AUS) 6.03, Filipe Toledo (BRA) 5.04, Caio Ibelli (BRA) 4.93
Heat 5: Julian Wilson (AUS) 8.07, Tomas Hermes (BRA) 6.40, Seth Moniz (HAW) 4.57
Heat 6: Gabriel Medina (BRA) 13.16, Benji Brand (HAW) 9.97, Connor O’Leary (AUS) 9.67
Heat 7: Griffin Colapinto (USA) 7.07, Ryan Callinan (AUS) 6.77, Wade Carmichael (AUS) 4.50
Heat 8: Michael February (ZAF) 6.30, Kanoa Igarashi (JPN) 6.10, Sebastian Zietz (HAW) 4.03
Heat 9: Michel Bourez (PYF) 12.03, Ian Gouveia (BRA) 12.00, Ezekiel Lau (HAW) 10.90
Heat 10: Conner Coffin (USA) 15.07, Jeremy Flores (FRA) 14.00, Jesse Mendes (BRA) 9.20
Heat 11: Joel Parkinson (AUS) 11.23, Kolohe Andino (USA) 8.10, Adrian Buchan (AUS) 5.13
Heat 12: Michael Rodrigues (BRA) 11.44, Patrick Gudauskas (USA) 7.60, Willian Cardoso (BRA) 5.04

Billabong Pipe Masters Round 2 Matchups:
Heat 1: Filipe Toledo (BRA) vs. Benji Brand (HAW)
Heat 2: Owen Wright (AUS) vs. Seth Moniz (HAW)
Heat 3: Wade Carmichael (AUS) vs. Caio Ibelli (BRA)
Heat 4: Kanoa Igarashi (JPN) vs. Keanu Asing (HAW)
Heat 5: Kolohe Andino (USA) vs. Miguel Pupo (BRA)
Heat 6: Willian Cardoso (BRA) vs. Kelly Slater (USA)
Heat 7: Adrian Buchan (AUS) vs. Ryan Callinan (AUS)
Heat 8: Jeremy Flores (FRA) vs. Ian Gouveia (BRA)
Heat 9: Ezekiel Lau (HAW) vs. Jesse Mendes (BRA)
Heat 10: Sebastian Zietz (HAW) vs. Patrick Gudauskas (USA)
Heat 11: Frederico Morais (PRT) vs. Connor O’Leary (AUS)
Heat 12: Joan Duru (FRA) vs. Tomas Hermes (BRA)

Retort: “Bill Finnegan’s New Yorker story let Kelly Slater get away with too much!”

Take that Mr Pulitzer winner, writes angry bus driver from Lennox Head…

I have no beef with the New Yorker. Read it heaps. Never subscribed but I have a copy stashed away somewhere as a reminder of a little pilgrimage taken to visit Australian surf journalist Nick Carroll.

Caught the L90 from Dee Why junction to Newps with a hangover so disabling that when we finally got down to the business of a go-out I staggered around the carpark for long minutes in a wetsuit I’d managed to put on back to front.

Oh, he laughed all right.

But I ended up with a copy of the New Yorker and now I can’t remember whether he gave it to me out of pity or whether I trousered it while he wasn’t looking. 

It was full of that solid, objective authorial tone, described by Jonathan Franzen thusly: “The precision and the sobriety of which created a kind of negative emotional space, a suggestion of feeling without the naming of it”. The cool all-seeing eye of the author with his “finely wrought prose” –more Franzen – his “well educated white characters”, both written about and for.

I have no beef with Finnegan either. Barbarian Days was majestic. But his Slater essay blew goats, to use the Bribie vernacular, a completely different measure.

And finally the little reveal, a little aha moment where the author pulls back the curtain steps into the limelight to applause and all clap and turn sideways and mutter, “He’s ever so clever”.

By that measure Finnegan’s long-form reportage essay on Slater’s pool was note perfect. 

I have no beef with Finnegan either. Barbarian Days was majestic. But his Slater essay blew goats, to use the Bribie vernacular, a completely different measure. 

Allow an explanation. You get the first punch or the last punch. They are the only ones that count. And Finnegan played for the last punch. The definitive one.

On the question of a home-court advantage for Slater at his own pool Finnegan  allows this howler from Slater: “There’s a lot of guys on tour that have surfed this thing a lot more than I have” to pass without so much as a raised eyebrow.


A lot of guys on Tour have surfed Kelly’s wave a lot more than Kelly?

Like who?

Name five Kelly.

OK, name one.

With the cool, all-seeing objective authorial eye. With the weight of the famous New Yorker fact-checking team behind him, errors in fact and emphasis; lost opportunities to engage and unchallenged statements become egregious. 

He let Slater get away with too much. Maybe the “freebies” he took clouded his judgement. Who knows. 

On the question of a home-court advantage for Slater at his own pool Finnegan  allows this howler from Slater: “There’s a lot of guys on tour that have surfed this thing a lot more than I have” to pass without so much as a raised eyebrow.


A lot of guys on Tour have surfed Kelly’s wave a lot more than Kelly? Like who?

Name five Kelly.

OK, name one.

A lot of guys were surfing it for the first time. That is true. Practice waves were very hard to come by before the event. That is also true. And the home-court advantage turned out to be very, very real as Slater’s Mephistopheles, Adam Fincham , struggled with the inconsistencies of waves in the tub. Inconsistencies only Slater himself would have been familiar with. 

Maybe Bill and his New York elites use words differently to Bribie Island rednecks. Maybe I couldn’t understand his world nor him mine. We’d be like Wittgenstein’s lions to each other. 

Like, when I hear a word like democracy or democratize I hear the Greek root Demos, meaning the common people and them having say over a system of government or universal access to something.

But apparently Bill hears something else. He hears the Kelly Slater meaning. So when Kelly says the wave pool will “democratize surfing” he hears that it will make man-made waves available to the tech billionaires and hedge fund jerks who have fifty grand in loose change to buy a wave. 

Available to the common people?

Only in the  weirdest way possible when WSL tries a roll-out in Australia with the tubs pitched as high-end training centres for the Olympics it’ll be the taxpayer flensed of a few shekels to underwrite the cost.

Did you not ask about the business plan Bill? It really comes across like you were too busy admiring Kelly the “beautiful boy” whose looks have not deserted him.

Oh god, what a little bitch I am. 

You let him off the hook big time Bill calling him an “informed environmenalist”. Come now ambassador, you are really spoiling us now. These tubs, hungrily reliant as they are on the two scarcest commodities our environment provides, electricity and water, are a nightmare for dear old Mother Earth.

We’d need 15 or 20 spare ones to all live the life of a Kelly Slater. Maybe New Yorkers don’t see that? I really don’t know. Next time you’re down here I’ll drive you west and we’ll go visit a farm, tell ’em we are going to need megalitres of fresh water to play surfers in a tub. It won’t go down well I tune you, bru. Poor Old Mother Earth wakes up in the morning dreading another day  having to provide for the prodigality of Robert K. Slater.

Fact checkers. The famous New Yorker fact checkers. Did they slip out for a coffee when it came time to throw the fat in the fire? You said, “The 2019 Pipe Masters was cancelled, for vague and unpersuasive reasons”.


There were rumours of a massive tour change that were never confirmed and permit issues with the Honolulu bureacracy. Pipe Masters is on Dec 2019. 

I know it’s nit picking but it’s the fucking New Yorker. 

You said, “An enormous square pool in Australia opened recently, with a mechanism that is basically a giant plunger.”

Incorrect. The pool is circular/oval and it hasn’t opened. They ran a test over two days. It remains closed to the public and will be for the forseeable future.

It kills me to grind away like this, to have to do the fact-checking for the great and venerable New Yorker. But, fuck it Bill. 

You offered no objective observations on the WSL’s Grand Plan of making pro surfing accessible to the masses. You describe the pool as being “broadcast ready” but could make no judgement about the incomprehensible nature of it in terms of being a scoring sport?

Isn’t that a crucial part of the puzzle? If surfers can’t understand it, how can Joe Sixpack in buttefuck Missouri? 

OK. That divine little exchange with Australia’s pride and joy Steph Gilmore.

“As a purist,” Gilmore said, “would you be disappointed to see it not be an authentic representation of what surfing is?”

That one. What a gem. I did not see that coming. Who knew that perma-smile hid such a sharp, perceptive mind? 

And what did Bill do with that delicate little philosophical invitation, that perfect pass floating in a summer sky towards the touchdown line. 

He dropped it like a soft boiled egg. 

Purist? Who me?  He cowered. The author of the best purist memoir in surfing, won a freaking Pulitzer for it, took cover.

He squibbed it so hard. 

That was the chance to get deep with the person who makes Kelly’s wave look like the divine dance that once only nature provided. 


Sorry Bill, your book was fab but the essay blew goats. Too much Slater Kool-Aid, not enough fact checking. 

Watch: Made in the USA! Your Guide to Great American Surf Co’s!

Can you imagine anything more American than Futures Fins from Huntington Beach?

New Jersey changed me. You may recall that I was there earlier in the year in order to coordinate our Fairytale Wetsuit shoot featuring the wonderful Tommy Ihnken though, before leaving I will admit that I wasn’t thrilled.

The Garden State doesn’t have the best reputation, see, and I never liked Zack Braff. I thought it was going to be bad, slow, ugly with bad, slow, ugly food and bad, slow, ugly people.

I could not have been more wrong.

An energy crackled in the air. Crackled off the boardwalk, through the streets, from The Stone Pony where Bruce Springsteen first played. I fell in love with New Jersey and its everything but mostly its pork rolls and, in turn, fell in love with America again.

Behind those industrial walls in a bland industrial park, Futures feels like a cross between Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory and a Detroit, Michigan Ford plant. Dreams are being dreamed in the front. Dreams are being milled in the back.

This country, to many, seems a train wreck but it’s also a grand train wreck with Bruce Springsteen crooning blue collard anthems and Americans drinking Coors and Coors Light and those Americans manufacturing. Americans like the ones at Futures Fins in Huntington Beach manufacturing fins that make your board go better.

Behind those industrial walls in a bland industrial park, Futures feels like a cross between Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory and a Detroit, Michigan Ford plant. Dreams are being dreamed in the front. Dreams are being milled in the back. Brett Simpson’s American spirit floats and inspires and Brett Simpson’s actual body (feat. his spirit) shows up from time to time as well. It is, truly, a wonder to watch the time, the effort and the skill put into these fins.

True labors of local love.

And can you imagine anything better? Anything more American?

Watch this little tour and if you don’t feel inspired then get the hell out with all the other draft dodgers and flag haters.

Technology: The modern poetic mysticism of served internet advertisements!

The World Surf League is gifted a new moniker!

At this point we are, every one of us, very used to being served advertisements as we wander the vast digital world. Even though I am co-owner of a robust website chronicling the joys of a surfing life, I know very little about how it all works. There is an instant marketplace, I think, where brands or products bid for on site real-estate and that real-estate can also be sold outright.

The World Surf League made a robust media buy ahead of the Pipeline Master in Tender and Loving Memory of Andy Irons. It purchased advertisements across surf media, from Stab to The Inertia, from Surfer to Surfer Today with only li’l old us being left in the instant marketplace, where Gamestop and Volvo bash each other for access to your eyeballs.

Oh, I don’t mind being forgotten by the World Surf League for I, like some ancient Chinese mystic, enjoy reading the served advertisements like tea leaves. You of course know the served ads reflect both you, your personal browsing history, and the collective zeitgeist of the website you are visiting. The sage can peer deeply into this bowl and discern greater truths about the universe and greater truths about himself through this process.

Yesterday, for example, right after it was announced that the World Surf League had suspended a hard-working young man for doing what surfers on the North Shore do, I was served a Chicken of the Sea advertisement right where the World Surf League advertisement would have gone had they purchased the slot like they did everywhere else.

Chicken of the Sea is a canned tuna brand here in the United States but now it is also the official byline of the World Surf League and/or the World Surf League’s new title sponsor.

The World Surf League
“Chicken of the Sea”

It has a ring, no?

Ryan Callinan
Pipe Trials winner Ryan Callinan turns several shades of colour lighter as he falls, like all of us, under Ms Hodge's spell.

Ryan Callinan Wins Pipeline Masters Trials at “Schizophrenic” Pipe!

Australian wraps fabulous year; Hawaiian with South African accent qualifies for main event…

In onshore four-foot waves reminiscent of summertime Australia, Ryan Callinan has won the Pipe Masters Trials and, therefore, entry into the main event.

Ryan, who is twenty-six, negotiated, cleanly, two tubes, finishing a wonderfully successful 2018 where he placed fourth on the qualifying series and second as a wildcard at the Quiksilver Pro in France.

You may remember Ryan as a rookie on the tour in 2016 where he struggled, terribly, to replicate his dazzling surfing (as seen in Kai Neville’s movies) and where he finished 34th and was relegated back to the bush leagues.

Runner-up to Ryan, the South African/Hawaiian, Benji Brand, will also compete in the main event.

“I used to really hate Pipe,” says Benji here, “but I’ve grown to love it. I see it’s where the epitome of surfing and barrel-riding is. I used to be terrible out there.”

“They’re humble warriors, they throw themselves under the hood, left and right,” said Joe Turpel.

Ross Williams, moonlighting as a commentator with his star pupil still out of the game, described Pipe as “schizophrenic”, which it clearly was.

Clean, windy, small, biggish.

Looking far better tomoz.

Pipe Invitational Final Results:
1 – Ryan Callinan (AUS) 9.67
2 – Benji Brand (HAW) 5.47
3 – Torrey Meister (HAW) 4.67
4 – Soli Bailey (AUS) 2.80

Pipe Invitational Semifinal Results:
SF 1: Torrey Meister (HAW) 8.30, Ryan Callinan (AUS) 4.84, Ian Walsh (HAW) 3.76, Takayuki Wakita (HAW) 1.30
SF 2: Benji Brand (HAW) 13.14, Soli Bailey (AUS) 7.43, Noa Mizuno (HAW) 6.87, Ethan Ewing (AUS) inj.

Pipe Invitational Quarterfinal Results:
QF 1: Takayuki Wakita (HAW) 5.87, Ian Walsh (HAW) 4.90, Makai McNamara (HAW) 3.87, Imaikalani Devault (HAW) 3.47
QF 2: Ryan Callinan (AUS) 7.47, Torrey Meister (HAW) 6.20, Nathan Florence (HAW) 5.87, Kalani David (HAW) 1.86
QF 3: Benji Brand (HAW) 9.77, Noa Mizuno (HAW) 5.20, Billy Kemper (HAW) 3.87, Joshua Moniz (HAW) 2.17
QF 4: Ethan Ewing (AUS) 16.50, Soli Bailey (AUS) 10.40, Finn McGill (HAW) 5.00, Justin Becret (FRA) 4.74

Pipe Invitational Round 1 Results:
Heat 1: Makai McNamara (HAW) 9.13, Ryan Callinan (AUS) 7.97, Jamie O’Brien (HAW) 3.00, Bruce Irons (HAW) 2.83
Heat 2: Imaikalani Devault (HAW) 5.06, Nathan Florence (HAW) 3.53, Sheldon Paishon (HAW) 3.43, Kiron Jabour (HAW) 2.83
Heat 3: Torrey Meister (HAW) 10.94, Ian Walsh (HAW) 4.73, Ian Gentil (HAW) 4.60, Barron Mamiya (HAW) 1.77
Heat 4: Kalani David (HAW) 6.33, Takayuki Wakita (HAW) 5.24, Mason Ho (HAW) 5.13, Michael O’Shaughnessy (HAW) 5.06
Heat 5: Noa Mizuno (HAW) 6.83, Soli Bailey (AUS) 6.46, Wyatt McHale (HAW) 4.10, Hank Gaskell (HAW) 2.66
Heat 6: Joshua Moniz (HAW) 11.26, Finn McGill (HAW) 7.17, Lahiki Minamishin (HAW) 4.40, Evan Valiere (HAW) 1.87
Heat 7: Justin Becret (FRA) 9.17, Benji Brand (HAW) 8.63, Jack Robinson (AUS) 8.44, Kyle Ramey (HAW) 3.40
Heat 8: Ethan Ewing (AUS) 11.00, Billy Kemper (HAW) 4.97, Dusty Payne (HAW) 3.87, Koa Rothman (HAW) 3.84

Billabong Pipe Masters Round 1 Matchups:
Heat 1: Jordy Smith (ZAF), Frederico Morais (PRT), Kelly Slater (USA)
Heat 2: Owen Wright (AUS), Yago Dora (BRA), Miguel Pupo (BRA)
Heat 3: Italo Ferriera (BRA), Joan Duru (FRA), Keanu Asing (HAW)
Heat 4: Filipe Toledo (BRA), Matt Wilkinson (AUS), Caio Ibelli (BRA)
Heat 5: Julian Wilson (AUS), Tomas Hermes (BRA), Seth Moniz (HAW)
Heat 6: Gabriel Medina (BRA), Connor O’Leary (AUS), Benji Brand (HAW)
Heat 7: Wade Carmichael (AUS), Griffin Colapinto (USA), Ryan Callinan (AUS)
Heat 8: Kanoa Igarashi (JPN), Sebastian Zietz (HAW), Michael February (ZAF)
Heat 9: Michel Bourez (PYF), Ezekiel Lau (HAW), Ian Gouveia (BRA)
Heat 10: Conner Coffin (USA), Jeremy Flores (FRA), Jesse Mendes (BRA)
Heat 11: Kolohe Andino (BRA), Adrian Buchan (AUS), Joel Parkinson (AUS)
Heat 12: Willian Cardoso (BRA), Michael Rodrigues (BRA), Patrick Gudauskas (USA)