These four made our spirits soar.
It really has been a hell of a year, as they say in the merchant marines. A hell of a year and has John John Florence basically convinced you to give up surfing and take up sailing instead? I can speak from a bit of experience here. Sailing requires nimble fingers (for knots and things) and a nimble mind (knots etc.). Surfing requires neither. I imagine we could all cut off our fingers, in fact, replacing them with foam-stuffed Darkfin gloves and be just fine.
Also there are no brains required but the next four most influential surf persons of 2018 showed an uncanny ability to swing with the times. To put their very mark on the thing we used to love before sailing came into the picture and let’s not waste anymore time. Let’s meet them directly.
5. Steve “Longtom” Shearer: What would professional surfing have been this year without him? I’ll tell you. A soft-boiled egg. One of those soft-boiled eggs that you ask for but when the waiter brings it and you crack the shell all that viscous clear slime oozes out and know that you will be infected with salmonella. Longtom elevated the tour to a state of high art. I don’t think that has ever been done before. Matt Warshaw? Nick Carroll? Correct me please but there’s no way I’m wrong. Longtom hit it out of the park day after lousy day. He turned heats between Wade Carmichael and Willian Cardoso into poetry. Imagine doing that just once. Then imagine doing it across an entire year. Steve? I’m raising my bourbon to you right now and in the sincerest honesty. Thank you.
4. Bruce Irons: Yes he is high up the list but also high. Or low. Or whatever falling asleep in a Newport Beach gas station and getting woken by the police before flying to Oahu in order to attend the Eddie opening ceremony but missing it but making TMZ instead is. Bruce continues to be watchable after all these years. A throwback with a devil may care attitude and enough credibility to go all in every single time. You’d crave him if he wasn’t here and of which other professional surfers can that be said?
3. Kelly Slater: Oh yeah. It can be said of Kelly Slater. Around and around and around we go but son of a bitch if the greatest surfer of all time, the greatest athlete of all time isn’t a bucket of fun contradiction. What if Tom Brady got on Instagram and endlessly debated flat-earthers? What if LeBron James announced his future retirement the day after Kobe Bryant did? I’ll tell you what. Then the NFL and NBA would be that much more entertaining. Our GOAT knows how to pull focus and wants it, demands it. And how fabulous is that?
2. Beth “Backward Fin” Greve: It has been a longtime dream of mine to make it into The New Yorker and the World Surf League’s ex-Chief Commercial Officer made that happen. Oh sure it wasn’t in the way I imagined. I thought I’d maybe write a story but beggars can’t be choosers and how many deep bellied laughs did we have about her ill-fated Balinese adventure? So many! She was invited to join, of course, but refused thereby rejecting our core ethos that “the best surfer in the water is the one having the most fun.” I hope she has great success wherever she lands and also frames that issue of The New Yorker on her wall. It’s truly a proud moment.
Tomorrow we reveal who BeachGrit’s Man of the Year is. “Man” is of course gender fluid. It’s almost 2019!
See you tomorrow!