The start of January brings an intoxicating optimism manifested in the forms of both hope, that what’s going to happen can only be better than last year, and delusion, that somehow you can become a better individual/performer (without ever doing the necessary hard things that it requires).
Yeah, fuck that shit.
What we really care about at the start of the year is the analysis of our favourite surfers, discussions of their strengths and weaknesses, while making predictions for how they will perform in the upcoming year.
Thing is, the Tour doesn’t start ‘til fucking April!
That’s way too far away to have to get a gauge for how Tour surfers will perform (lots more data to come in), so how about we sling a little sugar, and salt, into the faces of BeachGrit’s roster of writers.
Strengths: Like the fabled Jesus Christ character who was able to turn water into wine, Chas has the divine ability to turn a shitty story into multiple shittier, but funnier stories, that enliven The People™ in addition to his powers of making Kelly mad and collecting executive scalps.
Weaknesses: While everyone can appreciate his ability to factory produce stories out of nothing (it keeps me coming back to BG, which I would forget about if not for the daily stream of content-adjacent clickables), his performance can be impacted negatively by his other projects (his best work, non-Ashton neck wringing, happened after the release of his book, buy here, free shipping etc). Also, he’s gaffe prone.
WCT Equivalent Performance Prediction: Taj Burrow 2010 – Like this iteration of Taj Burrow, Chas no longer has any real expectation of validation and/or attainment of a pinnacle achievement (Taj a World Title, Chas a Pulitzer for writing about surfing). Nothing left to prove and no urgency to strive. Like Taj, still enjoyable and can make our day.
Strengths: Not being afraid to be a savage when the situation demands it.
Weaknesses: One major, I mean MAJOR, weakness of JP’s would be his inability to live up to or lean into the stereotype of the frugal Scotsman, played up by the country’s most famous citizen, the one and only Scrooge McDuck, who would have scolded him over his over-litred, hidden surfboards. Stories of a savagely and noble Glaswegian miser could warm the hearts of even the most hardened grumpy local. Oh, and his gambling stories are meh.
WCT Equivalent Performance Prediction: Jake Paterson 1999 – Finishing ninth in the world the previous year, Snake finished 19990 12th and solidified his status as a non-title contender; an above-average tour performer worthy of sporadic attention.
Strengths: Major strengths of Derek include his insatiably dirty mind and sexy turn of phrase, as well as the ability to glean information from Matt Warshaw.
Weaknesses: He barely writes anything outside the blurbs that accompany the unispiring, non-re-watchable visual discharge put out by surfers and their crappy filmers placed on the site lately. Also, he sometimes overuses phrases of his design to the point of them becoming cliché (Re: “Dick in the guts!” or “Honeymoon dick!”).
WCT Equivalent Performance Prediction: Andy Irons 2008 – The year will be spent dealing with other important things (e.g. doing drugs and/or writing a book). Pre-occupied with completing his latest book, Derek will be continue his bromidic work, video blurbs and Warshaw interviews with innuendo fluffer for BG which no longer elicits excitement for him. Possibility exists for a no-show in France!
David Lee Scales
Strengths: While not a major contributor to BeachGrit in written form, David Lee Scales remains a notable contributor to BeachGrit through his podcast show called The Grit, in which he gives Chas a platform to talk about whatever it is he wants to in a run-on speaking format. That is his greatest strength, letting Chas talk, generally sticking to a defined set of topics that don’t get out of control on different tangents for too long.
Weaknesses: Like any surfer with a wonky style that detracts from his performance, David Lee’s voice, that high-pitched and monotonous So-Cal surf bro accent that makes the speaker’s perceived IQ drop 20-30 points, can make some of his interviews unbearable to non-native Californian ears. This glaring weakness is unlikely to be improved upon, though, so, well, that’s that. Another major weakness of his is his insistence to talk about his ideas about masculinity and fighting. We all know you’ve never been in a real fight in your whole life so just stop. Also, his cloying earnestness warrants demerits.
WCT Equivalent Performance Prediction: Tiago Pires 2011 – Clearly not the best surfer in the world (or surf personality in David’s case), Tiago often found himself at the bottom of the ratings and outside qualification from ‘CT results alone after uninspiring performances caused by a lack of elite skill only served to highlight others’ performances. Despite his deficiencies, some people respect Tiago, his game and determination, that they become fans and root for his success. Similarly, people seem to respect DLS and want him to do well. While he doesn’t have a column or regular writing presence on the site (‘CT equivalent), we expect him to back himself up with performances on the ‘QS (Surf Splendor Podcast Network), “interviewing” Chas (letting Chas talk in circles and grind himself into a stupor), to stick around and remain relevant to us at BeachGrit.
Strengths: He knows Dane Reynolds.
Weaknesses: While he has access to surfing’s El Dorado, Dane Reynolds, and he never misses an opportunity to tell everyone, Trav is never able to make it help any of his seven-month-beyond-relevancy opinions (like about wave pools… San Fran, brah) or personal I’m-superior-cause-see-I-know-some-guys-ooh-I’m-so-core anecdotes/stories seem the least bit interesting or compelling enough to read and extract joy. Having said that, I guess I can admit that What Youth has some cool photos.
WCT Equivalent Performance Prediction: Keanu Asing 2019 – Wishful thinking, but we can hope he doesn’t somehow requalify for next, or any, year (… motherfucker has a blurb on Meet the Writers).
Strengths: Major proficiencies of Jen’s include, being able to establish the setting in a work, particularly through appealing physical descriptions of place and people; experimenting with The Inertia style while disavowing it completely, pre-emptively nullifying criticism pertaining to being so; her concision; her ability to not be Tara Ruttenberg (yes, I am being lazy and sexist comparing her to another female purely just because she is female. She’s not a militant dropper-inner like Tara, though, which can only be a plus).
Weaknesses: Too many of her posts produce an “oh, neat” reaction that people sometimes overinflate. Also, she uses words like “totes” too much. Blech.
WCT Equivalent Performance Prediction: Shea Lopez 2001 – Not a World Title contender, but a unique style and soft judging keep him relevant.
Strengths: Strengths of ol Longtom are varied and help him to produce a nuanced insight into professional surfing and its happenings as viewed through the Tour including: his knowledge of Russian literature; his ability to comfortably relay scattered, underdeveloped thoughts about or from other intellectual figures at a rudimentary level thereby making the reader feel smart for participating; his ability to convey his everyman persona, evidenced by his talking about driving a bus and fishing.
Weaknesses: In coming up with a weakness (other than being ginger) for our dear Longtom, my mind kept coming back to a quote from Billy Shakes, who writes, “Drink sir, is a great provoker of three things… nose painting, sleep, and urine. Lechery, sir, it provokes, and unprovokes; it provokes the desire but takes away the performance.” Same goes for using/relying on Nietzsche references… sorry, Stevie.
WCT Equivalent Performance Prediction: ADS 2016 – During a banner year last year in which he claimed the Non-Officially Sanctioned Best Surf Journalist in the World Title, climbing to the summit of the “profession,” (lol getting paid a living wage) Longtom dominated 2018 with his Tour coverage consisting of unparalleled contest wraps, in addition to writing some of the best board reviews seen on the site (Sorry Nick, we like normal shortboards that people actually ride).
After such a huge year, and with so much effort expended to write about places like Margs and Portugal, we expect to see some regression. Too much energy, not to mention spousal goodwill and money, is needed to scale the peak again.