Rumour: John John Florence is gonna pull out of Snapper shortly before the waiting period opens!

Ain't gonna chase a Bell either…

Ten months ago, shortly before the Margaret River Pro  kicked open its Bali reboot, the two-time and defending world champ John John Florence announced he’d been wounded in combat and would be taking a little time off to heal.

His coach, Ross Williams, behaved in the manner of the loyal sidekick, punching this supporting explanation into his cell phone.

“I was holding my breath the minute he paddled out. I knew he was feeling jumpy. At one point I looked at him from the beach and gestured to take it easy! Haha. In my position it’s sketchy watching him surf like that cause I want him to be ready for the next comp, but you can’t tell someone like John to just surf safe.”

Gesturing on the beach to “take it easy”? Oh if this was a movie it would be too fantastic to believe.

Do you remember the theatre that ensued? Ross tapping on the glass, John bravely disappearing into the machine.

Now, according to a source that is more reliable than most, John John, who’ll turn twenty-seven this October, is going to withdraw from the Quiksilver Pro at Snapper shortly before the waiting period opens on April 3.

Which means, according to our source, “he’s not doing Bells either. Probably will show up in Bali on the one-year anniversary of his knee injury with a handy excuse as to why he’s not in the World Title race, cause let’s face it, he looks like he’s not even close to being able to compete with Italo, Filipe and Gabriel. Probably not even Julian and Jordy

“He really is not back from that injury so it makes sense to hold off until he can actually compete at the top-level again. But who knows when that will be? Probably should’ve had surgery. Watching his surfing on social media has been rough. He looks about seventy percent. I wouldn’t do Snapper either.”

A harsh assessment, no?

Also, Adriano de Souza, your 2015 king of the hill, is also gonna pull out.

Not sure why.

"I'm gonna put a Surf Ranch right over there."
"I'm gonna put a Surf Ranch right over there."

War in England: Golfers fear their land will be seized by maniacal wave tank prospectors!

Clubs and leashes being used as weapons on the high street!

Did you ever envision, in your most wild imagination, like after a heavy night of massive drug use where your mind is spinning all sorts of ludicrousness, that surfing would be one of the world’s most popular activities on earth, threatening richly cultured pastimes like golf in jolly old England?

Well, it’s true, though it’s difficult for me to comprehend as well so let us turn to the Telegraph for more. It always tells the truth. It won’t let us down.

Putting greens and fairways from London to Edinburgh are being sized-up for conversion to inland surfing parks by a new breed of non-Pringle wearing entrepreneur.

Advances in computing have – after decades of trying – finally made it possible to create an endless supply of perfect surf waves in inland lakes and dozens are now being planned and built across the world.

The world’s first commercial surf lake was opened by Andy Ainscough, son of the crane hire tycoon Martin Ainscough, in Snowdonia in 2015 and similar facilities are now planned for Bristol, Edinburgh and London over the next few years.

The Wave London wave will be built on the site of a municipal 18 hole golf course in the Lee valley area of the capital and its backers say they are scouting similar golfing facilities across the country.

“Struggling golf clubs in the UK and Europe are ideal, please point them our way”, said Craig Stoddart, CEO of the Wave, a private equity backed start-up whose first facility will open on a 100 acre site outside Bristol on September. “Golf courses not only have the space and affinity with nature we need but the planning [permission] to operate as leisure facilities.”

“You have this weird thing with surfing where demand massively outstrips the natural supply of waves”, says Stoddart. “Surfing is about to become an Olympic sport and is one of the fastest growing sports in the world but as every surfer knows, good waves – especially in summer – are few and far between.”

Golf has the opposite problem. In the UK there is is significant oversupply of greens and participation rates are tumbling because of pressures on family time and the sector’s failure to engage women.


Good thing surfing has equal pay.

Speaking of, whatever happened to the rap star Ludacris?

Is he still crafting his art?

And Mr. J.P. Currie, you come from the land of golf. Is paranoia running deep there too?

Long Read: Brad Gerlach’s beautiful perpetual adolescence!

Former world number one pitches autobiographical surf movie to filmmaker. Adventure follows.

In 2014, Brad Gerlach was 48 years old, but those were regular human years.

He was operating on dog years, but in reverse.

So he was more like seven or eight – in a good way. He had a childlike fascination with everything, music, food, photography, film, politics, sports, travel. He was the only pro surfer I’ve ever met who would post pictures on Instagram of trends in women’s fashion and add captions like, “I dig this look.”

His enthusiasm and energy were infectious. When he would see my dog, he’d get on the ground, roll around with him, let him cover his face with his wet tongue. “This is my favorite dog in the world!” He’d say. He fully embraced his ADD. Unlike many pro athletes, he was genuinely interested in other people but couldn’t last long on any topic so he’d bounce around. My conversations with him had a fun roller coaster quality to them.

In April of that year, Brad asked me if I wanted to come to Indonesia to film him. He’d been working on a surfing instructional book and martial arts inspired “Wave Ki” training guide for close to a decade. He had a South African photographer, Gerhard Englebrecht (who tragically passed away in a motorbike accident in Bali in 2017) onboard as well. Brad wanted photos of himself doing all of the maneuvers he describes how to do in his book. He needed video as well for the companion website he intended to launch. He said he had all the moves shot already except for backside late drops and airs so the mission here was to get them.

He booked me a flight that connected to from LAX to Bali via Tokyo and Singapore. Thirty hours later I arrived in Denpasar and met Brad’s personal airport fixer Mr Widi. Mr Widi wasn’t much more than five feet tall. He was deferential to a fault and bowed to me at least 10 ten times when we met. But he was the man at DPS. He escorted me right past a massive immigration line, had my visa on demand handled before I even got on the airport wifi, and led me down to a secret luggage area where my bags were already waiting for me. A couple steps later, I blinked and hit by a blast of Balinese sun and humidity. Total time from plane to curb – less than 5 minutes. Mr Widi had this shit dialed.

Brad’s driver, Budi, was waiting for me at his minivan with an ice cold water. I said my goodbyes to Mr Widi and gave him my best American guy attempt at a couple bows to thank him.

Budi drove me straight to a wave near Nusa Dua where Brad was already out surfing. At this point I was so tired and jet lagged that it took me 15 minutes to get the camera set up. The waves were 10 feet and slamming on an outside slab. I met Gerhard and he said this was the spot where Brad had gotten a cover shot for the Surfers Journal doing a stylish bottom turn on a huge wave.

I pointed the camera toward the ocean and started shooting. The wind came up quickly and turned the waves to shit. Brad caught a close out and paddled in.

He was living a two-bedroom place in Seminyak he called Villa Gorilla. Like many Bali expat pads, it was a little slice of heaven. You entered though a big wall, that masked what was behind it, to a shaded swimming pool. To the left was a small courtyard with a covered patio kitchen and comfy lounges. The bedrooms were in the back. Mine had a cushy bed, ice cold A/C, black out curtains and an epic outdoor shower. I felt like I could sleep for three days.

Brad Gerlach was self-styled a wild man. For most of his career he had long hair, an expanding collection of tattoos, guitars and and ambition to become surfing’s first true rock star. He was brash, outspoken, had a razor sharp wit and could do pitch perfect imitations of nearly every surfer on tour. He once hosted a bikini contest and interviewed the contests while impersonating Mark Occhilupo, right in front of Occy and his friends in his hometown of Cronulla.

Gerr burst onto the pro surf scene in 1985 at age 19 when he won the Stubbies Pro at Oceanside CA, a few miles away from where he grew up in Encinitas. The next year he climbed to #1 in the world, but much to his chagrin, never won a world title. He came closest in 1991 when he led the ratings for most of the year, but had a shocker in Hawaii and finished 2nd to Damien Hardman.

In 1992, he quit the tour at age 25.

The contests then were mostly held in shitty city beach break surf around the world and Brad wanted to find “the artistic side of surfing.” He took acid at Macchu Picchu, played guitar on the streets of Paris for loose change and rode waves naked in France. During his extended 1990’s walkabout, most of his sponsors took a hike too.

Some might say he was living the life of a perpetual adolescent, but shit, if that was the case the guy was making it work. He had a flat belly, a ton of frequent flier miles and a garage full of amazing boards. His $800 USD a month living expenses here in Bali included a villa, a driver, a maid and a chef.

He reinvented his career in the early 2000’s by becoming a big wave tow surfer. He teamed up with straight laced Mike Parsons, Jekyll to his Hyde. He charged on the epic first strike mission to Cortes Bank in 2001, filmed for the Billabong Odyssey project and won the XXL Biggest Wave Award for a 68 foot tow entry at Todos Santos in 2006. Along the way he tried to freshen up pro surfing’s 30 year old competitive format by creating his team based “The Game” concept. The Game brought some fun and excitement to surfing. It was used for a few years at the ESPN X-Games and later by Quiksilver and Red Bull before it fizzled out in the late 2000s.

Now, he was splitting time between LA and Bali, working as a surf coach to Conner and Parker Coffin and a handful of mostly wealthy clients around the world. He had never married or had any kids and his life at this moment was primarily built upon riding waves, eating good food, playing music and hanging out with his friends.

Some might say he was living the life of a perpetual adolescent, but shit, if that was the case the guy was making it work. He had a flat belly, a ton of frequent flier miles and a garage full of amazing boards. His $800 USD a month living expenses here in Bali included a villa, a driver, a maid and a chef.

For someone like me who wondered if he was cut out for the typical American adult office cubicle job, two weeks vacation a year, 2.5 kids life, Brad’s alternative was a revelation. He didn’t need any of it. He was living better without all that hustle and hassle.

Brad was notorious for picking apart the flaws of the world’s best as a webcast commentator. He often offended the delicate sensibilities of so many surfers on tour with his pointed critiques.

He wasn’t rejecting the idea of growing up, he was just choosing not to do it.

But in spite of all of that, he had goals. Number one for him was this book on technique that he couldn’t seem to finish. The writing for it was all done, but the visuals were a problem. Of course, he could have easily licensed pics of John John, Kelly or Medina doing the moves he was describing, but that would have fucked with his whole sense of identity. Brad was obsessed with surfing form, a trait he inherited from his father an Olympic diver for the Hungarian national team in the 1950’s. So if Brad was explaining concepts in the text he also had to show you the way he was doing it in the photos with the exact positioning he was describing.

Brad was notorious for picking apart the flaws of the world’s best as a webcast commentator. He often offended the delicate sensibilities of so many surfers on tour with his pointed critiques.

Now, as he scrolled through Adobe Bridge on photographer Gerhard’s computer, he was his own worst critic. Sure, he had a few sequences of cutbacks, bottom turns and tube rides that were acceptable for the book, but he hadn’t gotten anything resembling a proper late backside drop or backhand air.

Time was running out. He had his content team in place and was ready to make a move. “Guys, there’s one spot in the world I can get these both done. We’re going to Lakey Peak.”

We left the next day and arrived near nightfall. In the morning we rented a dinghy and motored past fun, head high, but crowded waves at Lakey Peak to a left called Cobblestones that was empty. Brad had a vision in his mind of doing an inverted backside air like the one Kelly Slater did on the cover of Momentum back in the early 90’s and thought this was the place to do one.

The cover that inspired Gerr.

The outside section of Cobblestones was fun and ripple, but the inside was where the action was. When it hit a shallow spot it would throw out a bit of crumble mid face that provided a perfect and predictable launch ramp. The only problem was the ever present reef that was nearly dry on the landing.

Brad was nothing if not determined.

On each wave, he’d do a few flowing turns on the outside and then set up for the inside gurgle. The problem was that the ramp wasn’t really conducive to the type of air he wanted to do. The wind was also a problem. It was non existent early and when it did come up around nine am it was blowing in the wrong direction for airs. Brad would set up for launch and then it would throw him laterally instead of vertically and his board would sail away from him. He could have landed multiple chop hop rotations into the flats, but those weren’t going to be good enough for the book.

Over the course of the next few mornings, Gerhard and I dutifully pointed our lenses at Brad’s every wave, but came up empty handed.

On the way back from Cobbestones, we’d stop the boat at Lakey Peak. The wind would be well up by then and would be blowing into the rights at Lakeys. Gerhard and I would step off on the reef, climb the viewing tower that had been built on it and set up shop. The air section on the rights here was just as shallow as Cobblestones but the landings were much softer and easier. Still, watching a guy at 48 try to re learn how to do airs was tough. He’d landed a few in the 90’s, but hadn’t given them much thought until now.

After lunch each day, Brad would be exhausted and sore. He’d retire to his room to nap and play guitar. After an hour or so, I’d check in with him. “Do you think you’ll want to surf again later today, Brad?” “Nah, man.” He’d say. “Get out there.”

So for the next four afternoons, I got to paddle out to the Peak at 2pm and stay out until the tropical clouds wafted over the volcanic mountains and the sky would turned ablaze. The left at Lakeys was the most mechanical and rippable wave I’d ever surfed. The right was shorter and trickier but super fun too. The job shooting Brad transformed one of the best surf trips I’d ever been on. I’d done a number of filming trips with groms and young pros hunting for clips and this was a breath of fresh air. Those dudes would literally surf all day leaving me sunburned and with a raging headache at night from squinting through glare into a small viewfinder.

This trip, comparatively, was a dream.

Gerhard and I would drink Bintangs in the evenings and take portraits of each other in the soft light that we could use for our Tinder profiles. The Lakey Peak village didn’t offer much nightlife, but a bodyboarder would have sex each evening in his room with girlfriend, and she was so loud that the whole camp could hear her. Listening in was the extent of our entertainment.

Before bed, Brad would review footage and photos and with Gerhard and I. He’d painstakingly go frame by frame through every moment of his failed airs, rub his sore shoulder and try to figure out what he was doing wrong. I gently explained to him, that, while I had no idea how to do airs myself I’d filmed enough kids learning how to do them and they all started by doing small lateral reverses before learning to go bigger and more vertical. Baby steps. Brad was trying to sprint before he could walk.

Deep down, I think he agreed with me, but he could not let go of his quixotic quest to nail the Slater style dream air shot he had for himself in his head.

A solid swell hit at the end of our trip and Brad was back in his element at Periscopes and on big hollow lefts at the Peak. His trademark style and flair was all still there. We had a beer on the last night and he pulled me aside and talked to me in a serious voice.

“I want to go on a bunch of trips this year,” he said. “I want to go to Japan, the Philippines, Micronesia and a lot more places around here and I want you to come with me. I want to make a movie.”

I immediately wondered who would finance a something like that. Would it be Brad? I think he had some savings from his work and pro career, but he wasn’t exactly rich. Anyway, it didn’t matter. I’d gotten laid off from a good job at Quiksilver a couple years before, and no one in the surf industry was hiring. I didn’t have anything better to do than cruise around Asia with Brad.

I clearly wasn’t going to make much, if any money on this film, but if Brad was paying my way, it was worth it because it meant I was going to be able to surf all the places we went. I was down.

“Let’s do it,” I said. “I’m in.”

We went back to Bali the next day. The Tinder action in Sumbawa was non-existent so Gerhard and I hit our phones hard the minute we arrived in Denpasar. We never looked up once from our screens on the hour long ride from the airport to Villa Gorilla in Seminyak.

I had a few days left in Bali before going to Western Australia to write an updated profile on Clay Marzo for the now defunct Surfing magazine. I surfed Canngu, bummed around the cafes and bars in Seminyak. I went on a couple epic fail Tinder dates. One of them was a Australian girl who in person was literally twice the size she was in her profile pics.

I said goodbye to Brad, thanked him for the good times and said we’d be in touch when we were both back in LA. Mr Widi guided me through another breezy 10-minute trip from the curb to the seat of my Jetstar flight to Perth. I then went on a whirlwind trip for the next two months to WA, Ghana, Spain, France, the UK, Romania, followed by a month South Africa and six more weeks in France. I was 40 and living looser and more recklessly than I ever had in my life.

I met up again with Brad later that summer in California when he was in the middle of training for his legends heat at Trestles against Martin Potter.

Brad was taking this match up, which was meant to be a fun nostalgic exhibition, very seriously. He set up a dojo in the garage of his house in West LA and was training hard. He ordered a quiver of jet black blades from Chris Christenson and was going to get himself more prepared than he’d ever been during his glory years on tour.

He was averaging three surfs a day in between “Wave Ki” sessions in the dojo. Brad’s passion to beat Pottz stemmed from bad blood they’d had during Gerr’s title run year of 1991. They nearly came to blows during a heat in Japan and the famously fiery Pottz punched a hole in Brad’s board. I got the sense that Brad wasn’t happy that Pottz had build his post contest career as a webcast commentator on the back of his single world title in 1989. Brad now found himself mostly on the outside of the pro surf bubble looking in and, I think, deep down he believed the reason was that he’d let his best shot at a title slip away in ’91, the year of his punch up with Pottz. Brad wanted that world title chip that Pottz carried and because he’d didn’t have it, he was going to enhance his legacy by proving that he was by far the better surfer now.

The media lead up to the event was meant to allow for some good natured ribbing and trash talking between the two, but it was uncomfortable because these two clearly didn’t like each other. They were just as angry about what happened in Japan as they were over twenty years before.

Brad also saw the match as an opportunity to bring some needed personality and flair to a pro tour that had become blandly conservative. He creative directed a James Bond style photo shoot to help promote it.

He wore a custom suit, borrowed a friend’s vintage Porsche and enlisted the girlfriends of some pals to serve as models. Fashion and lifestyle photographer Kane Skennar shot the pics in Malibu and I grabbed a couple behind the scenes video shots. Total budget: $0.

The result was on par with something you’d see in Vanity Fair or Vogue. Of course it was way too sexy and edgy for the ASP who refused to run on their social media channels.

The ASP’s unimpressed response to Brad’s photoshoot was probably the first sign that the Pottz/Gerr grudge match wasn’t going to live up to the hype. The second was the day itself. The contest director called the legends heat on at end of the day when the late summer northwest wind was well on it. The peaking south swell was too big for Lowers and the sets were wide and burgery. Pottz had been at the comp since dawn and had been calling heats through the heat of the day. I saw his face as he put on his spring suit and grab his quad finned board with signature flames on the rails. He didn’t look like a guy ready to set the lineup on fire – he looked fried. He made a long slow walk from the tower to the other side of the point.

Meanwhile, Brad was bouncing up and down in the competitor’s area. He’d already had two warm up surfs and was raring to go. His friends and family showed up in force wearing custom made, “Go Gerr” tees. They cheered as Brad stormed down the steps of tower and ran down to the water’s edge.

The horn blew and Brad’s was quickly on a set wave right. He took off wide of the point as a long wall stretched out before him. He could have done 5 easy swoops and gotten and 8 or more, but that wasn’t what he came to do. He didn’t just want to beat Pottz. He wanted to annihilate him. He wanted to show the world that somehow, impossibly, he was better surfer at 48 than he was at 24.

He nearly did it.

He came off the bottom of that first wave and, holy shit. He threw his board beyond vertical and blasted out his fins. The crowd was awed. This was shocking. Brad was going for a move in a legends heat that didn’t really exist most of the time he was on tour. He looked sweet as his fins reengaged, but seemed to make the mistake of looking down the line before he landed. He went down hard.

He quickly got back into position and caught his second wave. This time he went for a front side air but didn’t bring his body far enough over his board and fell again.

Pottz was left alone outside as biggest set off the day came through. He tried to scratch his way into a bomb, but couldn’t summon the energy to get into it. He wore the next 10 waves on the head. Brad, meanwhile, realized what he needed to do. He quit trying to put on a show. He used his fitness edge to full advantage, caught a bunch of waves, did some stylish flowing turns, and won going away.

After it was over, I met Brad’s father Joe for the first time.

After his Olympic career he starred in a traveling Evel Kenevel style stunt show in the 60’s and 70’s, including a bit where he’d leap off10 story buildings. He was Brad’s technical surf coach throughout his career despite the fact that he never learned to surf. Now 75, Joe still had a trim physique and a twinkle in his eye. Joe’s analysis of the heat: Brad was still an athlete, Potts wasn’t anymore.

The funny thing is, Brad’s triumphant return to the professional surfing stage didn’t make him yearn for his glory days. He’d managed to keep himself relevant and noticed for over 30 years, and now he didn’t have anything else to prove.

Brad never made he surf movie he pitched to me in Sumbawa. Villa Gorilla in Bali isn’t his anymore. Neither is the house with the dojo in West LA. Brad met his Australian wife Anna in 2015 and now lives with her and their toddler son, Zeppelin and newborn boy Ziggy near Bells Beach in Torquay. He put the book project on the shelf but is going to launch his long awaited Wave Ki website this year.

I usually see him in the summer in California when he comes out to coach a few of his students during the US Open.

“The funny thing about being an adult,” he told me on drive from LA to Huntington Beach. “Is that’s the hardest thing to do until you meet the right person. Then it’s easy.”

It took Brad 50 years to come to that conclusion.

It’s taken me 45 to reach the same.

Why is it that society views a never married heterosexual bachelor in his mid 40’s as an oddity, but it’s perfectly acceptable to be a divorced Dad at that age?

Isn’t it better to wait until you’re sure you’re doing the right thing rather than make a potentially catastrophic mistake just to stay on a socially acceptable timeline?

I got married last month and took the first full time job I’ve had since 2011.

So, is the grown-up life the way to go?

Can love and security measure up to those tropical sunsets and Bintangs?

I guess when you’re ready, there comes a point when it’s not even a choice. It just feels like destiny.

It just takes some of us a little longer to get to a place where we figure that out.

Environmentalism: Gimme lots of nasty poisons to wrap around my thighs!

(...and penis)

Billabong announced recently that 100% of its boardshorts will be made from recycled plastics to much cheering and general happiness from environmentalists and surfers who consider themselves environmentalists when the Norwegians come into town all menacing and efficient and let’s look at the picture of how it all happens very quickly. Let’s do it together.

So they take plastic bottles and turn them into pellets that get spun into yarn which gets transformed into fabric that wraps around your thighs and also, I don’t want to be crass here, but also your penis.

Oh, I don’t want to take anything away from Billabong’s environmentalism, nor yours, but isn’t plastic known to be very nasty substance, leeching harmful chemicals forever etc? And of course we don’t want it in the ocean but do we want it wrapped around our thighs and also penises?


Maybe it’s exactly what we deserve.

But if we didn’t deserve it and/or you, like me, don’t believe in karma then what should Billabong do with all their new plastic?

I would like to see wonderful plastic statues of Joel Parkinson erected in every major and mid-major Australian town. Very realistic statues that look like this…

But what do you think?

Question: “Is this the second-coming of tow-in surfing?”

Or should every jet ski should be thrown off a high cliff and the b-grade pros who use them right on top of them, just like that beautiful scene in Hemingway's For Whom the Bell Tolls when they push the fascists off the cliff?

Australian writer Don Watson found, in the solitude of the bush, relief from the “din of predictable opinion, particularly one’s own opinion.”

You could easily make a similar argument for surf but it’d be hard to imagine a world where that applied to Laird Hamilton.

Before the superfood creamers and the celebrity workouts Laird found the sail, then the impeller and the throttle and found a world in thrall to his vision of motorised assist to ride the world’s biggest waves. Absolutely gaga over it. He scoffed at paddlers at Mavericks – the wipeouts! (he said) It looks like they are practising for wipeouts – or words to that effect. Paddling Jaws was just an unimagined realm, not even fantasy.

Within a lifetime, history pirouetted and marched back from whence it came.

It seemed our Laird and saviour was not just wrong to embrace the engine and eschew the human body as a device to paddle in to giant surf he was “howlingly, flat-earth, couldn’t-be-more-wrong wrong.”

The ski-assisted tow-in became a sideshow, openly derided. Christian Fletcher intro’d German windsurfer turned tow surfer Sebastien Steudtner for the biggest wave category at the 2010 Big Wave Awards as the “German who doesn’t paddle.”

And now look where we are. Paddling at Jaws, Nazare, Mullaghmore.

Did you hop on the sled? Tow-ats maybe? Step-offs at Kirra? I didn’t.

Fought it tooth and nail at my local break. And we won.

Tow-ins became popular every time Lennox Point got over four foot, just like the Goldy.

Madness. Infuriating. The fumes. Some cunt instantly a hundred metres deeper than the spot you’d just spent 40 minutes paddling too. A small crew of us, led by Greenough, got together and decided it had to stop.

It wasn’t that hard.

As an anarcho-primitivist who generally hates the suffocating rules of the modern nanny state I’m ashamed to say we simply used the power of NSW waterways (water cops) to shut them down. It’s called community organising in the States and if my reading of history is correct, how Barack Obama got his start.

Within weeks, no more jet skis at Lennox Point.

To this day, if you want to spend hours paddling against a river like current to paddle into a medium sized wave you will do it without the irritation of a B-grade pro being whipped in further up the Point. It’s magnificent. And yet an hour up the motorway the motorised chaos continues… for now.

How do you feel about the ski? Little bitch like me, or a bit more open-hearted?

I have to admit , something in me has shifted, slightly, but ever so surely. Maybe it has in you too.
Jaws on Nov 26 thrilled me like a round of electro-shock therapy. The gals, even if you thought it was a kook slam, made adrenalised entertainment.

Looked like a little kid – Kai Lenny – on a tiny black board, skittering down giant faces. Cartoonish. Took a while to realise it was happening live. Getting towed in. Because I was hate-watching so hard it took some time to take refuge from the force of my own opinion and open up to reality. Amazing, right? More amazing than anything ever. Wave after wave. He was playing with it. Playing all over it.

Then Billy Kemper coughing up blood, Twiggy Baker somehow making it to the bottom then getting inside it that… that thing. Hard to believe it was happening live. Even harder to believe they pulled the pin on it for “safety” reasons. It’s fucking big-wave surfing, it’s supposed to be unsafe. Thats why people watch it.

While the disappointment sunk in, something else happened. Looked like a little kid – Kai Lenny – on a tiny black board, skittering down giant faces. Cartoonish. Took a while to realise it was happening live. Getting towed in. Because I was hate-watching so hard it took some time to take refuge from the force of my own opinion and open up to reality. Amazing, right? More amazing than anything ever. Wave after wave. He was playing with it. Playing all over it.

Could Laird have been right, after all? Could this be a second coming of Tow?

Some time in the next 24 hours a giant swell is expected to infill on Hawaii’s north and west shores. A small cadre of tow surfers will surf an expression session. Not just Kai Lenny, but Doz (hasn’t held the rope for a decade), Billy Kemper (has called tow lame), Nathan Florence, Makua Rothman.

Is Tow cool again?

I hope not. But I’m biased.

I think every jet ski should be thrown off a high cliff and the b-grade pros who use them right on top of them, just like that beautiful scene in Hemingway’s For Whom the Bell Tolls when they push the fascists off the cliff.

Of course, I’ll watch.

I’m not insane.