"If the women are getting equal pay for an equal job, they can't say it's too big and rough," says Maurice Cole.
When I heard about the forceful forecast for the Bells contest, twenty feet and so on, I made a call to the shaper Maurice Cole, a Bells habitué for fifty years or thereabouts.
Maurice, who is sixty five, was standing on the stairs at Bells, wearing shorts despite the cold and staring at clean three-to-four-foot waves. He was greeted by every pro surfer, coach, administrator and fan who walked by.
Question: Is the forecast correct?
Is Bells going to be big?
Maurice paints me a little picture.
Two weeks earlier, it was eight foot on the back of a fifteen-second south swell. Maurice, who was riding an eight-foot long surfboard, sat fifty metres further out than the pack at Bells and still got cleaned up by a seven-wave set.
“I dived under the first one and I surfaced, gasping for air, just as the next wave was on top of me.”
That was a fifteen-second period swell.
Tomorrow it’s seventeen. And wrapped inside a forty-knot cross-onshore south-west wind.
“It’s been a long time since we’ve had a south swell at seventeen seconds,” says Maurice. “I’m a little bit hesitant to call it. But. It’ll be ten-for plus, twelve-foot sets, maybe. The biggest thing is the wind. I told Micro and Ace that it’s going to be that big and that far out to sea, you’re going to need to chip-shot into two of ’em. It’s a wave-catching contest when it’s that big.”
The big question, says Maurice, is what to do with the women.
Do you send ’em out when it’s ten-to-twelve-foot?
“There’s been a little bit of… ”
Maurice searches for the word…
“Energy… in saying, well, if the women are getting equal pay for an equal job, they can’t say it’s too big and rough. And it’s going to be big. The strength of the swell, I wouldn’t be surprised to see virtually non-stop sets. That’s what happens. In a south swell it just racks up. West swells are inconsistent.”
The women, therefore, will be the first heats on Friday morning before the joint gets out of control, climbing back into the ring when it drops to six-to-eight on Saturday.
Other notes: The water is an unseasonably warm 17.7 C, (64 degrees), Maurice has been employed to supply step-up boards for various pros and the contest will, likely, run at Bells ’cause of the difficult of using skis at Winkipop when it gets big.
“If you get in trouble on the takeoff at Winki, getting a ski in there is pretty tough.”
And, how does tomorrow’s predicted swell compare to the famous day in 1981 when Simon Anderson showed the worth of his novelty three-finned design in fifteen-foot surf?
The difference, says Maurice, is 1981 was clean.
“It’s not going to be like ’81 at all. It’s going to be a shitload harder. Ten times harder.”
World Surf League’s official forecast partner says: “Triple overhead surf coming for Bells!”
Surfline as you may, or may not, know is the official surf forecasting partner of the World Surf League. Oh that doesn’t mean Surfline makes the waves like the brave men and women who sit in Kelly Slater’s Surf Ranch control tower and press colorful buttons. No, it means that computer folk in a nondescript Huntington Beach office call up to Santa Monica’s High Castle and say, “2-3” or sometimes “3-4.”
Of course, 9-10 times the forecast is completely off but that’s the joy of our Mother Ocean. She is a wily little minx all sassy and alluring. One day showing a titillating shoulder, the next day covering all up. One day batting “come hither” eyes, the next day refusing to even look our way. She can kill with a smile, she can wound with those eyes. She can ruin your faith with her casual lies and she only reveals what she wants you to see. She hides like a child but she’s always a woman to me.
She can lead you to love, she can take you or leave you, she can ask for the truth but she’ll never believe you. And she’ll take what you give her as long as it’s free. Yeah she steals like a thief but she’s always a woman to me. Oh, she takes care of herself, she can wait if she wants, she’s ahead of her time. Oh, she never gives out and she never gives in, she just changes her mind and she’ll promise you more than the garden of Eden then she’ll carelessly cut you and laugh while you’re bleeding but she brings out the best and the worst you can be etc.
You get it. You surf too and back to the issue at hand, Surfline’s computer folk called up to Santa Monica’s High Tower mid-day yesterday, after completing a training video on workplace sexual harassment and said…
“Friday is going to see double overhead surf turn into triple overhead surf at Bells.”
Do you believe?
Also, who does this means wins?
Lady and gentlemen, place your bets!
(Except for you J.P.)
The Great Seaweed Scare of ’19: New evidence reveals uncommon bravery!
"...but it was good that we took the precaution and the safety protocols worked well."
When I first read about the Great Seaweed Scare of ’19 in Longtom’s note-perfect Bells, day two wrap I’ll admit, I chuckled and chuckled heartily.
I grew up surfing in a place with both heavy seaweed and roaming Great Whites but was never chased to the shore by the former. Oh seaweed could produce major headaches. I duck-dived into their bulbous noggins more than once and also once dinged my sick Nev potato chip but it never scared me.
I’ll also admit that I chuckled about Owen Wright and Jack Freestone going… a little soft there. I don’t consider them either a wilting flower but… seaweed?
This morning, however, I felt very bad about my chuckles for Owen Wright revealed in an exclusive* interview that both surfers showcased uncommon bravery and let’s go straight to the horses mouth here.
“Jack and I saw a big shadow and started to paddle in not knowing what it could be,” Wright said of their round-two heat.
“Jack was waving at the skis and they came over to us and we jumped on the back and went to see what it was.
“We got over to the shadow and it turns out it was a massive clump of seaweed, but it was good that we took the precaution and the safety protocols worked well.”
There we have it. Initially it appears that Owen was kicking Jack under the bus by attributing the “waving at the skis to come over…” but of course it was only so they could “jump on the back to go and see what is was.”
And how brave is that? Would you have driven over on a very exposed ski to go see a Great White Shark?
But back to you. What is the bravest thing you’ve ever done whilst straddling a piece of foam n fiberglass?
Innovation: Shark-on-surfer violence conundrum solved in ecologically delightful way!
It seems as if every other story here on BeachGrit over the past five years has been about a shark attack. Every other other story, of course, is about Jeff Clark, SUP Foiler/Mavs legend, and a wonderful reprise from the often sad reports of missing limbs, lives cut short, etc.
The roiling debates between those who believe that sharks own the ocean and those who hold that culling is the only way forward go on and on, neither side making a dent in the other’s resolve.
And so we’ve reached a dull stalemate. An icy silence with surfers continuing to get munched and sharks falling into a slight depression.
Well, last week researchers from California’s famed Monterey Bay Aquarium solved the problem. Solved how to chase sharks away from particular beaches without killing them or stringing ecologically harmful netting to and fro. You must read the report in it full detail but here is a summary for us to chew on together. To give us what we need to carry on mostly, but not completely, ignorant.
New research challenges the notion that great white sharks are the most formidable predators in the ocean. The research team documented encounters between white sharks and orcas at Southeast Farallon Island off California. In every case examined by the researchers, white sharks fled the island when orcas arrived and didn’t return there until the following season. Elephant seal colonies in the Farallones also indirectly benefited from the interactions.
Stick a killer whale in the water and sharks stay gone for a year?
Killer wales have already proved that they love people and enjoy being kept as pets so here’s what I’m thinking. We go in together and purchase a big freightliner, putting two giant pools on its deck that have some happy killer whales inside. Then we sail around the world, responding to calls. Byron Bay? No problem. We anchor off shore, drop the whales in the water then fetch them back, feeding them extra fish, rubbing their tummies and saying, “Who’s a good boy? Who’s the best boy?”
After that we head to the beach with an old coffee can, asking for donations, repeating the same circuit during the year. We’ll be rich in no time, not one shark will be culled and Bells will no longer be put on hold because surfers are scared of seaweed.
Tell me how this is not the ultimate win-win?
John improved wave on wave all heat, with no priority. His surfing has been stripped back, every turn has a beginning, middle and end. He punched holes in the closeout sections with a divine violence. WSL
Rip Curl Pro, Bells, Day Two: “An almighty slog that hoovers up time and leaks audience interest like a bucket with no bottom!”
Still, John John Florence surfed with "divine violence" and a little seaweed terrified pro surfers and caused temporary postponement of event…
John John Florence, back-to-back World Champion in 2016 and seventeen, walked with head bowed slowly and carefully across the intertidal platform at Winkipop. His feet dodging the sharp spires of mineralised paleogene sediment and enjoying the crisp crunch of Neptunes necklace (hormosira banksii-edible*) underneath them.
Wan yellow light, typical of a sun well past the autumn equinox, strained through the high cloud. A day in the sun that would not strain the melatonin of an Irish redhead.
Classic Victorian morning.
Day six of a disjointed waiting period. Heat 10 of round one had already been surfed. Inconsistent, sectiony head-high walls with a funky little cross hatch running through it from the south-west.
Another day where the highest command would be “get the job done”. Bourez smashed it, he blows tail on the end section now, like Connor Coffin. Once I realised that the official narrative had changed and round one was now the Seeding Round and round two had been renamed the Elimination Round I went back to the Quik Pro cached web archive in a panic.
Would the WSL be so bold to rewrite history so soon after it occurred?
No, it was safe. Round one and two still existed, for now. Only the present had been changed.
Being on the beach at sea level I didn’t get as comprehensive a view of John John’s surfing at D-Bah as I would have liked. Straight away during his first wave at Winki this morning I could see he had modified his technique.
The casual upright skating stance had been replaced with a more compressed line drive to the bottom of the wave, staying more coiled into the bottom turn. The extra zest in the bottom turn as a result of the centrifugal accelerative force was noticeable and significant.
John improved wave on wave all heat, with no priority. His surfing has been stripped back, every turn has a beginning, middle and end. He punched holes in the closeout sections with a divine violence.
A single criticism might be humbly made that his turn speed is still a notch away from both his 2017 high point and the Dane Reynolds bar circa 2009-2012.
I still bear a grudge from 2017, when John arrived at Bells after his era defining performance at Margarets and blew Fanning into irrelevance during their round four heat, only to be denied a final with Jordy Smith by an unforgivable judging snafu with Ciao Ibelli.
The forecast remaining still offers some hope of a retributive justice being served on that crime. John vs Jordy at six-to-eight-foot Bells Bowl. That would make wading through these hard slog days a worthwhile sacrifice.
And they are a slog.
Luckily, we are free to make the anti-depressant observations that no matter how you dress up the front end of the comp, rename it, rewrite history, put your best men and women on the job of hard-selling it to an uncomprehending public it’s an almighty slog that hoovers up vast amounts of time and leaks audience interest like a bucket with no bottom.
I’ve always made a living trusting my senses, relying on judgement; but in the moment you can get it wrong.
I was too harsh on Kelly last article, pointed out by a valued commenter and I did go back and look at the numbers and I got it wrong. Kelly’s performance was above standard for the day.
I’ve also stood beside Mikey Wright and know him to be a big man. Over six foot 80 kilos-plus. 176. Fighting UFC he would no doubt add the bulk and fight light heavyweight.
But there was Pete Mel on the sand telling us he came in at a scrawny 74 klicks. Isn’t Pete the “facts and numbers” guy?
In a tight heat Mikey was pushed into the dreaded Elimination Round by Peterson Crisanto and Kanoa Igarashi.
The women’s and men’s surfing running concurrently creates a disjunction in the aesthetic phenomenon of pro surfing, far more abrupt and disturbing on broadcast than when viewing live.
Carissa Moore and Steph Gilmore hold their own when put into this close quarters comparison, the rest of the women suffer badly when viewed in such proximity to their male counterparts.
“Carrissa looks pissed,” said Old Bitch Tits Wasilewski , perhaps forgetting the meaning of such a phrase on the edge of this dusty old continent. She did look ferocious but Coco Ho clearly had her measure with extravagantly kicked out top turns.
Steph, no surprise, laid down the benchmark with – no surprise – perfect flow.
The four Elimination Round heats went down in weak high-tide Winkipop. The first one being delayed when Jack Freestone, seeing a large clump of seaweed, made the sign of a shark.
A little clumsily, I thought, by clasping his hands together and placing them on his head, in effect imitating a shark. I much prefer the single upright hand making the shape of a dorsal fin cleaving through the water.
Did you see it?
Wonder, like me, what the hell was going on?
Ronnie said something about wildlife. Lots of dead air.
Had the shark been erased from history like Rounds One and Two?
Was the shark now merely a metaphor, an unutterable word?
Owen Wright later admitted it was merely a clump of botanical material,- edible, no doubt, “jeez it was a big clump!” The show went on and the local wildcard was eliminated.
Soli Bailey made comeback from last to first after a shaky start, with some incisive inquiries into the lip and some cute little airs that judges paid.
Reef Heazelwood, can we just call him Catweazle and be done with it, has got a unique backhand where he can go up and come back down the same line, with a tweaked tail thrown in at the zenith of the arc.
Good enough to win heat three by a large margin.
M-Rod was underscored in the last heat, then over-scored by way of compensation to progress through with Caio Ibelli.
They ran the Fight for the Bight campaign heavily through the broadcast.
A delicate, delicate dance don’t you think?
The energy intensive lifestyle of the modern surfer relies on the utilisation of these ancient deposits of hydrocarbons.
No human on earth past, present or future is more dependent on it than the Pro Surfer. The ocean means so much to the WSL, yet they are partners and advocates in a technology of energy hungry devices making waves in tubs with precious fresh water. Devices they wish to propagate around the world.
I don’t judge.
There’s no life worth living on Earth without a measure of hypocrisy.
Will you simplify your life? Cut down on resource use, OS trips, surfboards?
Go on then. I will if you will.
But, you go first.
*Very nice raw, or dried, ground up and sprinkled on a green salad.
Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach Men’s Round 3 Matchups:
Heat 1: Julian Wilson (AUS) vs. Kelly Slater (USA)
Heat 2: Peterson Crisanto (BRA) vs. Michael Rodrigues (BRA)
Heat 3: Conner Coffin (USA) vs. Soli Bailey (AUS)
Heat 4: Michel Bourez (FRA) vs. Ryan Callinan (AUS)
Heat 5: Filipe Toledo (BRA) vs. Caio Ibelli (BRA)
Heat 6: Mikey Wright (AUS) vs. Seth Moniz (HAW)
Heat 7: Kolohe Andino (USA) vs. Jacob Willcox (AUS)
Heat 8: Wade Carmichael (AUS) vs. Deivid Silva (BRA)
Heat 9: Gabriel Medina (BRA) vs. Reef Heazlewood (AUS)
Heat 10: Willian Cardoso (BRA) vs. Yago Dora (BRA)
Heat 11: Owen Wright (AUS) vs. Ricardo Christie (NZL)
Heat 12: John John Florence (HAW) vs. Jadson Andre (BRA)
Heat 13: Italo Ferreira (BRA) vs. Jack Freestone (AUS)
Heat 14: Ezekiel Lau (HAW) vs. Jeremy Flores (FRA)
Heat 15: Kanoa Igarashi (JPN) vs. Adrian Buchan (AUS)
Heat 16: Jordy Smith (ZAF) vs. Leonardo Fioravanti (ITA)