From the Peek-a-Boo Dept: The shark deterrent that you’ve been craving!

Cute and culturally appropriate for all your Middle Eastern surf adventures!

And once again, how wonderful has the 50 year storm been? Brilliantly marketed, brilliantly executed and impossible to turn away from. All those professional surfers in the water at once, a good handful of which look like they’ve never been in an angry ocean. It has been that good and, if for some reason, you found it possible to turn away then here is Longtom for you. Words even louder than the action.

But, real quick, while I was watching yesterday, on the World Surf League website, I saw a strange advertisement pop up. Eyes peering at me from the bottom of a surfboard and smaller eyes also peering at me from the bottom of two legs.

At first I thought the WSL was pranking me with some sophisticated geo-tagging. As you know, I’m busy on a book about the Middle East and in the Middle East men, who would get in trouble for having stickers of curvaceous babes on the backs of their taxis, put two doe-like women’s eyes instead. It’s all very classy and I wondered if the WSL was letting me know that they know where my head’s at.

I was so fascinated that I clicked and… voila! Even better than sexless sexiness, I was ushered into the world of Shark Eyes or…

The Waterman’s Visual Shark Deterrent

Shark Eyes is the world’s most affordable visual shark deterrent. From watermen to professionals to every day ocean lovers, Shark Eyes is for all water users who want to minimize their risk of a shark attack.

The Shark Eyes decal applies easily to water sports equipment and aims to trick the shark into thinking it’s been spotted, thereby removing the element of surprise and deterring an attack. Stay safer with Shark Eyes, which easily applies to water sports equipment, needs no recharging, doesn’t alter performance, and respects the environment.

I think Shark Eyes, combined with our new pet Killer Whales and delivery vessel, means the day and age of shark on surfer violence is officially over.

Who knew that sharks were so sensitive to prying eye stickers?

Did you?

Buy here!

italic ferreira
Italo Ferreira will be tortured of images of a different kind when he closes his eyes tonight.Demolished by a shorebreak that looked like Waimea he was washed around the Winkipop button, signalling frantically to the jetskis, who were fully engaged rescuing Jordy Smith. That terrifying I'm-in-deep-shit feeling was written all over his face as he collapsed on the Bells stairs.

Rip Curl Pro, Bells, Day Four: “Up to our ovaries in carnage, chaos and confusion! And the greatest pro surfing ever seen at Bells!”

And world number one Italo Ferriera gets a little too close to God… 

There are days when you need to suspend the critical faculties and abandon yourself completely to the spectacle.

Days like today, which I love the most as a fan and hate the most as a surf writer, because it becomes as D. Rielly said via text msg “A race to see who can find the prettiest superlative”.

Today could have been, should have been, a debacle except for the master-stroke of Kieren Perrow. I think we can all agree: the greatest call made by a contest director in the history or pre-history of competitive surfing.

To recap: He made the call to run the Mens round of 32 and 16 as overlapping 50-minute heats. Allowing time and opportunity for victory at sea conditions to be not just tamed, but artfully dominated by the few. The very rare few, which is always what pro surfing has been about.

If hype and big calls annoy, go straight to the comments.

Or read on and call bullshit at your leisure.

At one point during the afternoon, in a rabid 10-12-foot lineup being strafed by winds and huge chunks of ocean, we viewed Gabe Medina, John John Florence and Owen Wright sharing a line-up.

It was the greatest hour of professional surfing measured by commitment, performance and pure wave-riding skill ever seen at Bells, easily eclipsing the previous 1981 high-water mark.

Gabe took the Occhilupo high-water mark of the ’97 Skins event and threw it in the rubbish bin like an empty six pack*. Line and length off the bottom, pure edge control, giant slalom S-turns, a total absence of bobble, pumping or line hesitation coupled with perfectly timed massive end section stabs.

It will take some time to digest.

Gabe and John John looked like they were riding different boards in a different spot on a different ocean. Simply no comparison between them and the rest of the field.

I felt goosebumps watching that I haven’t had since Margaret River 2017. John framed his turns with moments of absolute stillness – a Parko affectation that elongates the moment and makes judges swoon.

John John had been set back on his heels early by an egregious over-score on Owen Wright’s first wave, which drew a rare unanimous note of dissent from the booth, as well as Strider on the stairs.

Could JJF surf his way out of adversity?

How would he respond?

With huge turns.

A grotesque end section in front of the Winkipop button was whipped into submission for a 9.63. I felt goosebumps watching that I haven’t had since Margaret River 2017. John framed his turns with moments of absolute stillness – a Parko affectation that elongates the moment and makes judges swoon.

Malia Manuel looked the most comfortable amongst the women quarter finalists in a line-up being disfigured by a rapidly rising swell. Pure lines on a bigger board.

“I trust my instincts,” she said, “and have my instincts trust me.”

Caroline Marks was better, the big turns more symmetrical and less awkwardly angular on a bigger sloping wall. There was no match between her and Briana Hennesy.

There was what Ronnie (correctly) termed equipment confusion plus mad hustles for boards, broken boards everywhere, snapped leashes.

Slater waxed a 6’0” Simon Anderson, then took out a Webber Quad, presumably with a double concave deck for the opening of his heat with Peterson Crisanto. That board looked OK, I thought, a consensus seemed to rapidly build against it online and he swapped it out for the Simon.

Another shakey, inconclusive un-Slater-like Slater heat ensued.

For the third time this event, mediocre performances have led to victory.

The Simon did not look magic.

“I couldn’t figure it out, whatever,” he admitted. Going into the quarter-finals his self-assessment that “I don’t feel like I’ve got any momentum going” is stunningly accurate.

I woke up in the wee hours having a nightmare that I was mowing Derek Rielly’s Bondi lawn after playing hooker for the Manly Sea Eagles (true). Italo Ferreira will be tortured of images of a different kind when he closes his eyes tonight. Demolished by a shorebreak that looked like Waimea he was washed around the Winkipop button, signalling frantically to the jetskis, who were fully engaged rescuing Jordy Smith. That terrifying I’m-in-deep-shit feeling was written all over his face as he collapsed on the Bells stairs.

By the time Filipe Toledo hit the water we were up to our ovaries in carnage, chaos and confusion. Toledo needed three board changes to defeat a hapless Seth Moniz who was devoured by the Bells shorebreak. That is worth chasing on the heat analyzer. Filipe looks a little behind the John/Gabe pace but seeing as they will face off in the quarters that could be the ideal place to be if they exhaust their mojo during that clash.

I woke up in the wee hours having a nightmare that I was mowing Derek Rielly’s Bondi lawn after playing hooker for the Manly Sea Eagles (true). Italo Ferreira will be tortured of images of a different kind when he closes his eyes tonight.

Demolished by a shorebreak that looked like Waimea he was washed around the Winkipop button, signalling frantically to the jetskis, who were fully engaged rescuing Jordy Smith.

That terrifying I’m-in-deep-shit feeling was written all over his face as he collapsed on the Bells stairs. Somehow he managed to still ride what looked to be the biggest waves of the day. Legit Hawaiian size waves.

It was the first time I’ve ever been able to get on board, 100%, with Joe Turpel’s “that was so fun to watch” aphorism.

This over-lapping heat format is up there with Pritamo Ahrendt’s re-jigging of the judging scale as the greatest innovation of Pro Surfing since man on man.

It would take a peculiar kind of grinch not to get a kick out of today and feel just a little moist about the prospects for tomorrow.

Did anyone else see Jack Freestone’s purple velour tracksuit in the booth? Thoughts?

*4 Pines Kolsch

Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach Remaining Men’s Round 3 (H9-16) Results:
Heat 9: Gabriel Medina (BRA) 16.03 DEF. Reef Heazlewood (AUS) 7.80
Heat 10: Willian Cardoso (BRA) 12.20 DEF. Yago Dora (BRA) 9.63
Heat 11: Owen Wright (AUS) 16.10 DEF. Ricardo Christie (NZL) 12.07
Heat 12: John John Florence (HAW) 17.67 DEF. Jadson Andre (BRA) 11.24
Heat 13: Italo Ferreira (BRA) 13.76 DEF. Jack Freestone (AUS) 9.10
Heat 14: Jeremy Flores (FRA) 14.03 DEF. Ezekiel Lau (HAW) 13.44
Heat 15: Kanoa Igarashi (JPN) 12.07 DEF. Adrian Buchan (AUS) 11.93
Heat 16: Jordy Smith (ZAF) 14.10 DEF. Leonardo Fioravanti (ITA) 13.27

Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach Men’s Round 4 Results:
Heat 1: Kelly Slater (USA) 10.80 DEF. Peterson Crisanto (BRA) 6.87
Heat 2: Ryan Callinan (AUS) 13.93 DEF. Conner Coffin (USA) 9.93
Heat 3: Filipe Toledo (BRA) 14.10 DEF. Seth Moniz (HAW) 7.13
Heat 4: Jacob Willcox (AUS) 11.80 DEF. Deivid Silva (BRA) 10.04
Heat 5: Gabriel Medina (BRA) 17.27 DEF. Willian Cardoso (BRA) 7.76
Heat 6: John John Florence (HAW) 18.16 DEF. Owen Wright (AUS) 16.97
Heat 7: Italo Ferreira (BRA) 12.20 DEF. Jeremy Flores (FRA) 6.03
Heat 8: Jordy Smith (ZAF) 13.10 DEF. Kanoa Igarashi (JPN) 11.03

Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach Men’s Quarterfinal Matchups:
Heat 1: Kelly Slater (USA) vs. Ryan Callinan (AUS)
Heat 2: Filipe Toledo (BRA) vs. Jacob Willcox (AUS)
Heat 3: Gabriel Medina (BRA) vs. John John Florence (HAW)
Heat 4: Italo Ferreira (BRA) vs. Jordy Smith (ZAF)

Jen See: “You don’t win a seventh World Title then, a mere months later, become a washed-up has-been!”

A serious discussion.

I just woke up from the worst deadline hangover of my life. It took me three tries this morning to open the thing on my computer I use for writing. Then the file saved, well, to somewhere? I don’t exactly know where. What I’m saying is, it’s not going super great over here.

During the past month of deadline-a-palooza I did not surf. Also, I missed you guys the most!

One afternoon, I hung around a photo shoot at the Venice Beach skatepark. My job as a writer at a photoshoot is generally to show up, watch my story subject, and stay the fuck out of the way. My eyes strayed repeatedly from the skateboarding to the ocean just beyond the edge of the pavement. It was mostly walled up, onshore and crumbled, but I wanted to paddle out so badly I could taste it. Just say fuck it, forget the job I was supposed to be doing, forget the deadlines and the interviews, forget it all, and just go surf. Wisely, I’d left my boards at home.

Thanks to the skateboarding and the interviews, I missed most of the Gold Coast heats. I dipped in here and there, but not enough to get a feel for the judging or the narrative. Caroline Marks’s exuberance was fun to see and it’s been clear for a while that a CT victory was coming. Good on her for delivering. I do gently want to hold her arms to keep them from flying around, but the judges don’t seem to mind this stylistic quirk. Is it fair that I do? I’m not sure.

I couldn’t help but feel that the hype around her victory did Marks a disservice. It was as though one event win meant a world title was inevitable and the other top women had simply disappeared off the end of the horizon. Watching free surfing clips suggests that’s definitely far from the case. You don’t, as Steph did, win a seventh world title and then, a mere months later become a washed up has-been. You don’t, as Lakey did, give Steph a serious run for the World title, and then, well, do nothing. You don’t, as Carissa recently did, paddle out at Chopes and become irrelevant. It doesn’t at all work that way. And as we all know, few things are inevitable in sports.

As I dug into the women’s rounds at Bells, I felt disoriented, as though I’d lost any insight into the scoring during the off-season. The changing labels on the rounds — seeding, elimination, heat of 16 — left me more confused than usual. No doubt I’ll figure it out. Bells always surprises me by how simple it looks to surf, and yet how often it turns out not to be simple at all. In between mumbles, Curren said something to this effect during his time in the commentary booth. Rumble, mumble, some waves don’t work, mumble. There’s wisdom there, if you take the time to listen for it.

In yesterday’s round of 16, as round 3 (I think?) is now called, Steph, Carissa, and Lakey predictably came out firing. To my eye, Carissa looked the sharpest. I think sometimes her style is so understated that the judges underscore her — but I’ll admit straight up that I’m a fangirl over here. She’s working on a film, apparently, and I can’t wait to see that thing. Steph brought her usual long lines and graceful turns to the party — it’s classic and stylish, and I could watch it all day.

Lakey took a few waves to find what she wanted, but when a long wall opened up, so did she. The judges love her high-speed, multiple-turn approach. Really, I lost count of how many turns she fit into that single wave. It was an impressive number. If each of those turns looked much the same, the judges didn’t seem to mind.

Lakey is women’s surfing’s answer to Mick Fanning — and depending on your view of Fanning, that’s either a sick burn or a compliment. What’s missing is Fanning’s knife-precise rail work and tight control. Lakey often looks on the edge of losing it, like she’s hanging on by her toe nails. She makes it work. Is it fair to criticize her for surfing to what the judges reward? I’m not sure of that, any more than whether it matters that Caroline’s arms make me slightly dizzy. But we’d have nothing to talk about if we didn’t have opinions about these things.

I only saw the first exchange between Caroline and Bronte and they looked closely matched. I saw later that Caroline advanced, though Bronte seems to have let it slip through her fingers, more than it as any big statement from Caroline. The golden light called to me and I slid out for a bike ride. Bike fitness and deadlines are not the best of friends, but a girl has to try, at least.

A week or so ago, I sat on a wood pallet with a friend, drinking espresso out of paper cups. A large sheet of canvas swung in the breeze behind us. On the other side was a trade show booth stacked with thousands of dollars worth of mountain bikes, their swooping carbon lines gleaming and their intricate suspension systems engineered to tolerances precise enough for a moonlanding.

We were talking about Michelle Parker’s free skiing film from last year, All In. “I feel like I’ve been waiting my whole life for content like this,” I said. It came out far more earnestly than I had intended, but I realized I meant it. High-action, women-centered, big adventure. “More like this,” I said.

At the time of that conversation, the surf community was in paroxysms over Keala Kennelly’s incomplete wave and one-event world title. I watched this unfold through my peripheral vision. It’s for big wave surfing to decide whether they want to reward going for it or making it. For me, it mattered only that Keala won the event that was offered to her. People told her growing up that girls couldn’t surf. She’s a legend, because she proved them wrong.

Predictably, the argument over equal prize money became central to the argument over Kennelly’s title — and the women’s presence in the big wave lineup. The argument is inescapable now and we’re right back into it with the Bells contest and coming swell, predicted to be ginormously humongous. Just as the women struggled with oversized Jaws on the big-wave tour, the Bells lineup will leave some of the CT women fumbling and lost.

But that’s the only way women’s sports grow. They grow by taking on bigger challenges than they can necessarily meet right now today. They grow by trying — and sometimes, failing. You can dismiss them as not good enough, if you like. That’s your prerogative. But you can also measure the progress of women’s surfing in the distance between Keala and Caroline. I doubt anyone has ever told Caroline Marks that girls can’t surf. And that makes all the difference.

I’ve spent years watching films and clips and reading stories about men hucking mountain bikes off houses and surfing exotic destinations — because that’s all there was. And it’s fine, actually. When I talk to women in mountain biking or surfing, it’s an experience we share. We’ve known intuitively all along that these stories weren’t really for us. Certainly, they weren’t about us. Sometimes, when I read an especially caustic and dismissive comment about women’s sport, I want to punch walls.

But I also want to say, these stories aren’t for you. These stories about women dropping big snow lines in the Alaskan backcountry or women throwing themselves over the ledge at Mavericks or trying and failing to throw airs in contest heats — they aren’t for you. They are, finally, for us.

Question: Will Kelly Slater’s Bells’ heat win leave him completely resurrected and refreshed?

Another 1000 year reign?

I am almost finished with rough rough rough draft on next book and spend my days wrestling with word choices. Really logging hours going back and forth between “he told me” versus “he said” etc. and so you can imagine my thrill yesterday when I clicked over to the World Surf League’s website and caught Kelly Slater vs. Julian Wilson.

Oh you don’t me to describe, we have Longtom who wrote:

Kelly’s best wave featured a bogged first turn that he turned into an awkward slide which segued into a weirdly caught bottom turn into two more clean turns. His board looked chattery, catchy and unreliable.

It was charitably awkward but he won and could this mean that he wins again and again?

I ask because the film that best summarizes professional surfing in its current iteration is the wonderful Interview with a Vampire. A good friend texted me, this morning, comparing and he was inspired. Together we went through each character and here’s how it shakes out.

Tom Cruise’s Lestat is an almost note-perfect Kelly Slater. Lusting for life. Never giving up.

Brad Pitt’s Louie is John John Florence, more or less. Very talented. Very confused.

Antonio Banderas’s Armand is Gabriel Medina to a tee. John John’s foil. Very powerful.

We went on and on through the rest of the move, casting Julian Wilson as the boy who got nibbled by Lestat while Louie was nibbling poodles etc.

But let’s stop there and you tell me. Is one heat win all Kelly Slater needs to go from screen right (above) to screen left?

Is this the beginning of another 1000 year reign?

Or will these two put the stake in, as it were?

From the Biz-ventures-someone-else-should-start Dept: Play Reality Surfer Today!

Where the "mean" gets put into "mean-spirited!"

Fantasies can be fun, right? My top two fantasies are as follows:

• A dimmable light, tender foreplay and Van Morrison’s Astral Weeks on shuffle.
• A DeLorean, 1.21 gigawatts and a page-one rewrite of my formative years.

But fantasies and their inherent optimism can be a double-edged SUP foil fin. They can lead to disappointment, delusion and the sprouting of bona fide hope. Yikes! As it was so poetically put by some freedom fighter while being captured by some militia, “Hope can be dan—.”

In his great-to-read-in-a-Planned-Parenthood-waiting-room book, The Subtle Art Of Not Giving A F*ck, modern day thinkman Mark Manson (no known relation to Charles) illuminates upon notions of reality and value in ways that can take a deep dive into mid-life-crisis-induced, selfhelp literature to new depths. Paraphrased highlights include:

• To want a thing is to create a vacuum of the thing. Thus, to want is to lack.
• To accept a negative thing is a positive thing and to desire a positive thing is a negative thing.

Play some logical jazz… and… ergo… To want a bad thing is a good thing! Folks, I bring you the bottom up, critique’s wet dream, undeveloped photo negative, modern day realist’s platform for sports viewing adjacent entertainment: Reality Surfer!™* Why twist your brain into knots over hypothetical heat winners when you can choose the losers instead? Why let your emotions fly off into flights of fancy when you can embrace the modern era of microscopic scorn and disdain? Why place your analytical energy into a single event champion when you can up your odds of endorphin production by forecasting the four 33rds now known as the Bridesmaids’ Maids’ Maids’ Maids.

Functioning somewhat like the perpetual-case-of-the-Mondays Sartre to the TGIF! Kant, or Danny DeVito to Arnold Schwarzenegger from the endearing 80s monozygotic classic Twins, Reality Surfer! ™* won’t tempt one with victorious visions of grandeur but more so allow one to relish in the delicious pleasure of seeing others fail.

In mathematical form:

You Choose + They Lose = You Win

Imagine the matrix of speculative delight that could come from watching yourself weave dazzling hypothetical defeat through an event bracket before the event even starts. If you’re a hipster and “all about that retro,” look at it like a Roman resurgence — albeit more civilized — where plebeians packing the arenas were as pleased at witnessing both glory and carnage. I can’t recall if it was Potz or Turpel or Mel, but I’m certain that somewhere along the careening coastal road of interminable rebranding someone in camp WSL referred to these professional surf folks as “gladiators.” I think it was Potz.

Not only would this give the bottom half of the tour a valid reason for strapping on their leash and paddling out, just think of how entertaining this would make the nonsensically-titled “Seeding” and misleadingly-titled “Elimination” rounds. With Reality Surfer! ™*, every moment from the first buzzer is one of thrilling anticipation.

To note, this platform is not for haters.

It’s for lovers.

Specifically, those who love to hate.

In truth, we all love surfing and we’re doing our best to adapt to the vicissitudes of viewing our heroes devote their lives to the dream tour. Without them, where would we direct our passive aggressive, self-righteous superiority? However, if the competitive surfing of someone whose name rhymes with, say, No One Guru, Less He Vendes or Jack Fleestone bore you to the point where you want to slam your head into the reef, this merely provides an opportunity to snag a few snide points on the coattails of their professional mediocrity.

What do you say?

Are you with me?

Do you have the skills to actually launch this platform?

I don’t! But let’s do it anyway! Let’s ride that wave!Let’s embrace reality with some mother-fucking moxie!

Bonus Closeout Section:

Q: What did the realist say to the optimist while the optimist was being mauled by a 14-foot
tiger shark?
A: Damn. That bites.

*This trademark symbol was copy/pasted and serves as no ownership of this idea. However, if someone with an entrepreneurial spirit decides to successfully launch this platform and make boatloads of money as a result, please be ethical and give me 10%.

Remember, hell is very hot.