Kolohe had looked amazing. He let Kelly have a wave under his priority and Kelly leant back into a savage back foot heavy layback hook. It was the turn of the day. The turn of Kelly's year. It lit a little candle of hope in the deep dark cave of Kelly's retirement year.

Corona Bali Protected, Day One: Pottz says Kelly Slater’s world title dream “delusional”

The greatest surfer ever has other ideas, howevs.

It coulda been so good. The best epic double-bill ever.

In the end, it was a damp squib, but maybe all for the best. Red Bull Cape Fear and Corona Bali Protected both playing at the same time gave us Chris Cote and David Wassell simultaneously broadcasting over the web with Joe TURPEL and Martin POTTER*.

Pretty quickly a decision had to be made and I made the call to mute Cote, abandon baby Shipsterns and pay attention to waist-to-head-high Keramas on a silky, sleepy Indonesian morning.

It was the Seeding Round. I don’t understand it, nobody understands it: JJF and Medina still met too soon on the wrong side of the draw at Bells so it’s a dud idea but someone must love it because in the booth it was presented as the greatest innovation since the silicon chip.

Note: in his post-heat presser John John Florence, two-time world Champion and understudy to great strategist Ross Williams, said he doesn’t understand it either.

John looked a little sleepy in his heat, threw a clean flat-spin full-rotation for a mid-seven and that was pretty much the heat. It was an unfortunate decision because it set a scale for the day that paid mediocre aerials and relegated some of the best high-fi turns of the year to the bargain bin.

Jordy Smith being the biggest loser. Even though he won. His razor sharp repertoire was judged merely good by judges. It was the best surfing of the day.

Luke Egan proclaimed that today we would see a “level much higher than it was last year.”

We didn’t.

Lack of waves was the biggest issue. And lack of size of waves.

There was a lot of really ugly threes and fours desperately ridden in scraps to avoid last place. That has been the main impact of the change in format. Someone gets the best waves and skips ahead. The other two scrap for last place.

Jack Freestone’s last-to-second-place heroics with a three and a five to advance over Ace Buchan being an example of the tone of the day.

Something has changed in Italo’s style and approach and I don’t like it. Last year he had the perfect blend of verticality and aerials. His vertical backhand whips spat white noise.

This year, the turn approach has become more lateral. He sacrifices more real estate for the aerial or fins-free whip/reverse. Judges are paying it, for now, but it’s looking scrappy. The idea of good surfing here has yet to be set but if they are defining it by two pumps and a launch as they did today then there will be big ramifications for the rest of the year.

I think head judge Pritamo, after a good massage and a go on some oxygen, will settle the panel down and they’ll get the mix correct.

Have you noticed anything missing from the broadcast this year and last?

No water footage.

The great Sam Smith used to provide but got an email saying don’t come Monday. Did you also notice the credit at the end of the dreamy M-Feb edit in West Africa: the same Sammy Smith. I don’t know why I bought that up except the day seemed to need a little more M-Feb flow and not so much adrenal pumping.

By the time Filipe Toledo hit the lineup it was looking like a perfect little day at Trestles and that is how FT dealt with it. Spiked, slid, soared.

The only excellent score for the day for a single lofted punt with a pillowy landing. I think a FT/Jordy final with a judging panel suitably chastened by over scoring airs today would be a logical outcome for a forecast chock-a-block with more head-high Keramas.

Thirty-six percent of the fan vote in heat nine was directed at Kelly Slater. Thirty-five to Kolohe Andino. Slater, on a sexy little Akila Aipa squashtail thruster, construction unknown though spruced up in Firewire technology clothing, promised to “put a little Sunny backfoot into it.”

The broadcast went missing for three-and–half long minutes. When it kicked in four waves had been ridden. Kelly looked skittish and weird to open with a 3.73 and a 4.83. Turpel seemed to allude, if in a Freudian manner to the nature of Kelly’s quest, by stating that Kelly had “started another year, where, in his mind, he’s going for another World Title”.

“Yes Joe, he’s clearly delusional,” said an unleashed Martin Potter in an alternative universe of unmuzzled commentary.

Except he wasn’t!

Kelly pulled a carving three-0, which Joe disrespectfully called a “speciality manouevre”. The slo-mo showed perfect execution. Wel,l if they paid a flat spin air with a seven, I thought they should pay that at least a low six. They left that carving three-0 floundering in the Lombok Strait like a turtle drowning on a plastic straw.

Andino let Kelly have a wave under his priority and Kelly leant back into a savage back foot heavy layback hook. It was the turn of the day. The turn of Kelly’s year. It lit a little candle of hope in the deep dark cave of Kelly’s retirement year.

A lowly 4.60.

It was hard not to see that as Kelly’s whole year up in smoke.

An unmuzzled Potter was shocked. “I don’t agree with it,” he muttered to a silent Joe.

What he did next was astounding. Kolohe had looked amazing. He let Kelly have a wave under his priority and Kelly leant back into a savage back foot heavy layback hook. It was the turn of the day. The turn of Kelly’s year. It lit a little candle of hope in the deep dark cave of Kelly’s retirement year.

Sometime in the next couple of heats I tuned back into Shippies for an entertaining final. Not a fan of the mixed tow and paddle format. Nate Florence was paddling bombs, Laurie Towner threading deep ones. One of the Tassie boys – there were so many! – got towed into a bomb and Nate took the bikkies.

Two other highlights of the day.

Luke Egan’s deadpan delivery is not to everyones taste, but I enjoy. Referring to Joan Duru’s habit of punching himself in the head to claim a good wave he deftly described the Frenchman’s claim as showing an “alternative excitement.”


The other unexpected treat was brother of Sam George and writer/director/actor of In God’s Hands Matty George’s turn in the commentary booth during Steph Gilmore’s heat.

He riffed on the Wallace Line, got it a bit wrong, with the marsupials, monotremes and eucalypts on one side and tigers and rhino’s on the other.

But no matter.

He also introduced us to a new movement called “Bali Power.”

Not something to be on the wrong side of presumably.

He sagely noted the viewing pleasure to be gained from Nikki Van Dyk’s bottom turn. Steph looked a bit shakey. Caroline Marks looked solid.

It was a double billing that didn’t quite live up to it’s promise. Still better than digging holes though.

* Caps Lock but it looks better in caps, yes?

Corona Bali Protected Men’s Round 1 (Seeding Round) Results:
Heat 1: John John Florence (HAW) 11.50 DEF. Michael Rodrigues (BRA) 10.16, Leonardo Fioravanti (ITA) 7.47
Heat 2: Jordy Smith (ZAF) 14.00 DEF. Jadson Andre (BRA) 10.44, Sebastian Zietz (HAW) 9.04
Heat 3: Julian Wilson (AUS) 10.90 DEF. Jack Freestone (AUS) 8.60, Adrian Buchan (AUS) 7.74
Heat 4: Italo Ferreira (BRA) 11.50 DEF. Caio Ibelli (BRA) 8.97, Ezekiel Lau (HAW) 7.80
Heat 5: Filipe Toledo (BRA) 16.17 DEF. Peterson Crisanto (BRA) 10.40, Jacob Willcox (AUS) 7.60
Heat 6: Rio Waida (IDN) 9.60 DEF. Gabriel Medina (BRA) 9.54, Deivid Silva (BRA) 6.77
Heat 7: Yago Dora (BRA) 11.63 DEF. Owen Wright (AUS) 10.33, Soli Bailey (AUS) 9.50
Heat 8: Conner Coffin (USA) 11.24 DEF. Jeremy Flores (FRA) 10.00, Jesse Mendes (BRA) 8.17
Heat 9: Kelly Slater (USA) 11.66 DEF. Kolohe Andino (USA) 11.23, Ryan Callinan (AUS) 10.67
Heat 10: Ricardo Christie (NZL) 11.93 DEF. Wade Carmichael (AUS) 8.63, Seth Moniz (HAW) 5.10
Heat 11: Mikey Wright (AUS) 12.00 DEF. Joan Duru (FRA) 9.50, Kanoa Igarashi (JPN) 1.77
Heat 12: Michel Bourez (FRA) 12.43 DEF. Griffin Colapinto (USA) 9.63, Willian Cardoso (BRA) 8.73

Corona Bali Protected Men’s Round 2 (Elimination Round) Matchups:
Heat 1: Kanoa Igarashi (JPN) vs. Deivid Silva (BRA) vs. Jacob Willcox (AUS)
Heat 2: Willian Cardoso (BRA) vs. Ezekiel Lau (HAW) vs. Leonardo Fioravanti (ITA)
Heat 3: Seth Moniz (HAW) vs. Adrian Buchan (AUS) vs. Soli Bailey (AUS)
Heat 4: Ryan Callinan (AUS) vs. Sebastian Zietz (HAW) vs. Jesse Mendes (BRA)

Mark Mathews, returns from his supposed career-ending injury, Italo defends Bali crown.

Open Thread double-bill: Comment live on Red Bull big-waver at Shipsterns + round one, WSL, Bali!

Can't make it to a sports bar? Get your kicks, live, here.

Didn’t we have a gay ol time when we opened the comments on the final day at Bells. So many keyboards simultaneously being pecked in so many countries, pop, pop, pop.

Today, as you might know, maybe not, the Red Bull Cape Fear event at Shipsterns, in Tasmania, is walking into a sixteen-second period, fifteen-foot swell.

Format? Pretty simple.

Twenty surfers. Four five-man heats. Winner of each heat hits the final.

Surfers include: Russ Bierke (who won it last time), Mick Fanning, Justin ‘Jughead’ Allport (underground shredder from Australia), little Pedro ‘Scooby’ Vianna, Laurie Towner, Ryan Hipwood, Billy Kemper, Nathan  Florence, Koa Rothman and Tasmanian shredders Alex Zawadzki, Shaun Wallbank, James McKean, James Holmer-Cross, Tyler Hollmer Cross, Mikey Brennan, Zebulon Critchlow, Brook Phillips and Marti Paradisis.

Returning from what was supposed to be a career-ending injury is Mark Mathews, who is also the contest director.

Marky has also brought along his Hollywood pal Chris Hemsworth, whom he has been towing with, lately.

Keramas, Bali?

First heat John John.

Second heat, Jordy.

Third heat, Italo.

Fourth, Filipe.

Tell me that ain’t worth strutting around for.

Red Bull starts at nine am, Tassie time and Bali, which is five thousand clicks north-west of Tasmania, is two hours behind.

Day filled, yes?

Watch Red Bull Cape Fear here. 

Watch WSL, Bali, here. 

Revealed: There are 500 different “water sport activities” as the “ride anything” movement explodes!

How many have you tried?

How many variations of wave riding have you tried? Three? Seven? If I really put my thinking cap on I can personally count bodysurfing, surfing surfing, boogie boarding and once I caught a wave in an inflatable boat so… four. If I keep that thinking cap on and count things I haven’t done but know exist, I can add SUP, foil, SUP foil, goat boat, skimboarding Tom Curren style, boogie boarding Danny Kim style, windsurfing, wind foiling, alaia bringing the number to… fourteen.

Apparently, though, I’m missing very many, maybe even hundreds, for Port Edgar Watersports in sunny Edinburgh, Scotland is promising that attendees can participate in 500 water sport activities next weekend and let’s turn to Edinburgh Live to learn more. Let’s not waste any more time with thinking caps.

The home of one of Scotland’s largest watersports centres in South Queensferry throws open its hatches this weekend with a jam-packed programme of try out sessions, DJs, street food, shopping, and kids activities.

If you’ve ever fancied yourself a sailor, now’s your chance to test your seaworthiness. Port Edgar Marina is hosting around 500 taster sessions this Saturday and Sunday in activities like paddle boarding, windsurfing, sailing, and sea kayaking.

Anyone who has thought about signing up to one of the courses at Port Edgar Watersports can now try before they buy. This weekend anyone can sample the 60-minute sessions for a bargain price of £5 or £10 each.

Now, I know that “wave riding” and “water sport activities” are not synonymous BUT there is certainly more cross-over than the fourteen I came up with so what am I missing?

And if you had to take up a non-surfing wave riding pastime which would you choose?


Oh, without a doubt this…

Hiring: Become a “creative copywriter” with the WSL!

And report to legendary rocket-SUP pilot Erik "Elo" Logan…

By now we’ve all absorbed the E-Lo interview. Goddamn it he seemed likeable.

The sorta bloke who’d come to repossess your house but end up getting you to play on his Thursday night touch footy team too.

Was it a tactic? To Kill Chas and DLS with kindness?

“You get a car! You get a car! You get a car!”

I dunno, man.

Life is tactics. Everybody’s coming with an angle. At least he’s up front with his.

How to respond?

A stark choice emerges for the Grit. To work with E-Lo and the WSL (is Wozzle, is Woz) to try and affect incremental change.

Chart the middle course. Share knowledge. Live in peace.

Or, to tear the fucking joint down if can’t be in our exact image.

The realist or the radical.The path for BG remains unclear.

But E-LO’s intentions for the Woz are as clear as his dazzling alabaster teeth. Drag it square in to the mainstream, where it will compete with the likes of the NBA, NFL, Premier League etc, conglomerates with budgets and resources comparable to small European countries, for audience attention and dollars.

There’s work to do. The Woz is an unwieldy beast. It has a disparate online presence. Different formats. Different audiences. Endemic media stuck to the ship’s hull like barnacles.

How to get them all on board?

Well, the Content and Marketing handbook says that to truly engage your audience in a meaningful way, you need to have a defined personality. To state who you are and what you stand for. A singular identity that should make your organisation immediately recognisable, even if you remove the logo

A tone of voice. Tone dictates personality which dictates purpose. It’s central to your organisation’s goals.

Which makes this recent job ad all the more interesting.

Role: Creative Copywriter
Brand: World Surf League
Location: Santa Monica, CA
Summary: Develop the brand tone of voice for all fan/consumer touch points with a focus on marketing/brand campaigns and our owned and operated products (website, app, etc.).

You can read the whole thing here.

Tone guidelines. Positioning statements. Bot scripts. It’s a fascinating peek behind the veil. The magician showing his cheat sheet just for that split second. Modern day alchemy to make the soulless corporate seem human.

So what would your tone be for the Woz if you got the role?

Who embodies the organisation? What personality is going to see it get traction with, say, middle America?

Kelly and E-Lo, the charming alabaster princes? Turps and Get Sent, the loyal stoners? Chas and Reilly, the cut off-your-nose-to-spite-your-face radicals?

Or a mix of all three?

What do I think? Well, if you need a join the dot kit to tell your story, you’ve already failed. You can’t manufacture magic, E Lo.

Stop messing around with this corpo bullshit and just put the best surfers in the best waves with a steady livestream, and let the rest take care of itself.

But fuck, what would I know?

Confession: “I have spent approximately 4600 hours surfing and still miserably suck.”

That’s 1.35% of my waking life.

How well do I surf? I’m decent. I mean, I’m definitely not great. If I’m being honest, I’m really not that good.

Fine! You want me to say it? Fuck it. Gimme that mic…


I reckon that I’ve surfed north of 2,300 sessions. My hypothetical surfing map that my lady would never let me hang on a wall would include nifty, colorful pins puncturing all US coastal quadrants, a big fat one on a mention-it’s-name-and-I’ll-cut-you-red outer Hawaiian Island and more in Indo, New Zealand, Australia, Mexico, Costa Rica, Puerto Rico and two man-made surf parks in Texas. With a two hour session average, I’ve spent approximately 4,600 hours doing something that I still miserably suck at. That’s half a sojourn around the sun. That’s 1.35% of my waking life.

Yet, I still suck.

I’ve been playing cat and mouse with my inability for some time, but never have I felt the dark warmth of the belly of the feline beast more than when watching some psychologically scarring video footage of myself from a recent session. If you’re considering this, but you suspect your own sub-mediocrity, be warned that it’s something you can’t unsee and you’d be better served staring at that photo of Messier 87 for an hour contemplating the fact that everything that exists, everything you know, everyone you love, likely came from and will thus return to nothingness. (Spoiler alert: In the end, darkness wins.)

It was the first time in nearly two decades that I’ve seen myself on video playback and it was like happening upon a clip of my parents on Pornhub. It was like, after a lifetime of severe, untreated nearsightedness, I got LASIK surgery and discovered that I look like an ogre who lost a fight to a bigger ogre. It was like I got kicked in the nuts by my nemesis after he and my wife, fingers clasped, informed me that my 3-year-old son is not actually of my own seed.

Whatever veil of delusional innocence I had been living behind was at once pulled back, leaving the stark, sobering reality that the level of grace my surfing carries is akin to that of the titular character in the 80s absurdist comedy Weekend At Bernie’s. If you’re not familiar with the film and therefore the reference, Bernie is dead. I look like I have some form of micro-amnesia whereby I’m perpetually coming to from a blackout on a second-by-second basis to the startling realization that I am, in fact, gliding upon the surface of water. Look, Ma. It’s wet!The post-mortem biopic of my surfing life would be called 5000 First Waves. My turns look like an alien trying to copulate with a human having not yet figured what goes where. My pumping looks like I’m trying to actually sink my surfboard underwater. My tube stance is a dookie crouch. But the worst part is the way I would pseudo-casually exit waves with my too-cool-for-school-Slater-nose-wipe-non-claim-claim like I just did something of a measurable amount of objective worth, like anything beyond the mere success of staying afloat just transpired.

Among the strangeness of realizing that Italo surfs better switch than I do regular, the thing I can’t quite reconcile is how supremely sublime something that looks that hideous feels.

I often go to concerts where bands jam and meander into territories heretofore unknown. At these shows, if I’m inspired, I dance. I noodle my legs, torso, arms and head around in rhythmic fashion as I surrender to the flow and connect with Mother Melody. Sometimes, I’m so moved that I compulsively make that boobie-motorboating sound when their jams peak. I’m sure it looks ridiculous, but I don’t care. It feels great in my body. If a video of me doing this concert-noodle were aired on national television, with my name superimposed beneath it in flashing rainbow letters, I genuinely think I’d laugh it off and very well may feel a bit of pride.

If only I could apply this level of casual acceptance to the recent revelation that my surfing looks like John John’s would the day after someone broke both his kneecaps. (DON’T BREAK JOHN JOHN’S KNEECAPS!) But I can’t. I find no humor in the fact that, on a good day, my surfing looks like that of a man twenty years my elder with three herniated discs in his back who’s a day late on refilling his pain meds.

And for this, I feel shame.

But why?

Not why do I suck. I suck because I didn’t grow up near the beach and wasn’t taken hostage by surfing until I was 22 (Can one be grandfathered-in as a VAL?)… or because I’ve never taken a lesson or been instructed in any way whatsoever… or because my constant, pre-mature-ejaculate-level frothing supersedes my ability to maintain any flow… or perhaps because the fundamentals of wave sliding are just beyond me.

No, the itchy, whiney why? that I can’t quite scratch is why do I care so much? I know… the act of surfing itself is a ridiculous, meaningless endeavor blah blah blah Chas and the entire Beachgrit premise that’s neither productive nor consumptive on a sociological level blah blah blah Aaron James and is as arbitrary as going to a bucolic meadow to catch apples falling from a tree or eating a bunch of caramels with Minnie Driver but it still means something to me, though that meaning is often as elusive as a shifty beach break peak.

Personal relationships aside, it kind of means, well… everything.

And I suck.

Like, Frankenstein-night-surfing-after-he-took-too-many-hits-of-blotter suck.

And this leaves me full of sorrow.

It would appear that life is a process whereby — if one keeps at it — youthful fantasy violently collides with reality in something often referred to as “adulthood.” Personally, I’m still fishing pieces of shrapnel from this collision out of the lower backside of my torso. An applicable term may be arrested development.

Maybe it’s my love for (Stockholm syndrome with) surfing that illuminates the fact that I suck. Buddha says you care = you suffer. Hold on a sec… suffer… surfer… suffer…surfer…suffer…surfer…suffer…surfer… Maybe I just suck at caring. At loving things. Maybe I’m like Lenny in Of Mice And Men and surfing is the bunny rabbit that — while I intend to gently caress — I strangle to death.

I won’t stop. No way. I can’t. I’m a helpless hostage. But, for psychological preservation, I feel I must do something about the fact that I’d likely lose a heat to Jordy if he were wearing both an eye patch (#realnotdecorative) and a straight jacket.

Maybe the answer is to stop trying to surf like those aquatic freaks my mind, expectations and endorphins have been inundated with through the torrent of surf porn I ingest on a regular basis. Maybe I should stop punishingly defining myself by standards of performance I haven’t a chance of achieving. Maybe I should stop defining any of it.

Is that even possible?

My inner naive idealist, the one who waxes my board and lives in a state of denial about my inner bitter asshole, the one who ends up surfing most of the session, says it is possible. He says it’s possible to one day find harmony between my capability and my expectations. To marry my hustle and my flow.

Moving forward, I shall attempt to leave my efforts and execution of this kinetic act of buoyancy undefined, since that’s the essence of why I’m self-destructively drawn to it in the first place; that barb of the hook that won’t stop tugging on my cheek.

Someone somewhere probably said that surfing is an expression.

Suppose it’s time I try to surf like… myself?

What’s that even mean? Could it be fun? How would I gage my success? How would I know if I’m doing it right? Where would my approval come from? What if they laugh? Could I ever be so bold as to plant my flag on an isolated atoll of identity as such?

Have you attempted this?

Do you… do this?