Longtom: “I watched the WSL Big-Wave Awards so you wouldn’t have to!”

"Kidding, I didn't watch it live."

One of the things I like most about covering the world tour is it’s easy to understand. Someone wins, someone loses.

Even if the judging is incomprehensible, at the end of the year you get a world champ and it’s all hunky dory.

Big-wave surfing, whole ‘nother story.

WSL broadcast live the Big Wave Awards and I watched it live so you wouldn’t have to. Kidding, I didn’t watch it live. Awards ceremonies give me panic attacks unless they are hosted by Ricky Gervais.

I have been over the presser and the awards itself though struggling to make sense of it all. This is ironic because about the only thing the general public understands viscerally about surfing is guys and gals careening down massive walls of water.

Mum and Dad have got no clue about Italo pulling spinners at D-Bah but Laird is still pulling cheques from Nat Geo covers 20 years ago.

Big-wave surfing is anti-marketing. It hypes itself. It sells itself.

Married to innovators and entrepreneurs like Laird and G-Mac it’s a reliable meal ticket.

Who won? Everybody!

No, Kai Lenny won.

No, Grant Baker and Keala Kennelly won.

I thought the champions had already been crowned, but that was for the Big-Wave Tour (BWT). This was something different called the Big-Wave Awards.

Confused? Clear as modern boxing?

The Big-Wave Awards was something that used to be owned by Billabong, has nothing to do with contests and has never been won by Laird, despite Laird being the best-known big-wave rider in the World, correct?


In a new gendered category, Brazilian woman Andrea Moller won the biggest paddle-in wave and a Guinness World Record at the same time for a “42 foot wave” at Jaws.

Twiggy Baker won Ride of the Year and Paddle of the Year for two waves at Jaws during the cancelled Jaws day on Nov 26. A day of madness when the WSL dropped its bundle on the whole entire meaning of publicised big wave surfing.

Our shrivelled little modern souls need danger to survive and the best danger is lived vicariously. I haven’t heard the Chas/E-Lo bro-down yet but I hope he grilled him on the Jaws capitulation.

Our shrivelled little modern souls need danger to survive and the best danger is lived vicariously. I haven’t heard the Chas/E-Lo bro-down yet but I hope he grilled him on the Jaws capitulation.

Still following?

Twiggy won the BWT (did he make a wave?), Ride of the Year, Paddle of the Year but lost out to Kai Lenny for the XXL and Over-all Performance Award.

It took a bit to decipher but eventually I realised that is the new Tow-In award. Maybe renamed the egg on your face award, seeing as Kai made the BWT look silly by showing up at the biggest day of the year at Jaws ready to rumble. Surely, the WSL has to be ready to shift gears and grab the rope to avoid leaving its audience all het up and horny when the surf gets giant.

Not that long ago, Big-wave surfing was going to be the golden ticket to take surfing to the mainstream and cash in bigly. It’s struggled to find its feet and gain traction.

A concept so simple that any Okie could grasp it has become a convoluted program more byzantine than a Game of Thrones episode.

Justine Dupont, a Seignosse local, got the Overall Performance and biggest (tow) awards for a “53” footer at Nazaré. Did you know G-Mac had already broken the 100-foot barrier at Nazaré? It’s very hard to keep up with but Wikipedia tells me he achieved this astonishing feat in 2013.

I don’t mean to sound snarky about big waves. I love big waves and the guys and gals that ride them.

I love to watch them ply their trade.

Can you guess the high-profile pro surfer that wrote me an email suggesting gals should not be endangering their lives and the lives of their rescuers by being out in big surf?

More importantly, now that the WSL has gendered the Biggest Paddle In Award, which is, as far as I can tell, the Gold Medal, can we speculate on which country the first transgendered athlete will come from to steal the bikkies.

I say Austria, raised in South Africa.

Even more importantly, which way will the wozzle swing, so to speak, when the first transgender athlete crashes the scene.

Do you think they have a contingency in place? I sure hope so.

“We continue slicing off our legacy of cool, piece by piece, in exchange for a seat in the nosebleed section of mainstream culture!”

Lady and gentlemen... place your bets!

Oooooee, I caught cracks for delivering a singularly underwhelming performance during yesterday’s much anticipated podcast interview with the World Surf League’s President of Content, Media, Etc. Erik “ELo” Logan.



“Do better next time!”


All completely honest, true and well-deserved. The only problem, and it’s a small one, is that is probably the best I can do.

Uh oh!

I may have forgotten to mention, at the outset, that I’m not an investigative surf journalist… I’m a tabloid gossip column surf journalist and sorry for the confusion.

But here’s really the thing. My point in going to meet with Mr. President Etc. was, number one, because it was funny and, number two, to begin the process of nudging the World Surf League off the path it chartered when Dirk Ziff purchased it for free those four years ago.

The well-trod ground of manufactured respectability and politically correct charm.

The bland common area.

Surfing’s revered historian Matt Warshaw wrote, more poetically than I ever could, in the forward to Cocaine + Surfing (subscribe to the Encyclopedia of Surfing here!)

The blandness, yes, but mostly the hypocrisy. The sport’s own self-betrayal. We should know better – we used to know better – than to try and reshape surfing into a sport that fits into a Mutual of Omaha ad campaign, or at Olympic telecast. Selling the sport isn’t a crime. But sell it on our own terms, the way Bruce Brown did with Endless Summer. Make them come to us. And if they don’t, so what? But no, we continue slicing off our legacy of cool, of independence, piece by piece, in exchange for a seat in the nosebleed section of mainstream culture. Then we compound the error (not “we” actually, but the World Surf League, the NYSE-traded surfwear companies, and whoever convinced the IOC to make surfing an Olympic sport for the 2020 games in Tokyo) by passing off this auto-swindle as growth and progress.


Now, did yesterday’s chat do anything other than make me complicit in this auto-swindle? Certainly not but by the time I’m finished dancing through the High Castle we’ll have Longtom calling heats from the booth, Joe Turpel Michelob Ultra drunk underneath the WSL coffee table, Jed Smith and Vaughn Dead ushering the losers out on a rail while interviewing, a flat screen television in the judges’ tower that allows viewers to heckle directly, proper betting tied directly into the broadcast and the professional surfers brought out like racehorses where punters can can feel their thighs and look at their teeth before placing bets.

Or something.

Aside from cutting the draw down, the action in the water has never been better.

I want to break the action on the land.

Listen to Chas Smith vs the WSL’s Erik “Elo” Logan: “I’d move to Utah and marry Kai, Kelly and Laird!”

The World Surf League President of Content, Media and Studios (Erik "Elo" Logan) podcast is here!

I’ve never been able to hold a “corporate” job, all fault my own. I’m a butthole. Incorrigible but I’ve only just realized this within the last few years. Back when I was quitting my submarine captain gig at Disneyland by calling in “sick” with tuberculosis, back when I was passing all my students at Los Angeles City College as long as they didn’t tattle to administration on me for spending weeks per semester in the Middle East, I thought I was only playing funny angles as opposed to being an incorrigible butthole.

Oh I know Disneyland and Los Angeles City College are not “corporate” per se but imagine how much worse my modus would play in a real office?

I imagine very bad.

And so it is with much wonder and confusion that I observe Erik “ELo” Logan, President of Etc. at the World Surf League.

You’ve seen me be a butthole here, here, here, here, here, here, here etc.

And I thought he’d be smart enough to sort of take it but never stupid enough to actually engage.

He actually engages.

This will be an ongoing conversation, of course, but here we have the first of hopefully many chats with the powers that actually be.

Why does he have so many damn pictures of himself surfing? Because he thinks a person can never have enough!

Who does he want to fuck, marry, kill between Kai Lenny, Kelly Slater and Laird Hamilton?

He wants to move to Utah and marry all three, living in a wonderful pluralistic relationship like Big Love!

What else?

Listen here!

Mikey Feb. Whimsical.

Hot or Not: Who are the most attractive men in current-ish professional surfing?

A great question.

Generally, this is how I would describe professional world tour surfers (and professional “free surfers” as I understand they’re called).

Generally, too, I would be lying if I said that the only reason I don’t look away when my boyfriend forces me to watch “surf contests” on his iPad while we are cooking a nice, elegant meal is because there are (allegedly) hot babes on the tour.

I say allegedly because I’m still looking for them.

According to “Mimi” at a “magazine” with an exceedingly violent name, there are at least 10 hot surfers.

Hmmmmmm, wrong!

Sure, “Mimi’s” scoop of the century was published eight years ago and those guys are long gone, but the way I see it, there are only five hot professional surfers:

1. Christian Fletcher

This guy is basically Bodhi. He speaks in Radical Zen Koans and drives motorcycles with a death wish. He’s fast. His motorcycle even has a sticker that says “Live Fast, Die Last.” He invented “aerials.” He has a surprisingly-not-terrifying skull tattoo. 10/10.

Christian Fletcher, not recently.

2. Michael February

I saw one picture of this guy in GQ (congrats, Michael!) and I was sold. He looks both tall and whimsical, which I like. He also has the smile of a beauty pageant contestant, but I’m told he’s no longer on the tour anymore, why WSL? Why?

3. Chippa Wilson

I swear I don’t have a tattoo fetish, but this guy is smoking! He makes wetsuits look sexy and not like some amoebic neoprene tube sock. He also has a cool name and does sick “airs.” Hot.

chippa wilson
Chippa, pretty in pink.

4. Jack Freestone

Honorable Wonder Bread mention. Hot Dad entry. Athletic. Currently not blonde. By the way, what are you feeding your ginormous baby? He is very cute but I’m concerned he might smother you or your very hot wife in a few years.


5. Actually, there are only four hot surfers.

Why Your Favorite Hot Surfer Didn’t Get Mentioned?

Julian Wilson — too predictable, too boring, too much of a bratty baby?
Danny Fuller — lost his spot to Jack (there can only be one Hot Surf Dad)
Craig Anderson — very beautiful woman (which is cool, if that’s what you’re into)
Luke Davis — spends too much time perfecting his look for Instagram
The Brazilians — too good at surfing to also be called hot

As I compiled this list, I recalled several of my boyfriend’s agitated conversations with fellow “surfers” about an “industry crisis.”

Might I propose a cause and a solution. There is an overwhelming drought of hot surfer dudes (isn’t this what riding waves is all about, being hot and picking up chicks?), so the WSL must recruit more, and then start making them eat whatever Jack Freestone is feeding his child.

Problem solved.

Watch: A fabulous vision of surfing as imagined by Gucci!

It's a white rabbit!

Surf journalism is hard work. I woke up this morning ready to greet the day and smash out some important, lively yet restrained words. Taking my customary place in front of my alcohol-soaked computer and its wireless keyboard (a necessary purchase allowing me to type), I began searching for inspiration.

The hours passed and… nothing.

Kelly Slater did nothing noteworthy.

Laird Hamilton did not release any innovation.

The World Surf League is on hiatus for six more days and Mavericks is still cancelled.

Then I was forwarded this video announcing Gucci’s pre-fall 2019 line. I had, in fact, been forwarded it many times though hadn’t watched it. Desperation forced me to push play and I was swept into a glorious world where surfers and muscle people, punks and basketballers, tightrope walkers and artists live peaceful lives together in the acropolis.

I’m supposed to hate it, the coopting, cultural appropriation, the Jesus Christ Superstar vibe but…. I can’t help myself.

What’s wrong with me for loving this so much?

Is it because my mother forced me to watch Jesus Christ Superstar when I was a young boy?

Speaking of, what is the worst movie your parents forced on you as a child?