Ugly American: I just shouted at the kind and thoughtful Pete Devries live on Canadian radio!

Olympic surf talking!

There I was, sleeping the tortured sleep of the mentally unwell, when I heard my phone buzz furiously on the nightstand. I grabbed it and smashed its top button in order to silence then peered through bleary eyes at the screen. Who on earth would be calling at the ungodly hour of… 4:50 am?

It was the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, or CBC, live from Toronto.


I had forgotten, days earlier, that I had agreed to come on the air and talk about surfing in the Olympics, taking, of course, the “surfing in the Olympics is a stupid idea and doesn’t belong” side. I hopped out of bed, ran downstairs and called back. A kindly producer answered first ring and walked me through the order. There would be two segments before they got to the issue of Olympic surfing, the host would introduce me and then we’d chat.

It all made sense I told him, listening to a discussion of soybean production  in western Canada in the background.

Ten, or so, minutes later I heard the host broach the Olympic surfing topic and then toss to “a surf journalist based near San Diego, California.”

I came out of the gate as hot as I could, though still morning addled, trying to tie thoughts together in a semi-coherent fashion, laughing heartily when the host told me that surfing would bring in a youthful audience, barking back that surfing is an old person’s game now ruled by grumpy locals.

She lost her train of thought in the middle, which made me sad because it was certainly my barrage of nonsense that threw her so, but she found her footing and said, “We have someone on the other side who thinks surfing will be wonderful in the Olympics, professional surfer from Tofino Pete Devries.”

“Pete Devries?” I thought. “Damn it. Pete Devries is the nicest man in the world.”

I don’t recall ever meeting Pete but have heard only very good things. He’s kind, thoughtful and extremely talented and now, here he was talking about how fun it is for Canadian kids to have this Olympic opportunity, how his nine-year-old son enjoys competitive surfing etc. And there I was guffawing, muttering about how surfing is a form of rebellion and picking a winner in Japan’s tiny waves will be embarrassing.

Surfing was last a form of rebellion in 1983.

Red Bull’s Cape Fear just picked a winner in Shipstern’s tiny waves.

I kept up, hammering that surfing fitting itself into the Olympic criteria is a capitulation against its very core while Pete said kind and thoughtful things about more people getting to experience what we all love so much and then it was over.

And I’m very sorry, Canada. I’m sorry for saying “heck” and “dang” (I was told not to curse) and for flopping around semi-lucid in front of your national treasure.

While I still think surfing in the Olympics is a stupid idea and that it doesn’t belong, I will be cheering the red maple leaf for all the sports that do, like racewalking and dressage.

Pete Devries (pictured) surfing beautifully in his home country.
Pete Devries (pictured) surfing beautifully in his home country. Photo by Marcus Paladino

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?