"Criticism, like rain, should be gentle enough to nourish a man's growth without destroying his roots!"
I was thinking, last night as I drifted off to sleep, about the World Surf League commentator team and how much they mean in all of our lives. The professional surfers on tour, they come and go. One year it’s Dayyan Neve, the next it’s Jesse Mendes. Even when longstanders go gentle into that good night, like Fanno and Parko, they’re not even missed. Be honest, you forgot that Mick and Joel were ever on tour and when I write about them in singlets it only rings some vague bell.
The professional surfers are as transient as wild squirrels but the commentators., like diamonds, are forever.
And how are the commentators doing this year? How do you feel compared to years’ past? There is no record, no way of measuring, and it is time to remedy so without further ado I present BeachGrit‘s Golden Mic. The Power Rankings for Commentators.
Barton Lynch: (8.93) Show me a man who isn’t soothed by Barton’s mezzo-soprano and I’ll show you a serial killer or, at the very least, a man with serial killer tendencies. Barton’s tone, pace and content are all worth listening to and even when he dips a toe into the utterly absurd it doesn’t irritate. As the anchor of the the Oi Rio Pro, Barton showed he is the best in the biz and if I was the World Surf League’s President of Content, Media, Studios, Commentators, etc. I would begin my booth rebuild around the Man from Manly.
Brad: (5.04) I never caught Brad saying his own name and, therefore, never really had a feeling for him. Is he Australian? South African? Where did he come from? What did he do? I still don’t know and felt untethered throughout the Oi Rio Pro. The one constant, though, that made it clear and comfortable that the Oi Rio was still, in fact, a World Surf League production was the curiosities that poured forth from Brad’s mouth in a never ceasing stream. Do I want Brad back? No. Would I notice if he replaced Turpel? No. A net neutral, I suppose, for the League
Kaipo: (6.82) Kaipo raised the bar in Brazil, don’t you agree? He slid from his typical color role into the straight man gig and I thought showed real promise here. With a small bit of training and a willingness to dig into his past stories (dating Madonna etc.), I think Kaipo could soar into “almost ok” territory. Tell me you didn’t get a whiff of the future. Tell me Kaipo doesn’t have legs (both literally and figuratively).
The ’89 World Champ Martin Potter: (4.37) When the great computer scientists of our century unveil for the first time, at Comic-Con 2025, that a computer featuring bleeding edge artificial intelligence had been introduced into the public a decade ago without people knowing they were dealing with a humanoid robot those in the audience will gasp as cheer but professional surf fans will roll their eyes and sigh, “We knew all along.”
Pete Mel: (6.25) The Condor looked so uncomfortable doing Rosy’s job, like a boy waiting for a prom date above his station, and I couldn’t get enough. Having an adult man, all hairy and awkward and adult-like, asking silly questions to prepubescent-looking boys (Jordy Smith very much included) who just got out of a bath made it crystal clear that Rosy’s job is demeaning and she should demand a kick up to the booth. The League should filter “Grumpy Locals” through this position as punishment for being critical. It should be the new Gulag.
Strider: (8.50) Strider needs more time on air. Whether on ski, sand or rock he brings the juice. The perfect “man on the ground” without apparent aspirations for a bigger/better stage. He revels in his role and we’re lucky for it. Strider should be given his own interstitial shows… sending him to strip clubs, or wherever, reporting live in the field.
Special Guest Sally Fitzgibbons: (7.21) Sally was competent and warm, her bogan-tinged sentence beginner “Hey…” got me every time. “Hey, he looked pretty good right there…” I would have liked a little more frowny-face’d “Hey, what is coming out of your mouth?” to Brad which is why she receives a score near the excellent range but not exactly in the excellent range.
Ronnie, Rosie and Joey Turps: (0.37) “Top talent” skipping Brazil is so five years ago.