Margaret River Pro, Day Four: “Carnage, acquittal of fragile egos, local mastery from a non-CT surfer at The Box!”

Some days there ain't nowhere to hide…

God: heroics, carnage, mastery, acquittal of fragile egos, small-wave reputations put on trial, local mastery from a non CT surfer etc etc at the Box today.

What would be the chances that the best wave of the day would be the first one ridden?

And the odds it would be the first wave someone has ever ridden out there?

And that that person would be a Brazilian goofy foot?

Well it happened.

Not the best heat, not the most masterful display.

That belonged to local wildcard Jack Robinson who made the rest of the field look like kooks, in the same way he did at North Point last year.

“Just another day for me,” he said. “I do what I do”.

Big day of reckoning for the Brazilian contingent with, let’s be generous, mixed results.

Italo Ferriera could not claim “just another day.”

Somehow he got to the bottom of the first nugget to detonate on the reef this morning, survived a wobble onto the heels that had shades of Kelly at Teahupoo and Kelly at Pipe, snuck under the axe and rode out clean.

As pure a ten point ride as the WSL has seen in a decade.

It lacked the composure of Jack Robbo’s waves but had the originality of pure “beginners mind.”

Soli Bailey could not get a make and that really set the tone for the day. Deep combinations and mostly one-sided encounters going to those who could and would spear the take-off on the right waves. The others couldn’t or wouldn’t.

Same as last time WSL came to the Box in 2015.

Same as the next time they surf it.

Anticipation redlined after Italo’s wild make when John John took the water. A close to perfect opening wave choked him out on the exit. He followed straight up with a clean make. It wasn’t the dominant display he hoped for against Freestone and Jack had the winning wave come to him in the dying stages but could not manufacture an exit.

The exits were full of what Barton Lynch called, very accurately, “complicated little moments”. Decompression chambers would suddenly bottom out, ledges would reach up and strangle passing fins, square tubes would become bulbous and collapse suddenly like buildings in an Indonesian earthquake.

A pair of clean makes was enough to win most heats.

Medina’s loss is probably a death knell to him backing up his Title. He did not disgrace himself. His opening two rides would have gone excellent but clamped on him with an uncommon ferocity. Ciao Ibelli was the best Brazilian on the day and toyed with deep shacks.

A very technical and generously scored bomb from Medina where he manufactured the tube put him a score away from a win. Perhaps sensing a willingness of the panel to suspend disbelief he tried to sell a very lacklustre final wave with a risible claim.

They laughed at it.

Kelly was not masterful against the Panda. Sucked up over the falls, knocked sideways at the base of the tube, could not knife in. A board change suited the come from behind approach needed. The defending champ got hustled and rick rolled and slapped around. It was like watching a live mugging in broad daylight.

He lost a paddle battle to a man almost two decades older and in the end the scoreboard flattered him in a heat Kelly always had control of. Kelly’s ring-the-butler claim on a 5.83 was unnecessary but betrayed the release of pressure from the GOAT.

I don’t want to riff too much on Conner Coffins dolphin ride.

Nothing personal against sharing the tube with dolphins, it’s just when Barton Lynch said it was an Instagram moment I turned agin it. Whenever a baby boomer says “Instagram Moment” I want to throw a billionaire off a cliff.

Terrible, irrational but who knows those dolphins weren’t having a rape party and one of the damsels wasn’t trying to escape?

If WA Tourism gets its shit together we’ll be watching that wave ten thousand times next year.

It was five minutes or so when we finally got back into live action in the Jack Robbo/Pip Toledo matchup. There was already an 8.5 next to Jack’s name. He laid down two more perfect makes within the next five minutes, finding a positioning and entry point into the waves that others had not.

Five minutes and it was all over.

Pip was a plucked and naked chook jammed in the freezer. Jack roamed around, he stood on his board and thrust his torso into the sky looking for set waves. When they came he simply took them at will off Pip. It was as brutally efficient as the annexation of Poland.

His second nine should have been a ten. Not many sporting products in this uber-hyped consumer capitalist world live up to or exceed the hype but Jack Robinson at the Box did so effortlessly.

A gloomy Pip Toledo on the stairs put the loss down to his (Robinson’s) local knowledge and actually compared the Box to his local beach of Ubatuba. He said it “felt like knockout to me.”

It was a very moving and very lonely interview.

As it ended, Robinson was behind him on the stairs. By contrast he was almost aggressively humble. Claiming he knew Filipe could get the waves and get the job done (he couldn’t). It feels like a loss that will haunt Filipe and and a win that will define Robinson.

Seth was way too good for M-Rod, Owen likewise for Zeke. Andino and Griff fought a comical at times battle with Griff going over the falls and Andino triple- fist pumping on a wave that was top five for the day.

Things started to turn south for the heat between Julian and Jaddy. Five brutal wipeouts defined Jaddy’s first half of the heat.

Kieren Perrow came on and said this would be the last heat because of the increased danger factor.


Jaddy had caused me to reflect on something I’d read in one of those pump-yourself-up self-help books written for and about tech-billionaires.

The story was a billionaire Dad who tried to get his kids to become fearless.

“What’s on the other side of fear?” he kept asking them.

“Nothing,” he said.

Move into your fear.

Jaddy showed what is on the other side of fear at the Box.

His last wave he pancaked and the wave scorpioned him and slammed him into the reef. He came up waving for help. John Florence has broken his back at Pipeline, so has Leo Fioravanti. He had his shoulder ripped from it’s socket out there this morning.

What lies on the other side of fear sometimes is that sickening feeling of having your body ripped apart or slammed into the bottom. It wasn’t tiddlywinks out there today and us vicarious parasites watched it with a strange relish.

When they went back to chubby Margarets the deflation was immense.

By hook or by crook they have to get Jack Robinson on this Tour.

The horned one clutches his blood-soaked pitchfork. | Photo: WSL

Open thread: Margaret River Pro, Day Three, The Box!

Super heats include Flip Toledo v Jack Robinson, John John v Jack, Brother v Colapinto, Kelly v Cardoso…

This is going to scoop your eyes out, get the spit rolling down your chin, I think.

“Its absolutely terrifying,” said Kieren Perrow, the WSL commissioner, former tour surfer and lover of thick lips.

Eight-foot Box and a raft of heats including John John Florence vs Jack Freestone (heat three), Jeremy Flores vs Sebastian Zietz (heat four), Kelly v Cardoso (six) and…all eyes on this…heat, nine, Filipe Toledo vs Jack Robinson.

Now, y’think Jack’s going to cyclone Toledo, yeah?


Filipe has rubbed the lipstick off and been putting time into waves that have been, previously, a little uncomfortable.

Right now, it’s my new pal Italo Ferreira v Soli Bailey.

(Obviously, the gals aren’t running, equality be damned.)

Margaret River Pro Men’s Round of 32 (Round 3) Matchups:
Heat 1: Italo Ferreira (BRA) vs. Soli Bailey (AUS)
Heat 2: Michel Bourez (FRA) vs. Yago Dora (BRA)
Heat 3: John John Florence (HAW) vs. Jack Freestone (AUS)
Heat 4: Jeremy Flores (FRA) vs. Sebastian Zietz (HAW)
Heat 5: Gabriel Medina (BRA) vs. Caio Ibelli (BRA)
Heat 6: Willian Cardoso (BRA) vs. Kelly Slater (USA)
Heat 7: Jordy Smith (ZAF) vs. Leonardo Fioravanti (ITA)
Heat 8: Conner Coffin (USA) vs. Jesse Mendes (BRA)
Heat 9: Filipe Toledo (BRA) vs. Jack Robinson (AUS)
Heat 10: Michael Rodrigues (BRA) vs. Seth Moniz (HAW)
Heat 11: Owen Wright (AUS) vs. Ezekiel Lau (HAW)
Heat 12: Kolohe Andino (USA) vs. Griffin Colapinto (USA)
Heat 13: Julian Wilson (AUS) vs. Jadson Andre (BRA)
Heat 14: Peterson Crisanto (BRA) vs. Joan Duru (FRA)
Heat 15: Ryan Callinan (AUS) vs. Deivid Silva (BRA)
Heat 16: Kanoa Igarashi (JPN) vs. Ricardo Christie (NZL)


Surf Ethics: If a longboard leash pulls a Wavestorm and it’s caught on camera, who’s at fault?

Your jurisprudence is required.

This waltz into surf ethics may be too heavy for a Friday evening, if you happen to be in America, Saturday morning, if you happen to be in Australia but it is incumbent upon us to rule here because if not us, who? And if not now, when?

Therefore, let’s turn our attention to the issue at hand. If a longboard leash pulls a Wavestorm and it’s caught on camera, who’s at fault?

Now, precedent would suggest that the Wavestorm burned the longboard so he is clearly at fault and deserves whatever fate befalls him including, but not limited, to leash pulling, hair pulling, face punching, cross words.


Longboards also have a precedent of sharing waves with each other. Malibu, Waikiki, Doheny, etc. have historically accommodated between 50 -100 longboards per wave and lonboarders only began demanding their own once they got an itch for performance longboarding.


Performance longboarding is a greater evil than Wavestorming and every performance longboarder should, by rights, be burned every time.


What is the ruling?

Who is right and who is wrong?

May your decision ring for eternity.

Hot Surfers: An incomplete guide to who professional surfers would be as presidential candidates!

Meet the Next Presidents!

After what feels like eons of overhearing and missing references to Hollywood’s truest depiction of surfing, Point Break, I decided to sit myself in front of an oversized flat screen TV, fight my overstimulated brain’s inability to focus, and watch Keanu Reeves get his first tube. I should add that this first screening transpired in Baja. Nothing could be more fitting.

Perhaps you are the only living surfer who hasn’t seen this film, in which case, are you OK? I won’t spoil it, since Point Break is truly a masterpiece that Kathryn Bigelow has never really surpassed (Zero Dark Thirty, or as I like to call it Bring It On: The Department of Defense Chapter, doesn’t really capture the essence of water boarding), but I’ll request your patience as I explain the movie’s most important image and the train of thought it propelled me down.

In the first scene we’re introduced to a ragtag gang of hooligans who rob a bank wearing the masked visages of former presidents. They call themselves the Ex Presidents. Original. We can see, even with the masks, that they’re hot and tan. We later find out they’re surfers. No one gets hurt, usually, and we get the impression that they have some sort of goal. Maybe they are Robin Hood type characters. For the point of this story, it doesn’t matter. They’re the surfing former presidents, and, only minutes into the film, I can’t think about anything else but this very pressing comparison: who is the Donald Trump of surf? And then I ask: who is the Bernie Sanders of surf? And then I realize that I’ve stumbled upon the content that Beach Grit needs.

Allow me to present a follow up to my extremely satisfying ranking of hot surfers: an incomplete guide to who professional surfers would be as presidential candidates.

After all, what could be more pointless, more transiently gratifying, and more detrimental to society at large, than hot or not? Presidential campaigns.

The Big Three:

Donald Trump is Kolohe Andino.

Kolohe has never won a major competition (middle finger to the unfair and dishonest WSL judges who don’t take the technicality of his Stalefish seriously), but there are some very obvious parallels here. Both are American. Both like American flags and country music. Trump masquerades as a conservative, but Kolohe is actually a conservative. They’re both reality TV stars (surf fans basically watched Kolohe grow up). Kolohe is Trump if Trump actually had conviction and wasn’t just a bloated abscess.

Bernie Sanders is Kelly Slater.

Bernie and Kelly are consistent broken records. They’re Noam Chomsky lovers. They’re both attempting to revolutionize something (wave pools and antiquated socioeconomic systems). They defy age. They’re slightly grumpy and sort of bald. Don’t ask them stupid questions.

Joe Biden is Dane Reynolds.

Dane Reynolds is definitely not as handsy as our esteemed former VP, but these guys share more in common than one might initially expect: they’re family guys, they seem to be the most qualified for the job, but no one really knows what they’re doing, and they’re both attempting a “moon shot” of sorts. Where Joe would like to cure cancer, Dane would like to cure the diseased surf industry. Good luck, gentlemen.

The Pack (Definitely Not Going to Win and Only In It For the Book Deal):

Beto O’Rourke is Alex Knost.

These two are the Cool Guys. They’re both former band members. They’re in the Nice Hair Club. They think they’re charming but actually they come across as un petit cocky. They’re both intrinsically “just born to be in it” and also born to be shot by Annie Leibovitz for Vanity Fair.

Elizabeth Warren is Keala Kennelly

These two want, so desperately, to be accepted by the Cool Guy crowd. Truthfully, they have the chops, but they’re cheesy and no amount of prior credibility (or Teahupoo charging or Inertia party DJing) can propel these two to the top. They’re the pseudo edgy, not quite wise, grandmothers whose existence generally inspires eye rolls.

Kamala Harris is Coco Ho.

Both have the accolades and the style, but they aren’t quite elite enough to get the job done. And not for lack of sponsorship, which might be their downfall. Kamala will take donations from just about anyone, including Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, whom, as California’s Attorney General, she declined to prosecute after he donated $50,000 to her Senate campaign. Comparably, Coco Ho took money from Etnies which is equally as offensive.

Pete Buttigieg is Dillon Perillo.

Every competition needs a nice, polished guy to rally around, a good story, one that makes people feel warm and cheery, but when it comes down to it: no one actually wants the nice guy to win. That would be so boring and America is lots of things, but boring is not one of them. Pete and Dillon can be appreciated by the squares, the queers, the vets, and the punks, but they don’t have the ruthlessness required to be President of the United States. Because they’re people pleasers with nice chins and forced half smiles. Do they even really want the job? Probably not.

Tulsi Gabbard is Courtney Conlogue

If the presidential race was a street fight, Tulsi and Courtney are the clear winners. They’re by far the toughest bitches in the game. Tulsi did two combat tours as a medic in Iraq and Kuwait. She’s extremely determined, like Courtney, whom I’m told once ripped off a toenail at Lance’s Right and immediately paddled back out. Hard core. But maybe too hard core for the American public (or WSL judges)?

The Why Nots:

Amy Klobuchar is Layne Beachley

Amy and Layne are legit. They have the resumé for the gig. They’re also extremely unapproachable and honestly kind of intimidating which makes them unfortunately unelectable. I can’t confirm that Layne’s rage needs to be constantly fettered by a staff of frightened, shaking, lambs (like Amy’s wrath does) but have you ever seen her TedTalk? It’s intense. These two remind me of preschool teachers who turn a casual conversation into a lecture whenever possible. Scary.

Marianne Williamson is Kelia Moniz.

Both share extremely famous friends (Oprah and Hailey Bieber, respectively.) That’s all I know about these two. Here’s a participation prize, congrats!

Eric Swalwell is himself.

I swear Eric Swalwell is already on the tour.

Bill Weld is Mitch Coleborn.

Persistence, comes to mind when describing these two competitors. They’re likable, though definitely not winners, and therefore a wasted vote. But they will literally never give up. Even if it means running with Gary Johnson. Or in Mitch’s case, continuing to put on a jersey even if it’s not his size anymore.

There are roughly 700 more presidential candidates, according to, and while I know a bit about politicking, I know next to nothing about surfing. I couldn’t name a dozen pro surfers if I tried. But I have sources. Which is to say: I’m the Maureen Dowd of surfing. I, too, am “just born to be in it,” and, trust me boys, the pleasure is all mine.

Listen: “The joys and tribulations of making surf film and probably film of any sort!”

Plus why Collingwood is best footy team on earth.

Did you ever dream of being a filmmaker? Telling visual stories that filled giant screens and turned squirrelly crowds into rapt audiences? I never did. I loved movies with all my heart, Indiana Jones, Lawrence of Arabia, Pulp Fiction but could never really picture directing one. There are too many moving parts, too many things to consider. Too many people and processes involved. Writing is easy, in this way. It is only one person pushing one idea out that is shaped and crafted by one editor. Understandable for my feeble brain but filmmaking?


Cinematographers, lighting folk, sound, set, costume, editing, producing, budgets, scriptwriters, script doctors, on and on it goes.

Making surf films is really no different than making real films and the ones who have done it well, Joe G, Taylor Steele, Kai Neville, Jesse Schluntz should all be applauded for their magnificent work. It is herculean and I only know because I’ve accidentally directed two. The Red Bull classic that brought dubstep music to action sports (Who is J.O.B.) and Trouble: The Lisa Andersen Story.

I spoke about the latter with Jimmy from the Lipped podcast. He is wonderful at his craft, soothing voice, studied questions and it was a pleasure to sip vodka soda across the Pacific while chatting.

You can listen here if you’d like.