J-Bay Day 3: “Kelly Slater rediscovers old strengths; Kanoa Igarashi hits world-title form!”

Also, shocking the masses, Kanoa Igarashi gives honest post-heat presser!

Three am or close enough PST, California sleeps, forty-seven-year-old Kelly Slater showboats into a frothy milkshake tube at something like pumping J-Bay on his Final Year on Tour and on his way to a clear win over Caio Ibelli.

An inside source at the former ASP told me J-Bay has one of the smallest online audiences because North America with its millions upon millions of fans sleeps. So J-Bay was cut from the schedule in 2010 as the tour teeter-tottered on the edge of the surf industry apocalypse, then reintroduced by a Paul Speaker in 2014 desperate to throw red meat to the base and stabilise the roster.

Paul went, Sophie came in; we kept J-Bay and lost Cloudbreak thus eviscerating the Grand Slam leg of the Tour which has always been the touchstone of world champions from Kelly Slater to Andy Irons to Gabe Medina.

It seems the Global South + Europe can sustain the event without the patronage of the imperial north and here we are: 16 over-lapping 45 minute heats in pumping surf at one of the world’s best waves.

Lumpy early with a wind that veered around to the devil direction. That seemed no big problem for the big dog Jordy Smith. He hacked and floated – three times- with an undeserved claim for a well over-egged 8.5 that seemed to both fuck with the scale and frustrate natural foot efforts to come to grips with the lineup. Jordy’s anti-aerial rant in the booth looked like a cute game of rope-a-dope in retrospect after he threw down a toy alley-oop into the breeze.

His easy win over Soli Bailey also set the tone of a day of mismatches. There were many. Early heats could blame devil winds and creases to make turns hard to stick and rails fluttery through carves but even when the surface greased out there was a lot of underwhelming surfing.

Gabe Medina, ranked nine, tightened the noose on Griffin Colapinto, ranked 27, outside the cut, with vertical blasts and fin drifts on the close-outs. A very successful formula.

But where was the natural foots advantage in repertoire, the Fanning power torque wrap? By the twenty-minute mark of the heat, as their priority started Medina had already kicked open the trapdoor and left Colapinto dangling in the wind.

He looks half the surfer this year.

With 45 minutes there was no lack of opportunity. Andino and De Souza rode eight waves each. Flores rode twelve. Andino scratched up two sixes. Both Flores and De Souza failed to find chemistry or rhythm – lots of flubbed turns, falling off, bad body language, obscene gesticulating etc etc.

It was great sport if very ordinary surfing.

Could Pip light it up? Pip could not light it up. Well, he kind of did.

Skipped out of the gates like a two-year-old at a barrier trial for a mid-seven and everyone held their breath. Then he fell asleep like a Persian cat sitting in the winter sun.

Mikey Feb was never going to win, I think we can admit that. Even Barton admitted he don’t quite have a CT level skill set.

But it gave Pip fans nervous moments before he slammed the door in Mikey’s face with a seven. Pip at fifty percent? About that.

It took eleven heats before a score was able to broach the high moat set by Jordy Smith. And two consecutive heats where natural footers finally opened up repertoire, turn angle, turn speed and control of the arc.

Seabass nailed a perfect one for a nine and got the Fanning power-whip on full power. Bourez in the next heat took a more vertical approach with massive vertical punches which he finished with a full whip. He floated and spiked a wave that quivered like half set gelatine.

It was incredible judges squashed the spread between him and Ricardo Christie to the extent Christie was still in the heat with five to play. Bourez smashed him.

Who was going to grab the day by the scruff of the neck?

Who was going to set the pace down in deepest, darkest Africa?

Not Kimba the white lion but Kanoa Igarashi the Japanese American. I hate to crib comments off the Grit live comment feed but sometime during the heat Superworm came on and called Iggy the best surfer in the World. And after seeing the Top 32 all surfing perfect J-Bay that call, ridiculous on the face of it, suddenly seemed very, very tight and right.

More Toledo than Toledo.


He had the speed, the flamboyance to loose the fins or carve the arc and a faux-aggro mojo so ostentatious that in spite of its tendency to alienate we are now learning to love. He freely admits this mojo is not his but a product of his coach Jake Patterson and after donning this cape so many times it’s starting to fit. Iggy in the yellow jersey.

Iggy winning Pipeline.

Iggy taking the World Title.

All these things could happen.

Joe Turpel called Kelly’s heat “vintage Kelly” and it was. This will sound even queerer than calling Kanoa the best surfer in the world but I’d suspected J-Bay was becoming a weakness for Kelly, with his penchant for chattery, skittery equipment and tendency to fall apart in heats.

It’s not strictly true that he’s turned a weakness into a strength. More, if you indulge my argument, that he has rediscovered an old strength and renewed it. Like a couple who, after twenty years of bickering, redo their wedding vows and find a new spice to the old ways (not me and my gal).

Kelly took some licks and gave Caio too many chances but by surfing the way he did he had upped the ante and prevented any chance of Ibelli finding a comfort zone. In the pressure thus applied Ibelli cracked.

Two magical things happened concurrently during the Kelly heat.

Kanoa gave a candid presser calling out the disingenuous calls of his fellow surfers who claim not to care or know about the numbers. He said he knows the numbers and it makes it easier. How could this manufactured pro surfer, I mean like from birth, or even before birth, become our lord and redeemer from the bland post-heat presser?

The second thing.

If this was manufactured – stroke of genius – they got De Souza in the booth to commentate Kelly’s heat. It was delicious to see Adriano soaking up the attention talking about his World Title while Kelly battled it out.

That too was delightfully candid. A little bit of cosmic rebalancing.

Italo played it by the Gabe Medina template. Big backside hooks, no bobble, no breaks in the turns. Fin drifts on the close-out section. A very easy win for him over Jack Freestone. Très entertainment.

Even if North America slept through it, the people of the Global South kept it down.

J-Bay Men’s Round of 32 Results:
Heat 1: Jordy Smith (ZAF) 15.67 DEF. Soli Bailey (AUS) 10.74
Heat 2: Owen Wright (AUS) 11.40 DEF. Joan Duru (FRA) 11.27
Heat 3: Gabriel Medina (BRA) 15.00 DEF. Griffin Colapinto (USA) 10.00
Heat 4: Ryan Callinan (AUS) 13.10 DEF. Yago Dora (BRA) 11.33
Heat 5: Kolohe Andino (USA) 12.33 DEF. Adriano de Souza (BRA) 9.80
Heat 6: Deivid Silva (BRA) 13.43 DEF. Jeremy Flores (FRA) 11.70
Heat 7: Ezekiel Lau (HAW) 11.60 DEF. Julian Wilson (AUS) 10.56
Heat 8: Adrian Buchan (AUS) 14.74 DEF. Conner Coffin (USA) 10.86
Heat 9: Filipe Toledo (BRA) 14.77 DEF. Michael February (ZAF) 10.40
Heat 10: Willian Cardoso (BRA) 14.03 DEF. Michael Rodrigues (BRA) 12.10
Heat 11: Sebastian Zietz (HAW) 14.94 DEF. Wade Carmichael (AUS) 11.50
Heat 12: Michel Bourez (FRA) 13.60 DEF. Ricardo Christie (NZL) 12.83
Heat 13: Kanoa Igarashi (JPN) 17.53 DEF. Frederico Morais (PRT) 13.50
Heat 14: Peterson Crisanto (BRA) 13.50 DEF. Seth Moniz (HAW) 11.66
Heat 15: Kelly Slater (USA) 13.57 DEF. Caio Ibelli (BRA) 11.90
Heat 16: Italo Ferreira (BRA) 15.16 DEF. Jack Freestone (AUS) 9.70

J-Bay Men’s Round of 16 Matchups:
Heat 1: Jordy Smith (ZAF) vs. Owen Wright (AUS)
Heat 2: Gabriel Medina (BRA) vs. Ryan Callinan (AUS)
Heat 3: Kolohe Andino (USA) vs. Deivid Silva (BRA)
Heat 4: Ezekiel Lau (HAW) vs. Adrian Buchan (AUS)
Heat 5: Filipe Toledo (BRA) vs. Willian Cardoso (BRA)
Heat 6: Sebastian Zietz (HAW) vs. Michel Bourez (FRA)
Heat 7: Kanoa Igarashi (JPN) vs. Peterson Crisanto (BRA)
Heat 8: Kelly Slater (USA) vs. Italo Ferreira (BRA)

J-Bay Women’s Round of 16 (H1 – 6) Results:
Heat 1: Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) 13.27 DEF. Silvana Lima (BRA) 12.50
Heat 2: Caroline Marks (USA) 16.67 DEF. Paige Hareb (NZL) 7.90
Heat 3: Carissa Moore (HAW) 14.83 DEF. Keely Andrew (AUS) 11.30
Heat 4: Johanne Defay (FRA) 16.00 DEF. Tatiana Weston-Webb (BRA) 12.20
Heat 5: Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) 13.33 DEF. Macy Callaghan (AUS) 11.93
Heat 6: Malia Manuel (HAW) 11.50 DEF. Brisa Hennessy (CRI) 8.97

J-Bay Remaining Women’s Round of 16 (H7 – 8) Matchups:
Heat 7: Courtney Conlogue (USA) vs. Nikki Van Dijk (AUS)
Heat 8: Lakey Peterson (USA) vs. Bronte Macaulay (AUS)

J-Bay Women’s Quarterfinal Matchups:
QF 1: Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) vs. Caroline Marks (USA)
QF 2: Carissa Moore (HAW) vs. Johanne Defay (FRA)
QF 3: Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) vs. Malia Manuel (HAW)

Hero: Man abandons plans for condominium project to protect famous surf spot!

What a mad, mad, mad, mad world!

And how many stories of abject greed have we shared since humble little BeachGrit launched all those years ago? Ten? Twenty? More than twenty? Stories of grouchy usually elderly and their cock-blocking driveways or Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and his evil gated properties.

It is with much wonder and joy in my heart, then, that I present today’s piece starring a benevolent man in Hawaii who forwent construction of a condominium on Hawaii’s Big Island in order to protect the famous spot Banyans and let’s read about him in Honolulu’s Star-Advertiser as soon as we wipe the tears from our disbelieving eyes.

West Hawaii Today reported today that the landowner has agreed to work toward building a public space rather than the proposed five-story residence near the Banyans.

The Banyans is a popular surfing spot on the north side of Holualoa Bay.

Property owner Kilohana Makai LLC met in a second mediation session Monday with people involved in a case challenging plans for the condominium.

A spokesman says Kilohana Makai will work over the next year to 15 months to convert the 14,450-square-foot (1,342-square-meter) lot on the Big Island into a community space.

Officials say Hawaii County could buy the property via a commission that maintains a list of properties considered “worthy of preservation.”

Can you believe? In the middle of the Me First Generation?

Wait, what generations are alive right now? We have a few of the Greatest Generation Ever, too many Baby Boomers, Generation X, Generation Y, Millennials and… what else?

Which is your favorite?

Also, you’ve seen the above meme one thousand times, right? Did you know who it is? I just found out and it SHOCKED me even more than the idea of a benevolent property developer.

What a mad, mad, mad, mad world!

Ain't J-Bay pretty. | Photo: WSL

Open thread, comment live: Round of 32 at Corona J-Bay Open!

Come into our tent. Wet and loosen your lips…

Yeah, sorry about Disqus being yanked down around our ankles three nights ago.

One of the networks serving those stupid ads that at least a hundred thousand of you devils are clicking on every month (Married teacher screams as she’s jailed for affair with student, aged 12 etc) , decided to introduce infinite scrolling into its code without a call, a mail, whatever.

It ain’t going to happen today, tonight, in whatever time zone you occupy. Bulletproof-ish.

Today, the newly anointed round of 32, formerly round three and the first time we see a bulk of surfers ejected from the event.

Can you believe there’s been sixteen heats, for a total of eight hours of surfing, and only four competitors have been sent home?

Now we get real.

Sixteen heats for sixteen losers.

I’ve got a cheap wine poured over ice. And plenty to refill.

Men’s Round of 32 Matchups:
Heat 1: Jordy Smith (ZAF) vs. Soli Bailey (AUS)
Heat 2: Owen Wright (AUS) vs. Joan Duru (FRA)
Heat 3: Gabriel Medina (BRA) vs. Griffin Colapinto (USA)
Heat 4: Ryan Callinan (AUS) vs. Yago Dora (BRA)
Heat 5: Kolohe Andino (USA) vs. Adriano de Souza (BRA)
Heat 6: Jeremy Flores (FRA) vs. Deivid Silva (BRA)
Heat 7: Julian Wilson (AUS) vs. Ezekiel Lau (HAW)
Heat 8: Conner Coffin (USA) vs. Adrian Buchan (AUS)
Heat 9: Filipe Toledo (BRA) vs. Michael February (ZAF)
Heat 10: Michael Rodrigues (BRA) vs. Willian Cardoso (BRA)
Heat 11: Wade Carmichael (AUS) vs. Sebastian Zietz (HAW)
Heat 12: Michel Bourez (FRA) vs. Ricardo Christie (NZL)
Heat 13: Kanoa Igarashi (JPN) vs. Frederico Morais (PRT)
Heat 14: Seth Moniz (HAW) vs. Peterson Crisanto (BRA)
Heat 15: Kelly Slater (USA) vs. Caio Ibelli (BRA)
Heat 16: Italo Ferreira (BRA) vs. Jack Freestone (AUS)

Watch live here.

Fat and hopeless but, thanks to surfing, able to love himself again! | Photo: The Daily Beast

Lessons from a VAL: “How learning to surf taught me to love myself”

What mysteries unfurl when you go shred?

It is impossible, I think, to preserve a neutral attitude towards the Vulnerable Adult Learner surfer. You either hate and burn intolerance or you are one.

Earlier, a BeachGrit reader forwarded a story about a pop-journalist VAL in Costa Rica who writes of his profound experiences with surfing. The story appears  on the Tina Brown-created news site The Daily Beast, an odd place that was once howled down by the Taliban for its inaccuracies.

Todd Plummer is an ordinary man, a “built-for-comfort-not-for-speed travel writer from Boston.” He has, in the course of his reporting, been “heli-skiing, walking with wolves, biking across the Scottish Highlands, falconry, and ice-climbing.”

Surfing in Costa Rica was his next challenge, which as the title of his story suggests, delivers multiple enlightenments.

I soon learned that my favorite part of the experience was sitting in the lineup of surfers waiting to catch waves. If nothing else came from that lesson with Matos, I learned how to properly sit up on my longboard in the water. Of course there were a few flips and falls, times when I would accidentally gyrate my way off the board and fall into the water with legs akimbo, but the most gratifying part of the day was socializing with the other surfers and learning their stories. There was a retired fashion executive from New York who moved to the area so he could surf every day.


Towards the end of my lesson, as if out of my dreams, a total hunk paddled by—the quintessential surfer dude, with tousled hair and washboard abs. Without even so much as saying hello, he gave me some advice. 

“Dude, I’ve been watching you. Everything you’re thinking, you gotta leave it on the shore,” he said. “It’s all mental, it’s all in your head.”


I still do not know much about surfing, but this I know for sure: it can’t be told, it must be felt. The confidence and balance it takes to surf is not a one-two-three-step instruction, but comes from within. It’s about learning to feel the waves and to find your center on the board. Passing judgment on yourself is not going to make you a better surfer—leaving your insecurities on the shore is.

And, of course, because a story like this without a pithy ending is like a massage without your paper underpants being yanked down and your eyeballs rolling back in your head like marbles,

When I got back from Costa Rica and excitedly texted a travel writer friend who surfs that I recently “learned how to surf,” she corrected me. 

“Todd, you are still learning. A true surfer knows he never has fully learned.”

Read the story here.

Question: what has surfing taught you?

To love yourself?

That life ain’t fair?

That the meek will be eaten alive?

That there isn’t a better way to distribute precious resources than through a meritocracy?

NZ is OK and gets the Kelly Slater credibility stamp. (Photo: the iconic Steve Sherman)
NZ is OK and gets the Kelly Slater credibility stamp. (Photo: the iconic Steve Sherman) | Photo: WSL

Kelly Slater erupts: “There are 30 guys on tour rated lower than me. Go talk to them!”

"What’s embarrassing? Why the shade?"

Kelly Slater is a modern marvel, a wonder, a famous man willing to mingle with the lesser-thans. An iconic man happy to engage nobodies. And if you happen to follow Mick Fanning’s engaging Instagram account you can get your hooks in.


Oh, Mick Fanning, two or three time World Champ (I can’t remember) posted an homage to J-Bay today, a beautiful turn underneath a rainbow sky. The comments, as you’d expect, were effusive with praise.


“Always gonna be one of my favorites…”

“Best to ever do it…”

“Gorgeous shot…”


But St. Christopher1, the patron saint of surfers, was less charitable, writing, “Just go surfing. Comps suck. @kellyslater is embarrassing and should of bowed out many moons ago!”

Well, Kelly came swinging in within minutes, asking for clarification, “what’s embarrassing? Why the shade?”

After getting hammered for a few hours St. Christoper1 backed right down and replied, “I apologise @kellyslater. It is confounding how these young men on tour have no financial backing they struggle. My point is that you have nothing to prove. You are a wonderful human. No question. In my opinion only without prejudice is that it could be time to allow a young man to be gifted his dream of being on tour and the tour to support them financially mandatory.”

Kelly’s final retort? “What makes you think I’m doing this to prove anything? I’m just having fun with it. And why should anyone be implored to give up a spot to anyone who hasn’t earned it? There are 30 guys on tour rated lower than me. Go talk to them.”

Then used his now famous lecherous emoji face.

So, if you “threw shade” on Kelly and he responded would you back down straight away?

And do you wish the man would step away and let some kid have a shot?

I don’t. When Kelly leaves for the final time I’ll roll my wheelchair onto the porch of the old folk’s home, where my child has sent me, and weep.