J-Bay seeding round: “Standard day in head-high rockrunners and Pip looking unbeatable!”

"There, I put the last sentence as a one sentence summary in case you are short on time."

Covering Pro Surfing is a brutal game. It took me a week to get over Brazil. Times zones, sleep deprivation, “jet” lag , all that. I know you scoff.

It’s hard to think of an equivalent sport that drags on and requires so much sustained attention over such an extended period. Maybe test cricket if it had a two-week waiting period?

I’m not complaining: living the dream, enjoying the journey as Filipe said today etc etc. The hourly rate is measly but there is a side benefit. I noticed it before I turned pro, getting up to watch Dane Reynolds. Watch enough and the body might feel stiff but the mind opens up to technical advancement. One day with coquettish amazement I did something on a surfboard I had no right to do. I call it the Dane effect. One day you just surf better than you should. Somehow the mind has absorbed a new technique and been able to translate into action.

It really almost should be a raison d’etre for a rec surfer to watch pro surfing.

But it’s not everyone in the top 34. In fact, it’s the very few. Which makes the John John injury such a blow for scribes as well as fans.

As Italo Ferriera said, “So sad about John, he’s so fucken good.” He said that to Rosie and straight after she disappeared from the broadcast. Co-incidence? Was she skyhooked to a secret WSL retraining encampment? Why? It wasn’t her fault Italo dropped the f-bomb.

So no John and a day late for the swell of the year at J-Bay. Made a steep mountain to climb, as far as providing an entertaining product for fans. Head high rock runners on offer. Strider Wasilewski with attack dogs tits well sheathed in a 4/3 made the astute comment that it’s an easy wave to run down the line on, hard to hit the corners.

So no John and a day late for the swell of the year at J-Bay. Made a steep mountain to climb, as far as providing an entertaining product for fans. Head high rock runners on offer. Strider Wasilewski with attack dogs tits well sheathed in a 4/3 made the astute comment that it’s an easy wave to run down the line on, hard to hit the corners.

I would have chosen a little Bonzer octafish and done just that. Run it down the line all day long.

Gabe Medina in heat one found no difficulty squaring it up and “hammering it shut”. It was soothing to have Turpel back in the booth. You’d want Joe there at the end to send you off into heaven “There he goes, closes his eyes for the last time, hammered it shut, sends it off and the judges should like it” It would be a nice way to go.

Medina was mechanical but in the nicest possible way. I ain’t a watch guy but if I was I imagine there must be some aesthetic satisfaction in contemplating the fine mechanics of an expensive watch. Which is what I feel when I see Gabe putting head-high waves to beddy-byes. The conventional narrative is that Gabe starts his year at J-Bay and there was nothing in today’s performance to counter that.

Italo was similarly sharp and tactile in heat two. A little faceplant on the bricks after a shallow finish was the only blemish. Soli Bailey got the best waves and showed some hints that he might be capable of opening up and showing some repertoire. There’s been something cramped about the way his front arm has led through the turn this year. An unfortunate tic that has made his surfing look nervous and forced. If he can relax and open up he could win some heats, and that would be good.

Jordy had ultimate flow. Jorgann Couzinet had terrible flow. Ciao had moderate flow but jiggled and bobbled too many turns to threaten the multiple Jbay winner. That question of flow is a strange one. Kolohe came on like a sorority gal with one too many trips to the sangria bowl before settling down and laying down one turn after another.

G-med gives me the Dane effect, so to Italo. Not so Filipe. Too frenetic, too otherworldly maybe? Maybe just a goofy/natural thing. No matter, Pip cranked up the heat of the day, which will surprise exactly nobody. Like Gabe he rocked a green board which looked very slick on blue walls. Despite the timing of the dropping of the WSL edit which details the capitulation at the Box (one wave where Jack Robbo takes a wave off Pip while he has priority: brutal) it could have been a lifetime ago for Pip. Electric, electic King of variety laid it all down in head-high walls. The 9.10 was the highest score of the day, the 8.5 was the better ridden wave, for mine. If you are catching up on the heat analyzer, start there.

Pottz was praying Michael February was surfing on a twin fin, my preference would have been a sleek Bonzer like the one he rode in Ghana. He looks better on alternative boards. That awkward angularity becomes perfect flow, on the modern shortboard trying to surf CT style it just ain’t right.

Don’t know about you, but I’ve never felt any relationship to Kelly Slater’s surfing. But I am enjoying this year, his 27th and possibly final year on Tour more than any other year. If the surfing is unrelatable the guile, the presence, the trash talk is not.

It’s all deeply engaging.

Having Slater surfing head high J-Bay with a head of steam for the year and Sal Masekala in the booth was close to heaven. He was off, by his own admission, after a dose of the flu. Turns a bit janky, a bogged cutback but two fives was enough to progress, as Pottz had predicted in the first heat of the day.

Standard day in head high J-Bay rockrunners and Pip looking unbeatable. There, I put the last sentence as a one sentence summary in case you are short on time.

J-Bay Men’s Seeding Round 1 Results:
Heat 1: Gabriel Medina (BRA) 12.03 DEF. Joan Duru (FRA) 10.57, Frederico Morais (PRT) 9.00
Heat 2: Italo Ferreira (BRA) 14.43 DEF. Soli Bailey (AUS) 10.67, Peterson Crisanto (BRA) 10.34
Heat 3: Kanoa Igarashi (JPN) 12.16 DEF. Adriano de Souza (BRA) 7.33, Jesse Mendes (BRA) 6.74
Heat 4: Jordy Smith (ZAF) 13.77 DEF. Caio Ibelli (BRA) 9.27, Jorgann Couzinet (FRA) 8.67
Heat 5: Kolohe Andino (USA) 11.43 DEF. Yago Dora (BRA) 9.84, Beyrick De Vries (ZAF) 8.30
Heat 6: Filipe Toledo (BRA) 17.60 DEF. Michael February (ZAF) 12.83, Adrian Buchan (AUS) 11.77
Heat 7: Julian Wilson (AUS) 13.97 DEF. Deivid Silva (BRA) 10.60, Jadson Andre (BRA) 10.56
Heat 8: Ezekiel Lau (HAW) 13.17 DEF. Conner Coffin (USA) 11.84, Willian Cardoso (BRA) 5.27
Heat 9: Ricardo Christie (NZL) 10.66 DEF. Michael Rodrigues (BRA) 9.03, Ryan Callinan (AUS) 6.10
Heat 10: Sebastian Zietz (HAW) 12.40 DEF. Kelly Slater (USA) 10.67, Jeremy Flores (FRA) 9.27
Heat 11: Michel Bourez (FRA) 12.24 DEF. Owen Wright (AUS) 12.00, Jack Freestone (AUS) 11.86
Heat 12: Wade Carmichael (AUS) 13.24 DEF. Griffin Colapinto (USA) 13.23, Seth Moniz (HAW) 10.83

J-Bay Men’s Elimination Round 2 Matchups:
Heat 1: Ryan Callinan (AUS), Jack Freestone (AUS), Beyrick De Vries (ZAF)
Heat 2: Seth Moniz (HAW), Adrian Buchan (AUS), Jorgann Couzinet (FRA)
Heat 3: Jeremy Flores (FRA), Jesse Mendes (BRA), Frederico Morais (PRT)
Heat 4: Willian Cardoso (BRA), Peterson Crisanto (BRA), Jadson Andre (BRA)

Women’s Seeding Round 1 Results:
Heat 1: Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) 14.80 DEF. Johanne Defay (FRA) 12.57, Macy Callaghan (AUS) 8.40
Heat 2: Carissa Moore (HAW) 12.33 DEF. Bronte Macaulay (AUS) 11.70, Sage Erickson (USA) 9.97
Heat 3: Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) 12.60 DEF. Nikki Van Dijk (AUS) 10.30, Bianca Buitendag (ZAF) 9.83

Women’s Remaining Seeding Round 1 Matchups:
Heat 4: Courtney Conlogue (USA), Brisa Hennessy (CRI), Paige Hareb (NZL)
Heat 5: Lakey Peterson (USA), Malia Manuel (HAW), Keely Andrew (AUS)
Heat 6: Caroline Marks (USA), Tatiana Weston-Webb (BRA), Silvana Lima (BRA)

Preview: “Watching Gilmore at J-Bay is a near-perfect marriage between wave and surfer!”

But Moore and Fitzgibbons are ready to pounce!

Before last year, Steph Gilmore had never surfed J-Bay. That is insane to imagine. In truth, the two are made for one another. J-Bay’s stretched canvas perfectly suits her clean, swooping style. It’s hard to look past Gilmore to repeat this year, especially after seeing her Instagram clip from a day or two ago. Hi, my name is Steph, and I’m going to get barreled now. Yes, yes you are, Steph.


Do you dream of point breaks? Shaun Tomson once described surfing J-Bay to me as being like flying. For the Californians, imagine the best day you’ve ever seen at Rincon. Then, imagine it better — faster and more powerful. Imagine the puff of offshore wind that pushes you up the face, faster and still faster. Imagine the long wall stretching out in front of you, and the burn in your legs when finally reach the end. Sharks, cold water, whatever — visions of J-Bay dance in my dreams.

When we last saw the women’s CT, they were in Brazil, which is pretty much the opposite of J-Bay in every way. Sally Fitzgibbons won in a final against Carissa Moore, and jumped up to the top of the world rankings. Moore heads to J-Bay in second, with Gilmore currently in third. The top three remain close in the world title race, and they’ve begun to pull away ever so slightly from the rest. Just over 2000 points separate Fitzgibbons from Gilmore — and a win throws 10k points in the bucket.

Stacked up behind Gilmore are Courtney Conlogue, Lakey Peterson, and Caroline Marks. At the start of the year, did you expect to see Peterson and Marks tied for fifth? I did not, but here we are. If you are playing Olympic selection bingo, the tense battle among Conlogue, Peterson, and Marks has an extra zing. If Moore holds her lead, the second slot will go to one of these three women. That reality certainly adds some pressure to the game.

Last year at J-Bay, Moore went out in round three, which I had completely forgotten until I looked again at the results. That’s a surprise, because I’d expect J-Bay to suit her. This contest surfing thing is a crazy old game. Caroline Marks also went out in round three last year, which we can expect her to better this time around. No surprise at all, that Gilmore and Peterson met in last year’s final. Both surf right points beautifully, and the title race was pretty much all about Peterson and Gilmore in 2018.

Fitzgibbons, Moore, Gilmore: The top three in the rankings are a study in contrasts. Fitzgibbons has smoothed out her style, but hasn’t lost her trademark animation. Fitzgibbons reminds me of a gymnast after a big floor combination, all smiles and arms in the air. I’m not sure Fitzgibbons 2.0 has moved far enough away from her old skitters to win at J-Bay, but by leading the world rankings, she’s making a strong case for herself.

Moore is understated, much like Florence. Big powerful, precise turns, nothing out of place. When she throws something unique, like the reverse at Bali, there’s no showmanship, no hey, look what I just did. She expects the surfing to stand on its own and there is much to respect in that approach. But this may also be why Moore often seems underscored. When Moore loses a heat, it’s generally because she can’t find the waves that’ll let her do the turns she sees in her head. She can grovel, but she’ll avoid it, sometimes until much too late in the game.

Gilmore is all style and so much of what makes her surfing stand out is what happens between the turns. With Gilmore, it’s a wild, joyous dance and it’s easy to miss the clean rail work that makes all that stylish vibing possible. Watching Gilmore at J-Bay is a near-perfect marriage between wave and surfer. I’ll be following this one mostly on replay. Do I watch Gilmore’s heats first? Or do I save them until last like a scrumptious dessert?

If we’ve learned anything this year, though, the top three do not have a lock on this thing. Not at all. I like Malia Manuel to make a run up the rankings. She finished second at Bells and if the waves are good, her smooth arcing turns are well-matched to J-Bay. Of the Conlogue, Peterson, Marks triad, anything could happen there. All three have won events this year, but none has been consistently on form. That’s Moore’s super power this year so far: Rock solid consistency.

Last, but not least! Coco Ho is out of J-Bay, the first event she’ll miss in her 11 years on Tour, she says. She tore her MCL doing an air. Apparently, this breaking knees doing airs thing is contagious. Last year, Ho made the quarters at J-Bay and she’s currently ranked tenth, tied with Johanne Defay. Come back soon, Coco Ho! We miss you already.

The waiting period starts tomorrow, 9 July. Let’s all dream of point breaks together. It’ll be fun, maybe!

Opinion: Sympathizing with the Devil (VAL) will be our downfall!


It’s long been thought that encouragement makes us better at things. However, the rash of participation awards in kids’ sports has cured us of that belief.

Surfers are no strangers to an obstacle. Bad waves, bad boards, crowds, rocks (get outta my way kooks!) fights, hold downs, sea monsters and one hundred others. The people that stick with surfing have somehow reconciled the horrors mentioned and have acquired the survival skills necessary for longevity.

Some things in life come easily. Treat people well, work hard – reap fruits.

But surfing is trickier than other things.

Recently, the beloved IG account “Kook of the Day” had a post featuring a hapless girl who had her fins pointed Bethward being interviewed. Of course weʼve all done silly, naive stuff but imagine if the camera was rolling for your first surf, or your last surf, or putting a knife in the toaster, or jumping off a 20ft bridge into 4ft of water?

Surfing will haze even the most pure and innocent. We’re mean.

Which is why it’s awesome.

Coaches, instructors, clips and edits? Nope. Surfing has to be learnt by yourself. Try describing a top to bottom six foot wave unloading a foot in front of you to a non surfer. Suddenly youʼre speaking at crazy, ridiculous Armageddon*, end is nigh levels of hyperbole. You gotta see that watery guillotine for yourself.

Remember the stories we heard before fact checking and iPhones? The you shoulda been here yesterdayʼs, the legend this… the mystic that… sea monsters everywhere. Bullshit ran freely and unassailable. Read here. And here and here. Or just read BeachGrit.

About ninety percent of my sessions are solo but rarely alone. I live in a big city with consistent surf and consistent crowds. As a perennial blow in, Iʼm usually on the receiving end of territorialism.

Yet somehow the whole dance of localism comforts me. And itʼs imminent demise concerns me.

Let Localism Rule. Weʼre the better for it.

(Just donʼt be a fucken dick about it. And no rock throwing you fucken dick.)

* A vastly underrated film, Bruce Willis – sublime.

Surf fans the world over are feeling very glum after John John's season wrapped early.
Surf fans the world over are feeling very glum after John John's season wrapped early.

Preview: The Corona Open J-Bay starts tomorrow under a cloud of overwhelming depression!

Still, many questions remain.

And it is time to think about professional surfing again. The last time we were thinking about it, some two weeks ago, Filipe Toledo was thrilling near Rio while John John Florence broke our hearts. Oh the pop of that anterior cruciate ligament threw the entire 2019 World Surf League Men’s Championship Tour race right into the trash. Or not the trash, per se, but… don’t you think the eventual winner will forever have an asterisk after his name?

John John Florence wasn’t just leading. He was lapping the field. He was doing so well that there was word the World Surf League was going to drop him to the very bottom of the World Qualifying Series rankings to see if he could re-climb into the Jeep Leaderboard Yellow Jersey just for fun.

The odds were set at even.

Well no more. Gone in a puff of flyaway. Disappeared certainly now and likely forever. Two world championships and a dump truck load of what might have been.

But I’m sorry, this is BeachGrit where anti-depressiveness is a way of life and there are still fun storylines to parse.

Like, will Kolohe Andino finally shake off the burden of great expectations and stamp his mark on 2019? Dino Andino’s second favorite child is sitting in second place and J-Bay’s racetrack rights are custom made for a coming out party. Agree?

Will Filipe Toledo strangle his countrymen or will Gabriel Medina regain form or will Italo Ferriera stomp all-comers? I’ve liked the cut of Italo’s jib the most this year. Haven’t you?

Will Kanoa Igarashi accidentally win another few events, getting lucky by catching miniature J-Bay (forecast looks bad) Teahupo’o etc., then become an international sensation like the Korean boy band BTS (pictured above)?

Will Jordy Smith slide one spot or three spots after choking in his hometown event?

Will Kelly Slater continue to inspire? Now that John John is out of his way is he smelling non-shark attack related blood in the water?

And what questions do you have?

I must say, I thought there really was going to be an overwhelming cloud of depression when I began writing this little jingle but now my sails are filled with wind.

Tell me you aren’t almost too excited.

See you in fourteen-ish hours!

#murfers: Vanity Fair profiles hottest new subset of VALS!

Australia's Byron Bay is a utopia of unfettered surf dreams…

If you like a little satire in between your airport blockbuster novels, you’ll know the writer Tom Wolfe, a pioneer of what is called the New Journalism where the techniques of the novelist are used in real-life reporting.

Think: full dialogue instead of direct quotes, the reconstruction of scenes as if the reporter had seen it with own eyes and so on.

In the hands of a great writer it’s a thoroughly entertaining way to lampoon the overblown.

Wolfe, who was one of the best, could yank the mask off any phonies just by recording what he’d seen and heard. His best essay is Radical Chic: That Party at Lenny’s which satirised upper-class New Yorkers raising money for the Black Panthers, whose righteous mission was to annihilate white devils like those writing the cheques at the party.

If you surf, you’ll dig The Pump House Gang. Read a little here. 

In the latest issue of Vanity Fair, a reporter, who uses many of the same techniques as Wolfe, goes to Australia’s surf-hippy utopia Byron Bay and follows a gang of Instagram influencer mom-surfers, murfers.

Courtney Adamo’s minimalist, Shaker-style kitchen is gorgeous, but you already know that if you follow her. The house—one of the first built in the historic town of Bangalow, New South Wales—might just be the most overexposed house in Australia. With its clapboard cupboards, wooden stools, bulk dry goods in mason jars, Blanc Marble countertops (“slightly more expensive than the Carrara,” she explains in a blog post about her kitchen renovation, “but we are so happy with the decision”), Dunlin Chelsea Pendant Lights ($669 each), SMEG refrigerator ($2,870), Lacanche oven and stove (“range cooker of my dreams” and, at about $10,000, a “splurge”), the kitchen is like a scene out of Little House on the Trust Fund Prairie. Adamo (@courtneyadamo, 250K Instagram followers) is a midtier family lifestyle micro-influencer, which, if you don’t know, is a thing.


Courtney, Michael, and their first four kids (Easton, 14; Quin, 12; Ivy, 10; Marlow, 6) sold the house, the car, and many belongings, and embarked on a “family gap year” around the world. Adamo kicked off the voyage with a farewell piece in the Telegraph and the launch of her travel blog, Somewhere Slower. Then, after a highly publicized, lightly sponsored 18-month global search for the slow life (they never really considered a return to the U.S., she tells me, because Michael dislikes the consumerism), they alighted in Byron Bay, Australia. Wilkie was born there, the older kids were enrolled in school, and, after spending a year and a half working on their visa applications, Michael began a job from home as a managing director for a Melbourne animation company. Two and a half years after arriving, the Adamos are fully settled. They might start the day with a “surf sesh” before school. In the afternoon, they might “work together as a family.”


All the “murfers” are here—the portmanteau of mum and surfer are Adamo’s clique of pretty, stylish, entrepreneurial, and creative young mothers of multiple children whose laid-back, unstructured lives generate a dizzying combination of FOMO and squad goals. They live in old-fashioned houses and give their carefully unstyled children names that sound dreamed up for a Goop collaboration with Lemony Snicket. They’re married to supportive, handsome, and scruffy men of purpose. They make their own hours and dinners and soap. They have their own brands. They are their own brands.


On first impression, Byron looks like beautiful but crowded beaches, high-end stores and cute cafés, quotidian spring breakers, tourist shops and Greyhound buses, linen at a startling array of price points, and nourishing grain bowls sprinkled with petals. The Byron of your digital and increasingly brand-sponsored imagination, however, is all that minus the bad stuff; a carefully curated bank of images designed to stoke your lifestyle longings. (If such are your dreams.) It’s a land of large, “nomadic” “broods” who “find their tribes” on life’s “journey.” Never mind that Australia’s policies on immigration and refugees are draconian bordering on vicious. In this young, mostly white, ahistorical, neoliberal utopia of the imagination, anyone can go anywhere. All you have to do is have a yard sale, hop in the gypsy caravan, point a finger at a map, and take up legal permanent residence anyplace that best showcases your lifestyle.

And so on.

Oh god it’s cruel, although it barely scratches the surface of that enclave, which is a haven of narcissism and clandestine infighting etc.

Read here.