It’s Sunday morning in America and the perfect day for professional surfing. The NFL hasn’t quite begun yet but is just around the corner and, even if you are not a professional football fan, you couldn’t help but catch yesterday’s news that Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck retired near his prime, leaving a potential half a billion dollars on the table.
Half a billion dollars.
Can you imagine that? I think it is a lot of money and if I had half a billion dollars the first thing I’d buy, as previously stated, is a 1974 Porsche 914. The second thing I’d buy is Teahupoo and while we’re talking about buying places, I think President Donald Trump should float a purchase of Tahiti to President Emmanuel Macron. I think President Macron would be in a listening mood. Then Tahiti and Hawaii could be formed into the same state with a “French” speaking part and an “English” speaking part.
It would be like warm Canada and who doesn’t like Canada?
A few questions, before we chat live.
What wouldn’t you do for half a billion dollars?
Do you think Kelly Slater internally mocks anyone who retires?
Kelly Slater, Italo Ferreira dominate opening day at crummy three-foot Teahupoo…
It really does feel a lifetime ago since J-Bay wrapped but here we are six weeks later for day one of the Tahiti Pro, held in three-foot gurgle that would nonetheless make many rec surfers brown their undergarments.
A big day, very entertaining I thought, mostly for the calls in the booth and the exposition of the talking points as the WSL tries to retro-fit a post-modern greenwash onto one of the most carbon hungry pursuits on Earth.
First, did you notice Billabong had slipped out the backdoor and Hurley had shyly and slyly slipped in as “presenting” sponsor, presumably at a good discount on the naming rights?
But it happened last year, must have been when the press release kid was on holidays. Smart pick up from Hurley. They get the kudos without carrying the can.
It was obvious from the get go we were going “all in” with the wozzle on the Glowing, glowing gone campaign. Obvs a part of Elo’s big push into the content and branding space.
Soli Bailey got off to a flying start in heat one, threading a couple of very nice translucent blue tubes. The day-glo jerseys which, according to a refreshed Joe Turpel represented a “cry for help” from our coralline brethren and sistren, looked very snazzy tucked in behind the curtain.
Medina showed an appropriate level of desperation in hyena-ing his way around the line-up. Eventually, he found two scrappy rides and consigned a hapless Crisanto to the losers’ round.
It was very easy to get lost behind collapsing chandeliers, as happened to Jordan Smith. My feed kept dropping out which meant a constant confrontation with an unfortunate and kooky error that had Elo written all over it.
On the live page a shot of Gabe Medina grabbing rail at the Box had been flipped so he presented as a natural footer grabbing rail on a left.
Did you see? It took until heat eight before the high castle at Santa Monica was able to replace the image with an actual shot of Gabe at Teahupoo.
Heat four was the highlight of the day. Kieren Perrow was in the booth. By my calculations speaking almost non-stop for 19 minutes while waves refused to break.
At one point, the action seemed so slow he entertained the idea of calling it off. It’s also a known known that Kelly was pressuring him to swivel the sign to stop on the day. Kieren did not flinch and Italo found a flurry of good waves to take out the heat.
The only wave worth catching up on if you missed: an under-the-lip-drop-to-deep-tube and searing cutback for a high seven . The colours: bleached blond, pink, yellow, translucent blue. To die for. We are all confident enough in our masculinity to admit that, surely?
Joan Duru, thirty years of age and struggling outside the cut-off mark (again) won his heat and is my pick for the working class roughie to come through and win.
He can win in small and ugly and he will send it when it’s heavy, brah.
Andino in the next heat bested Yago Dora in a paddle battle that was an inverse of the humiliation he suffered at the hands of Medina in 2014, when Medina slowly led him up the reef like a docile cow, then left him stranded. Brothers’s different now.
Not only does he wear the yellow jersey, the first Californian since Arnold Schwarzenegger to attain world domination, he has also superseded Jordy Smith in terms of giving the best post-heat pressers. He called his current tenure as world Number One in the yellow, “a moment in time” before admitting to nerves when he put it on.
“This is proper,” he thought.
He then called himself “the underdog” in the world-title contenders. This put Ross Williams into a paroxysm of joy, declaring that Kolohe was “marching forwards as a warrior.”
Stirring stuff and very true and beautiful.
Kelly was beautiful too, with his brown, glowing bald head protruding out of the day-glo jersey. There was something vaguely pornographic about it, in the most tasteful sense.
Kelly looked jet-lagged and out of sorts, which he freely admitted later, after arriving in Tahiti overnight. He got his pants pulled down and his bottom spanked in a paddle battle with Fred Morais, inspiring a bit of revisionist history making from the champ later in the booth when he claimed he could “keep up with anyone”.
I was very glad to see justice restored. Having Kelly eliminated in scrappy baby food when proper Chopes beckons by competitors who aren’t fit to scrape the dog caca off his thongs would be a very sad outcome.
It came down to two or three glorious minutes when he dominated the closing third of the heat with two sizzling rides and went from last to first. I was very glad to see justice restored. Having Kelly eliminated in scrappy baby food when proper Chopes beckons by competitors who aren’t fit to scrape the dog caca off his thongs would be a very sad outcome.
It was tough to hear the commentators in the booth blagging about coral reefs. As the holder of a (useless) degree in Marine Biology, hearing Kaipo mangle the biology was like a series of sharp blows to the nuts.
Zooaxanthellae are single-celled dinoflagellates, not algae, Kaipo. I’m not about to tell you how Madonna likes her coffee. Likewise, you could find someone who knows what they are talking about.
That sure weren’t Koa Smith. Great guy, no doubt. Insane tube-rider but a guy who thought coral was that “hard stuff on the bottom”.
At some point, Koa riffing on how to save the reefs from global warming said with a straight face “the solution is to reduce your own carbon footprint”. I think he means you and me and everyone on the planet who doesn’t chase swells to Skeleton Bay and have the carbon footprint of an entire Pacific nation. It’s crazy beautiful but I will forgive each and every hypocrisy and idiocy, large small or medium if the WSL can do something to protect and preserve the orangutans.
Surely they could set something up at G-Land next year.
Each heat was scrappy.
Griff looked very smooth, very fluid and composed.
O-dog looked a little shakey but did enough to win.
Can you believe it was eight years ago he finalled with Kelly and was challenging for the Title?
Jack Freestone got one on the buzzer to oust Conner Coffin.
Small and crisp tomorrow for the loser rounds then some real surf.
I’m feeling Kelly and Italo.
Comment live: Day one, Tahiti Pro Teahupoo Presented by Hurley!
(Chas Smith note: Derek wrote this wonderful bit just in case Teahupo’o finally comes to life while he is sleeping. I am out the door for a day on the high seas. If it runs and I don’t post, shame. If it don’t run and I do post, shame. Well, as you know, I love the latter!)
Shortly, the flag will drop and twelve non-elimination heats will eat up six hours of a four-foot swell at Teahupoo, with the event anticipated to conclude in eight-foot seas on Wednesday.
I foresee much to back and forth about on this open thread.
Topics should include,
Is two-time world champ Gabriel Medina the only surfer on tour who can win a world title in 2019 without an asterix denoting John John’s absence? And, therefore, if Gabriel loses in the early rounds, and his chance of winning the title, does that mean the year is ruined? A dead rubber?
Filipe Toledo must prove he’s more than head-high righthanders. Do you think, when Teahupoo flicks its switches on Tuesday and Wednesday, and presuming Filipe swings through the seeding round, he will answer the call?
Kelly Slater. Better, here, than anyone on tour. What if he wins? Is it still absurd to suggest an even dozen titles?
Italo Ferriera. Kanoa Igarashi, Jordy Smith. All of ’em potential winners.
I think we’ve all been born with a little reverence for the things that are beautiful and a little love for the things that are terrible.
Teahupoo, often, is both.
Tahiti Pro Teahupo’o pres. by Hurley Seeding Round (Round 1)
Heat 1: Gabriel Medina (BRA), Peterson Cristanto (BRA), Soli Bailey (AUS)
Heat 2: Jordy Smith (ZAF), Adrian Buchan (AUS), Jadson Andre (BRA)
Heat 3: Kanoa Igarashi (JPN), Caio Ibelli (BRA), Adriano de Souza (BRA)
Heat 4: Italo Ferreira (BRA), Sebastian Zietz (HAW), Kauli Vaast (FRA)
Heat 5: Filipe Toledo (BRA), Joan Duru (FRA), Tyler Newtown (HAW)
Heat 6: Kolohe Andino (USA), Yago Dora (BRA), Matahi Drollet (PYF)
Heat 7: Kelly Slater (USA), Deivid Silva (BRA), Francisco Morais (PRT)
Heat 8: Ryan Callinan (AUS), Willian Cardoso (BRA), Ricardo Christie (NZL)
Heat 9: Julian Wilson (AUS), Michael Rodrigues (BRA), Ezekiel Lau (HAW)
Heat 10: Michel Bourez (PYF), Jeremy Flores (FRA), Griffin Colapinto (USA)
Heat 11: Owen Wright (AUS), Wade Carmichael (AUS), Jesse Mendes (BRA)
Heat 12: Conner Coffin (USA), Seth Moniz (HAW), Jack Freestone (AUS)
Inspirational: Professional surfer teaches professional soccer players how to be better sportsmen!
And don’t we just live in the topsiest, turviest of times? Every day there is some wild, almost unbelievable headline. Some bizarre twisted turn. Like, who could ever believe that a nice, rich man named Jeffrey Epstein was, in real life, a sex-trafficker? Or that a tariff war was being waged by Republicans? Or that a professional surfer was invited to speak with professional soccer (football) players during training camp to inspire, teach proper mindset and how to be better sportsmen, in general?
At first glance big wave surfing and professional football appear worlds apart. One is contested on grass as scores of limbs flay about for 90 minutes in front of thousands of passionate onlookers. The other is a battle for survival as a solitary human hurtles down a skyscraper of water, riding the boundary between life and death at mind bending speeds.
But for all their differences, those at the elite level of each sport understand that failures carries consequences. It was with that in mind that Liverpool’s manager Jurgen Klopp invited professional surfer Sebastian Steudtner into the Reds training camp in Evian, France, ahead of the 2019/20 English Premier League season’s start.
“I just shared my mindset, how I live my life, how I approach my sport, how I approach performance,” the 34-year-old Steudtner told CNN Sport’s Don Riddell. “We discovered there are a lot of similarities. In football there is a lot of attention and in extreme situations, which can be dangerous, we can sometimes feel the same.”
The piece goes on to detail Jurgen Klopp’s unconventional coaching methods and what have you but before we get too far away, isn’t Sebastian Steudtner the surfer Christian Fletcher introduced at the XXL Big Wave Awards as, “The German surfer who doesn’t paddle?”
I think so. I think he is.
I also think Jurgen Klopp should think well outside the box and invite Christian Fletcher to Liverpool’s training camp.
Which professional surfer do you think could provide the most inspiration to real athletes?
Battle Royale: Kelly Slater vs. John John Florence for final Olympic spot shaping up as “can’t miss blockbuster!”
Now, I’m going to be honest with you here, this whole Olympic qualification thing confuses me. I know it shouldn’t, I know that the top two surfers on the World Surf League Championship Tour, per nation, get to go and that Japan has one bonus slot and then the surfers also have compete in the ISA Pyramid Scheme Games but… I’m still confused.
Like, are there only going to be ten surfers competing at the Olympics including one bonus Japanese?
The only nations I can think with surfers are Brazil, France, Australia, South Africa and the United States of America. I guess Portugal too. New Zealand? So fourteen surfers plus one bonus Japanese?
Also, when does the qualification lock in? I assumed after next year’s World Surf League Championship Tour but it will not even be half done when the Olympics swing in to Tokyo plus a comprehensive interview with John John Florence in ESPN today makes me think that it’s this year’s rankings. Would you like to read with me then clarify?
ESPN: How much did the Olympic qualifying weigh on that decision?
JJF: Luckily enough, I had a lot of points from doing well in the beginning of the season, so I still have a good shot at qualifying through the tour for the Olympics — and that is my dream. It would be so awesome to go to the Olympics. But I don’t have much control over that right now. I have to sit back and see what Kelly [Slater] can do.
ESPN: Why is qualifying for the U.S. Olympic surfing team important to you?
JJF: It’s the Olympics, the top of sporting, and being a part of it would be awesome. I think it would be so cool to have a Hawaiian on the team. And since it’s the first year in the Olympics for surfing, I imagine there is going to be a lot of conversation about how it can be better next time, and I would love to be involved in that conversation. To be part of the first one and growing our sport in the Olympics would be cool.
ESPN: You recently posted a video on Instagram showing you back in the water, prone paddling, with the hashtag #Tokyo2020, and it caused a lot of excitement. Why the hashtag?
JJF: I thought it was a fun one. And there is a lot of truth in it. It is still a goal of mine to qualify for the Olympics, and I wanted to let people know I am working toward that. It is my goal to get better for Pipeline in case I have to come back and compete and gain points. That is a short-term goal. And if Kelly doesn’t gain enough points the rest of the year, it is a long-term goal to be 150 percent ready at the start of the next WCT season and have ample time to train for the Olympics next year.
I still don’t get it. But more importantly, it feels like one of the greatest subplots during the rest of the 2019 season will be 48-year-old Kelly Slater vs. the specter of John John Florence for that final Olympic slot. Now, do you think it is bad sportsmanship for Kelly to try and steal qualification from a cripple? Does this story-within-a-story change your cheering interests?