Kelly's heat 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.

Tahiti Pro, Day one: “Kelly Slater was beautiful, brown, glowing bald head protruding out of the day-glo jersey; Vaguely pornographic!”

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.

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?

Me, neither.

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.

Have you caught up with the Mic’ed Up and Transformed series of clips?

How should we judge the output?

Patchy? Glossy but a tad insipid? A little too much Oprah?

To be very honest, I have not been able to watch the latest Sounds Waves with Courtney Conlogue because I like watching her surf and don’t want my pleasure interrupted by intrusive thoughts.

Like I now have after watching Connor Coffin’s Sound Waves episode.

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.

No matter.

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.

The mighty Gabriel Medina, 2018 Teahupoo winner, running hot etc.

Comment live: Day one, Tahiti Pro Teahupoo Presented by Hurley!

Much to back and forth on and to discuss…

(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!

It's a mad, mad, mad, mad world!

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?

Oh it’s the craziest and, again, almost unbelievable but CNN’s International Edition presents the facts and read with me.

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!”

Who will the fates smile upon?

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?

Are you Team John John or Team Kelly?

Beyond Litmus Review: Cancer supersedes surfing!

If you are familiar with Andrew Kidman's work, the films, the books, the music, this is his best. The most accomplished. The most beautiful. The most moving.

Be you prime stud, or babe with the world at her feet, you’re going to get old and die, possibly of cancer.

That sounds about the most depressing statement ever but in Beyond Litmus, the reprise, twenty-five years on of Jon Frank and Andrew Kidman’s cult classic Litmus, that statement of fact becomes filmic and literary raw material of immense uplift and cheer.

Derek Hynd, the fulcrum of both films, calls the experience of dealing with throat cancer “total liberation”.

Litmus kickstarted the rebellion against Slater and the Momentum Generation.

It marked the signal failure of the pro surfing project up to and including the present day; that being the catastrophic lack of cross-over into the mainstream audience with Kelly as the front man.

Kelly is truly great, but he is ours.

He was never theirs. Theirs being Middle America.

Litmus dragged the fish out of it’s Sunset Cliffs/Pacific Beach lair and rebirthed it as a global phenomenon, thus driving the retro movement and hence becoming as significant as Morning of the Earth in steering Australian surfing culture (said with a straight face) and maybe more important than anything since Runman in giving confidence to the Californian underground which had heretofore been ignored by its own surf media.

Big calls, yes.

Beyond Litmus is more than getting the band back together for a sentimental romp through the old hits. Litmus was a case, according to Kidman, of “being lucky”.

“We were enthusiastic, but there was no skill in anything. It was punk rock”.

Twenty-five years later, the development of Kidman and Frank as filmmakers is obvious. Litmus was a slap in the face with a cold fish to the front lit, mainstream-Slater vision of surfing.

Beyond Litmus is altogether different.

An immersive, psychedelic trip of a movie, focussed as much on the “human-ness of becoming” and the nuances of history than the performance of riding a wave.

But that does feature, of course. Free-friction surfing isn’t everyone’s cup of chai, which is part of the reason Hynd embraced it so enthusiastically – as a mountain top where the herd would not or could not follow – but you’d need to have a perverse eye to not make the assessment that the lines he drew were a clear advancement on what he achieved with rudders.

Terry Fitzgerald, phlegmatic seventies surf star and scion of the Hot Buttered board-building empire and surf family said, “What’s he’s done there on the Edge”, referring to Hynd’s J-Bay free-friction surfing, “is the greatest”

I demur slightly.

I’ve seen Hynd do his thing in person. In the north-west desert of Australia, where as a fity-four-year-old and blind in one eye, he took on slabbing lefts sans fins.

We were there as part of a classical music art project – I had wangled on as an official forecaster. It sounds wank but was actually insanely good. One night Hynd had too much to drink and there was a disagreement, a pretty robust one between him and the director.

It got ugly.

Just talk, but still ugly. A lot of hurt feelings.

I know he won’t be particularly proud of that or even happy the anecdote is told but what I saw him do the day after with a savage hangover, in his fifties at a barely surfable slab, taking off wave after wave and setting an edge into oblivion, was the greatest display of surfing I’ve ever witnessed.

The centrepiece of Beyond Litmus is devoted to Derek Hynd’s experience of dealing with throat cancer. If ever there was a reason to quit, that would be it. Hynd says he felt no desire to get back in the water after chemotherapy, that a simple bowl of soup was about the highest pleasure imaginable.

Some of that desert surfing, shot by Jon Frank, makes the film.

Matt Warshaw made the observation in a recent newsletter that Australians, by and large, don’t quit surfing.

The centrepiece of Beyond Litmus is devoted to Derek Hynd’s experience of dealing with throat cancer. If ever there was a reason to quit, that would be it. Hynd says he felt no desire to get back in the water after chemotherapy, that a simple bowl of soup was about the highest pleasure imaginable.

Ravaged by cancer and its chemical and radioactive treatments he presents the very image of what the gas station attendant in Grapes of Wrath thought of the Joads when he saw them, “a hard looking outfit”.

You’re scared of cancer. We all are. I’m so terrified I wouldn’t even go to the Doctor to get mine cut out for over a year.

Hearing Hynd describe it as “raw and honest” and that it “superseded most life experiences”, including surfing was humbling and shocking. He describes it as an experience almost as pure and visceral as riding his dragster to the beach with dogs in tow in the dark hours before sunrise as a fifteen year old.

That seminal desire is turned into a lurid piece of psychedelic animation by Ben Jarvis. It’s the closest thing to a DMT trip without taking the trip. A wide awake dream scored by a haunting piece of post-rock soundscape.

Find that animation and see it. Even if you hate it it’s a trip worth taking. Believe me.

Tom Curren off tour and in his native habitat was a huge part of Litmus and his lengthy cameo in Beyond Litmus sings.

Were you sad when they wheeled Curren out for the legends heat with Occy at this years Bells? I felt very sad to see this shambles of a man being wheeled out for our entertainment. On his skimboard with his mumbling and his anxiety, there was something cruel about it. And his surfing looked terrible.

Made up like a clown, his expressions are so much better than words at bringing the inner Tom Curren to life.

Were you sad when they wheeled Curren out for the legends heat with Occy at this years Bells? I felt very sad to see this shambles of a man being wheeled out for our entertainment. On his skimboard with his mumbling and his anxiety, there was something cruel about it. And his surfing looked terrible.

In Beyond Litmus, Curren presents a rationale for the single fin and follows up with a fluid demonstration on a self-shaped singley. The lines we love are there. The deep cut off the bottom and the fluid swoop. The position forwards tube stance. It’s reassuring. Uplifting.

Weirdness is a funny thing and Curren wears it better than anybody but to see Curren surfing like Curren is alone worth the price of the ticket.

Hows your attention span?

Mine’s shot, for surf porn. Halfway through a three-minute POV Skeleton Bay tube-ride and I’m hitting pause. Fuk that noise, already seen it.

Yet, I’ve just spent six months getting through Vasily Grossman’s Life and Fate and the hour and twenty of Beyond Litmus flew by like a dream.

What I’m trying to say is, if you are familiar with Kidman’s work, the films, the books, the music, this is his best one. The most accomplished. The most beautiful. The most moving.

The biz model ain’t for everyone either.

You buy direct and you pay more.

But every cent goes into the right pockets, into the next project. I think this is a good thing to own.

To watch sober, sideways or hungover and wondering what the fuck to do with your life, with the time you have left.

If nothing else it exists as a document to remind us of the value of our own freedom.

(Beyond Litmus Derek Hynd a film/book project by Andrew Kidman and Jon Frank
100 page hardbound book (210 x 210) and DVD containing archival and never before seen footage, photographs and interviews with Derek Hynd, compiled and produced by Andrew Kidman and Jon Frank. Buy here.)