Teahupoo setting: Chinese wavepool malfunctions; forty-four injured!

Wavepool near North Korean border goes rogue after power outage in control room!

Kicking around Instagram for laughs this morning is vision of a wavepool gone rogue.

A tsunami-looking thing tears hell out of a tub filled with happy Chinese swimmers, most supported by inflatable rings.

Laughs turn into screams etc.

https://www.instagram.com/p/B0mFqFcHVas/

https://www.instagram.com/p/B0l81JnnDAn/

What happened?

Three days ago, at the Yulong Shuiyun Water Amusement Park in the city of Longjing near the border with North Korea, a malfunction in the control room of the “Tsunami” pool caused, uh, waves bigger than had been designed.

Forty-four swimmers were injured, thirty-nine of ’em sent to hospital with busted feet, ribs and so on.

A notice posted by the Longjing city government on Wiebo, China’s only legal social platform, reads,


Innovative: The phrase “Australian Surf” enters lexicon as derogatory slur!

"Aggressive and unwanted."

As a Master of Applied Linguistics (’01), my ear is highly tuned in detecting the most subtle variances of human communication. It pricks up at the slightest shift, the most delicate turn, and notes how meaning, or play rather therein (Derrida) is being harnessed.

And never are my senses more fully activated than when I’m traveling. Yesterday Paris, today Copenhagen, but I wish that I was in Nottingham, England where the most exciting derogatory slur of the last decade is being introduced to our English language and let’s head straight there, virtually, for it is the next best thing.

A busy Nottingham junction floods every time it rains soaking pedestrians with waves of water, according to one dog walker.

Pub worker Ade Wood has complained to Nottingham City Council about the problem and says he is sick of getting drenched trying to cross at the junction.

The 60-year-old of Nottingham Road, said: “This has been happening for at least a year now and what the video shows is actually tame compared to how it can be.

“Every time it rains it floods and people cannot use the crossing because it is submerged.

“Because most drivers are in a rush they don’t slow down and you get soaked.

“I take my dog that way every day to the small park and it is like an Australian surf coming at you when the cars go through it.

And did you catch it there, at the end? The flooded intersection is “like an Australian surf coming at you…”

Delicious! Now, Australian surf has only literally meant “the surf in Australia” since the great Duke Kahanamoku brought our Pastime of Kings to the savages down under in 1915, but now thanks to pub worker Ade Wood it freshly means an “aggressive and unwanted” approach.

It is being used as a descriptive metaphor here, as in, “Tax season hit me like an Australian surf this year. Ugh.” But I am more excited for its potential as a gerund. Picture being out at a bar and getting hit on by an unruly, fat drunk. “What’s that bro’s deal? He’s fully Australian surfing me.”

It’s art.

But how would you like to use “Australian surf” in its new context?

Endless possibilities.


Hero: Florida surfer gets chomped by shark; goes to bar instead of hospital!

Introducing Frank O'Rourke!

It is impossible to know north Florida and not to love north Florida. I, like you, used to be a doubter. I used to think the Sunshine State was a crock of dumb and its worst bits were those that pushed up near Alabama and Georgia but then one fine summer I traveled myself and learned the truth.

North Florida is filled to the gills with the best sorts of surfers. Brothers and sisters you’d want by your side during the “worst flat spell in history.” Sisters and brothers you’d want around if you happened to be chomped by a shark, encouraging you to do the right think and go to the bar for a drink instead of the wrong thing like going to a hospital where bills will pile to the ceiling and let us read about Frank O’Rourke. Let us read together and memorize, locking some of north Florida’s elan into our own hearts.

A professional surfer who was attacked by a shark in Florida didn’t go to the hospital after the incident — he went to the bar instead, according to his friend.

Frank O’Rourke, 23, was surfing at Jacksonville Beach around 3:30 p.m. on Saturday when the shark attacked him in the water.

“Shark comes out of the water and grabs onto my arm right by my elbow,” he told ABC News. “Kinda tugs a little bit and throshes.”

O’Rourke joked: “I guess it tasted me and was like, ‘Nope.’”

His friend RJ Berger, who said he was swimming with O’Rourke at the time, said the shark “pretty much came fully out of the water, his tail like splashed everywhere.”

Berger said his friend kept saying “I think I got bit, I think I got bit,” and noted that “once he got to the beach he just started bleeding everywhere, the blood started rushing to his arm.”

O’Rourke was quickly treated by lifeguards but opted not to go to the hospital. Instead, Berger told WJXT that O’Rourke “immediately went to a bar, because he’s like, ‘I got bit by a shark!’ and people were like, ‘I’ll buy you drinks!’ So he went and hung out at the pier.”

And have you ever read a finer tale?

North Florida 1

Sharks 0


Longtom’s mid-year wrap: “G-Land back for 2020; rookies and sophomores slaughtered!”

Grajagan's back on the circuit. Best thing since coloured undies or worse than the Enola Gay circling your favourite surf spot?

Ever since I pioneered data driven surf journalism in 2016 after a bass fishing accident with Nate Silver from 538 blog I’ve noticed copy cat journalists coming out of the woodwork to “claim the numbers”.

WSL site itself being the worst offender.

Problem is: when it comes to analysing pro surfing the numbers do lie, or at least they don’t tell the story you think they do. Only one that doesn’t (lie) is the rankings and I think it’s appropriate, at this half way point in the Tour, to run our eye along the ruler and see how the numbers are stacking up.

The back half of the Tour is brutal for anyone on the slide. Judges smell blood and the whole thing plays out like a slow motion execution. Even the great Jeremy Flores who it seems has been in the top ten forever couldn’t make up the ground in the back half of the year after a bad start and had to back himself up on the QS in 2016.

Very badly, as it turns out, for the rookies and sophomores of the Tour, with scant exceptions. Deep on the wrong side of the cut is the worst place to be with Teahupoo dead ahead followed by Surf Ranch, Europe and Pipe. It’s not quite abandon hope all ye who enter here, but it ain’t far off

The back half of the Tour is brutal for anyone on the slide. Judges smell blood and the whole thing plays out like a slow motion execution. Even the great Jeremy Flores who it seems has been in the top ten forever couldn’t make up the ground in the back half of the year after a bad start and had to back himself up on the QS in 2016.

It’s a cruel sport. Maybe the cruelest.

The longer I watch it the more impressed by that inherent cruelty I become. It’s not the cruelty alone but the false positivity that frames it and makes it even starker.

You can see a competitor slowly spinning like Virgina Woolf’s Dying Moth while Rosie and Pottz wax lyrical about how grand life is for them. Only in pro surfing has such elaborate artifice been erected to make losing seem like winning.

My favourite examples have been Ethan Ewing (hopelessly undercooked to surf at CT level), Keanu Asing (truncated skill set- woeful in heavy water and OH point surf), Matt Wilkinson (bad luck, bad judging: a vortex that led to a self-fulfiling prophecy).

Still, it would be disingenuous to suggest or even hope that the bizarre fantasy world the WSL has created and showcased, where losing seems a secret shame that somehow defies even the most basic transparency, would ever change.

Anyone on the wrong side of the cut post J-Bay is doomed, barring a red hot run that not a single surfer in the last five years has managed. Even random good results that might offer hope, like Mike February’s fifth place at Teahupoo last year and Asing’s French victory in 2016,  end up being mirages in the desert.

Anyone on the wrong side of the cut post J-Bay is doomed, barring a red hot run that not a single surfer in the last five years has managed. Even random good results that might offer hope, like Mike February’s fifth place at Teahupoo last year and Asing’s French victory in 2016, end up being mirages in the desert.

The five cruellest events lay ahead.

Nowhere to hide at Teahupoo. Even less so at Kelly’s Tub. It doesn’t make the viewing anymore exciting but the undeniable precision of the cut and the way it ruthlessly dispenses with the backmarkers has to be admired. Europe is luck, even the great Kelly Slater ends up on the wrong side of thirty minutes of close-outs and Pipe is Pipe.

Seth Moniz looks safe, a rookie’s best chance is a strong start at the Gold Coast, traditionally the best chance for a rookie to stampede through. Ryan Callinan’s rejigged campaign looks solid, if unspectacular. He’ll rue letting Medina off the hook at J-Bay but luck went his way in France last year so even-stevens.

The injury wildcard will be the major X in the 2020 equation.

John John Florence is a guarantee, obvs.

Who gets the other one? Mikey Wright? Leonardo Fioravanti? Adriano De Souza? I see three round pegs trying to squeeze into one square hole. A great, if over-used plot-line for adult cinema, a recipe for tragedy in the world of pro surfing.

The TLDR version: no surprises this year. Colapinto stuck in the swamp of the sophomore slump but is on the road to pull himself out via the QS. Everyone else unwilling or unable to learn the lesson from your 2020 Olympic Gold Medallist Kanoa Igarashi: discard the cult of likeability, no matter how pantomime and back your motherfucking ass up on the Q’ey.

Now, G-Land. It’s back on the tour.

Where do you sit?

Best thing since coloured undies or worse than the Enola Gay circling your favourite surf spot?

Me: horrified but excited as hell. I got the 6’6” Desert Storm packed, a half pack of Gudam Gurangs in the carry-on.

I’m going, even if I have to beg Ricardo Christie for his email list so I can personally shakedown his crowdfunders for a gold coin donation to get there.

You’ll chup in cuzzy bro, eh? I mean you Neg.


I hear you like bad girls.

Hot numbers: WSL reveals potential worldwide audience of 410 million!

What happens when advertisers realise the audience actually consists of, say, Russian bots, or a family in the central Mongolian highlands that will never see the ocean in their life?

Did you, like me, drop your monocle in your martini when the WSL casually claimed in its recent IKEA missive that there are 40 million surfers in the world, with another 370 million ‘interested’ in our sport?

It’s a bold call that seems to be as ambitious as it is unsubstantiated. Three hundred and seventy million people interested in surfing across globe?

Where did that number come from?

Now.

I love hyperbole as much as the next fake internet persona.

But one only has to turn to the daily papers here in Australia to learn of the dangers inherent in duking the stats.

Cricket (national sport of Oz, England, India, Pakistan; like baseball on heroin) found itself in hot water recently when the governing body, Cricketing Australia, was caught out lying about the sport’s national participation numbers… by a cool couple hundred thousand.

Centrist rag The Sydney Morning Herald revealed CA’s claim that 1.65 million Australians play the sport was a “significant overstatement… (that has) been inflated for several years” and is based on nothing more than a “guessing game” on their behalf.

‘Cricket has already been struggling to maintain sponsorship levels and questions over the claim of “1.65 million Australians” could further diminish Cricket Australia’s credibility.’

In terms of scandals for that particular sport, it’s not quite as salacious as the underarm bowling incident of ‘81 that almost sparked a trans-Tasman war between Australia and New Zealand, or the time Australian Test player David Boon drank 52 beers on a single flight from Sydney to London.

But it does serve as a warning to Santa Monica’s high tower.

What happens when the advertisers realise the audience actually consists of, say, Russian bots, or a family in the central Mongolian highlands that will never see the ocean in their life?

So just how many surfers are there in the world?

The ISA puts the number at 23 million, but as Matt Warshaw has already pointed out, it’s all guesswork at best. Counting leaves in a wind tunnel.

Nick Carroll said in the comments the other day that surfers have always made an art form of scamming money from the corporate world.

Is this the Woz sticking to this time-honoured tradition?

Or do they have a peer-reviewed, scientifically-rigorous data set they just haven’t shared with the rest of us yet?

Over to you, E-Lo.