Come surf happy thoughts and tubular athleticism!
Come surf happy thoughts and tubular athleticism!

Propaganda: Rolling Stone becomes mouthpiece for “tubular perfection of artificial wave pools!”

The Wall of Positive Noise!

The World Surf League and Rolling Stone collaboration was announced a handful of weeks ago and caused much head scratching amongst people who actually surf. Rolling Stone? Isn’t that a mostly defunct music magazine? The “My Life in 15 songs” featurettes began appearing on the WSL website as well as Rolling Stones. Professional surfers shared their love of “Hotel California” (Connor Coffin) and Black Sabbath’s NIB (Steph Gilmore) and it seemed a clunky fit, though sort of “on-brand.” Still, though, why did the League need this sort of partnership?

Today in a story titled “The World’s Best Surfers Take Rio” the Rolling Stone x WSL collaboration begins to make sense. Forgetting, for one moment, that the Oi Rio Pro concluded three months ago we must read the opener together for it reveals much.

The chillest sport is getting serious. As surfers prepare to make a splash at the competition’s debut in the 2020 Olympics, athletes known for their cool are fighting for position. Only the top two men and top two women from each country will qualify for the Tokyo games — and the ranking shifts with each meet. To make the cut, members of the World Surf League ride the line between ocean and sky, unleashing acrobatic feats increasingly tested in the tubular perfection of artificial wave pools, a new training technology.

As surfing has gone mainstream, it’s extended beyond traditional centers of power — Hawaii, California, Australia’s Gold Coast — to Brazil. A new generation of talent has been lured by the country’s warm waters and beach breaks, surfing with more speed, greater athleticism, and bigger air.

On and on it goes, praising the League for being the home of surfing and surf culture, layering in “surfy” words like “chillest” “tubular” and “greater athleticism.” It’s almost as if Rolling Stone has become the mouthpiece for the Wall of Positive Noise and that, I’d imagine, is the exactly what has happened.

The WSL now has a propaganda arm that could theoretically appear “independent” and “respected.” Rolling Stone will drive the VAL narrative, free from pesky criticism and negativity, into the very heartland of America where Kelly Slater’s Surf Ranches will begin popping up in abandoned automobile part’s factories with many tax breaks and ribbon cutting ceremonies.

All those “cool kids” who read Rolling Stone will be pumping their fists, very excited to be part of this “new generation of talent” and World Surf League Presidents and Vice-Presidents will be smirking at me, at you, because we are grumpy and mean and not invited. Moreover, we’ll be driven to “re-education camps” where Joe Turpel will teach us many things.

Speaking of, did you ever listen to Propagandhi?

More as the story develops.

Photo: Joe Mault/Orleans Camera
Photo: Joe Mault/Orleans Camera

“Man-eating” Great White shark makes unwanted “possibly sexual” advances toward shy Cape Cod surfer!

Stunning photo shows troubling evolutionary indicator.

Scientists and folk etymologists have long considered Great White sharks the “Weinsteins of the Sea.” As apex predators they operate with seeming impunity, taking what they want, when they want, how they want without considering the feelings of others. Their reputations for destroying lives and/or careers precedes them and victims often describe a sense of helplessness when coming face to face with the toothy beasts.

As we have learned, the “man-eaters” are just that, preferring the taste of men very much over the taste of women yet this truth, along with the wild spike in Great White populations off New England’s Cape Cod and Autumn being peak shark season didn’t appear to worry a coquettish surfer as he paddled his baby-blue round-nose midlength out to catch swell from tropical storm Humberto.

Joe Mault, a local photographer, happened to be down on the beach and captured what can only be described as a “cruise” that was “possibly sexual” in nature.

As described to The Boston Globe:

“All of a sudden I saw the wake and then the fin, and it was pretty evident thereafter that it was a shark,” said Mault, owner of Orleans Camera. “It was within feet of him.”

He said he was snapping photographs for a bit when he spotted a surfer out on the water and turned his camera to the man in the wetsuit.

“I thought I’d be catching him catching a wave,” he said.

Then, Mault said, he noticed something rippling in the water. At first, he believed it was the leash to the surfer’s surfboard. It quickly became clear, however, that it wasn’t.

“It turned out it was the wake of the shark,” he said.

Mault said he kept taking pictures, realizing that the surfer was already aware that the shark was nearby.

“He was fortunately aware of it and booked his way out of there,” he said. “He was immediately aware of it; there wasn’t much we could do. I continued to shoot hoping that it was all it was going to be.”

When the surfer returned to the shore, he spoke with Mault and told him that he had heard the noise of the shark cutting through the water nearby.

“He thought maybe it was a seal popping his head out of the water but when he looked over his shoulder it was pretty clear it wasn’t a seal,” Mault said. “It’s a pretty scary thing.”

The fact that the Great White did not attack straight away but instead appeared to flirt is a troubling evolutionary indicator. Fear and not wanting to be left alone with the rotund monstrosities is often what keeps humans safe but if these instincts begin to erode there is no telling the damage that might be done.

More as the story develops.

Gabe Medina has opened up a new front and punched a huge hole into future dominance over John John Florence. It was hard to see John making the top eight at the pool, let alone coming anywhere near the tracks Medina laid down. | Photo: WSL

Freshwater Pro, Finals Day: “A transcendent Gabriel Media makes mockery of opponents, of the format, of the optics, of the context itself!”

The new world number one has opened up a new front and punched a huge hole into future dominance over John John Florence.

Has there ever been a contest victory more predictable, more pre-ordained than Gabe Medina’s win today in the 2019 Freshwater Pro at Lemoore?

From the start to the end, he made a mockery of his opponents, of the format, even of the optics and context itself; with the event following on from the greatness of Teahupoo. From start to finish Gabe transcended.

He found a line on the slopey, crumbly left that eluded others, continued to refine the backside power game and parallel back leg laid flat tube-riding stance going the same way that has proven unbeatable in comp after comp there.

He destroyed the Coté doctrine of a universal tepid positivity by elevating the dynamic range of an event that had seemed mired in a vanilla blancmange. Without the negative counter-balancing there would have been no way of understanding the extent to which he dominated, rescuing the tub from terminal mediocrity.

Most surfers got thirty seconds in the post heat presser, Kelly Slater, following his elimination got minutes, including an entire ride from Willian Cardoso explaining mostly how the event had elevated performance levels from last year.

Jordy Smith had the temerity to lay a passive-aggressive goldmine in front of his remaining peers claiming they were “not pushing too hard, merely placing their turns and getting the scores”.

As far as Jordy Smith chokes go, it wasn’t top five, but it was up there.

Medina was the sole plank underpinning that argument.

Most went soft. Predictability and safety ruled.

None moreso than Jordy Smith. After a completed rodeo in his bonus run his finals runs were a letdown. Bad reads, incomplete, too easily paced. He then had the temerity to lay a passive-aggressive goldmine in front of his remaining peers claiming they were “not pushing too hard, merely placing their turns and getting the scores”.

As far as Jordy Smith chokes go, it wasn’t top five, but it was up there.

The argument for progression was on much more solid ground for the women’s draw. Backside tube-riding prowess, or lack of it, drew the ire of Pirate Commentator, David Lee Scales, who posited a biological impediment, an argument swiftly demolished by Derek Rielly as antiquated phrenology.

Guys could barely ride backside in the tube as recently as Grajagan in the mid-nineties he claimed – rightly – and the women were advancing rapidly, despite varying levels of skill set. Johanne Defay stood out with a classic stance, Lakey’s was solid, Caroline Marks had a tube stance that looked more awkward but still got the job done.

The scoring seemed to fall apart for the women during the finals. Historian Matt Warshaw was running through a detailed history of the original wavepool event in Allenstown PA as the top women flared out. It was a radical enough juxtaposition of history overlaid on the present to highlight how far women’s surfing has come.

Carissa Moore surfed a right perfectly and with no commentary I scribbled down 9.1. It was awarded a 7.73. Lakey P smashed her bonus runs to finish ahead of Defay and then thanked God and dedicated the win to the climate strikers claiming the “Earth really needs our help right now.”

Even allowing the most generous interpretation for the water hungry, power hungry tubs it’s hard to see how the Earth would be helped by more of them. Unless we abandon ourselves completely to hedonism and they are made free for every man, women and child in the first, second and third worlds.

Who buys the do what I say but not what I do enviro-messaging of the WSL?

Honest question. The kids don’t. Thats for sure.

Warshaw flagged the possibility that our collective read on the tub maybe minorly, or majorly off base. That what we see as failure might be success, perhaps in the medium term, perhaps even right now. Tuning back to the pirate YouTube feed Chas had a full kitten head wobble going, on the FB feeds 2.2 thousand were watching the English feed, 6.2k on the Portuguese. Granted, there can be a stunning disconnect between online and the real world but I’d walked the streets and stalked the local line-ups speaking to guys and gals who I know live and breathe surf comp watching.

I could not find a positive spin, nor even a committed watcher. The promised stadium surfing vibe was AWOL, at least judging from the broadcast. Judgement had been made.

But the Finals Day was sick. Incentive to go big was finally present. Julian Wilson dodged the toob, who would have ever anticipated that tube-dodging would look as liberating as the French Resistance? –  to launch a backside big spin, or varial, greased perfectly.

Colapinto looked both mechanical and as loose as Travolta in Saturday Night fever in his opening left. The 7.5 drew queries from the booth, as an underscore. It seemed more of an indictment on Colapinto for failing to bring an aerial attack than legit reckoning of the wave ridden.

Twelve of the 32 rides (pre-bonus) of the final were fallen on. The outside section of the left being a notable graveyard for pro surfer ambition. Only Griffin and Yago Dora were able to improve on the opening runs.

Filipe made it look the most fun.

Nursing a back injury that flared up after his best wave in the final he gave us an old school layback on the end section toob on the left and a pair of cheater five toobs on the right, when he seemed in cruise control. In toying with it so he redeemed the wave from what had been identified by Warshaw and commentators as what I call the “scarcity paradox”.

Despite the machine pumping out perfect waves all day long there never seems to be enough. Enough to feel the joy and the abundance of the ocean. This scarcity produces a grim, grasping feeling, both in the surfer (who all expressed this desire for more, more, more) and the watcher.

Pulling individual rides out of the three-day melange of rides is almost impossible bar the handful that Gabe rode and the ones Pip toyed with.

It’ll take ten years to parse the history of this event. Whether we see it as an anomaly like jetski tow-ins in big surf or if this really does represent some new step forwards. After today, my earlier unshakeable convictions that we were witnessing the live snuff movie of the wavepool experiment feel more brittle.

And if they do go forwards with it Gabe Medina has opened up a new front and punched a huge hole into future dominance over John John Florence. It was hard to see John making the top eight at the pool, let alone coming anywhere near the tracks Medina laid down.

He laid the Medina line on for his opening left in the finals. The fin-drifts at speed, gaining speed as the fins are loosed over the coping that seemed super-glue for others, the repertoire and the Kerrupt flip at the end. It was perfect. A ten that was short-changed seventh hundredths of a point to satisfy, what? Some future that may never be realised presumably.

The final was over following Gabe’s next wave, a righthander that turned the torrid sky above into a cascade of slowly diminishing rainbows as spray plumes hung in the air.

What to think. Three days does not work. A

one day, a half-day novelty event for big money? UFC man on man match-ups on different equipment?

Gabe did not need his bonus runs but we wanted to see them.

We did not. Dead air followed by a half a left then nothing.

It ended as it began: a debacle where the only person covered in glory was Gabe Medina.

The mysterious Owen Wright, in a thimble-sized tub tube. | Photo: WSL

Comment live: Finals Day, Freshwater Pro Presented by Outerknown feat. Pirate Commentary!

Come join the narrative as the WSL crowns a new king of Lemoore…

If you’re reading this, it’s one am in Australia and the hot coconut oil has cooled on my body and left a pleasing sheen, although I’m four-and-a-half hours from opening my eyes.

You, I imagine, live in America or Europe and the sun is a fantastic citrus in the sky.

Over the course of two days of surfing, we’ve seen, on day one, “MEDINA MAKES REST OF FIELD LOOK HESITANT, INCOMPETENT, DISINTERESTED, ANXIOUS, OVERWHELMED, WEAK!”, the theme obvious, and, yesterday, “A HALF-DANGLING, HALF-SUCKED COCK AT A WEDDING!”, a reference to the “feelings of despair and frustration from the (diminishing) legion of hard-core surf fans who have stuck with the broadcast from the basin.”


Join the narrative below?

And I’ll see y’all a little later.

The Champ, with buckle.

Question: Do you want a Wavepool tour and chlorine world champion?

The missing link, yes?

A little while ago, a lesbian big-wave surfer whom I’d previously thought lovely and reasonable, got steamed up when I suggested, in passing, that two failed take-offs did not a big-wave world title make.

The surfer issued an invitation on Instagram for readers to pile on, which they did with gusto. Some very good points were raised with The Inertia’s Zach Weisberg and Blue Crush lead Kate Bosworth making fine cameos.

Read that here. And here. 

I’m not sure why, I certainly didn’t complain, but the Instagram post was deleted.

Anyway, the world titles-being-handed-out-at-single-events thing demonstrated that there was nothing stopping BeachGrit from anointing our own world champion.

Given there isn’t a wavepool tour or world champion, and given the innumerable world titles already birthed, big-wave, small-wave, amateur, Olympic, junior and so on, the matter seemed obvious.

I thought Stab High was a very good idea, although the number of competitors too many.


I would contact each of the major pools: Waco, the new builds of the Cove in Melbourne, Bristol and so on, ask for ’em for use of the pools, get a blanket sponsor, sign up a dozen non-WSL surfers (WSL surfers are embargoed from competing in non-company events) and, at the end  of the little tour, give out a trophy and crown our own world champion.

My comrades at BeachGrit thought the idea dumb and it progressed no further.

With Kelly’s pool being the centre of attention and without permission from the BeachGrit politburo, I’ll ask:

Would you drop a ravenous mouth on the nipple of a wavepool tour and the subsequent crowning of a Chlorine Champ?

The world title trophy would be a belt buckle fashioned to look like a surfer on a wave at a cost of several hundred dollars, including luxury presentation case.

The women’s champion would receive the same belt buckle.