What I appreciate about Gabe is his lack of pretense. He does not want to charm you or win you over. He is the Bride, except male and dark-haired; he is tactical and skilled and remorseless, picking off one surfer after another on his way to who knows how many world titles. | Photo: WSL

Warshaw: “I find it purifying that Medina goes about his work with so few fucks given!”

Keeper of surfing's history explains why Brazilian world champ holds the key to his heart… 

My work productivity, and maybe yours too, was WAY down last week during the final two days of the Tahiti Pro.

A WCT contest in great surf will always tug at my attention. When the surf is both great and death-defying, like it was at Teahupoo, I hold on to my laptop as I go about my day the way my son used to hold onto his stuffy, and do not miss a single moment.

I want the ups and the downs and everything in-between.

I want the hair-outs and the shoulder-rides as well as the perfect scores.

Unless something happens that needs explaining, however, I do not want to hear a thing. The mute button is Viagra for my WCT attention span —the quieter it is, the longer I last.

And the longer I last with a contest like the Tahiti Pro, the more it seems to become a movie or a play, writing itself as it goes, with plots and subplots and twists, and characters of every description, many of whom I have strong if temporary feelings for. Not real feelings. Sports-fan feelings, which are subject to change year to year, event to event, sometimes even heat to heat.

Bringing me to Gabe Medina.

Medina does not want to charm you or win you over. He is tactical and skilled and remorseless, picking off one surfer after another on his way to who knows how many world titles. I find it refreshing, purifying even, that Medina goes about his work with so few fucks given as to what we all think about him.

Not everybody swoons for his surfing. I always have. Riding aside, what I appreciate about Gabe is his lack of pretense. He does not want to charm you or win you over. He is the Bride, except male and dark-haired; he is tactical and skilled and remorseless, picking off one surfer after another on his way to who knows how many world titles.

I find it refreshing, purifying even, that Medina goes about his work with so few fucks given as to what we all think about him.

Then last April I saw Gabe on a video chat with Jair Bolsonaro and Bibi Netanyahu and Neymar, and you know me, I’m so left I can barely turn right at the corner to get my quad-soy latte each morning.

Ever since I’ve been trying to maintain the righteous dislike for Gabe I felt after watching that grinning four-way reacharound of a conversation.

But I’ll tell you something, and I’m at a loss as to whether this makes me proud or ashamed. As a WCT fan, surfing beats politics.

Watching Tahiti last week, I gave up. Gabby is still my guy. He met Owen Wright in the final, and with Owen holding a lead going into the last few minutes my eyes locked onto the screen, trying to conjure up a set.

It didn’t come.

Owen first, Gabe second, and me still sulking later that evening as I pulled the cork on a nice dry Alsace Reisling.

Being a fan means never having to say you’re sorry.

(Editor’s note: If you’re a subscriber to Matt Warshaw’s Encyclopedia of Surfing, which costs three dollars a month with a twenty percent discount if you take it over a year, your Sundays will be gifted with a long email from Warshaw himself. This story is pulled from today’s letter, which also includes a link to a thirty-three minute cut of the 1968 World Championships, and which was won, controversially, by Fred Hemmings.)


Don't worry, Mavericks. You are beautiful no matter what they say.

Question: Why does the World Surf League love to endlessly humiliate Mavericks?

Why does the League go so far out of its way to embarrass, mock, dishonor and discredit California's premier big wave?

The big story at the end of last week was the re-jiggering of the Big Wave World Tour. As you know, every event other than Jaws and Nazare were tossed in the garbage, replaced by a “strike mission” scenario where big-wave surfers will go, followed by World Surf League cameras and put their lives on the line for free. I also know this last bit got some of you down, the ruthlessly capitalistic cost-cutting of Dirk Ziff, who happens to own professional surfing and also happens to be a billionaire. The turning of “World Surf League” from an actual sporting league to a content platform mining poor souls’ desire for fame and refusing to pay thereby spiking the bottom line.

Me?

I only see possibility. I only see the wonderful opportunity for big wave surfers of the world banding together and forming a union, refusing to paddle on the big days if World Surf League cameras are present and they’re not getting paid. Brutalizing scab surfers who cross the lines and paddle in exchange for an Instagram post on @wsl. I have no doubt that big wave surfers could bring the World Surf League to its knees. Look at all the good press WSL CEO Sophie Goldschmidt and her righthand WSL President of Content, Media, Studios and Mild Salsa Erik “Elo” Logan for bringing “equal pay” into the game. Imagine all the bad press for treating big wave surfers like second class citizens. Like the transgendered of old.

Rise up, brave men and women! Rise up and conquer the giant from Santa Monica!

In other news, why does the World Surf League love to endlessly humiliate Mavericks?

It was one of the big waves tossed in the garbage but for years and years it seems the WSL goes far out of its way to embarrass, mock, dishonor, discredit humiliate Mavericks. The contest doesn’t run, even when there are spectacular waves, and even though it is a spectacular venue only gets mentioned in the latest press-release as “possibility” for a “strike mission.” It seems, to me, the World Surf League acquired the event simply to make fun of it for years before a public execution.

But why?

Do you think co-Waterman of the Year tried to surf Mavericks once yet was too chicken to drop, thus creating a life long vendetta wherein he tries to bury his shame?

Something else?

Help!


"We're surf participating!"

Revealed: Wave tanks leading to massive boom in “surf participation!”

Numbers through the roof!

Do the unintended consequences of new technologies keep you awake at night? Oh how many movies have we watched where a good-hearted inventor creates something for the sake of humanity only to have his creation spin beyond control hurting, killing, causing madness? My favorite in the genre has to be Harrison Ford’s The Mosquito Coast where he builds an ice machine for beautiful savages only to rip their culture, and his family apart.

My second favorite, though, is Kelly Slater’s Surf Ranch where the invention of wave-producing tanks leads to a massive “surf participation” boom culminating in worldwide “gang” fight where ocean surfers and pool surfers attempt to drown each other into submission.

Well, us ocean surfers will be far outnumbered during those dystopian days as a new article in Forbes magazine reveals that “surf participation” is up in the United Kingdom a whopping 40% all thanks to artificial technologies and let’s dig in with our Sunday blueberry pancakes (bitter Monday cup of coffee for our Australian friends and delicious pint of ale for our brand-new English, Welsh, Irish and Scottish friends. Welcome!)

While hardcore surfers might lament a wave-on-demand culture, the reasons for the increase in “wave pool surfing” are simple. In the U.K. surfing is one of the fastest growing sports, with a 40% increase in participation between 2015 and 2017, according to the latest British Marine Association Annual Watersports Participation Survey.

There are now over 1 million surfers in the U.K., “but the coastline isn’t producing any more waves than it did before,” says Stoddart. Nor do most people live anywhere near decent surfing beaches.

But with world surf champion Kelly Slater putting his own name behind an artificial wave, with the Kelly Slater Wave Company, the concept has gained accreditation. Slater called his wave, “a complement or supplement to what surfing is,” and it now hosts World Surfing League (WSL) competitions.

All fine and wonderful and I don’t really think there will be worldwide “gang” fight in the near future pitting ocean surfers against pool surfers. I think we’ll all get along just fine, as long as these pool surfers don’t come near the ocean. My real question is, what happens when what Slater called, “a complement or supplement to what surfing is” eclipses what surfing is?

The day is coming.

Also, is the World Surf League too busy mocking Mavericks every year to actually build another pool besides Kelly Slater’s Surf Ranch in Lemoore or is there a cagy strategy behind being dead last in the wave tank arms race?


Build your dream home, here, where children with whisky breath can roam and where little dogs are trained to walk on their hind legs.

Gimme: Surf industry titans look to sell crummy apartment block overlooking Snapper Rocks for $12 million-plus!

Build your dream home overlooking most crowded wave in world!

If you were Ziff or his monied ilk, where would you pour your riches? Cars? Jets?

Boats you can park in international waters and play out your every illegal vice until your jaw is tired and around you are the desiccated husks of citizens from every corner of eastern Europe?

If was I, it would be this fine quarter-acre of dirt, currently home to a low-rise block of ghetto apartments with point-blank views of the Supa Bank, and with a price tag north of twelve-million Australian dollars, roughly 500 American or thirty British pounds.

I would commence destruction of the apartments immediately and build a home modelled after the French castle Vaux le Vicomte. It would include a 3,000-square-foot wine cellar with a tasting room, two-story library, commercial kitchen, cutlery room and spacious ballroom. Turkish baths would also be installed in every room.

The old Wolf Pak, which I’d bring back together, would be employed as full-time crowd control and installed in a pavilion at the rear. That part of the house would remain out of bounds to my girlfriends.

Children with whisky breath would be free to roam and little dogs sourced from Mexico would be trained to walk on their hind legs. 

Why the twelve-mill for the land?

Buy it and you can build almost forty metres (130 feet) into the Gold Coast sky.

The six owners are rumoured to include the four-time world champ Mark Richards, who owns the top floor apartment, and a prominent boat owner currently at sail in the Mentawais.

The sale is via expressions of interest.

Express yours here.


Mystery: One-time “Shark Capital of the World” Cape Town, South Africa has lost all of its “man-eating” Great Whites!

Scientists don't know why but I do.

I’ve been so busy keeping up with the heaps and heaps of Great White sharks turning my once bucolic North County, San Diego paradise into a blood-curdling hell that I’ve not kept up with one-time “Shark Capital of the World” Cape Town, South Africa. The man-eating beasts were a constant threat for Afrikaans-speaking locals. Attacks were not uncommon and neither were deaths. Extremely scary but waters once teeming with ghastly teeth and rolled-back eyes are now peaceful. No Great White has been spotted in over eighteen months.

Scientists are uncertain as to what led to the prehistoric villain’s disappearance. The fair and balanced Sydney Morning Herald reports:

Between 2010 and 2016 staff at the Shark Spotting Program, established to warn swimmers when the three-tonne predators approached beaches, reported an average of 205 sightings of the fish off the beaches of False Bay.

In 2018 that fell to 50 and this year not one has been seen. None have been seen at Seal Island, a one-time feeding ground off the coast.

“Further supporting evidence of the absence of these large apex predators is the lack of any feeding or bite marks on whale carcasses the city has removed from False Bay this year,” Cape Town’s municipality said in a statement on Wednesday.

“We do not know how their absence from False Bay would affect the ecosystem. Neither do we know the causes for their disappearance.”

Ahhhh but I know. The bastards have packed their blood-thirst and come on over to my once pastoral North County, San Diego, turning it into a post-apocalyptic nightmare.

What gave the bastards reason to pack their blood-thirst and move? Again, scientists are uncertain. Some believe overfishing has led to their flight. Others believe that the arrival of Orcas caused them to leave.

I’ve been preaching pet Orcas in the lineup for years. I trust that the North County, San Diego powers-that-be finally take me seriously and especially those with ties to Kelly Slater’s preferred theme park Sea World.

More as the story develops.