Bobby and Toddy, NY, 2011.

WSL announces new qualifying series; no event for Brazil; Bobby Martinez revealed as prophet!

"We are delighted at the initial level of interest from partners and key stakeholders," says CEO Sophie Goldschmidt.

Heady times around the BeachGrit (official Yellow Jersey Holders of the World Surf Media PT Cruiser Leaderboard) HQ of late.

Great White blood feuds. Alleged wavepool culls. Ratings release webcam parties so wild they’d make the Marquis de Sade beam with pride.

It’s been so heccas, in fact, that we missed some sorta significant news for all the Jaddy Andre enthusiasts out there.

The WSL has announced an apparent overhaul of the QS for next year.

From their website.

“In 2020, the WSL will launch the Challenger Series, a new level of competition that will provide athletes more opportunities at the highest level to qualify for the elite Championship Tour.”

“This is another important step in our evolution. We are delighted at the initial level of interest from partners and key stakeholders for the Challenger Series. We expect the series to further enhance the career path for future CT athletes and to also become commercially positive,” stated CEO Sophie Goldschmidt.

Read more here, and marvel at their ability to say so much while conveying so little.

The 2020 Qualifying Series, the new name for the development and qualification tier of the CT, will feature two primary segments: the Challenger Series (consisting of eight 10,000 point events) and the regular QS tour with its 5000, 3000, 1500 and 1000 events.

Whether the increase in 10,000 events will be offset by a decrease in small ones is not clear.

On face value it’s the equivalent of printing more money in a recession. Increasing the number of 10,000 comps will only decrease their value.

Current wisdom is that around 30,000 points will see you re/qualify for the tour. That number will now jump significantly.

So, what’s changed?

Perhaps the locations are better, you say. Maybe the 10k comps will be held at world-class locations like Indo, Mex, etc.

Not really. The eight venues are Piha, Ballito, Huntington, Pantin, Ericeira, Phillip Island, Haleiwa and Sunset. A smattering of quality in a sea of mediocrity.

Perhaps qualifying tactics will change? Possibly.

Top-tier pros are more likely to focus on the 10k events, which could allow the next rung down more of a chance at the lower queys.

But, I still can’t see that having any impact on who qualifies overall, and it certainly does nothing to address the fact that the CT itself is already more inflated than the Weimar republic.

Why not cut the CT in half? Sixteen competitors, five comps. Make the remaining comps part of the Challenger Series.

Ya? No?

There’s also a glaring omission from the new 10,000 events. Not one in Brazil. Is this…problematic?

Finally, if the name of the new series rings a bell, it’s ‘cause they stole it from second-tier tennis tour.

Just how prescient was Bobby Martinez?


Italo lives by the warrior credo of perseverance.

Miracle: Italo Ferreira wins heat at Olympic Qualifier in bizarre last-minute appearance!

Misses half of heat, borrows board from Filipe Toledo, pulls on a pair of denim shorts, wins.

I don’t think I need to publicly state, again, my ongoing fixation with the Brazilian title contender Italo Ferreira.

(Read my paean to Italo here.)

If you’ve yet to fall under Italo’s spell, his miracle round one heat at the Olympic Qualifier in Miyazaki, Japan, will leave you wide-eyed and thrilled.

Some background.

The Brazilian Olympic surf team is the most precious of all and the most difficult to get into. Two men and two women only, with Gabriel Medina, Filipe Toledo, Michael Rodrigues, Caio Ibelli, Jadson Andre, Willian Cardoso, Deivid Silva, Peterson Crisanto, Yago Dora, Jesse Mendes, Adriano de Souza, Mateus Hardy, Alex Ribeiro, Miguel Pupo and Ian Gouveia all chasing the two men’s spots.

Silvana Lima and Tati Weston-Webb, likely, will take the two women’s entries.

Now, Italo wants the Olympic gold medallion.

But, four days ago, while in America, Italo was robbed of his passport, which contained his important, difficult-to-get visas for the US. Rather than kick around in the US trying to get a fresh visa, he was told that since he’s got the contest he should fly to Japan on a fresh passport and go to the American consulate there.

Italo jumps a plane on September eight for an appointment the following day at the US consulate in Tokyo. His heat is on the tenth.

Hurricane Doz delays the flight. Italo is  stuck on the plane for eighteen hours.

Reschedules meet at US consulate for September 10, the day of the contest.

Meeting goes well, visa approved, means he can surf Freshwater Pro.

Jumps on a plane for the two-hour flight to Miyazaki and his round one heat at the Olympic Qualifier. No time to collect bags and boards.

The contest is delayed one hour so there’s a chance he’ll make his heat in time.

Arrives at contest in Miyazaki.

His twenty-minute heat has nine minutes left. Italo borrows Filipe Toledo’s board. Throws on a pair of denim shorts.

He has last priority. Comboed, obviously.

Goes to town and…wins heat. 

“Looking back, I had everything to go wrong with so much going on, but I always had hope until the end,” Italo wrote on IG. “This for me was a story of overcoming… I love surfing and I try my best to perform well. For me, getting here has been a victory. So if you have a problem in your life, DO NOT GIVE UP. BELIEVE! In the end it will be all right, just believe it is possible.”

You got a spot in your ruthless heart for the kid?



(From left) Jen See, Surfads, Longtom, Chas Smith, Derek Rielly, David Lee, Negatron and James Prier pictured enjoying the victory.
(From left) Jen See, Surfads, Longtom, Chas Smith, Derek Rielly, David Lee, Negatron and James Prier pictured enjoying the victory.

Breaking: BeachGrit now the biggest little surf website in the whole wide world!

The grumpy local reigns!

We’d been creeping closer for ages but this past August your friendly neighborhood BeachGrit finally blew right past longtime foils Stab and The Inertia to officially become the biggest little surf website in the world. Our social media presence is minimal, a dwarf in comparison, our social media spends are entirely non-existent. We can’t afford bots or other traffic juicing tools and don’t believe in them even if we could and yet here we are, all thanks to the greatest stable of surf journalists surf journalism has ever seen and, above all, you.

You and Negatron.

I’ll be real honest, it feels good to have it all built on a clunky analog* foundation. A website that folks have to punch into the “search” bar. A comment section like an old-school chat room. Yellow headlines that shout funny and a distinct lack of ugly pandering to advertisers, condescension to the reader or broadening the subject matter to include ocean kayaking/camping. It makes me believe that, even in this crossed up, noisy world, like-minded ne’er-do-wells can still find each other and that surfing’s like-minded ne’er-do-wells are more engaged than its consumers looking for the latest rugby shirt or its “everything is awesome” ocean kayaking/camping VAL.

I’m very biased but BeachGrit is how I want surfing to feel and I’m grinning ear to ear that, at least today, the blood feuds, less-than-completely-verifiable gossip, fun making and fun having are where people want to be too.

So thank you. Sincerely and honestly.

And you’re next World Surf League. May the grumpy local reign evermore!

*Analog as in obsolete technology not Burton’s one-time surf brand.

Cock-eyed retraction: “Surf Ranch is not only staying open, it’s staffing up!”

"The WSL is excited about the venue's potential in 2020 and beyond!"

More news has trickled in regards to this morning’s reported shuttering of Kelly Slater’s Surf Ranch in Lemoore, California or rather gushed. Sources very close to Santa Monica’s levers of power let it be known that Kelly Slater Wave Co.’s Solana Beach office is not closing, Surf Ranch is staying open and, moreover, the whole operation is staffing right up.

A Surf Ranch bull market!

A Surf Ranch revival!

A World Surf League spokesman went on the record, a rare treat, to state unequivocally that:

“The Surf Ranch Lemoore facility continues to invest in new staff and experiences and the WSL is excited about the venue’s potential in 2020 and beyond.”

That right there is as solid as it gets but… something feels fishy. Something feels…off as the sources for the original story were also very close to Santa Monica’s levers of power.

So what is going on here?

I’ll wander down to those Kelly Slater Wave Co.’s Solana Beach offices soon and peek in the windows but until then lets speculate some more.

Is the Surf Ranch property in Lemoore, California truly viable? Once the novelty wears off can it be a money-making corporate retreat? Site of a summer music/surf festival? Other? It certainly doesn’t produce enough waves to be open to the general public but will Google, Facebook and Purdue Pharma pay top dollar, year over year, to host “employee days” under the cow stinky sun?


We are currently living through a VAL bull market, a VAL explosion, but it still makes more sense that co-Waterperson of the Year Dirk Ziff slowly transfers resources from the one-time test facility to a larger, more functional model almost exactly like the piece of property just acquired outside of Austin, Texas that once housed a Wavegarden.

But what do I know? Maybe not that much. Maybe more than I should.

More as the story develops.

Sizzling hot rumor: WSL to take the Freshwater Pro off tour and shutter Surf Ranch at the end of ’19!

Is this the end or the beginning?

So there I was, ready to tuck into episode five of HBO’s Succession when the most scintillating message danced upon my telephone’s screen. “WSL closed Kelly Slater Wave Co.’s Solana Beach office and let almost all of the original staff go two weeks ago. Even more strange is the rumor that they are shutting Surf Ranch down at the end of 2019 and taking the pool off tour.”

What? I rubbed my eyes and read again but there it was in black and white. Office closed, Surf Ranch getting shuttered and taken off tour.

An explosive rumor. A real earthquake.

I fired back for more details, making sure that disgruntled ex-employees weren’t passing on bad information and my source could not confirm but didn’t think that was the case.


Now, I know that the Surf Ranch facility was never supposed to be open to the public when it first came online in 2015, days after Adriano de Souza won his maiden World Title, rubbing “the hardest working man in surfing’s” dreams into the ground. It was built to be a test facility, somewhere to dial in the technology. The public’s interest, and possibly the difficulty in opening a new tank somewhere more pleasant, say outside of Miami, might have forced co-Waterperson of the Year Dirk Ziff and co.’s hand in doing some invite-only days in Lemoore which turned into the Freshwater Pro née Surf Ranch Pro née Founders Cup but that was never the original plan because who in their right mind would ever want to go to Lemoore?

The Surf Ranch facility has done its job, quite frankly, and it stands to reason that it would eventually be mothballed. The question I have is why hasn’t the World Surf League sold any other tanks? Why let Wavegarden and American Wave Machines and Surf Lakes get so far ahead? There must be a plan but what? Acquire Surf Lakes and Surf Lakes technology? Go on a massive sales bender after the Freshwater Pro, pushing Kelly Slater’s vision into every bankrupt mall in America? Figure out a way to combine the Surf Ranch barrel, which takes a minimum of four minutes in between each wave that only one Waterperson of the Year can ride at a time, with the high-volume experience of a Wavegarden?

You recall that the WSL recently purchased the NLand tub in Austin and hauled the Wavegarden machinery away. Will Kelly Slater be standing shoulder to shoulder with Matthew McConaughey at the end of 2019, days after Kolohe Andino wins his maiden World Title, showcasing a perfect crouchy barrel that can fit ten Texans at a time?

Will Kolohe be sad?

More as the story develops.

(Note: The story has developed already! A full-throated defensive of Surf Ranch’s longterm health straight from Santa Monica!)