Italo Ferreira wins back-to-back at Rip Curl Pro Portugal; snatches yellow jersey; surges to world title favouritism!

Jordy tries to build house in final; Italo detonates an atom bomb on it with his opening wave…

If you let your mind wander a little during Peniche’s Finals Day, or during the proceeding six days when the Medina priority controversy stemmed interest the way a tourniquet does blood flow from a femoral artery severed by white shark dentition, you could easily imagine the alternative scripted version to the non-scripted you-can’t-script-this real life events.

In this scripted version, say a ten-part Netflix series based on the rise of Brazil to pro surfing dominance and directed by Fernando Meirelles*, the dominant champ is persuaded by shadowy forces, paper bags full of cash and “fuck pride”, that for the good of the sport, he should throw the heat so the climax of the year is held in the shuddering death chambers of the Banzai Pipeline. The Champ dominates the heat and only as the clock ticks down and the money men start to sweat bullets commits a sin so egregious he is disqualified.

Of course, that would never happen.

Gabe’s implosion and DQ and all the frenzied hype and death threats that went with it was the single greatest thing to happen to the comp and in fact to pro surfing this year.

Pro surfing being immune from scandal behind the wall of positive noise etc etc, but my point is: taken from the perspective of the money men, rescuing this damp squib of a contest and the Sport itself, Gabe’s implosion and DQ and all the frenzied hype and death threats that went with it was the single greatest thing to happen to the comp and in fact to pro surfing this year.

Of course, there is something academic about the case that has largely been over-looked in the hype. To wit: By beating Wade Carmichael in the round of sixteen Toledo had already taken it to Pipe, and based on Italo’s devastating winning performance and his winning record against Medina he would have demolished him in the semi-finals putting us, more or less, exactly where we are anyway.

You can’t script this?

The day started with Jordy Smith safety surfing in two-foot closeouts. Nifty little alley-oop, toy tube-rides. His opponent, Kolohe Andino, in contention for both a maiden contest victory and a World Title, had screwed up the start time by failing to read a text message correctly.

By his admission, his feet were numb from his long, pre-heat warm-up and his self-identified “best attitude on Tour” seemed of little practical use as he bombed the opening trio of waves he rode. Perhaps influenced, consciously or sub-consciously by the Medina imbroglio, they stayed at least fifty metres away from each other for the majority of the heat.

Jordy was gifted a low six for a lip-tap and floater, pulled the keys out of the bowl for the best wave of the heat, a long but unexciting barrel for a seven. Kolohe’s errors seemed to compound and judges did not dig his erratic but more radical approach.

Easy win for Jordy. A Smith victory and World Title suddenly came into focus.

Strider determined he would be in tears watching the international parade of surfers during the Olympics while calling the Pip Toledo/Kanoa Igarashi heat. Pip blew a long, deep tuberide that had an exit sign in bright neon all over it. Flailed the landing on a super lofted tail-high punt that would have easily Fosbury-Flopped the excellence bar.

Kanoa placed turns with perfect timing and speed, like Keramas. Didn’t really need to stretch himself and applied basic heat management to close it out.

Pip: “blessed, God’s will”, proving the enduring power of religious belief. It’s usefulness, primarily.

Caio used very tight and precise power whips, mostly on his backhand, as well as enjoying the moment, floating on it the way a fat man does in the Dead Sea, completely without effort, to defeat Peterson Crisanto. I know Peterson has a back-story but for some bizarre reason I seem to glaze over every time they go into it.

Six places he rose in Portugal. Sitting right on the cut coming into Pipe. The next six weeks will not be enjoyable for him.

The last quarter was the best heat of the day. In glassy peaks with diamond sparkles, an aesthetic that always makes me want to get high and go surfing, Italo Ferreira (christened show-time, when?) and Jack Freestone faced off.

Jack has elevated himself on the back of a big European leg and is well inside the bubble. He seems a guy well content to make a living off pro surfing and be MVP at local cyclone swells.

Ferreira is a different animal. I admit, the aerials sometimes make me wince. Both for the injury factor and the repetition. For now though, they have to be paid. For speed, for loft, distance covered, degree of rotation, speed of rotation, degree of difficulty, landings. It’s just an undeniable force of nature.

Luckily for RedBull Airborne, there was no head-to-head comparison to embarrass and make redundant the air show concept. I tried to keep track of Italo’s made airs and lost count.

Jack also sent it. Very trim and elegant full rotation air reverse for a seven. A deep tube. His greased alley-oop only suffered by being in the same heat as Italo’s monster full backside rotation and was appropriately scored a full two points and change below it.

Five minutes to go and Kolohe Andino, with the blood flow presumably returned to his extremities, remarked “it’s a murder scene out there”. Still stinging from his last second loss to Italo at D-Bah he damned Italo’s big backside roters with faint praise, making a case for the straight air.

Italo sure can close. He’ll never be the schmuck selling real estate in Glengarry Glen Ross, told by Alec Baldwin’s motivational trainer,  “You close or you hit the fucking bricks pal”.

Unlike Jordy.

I know, that is cruel.

At a certain level of talent, pro surfing is a sort of sheltered workshop. You can not close, forever. Today, he did close: magnificent, high-flying aerial against Kanoa in the final seconds to take a semi where he looked gone for all money.

Italo looked like the best guy all comp. I like that. A last minute stumble infuriates my sense of natural justice. His weakest heat was his semi-final against Caio Ibelli. He had to put the tool belt on and grind but found the score by going to the air.

Judges hesitated, but faced perhaps by the force of their own logic, decided to pay it. Italo’s gal, clasped her hands and chewed her lips as “showtime” gave priority up with three-and-a-half minutes to go, but Ibelli could not capitalise.

What to say about the final?

The most one-sided affair ever?

Jordy tried to build a house. Italo detonated an atom bomb on it with his opening wave.

I wrote, please: no ten. Judges went ten. Italo kept swinging, backed up and then backed up again. Put Jordy in a deep combination, a sleeper hold where he seemed comfortable enough to spend the rest of the final. The only threat to Italo was himself: some kind of priority error.

And with Joe in the booth, notice it’s always Joe there when the grim reaper calls?, I did feel a little worried for Italo.

Jordy did not contest it. Try and sucker Italo into anything.

The clock ticked down, utterly without drama. Jubilant scenes ensued. Ecstatic fans chanting, Italo being carried up the beach, towering over adoring fans. World Number One. His babe radiating a simple and serene happiness.

*Director of City of God.

Men’s Championship Tour Top 5:
1 – Italo Ferreira (BRA) – 51,070 pts
2 – Gabriel Medina (BRA) – 50,005 pts
3 – Jordy Smith (ZAF) – 49,985 pts
4 – Filipe Toledo (BRA) – 49,145 pts
5 – Kolohe Andino (USA) – 44,665 pts

Abomination: The mighty surfboard used as sign, menu, mailbox is a sin against all that is holy!

"Wow, what a crafty lil' devil I am."

I can barely begin writing this because I’m so full of pungent rage at what can only be called an absolute eye assault: The surfboard as a sign. We are forced to deal with them everywhere now. Who did the first one? What motivated them? To align their business with “surf”? And, are surfboard signs a thing all over the world by now? Is every little “surf” city plastered with these lame attempts at being “cool” or “hip” to surf culture, while trying to sell me cheesy garlic fries?

A common one I see is the vertical-on-a-stand “open” sign, though it is sometimes horizontal and hanging from an eave. The word “open” never fits right in a surfboard shape, the kerning will generally be beyond ugly, and the lettering is usually some awful white vinyl Helvetica stick-on garbage, which only reveals the true tacky cheap-skate nature of the DIY maker. And this “maker”, who drilled the holes through the glass and into the foam for the hooks and screws to attach it? How did he or she feel when they did that?

Did they wince at the anthropomorphic pain of stabbing into the flesh of this old discarded pensioner surfboard?

Probably not, because this person was not a surfer and didn’t even know what the fuck they were doing. In fact, they had a stupid self satisfied grin on their face, as they happily thought to themselves “Wow, what a crafty lil’ devil I am.”

There are so many dozens of horrid examples just in my little neck of the woods. There’s one place with an old pop-out Dextra longboard that’s been turned into a menu with dozens of items listed, but the most disgusting part is that they have attempted to change prices and menu items so many times, that there is layer upon layer of home made corrections, like so much dirty dripping caked on surf wax. Only it’s not surf wax, and the board knows it and so do we, and it’s just plain wrong.

Sadly, many surf shops practice this faux sign surfboard mistake, and really, in their case, it should be recognized as truly deplorable. Cannibalism actually. One of the worst offenders I’ve had the displeasure to see, and one that I think is borderline illegal for copyright infringement, is at this half-assed fake-ish surf shop (the kind with maybe two boards, but millions of sandals, and also sand shovels and plastic beach toys), wherein the owner has constructed a sign using a surfboard from a different shop across town! And he has plastered his own shop’s name across the deck, not even attempting to hide the original logo.

There’s another one I pass occasionally, a sign up over a gate for this establishment; I’ve passed it a hundred times, thinking “that’s kind of a sweet shape”. A couple weeks ago, I stopped, and walked over to have a closer look. The deck of the board is plastered with many, many coats of ugly house paint, probably from the sale pile of mis-matched colors at the local hardware store, but, yes, the outline was indeed pretty nice.

I couldn’t see any lams though, so I climbed around the back to have a look at the bottom, and I my heart jumped and then sunk with silent despair. It was a clear, triple stringer Yater speed shape. By Rennie himself (it had a “Y” along the stringer), 7′ 8″, soft rails, and a little baby squash tail. A “low-tide runner”, as they say. How many Rincon walls did it slide in it’s life? Dozens? Hundreds? And now it’s a damned sign.

With lag bolts all the way through it, hung up by some rusty bailing wire.

Made me so sad, people. Can you imagine?, one of the true icons of our sport, running his own hands down the length of those rails with some fine dragon-paper, maybe using a little Stanley micro-plane to bring those stringers down to the foam. An honest to goodness Master Craftsmen, put his love into that thing to make it beautiful, but maybe more importantly, to make it fricken rip for it’s prospective owner. I’ll tell you what, if you were stranded on a desert island, and the only board you could have for the rest of your life was that 7′ 8″ Yater, you’d be as happy as a clam my friend.

Just think about it, even if you’ve never picked up a Yater in person before, you know what it would feel like under your arm. It’s so light, it’s a sleek spear, it’s perfect, and it’s ready to propel you into down-the-line pleasure. But instead, it’s like a tortured old ghost right now, forced to occupy the same un-appreciated and un-loved spot permanently tethered to the earth.

It’s out of place.

It wants to go home.

Now, don’t even get me started on the surfboard as garden decoration or letterbox holder, I’ll start crying for sure.

sick little Hank Byzak kneeboard with no-nonsense upright keels... so fucking disrespectful
sick little Hank Byzak kneeboard with no-nonsense upright keels… so fucking disrespectful

Someday in the distant post-apocalyptic future, will a budding entrepreneur drag the Duke’s ‘Olo out of the wreckage of the Bishop museum and scrawl “Wanda’s Organic Falafel Shak” on it? No people, not if we can help it and I guess a public service announcement may be a start: To all you “citizens” out here: stop using the sacred craft of our sport as your tawdry attempt at signage… leave it be, and let our old sticks have the dignity they’ve earned.

And if you don’t heed our fair warning, look out, ’cause we’re coming’ for our boards.

Pip Toledo, riding with a half-busted back, still got a shot at the title. Here, four years ago, when he deballed his peers in a brute show of strength., | Photo: WSL

Comment live, quarter-finals, Rip Curl Pro, Portugal!

It's a filthy kind of cussing that's almost charming…

Is there a better balm for loneliness, and that includes for the poor schlubs in long-term marriages where everything that was once sweet between them and their lover is now soured and dead, than a livestream sports broadcast, a keyboard with a clean action and a headful of liquor?

Today in Peniche, Portugal, the penultimate contest of the year, we’ll watch the quarter-finals, there may be more although this is unlikely, despite a building west swell.

From the surf report network, Surfline.

We expect to see this new swell build through the day on Saturday, peak on Sunday and hold to very gradually ease on Monday.

We will also have a NNW swell running, which filled in earlier today for some of the back up locations. This swell should peak overnight into early Saturday before easing through the afternoon on Saturday. A slightly smaller NNW swell is expected late Sunday and Monday but will also bypass Supertubos and show at the back up locations.

There is no world title tension, at least in the men, but with contenders Jordy Smith, Kolohe Andino, Filipe Toledo and Italo Ferreira still in the event, a win from any of ’em will make Pipe a game of leap frog.

Whomever finishes highest on Oahu wins.

On the lower rungs, Jack Freestone, Peterson Crisanto and, title spoiler, Caio Ibelli, all must gather enough points to avoid relegation from the WCT.

In the women, the scenario for Carissa Moore to win her third title is thus:

1. Carissa Moore will clinch the Title if she advances to the SF (3rd) AND
     a. Lakey Peterson loses in or before the R/16 (9th)
     b. Sally Fitzgibbons loses in or before the FINAL (2nd) AND
     c. Caroline Marks loses in or before the SF (3rd)

2. Carissa Moore will clinch the Title if she advances to the FINAL (2nd) AND
     a. Lakey Peterson loses in or before the QF (5th)
     b. Caroline Marks loses in or before the FINAL (2nd)

3. Carissa Moore will clinch the Title if she WINS (1st) the event AND
     Lakey Peterson loses in or before the SF

Men’s quarters first, then the women.

Watch the event here, comment below.

Men’s Quarterfinal Matchups:
QF 1: Jordy Smith (ZAF) vs. Kolohe Andino (USA)
QF 2: Filipe Toledo (BRA) vs. Kanoa Igarashi (JPN)
QF 3: Caio Ibelli (BRA) vs. Peterson Crisanto (BRA)
QF 4: Italo Ferreira (BRA) vs. Jack Freestone (AUS)

Women’s Quarterfinal Matchups:
QF 1: Caroline Marks (USA) vs. Stephanie Gilmore (AUS)
QF 2: Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) vs. Tatiana Weston-Webb (BRA)
QF 3: Carissa Moore (HAW) vs. Johanne Defay (FRA)
QF 4: Lakey Peterson (USA) vs. Nikki Van Dijk (AUS)

Revealed: WeWork co-founder and ex-CEO Adam Neumann surfed the Maldives while company burned!

Better than Nero!

Maybe the best person to purchase professional surfing, after we bring the World Surf League low, is WeWork’s co-founder and ex-CEO Adam Neumann and I know what you’re thinking. I know you you scratching your head and mumbling, “Adam Neumann? Nothing but bad press surrounding that man. A horrible choice for anything at all…”

…Except maybe professional surfing and we must head straight to Business Insider for the reason why. Shall we?

While executives were preparing paperwork for a public offering that would enrich the WeWork cofounder and CEO Adam Neumann, he was on a surfing trip in the Maldives.

And much of the preparation and drafting of WeWork’s IPO paperwork, or S-1, took place at Neumann’s Hamptons home, The Wall Street Journal’s Maureen Farrell, Liz Hoffman, Eliot Brown, and David Benoit reported on Thursday.

It was there that Neumann invited the heads of the two stock exchanges competing for the WeWork listing — the New York Stock Exchange and the Nasdaq — and asked them to pledge their support to environmental causes, such as eliminating meat and banning single-use plastics in their offices, The Journal reported, citing sources familiar with the matter.

But at one point in the drawn-out S-1 preparation process, Neumann was thousands of miles from the Hamptons, surfing in the small Indian Ocean island republic of the Maldives. To avoid cutting the trip short and missing out on the swell, Neumann had a WeWork employee fly out to brief him, according to the report.

The surf trip came as WeWork seemed to be barreling toward a giant public offering that would value the company at as much as $100 billion and make its thousands of employees rich. But the S-1 prospectus that was eventually released revealed a company that was losing billions of dollars and let Neumann run things in questionable ways.

Tell me you aren’t won over.

Tell me you don’t love the man’s Hardened Purist spirit.

Just opened: The Wave, Bristol, releases first official footage of pool being ridden!

It's a miniature paradise of green lawns and flower beds and safari tents and user-friendly tubes!

A short time ago, official footage of opening day at the world’s first full-scale Wavegarden Cove was released by its spin doctors.

You would’ve seen, if you were quick yesterday, a couple of waves shot from the side of the pool, which is in south-west England, and that had been published on LinkedIn without approval etc. It was unremarkable enough to contaminate the opinion of many readers. A lovely little thing, as pleasing as a slice of watermelon on a hot day and a piece of chocolate but certainly nothing that would transport you to great extremes of ecstasy.

Today, it’s better, although the footage released by the company is more an advertisement for the pool’s therapeutic effects (a man in a wheelchair does a 360 on the beach, a little boy without hands rides what one imagines in his first wave) than its performance capabilities.

To examine the wave in detail you’ll watch the cut Wavelength magazine released a few hours ago.

It really will make the hinges of your door squeak.

The surfers include Reubyn Ash, Jayce Robinson, Gearoid McDaid, Vincent Duvignac, Ben and Lucas Skinner, and Kai and Hans Odriozola

In Melbourne, Australia, meanwhile, the southern hemisphere’s first public wave pool readies itself for a late January release.

Early reports extremely positive.