JP Currie to Kelly Slater: “Embrace the madness, happiness is overrated; how many people could dominate for three decades? Only you!”

A scene-by-scene analysis of accidental masterpiece Sound Waves: Kelly Slater, Surf Ranch…

(Editor’s note: The WSL-produced series Sound Waves unexpectedly created a masterpiece with its recent seventeen-minute short on Kelly Slater, and which was filmed around the Freshwater Pro event. The elements that make it compelling are the lovely and loyal girlfriend, the healer and best friend who fills the air with his treacly homilies and then the great surfer, himself, aged but still brilliant, a slightly melancholy bachelor defiant yet beset by insecurities. It’s the sort of documentary even the most jaded voyeur of surf would pay a small fortune to watch. In this story, the Scottish writer JP Currie analyses the play, scene by scene.)

Kelly Slater. At once the most complex and straightforward character we’ve ever seen.

His latest exposure, produced by the marvelously positive WSL Studios, who seem bent on making the WSL look like a cross between Friends and Teen Mom, is superb. Once again, for all the world to see, here is Kelly the Psycho.

We begin with some footage of Kelly surfing the right at the pool. He is shirtless, loose and bald. He blows the end section.

There are slow piano keys. Is it a memorial?

Then the narrative.

Cut-away shots of Kelly, arms aloft, celebrating in happier times. Now he’s camped out in a caravan at the pool like an old tramp, desperately trying to conquer his demons. Kelly’s voiceover states his desire to win another title.

“Everything is against me,” he claims. Age, evolution, etc.

The conflict. The Question: “How many of those world titles would you give me to be happy, to enjoy this experience, to not have stress,” asks Charlie Goldsmith, Kelly’s brain nanny.

We’ll come back to this.

Kelly leaves his caravan and cycles around the Surf Ranch. He’s like an exotic pet they keep on site. He mingles with the other competitors. He gives Strider a hard time for catching too many waves.

He got two.

But there are only seven spares each day, allegedly.

This is Slater at his passive aggressive best. Strider senses this and flees. Kelly tries to justify it to no-one in particular.

There is some footage of Kelly being interviewed, about the Ranch, about his season. There’s the veneer of a smile, but his eyes, oh his eyes! Here he is, surrounded by media and adoring fans, at the landmark technology he designed, built, and cashed in on. He is rich, he is successful, yet…

Kelly is on an exercise bike poolside. Kalani stands by his side, with the poise of a dog warden answering a neighbourhood distress call.

“What board you riding?” she asks, awkwardly.

“A thruster,” Kelly replies.

It felt a bit like when my mum used to ask me if anything interesting had happened at school.

“Kelly you know this wave. Better than anyone. You made this wave. Have fun,” Kalani says.

She’s trying to help. I feel bad for her. It must be a nightmare being around Kelly. But she should know better.

What pre-heat advice to give to the most analytical, self critical, ruthlessly competitive man in surfing?

How about reminding him this is his own creation, that he should have an advantage over everyone?

Or how about telling him just to have fun.

Have fun.

Have fucking fun.

Even I want to reach into the screen and throttle her.

Kelly is gracious, but his disdain is palpable. It oozes through the pixels, it makes your hair stand on end. It’s utterly riveting viewing.

Kelly lies down to do some stretching. Anything to avoid having more board discussions with Kalani.

Charlie appears. Like a silent fart. He wants a hug. He wants to know how Kelly is feeling.

Charlie stares. Charlie has a silly grin on his face. Charlie asks stupid fucking questions.

“Have fun, Kelly,” says Kalani again.

“Huh?” Says Kelly, barely concealing the volcano inside that is screaming HAVEFUN?HAVEFUCKINGFUN?WHATTHEFUCKISTHATSUPPOSEDTO MEAN? WHYTHEFUCKAREYOUTALKING?”

“Have fun,” she says for the third time.

Kelly forgets his vest for his heat, presumably because Kalani and Charlie have been nipping his head and he can’t think straight. It’s ok, Kai Lenny gets it for him.

“You ok, brother?” says a pre-diabetic Raimana as Kelly gets on the back of the ski. “Feel good?”

In lieu of strangling him to death with his leash, Kelly gives him a sharp tap on the side of his gut. It’s a shade away from a kidney punch, and the tone is the same.

Shut it and drive.

But Raimana can’t help himself. He rabbits about the wind. Tells Kelly not to surf in the pocket. Tells him to watch the replays, “good for your confidence”. And then the “have fun”.

Fucking have fun.

Kelly’s first waves are done. He’s back by the side of the pool. Charlie is there.

“I still think you should meditate for five minutes,” Charlie says, coquettishly.

Kelly tells him he doesn’t have five minutes, lies down and shuts his eyes.

Charlie clearly doesn’t get it.

“Can’t you see that it’s better to show people you can still be out there at an older age, enjoying yourself, competing with younger people, than worrying so much about winning.”

His voiceover says as we see shots of Kelly, walking, miserable.

Listen, Charlie. Mate. I’m very pleased that at your school everyone got a medal and a glass of milk and your two mummies were there to cheer you on, but wind your neck in.

Charlie’s website hails him as “Healer. Inventor. Businessman.”

Charlie has invented a healing question, “How many of those world titles would you give me to be happy?”

“The answer should be…the quick answer should be…” Kelly attempts, with the good grace of not ripping Charlie’s happy throat out.

Hold on, Kelly, I want to say. I’ll get this one for you, mate.


You can’t be everything, Kelly, just be yourself.

Embrace the madness.

Happiness is overrated. Anyone can be happy.

It’s the dullest ambition a human can have. How many people could paddle out anywhere in the world for three decades and dominate? Only you.

That’s your Faustian pact. Enjoy it.

Kelly and Charlie are meditating, side by side on a sofa. Kelly’s eyes are closed. He’s going along with it.

“I’m proud of all my achievements,” goes Charlie’s echoey whine. “I love that I’m still competing…”

“How you feeling?” he asks when they finish.

“Good. I almost passed out,” says Kelly.

I’ll translate that for you, Charlie.

What Kelly means is that it was a nice five minutes blanking your whining platitudes. He does feel more relaxed, sure. But only because it took a very deep state of concentration and inner sanctum to overcome the absolute pish you were talking.

“It’s nice to feel like…connecting with the…whole thing,” Kelly says, trying desperately to recall something he heard on the Tim Ferriss podcast. Something that will make Charlie shut the fuck up.

But he is undeterred.

“What’s your job?” Charlie oozes.

“Have fun,” says Kelly, with all the conviction of a schoolboy apology.

Then, suddenly, he breaks gloriously from the facade!

“Smash my competitors!” he exclaims with a grin and a devilish laugh.

It’s beautiful, utterly beautiful.

This is our Kelly. Be our Kelly.


Outrage: Brave young boy catches massive shark, saving surfers and infuriating online virtue signalers!

Meet surfing's own Greta Thunberg.

Is there no beautiful act that snowflakes will not decry as an abomination? No brave deed that cannot be twisted into into breathless outrage? No feat of emotional and physical strength in defense of humanity that will not become a malformed, caustic tableau via the pale fingertips of online virtue signalers?

Apparently not.

For just a few short weeks ago an eight-year-old hero fished a 314 kg (near 700 lbs) Tiger shark out of Australian waters, saving multiple surfers in Bondi, Coogee, Maroubra, etc. and let us quickly meet Jayden Millauro.

An eight-year-old boy who caught a 314kg shark may have broken a world record.

Jayden Millauro was fishing with his dad Jonathan and boat captain Ibby Dardas off the coast of south Sydney last weekend when he reeled in the beast.

Part Tiger Shark, part Jabba the Hutt, all killer.
Part Tiger Shark, part Jabba the Hutt, all killer.

The fishermen threw out a line of bait and the whopping shark followed them just like Jaws in the iconic Spielberg film.

The giant creature swam up to the back of their 7.3 metre boat, called The Undertaker, when Jayden managed to hook it.

‘I was thinking that I hope the crew can (get) the shark (on the boat) because I don’t want to lose it. I was really excited when they got it.’

And how do you think news of our young savior was met?

You’re right. With breathless outrage from the aforementioned online virtue signalers decrying the cruel and wanton destruction of nature. The boy, and his family, were pelted this way and that and even the sport of fishing came under massive attack.

Do you fish?

I don’t, finding it extremely dull, but the other day I posted a video of a happy Russian man playing with his pet lion and got extremely beat-up with “The king of the jungle should NOT be kept in captivity” etc. so know how he must feel.

Very bad.

Jayden Millauro is surfing’s own Greta Thunberg.

Our guardian angel.

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)