Questions: How do you feel surfing should be represented? What do you want to watch?

"Your people, sir, - your people is a great beast!"

Late last week I became very extremely frustrated with the World Surf League and its President of Content, Media, Studios and Crispy Boys Erik “ELo” Logan for delivering a slate of shoulder programing so ill-conceived, so bland, so tepid, so utterly divorced from anything I have ever loved about surfing plus Oprah Winfrey Network-approved that I lost my motherfucking mind then delivered a barely coherent, way too long, rambling call to arms.

A vaguely decipherable screed.

You might have thought I was kidding.

I was not.

Santa Monica’s vision of surfing, what they want from it, what they want for it, is shit. Utter complete shit replete with every shitty modern trope under the sun. Surfing as healthy. Surfing as unifying. Surfing as evolved. Surfing as environmentally considerate. Surfing as easy to understand, easier to do, easiest to sell broadly with absolutely no barrier to entry.

The best surfer in the water is the one having the most fun, etc.

Just ask Kelly Slater.

And seriously, fuck that. But equally seriously, how many times in surfing’s history has the power shifted from the corporate overlords back to The People™? Maybe it was that way when Drew Kampion was alive in the 1960s mists but it has never been that way in my lifetime. Surfing, as an idea, has always been held by monied interests too cloistered to even imagine reaching.

Until now.

And I’m not kidding.

The Biggest Little Website in Surfing will likely pass Santa Monica’s own in traffic by the end of this month. Almost for sure and obviously I know that the WSL has robust social media channels, apps, etc. but those are all manipulatable and largely fake.

We actually have real power and to ignore that feels like an enormous waste.

But what to do?

Unfortunately I am purely destructive. I love blowing holes in the Wall of Positive Noise but once the cursed thing comes tumbling down what should it be replaced with?

I only know that I want Luke Cederman and his band of merry men to be allowed free access, with camera, to all World Surf League events plus the disappearing of any bloodless rounds but besides that I don’t know.

You do.

We’re The People™ and one of my favorite quotes of all time, attributed to Alexander Hamilton, hero of a fabulous musical, is “Your people, sir, – your people is a great beast!”

Alexander Hamilton was an elitist bastard but tell me, what would really turn you on? How do you feel surfing should be represented outside of the current contest structure which we can easily mold?

What do you want to watch?

It’s time to pound our ninety-five theses onto Santa Monica’s door.

Brave VAL (pictured) in Waimea squat.
Brave VAL (pictured) in Waimea squat.

Dangerous: Brave VALs and pre-VALs descend on North Shore, earn 1365 warnings from perplexed lifeguards!

In Hawaii there's a place called Waimea Bay where the best surfers in the world come to stay.

Oahu’s North Shore is currently getting pounded by very large surf and this is normally a very exciting time, especially with the Triple Crown set to kick off any day now, but also dangerous and more dangerous this year thanks to a wild influx of VALs and pre-VALs.

According to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser:

Surf is up on the North Shore at advisory level heights.

The National Weather Service said that surf on the North Shore will be 16 to 22 feet tonight, and will drop to 12 to 18 feet Tuesday.

Oahu lifeguards gave 1,365 warnings on the North Shore today, the Honolulu Emergency Services Department said.

They also made seven rescues.

Most of the preventive actions and rescues took place at Waimea Bay.

And son of of a bitch I can picture them now those bold VALs and pre-VALs standing there on Waimea’s sand having just consumed a heart-lifting episode of Transformed where the human spirit knows no bounds. Brand-new square-tailed, round nose’d SurfTech longboards tucked under pale but pilates-toned arms. Lululemon boardshorts cinched down extra tight.

Ready for battle.

Thankfully the North Shore’s famed lifeguards got to 1365 of them before the windmill paddling began for who knows how many emergency room visits would have ensued.

Many sand abrasions. Much nasal drip.

And have you been warned off a surf by a lifeguard?

How did you respond?

A dreamy indoor scenario in dirty ol Jerz. | Photo: @perfectswell

American Dreams super-mall: Indoor version of Waco wavepool nears opening day!

"DreamWorks Water Park offered a surreal scene visible through a large, thick-glass wall: a huge wave pool generating two-foot swells that broke on a concrete beach, lapping at the tires of motionless construction vehicles."

American Wave Machines, the Carlsbad-based company who created the tech behind the Waco BSR cable park, has just opened another pool.

This one’s in the new three-million-square-feet American Dream super-mall in East Rutherford, New Jersey, and which had a partial opening last Friday.


The public was allowed onto the ice of the mall’s NHL-sized skating rink and the thrill rides of its Nickelodeon Universe indoor theme park, even though parts of the interior and exterior looked like the active construction sites they still were — and will continue to be for several months.

Outside, there were backhoes, piles of dirt, stacks of unlaid pipe, and rows of port-o-potties ringing the structure, with fenced-off staging areas just across the mall’s loop road.

Adjacent to the rink, where dozens of skaters glided and teetered around the ice, the mall’s colossal, still-unopened DreamWorks Water Park offered a surreal scene visible through a large, thick-glass wall: a huge wave pool generating two-foot swells that broke on a concrete beach, lapping at the tires of motionless construction vehicles.

“Fantastic,” marveled Lionel Cruz, a 57-year-old IT specialist gazing through the glass.

Indoor, heated, waves year round.

My mind is melting. American Dreams indeed. After years of false starts and misfires it seems like we’ve finally hit wavepool singularity.

Offerings explode forth like some tectonic seam has busted its containment.

Will we now see an exponential curve upwards? Technology, quantity, output?

In a decade’s time will we giggle at the offerings of Kelly’s Ranch like a teenager today giggles at a mini disc player or an iPod?

Will there be a wavepool in every backyard?

Imagine the strip mall surfer! Flips and corkscrews on demand. Unlimited progression. Proto-punks sponsored by Starbucks with double-ended boards and fingers raised to the establishment.

There’ll be further divisions in the tribe. Street vs vert. Park vs pool. Almost indistinguishable. Almost. Eight feet of raw east swell will be our only arbiter. Surfing’s Voight-Kampff test.

For now, a strip mall in Jersey is pushing out waves of a quality and accessibility that will soon turn (small-wave) surfing into an assembly line production.

The Big O on the Big O Podcast.

Listen: Owen Wright on the multiple concussions that led to his post-wipeout injury; why he isn’t 100% and sis Tyler’s “post-viral syndrome!”

Isn’t it wonderful to see the Olympics team hone straight into one of the meatiest stories in contemporary surfing?

There’s a lot to unpack from JP Currie’s evisceration of Kelly’s Soundwave. What a trip, right?

But today I’d like to take a different tact, if you’ll allow me to indulge, and lift the bonnet of Sound Waves itself.

I wanna see what makes her tick.

The series came out of WSL Studios, Erik Logan’s media production unit which, as JP said, seems determined to make the WSL look like a cross between Friends and Teen Mom.

It’s the E-Lo worldview, copied and pasted straight from his Insta bio. A #grateful place full of #wellbeing and #squadgoals and upbeat guitar riffs, where anyone can reach their potential. All you need is good vibes’n vision boards. A space where Svengalis like Charlie Goldsmith are not just tolerated, but lionised.

In other words, a fucken Disneyland.

Compare it to this recent interview with Owen Wright on the Olympics media channel.

Introduced by British reporter Ed Knowles, with the interview itself conducted by Kiwi journo Ashlee Tulloch, the tone is straight BBC. Sparse, lean. No bullshit.

It offers real insight into Owen’s dome without the creepy, overwrought post-production that turned Soundwaves into an unintentional snuff flick.

I’d highly recommend the half-hour listen.

A few highlights:

Owen’s injury wasn’t a one off. A series of concussions led up to it.

He still isn’t 100%.

On sister Tyler: “She just couldn’t turn that corner (from Post-Viral syndrome) and then about three months ago she turned it and I was like, ‘Yeah, nice.’ Look out when she comes back.”

What gave me a kick, though, was how Tulloch plays to her non-surfing audience.

From pressing Owen to explain what ‘the inside ledge’ is at Pipe, to this description she elicits of what it’s like to get barrelled at Teahupoo:

“Just to get inside it, you’ve got to put yourself in a position where your mind thinks there’s no way you’re going to make this. Then you get in it, and if you’ve done it enough times, you can see where you are on the reef and have that moment where time kinda just… stands still.”

Top-shelf stuff.

Tulloch shows you don’t need to dumb down surfing down to make it accessible. She presses Owen when it’s needed, but also gives him space to breathe.

There’s a tip to the Olympics at the end, but it’s not forced.

And isn’t it wonderful to see the Olympics team hone straight into one of the meatiest stories in contemporary surfing?

O’s injury and comeback. Tyler’s ongoing illness. The Wrights are a dynasty, the surf game Kennedys, with enough drama, highs, lows, tragedy and success for a Netflix series.

Yet, we hear hardly anything about them.

Where’s our Storyteller-in-Chief when you need him?

Creating a WSL-owned media house is the right path to take. But E-Lo’s saccharine sweet offerings – Inspire. Uplife. Transform! – sit somewhere between Nickelodeon and the Teen Choice awards.

Surfing’s a fucking interesting deal, man. With real stories to tell.

The WSL are trying to move into a territory that’s dominated by sports with budgets and infrastructure that make it look tiny in comparison. The Olympics dwarves them all.

And, if their initial offerings are anything to go by, maybe they’ll be the ones to finally control surfing’s mainstream narrative. Sound Waves be damned.

Chas, you ready for another war?

Longtom on Pipe title showdown: “Italo has to finish in front of Medina at Pipe. He has never finished in front of Medina at Pipe”

And, don't forget Jordan Smith. Ripped off at Keramas, torched at Surf Ranch last year, surely a Backdoor nugget might get high-balled this time around…

I know it’s weird to have BG pouring hot oil on the WSL and still be covering the Tour, as one commentator astutely noted but I think we can walk and chew gum at the same time here.

We can still savage the inanity of the wall of positive noise and offer safe harbour to smart money.

To Pipeline.

You’ve probably seen the numbers breakdown now, with Italo in the yellow and we’ll get to that in a second.

First, Gabe’s fuck-up, as monumental as it was, shook down with the minimum collateral damage for him on Finals Day in Peniche.

Filipe fell at the next hurdle.

Kolohe too.

The real dark horse at Pipe, Kanoa Igarashi, is out of contention. Jordy did not win and still sits behind Medina and the pressure of the leader now sits with Italo.

The breakdown.
*If Italo wins Pipe he takes the World Title
*If Medina beats Italo by at least one spot (while not losing to the other three surfers), he will win the Title
*If Filipe wins the Pipe Masters, he will win the Title
*If Jordy wins the Pipe Masters and Italo loses before the final, he will win the Title
*If Italo places ninth, Medina needs a fifth, Filipe third, Jordy second, and Kolohe enters the equation needing to win Pipe.
*If Italo places 17th or 33rd, Gabs and Filipe will need a ninth, Smith a fifth, and Kolohe a second to win the Title.

Clear as mud, right.

Where we’ll deviate from current coverage is looking into the past five years of Pipeline form. The recent past being the best predictor of the near future, Thanksgiving turkey’s excepted.

Lets start 2015, Italo’s rookie year.
Italo, lost to CJ Hopgood RD3. Heat total 4.57.
Toledo, lost to wildcard Mason Ho Rd 3. Heat total 6.67.
Andino, lost to Keanu Asing Rd2. Heat total 4.90.
Jordy, lost to Gabe Medina Rd3. Heat total 4.5.
Medina. Lost Final to Adriano De Souza.

Italo, Lost to Michel Bourez Rd3. Heat total 10.34.
Medina, lost to Ryan Callinan Rd3. Heat total 11.34.
Toledo, lost to Michel Bourez Rd5. Heat total 15.5
Jordy Smith, lost to Kanoa Igarashi Quarter Final. Heat total 15.74.
Kolohe Andino, lost to Michel Bourez Semi-final. Heat total 13.53.

Italo, lost to Kanoa Igarashi Quarter-Final. Heat total 8.67.
Toledo, lost to Ian Gouevia Rd2. Heat total 11.30.
Andino, lost to Italo Ferreira Rd3. Heat total 4.17.
Jordy Smith, lost to Kelly Slater Rd3. Heat total 7.87.
Medina, lost to Jeremy Flores Quarter-Final. Heat total 6.04.

Italo, lost to Ryan Callinan Rd3. Heat total 2.43.
Toledo, lost to Kelly Slater Rd3. Heat total 6.77.
Andino, lost to Miggy Pupo Rd2. Heat total 5.00.
Jordy Smith, lost to Gabe Medina, Semi-final. Heat total 15.83.

How do you like our man Italo now? Crunching the nut of the maths means Italo has to finish in front of Medina at Pipe. He has never finished in front of Medina at Pipe.

Add 2014 into the mix (before Italo) and Medina has finalled three times in the last five years. His worst result, 2016, seems an aberration. Small backdoor, title already decided and a super-close loss to Ryan Callinan.

Kolohe’s all over the place, good at small Backdoor, lost at sea in proper Pipe.

Filipe Toledo at Pipe. It may happen one day, the Lord works in mysterious ways etc etc. But if you had to bet your kids life on someone making a heat at proper Pipe, would you place your bet on Pip? No, me neither.

Jordan Smith, despite a Pipe story lacking dramatic emphasis, ie wins, seems to have momentum onside. You’d have to think, at some point, judging might eventually swing his way during marginal calls. Ripped off at Keramas, torched at Surf Ranch last year, surely a Backdoor nugget might get high-balled this time around.

Will any of this matter, come December 10. Possibly, probably not.

Forecast, heat draw and the presence or absence of John John Florence with his new bionic knee are all vastly more important unknown unknowns.

I think though, a sly bet on Medina is not unwise.

What say you, gamblers?