Breaking: Did a breach of WSL Rule 171.11 just cost Gabriel Medina the World Title?

"Intentional, unsportsmanlike and of a serious nature..."

Rules are funny things. Live by them, die by them, as they say. For certain you either watched, or heard of, Gabriel Medina’s dying seconds burn of Caio Ibelli during his Round of 16 heat at Pipeline. Medina, and/or his step-father Charlie deduced that Ibelli would not have enough to win even if Gabe was served a priority interference.

And so Medina burned.

Savagely beautiful to watch.

In the post heat interview, Medina shrugged the whole thing off as “…that’s a rule in the book. I used it to my advantage.”


…Did Medina consider Rule 171.11 and let us now read together from the World Surf League’s performance manual.

171.11 Serious Unsportsmanlike Interference
If the Discipline Director and Commissioner’s Office determine that an interference during an Event was intentional, unsportsmanlike and of a serious nature, notwithstanding any penalty available under Article 188 (which may include suspension from Events or an entire Tour), a Surfer will lose the benefit of counting their best Event result when calculating their Ranking on the relevant Tour (e.g. if this Article is violated at a QS Event, their QS Ranking will be effected). Notwithstanding any resulting discipline being imposed by the Discipline Director, the heat in question can be re-surfed if determined by the Head Judge that the result was affected by the Surfer’s conduct referred to within this Article.

Medina admitted himself that he intentionally interfered and I don’t see how the Discipline Director could see it any other way.

Do you?

Calls in etc. and, as always, more as the story develops.

(Thanks to @drewcantreid for the head’s up…)

Comment live: Kolohe Andino v Italo Ferreira v Gabriel Medina in world title decider, Billabong Pipe Masters!

The moment of truth etc.

Today’s episode of the world title showdown at the Banzai Pipeline will be a bag of mixed fruit.

Italo would make for a marvellous world champion, the kinetic motion of his thighs in Metallica trunks a sight to behold. And, laying in a rack in my hallway is a five-ten Tim Patterson with familiar orange camouflage spray, a gift from Italo to my children when I interviewed the Brazilian in Margaret River. All would be thrilled if it became a world title year surfboard. Some value on the secondhand market etc.

My current high-rotation  surfboard is a five-ten Medina shaped by Johnny Cabianca. It is in Gabriel’s exact dimensions and, as I’m fond of telling people, I ride it because it eliminates the excuse of poor equipment for my bad surf riding. A third world title for a man who can win at Teahupoo and Pipe as well as in a swimming pool would be well deserved.

And, Kolohe, well, I have to resist the temptation of running my knuckles up and down his lovely vertebrae. And daddy Dino is a long-time friend.

I joke. ish.

This is a title showdown for the ages.

Kolohe needs to win the event, which isn’t out of the realm of possibilities, although Peterson Crisanto has to be beat Italo in the first heat of the day and Gabriel must lose in the quarters.

Stranger things have happened.

For Italo and Gabriel, it’s a game of who cracks first.

A penalty shoot-out.

A very tough day for God, who must now choose between the three men, all devout.

Who has the divine will?

Watch here.

Billabong Pipe Masters Round of 16 Matchups:
HEAT 1: Italo Ferreira (BRA) vs. Peterson Crisanto (BRA)
HEAT 2: Yago Dora (BRA) vs. Julian Wilson (AUS)
HEAT 3: Ricardo Christie (NZL) vs. Jack Freestone (AUS)
HEAT 4: Seth Moniz (HAW) vs. Kelly Slater (USA)
HEAT 5: Gabriel Medina (BRA) vs. Caio Ibelli (BRA)
HEAT 6: John John Florence (HAW) vs. Soli Bailey (AUS)
HEAT 7: Jesse Mendes (BRA) vs. Griffin Colapinto (USA)
HEAT 8: Michel Bourez (FRA) vs. Kolohe Andino (USA)

Exposed: What the World Surf League doesn’t want you to know about big wave surfing competitions!

Dirty secrets from the belly of the ocean.

We all thrilled at Jaws, each and every one of us, at the bravery the skill the bravery. It was a spectacle that made us forget Pipeline and, apparently, the World Surf League forget Pipeline too. Is it still on? Has it been concluded? Who is the men’s World Champion?

Except while I was watching Jaws, thrilling etc., I became extremely disturbed by the use of flotation devices amongst every single competitor.

Oh my beef wasn’t aesthetic, though it was that too. Big weird bulky things making every single competitor look as if he and she forgot leg day forever. So, yes, that but mostly it was the fact the CO2 is used to inflate the bladders and CO2 is precisely what’s killing the ocean.

The exact thing.

As you are aware, I’ve had a recent rebirth as an activist-cum-surf journalist, knowing that there’s not one organization currently doing anything about the death of the ocean, our ocean. Knowing that it is up to us to save her.

And how will we save?

First by declaring Enemies of the Ocean and shaming them into right behavior.

In today’s episode we will add Big Wave Surfing Competitions to a list that already includes Jeep, Erik “ELo” Logan, Wave Pools, CO2 and possibly Kelly Slater.

Doing good feels good and now I finally understand Greta Thunberg’s whole “thing.”

The frailties of Prophecy: How the WSL and Surfline got the Pipe Masters forecast so wrong!

The beautiful unpredictability of ol ma ocean…

If there’s one beautiful thing left in this charred piece of steak we call mother earth, it’s the unpredictability of the ocean.

Even with all the buoys, virtual and real, computer modelling and so on, man still can’t correctly predict what the surf’s going to be like even one day out.

To wit, for the past few days, the Pipe Masters has been readying itself for a six-to-eight-foot west swell.

“Finals Day is looking really likely for tomorrow” has been the mantra although each morning sleepy eyes on the North Shore reveal nothing like the official surf forecaster, Surfline, predicted.

Here’s a few days of tweets.

Now with two days left in the waiting period, one presumes tomorrow is the day.

But who knows, yes?

The one man I can always count on, and whose eponymous youtube channel always leaves me feeling moderately high, is Jamie O’Brien, who grew up in a rental house at Pipe, won the Pipe Masters in 2004 and who bought his own domicile behind the famous Lopez house, one hundred or so steps from the sand.

Jamie, now thirty-six, was shopping for Christmas presents in Haleiwa when I called.

“Everyone kept asking for my two cents, it doesn’t matter for me, I’m not in it,” says Jamie.

I point out that as a former Mr Pipe Masters and a long-term resident of that stretch of sand and reef, his opinion is worth something.

Jamie laughs and says, “I think it’ll be stressful to be one of those three guys trying to win a world title trying to figure out if it’s going to be the beautiful Pipe they’ve been training for or an air contest.”

For tomorrow, he says it’s going to be “pretty dang good. The swell is 320 degrees which is the almost perfect direction (north-north-west). The wind looks tremendously better than today. I think it’ll be six-plus but the winds might be weird. It’ll start off north-east (good) but then it could be funky. This season has been hard to judge. All the wind models have  been wrong this year.”

And the sand that promises a terrific closeout end section?

“Well, the sand was crazy, the north-east swell brought a lot of sand in. The sand’s not all gone but it definitely looks a lot better than the other day.”

I mention that it’s been fifteen years since he won the Pipe Masters.

“Goddammit,” says Jamie, who won the event as a Rip Curl wildcard. He adds that the labyrinth one must navigate to get into the contest is too much for most to bear.

“You need to have enough points to qualify for the Volcom Pro, then you have to get through four heats or better to get into the Billabong Pipe Masters trials and then you have to get a first or second to get into the Pipe Masters. It’s a nightmare.”

Is he excited for finals day?

“I’m pumped. It’ll be a good show. Finals day is awesome for multiple reasons. The world title showdown happens and I’m excited for everyone to go home. It’s a win-win.”

The shark's manager already angling for rematch.
The shark's manager already angling for rematch.

“Thousands of Great White sharks” gather off the Carolinas and in a “shockingly rare” display begin “bullying and abusing” the universally adored dolphin!

"Sociopathic and wrong."

And this is a bridge to far even for me, even for a surf-cum-shark journalist all too familiar with the severe personality disorders on display amongst that apex predator population. It is one thing for these “man-eating” beasts to knock a seven-year-old boy off his surfboard, terrifying him in the process and likely sending him into therapy for many years and many more thousands of dollars.

Quite another to begin bullying and abusing everyone’s favorite marine creature besides whales.

The fun, lovable, likely better-than-human bottlenose dolphin.

And you would be forgiven for assuming that shark on dolphin violence is standard operating procedure in the deep blue, much like “athlete” on “brain” or “criminal” on “princess” violence is in today’s high school but you would also be wrong.

And we must turn to Myrtle Beach Online for the very latest in this ongoing saga, this current shark-pocalypse.

Proof of a rarely witnessed predator-on-predator sea battle emerged days ago off South Carolina’s Kiawah Island, when a bottlenose dolphin was seen with evidence of a large shark bite.

That’s unexpected because sharks reportedly “swim in fear of dolphins,” which are quicker and more agile than sharks in a fight to the death, according to experts at SeaWorld.

What became of the shark is a mystery. However, news of the attack comes as “thousands” of great white sharks are gathering off the Southeastern U.S. for winter, shark researchers say.

“We believe this dolphin got lucky and survived a shark bite,” Rust wrote on Facebook.

“Dolphins are considered a top predator and generally don’t interact with sharks. But sometimes sharks will target young or sick dolphins, possibly when food resources are low.”

Or perhaps when competition is tough.

If these Great Whites are sociopathic enough to chew the universally adored dolphin how do you think you’d fare all pug-nosed, human and gross?

I’ll tell you now. Not well.

Not well at all.

If you happen to be thinking about surfing in Carolina, either north or south, in the next few months I would very much reconsider.

I would very much reconsider altogether.