Adriano de Souza, seconds after grafting out a Pipe Masters and Title win combo.

Whose world title was best: Joel, Kelly, Mick, Adriano, John John, Gabriel or Italo?

Men's world titles of the decade rated…

Nothing disappoints like an unfulfilled tease.

Last week, Chas threw out the idea that there could be an appearance of some Top Ten listicles for the decade/year/week/day in these pages.

In capable hands, those that can make fun while also provoking debate, that shit heats me up!

But, yeah, since it doesn’t look like that’s coming from him or anybody else, I decided to rank the World Titles for men for the last decade (counting it as a one in the tens of year number, 2010-2019, rather than one to ten, 2011-2020).

10. 2012 – Joel Parkinson

After over a decade on Tour, and four second-place finishes, Parkinson put together an uninspiring/lame enough campaign (even Ol’ Micktory would applaud) that the powers that be at the ASP, experiencing a down year accentuated by the void created by Dane’s departure and sinking level of high-performance surfing, were satisfied enough to gift him with a Lifetime Achievement Award World Title.

I guess it’s exciting, for Joel maybe, that he was able get one, though I can’t escape the feeling that surfing, not to mention Parko’s legacy, would be better if he had not won it.

Think about it.

Who is a more memorable surfer, Cheyne Horan or Barton Lynch or Damien Hardman?

Easy, Cheyne. Forever the bridesmaid, he is remembered for being one of the greatest surfers never to win a World Title, while World Title holder Barton is reduced to being a Golden Retriever in the WSL booth and the only compliment anyone ever gives about two-time Champion Damo Hardman is that he was cut-throat, not remembering that he was actually pretty good.

Joel could’ve been the greatest surfer without a World Title, over Taj, who, let’s be honest, with distinct weaknesses in large lefts, Europe, and competitive strategy, had to have everything break perfectly for him in order to win one.

The only thing to come out of Joel’s campaign is it means there’s hope for Jordy and Julian. Maybe they can stick around long enough to snag their own Lifetime Achievement Award Title in a down year.

9. 2011 – Kelly Slater
8. 2010 – Kelly Slater

A dominant, thrice ascendant Kelly Slater obliterates the field to pad his lead and earn his record tenth and eleventh World Titles. Nothing new to learn from these years, except that Kelly is FREAK, the only competitor with the ability to perform above his own abilities in competition while also relying on overdeveloped mind games and tactical abilities to manifest and prey on the mental weaknesses of his opponents, something nobody else, save Gabe in small stretches, has been able to do efficiently. 2010 places just above 2011 because of Dane, who finished fourth and 2010 and basically quit in 2011, taking with him a large fraction of high-performance surfing on Tour.

7. 2019 – Italo Ferreira

A little early to tell exactly how this one shakes out and is viewed in the future. The most exciting surfer on Tour, Italo finally put together a good enough campaign, with the help of a fortuitous injury and the biggest brainfart/meltdown in ages, to take out a Title, the third different Brazilian to do so in the last five years. Hate to tell people, but injuries are part of the game and health is a skill, like anything else. No asterisk necessary.

6. 2017 – John John Florence

John John’s second World Title was a display of total domination. Despite only taking out one event, he avoided clunker results, making the quarters or better in the contests that ended up counting towards his total. His average heat score (15.85) was approximately 1.70 points higher than that of the next highest competitor (Gabe). Additionally, he was freakishly consistent, showing the lowest variance in his performance by heat score of any other surfer.

At the end of the year, with his performance, the Tour, and surfing at large all firmly in his clasps (stroking his pubed chin hair), John John looked to be in the early stages of putting up a Kelly-like run of Titles, preemptively dashing the hopes (in the minds) of any of the myriad of de Souza disciples (including the ever-fervent Jordan Michael Smith, who summitted Safety Surfing’s Peak at Trestles in the Finals) wishing to practise safe surfing and win.

A man at his apex would not be stopped by anyone but himself.

5. 2013 – Mick Fanning

Mick wins his third World Title to finally exceed Dooma for number of Boring-Repetitive-Surfing-Won-By-An-Aussie World Titles. Not yet attacked by that shark, Mick solidifies his legacy as a winner and true Tour great, influencing surfers to care about their health, pounding brotein shakes and hurling medicine balls. Two titles is nice, but three mean more… the day of his clinching marked the nine-and-a-half year anniversary of him hearing “Portions for Foxes” and then he cried.

4. 2018 – Gabriel Medina

After coming on strong in the second half of the season, Gabriel Medina wins his second World Title to knot himself up with John John, winner of the two previous seasons.

Gabriel’s season ranks this high because, despite John John’s poor performances in the early comps and his injury, and maybe because of them, it finally seems like surfing is on the cusp of cultivating a rivalry for the ages between the two men, one that could pass Andy-Kelly as surfing’s biggest, as both men are of prime age and can duke it out over the next decade.

Gabe shuts down the haters with a masterful performance at Pipe to take the Title and the contest.

3. 2014 – Gabriel Medina

Blitzing the competition from the year’s opening event at Snapper, where he beat a stale, yet fun version of Parko in a controversial decision, Gabriel held off Micktory and jumped ahead of rival John John to take home Brazil’s first surfing Mens World Title.

Delivering on the promise from his performance on Tour as a rookie in the middle of 2011, when he won two events after the mid-year cut (Bob Martyrnez was right about the mid-year cut being stupid), Gabriel cemented his status as both a Tour force and a certified surf villain.

Got that Title before countryman and Trail Blazer apparent, The Lil Plumber, who many irrationally hated, could. People hated Gabby and wanted to see him lose. Pretty good shit.

2. 2016 – John John Florence

2016 was the year of a very rare occurrence: the fulfillment of promise from a child prodigy. Pegged since he was eight-years old as being a “Future World Champion,” John John was finally able to harness his otherworldly ability and produce a winning season, destroying the competition, in turn becoming the surfing Great Man Theorists’ messiah, here to save the industry from a complete Brazilian, anti-style takeover.

Quite an achievement that is, but not the most important one he accomplished with his run, that was legitimizing and solidifying the role of coach in surfing, with Bede The Venerable providing him a traveling companion and someone who could do whatever it is coaches supposedly do.

Surf coaches existed before, K-Hole himself formalizing their use when Dino hired Snips to do so, but none mattered, their status not taken seriously, representing themselves as advice-givers rather than full-blown, schedule making, life choice chooser coaches.

Bede’s success, and his desire to chase points on Tour only to be kicked off, lured Jessi Miley-Dyer(rhea) doppelgänger Ross Williams away from the booth, taking away the best commentator, the only one who could provide anything of value when partnered with Mr. Shrimp-on-the BAHBIE-STEAK-and-LOIBSTAH! guy.

Fuck you, Ronnie.

1. 2015 – Adriano de Souza

No other World Title this decade has been more significant than Adriano’s in 2015. The former Brazil’s future first World Title holder, de Souza surfed determinedly, his performance straddling the Mick Fanning Line, or ripping while reducing risk and never pushing out of one’s comfort zone whatsoever but attacking sections with authority, taking out the Title and giving every surfer on Tour a belief in their abilities.

Every pseudo-contender saw him, with his sub-par style and shelved air game, win and got the idea of using the ADS template. For the next two years, safety surfing reigned supreme, peaking with a Jordan Smith Finals appearance at Trestles in 2017 where he never surfed above sixty percent.

Problem was, none of the surfers trying to pull this off were as successful, many ravaged by mental weakness, unable to maintain the level of focus required throughout the whole year, and others just unskilled enough to do anything.

John John in ascendance the following year killed any idea that this strategy could actually work as a way to take out a Title (works better as a strategy for journeymen like Ace to employ in order to just stay on Tour without bombing out), yet some, like Jordan and Jules and Andino to an extent, still try.

This year was also notable for the exposing of the pox that is Surf Ranch, which Kelly revealed in a video loosed after ADS won the Title to both shit on surfing’s new champion, a man who has annoyed him in contests, and gain some much needed attention for himself.

The People’s Champ, ADS deserved better.

Whatever, Kellz, he took down Mick The Shark Puncher at his most superhuman and aura-filled.


Shark (pictured) snacking on American surfer.

Revealed: The United States of America is now officially “Ground Zero” for vicious unprovoked, unwanted shark attacks in the entire world!

A whole 50% of 'em. Don't say you weren't warned.

But did you think it was France’s Réunion? Australia’s western shore? Oh Canada where delightfully polite men in toques wax on about hockey, poutine and socialized medicine? No, no and no. These idyllic paradisos are exactly just that compared to the vicious, apocalyptic United States where sociopathic sharks, Great White, Tiger and Bull, feast upon the fast food fattened flesh of nominally racist beach goers.

Don’t believe that your America, our America, is now officially the “shark attack capital of the world?”

I wish it wasn’t so but the only place we can now turn is Newsweek. A harbinger of 1980s truths. A throwback to when Patrick Bateman was the most of our worries. Let’s go there without delay. Let’s sniffle a little cocaine (buy here) then dive right in.

Talking to The Sydney Morning Herald, George Burgess, a professor of ichthyology and marine biology at the University of Florida at Gainesville, revealed the location where 50 percent of the world’s shark attacks occur. According to Professor Burgess, the US is the “ground zero” location for shark attacks with its waters attracting the most deadly predators.

Using data from Professor Burgess’ International Shark Attack File (ISAF), the definitive database of shark attacks, he revealed the US had 32 attacks in 2018, which amounted to half of unprovoked attacks worldwide.

He said: “The major reason more attacks are in the United States is we’ve got a very large coastline, two coasts, and we own some islands.

“And of course lots of people. And we are also a nation of some wealth and means, and so we can afford to spend time at the beach. And of course many areas of the country are heavy tourist areas.”

And I am totally sorry. That was not from Newsweek but rather the United Kingdom’s Express by way of Australia.

Still, illuminating. If you live in the United States of America then no more surfing. No more even thinking about surfing. Burn your surfboards etc. especially if they are of the stand-up paddleboard varietal.

Sharks are drawn toward the swish, swish, swish of a paddle.

This is the end.

My friend.

But, don’t worry, more as the story develops.


Portuguese man o' war (pictured) waxing nostalgic while terrorizing.

Death’s Sting: Armada of “furious, aggrieved” Portuguese man o’ wars surround central Florida beach eliciting panicked warnings from officials!

"Dangerous marine life."

There was once a time when Portugal’s navy ruled all the oceans of the earth. The tiny European nation wielded this power by exploring far away worlds, conquering some and destroying others, walloping competing navies while also enjoying lightly toasted Francesinhas.

All things come to an end, though, and Portuguese naval might faded with the invent of Great Britain. Soon there were only aggrieved memories of what once was. The faint tang of vanished power mingling with the smell of bacalhau a bras.

Well, breaking news from St. Augustine, Florida, the oldest continually inhabited settlement of European origin in the United States of America, suggest that a revival may be in the works as an armada of “furious” man o’ wars have surrounded the city, washing up on the beach, stinging people and forcing them to urinate all over each other but let’s go directly to the source, to ABC’s First Coast News for the terrifying latest.

If you are planning to celebrate the holiday break at the beach, be careful. There have been multiple reports of Portuguese Man O’Wars washing up along local beaches.

Photos posted on various Facebook groups showed the Man O’Wars on St. Augustine Beach as well as Neptune Beach.

St. Augustine, Florida (pictured) today.
St. Augustine, Florida (pictured) today.

However, if you are at an isolated beach with no lifeguard tower, there are a few ways you can treat yourself. According to Web.com, you can stop the stinging by rinsing the area with vinegar for at least 30 seconds.

Next, remove tentacles with a pair of tweezers and soak the affected area in hot water for at least 20 minutes

Clean open sores three times a day and apply antibiotic ointment. Bandage if needed.

Keep an eye on the flags that are flying at the beaches. If it’s purple, it means “dangerous marine life” and you’re advised to use caution when in the water.

Remove tentacles with a pair of tweezers? Clean open sores three times a day?

Very disgusting and, I imagine, against the Geneva Conventions. I imagine this will all be reviewed by The Hague soon.

But, quickly, have you ever paddled through a jelly whilst surfing? Was it a Portuguese man o’ war exhibiting his nationalistic zeal? How did it end? Did you bring up Portugal’s failing economy in a dismissive way?

Rude.

More as the story develops.


Big Tease: The Eddie called off as expected “super swell” forecasted to arrive in the middle of the night!

But what if....

I’ll tell you what, no one, or thing, teases like The Eddie. Not Jaws, Pipeline, the notorious fickle Mundaka or Scarlet Johansson. The last time the big wave invitational ran was 2016 when a loaf of bread $1.42, a gallon of milk $3.19 and Xi Jinping was president of China. John John Florence won the day with quiet elan. The time before that was 2009 when a loaf of bread cost $1.45, a gallon of milk $2.69 and Li’l Wayne topped the music charts. Greg Long won that day and I was perched on Waimea’s beachfront amphitheater watching with my much younger eyes.

Those were the days.

But back to 2019/20, the contest was given a “yellow alert” days ago but has since been downgraded to “red” as the projected swell shall, theoretically, arrive during the unsurfable hour of midnight and let us go straight to Hawaii’s KHON news for a word from director Liam McNamara:

“Everybody’s welcome to come out to the North Shore if they want to see the big waves because it’s going to be big. It’s going to be beautiful. Probably going to have some great waves at Waimea and then Pipeline. But unfortunately, the tens and thousands of people that were going to come out for the event? They can go to work. They can enjoy their New Year’s Eve, their New Year’s Day festivities.”

Drat.

A New Year’s Eve Eddie would have been something.

But back to the swell peaking at midnight, imagine if they brought some very big lights down and shined them at the waves. Imagine how wonderfully picturesque and exciting it would be to run as the year flips from 2019 to 2020.

I think we wage a very slight online pressure campaign to see if we can’t get this to happen. No bullying, mind you, just a very subtle questioning of the contest organizers’ bravery.


It ain't the swiftest piece of filmmaking ever made, the pivotal event contained within took place months ago, but as an examination of the life of a champion whose life remains a mystery, fascinating as hell.

Compelling: A behind-the-scenes examination of Gabriel Medina-Caio Ibelli world-title evaporating interference!

Old news, yes, but fascinating as a historical footnote.

You gotta love Christmas downtime.

Our fingers are allowed off the digital pulse for the briefest of windows. The world grinds to a semi-halt in the corpulent haze.

It’s a time to turn down screens and connect IRL.

So it’s odd, then, that the WSL chose to drop a film showcasing the most crucial moment of the 2019 campaign, smack in the middle of holiday season.

While you were ripping into your Chrissie presents and/or bongs, the Gabriel Medina Sound Wave episode was released.

Gabby mic’d up at the Rip Curl Meo Pro Portugal and (allegedly) uncut.

Watch here.

You won’t see no asterix ‘round here.

History is what it is. Italo won the damn thing.

But, the world title outcome coulda been a whole lot different if the Caio interference decision went the other way.

(Re-acquaint yourself with it here.)

Drama unfurled on the beach at Peniche like the sail of an Iberian galleon. Gabby and his crew were straight pissed.

The WSL was steadfast in its avoidance of the controversy beyond an official statement.

An opportunity to put human emotion on centre stage, raw and honest and true, was sidestepped.

Reach and engagement, the twin pillars of E-Lo’s content strategy, went begging.

Until now.

But given the timing – this mid-holiday, post-title dead zone – it’s about as meaningful as a Christmas card in July.

Like, it’s still interesting.

No individual other than R.K. Slater is able to capture attention or clicks like Gabe.

And, unlike the open book approach Kelly takes to public life, Medina is still as mysterious to us as the giant squid. His life outside comp appearances is rarely documented, especially in the English-speaking press.

The opportunity to dive alongside him is a pure treat.

The video itself?

It’s a well edited, well-paced production. Heaps less weird than Kelly’s.

Ever wonder what Charlie’s actual role is? Training? Tactics? Moral support? Waterboy?

It seems like a bit of everything.

But, the whole thing now ranks as nothing more than a footnote. On this, the other side of the 2019 world title race, every heat is ancient history.

And, despite a genuinely interesting peek at the inner machinations of the Commissioner’s camp, don’t expect to learn anything new about the altercation.

The world still spins.

The WSL bumbles along.

Producing, as Longtom said, brilliance in spite of itself.