Big-wave highlight reels should be the spear tip of the engagement funnel for surfing’s mainstream foray. The formula, blood-soaked as it is, works.
Did you watch the Nazaré comp?
No, me neither.
(Too busy chasing a resurgent east coast low ‘round the local beachies… was almost as fun as a wave pool.
But I did see it making front page news on all of the major Australian mastheads this morning.
The freakish incident involving Alex Bothelo, which you’ve no doubt seen in your Insta feeds, has the world’s attention.
His jetski backflipping off 10-foot of whitewash like a kid flicking a bottletop.
The Portugeuse surfer was resuscitated on the beach before being rushed to the emergency ward.
Scary scenes on the live feed.
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Big Wave Surfer @alex_botelho was involved in a very serious incident during the Nazare Tow Surfing Challenge. He was rushed to the hospital and we now have an update on his condition. Currently, he is stable and conscious. He will stay at the hospital for further evaluation. A heartfelt thank you to the safety and medical teams for their quick response. We are wishing Alex a full and speedy recovery.
Latest is that he’s awake and in a stable condition. It’s a sobering injury.
In Australia, broadsheet The Sydney Morning Herald ran it above the digital fold on its home page: Big wave surfer rushed to hospital.
There it was on the populist tabloid news.com.au, sandwiched between ‘Children watch heroin addict overdose’ and ‘Mum, 43, mistaken for teenage daughter’:
Horror as big wave surfer pummeled.
This, in the middle of coronavirus, cyclones, bushfires, political intrigue.
It’s the true nature of surfing’s image in Ma, Pa and Cousin Irvine’s eye.
We don’t matter until we’re falling sideways outta skyscrapers.
Or, as Albee Layer commented on the WSL’s posts, “Our lives are clickbait.”
The news reels want wipeouts, kickouts, carnage. Not BL dissecting the degrees of difference in split-screen top turns at three-foot Keramas.
What percentage of the audience watch speed racers just to see the spills?
The Nazaré comp is manufactured drama. Boom crash opera for a Trumpian world.
Not to diminish for one second the athleticism, bravery, grit etc of the surfers and safety crews involved. They’re lions and lionesses among women and men. The progression envelope of tow has well and truly been pushed, if that’s your thing.
But for the general public, it’s the equivalent of jumping a row of flaming school buses on a PeeWee 50.
Impressive, enthralling spectacle.
Are we not entertained?
E-Lo and his team face an ethical quandary.
The formula, blood-soaked as it is, works.
Big-wave highlight reels should be the spear tip of the engagement funnel for surfing’s mainstream foray.
So do they turn up the pace?
Double down on the drama, and watch the media clippings and advertisers $$ flood in?
But, it’s worth asking the question.
Where’s the line drawn, if not today?