The New York Times on WSL’s announced 2020 cancellation: “If surfing — a sport that takes place outside, with physically distant competitors — couldn’t pull off competition safely, was there hope for any other sport?”

But why?

The New York Times, an institution that has seen better days but still important, covered the World Surf League’s announced cancellation of this year’s tour and the changes planned for next’s.

A thorough, though not particularly enlightening piece of journalism (the non-surf varietal), with requisite interviews.

You can read here but there was one line, in particular, that got me. That continues to get me.

“If surfing — a sport that takes place outside, with physically distant competitors — couldn’t pull off competition safely, was there hope for any other sport?”

But I still don’t understand.

Why couldn’t surfing pull off competition safely?

I get that the World Tour, in its current format, would be impossible. Too much international travel, too many competitors etc. but for the amount of money it took to design the WSL Santa Monica headquarter’s lightly used new “studio” couldn’t the team figure out a way to charter a Mentawai boat and take the top five male, top five female surfers to there?

Or Tavarua with top ten male, top five female?

Or Kiribati?

Or the Marshalls?

Or… any island with waves?

It wouldn’t have been branded a “tour” obviously, but surfing could have pulled off a heavy card reprising Italo v. Gabe, Kolohe v. John, Filipe v. Michael Jordan, Steph v. Carissa. A captive audience could have been walked through the way “scoring” etc. works and thrilled at beautiful boys and girls threading gorgeous blue tacos whilst the world sheltered in place.

Inspirational and fun.

So what am I missing? Why doesn’t this work? Why didn’t it?

Help!


Breaking: Hawaii’s first surfing world champ and two-time Pipeline Master, Derek Ho, dead at fifty-five: “He was an artist loath to butcher his style for a few decimal points more on the judges’ cards.”

Uncle Dez, gone…

The great Derek Ho, brother to Michael, uncle to Mason and Coco, four-time Triple Crown winner, two-time Pipe Master and Hawaii’s first-ever men’s world champ (1993) has died, aged fifty-five. 

Earlier today, Ho was reported as being on a ventilator and in a coma with friends and family, including his older brother Michael and legendary lifeguard Darrick Doerner, at his bedside. 

The cause of his death is yet to be revealed.

North Shore pro surfer and friend, Jason Magallanes, wrote, “I will never forget the day you won the world title at pipe, I was walking by Tanyas moms by sunset and you were driving that lil blue hatch back thing. In your high voice he yelled “what boy where you going?” I replied “down to pipe to watch you win the title” you just have me that classic D HO smile and said “jump in I’ll take you down there. I jumped in with you and Tanya and literally watched you win the world title with all the odds against you!!! I’ll never forget when you walked into gerrys house and saw and and said “you gave me the mana saying you were gonna watch me win” and have me a big hug. Fuck man, I ant believe I was just with you and now you’re gone, legends truest never die.”

Pipe stand-out Landon McNamara posted,

https://www.instagram.com/p/CCxdxAchmK6/

 

As Derek Hynd wrote the year before Ho’s world title season in 1993, “He’s an artist who appears loath to butcher his style for a few decimal points more on the judges’ cards.” 

In a conversation with another two-time Pipe Master, Jeremy Flores, last week, he said Dez was still the number one surfer in the Pipe hierarchy.

Get a good taste of Dez as he hits a late-season swell in April, below.


Filipe Toledo (pictured) not dropping into a bomb.
Filipe Toledo (pictured) not dropping into a bomb.

Listen: “If the fresh World Surf League format encourages Filipe Toledo to bravely cower into the new ‘one-day World Title event’ I’ll demand a refund!”

"Watching Filipe chicken out is a sport unto its own."

Well look at us, chatting about professional surfing again. About events and venues, heats and strategy, Filipe Toledo and his tried and almost true personal strategy of not paddling into big waves.

You’ve now had plenty of time to digest the World Surf League’s new format that includes a “one-day World Title event” wherein the five top surfers travel to a yet-to-be-named location and surf for the win.

I don’t like it, no not at all.

Part of the true joy of professional surfing is the year closing at the Banzai Pipeline… a wave that rightly terrifies many including Filipe Toledo. But there he must paddle, every year, with World Titles on the line and there he must throw himself over the ledge.

Or, in his case, not throw himself over the ledge.

But the passion. The tension. Now it is gone and I feel that many pros will refuse to give it a true go at Pipeline, Teahupoo, The Box etc. because as long as they end up in top five they have a shot.

No?

Yes.

This is all an abject disaster.

Tell me I’m wrong except you can’t because watching Filipe chicken out is a sport unto its own.

Or watch!


First look: Kelly “Liberace” Slater rides Waco wavepool; “more heavy clips coming soon”!

"I kept asking myself, 'Is this real life?'"

Well, ain’t this just what you’ve all been waiting for, Kelly “Liberace” Slater thumping the keyboard of his battered piano at the BSR cable-park in Waco, Texas.

Kelly, of course, is the maestro behind Surf Ranch in Lemoore, Central California, now majority owned by the World Surf League whose CEO in 2016, Paul Speaker, predicted, “that all stakeholders – athletes, fans, broadcast and corporate partners – will be super energised by the advent of Championship Tour-level competition with man-made waves.”

Not as energised, I think, as from watching Kelly ride, for two days, with pal Shane Dorian and his kid Jackson, at the American Wave Machines-powered pool that has become ground zero for air practice.

Here’s a little taste, with “more heavy clips coming soon” according to a spectator.

https://www.instagram.com/p/CCwbq51jlYR/

https://www.instagram.com/p/CCvj7sUHIie/

 


Breaking: World Surf League drops “major announcement” in cancelling 2020 season, kicking 2021 off at Pipeline, tacitly admitting “dang BeachGrit knows all!”

"The Age of Unresolved COVID."

Oh but you already knew that the 2020 World Surf League Championship Tour season was cancelled as you are a BeachGrit Man* and get the news before the news but Santa Monica made it official early this morning.

The 2020 World Surf League Championship Tour season is cancelled.

Per a video statement from WSL CEO Erik Logan:

“After careful consideration and extensive discussions with key stakeholders, we have made the decision to cancel the 2020 Championship Tour and Qualifying Series seasons due to the COVID-19 pandemic. While we firmly believe that surfing is amongst the sports best suited for competition to be held safely during the age of unresolved COVID, we have huge respect for the ongoing concerns of many in our community as the world works to resolve this.”

Well hmmmm. What happened to the conviction of one’s beliefs? I mean, I completely agree, too, that surfing is amongst the sports best suited for competition to be held safely during the age of unresolved COVID.

Oooooh “The Age of Unresolved COVID” has such a ring but back to the point, here, why not just hold events? This moment will be viewed, through the lens of historical revisionism, as the one where professional surfing could have become the world’s third most popular sport but, due a lack of leadership, stayed as the world’s sixty-fourth most popular sport, ten spots behind buzkashi.

In other news, and in accordance with BeachGrit’s already delivered summation, the 2021 World Surf League Championship Tour season will begin at Pipeline this December 2020 and roll into the year that looks like this…

-Shiseido Maui Pro presented by ROXY: Maui, Hawaii | November 25 – December 6, 2020
-Billabong Pipe Masters: Oahu, Hawaii | December 8 – 20, 2020
-MEO Pro Portugal: Peniche, Portugal | February 18 – 28, 2021
-Corona Open Gold Coast presented by Billabong: Queensland, Australia | March 18 – 28, 2021
-Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach: Victoria, Australia | April 1 – 11, 2021
-Margaret River Pro: Western Australia, Australia | April 16 – 26, 2021
-Oi Rio Pro presented by Corona: Saquarema, Brasil | May 20 – 29, 2021
-Surf Ranch Pro: California, USA | June 10 – 13, 2021
-Quiksilver Pro G-Land: Indonesia | June 20 – 29, 2021
-Corona Open J-Bay: South Africa | July 7 – 19, 2021
-Outerknown Tahiti Pro: Teahupo’o, Tahiti | August 26 – September 6, 2021
-The WSL Finals: Location TBD | September 8 – 16, 2021

…with a one day event to decide the winner, at the end.

Excited?

Cool.

*The usage of the word “man” in no way denotes “male.”