American tour hopefuls digest news.

Longtom: “New mandatory diversity quotas on pro surfing tour to smash Australian, US, Brazilian dominance!”

A massive shift in the status quo looms.

It might have been the old wife stabber Norman Mailer or gallic poet Paul Verlaine who said “Life is Divertissement”, meaning life is entertainment, amusement, distraction.

True enough, I think, and reason enough for us to celebrate the upcoming Tour Openings at Honolua and Pipe.

In these hyper-polarized times is pro surfing not the only thing that can enable us to stand in the same room together?

Is that not a blessing? Kelly Slater, E-lo, JJF, Gabby not gifts from God sent to entertain us?

Thus we give thanks for the upcoming resumption of the CT and our ability to gather together and talk shit about it.

One thing though.

There is no Championship Tour without a runway to the Tour. Which be the Qualifying Series, and buried in an inauspicious part of the WSL website, unheralded by any presser or Podcast is the upcoming QS schedule.

It demands a little of our attention, in the way Dark Matter demands the attention of cosmologists as an unsolvable riddle.

Actually, I got that wrong.

It’s now the Challenger Series which is the runway to the CT. The QS is the runway to the CS.

The QS is to be divvied up into regional slices to lighten the load on aspirants credit card bills. Surfers no longer need to travel the world, they just surf their region and then get make the cut from there to the CS.

Clear as mud?

The devil, as noted when E-Lo first mooted this in June, is in the details.

And, if someone here can decipher those details you’re a smarter person than me.

According to the released schedule there are 11 events scheduled for Africa, and only four for Australia. Also according to the schedule of the 40 events proposed for the Jan to July QS only four are listed as upcoming, the remaining 36 are listed as tentative.

Maybe more worryingly for Ziff and E-lo is the fact that no CS events are currently listed.

Of course, many, many questions abound.

Will surfers be restricted to their regions?

Can Australian surfers, for instance, crash the proposed four Indonesian events or will those be restricted to Asian surfers?

Australia only has 1000 and 3000 events.

What happened to the Sydney Pro at Manly, which was booked for three years until 2022?

Is the Sydney Pro being re-booked for the August-December CS? In the spring?

If this QS Tour gets off the ground, and that’s a major if, then obvs the biggest losers are the incumbent surfing nations because their numbers on Tour will be cut by new mandatory diversity quotas.

No longer will numbers on Tour be allocated according to talent and grit (and sponno dollars) but according to where you were born.

That’s good or bad depending on where you are from.

Qualifying for the Tour just got much harder if you are a pro surfing hopeful from USA, Australia or Brazil and much easier if your parents birthed you in Asia, Africa or Europe.

Hundreds of QS aspirants in Australia will be culled to just 10 after our leg.

A massive shift in the status quo looms.

It’s made the QS equivalent to club contests, with the meat in the sandwich now belonging to the Challenger Series, of which we know absolutely nothing.

How many events, how many qualify from CS to CT etc etc.

I know it’s my job to decipher this shit-show but if we could be honest, it’s obvious we – and I mean the royal we – are making this up as we go along.

Which will make 2021 the greatest possible year to be a pro surfing fan.

Be you enthusiast or reluctant hate watcher. We will create this as we go along.

So in the interim, before the siren sounds and we get to bathe once more in the sound I think we have all sub-consciously craved during this crazy year, the soothing make believe world constructed by Joe Turpel, can someone please explain the muther-fuggin QS?

Or should we just forget about it and wait for Pipe?


Father and son face off with “giant” fifteen-foot Great White at iconic Victorian big-wave surf spot: “It flicked its tail…faced them… then slowly sunk.”

“He’s had an eye-off with it while it’s circled him, then it came up beside him and brushed his leg… then just rolled at him, looked at him, and he just said his prayers!”

Australia’s busy year for Great White-surfer encounters has continued with a father and son, and the kid’s pal, getting eyeballed by a fifteen-foot Great White, a couple of clicks from Port Campbell, a town on the Great Ocean Road famous for its big wave spots.

Brendan Garreau, his teenage son Kai and another surfer Brodie Tweeddale were doing a little big-wave wrangling when the Great White surfaced nearby.

“This giant fucking shark pops up about 20 feet from him, and he looks at Brodie, who’s on the other board, and just goes ‘holy fuck that’s a shark’,” Brendan told the Murdoch papers. “He said it flicked its tail around and just sort of faced them, didn’t come at them or anything, just faced them from about 20 feet away, and then just slowly sunk. They were about 200m from us in the channel, so they just yelled out and go the attention of the first guys, and eventually the message made its way up to me at the very top of the line. and we just sort of had to group together and make our way in from there. The boys reckon it was five metres. Those clubbie boards are about 3.2m (ten foot) long, and he goes. ‘It was easily one and a half times that’.”

The locals weren’t real surprised.

One shredder was eyeballed by a fifteen-foot recently.

“It was probably the same shark, because it’s a giant, and it’s done the same thing basically,” he said Brendan. “He’s had an eye-off with it while it’s circled him, then it came up beside him and brushed his leg and everything, then just rolled at him, looked at him, and he just said his prayers basically.”

Surfing’s original wonder boy Wayne Lynch, a habitué of the region, is no stranger to Whites.

Watch as he tells the Greatest Shark Story Ever Told, here. 

Five days ago, surfers in Esperance were run out of town by a Great White only weeks after another White had taken a well-known local surfer whole.

Other Great White hits on surfers in 2020?

The hit-and-run by a “freakishly big” White at Bunker Bay near Margaret River,  the killing of teenage surfer Mani Hart-Deville at Wooli, north of Coffs Harbour, the death of Rob Pedretti at Casuarina, just south of the Gold Coast and Nick Slater, killed at the Superbank.

(Attacks on divers by Whites, not included.)


Dirk Ziff (as played by Kevin Spacey) remorseful over purchase of professional surfing.

Listen: “Good rumor has it that billionaire, and co-Waterperson of the Year, Dirk Ziff is fed up with professional surfing and more than ready to pull the plug!”

But Pipeline!

Can you believe that professional surfing is almost upon us once again? Merely days away and I didn’t think I missed it, didn’t even think I could be bothered watching when it returned. You have seen my descent, though, since it left us over just under a year ago. Have watched me scrape the absolute bottom of the barrel with whale vomit stories etc.

Very unchill but now that it is back I can once again write about Filipe Toledo being a chicken.

Who do you have to win Pipeline merely days away?

Filipe Toledo?

Bold.

You can, and should, pick him in our wonderful Surf-vival League.

David Lee and I discussed the upcoming season, today, along with the Surf-vival League and Maseratis being shit but most importantly he dropped a heavy rumor.

According to a source he deemed satisfactory, Dirk Ziff is fed up with his professional surfing investment, the WSL will run this year in whatever fashion they can but then, very likely, the billionaire owner is out the door.

Do you believe?

Does it make you sad?

Don’t worry. I can find new absolute barrel bottom

It’s a gift.

Listen here!


Rumor: President Donald J. Trump considering borrowing page from world’s greatest surfer Kelly Slater’s playbook, announce 2024 campaign on inauguration day!

Shade.

The much ballyhooed 2020 United States Presidential election did not disappoint. An early strong showing from incumbent Donald J. Trump evaporated in the following days as challenger Joe Biden picked up overwhelming mail-in ballot support. Charges of fraud and fixing were levied. Rudy Giuliani etc.

Now, one month on, Trump has not conceded and rumors are floating out of Washington D.C. that, not only will the president not attend the Biden inauguration, he may even announce his 2024 campaign on that very day.

Per NBC News:

President Donald Trump is discussing the possibility of announcing a campaign to retake the White House in 2024 on Inauguration Day and skipping the swearing-in of his successor, according to three people familiar with the discussions.

There is “preliminary planning” underway for a Jan. 20 event to kick off a new Trump bid, the people familiar with the discussions said, though it’s possible the president could make the announcement earlier as no final decisions have been made.

Etc.

Etc.

And shades of the greatest shade thrower of all time.

Our own 11x World Champion Kelly Slater.

But who could ever forget when the plucky li’l plumber, Adriano de Souza, won his own hard-earned world title, 5 years ago? Oh he worked so hard, struggled so much, but when he went to look for congratulatory hugs there were none to be had because everyone was clutching his or her cell phone with two hands, staring at just released images of a miraculous barrel reeling off in Lemoore, California.

Oh, we all know, now, that Kelly Slater’s Surf Ranch is a magnificent bore but back then it was absolutely something and positively enough for everyone, man or woman, to forget the name Adriano de Souza ever existed.

Exactly what Trump is allegedly planning on doing to Biden.

Learn from the best, I suppose.

11x U.S. President Donald J. Trump.


How the fuck did that happen so quickly? Days meld into weeks into years this side of 40.

Surf-lit: “If you count the one drunken, fifteen-minute paddle he had after the beachside family BBQ in February, this will be the third time he has surfed this year. Just that brief tryst was enough to leave him feeling spent”

Only a surfer knows the feeling.

Bob smiles as he pulls his old Rusty shooter from the back of his work truck. The RP custom, shaped during a time of better intentions, is browned.

Waterlogged. The deck sunken. But it still feels magic in his hands.

The yellow pin-line spray. The hypercolour Billabong sticker, placed below the iconic R in a moment of Occ-induced adolescent lust, now emblazoned in semi-eternity.

Even after all these years, the sight of the board in the cold dawn light gets him giddy. Like seeing an old flame.

If you count the one drunken, fifteen-minute paddle he had after the beachside family BBQ in February, this will be the third time he has surfed this year. Just that brief tryst was enough to leave him feeling spent. But after a heavy winter of work he’s expecting his surf fitness to be completely decayed. Fossilised, desiccated, decomposed.

Still, it will be good to get wet.

He shivers as the early morning sou’wester cuts down from the hills and into the empty car park. Fuck me, he thinks, isn’t it meant to be summer almost? His ancient Billabong springsuit will be doing all it can just to hold him together.

It’ll probably storm tonight.

Of course, if he’s really counting, he’d pushed young Kaden into a couple last summer as well, hopeful that his own youthful love of surfing would rub off on his eldest born. Picture a perfect sunny day, knee high foamies pushing across a soft sand bank, Kaden decked out in his new Quiksilver wetsuit, mum filming the whole thing from the beach.

But the kid’s interest had lasted about as long as the first and last nose dive on his 7S fish, which in the ultimate GenZ judgement he had later deemed not worthy of a Tik Tok. (The only thing he’d say to the old man on the drive home after was: “that was NOT fabulous”.)

Bob thinks of his son, his son’s entire generation, chained to their screens like doped up lab rats while the world passes them by, and what part he’s played in allowing that to happen. Then he thinks about his daughter he barely speaks to. His wife he hasn’t been close to in years.

A deep pain like he didn’t know was possible shoots up from the base of his spine and into his shoulders, neck, head.

He sighs as he slides on his Hurley rash vest and Billabong wetsuit.

At least the board still feels right. Comfortable under his arm. Yielding to his touch.

The surf goes as expected. Long bouts of frustration punctuated by moments of bliss.

But hey, only a surfer knows the feeling, as it says across the logo on the small of his back.

And anyway, it’s still good to get wet.

**********

Bob gets home in time to cook the family breakfast. Bacon and eggs every Saturday morning. A rare treat now he’s on that cholesterol diet.

Then it’s yard work: trees to trim, a fence to build, holes to dig. Daughter’s soccer practise comes next, dropping Kaden at the trampoline park on the way. Then grocery shopping with the wife. A quick visit to the in-laws. Pick up the kids on the way home. Get dinner on the BBQ before the sun goes down.

There was something else, too… something he had to do. What was it?

Ah, shit.

Put the Christmas lights up.

How the fuck did that happen so quickly? Days meld into weeks into years this side of 40.

Bob gets the lights up. Sees dinner is cleared. Wife will put away the dishes. The kids can be left to their own devices.

Finally, as the sun sets, he slumps into his favourite chair, switching on some Foxtel to numb out the day. There’s a re-run of the WSL ‘CT summer slam at Cabarita. Callinan v O’Leary. He watches on as the two powerful goofy footers deconstruct the shifty beach break peaks. They’re loose, limbre. Virile. Could’ve been him, with the right training.

“Kaden,” he yells over his shoulder, “come and watch some good surfing. Come and watch what your dad used to be.”

No response.

Bob goes to the fridge, cracks a beer instead. Then melts back into his chair.

**********

Bob wanders outside into the heavy evening air, third beer in hand. Or was it his fourth? What’s it matter anyway?

A sudden eruption of light in his peripheral vision. Even over the neighbours’ second-story antennas he can see the storm approaching. Deep, dark clouds rolling in over the pancaked landscape of his sub-sub division.

Lightning flashes but it’s so far away he can’t yet hear the thunder. He imagines all that fantastic power being muted by the simple tyranny of time and distance. Screaming in silence.

He knows the feeling.

Bob drains another beer as he stands on the back patio. His eyes wander from the storm to the kitchen window.

He sees his wife, finishing up the last of the dishes. For a second they lock eyes, and he senses a distance between them that even he didn’t think possible. But like lightning, it’s gone as quickly as he could register it. So quick he wonders if it even happened.

The Christmas lights flicker on.

**********

Bob finds himself in the garage. His one refuge. His safe space.

He pulls the Rusty shooter out from his truck and places it on the workbench.

The thing sure did bring him some joy back in the day. Three trips to Indo. That one crazy session at Little Groyne in ‘94.

He surveys its sleek, classy lines. The hard rails, the tapered rocker. Hiding a gentle yet pronounced nose lift. There’s still a beautiful board there, underneath the years of abuse. If only it could get out.

He looks around the garage. Beside his dusty old dumbbells and ratty pair of runners is his workout box. It’s covered in all of the iconic logos from the ‘90s, RC, Quik, Billabong, Volcom, Gotcha etc. For some reason he’s drawn to it. A Pavlovian response to those brands that were so formative in his youth.

Bob opens the box. Next to a pair of gym socks and an old bottle of Brut he finds a small black package, about the size of a tissue box. He peers down close to read it.

Hurley After Workout Wipes.

The wife must have snuck them in without him noticing. A secret gift. Her one attempt at affection. At least she tries.

He slides apart the seal, unsure of what will come out. A small white tissue pokes through the opening.

It smells of mango, and vanilla. Feminine.

He takes the moist tissue and runs it down the rail of his board. The alcohol in it clears the decade’s worth of grime from the board’s surface with ease. He pulls out more of the soft white wipes, and sets to his newfound task with vigour.

He dreams of deep caverns and backdoor pits as he wipes the board clean.

It doesn’t take him long to finish the job. He then quickly, feverishly, strips back the wax, exposing the white deck hidden underneath. Like a tan line, he thinks. Like his wife’s tan lines. He remembers when they were younger, how she would give herself to him every night.

But now…

The board glistens seductively under the soft garage light. The symmetrical curves. The pronounced hip. The polished, recessed plugs.

He cracks another beer. Drains it too. Rain starts to fall on the garage’s tin roof.

I’ve treated this thing like shit, thinks Bob. Let life get between us. But here it is, as faithful and ready as the day I first picked it up from the shop.

He holds the board under his arm, squeezes it tight. It might be the beers talking but he swears he feels it vibrate back in response. Signifying its pleasure.

Wild thoughts run through his mind. He presses the shooter’s hard body against his.

He could rip a hole in it, he thinks. Curl up inside it and live there forever.

My one true love. My universal constant.

Is it really so weird to want a board like this? Could it be forgiven if he… if they…?

Outside the rain begins to pour, reverberating so loudly on the roof that it’s all he can hear. And the board is all that he can see.

Bob lies down with it next to him, his eyes level with the Billabong logo. He slides the box of Hurley wipes down between his legs, positioning it between himself and the board.

Well, he says as the rain and thunder continue to pound. Only a surfer knows the feeling.

Bob whispers this to the board over, and over.

And for those few moments, brief yet timeless, Bob, entwined with his board and wipes, experiences a sensation few will ever share.

That few ever could share.

Only a surfer knows the feeling.

A shock of thunder wakes Bob from his sleep.

“You know Ronnie, call me crazy, but I reckon the goofy footers are at a distinct advantage on the backhand out here today.”

“And I reckon you’d be right, Deadly.”

He looks around the room. He’s still in his chair. The Caba comp plays on the TV, Blakey brothers on the call. A warm, half drunken beer is nestled in his band.

His wife sits on the lounge next to him, reading a book.

“You must have been having a good dream,” she says. “Writhing around like a teenager.”

Bob blinks once, twice to make sure he’s actually awake. He can still taste mango in his mouth.

“Must have,’ he says.

Bob turns to face his wife.

“Say, honey. I’ve had a think about a couple of things I might like for Christmas.”