You can't get cooler, you can't get a sexier rebellion than the one Medina is fomenting right now.
In his recent (awesome) podcast with Dave Prodan veteran surf journalist Nick Carroll extolled, without irony I believe, pro surfers as interesting people.
I have a different view.
Pro surfers aren’t uniquely boring, they do, by degrees, become slightly more interesting once they stop competing and start breweries, sell soft-tops, become real estate magnates, ride twin-fins, wander around Mexican pointbreaks etc etc.
Blandness while competing is encouraged, selected for, the status quo.
Early career mid-rangers tend to live in tract housing in new suburbs and think the business of being a pro surfer is mostly about the x’s and o’s of doing cutties, reos, airs and toob-rides good enough to win heats.
The business of being a pro surfer is entertaining the fans enough to justify the huge time expenditure required to put sufficient eyeballs on the sport for long enough to make it a going concern in the attention economy.
Peter Drouyn/Westerly Windina/Peter Drouyn understood this way before the internets. His man-on-man surfing innovation was expressly designed to facilitate gladiatorial exchanges, with a good guy, a bad guy, a winner, a loser.
In short, an entertainment/sporting product that you would care enough about to watch.
Which makes Gabriel Medina a uniquely valuable commodity.
Chas was right to point out the awesomeness of Kolohe’s rebellion against the new format of the WSL, but we’re missing a huge trick if we don’t pay homage to the real instigator of this rebellion on the eve of the Tour kicking off.
Which is, of course, the best true heel on Tour since Andy Irons, double World Champ Gabriel Medina.
Western surf media picked up on an interview with Brazilian site Waves informing us Gabe and Charlie would no longer be working as a team.
Which is a mighty bummer.
But the real story, which has managed to slip under the radar is that Medina called BS on the new location and format that the Wozzle has selected to decide the World Champ.
Whatever you think about Medina, and I know there are squadrons of haters out there, he is no company man. He creates drama with both performance and tactics, maybe the only World Champ in the modern era outside Kelly Slater who even understands the possibility of tactics.
At every turn, the sports governing body has sought to squash down the tactics, largely innovated by Medina, which further dilute the gladiatorial vision of Drouyn. Tactics, hassling, psychological warfare, physical intimidation are part of the behavioural mix at every good surf spot.
By trying to strip them out it bleeds white an already sterile situation.
By taking out the “bad guy” it causes us to care less.
Gabe called Lowers, the location for the Finals, a “weak wave” that favours regular-foots. In a stunning rebuke he said, “We deserve to fight for the Title in a wave of truth”.
Which is not just true, but beautiful.
The Title determined in a wave of truth.
He drew a parallel with Formula One racing and asked what would happen if Lewis Hamilton won eight races and was then forced to compete for the title on a “lottery track”.
Which of course applies even moreso to pro surfing.
I’m wary of speculating after getting (justifiably) whacked in the comments on the EPS article, but how will we deal with a scenario where Gabe is a wave short of victory at Pipe, wins Narrabeen, wins Teahupoo, wins J-Bay, wins the Tub and then gets shafted at three-foot onshore Trestles by Toledo or Caio Ibelli?
Am I making too much of this?
The Dual World Champ, first from Brazil, impugning the credibility of the process of deciding a World Champ?
Imagine Tom Brady saying the Superbowl was bollocks or Lebron James saying the play-offs were junk. It’d be huge news.
The response from the WSL? Silencia. Not a dicky bird.
I really had to laugh.
Prodan in his poddy lamented at length the lack of rebellion in pro surfing, claiming all that was left was a “sad echo of what was cool”.
Meanwhile, the black-eyed champ stands atop the citadel pouring hot oil all over the organisation and they turn away and pretend it ain’t happening.
You can’t get cooler, you can’t get a sexier rebellion than the one Medina is fomenting right now.
It’s never been done.
Never been seen before.
Even Slater at the height of his discontent in 2009 when the Rebel Tour was muted and then CEO Brodie Carr handed the champ a special, one-time only contract to keep him in the sport never openly challenged the power brokers like Medina.
This guy is molten lava.
I love that he’s been so underground in the last year too. Every man and his dog is flogging the internet with surf vlogs and Medina stays silent, comes out and almost wins the Pipe Masters.
The three guys most likely to suffer from a Trestles Final? JJF, Medina and Slater.
What a great little nucleus that would be if this rebellion really took hold and something amazing happened come September.
Am I reading too much into Medina’s comments?
Or not enough?