Rip Curl Newcastle Pro, Day Three: “In a sport held hostage to tourism money, integrity and progression are the easiest oxen to sacrifice to the God of Mammon!”

Retrogression was a theme. Conservative surfing, highly contagious.

Big old day, classic QS-style meat-grinder pro surfing in classic QS-style surf.

We were informed that the daily “mailout” from the judges expressed a strong preference for progressive manouevres but for long, long stretches it was meat and potatoes that won heats.

Retrogression was a theme, so I went back over a decade to the Rip Curl Search at Puerto Rico’s Middles break. The last comp where Andy Irons, a still oft cited figure in the sport who was battling a serious opioid addiction, was alive. Sure ’nuff, in gurgly head-high rights not a million miles dissimilar to what we saw today, Dane Reynolds was a trillion times more progressive.

Whatever that means.

But then, what do we seriously expect?

In a sport held hostage to tourism money, integrity and progression are the easiest oxen to sacrifice to the God of Mammon.

Eventually we did see the usual suspects break the chains and bolt for the exits. Principally Filipe Toledo, Italo Ferreira and Yago Dora.

Gabe Medina to a lesser extent, though he didn’t need to.

His first heat was more a masterclass of slowly applied pressure. A death grip from beginning to end on Connor O’leary who didn’t seem to have the repertoire or the confidence to use it against the champ. One tail-high whipped air reverse on a nothing section was traduced by the booth as being ruined by a “boxy” style, although Richie Lovett soon qualified the slur by claiming the far more post-modern truth that “style is perception”.

Connor spent the last ten minutes like a buzzing fly in the window sill. Post heat in the presser we got a glimpse of the post-Charlie Gabe ethos. Gone is the siege mentality that infuriated some and delighted others (me). In its place is a happy, relaxed Gabe performing in front of a small, tight unit: his babe and coach.

I mourn the loss of that peculiar combination that found slights to their honor everywhere they looked and cooked up strategies of revenge and redress, sometimes served as cold as ice.

A happy, content Gabe is a less interesting specimen of pro surfer to me.

But to each his and her own I guess.

I loved Julian Wilson’s presser after defeating Jack Robinson. A sore loser is a spectacle. A sore winner is an even finer one.

And Wilson was furious.

Robinson had blocked him on the final wave, totally physically blocked him and there was a blood chilling moment for Wilson when he appealed for the interference as Robinson destroyed the wave.

The interference was granted and Wilson put the knife in.

“He’s a good kid but he’s gotta get out of the way with a minute to go.”

Kid. Love it.

He then shamelessly played the local card.

“I live here,” said Wilson “been here for three years”.

I hope he draws Jack Robbo at North Point or the Box. That could be a genuine grudge match.

The heat of the day, the major upset the Woz interns will be frothing over was the JJF/Ciblic boilover.

I’m not saying Ciblic’s injury was a hoax. But if it was, what a brilliant psychological weapon to draw on JJF. Perhaps lure him into a false sense of security and drag him into that low energy semi-somnolent free-surfing state that can sometimes bedevil the 2016/17 champ.

That wasn’t really a factor, at first.

Judges did over-cook the spread on the opening exchange.

They paid meat and potatoes low repertoire over JJF’s variation and whip.

Fair enough.

In my spiked preview piece, I had talked up Connor, talked down Morgs. Thought he was cannon fodder for the big dogs, if you’ll pardon a mangled metaphor. JJF was trying to chip away, throw down some variation.

He fell on an air.

Did the extra stiffness and lack of give in the Carbon Dark Arts play a role, once the pressure came on and the neurons perhaps fired that little too excitedly, reducing all margin for error?

That was my random thought when the errors started to pile up.

A dejected John claimed he would watch the tape straight away, after admitting he had no idea why or how things went wrong. He needed another good wave is about the size of it.

And when judges completely lost their minds and awarded a 9.03 to Ciblic for three turns he was shut out.

The lesson should be: local wildcards are the biggest threat to JJF, as they were to Kelly Slater.

By my notes it was heat seven before anything above the lip was attempted, despite head-high gurgle just begging for it. A standard air rev from Crosby Colapinto got a 5.83 in a losing heat. Afterwards he wished he had gone bigger.

Conservative surfing, it seems, is a highly contagious condition.

Three to the beach. Four to the beach. Whack, whack, whack. That’s what won heats.

Owen, Griff, Kanoa. Kanoa took on Ethan Ewing. E2. Aping a style does not a valid comparison make. I’m talking about the groupthink consensus that E2 is somehow the second coming of Andy Irons. Would a youthful AI have surfed without loosing his fins at least once, tried something at least more radical than the other guy?

Of course not.

Aggression, attitude, creativity, flair, risk: all that defined Andy’s surfing. Not the way he held his arms in a turn. By that measure, Ewing is a pale simulacrum of AI, and I mean no disrespect to him. It wasn’t his call to start comparing himself.

But someone has to do the remedial work so E2 can start building his own legacy.

Japan was big today.

First with Japanese Australian Connor O’leary and then Kanoa Igarashi. Is it merely preparatory marketing for the Olympics or is there a bigger agenda at play to expand back into the Japanese market where apparently two million surfers would provided a willing receptacle for a WSL looking to expand?

It was never explained why a country that once hosted two back-to-back events for years suddenly dropped off the schedule without warning.

Certainly the business case must be tantalising.

A 2019 Bloomberg article featuring our own D. Rielly and C. Smith featured the remark, maybe somewhat cynically, that Kanoa had chosen Japan to compete for because of the money available. He said he was already “way” past two million a year based on Olympics sponsorship endorsement.

If Connor wanted to slice himself off a piece of that action who could blame him, let alone the WSL itself.

We live in the age of Casino Capitalism and Kanoa personifies that perfectly.

Big winners and big losers. Stark white beaks proliferate amongst the Top 34 like flocks of Ibis feasting on over-flowing bins.

Nassim Nicholas Taleb in his book Black Swan called this tendency Extremistan, to differentiate it from Mediocristan.

In Extremistan, Kanoa is raking in millions while Caio has no sponsor.

The Brazilian Storm back markers went for the meat and spuds.

World Title favourite Filipe Toledo did not.

In the last heat of the day, as Medina did in the first, he laid on a masterclass.

As much as his Pipe surfing is a weakness, his small-wave surfing is unbeatable. Would you bet against him at three-foot Trestles?

On a sunny California day with time to spare, the bones warm, the muscles loose, his house and family minutes away?

His boards dialed in?

You’re braver than me.


“He was back-pedalling as soon as he came up, saying, ‘I can’t believe it! I can’t believe it!’ I was still stoked to make it as far as I did, I wasn’t all that angry. I was kinda just shocked that I made it out next to him. I told him to fuck off and that was it. I almost felt bad for being angry at him, he was so rattled.” | Photo: @liquidstorm

Blood Feud: Gold Coast photographer squares up to local surfing legend after Kirra imbroglio!

"KARMA got you and you totally deserved it…"

Kirra Point, once the greatest wave in the world but now languishing in the lower teens after losing its sand to Snapper Rocks a couple of decades back, turned on its best waves since 1994 yesterday.

Lucky Gold Coast surfers, of which there are many, thrilled to four-to-six feet of east swell, Kirra organising the lines into these wonderful green funnels.

And Mitch Parkinson, cuz to Joel, son of hotshot eighties goofyfooter Darryl, star of BeachGrit’s surfboard test series, rode the wave of the day, a tube filmmaker Justin Gane said had the potential to be one of the greatest rides ever ridden at Kirra – at least twenty-five seconds in the hole.

Of course, as vision shows, Mitch’s adventure was abbreviated when a man fell out of the air and into Mitch’s trajectory. Opinion was unanimous online, the drop-in a piece of cutthroat savagery etc.

Now, photographer Aaron Pierce has squared up to Mitch by claiming the act was karmic rebuttal.

Mitch getting drooped in on is KARMA as he himself dropped in on a guy about to get barrelled at the start of the wave before all the videos show! Even worse is a few frames before the shot above I zoomed in and Mitch is looking straight at the poor guy so he did see him, that’s poor sportsmanship and feckn selfish. Sure Mitch’s barrel was impressive and the other guy shouldn’t have dropped in on him as there was probably another 5 seconds at least left in that barrel but it wasn’t Mitch’s wave to have. I have a policy no matter who it is if someone drops in their photos of them getting barrelled will never see the light of day and most likely get deleted, it’s unfortunate as there’s some cracking shots especially a few frames after the shot above is such a heavy line up shot with Mitch pulling in. Too much of this is going on and surfers need to sort this out somehow but how can it be sorted when surfers like Mitch that kids look up to keep doing it and getting away with it, this time though KARMA got you and you totally deserved it, it’s not as though there’s no waves after this one!
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And the way that guy was surfing he would’ve had a good chance making those barrels too, Mitch stole possibly the best wave of his life off him!

When I call Mitch, who is twenty-five, he is watching Kirra from his car alongside girlfriend Bonnie-Lou Coffey, the youngest sister in the four-pack of girls and one boy.

Mitch says he has no idea who the photographer is and dismisses Pierce as “another keyboard warrior.”

Did you look at man inside tube, destined for greatness, perhaps, and take-off regardless?

“Did I see him? Yeah, he was way too deep. He was on a seven-foot board and old mate didn’t have buckleys of making it. He didn’t make it around the first section and he straightened out.”

Mitch says the wave was the best wave he’s ever had at Kirra, “one of those proper long, crazy lines. I’ll probably have to wait another ten years for one of those.”

To the drop-in that ended his ride, Mitch says he was screaming at the interloper while in the tube and that “it was such a fucking good wave. It was heartbreaking for me to watch the clip after.”

The man, he says, was apologetic, knew he’d fucked up.

“He was back-pedalling as soon as he came up, saying, ‘I can’t believe it! I can’t believe it!’ I was still stoked to make it as far as I did, I wasn’t all that angry. I was kinda just shocked that I made it out next to him. I told him to fuck off and that was it. I almost felt bad for being angry at him, he was so rattled.”

Did he hunt man down, beat hell out of?

“It’s all good, fuck, life goes on,” he says.


Open Thread: Comment live on Day 3 of Rip Curl Newcastle Cup presented by Corona!

Ultimate Surfers!

I think we are now, officially, into the round of 32 for men and 16 for the women. Many days on and where each professional surfing contest should start take or take a handful of men and women.

Exciting.

Gabriel Medina vs. Connor O’Leary will kick off the action.

Connor O’Leary is sporting both Japanese and Australian patches on his singlet.

Heat 12 will be the best, featuring The People’s™ surfer Caio Ibelli.

He has won our hearts but will he win D. Silva’s scalp?

Come for the chit.

Stay for the chat.

Comment live here.


Breaking: World Surf League’s much anticipated ABC reality show “Kelly Slater’s Ultimate Surfer” to air Monday, August 16th!

Hot Summer Nights.

And it is as if I willed Kelly Slater television news into existence, for the very second I pressed publish on a shocking revelation regarding his 30-year ago turn on the hit show Baywatch, the World Surf League just announced that its much anticipated ABC reality show “Ultimate Surfer” will air Monday, August 18 2021!

Whoa!

Per the Instagram press release:

‘The Ultimate Surfer’ series will make its debut on ABC Monday, August 16 at 10 p.m. EST/PST.
The series will gather some of the world’s greatest up-and-coming surfers to train and live together as they battle it out at the @kswaveco in the hope of competing amongst the best athletes on the Championship Tour. @kellyslater will serve as on-air talent and special correspondent for the show. Read more, link in bio. @ultimatesurferabc

At time of writing, @ultimatesurferabc has no pictures.

But again, whoa!

The show will air right on the heels of the Olympic Games. I’d imagine the assumption being that all the new fans who thrilled at 1 ft beachbreak will be craving more hot surf action.

Kelly Slater’s Surf Ranch.

There will be more as the story develops, obviously, like the announcement of which WQS surfers are participating etc. but do you have any quick takes?

I’d like to hear them.


Behind-the-Scenes: David Hasselhoff reveals shocking secret behind excessive slow-motion clips of world’s greatest surfer Kelly Slater on hit show Baywatch!

Must read to believe.

It sometimes feels our VAL-pocalyse Now is unique. Surfing being everywhere, absolutely everywhere. Everyone, absolutely everyone, deciding that surfing is the thing to do later in life, paddling out on foam surfboards, turtle rolling them much.

Duke Kahanamoku reincarnated and spruiking Olympic surfing to everyone.

Everyone very excited.

But let us not forget thirty-odd years ago when surfing was lots of places too, including the hit primetime show Baywatch and let us not forget that the world’s greatest surfer Kelly Slater starred, appeared in 27 episodes, more episodes than all seasons of True Detective combined.

A robust run.

Running was, in fact, a hallmark of the show. Running in slow-motion, paddling in slow-motion, surfing in slow-motion.

Obviously sexy but that was not the reason for so much slow-motion as just revealed by Baywatch’s David Hasselhoff.

In an explosive new interview, Hasselhoff let slip, “[The slow-motion] came about organically because we had no money. We didn’t have enough financing to finish the show. So we found a way to fill the hour by shooting people in slow motion. We said, ‘Well, girls in bathing suits look good running in slow motion, let’s just shoot that.’ And we found out that the audience kinda liked it.”

Cost-savings.

Very cool.