Rip Curl Newcastle Pro, Day Two: “The performance gap between men’s and women’s tours outside of wave of consequence continues to narrow; a non-gendered wavepool comp has to be on the agenda!”

There's a Wozzle problem with talent, or the lack of it. Guys retired three years should be not be in the conversation with hyped rookies or second-time rookies.

We didn’t get a great deal of meat on the bone for day One of the Newcastle Cup, let’s be honest.

Bit of aerial tomfoolery from current World Champ Italo Ferreira, a strong signal from JJF that he’s ready to throw down in whatever Mumma Nature sends his way, not at all spoiled by the best Hawaiian winter in a decade.

Otherwise, completely forgettable.

Today, thus, was a little more voluminous for the surf fan, starting with the surf size and shape, which was as exuberantly over forecast as day ones’ was unders.

Many, many moments where we could have been fooled into thinking we were watching Bells Beach. The thick, sloping outside wall which offered scope for two committed majors, was quite aesthetic, despite being tagged “fat and gutless” by heat winner Owen Wright and “flat” by Stephanie Gilmore.

Much dead water to plane across before a rambunctious shorebreak begging to be hammered shut.

No real dramas unfolded so a few scatter-gun observations to chew on below.

Straight up can we give props to rookie Isabella Nichols who accounted for Tatiana Weston Webb in Heat two of the round of sixteen. Some nice big chunky hacks, I want to say reminiscent of a female Matt Hoy if that were to be taken as a compliment.

But I was more impressed with the acumen of Nichols in the short profile piece they ran with the heat.

“I want to entertain,” she said.

My heart sang. She gets it.

Tyler Wright, most entertaining women surfer on Tour, also gets it.

I almost exploded on day one, when in a comment in the Booth she said she was sick of the pally-wally cutesy-wutesy charade of women’s surfing and wanted to bring more aggro, more naked competition and emotion to the caper.

It was like we were communicating on a telepathic level, the way Norman Mailer claimed he could do while watching TV in his seventies book Pieces and Pontifications. Rabbit Bartholomew was also suitably impressed. Joe Turpel managed to change the subject.

More on Tyler’s losing heat in a moment.

There were some rare moments of truth today from the booth. Well, Luke Egan leaning on the railings at least.

Egan took aim at the performance disparity between what he termed the “QS” surfers and the established CT stars. That was a fair reflection on reality specifically on Matty Banting, who had been relentlessly pumped up by the pre-tournament hype.

His failings as a CT surfer from the first go around were ruthlessly exposed on this go out in chunky, fat overhead walls.

No major turns. You can’t win heats at a CT level without big turns.

Compounding the failure were the two best surfers on Tour at almost perfect completion rates on 75% power turns. That being Adriano De Souza and Owen Wright. De Souza is retiring at the end of 2021, Owen was last runner up in 2011, a decade ago.

But they both made Banting look like a total amateur.

That sounds cruel. I don’t mean it to be.

There’s a Wozzle problem with talent, or the lack of it.

I saw a stack of CT-level surfing last year and by far the best of it was Mick Fanning. He would have won any heat out there today. He’s been flogging Ethan Ewing in mock heats all summer long.

Is this a problem?

I see this as a problem.

Guys retired three years should be not be in the conversation with hyped rookies or second-time rookies.

Julian looked great on day one in a losing heat. He looked better today. He easily smoked Mikey Wright and Jack Robinson, whose turn game in performance waves still looks a little jittery and staccato to my eye.

You could easily imagine a Tour with a start at Pipe and a finish at the Ments or Cloudbreak where Jack could rack up back-to-back Titles.

You can’t imagine him winning one at Trestles.

Tyler went back from the white Enough is Enough board of day one to a Forest Green Black Lives Matter sled for today.

It was a highly orchestrated thirty minutes. A continuation of her heat and appearance in the booth from nearly a week ago.

During that stint she evinced a heat strategy that would involve the bikini, as a method of trimming any excess weight from the board/body ensemble and allow for the maximum freedom of movement.

The first time I had heard of that strategy, but with an easy to follow logic.

I and many others will choose boardies/trunks over rubber for the same reasons. OK.

She also name checked the team strategy she and Micro had been working closely on and then proceeded to paddle out and sit in the inside rock break near the shorey.

Bugs was gobsmacked.

This is a “remarkable strategy” he claimed, calling it “dangerous” and “risky”. The problem was leaving the red wetsuited Courtney Conlogue out the back solo. There was obvious communication between Wright and Micro, and after Wright had shredded a trio of waves for a heat lead with twenty minutes remaining it looked like brilliant tactics.

Out the back she went.

All event commentators had over-cooked the importance of wave selection, when surfing performance was by far the telling factor.

In this case though, it was critical.

Conlogue cut her snaps short compared to Wrights by far superior full gouges but the large set wave that Conlogue rode for a flat seven was hard to deny.

Tyler sat and sat.

And sat.

Did she get cold in the bikini? Legs cramps a little? Was that a crucial tactical error?

I say, yes.

The winning wave came after a seventeen-minute wait and Wright over-cooked it. That fall was the end of the heat. A very good debrief awaits when they roll the tape on a heat she should have won.

Carrisa was dominant.

Marks did enough to join the dots in deteriorating conditions to get the W on Brissa Hennessy and the performance gap between men’s and women’s tours outside of wave of consequence continues to narrow.

A non-gendered wave pool comp has to be on the agenda.

Many juicy match-ups await in the mens round of thirty-two.

A rookie* bloodbath would be expected with Morgs v JJF, Julian v Jack, Medina v O’Leary, Kanoa v Ewing, Italo v Jackson Baker.

Some serious upsets if not.

A very good day awaits.

*And second timers.


Once again, in the lineup I felt like order had returned, a return to normality for a few short hours. So I’m back in hospital this week. More complications. The waves of samsara keep crashing.

Say goodbye to BeachGrit habitué Offrocker, hit with cancer, age 35: “I am four-fifths salt water and I may be going back to Mother Earth after my three dozen goes around the sun”

"BeachGrit has been such a big part of Sean's surf journey, it gave him a place to relax, a sense of community, and connectedness with the ocean, even if he can't physically immerse himself in it."

A little over a year back, BeachGrit commenter Offrocker wrote about being hit with cancer, aged thirty-five. 

His story Quit-Lit in the Face of Cancer: Reflections on my Last Surf Ever (Maybe) sure hit the buttons. 

“I am four-fifths salt water and I may be going back to Mother Earth after my three dozen goes around the sun. I’ve done my time watching the tides. Sandbars form and melt away. Storms. Rock ledges. Learning winds, and how they swirl down valleys, equating it to long period swell wrapping around seafloor features. All little tidbits of info with no relevance to my now landlocked life, but it gives me joy to know the natural world by force of confronting it and understanding my place in it.”

Offrocker, real name Sean Mitchell, followed up his quit-lit with a story about getting a little taste of the ocean after being floored by his cancer treatments.

“The slow meat grinder of being poisoned every two weeks and watching your body break down in front of you. The chemo port implanted over your pec burrows down all the way into your heart. How the port tugs when you lift your arm above your head.

How to shower with a needle hanging out of your chest attached to a bottle of the same poison that’s killing you, and hopefully the cancer.

A thousand little adjustments.

My life is walking the dogs around and around the block, exercise bikes, core strength rehabilitation, hypervigilent handwashing. All very important, but monochrome.

No, not monochrome, but like when you adjust the filter on a photo… desaturated.

And then last week, out of the blue, I got the reprieve.

After a few rounds of chemo, my bloods were stable and my oncologist let me go in the ocean.”

(Read the full story here) 

A couple of hours ago, Sean’s wife Michelle wrote to tell me that he’s in a hospice, has a couple of days left. 

He has been more drowsy but has periods of lucidity, however, these periods are getting shorter and fewer.  

I just want to let you know that BeachGrit has been such a big part of Sean’s surf journey, it gave him a place to relax, a sense of community, and connectedness with the ocean, even if he can’t physically immerse himself in it. Thank you for creating such a great community. 

We have set up a typeform for messages and photos, please feel free to send through a message and pass on the link to anyone who wants to send a message to Offrocker (click here for link.

We read him messages from this form and show him pictures during his periods of lucidity. It will also become a keepsake for the family. Please pass on our gratitude to the BeachGrit community. 

Jump in, say goodbye to a well-loved brother.


Open Thread: Comment Live elimination rounds of Rip Curl Newcastle Cup presented by Corona!

There might be blood.

Apologies for the lateness, here. I was out enjoying my life unlike the competitors currently experiencing an elimination round in Newcastle, Australia.

Much clenched jaws.

You can watch them, enjoy them, chat about them to your best friends in the whole world below.

What could be better than live professional surfing?

Oh, don’t be rude.

Watch here.


Star of hit Hulu documentary, founder of WeWork, Adam Neumann reveals incredible secret: “This is harder than 20-foot waves, you know why? Because I control the 20-foot waves!”

"I'll take a 20-foot wave everyday for the next ten days."

Surfing’s modern renaissance is entirely undeniable, even to the grumpiest of locals, the grouchiest of saltwater kinks. Our game is officially in the Olympics, Duke Kahanamoku re-incarnated as a handsome Japanese-by-way-of-Huntington Beach boy, more participants splashing around than ever before and on Mr. Pipeline foam boards, purchased exclusively at Costco.

Very famous people carrying this mantle including Jonah Hill and star of new Hulu documentary Adam Neumann.

You may remember the latter as the very rich founder of WeWork, investor in Laird’s SuperFoods and big wave maven, once breaking a finger on an 18-foot wave.

The most important man in surf?

BeachGrit’s Derek Rielly, forever ahead of the game, called it two years ago.

But only recently was it revealed that Neumann actually controls 20-foot waves.

New video of him in front of a room, preparing for an upcoming appearance, telling the group, “I’m preparing for the world show right now so I hope my hair is good. Ok. This is harder than 20-foot waves. (room laughs). You know why? Because I control the 20-foot waves. I’ll take a 20-foot wave everyday for the next ten days.”

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

Then he does a little bottom turn with his hand.

Extremely cool.

Though what is the most extremely cool thing you have ever revealed about your own surfing?

In high school, I once told a girl at Christian summer camp that I was sponsored by Coos Bay’s local surf shop because they gave me a t-shirt.

It was actually a dive shop that had two used surfboards.

I bought the t-shirt.

Controlling 20-foot waves much more extremely cool.


U.S. Olympic Committee reverses decades-long policy of banning protests at the games allowing Kolohe Andino to take knee and raise fist, John Florence to wear “Trans Lives Matter” hat during anthem!

Caroline Marks and Carissa Moore rallying for the historically oppressed!

In a move likely to send shockwaves through international sport, the U.S. Olympic Committee quietly reversed a decades-long policy disallowing protest during the playing of the National Anthem at this summer’s Japan Games and will allow its athletes to rally as they see fit.

A nine-page “guidance” was released detailing the changes and what gold medal winners will now be able to do on the podium including taking a knee, raising a fist or wearing a hat with phrases such as “Trans Lives Matter,” “Black Lives Matter,” “Equality,” or “Justice.”

U.S. Olympic Committee CEO Sarah Hirchland wrote, “This guidance defines latitude for athletes to express their personal perspectives on racial and social justice in a respectful way, and without fear of sanction from the USOPC.”

It also warned athletes not to use any hate language or phrases deemed “impermissible” by the Anti-Defamation League.

All very fine and good, also just in time for surfing’s first-ever appearance in the Olympic Games.

As you know, the U.S. Olympic Surf Team consists of Kolohe Andino and John John Florence, for the men, Caroline Marks and Carissa Moore, for the women.

Which will do what, do you think?

Kolohe Andino on knee, fist in air?

John John Florence sporting a “Trans Lives Matter” hat?

Hmmmm.

The more I ponder, the more unlikely it seems.

In fact, it’s difficult to imagine a more un-protesty group anywhere on earth.

Anywhere historically even.

Kolohe Andino, John John Florence, Caroline Marks, Carissa Moore.

Wow.