Breaking: Shockingly naughty, extremely explicit hot mic controversy overshadows epic final day at Surf Ranch Pro!

Locker room talk.

A shockingly naughty, extremely explicit hot microphone controversy is overshadowing Brazilian Pip Toledo inspiring victory over countryman Gabriel Medina at the Surf Ranch Pro presented by Adobe and threatening to undo years of work the World Surf League has put in to equality, respect, honoring women etc.

The incident occurred on day two of the just-wrapped championship tour contest, held in Lemoore, California, and in the control tower?

Booth?

Booth-adjacent?

The location may never be revealed but, wherever they were, two, maybe more, men can be heard speaking about…

…well, the ears burn to listen and the fingers ache to write.

The sound is extremely muffled, at times, but clear enough, at others, to make out classic tropes plus more progressive, dangerous even, sexual explorations, denigrations.

Locker room talk.

Inappropriate talk.

The hot mic is not solely a potential undoer of co-Waterperson of the Year and owner of professional surfing Dirk Ziff’s empire, of course. Former President Donald J. Trump’s campaign was almost comminated by a now-famous vulgar conversation between George H.W. Bush’s nephew Billy and the then Republican candidate.

Much-used actor Ernest Borgnine caught saying something equally inflammatory though without the misogyny.

The World Surf League’s equally now-famous “stay tuned” screen became fertile ground for many beautiful memes but also fertile ground for…

…well.

Listen here.

(Headphones encouraged, probably required, volume pinned etc.)


Fizz Toledo, cool under pressure.

Filipe Toledo breaks wavepool hoodoo to win epic Surf Ranch final against “caged animal” Gabriel Medina! “A big storm just blew through Lemoore!”

Filipe combines "barbaric turns" and "adult style" to become first surfer to beat Gabriel Medina in three years at Surf Ranch.

For the first time ever, a surfer other than Gabriel Medina has won the Surf Ranch Pro.

In identical three-foot waves, file number “CT3”, world number four Filipe Toledo beat the current tour leader Gabriel Medina, who won the event in 2018 and 2019. Toledo was runner-up in both those events.

Today, hoodoo broken.

Ain’t much to fault about Fizz at the tank, his turns barbaric, his style adult.

Medina needed a 9.28, on a left to win the event, but fell early, giving Toledo his second win of the season (after Margaret River) and pushing him into third on the rankings. 

After two pretty tough days, once each wave had a little consequence behind it, ie make the semis, make the final, win the final, the event went from having the taint of insanity to a magnetism not seen all year.

Filipe thanked God and welcomed the return of his daddy, Ricardo, to his team.

“I’m so tired, I want to go home,” said Medina. “The judges made hard… especially with me… man, I just want to go home.”

Celebrations began as the temperature hovered at forty-one degrees celsius.

In the women, Reunion Island surfer Johanne Defay beat current world number one, the Hawaiian Carissa Moore, although fans were divided on the merit of the win.

Analysis, by Steve “Longtom” Shearer coming shortly.


Open Thread: Comment Live, sizzling Final Day of the Surf Ranch Pro presented by Adobe!

This is the end!


Gaz and Waz, happy in the heat.

Surf Ranch Pro Day Two Analysis: “Like a dog coming back to lick its own vomit the mess of the Surf Ranch has an irresistibly vile attraction to me”

Why cover pro surfing at all is a question any surf journalist has to grapple seriously with during Surf Ranch.

Gots to admit: today’s coverage was much harder than yesterday.

Any lingering whiff of novelty had worn off; what was left was hard, repetitious, (mostly) incomprehensible slog. Why even come back after vowing to never cover it again. Like a dog coming back to lick its own vomit the mess of the Surf Ranch just seemed to have an irresistibly vile attraction to me.

Obviously others had made the same vows and kept them.

I trawled the mainstream press looking for coverage.

Nothing. LA times, San Francisco Examiner, all the Aussie papers. Not a dicky bird.

The surfing media was mostly flatlining. STAB came out with a desultory wrap after yesterday’s opening day which made me think, why even bother? This was a fart in an empty room. It both stunk and created zero reaction. Seven hundred people watching on Facebook Live as the women were about to hit the water, that bumped up to around 1500 as Carissa Moore surfed and stayed there for the rest of the day.

Medina shrugged off any scoreboard pressure and came in just a hair behind Toledo. Performances just under his previous high points, according to my notes from 2018 and 2019, backed up by the judges. There’s no surfer with higher surf IQ on Earth, the ability to read, adapt, master; replicate in a consistent fashion. Gabe mastered Surf Ranch from his opening runs. The software runs perfectly every single time.

Why cover pro surfing at all is a question any surf journalist has to grapple seriously with during Surf Ranch.

There’s no fun it.

It’s equivalent to the mechanical fucking of porn stars accompanied by industrial scale gaslighting from the corporate machine and commentary. There’s a perverse pleasure in being tuned up so high listening to so much anti-reality while trying to navigate back to some kind of, any kind of, objective truth.

Three hundred-thousand gallons of water a day lost from the tub in drought-stricken Central Valley and we get barraged with Greenwashing.

Pure Alice in Wonderland stuff.

Two things stood out. Firstly, the amazing stasis from year to year in terms of the contenders. Toledo, Medina, Owen Wright, Slater. Defay and Moore amongst the women.

Second, the total failure of the wildcards and rookies. Only Morgan Cibilic managed a semi-respectable 14th on the leaderboard (9th place) though that could go down.

Jack Robinson failed, as did Ribeiro, Eli Hanneman, Lucas Vicente, Michael Dunphy, Nat Young, Liam O’Brien, Jabe Swierkocki. Not one could produce a decent scoreline after four perfect waves.

That’s a savage indictment, although on what I’m not sure. The wave itself? The talent level on Tour?

Hard to imagine any elite sport with that much failure put out there. The women were no better. Caitlin Simmers was fun to watch but failed to produce a score. As did Kirra Pinkerton, Alyssa Spencer, Amuro Tsuzuki.

Only previous event winner Coco Ho made a dent in the draw with some stylish tube-riding and swoops.

And the format.

All that was simple, elegant and brutally easy to understand about Surf Ranch, a Leaderboard followed by a Finals Day was butchered by a new system of bonus runs that dragged things out interminably, left us wanting less, in a state of confusion. Give ’em four runs and a Finals Day.

This thing should be over in a day-and-a-half. Let the brutality work its magic. The machine is cruel. Let cruelty reign.

OK, granted Griff Colapinto made full use of the bonus runs on a middle-aged groveller board. Which fitted the Tub perfectly. The vast majority of bonus runs were pissing in the wind. Did we really need to see more Surf Ranch waves ridden by back markers?

I say no.The audience says no. Mainstream press says no.

The direction of the WSL has always seemed antithetical to both commonsense and any kind of grand narrative that can inflame surfer imagination, accelerated since the loss of Fiji and the advent of Surf Ranch.

Why became clearer to me after listening to a podcast with Dave Prodan and a bunch of WSL employees I think called Break Room. Did you listen?

The general level of cluelessness was off the chain. From the top to the bottom they are so clueless they have no idea they are clueless.

One of the employees told an anecdote about how his sister-in-law from Kansas tried to watch a comp and couldn’t even understand how many surfers were in a heat and why. He came to the (sensible) conclusion that the barrier to entry as far as becoming a fan of the sport was high.

True. Very true.

Prodan responded that he thought the problem was the “packaging” and that initiatives in 23/23 would make the sport more understandable to the mainstream.

Watching Surf Ranch makes one realise how laughably deluded that proposal is no matter how much you try and dumb it down for Middle America. The problem with Surf Ranch is both packaging: it’s boring and ugly and drab and repetitive and product: the scoring is incomprehensible to commentary and viewers.

Commentators had no idea how to parse rides and fell back to default gushing over everything. At one point counting turns became a way of grading rides. Ms Kansas has no chance of deciphering a 6.15 from a 6.67. We’ve gone back to the days of three to the beach, except now it’s 15 to the beach. Ironically the mechanical reproducibility of the Tub has made surfing less accessible and understandable than ever to the non-surfer.

It must be shortened.

Guys and gals must compete against each other.

Johanne Defay would beat the entire bottom half of the mens draw on current form. Steph Gilmore surfs deeper than anyone. Sally Fitzgibbons surfed the left better than all save Medina.

If the Tub is to be an innovation then let it be an innovation that erases the distinction between the sexes. If we are going to remove nature from the equation, then we might as well nix biology too.

PS: I think Italo is still a stutter step behind the true contenders but reserve right to withhold judgement until his final bonus runs.


World’s greatest surfer Kelly Slater melts heart of online troll with devastating put-down: “Holy crap! He answered!”

"Rarely does a guitarist have a concert without another instrument.” 

True to recent form, eleven-time world champ Kelly Slater has engaged with a minnow on Instagram who described his Lemoore wavepool as “predictable”. 

Micah Ball, 181 followers, with a bio link to a Jehova’s Witness website, had reacted to a post by the WSL, showing Slater carrying two surfboards as he readied for his runs. 

“So not sure which board to ride on your predictable wave you built,” he wrote.

“Let me help you out,” Slater replied. “If I break a board or want to ride a different board on the other direction, I’ve got not time to grab another. Ah… Sarcasm, the lowest form of wit (but fun nonetheless). “

Troll and master punctuated comments with laughing emojis, Slater’s a pointed retort, I think. 

Ball’s heart quickly melted after the personal missive. 

“holy crap he answered (clap emoji) you gotta admit it looks funny LOL (laughing emoji) all good bro go rip (shaka emoji).”

Then, 

“@kellyslater since I got ya how many boards you broke on your wave is your next question (beer emoji).” 

Slater, howevs, still smarting from the “look funny” observation, punches back. 

“What looks funny about it? We always have 2 backup boards per heat. Rarely does a guitarist have a concert without another instrument.” 

Devastating. 

Ball chastened, accepted Slater’s coup de grâce, a fan forever. 

“@kellyslater true, now stop talking to me and go surf. I’m sitting up the hot mountains wishing I was there (flame and shaka emojis.)”

Recent highlights in Slater v trolls on Instagram include, “World’s Greatest Surfer rips gloves off and goes toe to toe with muralist on satirical Instagram account, ‘Did I sleep with your girl back in the day or something?'” 

“Flat-earthers turn on Kelly Slater!”

And the very entertaining,

“Kelly Slater hits back at historically inaccurate troll: “I don’t give a shit. You’re a on glue. You’re a miserable coward…accusing me of being racist? My girlfriend is Chinese… fuck off!”