Breaking: World Surf League cancels upcoming Rio Pro citing the dreaded “abundance of caution!”

"Disorder and lack of progress."

Oh but the World Surf League has just released a scintillating press release detailing how the rest of the 2020/21 World Championship Tour will look/feel.



Highlights included Mexico being pushed back by a month to accommodate International Surfing Association chief Fernando Aguerre’s coup, the Outerknown Tahiti Pro being pushed back two days for outerunknown reasons, Surf Ranch unfortunately still coming up next and the Rio Pro canceled.


The Oi Rio Pro had originally been pushed back from June to August in hopes of safely running the event. The WSL has continued to monitor the situation and made the decision to cancel the event for 2021 out of an abundance of caution for the safety of athletes, staff and the local community. The WSL looks forward to returning to Saquarema with the world’s best surfers in 2022.

Those dreaded abundances of caution.

World Surf League CEO Erik Logan, “We’re really proud that we’ve been able to schedule a truly global tour for 2021.”

Brazil, apparently, no longer “truly global.”

Disorder and lack of progress in Santa Monica, if you ask me.

On the plus side, Kelly Slater now has one less foot injury to fake.

A relief.

Cinema: Critics swoon as U.S. Olympic alternate Kelly Slater dusts off acting career and brings winning performance to Hawaiian beer commercial!

"If a commercial like this is going to work, it has to work moment by moment and scene by scene -- and 'Kona Brewing Co. Surf Lesson 30' does."

Constantin Stanislavski, a notable Russian theater actor, is famous for saying, “Remember: there are no small parts, only small actors.” A very true and honest line that has proved true time and time again including days ago when former actor and U.S. Olympic alternate Kelly Slater dusted off his laurels and re-took the stage in a masterful turn.

Slater, standing on a beach to the left of two “braddahs” made famous advertising Hawaii’s Kona Brewing Company, looks both wry and relaxed as the camera focuses on him.

He is wearing a khaki Outerknown hat, khaki pocket t-shirt, teal and grey Outerknown trunks.

The “braddahs” throw him a beer, he catches it while looking straight at the camera and says, “Pretty simple. You gotta catch them before they break.”

Can a slight island inflection be heard in his voice?


Critics are calling Slater’s performance “inspired” and “welcome” with the late Roger Ebert writing, “I’m not a purist when it comes to beer commercials, and with ‘Kona Brewing Co. Surf Lesson 30,’ that’s just as well. If a commercial like this is going to work, it has to work moment by moment and scene by scene — and ‘Kona Brewing Co. Surf Lesson 30’ does. There are all sorts of unanswered questions when the commercial is over, but I’m not inclined to hold that against it. I enjoy beer commercials for the people and predicaments in them, not for their clockwork plots.”

Very true.

Funny guy Sterling Spencer, doin' it tough. | Photo: @sterlingspencer

US surf star who says he “completely lost” his mind after being hit by a surfboard fin posts troubling Instagram story: “We’re at our breaking point… I feel so helpless with my injury, so weak…”

“It’s been escalating, like, the longer this goes, the worse it’s been getting. It got to a point where I was scared the other day…"

The Pensacola surfer and comic Sterling Spencer who says he “completely lost” his mind after being hit by a surfboard fin eighteen months ago, the injury worsened when a drunk driver hit his stationary car, has posted a troubling Instagram story to his sixty-two thousand followers after an incident with his girlfriend. 

Spencer, who is thirty-five and the son of Gulf Coast legend Yancy Spencer III, hit worldwide fame in 2010 when he posted a dubbed video of a kid trying to get Jeremy Flores’ autograph at J-Bay, with Flores strangling Spencer at the Surfer Poll awards the same year in revenge. 

This video, a day or so old, is a piece to camera where Sterling recounts a “physical” incident with his girlfriend, also posted to Instagram, now gone. 

“Sorry y’all had to see that the other day. I’ve been injured for over a year now and Amanda has been taking care of me every stop of the way and she’s so selfless and so giving. She gives and gives and gives and all of a sudden there’s nothing left for her and she just snaps…

“It’s been escalating, like, the longer this goes, the worse it’s been getting. It got to a point where I was scared the other day and I hate to show that or make her look like a bad person because she’s absolutely not, we’re at our breaking point.

“I feel so helpless at times with my injury, so weak. I just reacted and didn’t know what else to do…

“I hate if this makes her look bad, she’s an amazing person, pleases don’t send negative messages to her, she needs a lot of love, she’s just given so much. She’s tired, man, and I’m tired and just trying to get through this.

“We’re both going to get help and change.

“One more thing. Amanda, she did not hit me. I believe I wrote she swung at me. She was trying to get my phone away from me and it was a little physical but she did not hit me.

“Amanda, I’m so grateful for everything you’ve done for me, day in day out. I appreciate this for the rest of my life. No one’s ever been there for me like this and, I love you and looking forward to better times.” 

Mental illness, as we all know, or should know by now, ain’t a joke. 

When Sterling posted about the incidence of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) among surfers, ie, repeated blows to the head, wipeouts, airs etc, causing a progressive and ultimately fatal brain disease, big names piled on. 

Albee Layer: Thank you sterling. It’s not to say you can’t go hard but that risk is there and pretending it’s not doesn’t help anyone.

Nathan Florence: 100% it is more common than most know! great share bro

Owen Wright, whose own brain injury nearly ended his career: The sad thing is no one is motivated to protect their heads until they have a major accident. After my Tbi the WSL reshaped the way they assess their injured athletes and a lot of the surfers still don’t really follow the protocol and find it hard to give their brain the attention it needs. The long term affects of this is something no one wants to really look at and knows where to go to solve it which leaves our sporting greats and any surfer really, dealing with mental health issues. Good news is it’s been brought to light with WSL and it’s doctors and they are actively still moving in the right direction with long term brain care at the top level. For the everyday punter they need to start realise that wearing a helmet is a simple but effective way that you can protect your head. Wishing you and your family all the best through this journey.

Wishing our brother good health and good luck navigating his way outta this.

John John Florence watchers, Kelly Slater, attempt to discern clues left in explosive new interview: “…and while his knee sounded like the Fourth of July, cracking and popping, he pushed through .”

Tea leaves.

Surfing’s grand debut in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, being held in 2021, is mere weeks away and professional surf fans are growing increasingly thrilled, three questions dominating conversations and minds: How will Japan-by-way-of-Huntington-Beach’s Kanoa Igarashi take being unseated as darling by Australia’s Sally Fitzgibbons? Will John John Florence’s knee heel from his unspecified surgery in time for competition or will he cede his spot to runner-up Kelly Slater? Will Stab magazine savage the Olympics like it does the World Surf League or elevate its tone to match the gravitas of history?

On the penultimate, a new, wide-ranging interview just released today provides clues about the state of Florence’s knee but does it provide clarity?

Let us read together.

“Body’s doing good,” Florence tells The Manual, his blonde hair a trademark mess but with clear eyes. “Once you get to this three-week mark, it just gets so much better every day.”

The swelling is down, the range of motion coming back. Just today he hopped back on his Peloton bike (Florence was announced as one of nine athletes sponsored by the company in April), and while his knee sounded like the Fourth of July, cracking and popping, he pushed through. “It felt good to get my legs moving like that,” he says.


But on the day we talk surfing, we don’t speak of Slater. Instead, we talk of Florence’s own generation, his roots as a Hawaiian, and the people and places that influenced him.

Ending with…

Time is not on his side — Florence admits that if everything with his rehab goes smoothly, the earliest he’ll be back in the water would be two weeks before he’d need to fly to Tokyo for the Games. When he’s able to surf again, it will be in California waters, not Hawaiian, so as to prepare for less-powerful waves that might mimic competition conditions.

Time to sort the tea leaves.

Is a knee that sounds like the Fourth of July good? I’m no doctor, I’ll admit, but it doesn’t sound good and rehab needing to go smoothly in order for Florence to have two weeks of training also doesn’t sound good but, again, no doctor.

Also, is not talking about Slater but rather the people and places who have influenced him Florence’s way of letting Kelly know that he will not give up his slot even if injured? I think it may be a reasonable assumption to draw.

If I was going to put money on it, after reading this interview in any case, I would push it all on Florence heading to Tokyo, Slater heading to Tokyo too, and maybe Shane Stant coming as Slater’s plus one.

My professional surf journalist opinion.

Push turns to shove etc.

The WSL’s Wall of Positive Noise shatters as renegade staff break rank to lambast heritage surfing magazine, “I have seldom seen a media outlet cover the sport that they love so negatively!”

"That's not normal for most sports."

Shock news out of the WSL’s Santa Monica office as breakaway staff members, including its Chief Strategy and Brand Officer and veteran of fifteen years and four months, Mr Dave Prodan, shatter the previously impregnable Wall of Positive Noise™ to single out a much-loved heritage surfing magazine for censure. 

During a recording of the WSL podcast, The Lineup, and in a sub-program called Break Room, where other WSL employees are brought into the game, in this case marketing coordinator, Lyndsey Volk, podcast producer Ryan Faucett, art director Kimberly Hogan and Henry Bear, role unknown, a listener’s question is read out. 

“Is there a rivalry with Stab or is it good for the brand to have an antagonist?”

An unnamed employee unloads,

“Hmmm. It’s an interesting question. So, I work in marketing, for me there’s no rivalry with Stab. They cover us. They’re a media outlet who cover surfing so they naturally cover the best in the world, but it’s not like I’m going on my day-to day, uh, job writing promos or emails saying (funny voice)… oooh… I wonder what Stab’s going to say about this or (funny voice)… ooooh… I’m going too throw this clip in there and see how Stab reacts. 

“But I read a lot of sports media and I have seldom seen a media outlet cover the sport that they love and specifically cover so… (voice raises an octave) negatively… I guess is the word. I feel like there’s a way to have fun with it, like you see Deadspin, stuff like that. 

“I’m not saying there’s no place for criticism in sports, I mean, it’s everywhere, I think the question comes for the fact that most coverage the WSL gets from Stab is negative and that’s why people on Instagram are like, ‘Oh there’s rivalry, how are you responding?’ and are asking us as employees if it plays into our day-to-day jobs. 

“That’s not normal for most sports…”

Following is an anecdote about Mad Men with the WSL casting itself as devil-may-care Don Draper and Stab magazine, a much-loved title founded in 2003, as a meaningless underling. 

Two things. 

1. When did the Stab vs the WSL vendetta begin and how did I miss? 

2. Do you, or can you, speak fluent passive-aggressive, as per WSL employees?

(With thanks to BeachGrit reader, Mr Wilson, for listening to the podcast until the forty-minute mark were the exchange takes place.)