Photo: Owen Tozer
Photo: Owen Tozer

Interview with World Surf League commentator and “pre-pubescent boy trapped in the body of a middle-aged man wrapped in the wardrobe of a 00s So-Cal high schooler” Chris Cote!

A man for all seasons.

Encinitas, California’s Chris Cote drove five-ish hours north to Lemoore, last week, parked his 2019 Honda Odyssey base model mini van in a still-freshly paved parking lot surrounded by drought-tolerant shrubs, wandered through a wooden gate, into a wooden booth, sat down and began speaking about Filipe Toledo, Gabriel Medina, etc. across the World Surf League Surf Ranch Pro’s broadcast.

I know this because I was on the other end listening.

So were you.

I enjoyed Cote’s call, his repartee with Peter Mel, and wrote as much on our now-famous Open Thread. Many downvotes and angry “take-it-backs” ensued.

Later, after Longtom wrapped the event, TodaysEmpiresTomorrowsAshes wrote, “Cannot be emphasised enough the absolute joke of a commentator that is Cotes. He’s a pre-pubescent boy trapped in the body of a middle-aged man wrapped in the wardrobe of a 00s So-Cal high schooler.”

How does Cote feel?

Let’s ask.

How do you feel about the criticism?

I use it for humility purposes. I’ll sift through all the criticism and read “Cote’s a wanker,” or whatever, and am thankful that I’m not getting death threats like Joe Buck. But, really, that’s the reason I go on and read BeachGrit comments. If anyone gives a constructive bit of criticism I take it to heart. A lot of it is just the same old kinda name calling though. It’s been happening since I started Transworld Surf but, you know, if they’re not talking about you, you’re doing something wrong.

How difficult is it to call Surf Ranch?

I’ve been doing it long enough now, trying to come up with news ways to describe the same thing. I put a lot into the simple things, like trying to not repeat words, or use triggering phrases, maybe the stuff we said in junior high that’s not appropriate now. I also try to entertain myself. At Surf Ranch, I was adding Wu-Tang references, working Steely Dan in. It’s pretty wild how close people listen. You can go four hours mistake free but one wrong pronunciation, getting one name wrong, that’s what everyone remembers.

Does the World Surf League give specific directions on what you can or can’t say?

We’re a lot freer than most people think but, at the end, I’m working for a client. Their directive is, “This is a professional sport. Make sure it is called that way.” I’ve had clients that say, “Go off, have fun” and that’s what I’ll do, cussing and stuff, but that’s not the WSL. Regarding the positivity thing, I’m that way 24 hours a day anyway but when I’m calling a WSL event I’m a spokesperson for the client and working within their set of rules. There are a few things happening. We are trying to reach out and grow the audience while not alienating the core but can’t have newbies just listening to gibberish. I’ll defend the judges a lot, especially at Surf Ranch. How are you supposed to judge seven turns and two barrels that everyone is doing? It’s hard… I mean, not hard, they have the best job in the world. They get to watch pro surfing for a living just like me, but I think they are really good and rarely totally blow it.

How can WSL commentary improve?

Joe Turpel knows more about the history of competitive surfing than anyone. He is a fount of knowledge but I think so much of it comes down to personal preference about the sound of someone’s voice. Annoying catch phrases. I think it’s important to have a balance of accents and all that. The content, the story, is generally the same throughout the day. We are marketing for the next event, marketing for the championships, marketing for surfing in general. Most people know the stories of the surfers on the CT, already, but I think we can do a better job telling their stories more fully. That’s why it was so fun calling the World Surfing Games, recently. Every heat had so many storylines and so much human interest. It’s important to balance between the play-by-play and the color commentators. I really enjoy working with Pete Mel. Ross Williams is super fun too. They both know so much about surfing. I can’t, for example, criticize Kelly Slater if he falls unless it’s super obvious but those guys can and that makes for good commentary.

What other sport commentary do you enjoy?

Certain football games. Listening to golf commentary is, oddly, relaxing and engaging. I don’t think it gets better than baseball, though. The history of the game, the stats, the long periods of quiet followed by big action. The pacing is perfect for commentary which is why, I guesss, there are so many famous baseball commentators. Oh! F1 racing too. I just got into F1 and, man, is it fun to watch. From the booth to the car’s cockpit where you can hear the pit crew and all that. It is fun to listen to.

*Above photo from phenomenal Looking Sideways podcast and new book. Buy here.

Peterson (right) with friend.
Peterson (right) with friend.

Watch: Western Australia bans surfer, vegan activist, from entirety of state’s pubs, restaurants, clubs for accusing Perth diners of participating in “fish holocaust!”

Meat is murder etc.

Vegan activist Tash Peterson was informed, yesterday, that she would no longer be allowed to set foot in any Western Australian establishment that sells alcohol including, but not limited to, beer, wine and vodka. Disobedience to be met with a trespassing charge and A$10,000 fine.

As you well know, from the recent World Surf League broadcast from Margaret River, the surf-rich state also has vineyards featuring very quaint bistros.

The 27-year-old Perth local received the stiff penalty for accusing diners at a picturesque Bathers Beach seafood restaurant of participating in a fish holocaust.

“Right now, in this moment, there are billions of fish, dolphins, whales and other marine animals being ripped from the ocean, in massive trawler nets and they are suffocating to death,” she said. “This is the largest holocaust in history.”

Peterson was furious when she woke up to police knocking at her door to inform her of the ban, claiming that she was not drunk during her seafood restaurant speech and that she rarely drinks alcohol. She now vows to leave the state, and its waves and its vineyards, as revenge, taking to Instagram and writing, “Guess what WA, I’m getting the f**k out of here anyway, so I can continue to do my protesting in other states in places that sell alcohol because this ban only applies in Western Australia.”

The regular-foot has the makings of a nice cutback and seems to enjoy chunky rights so may regret her decision.

And of all the hot button topics we press here on BeachGrit, extreme veganism has gone unfingered. Do you agree with Peterson, and Morrissey, that meat is murder? If you were sitting at that Bathers Beach seafood establishment would you have looked down at your plate and pondered your life’s path?

Or are you one of those aggressive top-of-the-foodchain sorts who believe eating flesh is man’s right?

Where does Joe Turpel fall?

More as the story develops.

Australian surfer with helmet-mounted 360-degree camera films the moment he comes face-to-face with ‘member of Great White family’: “My thrashing scared it off!”

“Apparently the idea is to stay calm and slowly swim into shore and fast thrashing movements attracts action from sharks."

A surf-mat rider, trialling an experimental helmet-mounted 360-degree camera, has uploaded footage to Reddit of the moment a shark closed in on his legs at Gunnamatta Beach on Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula. 

The footage is pretty classic. Roger Essig turns around, sees the lil shark, a sevengill, named thus cause it has seven gills instead of the usual five, screams and motors outta there, a natural reaction. 

“Fuck, fuck off! Shark!” he says, adding, resigned to his fate,“Fuck me.”

“I thought about how peaceful it was and how the ocean floor must be so far below me, which made me think of sharks,” Essig told the Daily Mail.

“Apparently the idea is to stay calm and slowly swim into shore and fast thrashing movements attracts action from sharks. I had been motionless when it first came up to me, and my thrashing scared it off, so I haven’t decided if I reacted in the best possible way.” 

His reddit pals let him have it, although he good-naturedly deflected each barb. 

Sevengills ain’t in the same realm as Great Whites, seven attacks in five hundred years and no fatals, although they are part of the same family.

It’s a shark hunted by the Chinese for its excellent liver oil, very good for giving a man the hardest of honeymoon dick.

Regular readers will recall, one year ago, a French surfer thought he was a goner when a sevengill moved in on his feet during a surf at Bells. 

Much shrieking etc, understandable as always. 

A meditation on the singular glories of the ocean in light of recent manmade debaucheries: “A world of dew and within every dewdrop a world of struggle!”

Lashing tides etc.

Mount Fuji is an imposing presence. On the horizon, it is immovable; it can be seen from miles away, and it is a physical and spiritual focal point for Japan, as it was for the people in Hokusai’s world. It is sacred, and is the symbol of the natural world’s permanence and balance. But does this tangibly powerful symbol matter to the toiling fisherman in their fragile little wooden boat, at this moment in time? In this fleeting glimpse Hokusai has given us the ability to see and experience it. We can identify with the psyche of these individuals: and nothing matters in this moment, except focusing to keep the boat steady and to survive.

Everything depends on this.

Their lives and livelihood become momentarily at grave risk, and instinct, determination and largely luck may or may not get them through. Maybe in this moment everything is put into perspective. (art history pun intended)

Human beings seek to answer the big questions of life in many different ways. Probably as surfers, we can relate to the moment that puts one into the middle of the dichotomy between permanence and impermanence. Sometimes, it’s an adrenaline thrill, sometimes it might just remind one that despite planning, and the best possible preparation, human fragility will surrender to the moment.

There are a few pieces of art that immediately and universally illicit a response on an instinctual level. Hokusai’s Great Wave Off Kanagawa, 36 Views of Mount Fuji is a master class on compositional control. And, at the same time it allows a profound and fluid view into the human condition; maybe because it taps into that flight/fright consciousness as much as it is an attractive visual moment?

It is compelling.

For many it has been an endless source of inspiration. It is also a conduit to the discovery of human nature as it creates a window for us to look into the existence of ourselves, and ultimately others in a moment of extreme consequence. The image Hokusai crafted continues to allow one to look with fresh eyes, like looking at nature herself.

Yoel R. (pictured) carrying great shame.
Yoel R. (pictured) carrying great shame.

Provocative photo of Israel’s new tourism minister carrying SUP threatens to undo country’s fragile government: “Stop putting the men to shame in front of their women!”

The region remains on edge.

Controversy erupted, overnight, in Israel as the country’s new coalition government threatened to break apart under the crushing weight of an extra large SUP and its paddle.

Perched on the eastern Mediterranean, the usually quiet, non-polarizing parliamentary democracy has just elected its thirty-sixth government made up of centrist Yesh Atid, liberal Blue and White, conservative Yamina and a smattering of other parties.

The group unseated Israel’s longest serving Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, with Yamina’s Naftali Bennett taking the reins of power.

All was looking fine enough until days ago when a video of the new tourism minister, Yoel Razvozov from Yesh Atid, was released depicting him walking up the beach holding a gargantuan SUP and equally large paddle.

It was captioned, “Something they forgot to tell us about the new government: Yoel Razvozov is the most handsome tourism minister we’ve ever had.”

Clearly, and rightly, incensed by stand-up paddleboarding, Bennett stared Razvozov down at the next cabinet meeting and seethed, “Yoel, stop putting the men to shame in front of their women.”

Razvozov, 40, chastened, replied “It’s just for marketing Israeli Beaches,” according to The Times of Israel.

It goes without saying that no country, big or small, wants an increase in SUPpers and the scourge of awkward they drag in their unpleasant wake. That participating in the SUP life is a great shame for anyone but especially for men who are married or dating.

Pundits are split as to whether SUPgate will be enough to topple the government or if it can withstand the serious blow.

More as the story develops.