Photo: Steve Sherman/@tsherms
Photo: Steve Sherman/@tsherms

Legendary Kelly Slater opens up about surfing’s Olympic debut, John John Florence injury, in candid interview: “I’m from Florida but I don’t necessarily feel like an American. I feel like I came from the Earth.”

"I think there is a good case to be made that you should take the top 10 in the world wherever they are from and then figure out the teams.”

For all of Kelly Slater’s many foibles and personality quirks, often dissected then put on display here, one phenomenal thing about him is his candidness. The 11x World Champion, arguably greatest surfer ever, is not prone to sugar coating or wall of positive noising.

When asked, he will answer and answer what he really thinks.

San Jose’s Mercury News sat down Slater, during the just wrapped Surf Ranch Pro and mined some gems.

On making it to the Olympics via John John Florence or Kolohe Andino injury:

“I don’t want to make it that way. But if that is what it is I’ll take my spot.”

On the current state of Florence’s knee:

“(I saw him paddle boarding and he wasn’t kicking with his knee) so it makes me think he is in pain or really, really protecting it just to be careful. It’s going to be up to him to decide but he is going to be really susceptible to injury again.”

On the Olympic selection process:

“I literally missed making the Olympics by one wave, by one heat. If I had won one more heat from the whole year I would have made the team.” (And in reaction to Filipe Toledo not being on the Brazil Olympic team) “They couldn’t make a little more room for clearly the best guys. I think there is a good case to be made that you should take the top 10 in the world wherever they are from and then figure out the teams.”

On the quality of surf in Japan:

“That time of the year it literally could go lake-flat for a week. That could be much more harmful to our sport than helpful. If guys can’t speed up and do aerials and do the good standard of surfing that we have it’s just going to be a non-event really.”

On which country he would compete for, ideally:

“I’m from Florida but I don’t necessarily feel like an American. I feel like I came from the Earth.”

Team Earth for the win.

Enjoy the rest of the piece with cameo from World Surf League CEO Erik Logan here.

Out now: Afro Surf Book by Mami Wata, “I can not describe the precise nature of the feeling I had, but I can say that is was on that day this black kid decided that he would rebel and become a surfer!”

An essential piece in the surf culture puzzle.

The African surf brand Mami Wata has released a dazzling 300-page hard-cover book Afro Surf, very high end, very sexy, “celebrating African surf culture.”

But rather than show us maps to secret spots and how to navigate buried land mines from ceaseless civil wars to waves we already have an idea exist, this book reveals the surf wonderland that is Africa through the only way to really get to know a place: via interviews and stories from its people. 

Pro surfer interviews, mostly, are as exciting as coordinated copulation between mom and dad after an eighteen-year marriage and an almost paid-off mortgage.

It’s a little different here.

Afro Surf has taken an atypical approach to the interview/story by talking to surfers we’ve never heard of from countries we won’t see on any travel brochure. And it’s a refreshing and revealing angle on a tired and beleaguered equation. 

Man with hammerhead shark.

We learn of Kunyalala Ndlove, born in land locked Zimbabwe. At twelve, he was handed a gift from his father that would change his life forever, a Billabong t-shirt that read, “Only a surfer knows the feeling.”

His best quote: “I can not describe the precise nature of the feeling I had, but I can say that is was on that day that this black kid from the suburbs of Bulawayo decided that he would rebel and become a surfer.” 

Happy surfer, post-session.

We discover Micheal February chose the number 54 on his WSL jersey to represent the 54 nations (some disputed) of Africa. 

We hear the voice of Kadiatu Kamara from Sierra Leone.

“It’s been lonely for me to be the only girl in the water with all the guys. In Sierra Leone, women are afraid of the ocean. They think there is evil in the water. And that makes them scared. But now they are having confidence and loving to be in the ocean and sharing waves.” 

As far as pics of the waves, many fruits are shown but never exposed. 

An epic buy at forty American dollars. 

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.