I woke up this morning in a happy haze. Last night, sitting on an outdoor patio whilst the rain gently fell, I watched Jagger Eaton take Olympic bronze in men’s street skateboarding. Eaton is family and watching him rise to his moment, on a world-sized stage, was electric and it was fun.
So fun, in fact, that I missed surfing’s grand Olympic debut. At some point, during the skate preliminaries, a cell phone was handed my way streaming the show. I watched for a moment, it looked like surfing, then went back to the big screen and the nollie half-cab backside smiths.
The piece describes how surf-saturated society was in the late 1990s with Blue Crush and The OC and Maui Fever etc. etc. but then how it all faded but now, thanks to the Olympics, its all coming back.
Boxy Vans tees and Roxy surf shorts and sun-streaks in hair and things.
Have you adequately prepared for that?
Are you sure?
Surfing goes to the Tokyo Olympics, day one analysis: “Medina and Ferreira are both equally likely to transcend the sport. Medina’s Villain and Italo’s Joker are archetypes that can be understood by anyone”
"Could surfing in the Olympics produce a Shawn White or a Torah Bright, and who could that be?"
So here we are. Surfing made it’s debut in the Olympic games.
It probably meant a whole lot to a few people, no-one I know though, or know that I know.
Did you catch the Opening Ceremony?
No, me neither, although apparently Owen Wright looked suitably insouciant wandering out into the stadium. He would not have looked as dashing as Team USA, whose logoed up Polos took the cake for team attire.
For those who did not see, Kelly Slater did not find a way to finagle his way into the Olympic debut, which means that box will definitely not be ticked in his career.
It was left to the two injured stars Kolohe Andino and John John Florence to fly the Stars and Stripes for the men. Neither was eliminated on Day One despite JJF looking very shaky in his round one heat in one-to-three-feet “challenging” conditions.
He did not look back to full strength, but then he didn’t look the full quid in Aussie beachbreaks, either. Andino looked fresher, bringing the full complement of repertoire to junky gurglers, which looked very much like the day at D-bah when he lost the QuikPro final to Italo Ferriera in the dying seconds.
What did we expect for Japan? Junky little waves. That’s what we got for Day One, albeit with a slow improving trend late in the day.
Surprisingly, there was a lot to like.
Minus the crowds on the beach, and the relentless Tourism Propaganda on the broadcast there was a folksy, down-home feel that at times felt more like a local boardriders contest than the Olympic games. Few tents on the beach, few cats cheering on their buddies. No massive corporate super-structures.
I couldn’t find any surfing pals who had the Olympic froth on but finally got a text from a comrade in the production biz. He found the lack of “corporate fluffing” at the end of heats refreshing. No hats, no drinks, no sunglasses., just points, loose lycra shirts and a moribund sense of liberation.
I very much concur.
Of course, that may have been the vision from the Duke, although they almost smothered the broadcast by laying on the origin story in nauseating fashion, but it ain’t the way Elo and the Woz see the ‘Lympics. With the failure of the Wavepool to capture Middle America they’ve now bet the farm on the billions of Olympic viewers to blast surfing into the mainstream.
According to Elo, the exposure and attention from Tokyo is going to fund sponsorship for the QS warriors and bankroll the sport in a way never seen before. That’s paraphrasing but close enough to a word for word quote.
He’s a flim-flam man so of course so we file that under “well he would say that wouldn’t he”.
Perhaps the Medinas and Moores and Gilmores might pad out the endorsement book with some more non-endemic sponsorship but will that filter down to the Billy Stairmands or Connor O’Learys? Could surfing in the Olympics produce a Shawn White or a Torah Bright, and who could that be?
Gilmore and Fitzgibbon are near the end of their careers, as is Owen, and Julian has already announced retirement.
Carissa Moore could go nuclear.
Medina and Ferreira are both equally likely to transcend the sport. Medina’s Villain and Italo’s Joker are archetypes that can be understood by anyone. A young Slater obvs would have been the perfect candidate. Kanoa has a fairytale finish potentially in front of him and a potent mix of characteristics (First Japanese Champion etc etc) that mainstream media would gobble up.
Casting around for a potential superstar amongst the no names only New Zealand’s Ella Williams stood out.
She bubbled like a Rotorua geyser on the dark sands of Shidashita beach pre heat but unfortunately due to the lack of post-heat pressers we were denied her take on the day. The other gal with a story and a potential for the big time was Israeli chick Anat Lelior. Israeli gals who have done time in the IDF are known for being extremely bad-assed and the Tel Aviv native showed some very handy skills in the shitty beachbreak.
Sadly, knocked in the last heat of the day. At 21, probably a few more Olympics in Lelior’s future and I think she will have the lady stones for Teahupoo in ’24.
The spread between the Tour surfers and the no-names intrigued me sufficiently to last the day and as a preliminary answer to the question: Is there a roughy capable of taking an Olympic medal off a CT surfer? Italo blasted a two-point plus spread back to the field in heat one which included Tour surfer Leo Fioravanti. Typical, hyperactive, high-rep performance from Italo. Lots of waves on a semi-wedging warm water beachbreak with an air wind. Thats as close to a sure thing in professional surfing as there is.
Kanoa put a smaller sub-two point margin on Peruvian Miguel Tudela in heat two, a guy I only knew as a Pipe Stud and had no idea he could whip rotations in measly beachbreak.
Julian came last in his round three heat, looked like he has all year to my eye. Surfed incredible but couldn’t put a heat together. The other tour surfer, Kolohe Andino, was beaten by a point and change by Lucas Mesinas. Another Peruvian stud who grew up in the town that inspired Hemingway’s Old Man and the Sea.
Owen laid on a paper-thin winning margin on Moroccan surfer Ramzi Boukhiam. It took Medina in the next heat to restore the natural order, if we are to believe that the tour surfers are the best of the best. It was a joy to watch him get passed by German Leo Glatzer and then launch a furious volley of single manouevre tail-high airs complete with death stares and claims to retake the lead.
That two-plus point spread, I think, will be the definitive metric for determining winners and medallists. Carissa Moore maintained it, as did Fitzgibbons and Gilmore who sizzled against a thirty-six-year-old Silvana Lima using a subtle but dominant front foot to back foot shimmy to accentuate turns in improving surf.
Caz Marks put a five-point spread on her opponents.
The potential for a Blue Crush-style explosion has more potential in the women’s draw, featuring a mix of established stars, hardy campaigners drawn out of retirement and genuine surprise packets like Williams and Lelior. Japanese surfers progressed.
Wilson snuck through in his repecharge heat, JJF found a spark missing from his round one heat to advance.
The commentary was fine, less annoying that it could have been trying to educate Joe Sixpack on the difference between goofy and natural.
Very “pro-ocean” which would seem to signal the death knell of any idea that Olympic surfing will ever happen in a wave basin.
More of the same coming, except better, for Mon/Tues.
Blood feud: Surfing great Shaun Tomson slams marquee Volcom surfer in wild harangue, “Noa Deane, he’s a big mouth, I want to see that dude get a wildcard at ten-foot Pipe against Gabriel Medina. He’ll be crying! His body will be flayed!”
"The guy’s got a big mouth and never stops whining about the WSL. Let’s see that dude step up!"
The great Shaun Tomson, a man who redefined backside tuberiding at Pipeline in 1975 and who won a world title at twenty-two, has hit out at the Australian surfer Noa Deane for his since redacted anti-WSL stance.
In a wild harangue on podcast The Boardroom, which is oiled by Surfer’s former online editor Scott Bass, Tomson, now sixty-six, is led into a discussion about the WSL, wildcards, and so on.
Tomson is a a clean-skin with a fiery anti-drugs stance and was once described by Kelly Slater as the “ultimate pro”.
Fifty-three minute in he fumes.
“I’d love to see these wildcards, you know, the big mouths like Noa Deane, big mouth, I want to see that dude, give him a wildcard at ten-foot Pipe. I want to see Noa Deane with his big mouth come up against Italo Ferreira and let’s see what happens.”
A theatrical pause.
“Let me tell you, the dude will be savaged! He will be cryyyyying… with his body… he will be flayed. The guy’s got a big mouth and never stops whining about the WSL. Let’s see that dude step up! People just let these dudes chirp. Step up and put up or shut up!”
It’s a pretty good effort to get a little emotion out of Shaun, he ain’t one for stepping out of his usual boundary lines of positivity, surfing-for-everyone etc.
Sadly for Shaun, ol Noa set his anti-WSL trip aside two days after the Surfer Poll awards in 2014 when he described his “fuck the WSL” moment as “incredibly stupid… I’m meant to be a role model in surfing and my actions on the night were not appropriate and that was not the time or place to voice that opinion.”
Wildcards at Pipe?
Three years ago, he took down world champ John John Florence at the Volcom Pipe Pro… at ten-foot Pipeline.
Mainstream Media credits forecasting website Surfline with “guaranteeing waves” for surfing’s Olympic debut!
In an exceptionally bullish claim, forecasting website Surfline has gone on record stating that there will be quality waves on tap for surfing’s grand Olympic debut. An exceptionally bullish claim that the mainstream media, not generally known for trading on nuance, has taken as a “guarantee.”
Surfline’s forecasting director, Kevin Wallis, told Yahoo! Sports, “Once surfing was officially in the Olympics, we started thinking about where the event might be held. We wanted consistent waves and decent-quality surf close to Tokyo.”
Shidashita Beach, in the Chiba prefecture, was chosen after combing “40 years’ worth of historical records” but also because, “There’s a huge parking area, which on a summer weekend with waves will see hundreds of surfers hanging out between surfs in specially equipped vans and cars complete with shower systems, barbecue grills, and small refrigerators stocked with cold beer.”
Wallis predicted 2-3+ weeks ago but is now confident that the surf will reach the 5-7 ft. range on Monday.
Yahoo! Sports, amazed, declared “mystery solved” as to how the “Olympics guarantees that surfing — which makes its Olympic debut at Tokyo — actually takes place during the Olympics” but also couched, slightly, by revealing the waves don’t have to be in the 10-15 ft. range for the event to be fun to watch as, “Surfers in the Olympics will be using five- to six-foot shortboards, as opposed to eight-to-10-foot longboards, meaning the waves don’t need to be as big for competition purposes.”
Devon Howard is, currently, very angry.
But back to the main thrust, here. If your loved ones’ lives were dependent upon a Surfline forecast would you sleep easy or go out back and start digging graves, tears streaming down cheeks?
It is rarely the wrong call to get a jump on things.
Sign of the times: Shark bite kits installed in beach car parks along stretch of iconic Western Australian surf spots!
A Western Australian boardriders club, pragmatic as hell and who ain’t afraid to mention the unmentionable, has organised a chain of shark bite kits and defibrillator machines at five iconic beaches in the state’s south-west.
The kits stretch from the accessible-only-by-four-wheeler, Bears, to just out the front of Taj Burrow’s (former) pussy palace at Rabbits, Yallingup main break, Smiths and Injidup Car Park,
Each time there’s a negative interaction (see, I’m learning) with a Great White, I give Jon a call, ask him to break down the latest attack and the response from other surfers and first-responders.
He’s made it his life work to get tourniquets in the hands of Australian surfers who, for the first time in the sport’s history, have to seriously confront the possibility of interacting in a negative fashion with the suddenly everywhere Great White.
Still, and this is real important, a shark attack, even by a monster White isn’t necessarily a death sentence.
According to Cohen, who is forty and who grew up in Canada and got into surfing while at college in Hawaii, if you can get the de-limbed person to the beach and apply a tourniquet above the wound so no blood can spurt out the hole you’re good.
He say that once you’ve stopped the blood flow you’ve got four hours before the leg, or arm, is choked off and dies. It means if you’re at a remote beach with no phone redemption, you can tourniquet the wound and take off for an ambulance or chopper without your buddy dying.
“It’s the same principle as a car crash, someone falling off a building or getting hit by a bullet in Iraq,” says Cohen. “Stop the bleeding and get the surfer to shore. In thirty seconds, using a tourniquet, you’ve saved a friend’s life.”
The kits in West Oz are the basic slam kit, one hundred and twenty dollars. Someone gets hit, you go to the defibrillator box, call emergency (triple zero in Australia), and the lock opens.
That ain’t perfect, says Jon.
Like, he’s thrilled his kits are there at the beach but he knows someone could bleed out in the time it takes to get the kit unlocked.
And, at a lot of places n the south-west, only one telephone network, the most expensive one, works.
Jon wants stand-alone shark kits, unlocked, and containing not just the standard tourniquets but advanced equipment in case any doctors or paramedics are around.
This’d include junctional tourniquets, for “absolutely horrible wounds, the arm or leg completely gone” and a device that acts like a little balloon. You stick it into the hole, blow it up and staple skin over the hole to keep pressure on it. Other tactics include trying to sew over a bleeding artery if you can see it.
Advanced, yeah, but it’s surprising how many docs surf.
“We don’t wanna confuse anyone but this would give ambos, police, doctors, nurses, extra equipment to play with.”
As well, you open the box and it automatically calls the police, and even Jon, so he can monitor the situation, help where he can.
It’s ironic that Jon has just taken a gig as the director of emergency at Manning Base hospital, a short-ish drive from Tuncurry, where a surfer was killed a couple of months back, and a short chopper run from Crescent Head, where a surfer had his arm destroyed by a White a few weeks back.