Yeah, I'd pay to watch John John at ten-foot Teahupoo. | Photo: ASP/WSL

Pro surfing: Would you pay $54.95 to watch a one-day world title showdown?

No dead air, no silly quasi-environmental campaigns that stink of hypocrisy, critical commentators, tough questions, next-level graphics. Would you pay?

Yesterday, me and two million other lovers of cartoonish violence, paid $54.95 apiece to watch six hours of mixed-martial arts fighting. 

Didn’t think twice and I ain’t one for loose spending. 

Dana White’s UFC is a sport that is bizarre and shallow, a detached strain of realism with shocks and silliness, as all good spectator sports should be. No greenwashing, no virtue signalling comic in its hypocrisy.  

Trump, Bieber, Nelk boys, a Kardashian. All of ‘em in the front rows. 

Real simple rules. 

Beat hell out of person in front of you. 

Don’t stick y’fingers in their eyeballs and don’t hit ‘em in the nuts or pussy. 

If you get hit, you keep coming back. 

If leg snaps, scream at your opponent that you’ll be tooling his wife later at the after party.

Raw but professional.

Slick as fuck. 

And, I was watching, thinking, man, how good would it be if I’d slung the cash at an epic day of pro surfing, eight-to-ten-foot Teahupoo or Cloudbreak, a full day of head-to-head cards, first light to dusk, a winner crowned at the end. 

Use this is as a template, and, yeah, it’s an obvious one. 

The ASP’s (this was one year before Dirk Ziff re-branded pro surfing as the WSL) Billabong Pro in 2014. Teahupoo. Kelly Slater, John John Florence faced off in eight-to-ten foot Teahupoo. The two best surfers in heavy lefts walking a tight-rope more deadly than an uppercut from Francis Ngannou.

 Imagine a day of it. 

Two-week window in season. 

One day. 

Kelly, John John, Gabriel, Italo, Jack Robinson, Griff, Brother, Owen Wright, Julian Wilson, maybe. 

Have six of ‘em a year. Grand Slams tour. The current WCT tour becomes a feeder into the Grand Slams with Slater being an obvious wildcard. 

You know it’s coming so you have viewing parties. You and your buddies chip in say, ten bucks apiece to watch.

Tell me that wouldn’t excite just a little.

It ain’t gonna happen in a hurry, I know, but, coming up in two months is finals day at Lowers?

Scenario:

The WSL puts a pay-wall up for finals day.

Fifty-five bucks to watch.

There’s no dead air, no silly quasi-environmental campaigns, “diversity and inclusivity” is given a needed rest, commentators are encouraged to be critical, tough questions are asked in post-heat interviews and the on-screen graphics game goes next level.

A southern-hemi whips up the most shreddable three-to-four-foot waves y’ever seen.

Would you pay?

If no, what if it shifted to Tahiti in 2022 and you got to see Filipe deal with his demons at ten-foot Teahupoo?

Oui ou non?


Much heteronormative provocation!

The Ultimate Surfer shows “Kelly Slater and the WSL staffers to be Trumpian in their profound ignorance of their own ridiculousness!”

And so much heteronormative provocation!

I felt nice and validated by the time I got to the end of The Ultimate Surfer trailer yesterday.

Occasionally in the back of my mind, when ridiculing WSL-ism and post Surf Ranch Kelly-isms, I have considered just saving my breath.

Maybe I should just live and let live?

Fuck that.

This is too fascinating.

Kelly Slater and the WSL staffers are almost Trumpian in their profound ignorance of their own ridiculousness.

And Koa Smith, incredible.

Is Koa Smith’s martial arts-esque throwing of the Shaka the heaviest things ever done in or around surfing?

I can’t believe Koa Smith, “It’s go time babeehhh!”

He out Spiccolis Spiccoli.

He is like a blond and necklaced Frankenstein engineered to perfection by all the cliches and stereotypes Hollywood’s portrayal of surfing has collectively mustered.

It is worse and much funnier than anything I could have possibly imagined.

https://www.instagram.com/p/CRHT9aflp9Z/

Do you agree?

Surely this trailer has been a force for unification.

Something to ignite a more full-blooded and broad-based dissent against surfing’s smiling undertakers.

If you were ever on the fence about the state of Kelly Slater’s mind or whether Eric is actually as kooky as he seems or whether the WSL’s plan is actually to pivot pro surfing to reality TV geared towards non-surfers, here it is in cinematic perfection.

And yet it came with a deep sense of relief, like the last few years have been the tense and freaky build-up in American Psycho and now the veil has been drawn to reveal the sweet release of splattered blood and relieved tension.

The murder scene.

Gruesome and shocking yes, but at least now the depravity of our villain is known, and we are released from the purgatory of speculation.

Surely now, finally, we can all agree that pro surfing’s new bosses are designing what has become a darkly hilarious horror show?

I want to know what Adriano De Souza thinks? A kid who surfed his way out of the favellas, through the brutality of the QS, now watching B and C-grade surfers have quick running races down the sand and inevitably float Zeke Lau a place back on tour.

I feel like just like Patrick Bateman, perplexed as to why he has not been seized for the horrors he has committed, but it is not my crimes I am professing, it is theirs.

Like that Bateman scene, the whole trailer has a distinctly hallucinogenic quality to it.

There is a glimpse of someone hula dancing in a sarong surrounded by flaming torches drinking from what looks like a wooden goblet, a beautiful blonde woman winking and talking about kissing, a set that looks like they hired the art director from Survivor etc.

Now, it’s fine and a bit fun for me/some of us to celebrate the humour in watching surfing pivot to a kind of Jersey Shore model of televised engagement/recruitment to bolster viewership, but I can’t help but get a little bit sentimental when I think of the kids out there who are being deprived of a pro surfing future they can idolise.

In era’s past it has taken until at least the age of 20, or 18, or maybe 16 at the earliest, to become jaded with surfing’s commercial trappings, but yesterday I spoke to a 12-year-old kid who was tripping as much as I was about the trailer, “That show looks heavy hey.”

I think it is a little bit cruel and selfish of Kelly to be complicit in the discrediting of surfing just as he readies himself to sign off from competition.

Do you?


Chas Smith reports from Rome en route to Amalfi Coast yacht charter: “Surfing is sadder than Italians not knowing how to celebrate soccer superiority and that’s pretty sad!”

Italians will recover. Sport surfing may not.

Italy is playing England today for the Euro Cup soccer finals and I only really know this because I am in Rome headed to Naples via train.

A sailboat is waiting for me there but more on that later.

Soccer.

The Italians don’t seem as excited as they should be. A few roving bands of youths in blue shirts half-heartedly talking with their hands but not much more. No flags flying from balconies. No morning drinking and cheering, crowding around television sets dialed to the very latest analysis.

Maybe global warming’s fault?

It is sweltering, already, at 10:00 am and set to hit triple digits later. Much cooler than Salem, Oregon but hot nonetheless.

Maybe Covid’s?

People forgetting how to celebrate together?

Forgetting how to maraud?

I was in France then Germany at the very beginning of the pandemic, surfing the apocalypse with my young daughter. There was a wild sizzle in the spring air then. No one knew what was going to happen. Empty palaces and restaurants and zoos. Closures and lockdowns and sweeping governmental decrees felt new.

Now, it all feels normal but still. No wild soccer scenes on the streets of a soccer wild country.

Is sport dead?

Right ahead of surfing’s grand Olympic coming out?

What a disaster for our beloved pastime, if true, to have pivoted hard sport at the dawn of the World Surf League era what with NFL Paul Speakers and tennis Soph Goldchmidts and Oprah Erik Logans pushing pushing pushing for respect, sporting respect, when the greatest thing going is…. soul.

Not soul, sorry that’s the jet lag typing, but whatever is not sport or, rather, not serious sport.

I love competitive surfing, don’t get me wrong, but serious sport surfing is sadder than Italians not knowing how to celebrate soccer superiority and that’s pretty sad.

Or maybe not.

Italians will recover. Sport surfing may not.

How does that make you feel?

I’m going to ruminate more once I’m on boat.


Listen: In stunning reveal days ahead of the Olympics, the best surfers in the United States are not going to Tokyo!

Pure arrogance?

Surfing’s grand Olympic debut is but days away now and the excitement is percolating. Spain, Brazil, Australia, Chile, Italy, Japan and more sending the very very best of their national (or in the case of Japan, Huntington Beach’s national) talent. The United States of America?

In a shocking reveal, it appears that the proud U.S. is sending its b-team in the form of John John Florence and Kolohe Andino.

Video promotion for ABC’s The Ultimate Surfer makes clear that the country that invented surfing (thanks Hawaii) sent its best to Lemoore instead.

https://www.instagram.com/p/CRHm0f1jxAa/

Pure arrogance?

It appears that way.

David Lee Scales and I discuss The Ultimate Surfer, blood feuds and other such matters. David Lee was in Austin, Texas. I was at a Courtyard Marriott LAX-adjacent.

The room has poor lighting. Too harsh.


Tudor, left, and supermensch Kenvin, at right.

Blood Feud: Surfing’s great polemicist Joel Tudor squares off with San Diego shaping icon Richard Kenvin, “One of these days you’ll make good on that $5000 ya burned me on! Biggest kook move on earth dude! Nobody likes thieves!!!”

Kenvin responds, “You slandered me and lied about me on your massive platform for 10 years. I have your fucking money.”

The San Diego shaper and former boyfriend of eighties supermodel Stephanie Seymour, Richard Kenvin, has fallen foul of surfing polemicist Joel Tudor over a disputed business debt. 

Sixty-year-old Kenvin, whose use of planing hulls influenced the work of Daniel Thomson, posted a message from Tudor onto his Instagram account Hydrodynamica. 

https://www.instagram.com/p/CRIJnBlMQTG/

 

 

You may remember supermensch Kenvin’s earlier appearance on BeachGrit when he successfully campaigned to have Breitbart ads removed from the WSL’s Tahiti broadcast.

Perhaps his biggest claim to fame, however, is his fling with eighties supermodel Stephanie Seymour, whom he met at Alcoholics Anonymous.

As a 1988 story put it, “One of the good things to come out of AA [for Seymour] was a total surprise: romance. ‘That’s where I met my boyfriend,’ she says, deep blue eyes sparkling. ‘I fell completely in love the first moment I saw him.’ The new man in her life, Richard Kenvin, 26, is a world-class surfer. Seymour pulls a picture of him out of her tote bag; he looks like a cross between Alexander Godunov and Don Johnson. ‘I never liked blondes before,’ she says, ‘but he’s different.'”

Tudor, of course, is a longboarder and black-belt grappler from San Diego. 

You’ll remember his role as the protagonist in these classics, Blood Feud: Joel Tudor and Noa Deane in creative battle royale!, Blood Feud: Joel Tudor vs The World, and Blood Feud: Kelly Slater vs Kelly Slater (part one) and Blood Feud: Joel Tudor vs Kelly Slater, part two.

No need to festoon this blood feud with bunting, it all comes in the comments, including

bob.howard1973

Joel Tudor let’s Tosh smoke pot! That is child endangerment and should get reported. Joel Tudor is a sicko slimeball pothead and doesn’t deserve to live without people knowing what he does to hydrodynamic and Tosh. On top of that he gets people to shape great boards for cheap. He rigs the VANS contests so Andy Nieblas loses to J. Quinney..I have no use for the slime all and hope he sees this somehow. I’m not surprised the little punk slandered you and left you holding the bag. Lastly, for now, he surfs like a girl and had to take up jujitsu so people would stop telling him he looked like a girl.

hashriningbasher

@joeljitsu I believe this is what I was referring to when you got a little too stoned and decided it was a good idea to get in my face at the rock. I will say it again as I yelled it in ur face you’re a kook and a disgrace to what’s left of surfing and i hope you know that everyone u ever looked up to shares this sentiment. Try me again and We all know you’ll loose your precious @vans sponsorship that I am sure is hanging by a thread… u might have to square up with Scripps too but I guess u already knew that.

sverrelypotted

Richard you’re a lame…. you ripped off Cher and steve Pendarvis as well. have you paid them back? How much do you owe them $10,000???

Etc.