Corona Open Mexico, finals day analysis, “Deeply ironic winner Jack Robinson rejected Surfing Australia system; vindication for daddy Trevor who kept his boy away from the middle men!”

Bureaucracy does not produce champions. Money does not fix the problem. Money is the problem.

Two thousand and six seems a long time ago now, Kelly Slater being the only “surviving” link to that bygone era, but I remember it like yesterday.

Somewhere in Mexico, the first time I really connected with a pro surfing webcast. Maybe there were bits and pieces before that but Mexico was when I really tuned in.

Full-rez webcasts couldn’t have been going for much longer than that could they? Maybe three years tops, apart from Pipe.

The overwhelming impression after digesting pro surfing already “pre-chewed” by surf journalists, whatever tidbits were served up by mainstream media was “Wow, this is so different when you see it with your own eyes”.

I wonder how much of the history of this sport would have to be rewritten if the eyes of the world were on it, instead of handful of vested interests with the good of their clients the primary objective?

Imagine the paucity of your understanding of pro surfing if all you had was Turpel’s take on it. I don’t mean to be cruel, but as Chris Cote so eloquently explained, they are working for a client, and their interests are prime.

A subject for another day.

To Finals Day.

To be honest, I’ve never been less interested in the results of a Finals Day. Better surf was ahead in the waiting period, so that carrot was gone. There was zero consequence left in the outcomes. Top five decided. Jack already requalified, as had Silva. Leo was a solid mid-ranger, a genuine CT surfer with a win or two ahead of him, but no Title run. And Herdy had shown his credentials: easily a CT standard surfer, next cab off the rank from Brazil.

Why are we still here? Had no obvious answer.

The biggest takeaway is Jack Robbo prevented a clean sweep of this year’s tour by Brazil*. In lully dreamboat point surf he sat behind the rock in both semi and final, threading tubes and launching airs on the opening section.

Herdy had the nicest moment in their semi. An air reverse and with the front foot still locked forwards a neat and nifty tube-ride. It was as if the nineties and the seventies had been thrown into a blender. Jack’s much loftier alley oop was the determining factor in that heat.

The final could have gone either way. Silva rode three almost identical waves for a brace of high sixes and mid sevens Either of the sevens could have been juiced by a half point. Perhaps judges, like me, found Silva’s slightly wooden-legged stance a little unappetising served up three times in a row.

Or maybe they didn’t get the memo that Slater had identified Silva’s backhand as the best on tour. It did suit the tight transitions on the outside and shorebreak.

The crucial wave in the final was ridden with nine minutes to go. Silva ahead by a clear two-point spread. Jack speared a frothy, raggedy outside section and launched an equally scrappy air reverse. The ride lacked the power and flow of Silva but judges paid the repertoire, which had the full diversity quotient.

Lesson to upcoming Aussie pros: bring a full skillset or GTFO.

It seems deeply ironic to me that in this desperate state of Australian pro surfing where money is being pumped in via Surfing Australia and the HPC, our sole winner has rejected that system and chosen to run with Coach Leandro Dora.

A vindication likewise for Jack’s old man Trev who kept his boy away from the middle men.

Bureaucracy does not produce champions.

Money does not fix the problem. Money is the problem.

An Australian example.

Remember when Bondi was Scum Valley and had a huge pool of what my old boss Lester Brien, banged up in a Royal Commission into drugs for refusing to grass up clients, used to call “surf peasants”. Bondi produced an insane number of champion surfers out of that pool.

Could you imagine a pro surfer coming out of Bondi, now?

Not everyone shares this view but gentrification destroyed Sydney as a producer of surfing talent and it’s now working it’s way across the rest of the country. The single greatest factor in previous Aussie pro surfing dominance was what Camus termed a “sumptuous poverty”. Working class kids near the beach with fuck-all to do except surf and all the time in the world to do it.

That’s all gone.

As quaint as the Monterey Bay described by Steinbeck in Cannery Row. Which means Australia is now like California. A handful of pros will come via a dynastic process. Surf parents carefully grooming kids from a young age, or even in the womb, as in the case of Kanoa Igarashi. Spontaneous surf talent that can germinate out of nowhere like mushrooms in a cow paddock is over.

Breaking that line, the greatest advantage of Teahupoo’s cancellation accrues to women’s winner Stephanie Gilmore. The Queen of Australian Surfing is not of a temperament or skill set to huck South Pacific ledges at this stage of her career.

Head-high Mexico to Trestles is the perfect runway for her to stop a rampaging Carissa Moore, who suddenly and amazingly, looks beatable. Pro surfing is a very peculiar game and the League may rue the day they put the integrity of the World Champ in jeopardy by increasing the luck factor in a quixotic attempt to harvest American attention.

*Yeah I know JJF won Pipe. Last year.

Breaking: Australia’s Jack Robinson, Stephanie Gilmore, win the Corona Open Mexico presented by Quiksilver at Barra de la Cruz!


Western Australia’s Jack Robinson saved his season, moments ago, by defeating Deivid Silva in the final of the Corona Open Mexico presented by Quiksilver at Barra de la Cruz.

Robinson’s highest score, a barrel to air combination, was enough to undo Silva who went up and down up and down up and down on his backhand.

The judges, according to Joe Turpel, were split on which wave was better. Barrel + air or up + down + up + down + up + down repeat.

The tour rookie likely saved his next year as the win will allow him to compete on the Championship Tour Delta Variant.

On the women’s side, Steph Gilmore inspired with beautiful surfing, taking down Malia Manuel in the final. She ignored her ego, sat with priority and allowed pretty waves to slide underneath.

Dropping golden anchor.

Malia’s loss ensures Courtney Conologue’s spot on next year’s CTDV.


Longtom wrap coming soon.

Listen: The second-ever “CJ Hobgood professional surfer of distinction and grace” award to be handed out in lieu of championship trophy at end of season!

Live like CJ.

And it is now official. The Ok Pro in beautiful Teahupo’o is cancelled due Covid and the 2020-21 World Championship Tour season is at its merciful end. Oh the year was fun, or fun enough, starting at Pipeline before moving to Australia for four events then heading to Lebore then Barra and now all that is left is the final five of the year, men and women, headed to Trestles to duke it out for the second-ever “CJ Hobgood Professional Surfer of Distinction and Grace” award.

The first, if you recall, was gifted to CJ Hobgood himself after the 9/11 shortened 2001 year.

Pipeline, Australia, Kelly Slater’s tank, Mexico, Trestles. A fine smattering of waves, a perfect amount for the Hobgood (minus the tank) which brings up an important question. Would you rather win the Hobgood or the regular old Championship Tour cup?

After much consideration, I would go for the Hobgood. As the name suggests, it takes both distinction and grace, an ability to not only compete, but live, with gorgeous flexibility.

Any Kelly Slater, with a competitive drive like a steel trap, can win the Championship Tour. Artists win the Hobgood.

David Lee Scales and I discussed the 2020-21 year on the program today, in any case, and how next year might look. The Delta variant is, of course, thriving and do you think it would be wise for the World Surf League to set up plan A and plan B when it comes to the schedule? Do you think Santa Monica would be remiss in not so doing?

Or will the Hobgood become a yearly event?

I would like that.

Listen here.

Comment live, Finals Day, Corona Open Mexico!

In this house every door's a back door.

Italo runs into former world junior champ Mateus Herdy's brick wall in the quarters.

Day three analysis, Corona Open Mexico, “Aussie pro surfing’s Darkest Day. A savage indictment on the Surfing Australia/HPC surfing industrial complex, tasked with translating Aussie taxpayer money into a pipeline of champions!”

And, honest question, is anyone in this event surfing as good as AI in 2006? Apart from Carissa in her division.

I am a gullible prick/sheeple. Swallowed the Carlos Casteneda Mexican shaman hoax holus bolus, ate up Kelly’s bold prediction of a twelfth title run via back to back wins in Mexico and Tahiti before storming home at Trestles.

When it comes to world views I’ll choose the most aesthetically pleasing and nothing seemed as good looking/absurd to me this time yesterday as a Kelly Title in 2021.

Three minutes to go against Italo and needing a 7.27, Kelly spikes an overhead wall with the classic karate snap, still the best top turn in the game, before blitzing a carving three-o.

Falls. Like Tahiti, like Australian Pro Surfing.

A very, very disappointing end.

Judges called Italo’s waves almost exactly a point better, wave for scoring wave, than Kelly’s.

Harsh, but true.

Kelly’s dream, our separate reality, crushed by a fire hydrant-sized bastion of Brazilian progressivism.

With Tahiti gone and the regular season done, so goes Owen Wright, Wade Carmichael, Ace, Jack Freestone, Connor O’leary, plus the previous New Chapterers of Mikey Wright, and Julian Wilson.

I think Ethan Ewing survives by the skin of his pepi.

That’s a wholesale slaughter, Aussie pro surfing’s Darkest Day. A savage indictment on the Surfing Australia/HPC surfing industrial complex, tasked with translating Aussie taxpayer money into a continuing pipeline of champions.

Will they be able to retrofit the non-industrialised Morgs into their organisation to claim success out of massive failure?

Ewing couldn’t find the extra gear to knock out Medina, despite every advantage under the sun, most pertinently a very brittle looking Medina.

This is not the Gabe we saw on Finals Day at Narrabeen. The make rate has slipped and with it confidence.

Which one went first is a chicken and egg argument.

Not only is the confidence low but the previous iron-clad heat strategy looks shot. He surfed scrappy insiders against Deivid Silva, let him go on the all the bombs and couldn’t claw back the deficit in wave quality.

That’s three major chokes in three events. Surf Ranch, Olympics and now Mexico. This is the shakiest front runner we’ve ever seen, to mangle a metaphor: swimming covered in tuna oil in shark infested waters.

Toledo’s brain fades this year likewise do not inspire confidence despite Trestles being his happiest of happy places. Italo looks the most solid of contenders but the soft rollers and long lulls of a typical southern-hemi day at Trestles conspire against the hyper-active Ferreira modus operandi.

Italo called his heat win against Kelly a “nice heat” and seemed suitably understated as the Goat seethed nearby, one more slow dimming light extinguished on the long slow fade out we are privileged to witness.

No Olympics has to burn, both personally for Kelly and for the sport itself.

An injured John John was a non-event, a fully fit Kelly would have been massive as far as the mainstream media goes. Huge, huge story. The fully fledged reco both Kelly and Elo crave. The antithesis of being pinned against the glass by a babbling Kaipo in front of a tiny audience of fellow gullible pricks and prickettes.

One Australian in the quarter final, which is about or just above the year average. Robbo looks good. Very repertoire heavy, like Mateus Herdy, and unlike Ethan Ewing. Not afraid to go above the lip first turn, which seems strange in 2021, fifteen years after AI did it in the final.

Honest question: is anyone in this event surfing as good as AI in 2006?

Apart from Carissa in her division.

Italo is smashing it repeatedly but each turn means less when you lose count of them. Leo, Herdy, Jack Robbo? No one looks completely in charge of their own destiny. Robbo looks closest with his so-called “peaceful warrior” demeanour, which he confirmed was an “energy you need to have” and was so esoteric that it was “too complicated to explain”.

Don’t hold back Jack, you are amongst your own people here.

We are psychedelic literate and understand how sideways shit can go in the tropics when you follow the lightning flash of plant-based inspiration.