Joe, Mick, Kelly! | Photo: @joeturpel

Kelly Slater delivers “unmatched” Finals Day commentary performance: “There was nothing he didn’t proffer opinion on, nothing he didn’t know!”

Raft of stories from the Greatest Surfer Of All Time, including new J-Bay Great White account!

Cling to Kelly Slater, ladies and gentlemen, for he is ours, and he has no equal.

Once again, when push came to shove in a major surfing competition, he delivered a performance that was unmatched.

The surfing was a sideshow.

Slater’s faux enthusiasm for the athletes merely served as segues to more stories about the most important man in surfing, now and forever.

Turpel was euthanized. The lifeforce seemed to have been sucked from him, leaving a silenced husk (still grinning inanely, of course).

It was an absence of energy comparable to the aftermath of Pete Mel standing next to Stephanie Gilmore in the locker room (before making off with her soul).

Until now, not man nor beast has managed to quell Turpel’s glassy eyed enthusiasm.

Kelly Slater is something other.

Mick Fanning was left grunting nasally every now and then, before capitulating and falling under Kelly’s spell by asking him about Kelly.

No-one analyses Kelly like Kelly.

No-one wants to talk about Kelly more than Kelly.

Medina’s third title indeed has an asterisk.

It is the moment Kelly’s future finally crystalised. The moment he saw his path to once again dominate pro surfing until death (or Stalin-esque Martin Potter disappearance).

Dressed in what I feel should be his statutory outfit, plain grandad-necked shirt, sinewy neck muscles and unfeasibly smooth, lizard-brown head in full effect, he looked for all the world like the subject of a Netflix doc on cult leaders. The shirt was a black version of the one he wore to promote his Costa Rican spiritual awakening (later revealed as stakeholder, not just tripping punter).

The shirt was white then. He was at peace.

The symbolic significance of the shirt for each occasion was lost on no-one.

This morning he dressed for blood.

We see you, Kelly. A modern day anti-hero Bram Stoker would have been proud of.

Oh, he tried to be magnanimous, some comments seemed to complement the surfing, but scratch the surface and the true colours are apparent. The cutthroat viciousness that defined his approach to competition was thinly veiled.

To beat Medina you would have to “cripple him”.

One might imagine this is exactly a scenario played out many a sweaty night in his aluminium nightmare chamber poolside. You can almost hear the desperate phone calls to Charlie Goldsmith, brain nanny extraordinaire, in these dark moments…

“The dreams again, Kelly?”

“Yes, Charlie.”

“Tell me how you killed him this time… I’m here for you.”

I’ve always felt that Slater’s true post-career calling is as a commentator on the sport he dominated for so long, and this, I hope, I truly hope, is what will come to pass.

Imagine a rogue Slater, off script entirely and bending the production to his will.

He’s in the water, paddle battling Strider for position.

Now he’s sprinting up the beach and hip checking Turpel in the booth. Now dashing back to the sand and snatching the mic derisively from Kaipo for the post heat interview…

Imagine the questions!

Yesterday we had a glimpse.

With the fervour of a cocaine aficionado on a South American sabbatical, Kelly rampaged breathlessly through the heats. There was nothing he didn’t proffer opinion on, nothing he didn’t know.

It’s a Kelly we know, of course, epidemiologist or not.

The same Kelly who appeared on Joe Rogan, tripping from non-sequitur to non-story and back round again. It’s glorious in its pantomime ridiculousness.

Not even a (deep fake) shark sighting could stop him. It was merely an opportunity. And my, did he seize it. How is it that we’ve never heard Kelly’s angle of the Mick Fanning incident? Fuck me, the subtext screamed, incredulous he’d never been asked!

It was worth the wait.

Until now, no-one had realised that Kelly diverted the shark with his mind.

He stopped short of saying he was personally responsible for the sparing of Mick’s life that day, but we know the truth.

Let’s revisit.

Strider reports from the line-up on the “splash” (that no-one actually saw), then passes to the booth wondering what Mick has to say about it.

We want to know, too. What a glorious opportunity!

Alas, we will never know.

Mick simply manages: “Look, it happens all the time, you see sharks…ummm…”

He has managed less than ten seconds of airtime. (Kelly is drumming his fingers impatiently throughout the 10 secs, a lifetime of no Kelly for Kelly).

Then, the “ummm”, a weakness.

And with it, he strikes.

“I’ve seen three breaches out here, the past few years. It’s common”, he thrusts, dismissively. “You just deal with it.”

And then, with no ummms at all, we get the story, the scoop.

“I don’t know if I’ve ever told Mick our story…”

What’s that, Kelly?

“Our story”?

Are you really co-opting Mick’s shark story? I mean, I’m sure it’s given you sleepless nights, having catapulted ol’ Mick into the mainstream consciousness in a way you never quite managed, but come on…

But, what is perhaps more egregious, is the posing that it is, in fact, a story at all.

The story, Kelly’s story, is that he had surfed there for an hour prior to the attack (and miraculously didn’t get attacked? Is that the story? I’m not sure).

When he saw the boats and skis he saw the shark attack with his third eye, but, in an astonishing feat of second sight (which he will display again later) he knew that nothing happened and no-one was hurt.

“I felt it in my heart”, he says.

He was calm, that’s the thing.


Shark diverted, Mick saved.

He finishes this “story” with what I’ve come to recognise as a vocal tick of Kelly Slater when he realises the story has gone nowhere and he has just been talking so that people will pay attention.

“It’s so weird…”

Yeah, Kelly. So weird.

But, he’s not done.

Mick offers that he’s been out there since and things haven’t felt right and he’s had to go in.

But, before he’s even managed to finish the thought, Kelly is smashing his offering out the park!

“I’ve been the last guy in the water there, after dark, by myself…”

(You know, in case we didn’t understand that “last guy in the water” meant he was on his own.)

Peak Kelly.

On Toledo, Kelly recalls how Kelly helped him at Pipe before smashing him at Pipe. Filipe fell on the easy part of the wave, according to Slater.

More so, he had surprised himself by getting that far in the first place.

“I don’t know how quickly we could pull that up?” Slater pitches to Joe.

Sure, Kelly.

I mean there’s just a world title heat playing out live, but let’s cut to historic footage of your heats…

Cut to Medina’s 9.03 for execution of the back flip. Turpel is excited (standard). Mick is speechless (“Are you keeeeding me?”).



“A small wave, probably just a four”, he offers, flatly.

(Joking, not joking, of course.)

But the pièce de résistance.

While Mick and Joe were busy talking, Kelly had employed his foresight.

He saw it coming.

“I was looking towards the ocean. I could see that coming at him. I knew something crazy was going to happen.”

In effect, a shrug.

Big deal.

I do wonder if it’s just the likes of us who can really savour Kelly, truly appreciate him in all his narcissistic weirdness.

I wonder what the Inertia crowd make of him, for example.

Do they see what we see?

Or do they see an oracle and hero, a flawless champion with no equal?

It’s hard to know.

But we should appreciate him, of that I’m sure. He’s a treasure. He’s our treasure.

From caterpillar to butterfly: The remarkable transformation of World Surf League CEO Erik Logan and his newfound “sexy cocaine cowboy” look!

Pure super yacht.

The biggest shock, yesterday, at the World Surf League’s inaugural Finals Day was not that it wasn’t an utter disaster. Not that third place Filipe Toledo, very much against paddling into waves of consequence, lost to dominant Gabriel Medina. Not that prohibitive favorite Carissa Moore beat Tati Weson-Webb. Not even that waves showed up and stayed around all day as the sun peaked out, through fog, and the cobbled stone shone.

No, no no. It was, rather, the shining vision of World Surf League CEO Erik Logan, emerging at the end of the day as a unique thrust of nature, the sexiest cocaine cowboy out of Oprah Winfrey’s cocoon.

Note Logan early days, back in Oprah’s cocoon.

Look now upon his announcement as World Surf League CEO.

Feet wet, meeting with a vile surf journalist, very much in the game.

And yesterday, cobbled stone.

More salt than pepper hair cut just right, a Don Johnson-adjacent beard hugging no double chin, white polo down to grey slacks and clean Vans.

Straight Miami.

Pure super yacht.

And wow.

Do you celebrate along with title?

We all should.

3x Pipe Mistress Ayaka Suzuki Crilley shatters gender barriers; wins both men’s and women’s bodyboard divisions at the just-wrapped Belmar Pro in beautiful New Jersey!

One love, one division.

But yesterday was an exciting day for professional surfing, World Surf League CEO Erik Logan sighing big relief after the right man and the right woman won the inaugural Finals Day, pushing himself in between them Vans still clean. At the end, all prognostications of a Pip Toledo win, thereby heaping much shame onto Santa Monica, and/or a Tati Weston-Webb upset, were nullified by dominant performances from Medina, on the men’s side, and Moore, on the women’s.

Moore’s arcing carves were particularly inspiring, beautiful, and I wonder if she could have taken Cibilic? Coffin?

We likely won’t know in our lifetimes as the “men’s” and “women’s” categories are locked tight in our professional surfing and we are not progressive, forward thinking, like our bodyboarding brethren and sisterthen, were 3x Pipe Mistress Ayaka Suzuki Crilley shattered gender barriers and won both the men’s and women’s divisions of the Belmar Pro in New Jersey.

The Japanese native, who has won the Pipe Mistress title 3 times, wrote:

Yesss I DID IT!!! I won in the Women’s and Men’s both division in Belmar Pro 2021!!!

Thank you for the best support and good times my friends @actionjackson732 @lindseyyasui @seashannago @beegtodd32 @tmpd86 and @snotnosesurf !!!

And thank you for having me in this competition @belmarpro @easternlinessurfshop

I haven’t been competing for a while since I retired as a world tour competitor on 2019. but I’m so happy to be back into the competition again. I had so much fun!!!! I think I still like to compete haha I’m pretty sure I’ll be back to the tour when I feel like compete mode again.

And absolutely fantastic, even though prize money was significantly less on her women’s cheque.

Which brings up back to our World Surf League. Now, I don’t know if it would be most fair for men and women to compete against each other on the Championship Tour, quite yet, but it is a no-brainer for the Longboard World Tour and I implore commissioner Devon Howard to do the right, the progressive, thing.

One love, one division.

Viva the Boogie.

Breanna, Tia and "savage" Malia.

ABC’s The Ultimate Surfer, episode seven analysis: “Girls will be girls and bitches will be bitches! Wisdom from Malia. Breanna feels like she was in a UFC fight!”

So intense! Let's go!

In this episode: The surfers learn about football.

Some surfers prove better at putting on wetsuits than others. A visitor tries to help them surf better. Two surfers are eliminated and the finals are set. 

I hear there was some sort of world championship today. That sounds very important.

But this right here, this is what’s real.

Reality TV! It’s right there in the name. 

Last week on The Ultimate Surfer, the Bachelor People visited the Surf Ranch. Some extremely awkward surf lessons took place. The winners received red leashes.

Nothing kinky resulted, unfortunately. 

The floater challenge, meanwhile, led to so many floaters, more floaters than anyone should ever have to watch. Really, the next surfer who does a floater in a contest heat should be eliminated right then and there.

Floaters should totally be banned forever. 

Two more surfers lost their chance to be The Ultimate Surfer and win prizes galore. Six surfers remain. Two episodes remain. I thought it was four. I am bad at counting. I do know that tonight’s episode is dedicated to airs. I predict much falling. 

Girls will be girls, and bitches will be bitches! Wisdom from Malia.

Episode 7! Let’s go! 

Only six surfers left, and they are feeling lonely. Malia is the lone wolf and she is ready to see besties Tia and Breanna split. 

What do football and surfing have in common? Apparently, we are about to find out. 

An obstacle course appears. Malia says she’s stressed. 

Jesse is telling us about how he played football in college and then he went to the pro ranks. In between, he did the combine, which measures important stuff. 

So, they’re doing a surfing combine! It’s a race that involves some random things. Duckdiving! Putting on a wetsuit. Paddling super fast. Extra waves are on offer. 

Koa is worried, because he doesn’t wear wetsuits in Hawaii. Kai is worried that he does not train hard enough to beat Zeke and Koa, who are so super fit. 

The wetsuit part is not that smooth. To be fair, putting on a wetsuit when you’re already wet is not that fun, actually. 

Now, a slalom course! 

Koa wins, followed by Zeke. Kai is last. Sorry, Kai! 

But Koa failed an important part of the surfing combine test! He did not get his wetsuit all the way on. One of his feet is still stuck in his suit. Like, you can’t surf like that, bro!

Jesse is shaking his damn head, like did you even listen to the instructions. Surfers, they are so dumb! Football makes you much smarter than surfing. Jesse would not fail this essential test. 

Koa, disqualified!

Now, Koa is last.

Everyone is laughing at Koa now.

Zeke gets two extra waves. Kai gets one extra wave. Koa is like, that’s chill, I don’t need an extra wave. 

The chicks collide! Shit’s getting real now over here. They are paddling over each other. Cat fight! 

Tia wins! Extra waves for Tia! 

Malia is happy she is not last. She gets one extra wave. Breanna felt like she was in a UFC fight. So intense!

Electric skateboards! Extra prizes for the winner. So sick! 


The wave challenge is best maneuvers. Kelly wants to see some airs now! Flips, rodeos, reverses. He wants to see some radical surfing. 

Out of nowhere, Filipe appears!

Filipe is a surf god! He was dropped off by Poseidon. Malia is a fan of Filipe. 

Filipe is here to coach them and tell them how to surf better. This is good, because I feel like they do, on the whole, need some help. 

A lot of talk about surfing is happening here. So much! I feel like I should be learning something here, but I am a surfer and learning is hard. 

This surfing challenge is very stressful! It’s like, totally all or nothing. The biggest maneuver! Don’t fall! Kelly’s advice is so wise.

The winner gets into the finale. Tia feels super ready and she has done her best maneuvers in her dreams! She feels calm and so serene. 

Highest score goes to the finals! The losers go to the losers round. Simple.

Turpel is explaining how the judges will score the waves. Big maneuvers mean big scores! It has to be so big now! I feel like even I can understand. 

Breanna says she doesn’t need extra waves, because she is totally ready to shred.

The soundtrack is very excited! I feel like I should be excited too, but it’s late and I surfed a lot today, so I am tired.

Breanna gets a 7.33. 

The pressure is on for Malia and Tia. 

Malia tries an air and falls. Malia does some sort of floater thing and falls on her second wave. Honestly, you really don’t expect me to explain the surfing, do you? No, you do not. 

Anyway, Malia is going to the losers round! Malia might get eliminated! There is so much pressure now. 

Oh, Tia wins! I don’t even know what score she got, but it was super good. She is into the finals! 

Koa did a frontside air reverse. The judges like it, and he gets a seven or something. 

Falling! Kai fell, but he gets an extra wave. Kai missed the grab on his air attempt. More falling!

More falling! Zeke falls! I did not know he could fall. Another fall! It’s good to know he’s human, says Koa.

Zeke goes up for a big air. I do not know if he makes it, because now it is commercial time. 

Nerdwallet. I do not think I need nerds in my wallet but I have been wrong about many things before, and maybe this is one of them! Also, I don’t really have a wallet, so that’s maybe a problem, too. 

Anyway. Surfing. I think we were watching some surfing. Zeke did a thing. 

Oh, he landed it! I am less surprised by this than I might have expected. The judges give him a nine or something. 

Zeke and Tia are into the finals. The rest have to go to the elimination round. 

Zeke and Tia get to gift an extra wave to one of the other surfers. Obviously, Tia gives Breanna the extra wave. Zeke gives Koa a bonus. 

And it’s time for the night surfing! So much drama!

I actually have a hard time to making sense of the night surfing. It’s all like a blur of light and water and stuff. Maybe they are doing something radical. Maybe they are not. 

One wave for Malia, two waves for Breanna! 

Malia fell! That is super tragic for Malia. 

So much falling right now. Breanna fell in the barrel on her first wave. It’s all down to the final wave! The suspense might kill me dead right here in my comfy chair. 

Breanna’s style is not that fun to watch, honestly. 

Awww, Malia is going home. I am much less interested in the finale now. 

Oh hey, Kai surfs good! That was pretty alright. I mean, I think? Water and light, man. I just see water and light. 

Air! Koa fell. You can’t win if you fall. I don’t know much about surfing, but I do know this much.

Air reverse for Koa! That was not terrible, I think!

The scores are very exuberant tonight! Nines for everyone! 

Tia and Breanna go to the final! There is so much hugging. They are very happy still to be together! Eventually, they have to surf against each other. That seems like it might be awkward.

Like, girls, you do know only one can win, right?

And Koa beat Kai, so Koa goes to the final.

The cheekbones survive all the way to the finale! I am still haunted by the cheekbones. 

See you soon! Malia is not done with this whole contest thing yet. This is good, in my opinion, because she is very entertaining. 

One. Episode. To. Go. It’s so close! 

I’ll be back — one more time — bitches!

Rip Curl WSL Finals analysis, “Gabriel ensured the absurdity engineered by WSDL CEO Erik Logan could not rob him of the Third Title which by rights should have already been won!”

Justice served.

The sea, eh.

Old Grandmother Ocean. The snotgreen sea (according to Ulysses Buck Mulligan), which it was for the first few heats.

Even better, and again according to Milligan: the scrotum-tightening sea.

Not something we normally associate with Lower Trestles, but today it was compared to Sunset beach by Kelly Slater. Today it did provide a genuine scrotal contraction in eventual winner Gabe Medina when he did end up on the back of the sled during a White Shark heat disruption.

Elo’s and Ziff’s fever dream: the one day Title decider, did it work?

Yes, with caveats.

Mostly due to the best ever surfer at Trestles, Pip Toledo, being dominated by the year’s best surfer Gabe Medina surfing at a different level.

Somewhat due to the shark.

And a fair bit due to the heavy hitting in the booth from Kelly Slater, and to a lesser extent Mick Fanning.

Slater is the only one not completely mind-controlled by the WSL total corpo agenda, somehow, despite being the winningest surfer ever.

Too old, too narcisstic, too intelligent, too many Titles.

All of the above.

Pip was brilliant, he was beautiful.

His turns, his repertoire: the spice, the speed, the rotation.

Better than anything I’ve ever seen at Trestles.

He needed two waves to defeat Connor Coffin, he caught two waves.

That was ruthless and clinical and patient.

The Title decider at Trestles, was it as good as Pipe?

Not even close.

A crowd that seemed vastly in favour of Brazil tried to create an atmosphere but it was nothing on Pipe, or Snapper or Brazil itself for that matter.

The over-hyping from Cote and Turpel, left a sickly sheen on the snot-green sea that only a bright sunshine and the passive-aggressive sniping from Slater could dissipate.

Kelly called Sally Fitz “athletic-minded” as he pointed out that she had just missed a “World Title wave” in her loss to TTW.

Harsh, but incredibly accurate.

“Style is technique,” according to the mind of Tom Curren.

By that framing, Tatiana Weston Webb’s technique is deficient. Too much bobbling and limbs counter-rotating. A centre of gravity that never seems to sit quite right.There never quite seemed a clean connection between the bottom turn and the top turn, something lost in translation.

Nonetheless, the finishing turns were huge.

And judges paid big time, no matter how weak the lead up work was.

Carissa Moore connected everything beautifully but after an opening ride where she fell going big she dialled everything back to a safe medium. Slater noted the safety surfing, insinuated that judges were over-scoring what was pretty, but low-risk surfing.

Fanning called a mistake the result of a fifty percent approach.

Three clean carves and a safe close-out reo got mid-to-high eights for Riss.

That was enough for her to overcome Tati in a two heats to one victory.

It was tight, Tati had a chance on the last wave. Did the two best turns of the day for her and fell on the final closeout hit.

No woman reached the nine-point mark today, but that won’t matter. Safety surfing, like we saw at Pipe, will be overshadowed in the hysterical, historical mainstream record by the mere fact of today’s existence.

Women’s and Men’s Titles decided on the same day at the same venue with the same prizemoney will be the story, not the lack of nine-point rides or over-scored safety surfing.

The lack of nine-point rides was picked up by Coach King as the potential point of difference for Gabe coming into heat one of his World Title match with Toledo, who had easily accounted for Italo. And, in fact, was looking unbeatable.

The repertoire was sumptuous, making Kelly quiver in verbal ecstacy in the booth. Judges salivated over a skate-style coping grind on an end section in the heat with Italo.

King said Medina would go big. His first two waves were only average: a five for a backhand floater and hit, then a 7.30 for two tail-drifting vert reo’s and a smash. Already though, his board looked to be on tracks, high-speed luge runs, powerboats punching onto the plane.

No bobbles, no wiggles, more skate than surf, in the sense of building speed through each trip to the lip.

The key exchange occurred at almost the exact half-way point in the heat. Lefts had been left to die on the vine all day, despite many plump fruits being spotted on the webcast, notably by the GOAT.

Toledo scrapped into a soapy left that bore a frothy scarring from a previous wave and did a Surf Ranch number on it. The swallow-tail quad sparking drive and spice from each backhand turn.

On its own terms it was the best wave of the heat and Toledo claimed fulsomely.

The camera lunged northwards, in time to catch a sheet of water a full three feet high, being the spray from Medina’s bottom turn, on a bigger left, seaward of any scarring. Medina sliced the green water, sped through another turn and launched a high, long straight air with a slight slob grab, sunlight radiant on sparkling seas in background. It would have made a Noa Deane final cut.

There was the first nine-point ride of the day.

There was the Medina intent, made manifest.

“All Glory and Honour to the guy up there.”

Nine-point ride played 8.33. In pure surfing terms, I side with Slater.

What Toledo was doing was about as much as could be done, about as good as it could be done.

But, Medina could not be denied.

16.30 to 15.70 was a fair spread after Heat 1.

Most sports embrace fatigue as a factor, seeing where the limits of human performance and skill lay when under load. Despite the rhetoric, the WSL did everything in its power to remove or reduce the fatigue factor. Ski rides, long lulls, luxuriant breaks between heats.

What the quad offered Toledo in pure performance it took from him at the outer limits of control as fatigue pushed the edge of the envelope ever so slightly inwards.

Fin lift was identified by Slater as the critical factor leading to crucial falls by Toledo in heat two. At ninety percent, the quad looked amazing.

As Toledo pushed to ninety-five percent the falls came.

He left a full point or more on the table falling on a final air reverse after an insanely well surfed wave, which still scored an 8.53.

That was a mid-nine or even potential 10 if he landed. A heat winner.

This is after the shark scare, which, if you believe it, occurred with Mick Fanning in the booth, along with Joe Turpel and Kelly Slater.

High times on Grandmother Ocean. White breast of the dim sea cleaved by the fin of some ancient predator, while the sing-song voice of Turpel lullabied us into sweet cavalier oblivion.

Who could blame Elo then for thanking the Guy Up There?

Not you or I, that’s for sure.

Shark phobia vanished with faith above for Medina.

He opened up, multiple airs, a weird Flynnstone flip.

Scoreboard pressure mounted on Toledo, who crumbled.

It seemed weird that Toledo could even have a reachable score but when the siren sang, hot salty tears flew for Gabe.

Choking on emotion, Gabe had the mien of the innocent man acquitted of a crime he did not commit.

Perhaps the very definition of innocence mentioned by Camus, “On the day when crime puts on the apparel of innocence, through a curious reversal peculiar to our age, it is innocence that is called on to justify itself.”

Justify himself he did, and by doing so, ensured the absurdity engineered by Elo could not rob him of the Third Title which by rights should have already been won.

An egregious error was avoided today comrades, for men and women.