Angry surf fan explodes, “What’s Wrong With the WSL? How About Turning The Triple Crown of Surfing Into a Cheap, Plastic Tiara!”

Surfing's most prestigious prize turned into "TikTok circle jerk."

When the WSL’s self-confessed biggest fan, @surfads, partly described the WSL’s recent efforts as “Turning a deadshit, dumbcunt but still unique sports outfit into a generic, compliant, corporate glory hole”, I nodded in agreement and felt there wasn’t a lot more to say.

Especially coming in so hot on the heels of The Ultimate Surfer where a guy and gal got a place in WCT events by surfing in a pool and winning lifetime dream prizes like SUPs, I didn’t think the WSL could make itself any more tacky and tawdry, or cheapen its product even more.

On reflection, that’s bullshit.

It can, and it has.

When @surfads wrote his article, I commented that it’d take far too long to unpack all that’s wrong with the WSL right now, but that was a cop-out. I hate peanut gallery fuckwits who mock your efforts without offering any kind of explanation, thus, for that reason, I want to pinpoint a couple of glaring examples of the WSL clusterfuck sticking out like shit on Meghan Markle’s shoes.

This is part one.

@surfads bemoaned the lack of a Pipe contest to end the year, so what better place to start than Hawaii? Specifically, the Triple Crown of Surfing.

And, while the TCOS is run this year by Vans and Stab, the Vans TCOS official website says, “This competition is sanctioned by the WSL”, so that’s good enough for me.

Billed for decades as the most prestigious title to win outside of being anointed surfing’s world champ, the Triple Crown of Surfing was always something that mattered in the surfing world.

Especially to the Hawaiians.

A list of Triple Crown winners since its inception in 1983 shows a who’s who of surfing royalty.

Michael Ho, Derek Ho, Kong, Tom Carroll, Sunny, Kelly, Andy, Parko, John John, Gabe.

It’s a mighty impressive list.

And why wouldn’t it be, when you look at the historical format of the TCOS itself? Three contests, all in prime, big-wave spots where heavy waves explode on shallow reefs.

You had to be a fucking good surfer to win the whole shebang.

If we use a starting point in the contests as Round 64 for the top guys, to win a contest you gotta get through five heats against all the best surfers in the world, in some of the scariest, most intimidating waves in the world. No-one has ever won all three contests of the TCOS in a single year (I think), so let’s just play a little game of averages for the fuck of it.

Let’s say a surfer’s results over the three contests were final, quarters, quarters. That’d get ‘em pretty close to the gong most years. Starting from R64, that means our surfer would have got through eight or nine heats or so across three contests. Getting through that many heats in Hawaii against all the best guys in the world in big, dangerous, powerful conditions, including the locals who love nothing more than shitting on the outta town blow-ins, is fucking hard.

And that’s why the list of TCOS champions includes eight world champions and multiple top three finishers like Julian Wilson and Gary Elkerton.

You win the TCOS and it’s a big fucking deal. Something that earns the respect of everyone in the surfing community, among them even the grumpiest, most begrudging old naysayers.

Well, it was.

‘Cause now, what used to be the prestigious TCOS is no more. Nuked, nixed, and fucking gutted. There are no contests involved anymore. None. No four-man heats. No two-man heats. No paddle battles. No local intimidation. No Wolfpak or Black Shorts. No interference calls. No Hawaiian underdogs. No buzzer beaters. No scoreboard pressure or commentator’s curses.


Why? Because The Triple Crown of Surfing is now a fully online digital contest.

(No relation to doctors sticking their fingers up your asshole.)

To compete in and win the Triple Crown of Surfing now you just gotta take a few videos of your surfing and then submit them online (don’t forget to tag @vanstriplecrownofsurfing) and hope that the judges like your “content”. I ain’t making this up.

Out with the old, in with the hip and the new.

More than just a bit confused by this new turn of events, I tried to make some sense of it all. Big failure.

When I first went through the rules format the first thing that popped into my stupefied, spinning gogglehead revolved around the videos surfers have to submit. Half the tour surfers don’t even have major sponsors, so I don’t think it’s too much of a stretch to say that most of ‘em don’t have dedicated filmers following them around with the new $80,000 RED 8K video camera.

Exhibit A. Connor O’Leary, ex WQS overall winner, WCT Rookie of the Year, and winner of the most recent Challenger Series event, who just requalified for next year’s CT tour. Riding a pure white, stickerless board.

You reckon the video editors at Quiksilver are just putting the finishing touches on his signature movie as we speak? What’s that? They dropped him?

Taking it a step further, what happens if poor old 86 ranked, unsponno surfer gets the wave of the winter out Pipe in the dark, dying light of an evening and all he’s got to show for it is his girlfriend’s grainy iPhone vid where he looks like an ant on a piece of bread?

Is the poor bloke then forced into an extortionate bidding war with rival beach videographers for half-decent footage, if they’ve got it? Or take your chances, send in your cheap ass iPhone vid and hope it gets viewed favourably against John John’s HD, technicolour, close-up screamer dreamer?

Shit outta luck if you don’t have the tech or mates who have the tech.

This is “moving forward”, and “aligning” with the fans.

And, what about the judging system? Four in number. Three official WSL judges and one wild, exciting, new type of judge thrown into the mix. What could it be, I hear you wonder?

No more suspense. One of the official judges is the online punter, you, me, and every other digital “fan”.

How cool, eh? Now we get to make or break a surfer’s livelihood just by pushing buttons on our phones.

Inclusivity at its best from Vans and the Wozzle.

Alas, I’m confounded again, however.

If the “fans” vote, is this just going to be a sad, pathetic numbers game of “I’m more popular than you are na na na na na naaaa”? For example, JJF has 1.4 million Instagram followers. If he gets 10% of his fans to tap the app and clap clap clap for JJF. Plus five 5% on top of that for non John-fans. 210,000 votes.

On the other hand, Callum Robson, currently #12 in the Challenger Series rankings, only has 7,250 Insta followers. Just for the fuck of it, let’s go all in and say he magically gets 100% of his followers to vote for him and they all get a mate each to do the same (wishful thinking but indulge me). 14,500 votes.

Who the fuck gets the choccies there? Confused much?

Not content with reducing one of surfing’s most esteemed prizes to a TikTok circle jerk, there’s an extra layer of incomprehensible doolally with the inclusion of a “progressive craft” element.

Yep, one of a surfer’s six vids has to be on a “progressive craft”. Slight problem though. According to their own rules published on their website, the “progressive craft” must be a craft (their terminology, not mine) that’s not quite as progressive as what the current kids ride.

In fact, some of the “progressive crafts” recommended are over 100 years old. No fucking shit.

I bring to you our “progressive craft” suggestion list, as per the contest guidelines:

twin fins
single fins

Fuck me, where do I kick off on this? The alaia, 100s of years old, if not a thousand. Longboards? Close to 100 years now. Twinnies? MR won titles on ‘em in the ‘70s. Bonzers? Campbell Brothers, 1970. You get the drift.

Surely it can’t be just me to wonder how the fuck riding a board from 100 years ago can be called a “progressive craft”? And why the fuck is it a compulsory component in the Triple Crown of Surfing?

Can they be any more ludicrously pretentious?

High-performance surfing has progressed beyond all of the “progressive” crafts listed to the toothpicks we have today. Granted, toothpicks are not for everyone, but the pros are riding the most “progressive craft” every fucking day. And, doing shit on them now that was pretty much impossible on any of the “craft” listed above.

There’s a reason they’re riding what they’re riding. It’s ’cause they’re the most progressive boards available.

Do they even know what progressive means? A five-second search on the Googlenet shows it’s favouring progress and improvement as opposed to maintaining the status quo.

Newsflash: High-performance surfers “progressed” beyond logs half a century ago. Fuck me.

Who comes up with this shit? And who rubber stamps it?

The WSL, that’s who. Remember, “This competition is sanctioned by the WSL”.

You reckon other sports are looking on enviously at the WSL, wondering how they can copy such genius?

Maybe right about now the bigwigs of Formula 1 admin are telling drivers like Lewis Hamilton they can only win the F1 title this year if they’ve driven a “progressive mobile” like, say, the Reliant Regal three-wheeler during one of the remaining Grand Prix races?

Or the Tour de France organisers sending out a memo telling riders they must complete a stage in The Pyrenees on a penny fucking farthing?

You can’t script this etc,

Open Thread: Comment live, Round of 32 at the Michelob ULTRA Pure Gold Haleiwa Challenger!

Professional surf time.

It’s time for professional surfing, once again, but do you care or do you care more about the SEC Championship Game between Georgia and Alabama later this afternoon?

Watch here (surfing).

Tell you friends what you think about football, Covid, Zeke Lau in the comments below.

Parents sue electric hydrofoil company after 10-year-old surf champion son has thumb tragically severed by propeller: “If he can fall and suffer the loss of a limb, anyone can.”

"One thing that’s important to know is that these boards are marketed as safe for kids, safe for the elderly, safe for everyone..."

In what could, perhaps, be a blow to the exploding popularity of electric hydrofoils, a family on Hawaii’s Big Island is suing the manufacturer WeFoil after their 10-year-old son, and recent NSSA West Coast Regional Championships winner, fell off and had his thumb severed by the propeller.

The horrific incident took place off Kailua-Kona and was the boy’s first time on the electric foil all captured with video. He was airlifted to Oahu for emergency surgery but the thumb could not be saved.

The family’s lawyer, Jeffery Foster, told Hawaii News Now, “Within literally seconds of him riding this e-foil the board did something weird. He fell off and tragically he lost his thumb on his dominate hand due to this exposed propeller. One thing that’s important to know is that these boards are marketed as safe for kids, safe for the elderly, safe for everyone. I don’t want this to happen to any other kid.”

Malia Lins Costa, the boy’s mother, added, “If he can fall and suffer the loss of a limb, anyone can.”

The lawsuit is seeking the immediate recall of WeFoil boards and “all other boards like it.” Furthermore, it calls on governments to enact further regulation of the electric hydrofoil industry.

There doesn’t appear to be any mechanism on the board that causes the board to stop operating,” Foster said. “If it did, if the propeller stopped moving at the time that he fell he wouldn’t have gone through this horrific incident. It’s important to say that it’s not just this company that sells this board with this particular exposed propeller. From what we’ve gathered it’s an industry wide issue.”

Is Big Foil the next Big Tobacco?

More as the story develops.

Surf Journalist discovers that sleeping better, not longer, is one very important key to a well-oiled mind!

A better life awaits.

Sleep. I’ve never been a huge fan of shut-eye, I’ll be honest. I mean, it’s ok but there are many more enjoyable things to do when the sun sets like driving to Las Vegas under the pale moonlight, eating sugar cereal, watching sporting highlights, playing iPhone blackjack, reading Matt Warshaw’s Encyclopedia of Surfing, scrolling through Donald Trump Jr. speeches but did you know that sleep, that shut-eye, is actually very crucial to a well-oiled mind?

It’s true but herein lies the quandary. Too much sleep means missing out on high-quality surf and especially during this holiday season.

Too little sleep means writing error-laden stories about the Caribbean.

How to find the balance?

Mercifully, my personal digital fitness and health coach is always on the job. My sleep WHOOP strap, perpetually gathering data, constantly tabulating heart and respiratory rates, overall strain, my various recoveries from previous days and allows me to sleep smarter, not longer. It gifts, “personalized sleep suggestions based on how strenuous your day is and when you need to wake up the following day” allowing the evolved to “set target performance goals so the sleep coach can adjust your sleep need suggestions so you can perform on days you need to be at your best and get by on days you can recover.”

Just before Thanksgiving, for example, I wanted to paddle for an early surf but would I make intelligent decisions in the lineup? Checking in with my WHOOP I realized that my recovery had been high, the previous day, and my strain within reason.


I knew that I could wake up early, select the right board for the conditions, the spot where it would be best and perform the right maneuvers in the right sequences.

I also knew that I could come home and write art-adjacent stories about my fitness and health journey that you could learn from, lessons that you could apply to your own situation.

Christmas is around the corner. Gift yourself a better life.

Buy here, fifteen percent discount if you use the code BEACHGRIT at checkout.

Moongie liked bikes, too!

Malibu surf icon Moondoggie whose legend was dramatised in seminal teen movie “Gidget” and who had disappeared at Venice Beach prompting an outpouring of grief found alive!

A Hanukah miracle!

Surfer, motorcycle racer, artist, hep-cat, and co-founder of The Royal Hawaiian crowd-clearing technique at Malibu, Billy al Bengsto,  is safe and sound and back with his family, although details are thin as to where he disappeared to and why.

Pretty much the only information that Bengston was home was one Instagram post announcing WE FOUND HIM!!!! by “Bluetica” on the last day of November, 2021.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by bluetica (@bluetica)

An appeal to “Bluetica” for details came up with bupkis and that led to an internet search to discover who “Bluetica” is.

“Bluetica Bengston” got mixed results from Los Angeles to Rome, but it appeared there was a Blue Tica Bengston who was involved with the horsey and polo set in Santa Barbara.

A Google search for “daughter Billy Al Bengston” was revealing, as apparently this was not the first time Moondoggie split from Venice.

According to a story called Venice is losing a bit of its cool by Lousie Roug in The Los Angeles Times for 8-8-2004, Bengston was retiring and splitting from Venice to move to British Columbia,

“In mid-August, he’s moving to Victoria, Canada, with his wife, Wendy, and his 14-year-old daughter, Tica – a move prompted, he said, by Tica, who wants to live in ‘horse country.’”

So that was her, a daughter born in 1990 who was into horses. So that was revealing but more so about how an influential artist from the 1950s and 1960s was negotiating the years on either side of Y2K.

According to The LA Times, Bengston’s departure was seen as the end of an era and bad juju by the resident artists of Venice:

But by the early ‘90s, Bengston had nearly vanished from the art scene, showing intermittently and then, for long stretches, not at all. His friends developed theories: Bengston had given up on the art world, or the art world had given up on Bengston; he was a victim of changing sensibilities, or he had opted out of a corrupt system.

Bengston himself gave contradictory answers. ‘Billy Al is retired and in his retirement, doing all the things one shouldn’t do while retired,’ his website said.

Now, a show of old and new work, ceramics and paintings opens today at the Cartelle Gallery in Marina Del Rey.

The show is a farewell to Los Angeles. Billy Al Bengston, contrarian, is leaving town.

Matt Kivlin was done with surfing in the 1950s: “Too crowded” and went on to be an admirably prolific architect, working non stop as Los Angeles boomed after World War II.

Bengston also thrived as a post-war artist, but it took him longer than that to be over the art world, which he compared to the surfing world.

Later on in the article, Bengston found parallel lines between the surfing world of the 50s and the art world of the 1950s:

On a lazy summer morning, Bengston’s view was a Southern California tableau: An ocean breeze rustled the palm trees in his garden and rippled the surface of the pool. But Bengston was happy to be leaving it all behind.

“I’m so thankful I’m not young and having to do it the way they do it today,” he said. “It was a lifestyle when we used to do it. Surfing absolutely paralleled the art world: It used to be a lifestyle, it became a business. When things become a business, your values change. There was no dollar value in surfing, and there was no dollar value in being an artist.”

The real value of art, he said, is mystery and surprise.

“A work of art is always supposed to leave you, ‘I don’t understand that. But it sure isn’t boring,’” Bengston said.

The only function of art is to be “something that you ain’t seen before,” he said. “To be itself.”

If you’re interested, that Los Angeles Times article is a good biography of Bengston up to 2004, when Bengston apparently bailed to British Columbia.

At some point he came back, and then, more recently, he disappeared again.

Information on that is non-existent. But safe to say, Billy Al is safe and sound and bouncing babies.

Home for the holidays.