"Let’s face it, there’s no way Medina quiets his inner beast for more than a couple of comps. He’ll have whittled all the sticks in the forest before long. It’ll be super fun to see him swing in from behind and start decimating people’s dreams in a ruthless game of catch-up." Here, Medina squashes Slater's last-minute heat winner at the 2017 Pipe Masters. | Photo: WSL

Billabong Pro Pipeline Preview: “We can expect peak Kelly, in all his mad, mad glory. There’ll be no escaping him. Every narrative will lead to Kelly. He’ll make sure of it!”

"Join me for the joy and the pain of the tour's opening gambit. Isn’t this the whole point of it all? Because without one, how might you recognise the other?"

Shortly after Longtom flew the coop, Derek asked me if I’d consider taking on his contest writing gig.

I was hesitant.

Hesitant to the degree that my first reaction was Fuck No.

It’s a cold and poisoned chalice, of course. I know that Steve turned comp reporting into art, and I appreciated it as much as anyone. Some of his contest wraps were more entertaining than the heats themselves, and I’m not even sure that’s hyperbole.

Most events happen at entirely unsociable hours for me. It’d be whisky, caffeine and insomnia for the duration of the comps, I’d need to accept that.

This probably isn’t conducive to patience for two yowling, scrapping toddlers at home or 100-odd volatile teenagers on a conveyor belt each day at work. I’d need to brace for that.

Then there’s the challenge of shouldering the dull ache of so many hours of pro surfing, especially with the nasally cadences of Joe Turpel as a soundscape.

Is this something akin to military grade torture? Did I want to find out?

And of course this melting pot of boredom, sleep-deprivation, whisky and lust for risk would be a catalyst for once again descending into deep, black gambling doom.

As many of you know, I am a hopeless addict.

This gig was surely a spiral to full relapse?

But, in the same way when you’re a kid you might hold your hand over a candle then keep going back to do it longer, I was a bit curious to see what happens when I simply threw myself into the flame.

And so I thought I’d give it a punt, because I like writing, and I like Derek, and I like (most of) you, too.

I love a creative challenge. So dead man’s shoes it is.

I must not gamble. I must not gamble. I must not gamble.

I. Must. Not. Gamble.

This is my mantra for the season. If for nothing else, stick around and watch me fail in a blaze of glorious self-loathing.

Join me for the joy and the pain. Isn’t this the whole point of it all? Because without one, how might you recognise the other?

I’m considerably less excited without Medina in the mix, of course, but I’m looking forward to getting a handle on the new guys. It’s ripe for someone unexpected to shine this year I reckon.

Anyway, let’s face it, there’s no way Medina quiets his inner beast for more than a couple of comps. He’ll have whittled all the sticks in the forest before long. It’ll be super fun to see him swing in from behind and start decimating people’s dreams in a ruthless game of catch-up.

And of course, lady and gentlemen, let’s not forget about one Robert Kelly Slater.

In what might or might not be his final year on Tour we can expect peak Kelly, in all his mad, mad glory. There’ll be no escaping him. Every narrative will lead to Kelly. He’ll make sure of it.

There’ll be a Netflix series worth of material over the course of the next year, and I can’t wait.

Slater will hit the half century a few days after Pipe finishes. Fifty. Five-O. That’s remarkable. I love to hate Slater, but the fact he’s still in the mix at the highest level bears repeating time and again.

He has approximately zero chance of claiming a twelfth title, but if the waves are big and barrelling he could absolutely take out a comp. And if he makes a final in decent waves I’ll be cheering him as loud as anyone.

Kelly Slater is a magnificent juxtaposition of genius on water and madness on land, and I’m here to celebrate all of it.

Oh Kelly, we’re going to have some fun, aren’t we?

Are you looking forward to it?

I am. I’m here for you, Kelly.

Let’s dance.

(P.S. I’ve already stuck 20 quid on Ivan Florence to win at, get this,  125/1! Clearly a bookie error in the early odds since he’s now dropped to 20/1. Well I wasn’t going to pass that up, was I?)


Wright (pictured) hacking.

Two-time World Champion Tyler Wright opens up about surfing Pipeline in candid new interview: “It’s a f*cking sausage fest!”

Jonah shouldn't go.

The dawn of the World Surf League’s 2022 Championship Tour is but hours away with its kickoff at the world famous Banzai Pipeline. The iconic wave is nothing new for the men, it having been a mainstay, the Proving Grounds, for decades but the women will also paddle out this year to the thrill of all.

Last year, you may recall, their Maui Pro was shifted to Pipeline after a shark attack. This year the full event will run in the shadow of Volcom’s famous stone but what is the temperature amongst competitors? How are they feeling?

Two-time World Champion Tyler Wright opened up about the opportunity to Pipe in a candid new interview with the august Sydney Morning Herald, telling the paper that she hasn’t surfed it since she was sixteen and let us peek our noses right in for more.

“It’s annoying, frankly, it’s dangerous (out there). I get over it, but when it comes to physically matching the men I don’t want to fight ten guys. It’s obviously a f—ing sausage fest. That’s fine, it is what it is, but at times it’s annoying. Honestly, we can catch the waves, it’s just that we don’t get the practice competing with 150 guys. It’s the most competitive lineup, it’s a gnarly slab, there are lots of different angles. It’s a unique wave. The more people out there, you’re not sitting in the spot you want to be in. You can’t sit in the right spot because it’s so competitive you’ll never get a wave. It is dangerous. I respect the people who put in the time here. I’m sure they see every kook in the world come here and try and surf it. There are always people out there who shouldn’t be out there. That’s dangerous, they’re jeopardising our lives. That’s why I understand that it’s important to have a heavy and respectful local presence. It’s not us that have to worry about it, it’s the local lifeguards that have to pull those guys out. Some people just shouldn’t go.”

And how refreshing is that hot take?

How wonderfully honest?

Jonah Shouldn’t Go.

A new bumper sticker?


Andy King, far left, with Gabriel Medina and Yasmin Brunet. | Photo: WSL/Cait Miers

Wildly successful coach of Gabriel Medina and Mick Fanning to take lead role in resurrection of Australian competitive surfing!

“Coaching is a bit of a fucking magician show. I wanted to see if there’s any value in coaching, that it had any grounds, that it wasn’t a farce.” 

Ain’t no secret that Australian competitive surfing is at its lowest point in history, no genuine title contenders, no teen freaks coming through the ranks, the country’s only bauble a bronze medal from the Tokyo Games. 

And this, despite the government millions thrown at Surfing Australia, the funnel through which potential champions are poured through via regional contests etc. 

All of that is set to become a memory now that Andy King, the personal coach of Gabriel Medina and Mick Fanning, has been appointed head coach at Surfing Australia. 

Andy is the Australian pro from Cronulla who lost his hearing after a street fight in 2004; a hard-charging goofyfooter who grew up with an alcoholic pops (Andy kept a knife under his pillow for protection) and who shifted to surf coaching after his tour comeback was stymied by his deafness.

He was intro’d to Medina by Mick Fanning at a time when Medina’s life was going through rapid change, the estrangement of his family, a new wife and so on. 

Medina’s shaper said King’s arrival stilled Medina’s emotional state, elevated his performance.

Cue: a world title at a canter.

Two years ago, King, who had the feeling that coaching high-level pro’s was all smoke and mirrors (“Was I just security to make their life easier? I didn’t know,” he says), turned a Russian synchronised swimmer into a shredder in eighteen months.

“Coaching is a bit of a fucking magician show,” he says. “I wanted to see if there’s any value in coaching, that it had any grounds, that it wasn’t a farce.” 

With the Paris Games two-and-a-half years away, and with the surf event being held at Teahupoo, King is gonna attempt to improve Australia’s medal haul, chasing silver, maybe gold.

“This (upcoming Olympic period) is the biggest stage in our sport, held at the biggest and best location in the surfing world. I’m so honoured to ride with the Australian team into this battle. Tahiti will truly showcase what our sport is all about and it is overwhelming to have this opportunity,” Andy said in the usual stiff press release. 

Not real sure who’s gonna snatch gold at Teahupoo, howevs, maybe Jackie Robinson? 


Medina and Brunet, one year ago. | Photo: @grabrielmedina

Breaking: World surfing champion Gabriel Medina’s splits from wife Yasmin Brunet; revealed as reason for quitting tour days before tour opener!

Brazil media reports world surf champ Gabriel Medina and Sports Illustrated model Yasmin Brunet have drawn the curtain on their year-long marriage.

Three days ago, the three-time world champ Gabriel Medina sensationally, though not surprisingly, quit the tour two weeks before the tour’s opening gambit at Pipe.

Medina, who is twenty-eight, made the announcement in a cryptic Instagram post.

“I have emotional issues that I need to deal with. Recognizing and admitting to myself that I’m not well has been a very difficult process and choosing to take time to take care of myself was perhaps the hardest decision I’ve ever made in my entire life. I’ve wondered a lot lately if I should make this public or keep it private, but it’s only fair that all of you who have always rooted for me know the moment I’m facing. Mental health is very important. I need to be 100% mentally to compete again.”

Now, Brazilian media outlet UOL is reporting the breakdown of Medina’s year-long marriage to thirty-three-year-old Sports Illustrated swimsuit model Yasmin Brunet, and that the pair are already living in separate houses.

“From what this column found, Gabriel Medina was the one who decided to end the relationship because he was bothered by Yasmin’s jealousy, who friends of his say is quite controlling. 

“It was the surfer who left the mansion he built for the two to live on the hill north of Maresias beach, overlooking the sea.

“Medina has moved, temporarily, to a condominium by the sea, also in Maresias, where he has spent the last few days. 

“The column learned that Medina asked Yasmin to leave the mansion, which she did not.”

It’s been a wild couple of years for Medina who became estranged from his mama Simone and step-daddy Charlie over his marriage to Brunet.

The feud went nuclear a few months ago with Simone’s allegations of a wild sex tape of a real young Brunet from a drunken party in Rio. 

“She was really crazy at a party at her condo in Rio. Drunk, in the parking lot, doing this to a guy and then throwing up,” Simone allegedly wrote to her son.

Brunet, in turn, hit Simone with a defamation suit.

And on IG, Brunet wrote to her almost three-million fans,

Out of respect for my fans and Gabriel, I want to express myself about some news that came out this week. One of them says that there is an intimate video of me in possession of a family member of my husband. This information is not valid. There is no such material. And it never existed. However, I need to emphasise that, even if it did, it is regrettable to want to diminish a woman’s sexuality, to be owners of our bodies and desires. 

I would have nothing to be ashamed of and no woman would either. I don’t agree with machismo. Just as my life also has no room for homophobia. Another lie created to attack me would be about a supposed homosexual relationship. As if living a love was something that would offend… And that kind of attitude saddens me these days. I value respect for women and for all those who live their loves.

I would have nothing to be ashamed of and no woman would either. I don’t agree with machismo. Just as my life also has no room for homophobia. Another lie created to attack me would be about a supposed homosexual relationship. As if living a love was something that would offend… And that kind of attitude saddens me these days. I value respect for women and for all those who live their loves.

You’ll remember the wild speculation that Gabriel had formed a loving union with soccer superstar Neymar Jnr (“It’s not normal to see two men like this”) which was quickly tempered by the marriage to Brunet.

Ironically, despite everything, Medina had never seemed happier.

Gone were the flashing glances, the disagreeable tone, the tears etc.

He even reunited with his real daddy, Claudinho, and moved him into one of his houses.

Happier days.

 

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New drone footage of massive Waimea illustrates surfing’s new normal: “With over 50 death-wishing surfers battling one another for each swell, it also provides an idea of just how crowded the sport has gotten, even on the heaviest of days in the most formidable of spots!”

Crowds, amirite?

Crowds, amirite? Covid has undeniably exploded surfing’s popularity though, I’ll be honest, I only thought it was at soft n’ easy breaks. Longboard spots etc. Jonah Hill’s backyard but new drone footage shot over the great Waimea days ago during a very large run of swell seemingly proves that crowds are, in fact, everywhere.

According to Drone DJ:

That vicarious two-part UAV footage was taken January 22, when waves were reportedly surging in at over 20 feet, and dishing out beatings the Honolulu Star Advertiser said prompted 53 lifeguard rescues.

But the educational utility – and, quite possibly, nerve-ruining effects – of the drone video isn’t limited to its close-up perspective of the so-called “fun” of taking off late on a two story-high Waimea wave. With over 50 death-wishing surfers battling one another for each swell, it also provides an idea of just how crowded the sport has gotten, even on the heaviest of days in the most formidable of spots.

The other thing it offers less daring surfers and non-paddlers alike is an idea of how tough it is to control an enormous drop while also avoiding the small army of people wallowing out front as they scratch frantically to get outside the giant incoming set. Whether you’re risking your neck for a slide down Mt. Liquid while navigating the human slalom run, or one of those who’ve made themselves floating human buzzsaw targets in front, the commonly shared fate of surfing Waimea in winter is ending up worse for wear under an avalanche of white water.

Were you out?

Thinking about going out during next swell?

Part of the problem or solution?