Kevin Backstrom rides his line during day one qualifiers at Natural Selection Tour stop one in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, USA on 25 January, 2022.
Kevin Backstrom rides his line during day one qualifiers at Natural Selection Tour stop one in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, USA on 25 January, 2022.

Snowboarding spectacular “Natural Selection” gets everything right that is wrong in organized professional surfing!

Erik Logan, are you watching?

The Billabong Pro Pipeline née Masters is but hours away and as much as we may want to excite, thrill, at our heroes back in singlets, a certain exhaustion looms. Oh, professional organized surfing is a fun-adjacent way to kill a work day but, let’s be honest with each other, how many heats are actually worth watching?

How many surfers, themselves, are (a fact made truly clear with Karl Von Fanningstadt’s brilliant Power Rankings)?

Does Leonardo Fioravanti vs. Deivid Silva vs. Nat Young (heat 12) get your heart pumping? What about Frederico Morais vs. Miguel Pupo vs. Jackson Baker (heat 8)?

Morgan Cibilic vs. Connor O’Leary vs. Caio Ibelli (heat 3)?

Italo Ferreira vs. Callum Robson vs. Miguel Tudela (heat 5)?

No because rarely do we get to see the surfers we want battling each other or the surfers we want full stop.

The World Surf League tried to remedy by introducing the “Final’s Day” concept which works well enough (minus Lower Trestles) except why was it not pushed further? Why was the very idea of seeding based upon standing tossed into the trash and lit on fire?

Take snowboarding’s Natural Selection, currently underway in gorgeous Jackson Hole, Wyoming (watch day one here). Now I know that your eyes roll when I get to talking about snowboarding but the tour’s format is simply superior. There is, first, no qualifying series. The snowboarders are chosen and generally the ones fans want to see. There is, second, no seeding. The events begin with gathering of riders wherein one name is drawn. That man, or woman, then chooses whom she, or he, will go head to head against. Repeat until the bracket is finished.


But what utter joy. The selection of opponent is a fun bacchanal but just underneath the surface, tension reigns. The competitors whose names are drawn generally choose whom they think they can beat leading to lightly pricked egos leading to added fire on the first run day.

Each rider gets two laps, loser goes home.

As there are no Miguel Tudela equivalents, each heat is worth watching and imagine the glee we professional surf fans would experience if this was adopted by our WSL. Whom would tanned, rested and ready Kelly Slater select? What about young Ivan Florence? Mason Ho would certainly be invited and whom would he select?

Tell me this would not be much better than our current Griffin Colapinto vs. Liam O’Brien vs. Matthew McGillivray (heat 2).

Tell me this is not what you’d prefer.

Watch Jackson Hole final’s day (maybe Friday) here.

Shoulda worn a Shark Stop.
Shoulda worn a Shark Stop.

New wetsuit technology that promises to defend against great white shark bites nears Kickstarter funding goal: “We empower you to feel confident and protected!”

Worry free.

But imagine finally be able to enter the ocean without a care in the world, or at the very least not the care of becoming munched and greatly injured by the most vicious great white shark. Paddling free and mentally easy. Barreling confident and protected.

A mirage?

Wild dream?

Not if Shark Stop raises another $6000 plus change in the next 100-odd days.

Shark Stop, so the Kickstarter goes, is scientifically proven to reduce the depth of a great white shark bite. We are the world’s leading developer of Shark Bite-Resistant wetsuits using new space-age polymer nanofibre technology, with more than four years of precision research.

These suits are ideal for surfers and divers who want flexibility combined with protection. Our mission is to give everyday ocean users their peace of mind back, to be part of the beautiful ocean without worry.

The Shark Stop journey started as a response to the worrying number of shark bite incidents on the north coast of New South Wales. Haydon Burford, our founder, spent four years researching a suitable fabric to develop a shark bite-resistant wetsuit before progressing to the testing stage through Charlie Huuveneers, Head Research into Sharks at Flinders University.

For the low low price of $795, funders will receive their very own Shark Stop wetsuit. Not so flush? $150 will get a longboard fin that reads “If my life is taken, don’t take theirs.”

Do imagine the sentiment is legally binding?

I suppose if the $795 is ponied up the point will be moot.

Californian surf star in wheelchair after almost being killed in horror fall; posts gruesome images of wounds on Instagram, “If you have a weak stomach, don’t go there!”

A long road to recovery expected for the former world number eighteen, "Lost my left heel and did a pretty job on right leg and foot also."

The Oceanside surfer and former world number eighteen, Mike Lambresi, has posted harrowing images of a near-fatal fall while trying to snatch the perfect angle of a pretty cove in San Diego. 

Lambresi, fifty-eight this year, posted the shots he took before the fall, as well as his gruesome injury. 

“According the my doctor at the trauma center in San Diego, I will need additional surgeries to include skin grafts,” Lambresi wrote on Instagram. “My right leg was also significantly injured with muscle, fatty tissue and heater else all hanging out from my upper right and back side of calf which required seeming up a long flap of ski and stitching up my foot in various places.”

His former sparring buddy, 1988 world champ Barton Lynch, was quick to signal his concern. 

“Are you okay mate? What happened?”

“Lost my left heel and did a pretty job on right leg and foot also. Wheelchair for the next month and more surgeries to come for skin grafts etc,” wrote Lambresi. 


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A post shared by Mike Lambresi (@mike_lambresi)

Lambresi only started stand-up surfing at eighteen in 1982 but got so good so fast he’d won the prestigious California Stubbies Trials within one year. 

Fame and chasing the tour never appealed to Lambresi.

He quit the tour three years later in 1985, aged twenty-one, to stay home with his wife and kid, although he’d dominate the domestic PSAA tour for years, winning it in 1987, 88 and 89.

“I didn’t like the tour,” Lambresi later said. “I hated traveling eight or nine months of the year; it was grueling. I was engaged, and kept putting off getting married because I was always on the road. Quitting was actually a pretty easy choice for me.”

Italo Ferreira, 2019 Pipe Master.

Jaw-dropper: In shock reveal, winner of opening tour event at Banzai Pipeline will not be crowned “Pipe Master”!

Two pivotal reasons why you won't be seeing a Pipe Master crowned at the tour's opening event… 

You win a Grand Slam event at Pipe, you’re a Pipe Master, a crown almost as gilded as a world title, yeah? 

Couple of reasons why you ain’t gonna see a Pipe Master crowned at the opening event, even if it is at Pipe.

The contest is called the Billabong Pro Pipeline.

There’s no mention of the Pipe Masters, the longest running professional event in surfing (Bells didn’t go pro until 1973), ‘cause Billabong’s contract as the title sponsor of the Pipe Masters ran out in 2021 

Wanna know why?

The WSL, and Vans who own the intellectual property rights to the Pipe Masters, couldn’t swing a mutually satisfying agreement with Billabong for ‘em to continue as naming sponsor of the event. 

So the name reverts to Vans.

Thus, we have the Billabong Pro Pipeline. 

If you’ve been kicking around for long enough you’ll remember the Billabong Pro events, which were pivotal events in the Hawaiian Triple Crown in the eighties and nineties.  

In an ironic turn since he just got dumped from the Pipe broadcasting team, BL won the Billabong Pro in 88, held at Pipeline, and his world crown, a champ but no Pipe Master; in 1986, the Billabong Pro ran one of its days at Waimea and was so big two Australian pro’s, Bryce Ellis and Gary Green, refused to paddle out. 

Changing the tour climax from the North Shore to Sam Clemente played hell with the Hawaiian schedule, too.

See, because the WSL’s wanted to start the 2022 season in Hawaii and end it at Trestles in September, they had to run the 2021 Pipe Masters in January. Therefore there couldn’t be two events in the same year so the usual December slot wasn’t used. 

This meant that for 2022, the WSL had to juggle the events and come up with new dates and names.  

The Volcom Pipe Pro got dropped in favour of Billabong taking over that slot. 

Still, the Pipe Masters is gonna be on, usual dates, December 8-20, 2022

The WSL and Vans are still negotiating over what status Pipe is gonna be although the prizemoney is rumoured to be off the charts (Squid Games filled Vans’ already considerable coffers) and with the WSL taking the Triple Crown off the contest surfing table, Vans are psyching to run a big and heavily promoted event. 

Iconic Kelly Slater looking tan, rested and ready ahead of the Billabong Pro Pipeline stirring rumors of a possible 12th World Title run!

Happy days.

I will tell you right now, the best surfer in the water is rarely the one having the most fun unless that surfer is 11x World Champion Kelly Slater and then it signifies a possible 12th title run.

The iconic elder statesman was captured on Oahu’s North Shore, days ago, looking more tan, more rested, more ready than I have ever seen him in my whole life. An easy, relaxed smile, generous fist bumps to old friends friends, a free spirit that exudes general winning.


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A post shared by Zecão Rennó (@zecao_renno)

Slater is widely known as a master gamesman, getting in competitors’ heads, burrowing into their very guts and I can only think he is positioning himself to shock and amaze, especially with the shock announcement that Gabriel Medina has withdrawn from competition.

Tell me, who can stand in emotional peak Kelly’s way?

What if he wins Pipe, quarters Sunset? Completely in the realm of possibility and then we have the Australian leg what with its mandatory vaccination policy and saber rattling politicians but let’s cross that bridge when we come to it.

Let’s root for a Pipe win.

Let’s go for 12.