WSL in legal stoush with Women’s Independent Soccer League over latter’s trademark registration!

The WISL is dedicated to furthering women’s equality in soccer, “a league created by women for women” and “an equality project.”

Earlier this month, the World Surf League (WSL) challenged the trademark registration of the Women’s Independent Soccer League (WISL).

The WISL is dedicated to furthering women’s equality in soccer. The league will operate as a secondary, sort of minor league for the National Women’s Soccer League, providing women a path to pro soccer.

The WISL is self-described as “a league created by women for women” and “an equality project.”

The WISL was founded in response to the flourishing of Major League Soccer (MLS), the top men’s soccer league in the US. According to Soccer Today, “Our U.S. Soccer Women’s National Team is the most successful in the world and can proudly claim four FIFA World Cup titles. The men cannot even claim a final match and yet today there are three professional men’s leagues in the USA and several large lower-level leagues as well.”

In April of last year, the WISL announced its first club, the Los Angeles Force, which already has a men’s team.

As you may know, the WSL has long made gender equality a cornerstone of its image. In September 2018, it announced that it would award equal prize money to male and female athletes, making it the self-described “first and only US based global sports league . . . to achieve prize money equality.”

But, recent months have revealed cracks in the equality façade. Questionable decisions in the Pipeline contest, leading noted surf writers to question the WSL’s motivations and one female pro to claim, “It was a fucking joke and a disgrace to all equality in sports pushes ever.”

Then, current Men’s Longboard champ Joel Tudor, delicately as ever, pointed out the WSL’s alleged failure to pay its women’s longboarders at a rate commiserate with their worth.

“They use women’s longboarding to promote everything,” said Tudor.

The Trademark Trial and Appeal Board is currently hearing the dispute.

Will the WSL strike another blow against equality?

More soon.

Filipe Toledo slashes Sunset to the bone!

Post-Sunset Pro and Pre-Portugal Power Rankings, “Filipe Toledo is the best surfer in the world on rail! There’s no real debate!”

Australian surfers crash to historic lows; Hawaiians dominate tour!

We witnessed a lot through the couple good days of competition at Sunset, including too many competitors riding shitty equipment, the continued ebb of Australian surfing, and the rise of the Hawaiians.

How does all that impact the rankings?

Find out!

36. Liam O’Brien/Yago Dora
Absent the entire year so far, neither has really contributed any surfing to the Tour. In Yago’s case, that’s a shame.

35. Morgan Cibilic
Funny how the announcers keep asking if one of the rookies could be this year’s Morgan Cibilic (saying both names is paramount!). Here’s hoping for them that they aren’t. Don’t want them shitting the bed next year.

34. Carlos Muñoz
Injured and out of Portugal. Get better, my friend. We would rather see you fall off Tour on merit.

33. Ryan Callinan
Poor Ryan, having to coax his battered, oft broken spiderweb skeletal system to perform in Hawaii only to be thoroughly destroyed by Deivid Silva… bummer.

32. Callum Robson
Surfing like a statue suffering a bad case of camptocormia, Callum lost to the once future-and-caveated-and-heavily-excused savior and fellow Australian, Jack Robinson, in the Round of 32. His existence on Tour is merely to function as further evidence of the ongoing and in progress slow extermination of Oz as a surf superpower. Queen Ozma is dead and cannot save them.

31. Imaikalani deVault
A terrible two-event start for the rookie. Suffering a severe case of the fallzies, otherwise known as The Michel Bourez Staple, Imaikalani wasn’t able to make it out of the Round of 32, after looking rather sharp in his Opening Round heat. Had to knock him down a few spaces for the uninspired/lame board spray.

30. Lucca Mesinas
Surfing frontside definitely a weakness for Lucca, who appeared to have been following a strict script on every single wave he caught at Sunset, the list of maneuvers just to be checked off: takeoff fade, bottom turn, flaccid cutback two feet under the lip (with pronounced arm movement), a non-lip hitting turn or two, and fall or pull out.

29. Jackson Baker
Jackson performed well in his heat against Jordan, surfing a longer board that looked like it was created with the input of old keyboard warriors who can’t fathom adequately riding anything sub-6’8”, but still lost. Still, looked pretty good.

28. Frederico Morais
A pre-event favorite (or every single person’s darkhorse), the Pride of Portugal lost to Jaddy. That’s damning enough. Hopefully home treats him better.

27. Leonardo Fioravanti
Another Euro with a disappointing result. I would say something making fun of the fact that he’s Italian, as that is one of only three things I know about him (the other two being that he is friends with Kanoa and that he sometimes wears his hat backwards), but saying he’s really more Luigi than Mario is not funny.

26. Owen Wright
A dead last place finish for O-Dawg. Why did they waste a wildcard on him? Another Wright mystery. Fuck.

25. Miguel Pupo
After a semi-final appearance at Pipe, Miguel tumbled his way back down toward the bottom. Not that he surfs like the guy or that he definitely has had greater competitive success than him, but Miggy just made me think of Miky Picon. I think it’s the losing part.

24. Nat Young
Natty powered his much fawned over (by Ross) powerful thighs to a shitty scoring Round of 16 loss to Seth Moniz. Along with his California compatriot in the next spot, Nat’s place on Tour serves as a reminder that the Eldorado State produces a lot more sand and gravel than gold these days.

23. Conner Coffin
With two seventeenths in Hawaii and being outsurfed by a professional receding hairline, Conner must not be feeling too comfortable about the cut. The generational wealth should help.

22. Connor O’Leary
He had his singlet ripped off in one of his heats… gnarly.

21. Jake Marshall
Discharging his opponents, which included John John, on his way to a quarterfinal finish, young Jake had Scott Bass involuntarily ejaculating his pants repeatedly.

20. João Chianca
After exciting everyone at Pipe, João fell back down to Earth at Sunset. I’m sure there is something else I could say…

19. Samuel Pupo
Surfed well against current commentator apparent masturbation aid, Ethan Ewing, young Sammy didn’t really prove anything, except for that he’s pretty good (could be argued he should’ve won) and reminding everyone of how absolutely rank claims aimed at juicing scores are

18. Griffin Colapinto
Another bad result for Griff, who could easily blow 90% of the tour out of the water just surfing, but instead opts to ride shitty equipment and follow the advice of whoever his dumbass coach on “heat strategy” on his way to losing earlier than he should. Trent at the Home Depot in Mission Viejo is licking his lips at the thought of further Griff failures.

17. Shadow of Gabriel Medina Inside the Mind of Italo Ferreira
Absent the canvas to boost and surf like his jittery, exciting self, instead surfing looking like Beau Emerton’s cadaver, Italo suffered yet another early round loss. While I’m sure he doesn’t give a fuck about what Gabe is doing or whether he would care for the comparison, I can’t help but watch every Ferreira heat through the lens of “how would Medina perform?” in the same conditions (answer: probably a lot better).

Without Gabe competing, Italo is far and away the best goofy on Tour and with no one else within sniffing distance of his level of excellence to measure him against as a relative equal, it’s hard not to view his performance through that perspective. Is this something I’ve latched onto a little too closely because I lack any other faux interesting thing to say? Probably. Hopefully the back-to-back defending MEO champ can snap out of it.

16. Matthew McGillivray
So many people to talk about and pretend to have a take on (or their ridiculous 9.0 scores), I can only say that to sum up my feelings here would be to reference the word, “doldrums.”

15. Deivid Silva
I don’t care what the heat scores may say (others may have had better totals, I don’t really know), but Deivid was easily the best goofy out at Sunset… the benefit of looking like a garden gnome on huge waves probably helps… just ask Tom Carroll.

14. K-Hole Andino
Another year, another disappointment for the narrative that K-Hole is a legitimate World Title Contender, which everyone realizes is a fantasy.

13. Zeke Lau
Nice result for the Don-From-Napoleon-Dynamite-Vibe Hawaiian, even if he was one of the pre-event favorites. A quarterfinal is good for his re-qualification chances.

12. Jack Robinson
“If only the waves were huge like the first day.”

Has a more excused surfer ever existed on the World Tour, one held in such unearned high esteem as to exist in a state of permanent absolution for his inability to perform? I’d argue no.

Jackie’s under-performances are always rationalized away, usually by people saying stuff like the above quote, nothing is his fault. Understanding that people really think this these excuses are reasonable I ask: if a surfer ALWAYS requires perfect conditions in order to do well and destroy his opponents, doesn’t that mean he’s probably not as great as you think he is?

11. Ethan Ewing
A very good contest for Andy, who surfed his way, in his usual overly polished fashion, all the way to the semi-final, to every single commentator’s onanistic joy! Beating Fil, whose turns I much preferred, in the Round of 16 on the strength of one extra turn.

10. John John Florence
With his loss to Jake Marshall in the Round of 32, I had to drop him a bit. Not as low as I probably should’ve, but I’m not worried about him. He’ll turn it around.

9. Kelly Slater
After a Round of 32 loss that saw him get an interference against John John in the overlapped heat, Kelly Slater cried in his post-heat interview about hating Sunset. No, he didn’t really cry about it, rather he just pointed out that he doesn’t like the place while assigning it personhood in a semi-serious-do-not-really-understand-how-to-deliver-jokes way.

8. Jadson Andre
Every heat Jaddy surfs on Tour is a gift to him and an inspiration to everyone watching, proving just because you’re not the best as what you do, you can still make something of yourself.

7. Caio Ibelli
In the process of writing up these unsolicited Power Rankings, it is sometimes hard to come up with stuff to say about the actual surfing they do, as most of the time there is no real analysis to be had, as most often the guys suck or just didn’t surf well for whatever reason. Because of this, a lot of what I write seems shallow, like how I order people heavily based on simple results and how I might focus too much on making fun of someone’s looks or persona. What does this have to do with Caio other than that he’s ranked this high because he made the semis and is balding? I don’t know.

6. Jordan Michael Smith
Another Sunset favorite who didn’t do as well as he should’ve, Jordan is having a Jordan year. Ranked highly because he should do fine in cold water and be better over the next three events.

5. Seth Moniz
Another solid result for Seth, who eeked out a few squeakers to a quarterfinal finish that has him tied for second position on the leaderboard after two events. .

4. Barron Mamiya
The lack of exaggerated hype around Barron coming on Tour into the year, while understandable, considering his participation would come through wildcards rather than formal qualification, is surprising. Every rising star entering the big leagues, from Owen in 2010 to the Reincarnation of Andy in 2017, had more hype surrounding their entry to elite competition. Whatever the reason for this, it doesn’t really matter, he’s number one right now. He’s not ranked higher because of the uncertain status of his continued participation this year due him being only an injury replacement at this point.

3. Kanoa Igarashi
A nice runner-up result for the young American Japanese Portaguese dynamo. Maybe the local boy can produce some magic at the MEO.

2. Filipe Toledo
According to Pancho Sullivan in a story on the WSL website from 2017, “For the better part of 30 years Sunset Beach was surfing’s spiritual proving ground.” Its reputation as a proving ground carried through the contest, which confirmed one important fact about professional surfing: Filipe is the best surfer in the world on rail. There’s no real debate. Doing better in Hawaii than people expected he would, he should be able to surf his way to Trestles comfortably.

1. Makuakai Rothman
Easily the biggest winner of the contest at Sunset, where he became the best commentator the WSL has to call events, supplanting one-time Best Surf Commentator, Ross Williams, who probably at this point is too compromised (John John’s coach) to be considered any good.

Throughout the contest he was the only person in the booth who even attempted to analyze anything going on like in one instance that I remember (don’t know what heat) when he was explaining the different sections of the reef and how each should theoretically be approached, clearing the low bar set by others who usually can only say something stupid like “oh, this guy’s surfing well…”.

The WSL should keep Makua on, probably limited to the Hawaii leg to avoid his overexposure.

It will be interesting to see who the WSL has as part of the commentary team for Portugal. My hope is that somehow Ben Mondy can play the part of Rosy and have to take a post-heat interview with Slater. The GOAT surfer with the WOAT surf power rankings writer.


Australian actor-surfer Simon Baker shucks $17 million Sydney mansion for three-mill “humble fibro beach shack” at surf mecca Lennox Head!

Hollywood star roughs it in the country after wild city life… 

The star of multi-season cable hit The Mentalist and director-headliner of retro-surf movie Breath, Simon Baker, has shucked his seventeen-mill mansion in Sydney for a cement block and timber beach shack a few hundred metres from Lennox Point. 

Baker, who is fifty-two, bought the two-bedder at 23 Dress Circle Drive, Lennox Head, for almost three-mill last year following the breakup of his marriage and the subsequent sale of couple’s Bronte house for seventeen-mill; a place they bought in 2015 for six-and-a-half mill. 

His Lennox joint, a sleepy eyed derelict, is one of the last remaining original houses in Dress Circle Drive, the modest holiday homes having long given way to the bulldozer’s blade and man’s urgent need for compounds and monoliths. 

“This is the ideal site to make a terrific new statement,” advises the selling agent. “It stands on an elevated 505sqm medium density allotment within strolling distance to the beach, cafes and all of Lennox’s amenities. This is a rare real estate offering that will bring fantastic rewards to those wishing to upgrade, knockdown/rebuild or develop the site and capitalise on such a tightly held setting.”

Surprisingly deft on a surfboard, Baker grew up in Lennox before treading the boards in Sydney, Los Angeles etc.

“You can’t deny the power of this landscape,” Baker told 60 Minutes while standing with reporter at Lennox Point. “It’s got this intensity and whether you like it or not it will have an impact on you.”

Be pretty cool, I think, if the actor keeps the joint as is, undies on the clothesline in the backyard, boards on the deck, various women hissing hotly as star and groupie both gallop for the finishing line while watching tranny porn on the ground floor chaise lounge.



French woman who turned to surfing as “a more interesting form of exercise than going to gym” nearly drowns at Bondi while attempting to save incompetent swimmer!

Highs and lows!

The ups and downs of this surfing life, amirite? One day everything is just the most glorious artistic metaphor, the next it is a bleak slough of despond. Well, what to do? We are hooked, hopelessly entangled, so go along and get along as best we can.

The recent Bondi transplant Cecile Gilbert recently got a big dose of the highs and lows and all in one session. She moved to suburban Sydney’s crown jewel two years ago and took up surfing as it seemed “a more interesting form of exercise than going to the gym.”

So there she was, anyhow, enjoying a wonderful sunset surf with a friend when she saw a man wading out to sea. “I just I had a feeling that something was gonna go wrong, because I knew we were on the rip,” she told Yahoo! Australia so paddled over to see if he was ok.

He told her he was but then changed his mind and grabbed on to her nearly pulling her underwater. Panic set in but she maintained a steely exterior and calmly told him that they both couldn’t float on the surfboard together and so she positioned him atop while “wading alongside.”

Now, I am as confused as you about how this drowning is happening at wading depth but never mind because the aforementioned rip started pulling the both of them out to sea. Ms. Gilbert imagined this is how it was all going to end and felt sad but her surfing friend was already on the beach gathering help and everyone was saved.

Wonderful, no?

Kez Slater, dominant at Pipeline.

Why Kelly Slater is not the Greatest Athlete of All Time: “What has Kelly done for the world? What has surfing?”

“Despite what the majority of surf media would have you believe, Kelly Slater is not the GOAT across all sports. In fact, he’s not even close.”

Kelly Slater is an outlier in the history of professional sports. His latest victory at Pipeline came just shy of his fiftieth birthday and he’s had victories in the top tier of professional surfing over three decades. 

As the holder of eleven world titles and numerous competitive records, he surely deserves to be in the conversation about the greatest athletes of all time.

But it’s a very short conversation.

Despite what the majority of surf media would have you believe, Kelly Slater is not the GOAT across all sports. In fact, he’s not even close.

1. The Surfing As Sport Problem

Outright dismissal of Kelly Slater from the conversation might seem harsh, but the problem is not so much with Slater as an athlete, but with surfing as a sport.

I’m sure some surfers reading this might baulk at that last sentence. Surfing? A sport? Don’t be ridiculous.

We might debate the definition of “sport”, but if your definition involves clear and objective targets and competition as a fundamental element of performance, then surfing is somewhat lacking.

This uncertainty about surfing as a viable competitive activity is borne out by the number of surfers who actually care about pro surfing, or even acknowledge its existence. 

The most respected magazine in the industry (and, crucially, one of the few still surviving), The Surfer’s Journal, has traditionally ignored this element altogether.

The online viewing figures for the WCT, the elite level of competition surfing, are a fraction of the audiences for the likes of curling or kabaddi. 

Darts makes it look like a joke. The number of fans on the beach would embarrass an average Highland League football team.

Recent Olympic inclusion gives surfing some credibility, but most surfers probably couldn’t name the two governing bodies for competition. 

The flashier WSL has tended to be seen as the bellwether of high-performance surfing, but the majority of surfers neither care for that style of surfing nor want to replicate it.

The scoring is subjective, controversial and forever flawed. At the best of times no-one can decide who the best surfer in the world is, or how we might make that decision. Even the most hardcore of pro surf fans are thoroughly fed up. 

But mostly no-one really cares.

If not for the generosity of billionaire Dirk Ziff, who appears to be financing the show out of charity at this stage, it might have vanished like spit from a tube long ago.

Surfing may well have exploded into a common, Instagrammable pastime, but as a sport it remains niche. Pro surfing is a bubble within a bubble.

Is Kelly Slater even the best surfer ever? We’ll never know.

2. The Accessibility and Diversity Problem

The GOAT of GOATS needs to come from a sport where the talent pool includes more or less everyone on the planet. If a sport isn’t cheap enough or accessible enough for everyone to try it, how do you know you’re the best in the world at it? 

If the sport isn’t widely supported and understood, then how might we trust the quality of discourse?

GOATs need to come from sports that have no major barriers to entry. Sports that are globally accessible, simple and cheap. Sports with clear and unequivocal rules that allow us to define greatness. 

The participation and fan base should transcend borders and cultures.

I’m thinking of things like boxing, football, basketball, running… If you conquer one of these you’re truly exceptional. There is no luck and circumstance involved. You’ve simply got more talent than everyone else or you’ve worked harder, and likely it’s a divine combination of both.

There are millions of people who would never be able to surf. It’s too expensive, too complicated, too dependent on specific geography and weather. It would be accurate to say that there are millions of people who’ve never even seen surfing beyond beginners flip-flapping on foam boards at a holiday beach.

If you want to get good at surfing you need access to good waves. The regions of the world with quality waves and affordable coastal properties are few and shrinking.

Even if you were lucky enough to be born into a situation that allowed you to surf regularly, you’re unlikely to progress without a strong local scene. 

If we’re focusing on pro surfing, then you’ll need organised competitions to access. Beyond that still, if you want to get really good, then you need to travel extensively. All the time.

That’s a rare and specific set of circumstances.

A cursory look at the statistics of surfing’s world champions tells us there’s a narrow range of people who could ever get there, and it’s hardly related to how much talent you have.

Across both men’s and women’s divisions only five nationalities have ever won world titles. (I’m not including Martin Potter’s representation of the UK).

103 world titles have been awarded since professional surfing began: 51 for USA (inc Hawaii); 42 for Australia; 5 for Brazil; 3 for South Africa and 2 for Peru.

When it comes to world champions geographical fortune trumps talent.

Within these narrow regions surfing has a diversity problem. This would warrant further statistical analysis if it wasn’t so blatantly obvious. You might count the number of black professional surfers in history on one hand, and Michael February is the only one to reach the WCT.

Does that seem like broad enough competition for the Greatest Of All Time?

3. The Comparison Problem

Comparing sports for the purpose of GOAT arguments is fraught with problems, but if we do, surfing doesn’t exactly shine.

There’s the subjectivity and endless controversy about judging, for a start. For the sake of brevity I won’t dig into that too much, but suffice to say it’s a matter of conjecture or simply opinion as to what excellent surfing might look like. 

At the highest level these judgements stray beyond subjective and into the realms of entirely arbitrary. Yet surfers are still scored on a scale of zero to ten points for each wave surfed, with often tenths and sometimes hundredths of a point separating winner from loser. Put your faith in that, if you will.

I’d place a lot more value in seeing a ball go into a net or someone crossing a line.

A common argument in surfing’s favour is how dynamic and athletic it is, and while this may be true in glimpses (when the waves are good) it’s hardly a consistent marker of competitive surfing performance.

If we compare the number of events in pro surfing and the time spent actually scoring points (or even actually surfing rather than just sitting waiting for waves) it looks a bit silly.

The format of competition has undergone various changes over the years, but the current schedule is eleven competitions in a year. If you make a final you’ll surf a maximum of six heats per event. Heat times vary, but let’s average them at thirty minutes. That’s three hours of surfing per competition, absolute maximum, and twelve scoring waves. 

This might be a performance requirement best measured in seconds rather than minutes.

Kelly Slater has eleven world titles and fifty-five event wins. For argument’s sake let’s say 330 heat wins in the competitions where he’s been overall winner, 660 scoring waves, 165 hours of surfing.

Brazilian football legend Pele is listed by Guinness World Records as scoring 1279 goals in 1364 games. Granted, some of that wasn’t at the very highest level, but it’s still unbelievable consistency over 2046 hours of competitive football. (With no sitting on the pitch waiting for the ball, presumably).

An NBA season has 82 games in the regular season and a potential maximum of 28 games in the playoffs. Lebron James has played 1351 career games to date. (Not counting All Star or Olympic appearances). 

Each game lasts an average of 2-2.5 hours, with 48 minutes of playing time. That’s 3040 hours of intense NBA basketball.

Players rarely play every minute, of course. Lebron is listed as having 51, 524 minutes on the court. He’s missed the playoffs just three times in his nineteen seasons (and counting). He’s played 94% of possible games in his career and never missed a playoff game.

People will point to Kelly’s longevity, and at fifty ears old it is remarkable to still be competing at the highest level, but in comparison to Lebron or Pele it looks like a bit of a joke.

Just for funsies, let’s look at Kelly Slater vs Phil “The Power” Taylor in darts.

Statistically, Taylor would smoke Kelly in many areas, not least the sixteen World Championship titles (including eight back-to-back) to Slater’s eleven.

But we can’t really compare darts as a sport to surfing, can we?

Athletically there’s no comparison, of course. 

But anyone who’s tried to throw darts understands it’s not quite as easy as it looks. Imagine trying to throw in a world championship game, with hundreds of thousands of people watching on TV and a live crowd that’s not only vociferous and rowdy, but are just a couple of feet away from you, and more than a bit drunk. 

Now imagine you’re also half-cut…

Looking at darts objectively, you could say that anyone, absolutely anyone, has the capacity to be the best in the world, right? The target never moves. 

Surely it’s just about repetition? No-one on earth has an advantage over anyone else. It’s not only a sport that everyone can access, but a sport you can immediately play on an even field. You might be Phil Taylor or a child picking up darts for the first time, you play under exactly the same conditions.

Imagine what it takes to utterly dominate a sport like this.

And if we’re talking about popularity and viewing figures, well surfing’s a dim and distant loser to darts in that respect, too.

4. The Surf Media Problem

If you follow surf media (and, let’s face it, that pretty much means checking a couple of websites) you might recognise that some of the loudest and most respected voices in the industry belong to men who have a lot in common with Slater. 

Surfing being the nepotistic little bubble that it is, many of these men also know Kelly on a personal level, if not as a friend, then certainly as someone with whom they’ve shared various interactions over thirty years.

Those adamant about Kelly’s GOAT status in the wider world can’t possibly look at this objectively. They have an emotional attachment to Slater, a man of their age, still doing stupendous things in the sport they love. 

They’ve grown up with Kelly and witnessed everything he’s done, and as the years recede he becomes a symbol of hope for their own uncertain futures. If Kelly can still do it, then maybe we can, they surely think.

This isn’t a criticism of any of these people personally, it’s just recognition of the fact they have inherent bias accrued over a lifetime of love for surfing. You can’t blame them for that. But you can question their viewpoint.

Ultimately, Kelly Slater has done exceptional things in professional surfing, most of which might never be equaled. There’s no argument there. But anointing him as the greatest athlete of all time is indicative of surfing’s narrow view of the world.

Sport is just sport, at the end of the day. But as we know, in the most elevated and spectacular moments – the realms where GOATs play – it can be an awful lot more.

When we talk about those who are worthy of being called the GOAT, we should be talking about people whose sporting performances have transcended sport. We should be talking about figures who are globally recognised and historically remembered, people who are idolised by children and worthy of that status.

What has Kelly done for the world? What has surfing?

How do you compare his impact to Muhammed Ali, for example?

You could argue we should ignore everything Kelly has done and said outside of surfing, but I don’t think we should. 

At the highest level of sport, the kind of level reserved for people dubbed GOATs, sport influences culture, brings people hope, and instigates change.

Kelly Slater isn’t even close to being the GOAT, and I’d bet, in the cold light of day or the throes of an ayahuasca-led vision quest in Costa Rica, he might just admit that, too.

(Editor’s Note: This piece first appeared on Matt Barr’s Looking Sideways.)