"If you had a certain ranking in the Pit, you were allowed to wear a Panama hat and stripes on your trunks. It was like being a commander with bars on your shoulders. The hat and the stripes were people’s way of knowing you were somebody without knowing your name. Then they got to know your name real quick. Rank and file." Brad Barrett/EOS
One-time prince of Malibu, foil of Miki Dora and inspiration to VAL surfer icon Jonah Hill, dies suddenly, “A pointbreak genius with lightning-fast feet and a wicked grin!”
"If he'd hit his wave-riding peak in 2022 instead of 1965, he'd be the hottest thing in America surfing."
Johnny Fain of Malibu died yesterday at age 78.
A pointbreak genius with lightning-fast feet and a wicked grin, Fain famously dueled in and out of the water with Miki Dora in the early- and mid-’60s—it was a show they put on, and it was a great one, except that it left Fain in Dora’s shadow, which was unfair to Johnny.
He was thought of by some as a blowhard, but from here it all looks like grand beach theater, and if Fain hit his wave-riding peak in 2022 instead of 1965, he’d be the hottest thing in America surfing.
“Even though I was the youngest surfer at Malibu [around 1958], I kept up with the older guys. That was the challenge. That’s what helped my drive. I knew if I didn’t keep up, I was gone. Later on, I got a Panama hat, and that was a big deal. If you had a certain ranking in the Pit, you were allowed to wear a Panama hat and stripes on your trunks. It was like being a commander with bars on your shoulders. The hat and the stripes were people’s way of knowing you were somebody without knowing your name. Then they got to know your name real quick. Rank and file.⠀
“I was lucky because I had plenty of time to surf. My mother [Jeanne Bartlett] was a professional writer—she wrote the screenplay for Son of Lassie, the film that made Peter Lawford a star. My dad owned and operated Malibu TV. The chores I had at home were minimal. That helped me tremendously. While most kids were out doing their paper route or some other odd job, I was in the water advancing to new heights. I remember thinking of the Indy 500 while I surfed, I’m passing people in my Formula One race car, pitting myself against the wave, pushing myself to the limit. I wanted to see how far I could go to defy the force of gravity. Only the equipment was holding me back.”⠀
⠀ RIP to a true original. ⠀
Surfer attacked by shark near site of last month’s fatal mauling on a swimmer by fifteen-foot Great White; hit follows warning by shark expert, “It’s a dangerous time to surf!”
Yesterday a swimmer was rammed by a Great White at a popular surf beach in Western Australia; a few weeks ago a girl on an inflatable toy was bitten in the guts by a Great White, in September last year, a surfer was killed near Coffs Harbour; a few months before that another surfer was killed in a shallow-water attack by a Great White at Tuncurry a few hours south; before that, fifteen-year-old Mani Hart-Deville at Wooli, dead, Rob Pedretti, Kingscliff, dead, Laeticia, dead, Gary, dead, Sharpy, dead, Paul, all dead. Killed by Great Whites in the space of a couple of years.
Shortly before the latest attack, over on Instagram @sharkgirlmadison was warning of the likelihood of attacks, not by Great White, but by Bulls.
“IT’S A DANGEROUS TIME TO SURF. Please be safe. Tag a surfer friend…”
Once again it seems God is the only man with a more inexplicable interest in pro surfing than Dirk Ziff.
Let’s see the wood rather than the trees and not look for poetry where there’s clearly none.
Let’s just be frank.
Those finals were fucking boring.
The world’s best were castrated by the conditions like orcas at Seaworld. They forced themselves to perform a few pumps then a flaccid air. Sometimes they were made, often they were not. Never did they have much verve or drama.
Is it just me or do surfers in general lack a little imagination when it comes to airs?
I’m no expert, and while I like watching the likes of Italo and Filipe’s ariel surfing, I don’t love it. It’s a bit too predictable and repetitive, 360-ish rotations frontside or backside, distinguished only by moderate degrees of height and how clean the landing is.
Not that interesting.
What about some variations in grabs? Some tweaking here or there?
It would’ve been fun to surf today.
Peniche sparkled in the morning sun and little glassy runners at Supertubos looked nothing like the reason we hold World Championship Tour events there, but everything like the days most of us surf for.
I think this is the mealy-mouthed point Kaipo was trying to make when Pete shut him down and we were treated to a brilliant few seconds of awkwardness.
If you’ll allow me to paraphrase for clarity, Kaipo thought the performances we were seeing were relatable to all surfers.
“Well, if they can get above the lip,” Pete noted bluntly.
Kaipo drew breath as if about to speak, twice.
But he was flummoxed. Entirely lost for words.
He just stared in silence, his face painted with the mild strain of a man pushing out a big shite.
If tiny, inconsequential waves to tickle the fancy of amateur surfers wasn’t befitting of finals day, then at least we had four of the men best equipped to do special things in marginal conditions, right?
You might reasonably have thought so.
But the best wave of the day was to be Italo’s backside rotation at the opening of the first semi-final. It was clean and ominous. A typical power move that Italo often pulls first thing in a heat then repeats and repeats until his opponent crumbles in the face of sheer energy.
The 8.83 awarded seemed reasonable, but his board died on the landing. The board he swapped out for was a dog. He was out of sorts, out of rhythm, couldn’t make a thing.
Strider pointed out that not all boards feel the same, and while we can surely agree with this, I think too much is made of it in the modern day.
Far more foibles exist in the mind rather than the fabric of the board.
Nothing interesting happened beyond Italo’s board break which snapped the energy of the heat. Both surfers sat apart, either content to let the other do his thing, or in such a deep state of loathing that they couldn’t tolerate the same airspace.
I have no evidence, but I strongly suspect it’s the latter.
Filipe and Italo may be countrymen but they don’t appear to be friends. There was no handshake at the end. There wasn’t even eye-contact.
Italo sat in his jersey long after the heat was done, silent and seething.
Can we make something of this please, WSL?
It’s a rivalry that could make for some interesting competition. God knows we need it.
What’s wrong with Italo anyway? Maybe he needs to re-find the joy and stop taking himself so seriously.
Who are his friends on Tour? He often seems to cut a solo figure, not part of any crew, surfing alone in the dark, only ever seen with his girlfriend or coach.
He looks very much like a man who’s drawn a circle around himself many miles away from the person he once was.
Griffin beat John in the second semi-final in entirely unremarkable fashion. Florence seemed as deflated by the conditions as we were. There was a lackadaisical tone to his efforts, as if he’d thrown in the towel before he’d paddled out.
Meanwhile, Griffin was applauding himself for smashing out a few backhand turns on a one-foot wave. It wasn’t very zen and more than a little embarrassing. John felt it, too.
I’ll refer you to my predictions of yesterday about John sticking with it. A few more heats like these will surely kill his motivation once and for all.
And would you blame him?
I enjoyed hearing the Brazilian surfers speak their native language during this comp. I think it tells you something about a person to hear them speak in their own tongue. How long have we known Filipe now, and we’ve never heard him speak anything other than slightly Americanised English? You lose something of a person like this.
The final between Griffin and Filipe was so uneventful I can’t think of a single thing to note other than what the two men did to prepare.
Filipe hosted a prayer meeting, apparently.
Once again it seems God is the only man with a more inexplicable interest in pro surfing than Dirk Ziff.
Griffin did calisthenics and ate strawberry laces, presumably.
The WSL curtain of silence was pulled regarding wave quality.
Make no mistake, friends, with six full days remaining in the waiting period and the forecast significantly improved over the past 24 hours, the WSL have seriously fucked this up. Solid swell is on the way with variable but light winds and the potential for offshores and some very clean conditions. Go have a look.
Besides, when did this stop being a mobile event?
There are a ton of quality beachbreaks to the north of the peninsula that are offshore when the wind isn’t ideal at Supertubos.
Why not move there? It’s been done in the past.
Griffin being chaired up the beach amid a thin, apathetic crowd (barring one close friend who screamed repeatedly) was an enduring image of how desolate pro surfing can be when the WSL make basic errors.
Priority number one is facilitating the right conditions for performance by making good calls, and in Portugal this was not done.
And what of my favourite elephant in the room? What of Gabriel Medina?
I miss him more than ever.
Looking at his recent Instagram feed vs what we’ve just seen in Portugal it would seem like he has no regrets tonight. How ironic would it be if he has packed it in for good? It would be in stark defiance of everyone’s expectations and judgements of his character. But if you don’t create the conditions for the likes of Gabby and John to show what they can do then you risk losing them.
Does Medina go to Australia, do you think? The current ratings still seem primed for him to join late and slot in as if he’s never been away. I hope so.
Come home soon, Gabby.
The current top five surfers in the world are Kanoa Igarashi, Kelly Slater, Barron Mamiya, Filipe Toledo and Seth Moniz.
How do you feel about that?
MEO Pro Portugal Presented by Rip Curl Men’s Semifinals Results:
SF 1: Filipe Toledo (BRA) 13.67 def. Italo Ferreira (BRA) 12.66
SF 2: Griffin Colapinto (USA) 12.40 def. John John Florence (HAW) 10.50
MEO Pro Portugal Presented by Rip Curl Women’s Semifinal Results:
SF 1: Lakey Peterson (USA) 12.34 def. Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) 12.00
SF 2: Tatiana Weston-Webb (BRA) 10.76 def. Carissa Moore (HAW) 10.17
MEO Pro Portugal Presented by Rip Curl Men’s Final Results:
1 – Griffin Colapinto (USA) 14.34
2 – Filipe Toledo (BRA) 14.20
MEO Pro Portugal Presented by Rip Curl Women’s Final Results:
1 – Tatiana Weston-Webb (BRA) 15.33
2 – Lakey Peterson (USA) 14.27
Men’s Top 5:
1) Kanoa Igarashi
2) Kelly Slater
3) Barron Mamiya
4) Filipe Toledo
5) Seth Moniz
Women’s Top 5:
1) Brisa Hennessy
2) Carissa Moore
3) Lakey Peterson
4) Tatiana Weston-Webb
5) Malia Manuel
Dewy-eyed legions descend upon iconic Newport, Rhode Island surf shop to pay tribute to “voice of the people” and most core surfer there ever was Sid Abruzzi!
I was fortunate enough to have met Sid Abruzzi in person, once, though in Florida not his home state of Rhode Island. He was there, at Surf Expo, milling about with a small crew, and we immediately hit it off, laughing about this and that, yellow beanies etc., wandering to his hotel for warm beers in a warm night to keep the laughs going.
There was something about him so unique, so utterly self-possessed, as to cast a dull light on me and everyone else who had attempted to make “surf” “life” but pulled the punch somewhere along the way.
Abruzzi has never pulled a punch. You can, and should, read Steve Rees’ profile (here) or listen to his gravely sneer (here) but in the meantime, it must be noted that his iconic surf shop, Water Bros., is set to close at the end of the month, being pushed out to make way for new rental properties.
There already was a steady stream of patrons, friends and fans flowing into Water Brothers surf and skate shop during the first hour it was open on Saturday.
By noon, the crowd blossomed into the dozens, filling the small retail space with a seemingly endless supply of memories and stories to share about the owner, Sid Abbruzzi, and his 50-year-old business.
“Sid’s always landed on his feet,” said Newport resident and skatepark advocate Michael Richards. “Water Brothers is so much more than a shop on Memorial Boulevard. One way or another, he’ll find another spot. Sid will always have a spot in Newport.”
The whole piece is moving, a nice tribute to who Abruzzi is and what he means, and I very much look forward to the opening of his new location, wherever it might be.
Heck, I’ll even come out for the grand kick-off.
Here’s to Sid, the most core surfer who ever was.
Acrobatic Californian Griffin Colapinto uses power of meditation to force shock win over world’s best two-foot-and-under surfer Filipe Toledo at MEO Pro Portugal!
Credits new-found interest in transcendental meditation for victory!
Californian Griffin Colapinto has shocked surf fans by beating the world’s sharpest surfer in waves waist-high and under at the MEO Pro Portugal in clean, cold, pretty lil waves at Supertubos, a beach break in Peniche.
Colapinto, who is twenty-three, beat two-time world champ John John Florence in his semi-final before dominating Filipe Toledo in the final to win one hundred thousand dollars and 10,000 tour points, crediting his new-found interest in transcendental meditation for his victory.
“I’m still in this calm state,” said Griffin apres.
In the women’s event, Brazilian/American Tatiana Weston-Webb employed her trademark choppy Bruce Lee style beat Lakey Peterson, from Santa Babs in California.
“God always has a plan and I trusted in him,” said Weston-Webb after, long flaxen hair covered by unwieldy bucket hat, with chin strap, which was placed on her head mid-interview by unseen hands.