Surf fans explode following controversial judging decisions at MEO Pro Portugal, “When surfers are forced to hunt for scraps it becomes farcical to lose on fractions of points!”

"Jack Robinson was eliminated by a minuscule 0.59 points. Tell me the scoring is consistent enough for such narrow margins of victory…"

More on poetry, you say?

Just a pinch then.

I told the class an anecdote yesterday to precede our discussion about the impulse to create. Poetry’s a tough sell to teenagers, you see. Tough sell to anyone, really.

A little anecdote can let you into a story when you don’t quite know where you want to go or how you might get there.

I told them how I was compelled to write things down from the moment I knew how to form letters. I couldn’t help it. I was always scribbling little drifting couplets for no-one to see. My formative experiences of music were all about words, I spent hours studiously copying and deciphering lyrics. I covered my school jotters with memorised verse and chorus, metre and rhyme.

Pointless? Maybe.

Seven heats in the round of 32 were completed today. If there were stand out moments I didn’t see them. But I’m willing to be convinced that my apathy was unwarranted or unfair. Come ahead.

Filipe looked ominous as expected in conditions where only he can manufacture speed and verve and make sub-par waves look acceptable.

Morgan Ciblic was pipped by Connor O’Leary by 0.07 points despite doing the smoothest backhand surfing I saw all day. No hitches in his bottom turns, no re-adjustments or wiggles, just clean transitions.

0.07 points? Justify that, WSL.

Jack Robinson was also eliminated by a minuscule 0.59 points.

Tell me the scoring is consistent enough for such narrow margins of victory and I’ll laugh.

We’ve complained about scoring recently, as we always do, but only because it’s been mildly comprehensible. When the waves are consistent and demand to be ridden in similar fashion it’s easy for us to compare and contrast. But when surfers are forced to hunt for scraps and random peaks then approaches diversify. In this situation it becomes farcical to send surfers home on evidence of fractions of arbitrary points.

Fittingly, I’ve just tried to watch the replay of Ciblic vs O’Leary and the screen goes black after the first minute or so. Technical glitch or Stalinist erasure?

In conditions like today the scoring becomes too alien to be controversial. Or perhaps for any of us to really care if it is.

Except, of course, those of us who’d bet heavily on Barron Mamiya and Molly Picklum. Both went out today. Maybe they deserved to on the strength of one scrappy heat, though certainly not on talent. This is not a new problem, but it is still to the detriment of the competition and our entertainment.

Is Jack Robinson just a less talented JJF? He attracts many accolades but seems some way from proving his competitive chops at this level.

We were spoiled for waves in Hawaii. We knew that was a danger but perhaps couldn’t accept it. Regardless, it’s an omen that has come home to roost in Portugal like a grim, black bird.

At times today the waves looked fun, for you or I, perhaps. Not for the world’s best surfers in the world’s most mediocre waves.

In these conditions it’s a total lottery, and that doesn’t feel right for this level of competition.

It’s supposed to be the highest level of professional surfing, yet you’d be forgiven for feeling it’s not only unfulfilling, but gutted and hollowed.

Perhaps I’m just sore at bets gone awry.

I’ll correct myself there, I am sore at bets gone awry. But I’m sorer at the fact that what lies ahead makes it almost impossible to chase my losses.

It comes and it goes, I suppose.

Much like…time?

Joe Turpel reminded us today that it was “interesting how years come and go”.

Sure, Joe. Time as a construct is fascinating.

Lots of surfers have noted how at home they feel in Portugal.

I’m not entirely sure where this comes from other than maybe some backhanders from the mayor of Peniche, but I’m glad they’re having fun outside of surfing, because it’s about to go onshore and get a whole lot worse.

I dealt with intermittent toothache today. I woke with a dull ache at three am and it came and went throughout the day. As the pain subsided a little this evening and the darkness folded in I went for a run.

I ran on the banks of the River Tay, the longest river in Scotland and the largest in the UK by volumetric discharge. Members of a rookery cawed through the dusk. Snowdrops lent luminosity to the trail ahead.

The banks of the river are home to an arboretum of rare and spectacular trees: giant redwoods, Douglas fir, Japanese red cedar, noble fir, European larch, western hemlock, English oak… Some of them are 400 years old. How stoic and dependable they seemed. How self-contained, resilient and powerful. After the shaky uncertainties of the day I felt deeply drawn to them, envious, even.

Fishermen in tweeds idled the outboard of their wooden dinghy against the flow. I had passed the same men and others earlier, but there was nary a twitch of line nor stir of salmon for any of them.

Is a passion still worth your time if you don’t get a chance to perform?

What if the conditions for success are mysterious and perhaps even down to chance?

And how about being forced to do it in front of an audience for points and your livelihood?

Would you?


Russian Insty influencer, nekkid on baby Sumatran elephant in Bali.

Russian diaspora in Bali raises locals’ hackles over “public fornication”, “internet porn ring at Uluwatu involving Australian pro surfer in Batman mask” and wild parties in Hindu temples!

A tropical cold water between Russkis and locals!

In response to the crisis in Ukraine, there was a gathering of Ukrainians and Russians who in a public park here on Bali were determined to demonstrate for peace.

And among the Russian contingent, a number of them were surfers.

And I suppose this was good PR for the Russian surfers because the Russian surfers who have infiltrated Bali are not the most well-loved group of individuals in the water.

On the contrary.

And for years, there has been a whole mess of ‘em comin’ in over the wire.

So much so that the hipster burg of Canggu has been referred to, in some disgruntled circles, as “Little Moscow”. What with tall, stunning, long legged, super model types swanning into nightclubs and out into the surf with impunity. (And their girlfriends aren’t half bad either.)

But the “Russian attitude” here in Bali surf world has been a generally problematic fit for this Glasnost ignoring set.

Again, generalizing, the Russian contingent, Covid era or not, behave mostly entitled, rude, culturally insensitive and blind in the line-up, having assimilated into the surf scene here with all the sensitivity of bulls in a china shop. Resulting in a sort of tropical cold war between them and some of the local surfers here.

And although thinly tolerated, the authorities have had to take action when these nationals have taken things too far.

Like the Russian knucklehead who posted a video of himself taking a header off the end of a pier atop his rental scooter with a bikini babe riding him piggy back all the way into the drink. He got a hefty environmental fine and a one way ticket to the airport for that caper.

The Russian knucklehead who posted a video of himself taking a header off the end of a pier atop his rental scooter with a bikini babe riding him piggy back all the way into the drink.

There were also the numerous “Cold War” parties in during the Covid lockdowns that held no regard for, well, anything. Like the full moon Smirnoff and Shroom bacchanal that took place in a Balinese Temple up in Jimbaran that got a favorite surf spot shut down for good.

The scenes of public fornication on this hallowed ground left one prominent Police officer asking “Would we do this in a church in their country?”

Countless trips to the airport after that hullabaloo, let me tell you.

And speaking of hullabaloos, there was the Russian internet porn ring that was busted up in Uluwatu.

Seems the porn producers, with one of Russia’s hottest female porn stars in tow, were looking for “Surfer Types”. Seems the “bulging-gym-head-mob-and-muscle-bound types” had fallen out of favor back in St. Petersburg (Rumour has it that they found numerous enthusiastic volunteers among the surfer set however, including one prominent Aussie pro surfer who was smart enough to wear a Batman motorcycle helmet).

And so it goes here with the Russian surfers, who are not all bad, thank the heavens. I mean, after all, some did join the Ukrainians in a peaceful protest against Russian aggression in Ukraine in a public park on Bali.

Although it’s a shame they didn’t read the rules.

Protests and demonstrations of any kind by non-Indonesians are against the law in this country. The result being the possibility of many trips to the airport for our peace and borscht loving brothers and sisters.

Police videos of the event are currently under scrutiny.

No news yet from the safe houses in “Little Moscow”.


Kibble is shark.

Surfers ride wave of conflicting emotions as new study reveals illegally butchered sharks are secretly being used to feed their beloved dogs and cats!

The new Soylent Green.

The surf world awoke this morning to shock, dismay and confusion as a devastating new study revealed that, for years, they have been feeding a sometimes aquatic enemy to greatly cherished loved ones.

Ben Wainwright and Ian French, of Yale-NUS College, Singapore, respectively, have been examining the ingredients of pet food and have concluded that products labeled as containing “white fish” or sometimes “salmon” contain the flesh of shark instead.

Of the 144 samples sequenced, per the study, 45, or roughly a third, contained shark DNA. The Guardian reports, “The most frequently identified species were blue shark, silky shark and whitetip reef shark. The silky shark and the whitetip reef shark are listed as ‘vulnerable’ in the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List. Products containing DNA of the sicklefin weasel shark, the Caribbean sharpnose shark and the sand tiger shark – all vulnerable species – were also identified.”

Wainright and French, perturbed, declared, “The majority of pet owners are likely lovers of nature, and we think most would be alarmed to discover that they could be unknowingly contributing to the overfishing of shark populations.”

It is possible that the meat is being sheared from the carcasses of sharks that have been illegally caught and finned or, more worrisome, that it is a reflection of a growing shark fishing trade.

Surfers, anyhow, decidedly conflicted. One one hand, sharks have been known to eat surfers. On the other hand, they contribute to a healthy marine balance. How will the tables turn once surfers feed sharks to dogs and cats?

Do any surfers have cats?

More as the story develops.


Open thread: Comment live, day three, as Kelly Slater attempts to continue run to miracle 12th world title, aged 50, at MEO Pro Portugal!

What else is there to do but drink?

Again, many stones to turn over today and comment up as Kelly Slater attempts to continue run to miracle twelfth world title, aged fifty, (but he must beat Caio Ibelli!), John John Florence to reassert his previously held role as best surfer in the world and for brave lil Baz Mamiya to keep his yella jersey as world #1.

Like a summer night in La Dolce Vita! 

Watch here! 

Upcoming MEO Pro Portugal Presented by Rip Curl Men’s Round of 32 Matchups:
HEAT 1: Italo Ferreira (BRA) vs. Imaikalani deVault (HAW)
HEAT 2: Miguel Pupo (BRA) vs. Samuel Pupo (BRA)
HEAT 3: Jordy Smith (ZAF) vs. Barron Mamiya (HAW)
HEAT 4: Morgan Cibilic (AUS) vs. Connor O’Leary (AUS)
HEAT 5: Filipe Toledo (BRA) vs. Owen Wright (AUS)
HEAT 6: Leonardo Fioravanti (ITA) vs. Jake Marshall (USA)
HEAT 7: Conner Coffin (USA) vs. Joao Chianca (BRA)
HEAT 8: Jack Robinson (AUS) vs. Callum Robson (AUS)
HEAT 9: Kanoa Igarashi (JPN) vs. Justin Becret (FRA)
HEAT 10: Ezekiel Lau (HAW) vs. Frederico Morais (PRT)
HEAT 11: Ethan Ewing (AUS) vs. Nat Young (USA)
HEAT 12: John John Florence (HAW) vs. Ryan Callinan (AUS)
HEAT 13: Seth Moniz (HAW) vs. Jackson Baker (AUS)
HEAT 14: Kolohe Andino (USA) vs. Lucca Mesinas (PER)
HEAT 15: Griffin Colapinto (USA) vs. Jadson Andre (BRA)
HEAT 16: Kelly Slater (USA) vs. Caio Ibelli (BRA)

Upcoming MEO Pro Portugal Presented by Rip Curl Women’s Round of 16 Matchups:
Heat 1: Johanne Defay (FRA) vs. Molly Picklum (AUS)
Heat 2: Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) vs. Stephanie Gilmore (AUS)
Heat 3: Brisa Hennessy (CRI) vs. Courtney Conlogue (USA)
Heat 4: Lakey Peterson (USA) vs. Isabella Nichols (AUS)
Heat 5: Carissa Moore (HAW) vs. Bronte Macaulay (AUS)
Heat 6: Tyler Wright (AUS) vs. Gabriela Bryan (HAW)
Heat 7: Tatiana Weston-Webb (BRA) vs. Luana Silva (HAW)
Heat 8: Malia Manuel (HAW) vs. India Robinson (AUS)


Shock at MEO Pro Portugal as local wildcard fails to paddle for one wave in 40 minutes, “What sort of comparison could there be in other sports? A sprinter motionless on the blocks as everyone else crosses the finish line?”

And Kelly Slater survives sudden-death elimination heat!

On a scale of one to how-shit-is-windy-beachbreak, what was your enjoyment factor today?

It was a patchy kind of day. Scores and waves were hard to come by.

There was certainly swell in the water, but maybe a bit too much north in it and hence too much refraction.

Low tides to start the day didn’t help.

Statistical evidence of the wonky, slow start is bleakly provided by the fact that no surfer managed a double figure heat total for the first three heats of the day.

Let me clarify that: nine professional surfers competed across three heats and not one of them could manage a cumulative heat total of ten.

In fact, reader, allow me to espouse that further…

Today in its entirety there were 36 heat scores recorded, yet only 12 of those were in double figures.

Poorest heat totals of any event ever? That’s a deep stat I’d like to know.

In this context the performance of wildcard Afonso Antunes seems a little less…something. Just a little. I’m not even sure what to think of a professional surfer who doesn’t even paddle for a wave in a heat that lasted forty minutes due to a restart.

Think about that.

What sort of comparison could there be in other sports? A sprinter motionless on the blocks as everyone else crosses the finish line? A golfer, poised at the tee with driver in hand but never beginning the backswing?

“He really just needs to take off on something,” Shannon kept insisting from the booth, willing him on out of sheer embarrassment.

But he didn’t.

It was less rabbit in the headlights, and more corpse with rigor mortis.

The waves weren’t great, but the scoring did seem suppressed. Castrated, even.

I wondered if the judges were keeping their powder dry, expecting it to pump later in the day.

I remain confused about whether scores are scaled on a heat by heat basis or over the whole day? Early scoring would suggest the latter, but this seems far from consistent and even fluctuates within events.

Wakey, wakey, Richie…

We need an explanation.

As the competition went on hold I went back to the day job and lectured on the value of art. It was an introduction to a poem in which the speaker wrestles with his vocation and purpose.

What’s the point of art or creativity? I asked the assembled 16/17 year olds. Why might someone feel compelled to make art? Does it have any value?

And what is art…writing, film-making, graffiti, music, dance, sculpting..?

Is surfing art? I asked them, in a collision of ideas and vocations.

Some faces in the classroom showed glimpses of realisation and spark, and yet more were simply befuddled, wondering why the man in front of them was so animated about a fucking poem, and what on earth it had to do with surfing.

There wasn’t much art on show today in Peniche and few realisations, but perhaps one or two surfers questioning their vocation.

Lots of them were repping female tennis players. Of all the inspirational women in the world I was generally uninspired by these choices. John Florence and Ethan Ewing get a tick in my book for repping their mums. What more inspiring woman than your very own mother, or that of your children?

The ghost of Bobby Martinez was present and prescient today as the pundits discussed surfing’s tennis connections.

Parallels were mentioned, an individual sport, the bracket system, equal pay…

I noted another connection – the equality of inequality. So far this year the women do not get treated equally when it comes to wave quality, just as in tennis they play fewer sets than the men.

Why do the WSL hide from the fact that women don’t or can’t surf the same waves as men?

Should we acknowledge it?

Would it be regressive to point out the deficiencies rather than pretend they don’t exist?

I’m not looking to shame anyone here, but hiding from the truth seems like going backwards to go forwards.

Or is it? I’m honestly not sure.

I enjoyed Griffin Colapinto’s esoteric and labyrinthine explanation in justifying why he had Bethany Hamilton’s name on the back of his shirt.

“She, like, got her arm bit off by a shark…”

Caio Ibelli is on such a heater this year he thinks he’s an angel. Dressed in a white wetsuit like a messenger of god, he did a praying claim on a kick out after a head dip. I could be mistaken, but if the lord has bestowed power on a journeyman pro surfer, I can’t imagine his tolerance will stretch to claiming mid-twos.

I hope Slater looked at him with some derision today for stealing his circa 2003 style. Slater wore that suit mainly to fuck with Andy, of course, who hated it. Which is surely a better excuse than Caio has.

Kelly did some Kelly things as the day wound down, winning his elimination round heat with aplomb. As much as I rag on Slater, he’s as necessary to this competition as he is to this tour as he is to me.

The game is objectively poorer without him. I’m glad he’s still in the mix and I hope the weather for the next few rounds does everyone justice.

Does anyone understand the re-seeding for the round of 32, by the way?

How does Barron draw Jordy but Morgan Ciblic surfs against Connor O’Leary?

Kelly gets Caio, yet we’ve got Leo Fioravanti vs Jake Marshall?

It makes no sense.

All in all, not the most glorious day of pro surfing ever. I’d have to say teaching poetry this morning was far more stimulating.

The conclusions of the poem in question are ambiguous, as they so often are.

Yet it suggests that art is valuable even if it is appreciated by just one person.

Was it you who appreciated the art of pro surfing today?

MEO Pro Portugal Presented by Rip Curl Men’s Opening Round Results:
Heat 1: Jackson Baker (AUS) 11.70 DEF. Jordy Smith (ZAF) 11.10, Jake Marshall (USA) 6.00
Heat 2: Samuel Pupo (BRA) 14.60 DEF. Imaikalani Devault (HAW) 13.73, Kelly Slater (USA) 9.90
Heat 3: Owen Wright (AUS) 12.36 DEF. Seth Moniz (HAW) 9.66, Lucca Mesinas (PER) 9.43
Heat 4: Italo Ferreira (BRA) 16.17 DEF. Jadson Andre (BRA) 9.47, Vasco Ribeiro (PRT) 9.17
HEAT 5: Filipe Toledo (BRA) 8.20 DEF. Justin Becret (FRA) 6.23, Connor O’Leary (AUS) 5.93
HEAT 6: Kanoa Igarashi (JPN) 9.33 DEF. Callum Robson (AUS) 8.84, Afonso Antunes (PRT)
HEAT 7: Caio Ibelli (BRA) 8.20 DEF. Frederico Morais (PRT) 7.73, Conner Coffin (USA) 7.67
HEAT 8: John John Florence (HAW) 17.57 DEF. Ezekiel Lau (HAW) 13.50, Matthew McGillivray (ZAF) 6.14
HEAT 9: Ethan Ewing (AUS) 12.27 DEF. Barron Mamiya (HAW) 12.17, Deivid Silva (BRA) 0.67
HEAT 10: Joao Chianca (BRA) 14.17 DEF. Jack Robinson (AUS) 11.60, Leonardo Fioravanti (ITA) 9.06
HEAT 11: Miguel Pupo (BRA) 7.67 DEF. Morgan Cibilic (AUS) 7.17, Ryan Callinan (AUS) 5.40
HEAT 12: Griffin Colapinto (USA) 11.67 DEF. Nat Young (USA) 11.20, Kolohe Andino (USA) 9.67

MEO Pro Portugal Presented by Rip Curl Men’s Elimination Round Results:
HEAT 1: Kelly Slater (USA) 13.10 DEF. Connor O’Leary (AUS) 9.17, Afonso Antunes (PRT) 2.00
HEAT 2: Lucca Mesinas (PER) 6.77 DEF. Conner Coffin (USA) 6.70, Vasco Ribeiro (PRT) 4.20
HEAT 3: Kolohe Andino (USA) 14.60 DEF. Jake Marshall (USA) 7.57, Matthew McGillivray (ZAF) 5.90
HEAT 4: Ryan Callinan (AUS) 12.87 DEF. Leonardo Fioravanti (ITA) 12.73, Deivid Silva (BRA) 7.43

Upcoming MEO Pro Portugal Presented by Rip Curl Men’s Round of 32 Matchups:
HEAT 1: Italo Ferreira (BRA) vs. Imaikalani deVault (HAW)
HEAT 2: Miguel Pupo (BRA) vs. Samuel Pupo (BRA)
HEAT 3: Jordy Smith (ZAF) vs. Barron Mamiya (HAW)
HEAT 4: Morgan Cibilic (AUS) vs. Connor O’Leary (AUS)
HEAT 5: Filipe Toledo (BRA) vs. Owen Wright (AUS)
HEAT 6: Leonardo Fioravanti (ITA) vs. Jake Marshall (USA)
HEAT 7: Conner Coffin (USA) vs. Joao Chianca (BRA)
HEAT 8: Jack Robinson (AUS) vs. Callum Robson (AUS)
HEAT 9: Kanoa Igarashi (JPN) vs. Justin Becret (FRA)
HEAT 10: Ezekiel Lau (HAW) vs. Frederico Morais (PRT)
HEAT 11: Ethan Ewing (AUS) vs. Nat Young (USA)
HEAT 12: John John Florence (HAW) vs. Ryan Callinan (AUS)
HEAT 13: Seth Moniz (HAW) vs. Jackson Baker (AUS)
HEAT 14: Kolohe Andino (USA) vs. Lucca Mesinas (PER)
HEAT 15: Griffin Colapinto (USA) vs. Jadson Andre (BRA)
HEAT 16: Kelly Slater (USA) vs. Caio Ibelli (BRA)

Upcoming MEO Pro Portugal Presented by Rip Curl Women’s Round of 16 Matchups:
Heat 1: Johanne Defay (FRA) vs. Molly Picklum (AUS)
Heat 2: Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) vs. Stephanie Gilmore (AUS)
Heat 3: Brisa Hennessy (CRI) vs. Courtney Conlogue (USA)
Heat 4: Lakey Peterson (USA) vs. Isabella Nichols (AUS)
Heat 5: Carissa Moore (HAW) vs. Bronte Macaulay (AUS)
Heat 6: Tyler Wright (AUS) vs. Gabriela Bryan (HAW)
Heat 7: Tatiana Weston-Webb (BRA) vs. Luana Silva (HAW)
Heat 8: Malia Manuel (HAW) vs. India Robinson (AUS)