“Baffling” jetski war, threat of a surfer boycott and CEO’s stunning retort punctures WSL’s wall of positive noise on red-letter day of surfing at Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach!

How about Gabriel Medina as the sponsor wildcard for the September finals at Lowers? Elo, you want entertainment? That's it.

Early comment section noise told me Bells was off today. I kind of needed it to be.

A few days of no sleep and concealed losses will do that to a man. To add to the indignity, yesterday morning I woke to find money that was paid out to me in error had been rescinded. I should’ve known better and withdrawn it.

But run we did, and Bells looked just about as clean and appealing as I’ve ever seen it. It’s a wave that looks relatable for a significant proportion of surf fans, and from that perspective I think it occupies an important space amid the likes of Teahupo’o and Pipe.

The day began with a highly entertaining backhand battle between Owen Wright and Nat Young, two men whom I find it hard to separate in skill or likeability.

Both performed and either would have been a worthy winner. The final separation of less than a point told the same tale.

In the course of writing yesterday’s recap and smarting about the money that had been snatched from my account, I convinced myself that Nat Young might win the event. The odds of 22/1 seemed to confirm my gut, 22 being my lucky number. Classic gambler’s trap.

Somewhere between residual memories of Occy, Medina and Italo lies an imprint on my conscience that Bells looks best when attacked with hitchless backhand flow. Maybe the fact that a backhand bottom turn is naturally longer and makes up the space between the sections at Bells is key.

Owen, Italo and Miguel Pupo are the remaining goofy surfers in the draw.

As a former winner and a surfer in need of a victory to quell inner demons, Italo seems the most likely of these three to end up as a winner, but all have impressed to this stage.

Heat 3 between Toledo and O’Leary was dominated not just by Filipe’s incisive surfing but by a jetski race which caused much consternation.

Ronnie was perplexed.

Both men had finished waves and were on skis at the same time, Toledo just behind. First back to the line-up would be given priority, a major advantage late in a heat, but particularly in conditions like today. There were lots of waves at Bells, but the best ones were clearly advantageous.

They dismounted the skis around the same time, but Toledo’s dropped him off fractionally ahead of O’Leary and he skimmed off more efficiently, likely because he weighs 50kg. Connor’s longer levers and superior paddle power nearly got priority back, but in the end Filipe’s ski dismount prowess was to be the decisive factor.

Ronnie couldn’t seem to leave it be. Filipe and Italo get off skis better than anyone, was his assertion. This was later contradicted by Italo faceplanting off a ski. Bugs had a minor glitch and said something about the Melbourne Gold Cup.

Mick Fanning and Callum Robson surfed a high-tide heat that started slow with errors for both.

With 20 minutes to go neither man had an acceptable scoring wave. Fanning locked in two sixes to Robson’s pair of fives. Mick had a little bit of “extra sugar” on his turns, according to Richie, but Robson’s final wave to take the victory with a minute on the clock was a worthy winner, ridden fast and clean.

If anything, it looked like vintage Mick.

Kaipo in his watery cell referred to Mick’s “panted swoop”, then went on to say that it was “really impressive to see the velocity in which these boards and these surfers are travelling through these conditions.”

Robson has a very pleasing style. I have a deep appreciation for a stickerless plain white board.

I have a little inkling that this might not be the last we’ve seen of Fanning in a jersey.

In the same mould as the likes of Kelly or Medina, he’s a competitive beast, and you can only keep the beast concealed for so long. As much as he talked about “having fun” in the aftermath and “getting off the grid”, I suspect he might be back, carried by a surge of enduring popularity and inherent competitive drive.

And why not? He looked great and nothing at all like a retiree. If anything he looked like he was building momentum heat by heat and rediscovering the old rhythm.

Is there a sponsor wildcard for the finals at Trestles? Would they? Could they?

Even better, how about Medina as the sponsor wildcard for the finals?

Ooooohhh…the very thought of that sends a tingle down my spine. Can you imagine how it would make the Top 5 feel?

Seed sown, make it happen,

ELo. You want entertainment? That’s it.

Broadcast note of the day: please stop asking Bugs and Richie what they “love” about waves just surfed. Joe and Shannon are the worst offenders, and I suspect it’s an American tick, but it’s an annoying and leading question.

Not everything is great. It’s ok not to love things.

Despite being in the quarter finals, space cowboy Jack Robbo has slipped under my radar at this event.

“You just have to feel it within and just be free out there,” he told Laura in his post-heat interview.

What have I missed? Any surfing of note? Cosmic occurrences?

And what of Brother? Poor, doomed Kolohe. He should be a gambler’s dream, an eternal favourite that always loses, but he’s no-one’s dream.

His face makes me sad. That’s all I have to say about that.

Did Italo black out in the final heat of the day? He only caught three waves in the entire heat and ousted Sammy Pupo by just 0.27 points.

When have you known Italo to catch so few waves? I would guess this is the fewest waves Italo has caught in a heat in his entire career. A bold guess, maybe, but I’m confident in the assertion. He didn’t catch a wave in the final 20 mins! That’s not Italo. Somewhat odd, particularly when Pupo was going for it under Italo’s priority.

It was a glimpse into how you might beat Italo (take note, Filipe) and that’s to use his own regular tactics against him – get busy, be relentless, go for the Hollywood ending. Only those with dynamic and explosive aerial skills might be capable of this, of course.

It would be remiss of me not to finish with some brief commentary on ELo’s hammer-fisted letter in response to the group of surfers who delivered him a petition to abandon plans for a cut.

His response was unequivocal. It was akin to someone starting a pub fight in which they are completely overmatched, the result being a nonchalant headbutt, a bloodied nose and everyone turning back to their drinks, slightly embarrassed for the victim.

It’s occurred to me over the past few days that it doesn’t matter what we think of ELo anymore. He’s no Sophie Goldmember, nor Backwards Fins Beth.

His understanding of surf culture is by-the-by. He and his personal photographer can take SUP trips to Tavarua and we will look on, grim but silenced.

Much like the way he dealt with Chas Smith (you know, like what Hulk does to Loki in the first Avengers movie) he has taken the WSL by the throat.

“Inconceivable” was how he responded to the petition to get rid of the cut. “I want to be very clear,” he said, twice in three sentences.

Oh, he was gracious in his use of the second person, it’s all for “you”.

Growth, excitement, narratives, engagement, revenue, future! It was all there.

He even used statistics to ram home his point. “Consumption” of Bells was up 35%! (I bet Griffin is still staring squinty-eyed at that one.)

I told you, he said. You agreed to this, he said.

Now sit the fuck down and shut the fuck up.

Thanks, ELo, I’ll take that letter into work for a lesson on persuasive writing.

Or maybe cunty writing. That’s a unit I’m yet to develop, but thanks for the material.

A suggested punt to go out on a high for Finals Day: Toledo / Sea Tiger double – 34/1

And a tempting single: Toledo to beat JJF – 31/20

An even better bet?

Pro surfing’s going to get better, just not on your terms.


Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach Men’s Round of 16 Results:
HEAT 1: Owen Wright (AUS) 16.40 DEF. Nat Young (USA) 15.77
HEAT 2: Ethan Ewing (AUS) 14.27 DEF. Jackson Baker (AUS) 9.10
HEAT 3: Filipe Toledo (BRA) 16.26 DEF. Connor O’Leary (AUS) 13.00
HEAT 4: John John Florence (HAW) 17.77 DEF. Morgan Cibilic (AUS) 7.83
HEAT 5: Callum Robson (AUS) 14.50 DEF. Mick Fanning (AUS) 14.27
HEAT 6: Miguel Pupo (BRA) 14.76 DEF. Kolohe Andino (USA) 10.90
HEAT 7: Jack Robinson (AUS) 16.04 DEF. Imaikalani deVault (HAW) 14.53
HEAT 8: Italo Ferreira (BRA) 15.40 DEF. Samuel Pupo (BRA) 15.13

Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach Men’s Quarterfinal Matchups:
HEAT 1: Owen Wright (AUS) vs. Ethan Ewing (AUS)
HEAT 2: Filipe Toledo (BRA) vs. John John Florence (HAW)
HEAT 3: Callum Robson (AUS) vs. Miguel Pupo (BRA)
HEAT 4: Jack Robinson (AUS) vs. Italo Ferreira (BRA)

Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach Women’s Quarterfinal Results:
HEAT 1: Courtney Conlogue (USA) 14.57 DEF. Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) 11.93
HEAT 2: Tyler Wright (AUS) 17.17 DEF. Bronte Macaulay (AUS) 12.07
HEAT 3: Carissa Moore (HAW) 13.67 DEF. Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) 12.53
HEAT 4: Brisa Hennessy (CRI) vs. Johanne Defay (FRA)

Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach Women’s Semifinal Matchups: 
HEAT 1: Courtney Conlogue (USA) vs. Tyler Wright (AUS)
HEAT 2: Carissa Moore (HAW) vs. Brisa Hennessy (CRI)

Tough times for Russki surfers in Bali.

Vladimir Putin confirmed for Bali’s G20 summit meeting as Russian surfers complain of being locked out of the island’s cash machines in retaliation for Ukraine imbroglio, “We have lost our money! Our funds are frozen! We have big problem!”

Russian/Bali fact corner: An average of 1,150 Russians are pouring into Bali monthly.

It has been confirmed that, despite his bad judgement in world affairs, Russian President Vladimir Putin intends to join the G20 Summit in Bali, beginning November 15, 2022.

Rumored former supermodel and Lyudmila Vorobieva, currently the Russian Ambassador to Indonesia, was quoted saying her war criminal boss would show up despite, “A chorus of voices calling for the Russian Federation’s ouster from the G20. Which is obviously an inappropriate reaction to current circumstances”.

Vorobieva said, “Any move to remove Russia from the G20 would represent a retreat for an organization established to respond to the world economic crisis caused by COVID-19 and unite global forces to meet global economic challenges”.

Now it’s anyone guess if “Vlad the Impaler” Putin’s visit to Bali will have any side effect on his fellow comrades here being able to use the local ATM machines.

Most Russian surfers in Bali are encountering big problems trying to get money out of them.

One tall, incredibly handsome Russian surfer (I thought everybody was starving in breadlines over there?) complained he couldn’t access his blocked Russian bank account from any ATM in Bali. ‘

“This created big problem for us. We have lost our money, our funds frozen, Russian money werry bad here”. 

This son of an oligarch went on to say that he might actually have to find actual work in Bali. Something he has never had to do before.

Russian/Bali fact corner: An average of 1,150 Russians are pouring into Bali monthly. Many of them dispersed into the Canggu line-ups on all manner of softops. And, my God, are the Bikini clad Russian females a heart racing sight. 

To help out with the funky ATM’s, the Russian Embassy in Jakarta explained that the Russian Bank Pochta is offering a “virtual” credit card using Union Pay China instead of Visa or Mastercard.

In response to Russians trying to use these things, one Aussie surf cafe owner in Canggu was over said in Mandarin, “Nǐ dàodǐ zài zuò shénme.” (Which means “What in the hell are you doing? Where my money?”). 

Hard times, hard times. 

Hopefully Putin will be smart enough to exchange all his rubles for Rupiahs at the airport. 

Sex wax is going for ten bucks a pop here.

As World Surf League CEO Erik Logan brings rusty cudgel down on mutinous surfers, inside source declares a true insurrection was never in the cards: “There is neither will, solidarity nor a strategic plan” amongst the leaders of the revolution!

"It is inconceivable that we could, should or would eliminate the mid-season cut which is the foundation of our redesigned Championship Tour."

World Surf League CEO Erik Logan brought a hammer down on mutinous surfers, hours ago, ending any hope of salvation for those championship-level professionals who are not, currently, the 18th best in the world or worse.

The “mid-tour cut” has long been a grumbling point for those who make their living in the saltwater mines as the financial security that even equal 32s provide are stripped away not to mention sponsor obligations etc.

Reported here first and yesterday, a mutinous fever began burning amongst the CT surfers with talk of boycotting the upcoming Margaret River event if the cut was not cut.

Conner Coffin, Filipe Toledo, Lucca Mesinas, Kohole Andino, Griffin Colapinto, Jadson Andre and many more signed a petition imploring Logan to think about what he was about to do. Notably not signing, Kelly Slater, John John Florence and the semi-retired Gabriel Medina.

Well, Jessi Miley-Dyer’s left hand man made very clear, in a letter back to the agitators, that “it is inconceivable that we could, should or would eliminate the mid-season cut which is the foundation of our redesigned Championship Tour” and “even if we wanted to make a change (which we don’t) it would be truly destructive to the company and our sport” and “the petition was painfully untrue in many respects – and wrongly attempted to portray and adversarial relationship” amongst other zingers.


A well-placed source close to the levers of power, though, said the fury of Owen Wright (one of the signers) was all bark and no bite, a strike at Margaret only ever a whimsical fantasy.

“There will NOT be a strike or labor action down in oz by the disgruntled surfers about the cut down. There is neither the will, solidarity nor strategic plan to do so. There will be no scabs crossing a picket line. The ‘letter’ was simply a plea for understanding and an attempt to ‘work through the system.'”


Do you believe or do you think Callum Robson (signer) might just might be the next James Phillip Hoffa?

Or that Erik Logan is the next Jeff Bezos?

Many variables.

Open Thread: Comment Live as Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach Round of 16 hits turbulent water!

Mutiny on the staircase.

Jackie Robinson, cooking a nine-plus with monster-ish alley-oop.

Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach’s “day of reckoning” delivers stunning show as world’s favorite surfer Mick Fanning knocks out current no. 1 and title favorite Kanoa Igarashi!


“A day of reckoning”, said Rabbit to kick off today’s proceedings. A touch dramatic, maybe, but it was in keeping with the tone of things to come – drama, intrigue, mystery!

And you’d be a hard man to deny Rabbit’s enthusiasm, perky, pink and lucid as he was at this stage in the proceedings.

Bells Beach is oft maligned as a suitable tour stop, but she was defiant today, smooth and pretty in the misty morning sunshine.

The waves were nothing like had been forecast, the energy in the broadcast team was palpable. It was as if an invisible bulk had been shifted, such was their relief that they wouldn’t need to pretend not to be able to see shitty waves.

I think it was Ronnie, but others too, who conceded that the forecast had been “crap”. A rare honesty that almost certainly wouldn’t have surfaced if not for the luck of good waves.

Though in situations like today when decent waves are on offer what possible reason is there not to run the overlapping heat format? This is how the rounds of 32 and 16 should be done every time.

There was lots of quality surfing worthy of discussion today, but if you’ll allow me to skip through with some notable bulletpoints so that I might reach the meat of today’s narrative…

Nat Young seems to have found favour with both pundits and heats. He put on a backhand clinic to dispatch god’s own messenger, Caio Ibelli, who might have to increase his prayer time. Young’s surfing seems to fit Bells like an elfin slipper.

Jackson Baker the Candlestick Maker did away with Bells Beach favourite Jordan Michael Smith. There was a little griping in the aftermath with Jordy’s claims of an interference, but it was a late and snide move that not even Jordy seemed convinced by. The resulting priority change rather than interference was the correct call.

Ethan Ewing must be the most promising Australian surfer in a decade? He’s certainly pleasing to the eye and his status as the Golden Child of the Tour was established again today. Richie Lovett was so effusive in his praise it bordered on lecherous. “Uhhhh…”, he said, “Ouuuhhhhh…Look how he loads up his thighs…”

Florence and Chianca juked out a blistering heat with both men holding high eights and nines in their final totals. It’s unclear to me how Joao Chianca can have made more of an impression than just about any other rookie, yet be uncertain of his place beyond Margaret River. If one surfer has cause to feel a little aggrieved about the cut it’s him.

A pudgy looking, slightly heavy-set Mick Fanning provided a nostalgic glimpse of the past today. The first turn of his 6.67 against Kanoa was vintage Fanning and would have been fit for any poster in his prime.

I noted earlier in the proceedings this week that I was warming to Kanoa Igarashi. After his claim in this heat I’d like to retract that statement. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a claim so flamboyant. It wouldn’t have been out of place as the finale to a stage musical. I only hope someone makes a truly excellent meme from it.

Kolohe squeaked past Jadson by 0.04 points. I didn’t catch this heat live but I’ve just watched the replay and thought it seemed a touch off. Kolohe’s alley oop on the outside was certainly nice, and with a degree of risk, but thereafter he nursed the wave to its conclusion. Hard to score, perhaps, but I didn’t like it.

And so to the first major narrative of the day…

Did you notice it?

That change…that something…just a little bit…better?

I do believe that was one of the best WSL broadcasts I’ve seen today.

Ronnie back as a steady hand was a factor. Rabbit and Richie’s contributions were solid. Shannon had a good dig at the post-heat interviews, and is far preferable when her ears are open and her mouth is closed.

As for Kaipo, I can think of no better place for him than chittering on a rescue sled, neutered and improved by the cold but largely unseen or heard. The best production decision in some time.

I did chuckle at the “Dometic Out The Back” tag. Not only was it a fine example of the WSL’s continually awkward brand alignments, but it was a fitting image for what should be done with Kaipo. Much like you might dispose of a body in an old freezer out the back, so Kaipo has been stashed away and will hopefully remain hidden.

Beyond Kaipo’s excommunication, the greatest improvement today was a concerted effort to interview the losers and ask them some decent questions. There was a smattering of this at both Sunset and Portugal, but I’m glad it’s now being established as protocol.

We we also treated to a new, voyeuristic style of broadcasting as the cameras and microphones eavesdropped on conversations.

We saw Griffin ask coach Tom Whitaker a question, then go glassy-eyed when the answer extended beyond three words.

We saw Jordy breach the ivory tower to confront the judges!

I can only presume that the WSL production has been influenced by the forthcoming Make or Break show. They’ve clearly been listening to someone. Public opinion, perhaps, but more likely the directives of the media company they’re hosting.

I wonder how tuned into this the surfers are? Have they been briefed, given stage directions by ELo in secret meetings?

Jordy, for one, seems like he might be a prime candidate for the role Daniel Riccardo plays in Drive to Survive.

Regardless, it might be working. All of a sudden we have a little story, a little drama. Partially scripted or at the very least self-conscious, perhaps, but at least we have surfers who are no longer mere pawns trapped behind a Wall of Positive Noise.

They are people, with voices, and they will be heard!

And what do the voices tell us? Well, as Derek reported earlier, there’s unrest within the ranks. It was first alluded to by Jordy, I believe, who made a cryptic reference to surfer’s meetings and uncertainty about Margaret River.

There is a whinging groundswell about the cut and the toys are out of the pram! It seems the surfers may be preparing for industrial action. How exciting!

Who’ll write the placards, I wonder? Certainly not Griffin.

And what might they say?

Answers and Kanoa memes below, please.

HEAT 1: Owen Wright (AUS) 13.67 DEF. Griffin Colapinto (USA) 12.34
HEAT 2: Nat Young (USA) 13.50 DEF. Caio Ibelli (BRA) 8.60
HEAT 3: Jackson Baker (AUS) 14.60 DEF. Jordy Smith (ZAF) 10.90
HEAT 4: Ethan Ewing (AUS) 15.73 DEF. Lucca Mesinas (PER) 9.90
HEAT 5: Filipe Toledo (BRA) 15.16 DEF. Mikey Wright (AUS) 14.67
HEAT 6: Connor O’Leary (AUS) 13.46 DEF. Ezekiel Lau (HAW) 13.26
HEAT 7: John John Florence (HAW) 18.86 DEF. Joao Chianca (BRA) 17.73
HEAT 8: Morgan Cibilic (AUS) 14.93 DEF. Barron Mamiya (HAW) 13.50
HEAT 9: Mick Fanning (AUS) 15.77 DEF. Kanoa Igarashi (JPN) 14.83
HEAT 10: Callum Robson (AUS) 15.27 DEF. Frederico Morais (PRT) 13.43
HEAT 11: Miguel Pupo (BRA) 15.80 DEF. Deivid Silva (BRA) 15.53
HEAT 12: Kolohe Andino (USA) 14.10 DEF. Jadson Andre (BRA) 14.06
HEAT 13: Imaikalani deVault (HAW) 13.84 DEF. Kelly Slater (USA) 13.77
HEAT 14: Jack Robinson (AUS) 16.17 DEF. Leonardo Fioravanti (ITA) 9.90
HEAT 15: Samuel Pupo (BRA) 10.10 DEF. Jake Marshall (USA) 9.17
HEAT 16: Italo Ferreira (BRA) 14.00 DEF. Ryan Callinan (AUS) 13.00


Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach Men’s Round of 16 Matchups:
HEAT 1: Owen Wright (AUS) vs. Nat Young (USA)
HEAT 2: Jackson Baker (AUS) vs. Ethan Ewing (AUS)
HEAT 3: Filipe Toledo (BRA) vs. Connor O’Leary (AUS)
HEAT 4: John John Florence (HAW) vs. Morgan Cibilic (AUS)
HEAT 5: Mick Fanning (AUS) vs. Callum Robson (AUS)
HEAT 6: Miguel Pupo (BRA) vs. Kolohe Andino (USA)
HEAT 7: Imaikalani deVault (HAW) vs. Jack Robinson (AUS)
HEAT 8: Samuel Pupo (BRA) vs. Italo Ferreira (BRA)
Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach Women’s Quarterfinal Matchups:
HEAT 1: Courtney Conlogue (USA) vs. Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS)
HEAT 2: Bronte Macaulay (AUS) vs. Tyler Wright (AUS)
HEAT 3: Carissa Moore (HAW) vs. Stephanie Gilmore (AUS)
HEAT 4: Brisa Hennessy (CRI) vs. Johanne Defay (FRA)