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)

Jordy talks head judge Pritamo Ahrendt through his version of what he believed was a paddle interference in his round of 32 heat with Jackson Baker.

Wild behind-the-scenes drama at Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach as surfers threaten to boycott next event at Margaret River in protest at mid-year cut, “Tensions flaring… people in tears. Men and women united!”

Western Australian leg under threat as pro surfers mobilise against mid-year tour cut!

Wild scenes at the steamy surf ghetto of Torquay, that plastic bubble of windswept hairdos and teen sexpots, with both sides of the pro surfing gender divide united in their hate for this year’s mid-year tour cut. 

The cut, which erases anyone below 22 in the men, ten in the women, comes into play after the next event at  Margaret River; for slow-to-start tour rookies it means their career in the big leagues is over before it’s even begun. For Owen Wright, the biggest name to fall, it spells the end of fifteen years on tour. 

Our man on the ground says there is “talk of a boycott. There was a surfer’s meeting with Jessi Miley-Dyer on-site at Bells and tensions flaring, some people in tears. Men and women united, not happy with mid-year cut off, not happy with Challenger series calendar.” 

Jordy Smith, who lost in controversial circumstances in the round of 32 after the judges weren’t convinced by a paddle interference that would’ve won him the heat, alluded to the boycott in his post-heat presser.

When asked about his Margs prep, the world number nine sighed deeply and said, “I’m not sure, yet. There’s a lot of chat between the surfers’ groups about what’s on with the cut and everything. I’ll wait and see what comes of that.” 

What a story, yes?


A boycott!

The existence of the Western Australian leg of the tour threatened.

This is what sport is about!

A little excitement etc.

The on-site interviewer, the usually fabulous Ms Laura Enever, however, quickly cut the interview short lest anyone’s pulse race.

“Amazing. Thanks Jordy.”

Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.

Comment live, day four, Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach, “A day of reckoning! Incredible stories to tell!” says world champ

Come for the laughs as action gets hot.

Huber (pictured) gazes out on paradise lost.
Huber (pictured) gazes out on paradise lost.

40-acre wave tank receives long-awaited final approval in small Washington town causing grief and panic to spread among elderly locals: “The surf park will take everything I loved about this area away from us!”

To dream an impossible dream.

For six long years, Joey Lawrence has had a dream. A dream to bring world-class waves to the middle of Washington state. A dream to have surfers drive east instead of Westport. A dream that shakas would replace apples as the local signifier and days ago that dream forced itself into reality.

The Blossom alum and partner Mike Roy received final approval to begin digging Barreled Surf Park on an 80-acre site in Moxee, near… nothing. It will cost an estimated $30 million and utilize Wavegarden’s wonderfully accessible technology. The official plans include, “a 5.5-acre wave pool, 21 RV spaces, 21 campsites and 23 lodging units, with food service to include a restaurant/food truck. Other amenities include a fitness studio, skate park, dog park, fire pit and beach volleyball area, with surfboard and wetsuit rentals available.”

Lawrence took to Facebook and declared, “Today, a milestone was achieved. We’ve just been given the Hearing Examiner’s decision approving our Conditional Land Use Permit and our proposal to bring surfing to the Yakima Valley. Proudly, we are now the second @wavegarden_official (wavegarden technology) project to achieve this approval in the United States.”

Not everyone is so thrilled, though. Local residents, especially elderly ones, fear their cherished  way of life is about to be shattered.

Laurie Huber has owned a home in the area for 27-years and told the local NBC affiliate, “I have dreams too, but I would make sure I wouldn’t take someone else’s dream away to accomplish that dream. [The surf park will] take everything I loved about this area away from us, our house is paid for, we’re remodeling, we planned on retiring in this house.”

She may also worries that fans of early 90s television programing will flock, along with surfers, to hear Lawrence’s iconic catch phrase “Whoa.”

Dark days.

Help: Middle-aged surf journalist attempts to understand modern, mostly male and cryptic, hand gestures a decade after they should have crested!

But what does the OK and devil horn admixture mean?

Legitimately, I have been struggling with folk, especially male folk, holding their handsies up and doing fingering things for the camera for years and years and years. Maybe even a decade. The ironic shaka I understand (see here) but pointers, peace signs, love fingers, sideways peace signs, kinked out OKs feat. devil horns?

Why do the youth do when a cellular phone camera is brought out? What in the world is being thought when doing?

Let us examine the above photograph, maybe not from cellular phone, featuring surfing champion-adjacent Kanoa Igarashi and Formula One star Yuki Tsunoda doing the stuff.

Igarashi is throwing some OK and devil horn admixture. Does it mean anything? Tsunoda is going more standard two fingers pointing at Igarashi but a little weird and crooked. What does that mean?

Why do the youth do?


I feel we help each other understand the wild times in which we live.

Help me help you.