World Surf League CEO Erik Logan steals spotlight from banished Conner Coffin, Seth Moniz on day two of Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach with “pimp-like” panache!

"Such is the unpredictability of professional surfing."

Four surfers eliminated after two days of competition. Meat and potatoes time.

Tell me the mid-season cut isn’t a great idea?

They ran at Winki today, and what started off as marginal, unappealing and windy junk actually provided some solid entertainment thanks to buzzer beaters and tight scoring.

I’m probably committing some sort of sacrilege in suggesting this, but is Winkipop not a…better wave?

We were also treated to some primetime ELo, some showbusiness ELo.

But more on him in a minute.

Spare a thought for Conner Coffin. Last year’s top five surfer has gone 17th, 17th, 5th and now 33rd. Good result in Portugal aside, he looks deflated and will likely be below the cut line at the conclusion of this comp.

He was cursed by Turpel early on today, who said Coffin “felt confident just staying in rhythm from the cliff.”

Apparently the rhythm of the cliff isn’t as good as the rhythm of the water in preparation for surfing competitions.

Conner must have sleepless nights about days like this. All those years spent honing his style and refining his rail-work, only to be eliminated in wonky 3ft surf not conducive to the longer lines he likes to hold. There seems little adaptation in his surfing.

Do you have sympathy for a man who values aesthetics and stays true to his style?

At this rate he won’t be around for J-Bay, and that would be a crying shame.

(And btw, if you’re listening, GERRRRRR!, I want you to know that I’ve thought about Conner’s Secret Turn at least once every day for five years or more. Now I might never see it, and that’s on you.)

Such is the unpredictability of professional surfing that it would have been an impossible punt to pick Heat 11, with Jake Marshall, Deivid Silva and Miguel Pupo, as the most entertaining of the Opening Round, but that was to be the case.

At the final hooter three men were separated by just 0.43 of a point.

With 30 seconds remaining, Jake Marshall held a commanding lead. Pupo was in second and Silva was heading to the elimination round.

Ten seconds later Silva dropped a 7.0 for three solid backhand turns with no hitches on a prior set wave, moving him into first.

Marshall, now in second, caught a wave with less than 10 seconds left and was riding when the buzzer sounded, presumably thinking he was home and dry. But scores were still to come in for Pupo.

Miguel got a 5.90, meaning Marshall had gone from first to second to last in the final 20 seconds.

All of a sudden he needed a 5.24 on the wave he’d caught at the buzzer. He was given a 4.70.

Pupo had squeaked through ahead of him by 0.06 of a point.

It was a breathless final exchange of waves.

In the context of surf scoring Marshall would be within his rights to feel sore about heading to the losers round, but any man might have ended up first or last and it would’ve been tough to argue their case either way. In the end, Deivid Silva was a fine enough winner.

A favourite sub-genre of mine is the obscure sponsorships of Brazilian pro surfers. They’re not too proud to rep anyone if it means a few shekels towards a plane ticket and a new G-banger.

Silvana Lima was sponsored by an altcoin seven years ago, long before your granny was buying her groceries with Satoshis.

Deivid Silva had stickers for a pizza restaurant on his board yesterday in a quite lovely nod to the archetype.

Elimination heats were completed. Coffin, Matthew McGillivray and Seth Moniz are left to mope and ponder Margaret River with a miserable 265 points for finishing 33rd. So too wildcard Tully Wylie who made scant impression this time.

So that was the surfing, but onto the real show, the one we really tune in for: the pantomime of the World Surf League!

Correct me if I’m wrong, but I’m sure Erik Logan referred to what he does as “showbusiness” today?

It was probably loosely in reference to the forthcoming “Make or Break” series on Apple TV, which Logan was there to pimp, and you can be damn sure he’s a showman.

Pimp it he did.

I mean, I’m excited about it. I genuinely think it’ll be good, but Erik Logan thinks it’ll be GREAT! This is his arena, his velodrome of seedy schmoozing and media fludge.*

He stopped just short of anointing himself as the saviour of pro surfing on the spot, but the subtext was clear.

Clearly still smarting from the Clean Vans backlash and in a tizzy about what sort of footwear a man in his position should wear, he opted to go functional with spick and span Salomons to pair with his blue jeans and WSL logoed shirt, top button loosed.

A Salomon Cross Hike Gore-Tex, if I’m not mistaken. Perhaps even a mid?

Serious footwear, at any rate.

For those not familiar with the French brand who cut their teeth in the ski industry, think day-hikers, remote workers, stay at home dads, and old, weathered European men in luminous Nevica ski jackets.

Salomon shoes are what men put on when their partners tell them that socks with sandals is “not smart-casual”.

I’m not sure about you, but all I could hear when ELo was talking about “Make or Break” was the Diana Ross song “One Shining Moment”.

That’s clearly his theme tune.

Slightly unnerving were his interactions with Rabbit Bartholomew, who, bless his heart, had put in a good shift but was clearly flagging by the time ELo came in.

His face a shade best described as “perplexing red” (and I do mean that in the synecdochical sense) he slunk lower and lower in his chair as the day went on.

If things had gone on much longer Rabbit might have been reduced to a pile of laundry on the chair between Logan and Turpel, topped with a chequered shirt.

ELo employed some of what he remembered from his management workshops by reaching over to touch Rabbit’s hand every so often. It was a tactile trust play reminiscent of a pick-up artist, or the way you might lay a hand on the arm of an elderly relative in a care home, just to check it’s still warm.

If you listened very carefully I’m sure you could hear Rabbit emit a low growling noise, much like an aging Cocker Spaniel.

But ELo’s fludge was at least mildly preferable to Shannon, clearly on the same dollar per word rate as Turpel, but with a pitch that would make dogs whine.

Listen to her and tell me it’s not like when you accidentally hit the double speed button on a podcast app?

It was exhausting. Thank christ for Richie Lovett slowing things down and giving our ears a break every so often. And he’s ok, right? No major note of improvement from me so far anyway. A solid mid-range score with the potential to creep into the excellent range. The commentary equivalent of Nat Young.

Anyway, on we go, as we must.

Much more to look forward to I’m sure.

*fludge in my own neologism for the purpose of describing ELo’s verbiage. Think of it as oral frogspawn.

Comment live, day two, Rip Curl Pro, Bells Beach!

Get emotional!

Fifty-year-old Kelly Slater makes triumphant return to Bells Beach despite Oscars COVID; shoots for record fifth Bell an astonishing 31 years since his first win there!

Miracles do happen!

Are we betting on Bells? Is there redemption to be found in a dribbly Southern Ocean?

Addiction is a funny thing.

You carry it with you always, even when you’re “better”. In the best of times and the worst it’s still there, draped over your shoulders like an invisible weighted blanket.

The worst of addiction is unseen. No-one knows it’s there, least and most of all the afflicted. You live with a malignant ghoul that lurks in the dark corners of your house. You don’t notice it feeding on your mind, but you wake feeling drained, hollowed out day by day.

There will be no escape, no redemption. What’s in you is in you. What’s done is done.

The flames may not be visible but a creeping burn blackens and chars from the inside out.

They say you need to replace the thing you’re addicted to with something else, something healthy, fulfilling, wholesome. But what if it becomes another addiction? Or just masks the initial problem?

Maybe some people are just doomed.

Genetics, personality, who knows why.

I’ll be honest, I didn’t watch yesterday’s heats live. I, like you, have been underwhelmed by the forecast for Bells this year.

At 2200 GMT the comp was put on hold until the next call at 0145. I honestly didn’t expect them to run. Instead I watched the early tip-offs for the final day of the NBA’s regular season. A frantic chase before chances were gone.

I was tired. I ran just short of 34 miles yesterday in one six-hour stint. Too tired to stay up all night in the hope of three-to-four-foot-and-onshore Bells Beach.

My brother posed a question to me this week: “Why are you going on so many long runs? Is it to forget your gambling losses?”

Interesting, I thought.

I pondered this yesterday, alone in the hills.

Speaking of losses, are you excited about the upcoming mid-season cut? I think it adds a bit of spice to a turgid format.

I listened to a bit of the Lipped podcast the other day for the first time in a while. There was a fair degree of whinging and reported whinging about the mid-season cut. Surfers don’t like it, makes them feel insecure, scared for their futures, not fair etc etc.

Good, I say.

Call me unkind but I will shed no tears for professional surfers.

As a reminder, after Margaret River the men’s field will be cut to 22 and the women’s to just 10. It is worth providing a reminder because the availability of information about this critical format change is shockingly poor, not least on the WSL’s own channels.

I was about to direct you to a video called “Rankings Update: Which Surfers Need To Put In Work To Make The Cut”. (Subheading: “Watch as Kaipo, Peter and Shannon break down the latest drama of the Championship Tour Rankings.”)

I watched this a few days ago and it was embarrassingly bad, not to mention completely useless.

Kaipo was typically incoherent, mumbling something about “wardrobe” in reference to the yellow jersey and what I’d guess was supposed to be a segue into discussion of the cut, but there followed no mention of the surfers at risk of what implications were. There was certainly no “breaking down” of anything other than basic broadcasting competence.

I was going to suggest you watch this clip for giggles, but in typically Orwellian fashion it has since been replaced in the app by one of Joe, Shannon and Richie Lovett. As further evidence of ineptitude they haven’t bothered to change the title or subheading so it still says it’s Kaipo and Pete.

Do they not have a decent video editor in the whole organisation? I suppose not since they apparently sacked the content team recently, but the heat replays are truly painful to watch.

The WSL website and apps are utterly atrocious. I wrote a whole piece about this I never posted because examining it was too irritating. If you’re going to parade like a media company you’d better sort out your front end.

I doubtless missed some fun broadcast wrinkles yesterday. You don’t get the full experience on the replay. It was nice to hear Ronnie again, though, who for my money is by far the most competent broadcaster, maybe the only one.

I remain confounded by the fact that Kaipo has a job, much less one that flies him around the world and gives him a microphone. It’s beginning to seem a bit like he might have incriminating information about someone at the WSL that he uses as leverage, similar to the Putin/Trump thing.

You know, evidence of illicit and seedy dalliances with sex workers, that sort of thing. There’s no other explanation I can think of.

Shannon and Bugs were introduced as a punditry duo in an apparent attack on anyone with ears. It was a soundclash for the ages. In one corner we have Bugs, with the slurred vowels of red wine and Oxycontin; and in the other we have Shannon, whose pitch must wreak havoc with sound engineers and the folk at parties doing lines off the kitchen counter.

“If anyone can get a near perfect score, it’s Mick Fanning,” mewled Shannon as Mick took off on two foot of mush.

I only watched the heat replay, of course, and the waves were junk, but how can Mick’s surfing look so dated already? Even if opportunities had existed for perfect scores, he looked some way from it.

It occurred to me that you could easily automate WSL commentary and we wouldn’t know the difference. You know, like those automated phone services for utility providers. There’s a very narrow range of phrases and tone in the WSL commentator canon. I’d imagine it could be learned by an algorithm in a couple of hours.

Just as long as you didn’t input any of Strider’s data, because that would fuck up even the most sophisticated machine intelligence.

I was too consumed in other things to get any pre-match bets on, but Kanoa was paying 4/1 to make the semi. That seemed like value given his recent form and the fact he can look sparky in junk waves.

I was kicking myself when I saw his surfing in comparison to everyone else’s in the opening round. Bugs called him “Tom Curren-esque”, which might be a stretch, but his waves stood out today nonetheless.

You don’t quite catch some of the radical angles he gets his board and body into in real time. It’s only when you see the slowed down replays you notice some of the detail.

I think I’m becoming a Kanoa believer.

For the remaining first round heats I’m going:

Conner Coffin – 15/8
Kolohe Andino – 7/5
Miguel Pupo – 2/1
Barron Mamiya – 3/1

That’s an 82/1 accumulator (or parlay to the Americans in the room).

And it won’t be enough, but it would be something.

Oh, and I ran a hundred miles this week.

Take from that what you will.

Middle-aged man with dreams of witnessing the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach live saves money, makes pilgrimage to Torquay, turns away devastated after realizing there is a hefty entrance fee!


The Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach is currently underway and now that the Billabong Pipeline Masters has been reduced to the Billabong Pro Pipeline I do believe the argument could be made that it is the most historically significant surf contest on the planet.

It has been run, continuously save Covid ravaged 2020, off Torquay’s rugged shore since 1961, always over Easter week. Australian rock n’ roll anthem Hell’s Bells is played every morning before the first day of competition. The trophy, designed by local Joe Sweeney, is iconic.

Morris Cole.

It is also the only event on the World Surf League Championship Tour schedule that demands an entrance fee.

A middle-aged man who longed dreamed of witnessing the spectacle saved all his money for years and years, cutting his children’s bread rations by 1/3 and taking extra night shifts. He toiled and sweated and eventually had just enough to travel to Melbourne, bus to Torquay and make pilgrimage except when he arrived at the top of those iconic steps was met with a ticket booth charging exorbitant fees for the pleasure.

Money changers in the temple.

Dejected he turned away after direct messaging me, “A bit of Bells fodder. $10 entry fee to watch. Obviously I said fuck that and went home.”

I, too, was once slapped by that bit of dirty pool. The world’s favorite surfer Mick Fanning and I had recently become entangled in an imbroglio and, thus, my invite to Bells was discontinued. I thought, “I’ll show you and come anyway…” so there I went, to Torquay, and there I saw the fee and there I obviously said “fuck that” and went back to the public house.


But, more to the point, how much would you pay to witness professional surfing live and in person?



(Australian of course).

More as the story develops.

San Diego surfer leaves water after shark scare only to get ambushed on land by evil rattlesnake: “It felt like someone dropped a knife on my foot…”

"Is this going to be how it's going to end? After surfing and getting bitten by a rattlesnake?"

As fate would have it, I was in California’s desert interior over the weekend, far away from civilization and cell phone coverage, surrounded by various cacti, reddish boulders, cowboy death. My very best friends, the same with whom I traveled to Yemen post 9/11, Syria, played war correspondent in Lebanon etc., decided at the dawn of Covid that it would be better if we just educated our collected children together. It’s a wild experiment, now rounding year two’s bend, and part of the curriculum includes adventure like sailing to Mexico in the middle of a storm, riding the rails from Paris to Moscow, pitching trucks off cliffs, letting them free to explore this world on their own.

The only worry I usually have, at least in California, is that mean ol’ rattlesnake.

It turns out my fears are justified for a San Diego surfer, Matt Gmyr, just became bitten by one after cutting a surf session short at South Torrey Pines, because a shark was circling.

“I like to just step up onto this little section of dirt next to the curb and just check out the surf one last time and watch my buddies catch some waves,” he told San Diego’s CBS affiliate. “I felt like someone dropped a knife on my foot, like it was sharp pain and I look down and there’s a snake attached to my foot.”

The snake happened to be a diamond back and he knew he needed care, quickly, so called the paramedics. By the time they arrived, though, he was already feeling the poison.

“I was feeling the full body tingling, the lips, the face, the numbness, swelling, and it was crazy,” he said. “There’s a point when I was calling out to God saying, ‘Oh, I don’t want to die like this. Is this going to be how it’s going to end? After surfing and getting bitten by a rattlesnake?’”

He was rushed to Scripps in La Jolla where doctors discovered five bite marks on his foot and consider him lucky to be alive. He’s still in the hospital though hopes to be released Friday.

Rattlesnakes. Ugh. But what would Mick Fanning have done? Something to ponder.