Toledo (right) helps Wright lift their trophy.
Toledo (right) helps Wright lift their trophy.

World’s best small-wave surfer Filipe Toledo now tops the rankings after Bells win: “He could elect to sit out Teahupo’o if the forecast is over four-foot and still hold a commanding lead going into Trestles!”

Holy Toledo.

“Dejected” is the word to describe Finals Day at Bells Beach.

It might describe the fans, or Ethan Ewing, or Jack Robinson, or the waves we were left with.

A problem exists when an event window produces quality waves but the grand finale is held in conditions where the average surfer might shrug her shoulders and get in or not. I make it three events in a row. That’s a damning indictment on both the current format and the decisions of Jesse Miley-Dyer, who is surely is not long for this world.

The solutions? Overlapping heats as standard for the rounds of 32 and 16, better calls by the Commissioner, and – dare I say it – the looming cut.

Not dejected today was Filipe Toledo, who eventually rang the bell and surely knows that in the absence of Gabriel Medina and Italo Ferreira, he has no real competition in anything but heavy reef breaks.

At the conclusion of a disappointing final which seemed both dull and inevitable at the outset, Richie Lovett asserted that “history tells us that the Bells champion often goes on to win the world title.” I haven’t checked his claim, but you’d be bold to bet against it at this stage.

Toledo now holds the lead in the overall rating. Given the events left on the calendar, he could probably elect to sit out of Teahupo’o if the forecast is over 4ft and still hold a commanding lead going into Trestles.

Once again, with no Gabriel Medina (unless he was a wildcard), a boiling-over Italo (more on him in another post) and the shadow version of JJF who emerges in sub-par waves, who’s fit to compete with Toledo at Trestles?


We saw some of the best and most entertaining Bells Beach ever in the mid-rounds, the juxtaposition of which made Finals Day even more egregiously awful.

But let’s forget about that for a moment and focus on what will be remembered from Bells Beach in 2022.

The production as a whole was slicker, the commentary more competent.

As you know, I like to extricate and examine the various wrinkles that exist in the broadcast and production of WSL events, sometimes with tongue-in-cheek, and sometimes with great vengeance and furious anger.

But this time I was left wanting. On the whole, I would have to say I was impressed?

As mentioned before, moving Kaipo to the water (essentially stashing him in the back of the wardrobe) was a masterstroke. Ronnie was dependable as ever, Joe was Joe, Richie and Rabbit were both good, as was Laura. And if I’m to look beyond the tone of Shannon’s voice I’d have to say I don’t hate her.

Interviewing the losers is a welcome addition and a suggestion many of us have made online for a long time. Better pre and post heat camera work was also evident, allowing us to gauge reactions and moods, and therefore develop character and context.

Fewer waves were missed during heats, though we were still left staring at “Stay Tuned” screens occasionally. The old boys phone-in club is harmless enough, but I can’t say it adds much, especially for potential new audiences.

I think we might reasonably assume that much of this improvement is due to guidance from Box to Box films, or perhaps just observation of what they’re doing.

We were also provided with a shimmer of intrigue and a sniff of rebellion with talk of a strike in protest of the mid-season cut, but the restless natives were quickly slapped back in chains by Erik Logan. More surprising, I’m fully with ELo on this one. Both in terms of the decision to have the cut and the manner in which he re-stamped the intention.

Sit down and shut up was the correct response. Professional surfing is for entertainment, it owes no-one a living.

Will Logan’s iron fisting be decisive and final? I would guess so.

But what it has done is elicited some passion from the surfers and the fans. It is a talking point, and talking points are what sport needs. “The only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about” goes the old adage.

It also makes me think of the advice I give when teaching creative writing to school pupils: create characters your reader can care about. They might manifest in a variety of ways: it could be characters we love or root for; but equally ones we might loathe or despise. Villains are just as effective as heroes. And always remember: the last thing you want is characters no-one gives a shit about, characters where the reader’s only response can be pure, unadulterated apathy.

The latter is largely what we have been given by the WSL for years now. Sugar-coated nothingness. That’s changing. Perhaps it has taken an outside perspective to make those changes, a Hollywood perspective. Perhaps it has taken some non-endemic media influence to teach us how our sport should be presented.

Maybe the change makes you uncomfortable. Surfing won’t feel like yours anymore. But change is nearly always hard to some degree. When it’s virtually metamorphosis, it’s bound to hurt.

Maybe Erik Logan is not the villain we want, but the villain we need.

In dramatic escalation, world’s richest man Elon Musk throws muscle behind proposed surfer boycott of Margaret River, “The Mid-Year Cut Stinks! Make ASP/WSL just the media partner… put mics on judges!”

"Wow, that escalated quickly…Elon gets it! Looks like we've got our new billionaire."

The Santa Monica HQ of the WSL was thrown into turmoil earlier today when it appeared the world’s richest man, Elon Musk, had thrown his muscle behind a surfer boycott of Margaret River as well as deep changes to the World Surf League, the not-for-profit organisation owned by fellow billionaire Dirk Ziff.

You’ll remember, three days ago, both sides of the pro surfing gender divide revealed as 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.

Following a series of tweets from photographer Peter King, Musk appeared to reveal he was on the side of the under appreciated lower-ranked surfer.

“Wow, that escalated quickly…Elon gets it!” wrote King. “Looks like we’ve got our new billionaire.”

A prank, of course, from the clever and always funny Mr King.

But plenty to think about.

As in, what would Kelly Slater say, do, if Elon worked the levers?

Long-time readers will recall the pair’s savage blood feud from one year ago when Kelly put Elon to the sword for suggesting that Tesla might sell its store of Bitcoin, a decision that would probs send the price of the crypto-buck spiralling downward.

“So a guy who owns an energy company doesn’t understand this stuff before he buys it?” wrote Kelly. “Has no problem taking the profits. Does he have an issue with kids mining cobalt in the Democratic Republic of Congo to build batteries? He could probably address and potentially help solve the real energy issues (68 per cent of the energy produced in the US, for instance, is wasted … seems like a bigger issue to me which would solve any BTC problem).

“I think Elon’s board and backers hate crypto and what it’s doing for the average investor and pressured him to put out a statement which they knew would inevitably tank bitcoin. I hope the SEC is taking a good look at this (and all of them who might be buying the dip today and this week in their private accounts). Interesting times. But Elon is bad for crypto.”

Also, what would a tour, propelled by Elon’s cash reserves, look like?

Eight surfers, each with private jet?

One-day events at Cloudbreak, Teahupoo, J-Bay, Namibia, Pipe etc?

Toledo wins! Seizes tour lead!

World’s best small-wave surfer Filipe Toledo unracks machine-gun to win prestigious Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach in dying swell; seizes tour lead! “You would have faith in my strength!”

On-fire rookie surfer Callum Robson ratcheted into silence by Brazilian champ.

The world’s best surfer in waves three feet and under, Filipe Toledo, has confirmed his reputation, whistling the wrench down on the head of Australian rookie Callum Robson in a dying three-foot swell at Bells Beach. 

The just-turned twenty seven year old from Brazil now leads the world tour, snatching the number one slot, and the right to compete in a yellow coloured nylon jersey, from Japan’s Kanoa Igarashi. 

Toledo growled velocity throughout the events, his Sharp Eye surfboard flashing fire, his frontside turns better than anything seen at the Bells Beach contest in its storied history, comparable, even, to the backhand work of Mark Occhilupo in the 1997 Super Skins event.

Australian rookie Callum Robson, meanwhile, utilised a heavy back foot to cut a swathe through the field, although unable to beat Toledo in their death duel. 


Full story to come! 

Comment live, Finals Day, Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach, “It’s a fabulous cabaret!”

Substance and meaning!

Angry (photo: @italoferreira via Instagram)
Angry (photo: @italoferreira via Instagram)

World Surf League bravely turns cameras away to protect innocent eyes of viewers as former champ Italo Ferreira bull charges judging tower in blind rage after Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach loss!

The Eternal Sunshine of Erik Logan's Spotless Mind.

I woke this morning too early, the grey still hovering in southern California’s unseasonably chill dawn, and my first thought was “I wonder what Zoë Kravitz wore to Coachella yesterday?” quickly chased by my second thought “Did the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach run to its finish?” A quick snag of my phone off of vintage bedside table, swiping up to unlock, clicking on browser, opening dear BeachGrit and seeing the wonderful Open Thread Comment Live post crowning all.

It did run, but to its finish?

I scrolled directly to the comments, to you, to realize no, it did not but more importantly, Italo Ferreira had apparently stormed the judges tower in a blind rage while, if I read correctly, World Surf League cameras swung away to focus on an interview with Tom Carroll who was reading from his 1981 diary in a sensually-lit masturbatorium (?).


Absolutely incomprehensible.

Now, I’ll surf journalist and get to the bottom of this story, spooling it out over 10 – 15 delightfully whimsical episodes, but in the meantime, how but how would a rare bit of drama not be the absolute focus of the broadcast? A former champion incensed, heated, on the march but no. Too… what? Real? The staid and buttoned-down NFL, NBA, MLB only turn the cameras away when a fan has taken to the field and running around (so others don’t get encouraged, I suppose). Otherwise, every fight, altercation, screaming match, shove, etc. is documented, commented upon, examined from multiple angles.

Professional surfing, apparently, too family-friendly, though, to show frustration in real time.

What makes it even more wild is the fact that Make or Break, the much ballyhooed upcoming television program documenting the World Surf League’s championship tour, has access to this sort of business. No way a producer/director in her/his right mind would take on a project and not be guaranteed full entry. I am certain the interaction was documented and will provide a thoroughly dramatic moment when the show airs.

Now, one would think that the main benefit of a Make or Break, from the WSL’s side, would be to pull viewers over to the championship tour broadcast, maybe even enough viewers to charge a subscription fee or at least obtain real sponsors. What happens when these viewers come, though, expecting to see bull rushes of judging towers but are instead met with masurbatoriums and the patented Wall of Positive Noise?

I’m going to direct/produce a new series that really really shows what goes on in professional surfing. It will be called The Eternal Sunshine of Erik Logan’s spotless mind.

Less as the story develops.