Conspiracy: Rip Curl surfers, events feature almost exclusively in ultra-popular “Make or Break” first three episodes. Is an illegal payola scheme being rolled out before our over-hungry eyes?

Mick Fanning, Tyler Wright, Gabriel Medina, Morgan Ciblic et voila!

You, most likely, are thankfully too young to remember the evil payola days of old. I’m too young too but once thought about watching the film American Hot Wax which focuses on the end of an era when record labels would pay radio stations to spin their artists, regardless of talent, in order to juice sales.

The practice was made illegal in the early 1960s, without disclosure of aforementioned monetary exchange, as everyone’s tastes must have gone to absolute shit.

Dangerous the sort of nonsense a morally bankrupt corporation masquerading as arbiter of art will ram down an entertainment-starved public’s throat.

Cue Rip Curl.

The universally praised television program Make or Break, which began broadcasting just days ago with all of endemic surf media falling down to rightly worship, has featured Torquay’s favorite surf brand almost exclusively over the first three episodes.

Mick Fanning.

Tyler Wright.

Gabriel Medina.

Morgan Ciblic.

Matt McGillivray.

Rip Curl Narabeen Classic.

Each wonderfully inspiring but maybe inspiring with some voodoo financial magic playing out behind the scenes?

Oh I accuse Rip Curl of absolutely nothing. I love the brand more than ever. But do love because I’m sheeple and easily voodoo’d?

Neil Ridgway (RIP*) I turn my dumb eyes to you.

*RIP meaning forcibly Retired in Peace.

Wily coyote savagely attacks toddler near Huntington Beach pier in broad daylight striking terror into local hearts and turning police into old west vigilante force!

Apocalypse now.

Huntington Beach, California’s 23rd largest city, punches far above its weight class when it comes to wild news stories that capture the nation. Surf City, USA has seen fires, riots, oil spills, Tito Ortiz and now savage attacks by coyotes on toddlers in broad daylight and very near full grown human adults.

The disturbing footage, recorded on a Surfline camera, features the aforementioned cur pouncing on the two-year-old girl and knocking her to the ground, rolling her to and fro then pouncing again while her minders stand nearby, mesmerized by Huntington’s iconic crumble.

Eventually, the woman turns around and shoos the menacing beast away. The poor victim sustained severe, though not life-threatening, injuries and was immediately taken to a local hospital.

The incident terrified locals and enraged the police, who quickly mustered an old west-style vigilante force and gunned two coyotes down on the beach, though not the perp.

I will add that I have conducted some schooling for children aged 3 – 8 at a Huntington Beach park just inland from where the attack occurred and coyotes were everywhere, making beelines for the youngsters, only retreating after being charged by full grown human adults.

Huntington, man. Living the apocalypse early.

Kelly Slater survives sudden-death elimination round at Margaret River Pro; wild scenes in warm-up session as wildcard Jacob Willcox takes on Hawaiian hard-man Zeke Lau!

Ten hours of competition and four competitors eliminated, three wildcards and poor Seth Moniz.

We’ve had two days of competition at Margaret River already, three if you’re counting both men and women, more than ten solid hours of competitive surfing on the men’s side, and what are we left with?

Elimination of Jack Thomas, Ben Spence, Jacob Wilcox and Seth Moniz.

Two surfers we’ve never heard of and might not again. One whom we recognise as a previous early exiting wildcard, and poor Seth Moniz.

(See yesterday’s piece for explanation of the latter.)

The most interesting contribution that Jacob Wilcox made was “words” with Zeke Lau in the morning warm up, following a drop-in and a flicked board from Zeke.

The idea that the number of surfers in each event needs to decrease is a firmly beaten drum. I’ve always quite liked the variety of surfers, styles and talents and felt a diverse field was more interesting, but I have to concede this is dead wrong.

As surfers we venerate the stylists and the specialists, but competition is competition. Talent matters, but winning mentalities matter more.

It has also been strikingly apparent recently that the selection of wildcards needs to be better. It’s not consistent, nor effective. Some are chosen by sponsors, some by the WSL, but few are successful in heats. For the most part, you can safely pencil them in to exit at the earliest possible opportunity.

If a wildcard is to be granted let’s try and make it worthwhile. The idea of the local wildcard is lovely and romantic, but rarely lives up to the potential. Pipe specialists excepted.

Wildcards need to be chosen more carefully, more Barron Mamiya than Mikey Wright. More Jay Davies than Jack Thomas. If a wildcard is not a genuine threat they’re simply useless fodder that sucks away meaningful competition time.

So anyway, thankfully the comp starts now.

What do we think of the forecast? Conclusion of the women’s today, perhaps, followed by a couple of lay days waiting for the next swell?

More Main Break at the beginning of next week?

Or perhaps The Box this weekend?

Any Margaret River aficionados below the line please fill us in.

Regardless, it looks like waves ahead and some more key decision making for Jesse Miley-Dyer. Given recent events, they are perhaps decisions that could be decisive in whether or not she remains in a job that has looked less and less tenable.

You might say it’s make or break time. In fact, my guess is they’ll sack her anyway because it’s good TV.

What do you like in the round of 32?

The match-ups change complexion depending on where they surf, of course, and keen-eyed gamblers will be taking note of this. (Remember when Jack Robinson was matched against Filipe with the latter as a heavy favourite according to bookmakers? These are the opportunities a bold man might retire on.)

I’ll enjoy the all Aussie battler match-up between Callum Robson and Morgan Ciblic in H3. Ciblic, of course, needs the win if we’re to see him again.

Two all American boys face off in H4 in with Coffin vs Colapinto. Conner needs the victory to avoid the cut, but given recent form he must be wishing it was a spelling bee rather than a surf comp.

Italo vs Joao Chianca in H7 looks like a potential banger. Keep a close eye on this one. It’s the kind of heat where the presiding narrative might lead to some unconscious judging bias. Everyone believes Joao belongs on Tour, and Italo is the emerging villain.

What drama might we see in a close heat? Don’t be surprised if Joao pips him at the post. Stand by for more dazzling bejeweled rage in the aftermath.

I like the look of the goofy match-up with Miguel Pupo vs Owen Wright in H8. Owen needs the win. Is he a man campaigning for The Box?

Jadson needs to beat Kelly in H13 to have any chance of staying on Tour. He’s been here before. Don’t bet against him.

Then it’s a tasty battle of the power brokers in H14 with Jordy vs Zeke. Expect full rail gouges and mean mugging.

Zeke needs the win, Jordy almost as much. A quarter final defeat in Portugal is far and away Jordy’s best result of the season to date. He’s a man who should be aiming for the top and he’ll need to put his foot down quick.

I’m all in, as they say.

Yasmin (left) and Gabriel in happier times.
Yasmin (left) and Gabriel in happier times.

Gabriel Medina’s sordid love triangle featuring now ex-wife Yasmin Brunet and step-father Charlie the scintillating focus of universally-praised TV series “Make or Break” second episode!


Surf media is falling all over itself to heap the most superlative praise on Apple+ Television’s just released series Make or Break though is it all deserved or another example, in continuous string, of our kind just gagging to be noticed? I’ll be extremely honest with you. I was worried it was the later after watching episode one. Tyler Wright’s narrative felt canned and the lack of genuine stakes seemed ridiculous what with non-stop hyperbole gushing from interviewed mouths.

Wayne “Rabbit” Bartholomew, I think, said of last year’s tour, the one being filmed, “This is the greatest assemblage of talent in the history of the sport.”

Um, no.

Also, “Any of these guys could beat anyone.”

Also no.

11x champion Kelly Slater, speaking of Pipeline’s deadliness, declared, “It’s super dangerous. Somebody dislocated their shoulder this morning.”

As a chronic dislocater, not dangerous or deadly.

Etc. Etc. Etc. and I was concerned heading into episode two, The Brazilian Storm, especially when it began “Filipe Toledo is the most dangerous competitor on the world tour.”

? unless “dangerous” and “dislocated shoulder” are now synonymous.

But then magic begins to unspool albeit slowly. The cameras focus on Gabriel Medina and his then wife Yasmin Brunet early. Medina having split from step-father Charlie and mother in order to make his own way with archival footage and tears. It flips to Italo Ferreira and his childhood friend and traveling partner who makes him smoothies and also admits to not being appreciated. Andy King is unveiled as Medina’s new coach, more tears flow, Medina and Ferreira go back and forth winning and losing events on the Australian leg, Filipe Toledo, the aforementioned “most dangerous” pops in and out and scene.

The subtle insights are fascinating but the real glory, for us honest-to-goodness professional surf watchers, is this bizarre time capsule. We know that Medina divorced Brunet and quit the tour for a mental break, for example, and to observe him shooting daggers through her when she tells him to “surf for fun,” when she says, “People think I am going to derail his career” are pure gold.

Kafka could not have written it better.

And so the only complaint I was left with was a lack of insight from us honest-to-goodness professional surf watchers. The camera follows Ferreira, for example, into a live Ain’t That Swell show and my gracious if that doesn’t look wildly fun but neither Jed Smith nor Vaughn Blakey are interviewed. Instead, Stace Galbraith and Luke Kennedy are utilized in the “surf journalist” role. Now, I’m sure both are wonderful but neither are vicious and we (read: you) are vicious.

That bit is missing, honest-to-goodness analysis, criticism, hot-takes from The People™. It appears, through the episode, that “surf fans” are pure, spooning down the storylines churned out by our World Surf League, which seems a miss.

A small complaint, though, especially when episode two flips to episode three and Jay “Bottle” Thompson reveals the origins of his nickname.

David Lee Scales and I, anyhow, discuss over the best fusion tacos and burritos I have ever had in my life. From New Jersey, it should go without saying.


Open thread, comment live, Margaret River Pro, “Oh, surfing, you capricious sprite!”

Six-to-eight feet of king's corduroy, wiped clean by north-east offshore.