Ultimate Surfer Tia Blanco (pictured) safe at equal 22. (photo Instagram).
Ultimate Surfer Tia Blanco (pictured) safe at equal 22. (photo Instagram).

Mainstream media opinion begins to coalesce around profoundly sexist, anti-equality nature behind the World Surf League’s “heartbreaking” mid-year cut!

Surf controversy!

I must say, the most surprising storyline following the just-finalized World Surf League mid-year cut was the ferocity with which mainstream media reacted. Headlines crowed, from major national capital to major national capital about the “devastating scenes” unspooling on Margaret River’s fatal shore, about the “unfairness” and wanton “cruelty” and “depressing.” Surprising, I suppose, because none of these publications cared much about professional surfing at the highest level prior to “the cut.”

Not knowing what to chalk the passion up to, I filed it under “HMMMM” right next to “Ben Gravy’s popularity” until this very morning when the picture began to clarify.

Stumbling upon a new piece by Yahoo! Sport titled Sally Fitzgibbons speaks out amid ‘heartbreaking’ surf controversy this morning, I first wondered what this “surf controversy” might be until putting my surf journalism hat on (one of Nick Carroll’s socks) and diving in.

Sally Fitzgibbons has vowed to fight her way back onto surfing’s top tour after falling victim to the World Surf League’s controversial new mid-year cut.

Fitzgibbons was one of a number of high-profile casualties of the new system after she was eliminated from the Margaret River Pro in the round of 16.

Only the top 10-ranked women advance to the second half of the Championship Tour, with the other surfers relegated to the Challenger Series and forced to qualify for the top tour again in 2023.

On the men’s side, the top 22 advance. Aussies Owen Wright and Morgan Cibilic fell victim to the cut, as did Brazilian young gun Joao Chianca.

And there we have it.

Blatant sexism.

Sneering anti-equality measures blaring from a league that has staked its new reputation on parity.

I was, of course, aware that the women’s field was to get cut down too and even heard the number ten bandied about but didn’t think much of it until right this minute. Ten surfers competing against each other for the rest of the year to cut it down by a whole five for final’s day at Lower Trestles?

That seems utter nonsense. Like trotting longboarders out at Manly and Huntington and telling them it’s good. Like Kelly Slater dating a woman for fifteen years and still planning on marrying her “sometime in the future.”

Like or dislike the women’s side, ten surfers is a dumb amount to then cut to five and if the “equality” push is really pure performance for the World Surf League, it should do the dignified thing and cut the men’s side to ten also.

Surf controversy is right.

Howard cutting (pictured). Photo: Grant Ellis.
Howard cutting (pictured). Photo: Grant Ellis.

In shock move, World Surf League longboard commissioner Devon Howard resigns post; speculation runs wild amidst heartbroken community and hawk-eyed pundits as to true reason!

Howard's End.

It is being reported in Log Rap that Devon Howard, the debonaire longer board surfer and commissioner of the all the way longboard World Surf League tour, has shocked the world by resigning his post forthwith, the ostensible reason being that the tour “is in a great place right now” and “the job has been completed.”

Now, anyone who is remotely aware of Howard knows that he is an old-school sort beyond the way he rides a surfboard. He prizes hard work, has a solid overall ethic, speaks when necessary, keeps quiet otherwise. It would be unbecoming for him to slander his former employer but also seems odd that he would resign as the new year, with just announced stops at Manly (just days away), Huntington and Malibu, gets underway.

So why?

It is incumbent upon us to wildly speculate.

You will recall, months ago, when the rumor floated that the WSL was going to slash the longboard tour from three events to one. Sitting champion Joel Tudor caught wind and went on a wild tear which ended with the announcement that there would be three events, Manly, Huntington, Malibu and that Tudor would be indefinitely suspended.

Now, if the WSL really had wanted to shred the longboard tour and were embarrassed by it, as evidenced by CEO Erik Logan’s dismissive eye-rolling when discussing amongst partners, why didn’t it while telling all the longboarders to go kick rocks? Forcing them to surf Manly and Huntington seems far worse punishment.

Might that decision have been made in a strange Santa Monica vacuum featuring the aforementioned Logan and the increasingly dominant Jessi Miley-Dyer then shoved down Howard’s throat while he was ordered to spin it as “brilliant” to the longboarding community?

Could more “truths” have been poured down that same throat in order to spew upon his charges?


Howard’s resignation becomes even weightier when remembering that World Surf League shortboard commissioner Pat O’Connell took the same route last year, rendering his abdication and quietly taking the lead at the John John Florence fronted Florence x Marine.

The two are, without a shadow of a doubt, surfers’ surfers having come up in the old ways. They have been around the game since birth, know all the facets and love beyond what is healthy. For both to ask out of their World Surf League postings is…. suspect.

David Lee Scales and I, in any case, wildly speculate further about Howard’s end as well as the to the reasons Kelly Slater is a longtime boyfriend. Listen now.

Pandemonium in Torquay as surf fans turn on WSL CEO Erik Logan and three-time world champ Mick Fanning squares off with former boss during taping of Ain’t That Swell, “Shirts off and into the octagon, boys!”

Elo on the offensive against hard-core surf fans and world champ!

It isn’t a stretch to describe Ain’t That Swell and its hardcore Swellian followers in the same way historians talk of the brave Apache, Aboriginal or Inca; the last remnants of a brave and brutal culture subsumed by something barren and unlovely and feeble and bland. 

Colonialists, VALS, ain’t no difference. 

During the taping of a recent episode at Torquay during the Bells Beach event, part of Ain’t That Swell’s epic Children of the Corn tour of Australia, Swellians welcomed WSL CEO Erik Logan with a volley of boos.

Show principal, Vaughan Blakey, a dignified and sincere man who don’t like hate, tried to hose down the rogue Swellians, “Who’s booing? Who was that? Fuck mate! Free contest free tour, fuck!, wake up!” 

Following suit, even Mick turned on his former boss, telling Logan he isn’t into the mid-tour cut, scissoring the SUP aficionado with “Personally, I wouldn’t do it”.

The smiling face of Logan, broadly benignant, was in no mood to back down, hosing away Mick’s claim that “rookies can’t establish themselves” with a stunning retort, “I think Barron (Mamiya) would disagree with that, he seems to be doing fine.” 

A wildly effective coup de grâce.

Mick, wounded, retreated into a series of “Look, look” etc. 

Logan, again, very good on the offensive, “I always come back to the fact, we get to a place where we’re focussing on crowning a world champion,” he said. 

Vaughan hoots, “Shirts off and into the octagon boys!” 

Good times! 

Slater, Doz and breakout trans athlete Lia Thomas. | Photo: @sensitiveseashellcollector (Kelly Slater)

Living surf legend Kelly Slater rallies to defense of big wave pal Shane Dorian after he is accused of transphobia on hot-button abortion thread!

A friend in need...

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you are well aware that the long-simmering issue of abortion has exploded to the forefront of American polemics. A leak out of the Supreme Court earlier in the week, confirmed to be accurate, has suggested that the justices will abandon Roe vs. Wade, the 1973 ruling that protected abortion as a national right.

Passions have run hot for days with all-comers taking to social media, sharing their important opinions including celebrities and extreme sport announcer Sal Masekela.

The latter posted a simple black square with repeating white words reading “men should not be making laws about women’s bodies” adding “It’s pretty simple” as his caption.

Support was near universal with public figures and professional surfers weighing in with an assortment of “raise the roof” emojis, 100 emojis and heart emojis.

Big wave surfer and one-time movie star Shane Dorian also lent his backing though with a slight addendum and shaka emoji.

“Agreed! And they shouldn’t be allowed to compete against them in sports,” referencing the almost equally hot button issue of trans individuals playing games as their chosen gender as opposed whatever nonsense was listed upon a birth certificate.

Uh oh.

Condemnation was swift with @evo_robbie_oh telling Dorian it was “cool sliding in your transphobia” and Masekela, himself, declaring “seems a strange comment on an abortion convo brother.”

Dorian was quick to attempt clarification, replying, “Yeah I can see that. I wasn’t trying to change the subject at all. Women’s rights is the topic and what I said is on that topic. My apologies. Also, what I said isn’t transphobic at all, what someone chooses to hear when they read it is their trip, and that is totally fine.”

Cue living surf legend Kelly Slater. The 11x world champion and current number 13 spared no appeal to comment sense when rallying to his wonderful friend’s defense.

“Explain what part of his comment says anything about him being scared of trans people.”

Slater, who also happens to be godfather to Dorian’s son, continued to have his back, fending off weak jabs here, small parries there, proving himself to be the best sort of pal there is. One who rushes headlong into danger without regard for personal safety.

Bravo and if Dorian and Slater ever choose to revive their acting careers, I would love to see them in a World War II film, together in a fox hole, handsome and brave.

Academy Award material.

Owen Wright (pictured) sad.
Owen Wright (pictured) sad.

Mainstream media continues to decry the World Surf League’s “cruel” and “depressing” mid-year cull: “Have grace and mercy completely vanished from this swathe of humanity? If you have tears prepared, shed them now.”

"Hey WSL, what is wrong with you guys?"

We surf fans, we watchers of webcasts and listeners to Joe Turpel, have now had a month plus to really sink our teeth into the World Surf League’s “mid-year cut.” Theoretically, I suppose, we knew it was on the boil some time ago, or at least before Covid, but was shelved until this year though still, I didn’t think about it until Bells where the professional surfers, themselves, tried to stage a coup.

It was quashed by Erik Logan’s rusty cudgel and on to Margaret River everyone marched, we surf fans, we students in shades of Rabbit Bartholomew, wondered which of our gladiators would live and which would die gruesome public deaths.

And yet, a funny thing happened on the way to the forum.

Mainstream media, for reasons either unknown or related to the new Apple television series “Make or Break,” have taken a precious moment to turn eyes away from war in Ukraine, Johnny Depp, Amber Heard to focus on the plight of those professional surfers who died those deaths and/or were sent back to the salt mines of Snapper.

De-leagured as it were.

The Guardian’s headline screams, No one really likes it’: brutal rule change breaks hearts in World Surf League with Kolohe Andino quoted as saying, “It’s just kind of hard the whole cut thing. No one really likes it. We’re all friends on tour and we all love each other, so you don’t want to knock the guy off tour. It just seems like it’s a TV show a little bit, like drama all the time. Watching the women’s the other day it was just heartbreaking with the girls that were losing. They were crying all day.”

Yahoo! Sports ups the ante by declaring, ‘Devastated’: Surfing world shattered over ‘heartbreaking’ scenes with legendary surf photographer Jimmy “Cane” Wilson adding, “Watching Owen Wright’s interview and he has a day and a half to make a decision on his career. Is this mid-year cut supposed to be fun and exciting, cause all I feel is sadness?”

Others weigh in too, begging the WSL to stop the cruelty and asking WSL leadership “What’s wrong with you guys?”


But who could have guessed the plight of guillotined professional surfers would rank amidst the sufferings of the world and/or Johnny Depp + Amber Heard?

Did the World Surf League overplay its hand here? Will public perception turn sharply against?

Wild times.