Samuels (left) fluffs Slater (right). Photo: The one, the only, Steve Sherman.

Power Rankings Power Ranking: Of all the illustrious surf journalists to partake in the cynical art form, from Lewis Samuels to Matt Warshaw to Sean Doherty, who is the GOAT?

Plus Karl Von Fanningstadt.

There are times, in all our lives, when important questions must fall. Like what then should happen to professional longboarding? And wherefore art thou Jonah Hill? And Kelly Slater? We must take them and roll them around our mouths while sucking, seriously, in order to find true meaning, subtle nuance n shit.

With this in mind, and heart, which surf journalist has undertaken the tried and true format of “Power Rankings” and soared above contemporaries?

Oh we’ve, each of us, have feasted upon Power Rankings for a decade plus. We’ve laughed, winced, nodded while thinking “too true.”

Have you watched Ricky Gervais’ latest comedy special on Netflix?

Or read Karl Von Fanningstadt’s most recent breakdown of our heroes and heroines?

But who has done it best?

Moststest?

Off the top of my head, I can recall our Derek Rielly, Matt Warshaw, Sean Doherty, Lewis Samuels, the aforementioned KVF and many I’m forgetting taking pen to ego but which has soared above the field?

Who should be considered the best Power Ranker of all-time?

It’s your turn.

In order, please.


Bizarro Bruce Irons and Margaret River Pro winner, Jackie Robinson.

Post-Margaret River and pre G-Land Power Rankings, “He has a desperate bravado, a last-standedness which extracts some vitality, like clotting blood, from defunct options!”

A tour breakdown that employs both the BPEL and NBPEL measurements and many disdainful pinpricks.

With Margaret River gone, the Tour has been pruned to a manageable twenty-three surfers including Gabriel Medina.

Shall we shed tears for the hewn?

No, none of them. 

Onto G-Land! 

23. Jake Marshall

Nice to see him back to doing what he’s best at out at Margs: making no impression whatsoever. Did he surf at Margs?

22. Jackson Baker

Hanging on by the skin of his bucked teeth after surfing his Pepto-Bismol board to a disappointing loss in the Round of 32, it was thrilling, well, not thrilling, but somewhat fun to learn that he qualified for the back half of this year.

While probably not going to be a standout anywhere, at least for his surfing, it will be fun to watch the ol’ potato try his hand at good waves.

His post-heat interviews should also be fun, not so much for what he says about his heats or surfing, but for how every answer he gives solidifies my belief in him that he was one of those kids in elementary school who licked up fire ants in front of girls partially to just be weird but mostly to flirt.

The only remaining question I have is whether after eating the fire ants he was the kind to burp, say “spicy,” and laugh or the kind to act normal and pretend like they don’t taste any different than regular ants, which they don’t. 

21. Connor O’Leary

One of the previous complainers about the mid-year cut, Connor made it fine, even after losing to Sammy Pupo in the Round of 32 (after Bells, he was virtually safe anyway).

Not anywhere near the top, he has the potential to do well at G-Land because he’s reasonably well-rounded, able to put together combos on waves that are above average, it’s a left, he’s goofy, and surf contests can be random.

20. Caio Ibelli

Rated eleventh in the world, it’s hard to imagine he will be able to keep that spot, given the fact that most of the people above him are better, not to mention he’s stuck on Rustys. Still, he’s safe for next year, which should give him plenty of time to celebrate his World’s Tallest Midget plaque awarded to him by the Guinness Book of World Records upon the death of former Tour holder Deivid Silva.

19. Seth Moniz

A second straight last-place finish for Seth has precipitated him tumbling down the ratings down to sixteenth.The last two venues, Bells and Margaret River, suck and his place should improve with the better waves coming up, should he just quit dipping his feet in duck fat before every heat.

Wait, he’s sixteenth, but I rated him nineteenth?

Yeah, couldn’t help penalizing the poor performances.   

18. Samuel Pupo

Another meh performance from Sammy, who lost in the Round of 16 to Magic Matthew McGillivray aka Mr. Post-It. I would try to say something about his Round of 32 win over Connor Buchan, but I haven’t been able to get the heat analyzer player to show me the fucking video. In fact, trying to view any of Round of 32 via Heat Analyzer results in the video error message “Video unavailable Playback on other websites has been disabled by the video owner Watch on YouTube.” This is on their own dumbass website.

17. Kelly Slater

A Round of 32 loss dropped Kelly nine spots down to thirteen. I’m not usually the type of person to say older athletes should retire. I Prefer to believe that someone competing until the wheels come off is more noble and relatable than someone so concerned about their legacy that their ego can only handle going out on top, but I kind of feel like Kelly should’ve retired after winn… no, that’s dumb.

He’s still one of the best at Pipe and he will be a thrill to watch at Chopes. Rated here because I don’t think G-Land will be his best and the other three comps before Tahiti don’t suit him, even if he’s been historically great at Jeffereys. Baldo needs barrels.      

16. Matthew McGillivray

Rated only above Ryan Callinan among the full-timers before the comp, Matty needed a good result to avoid being cut. He was able to do it, bagging a semi result on the back of some solid surfing in the big slopey rights that he uses to butter his bread.

Should I have found his run inspiring? Not exactly.

The fact that he was already a replacement surfer, rather than a fully qualified surfer prior to the season start, I am less inclined to categorize it as so heartening. He wasn’t technically supposed to be on Tour anyway, so why should I care that he almost didn’t requalify?

Anyway, safe for next year, he’s now free to rack up the last places again with abandon.  

15. K-Hole Andino

Missing his losing heat live and seeing that he got a ninth because he was injured, I was forced to spend time researching what happened to K-Hole. After summoning my full capabilities, I spent approximately 30 full seconds looking. My two takeaways from that exhaustive search: 1) he is still in the draw for G-Land; 2) based on my search of “kolohe andino injury” on Google brought up one burning question “Is Kolohe Andino related to Dino Andino?”

Boy, that would be something. 

14. Jordan Michael Smith

A quarterfinal finish was a pretty good result for Ugly Duckling Parko, who should be able to make a run at the final five, with G-Land and El Salvador serving as strengths. Anything less than a win at J-Bay would be a disappointment, all the potential spray from non-alcoholic beer on the podium wasted. 

13. Kanoa Igarashi

It was a very bad comp for young Kanoa, who lost both his Round of 32 heat and his public best friend on Tour, Leonardo Fioravanti. It will be sad to not see them together, so sad in fact, that the legendary Shigeru Miyamoto was moved to tears upon learning the news.

12. Miguel Pupo

The life of a ‘CT surf fan can seem demoralizingly lonely and dispiriting, filled with times stuck staring intently at your small phone screen to view an Elimination Round heat watching Deivid Silva and two unknown Australians battle it out to a sub-ten heat total victory while your significant other continues to go out of their way to ignore you and your interests.

As bad as that sounds, getting to see Miggy surf on Tour and in the Top 10, bashing the lip standing up perfectly straight, stylishly, and baring his glorious grill in post-heat interviews with the sick sticker from his mortgage title company sponsor shows prominently on his board, makes the effort worth it.     

11. Nat Young

I have always believed Nat Young to be a Top-10 talent surfer on Tour.

Is that true?

Not at all, but with his results this year, I’m finding myself more and more being able to talk myself into the idea.

A boon for California. Definitely more well-rounded than Conner Coffin, Nat represents the Golden State’s best hope at Tour success outside of Toledo. Speaking of Fil, reviewing Nat’s win against him I can’t help but think that it was kind of a rip off for Fil, who ended up winning the heat on three of the judges’ scorecards:

 

How does the surfer who was deemed the winner by a majority of the judges lose the heat? Because, that’s why. 

Additionally, if there were no throwaway scores, Fil would’ve won 15.58 to 15.56, a stupidly small margin.  

10. Barron Mamiya

Barron is so good at surfing. Unfortunately, he is susceptible to being a victim of opponent overscoring, like he was in his Round of 16 heat, where he lost to local favorite, Jack Robinson. Doing the same thing I did for Nat’s and Fil’s heat, just looking at Jack’s and Barron’s two rides that counted in their clash, we get:

 

Taking into consideration of all judges scores, the score would’ve tightened to 16.06 for Jack and 15.96 for Barron. So, yeah, based on how I determined the previous heat analyzed, I guess Jack should’ve won anyway, considering how the waves were scored. But that doesn’t take into account Barron’s 6.77 at the end of the heat that didn’t end up counting in his heat score, which arguably have been scored at least a point higher, considering what Jack got an 8.93 for.

9. Griffin Colapinto

A nice quarterfinal result for Griff at Margaret River pushes him into the Top 10 where, based on his talent, he should be permanently, as he’s a level above most guys on Tour. One surfer he has nowhere near the talent is John John, who outsurfed him by a larger margin than the final scoreline would indicate.

It was funny, though, to listen to Griff post-heat talk to Whits and Snake and say of his opponent, “I forgot that I could surf at his level,” which made me wonder how exactly he was making the comparison.

My guess is he was using his BPEL measurement and comparing it to John’s NBPEL. In only that way it makes sense.

8. Ethan Ewing

Mixing a little bit of Mick Fanning (technically brilliant railwork and blond hair) with a little bit of Parko (an effortless, aesthetically pleasing style), Ethan surfed his way to another semi, which has him holding position on a spot for Trestles.

Like both in the early parts of their careers, he should hope to improve in heaving lefts.

For those in his already ridiculously stuffed fan club, let’s hope he develops more of Micktory’s ruthlessness and competitive savvy than more of Joel’s gold-chain-wearing, rules-for-thee-not me haughtiness.

7. Callum Robson

This year has proven to be an unmitigated success for the previously unknown Australian shredder. No one could argue that. However, to compare him to Damien Hardman, like old BeachGrit contest writer, Steve Shearer, did in his wrap for the Challenger Series event at Snapper, is blasphemy.

Iceman versus Frosty the Snowman? Not a fair comparison.

Dooma ripped and won two World Titles. Until Callum wins one, he does not measure up. He doesn’t even measure up to Bede, who not only finished runner-up to Kellz in 2008, but also has consistently beat any potential stains to be had with a nickname like The White Fijian, a feat immeasurably miraculous. 

6. Jadson Andre

Jadson made the cut and beat Slater in the process at Margs this year, marking a wildly successful comp for the former flyboy. Secure in his spot for the entire year, we will have the pleasure of seeing him chuck himself over the ledge at Chopes and at being the only Brazilian friend on Tour to the next guy on the list…

5. Italo Ferreira

Fame is weird thing sometimes. One day you’re toast-of-the-town, seducing everyone in sight with your infectious exuberance and passionately fun nature, and the next you’re an egotistical turd, turning people off with your intensity, both in your love for yourself and in liking too many models’ Instagram photos. How people see Italo as having made such a heel turn, I’ll never fully understand, dude seems essentially the same as he always has: self-absorbed, driven, theatrical, weird, somethings he has in common with a certain pro everyone has worshipped over the last 30 years. What does this have to do with my assessment of his surfing? Nothing really. Anyway, if G-Land isn’t huge, look for Italo to blow up and help solidify his place for Trestles. 

4. Jack Robinson

I’ve been hard on Robbo in the past, but in my defence, it did seem like he was heading for a career as Bruce 2.0, which no one would be happy about.

With his win, wherein he seemingly unlocked Pritamo’s favor and he was buoyed by the Certified Local scoring boost, Jack fundamentally shed that burden. With his newfound power, let’s hope we see him perform to his potential at G-Land and Teahupoo and follow his Bizarro Bruce destiny to its ultimate conclusion: a World Title runner-up.

3. Filipe Toledo

His close loss to Nat Young in the Round of 16 left me feeling disappointed. My hope was that by taking out Margs, Fil would be able to finish the year with at least four event wins (including El Salvador and J-Bay) and build up such a huge lead before Trestles (one that in pre-Finals Event years, would’ve been insurmountable prior to Pipe) that no one could use the excuse that he only won his World Title because he won one contest at Trestles. Oh well. 

2. John John Florence

Another Margaret River contest, another display by John John that he is far and away the best surfer out there. Really, even considering his approach is a bit repetitive, he’s so much better than everyone else. I can see him winning any of the contests left on the schedule. Unfortunately for him, his worst chance would be at Trestles. 

1. Gabriel Medina

The King has returned.


Gravy (pictured upright) taking flight.

World’s most beloved surf influencer Ben Gravy leaps over two bodyboarders in stunt that leaves all but social media darling Anastasia Ashely utterly flabbergasted!

Thanksgiving.

Worship him or adore him, YouTube sensation Ben Gravy is likely the most lovable surfer on the planet but certainly its most lovable influencer. The New Jersey icon’s channel receives multiple hundreds of thousands of clicks each and every month and each and every month his legend grows.

Gravy has pioneered many seemingly un-surfable waves but in his most recent clip outdoes even himself.

As observed below, the model-handsome man launches over not one, but two, bodyboarders on a seemingly un-surfable Flowrider.

Everyone wildly impressed save Anastasia Ashely at the end who serves a quizzical look to camera.

Is that Anastasia Ashley?

Maybe not? But it doesn’t even matter. Bravo to Gravy.

Thanksgiving.


German male’s lower leg becoming new standard of wave measurement the shockingly obvious truth currently rocking surf world!

Das Big Wave.

Any surfer who has spent even three years out in the ocean blue has become frustrated by how to measure the waves just ridden. Should they be in Stathams, based upon the height of action film star Jason Statham? In Surflines, inflated twice over unless advertising an upcoming World Surf League event then expanded by thrice x twice? Hawaiian, where the back of the wave is measured down to one foot? Calling everything 2 – 3 unless death is imminent then calling it 4 – 6?

A troubling stew we all wade through.

Until now.

For now we know there is a completely accurate way to measure waves, a formula that will never fail, and that is the German male’s lower leg.

Just this morning, it was revealed that Sebastian Steudtner had, officially, bagged the world’s largest wave.

Per earlier and impeccable reporting:

The standard (Adam) Fincham and his colleagues from Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California San Diego and the Kelly Slater Wave Company settled on this year was Steudtner’s lower leg, from his heel to his kneecap.

“That distance does not change since you can’t bend your lower leg,” Fincham said.

All so clear, now.

Surfers are notorious for not being able to see the forest for the trees, as we are out in the ocean blue, but… son of a gun. How did we miss this?

How did we not know?

Please share the biggest wave you’ve ever surfed, on the German male lower leg scale of course.


Man and buoy.

Harrowing scenes as surf instructor saves French couple caught in “killer riptide” at once iconic surf spot, “Panicked, the young man uses the girl like a buoy to keep from drowning!”

Ain't no chivalry on the cusp of death!

A little lesson in the wiles of panic and how the spectre of death can push a man into survival-at-all-costs mode, the consequences be damned. 

In this shortish clip, taken at the surf spot La Barre yesterday, a joint once famous for a world-class left before a groyne/jetty was built shielding it from all but six-foot plus swells, we see a couple of teenagers caught in the rip that runs alongside the jetty. 

The rescuer, Pierre-Oliver Coutant, writes,

“A young girl as well as another young man, they don’t know each other, are caught by the same current. Panicked the young man uses the girl as a buoy so as not to drown. It’s the survival instinct.”

A few weeks back, I was surfing with a pal of mine, a lifeguard, when a gal needed help. Stronger than usual, she damn near took him down; he had to belt her in the chops to release her death grip.

“That was close,” he (sorta) laughed afterwards.

 

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The thing is, and as I taught my kids when they were four, even Michael Phelps can’t swim against a rip, so roll onto your back, enjoy the free ride, and when it runs out of gas, swim parallel to the beach and come back through the waves. 

Society, however, has determined the best way to teach non-oceangoers about rips is to cast ‘em as death sentences, “Rips Kill” etc. And, it’s true, they kill, but they kill because as soon as someone feels their legs disappear from under ’em and they’re heading to the horizon, the instinct is to panic, thrash, scream, followed by gulps of water, lungs shut off, sink. 

Two days later, the body, bloated, floats to the surface.