I love this man.
I love this man.

Unconditionally-lauded television series “Make or Break” shines missing beacon on lightly heralded rookies, Jay “Bottle” Thompson in episode three raising more questions than answers!

Fall in love for the first time.

Make or Break, the television series that has all of endemic surf media swooning in porticos, fanning blushing faces, reaches its apex in episode three and who would have ever seen that coming? Who could have? Tyler Wright holds down the season opener, of course, followed by Gabriel Medina and his Brazilian Storm which leads us to “The Rookies,” namely Morgan Ciblic and Matthew McGillivray.

Now, in my normal World Surf League watching life, I am actively indifferent to both Ciblic and McGillivray. They are cannon fodder wasting time, swell, attention and their impeding cut passively welcomed.

But I will tell you what, following both of their World Surf League journeys, via Make or Break is more compelling than Wright’s illness, Medina’s torpor. Both have personalities, hopes, dreams which spark under the star-turning eye of Jay “Bottle” Thompson.

I was also indifferent to Thompson during his run on tour, though not as actively, but my goodness gracious. He glows on camera, glows guiding his charges through silly beach drills, glows talking, to camera, about his nickname, about this surfing life.

Leaving the episode with a place carved out in my heart for Ciblic, McGillivray, Thompson made me wonder how many surfers professional surfing, especially in its latest iteration of World Surf League, has made me needlessly dislike? And is it on purpose? Has the slow arc toward the mid-season money saving cut demanded our indifference which has, therefore, been coddled and encouraged all along?

Secret smiles spreading in Santa Monica every time we denigrate Liam O’Brien?

Every Nat Young smear?

I’m telling you, if you watch one episode make it three and you will grow frustrated with what we’ve been missing all along.

Live like Bottle.

Shocking new documentary reveals Cuba’s Marxist-Leninist regime arresting surfers for anti-government crime of riding waves, “In Cuba, just being alive makes you brave. To practice a sport like surfing even more so!”

"I'm in this fight to legalize surfing in Cuba!"

Ever collide with the gorgeous and resilient spirit of the Cuban people?

Once they hit the streets of America they possess an unyielding appetite for success that neither the apartment prices of NYC or the 15 dollar Coronas in Miami can suppress or quell.

Fueled from a former life where toilet paper is rationed at two squares a day and the faintest whisper against El Jefe will land you 30 years in cell block C, the Cuban vigor could carry countries on it backbone.

A point proved on a Spanish Harlem street corner between 111th street and Lexington Ave recently.

A summer time dominos game quickly gets heated with shouts echoing to the West Side Highway. A very wide and broad Harlem local with a teardrop tat in the corner of his eye asks the Cubans to stop.

To which they reply “FUCK THAT!”

A wide-eyed, deep and motionless stare is exchanged between the two until the Tear Drop Tat moves on, shaking his head.

Two bystanders watch all this unfold. One whispers to the other “The little Cuban has cojones.” To which the other replies: “These guys had to paddle 90 miles across the ocean on a raft made of abandoned styrofoam held together with duct tape, fighting off sharks with sticks. You think they give a shit about Just paroled Tear Drop Charlie.”

Ask any old Cuban and they will tell you stories of how, without two pennies to rub together and children begging for milk, the block would still be able to forage sugar cane from the fields, mix it with water, rum, lime  and crushed mint leaves. Mix it in a forlorned  plastic barrel with everyone dipping their cups and drink OG mojitos till two am while dancing to rumba.

Now, Makewild films has produced a look into a surf life we rarely have a chance to see or experience.

Raul and Fidel Castro are (were) the type of shepherds that likes, liked, to keep their flock tight. Therefore, most water sports in Cuba are illegal for fear of defection to Key West 90 miles away.

This story is about Frank and Yaya, two young Cuban surfers who are trying to legalize and legitimize surfing in a country where taking flight to the water never had a more sinister, literal. and taboo connotation. Scenes from the trailer show the pair running from the water, surfboard under arm, with police cars chasing them down the street.

Per the synopsis,

In Cuba, where people fled en masse from Fidel Castro’s regime, surfing and other water activities have been banned for decades. Today, surfing exists in a murky legal gray area and is viewed with suspicion by the Cuban authorities. 

Despite these challenges, a group of passionate Cuban surfers is determined to carve out a place for surfing in the country’s culture of athletic excellence. Frank is one of the most established surfers and to many the best surfer on the island. Yaya is a community leader and surfer who has made it her mission to ensure that the next generation can surf freely. When surfing is announced as an official sport for the Tokyo Olympics, they see their chance to bring their sport out of the shadows and on to the world stage. What follows is a tale of underground surfers building their own boards from scratch, dodging the authorities as they travel the island looking for the perfect wave, and attempting to legitimize their passion by persuading the Cuban authorities to field an Olympic team. 

When Frank is invited to participate in a qualifier event out of the country, he must decide whether to compete, which would mean embarking on an illegal journey and risking permanent separation from his wife and newborn baby. Yaya is similarly torn when she is invited to participate in a surf symposium in Hawaii. Havana Libre is a story of people following their passion at great danger to themselves and ultimately begs the question: what would you risk to chase your dreams?

Frankie says, “In Cuba, just being alive makes you brave. To practice a sport like surfing, even more so.” 

His, Yaya, who is pregnant, adds: “For some people, they see surfing as something simple. For us surfers, it’s the best thing we have in our lives. The problem is sometimes surfing is considered illegal. Along with Frankie and the others, I’m in this fight to legalize surfing in Cuba.  I will never stop surfing.”

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.