BIPOC race-car hero Lewis Hamilton escapes FI racism imbroglio with surf session at Jonah Hill’s secret Malibu paradise! “The guy clearly knows what he’s doing … propping himself up on the board and maintaining his balance throughout the run!”
With his trademark sun-kissed braids pulled into a sensible bun, Hamilton was filmed out paddling a man on the shoulder of a little wave before brutally fading what appears to be a uterus-bearer on the inside.
The thirty-seven-year-old world #6 polishes off the wave with a cool “what-me-worry” style, even hooking his anchor through several small turns.
“The guy clearly knows what he’s doing … propping himself up on the board and maintaining his balance throughout the run (no porpoising here, thankfully),” writes TMZ Sports.
And there was evening and there was morning, and then there was J-Bay.
Give me an entirely Brazilian finals day any day.
Give me passion, fury, tears, and death threats. Give me whistling that could piece armour. Give me writhing throngs of tanned bodies yowling their support for countrymen doing battle in mediocre waves.
Shit, give me all powerful deities that mainline professional surfing for kicks.
Brazil is what pro surfing needs to be.
This was clear from the hooter today as Italo Ferreira and Sammy Pupo battled for the first wave, Ferreira paddling partially over Pupo’s back. It wasn’t clear if words were exchanged before or after, but the contact was enough for Italo to flip his board over and examine it for damage.
Countrymen they may be, friends uncertain, but it was clear that both were happy to leave the water with the steely taste of blood in their mouths.
That’s what competition is.
It was clear again at heat end when Pupo sat on Italo holding priority. He held a narrow lead built in the opening exchanges and the waves had been slow ever since.
Ferreira managed to sell him on a dud with less than a minute left, and in doing so gave himself one last swing. He needed something in the range of seven when he took off on a smaller wave.
He surfed it hard, claimed it harder, and it was not enough.
Back to the drawing board once again for Italo. Despite sitting comfortably third in the rankings, he’s still looking for his first final of the year.
Next into the arena were Filipe Toledo and Yago Dora. The additional ceremony of the surfers standing side-by-side on the blue carpeted runway that led from the event site to the beach was a nice touch. It had the tone of a UFC face-off at the weigh-in and added drama amidst the baying crowd. It should be a regular feature.
Turpel, with his inimitable psilocybiny delivery, called them “two very peaceful human beings”.
Presumably he found somewhere to park his flying saucer.
The scoring in the second semi was erratic.
(A quick aside, to watch this I had to go to YouTube because the WSL app wasn’t working. It often fails in its most basic purpose of actually showing the surfing. As a power-user, this causes me great anguish.)
With his first two waves Yago Dora had Filipe comboed, thanks to an 8.67 that seemed as dubious as his moustache.
(He does look quite Gerry-like though, right? Do you think he took Ashton’s flirtation to heart?)
Toledo quickly broke combo with an 8.43 which to my eye didn’t look cleanly finished. Somewhere, Caroline Marks should have been apoplectic and appalled.
Judges continued to be unnerved by Pritamo loitering over their shoulders and overriding their scores, giving Toledo a 4.93 for an alley-oop that would’ve scored in the high eights for Jackson Baker.
I was building IKEA furniture whilst I watched the replay of this, a small desk for the corner of my bedroom where I sit now, for rolling out of bed in unsociable hours to tap out missives about surfing.
The end product is fine. It does a necessary job, but it is cheap, flimsy and underwhelming.
This is essentially how Filipe’s aerial surfing sometimes appears, flat-pack furniture.
The judges in their own flimsy tower clearly regretted reacting to Pritamo’s barks and compensated for the 4.93 by awarding an 8.93 and heat victory to Toledo for two turns.
On balance he probably won it, but I looked at the pieces of white lacquered MDF laid out in front of me and sighed, knowing things could be better.
Chris Cote knew this, too, with a working man’s highbrow allusion to Hemmingway.
“Courage is grace under pressure,” he said. I was unsure of the context.
Fair play to Cote, though.
Even if he is occasionally the auditory equivalent of a Jackson Pollock painting, god loves a trier. He sent me a clip of his “research” the other day on Twitter when I probed him about how much he prepared. Remind me to share, if you’re interested.
He’s grown on me a bit, to be honest. As, more bizarrely, did Pete Mel. He was more upbeat than usual, and I’d sooner listen to his weather knowledge than Kaipo’s mangled meteorology.
The final was a dud, which was a shame because there was a real sporting crowd in attendance. For once, the noise levels matched the WSL broadcast team hyperbole. They deserved a competitive heat.
What they got instead was a shut out from the off, courtesy of Toledo’s ten.
What did you make of it? It didn’t scream ten points to me, but perhaps I was fumbling with plastic-packaged dowels.
Afterwards, the vivacious Sammy Pupo just tried too hard, boosting monster air attempts that disconnected him from both his board and the likelihood of breaking the combination.
Toledo victory. Near perfect heat. (According to the score, at least.)
How was Rio for you in the end?
I’d guess I watched a lot more than you.
What I saw was pro surfing that in certain moments felt like meaningful sport. The quality of the waves was at times rendered irrelevant by surfers with the enthusiasm and skillset to perform regardless. This is a magic touch for this game.
Give me a full Brazilian tour and I’d watch. All Brazilian surfers, venues and crowds.
This is intended as sporting entertainment, and that’s exactly what this would give us.
As much as I can appreciate the lackadaisical finesse of the likes of John Florence, I’m happy to watch well-produced versions of it.
If I’m tuning into live sport I want epic battles. And if that means a little bit of dirty surfing and compromised style for scores, then so be it.
If we look upon all that was made, we see it was good.
And there was evening and there was morning, and then there was J-Bay.
Nice one, god.
World’s greatest athlete Kelly Slater removes pants, delivers most stirring interview yet detailing wild highs and crushing lows: “Just looking down . . . like this would all be over in a few seconds. That’s where my mind was. . . . I was suicidal for a minute.”
Kelly Slater is the latest coverboy for legendary athletic publication Sports Illustrated and provides new insight as to what makes him tick and how long he plans to keep being the center of our attentions. The interview begins with the 11x world champion, his girlfriend, and the journalist Brandon Sneed driving south from LAX to San Clemente.
It is hot, apparently, so hot that Slater must remove his pants in order to cool.
It is taken as metaphor.
And, I suppose it is apt. Of all the many Kelly Slater chats I’ve both conducted and read, this one seems… most raw. The just-north-of-fifty-year-old discusses his interior garden, for example, and what seems to be its manic landscape:
Slater says he, too, experiences emotions with a profound intensity, beyond the norm. Extreme highs and lows. Early on, those highs came with fame and fortune and that world championship at 20, clinched at Pipeline. It was a hell of a crest for a self-described redneck from the Space Coast. But the lows came just as heavy, one year later. He ended an engagement, he lost the world title and he found himself six figures in debt. He has never publicly shared the depths that his anguish reached, but emotionally he felt almost like he was pinned against the reef again. He says that one night he found himself at the edge of an apartment building’s roof in Coolangatta, on Australia’s Gold Coast, with a beautiful view of the eastern Indian Ocean. He remembers “just looking down . . . like this would all be over in a few seconds. That’s where my mind was. . . . I was suicidal for a minute.”
His response to the great blackness:
To quell this he says he tried therapy (but inconsistently at the time) and antidepressants (but he didn’t like how they numbed him). He cares too much about his body to escape into drugs, and he found drinking’s hangover a waste of time. Instead, in these peaks and valleys, he says surfing became a place to funnel those emotions, redirecting them toward the waves. “I learned how to focus and channel that energy [into competition]. It consumed me. I became really obsessive about it.”
The coming career end:
He can picture it. Surfing just to surf. Maybe he’ll taper off, a couple of competitions each year, then let it all go. “There’s a part of everyone that, when they quit, becomes a little empty,” he says. He does wonder, though, what might fill that void. “Maybe something could.” But he won’t know until he lets this go. “Not until [surfing]’s done.”
And the most important lesson he has learned throughout his half-century:
The big lesson has been simple: “I definitely have learned to be kinder to myself,” he says. “I used to have a really negative internal dialogue.”
Tom Brady is also consulted and shares secrets of greatness. Tony Hawk too. Slater eventually puts his pants on but then, presumably, takes them off again to get a painful massage wherein the masseuse castigates him for being a wimp.
The feeling Filipe Toledo must be feeling right now. Moments ago, the lithe Brazilian starlet dispatched Sammy Pupo in front of thousands upon thousands of screaming countrymen packing Saquarema’s sand to win the Oi Rio Pro. Shirtless, wet, bouncing up and down waving green and gold. Absolutely losing it.
Toledo did it in style, too, with a perfect 10 hoisted over the bouncy waves.
He sat in the water for a brief moment, after his victory, then began shouting, shouting, shouting until he arrived at the shore, was draped in that green and gold and continued his shouting.
Analysis of his performance will be forthcoming but for now the feeling, man. That feeling. The most popular boy in Brazil and, also, solidly number one in the world or at least the World Surf League. With his win, he sits 10,000 points above second place Jack Robinson heading into J-Bay, an event he has won before.
The “Final’s Day” at Lower Trestles has felt built for Toledo to come in third and take the crown. What if, this year, he has such a crazy, crazy lead at the end but loses to Italo Ferreira?
Well, let’s not think about that now.
Let’s enjoy the moment.
Pip Toledo, hero to a nation of online warriors prepared to drip blood into their keyboards to salvage his honour.
Comment live, finals day, Oi Rio Pro, “Brazilians are simply the better surfers!”