World Surf League approved.
The Oi Rio Pro gets underway in fourteen hours, at time of writing, with a thrilling wave forecast that matches promised drama on the sand. We know certain standout surfers will, unfortunately, not be present. John John Florence publicly announced that his knee surgery would render him inactive and Tyler Wright came clean on a certain “transit visa” issue that would keep him away. The World Surf League has published accounts of both withdrawals and, as a rule, reports which surfers shall not be reporting to duty and why.
Except, of course, when it comes to surfing great, and fifty-plus year-old, Kelly Slater.
The 11x world champion was listed as “injured” ahead of El Salvador, though spent a seemingly wonderful time surfing much on Bali. Throwing tail high air reverses etc. like a man less than half his age.
Ahead of Brazil? Slater’s name is nowhere on the heat draw and there has also been lack of official mention detailing if/why he will be absent.
No “injury,” no “illness,” no “lousy travel agent.”
The many-time Pipeline Master has made his disdain for Brazil well-known throughout history, generally opting not to surf the country’s waters, using the event as a “throw away.” His legacy of nose thumbing legendary.
The odd thing, I suppose, is how the World Surf League supports his animosity. It would be thought that Brazil is very important to the WSL’s future of CEO Erik Logan’s promised 300% – 650% year-over-year growth and that he would ensure the country felt respected but apparently the League offices do not care.
Is it because the WSL imagines that Brazil should feel lucky to have an event at all? A classic, though very out of fashion, sort of paternalism?
A white man’s burden?