Intentional or not, Robinson made a comment about Slater in his post-heat interview that seemed a little like a sly knife to the old man’s gut. The victory was all the sweeter because he’d seen Kelly getting barrelled in Indo recently. | Photo: WSL

Kelly Slater eliminated by buzzer beater at Corona Open, Jeffreys Bay, “Is this how it ends? The old man in the club with the glowsticks who just can’t stop dancing whilst everyone moves around him, respectful, yet also a little sad?”

"The figure of Jack Robinson, surfing and claiming faster and harder, seemed to grow in stature behind, like a shadow of inevitability looming over the older man."

Could we ask for more in terms of wave quality or consistency?

Not really.

Was it the greatest day in pro surfing history?

Not nearly.

I contend that “perfection” is something best held at arm’s length. It’s a concept that can and should only exist in abstraction, for as soon as we try to claim it, we realise it’s not all we hoped for.

Once you’ve reached it, what then?

The WSL broadcast team are at their worst when the waves are good. All we get is endless repetition telling us so. Everyone becomes Strider.

The problem with superlatives is they run out pretty quickly.

Unbelievable. Incredible. Pumping. As good as it gets. Amazing.

Layers and layers of superfluous superlatives.

Yes, the waves looked great today, and yes, there was no shortage of them. Nor was there a shortage of quality surfing.

So why, then, did it occasionally feel a little flat? Like the 48 minute heats were just a bit too long. Like everything was a bit…slow.

Or like we were just waiting for it to start.

Ask yourself what’s changed after today? What world title scenarios or wrinkles have been introduced after a marathon day of professional surfing, in waves as good as we could ask for, at the business end of the season?

Precisely none.

To emphasise the point, world number one Filipe Toledo went out, losing to the superb Yago Dora in the round of 16.

But who really cares?

He’s already confirmed as being in the Top 5. And since it’s not actually a world title battle, none of the men remaining in the draw within striking distance can actually damage his chances.

There was talk of a potential shoulder injury sustained in his early heat today, but again, does it matter?

Toledo can sit out the rest of this event, and the next at Teahupo’o, and he’ll still be there on Finals Day at Trestles. To be number one is the mildest of advantages, especially for Filipe. Can you honestly say it matters much where he ends up in positions one through five?

And if, according to YouTube, there are only 20k fans watching (give or take a couple of thousand more on the WSL app) at this stage of the season, when Erik Logan prophesied it would be the greatest surfing competition of all time, then what does that say about the future?

But let’s concentrate on the present for a moment.

And just by the way, “staying in the moment” is the most zeitgeisty and overrated move in pro surfing in 2022.

Even Jordy’s at it now, according to his post heat pressers, and he’s about the least zen guy in any room.

At least he reclaimed some of his dignity today. Victory over Andino in the elimination round is nothing to shout about, but he was deliberate and precise in his surfing and wave selection, taking off on just three waves to Kolohe’s ten.

A heat total in the excellent range was repeated against stiffer opposition in Griffin Colapinto in the round of 16. I missed what happened with Griffin’s interference, but the surfing I saw leading up to that would suggest it hardly mattered. After being slightly undercooked throughout the event, Colapinto was knocked off rhythm just as Smith was finding his. His quarter final berth is deserved and a match-up against Ethan Ewing is one to look forward to.

Kelly Slater found a little more old man flow today, aided by very different and clearly better equipment choice than yesterday.

His match-up against Barron Mamiya in the elimination round seemed impassable, especially given it was morning heat and we know he’s a creature who likes to warm up throughout the day.

The point was cloaked in mist as Slater appeared spookily on the stones, like he had brought the fog with him.

His performance was better than yesterday, but advancing past Mamiya with a heat total of just 12.26 says more about the latter being a little off than Slater snatching back any of his youth.

The commentators, as usual, were not to be deterred.

“Classic Kelly, classic J-Bay,” they kept saying. At least one of those things had very loose relevance to objective truth.

Slater was “riding on top of the water beautifully on this board,”said Ronnie, stretching for compliments.

The juxtaposition of the ad breaks was appropriately symbolic. On one hand, there he was, live, in black and white, stumbling through a heat; and on the other we saw glossy, colourful ads for his “Lost Tapes” web series, with its jazzy tune and talk of dreams and movies.

He looked better again in his round of 16 heat against Jack Robinson, the latter looking more Terminator-like by the day.

Slater needed a mid-six as the heat was winding down. A wave came. He rode it admirably, verging on dynamically. It seemed enough, but Robinson had taken off on the wave behind.

Watching the two ride their waves simultaneously, it was clear they were operating on different planes. The figure of Robinson, surfing and claiming faster and harder, seemed to grow in stature behind, like a shadow of inevitability looming over the older man.

This is how it ends, isn’t it? The old man in the club with the glowsticks who just can’t stop dancing whilst everyone moves around him, respectful, yet also a little sad.

Intentional or not, Robinson made a comment about Slater in his post-heat interview that seemed a little like a sly knife to the old man’s gut. The victory was all the sweeter because he’d seen Kelly getting barrelled in Indo recently.

The rest of the Tour professionals had been slogging it out in Brazil at this time, of course.

At least Kelly’s sensibilities prevent the sort of egregious claiming that seems de-rigueur right now.

It’s no longer poor etiquette, apparently. Even mid-ride claims are acceptable. Jack and Italo are voracious.

The claim is now part of a scoring repertoire. But actually, it might be losing impact.

Look to Italo’s opening wave against Nat Young in the round of 16. It’s without question the hardest 3.83 claim you’ll ever see. Inherent distrust of the officiating suggests a point or two was deducted for the ferocity, but the balance was corrected in the latter part of the heat. The 9.17 Italo got seemed high in the context of some of the other backhand surfing we saw today.

No-one, backhand or fore, has impressed more than Yago Dora. There’s a spark in his surfing that reminds me of peak Italo, before the jewels and the attitude. To my eyes it doesn’t look possible to turn in a more critical part of the wave than he does. He never looks like falling, and he flows from one move to another with a style that’s not second best to Ethan Ewing, but just a little different.

If you’re partial to a little flow, as I am, Ewing and Dora are the best two surfers at J-Bay this year.

Few days in competitive surfing history will have been as consistent as today, but for me it wasn’t perfect.

There’s a line of thought that says all we need at any given event is for the waves to turn on. I’m not sure that’s true. If nothing else, Kelly’s pool taught us that perfect waves weren’t really what we were looking for.

What we do need are stakes, rivalries and consequences. Today held little, if any, of these elements.

There was lots of talk of flawlessness and perfection, but where was the drama? We can watch perfect waves any time we like. If we’re going to tune into nine hours straight of live sport I think we need something more.

Perhaps you disagree.

Did today make all your pro surf dreams come true?

What have you tasted of perfection? Can it really exist, or is the concept paradoxical?

If realised, then where do we go? What’s left to pursue?

Life, and surfing, is about striving. That’s what keeps us going. The promise, not the reality.

Today I watched hours of professional surfing in what many people – not least the WSL production team – would have you believe was perfect conditions.

Was I rapt and satiated?

Not quite yet.

Corona Open J-Bay Men’s Elimination Round 2 Results: 
HEAT 1: Filipe Toledo (BRA) 14.33 DEF. Joshe Faulkner (ZAF) 6.76
HEAT 2: Miguel Pupo (BRA) 12.30 DEF. Seth Moniz (HAW) 11.66
HEAT 3: Italo Ferreira (BRA) 13.34 DEF. Luke Thompson (ZAF) 11.84
HEAT 4: Caio Ibelli (BRA) 14.07 DEF. Jake Marshall (USA) 11.83
HEAT 5: Griffin Colapinto (USA) 15.00 DEF. Jadson Andre (BRA) 11.03
HEAT 6: Kelly Slater (USA) 12.26 DEF. Barron Mamiya (HAW) 9.23
HEAT 7: Callum Robson (AUS) 12.93 DEF. Jackson Baker (AUS) 10.40
HEAT 8: Jordy Smith (ZAF) 16.93 DEF. Kolohe Andino (USA) 14.80

Corona Open J-Bay Men’s Round of 16 Results: 
HEAT 1: Yago Dora (BRA) 15.17 DEF. Filipe Toledo (BRA) 12.83
HEAT 2: Jack Robinson (AUS) 15.77 DEF. Kelly Slater (USA) 12.87
HEAT 3: Samuel Pupo (BRA) 16.94 DEF. Callum Robson (AUS) 11.00
HEAT 4: Italo Ferreira (BRA) 17.64 DEF. Nat Young (USA) 14.74
HEAT 5: Kanoa Igarashi (JPN) 16.26 DEF. Caio Ibelli (BRA) 11.77
HEAT 6: Connor O’Leary (AUS) 12.77 DEF. Miguel Pupo (BRA) 11.97
HEAT 7: Jordy Smith (ZAF) 16.77 DEF. Griffin Colapinto (USA) 7.27
HEAT 8: Ethan Ewing (AUS) 15.76 DEF. Matthew McGillivray (ZAF) 14.00

Corona Open J-Bay Men’s Quarterfinal Matchups: 
HEAT 1: Jack Robinson (AUS) vs. Samuel Pupo (BRA)
HEAT 2: Italo Ferreira (BRA) vs. Kanoa Igarashi (JPN)
HEAT 3: Yago Dora (BRA) vs. Connor O’Leary (AUS)
HEAT 4: Jordy Smith (ZAF) vs. Ethan Ewing (AUS)

Major news network mercilessly trolled after posting seven-year-old Mad Hueys tiger shark prank, “It was the dumbest thing I’ve ever done!”

Ancient history retold on major network as “Terrifying footage reveals Aussie swimmer’s close call with giant tiger shark."

In 2014, Shaun Harrington, a one-time pro hopeful, gathered almost ten million views on a post called “extreme cage diving”.

Harrington, then thirty, stuck a small bird cage on his head and jumped into the water out the back of D-Bah alongside a hooked ten-foot tiger shark.

The shark, freaked, Harro freaked.

“I thought I was a goner,” he said. “I jumped into the water and was swimming with the cage and the next thing I knew, the bloody thing was coming at me. I was flailing around like crazy to get back on the boat before it sunk its teeth into me.”

The clip went viral, Harro said it was “the dumbest thing he’d ever done”, which is saying something, and the kickback was a ton of views and media. 

Now, seven years on, the Australian television network Channel Seven has resurrected the old prank as news with the headline, “Terrifying footage reveals Aussie swimmer’s close call with giant tiger shark along Gold Coast: The man is filmed swimming off a boat when the menacing marine predator goes straight for him.”

Breathless, the story continues, “Incredible footage has captured the moment a huge tiger shark lunged toward a terrified swimmer along the Gold Coast, narrowly missing him.”

Shaun, now a stately gentleman and father of middle age, hit back with typical bluntness. 

“What’s this old news bullshit going on google cunt”

Watch OG clip here.

Middle-aged man (pictured) being a nuisance.
Middle-aged man (pictured) being a nuisance.

New York beach shuttered after standup paddleboarder suffers four-inch non-life threatening gash on lower leg from docile sand tiger shark!

Children left sweating and crying all dry and hot.

It is currently hot and humid in New York, typical for this time of year, with the only respite coming from buckets of ice placed in front of vans, fire hydrants being opened or day trips to the beach. Unfortunately the latter is no longer a possibility for many as a standup paddleboarder wrecked it by getting attacked by a normally docile sand tiger shark thereby forcing authorities to shutter the water while they looked for signs of the menace.

Children left sweating and crying all dry and hot.

The incident took place around 7:30 in the morning, according to Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone. The victim was a 41-year-old SUPer and received a four-inch gash on his leg. The sand tiger shark was identified by the man.

Though the injury was not life threatening, the beach was closed with the county releasing the statement, “Swimming has been suspended at this time due to dangerous marine life activity on Wednesday, July 13, 2022.”

Children left mopping their brows with hankies and staring mournfully out to sea.

It was the second shark attack in the area this summer. The first, you recall, when a lifeguard was bit during a training exercise thus providing cinematic realism.

Children left fanning themselves with pages torn from The Farmers’ Almanac and feeling faint.

Thanks a lot, 41-year old SUP man. You guys, literally, wreck everything.

Jack Robinson continues to be impressive and can’t put a foot wrong. There’s not been a wave on Tour this year on which Robinson hasn’t been able to assert his dominance, and beyond Pipe we’ve still not seen the type of conditions in which he might be truly untouchable. | Photo: WSL

Kelly Slater’s defeat “flatly predictable” as Australian Jack Robinson soars on day one, Corona Open J-Bay, “There’s not been a wave on Tour this year on which Robinson hasn’t been able to assert his dominance!”

And, did Yago Dora do best backside surfing ever at J-Bay?

There’s no-where to hide at J-Bay, especially not when the waves are this consistent.

Some will find their comfort zone here, others might find themselves laid bare, as if under autopsy.

Exposed and helpless, just waiting to be picked apart.

My personal comfort zone was also stretched today with a day out to a safari park, this being a euphemistic term for a zoo, conjuring images of rolling tundra and leafy greens instead of steel bars and poky enclosures.

I’ve seen worse, but I can confirm it was as grim as any other place where wild animals are castrated by perspex and concrete.

I had to go, though. For a family day. It was a suggestion made by my better half last week when I was in the midst of a sailing trip with my old man. Given the time away I was afforded, my back was against the wall. I couldn’t say no.

The contrast was jarring.

Last week I sat on the bow as we cut through turquoise wavelets in the Sound of Iona and a huge pod of dolphins criss-crossed and leapt and twirled around us. They flipped and turned to show the whites of their bellies and followed the boat for no discernable reason other than the simple joy of play.

Today I watched glumly as a handful of sealions dipped and bobbed in a stagnant, grey pool and kids smeared sugary paws on the glass, tapping and squealing.

Not my kids, I might add.

The sealions reminded me of Jordy Smith. They were filled with latent power that has been subdued for so long we might only half-remember it. But remember it we should, because Jordy’s surfing is of a type that can shine here, power with finesse.

It’s a pity all we’ve heard for some time now is a dry bark.

Once again, at the one wave on Tour where Smith should smash through the walls of the enclosure and reclaim the wildness that was, he finished last in his heat, despite having what all pundits would have you believe is a distinct forehand advantage.

Tell that to Yago Dora, Nat Young and Connor O’Leary.

Each of these men took deserved heat victories for scintillating backhand surfing today.

Three of the four highest scoring waves of the day belonged to these surfers. Local boy Matt McGillivray being the only regular footed surfer to crack the top four.

The best score of the day went to Yago, an 8.67 which was about 1.33 points short of what it should’ve been.

Much ado is made of Mark Occhilupo’s backhand performances at J-Bay, and rightly so, but I want you to examine Dora’s score from today and tell me reasonably why that’s not among the best backhand waves ever surfed here?

Next we went to the penguins. All but two stood around hopelessly on their sculpted stones. The two others lay prone, engaged in what looked like furious, fruitless masturbation.

I thought about Kolohe Andino’s presence on Tour. So much promise, even moments when it feels good, albeit briefly. But ultimately just a pointless exercise that leaves us mildly guilty and unfulfilled.

Andino finished third of three again today. He came up against Jack Robinson and teenage wildcard Luke Thompson. The former continues to be impressive and can’t put a foot wrong. There’s not been a wave on Tour this year on which Robinson hasn’t been able to assert his dominance, and beyond Pipe we’ve still not seen the type of conditions in which he might be truly untouchable.

Thompson, a mere eighteen years old, surfed his first ever WCT heat with a power and panache that deserved to win, and would have in all but one other.

He looked every bit worthy of his wildcard slot, I thought, as I watched keen-eyed meerkats darting through sandy tunnels and basking in sunlight. Their enclosure was open. You could’ve reached in and grabbed one.

Yet surrounded by much grander animals they were simply going about their business, entirely unphased by the tigers that paced just beyond.

I hope to see more of Luke Thompson’s surfing. He’ll meet Italo in the elimination round, so might not be long for this world, but already he’s done enough to make an imprint.

As I wandered through Monkey World I thought of Ethan Ewing. Widely admired, enduringly popular. The monkeys were no longer caged. They were free to walk among us. We might look at them and see similarities, think they’re just like us, think we might be like them. We might admire their dexterity, their air of self-containment, their knowing faces. But really they’re very different beasts.

Sometimes they perform, as if for our entertainment, but it’s incidental to our presence. They would do what they do whether we were there to witness it or not.

Ewing surfs the way we do in dreams. At his best, he has an otherworldly flow. He has everything it takes to win J-Bay, and perhaps more.

He advanced comfortably from the opening round today against a feisty looking Barron Mamiya and an uncharacteristically subdued Jackson Baker.

Kanoa also advanced today as winner of his heat, but it was far from convincing. So too the upstart Sammy Pupo, clearly still riding on a Rio high.

Another flatly predictable opening round defeat for Kelly Slater rounded out the day. I thought of him as we drove through the forlorn lion enclosure on our way out of the park.

Most of them lounged on their sides in the dust and sun, at a distance that they might well have been corpses.

One stood, looking us dead in the eyes and swishing its tail indignantly.

Lie down, I thought to myself. Just lie down.

Corona Open J-Bay Women’s Quarterfinal Matchups:
HEAT 1: Johanne Defay (FRA) vs. Tyler Wright (AUS)
HEAT 2: Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) vs. Gabriela Bryan (HAW)
HEAT 3: Carissa Moore (HAW) vs. Caroline Marks (USA)
HEAT 4: Brisa Hennessy (CRI) vs. Tatiana Weston-Webb (BRA)

Corona Open J-Bay Men’s Opening Round 1 Results:
HEAT 1: Matthew McGillivray (ZAF) 15.33 DEF. Griffin Colapinto (USA) 14.84, Jadson Andre (BRA) 9.83
HEAT 2: Yago Dora (BRA) 13.84 DEF. Italo Ferreira (BRA) 13.10, Jordy Smith (ZAF) 10.50
HEAT 3: Jack Robinson (AUS) 15.17 DEF. Luke Thompson (ZAF) 14.77, Kolohe Andino (USA) 6.64
HEAT 4: Nat Young (USA) 14.50 DEF. Filipe Toledo (BRA) 10.40, Joshe Faulkner (ZAF) 7.13
HEAT 5: Ethan Ewing (AUS) 14.34 DEF. Barron Mamiya (HAW) 12.50, Jackson Baker (AUS) 6.30
HEAT 6: Kanoa Igarashi (JPN) 11.54 DEF. Caio Ibelli (BRA) 9.93, Seth Moniz (HAW) 9.10
HEAT 7: Samuel Pupo (BRA) 12.57 DEF. Callum Robson (AUS) 9.77, Jake Marshall (USA) 9.43
HEAT 8: Connor O’Leary (AUS) 14.33 DEF. Miguel Pupo (BRA) 13.56, Kelly Slater (USA) 9.07

Corona Open J-Bay Men’s Elimination Round Matchups: 
HEAT 1: Filipe Toledo (BRA) vs. Joshe Faulkner (ZAF)
HEAT 2: Miguel Pupo (BRA) vs. Seth Moniz (HAW)
HEAT 3: Italo Ferreira (BRA) vs. Luke Thompson (ZAF)
HEAT 4: Caio Ibelli (BRA) vs. Jake Marshall (USA)
HEAT 5: Griffin Colapinto (USA) vs. Jadson Andre (BRA)
HEAT 6: Barron Mamiya (HAW) vs. Kelly Slater (USA)
HEAT 7: Callum Robson (AUS) vs. Jackson Baker (AUS)
HEAT 8: Jordy Smith (ZAF) vs. Kolohe Andino (USA)

Comment live, day two, Corona Open J-Bay, as event favourites Filipe Toledo and Kelly Slater fight for lives in elimination round!

Throw bouquets and tomatoes live!