Shock new theory emerges following world #1 surfer’s stunning choke at Outerknown Tahiti Pro, “I’m wondering if he’s actually being smart and playing the long game… not risking injury when he’s already locked in to the final five?”

Maybe world number one not scared of Teahupoo but smarter than you think!

Earlier today, surf fans were shocked, but not surprised, I suppose, by the world number one surfer Filipe Toledo’s stunning choke at four-to-eight-foot Teahupoo, a reprise of his “stunning act of cowardice” from 2105 when he failed to catch even one wave in a heat there.

As Chas Smith wrote at the time, “Is not taking off on a wave in a WSL heat, in front of the world, the bravest thing ever?

Seven years is a long time and it might’ve been expected that Toledo, now twenty-seven and a favourite to win the world title at Lowers in September, would’ve become a little more comfortable at this difficult wave.

What value does a world title hold if you can’t surf the tour’s most demanding wave?

Instead, “Slater and Hedge traded waves, big and perfect, one after the other after the other with Toledo holding priority well out the back, refusing to paddle, one after the other after the other.”

With fifty seconds left, Toledo found a small wave on the inside, riding it to the channel for a 1.87.

But while fans and the press called it a fear-induced choke and as Toledo punched his board in the channel, at least one surfing notable, the commentator Chris Coté, theorised Toledo didn’t catch a wave worth a damn because he was keeping himself in cotton wool for Finals Day in September.

“I’m wondering if he’s actually being smart and playing the long game,” tweeted Coté. “Not risking injury in a non-elimination round heat when he’s already locked in to the final five? I respect that.”

Holes were quickly jabbed into the theory by surf fans,.

“Why even show up at Chopes then??” tweeted one. “Could have been at home training at Lowers this whole time. Imagine if no Finals day was taking place, he would lose his title to Jack today in the water. IMO – if he does win the title this year, it’s not as valid if he can’t send it at Chopes.”

Toledo salvaged some pride in his elimination heat against Nathan Hedge. Although he lost, Toledo scraped into a couple of medium-sized waves and rode ‘em beautifully for a pair of sevens.

A few years back, BeachGrit worked with a Toledo on his battle with fear, the film, we hoped, climaxing with Toledo paddling into a ten-footer at Teahupoo, emerging to indelicate screaming and a besmirched reputation wiped clean.

It was a project that had so many false starts, trips to Tahiti, missing swells and back and forthing that it was eventually shelved.

We cut the original feature back, stripped it to the original interview and sprinkled a little fairy dust here and there for a treatise on fear never conquered.

Filipe Toledo (pictured) the cowardly lion.

Question: Can a champion be all too human or is it right, nay necessary, for mere mortals to demand a little extra from our heroes and heroines?

An epic blunder.

Filipe Toledo is very afraid of Teahupo’o or, more specifically, waves of consequence. This much was all but proven this early morning at “the end of the road” where the current number one surfer in the world paddled into a picturesque lineup featuring epic waves standing up on a legendary reef and refused to flip and go.

Those sitting at home, watching, certainly feel light sting, imagining themselves in his position, same waves, same reef, terrified bile moving from stomach to throat.

All understandable but, herein, lies the trouble.

We are, each of us, mere mortals possessing neither skill nor ability nor financial resources nor talent to surf the world’s best waves. Toledo, on the other hand, possess all four plus. He will soon, likely, be crowned our champion but should our champion, our hero or heroine exceed what is only us?

I think history has rightly declared “yes.”

If an epic bit of surf tabloidism darkened the horizon and I was too afraid to write would that taint me?


If a monstrous pipe was in need of being unclogged and our Negatron pulled a punch would that taint him?



Toledo, in not paddling, in not paddling at the World Surf League pretending that he was “waiting for a bomb” is now tainted, his upcoming 2022 champion crown soiled, his legacy forever dumb alongside the aforementioned WSL or do you disagree? He failed, publicly, at his job. At what he is paid to do. The WSL failed to call out greatness or, more specifically, shirking greatness.

David Lee Scales and I discuss, in real time, and I would love your opinion.

Toledo (pictured) from his first brave act of cowardice, a 0 point heat total at Teahupo'o almost seven years ago.

Current number one surfer in world Filipe Toledo reprises his brave act of cowardice at “big and perfect” Teahupoo, refuses to paddle for wave in heat against Kelly Slater and Nathan Hedge!


Surfline’s predictions for “epic” surf, hitherto cartoonish, became accurate this morning as Teahupo’o, site of the Outerknown Tahiti Pro, came to life. Armies of darkened water, marching toward the famed reef, attacking it ferociously. A sight to behold as both the World Surf League and Strider Wasilewski turned their phones to “Instagram Live” mode ahead of the first morning heat.

And that first morning heat? An exciting draw featuring an iconic relic in Nathan Hedge, the world’s greatest surfer Kelly Slater and the current number one surfer in the world Filipe Toledo.

Toledo, with reputation for not enjoying the Teahupo’o battle, would certainly spear naysayers in the throat by dropping in to infamy, no?

Apparently no.

Slater and Hedge traded waves, big and perfect, one after the other after the other with Toledo holding priority well out the back, refusing to paddle, one after the other after the other.

Slater, barreled, unable to contain smile.

Hedge, barreled, unable to contain smile or beat, smartly, boss.

Toledo, un-barreled, holding priority for fifteen-odd minutes while Slater and Hedge swapped beneath him.

In the dying seconds, the King of Saquarema swung on a baby tube then punched board in channel.

Elimination round later today.


Open Thread: Comment Live, Day Three of the Outerknown Tahiti Pro where ambition has become a dirty word!

Let it go, let it go, can't hold it back anymore!

Shredders hit the Grand Canal.

Echoes of Mussolini in Venice furore as two “overbearing idiot” surfers are arrested for riding foil-boards through city’s Grand Canal, “The two surfboards have been confiscated and soon … those responsible will be in our grasp.”

“We urgently need more powers to the Mayors in terms of public safety!”

Two surfers, although, yeah, it might be a stretch to call em that given the choice of craft, have been arrested and heavily fined following a joy ride through Venice’s famous Grand Canal. 

Venice’s Mayor Luigi Brugnaro tweeted a video of the electric foil-riding surfers, describing ‘em “as two overbearing idiots making a mockery of the city” and offered a free dinner if you snitched on ‘em. 

“We urgently need more powers to the Mayors in terms of public safety!” wrote Brugnaro pining, perhaps, for the glory days of Il Duce, where the Fasci di Combattimenti, Italy’s Blackshirts, lived by the motto, “Me ne frego” (I do not give a damn”).

Already, “Angels of Decorum” patrol the thousand-year-old streets, hitting tourists with fines for jumping in the canals, feeding the birds or walking around without a shirt on.

Only last week, Brugnaro called for the immediate imprisonment of a Scottish tourist who was caught having a lil swim.

CCTV got the shredders, 25k boards were confiscated ‘cause they weren’t insured, both of ‘em were fined $1500 apiece for “having endangered the navigation of the canal”, they were hit with antisocial behaviour orders and expelled from the city.

Venice ain’t done with ‘em, either.

The city’s lawyers are starting proceedings against ‘em for “damaging the image of the city.”