Pip and his daddy Ricky following the title win last September at Lowers. | Photo: WSL

Sweeping changes proposed for world surfing tour in desperate bid to mitigate Filipe-at-Lowers problem, “A legitimate world champion can’t be crowned in waves of zero consequences!”

"I was just like, ‘Filipe have a dig, you’re so talented and so good in these waves’ and he just decided ‘no I’m not going to do it.’”

The 2023 tour is a few weeks from kicking into gear, starting at Pipe, Jan 29, for the Billabong Pipeline Pro, not to be confused with the Vans Pipe Masters.

And, wetting his little feet will be the new world champion, Filipe Toledo, a small-wave specialist from Brazil who cemented his formidable rep in waves of no consequence by winning the world title at Lower Trestles, a soft wave near the Californian town of San Clemente.

Toledo, a married daddy of two who turns twenty-eight in April, shocked sports fans shortly before Finals Day when he didn’t paddle for a wave in a heat at the Outerknown Tahiti Pro against two middle-aged surfers, the wildcard Nathan Hedge and the fifty-something Kelly Slater.

As Chas Smith wrote at the time,

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.

Filipe punches board after embarrassing heat against Slater and Hedge.

Super coach Mike Parsons later told the WSL’s media guy Dave Prodan, 

“I really expected Filipe to just kind of go Rambo mode and just show everyone ‘hey I’m gonna charge no matter what, I’m gonna give it a solid dig’ and I was (here Snips pauses for emphasis) bummed that he didn’t do that in his first round heat. It was eight foot, pumping, there were some really good waves coming to him and he opted not to take off on them. And I was just like, ‘Filipe have a dig, you’re so talented and so good in these waves’ and he just decided ‘no I’m not going to do it.’”

In 2015, Toledo, a surfer seemingly incapable of a fiercely honest self-appraisal, famously sat through an entire heat with Italo Ferriera at Teahupoo without catching a wave, the world’s largest surf news site describing it as “a brave act of cowardice.”

BeachGrit’s tour correspondent JP Currie wrote last September,

“Call me old-fashioned, but I feel that our world champion should be a surfer we believe has the capacity to win at any stop on Tour. Filipe Toledo is not that surfer, and yet here we are.

Now, in sweeping changes proposed by a real nice real estate agent pal of mine down at the beach just then, both of us waiting for the onshore to kick in a little and the tide to run out and maybe the crowd to back off as its summer prettiness diminishes, tour events would be weighted according to their heaviness. 

A win at Pipeline or Teahupoo, therefore, would deliver 15,000 points to the winner compared to 10,000 at Rio or Bells. 

One event at Jaws offering a whopping 20,000 points.

Finals Day stays, but moves to Cloudbreak, and runs only when the swell is six-feet or bigger, a one-month waiting period takes care of any sort of worry about getting it done, as does the cut-off period. 

Sorry rookies. 

And happy days for Jack Robinson and John John Florence, for whom two-foot Lowers dooms both to never winning a world title within the current format. 

You think, yes? 

President Biden (insert) angry.
President Biden (insert) angry.

President Biden casts furious scowl at Surfline after bomb swell explodes in California, declares “State of Emergency” as coastline crumbles into the Pacific!

A Golden State of emergency.

Surfline doesn’t always get it right, but when it does ooooeeeeee! Oh, even if you are not from California, you have certainly soaked in the images, the videos, the pandemonium of this just-passed “bomb” swell that had been telegraphed gorgeously by the official forecasting partner of the World Surf League.

Yes, the Golden State was abashed with giant waves from up near Santa Cruz all the way down to the border with dear Mexico.

Ultra-sized breakers wreaking havoc, causing fun, creating a large frown across United States’ President Joe Biden’s waxy face.

Yes, local news is reporting that Biden has just declared a state of emergency in California due to Surfline’s forecast that has caused extensive damage, flooding, destroyed piers and multiple closeout barrel attempts.


Biden ordered Federal assistance to help state, tribal and local response efforts to deal with the conditions brought on by the storms in the counties of El Dorado, Los Angeles, Mariposa, Mendocino, Merced, Monterey, Napa, Placer, Riverside, Sacramento, San Bernardino, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, Sonoma, Stanislaus and Ventura.

The National Weather Service warned of a “relentless parade of atmospheric rivers” — storms that are long plumes of moisture stretching out into the Pacific and are capable of dropping staggering amounts of rain and snow. Two major storms are expected to drop heavy rainfall on the coast and snow in the mountains over the next couple of days.

For days, California has been walloped by Pacific storms that last week knocked out power to thousands, flooded streets, and battered the coastline with high surf.

I missed this first helping, as I was in Utah, but that did not make me sad. Foots of fresh powder fell on the mountain where I was wintering, the roads were closed due avalanche forcing an inter-lodge situation and I have never had more fun.

Viva the storm.

Gabriel Medina (insert) and the new Brazilian Storm. Photo: WSL
Gabriel Medina (insert) and the new Brazilian Storm. Photo: WSL

“Brazilian Storm” takes on fresh meaning after supporters of surf champ Gabriel Medina’s pal Jair Bolsonaro sack government offices!

Wild times.

Surfing’s history is littered with monikers describing groupings of paradigm shifters. From Bronzed Aussies to the Wolf Pak, Momentum Generation to the Irukandjis, some are better than others but we must all agree that “Brazilian Storm” is very near the top.

First coined in 2012 (give or take), the conjoined words captured a sea change with literary panache. Young Brazilian surfers, who had long toiled under the heavy shadow of Australian and American counterparts, were suddenly the most exciting on earth. Adriano de Souza, Gabriel Medina, Filipe Toledo, Italo Ferreira, various Pupos hucked, spun, stomped, battled, frothed and began winning championship after championship with no end in sight.

Much passion.

And “Brazilian Storm,” portraying gorgeously, became part of our shared vocabulary.

A shorthand for professional surfing dominance.

Well, as things happen in linguistics, the phrase has been coopted overnight by supporters of the country’s ex-President Jair Bolsonaro.

According to the once culturally important Time:

Supporters of former Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro who refuse to accept his election defeat stormed Congress, the Supreme Court and presidential palace Sunday, a week after the inauguration of his leftist rival, President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.

Thousands of demonstrators bypassed security barricades, climbed on roofs, smashed windows and invaded all three buildings, which were believed to be largely vacant on the weekend. Some of the demonstrators called for a military intervention to either restore the far-right Bolsonaro to power or oust Lula from the presidency.

Hours went by before control of the buildings on Brasilia’s vast Three Powers Square was reestablished, with hundreds of the participants arrested.

As you certainly remember, the aforementioned Gabriel Medina, a three time World Surf League champion, is wonderful friends with Bolsonaro, trading video messages with him and soccer stud Neymar Jr. and penning a song to buoy his spirits after his shock loss to Lula just months ago.

Though Medina’s opinion on the office sackings has not been made public, what is clear is that “Brazilian Storm” no longer belongs to surfers. A cursory google search of the appellation reveals link after link after link to Reuters, the BBC, Associated Press, New York Times and riots etc. save one brave little story wondering “Did gorgeous Brazilian models break up the Brazilian Storm before the surf supergroup reached its vast multiplatinum potential?

Can you guess the source?

Though while you’re here, if Joe Turpel had happened to be in the booth calling the popular uprising, what might he have said?

Something to think about.

Smirking (pictured). Photo: NBC News.
Smirking (pictured). Photo: NBC News.

Local California news affiliate ruthlessly mocks adult learners who even thought about chasing glory during bomb swell: “Not a beginner’s day!”


California’s “bomb” swell is now but a grand memory, something that surfers will tell their children and grandchildren about whilst sitting around the open door of a late model Sprinter van, semi-worn bit of astroturf lovingly placed out the front in order to minimize sand and dirt entering the mobile lounge.

Like fishing stories, I’d imagine there might be some light exaggeration. Maybe where one actually paddled out, what one was surfing, the size of what one caught.

Well, San Diego’s local NBC News affiliate, hoping to catch some laughs at VALs’ expense, sent a reporter down to Windansea where heavy waves lapped up the rocks.

Audra Stafford stood on the those rocks, smiling wide above the chyron that read “Not a beginner’s day” and gleefully told stories of kooks that got washed around before pivoting to a tale of two experienced surfers who even needed saving.

Turning the microphone to local surfer Dick Hansen who had decided not to paddle but spectate instead.

“Look at what nature has to offer; pretty cool,” he told her. “I haven’t seen on the surf report 15+ foot waves maybe as long as I live here.”

San Diego lifeguard chief James Gartland came next, who declared, “This is not a beginner’s day. One of these big waves catches you, pushes you inside. You got the rocks, the reef and all that energy so it can be really dangerous.”

Stafford merely smirked some more.

Watch here.


Logan (pictured) laughing in the face of mortality. Photo: Instagram
Logan (pictured) laughing in the face of mortality. Photo: Instagram

World Surf League CEO Erik Logan terrifies onlookers, nearly gets swept into sea by monster Manhattan Beach surge during Southern California’s recent “bomb” swell!

Laughing in the face of danger.

“But where were did you paddle out during the “bomb” swell?” will be the question asked for the next fifty years amongst Southern California surfers. Surfline had been telegraphing the event for days though the area’s surfers were disinclined to believe. The World Surf League’s official forecasting partner, you see, had set up camp on the other side of the patented Wall of Patented Noise™ and had been delivering such cartoonish wave heights for the Bells Classic, Margaret River Pro, Kelly Slater’s Surf Ranch Pro as to become assured.

Though they were correct this time.

Massive monster waves lashed the shore from San Diego to Santa Cruz and where were you? Blacks? Huntington? El Porto? The super secret Silver Strand?

World Surf League CEO Erik Logan found himself at the Manhattan Beach pier, just south of the aforementioned El Porto. While social media is well aware of his diverse quiver ranging from mid-length SUPs to full volumed “short” boards, Logan stunned fans by pulling out a heretofore unforeseen blade.

A Nikon D7000.

Per Instagram:

With the huge swell hitting California, the South Bay saw some of the biggest surf we’ve seen in a very long time. So, I dusted off my Nikon D7000 and tried my best to be like these world-class photographers who shoot our sport.

Shooting over a thousand photos, mostly shaky, out of focus, and almost getting washed away, it was a HUMBLING experience. I landed the plane on a handful of very ‘iffy’ photo’s, but nowhere close to what these pros do. Swipe across to see the attempt! (and me almost washed away)

Checkout the video, then the “GREAT” photo. LOL

The waves were huge, fun to be on the shore and shooting with all the crew! Always ready to learn more!!!

Swiping across to the moment of sudden doom, my heart nearly stopped.

Logan, there, crouched, capturing is so focused on the action he doesn’t even see the angry whitewater approaching. It slams into what appears to be a sand bank, gurgles upward, and nearly wets the Oklahoman who escapes certain embarrassment by yelping to the heavens.

Light a candle of thanksgiving LOL.