(Spoiler) Sharp Eye shaper Marcio Zouvi accepting "Stab in Sunlight" award from WSL.
(Spoiler) Sharp Eye shaper Marcio Zouvi accepting "Stab in Sunlight" award from WSL.

World Surf League adds wrinkle to 2023 Championship Tour, debuts never-before-seen shaper competition “Stab in the Sunlight!”

Tears in Oceanside.

LOS ANGELES, Calif., USA (Thursday, January 26, 2023)Today, the World Surf League (WSL) announced the launch of the 2023 Vissla Championship Tour (CT) Shaper Rankings, a season-long battle to determine the best high-performance surfboard shapers. The Vissla CT Shaper Rankings is a new leaderboard that tracks the performance of the best surfers in the world via a combined men’s and women’s rankings counting Quarterfinal-or-better finishes at each of the ten CT stops this season. The best high-performance shaper will be determined by the end of the 10-stop CT, ahead of the Rip Curl WSL Finals.

“The surfboard builder community is amongst the most important in all of surfing and the shapers that support the surfers on the WSL Championship Tour are designing and innovating at the highest level of the sport,” said Dave Prodan, the WSL Chief Strategy Officer. “Their time, energy and investment in the world’s best surfers absolutely need to be recognized and celebrated. The WSL is excited to be partnering with Vissla on the inaugural Vissla CT Shaper Rankings and look forward to the broader surfing community tracking how the shapers perform this season.”

“Surfboard Craftsmanship has always been part of the Vissla brand DNA” said Paul Naude, Founder of Vissla. “Surfboards are the cornerstone of the Surf Industry and together with the WSL, we’re pleased to create a platform which will highlight the exceptional craftsmanship that board builders provide for advancement of surfing excellence.”

At the start of this season, 18 shapers provide surfboards for all the CT competitors. The goal of the Vissla CT Shaper Rankings is to spotlight which equipment consistently performs throughout the season. The rankings will also provide a behind-the-scenes look at shapers’ backgrounds and businesses.

The Vissla CT Shaper Rankings will count performances for surfers finishing in the men’s and women’s Quarterfinals or higher, offering 16 potential placings per CT event. Overall rankings will be combined across the season, beginning at Pipe and ending in Tahiti, with a winner being determined ahead of the Rip Curl WSL Finals.

And while I am absolutely certain the Stab folk are angrily gnashing teeth over ripped idea, the men’s interest magazine has legitimately lifted every concept it has ever had from others without even pretending to hide (See: Anthony Bourdain, Thrasher, Derek Rielly, etc. etc. etc.)

Excited, though, to see Marcio Zouvi hoist the trophy, or whatever, at the end.

But how mad will Matt Biolos be?

Jon Pyzel laughing at the junk show.

Wave Storm not paying attention.

Sharp eye.

The World Surf League (pictured) being bummed. Photo: Napoleon Dynamite
The World Surf League (pictured) being bummed. Photo: Napoleon Dynamite

Intense pressure grows on World Surf League to implement changes after “most prestigious surf contest on earth” makes mockery of judging format!

Hands wring in Santa Monica.

What is there left to be written about The Eddie? Oh the most prestigious surf contest on earth ran just under a week ago and yet reverberations have banged and bonged around our world since. Everything about it was glorious, from the humble lifeguard winner to the waves that just kept coming and coming to Keala Kennelly’s perfectly dramatic exit from this sport of kings to the scoring.

Ah, yes, the scoring.

As was referenced time and again by commentators Kaipo and Rocky, scores would only be released at the end of the event, when everyone was safe etc., in order to build drama. Well, any keen observer knew that was not necessarily the case. More likely, the contest, running on a beautiful slippah strap, didn’t have the technological ability to post scores in real time but also I’d have to think the powers that be knew that it would be better without. Holding scores, until the end, guaranteed the best surfer winning which is exactly what happened and why intense pressure is, currently, building on the World Surf League.

The “global home of surfing” kicks off the Championship Tour in days and while, due simpering jealously, it did not recognize The Eddie, it should very much be able to hear the cries from beleaguered fans.

“Withhold scores until the end of each heat!” the voices scream, rising as one.

And tell me those voices are not correct. In the current WSL landscape, each heat is judged in real time with the judges attempting to set the scale while allowing for better waves at the end of the heat and/or not. This, more often than not, goes entirely sideways. Early waves are underscored to many hoots of derision, or overscored to many hoots of derision. Surfers are either gifted through by percentage points on final rides or denied that gifting, both choices landing in a fertile field of suspicion.

Each bit of it is dumb and easily solved.

Evaluate each heat at the end. Side by side comparisons of best waves ridden. Winner winner chicken dinner.

How is this not perfect?

What, the surfer in the water needs to know what she needs to do, points-wise, to defeat the other surfer in the water?

Bullshit. Surf to maximum ability always.

What, the fan at home needs to know who is ahead?

Bullshit. Aside for World Surf League employees, those watching are still surf fans and can discern who is surfing better all by lonesome.

What, there is no precedent?

Bullshit. Boxing, sort of. And The Eddie.

David Lee Scales and I discussed this, anyone, on our 201 show. It was unfortunately cut short due an airport run (my fault) but I think you will enjoy anyhow. If not, Scales had Luke Shepardson lined up for this afternoon, podcast coming shortly I’d imagine.

The Eddie über alles.

Listen here.

KK hits the road.

Surfing’s first openly lesbian big-wave world champ sensationally quits sport after suffering one of the worst wipeouts ever seen during “best day in surfing history” at thirty-foot Waimea Bay, “My body can’t take this shit anymore!”

"This is what pushing your limits looks like – it isn’t always pretty."

Four years ago, the Kauai surfer Keala Kennelly, who grew up slinging waves alongside the Irons bros at Pine Trees, won the big-wave world championship, which was decided after one event – the Women’s Jaws Challenge.

Kennelly won the event and the title despite not making a takeoff on her two waves, which the historian Matt Warshaw subsequently described as “an embarrassment. Not for Keala, but the WSL”

Although not surfing’s first openly lesbian world champ, that honour belongs to three-time longboard winner Cori Schumacher, the higher profile of Kennelly, who is a DJ and part-time movie and TV star, gave her the platform to talk of her myriad struggles. 

“I had just all this internalized homophobia and self-hatred for being gay,” Kennelly told People mag. “I was living this double life because on tour, I was pretending to be straight. I’m just a really honest person, I’m a really genuine, authentic person. So, to feel like I was living this lie was just crushing my soul and after so many years of that, it was just, “I can’t do this anymore, this is actually going to kill me if I can’t live my truth.” It got to a point where I didn’t care what the cost was, I couldn’t live like this.”

Kennelly said that it was “not okay to be a lesbian” and that if you did prefer shaved babylike snatches to rock-and-cock Tom Selleck lookalikes it was “career suicide.”

“So,” said Kennelly, “when I got on the tour, I was so freaking nervous because I inherently knew I was gay. So, I was absolutely terrified and I spent the majority of my time on the pro circuit in the closet and just completely terrified to come out — completely terrified to get outed, that I was going to lose my sponsors.”

In 2005, Kennelly, aged twenty-seven, quit the world tour.

“I came out because I couldn’t handle mentally and emotionally what that was like. Then I had a few sponsors drop me and so, that was just more confirmation that it wasn’t okay. I left the tour because, emotionally and mentally, I just couldn’t handle it.”

Incredibly, in the forty-six years since the men’s tour has been around, not one active male pro has admitted to being a barebacking queen.

(Yeah, there’s heavy-metal bear Matt Branson, but for his time on tour he was played as super straight, eating out chicks in the Bells Beach carpark etc, as reported by Paul Sargeant.

Now, Kennelly, who is forty-four, has hinted she’ll quit the big-wave pro surfing game after suffering one of the worst wipeouts of The Eddie Invitational.

“My entire surfing career has been about pushing the limits in women’s surfing. This is what pushing your limits looks like, it isn’t always pretty but the ones that I’ve had in my career where I went #fullsend and was successful were incredible. This might be my last #send. My body can’t take this shit anymore…I hope you enjoyed the show.”

It's raining Americans.
It's raining Americans.

Official Olympics website stuns surf fans by lauding the “USA Storm” before opening of 2023 Championship Tour season!

Kolohe Andino a sneaky pick for the crown?

Only the most head-in-the-sand surf fan is, currently, unaware that our favorite pastime is officially an Olympic pursuit. Debuting two summers ago in Japan, surfing will be a heavier draw not this summer, but next, when Paris hosts the Games, its outpost French Polynesia the barrel bits.

Yes, Teahupo’o, there at “the end of the road,” will undoubtedly thrill the masses, what with its crystalline waters, dynamic background, waves that strike terror into hearts including that of current world champion Filipe Toledo.

Now, certainly Olympic organizers will dream of capturing a huge audience and, thus, are educating potential fans about the World Surf League ahead of this 2023 Championship Tour, publishing a viewer guide and “who to watch” list.

Stunning those who have watched the game for years, Olympic eyes fell on “The American Storm.”

Per Olympics.com:

In the men’s comp, several stars are back from injury including three-time world champion Gabriel Medina and two-time winner John John Florence. Will Filipe Toledo be able to back up his 2022 title victory or will Olympic champion Italo Ferreira bounce back from his 2019 title win? Jack Robinson, Tokyo 2020 silver medallist Kanoa Igarashi and Miguel Pupo are sure to shine too.

Eyes will also be on 11-time world champion and surfing legend Kelly Slater who won the Pipe Masters in February of 2022, less than a week before his 50th birthday. What can’t he do?

Ramzi Boukhiam will also make history as the first Moroccan to compete on the CT.

Beware of the Brazilian and USA storm that be out in force with both nations having 10 men on tour while Australia has seven.

The USA Storm?

Well hmmmm. Who do you think has a shot this year from the land of the free? Griffin Colapinto? Nat Young? Jake Marshall?

Kolohe Andino?

Oh wait.

I forgot that the Olympics is a tool of oppression and doesn’t allow for Hawaiian surfers to perform under their own flag like the progressive World Surf League.

So I guess John John Florence, Seth Moniz, et. al.


Slater v Fernandez, heat of the year!

Twitch star Jessica Fernandez slammed by world’s greatest surfer Kelly Slater after claim she was sexually harassed by jacked gym stud, “What if I just ripped his pp out of its socket so he can never reproduce again?”

Heat of the year!

A few days back all hell broke loose when a pretty girl claimed she was monstered by a jacked gym-stud while filming a few cutsie workout routines at her local health club.

Jessica Fernandez, who identifies as Colombian and Nicaraguan and lives in Southern California, has a real healthy 56k followers on Twitch and 10k YouTube subscribers.

A video where she says a lifter stared at her “like a piece of meat” was viewed three million times.

“This guy kept making me extremely uncomfortable at the gym,” she wrote. “This is why I’ll end up crying on stream. I feel so grossed out at times with the amount of sexualisation I experience. Hopefully this spreads awareness for girls who experience this type of treatment at the gym.”

Given the buildup, the video was a real non-event. Lifter looks over a few times and, a little later, offers to help put the weights back on the bar.

Still, Fernandez said the guy “triggered my flight or fight and response to previous traumas… I was completely fine until he followed me to my squat rack in the corner of the gym…I can see how this makes me look like I have an inflated ego but I am an attractive girl in a beauty standard sense and I get extremely sexually harassed online and it makes trusting random strangers that approach me trigger my trauma which is why I respond this way.”

While fans were quick to back her up (“I don’t understand how hard it is to mind your business, people aren’t at the gym to get stared at or get hit on makes no sense”) majority opinion swung towards the demonised man.

“Girls like this go to the gym just to chase clout and be toxic. This man did nothing wrong. And she’s hiding comments calling her out. REALLY weak for someone who hits the gym,” wrote another gal.

“I watched the whole video. The guy glances over a few times, probably wondering why she’s recording herself,” wrote right-wing Daily Wire host Matt Walsh. “Then he comes over and offers to help her rack the weights. She declines, he says, ‘Oh OK’, and walks away. The end. She’s the problem here, not him.”

Fernandez, realising the implications of publicly throwing a man under a social media bus, eventually, and with haunted eye penance, apologised.

“I will be coming out with a response to this whole gym situation in a few days. I’m sorry,” wrote Fernandez.

Whereupon Kelly Slater, a man whose Twitter profile warns “I make fun of things, point out absurdities, and tackle serious subjects like the cutback”, delivered the stunning coup de grâce, that famously cool, logical voice wrapped around a heady sense of masculine superiority.

“In a few days? You checking with your lawyers and publicist? Just apologize to the guy in person.”

Touché etc.