Apple shares somehow soar even after high tech giant’s signature watch comes under heavy criticism from surf stars Caio Ibelli and Leonardo Fioravanti!

A corporate juggernaut.

Yesterday the World Surf League’s 2023 championship tour season officially became underway and wow. I will sum up my own thoughts later, likely twice, while watching a second helping today but in the meantime let us discuss the WSL as a brand partner. Would you trust your products to Erik Logan, Jessi Miley-Dyer and gang? Have faith that they would shine the brightest light upon and juice sales, or whatever it is that your products are?

Well, yesterday we all got to see the League spin its magic around the Apple Watch. Apple, the $2.38 trillion company based in Cupertino, California, was “adopted” by professional surfing in order to provide heat running times, priority information etc. The first inkling that the WSL had maybe bungled the relationship was rumors that the most marketable star, Olympic gold medalist Carissa Moore, was publicly not having any of it. Then, during competition, Brazil’s Caio Ibelli declared he was almost late for his heat because his watch didn’t tell time and Leonardo Fioravanti  said “it didn’t work” and that was “heavy.”


And, so, this morning I was ultra-curious to see how the classic WSL fumble affected Apple. In early trading, stock had soared by nearly 5% up to $150 per share.

This can mean only one of two things.

1. The general public does not trust Ibelli nor Fioravanti as honest brokers.


2. Erik Logan is a film-flam man so masterful, so singular, as to put even George C. Scott to shame.


I guess it could mean both of those things.

But were you, yourself, tempted to invest in new wrist technology or are you happy trying to guess your current priority?

I’m perpetually third so its relatively easy.

More as the story develops.

Drama was not especially evident today at Pipe. The opening round was, as usual, mostly a chore. Waves were contestable, just. But I was lured into a false sense of hope after tuning in to see Joao Chianca thread a meaty Backdoor tube for an 8.50. It was to be the best wave I saw all day. | Photo: WSL

WSL’s wall of positive noise comes crashing down on day one of the Billabong Pro Pipeline amid wild scenes of fat-shaming and sabre rattling, “Apropos of nothing, Shane Dorian started baying for deer blood, indicating he’d shoot anything on sight!”

WSL bingo for the day consisted of various iterations of sand on the reef, bumps on the horizon (which rarely materialised), Apple watches, shaper rankings, and the word “sendy”.

And Here…We…Go…

Not my words, of course, but those of Heath Ledger’s Joker, shortly before a failed detonation in the movie and a successful suicide IRL.

Pipeline also failed to detonate today. A stark fact made starker by that classic WSL trope of harking back to better days. In this case just last year. 2022 Pipe. How we loved and miss you.

But much like an ex who’s significantly hotter than the current partner you’re lumbered with, it would be nice not to be reminded of it every five minutes.

Such is life. We move on through gritted teeth.

However, if you’ll permit me a little detour, I have a suggestion that would make pro surfing infinitely more consumable.

The idea came to me after watching Make Or Break Season 2. Reviews are currently under embargo, so I’ll put my major thoughts on ice, but I will say that the loin-tingling excitement of Pipe 2022 was not conveyed.

I have the solution.

Reduce heat times to 10-15 mins. No priority. Catch three waves max, two score. If neither surfer scores, both are eliminated.

Something like this:

Opening rd – 12 three-man heats of 15 mins (3 hrs)
Elimination – 4 three-man heats of 10 mins (40 mins)
Rd 32 – 16 two-man heats of 10 mins (2hrs 40)
Rd 16 – 8 two-man heats of 10 mins (1hr 20)
QF – 4 two-man heats of 10 mins (40 mins)
SF – 2 two-man heats of 15 mins (30 mins)
Final – two men, 20 mins

Comp over in nine hours. One day of good waves.

Alternatively, you go straight elimination, which would make it even quicker.


Make use of the best conditions. All you need is one day in a waiting period.

Lack of priority and shorter heats adds competitiveness and aggression. There will be hassling, there will be drop ins. There might even be dangerous collisions and punch-ups.

But this is the drama everyone wants to see.

You have to go for broke.

Ultimately it solves four major problems: poor or inconsistent waves over multiple days; comps taking too long; heats being boring/lacking drama; and pro surfing not being consumable for fans.

Obvious criticisms?

Some heats will be duds, but that’s a problem we already have. The increased tension and drama of others will compensate.

It could turn into a hassling competition. I’m ok with that. But when surfers recognise they’ve got such a short time to get a score, they’ll realise they’re disadvantaging themselves by not surfing.

Some guys will travel halfway around the world to be eliminated in ten minutes.

So what? This is pro sport. Surfing needs more drama.

Drama was not especially evident today at Pipe. The opening round was, as usual, mostly a chore. Waves were contestable, just. But I was lured into a false sense of hope after tuning in to see Joao Chianca thread a meaty Backdoor tube for an 8.50.

It was to be the best wave I saw all day.

I had Kanoa as the first leg of my multi for my first surf bet of the season. Vicious squalls pelted my windows as Igarashi finished dead last with a whimper in the first heat I’d tuned in for.


I consoled myself with the generous odds offered on Toledo and Colapinto to reach the semi finals. 8.00 seems rather long, given the forecast. I plunged deep into the gift horse’s mouth.

No-one really cares about the opening round, do they?

We’ve lost Josh Moniz, Imaikalani deVault, and fan favourites Matt McGillivray and Jadson Andre.


Is that enough analysis of the actual surfing for you?

Good. To some broadcast and organisational changes then.

JMD has been rebadged as “Chief Of Sport”. (Maybe this isn’t new, but I just noticed.) It seems an appropriately grandiose, corporate and ridiculous term for her role. The WSL should be applauded. I hope, actually, that they have lengthy meetings with fruity cocktails where all they discuss is what new job title they want. I would hope that at some point JMD becomes Grand Princess Of Water Jiggling.

Megan Abubo was a new voice in the booth. She was knowledgeable, inoffensive and fine. No complaints from me, yet. If anything, props for spending so much time within punching distance of Kaipo and not actually striking him.

Dave Prodan crawled out from under his sanitised, WSL-branded rock to provide us with yet another voice fit for sleep aids or meditation tapes. He’d dressed to match his monotone. Or perhaps he was following the old adage “dress for where you want to be, not where you are”.

Either way, his selection of brown trousers, plain, grey shirt, and equally bland contributions was suggestive of the fact he should be placed back under his rock.

If you’re reading this Dave (you are) brace yourself for a season of this. Everyone needs a mortal enemy, or a punching bag, and since I literally can’t stand to write Kaipo’s name anymore, I have decided you’ll make a fine adversary.

Welcome to the terror zone.

Speaking of death and destruction, Shane Dorian brought some controversial kinks to the WSL wokeness blanket when he spilled some of his bloodlust on air. Apropos of nothing, he started baying for deer blood, indicating he’d shoot anything on sight.

Kill, kill, slash, cut, kill, stab, butcher, devour, he said.

Or words to that effect.

Ross Williams went equally off-piste in discussing Jackson Baker.

“He looks like he should be in a suit in some comedy or something,” he said in response to a cutaway interview of Dane Reynolds looking like Peter Griffin.

He followed this with a soupcon of fat-shaming, before assuring us that Baker was perfectly happy. It was a curious and mucky little hole the usually demure and inoffensive Williams had dug himself into.

Oh, and there was an entirely new face for on beach interviews.


WSL bingo for the day consisted of various iterations of sand on the reef, bumps on the horizon (which rarely materialised), Apple watches, shaper rankings, and the word “sendy”.

The Apple thing is curious.

It’s just another corporate sponsorship for the WSL to spruik, of course, and we might as well get used to it. It strikes me that this is the one thing that Kaipo is good at, and why he remains on board. The soulless fucker would shill anything with the same puppylike, boundless enthusiasm.

But yeah, forcing competitors to wear mandatory yet essential equipment is interesting. Carissa had refused, allegedly, and good on her. Leo voiced his dissent today and rightly so if it wasn’t even functional.

I’d imagine a few others might hop on Carissa’s coattails, and I’m keen to see how the WSL respond. Given their track record I’d guess it’ll be met with wilful blindness, but Apple will have been made certain promises over fruity cocktails in Santa Monica…

Anyway, to elimination we go.

Any chance of waves to make the surfing worth talking about?

Leo dazzles in Gucci and non-Apple watch. Inset, the Apple Ultra, which costs one thousand dollars. | Photo: Alexander Bortz for High Snobiety

Surf world in shock as House of Gucci pin-up and Italian surf Olympian Leo Fioravanti slams World Surf League’s much vaunted collaboration with Apple live on air, “I just wanna say our fricken watches weren’t working and that’s pretty heavy!”

"I hope they figure it out!"

Only yesterday, the rumour mill fizzed with news that Olympic gold medallist and multiple world champ Carissa Moore had refused to shackle herself with an Apple watch as per the WSL’s latest collab and that she was “not in any way aligned with the Apple corporation”.

Early signs re: the WSL’s decision to adopt the Apple Watch Series 8 and Ultra “as official equipment to keep surfers up to date during competitions” were positive, however.

Even here. 

“Aside from the surfers knowing how much time is left in their heats, what the score is etc., I’d imagine that real time data will be gathered from them,” wrote Chas Smith. “How much distance they have paddled, how fast they move when up and riding, the force exerted when Filipe Toledo punches his board after failing to catch a wave at pumping Teahupo’o and won’t that information be fun for us at home?”

Now, the Roman surfer and face of Gucci Leonardo Fioravanti , who survived a sudden-death elimination heat to move into the round of 32, has slammed the partnership on the WSL’s own livestream. 

As his post-heat interviews wrapped he quickly added,

“And, I just want to say our fricken watches weren’t working and that’s pretty heavy, like my watch wasn’t working. Nothing to take away from Apple or the WSL, what they’re doing is great, they’re trying to bring in some technology to our world, but if my watch doesn’t work from start to finish and I gotta ask for time. I’ve been used to having the time on me at all times in heats, we’re fighting for our careers. So, I hope they  figure it out ‘cause my watch didn’t work from start to finish. And that’s pretty heavy.” 

(Our pals at Stab magazine were quick on the trigger and got the vid. Watch here!)

Shawn Rhodes, a Titan of Mavericks, and his brown Labrador, Yoda.

Big-wave surf star famous for his wild Mavericks sessions sues State following allegations he was tasered in the guts by rangers for having an unleashed dog, “He quickly fell to the ground due to the electrical charge sent through his body!”

Getting tasered creates the sensation of having your brain shaken "like a peanut in a jar" and with "bees crawling through your skin."

Mavs surfers know all about Shawn Rhodes, a Titan of the joint who was there in 1994 when legendary big-waver Mark Foo rode his last wave.

(“I never had any doubts the place would eventually take someone’s life,” Rhodes told the NY Times. “I’ll keep surfing it, though. Am I scared? Yeah. Every time I go out there, it’s always on my mind.)

Rhodes owns the Nor Cal Surf Shop in Pacifica and over the course of fifteen years he competed in eight versions of the epic Quicksilver “Men Who Ride Mountains” event. 

So, yeah, he has cache around Santa Cruz.

Now, Rhodes, who is fifty-five, is suing the California Department of Parks and Recreation for, he says, its rangers using excessive force and violating his civil rights over an incident in 2020.

Rhodes says two park rangers, Jamie Stamps and Cameron Weaver,“tackled” him to the ground, used “jiujitsu holds” and tasered him “multiple times”, all over his off-leash dog Yoda at Four Mile Beach in Wilder Ranch State Park there.

In Rhodes’ complaint, filed on January 23, he says he was approached by the rangers after a surf and asked why his dog wasn’t leashed. He told ‘em he’d throw the leash from his board on his animal when he got to the top of a hill and could put down his board whereupon he says he was tackled and tasered in the guts.

Rhodes says he tried to pull the Taser’s prong out, “but he quickly fell to the ground due to the electrical charge the Taser sent through his body.”.

Getting tasered has been described as like having your brain shaken “like a peanut in a jar” and with “bees crawling through your skin.”

A little later, while he was getting cuffed, Rhodes says his arm was hyper-extended behind his back.

He was then put in the back of the ranger’s car, ironically without a seatbelt, causing him to “fly across the vehicle’s back seat” as

(The charge of resisting arrest was dismissed last August.)

Surf-wise, it ain’t been easy for Rhodes following the incident. 

She shredded my shoulder,” Rhodes told McClatchy News, adding doctors told him the joint is 65 percent torn. “That’s been a painful situation for surfing… I can’t jump up fast, which means I can’t do what I’ve spent my whole life doing… It’s a horrible vibe…It’s stripped my ability to do what I love doing.”

Rhodes is seeking damages for lost wages and medical costs but also to maybe get anyone with a badge to tone down the physicality of their interactions with the public, particularly over something minor like a dog without its leash, although it ain’t the first time.

In 2014, a man was awarded $50,000 after he was tasered when he was caught jogging alongside his unleashed hound.

“I feel like I have to do something and stand up for people’s rights at some point,” says Rhodes.

Hawaiian surf prodigy almost killed at Pipeline hints he may never return to famous reef, “Is Pipeline worth it, idk. Will I ever paddle back out there, I have no idea”

"I no longer have any goals when it comes to surfing my only goal is to get my mind and health back to 100%…"

For the past two weeks, the Pipe local Kala Grace has been recovering in Queens Hospital, Honolulu, following a dramatic near-death collision with the infamous Pipeline reef during the Backdoor Shootout. 

Grace, who is twenty-four, had his helmet ripped off after a closeout barrel and while caught inside was pile-driven into the coral bottom where he was knocked unconscious. 

In a dramatic rescue, a lifeguard abandoned his jetski to pull the kid out of the water.

CPR was performed on the beach.

“He was kind of purple when they brought him in,” his daddy, the Waikiki Beach Boy Willie Grace said. 

Shortly after, the North Shore lifeguard Chris Owens, who nearly exited this mortal coil when he was kneecapped by an adult learner at Waimea Bay, posted an update on Grace’s condition on Instagram.

“Many of you already heard he was a victim of one of the most severe surfing accidents of all time while surfing in the Backdoor Shootout yesterday. I just got off the phone with my life long best friend Fielding Benson who is Kala’s Stepfather and was told from him, Kala has regained consciousness, but he couldn’t speak yet, I think because of the breathing tube in his lungs, but Fielding said he asked for a pen and the first thing he wrote to him and his Mom Maryanne was: Did I win?”

Now, in a series of online posts Grace has hinted he may not return to the wave he’d made his own over the course of the last half-a-dizen seasons. 


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Kala Grace (@kala___grace)


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Kala Grace (@kala___grace)

“There was once a time where I lived and breathed pipeline. Everything I did revolved around it wether it was the way I ate, trained, or slept and everything in between.

“I promise I will be back one day but after my wipeout everything changed for me I no longer have any goals when it comes to surfing my only goal is to get my mind and health back to 100% before I can even think about that stuff…


“Is Pipeline worth it, idk. Will I ever paddle back out there, I have no idea.”