If there is one story that you have been following, outside of surfing, I am certain it is the sexual tale of television morning hosts TJ Holmes, Amy Robach their illicit tryst and subsequent job loss. The two, who co-anchored the third hour of Good Morning, America, and both seemingly happily married to others, were caught out in New York City, last fall, with each other’s hands on each other’s bum bums.
They were both taken off air while the business was “investigated,” became separated from their respective husband and wife, were snapped much by enterprising photographers in flagrante delicato and then informed that it would “be best” if they found work elsewhere.
There is likely no better feeling than sitting on a sweltering beachfront patio in Mexico, languid fan spinning overhead, sipping a still cold margarita, salt, rocks, nibbling shrimp tacos garnished with fresh pico de gallo while gallons of saltwater pour all over them from a sunburned nose. So why are my knees pulled to my chest like a frightened little kitty cat right now? Why is my heart pounding so hard that I swear it might leap right out of my throat on that next margarita sip?
The chair underneath me quakes and my senses return. Because this sweltering patio fronts Puerto Escondido and Mexico’s most notorious, dangerous, biggest, famous, superlative wave is just 500 yards away, thundering on the sand. Snapping boards in half, eating grown surfers whole.
I’d come to the Mexican Pipeline, as it’s called, to test myself. To push beyond what had become my comfort zone, namely soft southern California reef breaks, groomed Australian point breaks and warm, shoulder high tropical barrels. Becoming a surf journalist had opened up a world of ease and, as I looked myself square in the mirror one day, was disappointed with the tanned but softened visage looking back.
You can finish the exciting tale by purchasing here and I have to think that Holmes and Robach read, themselves, and decided an act of derring-do is exactly what they, themselves, needed. Something to chase the disappointment of blowing up marriages and families for a workplace affair with.
Feels pretty cool to be the inspiration behind the journey.
I just realized they went to Puerto Vallarta not Puerto Escondido.
Well, next time.
Owen Wilson, from title contender to also-ran following mid-tour cut in 2022.
New season of Apple TV+ docuseries Make or Break lifts the veil on horror of mid-season cut finding a “vulnerable” Owen Wright “struggling after his brain injury. Especially now as he reveals he’s a live-in carer for his sick father”
"If nothing else, you can put it on at home and your significant other won’t immediately whinge about it. That’s not nothing."
As of yesterday, the first four episodes of Make Or Break, Season 2, are available on Apple TV.
The series begins with Pipe and Kelly’s victory, which seems logical. Thereafter it roughly follows the course of the season, but does jump about a bit which can be odd for the seasoned WCT fan.
But then, it’s not really designed for us.
What MOB aims to do is communicate the humanity of professional sport. It’s a blueprint of character driven narratives established by Drive To Survive, the Netflix juggernaut that spearheaded the craze for reality sports documentaries.
Whether you understand the sport in question or not should hardly matter. If anything, it might impair your enjoyment if you do.
I loved Drive To Survive, despite the fact I knew almost nothing about F1. That’s pretty much the whole point.
The hope is that casual observers of the documentaries are converted to fans of the sport. Whether this is realistic or not, I’m not sure. I still haven’t watched an F1 race for years. Stranger still, I don’t even look up the results for fear I’ll spoil the next season of DTS.
So, can this type of production work for surfing?
It should, given we know surfing attracts rich characters. Capturing the interest of fans by digging out these personalities is one of the many ways in which the WSL has spectacularly failed over the years.
But let’s do the flat bits first.
(It wouldn’t be accurate to call them bad.)
Disappointingly, Kelly’s victory at Pipe didn’t quite pop the way I expected it to.
Pipe 2022 was one of the best surf contests in living memory, but there was no sense of that.
There was no context for how historically good the waves were, nor any footage of most of the incredible barrels that were ridden by competitors other than Kelly.
I get it. There’s only so much footage you can use, and Kelly was the subject of the episode.
But there were so many reasons why Kelly winning that comp was both special and incredibly unlikely: his age, the level of competition, the quality of waves, and the fact that he hadn’t won in years. They touch on some of this in the episode, but ultimately it looked like the victory was a little too easy.
Remember how emotional and raw he was? The real reasons for that were not excavated in the way I’d hoped they might be.
Box To Box tweeted that the Slater episode was one of the best pieces of TV they’d ever produced, so it could be that my perspective is too much of a niche surf fan. It’ll be interesting to see the response from the wider audience.
Episode Two switches to Tatiana Weston Webb as the main character. It’s fine, Tatiana seems lovely as always. But that doesn’t necessarily mean she’s engaging as a subject, especially when most of the episode is still at Pipe, but focused on the women’s comp, which wasn’t great.
The minor fracas and resulting Instagram furore that happened after Tati dropped in on Moanna Jones Wong prior to the event is acknowledged, but it doesn’t add as much spice as hoped.
And there’s far too much Jesse Mendes, who ironically seems to be more visible than ever given his stints in the booth at Sunset.
The third episode shifts focus to the Wright family, framed around the Bells event that Tyler won and where Owen was left in a precarious situation with the Cut looming.
There’s a good overview of the Bells event and some interesting archival footage of the Wright family. But mostly it’s about Owen’s shortcomings vs Tyler’s success, and that does make for engaging TV.
Owen is both likeable and vulnerable. You do get a sense of what competing means to him, and how much of a struggle it’s been after his brain injury. Especially now as he reveals he’s a live-in carer for his sick father.
There’s definitely some value in this episode.
The following episode, “The Cut”, should be more exciting than it is.
The petition that most of the surfers signed and took to ELo in protest of the implementation of the Cut is conspicuous by its absence.
Just as Logan smacked it down at the time, I’m sure it was dispatched down his Memory Hole long ago.
In this episode we return to two favourite characters from Season 1 in Morgan Ciblic and Matt McGillivray, charting their divergent futures at Margaret River. Maybe if you don’t already know what happens here it’ll grab you more than it did for me.
There is an interesting insight into Jack Robinson behind the scenes. I’ll admit to being a little sceptical of his zen schtick last season. After watching Make Or Break, I was perhaps wrong to think that way.
So is it worth your time as a whole?
In short, yes.
I suspect if you’re reading this you won’t learn anything new from Make Or Break, but it will give you glimpses into some more personal elements of the surfers you know and love. And if you’re relatively new to the game, you’ll probably like it even more.
If nothing else, you can put it on at home and your significant other won’t immediately whinge about it. That’s not nothing.
The first four episodes didn’t set the heather on fire for me, and reviews for the next four are currently under embargo until they’re released on Feb 23rd.
However, what I will say is that two of these remaining episodes are the strongest in the series.
A brave Hebrew walks through a volley of anti-semitism.
Bombshell new documentary reveals surfing’s “supreme racism”, wild Jew-baiting and lingering hard-on for Nazism!
Discrimination, racism? Yeah, the Jews know it better than anyone. The dirtiest and most tortured of histories. A lost people and two thousand orbits jammed with degradation and bestial treatment.
And then, of course, came the Nazis. The greatest war machine in history in their gorgeous, slim-fitting uniforms designed by Hugo Boss (yes!), butchering, starving, gassing and shooting six-and-a-half million Jews by the close of business in July, 1945.
So, as you might imagine, surfing’s flirtation with Nazism, predominantly post-war and notably by Miki Dora and Californian pals, (click here for La Jolla surfers in Nazi uniforms and waving the party flag from a Greg Noll movie circa 1959 and here for one surfer’s defence of the cosplay), don’t sit too well with the Jewish surfer.
When his wanted to have his bar mitzvah at a surf museum his parents quietly removed the swastika engraved boards.
Greene got a film camera for the bar mitzvah and just before he graduated from the University of Southern California in May 2022 almost decade later, he released his documentary “Waves Apart”, which pulls back the curtain on surfing’s supreme racism, wild Jew-baiting and historical hard-on for Nazism.
Many inspiring cameos, including from the world champ and backside tube riding pioneer Shaun Tomson who you may not know was Jewish, but whose own bar mitzvah gift was a trip to Hawaii.
“For me, it was a total representation of what a bar mitzvah is — it’s coming into manhood. And here I was, a young boy paddling out in a 25-foot surf in Hawaii, which was a moment for me that changed my life. I came back to South Africa, and my career and my role in surfing changed after that bar mitzvah present.”
Tomson’s own experience with the Jew-haters, interestingly enough, was limited to being called a Jew Boy in the army and not within the surf community.
Watch trailer here.
Chief of Sport Jessi Miley-Dyer highlights wanton cruelty of World Surf League with heartless smirk in chilling “Make or Break” promo!
"The Tree of Engagement must be periodically watered with the blood of Owen Wright."
Season two of Make or Break has officially been unleashed and are you excited to dip into the production? Have you already stayed up all night binging each and every episode? The Apple television program is, by any measure, very fine. The Box to Box team does not fear professional surfers in the same way the World Surf League does and so does not un-point cameras when things go sideways or Zeke Lau becomes upset.
It is a great shame that those various British producers, directors and camera people aren’t given the keys to the broadcast and instead we are left with a tall Wall of Positive Noise but we can’t always get what we want, I suppose.
JP Currie will be, in any case, reviewing soon but, in the meantime, there have been many dribs and drabs pushed through World Surf League channels intending on driving interest including the well-loved Instagram account of the World Surf League’s Jessi Miley-Dyer.
Now, it might have been thought that the Chief of Sport would have highlighted a positive moment, as is in line with the League’s sunny ethos, but in a wild shock to fans, Miley-Dyer instead chose to focus on death and destruction in a thoroughly macabre way.
In a to camera bit, she described how the mid-year cull was being rolled out for the first time, that it would essentially end careers and lead to destitution, how “heavy” that was but also how “massive.”
That the Tree of Engagement must be periodically watered with the blood of Owen Wright.
The pressure of living beachfront in America’s Finest City, man. Sure, there are the small pleasures like temperate year ’round weather, plentiful surf and fine enough sand but there are also real evils like spike ball parties that grow out of control, baby bonfires and little dogs secreted into “no dog” zones.
Well, Ocean Beach, Mission Beach, Pacific Beach and La Jolla are mad as hell and aren’t going to take it anymore. Leaders on the four town councils have decided to band together and form up a powerful political lobby in order to get the city to see things their way.
Dubbed the “Coastal Karens,” the group is fired up and ready to go. “We all have many concerns in common and we’ve found that we’re much more effective when we work together,” Catharine Douglass, chair of the La Jolla Town Council’s Safety Committee, told The San Diego Union-Tribune.
“Our needs are much greater than most other neighborhoods because of all the tourists, but we don’t get extra money from the city for that,” added Larry Webb, president of the Mission Beach Town Council. “We’re getting some respect from the city. We’ll continue to explore other areas where we have similar concerns and solutions we want the city to consider.”
First in the sights were beach vendors, those pesky folk who attempt to sell hats, jelly beans and whatnot. The Coastal Karens goaded the city into adopting comprehensive street vendor legislation, though it won’t take effect until the California Coastal Commission approves it.
Next up was the restriction of wood bonfires which cause people to sit and stare mindlessly, often while sipping contraband IPA and the city agreed to the demands.
The city then agreed to physically close all parks and parking lots along the coast, overnigh,t to prevent teenage canoodling and loud boombox rap music leading to another set of high fives.
Not content with simple laws getting passed, though, Charlie Nieto, president of the Pacific Beach Town Council, declared, “No matter how good the legislation, it won’t mean anything without enforcement.”
The group out on the streets, cell phones ready, voices pre-shrilled.