Balinese surfer Rio Waida, on the inside, and Zeke Lau's potentially career-ending interference.

Poor “beachbreak” waves at iconic Sunset Beach shine spotlight on sport’s inherent cruelty, “Talent be damned. This is pro surfing. Not everyone is built for it!”

The fundamental requirement for success in this game lies between your ears. This rarefied power manifests in different guises.

It’s a human failing to dwell on the vagaries of the universe, things like weather or luck.

Given days like this, and there will be more, I’ll endeavor not to harp on about how poor the waves are.

When the Grand Dame of Aquatic Jiggery Pokery, or whatever JMD is calling herself this week, is faced with an event window like this, without promise nor hope, there seems little point in complaining.

What we have is what we have. Make the best of it or go home.

Make or break.

Poor pro surfers sent out to duel for their careers in an arena not fit for purpose.

Just when I was starting to believe that God had a peculiar kink for professional surfing.

Really, what he (or she or they) love more is a trier. Today, and perhaps for the remainder of the event window, it is the surfers with the greatest mental fortitude who will triumph.

Talent be damned. This is pro surfing.

And it’s a cruel game.

Not everyone is built for it.

Maxime Huscenot is likely not built for it. Not from what we’ve seen in two events. And not if you can’t catch two waves in an elimination heat.

In a very different way, Ultimate Surfer Zeke Lau is not built for it. Tonight he will question the universe and the WSL.

He will question the rotten luck of a terrible forecast for an event that should be his strongest in the whole calendar.

He will question the priority rules that led to his second scoring wave being struck off in his elimination heat.

And not for the first time, he will question his short tenure on the WCT.

The fundamental requirement for success in this game lies between your ears. This rarefied power manifests in different guises.

You could be calculating and analytical, like Slater.

Or on the path to Zen, like Jack Robinson.

Or perhaps just have the sort of dogged determination revered by Australians yet characterised best by Brazilians.

A trio of the latter, Gabriel Medina, Sammy Pupo and Yago Dora made the best of what was on offer today and advanced through their heats in first position.

It strikes me that these are three men you might bet on in any conditions, a judgement based on their heads as well as their talent.

“It’s not Sunset, it’s just an ordinary beachbreak,” said Dora after his win and in reference to his pre-heat mindset.

It was a statement that might be construed as criticism if taken out of context. But what it demonstrated was his flexibility when it comes to performing with a vest on. Who cares what the waves are doing, we’re here to compete.

One man you should never bet on is Kolohe Andino. Yet today you’d have been handsomely rewarded.

Andino surfed with a looseness that hasn’t been evident in quite some time in defeating Jordy and Leo in his Round 1 heat.

What caught my attention was the cognitive dissonance I felt at seeing Andino win a heat. The idea of a Kolohe Andino event win, let alone a world title run, seems like an impossible scenario in 2023.

How far our faith has drifted in ten years from America’s favourite son.

Strider brought his own, peculiar brand of idiom mangling to the booth. Some of it goes down like a brick shit sandwich, the rest can be quite endearing.

According to him, Calum Robson is “a steak and potatoes guy who lays bricks”.

Translation: good fundamentals.

Regardless, this sort of mumbo jumbo is preferable to some others.

Is it curious that Joe Turpel isn’t here, given they’ve moved just down the road a couple of days after Pipe?

Changes from last year’s programming are also evident in the fact that the Make Or Break crew have been less conspicuous. They’re certainly on the North Shore, or at least were, according to two of the producers I spoke with recently.

It seems there might be a glimpse of an ok forecast to look forward to tomorrow, and likely a very full day of overlapping heats.

Look forward to Filipe Toledo vs Eli Hanneman in Heat 9 as a battle between two of the fastest surfers in the water. And Heat 14, where Joao Chianca meets Yago Dora, is sure to be a treat.

Winning surfers don’t dwell on the weather. This game’s about more than that.

Warm like Hawaii.
Warm like Hawaii.

Breaking: Wetsuit brand Xcel purchased from stuffy bankers by small group of surf industry heavies, sign Sage Erickson as first order of business!

Happy days are here again.

The rise and fall of the surf industry could be a great, thick epic and one that may someday be written. Skipping toward the back half of the book, if Matt Warshaw had already put pen to paper and we had it in our hands, we would find chapters dedicated to Boardriders, the private equity group that scooped up Quiksilver and its holdings then Billabong and its holdings, becoming a behemoth but also weird with bankers etc. pulling surf strings.

Well, word has trickled out that one of Quik’s early purchases, Xcel, has been offloaded to a group of surf industry heavies.

The Hawaiian wetsuit brand founded by a man from New Jersey in 1982, has long been a staple in lineups around the world and always impressive to me. “How does a wetsuit brand get founded in Hawaii?” I’d wonder before remembering that man from New Jersey where the water gets icy cold.

Maybe not as cold as my hometown Coos Bay, Oregon but still.

In any case, Xcel became a staple though I feel semi-disappeared during the banker years but is now back, thanks to aforementioned heavies, and have signed the Ventura-by-way-of-Sunset product Sage Erickson as first order.


And do you imagine this sets up the second volume of the Rise and Fall of the Surf Industry tentatively titled The Surf Industry Strikes Back wherein iconic brands are scooped back up by the core and kept that way?

Here’s to hoping.

Support here.

Open Thread: Comment Live, Day Two of the Hurley Pro Sunset Beach where change calls the tune we all dance to!

Elimination round, here we come!

Blue Cake. Photo: @sensitiveseashellcollector
Blue Cake. Photo: @sensitiveseashellcollector

Living surf legend Kelly Slater reveals special “gangster name” to rapper who “doesn’t like movies with a bunch of gays in them!”

Introducing Blue Cake.

The social media-based name generator phenomenon has been around for quite some time now and we have all played and chuckled and shared. What is your pornography name? Use the name of your first pet plus the street where you grew up. What is your horror movie name? Use your favorite brand of dishwashing liquid plus the shoes you are currently wearing. Etc.

The most popular in the genre, though, is “what is your rap name” and/or its twin “what is your gangsta name.” There have been many ways to determine, through history, but a new one has just been floated by the the rapper Bryson Gray who burst on the scene in 2019 by introducing the #MAGAchallenge wherein he had his followers make rhymes in support of then president Donald J. Trump.

Gray, who recently tweeted, “When will Hollywood realize that normal people don’t want to watch movies with a bunch of gays in it,” a position that was enjoyed by the living surf legend Kelly Slater, announced “Your gangster name is the color of your shirt and the last thing you ate. Who are you?”

“Black boneless chicken wings” was his own.

Slater, quick to respond, was “Blue cake.”


While not initially catchy, Blue Cake lightly grows with time and might have legs. The surprising thing, I suppose, is that Kelly Slater eats cake. I have never been a fan, much preferring pie to cake, but where do you think the 11x champion was? A child’s birthday party? John John Florence’s house?

Currently more questions than answers but while we are waiting for them to materialize what is your gangster name?

I am “Baby Blue Banh Mi.”

West not caring about surfing. Thank you, Next
West not caring about surfing. Thank you, Next

Kanye West and Australian wife currently holed up in Nobu’s “adult oriented Malibu retreat” just down from Miki Dora’s stomping grounds while $57 million surf-front home is renovated!

But surfing?

The sun is currently shining in Malibu and though the surf is 1 – 2ft at First Point, there’s always a taker or seventeen. This iconic stretch of coast is deeply embedded in our history, from the brave pioneers who first trespassed upon that sacred land to Miki Dora to Laird Hamilton.

And now Kanye West and his Australian wife.

You may have not known the very famous rapper, and onetime husband of Kim Kardashian, became re-married, and to a sheila to boot, but it is true and the happy couple was ready to move into his 2021-purchased $57 million home but it is under renovation and what to do?


Check into the Nobu Ryokan.

According to the website:

Drifting above the Pacific, the Nobu Ryokan Malibu is a triumph of architectural carpentry and subdued hospitality. This intimate 16 room, adult oriented retreat honors the traditional Japanese Ryokan, featuring teak soaking tubs, indoor/outdoor fireplaces, serene outdoor patios, timeless artwork and gracious accents. Seamlessly blending traditional Japanese minimalism with the elegant flair of the California coastline, this discerning sanctuary boasts a rich, natural aesthetic and an ethos of pure tranquility.

From the moment you arrive, the unforgettable views of Pacific Ocean and tranquil landscaping sets the tone for a private oasis. Exclusivity and privacy are foremost, with an emphasis on low-key comfort and high-end indulgence. A host of luxurious amenities awaits you, coupled with gracious service and Nobu comforts.


And you wanted to eat the rich?

For shame, for if you have ever had Nobu Matsuhisa’s sushi than you would know it tastes much better than, I imagine, Dirk Ziff.

Hamchi with jalapeño.


Back to the hotel, though, it is but a short jog to First Point though it appears that West and his Aussie are simply “hanging out, working together and playing board games.”

Not surfing.

Even with an Australian in tow.

Has the wave crested?

Celebrity interest in our sport of kings no longer du jour?

Hope springs?