Who is number 1?
We are underway, the scale has been set and it’s time to power rank our dear commentators after their opening Pro Pipeline salvo. There was good, there was bad, and let us, without further ado, scientifically place them in order.
6) Joe Turpel: Mr. Plastic Fantastic does certainly have his moments. There are times and places where the breezy lilt of his voice fits both mood and action but those times and places are rare and the rest of it is spent completely out of tune with what is happening. The best anecdote happened on final’s day when Strider got caught by a rogue set and drilled to the reef. He explained his ordeal in a cool manner but it would certainly not have felt good, laden with microphone backpack etc. but the best Joe could offer in response was “gotta love it,” all happy like. Same as “he gets back on the ski and resets” after witnessing a shark attack. Turpel needs to find one other speed in order to move out of the basement.
5) Megan Abubo: It must be difficult to have to show up as a commentator rookie, having to jibber-jabber about professional surfing in very rotten conditions for hours and, with that being the case, Megan did not do horribly. She added some important Pipe insight and competitive secrets. The one real problem was when she fell upon the word “spicy” and could not stop saying it. Spicy turns, spicy boards, spicy paddling, spicy snaps, spicy meat-a-balls.
4) Ross Williams: There was once a day when Ross was the gold standard of World Surf League commentating. Low key, professional, intelligent, able to poke little holes in the Wall of Positive Noise without getting canned. He’s still good but hasn’t changed, isn’t bringing anything different to the dance and, thus, feels tired.
3) Strider Wasilewski: Strider in the channel is the one bit of professional surf commentating that might someday be boxed up and preserved in a museum. He is the perfect man for that job, sitting for hours in the drink, providing a different point of view, keeping the energy high. That might be his only chink, really, keeping the energy high when he should just flat out say that it sucks. Like when the women were out for their quarters. A dash of honesty is all he needs to soar.
2) Kaipo Guerrero: JP Currie is wrong on this one. Kaipo is aging like fine wine. His exaggerated pronunciations of any non-english word, his slow enunciation at critical moments, his rubber expressions when the camera heads into the booth. Kaipo knows his surfing, knows the game and also, especially late in the day after conditions grow trash, is not afraid to wink and nod at the beleaguered fan at home. This man is going places.
1) Laura Enever: The top of the pops, though, is without doubt Laura. Her effortless confidence, being cooler than any surfer she interviews, braver than current men’s world champion, smart, witty, wry. She is the whole package and the World Surf League is beyond lucky to have her. The real worry for the fan, I suppose, is that the League takes for granted and some other professional sport or E! TV swoops in a steals her away leaving us bereft.