Gabriel Medina (insert) in the crosshairs. Photo: Everything, Everywhere etc.
Gabriel Medina (insert) in the crosshairs. Photo: Everything, Everywhere etc.

“Chinese Cyclone” threatens to overwhelm “Brazilian Storm” as utopian People’s Republic experiences scintillating surf boom!

Everything, Everywhere, All at Once!

You are, likely, watching day three of the MEO Rip Curl Portugal Pro, right now, maybe cheering for Gabriel Medina in his round of thirty-two, heat fifteen matchup against Hawaii’s Seth Moniz. Medina is but one of many excellent surfers who have poured into the champion tour ranks, en masse, during this past decade. The deluge, called the “Brazilian Storm” has gifted us, surf fans, phenomenal talents which to observe and enjoy.

Surfing was erroneously said to arrive in the land of order and progress via Australia though our grand historian Matt Warshaw directly refuted in his weekly must-read newsletter (subscribe here).

A mistake that I genuinely regret is being party to the idea, handed along now for nearly 60 years, that Peter Troy introduced surfing to Brazil. Troy, a tall, lanky, blond-haired blue-eyed surfer from Victoria, Australia, cofounder of the Bells Beach contest, arrived in Rio in the winter of 1964, halfway through an epic four-year surf trip through Europe and the Americas. What happened there, exactly? In a 1968 SURFER profile, Troy was said to have “influenced surfing techniques in Brazil.” In a second profile, from 1987, edited by yours truly, it states without equivocation that Troy was “the first person to surf in Brazil.”

Surfing had, in truth, been introduced to Brazil much earlier but the question, for our time, is when it was introduced to the People’s Republic of China?

The world’s most populous country, some 1.4 billion and counting, has recently fallen in love with the sport of kings, participation booming by large percentages. CNN took important time out from giggling at rival Fox over hypocritical text messages to highlight why those who call the utopia home have taken it up.

“Surfing has been a rising trend in China over the last two years. It’s partly because of the efforts surfers and surf clubs like us have been putting into the scene for the last decade. But it’s also because of the pandemic,” surf club owner Zhang Chao told the news network. “As outdoor activities are preferred (amid Covid restrictions), many people head to the beach and start surfing… People are also becoming less work-oriented and are looking for an alternative way of life they enjoy.”

“Surfing gives you a sense of freedom because we are always looking at our smartphones and always sitting in the office so our mind is always occupied. So you just bring your surfboard and go to the ocean and you can forget about anything,” yogi and photographer Tina Tang added.

The piece profiles the most serious surf towns including Riyue Bay, Shuanyue Bay, Nanyan Bay, Liu’ao and Shilaoren Beach which leads to the important question “when will the Chinese Cyclone appear on our World Surf League?”

The aforementioned “global home of surfing” does not currently host any competitions in China which seems short sighted. It must be assumed that chiefs Erik Logan and Jessi Miley-Dyer will get on it as soon as their important speaking duties in Austin, Texas are finished.

Many flame emojis.

Also, while you’re here, did you watch the Academy Awards last night?


Live stream! Comment in real time as world title contenders Griffin Colapinto and Gabriel Medina fight for coveted tour leader’s yellow jersey at “wild and deadly” Portugal Pro!

"The forecast is not without promise that we might yet see classic Supertubos before the work is done."

A photo that shows the stark contrast between the poor sons o' bitches crawling over each other to get to the US and the breezy life of the Southern California surfer, hooded and ready to shred despite the haunting scenes. | Photo: OneSceneTV

Haunting scenes at iconic Californian surf spot Blacks as multiple bodies found following boat collision that killed at least eight, “Men and women washed up on shore for several hours”

"This is one of the worst maritime smuggling tragedies in California."

The dangers of human trafficking came into relief for San Diego surfers this morning when multiple bodies were found washed ashore at Blacks following a mid-sea collision between two boats carrying at least eighteen migrants.

The San Diego Herald-Tribune reported,

Officials were alerted to the incident when a Spanish-speaking woman called 911 around 11:30 p.m. asking for help. She said two boats were near Black’s Beach, one with eight people on board and a second with somewhere between eight and 15 people.

Seven migrants still missing after mid-sea boat collision.

She told dispatchers the one she was on had made it to shore while the other had capsized and people were in the water.

“This is one of the worst maritime smuggling tragedies that I can think of in California, and certainly here in the city,” San Diego Fire-Rescue Department Lifeguard Chief James Gartland said.

In a statement the Consulate General of Mexico said,

“(We)  lament the maritime tragedy that occurred this morning near La Jolla. We are working to identify people of Mexican origin and assist their families.”

John John Florence reveals “dark side of winning world titles” in candid interview with powerlifting Only Fans sex bomb and scion of North Shore strongman, “I was sitting by the toilet, throwing up!”

"After my first world title, the first couple of months, I was really down. I didn’t know how to deal with it."

It’s rare, let’s admit, the interview with John John Florence where the two-time world champion looks at ease with the transaction of exposure for candour.

But who don’t loosen up alongside family and lifelong friends?

In the latest podcast episode from Koa Rothman and Nathan Florence, we find thirty-year-old John twitching and jerking wildly without his usual fetters.

The handsome son of Eddie Rothman, the boy with the sunny brown curls and slow-twitch muscle fibres, asks John about world titles and John talks about the wild build-up and the swift crash.

“The first one, it’s all you’ve wanted your entire life. After my first world title, the first couple of months, I was really down. Now what do I do? I didn’t know how to deal with it,” says John. “It’s such a hard thing, you build it all up to this moment, I’ll be happy, I’ll be set, it happens and, it’s a five second thing. You wake up the next morning and everything resets again.”

How do you find the motivation to hit it a second time? asks Rothman.

In a response that will resonate with drug users, John says it’s impossible to recreate the original high and that “if the first one didn’t make me happy, maybe the next one will make my life happy. You get stuck chasing it and chasing it.”

In another anecdote, which is very good, John talks of being violently ill before the Sunset Beach contest, spending the night prior barfing, and then giving up on a wave mid takeoff in his second heat and being pinned, sideways, to the famous reef, board wedged between his legs etc.


Unfancied Australian melts brains of surf fans with first perfect ten-point ride of the season at “crazy dangerous” Portugal Pro! “If I could have worn an inflation vest, I would have!”

"A war of attrition," said Kelly Slater.

The surfers who won today will skew their impression of the day in favour of the rare opportunities it presented.

Those that lost will hate Portugal right now. They’ll hate the pernicious winds and tides. Hate the closeouts and brutal rips. Hate the cold.

Hate that it’s yet another place where Brazil reigns supreme.

It was a workmanlike day. Not necessarily an ideal day for a surfing competition in the eyes of most, but a day with waves nonetheless.

“A war of attrition,” said Kelly Slater.

It opened to four stacked elimination heats in testing conditions.

Caio Ibelli called it “crazy, dangerous”. He’d had the worst wipeout of his life in competition. “If I could have an inflation vest, I would,” he said after winning his heat with a mere 7.57 points.

We lost Kolohe Andino, Federico Morais, Zeke Lau and Maxime Huscenot.

Andino cuts a sorry figure on Tour these days and never looks like winning anymore, regardless of conditions. Needing a 1.98 to advance through his heat, he caught a knee-high foamy insider and couldn’t even stay on his feet to finish it.

He scored a 1.73, and deserved nothing more.

Federico Morais threw a hissy fit of epic proportions, losing to Kanoa and Slater. I’m sure he felt it was a valuable opportunity lost, being his home event, but the ferocity with which he punched his board was striking to the point of embarrassing.

And there must be some sympathy for French rookie Huscenot. If not for Callum Robson’s late miracle wave, he would have gone through. He was on the QS forever trying to get here. Back he goes.


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But despite the opportunity for upsets, all the names advanced, and in the end the only surprise was Callum Robson’s stupendous ten as the heat ebbed away.

He spun on a wave that seemed to rise from nowhere. A tube as thick as it was tall spat like a Targaryen dragon trying to incinerate the Aussie chippy, yet he emerged from the fury for an undeniable perfect score.

It was the first ten of the year, and the best wave we would see all day by some margin. The Yeti cooler he gets as a reward won’t just be a fucker to lug back on the plane, and the apex of cheesy WSL gimmickry, but is actually quite demeaning in the context of that wave.

Going on hold immediately after this would seem like a bizarre decision on paper, but it was probably the right one. Renato Hickel delivered a “man vs nature” mantra and told us the tide was too low.

Water patrol skis were bottoming out and it was too dangerous.

When we returned at 1300 to commence the round of 32 the tide had filled in a bit and things had cleaned up, just a little.

The overlapping heat format was employed, less to take advantage of good conditions, and more because the waiting period is dwindling away.

The draw looked imbalanced from the outset and still does. At some point I need to unpick the methodology of this. I know it’s seeding dependent, but with Robinson, Florence, Ferreira, Medina and Colapinto on one side, it sure doesn’t look right.

To my eye, there were three main upsets in the fourteen heats completed, and little to write home about as a whole.

The first was our reigning world champ losing to Joan Duru. Though on European soil and heavy beachbreak, which Duru is sneaky good in, perhaps it’s not much of a surprise. Joan only caught three waves, but Toledo couldn’t find any of the clean water he prefers.

The second (minor) upset was Sammy Pupo producing late heroics to bump Kanoa Igarashi from the competition, despite having an eight point ride in his scoreline.

Kanoa has still not found his rhythm this year, and Portugal being more or less his home event, this was the place we might expect him to get into his groove.

By contrast, on evidence of his fledgling career to date, Sammy Pupo seems rarely out of rhythm.

In Pupo, Chianca and Dora we already have three more Brazilians with few weaknesses who might just be contenders at some point.

They just keep coming, like a zombie hoard.

There’s a real opportunity for points in the first half of the draw. Critical points, too, with the cut looming. One of the following four will make the semi-final in Portugal: Joan Duru, Ian Gentil, Callum Robson and Sammy Pupo.

Another sparky rookie in Rio Waida was responsible for the third upset in dispatching John Florence from the competition. It was a scrappy heat, with Waida’s paltry 9.30 good enough over Florence’s 9.17.

Both are much better than this, but every heat that Florence loses in this way feels precarious. We’re early in the season, of course, and I couldn’t claim to know anything of John Florence’s wants or desires, but I do know we want him to stick around at the business end of competitions.

On paper, and given consistent waves, the tastiest heat in this round was Joao Chianca’s match-up with Slater.

Strider noted that Kelly had been disgruntled with Chianca pre-heat, presumably for his over-exuberance in the competitor’s area. He needed to “calm down” apparently, evidence perhaps of both Kelly’s seniority and Chianca’s polarising personality.

In the water Chianca was composed enough to stitch together some mid-sixes, which more often than not are enough to beat Slater these days. Kelly did have the highest wave score of the heat with a 7.33, but with a couple of mins remaining, too late was the cry.

Notable was a small tube Chianca muscled into with a double arm drag, then out of with brute force. It came on a wave that Kelly wanted, which likely would have given him the score he needed.

Two heats remain before the round of 16. With no disrespect to Jackson Baker or Seth Moniz, all eyes will be on Medina and Colapinto.

And there were many, many eyes in attendance at Supertubos today, proving, as if it needed proven, that the European leg is critical for fan engagement.

The WSL is often guilty of hyping the crowds that aren’t there, but the drone angle revealed a beach thick with punters. I’d question the 40,000 number Kaipo threw out, and I’d question the fact that many were gathered on the fragile dunes rather than the beach, but it was certainly a substantial and welcome support, as noted by some of the athletes.

This crowd will thin out midweek, no doubt, but the forecast is not without promise that we might yet see some classic Supertubos before the work is done.

In Portugal, as in surfing, there is always the promise of something more.