The future of professional surfing arrives in Portugal as Joao “Chumbawamba” Chianca curb stomps Jack Robinson to hoist MEO Rip Curl Pro cup above handsome head!


A new day has dawned, both literally and metaphorically, in competitive professional surfing. A figurative turning of the page but maybe also a literal one there, too, if you so happened to print out the MEO Rip Curl Portugal Pro’s heat sheets on real paper in order to parse what actually transpired during the finals.

Conditions? The water was “heavy” according to Peter Mel, “six to eight foot full on crazy beachbreak,” and did not look particularly inviting, many rips, much sand filtering through square barrels, though the sun shone and the beach crowd made happy noises, packed shoulder to shoulder, dreams of caldeirada dancing in their heads.

Griffin stunned Gabriel in their round of 16 heat, bagging a spicy meatball with minutes left on the clock to send the former champion to his exit though couldn’t muster the same magic in the quarters, including a .97 in his score line against Yago Dora. Dora, who had axed Italo Ferreira in his round of 16 showing then took Colapinto’s mangy scalp could not stand against the self-realized Jack Robinson, who arrived into the finals all calm and collected.

On the other side, Joao “Chumbawamba” Chianca drank a whisky drink in beating “Mr. 10” Connor O’Leary in the quarters then drank a lager drink in beating Callum Robson in the semis to arrive, chin to chin, with Robinson in the aforementioned ender. Let us recall, as well, that it was Chianca who put an early finish to Kelly Slater, pushing the world’s greatest surfer to the dreaded midseason cut line.

Portugal’s president Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa showed up to witness the finals live and in person no doubt infuriating World Surf League twin Chiefs Erik Logan and Jessi Miley-Dyer as they had decided to forego the event in order to fete themselves in Austin, Texas. Imagine how much social media praise the two could have heaped upon themselves, shoulder to shoulder with elected sovereignty. Imagine the tight shakas and tighter smiles.

Those finals, in any case, kicked off in the “best surf of the whole competition.” Mel announced that “it seems we are witnessing the future of professional surfing right here” in the form of Chumbawamba and Robbo and it didn’t seem patently ludicrous.

Robinson struck first, a small-ish barrel to floater. Chianca one-upped him directly with an air drop to a square pit. Neither looked exhausted even though they had each surfed multiple hours in shifting chilly peaks. Three forty minute heats. Back and forth they went as the tide filled in, Jesse Mendes surprising with a warm tone and fine insight alongside Mel and Kaipo Guerrero in the booth.

With eighteen minutes and change, Chianca had Robinson combinationed, living in combolandia, needing two scores in order to overcome and win.

Chianca kept the pedal to the medal, providing no quarter, building a score total including a nine plus rides plus eights etc. too and with ten minutes left, Robinson was all but finished.

Robinson bagged a solid right, near the end, just after yet another Chianca left, who sat out the back claiming his to be a ten.

With Chianca’s win, the stage is set perfectly for him and other all-around greats, surfers who both charge the big and fly in the little, to become undone by Filipe Toledo at Lower Trestles Final’s Day even though they will have him beat, badly, point-wise and even though he will refuse to paddle Teahupo’o.


Live stream! Comment in real time as thrice world champ Gabriel Medina makes title contention loud and clear at Rip Curl Portugal Pro, “Like the twitch before the switch of a dynamo!”

The world is a theatre!

Slater (pictured) hoisting a weary nation on his strong shoulders. Photo: WSL
Slater (pictured) hoisting a weary nation on his strong shoulders. Photo: WSL

Heavy Puerto Rican left to host ISA World Surfing Games 2024, decide which surfers will head to mighty Teahupo’o for a shot at Olympic glory!

Kelly Slater for Syria, anyone?

The 2020 Olympic Games, which just so happened to take place in 2021, marked surfing’s grand five ring debut. Oh host Japan is one of the finer countries on earth and if you have never been, I highly recommend, though maybe leave the surfboard at home. While the mountains horde powder like vintage Elton John, the beaches are gorgeously inconsistent, wave-wise. Brazil’s Italo Ferreira and Hawaii’s Carissa Moore, thus, won gold in gutless knee-high dribblers.

Paris 2024, however, will be played at the Place of Broken Skulls.


And glory be, though which surfers shall have the opportunity to huck over ledge and into legend? As you know, the top two surfers from each nation on the World Surf League’s Championship Tour will be selected. Currently that means Jackie Robinson + Ethan Ewing for Australia, Filipe Toledo + Joao Chianca for Brazil, Griffin Colapinto + John John Florence for the United States, Jordy Smith + Matt McGillivray for South Africa.

Now, of course, that will all change and maybe has changed already. As you know, Toledo lost yesterday in heavy beachbreak, “heavy” being his great chink, but image he does qualify and is forced to not paddle for waves, due sheer terror, while the world watches.

Do you think the small wave maestro knows he’s afraid or do you think he chooses to believe the various excuses that are floated?

Interesting question.

Far down the list for Team America is one Kelly Slater, which leads us directly to the just-announced International Surfing Games 2024, which will take place February 22nd through March 2nd in Puerto Rico at the twin peaks El Pico and Rastrial. Described as “thick” and the “perfect proving ground for Tahiti,” the competition will decide 12 other surfers who will, forthwith, stamp their ticket to Papeete.


There is little chance he will make the cut for his home country via the WSL but beefy barrels suit his style and imagine he does the inspirational thing and competes for Syria.

The Middle Eastern country, devastated by civil war and recent earthquake, sure could use the fairy tale and what better way for Slater, who happens to be Syrian, to finish off an illustrious career.

I have spent much time in Syria and can speak to wonder. From the oldest continually inhabited city on earth to fine cuisine to warm people, Syria is a gem and worth Slater’s effort.

But will he give it?

A rare win-win, if we’re all being honest.

Can this sort of thing be crowd funded?

More as the story develops.

Slater ain't hanging around in Portugal.

Surf world reeling after Kelly Slater threatens retirement following catastrophic showing in Portugal and reveals the death threats in response to his robust Instagram presence, “Literally, I’ll come find you!”

"The social media thing is sad… it's toxic."

Portugal’s Supertubos and its wildly tricky tide affected waves has long been the graveyard of Kelly Slater’s dreams, a loss to wildcard Fred Morais in 2013 scuttled that year’s title run; same thing the following year when Slater destroyed a board after losing to Aritz Aranburu.

A couple of nights back, his dream of swinging out of the spotlight with an Olympic gold at Teahupoo is close to being shuttered after losing to the Brazilian Joao Chianca.

In response to the loss, Slater said, in a roundabout sorta way, thanks for the laughs but I ain’t never coming back to this hellhole again.

Now, in a just-released podcast with Amy Morin of the Verywell Mind Podcast, fifty-one-year-old Slater has spoken of his mental health, the therapy he does with his Chinese girlfriend Kalani, issues he had with his parents, retirement and so on, but also the heavy pushback he gets for his robust social presence.

“Social media can be toxic. I’ve had people wish me death on social media many times for a comment or an opinion, literally I’ll come find you. Almost like scary stuff. And I think those people probably don’t even remember they did that, it’s weird because there’s this separation. You’re not in front of the person. Fifty years ago, 30 years ago, 20 years ago, they could just punch you in the face. Now there’s a paper trail and it turns into this whole thing. It’s like a legal battle, but at the same time people can say whatever they want with no accountability behind that. And so the face-to-face interactions with people are really what should build you up and make you who you are. And I think the social media thing, it’s sad because you see a lot of kids struggling with it. There’s a lot of bullying that goes on. I think there’s a lot of stuff that you don’t see unless you’re really right in these little pockets of people. I hear these stories of kids being bullied in school by other people and then committing suicide and it’s just terrible just because people want to be mean, it’s life’s a struggle for everybody in some capacity. And social media can make it harder.”

The Champ also talks about winning Pipe last year, and which opens season two of Apple TV +’s docuseries Make or Break.

“There’s this one moment in the contest where I should have lost and just in the last moment I end up winning. And that was about, it was just in the third or fourth round of the contest. And that was really the thing that springboarded me into just getting in the flow for this event and ultimately winning it. But I was going through a lot of stuff in my own mind that gets in the way. When you don’t win for a long time. I spent a lot of years winning on average, every fourth event that I surfed for 30 years basically. And then I didn’t win a contest for five years, a couple years I had off for injury and stuff. But still it starts to creep in your mind, I don’t know if I can do this. And just like the opposite when you’re young and you start to win, when you start to get on tour and you start winning some events, you see some of the young guys now, Jack Robinson, Gabe Medina, John John, Felipe Toledo, Griffin Colopinto, all these kids coming up. Once they start winning a few heats and beating the guys that they thought maybe they couldn’t beat at some point when they were younger, the confidence just gets there. You don’t question it. And so there’s a lifeline for all things. And so I was getting to this point where I didn’t know whether I could win again. And I knew I could on paper, I knew I could, but inside you go through your own struggles throughout an event and you have doubts. And even when it was seconds from happening, I was like, I can’t believe this is real. And so the feeling was really, for me, it was really pure and magical like when I was a kid again. And as far as the other episodes throughout the year, I haven’t watched them all, so I couldn’t tell you. But Filipe Toledo had an amazing year last year. He was definitely the standout surfer of the year and he won his first world title and I’m sure they’re going in depth to cover that. And each individual event, somebody’s going through something good and bad. And it’s just interesting to see all those stories that even if you’re not a fan of this sport, even if you don’t surf, there’s a lot of people who’ve been sucked into Formula One through what Box To Box has done and now they’re getting into the golf as well. And I think it’s the individual stories that are compelling for people to learn about. And I think through each of those, if they’re told right, you learn about yourself.”

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?