The Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach is, now, officially in the rearview with certain professional surfers looking onward, to Margaret River, with the greatest of trepidation. For it is there, on Australia’s rough and tumble western shore, that sees the guillotine drop, axing underperformers for the season, sending them to places where sounds of wailing and gnashing teeth fill the air.
Challenger Series yikes.
Amongst those poised to die are Kolohe Andino, Jake Marshall and the best to ever do it Kelly Slater.
Yes, the winningest of all-time finds himself below the mid-season cut line and, likely, unable to make up what he must. Being old, the retirement, albeit forced, should come as a relief to the man who simply could not stop though, hours ago, the 11x world champion threw a monkey wrench into the proceedings by announcing the arrival of twins.
“Twins!” he penned on Instagram.
Their misshapen appearance suggests much money necessary in the future for care and development. A good thing, I suppose, that the World Surf League changed its rules, under the cover of night, to allow former champions named Kelly Slater to continue competing, and earning a paycheck, even after his neck has been severed.
Those twins are…
More as the momentum develops.
Hawaiian surfer recounts punching and wrestling eight-foot tiger shark while beast feasted on his leg: “My hand went right to the gills and as soon as I got to the gills, (it) released me!”
"I just felt the pressure and the strength of it..."
We all, each of, have read many tales from shark attack survivors. As surfers, I suppose, we imagine what we would do if a shark began molesting us in the ocean blue. Be strong and brave, fighting back, and making a good show of it or melt into a puddle of scare and cry?
Impossible to know or, as Iron Mike Tyson says, “Everyone has a plan until they get bit on the leg.”
Well, days ago we learned the harrowing tale of a then-unnamed 58-year-old surfer who was attacked by an eight-foot tiger near Honolulu. The horrible business occurred early in the morning, surfers helped him to shore and he was transported to the local hospital where he was announced to be in critical condition.
Today, we learn that his name is Mike Morita and he is as heroic as it comes. Sitting down with Today, he described the moment when he lost his foot.
“I just felt the pressure and the strength of it,” he said after initially believing it was a seal. “I started to pray to God and I said, ‘God let this shark let go of my leg. ‘I was going back and forth, back and forth with it, and it didn’t let go. So I guess God wanted me to fight.”
Fight he did. Morita began punching the shark in the head, even though his fists felt slow and weak. He then wrapped his legs around the beast and tried to squeeze. When that didn’t work his h”and went right to the gills and as soon as I got to the gills, (it) released me.”
“I have God in my life and I have a lot of faith and trust and at no point was I scared,” he added. “At no point was I thinking that I was going to die.”
As other surfers rushed to help he looked back to examine the damage, realizing his leg was only bone from ankle to mid-shin.
But how does he feel now, in the hospital, that bone sawed off? “So with the pain medication, and this nice, soft hospital bed, I’m at about a two or three as far as pain,” he declared before pivoting to praise his friends.
“I cannot believe the courage my friends had because I’m getting attacked and they paddled towards me,” he continued. “They’re my heroes.”
They don’t build them quite like Mike Morita anymore. Here’s to a quick recovery.
These times, man. Crazy. From an erosion of faith in the World Surf League to Kelly Slater getting pushed to retire a year plus earlier than he had planned. Dangerous and bleak but in dark days heroes often rise and shall we hasten to meet Aleks Pevec, founder and personal surf coach at Lipsmack.
But what is Lipsmack? Pevec defines thusly:
Lipsmack: when a surfer turns up their surfboard to hit the falling lip of the wave, allowing the surfboard to be smashed down.
Then continues on with his mission.
Our mission is to guarantee every person, and every couple, a safe space to learn how to catch a wave. If you ever felt like surfing was something that you wanted to try, but feared that it might not be the kind of warm community that you seek, Lipsmack is the perfect place to start. We offer a place to learn and grow as a surfer, in a supportive environment where you can be yourself.
We specialize in surf lessons for new beginners, individuals, couples, friendships, anniversaries, and life partners. We are especially interested in spreading a love of surfing throughout the LGBTQ+ community. The ocean, waves, and sandy beaches are for everyone.
Come bring a date (or jump in solo!) and smack that lip.
Pevec grew up in Honolulu where he learned the art of surfing then moved to Los Angeles in order to major in musical theater at UCLA. He took his skills to Broadway, where he appeared in Evita and Aladdin, before returning to the City of Angeles in order to Lipsmack.
But we are all aware how horrible and violent surfers are. How rude and grouchy and insufferable. How adult learners are ever more vulnerable and need safeguarding from evils like locals and their localism.
Protection runs $175 for an hour and a half, which has been discounted from $225. Couples can become protected for $275.
Sam Cahn, happy customer, declared, “I was hesitant to learn how to surf, but it was something I wanted to mark off my bucket list. After arriving, Aleks taught me form and technique on the sand. In the ocean, Aleks was by my side guiding me the entire lesson. I couldn’t have felt more safe.” Dan Bennett added, “My very first time surfing was with Lipsmack, in Malibu. As someone who works in finance and isn’t the most athletic, I’m so grateful that Aleks was there to coach me through the process. Surfing always seemed so intimidating, but Aleks made the learning experience feel safe, welcoming, supportive, and immensely enjoyable.”
Our moms came up with a great plan to get rid of us for four hours on a Saturday afternoon. We were thrilled.
KCOP had a sound studio near our home that filmed all the Roller Derby and Pro Wrestling shows that peppered their programming. These shows were very popular, especially to us ten-year-old boys.
Jumping out of my skin, we entered the studio and there it was!
Not as glamorous as I had imagined, or large for that matter, just a roped-out square ring with five levels of bench seating surrounding it. Pretty ghetto considering OSHA standards.
An hour of over violence ends as John Tolos, the Golden Greek, pulls out a metal object from the waistline of his tights and nearly decapitates Freddie Blassie’s head. Blood everywhere.
I was too young to think about whether there was medical attention nearby.
Remember Jordy dislocating a shoulder at Chopes with no medical crew in the channel and an hour away from any hospital during a tour event?
It’s like promoting challenge and risk without staffing contingencies to respond.
The iconic Pink’s Hot Dogs was just a block away on La Brea from the studio and we could score chilli dogs on the break between 2 shows.
We would miss the drama of the Blassie’s ambulance rescue to eat delicious poison!
Cake and eat it too.
Perfect Saturday and we’re walking back to the studio for the second filming, we show our arm bands to the gate security and I look over to see John Tolos smoking cigarettes with Freddie Blassie in the corner of the parking lot.
Shouldn’t Freddie be getting surgery to reattach his head right now?
I never watched wrestling or roller derby again. Santa Claus was revealed to be your drunken dad. It’s all a ruse. Fuck you for believing us.
Think about that?
“Fuck you for believing us.”
In surfing, the signs have all been there for years.
The distance the WSL has made to their only inherent market, surfers, grows more distant every day.
Huey has a vengeance for them.
The WSL is a marketing company desperately scratching to break even. Sophie left the bar so low.
Truth told, Rabbit’s bar was low too. He was the latest surfer submissive to the clothing elite. Pig bottom.
Jackson Baker is so solid. Dude is of the highest floors.
It wasn’t that long ago that Wade Carmichael occupied his position on tour. Wade had more spice, but Jackson is rock solid, for sure.
He is also incapable of a nine in head-high soft point break.
Correct score from my seat? 7.2
Ok, generous, 7.5.
Considering most heats were won with sixes.
But this is the challenge when a business focuses more on image than its product.
Objectivity loses to self-interest.
Or influenced by an overt claim?
Oh the horror.
That wasn’t the only judging anomaly.
Ethan can win without gifts. No push required.
But the show must go on.
“Make or Break” episode 325 airing this weekend, tune in, like and subscribe!
Between the homer announcing booth (incompetence) and the homer judging, I had seen enough. I shut my computer down.
I had just recalled John Tolos smoking cigarettes with Freddie Blassie in the parking lot of a Hollywood Sound Studio.
Fool me twice.
Australia’s Tyler Wright answers age old question “if a bell rings in Wada Wurrung land and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound?” with a resounding “NO!”
Let us be all the way honest. The surf, yesterday, around the corner from Bells Beach was terrible. Like, baby yuck yucks. I was with you, computer open, anticipating the start of final’s day though when World Surf League Chief of Sport Jessi Miley-Dyer, festooned in a yellow anorak, said it was on and “contestable.” Ronald Blakey and Richard Lovett, in the booth, said they were excited to see the performances. That it was “chicken skin” inducing.
All displaying a shared insanity.
There are certainly other things that could have been said. Things like, “Look, we have eyes and we see how bad these waves are but let’s see what the surfers can make out of them.”
Did you know there was a women’s contest running concurrently with the men’s?
It is true and won by Tyler Wright, her second Bell in a row, moving through a murderers’ row of Stephanie Gilmore, Carissa Moore and Molly Picklum to avenge her decapitated brother Owen Wright.
“I didn’t expect too much this week … last year there was so much emotion in it as it took me 12 years to try and get the first one,” she told Australia’s ABC news, who tacked the quip onto the end of a story about Ethan Ewing. “Both wins are incredible,” she added “and I felt I learnt a lot from last year on how to manage Bells.”
Wright is now second in the world, nipping at Picklum’s heels heading into Margaret River.
Relive the magic along with 1700 others now.
Jon Pyzel and Matt Biolos by @theneedforshutterspeed/Step Bros