Medina (pictured) back on top of the world. Photo: WSL
Medina (pictured) back on top of the world. Photo: WSL

Three-time world champion Gabriel Medina reasserts brute dominance over professional surfing with redemptive win at Margaret River!

For my money, there was no greater inevitability in pro sports than this comeback.

In life and in surfing, you might find perfect moments, but it’s our flaws that keep us going. Absolute, lasting perfection is a goal best left in the abstract.

Because once you get there, where’s left to go?

If there’s meaning to life, or surfing, it lies in the chase.

As we career towards a future where supreme intelligence is no longer human, and our very existence is uncertain, this chase is more vital than ever, because it binds us to humanity.

Hold tightly to your love, because it’s a uniquely human thing. But also cherish your losses, your tragic errors and your deepest flaws. These give us purpose.

Our weaknesses are agnostic to culture, or race, or gender. Our frailties trace vital lines of communication. We are comforted by the fact that others share them, but equally joyous in seeing people overcome them.

And in the perfect moments when flaws are vanquished, that’s where we find the greatest joy. Moments that become bubbles, where all of life’s grind and tragedy is temporarily suspended.

These moments are found in surfing, perhaps in something as simple as an exited barrel or single turn for most of us.

But for the men who’ve given their lives to the art of performance surfing, these moments come in victory over other men like them.

Any one of the four who made the semi-finals at Margaret River would have been a worthy winner, and all were worthy adversaries. Yet each have their flaws, some briefly conquered, others revealed.

For Joao Chianca, still the number one rated surfer in the world, his emotions are his weakness, a fact he noted. He approaches his fellow competitors like prey. A heat with Joao Chianca is like a crocodile’s death roll.

We might easily view this as his major strength, even if he thinks he doesn’t always get the balance right. “Cold blood, warm heart”, he stated as his aim. It was a perfect analogy for elite sports. It sounded too good to be original rather than something he’d heard on a podcast, but if it was his own turn of phrase then it should become both his catchphrase and guiding principle, and I’d expect others to steal it.

Chianca may be emerging as a far more cerebral athlete than first imagined, a fact alluded to by Britt Merrick on Ain’t That Swell recently. Chianca understood surfboard design, he said, on a deep level.

Regardless, he lost to Medina today, in a match-up I hope to see much more of, if only to watch them paddle off the contest site in order to establish priority, foaming at the mouth.

Medina is still the alpha, but Chianca is undeterred.

Until the semi-final loss to Colapinto, John Florence was more or less flawless.

The idea of Florence having flaws at all will be antithetical to most people, but if he does, it’s the inability to compromise his surfing to fit the confines of a heat. Florence knows no other way to approach a wave like Margaret River than with sheer, poetic violence.

It’s served him well, amassing forty-something excellent wave scores in the years he’s competed here. Contrast this with the next highest which is Jordy Smith with fifteen. One of those rare WSL stats that’s actually interesting.

The approach had also served him well until, quite ironically, he tried to address his often flawed approach to heat surfing by aiming for mid-range scores early rather than waiting for the best waves and terminating them. It was a tactic he based on the previous heat, and on many other days he would’ve been right. Today he wasn’t wrong, just unlucky.

The luck was on Colapinto’s side. It came first in a highly juiced 8.50, which I haven’t watched again but caused some ire from fans in the comment section. And it came second in being perfectly positioned for one of the waves of the day, ridden, to Colapinto’s credit, with the sort of speed and grace that warranted the nine points he was awarded. Few complaints about that one.

Florence was the best surfer of the entire competition, but Colapinto won that heat. So goes pro surfing.

The flaws in Griffin Colapinto’s game this year are increasingly hard to spot. He’s stylish, well-rounded, his head-game seems on point, and most importantly, he seems to have remarkable composure and belief that allows him to do his best surfing in a vest.

He elevates to a slightly higher level with each event, and firmly belongs in world title conversations alongside the likes of Robinson, Medina and Toledo.

But it was Medina who took the Margaret River title for 2023 in a dominant final where he threw away more points than Colapinto could amass. It was a performance reminiscent of the past, and if you ask his most ardent fans, myself included, it might just foreshadow the second coming we’ve never doubted.

It was Gabriel Medina’s first victory since coming back at this point last season, and the first result better than ninth this year. His hiatus from the competition landscape was due to the breakdown of his marriage and damage to his relationships with his mother and stepfather.

Medina’s flaws have always been personal, not professional.

When it comes to pro surfing, Medina is Him.

We know this, his competitors know this, and he knows this. Testament to his dedication to gym work, Medina muscled his way through the warbles better than anyone, manhandling converging sections of whitewater at Main Break and staying on his feet where others could not. It was not just poise and timing that carried him to victory, but sheer physicality.

Perhaps his personal problems have strengthened his resolve to reassert his dominance, his love of winning the key to his redemption.

God knows, we all have something to run to, for better or worse.

The flawed gamblers among us were surely rewarded by this return to form. Medina’s odds had been steadily lengthening with each ninth place finish. But for my money, there was no greater inevitability in pro sports than this comeback.

And so we roll onto the maligned Surf Ranch, where the major fault is faultlessness. We don’t enjoy waves of mechanical perfection. It’s unnatural. It’s inhuman.

But cast your eye over the current top seven surfers in the world, as well as some of the talented outliers. Only five of these men can make the cut off for Trestles, and right now I couldn’t pick them with head nor heart.

The Surf Ranch might not be your favourite Tour stop, neither is it mine. But at least the waves are assured, and my sleeping patterns can be planned.

More importantly, there’s no-where to hide in the baking heat of Lemmore.

After all, if the canvas is perfect, the flaws of the artist are revealed.

Child stars at top of the world. Photo: WSL
Child stars at top of the world. Photo: WSL

Two-time champ Tyler Wright stuns, delights fans by dragging heavy emotional baggage of child stardom to World Surf League’s highest peak!

"I really like what I'm doing at the moment."

The Margaret River Pro what with its mid-season cull, its wild and wooly waves, its happy, wine soaked locals is now officially in the books and wow. What a time. JP Currie will certainly recap the men’s side soon but the girls thrilled equally much, Carissa Moore taking down Bronte Macaulay in her semi, Tyler Wright dispatching Caroline Marks in hers, then meeting for the twelfth time in the final.


The day belonged to Carissa Moore, who continues to challenge Kelly Slater for the title of “greatest surfer of all-time.” She has beaten Wright nine out of twelve, in fact, an absolutely dominant percentage, and did so at Main Break with a selection of powerful carves and timely lip bashes.

The season thus far, though, is Wright’s who claimed the yellow jersey, climbing to the World Surf League’s highest peak.

Number one.

What made the feat even more impressive, stunning and delighting fans, is the fact that she has scaled that rocky crag laden with heavy emotional baggage strapped on by her father who made her surf when she was young.

You will certainly recall, days ago, when the two-time world champion opened up about the “different emotional and psychological abuse” she suffered at his hand, opening up to Dave Prodan on his usually tame podcast The Lineup and saying:

“I experienced that and I worked with a psychologist for years to understand my relationship with surfing and understand how that was born, how it was really unhealthy for me. I’m rebuilding a relationship with surfing because of the drastic and extreme circumstances that I was raised in…Look, this is not uncommon. Which is baffling for someone like me. If this is not uncommon, why don’t we have better solutions, better parenting programs, better informed industry? I’m not the first child this has happened to. I’m not the first child star this has happened to.”

Wildly impressive.

“I haven’t been in that [No 1] position for a long time,” Wright said after the final hooter sounded. “I really like what I’m doing at the moment. It’s been an amazing last few events. It didn’t go great for me in that final, but I’ve had a wonderful week, a wonderful Australian leg.”

The season goes quiet, now, for a month before those who survived The Cut are gifted a trip to Lemoore, California and Kelly Slater’s Surf Ranch which may be flooded.

David Lee Scales and I did not discuss Wright’s feat of strength on our latest chat though we did dig deep into the issue of those who carry surfboards wax side toward body. I think you’ll be surprised by the conclusion.


Bodhi Mani Risby-Jones is “accused of an alcohol-fuelled, naked rampage outside a beachside resort that left a passer-by in hospital and prompted an angry mob of residents to threaten to burn down the hotel.” | Photo: Facebook

Aussie surfer accused of drunken rampage in Sharia-ruled Aceh faces the lash and five years prison as locals threaten to burn down his hotel!

“He got out of his room naked… He hit almost everyone who was on the street.”

An Australian surfer who until a couple of nights back was enjoying the ripe fruits of the Mentawais is facing a helluva storm after being arrested following a wild melee outside the exclusive Moon Beach resort on the Sumatran island of Simeulue. 

Bodhi Mani Risby-Jones, who is twenty-three and from the Queensland holiday hamlet Noosa, is “accused of an alcohol-fuelled, naked rampage outside a beachside resort that left a passer-by in hospital and prompted an angry mob of residents to threaten to burn down the hotel.”

The island’s head cop Jatmiko said Risky-Jones had been drinking vodka before emerging from his room naked. 

“The security man attempted to stop him but got hit at the neck and fell down,” alleged Jatmiko. “He then went on to the street and disturbed passers-by. He hit almost everyone who was on the street.”

Risby-Jones is also accused of hitting a motorbike rider and throwing the moto onto him after he fell into a gutter. The resulting leg wound, says the cop, needed fifty stitches,. 

In retaliation, furious onlookers then tried to burn down the resort. 

“The people got angry and almost put the resort on fire. Luckily, local police and the village head managed to calm down the mob.”

Now, up here in northern Sumatra Islamic law, aka Sharia, rules in morality matters which means happy homosexuals, wild swingers and boozers can, and often are, publicly caned. 

Because the motorbike rider’s wife accused Risby-Jones of violence and not drinking, his case is being investigated under Article 351 of the Indonesian penal code, which carries a max of five years in jail. 

Howevs, authorities haven’t ruled out investigating the boozing angle.

Two years ago, three men were given forty lashes of the cane for drinking in public, although non-Muslims can choose Sharia, which is swift, if cruel, or Indonesia’s penal code which, like most legal processes, can be a labyrinth that’ll drag you and your credit card into the darkest hole for months, years.

Sometimes better to take your lickings and move on.

Like a German tank crunching through straw huts on its way across a border, Medina was untroubled by difficult six-to-eight-foot waves that left most of his peers, although not Griffin Colapinto let’s be said, looking maladroit. 

After shocking start to season, three-time world champ Gabriel Medina storms into title contention with dominant win at Margaret River Pro!

The phallus rises thick, red and arching!

Under gloomy skies and only one hour after putting Joao Chianca to the guillotine in the final seconds of their semi, the Brazilian Gabriel Medina has stormed into world title contention after a dominant performance over Griffin Colapinto at the Margaret River Pro. 

Like a German tank crunching through straw huts on its way across a border, Medina was untroubled by difficult six-to-eight-foot waves that left most of his peers, although not Griffin Colapinto let’s be said, looking maladroit. 

Colapinto had seized his place in the final when he overthrew two-time Margaret River Pro champ John John Florence in a coup d’état so bloody it shocked surf fans.

The win puts twenty-nine-year-old Medina, who hadn’t placed better, or worse, than ninth in the previous four events, into seventh spot on the ratings and with a shot at claiming his fourth world title in September.

Colapinto’s second-placing, meanwhile, gifts Colapinto a place on Finals Day, which is held at his home beach Lower Trestles, something that has eluded the twenty four year old in the previous two seasons. 

“It’s a contest I’ve always wanted to win,” said Medina of his seventeenth tour victory. “I’m always struggling to make heats here.”

Next event is the loathed Surf Ranch Pro, a contest that Medina has won twice and placed second in three starts.

Oooowee, lookee here, a pretty lil hipster!

Beach cops coming to Byron Bay after council passes world-first law making legropes compulsory, with fines of up to $1100!

Be careful what you wish for…

After what feels like a never-ending series of near-fatal accidents around Byron featuring leashless hipsters on longboards belting people in the head, its council has unanimously voted to enforce the wearing of legropes by law. 

Yesterday, councillor Cate Coorey, a progressive who says “we must heal and restore this land and plan for a climate disrupted future” put forward the motion that would see cops roaming the beach ready to sting the leashless with on-the-spot fines of $75 or $1100 if you want to take it to court. 

“This is not all about being punitive,” said Coorey. “Some have said, ‘surfers are a rebellious community and they won’t support it’, but they nearly all do because they nearly all wear leg ropes,” 

There’s gonna be signs on the beach and rangers on the sandy beat although the council’s legal advice is it might be a little tricky to make a clean bust. 

“The offence … is not just about engaging in certain conduct [not wearing a leash], but engaging in that conduct contrary to a notice,” the report said, adding the council would need to prove they had passed “near enough to a notice prior to entering the water that they could be said to have acted contrary to it”.

Two months ago, the pro surfer Matt Cassidy nearly bled out on the beach at Wategos after being hit by a loose board and six months back, an aged care worker and mother of a disabled kid was crippled after she got belted by an out-of-control surf pilot who then criticised her for damaging his board with her bone and tissue. 

“It sends the right message that people are starting to take it seriously, that surf safety is something we should have top of mind when we enter the water,” said Cassidy. “If it helps just one kid hanging out at the lagoon at the Pass not get hit in the head by a mal, they’ve done the right thing.”

You like cops on the beach?

Or do you prefer a little ol frontier justice?