Italo Ferreira (pictured) flexing. Photo: WSL
Italo Ferreira (pictured) flexing. Photo: WSL

As World Surf League comes under fire for Surf Ranch Pro it becomes clear that the judges do not identify with Brazilian athletes.

"Why would it be surprising that a pudgy, fifty-something, white male WSL judge would err in favour of classic surfing rather than the brand of athleticism and progression brought to the table by the Brazilians?"

Let me tell you a little secret about teaching and schools.

They’re not entirely objective. We might want them to be. We might strive every day to make sure all our actions are in pursuit of fairness. We might even believe wholeheartedly that all decisions made and marks awarded are just and right.

But really we’re deluded.

Teachers have their favourites, whether they admit it or not. Being conscious of it is the healthiest approach.

These pupils are not necessarily the brightest, nor the most studious. Intelligence is important, but personality is vital. The ability to hold a conversation will take you further than an academic mind ever will.

The things we favour are hardly secret. We like independence of mind and spirit. Active listening. Sustained effort. Understanding and respect of other pupils. Engagement with people and ideas. Common human decency.

These are qualities desirable in all people. But when you’re marking something with subjective criteria, an essay for example, you might well err on the side of positivity for some pupils more than others. This is not just teaching, it’s life.

Schools are simply a microcosm of society. This is how the world works. The corporate ladder, who gets the best shift patterns at the sawmill, who starts or gets benched on the Sunday league team. All decisions are based on our subjective biases, conscious or not.

All this is to say: why would the judging of professional surfing be any different?

Honestly, I feel vindicated. If you follow my wraps here, you’ll know that the overscoring of flow and the castration of explosiveness is a drum I’ve beaten before. The strength of my ire is based on the fact I watch near enough every wave on this Tour. Forgive me if I underestimate your pro surfing masochism, but I just can’t see that many others are doing that. But at Surf Ranch every wave’s a keeper, so you pay attention. And what did you see? Was the curtain pulled back?

Is it surprising that some styles are favoured? Not at all. Why would it be surprising that a pudgy, fifty-something, white male WSL judge would err in favour of classic surfing rather than the brand of athleticism and progression brought to the table by the Brazilians?

And I know this argument seems fallible when there are Brazilian judges among the Australians and Americans, but they are all still men of certain age and sensibility.

Moreover, if Make Or Break taught us anything, it’s that the cult of personality rules the judging tower. Pritamo Ahrendt, a forty-five year old Australian, is the loudest voice in the tower, standing over the other judges shoulders, cajoling them towards their decisions, and asking are you sure? Are you really sure about that score? Maybe you should look again…

These judges (all surfers, remember, committed, knowledgeable surf nuts, as Richie Porta has always been at pains to remind us) do not identify with Brazilian athletes. When they sneak a wave or two pre or post waiting period, they are picturing themselves as Ethan Ewing, not Italo Ferreira. Maybe they even exchange a “how ya goin mate” with Ewing in the water, or cheery smile from Griff. By contrast, Medina and Ferreira give cold stares. They’re too busy training, not surfing.

Look at the sheer physicality of Italo and Gabriel. They seem to grow before our eyes. These men are athletes first, surfers second. And something in that doesn’t sit well with the judges. Unconsciously, perhaps, but no less apparent.

In life, we are led by ego, consumed by silent bias, castrated by the narrowness of our experience. We act, every single day, in ways that we know are wrong, little ways and bigger ways. Yet still we continue. We lie, we cheat, we show favouritism, we harbour secret thoughts, we act on bodily impulses. And through it all we might convince ourselves that our actions as an individual are pure and justified. But they’re not. They’re really not.

I hadn’t intended to focus on the judging controversies, but the glut of content has forced my hand. The notes I took at the beginning of the day were all in admiration of the poise of Gabriel Medina and Filipe Toledo. It struck me that we often do them a disservice by focusing simply on their talent, by saying that those guys are just good. Because it’s so much more than that. What they exhibit with regularity is poise and execution. This is never more apparent than in the pool.

And it’s something that is to be revered in surfing. The elite level of all sports requires big performances in big moments, but few are as intense as riding a wave. There is no downtime, no timeouts, no teammates to carry you or hide behind. In surfing there is just an uncertain canvas on which you must produce your greatest work in the space of seconds. Gabriel Medina and Filipe Toledo do this time and time again.

“Ethan Ewing’s not going to do an air”, I noted. “Men against boys vs Medina”, I wrote conclusively. Then Ewing won and I was forced to reevaluate what my eyes had told me.

But really it was nothing new. Ewing’s 9.07 against Medina was a simple case of a surfer judged against himself, not his opponent. No-one expects Ewing to disconnect from the wave face, so when he does the judges go weak at the knees, even if his aerials look like child’s play in comparison to Medina.

But Gabriel lost, somehow, and he has every right to feel aggrieved. Medina is the best surfer in the world, at every location, by the numbers and the eye test, yet he’s still outside the top five.

He can win any or all of the remaining events, but he might not. And these finals, this Tour as a whole, would be a diminished experience if not for Gabriel Medina.

In the other semi final Colapinto matched up with the seemingly unshakable Toledo. Both looked rattled to begin, but mostly Griffin. Perhaps the much-hyped pressure cooker of the pool was beginning to steam.

When Toldeo, needing a simple 7.0 on the right to win, a score he might get literally with his eyes shut, couldn’t make the wave, it seemed like something had shifted. He needed a ten on his final left – a score that has not yet been rewarded in the pool. His shuv it / varial to switch barrel was techy as it gets, but surfing is not ready for this. It certainly wasn’t a ten. It wasn’t particularly even to my tastes, but the 6.60 awarded was offensively low.

The final match-up between Italo and Griffin seems to have stirred the most controversy. It was hard to see what else Italo might have done. Beyond the mistake on his final wave, feet slipping off the wax to a rattled anti-climax, he surfed like a man possessed. I didn’t count turns, nor should we, but I’d hazard a guess Italo did more than anyone over the two days.

The decision, as is the judges wont, came down to a matter of taste. These judges clearly preferring Colapinto’s smoothness over Ferreira’s skitziness.

Between waves, Italo was like a caged beast, twitching and slamming Red Bulls. There was some delightful weirdness as he clung to the ski that Strider sat on, the latter rabbiting nonsense into the mic whilst Italo stared into the middle distance, ignoring him.

Surf Ranch gave us further glimpses into the curiosity that is Italo Ferreira’s personality. He appears to have a borderline psychotic disposition. Contrast his observed rage on waves and in private moments with his softly spoken public demeanour and you have an athlete that’s endlessly fascinating.

In its best form, sport is a theatre of humanity. Occasionally, the WSL stumble into this and ineptitude works in their favour. There are more people talking about Surf Ranch than ever before, and Brazilians baying for blood.

The very best athletes are those who carry a chip on their shoulder about the injustices of the world. Perceived bias and unfair treatment only makes them stronger. Right at this moment, Gabriel Medina and Italo Ferreira are in the gym, veins popping, rage spilling, muscle fibres ripping then fusing ever harder. They will not stop. They will not fail. Brazil owns the fucking WSL, and I’m here for it.

Side-by-side video of Surf Ranch Pro final between new world number one Griffin Colapinto and Italo Ferreira reveals stunning detail missed by WSL judges, “No way you can justify this!”

It’s hotter than a spoon at Hunter Biden’s house as world champions and Brazilian surf fans storm the WSL citadel in what some are claiming were, at best incompetent, and worst, racist, decisions against BIPOC world champs Italo Ferreira and Gabriel Medina. 

Brazilian surf fans poured on the vitriol and death threats following Gabriel’s shock quarter-final loss to Australian Ethan Ewing and, same, when Griffin Colapinto controversially beat Italo Ferreira. 

It followed Griffin Colapinto’s clear-cut defeat of Filipe Toledo in El Salvador last year which was met with cries from Latin surf fans to create chaos when the tour hit Brazil. 

(Read, Brazilian surf fans apoplectic following Californian Griffin Colapinto’s “shock” win over world title favourite Filipe Toledo, “World Shame League! This event was a joke!” and Latin surf fans vow to create chaos at next World Tour event in Brazil following Filipe Toledos controversial loss to Californian in El Salvador, “The biggest protest in history in Saquarema! Bring banners, balloons, planes, boo all the time! Make them leave due to emotional stress!”)

Now, all tears can be dried, after YouTube’s Old Surf Dad did what the WSL should’ve done and posted an edit with all waves from the final run in split-screen format. 

All comments in favour of Italo, save for one soul who gave it to Colapinto although that might be an echo chamber, confirmation bias sorta thing. 

Small sample.

Italo won this heat. I like this dual screen perspective. Italo is not just faster but also actually more powerful and always smashing a more critical spot. Better sync. Almost in another league. Interestingly enough, Medina’s Left on QF was better than these (compared to Griffin’s, by a landslide) and scored lower (8.63). Its on their website’s heat analyzer still. Decide for yourself. I like old school rail surfing

WSL don’t want Brazilians on top! They already got all the money and stability they wanted from us. The funny thing is that every part of the year is the same thing and when we go to Brazil the judges start to drop scores afraid of the public lol hahaha.. At the end the WSL brand loses value, surfers, surf brands and the surf culture in general. But that’s what happens when a company wants to do for money and not for the sport culture. Surf doesn’t allow that type of business, and the CEO’s will find out the wrong way.

I would probably rather see Griff win…. Particularly in CA But not like this….. Italo’s 8.43 was so under scored. That was disgusting

And in favour of Griff.

Actually no. Grif’s frontside had more variety, more fin and rail engagement. Italo’s backside had the best tube ride, more variety and speed. Grif’s Left could have been a 8.50? Yes maybe 8.70 was overscored. Italo’s left could have been a 9? Yes for sure, maybe he was underscored. Grif’s right was pristine with great finish – could have been a 9.10? Yes for sure but never less. Italo’s right had the best tube ride but weak finish, could have been more? maybe 8.50? Yes. Now do the maths and Grif is still the fair winner by a small margin and thats competition at is highest because they are 2 great surfers.

How do you score it? 


Sam George (left) in happier times. Photo: Nia Peeples
Sam George (left) in happier times. Photo: Nia Peeples

Nia Peeples’ ex-husband shatters hearts after transitioning from surf Buddha into Surf Ranch Propagandhi!

Incel gonna incel.

Sam George, the very definition of a silver hair’d fox, early adopter of male earrings, brother to a star of In God’s Hands hours ago left five commenters utterly reeling. Openly weeping in the streets. Burning mid-1990s copies of Surfer Magazine.


Once considered the surf Buddha, a modern reincarnation of Hawaiian kahunas, George has long guided the faithful in their understanding of this Sport of Kings. His many boat trips to the Mentawis, discoveries and experiences, opinions and other opinions showed the way to a fuller understanding of Sam George and why he is the most important person in surfing and maybe, just maybe, the most important person in the the world.

Alas, one trip to Lemoore, California has shattered this illusion of perfection.

He was, of course, present for the just-wrapped Surf Ranch Pro. There on assignment from proudly involuntarily celibate outdoor website The Inertia.

It must be assumed George, himself, also unwillingly abstains from pleasure after splitting from North Shore’s Nia Peeples.

In any case, he opened his piece describing the town as if Kelly Slater’s Surf Ranch opened yesterday and the event as if it was its first running.

The Inertia readers following along giddy.

Except then a bizarre turn. A twist into pure and outright disinformation not seen since Stalin.

“I’ve come to the conclusion that in its current incarnation not only is the Surf Ranch Pro one of the most exciting events on the tour,” the demigod wrote, “but is as essential to establishing the WCT’s authority as any A+ day at big Pipeline and Teahupo’o.”

Not satisfied with that cloying subservient nonsense he proceeded to illustrate the point with nods to WSL Fantasy Surfer and those enjoy WSL Fantasy Surfer.

Incel gonna gonna get incel, I suppose, though even The Inertia readers were entirely unprepared for the enlightened one praising a machine.

“Must be nice to view from the VIP section. It’s definitely not an event for the general public,” the first wrote. “‘Woodstock 23’ 2 hour lines for food, little to no shade, can’t see half of the waves from where you stand. Overflowing portapotties. Walls are too high for children to view. It’s an event for the staff and ‘VIPs’. Scoring was uneventful as well as the event itself. Happy we went to say we went and to let everyone know they’re not missing out on anything.

“In WSL’s pocket much? Heard you weren’t even there the last day…..” added a second.

“Gag,” the pile on continued.

The two other comments equally unflattering and hurtful.

George is, no doubt, at home reading and re-reading each of them. Maybe dreaming up sick burns that would land, heavy, in 1984.

Responding “I know you are but what am I?”

“Cool comment. NOT!”


“My intuition is not to attack, hurt, take into credit and judgment, but silence consumes me," writes Italo.

Pro surfing in chaos as its biggest stars and fans turn on WSL and CEO Erik Logan, “How does it feel to be at the forefront of the most shameful era of professional surf?”

“My intuition is not to attack, hurt, take into credit and judgment, but silence consumes me," writes Italo Ferreira.

Like hungry dogs with juicy bones, Brazilian surf fans and their world champs Gabriel Medina, Italo Ferreira and Filipe Toledo, have refused to loosen their grip on the outrage of yesterday’s Surf Ranch Pro decision where Griffin Colapinto defeated Italo Ferreira and Ethan Ewing beat Gabriel Medina. 

Following his loss in the quarter finals, and despite winner Ethan Ewing being threatened with death by Brazilian surf fans, three-time world champ Gabriel Medina posted an open letter to the WSL complaining of poor judging, the defeat marking the first time in five events he’d failed to make the final. 

“The surfing community, especially in Brazil, is mesmerized with the poor clarity and inconsistence of judging for many years now, but lately it has been even more shocking,” wrote Medina. “It is quite clear that judging is now rewarding very simple surfing, seamless transitions and have taken critical turns in critical sections off the criteria. This is very frustrating and is stagnating the sport.”

This morning, Italo Ferreira, the 2019 world champion, and reigning world number one Filipe Toledo joined the chorus, perhaps missing the irony that Brazilians have won six of the last nine world titles.

“After a long day, of many thoughts, analyses, news and arguments, I realized that I am tired, psychologically exhausted. It’s not easy to spend 10 years swallowing hard,” wrote Toledo. “I’m a surfer, original and rooted, who grew up among real surfers, and fairness has always been one of the main points in my experience. That’s why I feel tired. For the love of sport, I’m still firm and strong. And now, I feel happy seeing the posts by Gabriel Medina, Ítalo Ferreira, and many others, who can still adhere to the idea that what we seek will always be the evolution of the sport, with justice and transparency. We want nothing but fair. Nothing beyond what is our right. We need our voice to be heard and respected, because, after all, we are the protagonists of it all!”

Italo hits a little passive-aggressive, as if a teen girl has hacked his telephone.

“My intuition is not to attack, hurt, take into credit and judgment, but silence consumes me. The surf that gave me and gives me everything I live by this if I need to prove it yet. My looks and my energy and what they carry says it all. On my part, surf, I give you my all. My devotion My day to day that only me, my team and my family know. And so we shall continue. In the moment of sadness, indignation, reverse and look forward, transform, inspire people.”


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Italo Ferreira (@italoferreira)

Tom Carroll, Shane Dorian, world number two Joao Chianca and the WSL’s own Strider Wasilewski all thrilled by the post.

Now, surf fans have turned on WSL’s CEO, “sexy cocaine cowboy” Erik Logan, littering a milquetoast post on equality etc with a cavalcade of pointed, and mostly unhinged, comments. 


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Erik Logan (@elo_eriklogan)

Hey Erik, how does it feel to be at the forefront of what will surely become the most shameful era of professional surf?

Money, fame and connections might look cool now, but eventually this all goes away and it will only be your name left as the person who allowed for extreme lack of professionalism by judges in this era of the sport. Please please prioritise the sport over people’s personal interests!! Please have your name be the one of a person who decided to stand up and do the right thing!!

The Biggest Theft in Surfing History, We Need Answers !!!

Yesterday was a sad day for the surf history! You guys are killing the sport

Dark day in competitive surfing history, no explanations whatsoever are going to make up for what happened

WSL should be investigate by police! Suspicious of manipulating results.

Zero credibility! This is so disrespectful. You guys are underestimating people’s intelligence.

You’re not welcome in Brazil.

What a Shame Erik! Manipulating results again? Dirty

Changes all the judges. That was a shameful day. Of cource you will ignore it but make an effort for the sake of the sport. And while you at it. Get rid off Strider. Even athletes are sick of him.

You’re killing the essence of surfing. FUCK YOU AND YOUR MONEY. W$L

how to explain to children that the surfer who surfed better lost to the one who surfed worse!?

Ruining The Surfing Competition! thousands of people are sad here in Brazil to watch the cowardly judges taking the scores of our representatives. Medina, Felipe, and Italo were STOLEN. Many people canceled their trips to Saquarema, many parents and children will no longer have the opportunity to see the competitions together because they will NOT attend anymore. The WSL is a disgrace. And you are not welcome in Brazil. If I were you, I wouldn’t even waste your time coming here because Brazilians don’t like dirty people like you and the shame of @wsl @elo_eriklogan you are a not welcome person in Brazil

A little over the top, yeah? 

But don’t you think the WSL needs to tap into this drama, get a little fizz happening?

Or do you think, shutters down, ignore?

Photo: KLLY

Environmentalists break into sobs after Kelly Slater’s turtle-inspired eco-sandal arrives at doorsteps in “earth-destroying” amount of packaging!

Does the 11x World Champion hate trees?

The Surf Ranch Pro is now officially in the rearview mirror and who could have imagined the brouhaha left in its mechanical wake? Death threats for likable blondes? A devastating critique from the most popular surfer on tour? Headed in to an autocratic enclave accused of jailing lesbian women?

The whole business all feels very shaky, no? Tenuous. Like, the World Surf League could actually fold and if it does, I think the straw that broke the billionaire’s back will be CEO Erik “David Brent” Logan wearing the skin of his champion Filipe Toledo.

Well, at least Kelly Slater has released an eco-friendly sandal made from algae.

Recall the press release from two weeks ago?

For the design of the sandal, Kelly was particularly moved by the mysterious and special relationship between the moon and sea turtle. Turtles have 13 large scales that represent the 13 lunar cycles in each year and 28 smaller scales that represent the days in each cycle. As a tribute to these coexisting forces, Kelly designed the top of the sandal to mirror the moon’s surface while the bottom sole represents the turtle’s scales. Additional styles and sizing are set to release later this year.

Very cool.

The store swung its doors wide days later and environmentalists hurriedly purchased, sitting by their stoops and waiting and waiting and waiting for the mail person to deliver them.

Days feeling like weeks. Hours like days.

And when they finally arrived shrieks of horror filled the air.

Desperate sobs.

For even though the sandals were, indeed, made from algae and also from recycled materials, they arrived wrapped in so much packaging, so so so much packaging, as to horrify even the most earth hating.


For what reason?

Are eco-friendly sandals extremely delicate and in need of extremely careful cushioning?

Like faberge eggs?

Does Kelly Slater hate trees?

It is not the first time the 11x World Champion has been accused of stuffing landfills with cheer. His other sustainable brand Outerknown enjoyed junk mailing un-asked for catalogues printed on heavy card stock ahead of Christmas. After public complaint following the expose on BeachGrit, the un-asked for catalogues were junk mailed with a stamp on the back reading that the ink was sustainable.

Will the KLLY box and paper wadding appear with similar messaging?

Here’s to hoping.