And how do you solve a problem like Filipe? Move the final to a heaving, gigantic left.
I am delirious. There are so many men and they are all starting to look the same with their little surfer boy hair cuts and their stickered up boards and their perky hats.
I’m beginning to think it’s all a simulation.
Somehow the unreleased surfing plugin for the Sims escaped its locked vault and now walks among us. Pick your favorite surfer boy name. Give him a cute surfer boy hair cut. Buy the upgrade pack, and you can draw him a custom tattoo.
Welcome to part two of the super casual BeachGrit men’s rankings. It may never happen again, so enjoy it while it lasts!
12. Kanoa Igarashi. There’s talk of a rivalry between Kanoa and Griff, but for now, it’s more talk than action. Kanoa last won an event in 2019 in Bali, and he barely squeaked over the cut line. At the moment, the careers of the two OC boys are on opposite trajectories. Kanoa has a number of high single-wave scores this year, but hasn’t put together all that many winning heats. It’s added up to a mostly forgettable season of ninths and seventeenths. In 2021, Kanoa made the semis at Surf Ranch, where he lost to Medina, and last year, he made the quarters at Tahiti. I’d expect Kanoa to make a slow crawl up the rankings — he did make the top five last year — but so far, it doesn’t feel like his year.
11. Italo Ferreira. There’s not much going on this year for the Olympic gold medalist and 2019 world champion. He’s just hanging out down here near the bottom of the rankings with Kanoa. Italo has a lovely sports story from learning to surf on his father’s cooler lid to winning Olympic gold, but it can’t be easy to live inside a story like that. Last year at Trestles, Italo made a run through the draw, only to lose the final to Toledo. He’s said that the loss still stings, and he feels the judges underscored him. It’s true that the judges are less enamored with single airs, no matter how awesome, than they might have been in the past. Multiple turns — even if they’re the same fucking turn — are scoring higher than big airs most of the time. That’s a problem for both Italo and Kanoa, who’ve won a lot of heats with their mad air skillz. It’s not like Italo can’t turn. The solution, it’s right there.
10. Matthew McGillivray. I was pretty sure that Matt was one of those random names dropped in here to confuse me. Do you even know about surfing? No, no I do not. From J-Bay, South Africa, Matt made it on Tour in 2021 only to fall straight back off. An injury replacement gave him a second chance and he made the most of it. At Tahiti, he air dropped into a massive barrel to score a perfect ten. Matt says he’s still working on the mental side of heat surfing, which at the CT level is pretty damn close to being the whole game. So far this year, he’s made the quarters at Sunset and Bells. Notably, he got shacked out his mind at Sunset on the way to beating Kanoa. The Ranch might trip him up as a first-timer, but he has Tahiti and his home break ahead of him. He’s still a bit of a mystery surfer to me, honestly. I promise to get smarter before next time. If there is a next time.
9. Ryan Callinan. According to a video at World Surf League, Ryan collects cameras and has a very cute daschound. I also didn’t realize that he had sections in both Lost Atlas and Cluster. I am now required to go back and watch both films, a terrible punishment. Last year, the smiling Aussie fell off Tour due to an early season injury and the demonic cut. He says it was a bit of a blow to the ego. His aim for this year was to make the top ten, and he’s currently sitting eighth. His best result came at Bells where he finished second to Ethan. Along the way, he beat John John with a mix of turns and airs. I liked the cheeky, tail-high backside full rote. So stylish and fun! I’m not sure how much further up the draw Ryan can go, but he could surprise us.
8. Yago Dora. On the subject of surprises, I have a hard time believing Yago hasn’t yet won a CT event. He was third at both Brazil and J Bay last year, so it feels like it’s only a matter of time. All the ingredients are there: He has a sharp, precise style, and a solid air game. Now, it’s a matter of consistently putting it together in a heat. When Yago’s behind, he too often tries to huck and pray his way back into it. Sure, one of those desperate airs might land. But most of the time, they don’t, and Yago’s rail surfing is good enough to make the difference. Keep it cool, my dude. You got this. At Surf Ranch, he’s made the quarters twice. He’s currently ranked tenth, and there’s a pile of talent between the top five and him. Huck and pray, baby!
7. Jack Robinson. A torn meniscus is a shitty, nagging sort of injury. It’s not a catastrophe necessarily, not like a ruptured ACL. But it’s not what you want when you’re trying to win a world title during an Olympic qualifying year. Robo sat out Margaret’s, and says he’s good to go for Surf Ranch. A normal recovery time is roughly six to eight weeks, and elite athletes are anything but normal. Hopefully, this ends up being a minor setback. Before the injury, Jack was world number two with a first, second, and third in the results department. He’s learned how to sell his surfing to the judges and transform even a routine two-turn combo into something a little more exciting. The judges like exciting, and Robo’s surfing has flair and variety. His last appearance at Surf Ranch in 2021 ended early with a 33rd, but looking at the rest of the year, there are few places he can’t win if his knee holds up. Except, maybe Trestles.
6. John John Florence. For once, no one is talking about John John’s knees, which must be a bit of a relief. When I watch John John surf, it feels like he surfs like we all wish we could. He has that almost casual style even when he’s pulling the most radical what the fuck moves. The judges score him against himself, a curse of great talent, but they also seem to have fallen out of love with his chill. Maybe he just needs to wave his arms around more or something. John John’s only been to Surf Ranch once, back in 2018. The robot wave didn’t suit him then, and I’m not sure that’ll change this year. He’s said that he needs to spend more time in California, where unlike Hawaii, the waves don’t generate speed for him. It would be stupid to write a talent like John John out of world title contention, but Trestles is one hell of a road block.
5. Ethan Ewing. The current layback fad feels like the young punks are just taunting Kelly. Bet your back doesn’t bend like this any more, old man! Ethan loves his layback, and the judges do, too. If there’s flaw in the glossy perfection of Ethan’s surfing, it’s the repetition. It’s all the turns you know, but his razor blade rails and seamless speed are pure seduction. Ethan’s the kind of surfer who I want to watch from the water as he comes flying down the line. What beautiful sorcery is this? Last year, Ethan made it to Trestles only to sit and watch as Italo went all crazy pants. In 2023, he’s got a win at Bells and holds fifth in the rankings. Medina and John John stalk him.
4. João Chianca. A week or so before the CT events in Australia, I was surfing a shit small day at Rincon when I noticed someone completely ripping on a tiny inside section. João looked so fast that day — and he’s ridden that speed to the top of the rankings. His arms occasionally stray into a different time zone, like he has so much energy he doesn’t quite know what to do with it all. I am probably the only one watching surfing who enjoys his claims. I mean, I’m definitely giving you side eye if you claim at your local, but in a CT heat? Sure, why the hell not. I’d predict some challenges for him at Surf Ranch as the wave’s perfection shows the more ragged edges of his style. He’s fast, dynamic, and fiercely competitive, but the sharks are circling.
3. Gabriel Medina. Gabby is a shark cruising along under the feet of an unsuspecting lineup. Somehow, he makes being a goofyfoot on a Tour dominated by rights look like an advantage. At its best, his surfing is fast, fluid, and creative. He doesn’t rely on the same backside hit over and over. The magic comes from the crazy speed he carries off the bottom turn. After four-straight ninths, the three-time world champ won Margaret River and now sits seventh overall. He’s won Surf Ranch twice, and in 2021, he finished second to Toledo. It’s hard to imagine that he doesn’t move up the rankings during the back half of the season, though he may come to regret a few of those early season ninths.
2. Griff Colapinto. When Griff opens his mouth during an interview, word salad comes out. Interviewing well is a skill like anything else, and at some point, he’ll make it a priority to learn it. That’s Griff’s superpower as a an athlete. He learns. Griff’s read books on meditation and flow state. He practices heats, and has tried to improve his sense of pacing, that intuitive feel for how many scoring waves he can catch in a heat. He’s tried to learn patience. Since he qualified in 2018, he’s made a steady climb up the rankings. In 2022, Griff won two events, beating Medina along the way. If he’s been occasionally been overscored this year on his close-out bangers, the rest of his surfing should be sufficiently interesting to hold the judges’ attention. A trip to the Trestles final is within reach for him. If he surfs out of his mind, sure, he could win it all.
1. Filipe Toledo. How do you solve a problem like Filipe? Move the final to a heaving, gigantic left. Other than that, Felipe feels all-but unstoppable. He’s won Surf Ranch and Trestles could not be a more perfect wave for him. And if Filipe’s double-air wave at JBay isn’t indelibly imprinted in your mind, do you even surf? It remains an astonishing performance on a single wave. His unwillingness to throw himself over the ledge at Teahupo’o means that some surfers will never quite respect him. I’m pretty sure he doesn’t give a fuck. He’ll just point to the score board. I’m a world champion. And you’re not.