Griffin Colapinto shocks world, takes out Italo Ferreira to win Surf Ranch Pro while twelve Brazilian fans and three drunk Fresno community college students shriek in horror!

Stunner in Lemoore!

The sun was out in Lemoore, California and the water in Kelly Slater’s Surf Ranch oddly clear. It was finals day in the tub and our Jen See was on the ground with what appeared to be twelve very excited Brazilians and three drunk community college students from nearby Fresno. A light crowd by any measure and no Sam George as surfing’s golem opted to take Sunday off and bless others with his aura.

The Inertia.

J.P. Currie will give the important details, soon, but before he arrives, Carissa Moore took out Caroline Marks on the women’s side. Moore is now in first place and is absolutely dominant. If she has her second rightful crown in a row stolen at Lower Trestles then the World Surf League should be burned to the ground.

Erik Logan.

On the men’s side, surprise finalist Griffin Colapinto came up Italo Ferreira after smashing Felipe Toledo in the semis even though Toledo pulled a varial into a switch stance’d tube which was actually cool. Italo mowed through Ethan Ewing even though Ewing had a nine-point ride.

Colapinto started it off on the right and surf ranched. Turn, turn, down carve, turn, barrel, fall on the reverse.

“When you go big you fall big as well,” Joe Turpel said.


He blow tail reverse’d the left to cheers from the mostly empty VIP zone.

“What an effort for Colapinto,” Joe Turpel said.


Ferreira tucked into a long barrel on his first right, backhand for him, and tucked into a barrel then, shockingly, another one.

“I love that ride away, how does that look,” Joe Turpel said.


He did lots of things on the left. Barrels, airs, “whips” etc.

“What a special performance,” Joe Turpel said.


Back against the wall, Colapinto snapped to slide, slide, barrel, blow, carve, tail drift, frontside blunt on his second right.

“He’s been reaching for slob the last couple days,” Joe Turpel said.


Re-taking the lead, the San Clementine felt confident enough to go for a rodeo flip, on his second left, though didn’t land it.

“Standing ovation for Colapinto,” Joe Turpel said.

Ferreira, now in trouble, backside turned into the barrel, did two backside spinners and raised his hands to the crowd, a gesture of “What else do you guys want to see?”

“What else do you guys want to see?” Joe Turpel said then adding “Unbelievable, Strider.”


Boos rained down as the twelve very excited Brazilians felt robbed, alongside their hero. On his second left he fell right away and it was over.

Griffin Colapinto shock winner of the Surf Ranch Pro as he is hoisted upon shoulders and serenaded with “for he’s a jolly good fellow.”

When was the last time you heard that little ditty? Have we reached Peak White?

Twelve very angry Brazilians storming the Tachi Palace tonight.

Photo: Kelly Cestari/WSL
Photo: Kelly Cestari/WSL

Open Thread: Comment Live, Finals Day of the Surf Ranch Pro where liver is paired with fava beans and a nice chianti!


Neither Jack nor Jack Jack. Photo: WSL
Neither Jack nor Jack Jack. Photo: WSL

Jack Robinson suffers heavy defeat at Surf Ranch Pro though he, and John John Florence, belong in the tank about as much as an orca at Seaworld!

And other musings from The Machine.

Apologies for the delayed dispatch. I am with children this weekend whilst my partner is off gallivanting at Harry Styles in Edinburgh. She can keep him. I’m quite content on my own with the kids, but it’s not easy to get shit done. I took them to the swimming pool in the morning, then we walked four miles in the woods in the afternoon, pelted each other with pine cones, did some “smashing”, which is a game the mental younger one (four) likes to inflict on his more reserved older brother (six), and is self-explanatory. Haribos kept the momentum going and (I thought) we were well on the way to early evening burnout that would allow me to concentrate on matters at hand. But it was not to be.

“Look, boys”, I implored as they clambered over me and stabbed mischievous fingers at my keyboard, “manmade waves! Isn’t it crazy?” They shrugged and continued smashing. Of course it isn’t crazy to them, I realised. Artificial waves pre-date their existence. It’s only me that will continue to look at it with part fascination, part abomination. For them, it’s just another type of surfing.

I’d been eagerly anticipating this comp, for the point of difference, the scheduling, and the gambling opportunities. It’s been a while since we saw the pool, and the dullness of previous competitions had somewhat faded. Improvements were promised in format and wave style.

But when fifty-one year old Kelly Slater creaked to his feet for the opening ride on his own creation, it was stiff, samey and nothing new. We were right back where we started. Twenty guys would likely do the same thing, repetitive turns, unimpressive barrel rides, then safety finishes, terrified of risking a non-completion. Four might be more dynamic and perform this genre of surfing as it should be, with explosive and inventive aerials.

To be fair, the format has improved. It’s becoming a trope of mine to say so, but anything that adds tension to this sport should be encouraged. One man advancing from a heat of four seems brutal, especially when a heat contains both John Florence and Gabriel Medina. There was lots of talk of pressure. Turpel trotted out his Parko anecdote about feeling more pressure at Surf Ranch than Pipe, and for surfers like Florence (who has actually never competed here before) the nerves were evident. But this is how it should be.

The night session was better than the day. If we ignore the gimmicky lights for the moment (JMD’s lights. Her idea, according to Erik Logan), two men advancing based on their single highest score from a left and a right each is a solid way to run a competition in the pool.

The leaderboard for the night session was far better than the day activities, too. At least we were able to keep track of the scores, a seemingly fundamental fan experience that the WSL couldn’t get right for the daytime heats.

The wave is different to the previous iteration as well. Better or worse is subjective, but it looks a little less predictable, which I’d guess was the aim. Lefts looked better than rights, a little bigger, a little faster, but that might just have been the angle on screen.

If the wave was a little less predictable, the surfers with the skillsets to wrangle them were less so. Gabriel Medina, Filipe Toledo, Italo Ferreira and Yago Dora were the standouts, with commendations for Colapinto (after the night session), Igarashi and Ewing (both a little grudgingly).

Jack Robinson was the first man to bow out of the pool with a whimper. This might seem shocking in light of the ratings, but Robinson belongs here about as much as an orca at Seaworld. Likewise for John Florence, who eventually found some awkward rhythm during his first wavepool competition, but will not take part in tomorrow’s proceedings.

The wave still looks fast, leaving most surfers looking like they’re a fraction of a second behind, especially on the left, it seemed. This nullifies the level of progression, and only those with speed to burn are able to project turns through and above the lip.

There remains a refusal among most surfers to take too much risk on the end sections, and once again it struck me that the vagaries of the ocean actually encourage risk taking and impulsiveness. There were some attempts at dynamism from surfers not named Toledo, Medina or Dora, but for the most part they were mediocre. In the commentary booth, Turpel lost his shit over some very weak, very forced reverses. As per, there were plenty of superlatives for things that weren’t super.

Mitch Salazar went one better, quoting from Homer’s Odyssey (or more likely some skank’s tattoo). Whether he’s actually read The Odyssey is immaterial, but when you’re quoting things that have featured on a million shit Instagram posts, it’s a clear sign you’ve been hanging out with Dave Prodan too much.

But even Prodan at his hoity-toity corporate best couldn’t lipstick the Surf Ranch pig. There’s something god awfully ugly about the place, right? It wants to be Coachella, but there’s a lingering sense that someone could drape a confederate flag over the filthy concrete wall at any moment.

From a personal and financial perspective Italo’s 8.50 to take second place and advance through the night session was big. So were his pre-comp odds of twenty-six to one. His frantic, caffeinated hopping as he waited for the final score to drop was matched only by my own.

And would you believe that Caity Simmers, who for my figurative and literal money looks a cut above everyone else, was fifty to one for the overall win, seventeen to reach the final, and sixes to make the semi? Crazy stuff.

Aside from Leo Fiorovanti, the quarters were predictable, and so we head into tomorrow with the chaff cut. I would hope and guess that most of the men in the draw have found a little rhythm and held something in reserve, and that things will crank up a notch.

Surf Ranch is a curious beast. I want to like it, I do. It offers something different in the complexion of the Tour. And in the same way we look forward to the juxtaposition of J-Bay and Teahupo’o, so we should embrace this evolving genre of surfing that takes place in a pool.

That being said, I’m still not sure the KS Wave Co tech is the one we should be watching. The barrel remains a non-event, unless the entry is jazzed up with a stylish snap, a la Caity Simmers. Really this should be an air comp, and there is superior wavepool technology (crucially, not owned by the WSL) that would facilitate that.

But if you’ll excuse me I need to stop being a terrible father (open bets not withstanding) and stop saying “just a minute” to the kids. Like those left in the comp, I’ll be back tomorrow with a little more verve.

In closing, please allow me to borrow stylistically from Charlie Smith when I say plainly:

Cup Noodles.

I believe that’s all there is to be said about that.

“I’m not angry. I saw the opportunity for a bad taste joke and I took it. Now hear me out, here you are praising him, is he replying to you? I was a fucking cunt and got 2 comments from the goat himself. 2! Think about this.”

Internet troll check-mates Kelly Slater in war of words hours before champ is bundled out of own event, “You’re praising him but is he replying to you? I was a f*#king c#*nt and got two comments from the GOAT himself!”

“Truly sorry if that hurt your feelings. Now go reply to the guys praising you, you’re leaving them hanging while giving me two comments."

Only hours before Kelly Slater was bundled out of the Surf Ranch Pro, running today and tomorrow at the wave-making machine he helped create, the Champ ignored his legions of fans to engage with an online troll. 

Slater, who is fifty-one, ain’t one to back down from an online skirmish, instances too numbers to list or link but my favourite and the most enduring, I think, is when he hit back at an historically inaccurate troll who claimed US military involvement always ended in failure. 

(Slater had jokingly suggested the US Navy sink 260 Chinese fishing boats in the Galapagos Islands.)

“You would be the type of fool to advocate for military violence and US involvement overseas,” wrote the troll. “The US needs to stop fucking policing the world. Getting the military involved has never helped anything it’s always the same people who end up hurting and having to pay for it.”

Slater’s riposte.

“Fuck off. It’s a joke, albeit a serious topic. I’m currently and always have been anti war. I’m also pro environment and wildlife. And I don’t really give a shit to talk to you or hear your opinion so fuck off.”

And, after back and forthing, 

“Writing me out of the blue talking shit is such a crock of shit. Accusing me of being a racist? My girlfriend is Chinese. You’re on glue. You’re a miserable coward. And now you’re blocked.”

Anyway, shortly before the start of the Surf Ranch Pro the WSL posted a reel of Slater talking about boards, riding his wave etc. 


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A post shared by World Surf League (@wsl)

One man expressed his belief that the underperforming Champ had “stolen” a Surf Ranch Pro wildcard. The comment was quickly deleted, but not before Slater had personally jumped into the melee. 

“@brukuns Wow”


“@brukuns people feel safe showing their subconscious and worst qualities online.” 

Later, @brukuns was back in the comments replying to gloating Slater fans. 

“At least I Kelly talked to me. Hahahahaha.”


“I’m not angry. I saw the opportunity for a bad taste joke and I took it. Now hear me out, here you are praising him, is he replying to you? I was a fucking cunt and got 2 comments from the goat himself. 2! Think about this.”

Followed by a personal message to the Champ,

“@kellyslater I was reading my comment again to realize what was the worst part about it and I figured it out. I said ‘stealing’. That was not cool, you didn’t steal the wildcard, it was given to you. Truly sorry if that hurt your feelings, no joke. But you don’t know me one bit, don’t judge me by a single stupid random comment. Now go reply to some of the guys praising you, you’re leaving them hanging while giving me 2 comments, not fair to them. Now go do goat things. Sorry again.”

Heady times.

I end up standing next to a dad-and-groms crew from Santa Barbara. The oldest grom is a freshman in college and has a fantasy team. Kelly is old, he says with brutal honesty. I soon learn this is his preferred mode of surf commentary. I don’t hate it.

Surf Ranch Pro, Day two, “There was no video display or audible announcer. I had no idea what was happening. Very few other people did, either”

“Who’s surfing? How does the format work? Everyone had questions.”

I’m at the night session, and it’s the last chance for Kelly Slater to advance to the quarterfinals. If you’re ever in a tough situation. As Kelly begins to surf, Pennywise’s Bro Hymn blares from the loudspeakers. Kelly falls on the right. Someone will pick you up again.

At the end of the left, Kelly scores a six. It’s a long way from being enough. Just remember who’s side it is that you’re on.

Around the time the contest started this morning, I wandered downstairs to buy a coffee. Two espressos. The women behind the counter looked confused. You want two, double espressos? Yes, that’s right. Her confusion was not surprising. It’s not the most normal coffee order ever. I needed all the help I could get.

When I walked through the Surf Ranch gates, the second heat had begun. Entering as general admission, I arrived at the bottom of the basin, where the right finishes. Someone was surfing, but I couldn’t tell who it was. There was no video display or audible announcer. It was quite peaceful down there, if completely baffling. I had no idea what was happening.

Very few other people did, either.

Who’s surfing? How does the format work? Everyone had questions.

Down at the end of the right, one of the best viewing spots, information proved scarce. Last time I was here, there was a video screen and commentary. Not this time. On the whole, there was less of everything — less food, fewer video screens, and fewer bathrooms.

I fired up my phone and spent the day hitting refresh to see the scores. It was not the most elegant solution. It was better than nothing.

For a while, I walked around without a clear direction. I wasn’t at all sure where to go. Soon, I found a spot near some Brazilian fans, who brought some life to the whole thing. They cheered loudly for Filipe and later, for João.

Brazilians comprised a solid proportion of the crowd, which appeared smaller than previous events. A close second to the Brazilians were the dads and groms from around California. Many wore t-shirts from the Trestles final or Vans U.S. Open. I saw a number of families from San Clemente and other surf mad towns who had made the trip.

In the middle of the lake, a girl in pink swim goggles stood on a paddleboard. She had no idea what to do with the paddle, but she was having the time of her life. Around her, kids laughed and splashed in the swimming area. Surfing, who cares! We’re going swimming. Around 15 or 20 adults, meanwhile, gathered for a yoga class sponsored by Alo. A pile of kids scrambled on a paddleboard. There was so much laughing.

A crew of bros passed by me, talking earnestly of surfboards. It’s way better to buy used, one of them said. That way, you can try them out. I did not expect to receive advice here at the Surf Ranch. Sorry, Britt, the bros said I have to buy a used board, so I can try it out first. It was unclear what I was supposed to do if the board didn’t work. Huck it off a cliff, maybe. Or sell it to my unsuspecting bro.

Then I saw Sam George. He’s extremely hard to miss. I stood on the opposite side of the barricades from him, as we chatted. He had a media pass and VIP credentials. I did not.

“That’s what you get for working for the National Enquirer.”

I have to concede, it was a sick burn, and I was too slow to send it back at him.

Later, floating in the pool, staring at the sky, I think of the best comebacks ever. But not right then, not when I needed it. Life is so disappointing sometimes. Sam told me I should work for The Inertia. I felt right at home, like you all from the comments section were right here with me. It was nice not to feel alone.

After the fourth heat, I drove back to the hotel, pulled on a bikini (blue again), and jumped in the pool. Two groms with WSL wristbands and their dads have the same idea. It was the time of day when the heat begins bear down, though it’s much less oppressive than the last time I came here.

Floating in the pool, I convinced myself that Lemoore is actually spelled l’Amore. I tried to convince myself I love it to pieces. I failed.

I made it back in time to see first of the women’s heats. The crowd had thinned, and I scored a parking spot right up front. I stood at the end of the right to watch Caity and Carissa.

Predictably, Caity brought the style. Her stall into the barrel was pure steez. She made the wave her playground, and it’s the rare surfer who can do that here. Carissa won the heat, thanks to her combined wave score. But Caity’s surfing is what I will remember.

I considered skipping the night session. No one will notice if I don’t write about the night session, right? Surely, I can just skip this part.

I needed dinner, but I took a nap instead. Chas told me to go watch a few waves. I stuffed a GoMacro bar in my pocket and headed out. The setting sun cast a hazy orange glow over the place. Squinting, it almost looked pretty.

By now, the people working the entrance recognize me, and didn’t bother to check my ticket. I parked up front again and initially, it felt like tumbleweeds roll through the venue. There weren’t a lot of people around.

I walk halfway down the pool to the judge’s tower. From there, I can see portions of the left and right and the one video screen. I can also hear the beach announcer call out the scores. It’s going so well now.

Slowly, the crowd fills in. It’s still not huge, though, by any means. I end up standing next to a dad-and-groms crew from Santa Barbara. The oldest grom is a freshman in college and has a fantasy team.

Kelly is old, he says with brutal honesty. I soon learn this is his preferred mode of surf commentary. I don’t hate it.

The format works. The grom makes me laugh. I surprise myself by watching the entire men’s session. The crowd is small, but determined. When the judges throw John John a pair of seven’s, boos erupt around me.

I hope in vain for someone to storm the tower. It would make the best story. Please, someone, storm the tower. Be legends!

As Italo starts his two waves, a song from The Offspring plays. The night session’s songlist is total chaos. It also seems to have stopped sometime during the last century. I recognize the song and idly wonder if they will play the radio version. They do not. Italo falls on the right’s end section as the song reaches a crescendo of profanity.

Just one wave left, and it turns out to be classic Italo. If the final air reverse is a bit low, well, the turns look fire. From my angle at the side of the pool, I can see his surfing’s speed more clearly than on video.

I can’t read the scores as they drop. I hear that he advanced, before I see it, as cheers erupt from the Brazilian fans. They’re still here. They’ve stayed until the end.

On the way out, I ask the bartender if she has any water left for sale. The register’s closed, but she hands me a carton anyway. It’s better in a box, she quips.

You’ve got friends with you ’til the end.