The Surf City El Salvador Pro is now finished and if you missed the action, you can read JP Currie’s accounting. Final’s day was not good. Not good by this measure nor that measure but was helpful, at the end, for cementing the World Surf League as one of, if not most, morally bankrupt organizations on earth.
The League, you of course know, is about putting the world’s best surfers in the world’s best waves but it is equally about equality and yet happily took El Salvador tourism board dollars, gleefully promoted the brave little Central American country even though its record on equality has been slammed by human rights’ organizations.
The League is also about environmentalism with its One Ocean program, much talking about environmentalism and planting a bush in the name of environmentalism, and yet is almost finished building the world’s largest wave pool in a Middle Eastern petro kingdom desert even though its environmental impact is off the charts.
The hypocrisy is staggering.
There is now clearly nothing the World Surf League will not do for money, no place it will not go and promote, no bit of earth it will not destroy. North Korea could host a Championship Tour event, if it wanted. Ecuador could. build a wave pool in the Galápagos Islands if it wanted.
Ain’t that crazy?
I wouldn’t care if Santa Monica simply declared, “We are in the BUSINESS of surfing” but the constant sportswashing, greenwashing is embarrassing.
It’s shameful and sad to be part of.
David Lee Scales and I, anyhow, discussed on our weekly chat and I poked fun of people who drink too much water. Adult men wandering the streets with giant baby bottles is also shameful.
Surf City El Salvador Pro a “tragicomedy in real time, an indictment of the WSL’s status as a professional sporting league”
Filipe Toledo shed tears "over a contest won in poor waves, in front of a thin crowd, which doesn’t alter his ratings or season in any way whatsoever."
An all-time low for me in terms of engagement with a finals day. I mean, I watched it, for penance and payment, but I found little to get excited about in terms of clientele or conditions.
The waves were of the kind that may excite a progressing beginner. Low stakes, likely low crowds, maybe you’ll luck into two or three turns. How the pros get themselves up for this sort of day I’ll never know. But get themselves up they did, and Filipe Toledo choking back tears in his victory speech was the most intriguing part of the whole day.
Ironically, as my passion and drive to ruminate on professional surfing hit its lowest ebb, I was confronted by Toledo’s, and couldn’t help but admire it.
For all of my remembered life I have longed for the thing to throw myself headlong into, the thing that would consume me forever. I’ve seen glimpses of this light, but everything eventually drifts into greyness. I have lots of interests, lots of things I “love” but no one thing has captivated me unconditionally, not even my partner or children.
Is this true for you?
I wonder often if other people feel like this, then I watch Filipe Toledo and know they don’t. He shed tears today. Real tears. Over a contest won in poor waves, in front of a thin crowd, which doesn’t alter his ratings or season in any way whatsoever. He was second in the world to start, and would be second at the conclusion, regardless if he won or lost. His top five position and attendance at Trestles seems assured.
It was more or less meaningless. But still he cried, dedicated the win to his mum as a birthday present (shit present btw), surfed through intense back pain, and cited faith and dreams and hard work etc etc. It seemed more than a little hyperbolic, yet not inauthentic.
His rivalry with Griffin Colapinto could be motivation, the final being a reprisal of last year at the same venue, the result switched. But the two men seem such polar opposites in character, as well as genuinely decent people, that it’s hard to imagine there’s any real malice between them.
Mastery can be motivation. With it must come a deep rooted fear that you might be knocked off at any moment, a hunger to keep proving you’re the best. Toledo has a world title already, but it hasn’t lessened the chip on his shoulder. Colapinto is still laser focused on winning his first, an end goal he perhaps doesn’t realise will never be the end.
Colapinto and Toledo were the best surfers of this competition, so at least that was right. I have nothing bad to say about Ian Gentil or Liam O’Brien, but both are a tier, if not two, below the finalists in terms of talent.
I’m afraid I have neither the will nor words to comment much on the actual surfing in any of the three heats today. I watched them, even rewound them at points, but still couldn’t muster any analysis. Call it lethargy, call it ignorance, call it whatever the fuck you like.
Toledo’s nine pointer will cause some raised eyebrows and should, but really it’s a drop in the ocean when it comes to chronically horrendous judging decisions, especially recently. At some point, like in any abusive relationship, you get ground down. The bad stuff doesn’t seem so bad any more. The truly awful gives you pause, but then you pick up the pieces of your teeth, dab the blood from your lip, layer on the make-up, and just carry on.
For me, this event, and what the WSL is becoming in its slow but predictable descent to utter obscurity, was best summed up by the closing ceremony.
You didn’t watch it, of course. Few did. So allow me to recreate the scene.
Mitch Salazar stands on a very blue, very empty stage. He is dressed in board shorts and a short-sleeved shirt, each with a boldly clashing pattern that suggests the man wearing it is either a simpleton or is being deeply ironic.
His smile is that of a man for whom irony might well be a planet in the outer reaches of the solar system.
The crowd, or more appropriately, “the crowd” for they are often referenced by Salazar and the surfers who will momentarily receive their prizes, are largely a fiction. They have the enthusiasm and depth of a pub crowd at a Tuesday night open mic session.
It’s a tragi-comedy in real time, a sad indictment of the WSL’s status as a professional sporting league. No-one gives a shit, except Mitch and his mangled patterns but impressive duolingo.
A few sparse claps echo around the empty beach.
“This crowd…this crowd…” the competitors say as they receive their trophies then shuffle awkwardly on stage.
Except Toledo, who still seems caught up in the moment with a mysterious verve that even leads to speaking in tongues.
“Can I try my Spanish?” he asks, then slips into what appears to be absolute fluency, thanking all and sundry. It is the second moment of the day in which I am surprised and impressed by the man.
Caroline Marks says “Bueno”.
Lots of Corona is sprayed.
Beer, crucially, not champagne.
But aside from Toledo’s enthusiasm and spraying beer, If this is surfing’s elite professional league, then what is the future?
At least we have Rio to look forward to next. Say what you like about the waves, at least the fans are proper. Real fans with real passion and fake death threats.
Now if you’ll excuse me I’m off to my son’s fifth birthday party. There’s going to be a bouncy castle. I don’t like birthdays or kid’s parties, but I’ll be there all the same, hating every minute.
If nothing else, El Salvador was good preparation.
Filipe gets het up in El Salvador with post-wave dance, nostrils open and wide, heavy shoulders slumped over his full-apple shaped breast. WSL
Bombshell claim the “WSL gifted win to Filipe (Toledo) because they’re too scared of what would happen to Griffin Colapinto in Brazil if he won”
“It’s amazing what a good old death threat will do.”
Brazilian fans are rejoicing tonight and singing the praises of the WSL’s expert judging panel after the reigning world champ Filipe Toledo demolished American Griffin Colapinto in the final of the Surf City Pro in El Salvador.
On an unremarkable wave Filipe, who was brave as anything in the weak two-foot surf, turned the heat when he hammered four identical turns for a nine-point ride, something no one saw coming. The wave pressured Colapinto into a series of throwaway airs and his eventual loss.
This time last year, of course, Griffin was being hammered with “violent, gruesome threats” for beating Filipe in the same contest, Brazilian fans claiming the fix was in for the gringo, a white conspiracy and so on, the hashtag, #worldshameleague a viral hit.
Even Filipe’s daddy got into the mix, “We really hope that something will be done, and that this will change, as it is becoming unbearable to see and hear the things we are hearing. during the events, I am embarrassed for the others.”
“WSL gifted that win to Felipe because they’re too scared of what would happen to Griffin in Brazil if he won. WSL has to protect their most prized American surfer rn, can’t risk Griffin’s safety in Brazil.”
“Imagine winning but not knowing if you really won because you know all the death threats judges received so you can’t tell if you got overscored.”
“WSL relieving for Felipe… They don’t want to take shit in Saquarema. The decadence is assumed.”
“Letting overzealous claims (from Felipe) and loud cheers and whistles from (Brazilian) supporters influence the scoring is wrong. There needs to be more judges, with better knowledge of the sport, that are unable to be influenced by anything other than the surfing.”
I liked the wave, each incision being made as if with a razor as he planted his stake upright into the lip, but it wasn’t no nine, an eight if you’d had a few drinks, a little knuckle duster and were feeling generous.
Rewatch the heat and give me your learned opinion.
International crisis averted, riots called off as Brazil’s Filipe Toledo beats America’s Griffin Colapinto to take El Salvador Pro!
The waves were not very good for the Surf City El Salvador Pro final’s day, no not very good at all, but the sun was shining and Chris Cote was speaking and our choosing is unchill when combined with our begging. The World Surf League gonna World Surf League, after all, and to expect more is to be a silly goose.
The day began, anyhow, with crackling tension cutting the Central American air. Namely, would there be riots if Griffin Colapinto, who hails from the United States, once again beat the best small wave surfer on the planet, Brazil’s Filipe Toledo, for the second time in as many years?
Before we get there, though, Caroline Marks defeated Tyler Wright in the women’s final and was very excited, splashing the water vigorously etc. Wright, who seemed to be on a runner at the end, floated to the flats and appeared to injure herself.
It was not mentioned by the booth for fear of saying something true.
Important advertisements cut off the start of the men’s final, spicy stress lingering. But you certainly recall the insurrection at Surf Ranch wherein Colapinto beat Gabriel Medina setting off a series of wild open letters that appears to have culminated with World Surf League CEO Erik Logan going into the witness protection program.
Strider informed the audience that Toledo gifted Colapinto inside position at the start of the heat and was challenging the Californian to beat him directly. “Above the lip surfing,” was to be the bar.
The world’s current number one did, indeed, paddle first and slid his board around then bonked his head. He was rewarded with a 4.00.
Toledo stayed on rail for his opening wave, slapping and tickling down the line. He was rewarded with a 5.17.
Peter Mel called it “Paced and cruisy.”
Corona beer celebration.
Colapinto went next, going down in the middle of the wave after a fine first two turns. 4.23 put him into a tentative lead. Under priority, he went again going to the sky but became unstuck and Kaipo Guerrero sounded nervous.
Strider then speculated that Toledo was hurt after Colapinto caught yet another but, almost on demand, the King of Saquarema went to he air and knocked some turns. Mel continued to describe the possible injury as “cruising.”
The two went back and forth, back and forth until Colapinto caught the first proper wave of the day midway through the heat, carving and slashing, punting and pumping, and took the lead.
The judges seemed scared to offer scores.
Tyler Wright’s injury was revealed to be a bruise.
Toledo then caught a wave and made angry turns and made hyped faces at the end. Pete Mel went berserk. Kaipo called it excellent. It was a 9.00 ride and catapulted him into the lead. I will like to know what our JP Currie feels about that.
Back and forth they continued to go, Toledo staying on rail, Colapinto taunting the air gods.
He did not land and was thrust into the dreaded Combo-land.
And that was at. Riots in Rio averted.
Henry Kissinger back off call.
Complete wrap soon.
Surf world rejoices as Australian prodigy Jack Robinson announces Brazilian surfer/model wife pregnant with first child!
There has been much polarization in the surf world, of late, and how sad. The World Surf League has pitted itself against its Brazilian fanbase. Australians and Americans, not wanting to side with the World Surf League but unable to help themselves from calling Brazilians “whingers,” opening up a new front. South Africans doing South African things. Europeans wondering who the next Great Jeremy Flores Hope will be.
Overall much tension.
But might all these factions be brought together as one, joining hands and remembering that the things that unite us are far greater than the things that divide us?
It would take a miracle and maybe, just maybe, we have it with the just-announced pregnancy of Australian prodigy Jack Robinson and his wife, the Brazilian surfer/model Julia Muniz.
“About to embark on the most amazing ride ever,” the current world number five shared on Instagram with a shot of an ultrasound.