Dora (pictured) hoisted high. Photo: WSL
Dora (pictured) hoisted high. Photo: WSL

Least promising event window of season delivers best final’s day as Yago Dora defeats Ethan Ewing and points way to real future for pro surfing!

(Two events in Brazil, anyone? Brazilian CEO?)

And so it was that the least promising event window of the season delivered one of the best final days.

Conditions weren’t perfect, but they were the best we’d seen. The kind of clean, sunny beachbreak that makes you glad to be alive.

The success of the day was in no small part due to the consistently superb Brazilian fans. It is an undeniable fact that Brazil not only produces the greatest surfers in the world, but also the finest and most vociferous supporters of professional surfing.

(Two events in Brazil, anyone? Brazilian CEO?)

The clientele for finals day were also fresh and clean. Only one top five surfer remained in Ethan Ewing, perhaps the most unlikely.

In the end, it was to be Yago Dora who claimed his first CT victory, a hometown favourite with universal appeal and an undeniably broad skill-set. The manner of his victory is matched only by the considerable style with which he wields foam, resin and water.

But before that, the prelude.

Sammy Pupo’s hot streak came to an end against Ryan Callinan. The latter being the first of Mitch Salazar’s predilections to take out the event victory.

Throughout the day Salazar was to make several claims with the emboldened bluster of a tarot card reader. These ranged from wildly inaccurate to patently bloody obvious.

“In my view, he’s a top ten surfer of all time”, he said of John Florence, in a tone that suggested it was a hot take. “I think people forget just how complete a surfer he is.”

They don’t, Mitch. They really don’t.

Salazar approaches his job like a self-appointed sage, imbued with profundity and wisdom, but the substance of what he says carries all the weight of a tortilla.

I truly hope that the new CEO, whoever it may be, recognises that some slash and burn is needed with the commentary team. Mitch and Kaipo have to go. That’s unequivocal.

As for Turpel, I waver, just as you might at the vet with a beloved family pet. He’s utterly useless, but easy to sympathise with. We’re so used to having him around.

But when he told us yesterday, without a hint of irony or humour, that if we’d ever wondered what it was like to surf like the best in the world, we could download a game from the App Store to find out, it was the nail in the coffin. Verbatim, the note I recorded: “Fuck you, Turpel, honestly. I’m out. Hopefully you are too.”

I’m sure people think that we just enjoy using the pundits as punching bags here at BG, but our ire and humour conceals a serious point. We spend so much time listening to this broadcast team, they are the faces and voices of the sporting performances, and they can make or break our viewing experience. They absolutely need to be better.

But back to those performances. Ewing vs Fioravanti was settled in the opening exchange of quarter final number two. The smoothness of Dora rendered a virtual no-contest against Jadson Andre in the next.

The fourth heat of the day, an all Hawaiian match-up between Florence and Mamiya, was a different matter.

The crux of the heat was Mamiya’s final wave. With a minute on the clock and needing an 8.27, he executed four seamless backhand strikes, the first of which was the turn of the heat. It wasn’t the biggest wave of the day, but there was plenty of reciprocal power.

He claimed vigorously, like he felt he’d got the score, and upon direct comparison with Florence’s 8.93, his upwelling of emotion seemed justified.

John’s 8.93 had started with a wrap and finished without drama or verve. Barron’s was full throttle from beginning to end. It should’ve turned the heat.

Two judges agreed, one giving a nine, another an eight-five. But the rest settled on flat eights and the result was 8.17.

Florence took a long time on the beach before this heat, head bowed, caressing his board in his arms as if in prayer. To whom or what ends is uncertain, and it may be he was just trying to return to the ubiquitous present amidst the baying crowd, but it did make me recalibrate my sense of how much winning heats might mean to him.

Regardless, by the semi final this centre could not hold. Against Yago he was barely able to summon a wave let alone a score. He exited the competition with a whimper, sitting astride his board with a 6.50 heat total, albeit after a semi final finish that sees him in striking distance of a shot at a third world title.

Both semis were lacklustre in the warbly, inconsistent high tide. Callinan and Ewing were both mistake prone in the other, with the latter stitching a couple of solid scores among the falls with some searingly smooth rail surfing.

But it was the final that capped the day as a resounding success. And a nod once again to the crowd that made this a reality. So often it’s pure WSL ministry of truth style fiction, whether in ELo’s manufactured numbers or those in the booth reporting things our eyes tell us are lies. But in Brazil these crowds are real.

Drone shots showed thousands of people packing the beach, tanned limbs pressed up against barriers, jammed skin to skin and grinning. Brazil is what the WSL has always dreamed pro surfing could be. Even through a screen the atmosphere is tangible.

As the finalists were announced, combat style by the Brazilian announcer on the blue runway, their personalities seemed to have been momentarily switched. Ewing grinned from ear to ear, an outward expression of happiness seldom seen.

Dora, by contrast, was steel-eyed, terminator-like. “I’ve never seen Yago in the fifteen plus years I’ve known him with that much intensity in his eyes”, said Jesse Mendes.

On the birds-eye angle, each combatant cast long shadows in the late afternoon sun. One man in blue, the other in red. One dark and moustached, the other blond and clean shaven. It was a vision that stirred images of an empty street with a man at either end of it.

Ewing took a wave almost immediately. Mere seconds in, Mitch “Nostradamus” Salazar proclaimed his victory. “I think this is the way Ethan wins this final”, he stated conclusively.

Fortunately, everyone ignored him.

The decisive blow was Dora’s ten point ride for a gigantic full rotation, spun and landed as clean as it gets. It was a flat, snowboard-like rotation, of a type few in the world might execute with such panache.

Certainly it was not the type of surfing we’ve seen from Ethan Ewing, nor are we likely to. This isn’t a slight, but rather to make the point that there was no answer he could give in this situation. This gulf in range made Dora a worthy winner.

It was only the second maximum score of the entire season, and it couldn’t have been more different to Callum Robson’s genre bending barrel at Supertubos. Nevertheless it was valid.

Detractors could argue it was a capitulation to the partisan crowd and the moment, but if so, only by half a point.

Dora moves seven positions to number five in the world. He’s a threat at every venue, including Trestles, and if that fact isn’t already obvious, it will become more apparent in time.

For all the talk of surfing’s importance to culture in the likes or Australia and California, only in Brazil does it feel like real sport.

Stadiums are not the answer for pro surfing, packed beaches and quality broadcasts are. If the WSL is to have any future, they’ll follow the fans, not the money. Satisfy the first and the second will follow.

On a personal level, thanks for all the comments and messages of support, both in public and private. It has an impact. I’m still in the hospital. My boy isn’t out of the woods, but he’s on the mend.

I’ll be forever grateful for the healthcare in this country and the simple, human kindness shown by nurses in particular.

It’s a weird little thing this life. Do whatever you can with it, for yourself and others.

A little taste of what the Olympics might look like in July, 2024.

Fears tiny Tahitian town of Teahupo’o will be destroyed by 2024 Paris Olympic Games, “I’d go to war to keep this place the way it is … We gotta keep Teahupo’o Teahupo’o”

All surfers to be housed in a pair of cruise liners anchored out the back of the famous wave.

In roughly one year, the world’s best surfers, as well some pretty ordinary fringe dwellers from landlocked countries and hundreds of officials and coaches, will descend upon the wildly pristine Tahitian town of Teahupo’o for the surfing part of the Paris Olympic Games. 

And locals are worried the joint’s gonna get flattened by the influx. 

“I’d go to war to keep this place the way it is … We gotta keep Teahupo’o Teahupo’o,” Henry Tahurai told The Guardian. He says he’s “scared “of  what might happen to his “little piece of paradise… We’re not doing it for us, we’re doing it for the next generation.”

If you’ve ever been to this town of fifteen-hundred souls at the literal end of the road in Tahiti-iti, seventy clicks or so from the capital Papeete, you’ll know what a low-fi little joint it is outside of the annual WSL event there when the only noise you’ll hear is the great swoosh of water as Filipe reverse paddles into a set. There’s the occasional whine of a boat engine in the lagoon. The slap of rubber flip-flops on the road, the splashing of a school of fish chased by a tiger shark. 

You’ll find basic accommodation in A-frame huts built on acres of lush tropical grass or in family owned houses built at the water’s edge, the matriarch and patriarch your gracious hosts.

Here, you’ll sleep in what looks like a kid’s room with an electric fan blowing warm air on your face while the cute blonde radio announcer with breasts like soft plums, mysterious, awesome, indescribably magnificent protuberances, who came down to the contest from Papeete, laps at your balls as she tries to wake you up so you can give her a manually induced orgasm.

When the Olympics were first mooted to be in Tahiti, big plans were announced, a new bridge across the river so cars could get in, an Olympic village, a big hotel renovation. 

“I wasn’t against the Olympics being held here in Teahupo’o, but I was against all the buildings they wanted to build,” Cindy Otcenasek, president of the environmental defence association Vai Ara o Teahupo’o, told the Guardian. 

After months of meetings, all the development except a widening of the pedestrian bridge, better drinking water and an improvement in internet access, were shelved.

So what’s gonna happen to the 48 surfers and their teams if there ain’t no hotel? They’ll be staying on a pair of cruise liners anchored out the back of Teahupoo. 

“It’s not the best solution – the motors run all day,” says Otcenasek, “but it’s the one that won’t leave any lasting trace in Teahupo’o”.

As marine scientist Dr Sam Purkis, chair of Marine Geosciences at the University of Miami, says: “Providing that the ships anchor on sand and do not discharge their waste into the bay, the impacts of their presence will hopefully be minimal. In the end, it is the reef edifice which has grown over millennia which creates the wave that the competitors seek.”

Echoing his Polynesian brothers in Hawaii, Tahurai says, “The Olympics are welcome here but leave this place as beautiful as it was when you saw it for the first time.”

"You mean we weren't friends?" Photo: Simple Jack
"You mean we weren't friends?" Photo: Simple Jack

General public disgusted as collaborationist surf media rounds on its onetime champion, ex-World Surf League CEO Erik Logan!

Stab in the back.

You have, by now, heard that World Surf League CEO Erik Logan has been unceremoniously fired in the most humiliating fashion possible.



While his former employer did its damndest to shame the former chief, a greater surprise is collaborationist surf media, previously found suckling Logan’s Filipe Toledo shaped nipple, rounding on the Oklahoman who came to us with a paddle and a dream.

The Inertia, which previously praised Logan as “visionary” and “cool guy, someone we should emulate” mocked his departure by likening the fallen to fat Elvis in a cruel headline reading “Erik Logan has left the building.”

Stab, which has attempted to recreate a miniature Wall of Positive Noise around its offerings, recently excoriating subscribers who dared question why the premium surf blog ran gambling ad with an open comment reading:

Thanks for the input. Just so you understand, the money isn’t impossible to resist. It literally allows us to keep our staff employed. One month of Betonline promotion = three people’s salaries. So would you rather that we put three people out of work (also meaning we’d be able to create less content for you to enjoy) or put a little betting blurb at the bottom of our comp reports? We appreciate where you’re coming from, but for us it’s a pretty simple equation.

Passive-aggression like that not seen since the aforementioned Logan penned:

To the WSL community,

I want to address the conversation that happened in our community following the recent Championship Tour event at the Surf Ranch. As you likely know, a small number of athletes made statements questioning the judging of the competition and the final results.

I want to respond directly to those statements, however, we first need to address a much more important issue. In recent days, a number of surfers, WSL judges, and employees have been subject to harassment, intimidation, and threats of violence, including death threats, as a direct result of those statements. Those things should never happen in our sport or any sport, and we’re devastated that members of our community have been subject to them. It is an important reminder to us all that words have consequences. We hope the entire WSL community stands with us in rejecting all forms of harassment and intimidation.

In terms of the statements made, we completely reject the suggestion that the judging of our competitions is in any way unfair or biased. These claims are not supported by any evidence.

Firstly, the judging criteria are provided to the athletes ahead of each competition. All athletes competing at the Surf Ranch Pro received these materials on May 20th. Every athlete had the opportunity to ask questions about the criteria at that time. None of the athletes who made these statements took advantage of this opportunity at the Surf Ranch Pro.

Secondly, our rules allow any athlete to review the scoring of any wave, with the judges, and receive a more detailed explanation of how they were scored with the judges. This process has been in place for a number of years, and is the direct result of working with the surfers to bring more transparency to the judging process. It is not acceptable, and is a breach of league policy, for surfers to choose not to engage with the proper process and instead air grievances on social media.

A number of athletes at the Surf Ranch Pro received points for elements such as progression and variety, so it is simply incorrect to suggest these are not taken into account in the judging criteria. Furthermore, our rules have been applied consistently throughout the season, including at events this season that were won by athletes who are now questioning those same rules.

Surfing is an ever-evolving, subjective sport and we welcome a robust debate around the progression of our sport and the criteria used to judge our competitions. However, it is unacceptable for any athlete to question the integrity of our judges who, like our surfers, are elite professionals.

No one person or group of people are above the integrity of the sport.

Erik Logan
WSL Chief Executive Officer

Homage, maybe, but Stab then released an evidence-free smear utilizing “unnamed sources” as to why Logan might have been “forced out.”

Cruel coming from the resource that once described him as “visionary” and “iconoclastic.”

Will more former allies flee the beleaguered former chief’s side?

More as the story develops.

Comment live, Finals day, Vivo Rio Pro, “This odd little community of misfits that can feel at once caustic and caring!”

Join your brothers and sisters in a warm, safe environment… 

The Roman Leo Fioravanti surfs with gusto! | Photo: WSL/Diz

Ghost of fallen WSL CEO Erik Logan continues to haunt Viva Rio Pro! “We don’t have much light anymore”

Who are the sycophants and acolytes that hitched their wagons to ELo’s toothy, Hollywood dreams?

I’m in a hospital, writing this on my phone. It’s a high dependency unit of a children’s ward in Inverness. My son lies in the bed, the one who celebrated his fifth birthday less than two weeks ago.

I’ve discovered the thing that some of you might unfortunately also know, there can be few things worse than seeing your children suffer.

Life, at these times, seems both overwhelming complex and really fucking simple. In the days we’ve been here, often utterly helpless, the simplicity of it all rings out.

Nothing matters beyond the day you’re living. Nothing matters beyond him getting better.

And nothing in life matters more from this point forward than the health of the people I love, children first.

When suddenly you are removed of agency and choice, all those decisions and desires you fret over seem less than insignificant.

Certainly, surfing doesn’t matter. Certainly my obligations to you don’t matter. My agreement to write something on every day men fight meaningless battles against other men in the realms of professional surfing.

So why do it?

Well, for one, after a hellish few days, it looks like my boy might have turned a corner. We’re not out of the woods yet, but things are working. He’s eating for the first time in a week. He’s talking to us. He’s playing with kinetic sand and the Hot Wheels monster trucks his brother brought him.

And he’s angry. Utterly furious, in fact, about all the wires and needles and cajoling and promises of the things he’ll get to do when he finally gets out of this horrendous place where you’re confined to a bed and children scream and wail all around you, and adults pace and poke and prod, and you understand nothing but pain.

He ripped off the wires used to monitor his vital signs. He tore out a cannula, spraying blood and fury everywhere. He’s had enough, and I don’t blame him. It’s hard to explain that people hurting him are actually helping.

For another, writing things down helps. And as much as I’ve found it hard to respond to messages of support from family and friends, and in many cases just haven’t, somehow it’s easier to communicate with a readership of perfect strangers. Here, on BeachGrit. This odd little community of misfits that can feel at once caustic and caring.

But I’ll confess to not having watched a huge number of the many heats run today in Rio, and you can let me know if there are salient points missed.

And of course, ELo!

I’m terribly interested to watch the fallout of the coming days. Who are the sycophants and acolytes that hitched their wagons to ELo’s toothy, Hollywood dreams?

Who replaces him? Would Kelly do it? A salivating prospect in many, many regards. The only man who would give us more mileage than ELo, who would thrill and titillate us at every turn.

And what really happened? To be axed mid-event, one he was attending on the other side of the world, seems odd.

There’s much speculation and rumour and fun to be had, of course. Never fret, this opportunity to put the boot in won’t be missed. Like a ragged, saliva soaked dog chew, we’re not quite done with you yet, Erik Logan. But all in good time.

It was a day of big names falling. A day of the sort of peaky, mysterious beachbreak that might fade to nothing or offer a tempting section. Hardly classic conditions, but contestable. Some men rode their luck, others whinnied in frustration.

People’s champion Jadson Andre was back in the fold and doing very Jadson-like things in unspectacular defeats of higher seeds. Yellow jersey wearer Griffin Colapinto was first to be decapitated, establishing the trend for the day. Andre would go on to scythe Toledo from the round of 16 and will meet Yago Dora in today’s quarter finals.

The other giant killer of the day was Sammy Pupo, slaying Medina then Chianca. As I’ve said before, I do think young Pupo has a place on this tour, despite losing it after the mid-season cut. If it wasn’t necessarily a day to exhibit quality, it was one for grit, and Pupo seems to have both.

Jack Robinson was sent home early once again owing to a priority interference against Seth Moniz. Of all the surfers on Tour, none looked more assured for a top five placing than Jack Robinson. Now he finds himself outside looking in and praying for good fortune and better waves to round out the year.

Regardless, it might not matter much. He’s a man who might win a world title at Teahupo’o, but not Trestles.

Toledo’s loss today probably won’t see his top five position threatened by year-end, though the axing of Logan makes this year more critical for him. One would presume that the Trestles world title showdown will thankfully disappear into the annals of pro surfing cock-ups, and with it, Toledo’s advantage.

I can’t do the complex mathematics to tell you exactly what the top five ramifications are after today’s results (and it strikes me a new CEO might look to make this system easier to understand) but I do know that with four of the top five gone, and men on the fringes still in the competition – Yago Dora, Leo Fioravanti, John Florence and Ryan Callinan – things will be shaken up.

Unless I missed it, pundits today did not mention Erik Logan. A frankly absurd show of ignorance or psychological conditioning that prevents them from addressing obvious and pressing facts.

However, I did note the following exchange between Joe Turpel and Jesse Mendes, which was either a figurative allusion to the day’s events, or just very simple facts.

“It’s kind of getting dark out there, Jesse.”

“It is getting dark, Joe. We don’t have much light anymore.”

Fingers crossed for more light soon.