Toledo (pictured) hexed.
Toledo (pictured) hexed.

Mortal terror ripples through Filipe Toledo’s camp ahead of Tahiti Pro after revelation that Brazilians have no idea who li’l lionhearted surfer is!

The horror, the horror.

Deeper, man. Losing myself then finding myself. Horror and mortal terror becoming my friends. The bullshit coming out of Santa Monica had piled up so high that I needed wings to stay above it. I Had to leave. Had to come to the last place former World Surf League CEO Erik Logan was before becoming brutally fired then ruthlessly vanished.


I can smell what happened now. Like caipirinha in the morning.

My idea of great r & r has become a cold cachaça-based cocktail and warm acarajé com vatapa de inhame. The only ways home death, or victory. And on that note, before we get to what Logan did, where Logan is, I asked the rooftop bar staff at the iconic Hotel Fasano if they knew anything at all about competitive professional surfing at the highest level last night.

The World Surf League.

English is not universal, here, which shouldn’t surprise but did and the two women plus four men scrunched their noses, repeating “World Surf Leash?”

“Gabriel Medina?” I wondered and boom, they all broke into smiles and wild hoots. Pumping fists, showing passion.

“Famoush!” one hollered.

Buoyed, I offered, “Italo Fereirra?”

“Ohhhhhh!” The celebration grew in both tone and intensity. “Italo!”

On a roll, I dropped current world number one and champion Filipe Toledo, expecting his gilded name to bring the house absolutely down.

Spontaneous samba, vuvuzelas etc.

The celebration instantly stopped as they looked at each other, passing the name “Filipe Toledo” around the circle, each time accompanied by a light head shake, until it returned to me with a “Filipe Toledo? Não sei.”

I was shocked and wondered how the King of Saquarema was not known.

“Filipé Toledo?” I tried again, accenting the e.


What sort of voodoo spell had Logan cast while wearing the li’l lionheart’s skin?

Did he bring Toledo with him to hell?

Surf Journalist on mission to find savagely disappeared former WSL CEO Erik Logan falls into capoeira haze and experiences real “ordem e progresso!”

Chicken sacrifices etc.

I’m deep, man. Deeper than I thought I’d be at this point in my search for the viciously disappeared former World Surf League CEO Erik Logan. Way deeper. Out here, meu almofadinha.

Everyone gets everything he wants. I wanted Logan to get fired, and for my sins the World Surf League did it. Fired him without mercy while he was in Brazil which meant I had to go to Brazil, a country I’d never been, in order to find him.

My mission was simple. To make sure he was ok or could at least breathe with the ball gag in his mouth, yeah, but also find out why. What manner of non-compliance he committed in order to be met with the most torturously terse press release in corporate history.

“The World Surf League (WSL) announced that CEO Erik Logan has departed the company, effective immediately.”

That’s it, that’s all, besides the other garbage the grocery clerks wrote about Chiefs of People and Purpose and Chiefs of Legal.

In the weeks since, I’d desperately tried to put the pieces together but nobody knew nothing and Dave Prodan, the World Surf League’s Chief Strategist, wouldn’t crack. I’d have to get beyond his timid, lying morality.

Knew I’d have to come to Brazil to crack it.

I’m north and east of Sao Paulo, now, where the winter sun beats hotter and the Atlantic laps brutalized shores. I should have come before. Should have come when Gabriel Medina won Brazil’s first title in 2014. Should have come when Adriano de Souza won right after him in 2015 except Kelly Slater forced me to forget. Should have come in 2018, 2019, 2021 and 2022 when Medina won, Italo Ferreira won, Filipe Toledo won but I’m here now and a grande atração.

Did you know that Portugal moved its capital to Brazil in the 1800s? Sailed it straight from Lisbon to Rio de Janeiro and settled it for fourteen years?

Here’s a rumor for you, drawn from multiple sources and pieced together with order and progress. World Surf League owner Dirk Ziff ain’t dumb. He knows that Bailey Ladders is not exactly a “vector of success.” Knows off-brand digital wallets aren’t “synergies of achievement.”

But think about it, cara esperto. He brought Logan in to head up the new WSL Studios but what did the studios make?

Absolutely nothing.

Folded after a couple of press releases yet the Oklahoman with the wetsuit of armor was promoted. Promoted all the way to the top spot where he continued to utterly and publicly fail. The Ultimate Surfer? The Trestles Final Five? Introducing Covid to the Hawaiian Islands?

Take your shirt off?

Do you think Dirk Ziff is that dumb?

No, irmão. He ain’t that dumb. He had a plan and that plan both was and is pools. Specifically, the new Kelly Slater Surf Ranch almost finished in Abu Dhabi. I’ve got it that Ziff is selling the whole shooting match to a gulf (Persian not Mexican) interest that will disappear the “annoyance” of lousy forecasts, waiting periods, inability to monetize live crowd all while using the World Surf League’s notable sport/greenwashing ability.

He needed Logan to fully tank this current iteration, this weird hold over from the Association of Surfing Professionals days which was held over from whatever Bronzed Aussie Ian Cairns dreamed up.

So it all goes to the Middle East.

But it all belongs in Brazil.

It has smacked me in the jaw since I’ve been here. Brazil is the natural home of competitive professional surfing. Smacked me and smacked me hard.

They have an appetite for weird niche here. Like dance fighting, foot volleyball, serious innertubing. Gabriel Media is as famous as soccer players. Tens upon tens of thousands pack the beach to applaud air reverses. Death is wished upon referees, competitors, judges who “get it wrong.

On broadcast television.

They care here unlike anywhere else. Care while producing the best crop of current and upcoming surf talent. Really, the only crop of current and upcoming surf talent, if we pause and be honest.

Ziff should move his capital to Brazil, like Maria I of Portugal did, but won’t and isn’t. Logan was needed to make a mockery out of it all. The perfect clown but what did he do, specifically, to be vanished so heartlessly and where is he now?

I think I’ve figured that horror out too, pessoa legal.

I’ll give it to you, tomorrow, if you still care.

But first I’ve got to sacrifice a chicken.

Ever since the kids left and we’ve been through the lockdowns he’s just always there, you know. A presence in the house. Heavy, like. He mopes around, half working half mucking around on that bloody men’s surfing forum.

Grim fate of middle-aged surfer revealed in barely-concealed “fiction” by celebrated surf-lit author

What happens when a surfer gets old? It's worse than you think!

Me and Rudy are standing out front of the cafe in our usual morning spot. On the pathway between the two trees. Both in our hairnets and grease-stained work polos. Looking across the industrial estate as it begins to stir. The low winter sun is just protecting us from the ice-tipped westerly hurtling down the valley. It’s second smoko. Only a couple of hours now until knock off.

This is where we come to untangle life. Amongst the forklifts, the hi-vis, the beep of reversing trucks. We talk about work, kids, husbands, the footy. Whatever. Sometimes we can’t get a word in edgeways. Other times we say not much at all.

There’s shade from the trees when it’s too hot. A couple of plastic chairs from the diner when we need them. To the north, between the aluminum wholesalers and the educational supplies building, you can see a slim finger of mountains pointing off into the distance.

I light up a cigarette.

I didn’t tell you about this one, I say to Rudy as she looks at her phone. Came home the other day after my shift and found him barbequing. At lunch time.

She turns to look at me. What do you mean?

He’s out on the verandah, with the mini Weber. Cooking up a big plate of chicken. On a Tuesday.

What’s so wrong with that?

Whaddaya mean, what’s wrong with that? I take a drag of the cigarette. Think it over.

I mean, I guess there’s nothing wrong with it. At face value. But picture it. He was there with his shirt off, his big hairy belly hanging over his Ruggers like a Christmas puddin’. And he was barbequing.

Rudy shrugs, looks back to her phone.

I said to him, I said, what are you doing?

And he looks at me with those doey eyes. That expression like he knows what I’m talking about, but he’s still gonna play dumb anyway.

What? he says. I’m just cooking up some chicken.

Now? I say. It’s lunch time. On a Tuesday. Aren’t you on the clock?

Well you know he’s been working from home for almost three years. But still.

A group of office types push past us on the narrow concrete strip. I take a step back to let them through.

I’m on a break, he says. I can do what I want.

So what happened? asks Rudy.

I take another draw of the cigarette. Breathe in deep. Hold it there, for a moment. Can feel it percolating down the bottom of my lungs. I let it out.

Well, I just ignored him. Tried to, at least. Headed towards the kitchen, to make myself a sandwich. But there’s mess everywhere. Piles of washing in the lounge room. Dirty dishes in the sink. And the smell. That smokey barbeque smell. It’s just wafting through the house. Soaking into everything.

So I go back outside. I say, you know you could at least shut the doors or the windows when you’re doing that. Keep all this smoke out.

I need to keep the door open, he says. In case I hear the work phone ring.

I say, Why don’t you bring it out with you?

He just sits there, turning the chicken slowly. It’s already burned to shit. Looks like charcoal.

Because, he says, then I’d have to set it all up out here. Plus, he says, I like to get away from work a little bit. You know, keep up the barrier.

Rudy says something like mmmm but I don’t know if she’s talking to me or her phone. The wind is picking up. I have to watch that the ciggie isn’t blowing back into the diner door. The new owners don’t like it when I do that. I wish I’d worn my jacket.

Ever since the kids left and we’ve been through the lockdowns he’s just always there, you know. A presence in the house. Heavy, like. He mopes around, half working half mucking around on that bloody men’s surfing forum. Just generally making a mess.

And I can appreciate that he likes to be at home. Better than at the pub, I suppose. Or when he used to disappear for days at a time chasing waves or whatever it was. But barbequing? At lunch? On a Tuesday? I mean come on. He’s just too… comfortable.

The diner is getting busier now. More office workers stream along the path, heading for their morning coffee. I look at my watch. 8:45. We’ll have to head back in soon. I ash the cigarette under my shoe and put it in the bin.

I turn to Rudy. Eye her up directly.

I’m the one leaving for work at three am every morning.  He just wakes up whenever he wants. Sits at his desk doing god knows what for most of the day. And barbequing. Bloody barbequing at lunch.

I stop, clear my throat. Kiss my tongue to my teeth.

I look at him and think, you’re just another thing in the house now. Something I need to navigate around. Like the furniture. Or the bills. Or the washing. He just gets to me, you know?

Rudy still doesn’t say anything. She just keeps scrolling her phone, nodding silently.

And that barbeque smell. It sticks to the walls. Creeps into the roof. Marinates. Bloats the woodwork. It’s his smell. It’s suffocating. It’s-

I feel my stomach tighten. I think I know the words I’m looking for, but I expect I’ll choke on them if they make it out.

I reach for another cigarette, but remember the time. Smoko’s almost over.

I sigh.

Some days I just wanna stay at home too. Stay at home under my blanket with the power points switched off and the curtains drawn. Let it all come to me. Just once.

I look out to the mountains. If I squint my eyes tight all I can make out is their silhouette against the light blue sky. I could be anywhere.

‘Course I never will. Like my mum always told me. Ask for nothing, expect nothing in return. It’s the only way to be.

Rudy looks up from her phone.

Mmmm. What was that, hon?

I said, I’m gonna throw that fuckin’ barbeque out when I get home.

A cloud falls over the sun and we both shiver.

Now 28, Lakey has struggled through the past few years. It’s a long way from the heady days of 2018 where she put up a solid challenge for the world title against eventual winner Steph Gilmore. We have to go back to 2019 to find her most recent event win, which came at Surf Ranch. | Photo: Beatriz Ryder/World Surf League

Santa Babs Olympic hopeful Lakey Peterson returns from wilderness with inspiring win at Corona Open J-Bay!

And storms into Finals Day contention as tour moves to Tahiti!

After two seasons without a contest victory, Lakey Peterson won Jeffrey’s Bay on Wednesday. She says it’s the contest she has most wanted to win in her career. On Instagram she called it “a dream come true” and said J-Bay is “her favorite event.” Lakey’s come close in the past, with second place finishes behind Steph and Carissa. Finally this year, she made the top step.

Now 28, Lakey has struggled through the past few years. It’s a long way from the heady days of 2018 where she put up a solid challenge for the world title against eventual winner Steph Gilmore. We have to go back to 2019 to find her most recent event win, which came at Surf Ranch. She also won Margaret River, and finished third in the world that year.

What happened?

Obviously, there was the lost 2020 year. Then Lakey missed the abbreviated 2021 season to a back injury. It’s been a slow climb back. A pair of second place finishes last year stand out, and she’s twice made the semis at Pipe. Plainly, she’s been doing the work. On the whole, the small conditions this year didn’t suit Lakey’s powerful style. and she got stuck damn close to the cut line.

Fortunately, the waves turned on at J-Bay. Sure, it wasn’t perfect, but rare is the day when perfect waves show up. Isn’t that why we all keep looking for them? That one special day is special for a reason.

The fast inside runners that J-Bay offered this year suited Lakey perfectly. Her ability to generate speed gives her a distinct advantage. That speed is an underrated element of her surfing, and it allowed her to scoot through sections that derailed some of her competitors. Perhaps influenced by a coaching change — she worked with Micro Hall this time around — her surfing had more variety than usual. It looks good on her.

Despite a dropping swell with plenty of lulls, Lakey and second-place Molly Picklum brought big energy to their final. Between them, they took off on 23 waves, and a few times, I completely lost track of what was being scored. They probably did, too. Lakey rightly came out on top, but Molly didn’t make it easy for her. If you’re going to watch one heat out of the women’s comp, make it the final.

How much did you love Molly’s fuck-you claim? She’s a feisty one. Molly claims pretty much every wave, and I don’t even hate it. And in truth, she had one hell of a comp. Her path to the final ran through Steph in the quarters and Carissa in the semis, and she dispatched them both. That’s 12 world titles, smashed on the rocks. Fuck you, world titles!

Molly has benefitted from the judges’ love for close-out hits this season, and she made them count. Against both Steph and Carissa, the ability to land those finishing moves made the difference. In the final, she couldn’t match Lakey’s speed and sharp turns, but she should be proud of this one. Molly’s now sittin’ pretty in the top five.

During the elimination round I learned that Carissa wears her leash tucked under the ankle of her wetsuit. I have questions. This was Carissa’s second time breaking a board at J Bay and doing the long run around. She still managed to beat Johanne Defay, and put up her best scores — 8.50 and 7.77 — after paddling out again.

After dispatching local Sarah Baum in the quarters, Carissa ran straight into Molly. It was a low-scoring heat without a lot of waves on offer. Carissa left points on the table by falling twice on the end section. Her final wave, a 5.17 would readily have won her the heat otherwise. Molly made it through with a 6.50 and 3.50. I’m not sure if she claimed that 3.50, but I wouldn’t be surprised. Not judging!

So, what about Caity?

She went out early this time, losing to Lakey in the elimination round, and it wasn’t especially close. Caity had a pair of 4’s to Lakey’s 7 and 6. The long walls at J-Bay showed Caity’s small size. Trying to project a 5’4” down the line is going to be a challenge for her and she never really looked at home out there. I love how quickly Caity learns, and I wouldn’t be surprised if next year, she looks entirely different out there.

Caity’s new and exciting and that’s led her to become the surfing internet’s It girl. She’s won two events this year, equaling Carissa’s rookie year in 2010. That’s an impressive stat. Looking at her results, it’s been a bit all or nothing. In addition to her two wins, Caity’s also finished ninth in four events. Currently, she’s sitting fifth overall, with Tahiti left to go.

Caity’s been compared to Dane and John John, which is some heavy pressure. She’s also been cast as the anti-contest surfer, though it’s unclear to me what her true attitude might be. For some commentators, she seems to represent an avatar for their dissatisfaction with the current WSL program and with women’s surfing, more generally. I’m not sure it’s entirely fair to saddle her with all of that baggage.

For me, Caity remains a bit of an enigma. I was told several years ago to keep an eye on her and that she has a legit rare talent. I’ve seen no reason to doubt that assessment at all. To me, her inconsistent performances this year look more like growing pains than anything. Sometimes, she still looks like a grom out there — and at 17, that’s okay. Two contest wins and a shot at the final five is an awesome start to a CT career.

Before we look at the final five, a note on rankings. For this year, there’s only one dropped score. I confirmed this one with the WSL for y’all, because I’m a giver! They’ve already dropped the lowest score before the cut, so what you see is what you get for the current rankings.

On the women’s side, only one spot remains open in the top five. Carissa, Tyler, Caroline, and Molly have all made the Trestles final. Thanks to her win at J-Bay, Lakey sits sixth in the rankings, roughly 3k points behind Caity. If Caity falters in Tahiti, Lakey has a shot at overtaking her. It’s still mathematically possible for Steph to make the final five, too, though that scenario looks less likely to me.

To add a little more pressure to the mix, an Olympic spot for the UU women is also in play. Thanks to their victory at the 2022 ISA World Championship, the US women have three slots at the 2024 Olympics. Carissa and Caroline look likely to scoop up two slots, leaving a third up for grabs between Caity and Lakey. The Olympic selection is based on rankings after Tahiti, but before Trestles. Weird, but true!

The J-Bay comp always feels like a taunt with its long, gleaming walls. It comes during the flattest part of the year in my neighborhood where the point breaks are sound asleep, dreaming happy point break dreams. Someday, they will awake. In the meantime, we wait.

In fact, it’s been a slow summer all around in California so far. But I remain optimistic, and I even bought a new board recently. I put a pink pad on it, because I’m pretty sure it’s impossible to be cranky with a pink traction pad. I’ll report back on this important question. For science!

In the meantime, the CT has one event left to go in Tahiti before the Trestles final. Hopefully, some south swell finds its way to both places in time. It’s been a lot of days of small surf on Tour this year, but for one day, at least, the waves turned on at J-Bay. Maybe there’s hope for us after all.

Surf journalist gets smacked in jaw with vastness of Brazil but vows to continue search for savagely disappeared former World Surf League CEO Erik Logan in face of sinister odds!

Welcome to São Paulo.

Flying over São Paulo, the absolute vastness of Brazil begins to settle. The western hemisphere’s most populous city, eclipsing Mexico City, Chicago, Manhattan Beach, spreads over tree-dappled hillocks for as far as the eye can see. Red roof’d neighborhoods clumped everywhere, the occasional high-rise sprouting skyward all connected by ribbons of asphalt.

Former World Surf League CEO Erik Logan could be anywhere, or at least his secret. Disappeared by the organization while he was here, in Brazil, celebrating “passion” etc.

Not a peep since.

What did he do to deserve such a brutalist fate?

No thanks for service, not one well wish.

My plane lands with a thump and I disembark, stumbling bleary-eye’d into Guarulhos International Airport. It is not what would be described as “architectural.” No whiff of Oscar Niemeyer but even if it was something to look at, it would be hard to focus. The trip here, including the now-all-too-common delayed flights etc. is rough and especially from the United States west coast. I used to think Kelly Slater was a giant baby for refusing to come to Brazil, crudely and childishly inventing all manner of silly excuse.

Now I still think he is a giant baby. What sort of man can’t deal with the rigors of travel?

But I must admit to feeling off-kilter. Nervous. Sleeplessness clawing at the bits and bobs of sanity floating in an otherwise addled brain. What if my mission fails and I can’t at least sort of figure out a way into the “outrageous silence” coming from the World Surf League regarding Logan? That’s how one very well connected industry vet described it.


Nobody knows nothing.

Why São Paulo? Logan was vanished in Rio so why not begin checking questionable Buffalo Bill themed bars there? Or favelas where boys might gladly part with their torso skin for a laugh?

Because I’ve got a feeling, man. An instinct.

I need a drink to straighten out but hate Heineken. How did the Dutch beer come to dominate so fully? To become the Brazil in surfing of beers? Wild how this onetime colony has completely and utterly taken over professional surfing at its highest level, though, isn’t it? Filipe Toledo is going to win the title this year. He won it last year. Yago Dora might win the year after unless Gabriel Medina decides to harness the dark power and run off five in a row.

I wonder how they’ll feel when professional surfing’s owner Dirk Ziff sells them to new Middle Eastern overlords in order to splish-splash in their Middle Eastern pools, raising World Surf League cups in Bahrain, Abu Dhabi, Riyadh while pudgy sons of princes eat powdered sugar donuts and squeal.

But where’s Erik Logan and what does his cruel beheading have to do with any of this?

São Paulo.

I’ve got a feeling, man.

An instinct.