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.

Filipe Toledo cried in celebration when he won. He cried in his post-heat presser. He cried when he was given a trophy that looked like an alien helmet. This is Toledo’s passion and skill and career. I admire him for his dedication and effort, and for connecting to his present. He seems like a genuine person. | Photo: WSL

Pro surfing feared dead after lifeless Corona J-Bay Open, “An endless drone of punditry. Empty statistics, half-remembered anecdotes”

None of what happened at Jeffreys Bay was important in the fading years, days or seconds of your life.

In journals unpublished until four decades after his death and based on years of personal psychological journeys, Carl Jung presents his theory of the two presiding aspects of our consciousness.

The Spirit Of The Times governs our present. It is concerned with what we should do, how we are supposed to act, our image and duties and obligations.

The Spirit Of The Depths, by contrast, is our animalistic nature, our ancient self. It responds to forces of the natural world, and not always things we can understand or control.

To be content, says Jung, we must find the balance between these opposing spirits.

I am here, writing this now, not because of a deep love of professional surfing, but because I like to write. Because I can.

I’ve been flagellating myself recently for not being able to write the Big Thing I’ve been working on. And today that manifested in being fed up with the WCT. I lost a lot of money. That certainly didn’t help.

I was also annoyed at myself for posting so late yesterday. Despite the fact I got up at 0430 to finish it before the next day started, and despite the fact I sit here now watching the long lulls of Finals Day, after three hours sleep, with life happening around me that I am not part of.

Despite all of that, it was still sloppy.

But the thing was, yesterday I was Living. We hiked with the kids to a secluded beach of white sand, and swam in azure waters that might have belonged in some tropical idyll if not for several degrees. Later, her mum took the children for the night, and we had a rare night to ourselves.

Still I watched nearly every heat in snatched moments, and still I wrote something. But I didn’t feel good about it. I was paying too much heed to the Spirit Of The Times, when The Spirit Of The Depths was calling me back.

So today I’m compelled to write what I want, and that’s not the hyperbolic ins and outs of a half-formed sport, practised by skilled strangers in places we’ve never been, presided over by people we don’t know.

Lots of things are more important than this. You should recognise them now.

None of what happened at Jeffreys Bay was important in the fading years, days or seconds of your life.

None of it.

Regardless. A note or two to satiate The Spirit Of The Times.

The day began dark and grim. Moody. There was lots of talk of weather. And cold. Everyone was cold.

The waves, which happened between the lulls, were shoulder high. Goofy footers who had so entertained us in the preceding days struggled with the reduction in size.

The first semi final between Ethan Ewing and Gabriel Medina was bereft of quality opportunity. These giants of men, these monsters in the art of surfing, mostly floated and pumped and looked out of their element. I couldn’t see the hope in it.

Except there was a turn. One turn by Ethan Ewing as the closing turn of his first wave that made me gasp.

But really, it all left me a bit numb.

Medina is said to have been tinkering with boards to satisfy the whims of the judges. Why, I wondered. Why change what you do, who you are? Why search for consistency in an entirely inconsistent system?

The waves looked a little bigger in semi final number two, but the men, Kanoa Igarashi and Filipe Toledo, were just smaller.

Kanoa got an eight to start then just sat, catatonic or composed for forty minutes, doing nothing.

Toledo surfed frantically, almost making it look exciting. But it was a bit like a tight angle of an RC surfer on a miniature wave.

There were very, very


L U L L S.

Minutes ticked away, vanished from our existence.

Joe Turpel never stopped. On and on he talked. And I questioned my present and my purpose.

The Spirit of the Times told me I should pay attention, that this was work, of a sort. That Derek was depending on me sending something in, and that it was good for me to force myself to write something under duress. And besides, it’s fun to connect with all of you.

But The Spirit of the Depths was telling me to fuck it all off. Go for a run. Immerse myself in cold water. Just write whatever I want.

And still they talked.

An endless drone of punditry. Empty statistics, half-remembered anecdotes apropos of not very much, tales of waves that were, been and gone and meaningless.

Fin templates.

Strider Wasilewski is perhaps my polar nemesis. He is chemically incapable of criticism or negativity. It would be endearing if not for the fact it often leads to bare-faced lies.

All day they announced who had made the Final Five, asking the athletes how do you feel, how do you feel, what did it take…

I just wanted someone to shrug and say Whatever. It’s Trestles. It’s shit. So I made the Final Five. What do you think I’ve been out here trying to do?

When they told Filipe he’d provisionally qualified for the Olympics at Teahupo’o, I wanted someone to ask him if he really wanted it. Or if he felt he was the right Brazilian for the job.

Cruel, maybe, but honest.

Toledo put on a one-sided performance in the final against Ewing.

When he was given a 9.93 I looked up, briefly, acknowledged the score, but realised it changed exactly nothing.

“We’ll be talking about that one for a while,” said Richie.

But we won’t.

Filipe Toledo cried in celebration when he won. He cried in his post-heat presser. He cried when he was given a trophy that looked like an alien helmet.

This is Toledo’s passion and skill and career. I admire him for his dedication and effort, and for connecting to his present. He seems like a genuine person.

But none of it compares to whatever you are doing right now in your space. Your little kernel of the present.

Your stories hold the world together and pull it apart.

Nourish that. Ignore pro surfing. It is ignorant and empty.

It is flaccid, occasionally fitful entertainment, and that is all it ever is or will be.

Unless, of course, Teahupo’o pumps.

Medina, Florence and Robinson are positions six, seven and eight on the rankings, respectively. There are only two spots left in the Final Five.

How do they FEEL?

At the End Of The Road, they must turn to the Spirit Of The Depths to find out.

"I understand that there are different cultures but in the end we all feel pain and we all feel love."

World number three Griffin Colapinto described as the “Gandhi of surfing” becomes first American surfer to qualify for 2024 Olympic Games!

“We are humans that have been born into a world run by the overthinking mind and the feeling of separation.”

The San Clemente surfer Griffin Colapinto, who helped cool heads following the furore from Brazilian surf fans after he won the Surf Ranch Pro in May, has been granted the first seat on the US Olympic bus to the 2024 Games. 

Amid death threats and promises of retribution on the blood-soaked sands of Saquarema, Brazil, Griffin had penned an open letter to the surfing community, a missive that had some calling him the “Gandhi of surfing.”


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“We are all human beings! We are all one. Each person seems to have something difficult that is happening in their life. Some times lashing out on others can stem from something deeper that we have no idea about. Raise your hand if you are guilty 🖐️ I know I have been before. And that’s okay, we are humans that have been born into a world run by the overthinking mind and the feeling of separation. But deep down there is a love that understands we are all one. I understand that there are different cultures but in the end we all feel pain and we all feel love. There are so many different perspectives and points of view out there. Who’s to say who’s right and who’s wrong. We grow up in different circumstances that shape our perspectives. Life really doesn’t make sense sometimes, but surely it’s more fun that way. Because now we have the unexpected. The element of surprise. There seems to be some growing pains in our surf community right now. But guess what? We are growing! Much love to everyone that is passionate about the sport of surfing. Without the passion, there would be no growth. Thank you!”

As you know, Griffin’s calm and skill in putting out fires was forged in the heat of battle.

You’ll remember after his El Sal win over Filipe Toledo in 2022, Brazilian surf fans went nuts, threatening protests, even death, claiming the fix was in for the gringo, a white conspiracy and so on, the hashtag, #worldshameleague a viral hit.

Even Filipe Toledo’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.”

For further context read, Brazilian surf fans apoplectic following Californian Griffin Colapinto’s “shock” win over world title favourite Filipe Toledo, “World Shame League! This event was a joke!” and Latin surf fans vow to create chaos at next World Tour event in Brazil following Filipe Toledos controversial loss to Californian in El Salvador, “The biggest protest in history in Saquarema! Bring banners, balloons, planes, boo all the time! Make them leave due to emotional stress!”)

The world number three turns who twenty-five in one week, is a brave man. Like Mahatma Gandhi, he has the courage to believe that human society can be built only on moral principles and that no lesser means will prevail. 

“Wow, how things can flip-flop just like that. I was so depressed yesterday,” Colapinto said when his inclusion was announced. “Only thing left is to win the title.

He’s also a gun at Teahupoo, unlike Brazil’s, likely, number one surfer, Filipe Toledo.

As one WSL follower wrote: “Can I just say what everyone is thinking. Why can’t every country just choose their best left hand barrel riders to represent their country? Imagine that Brazil who has Joao, Gabby, Italo, Yago, even Ciao that could win it has to go with Toledo because he does well in small rights and that has him winning the Title and an automatic pick for Brazil. With that said Griff is still a solid pick for USA but imagine JJF and Slater not getting the call up.”

Also qualified is the number two ranked Australian surfer Ethan Ewing.

Filipe Toledo tightens stranglehold on championship tour with dominant J-Bay win over Ethan Ewing!

The 2023 Championship Tour all but settled.

I am currently mid-air, somewhere west of Atlanta with countless miles to go until reaching São Paulo. I feel myself getting softer sitting in this metal tube, idling my brain with Sex in the City re-runs. Weaker. Every minute weaker while former World Surf League CEO Erik Logan remains missing.

Viciously disappeared.

Where is he?

Did he not return from the country of Progress and Order on purpose, instead heading up the Amazon in order to find more young men with insane chest tattoos that he could wear? Is he being held against his will or is he kind of liking it? What are the reasons for his banishment?


Still no peep on his once-robust social media channels.

All quiet.

Well, while I’m forced to cool my heels, we can at least discuss Filipe Toledo’s victory of Ethan Ewing to claim the J-Bay crown and increase his stranglehold on the 2023 championship tour. If I can read World Surf League emoji correctly, it appears that he, Ewing and Griffin Colapinto have all, officially, stamped their inclusion in the Final Five day at Lower Trestles meaning the brave coward can sit Teahupo’o out.

Good for him.

It’ll be impossible to knock him off his pole position and can Filipe Toledo, the best small wave surfer on the planet, be undone twice in a row at baby Lowers?


What did you think about the win?

Where’s Logan?

Just give me 20ish more hours of travel and I’ll know something.

Sex in the City.

"Slater left the event site under a dark cloud today after vigorous water slapping of the disgruntled kind. A lot of “mixed emotions,” said Strider, as we watched Kelly huff around in his wetsuit. “Safe to say he’s not very happy,” replied Paul Evans, rightly checking Strider’s euphemism."

Kelly Slater leaves Corona Open J-Bay “under a dark cloud” after finishing in last place in final-ever African appearance!

"Bizarrely, judges are scoring Slater down a little. I wonder who he’s offended from on high?"

Few observers (well, perhaps WSL pundits) would go to the stage of calling it an historic day of surfing, mainly because the stakes were not high enough, but no-one would laugh at you for calling it that either.

Conclusively, it was one of the best days of waves we’ve seen on Tour this year.

Was it all you dreamed of?

Is it ever?

Overlapping heats saw us steam through sixteen heats of men’s professional surfing at Jeffrey’s Bay. There were one or two slow-ish heats, but that’s the nature of the beast, and there was nothing to dim the shine of the day as a whole.

First, our wellness check on Mr Slater, the last that will be necessary at this event. His heat was held this morning, a match-up with the out-of-sorts Jack Robinson that some fancied he could win. Their heat took place before the waves really turned on, the sort of bad cosmic juju that seems to be following Slater this year, perhaps atonement for all those years of luck.

Or maybe, as they say, you make your own luck. Kelly Slater can’t buy a seven point ride this year. It’s all he needed today, all he’s needed many times this year. His semi-claimed little barrel on the inside was a grimly sad expression of his current status.

To my eye, bizarrely, judges are scoring him down a little. I wonder who he’s offended from on high? We’ll see who he sacks when he takes over as CEO, Head Judge, Director of Tours and Competition, Chief PR Strategist, and perennial wildcard entry.

I’m all for Slater the boss. I just hope he realises that’s the only path he has left to get what he wants from this game.

But he left the event site under a dark cloud today after vigorous water slapping of the disgruntled kind. A lot of “mixed emotions,” said Strider, as we watched Kelly huff around in his wetsuit. “Safe to say he’s not very happy,” replied Paul Evans, rightly checking Strider’s euphemism.

But out with the old, in with the new. Jack Robinson was back today, sort of. After defeating Slater, he went on to vanquish Fioravanti in the round of 16, albeit narrowly.

The most memorable moment of this match-up between childhood rivals came in an extended paddle battle. Robinson started slightly behind then tried to paddle over Fioravanti’s legs and take the inside as they ducked oncoming whitewash. Leo seemed to emerge a few yards ahead, but Jack hunted him down like a crocodile stalking prey. “I thought I’d let him get out there a bit,” he said afterwards. “Then he wouldn’t see me coming.”

But this shrewd and entertaining effort can’t mask a lingering doubt about Robinson’s surfing. It’s no-where near as convincing as it was earlier in the season, a view consolidated by his demeanour.

Post-heats he’s full of chat, can’t talk enough, would give you the ins and outs of a cat’s arsehole about any subject you like. Contrast this with the steely-eyed boy who was winning comps, just “being present”. I’d suggest he needs to get his temperament back under tight control. With all the hormones flying round his house for the next few months, I’d say there’s almost no chance of that.

What is back under tight control is Gabriel Medina’s pro surf game. He looked relaxed and lethal in his dispatch of Ryan Callinan in the round of 16 today, an opponent whose surfing inspires him, or so he noted post-heat.

It was far from a gimme, with less than a point between their final heat totals, which seemed about right. Medina’s backhand hammers were just a little sharper, a little more critical. Just a little.

I still think a goofy-footed surfer will win both men’s and women’s divisions here, and I’m betting that’s Medina or O’Leary for the men.

I am transitioning to a deep and humbled affection for the surfing of Connor O’Leary. Deep, because his backhand poise is so great it should be recognised as one of the finest styles in the game, and humbled, because I’ve dedicated few words to O’Leary in all the time I’ve been covering the Tour. He’s rarely been a standout, despite some superb results. It’s not that I haven’t admired his game, just that I’ve never fully bought it. This is changing, especially in waves like J-Bay.

(And perhaps because I’ve put several pre-event bets on him, so I’m watching more closely).

O’Leary notched his highest ever WCT score in an elimination round victory over Callum Robson, a 9.57 for a series of backhand hacks that are somewhat demeaned by that description. At J-Bay, O’Leary has timing as good as anyone, a patient smoothness to his style, with zero hitches in bottom turns.

Freeze-framed, O’Leary’s backhand top turns should be considered in the same pantheon as Ewing on his forehand. There’s this thing he does, and you can only really appreciate it in slo-mo, where his front hand comes down, fingers spread, and touches the deck of his board as he comes back down the wave. Functional, clearly, but also an appealing aesthetic touch.

All that being said, he was lucky to get away with victory over John Florence today, courtesy of a last ditch score that shocked everyone involved, not least O’Leary himself.

Florence had opened the heat with a 9.23 and looked like the best version of himself. His stares towards the beach and presumably judges were symbolic of the fact he was feeling it too. He backed up the nine in short order with a seven, then bettered that with an eight. By this time O’Leary had notched a deserved 8.77, but Florence’s total of 17.23 matched his swagger, and he never looked in danger.

“Felt a little disjointed, didn’t have the cleanliness we’ve seen from Connor all day long,” said Pete Mel In analysis of O’Leary’s final wave and before the score was announced. “He’s probably questioning his wave choice. Bit of a bummer.”

It was, when the score was announced as an 8.70, with one judge even giving a 9.20, perhaps one of the most shocking decisions of the season. The wave was good, no doubt, but in comparison to his earlier surfing it was left wanting.

Florence acolytes are bound to feel sore, and probably justified in those feelings, but let me know what you saw? The heat’s worth re-watching you’re into that sort of thing, so too Medina vs Callinan.

There’s no way I’ve covered everything, no way I really could in the time frame and word constraints. There were eights and nines galore today, and much fine surfing I’ve neglected. But feel free to light up the salient points missed below.

Oh, and in case you missed it, we’re living in a post-layback world now. Joe Turpel debuted the “lean back” today. He said it was to distinguish between those who do them properly (think John Florence at one end of the scale) and those who don’t (Tyler Wright).

It’s a terrible name, Joe, but it might also be one of the more sensible things you’ve said.

Enjoy Finals Day, it should be a cracker.