World champ Filipe Toledo after his zero point heat at Teahupoo in 2015, an unwanted stat he almost reprised against Kelly Slater and Nathan Hedge in 2022.

Toledo Question surrounds upcoming Tahiti Pro as reigning world champ struggles to prove worthiness to compete for Brazil at 2024 Paris Games

"Filipe will surf the Olympics next year, so it might make sense to you know, try this whole barrel thing out."

Dreamy images of tropical barrels flood my Instagram, a sure sign that it’s nearly time for Teahupo’o. I can spell it, but I definitely can’t say it. Fortunately, saying things right is not my job and I feel fine. There are few more aesthetically fabulous images in surfing than a barreling wave over a tropical reef. Having a wonderful time, wish you were here.

Not having a wonderful time is Ethan Ewing, who fractured his L3 and L4 during a free surf session ahead of Friday’s contest start. Back injuries are stupid painful and can take a solid chunk of time to heal. Of course, elite athletes aren’t normal people, so I’m not about to guess on this one. Wishin’ him good vibes all around.

If Ethan, currently world number 2, can not surf Trestles, what happens? Even without surfing Tahiti, he’s securely in the top five. His Olympic slot is also confirmed.

Perusing the WSL rulebook is totally my favorite past time, so I was excited to dig into it in search of the answer to this super important question. Unfortunately, the rules are ambiguous. The top five surfers in the rankings go to the finals. What’s unclear is whether injury replacements are allowed for the final five.

(Editor’s note: The WSL has confirmed there’ll be no top five replacements. If Ethan doesn’t make it to Finals Day, only four surfers will compete.)

While we’re talking about the rulebook, here’s one thing we do know. If you’ve looked at the numbers you may have noticed a weird quirk in the standings between Yago and Gabby. Why isn’t Gabby’s lowest score dropped? Simple. It came after the cut. According to the rules, only one score is dropped this year, and it happens before the cut. All results after the cut stand for determining the rankings. So, Gabby is sixth, but not by much.

Let’s turn to the forecast. Oh. Hmm. Maybe it would be better if we didn’t. I do not want you to be sad, and if you saw that forecast, you might become sad. Let’s just say, the waves were yet again quite good ahead of the contest window. Swells, they come and go, and mostly go.

Last time I did a full rankings for all the men it completely melted my brain. I am not stupid enough to try it again. Instead, let’s look at some heats. Maybe some of them will look interesting even!

Last seen getting shacked at Skeleton Bay in Namibia, Kelly faces Yago and Ian Gentil in the opening heat at Teahupo’o. I’m assuming he can bend time to his will and make it to Tahiti. It’s also possible he stubbed his toe in Namibia and won’t be there. You never know with Kelly.

Teahupo’o is one of the few stops where it makes sense for Kelly to be on Tour at all, but I hope Yago crushes him. Kick his ass, Yago! I did not promise to be objective about this thing. Yago has some heavy-hitters chasing him for that top five spot, so he needs to make some heats here.

João, sitting at number 4 also needs to make heats in Tahiti. Though he’s got a bit more breathing room, he’s faces a tough opener with local boy Kauli Vaast. Both João and Kauli can barrel, and have posted some sick clips from this week’s swell. They’re well-matched and It’s the kind of heat we’d love to see in good waves. Jordy is also in this heat.

Mihimana Braye replaces Ethan Ewing, and Griff draws him for the opening round. Griff has no need to take chances here with this top five secured, but it’s impossible to imagine that he’ll sit on his hands. Griff actually likes surfing heats, which is pretty helpful given his chosen career. Griff’s no slouch in the barrel either. I’d expect him to win this one, but it’s no sure thing.

Ah, the Toledo question. With his top five spot secure, he doesn’t need to do anything here. But Filipe will surf the Olympics next year, so it might make sense to you know, try this whole barrel thing out. Liam O’Brien and Matahi Drollet are in this heat, and a win for local Matahi would be sweet. But really, the main point of suspense in this one is whether Filipe decides to barrel or nah.

Gabby has won Teahupo’o twice and finished second on three occasions. He’s currently sixth in the rankings and both João and Yago have to nervous about that reality. Gabby missed last year to injury, but it’s impossible not to see him as a favorite to win the whole damn thing. He meets two Hawaiians, Barron Mamiya and Seth Moniz in the opening round. You’ll remember Seth finishing second to Kelly in that wild Pipe final in 2022, so this is not an easy heat. I’d still expect the three-time world champ to win it.

I was surprised to learn that John John hasn’t been to Teahupo’o in five years. It certainly didn’t show in the gorgeous clip he posted earlier this week. Just smooth, casual barrel surfing. I could watch him all day. John John meets Rio Waida and Kanoa in heat six. I’m not sure how the judges will underscore John John this time, but I’m sure they’ll find a way. Rio is hardly a walk-through and ignoring the forecast entirely, this is a fun match-up.

Like Gabby, John John can make the top five with a good finish in Teahupo’o. In good waves, this would seem like a no-brainer. His highest finish came back in 2016 when he finished second to Kelly. The following year, he lost to Jordy to finish fourth. If the waves are shit, it’ll come down to how much John John really wants to go to Trestles. Certainly he has the skills, but how much is he willing to grovel?

Jack Robinson is right behind John John in the rankings in eighth. Robbo started the year well with a win at Pipe and third a Sunset, but injuries have derailed things for him. He tore his meniscus at Bells, which is a nagging, shitty sort of injury. He came back quickly, maybe too quickly, and surfed the Ranch for a seventeenth. His ankle was taped during his free surfs in El Salvador, suggesting another injury.

A recent quarterfinal finish at J-Bay ended a string of seventeenths for Robbo, and his clips from this week look solid. He has Connor O’Leary and Callum Robson in his opener. A goofy, Connor’s had a solid run this year, but he’s never finished higher than ninth at Teahupo’o. Callum has never competed at Tahiti before this year. This one feels like Robbo’s to lose.

The final heat gives us Leo Fioravanti, Ryan Callinan, and Matthew Gillivrary. Did I tell you I saw Leo’s dad wandering the halls of the Tachi Palace? He was wearing an immaculate white Italian Olympic team tracksuit, which is not exactly the outfit you’d expect to see wandering the halls of a casino in Lemoore. Leo’s the fave for this heat.

My work here is done.

Let’s barrel!

Kelly Slater destroys three boards in one surf at remote West African wave dubbed the “Namibian Rickshaw” as the race begins to make it to Tahiti in time for his last-ever event

"We found the nose of one of Slater's boards two-and-a half-kilometres down the beach!”

The eleven-time champ Kelly Slater is in a race against time as he hustles to make it to Tahiti for what may be his last ever contest at Teahupoo, the waiting period beginning in only two days. 

Slater, who is fifty-one, joined the conga line of tube-wranglers, which included popular surf vloggers Nathan Florence and Jamie O’Brien, to the Skeleton Coast wave called Donkey Bay or, more colourfully, “The Namibian Rickshaw.”

The popular WSL commentator Strider Wasilewski, who also made the sixty-hour journey from Los Angeles, described it as “the craziest longest most barreling wave ever and a very satisfied, adrenaline filled soul! The freedom of the desert and the beat down of my body, the greatest equalizer ever, thank you surfing. BTW, this wave is really hard to ride and very heavy, I don’t recomend going unless you are in amazing surf shape and an excellent surfer.”

Slater said he destroyed three boards in one session at the joint and when he asked if he enjoyed Donkey Bay said “it donked me yesterday.” 


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Of course, even in his sixth decade Slater remains one of the sport’s best tuberiders, and his form, unsurprisingly, was demonstrably sharp.


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Slater’s record at Teahupoo, meanwhile, is otherworldly, eighteen events for seven finals and five wins with an average…average… heat total of 16.29.


Horror spreads across Maui as out-of-control wildfire devastates historic Lahaina town forcing residents to hurl themselves into ocean


Any surfer with a heart has eyes glued on Maui and the unthinkable devastation happening there now. The Valley Isle, typically a vacation paradise for upper-middle class mainlanders, big wave aficionados and fans of Mtv’s hit 2007 show Maui Fever, has been ravaged by out-of-control wild fires.

Dry winds, spinning off a passing hurricane, quickly whipped flames through western parts of the county including historic Lahaina town which has been burned to the ground along with its port and many neighborhoods.

“It’s a real loss. Hawaii and Maui have tried really hard to preserve and protect those places for many, many years … not for the sake of tourism but because it’s part of our cultural heritage,” Senator Gilbert Keith-Agaran declared.

Lahaina was once the Kingdom of Hawaii’s capital.

The fires, catching officials completely by surprise, moved so fast that residents in certain parts of the island became completely cut off and had to hurl themselves into the Pacific in order to survive. Hospitals are currently overwhelmed with burn and smoke inhalation patients with major airlines canceling flights so as not to add to the problem.

“We are already in communication with other hospital systems about relieving the burden – the reality is that we need to fly people out of Maui to give them burn support because Maui hospital cannot do extensive burn treatment,” acting Gov. Sylvia Luke said. “In addition to dealing with disaster, we’re dealing with major transportation issues as well.”

Thus far, six deaths have been reported with the number certain to climb.

Officials are asking residents to conserve water so that firefighters can better battle the blazes and also to stay off the roads to reduce congestion.

“911 is down. Cell service is down. Phone service is down. And that’s been part of the problem,” acting Gov. Luke added.

Those witnessing the carnage are calling it “an apocalypse.”

Truly calamitous.

The American Red Cross is on the ground providing both logistics and shelter. Donate here.

Surf enforcer Kala Alexander vows to mete out North Shore justice on internet scammers!

"If you give me $500 I will give you 5000 slaps."

Not long ago, our surf world was a different place and especially on Oahu’s fabled North Shore. Bad behavior in the water was not met with police calling or social media shaming but with points to the beach and fisticuffs. Interlopers dared not even peek at iconic breaks such as Pipeline, where paks of wolves terrorized, much less dream of paddling out.

Kooks, in general, minded their Ps and Qs.

Those who thought they might be welcomed to paradise were quickly ushered to hell and few were more feared than Kala Alexander.

The specter, hailing from Kauai, very much looked the part. Fearsome eyes, knuckle tattoos, Brazilian jiujitsu training, a rap sheet. His name was whispered in hushed tones, no one wanting to draw unnecessary attention.

Times changed, as you know, a softness settling over western civilization as it identitys itself into extinction but, hours ago, Alexander reminded all that North Shore justice still exists and may simply be hibernating.

The subject of his ire?

Internet scammers.

As anyone with a phone or computer knows, messages promising money for little, or nothing, are ubiquitous. While most consider it background noise, victims are sometimes snared and Alexander has a message for those responsible.

Taking to Instagram, a forum favorited by sneaks, Da Captain declared:

So sad how much people are falling for the “give me $100 or $500 and I will give you $5000 or $8000 or whatever.” Listen people even if someone offers you 10$ if you give them $1 ITS A SCAM !!!!! Don’t do it people. Listen if anybody hits you up with the scam just send them to me I am offering this once in a lifetime deal for scam artists. All they have to do is give me $500 and I will give them 10,000 slaps. Do not shoot a video for them and do not give them any money please people don’t do it. Just send them to me.

But what do you think true market value for one slap is? $500 for 10,000 slaps seems a pretty good deal, to be honest.

In any case, have you ever fallen for a scam? Did it make you feel small and lonely?

I’m sorry.

Kelly Slater filmed in remote west Africa chasing mythical endless tube dubbed the “Namibian Rickshaw” only days before his last-ever contest in Tahiti!

Kelly Slater joins conga line of legendary tuberiders at a wave brokered to the world by a computer nerd in 2008!

One of the most beautiful things about Kelly Slater is, even at fifty-one and with twenty mill or so in his purse, his pursuit of barrels is as relentless as it was thirty years previous.

And yesterday, continuing into today and with a spike in the swell expected tomorrow, Slater’s vast suntanned presence has overshadowed a stacked crew of the world’s most accomplished tuberiders including vlogger Nathan Florence, little bro Ivan, Jamie O’Brien, Craig Anderson, Harry Bryant, Balaram Stack, Brett Barley, Benji Brand and WSL commentator Strider Wasilewski at Donkey Bay in Namibia.


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The story of Donkey Bay aka The Namibian Rickshaw is pretty wild:

The joint was fiercely protected by a cadre of locals and South African surfers until it was  brokered to the world by a magazine and a computer nerd in 2008.

The Google Earth challenge was a Surfing magazine initiative to shoot a little out of the box, readers using the then new Google Earth tech to discover secret waves.

Deal was, you tell the mag, they let you join a photo shoot to the joint.

Brian Gable, an IT specialist, was a runner-up to the contest in 2007 (a wave in Western Sahara was chosen though no trip was made).

His loss drove him nuts.

As he wrote in Surfer,

“From that moment, I committed to nothing else. Logging some serious late-night hours online, I focused on studying the country, the terrain and bathymetry, the people, the marine life, weather-patterns, the cost, travel, logistics, etc. I corresponded with locals halfway around the world. Obsessed and possessed, I selfishly put personal and professional duties aside and spent my days formulating the ultimate package for the ultimate magazine surf trip. To me, it wasn’t just a free adventure for myself. It was a chance to prove that the gem I found not only stood up to every other world-class setup, but was on the very short list at the top. Then, on Wednesday, Sep 19, 2007 at 10:03 AM, I got the call. First prize, the Indians take the pennant, the whole freakin’ enchilada!”

Skeleton Bay, of course, is now a photo studio, many pro’s and so on.

Better than snorting crystal blow, as old-timers used to say.

Watch how it was discovered here!