Two-time champ Toledo.

Filipe Toledo wins San Clemente world title showdown though glory tarnished over his inability to conquer big-wave demons

"He's gotta be able to get over (that fear)," says the WSL's Peter Mel.

The second-generation pro surfer Filipe Toledo has harnessed an insistent animal vitality to win his second consecutive world title in lightly wind scarred three-foot waves at San Clemente’s Lower Trestles.

Toledo, who is twenty nine and the son of Brazilian champ Ricardo, came into the one-day winner-take-all event rated number one and only needed two of a possible three heats to beat Australian Ethan Ewing, whose comeback from a back injury has been well documented. 

“It’s a miracle this man is even competing,” said beach announcer Chris Cote as Ewing mowed through Joao Chianca and Griffin Colapinto.

Surfing rigorous but free, wild but as exact as a knife, Toledo used all the usual paralysing tricks of eye-fooling to dispense with Ewing, not easily, the ravenously aggressive blond with the overwhelming ass ain’t an easy beat, but it was clear. 

The best surfer in waves of non-consequence? Filipe Toledo. 

There is a caveat. An asterisk.


As Chas wrote last week,

How do you solve a problem like Filipe? 

His terror is completely obvious, and reasonable for any mere mortal, but not for Ubatuba’s first son. Toledo has super human reflexes and ability. God-gifted talent above and beyond plus resources to hone and maximize. He could swing on any gaping beast and, though sheer capability, navigate. That he has refused to grow the heart, to this point, to spend time and money, gin up confidence, learn is a mark directly against him.

Even the Wall of Poz Noise is starting to crack. 

“He’s gotta be able to get over that,” said Peter Mel. 

JP Currie’s Finals Day analysis arriving shortly and, likely, a work of beauty from Jen See about the gals (Caz Marx’s not unsurprising win etc)!

Open Thread: Comment Live on the World Surf League Finals Day at Lower Trestles!

Can you dig it?

Pip and last year's trophy! | Photo: WSL

Rip Curl Finals Day Preview, “Imagine being excited to see the surf brands. Imagine being able to see it all with fresh eyes!”

"If your friends make a t-shirt with your face on it, do you have to win the world title? If that’s the rule, then Griff wins."

Sometimes, the 405 gives love. Today it did not. It was all hate, all the way down. To give you a tortured surfing metaphor, I dropped in way too late, and fell so far behind the section. By the time I made it to the Whole Foods in Malibu, it was already noon. I should have kept driving straight by, but I needed cookies. I could not drive the 405 without cookies.

It was entirely my own fault. Earlier in the week, industry friends had told me that Finals Day would almost certainly fall on Saturday. I trusted their knowledge, and made my plan. I knew I had to drive south on Friday, but that doesn’t mean I necessarily did anything about it. I am very deadline-oriented, as it turns out.

So, there I sat in the slamdance where the 10 and 405 meet, and well, I knew I wasn’t getting anywhere near San Clemente in a hurry. It was the usual kind of thing that leads anyone with an ounce of sanity to declare that they hate LA. Too many cars. Too many people. Everyone trying to get somewhere and going nowhere fast.

I start to lose my mind out there. Does Redondo come before Long Beach? What’s the 605 anyway, but just another number. On the toll road, a vintage VW bug grovels up the hill’s steep slope. It has a Huntington sticker on the rear window. I admire the commitment.

In San Clemente, a red banner hangs from the overpass. Full Metal Jack. I’m not sure what the Vietnam War has to do with surfing, but maybe it’s better not to ask. Someone probably just liked how it sounded. Badass. Cool. I decide to play along. Sometimes when it comes to surfing, it’s better not to think too hard.

A pair of kids on ebikes cross the Christianitos overpass as I approach it. Viewed from a distance, it’s a carefree existence, riding down to the beach with your best friend, just to see what’s up. As the freeway bends, I can see the white roofs of the contest structures glinting in the sun. Tomorrow.

Will the swell show up on time?

That’s the question everyone’s asking.

Hurricanes are spectacularly difficult to forecast. Out over the water, they twist and dance. Four steps forward. Three steps left. Spin, and spin some more. Jova is moving faster than the original forecasts, it seems. So, it’s possible the waves will show up right on time. It’s also possible that they will not.

I’m in Oceanside now. I pull into one of the new hotels near the pier, where corporate money has applied a layer of gloss to the blocks closest to the ocean. It feels trendy and artificial. There’s craft beer and New American eats on every corner. I could be anywhere.

The woman behind the check-in counter wants to know where I’m from and why I’m here. The Trestles thing, I say, forgetting that the whole world doesn’t share our obsession waves and the people who ride them. She wants to know if I’m in the contest. No, the actual surfing is not my job.

Around sunset, I walk out to the beach. A few lefts roll through the lineup. A surfer stands up and goes right without success. I laugh, thinking that I’ve found the one person in California who hates going left more than I do.

Down in the sand, I let the water wash over my feet and watch the sun set. A small crew sits on their boards along the pier, but there’s not much to do beyond enjoy the view. The swell isn’t here yet. I climb the grimy steps next to the pier. Corporate shine only reaches so far.

In search of food, I wade through the tourists who cram the sidewalks in their holiday clothes. Instagram dresses and their dates swim toward the bars. One of the hotels hosts an Indian wedding party and a woman wearing flowing red silk suddenly appears like an apparition.

I pick up my take-out from the teenaged hostess. She has braces, and wears a cute flowing dress paired with Converse. She tells me that every year, she looks forward to the Super Girl Pro, the women’s contest that takes place in Oceanside a few weeks from now. The surf brands all come to it, she says. And the surfers are so good.

I want to hold tightly to her enthusiasm. I want to carry it with me down the trail to Trestles tomorrow. Imagine being excited to see the surf brands. Imagine being able to see it all with fresh eyes, as though the whole thing were entirely new.

You probably want predictions or rankings or some such thing. You came here to read about surfing and I told you about how bad I am at driving places. You want a refund. You’re probably right.

On the women’s side, I think any of the five can win. That sounds so candyass, but it’s totally true. Carissa has experience — both good and bad — on her side. She’s world number one yet again, but she’s been a bit less dominant this year than previously. Carissa is at her best in good waves and consistent conditions. If it turns on, she’ll be hard to beat.

But the door’s open for the rest of the field. Tyler has surfed consistently well all year. Caroline’s comeback has turned out to be surprisingly solid, especially during the second half of the year. Molly has so much fire, and Caity has all those wild flashes of brilliance that can turn a heat — or a world title race.

If your friends make a t-shirt with your face on it, do you have to win the world title? If that’s the rule, then Griff wins. Beating Filipe is a tall order at Trestles, for sure, and the men’s side looks less open to me. Griff, Robo, João, and Ethan may play musical chairs, but I’d be surprised if Filipe isn’t on top at day’s end.

Tomorrow, I’ll wake up early. Tomorrow, I won’t miss the section. And, hopped up on hotel coffee, I’ll head back up the road to Trestles.

My phone flashes. A text from a friend.

Maybe it’ll be surprisingly awesome, he says.

Maybe it will.

Watch: Matthew McConaughey delivers spine-tingling world title showdown speech to Griffin Colapinto!

“The roof is a manmade thing, Griff, and…you…have no lid. So fly.”

A few weeks back, world number two Griff Colapinto told People magazine that a speech from Surfer Dude actor Matt McConaughey had propelled the San Clementine into the season of his life, culminating with a ticket to Teahupoo in 2024 and a seat at the champions either tomoz or Sunday.

Colapinto returned the favour, advising McConaughey’s kid Levi, who made a stunning debut on Instagram a couple of months back with surf heavyweights lining up to praise his skills. 

Now, the Academy Award nominated actor has stunned surf fans with an inspirational speech delivered via Instagram on the eve of Finals Day where Colapinto will attempt to unseat reigning world champ Filipe Toledo. 

Hey Griff, I want to get your ear before you get all in your head about this world title business. I want to share a perspective that has helped a lot of my dreams come true. 

It’s called be less impressed and more involved. You see, when we are just impressed our dreams are nothing but fairytale dust clouds that we bend our neck to see and never grab a-hold of. 

But, where we’re involved, we grab a-hold of those clouds. We grab that fairy dust. We look ‘em in the eye and make ‘em a reality. 

You see, this moment that you are in, right now, right here, is a classic yin and yang. It’s a balance of make it happen, let it come. The reason…and… the rhyme. The balance of the engineered and the mystical. 

And, the hard work and the dedication and the principals and the goals you have committed to, you engineered those. A hundred percent fact! And the mystical, that stuff that sends you a set wave you need with fifteen seconds on the clock in the final heat of the final event. That out-of-body stuff at that precise moment you need an 8.89 to decide the world title and you surf your way to a nine. Yeah! You gotta keep your antenna tuned to that music as well! 

Now, look, it is no accident that you are here right now. Hell, you called your shot a long time ago. These heights that you’re on, now this is your new normal. It’s where you belong. On the way to where you are going! 

So remember, how you got here, look this moment in the eye, and own it. Cause the roof is a manmade thing, Griff, and…you…have no lid. 


Ooowee, tickly skin etc.


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“Caroline's been fricken deadly the last few days. She’s so obviously got Lowers figured out. Every wave she takes off on it’s a seven-five or above."

Fantasy Surf League winner predicts Finals Day champs as vaunted hurricane swell suddenly weakens delivering smaller than expected waves!

And who's the former world champ looking "hit or miss…kinda off, maybe riding new boards"?

Only one week ago you read about the Australian-born husband of Lakey Peterson, Thomas Allen, who was announced winner of the WSL’s Fantasy League, beating a field of over one-hundred thousand entrants.

The thirty-three-year-old Victorian, an osteopath who works on tour with his craft’s mix of chiropractic spinal manipulations and physio soft tissue work, won exactly nothing for his supreme triumph although the lesson clearly is, when Thomas talks surf, you listen. 

After that lil story, I was hit up by pals and strangers for his inside picks for Finals Day, as if I was a regular conduit for his wisdom. 

And, so, on what is likely the eve of the world title showdown at Lowers, BeachGrit telephoned Thomas at his and Lakey’s San Clemente home, which is also the billet for twenty-year-old Australian contender Molly Pickles.

First, and most important, is the swell’s been downgraded according to Thomas’ pal and San Clemente legend Mike Parsons. When I ask Thomas how big he thinks, we go through the whole, well, California size, Australia size? I choose Victorian-size, which equates, he says, to two-to-three foot with slightly bigger sets, maybe four foot if you squint your eyes. 

He says he hasn’t been watching the warm-up every day but today he was down there, saw the who’s who of Finals Day, including contest favourite Filipe getting in their reps. 

So, yeah, small swell, who you gonna pick? 

“Filipe, one hundred percent. When he’s switched on he’s kinda untouchable. But, Griffin, if he goes lights out, surfing 110 percent t and he starts landing all his stuff, he could almost match Filipe who has that speed that is hard to match for a lot of the boys. Unless he has a full brain-far day, screws up priority, his baseline surfing is hard to beat. 

How about Ethan Ewing, who crawled out of a Tahitian invalid ward? Can he do the impossible? 

“He looks fricken…good. Everyone’s been talking about it. All the attention is on Griffin and Filipe and he’s in the shadows, honestly. He doesn’t even look like he’s been injured. He’s riding some shorter board that looks like an epoxy but whatever it is, it’s fitting in super good, he’s doing those little blow tails, all that Ethan stuff that is phenomenal. He’s a little dark horse. Everything thinks he’s injured but he could stomp through the rounds especially if Griffin has an off heat or Filipe gets a little sleepy.” 

World number five Joao Chianca, he says, “has been surfing really good for him (but) the other three (Griffin, Filipe and Ethan) are on a different intensity. If everything were to go his way, for sure, any of the boys could march through and take anyone down. And, Jackie Robbo, he’s cool, he’s ripping, everything looks nice and methodical but, again, on a slightly different insanity to the other three. Fricken Filipe, you can’t go past Filipe. Unless he has a bad day he’ll be number one.” 

The women, real interesting, and Caroline Marks, he thinks, is the gal to beat. 

“She’s been fricken deadly the last few days. She’s so obviously got Lowers figured out. Every wave she takes off on it’s a seven-five or above. In saying that, she doesn’t have the variety of the other girls, it’s pretty repetitive, and the judges might be hyper-critical in this event. It’s backhand turn, backhand turn, backhand turn. They’re phenomenal, twelve o’clocks every turn, but I feel like if Molly (Picklum) or Caity (Simmers) click in and get into their variety, land a little air reverse off the end the judges are going to eat it up. 

“But, if you slip up, Caroline’s going to have to two seven-fives or above and you’re going to have to better that. You can’t win with a nine and a three.” 

How about Carissa, two heats and she’s got title number six. 

“She looks solid, not making mistakes, finishing waves really well. I haven’t seen her go for any airs yet. She’s similar to Caroline, getting the job done with sevens and eights.” 

Real hard to pick, says Thomas, is Tyler Wright, world number two.

“I’ve seen her surf three times now, and she’s …yeah… looks a little hit or miss. I saw her get one really good wave, a little blow tail reverse deal. (Overall) she kinda looked a little off, maybe riding new boards, a little off with new equipment first few days rolled in. Freesurfing all year she never looked the best or the most in-form but in a heat you’d watch and think, ‘Where did she pull that out of it?’ She could do it but I feel like Caroline and Riss have her number.” 

Watch and comment live on BeachGrit tomoz or maybe the next day or maybe even the thirteenth (new south swell.)