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.) 

Breakout star of Apple TV's excellent Make or Break series, Tyler Wright.

In bombshell interview on eve of world title showdown, queer icon Tyler Wright claims she was “silenced” by WSL over transgender views!

“It was so confronting… That whole thing was a colossal mess.”

The two-time world champ Tyler Wright, who is three heats away from winning a third crown, has given a bombshell interview with Australia’s Fairfax Press, revealing more detail on her troubled relationship with Daddy Rob, why surf culture sucks and, in a devastating blow to the WSL, how she was silenced over her views on trannies in sport.

Wright, who is twenty-nine, sure don’t hold back when she gets the mic, welcome given the stiffness of surfer media interviews although her views are not always popular with the proletariat who, rightly or wrongly, don’t see the problem in someone being pushed into a sport that has made them a world champ and a millionaire.

(Keen readers will note Wright’s net worth got shaved a little when Shane Maree Hatton, a family friend of the Wrights who managed the Wright’s cash, stole $586,805.07 from her. Owen got fleeced of $818,642.80, Mikey, $151,201.23, and their mum and Dad, Rob and Fiona, lost $81,025.29. Hatton used the money to pursue her love of horses and games of chance.)

Anyway, you know an interview with Tyler ain’t gonna be dull.

In the story, she fires fusillade after fusillade, at culture, her daddy, the WSL etc.

“Sometimes I get so let down by the surfing community that I feel like quitting.”

“I thought I was gonna die.”

“When I look at surfing, for years I wrestled with my anger towards surfing because of how it’s positioned itself in the world of progressiveness. ‘We’re counterculture, we’re inclusive… My experience of surfing from a young age was definitely not that.”

“I think WSL having the (trans) policy is amazing. It’s inclusive, it’s moving forward … But it was so confronting, that to a certain extent I was being told to keep quiet, keep my head down because of this blow-up.I didn’t say much and I still don’t, [because] obviously it’s wildly confronting for someone like me to be in the crossroads of this.”

“I believe in inclusivity and equality. It doesn’t just come and go when I like it.”

“You know what I did? I quietly quit in certain spaces. But not in the spaces that matter most to me.”
“Sometimes I get an hour to take some pain relief. Other times I get nothing, my body goes into such severe pain and shock that I’ll just start throwing up.”

A little warm-up read for Finals Day tomoz! 

But even if Toledo deserves the title on the day (and because he’s earned the number one spot this season) it will leave a sour taste in the mouths of some. Don’t be surprised if this sentiment bubbling below the surface sways the judges into some controversial decisions. Don’t be surprised if we have a world title marred by judging controversy. Wouldn’t that be an appropriate reflection of the season and the organisation?

World surfing title to be decided between a “Homeschooled simpleton”, a “grubby little taxi driver” and a “winsome blond au pair”!

Even if Toledo deserves the title on the day it will leave a sour taste in the mouths of some. Don’t be surprised if this sways the judges.

The end of the year is upon us. A time to reflect, a time to heal. But not before we deal with the immediate future, the big hurrah: The Final Five at Trestles’ famed and overrated cobblestones!

Try as they might, the WSL just don’t seem able to conjure any anticipation for this, their grand showcase. Everything they do seems flimsy, somehow. More chintzy high school prom than world title showdown.

Has your phone been buzzing away with god-awful WSL notifications too?

How bad is that content? How can it be so bad?

So busy. Such blandness. Such sanitised, homogenous pish.

Whatever happens next within that organisation, they need to hire some professionals, ideally people who actually surf and care. The quality of their media output is so lacklustre, so amateur, that I almost never look at it. Which leaves me wondering: who is? I mean, it’s part of my job to take an interest in this stuff, but they offer nothing of substance, and nothing that doesn’t come with a sheen of try-hard flimsiness.

What about those jerseys? Are they the most embarrassing merchandise ever cooked up by an apparently professional sporting organisation? You’d be forgiven for assuming that all creative work had already been outsourced to a primitive chatbot. If not, it should be.

And the practice session stream…what the actual fuck was that? Aside from Erin Brooks, who seems quite lovely, it was an abomination.

Clearly, the WSL still has a serious identity crisis. It doesn’t know if it’s they, them or ze. It’s an ongoing problem for pro surfing, but not more so than in the last couple of years. It’s not serious or organised enough to be defined as a proper sport (and the cap don’t really fit) but embracing the stoner Cali vibe just makes it look like an idiot.

Regardless, we’ll watch the Finals in spite of them, and here’s what to make of the men:


When my partner was pregnant she lost an entire load of washing. She found it later. In the freezer, obviously.

Another morning she texted me in a panic from work. Had I seen her phone? Had she left it in the van when I’d dropped her off? She couldn’t find it anywhere!

Have you checked your hand? I asked.

Baby brain’s a real thing. For someone like Jack, who likes (needs) to keep a tight leash on the mush between his ears, it could be a killer.

As a man and a surfer, I’m a fan. This Tour is better for the presence of Jack Robinson, his tube wizardry, and his latent psychopathy.

Does any of that mean I think he can beat Ethan, Griff or Filipe at Trestles? Not likely.

And he does need to have a word with whoever is advising him on the non-endemic fashion alignments and his general social media output, because it is crrriiiiiinnngggeee. “Reminiscing on my first times in the ocean with the clean scent of #PoloBlue” he says in one post, whilst wearing an unbuttoned white shirt, holding a bottle of aftershave and looking constipated.

See you next year, Jack. Your washing’s in the freezer.


Joao announced himself on Tour this year with great vengeance and furious anger by hammering and slicing his way to world number one in the early part of the season. Three semi-finals and a victory in the first five events is no fluke.

There remains the sense that Chianca will be most at home in meaty waves rather than dribbly cobblestone points, and taking the title at Trestles from his position seems unlikely. But it won’t be his last shot. Though a little skittish and elbowy at times, Chianca attacks sections like they killed his pets.

I find Joao an intriguing character. The contrast between his softly spoken interviews, where he professes gratitude and humility, and his tear-your-face-off, paddle around, over, up and in you approach in the water is truly fascinating. He comes from the Brazilian school of surfing that enjoys blood in the water, it doesn’t matter who it belongs to. If we had a whole Tour of guys like this pro surfing would be a mainstream sport.

He said it best himself: cold blood, warm heart. (Though I’m not totally buying the latter.)

Don’t be surprised if he wins his first match-up against Robinson through sheer force of animal energy. If you believe in more, bet on it. You’ll get 25/1 and more from most bookmakers.


If you’d asked me about Ewing’s chances a week ago I’d have told you they were adjacent to zero. Not because he supposedly had a broken back (medical marvel or misreported?) but because I just don’t think he has the game to tackle Filipe in small to medium waves.

However, to Antipodean delight, I’ve got a little inkling that we might see Ewing make it all the way to a match-up with Filipe after all.

Beyond the capacity for superhuman healing, Ewing has otherworldly, picture-perfect style that make fifty-year-old men weak at the knees. And, as has been well established throughout the course of this season, the judges (and the surf industry, for that matter) are largely men in their fifties and sixties. Ethan might as well be a winsome blonde au pair.

He’d be a popular world champ, a victory for aesthetics and eugenics. He can lay a surfboard on a rail like almost no-one else in the world.

Unfortunately Filipe Toledo is almost no-one else.


Little Griff has won my heart this year. Underneath all the self-help psychobabble there’s just a homeschooled simpleton waiting to break free, eat crisp sandwiches and rub Nutella all over his face.

Only the sourest of pusses (or Brazilian fans) could dislike Griffin, smiling widely and nodding along to his little rap beats, imagining he’s straight gangster. To be fair, men like him have propped up the rap industry for years. Nothing quite says gangster like homeschooling, golf carts, and second and third homes at the beach.

Regardless, he’s here on merit. He has the game to beat Filipe, and homefield advantage. More importantly, Toledo knows it.

And if he doesn’t? Well we can read all about it in pidgin English on Instagram, via a photo of a crumpled diary piece covered in snot and tears.

Ah, 2023.


For most, Filipe has been a lock for this world title all year. Not just because he’s our reigning champ, but because no-one in the world generates speed and explosiveness in small to medium waves like he does.

I like the big hair he’s sporting this season. I like that he looks like a grubby little taxi driver, with eyes that will almost certainly rob you. But above all I like how fast he goes, how he generates speed like he has jets.

And I especially admire his sickle-like turns. And yes, they are as good as Ethan’s. Not quite as stylish, perhaps, but technically perfect.

He’ll need to sound out the judges. Do they want carves and flow? Or would they prefer some balls-out aerials? No matter for Filipe, he can do it all. If he puts his laces through one early it’s game over. If Griff or Ethan get a jump on him we’ll be in for a match.

But even if Toledo deserves the title on the day (and because he’s earned the number one spot this season) it will leave a sour taste in the mouths of some. Don’t be surprised if this sentiment bubbling below the surface sways the judges into some controversial decisions.

Don’t be surprised if we have a world title marred by judging controversy. Wouldn’t that be an appropriate reflection of the season and the organisation?

Ironically, as a distraction from the gaudy production, it might also be the best thing for them.

I’m off to place some bets.