Let us all, Chris Cote aside, be honest for just one moment. The World Surf League is the greatest comedy show in town. Absurd in a form that would make Franz Kafka absolutely jealous. Andy Kaufman rolling over in his grave recognizing the stunt to end all stunts. From deposed CEO Erik Logan to Jessi Miley-Dyer’s various pantsuits, the “global home of professional surfing” has transitioned to peak ridiculous. More tomorrow on the aforementioned Chief of Sport’s sit down with collaborationist surf media Stab wherein the beloved Carissa Moore is completely pilloried, but today we have the nether regions of a press release.
Namely, the World Surf League claiming, without irony, that 10 million plus souls tuned into the just-wrapped Lower Trestles Finals Day.
Yesterday, we presented part one of our fifty best quotes in surfing special, a search engine optimisation story designed to be evergreen and which was forcefully suggested by a man in Chicago who is an expert in these sorta things and who comes highly recommended.
A terrific gap, of course, with the exclusion of Seattle-based surf historian Matt Warshaw, a man whose striking and vivid stories grip the reader like no other writer.
Here, therefore, are twenty-five of Warshaw’s best although the list is in no way complete or exhaustive. Feel free to add yours below the line.
“He was the slouching near-mute apotheosis of surf-cool: draining an afternoon beer, flicking a cigarette butt to the side before riding the biggest, thickest, meanest wave of the day.” Matt Warshaw on Pat Curren.
“Surfing is no longer hip or cool; who cares? We’re still out there riding, surrounded by ocean…” Matt Warshaw.
“The target, or sweet spot, or pleasure zone, got smaller and smaller, and I got tired of firing and missing. It dipped way below that 9-to-1 ratio, and I buckled. From age 45 on, my rails were stickier, the takeoffs were harder, and next thing I’m kicking the trashcan like Coach on Letterkenny screaming ‘It’s fucking embarrassing.’” Matt Warshaw on quitting surfing in middle age.
“Waves are the whole show. Waves are the only interesting thing about surfing. You’re a poetry-hating anti-New Age atheist with a penchant for hardcore rationalism? Same here. But at some level we know, we feel, that we are riding ocean-transported sunbeams, and it is magical.” Matt Warshaw on the indefinable joy of surfing.
“We’ve traded magic for perfection.” Matt Warshaw on the unveiling of Kelly Slater’s Lemoore wavepool in 2016.
“Surfing in a wavepool is… take your pick. Parkour, half-pipe, gymnastics. Except worse, because those sports will never be any better or worse than what they are, while surfing in a wavepool you’re kind of sticking your finger in the eye of the whole deal.” Matt Warsaw on wavepools.
“John Florence, to me, is the blankest of all slates. I don’t say that to be cruel. But it’s like the way people talk about Ronald Reagan, where you try and look inside him and just get… nothing.” Matt Warshaw on two-time world champ John John Florence.
“One hundred percent bullshit, all of it. But that doesn’t take anything away from how full-on addicted we all were, maybe still are, to riding inside the tube. I can’t explain it.” Matt Warshaw on the mysticism of tuberiding.
“Surf media is always 95% crap and 5% great.” Matt Warshaw on the gatekeepers.
“The Endless Summer showed what it’s like to be a surfer on the hunt — or the family-friendly version, anyway; no drugs, no drinking, no pussy.” Matt Warshaw on the most popular surf movie of all time.
“WSL decision-making is so bad it feels like performance art.” Matt Warshaw on the World Surf League’s direction, leadership etc.
“Martin Potter’s jaw-grinding voice sounds as if its been filtered through six espresso shots and a migraine headache. Ross Williams’ has me considering preemptive adenoidal surgery for my son. Rosy Hodge? Who can hear her above the angel choir and softly strumming lutes?” Matt Warshaw on WSL commentators.
“I’m going to hate-watch the Surf Ranch Pro, and hope it fails so badly that Sophie flies to Honolulu and throws signed checks at the feet of the powers that be to restore the Pipe Masters.” Matt Warshaw on the wildly unpopular Surf Ranch Pro.
“Pottz just seems irritated at all times. He’s kind of a bully. He likes to intimidate. He’s always been that way, even at 15. It made him great as a surfer, but it doesn’t work in the booth.” Matt Warshaw on now-disappeared commentator Martin Potter, also the 1989 world champ.
“Joe brings nothing to the table but mellow, mindless enthusiasm, and yeah it drives me nuts.” Matt Warshaw on milquetoast ball-by-ball commentator “Smoking” Joe Turpel.
“Filipe Toledo and Stephanie Gilmore are both righteous champions atop a glitzy, flimsy, hapless professional organization.” Matt Warshaw on the Finals Day concept.
“Surfing, like all forms of entertainment, need villains, and because Medina is as good a villain as he is a rider of waves the sport is infinitely better for his presence.” Matt Warshaw on triple world champ Gabriel Medina.
“I find it refreshing, purifying even, that Medina goes about his work with so few fucks given as to what we all think about him.” Warshaw on Medina.
“The mute button is Viagra for my WCT attention span —the quieter it is, the longer I last.” Matt Warshaw don’t like WSL commentary.
“Kelly Slater’s life as a surfer of incomprehensible talent, in and out of the contest arena, at this point seems completely divorced from his life as a surfing entrepreneur. I can’t square the two.” Matt Warshaw on the greatest athlete in history Kelly Slater.
Jeffreys Bay officially out, Cloudbreak in, Lower Trestles to crown Filipe Toledo (again) as World Surf League releases 2024 Championship Tour schedule!
We surfers, we riders of the sea, are not good for much. Selfish, generally poor at time management, forever crafting plans to sneak away from family functions in order to smack a little lip. BUT there are certain times, certain places, where our expertise is absolutely essential. Navigating airline check-in counter bag weighing machines, for instance, or knowing how to properly deal with painful jellyfish stings.
And thus we have Lindsey Vonn turning her eyes, welling up with tears, in our direction, begging for our help.
Taking to Instagram, the one-time all-time leader in World Cup race victories shared:
“What started off as a great day ended in a giant jellyfish sting/bite… I literally rode over it as I was getting up on the wake surf board. thanks to everyone who gave advice on remedies. Think it’s gonna leave a mark for a while … at least I caught some waves before!”
It was, of course, the surfers in her feed who gave advice on remedies.
The most popular?
Or them telling her she was “hot AF.”
But how do you deal with the painful barbs of the mean ol’ jellyfish?
Do you soak in a nice hot tub, drinking a glass of chilled rosé or… something else?
“It’s better to burn all weekend like a flare than fizzle like a damp sparkler in a crumbling, onshore rivermouth.”
One of my odder compulsions, apart from checking Facebook marketplace every thirty minutes for Italian furniture being sold by deceased states or first editions of Golda Meir’s My Life, is reading historical quotes, letters between authors and reportage from great events years after the fact.
So, I figured, we’ve been around nine years, there’s been a fine run of writers above and below the line, let’s remember the 50 best quotes in surfing, as seen through the eyes of BeachGrit.
(Twenty-five today, twenty-five tomoz.)
“I’d be mad too if I was James Hewitt’s unacknowledged, illegitimate kid, got essentially kidnapped and held hostage by the royal family, was forced to pretend that boring, square Prince Charles was my dad all those years, then they cut off my trust fund, and disapproved of my hot, American wife cause it didn’t fit into their ongoing inbreeding program.” Kelly Slater feels Prince Harry’s pain.
“He is afraid of hitting the coral … It’s something that stays in his head.” Ricardo Toledo on two-time world champ son Filipe’s fear of Teahupoo.
“Sorry, Gray, I think you wanting suck my dick! Sorry but will not give. I am well settled sexually, and besides, my wife will you!! Fuck yourself…” Ricardo Toledo, again, this time in an online blood feud with big-wave surfer Alex Grey, words posted along with a photo of himself in a bikini brief.
“Mastery can be motivation. With it must come a deep rooted fear that you might be knocked off at any moment, a hunger to keep proving you’re the best. Toledo has a world title already, but it hasn’t lessened the chip on his shoulder.” JP Currie on Filipe Toledo’s win in El Salvador, 2023.
“If you keep surfing the same beachbreak with the same fuckwits and the same board (and I admit I am coming at this from a very Sydney perspective; your local might not even be a beach), you’re bound to be tempted to give up surfing.” JP Currie understands the rise in quit-lit all too well.
“It’s better to burn all weekend like a flare than fizzle like a damp sparkler in a crumbling, onshore rivermouth.”JP Currie
“Surfing ain’t rebellion from anything, least of all the trappings of the post-modern capitalist surveillance state. Still, it remains a far better addiction to grow old with. The best ever.” Steve “Longtom” Shearer ain’t down with quit-lit and gonna surf till he dies.
“I can feel the pressure wave on my legs. White shark does a slow circle around me. I can see it the whole time in the crystal clear water. Comes in nice and slow right underneath me and rolls over. The big pectoral fins look like a plane, the white belly almost gleams in the sun against the dark rocks. We eyeball each other.” Steve “Longtom” Shearer meets a Great White at Lennox Head.
“There is no fear, no frozen feelings, no panic. Just a profound moment of inter-species communication across the gulf of millions of years of evolution. In that black eye I can already see it has decided I am not prey.” Steve “Longtom” Shearer meets a Great White at Lennox Head.
“You just like to drop in but when someone returns the favor you are the biggest whining bitch in the world then after you are done whining you go call the police!!! Is that what you (t)each as a life coach, who to be a whining bitch go back to Africa Kook!” Christian Fletcher on surfing hall-of-famer Shaun Tomson.
“Fuck the WSL” NoaDeane.
“The guy has been wearing a blue belt for years in pics and always made excuses when I would call him on it! If he wants his belt , tell him to go sign up and put in the work like everybody else.” Jiujitsu black belt and three-time world longboarding champ Joel Tudor on Kelly Slater posing with a blue belt, the second in the five-belt BJJ grading system.
“So that’s it, that’s a wrap, I’m hanging up my Mavz Gunz and never going to paddle out again. I don’t want my last day to be an injury, because I feel too old, or I am bitter at the crowds. It’s because I am 50 years old (old af) and the timing is perfect. The day was perfect, the vibe was perfect, and my time to kick out…..perfect.” Ken “Skindog” Collins quits surfing Mavericks.
“In an era where Australia is being subjected to incredible levels of suppression of free speech and medical choice Kelly Slater should be applauded for taking a public stand for use of alternative treatments and opinions that have always been our prerogatives as Australians.” Testosterone-squirting big-wave icon Ian “Kanga” Cairns.
“The apex predator of the patriarchy is white men.” Lucy Small, longboarder and activist.
There’s a reason that Surfer has not been in politics and that’s because surfing is a place where we can retreat from name calling and shit-fuckery over politics, race, gender, religion etc you just shat where you eat. Surfing is about a great family where all that bullshit doesn’t matter. It’s one of the last places where we collectively agree about one thing: are the waves great.” Ian “Kanga” Cairns.
“(I’m) a direct recipient of sexism, homophobia and inequality.” Two-time world champ Tyler Wright.
“I’m rebuilding a relationship with surfing because of the drastic and extreme circumstances that I was raised in.” Two-time world champ Tyler Wright.
“I’m the only queer person on tour, so my wife is the only other queer person I know most of the time. I love everyone around me but she makes such a difference in a way only she really can.” Two-time world champ Tyler Wright.
“I’ve surfed in sharky areas my whole life, I actually love that feeling of going into the wilderness where it’s dangerous. I just don’t want my kids to get eaten.” Ian “Kanga” Cairns.
“I have a huge THANK YOU to Dirk Ziff for supporting pro surfing, but, ethically, I don’t believe in any one person being the owner of the sport.” Ian “Kanga” Cairns.
“No other place on earth is so falsifiably mytho-poetically rhapsodized over by post-modern knowledge workers.” Steve “Longtom” Shearer on Byron Bay.
“It’s a monument to greed wearing a spiritual cloak. A glittering dream metastasized into a malignant nightmare. The bastard spawn of unhinged neoliberalism and grinning hippy capitalists running riot in an orgy of aimless consumption in the spiritual supermarket. Ayn Rand on a mid-length.” Steve “Longtom” Shearer on Byron Bay.
“This thing was massive, a huge tunnel, and I could see Kelly coming right down it in front of me… I dived down and grabbed the reef and prayed. I could hear the thing land behind me, like a bomb going off. My board got ripped off and snapped in half. I was very close to the end. But that excites me for some reason.” Racing car driver Lewis Hamilton confronts death on a wave he describes as 25 feet.
“Take your shirt off.” Former WSL CEO Erik Logan to world champ Filipe Toledo.