The Israeli-Hamas conflict is entering its second week and it is heart-wrenching. Mass innocent casualties, many more over the horizon. The entire world is bent and twisted with rage, while watching. Comedian Sarah Silverman tweeting that Palestinian babies don’t deserve water. Beverly Hills doctors going on unhinged screeds about “demonic, pedophile zionists.”
Civil discourse down the drain.
In light of these wildly polarized times, Surfline, the forecasting giant and official partner of the World Surf League, has quietly altered the name of a beloved wave on Oahu’s North Shore just up from the Banzai Pipeline.
A “gas chamber” is not, in and of itself, evil or bad though the most common association is certainly with the horrors of World War II when Germany’s Nazis attempted to wipe Jewish people from the earth, often utilizing gas chambers in hellish concentration camps.
Now, do you think Surfline’s sensitivity, here, is long overdue or are you of the mind that history is history and changing names, destroying monuments etc. is an affront to sense?
Which “team” are you on and can you shout the opposing side into oblivion or jail?
Give it a go.
Black Panther star Lupita Nyong’o in acrimonious split from surfing’s Selema Masekela, “A love devastatingly extinguished by deception”
"It is necessary for me to share a personal truth and publicly dissociate myself from someone I can no longer trust," writes Lupita Nyong’o.
At the turn of the new year, the surfing world was treated to news that beloved broadcaster Selema Masekela, the Los Angeles-born occasional surf commentator, had hitched his considerable caboose (protein bars!) to the film star Lupita Nyong’o.
Selema, who is fifty-two, is the sort of person who would put anyone under his spell. As I may’ve mentioned a couple months back, I met the extreme sports identity at Kelly Slater’s Surf Ranch in 2017.
Occupying one of the bench seats in the Surf Ranch’s heated jacuzzi aprés our allotted waves was Sal, he was Sal back then, and just as I was about to enter the swirling maelstrom, heated to a pleasing one hundred degrees and offering needed respite from the winter cold and a possible cure for a dreadful hangover, his telephone rang.
Sal asked me to rummage through his colourful outfit which was bundled on a barrel, enough clothes to suggest, or was I hoping, he was nude in the tank, and to pick it up.
It was Kelly Slater.
“Answer it,” he commanded, which I did.
Kelly Slater remained silent when he heard my voice, an early portent of the blood feud that would simmer for the following six years.
After a howl of laughter and some chortling Sal hung up. Despite an expanded adiposity, he gobbled protein bar after protein bar, informing me of the health-giving properties of the foil-wrapped chocolate chip treats.
Stories flowed like a river of honey and I left, like everyone who spun in his orbit that day, a fan for life.
I didn’t heard from Sal again and only knew in passing that he’d transitioned to Selema.
Nine months later, the relationship is in ruins, with Lupita Nyong’o publishing an unflattering picture of their affair on Instagram.
“At this moment, it is necessary for me to share a personal truth and publicly dissociate myself from someone I can no longer trust,” writes Lupita Nyong’o, who won an Oscar for her performance in 12 Years a Slave. “I find myself in a season of heartbreak because of a love suddenly and devastatingly extinguished by deception… I am reminded that the magnitude of the pain I am feeling is equal to the measure of my capacity for love. And so, I am choosing to face the pain, cultivating the courage to meet my life exactly as it is, and trusting that this too shall pass.”
Mike, at sixty years old mind, conversely started his 2023 campaign in what is now the International Bodyboarding Corporation (IBC) world tour by surfing from the trial rounds in many events after not securing a seeding last year after a shoulder injury sidelined him from many events.
(The IBC is essentially a promoters group who sanction events under the IBC banner if they meet certain financial and promotional criteria. Like the old ASP I suppose, but without the big surf clothing companies to prop it up and make it look all nice and flashy.)
The final IBC event of the year is the Fronton Pro, held at a wildly slabbing split peak which historically pumps. It’s far and away the best and most prestigious contest on the tour and attracts the largest number of potential competitors.
Now while Mike hasn’t set the world on fire in competition this year, he’d made it through enough heats in previous IBC contests to have himself seeded into the four round of competition at the Fronton Pro.
Our story really begins when Mike was unable to make it in person to the official riders check in meeting held on the 11th of October. Stewart maintains that he contacted IBC officials prior to the check in meeting that he would be unable to attend as he was still travelling from Java and had his sponsored team rider and current world tour leader Tanner McDaniel pay his entry fee and pick up his contest information package at the check in meeting.
However, because he failed to physically attend the check in meeting, Stewart was then informed by IBC officials that he would be stripped of his place in the fourth round and would have to again surf from the first round trials if he wished to compete in the main event.
Stewart has subsequently withdrawn from the competition maintaining that “there’s no rule in the rule book that they can strip my ranking.”
In a passionate piece to camera on social media Stewart states he is taking his position to ensure it doesn’t happen again to riders in the future and likens IBC officials to a “dictatorship regime” that are “completely unaccountable to anyone”.
So how valid is Stewart’s claim? A quick perusal of the IBC’s rule book throws up a few curly quotes.
Article 1.5.03 states “Failure to confirm intention to compete pursuant to 1.20.02 will result in loss of any seeding that competitor may have had going into the event.”
Article 1.6.03 gives us “Once a competitor is deemed to have entered an event, it will be assumed that they will compete at the event. Entrants are expected to confirm their attendance at an event check-in, details of which will be provided to all entrants prior to event commencement.”
In a separate email sent to all registered competitors regarding the competition check in meeting it was also stated, “Those competitors who do not attend without justification may be penalized in the competition and not receive their competitors kit”.
So, was Stewart’s contacting of officials prior to the event in writing that he would be competing enough to tick off his attendance?
Was it really necessary for the IBC to physically sight Mike Stewart, a man who’s been competing in every form of high level bodyboarding competition since 1982, has sat on multiple riders board committees, who helps sponsor events and also makes appearances in the IBC commentary booth to confirm that he was going to compete in the Fronton Event?
The fall out on social media is almost a landslide in favour of Mike’s position.
Damian Hobgood wrote, “Sorry Mike, pretty disrespectful that the goat of bodyboarding would be getting treated like this.”
Johnny Boy Gomes threw in “F#%k All Them & Their BS 🤬 Competition now days is a Circus run by Clowns🤡”
Tension series creator Chris White suggested, “Take a dump at the check in tent, see if that’s in the rule book.”
And Kelly Slater?
Well Kelly being Kelly smelled a conspiracy, “Sounds like Mike laid it out pretty objectively here and cried about nothing. Sounds like someone is glad he’s not in the event.”
Whatever the true story is, for a man who has won nine world titles and is all but a demigod in the bodyboarding world to bow out of professional competition after 41 years on a rule book technicality doesn’t seem fitting.
It wouldn’t have happened to Kelly.
With rumblings of John John Florence leaving tour growing louder, World Surf League takes opportunity to polish his apples
But who on this green earth does not love John John Florence? The one-time child prodigy done good, and two-time World Surf League champion, certainly tops most “favorite surfer” lists and for very good reason. The Hawaii-born Florence has a smooth approach to the scariest waves, a progressive air repertoire and an adventuring spirit.
All very wonderful.
And while he is a very big draw on the aforementioned World Surf League’s Championship Tour, there have been many rumblings of late that the still-youngish man is thinking about leaving it behind. His brother, Nathan, considered by most to be the smartest professional surfer alive, and not on tour, is actively petitioning his elder to leave the grind behind, and the League, itself, is not presenting in the best life, virtually guaranteeing at least three more consecutive Filipe Toledo championships by hosting Finals Day on the cobbled stone of Lower Trestles.
Conventional wisdom has Florence sailing into the sunset after the 2024 Paris Olympics which will be held at Teahupo’o.
The World Surf League, however, knows that Florence is loved and is making serious overtures to win his heart and keep his name on a singlet by wishing him happy birthday on Facebook.
Will it work? Will the just-30-year-old be moved enough to stay?
Libras born on October 18 are dynamic, spirited, and energetic. They refuse to sugarcoat their opinions to please others. They are ambitious, even a little aggressive, but they wear it well. October 18 people are not afraid to display their confidence. They are self-starters who believe in taking control of their lives.
“Self-starters who believe in taking control of their lives” has a very ominous ring, as it relates to Florence remaining on tour.
More, certainly, as the story develops.
San Clemente accused of force marching homeless out of town ahead of World Surf League Finals Day
The World Surf League prides itself on bleeding-edge progression. From being the very first professional sporting governing body to guarantee equal pay between men and women to effectively greenwashing a power-sucking man-made wave lake in inland drought-stricken California, there is no progress that the “global home of surfing” won’t embrace.
You can be certain, then, that the new veterinarian-shared El Segundo office is shaking with impotent impotence after the revelation that San Clemente reportedly forcibly removed vulnerable unhoused people from town so as not to be a blight during the all-important WSL Finals Day.
The Voice of OC is reporting that the city bussed the homeless to nearby Dana Point for the night and given an evening in a hotel room ahead of Finals Day but after that they were left on their own. No offering of further shelter and no way to get back to San Clemente.
Activists excoriated the move, banning a letter that declared, “These three homeless San Clemente residents, with little money and no transportation, had been dumped in another city with no way home.”
San Clemente’s Mayor, Chris Duncan, didn’t care at all and said, “It both assured they (the homeless) would be safe and out of the hustle and bustle of everyone going to the competition and that there was room for folks to park and get to the shuttles down to the finals from that location.”
There is no word, as of yet, if the World Surf League secretly appreciated the move or is angry about being forced into yet another hypocritical position.
Maybe Ethan Ewing and Stephanie Gilmore can plant a hot dog at the top of the path to Lower Trestles next time they are in town?