California surfer (pictured) losing faulty mind.

California surfers lose faulty minds as massive swell event arrives!

Giant waves from golden tip to tail!

It’s heeeeeeeeeeeeeere. The promised “swell event” has arrived to California, the entire state from Imperial Beach all the way up to Pacific Shores and my goodness, my gracious. Big and growing. Blacks is currently 8-10 (non-Hawaiian) and the rare Surfline purple for “good.” El Porto, a few hours north, is also 8-10 (still non-Hawaiian) though somehow shockingly walled and closing out. Thoughts and prayers, in any case, to our dear departed Erik Logan (RIP).

Rincon is 8-12, Steamer Lane is 20-25, Humboldt Harbor is 30-35 (all non-Hawaiian) and has such a thing ever happened? Pounding surf from golden tip to tail?

The aforementioned Surfline is using language like “heavy” and “know your limits.”

Weather service meteorologist Nicole Sarment one-upped the subscription service by declaring, “We really want to hammer home that beaches will be very dangerous. People should really not even go.”

But California surfers are not known to listen to reason.

So… where are you going? Silver Strand? It is currently 5-7 (obviously non-Hawaiian) but watch out. The locals are still surly.

Mavericks? It’s 15-20 (Hawaiian) with Condors likely out and about.

El Porto? You already know what’s happening there what with the shocking walling and closing out.

No matter where you paddle, you really can’t go wrong (unless El Porto).

Or are you the sort of California surfer that might sit this one out?

A sudden and so unfortunate tweaked neck oh rats?

Well, weather service meteorologist Nicole Sarment approves of that lack of spine.

Know your limits.

Lexus sponsors PIpe Pro, replacing John John Florence's Florence Marine X.
John John Florence and Kelly Slater, inset, pray, one day, they might own a Lexus, the new title sponsor of the Pipe Pro.

Lexus replaces Florence Marine X and Vissla as naming sponsor of upcoming Pipe Pro!

Inside a Lexus the driver becomes a privileged creature, protected from all evil.

When the wandering mind turns to surf cars, the Gen Xer might think of VW Kombis, the Millennial a Subaru Forester, Z’s a Sprinter.

What doesn’t come to mind is the Japanese luxury vehicle maker Lexus, maker of the most envied motor cars in the world, a byword for luxury and reliability and quality. 

Inside, the driver becomes a privileged creature, protected from all evil. So smooth the Lexus driver can shake his cocaine from a glassine bag into water in a bent spoon without spilling a drop. Filtering the liquid into a syringe through a cotton ball is equally simple. 

It’s no surprise, therefore, that your ol pal DR pilots a Lexus.

In my case, it was the Lexus of a local surgeon, pearlescent white, spare tyre never ravaged, seats as plump and unscathed as the day it landed in its crate from Japan. A mechanic sent to examine its entrails reported, breathlessly, that he’d told the owner it mustn’t under any circumstances be sold at the price for which it was offered. 

The owner then called, talked about regret, but said he could let it go if I might peel off another five hundred. Doctors, eh? 

Anyway, the Pipe Pro, which was gonna be the Florence Marine X/Vissla Pipe Pro, replacing Billabong as the marquee sponsor, has just been renamed the Lexus Pipe Pro.

Lexus Pipe Pro
Lexus Pipe Pro poster

As Chas Smith wrote when news broke of the John John/Vissla sponsorship,

Florence Marine X and Vissla are both as core as core can be. Opposite of “Authentic” which owns every other surf brand and now means “inauthentic.” The surf fan can hope they will infuse some much needed juice into the broadcast and give us a Pipe we can all be proud of.

“Pipe has been my backyard and favorite wave for as long as I have been surfing. I’ve grown up watching and dreaming of being in these contests,” Johny said at the time. “And then one day I was in them, surfing with the same surfers I looked up to as a kid. To be able to support the event now is a dream come true.”

Play a game with me?

What brought on the switcharoo?

Did John John’s masters get cold feet?

Did Lexus make the WSL an offer too good to refuse?

Was Florence Marine X/Vissla a symbolic sorta sponsor, offering cred, but no cash? A placeholder? 

The Lexus Pipe Pro brings back wonderful memories to the older surf fan who remembers when the Japanese department store Marui sponsored the event, the winner being crowned with a sorta Samurai hat with horns. 

Logan (pictured) leading. Photo: Instagram
Logan (pictured) leading. Photo: Instagram

Surf fans abandoned as “rudderless” World Surf League heads into new year without CEO!

Surf fans, beleaguered, need a shepherd.

Oh to be a surf fan in these dark days. The 2024 World Surf League Championship Tour is but one month away from its kick-off there at the Pro Pipeline and we, each of us, should be thrilled with this imminent return. Repurposing our advent calendars to count down the days. Having trouble sleeping etc.

Except doesn’t it feel that the thrill is gone? That the World Surf League, itself, has even lost interest in being the “global home of surfing?”

To whit, I have not received any exciting updates about the upcoming season other than an extremely bland Challenger Series schedule drop. More importantly, the World Surf League, recently moved into a bleak El Segundo veterinarian office from its once proud Santa Monica home as yet to replace its ruthlessly beheaded CEO.

But who could forget Erik Logan and his run as Chief of Executives. Brought over from Oprah Winfrey to head the newly formed WSL Studios, the Oklahoman with a magical wetsuit of armor did so magnificently bad that it was shuttered before producing anything save a Billy Kemper mini documentary. Logan was quickly promoted to the top slot where he proceeded to bully beloved surfers and smarm the the selfie stick.

After a fated trip to Brazil, though, he was fired in the most terse press release ever.

Mystery still surrounding.

That was over six months ago. The World Surf League initially replaced him with Chief People and Purpose Officer and Bob Kane, its Chief Operating Officer and Chief Legal Officer. A “major cleanup on aisle five” move according to Jen See.

The two, still, holding the reins. No inspirational hirings for the head office even as the tour gets ready to kick off once again.

What do you imagine is the reason behind this holdup? Too many qualified candidates angling for the job requiring much interview and many vetting?

Professional surfing’s owner Dirk Ziff pondering a go, himself?


Surf fans, beleaguered, need a shepherd.


Koa Rothman fourth major to be savaged by Banzai Pipeline this month

Another one bites the reef.

Anyone who has ever had the good fortune of pilgrimaging to Oahu’s North Shore in order to stand on Ehukai’s sands and gaze at the Banzai Pipeline has, certainly, been filled with a sense of awe and wonder. The most famous wave in the world lives up to its billing. All the power of the Ocean Pacific, the fury, crawling for miles in order to meet that reef, stand tall and explode, shaking the earth, sending plumes to pressurized mist into the tropical air.

Or, as poetically stated in the award-nominated Welcome to Paradise, Now Go to Hell:

Pipeline is it. Pipeline is the only thing and it matters not which country, which state, or which island a surfer is from, he comes to Pipeline as soon as he is able. This is partly because of the way Pipeline breaks, perfectly and very close to shore making it scenically dynamic. Partly because it has claimed more lives than any other wave and has the mystique of a beautiful killer. Partly because it is the most holy admixture of science and magic. Everything surfing means is wrapped up in Pipeline.

Those brave enough to paddle into her maw might just maybe etch their names alongside Gerry Lopez, Michael Ho, Andy Irons, Jamie O’Brien and heroes who have come before. They might also catch a thorough hiding. Both, in fact, likely scenarios.

“You must pay to play,” as the adage goes, and, this December Pipeline has upped the price of admission.

Yesterday, extremely experienced local, and son of legendary strongman Eddie Rothman, posted a picture of his bloody face to Instagram after kissing the aforementioned lava rock making him the fourth major this month. You’ll recall João Chianca was dragged from the water, unconscious, around Pipe Masters time.

Tahitian charger Eimeo Czermak was injured during the event, hoping that he’ll be able to walk again.

Eli Olsen down hard too, Peruvian hotshot Joaquin Del Castillo suffering multiple hip fractures after a catastrophic wipeout latest and now Koa Rothman.

Why the spate of misfortune?

Overcrowding at the shiniest jewel of the Triple Crown?

El Niño?

Whatever the cause, I’m stunned that bodies aren’t broken out there every single day. Wishing speedy recoveries to all brought low.

Is Filipe Toledo pretending to be scared of Teahupoo?

What if Filipe Toledo's masterplan is to make the world think he's terrified of Teahupoo and then conjure an unlikely gold medal?

In a little under a year, Brazil is going to field two-time world champion Filipe Toledo as part of its two-man team to the Olympics, the surf event being held at Teahupoo.

It ain’t no secret that Filipe Toledo is scared of the place. He is the only surfer to score a zero-point heat there. A moment in 2015 that was subsequently dubbed “A brave act of cowardice.”

Last year, Filipe Toledo reprised his brave act of cowardice when he refused to paddle for a set wave in his heat against old-timers Kelly Slater and Nathan Hedge. 

As Chas Smith wrote,

Filipe Toledo, with reputation for not enjoying the Teahupo’o battle, would certainly spear naysayers in the throat by dropping in to infamy, no? 

Apparently no.

Kelly Slater and Nathan Hedge traded waves, big and perfect, one after the other after the other with Toledo holding priority well out the back, refusing to paddle, one after the other after the other.

Kelly Slater, barreled, unable to contain smile.

Nathan Hedge, barreled, unable to contain smile or beat, smartly, boss.

Filipe Toledo, un-barreled, holding priority for fifteen-odd minutes while Slater and Hedge swapped beneath him.

In the dying seconds, the King of Saquarema swung on a baby tube then punched board in channel.

It also ain’t no secret that the Brazil’s best Teahupoo surfers are Gabriel Medina and Italo Ferreira.

But they ain’t going.

And, yet, what if?

What if Filipe Toledo is playing a game of rope-a-dope with the world; what if Filipe’s masterplan is to make the world think he is too scared to paddle into a set at Teahupoo and then, with Olympic gold on the line, create one of the most unlikely wins in Games history?

Chas Smith, who hates surfing, explores this topic over the course of five minutes.