Chas Smith says, “How dare you criticise Filipe Toledo! He wasn’t scared!”

An examination of the psychology behind the surf fans and journalists who defend the indefensible.

Much brouhaha and many wound lickings over the past few days following two-time world champ Filipe Toledo’s withdrawal from Lexus the Pipe Pro.

After a wildly lacklustre first heat of the season, Filipe Toledo quit the event blaming food poisoning.

Per JP’s report,

The night is darkest just before the dawn, wrote Thomas Fuller in 1650 (or words to that effect). But for Filipe Toledo, incumbent world champion, even the brightest new days are shrouded in a lingering dusk.

Our double asterisked world champion is out of the season opener, the Lexus Pipe Pro, almost before it has begun, and certainly before he’d surfed any wave of substance.

1.77 for two waves was all he could muster to begin his 2024 campaign. Made to look even more foolish by Sammy Pupo and Shion Crawford, both of whom notched solid waves, Filipe Toledo whimpered off to the elimination round then threw in the towel without attempting to remain in the competition.

Illness was cited, and illness is surely the reason, if we accept this as a euphemism for the deep roots of fear that claw at Filipe Toledo’s soul when waves become consequential.

In today’s episode of Chas Smith Hates Surfing, and using a half-charged microphone that renders most of it intelligible, the noted author examines the psychological makeup of journalists and surf fans who defend the indefensible.

“Is their thinking that they’re going to endear themselves to that person, become friends somehow, become pals later on, because you went on to Instagram and said, ‘He wasn’t afraid, he gave it his best. Good job Filipe.’ Why can’t we critical? Why can’t we be critical and honest? Has the west lost its ability to think critical about stuff? Why can’t we say there is something wrong? That there is some critical element to his game that needs to be addressed and fixed!”

Riley Gaines, Bethany Hamilton and protestor with shark
Riley Gaines and Bethany Hamilton with cute trans ally with stuffed IKEA shark, inset.

Trans-activist brings stuffed IKEA shark to Bethany Hamilton and Riley Gaines’ library story hour to “mock” one-armed surfer

"How messed up is this? Miserable, insufferable people. But oh so 'tolerant.'"

The anti-trans-women in sports activist Riley Gaines has slammed a pro-trans women in sport activist for appearing to mock surfer Bethany Hamilton who lost her arm to a Tiger Shark in 2003 by appearing at an event the pair were hosting carrying a stuffed shark.

Riley Gaines and Bethany Hamilton were at a Springfield, Missouri, library hawking Gaines’ book Happy No Snakes Day, “a Christian children’s book that teaches the importance of standing up for the truth.”

The book “follows the journey of Rebel and the rest of the team BRAVE as they learn what it means to stand for truth. The team has to decide whether to save themselves or warn their friends about incoming danger.”

No anal, no pegging, no jock pussy, no instructional on how to tuck, nothing even vaguely progressive.

Transgender activists weren’t thrilled by the she-devils in their midst and there ain’t nothing feistier than a T-dick all fired up. The library was asked to cancel the event and trans-gals and allies were encouraged to turn up and make hell.

“I’m sorry your whole identity is attacking marginalized people. That’s not what we’re about and we will be there tomorrow to remind you queer people exist,” wrote one.

Protesters draped themselves in Monica Helms’ Transgender Pride Flag at the event, the light and blue stripes at the top and bottom representing masculinity, pink for gals and white in the middle for those transitioning or whose gender is so far undefined.

One accessorised her TPF with a stuffed shark from IKEA, the Blåhaj, which in this instance, served two purposes.

One, it’s a trans icon, mascot, whatever you wanna call it, the shark gaining popularity after IKEA advertised its support for same-sex marriage in Switzerland in 2021 and, two, it makes fun of Bethany’s mauling by that Tiger shark two decades ago.

“How messed up is this? This protester brought a shark stuffed animal to mock Bethany Hamilton who lost her arm to a shark. Miserable, insufferable people. But oh so ‘tolerant,'” Riley Gaines wrote on X.

In a later statement, Gaines wrote:

“This is the tactic they use time and time again. They want so desperately to mock, intimidate, and threaten those they don’t agree with into silence, but this was a step too far. I have no words to describe how messed up it is to directly mock Bethany Hamilton and her traumatic experience that cost her arm by bringing a shark to a children’s story hour. Dare I call this protester an ableist?”

Bethany Hamilton was most recently in the news after her former sponsor Rip Curl made a post pointedly celebrating trans-surfer Sasha Jane Lowerson (Rip Curl and Bethany parted ways ’cause of Bethany’s views on ex-men in women’s sports) before panicking and disappearing the post.

“Our recent post has landed us in the divisive space around transgender participation in competitive sport,” wrote Rip Curl. “We want to promote surfing for everyone in a respectful way, but recognize we upset a lot of people with our post and for that, we are sorry. To clarify, the surfer featured has not replaced anyone on the Rip Curl team and is not a sponsored athlete.”

After that both sides hated em, Surf Equity saying the “so-called apology was divisive, anti-trans, and discriminatory. The LGBTQIA+ community is appalled. Aligning with bigots harms your brand identity and fails to support your LGBTQIA+ employees.”

Can’t win for losing etc.

Carissa Moore finishes career at Pipeline
It made me sad to see Carissa, surfing her final competition on Tour, desperately trying to get barreled in shit small Backdoor. She refused to go to turns and lost her heat. Carissa deserved better.

Women forced to surf “aggressively mediocre” waves at Lexus Pipe Pro

"I’d be laughing if it weren’t so f*cking frustrating. I want to love you, pro surfing, but you definitely don’t seem to love me back."

I wanted to watch surfing at the Lexus Pipe Pro today. I did. The weather is shit here, and I had nothing but time.

Surfing! I like to watch surfing. What could be more fun than to watch the pro women’s progression at Pipe? All winter I’ve seen clips from Moana and Carissa, among others getting barreled in bigger and better Pipe.

How could the Lexus Pipe Pro not be fun to watch?

Joke’s on me.

The joke’s on me for imagining that pro surfing would get out of its own way, get it together, and run an interesting competition. The joke’s on me for hoping that the women would have the opportunity to surf in decent waves at the Lexus Pipe Pro and show their best surfing.

I’d be laughing if it weren’t so fucking frustrating. I want to love you, pro surfing, but you definitely don’t seem to love me back.

Each time I turned on the women’s round one, after sitting through the requisite ads, I saw a flat ocean with three girls staring at the horizon. I have spent enough time in this pose in my own life, that I hardly need to watch someone else do it. Whoa, look at the pro’s! They can sit on their boards and gaze out to sea just like I can! I am learning so much and feeling so excited here.

It made me sad to see Carissa, surfing her final competition on Tour, desperately trying to get barreled in shit small Backdoor. She refused to go to turns and lost her heat. Carissa deserved better. Moana squeaked through with a .77 and a 2.20 behind Caroline Marks, who had a heat total under six. They deserved better, too.

The one highlight came from Molly Picklum, which will surprise no one at all. That’s her super power, and she found a short barrel at Backdoor that she finished with a solid turn for an 8.50. Out of six heats, we saw not much more than one good wave.

I’ve had days like that, sure. Every surfer has. There’s always those days when we paddle out and the conditions are aggressively mediocre or the crowd is apocalyptic. We lower our expectations until there’s next to nothing left. If I get one wave, just one, I’ll call it a win, I say.

Surfing has never made any of us any smarter, so of course we will totally believe a wave will come out of nowhere. It’s so definitely going to happen.

I’m not sure there’s anything especially inspiring in that dumb stubbornness that leads us to stay out there against all reason in the hope that the wind will turn, the crowd will thin, and the waves will finally come to us. Sometimes, it actually works out, but more often than not, we might as well have stayed in bed. Certainly, I don’t want to watch the whole ordeal happen to someone else.

I guess what I’m saying is, I think professional surfing should look better than our worst nightmare sessions. It should make surfing look fun, and like something I might like to do sometimes. I don’t think I’m asking for all that much here.

Apparently, I am.

When the WSL contest team chose to call the Lexus Pipe Pro off on Monday, they doomed the women to a small-wave comp. There’s no sugarcoating it. If the men ran in big surf on Monday, the women had a shot at playful, but still legitimate Pipe on Tuesday. That setup would have made sense. It would have been fun to watch. Too bad that’s not how it went.

It’s still hard to fathom Monday’s decision to call it off.

Sure, we’ve received the official explanation: There weren’t enough scoring waves. Additionally, it was too unruly and too dangerous. But those explanations sound so empty in a sport where professional surfers routinely paddle out in big and dangerous surf, and contest heats often have few, truly good waves on offer.

In theory, the surfers on the CT have a say in the call. I would love to hear exactly what went on behind the scenes. Who had the clout to call it off? Were the surfers divided over competing? Was the decision made by the surfers or by the WSL’s team? It would nice to have some transparency on these questions. Also, I want a pony.

So, there we all were.

There were surfers in the lineup ahead of the call, getting shacked. Yes, it was a hunt to find the good ones. But, that’s surfing. Strider posted on Instagram that he was ready to go. Clips of sick pits from the likes of Italo and Ethan started showing up on Instagram, too.

Still, the Lexus Pipe Pro remained on hold.

One hour, then two.

When they finally called it off, there were four guys in the lineup, wearing jerseys, ready to surf. What happened between the time they paddled out and the time the WSL called the contest off? None of this confusion and misdirection looks like a professional sport.

Worse, the men who have put in the time to charge big, heaving Pipe paid for the decision to play it safe.

And the women paid, too.

During her years on Tour, Steph Gilmore made it a priority to push behind the scenes for the women’s contests to run in better surf. She wanted women to have the chance to showcase their best surfing. For a time, she made a difference and we’ve seen some women’s events held in solid waves. In her absence, the younger women will need to step up, if they want to secure the opportunities they deserve. It’s clear that no one is going to do it for them.

Today was a disappointing day of competition if you love surfing and you love watching contests. There’s no way around it.

It’s become fashionable to criticize media for not telling pretty stories, not making it all rainbows and unicorns. It was wonderful, these critics would like us to say.

But to tell a story like that is to ignore what’s happening right in front of our eyes. We’ve got nothing left to sell out for.

Why wouldn’t we tell the truth?

Tomorrow’s another day at the Lexus Pipe Prop, and maybe it’ll get better.

That’s the mantra of every surfer anywhere, and it applies no less to every day surfers than it does to the pro’s. I would like to see the women get just one good day to show us what they can do in proper barreling Pipe. They can do it. And when they do, it’ll be beautiful. I’m sure of it.

Maybe tomorrow, then.

Tortured defense of Filipe Toledo takes hurtful absurdist turn!

Critical thinking goes over the falls.

As you certainly know, by now, the two-time, and current, World Surf League champion Filipe Toledo failed to make an effort out at Pipeline one week ago, adding yet another chapter to the developing story that has him scared of bigger waves over shallower reef. Matters were made worse, for the talented Brazilian, after he pulled out from the event entirely, citing food poisoning.

He copped a deserved beating for the display, lashed out at his critics and has been defended by certain corners in increasingly tortured absurdism.

The latest comes to us from Surfer Today wherein founder Luís MP castigated “surf culture’s bible and clowns of the sport” for daring poke Toledo.

Sticks and Stones: The Filipe Toledo Metaphor for Modern Surf Culture begins thusly:

A father, husband, and family man with a past of mental health issues enters a bar. Everyone is drinking alcoholic beverages. He asks for a bottle of still mineral water.

Immediately after, the man hears insults; some question his masculinity, others his bravado. “If you don’t drink a beer, you don’t belong here.”

Sigmund Freud’s mob psychology is in full effect, and everything the man says is irrelevant and only fuels the crowd’s anger and rage even more.

They don’t want to know the reasons behind his abstinence. They just feel the need to judge him – for whatever he is, and he is not.

This could be the parallel story of Filipe Toledo.

Charges of bullying, of ignorance, of stupidity and malice are leveled at the “inflated surf comedians fueling the social media fire.” Classic lines about critics “never having paddled four-foot Pipe and ending with:

At the end of the journey, if we’re lucky enough to look at ourselves in the mirror and reflect, it’ll be all about what type of person we were and how good or bad we were to our peers.

However, something tells me the Brazilian will have a word at the Olympic reef break.

A word for the 21st-century keyboard surfers-opinion-makers and a medal for his children and family.

And I must say, I’m utterly confused. Is there truly a segment of the surf fan population that has never watched a real sport? Athletes at the highest echelon of their respective competitive games regularly fail in public and are fun made. Jeered, booed, thumbs downed. What’s more, only a tiny percentage of the aforementioned fun making public has ever participated at a high level in whichever sporting failure they are piling upon.

The surf fan was right to point and laugh at Filipe Toledo. He made it worse for himself by lying about food poisoning and claiming he had “nothing to prove.” His father made it worse still by excoriating “haters.”

Toledo is not a sober bro in a bar full of mean drunks. He’s a professional surfer blowing it and refusing to own up then getting coddled by folk who have somehow lost the ability to think critically.

You do not deserve all this abuse, dear surf fan. Being called rude names like “keyboard warrior” and “internet technician” etc. I apologize on behalf of my fellow surf journalist Luís MP.

Open Thread: Comment Live on Day Three of the Lexus Pipe Pro!

Welcome all internet technicians.