It is a common misconception, amongst the general non-surfing public, that surfers like to travel places with “big waves.” It is true that some do, but many prefer medium-sized waves and a good number, mainly longboarders, willingly look for small waves. Rollers that allow fancy dancing etc.
Some might even prefer no waves at all, not even a ripple. Maybe they are nursing an injury, for example, and can’t surf so would rather not be tormented. Maybe they recently had a very bad experience in the lineup, something they would like to forever forget and need a few days, or weeks, of lake placid.
Enter two-time**, and reigning, world champion Filipe Toledo. Days ago, the entire surf universe witnessed the Brazilian put on a performance at the famed Banzai Pipeline so witheringly gutless that it can only be described as “cheap, funny, character-revealing.”
Even though the waves were very fine, on the bigger and unruly side, Toledo bobbed, pretended to paddle, and ran to the safety of the sand as soon as he could. Afterward, he cited “food poisoning” and pulled out of the rest of the event so as not to be forced to float again and be shamed.
Now, the next even on the World Surf League’s Championship Tour is the Sunset Beach Pro, which opens its window in ten-ish days. There is no way Toledo will want to stay on Oahu’s North Shore, feeling the pound of big, deflecting withering stares at Foodland, and so he will likely depart the island. But where? Ten-ish days is not a long time.
The Valley Isle, just a short hopper flight from Honolulu, boasts many wonders including winding roads, whale watching and white people. As of days ago, it can also brag the beach that “has the calmest waters in the world.
To find out which beaches offer the calmest waters, the team analyzed millions of publicly available reviews on Tripadvisor, assessing 500 beaches in America and the top 100 beaches in every country around the globe. After identifying the beaches, the team calculated which spots had the highest proportion of reviews that included the phrase “calm water/s.” (The team notes it only assessed English-language reviews and sense-checked all reviews to ensure the phrase “calm water/s” was used correctly.)
After crunching the numbers, the researchers found that Baby Beach in Maui, Hawaii, holds the title for having the calmest water of any beach in the world, with more than 27 percent of reviews mentioning the phrase.
Perfect for the boy without a spine.
Keep a look out, Maui residents.
Rip Curl apology for deleted post of trans-surfer labelled “divisive, anti-trans and discriminatory.”
"This is an example of what not to do as a brand. If you are a true alley, you must have our back when bigots come or us."
Rule number one when you’re getting adverse publicity like the heat scorching Rip Curl over the last week, don’t do a damn thing.
Every reaction, every quote, every explanation or apology feeds the media cycle like oxygen to a fire.
Rip Curl had made a post celebrating the trans-surfer Sasha Jane Lowerson (neé Western Australian longboard champ Ryan Egan) not long after splitting with Bethany Hamilton over her anti-trans women in sports views.
The beauty of the Rip Curl post was its complete acceptance of Lowerson into the sisterhood. ie. no transition talk.
Meet Sasha – a West Australian waterwoman who loves the freedom found in surfing, disconnecting from the mainstream, and the feeling of dancing on constantly changing waves. When we were adventuring through Western Australia recently, we were keen to know what The Search means to the surfers who crossed our paths. These surfers live on a wild stretch of coast where there’s always a new wave or campsite just a little further down the road or off the beaten track. It’s a state of mind, always being ready to try something new, curious to seek out knowledge and learn the rules – and break them.
“Sometimes it isn’t even the actual surf, it’s the journey itself, the chats that we have in the car on the long straight roads here in WA and the campfire afterwards,” Lowerson says. “Friendships grow on the search and I love that.”
“You mean to tell me that Rip Curl dropped Bethany Hamilton for opposing men surfing in the women’s league then picked up male surfer who surfs in the women’s league as a women’s ambassador?”
When Rip Curl refused to react even as the firestorm spread worldwide and their customers were burning boardshorts and throwing their booties in the trash and the hashtag @boycottripcurl trended on X, I admired their restraint.
“Our recent post has landed us in the divisive space around transgender participation in competitive sport. 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.”
Surf Equity describes the “so-called” apology as “divisive, anti-trans, and discriminatory. The LGBTQIA+ community is appalled. Aligning with bigots harms your brand identity and fails to support your LGBTQIA+ employees.”
(If you’re wondering what the I and the A stand for its intersex and asexual.)
Allison DeYenno on Kauai there writes,
“This is an example of what not to do as a brand. If you want to show up as an ally or the LGBT+ community, then you have to go all the way. If you are a true ally, you must have our back when bigots come or us. Not act like cowards and delete posts and say you’re sorry or pretending to be an ally in the first place.”
Are you a true ally?
Or do you see a raft of female impersonators driving a fatal stake into the hearts of progressives who are, truly, flummoxed by what to do about former men in gal’s sports?
Filipe Toledo cements reputation as “world’s bravest coward” after ripping critics following embarrassing Pipe performance!
Filipe Toledo, two-time, and defending, World Surf League champion** is waking up this morning to an onslaught of unfavorable press. Yesterday, as you’ve surely ready by now, the future Olympian put on an extremely tepid performance at Pipeline, collecting a score of just 1.77 before being relegated to the elimination round where he eliminated himself.
“Food poisoning” cited as the cause.
Surf fans are well-acquainted with Toledo’s withering once waves reach that amorphous “size of consequence.” He famously scored a 0.00 heat total at very fine Teahupo’o, where the 2024 Olympics will be contested, and also sat out the back at the latest Teahupo’o running watching two AARPers lap him. His lack of spine has been thoroughly documented… here at BeachGrit… with Stab preferring to keep “the salacious headlines off social” so someday Pip “can be transparent and unguarded with us.”
The Inertia sharing Toledo’s same noodle spine.
Now, though, it appears the mainstream media is joining the scrum. Today’s Sydney Morning Herald ran the blaring headline “Reigning world champ Toledo in big-wave show,” twisting the dagger with:
Professional big-wave surfer Laura Enever and world No.5 Molly Picklum spoke about Toledo’s frustrations and tactics in commentary as his first heat of 2024 ticked down, while WSL’s veteran analyst Strider Wasilewski – renowned for his prowess at Teahupo’o during his younger years – identified Toledo pulling back on several waves from his vantage point in the water.
“He’s got to get those butterflies out of his stomach because at the moment you can see the hesitation,” Wasilewski said. “I want to see him step up and surf Pipeline the way that [he can]. He’s got the talent, he’s just got to get over that fear factor.”
Toledo took to Instagram excoriating Wasilewski and others, penning, “To the critics on duty, and the world champions who comment on social media, believe what you want, I’m not here to prove anything to you! My health is my priority! To those cheering me on, thank you very much! We are together haha we will be back better and stronger!”
Another extraordinary act of brave cowardice, boldly lighting into those who watch his trembling in real time. Audaciously waving his two Lower Trestles championships in the face of all.
It is what makes the boy a fascinating study. The combination of pounding a lion-tattooed heart, owing nobody nothing, having proven everything, while being a full blown and very public sissy to the point glowingly positive Strider Wasilewski can’t take no more.
And do you think this delicious admixture is swelling the ranks of “those cheering him on?”
It all plays very nicely into him showing up at Teahupo’o for The Games, world’s eyes upon, and crushing all.
Don’t you think?
Surf fans’ sciatica acts up as ageless star Laird Hamilton graces back cover of old people magazine!
There has long been rumors, and scientific studies, that surfing is greying. Participation is down amongst the youth, soaring amidst those in their middle to late middle ages. Lineups are clogged with hunchbacked men and women paddling foam-friendly craft, wobbling to their achey knees then gouty feet and… surfing, I guess.
It’s one thing to know this, though, another thing to feel it. And surf fans, yesterday, felt it right in the balky old sciatica as ageless stud Laird Hamilton appeared on the back cover of the AARP paper magazine.
The American Association of Retired Persons.
Hamilton, looking typically Hamiltonian alongside wife, and one-time professional sand volleyball player, Gabby Reece promised to share secrets of staying “fit & healthy in your 50s.” The surf demi-god, the back cover said, was 59. Reece 54.
In the lower left corner, a teaser for “pickleball smart.” How to “warm up wisely, prevent injury, play to win and lift your game.”
It might very well be the tagline for our increasingly wizened World Surf League.
But how does this make you all feel? Are you an age denier? The “only as old as you feel” sort? Or does Laird Hamilton on the fast train to 70 give you long pause? Looking back, did you become the man or woman you set out to become or did life’s various snares and pitfalls get you?
Well, you can at least comfort yourself in knowing that you are not Filipe Toledo.
Some thorns have their rose.
I would let you know those secrets, anyhow, of staying fit & healthy into the 50s but I got caught up in the feature “What kind of cruiser are you?” “Cruiser” as in a “person who goes on cruises.” At the end of the quiz, the piece tells me, I should “consider splurging on a balcony cabin” and “a small ship.”
Gabriel Medina introduced himself to the 2024 season by stuffing Callum Robson on what would’ve surely been a scoring wave. Robson had the position, Medina the priority. However, Robson would have the last laugh, taking the heat win and the single highest wave score of the day with a deserved nine for a deep Pipe tube. Brent Bielmann/WSL
Filipe Toledo “made to look foolish” by tour greenhorns before “throwing in towel” at Lexus Pipe Pro
"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 Toledo’s soul."
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, Toledo whimpered off to the elimination round then threw in the towel without attempting to remain in the competition.
It was Filipe Toledo, masked behind sunglasses that hid his eyes but not his tension.
“If you’re not hiding anything then you have nothing to fear,” said someone in the booth, still in reference to Houshmand, of course.
It was prophetic broadcast mastery of the kind that the WSL can only fall into accidentally.
But enough Toledo, for now. We should focus on those who surfed.
Pipeline showed up for opening day. Not perfect conditions, a mixed up, unruly swell at times, playing clearly into the hands of those who’ve seen its many moods. Or those willing to commit to closeouts to find the high eights that were surely there. Contestable, sufficient.
Joe Turpel was a bubbling ball of energy as he always is. He dropped lots of names he’d been talking to in the lead up to the event. (How many of his late night calls are answered vs rejected with rolled eyes and mild guilt, I wondered?) His enthusiasm for the return of pro surfing was evident and frankly adorable.
“I’m sure Jack will find the zen with a new baby around this year,” said Turpel early on. Or something to that effect. I guffawed loudly and scribbled it down. How ridiculous, I thought. In the pantheon of ludicrous statements Turpel had made, it was right up there.
How foolish I was to feel soon afterwards when I heard that Robinson had actually named the child Zen, and that Turpel’s masterful punnery had led me down the garden path!
Turpel 1, me 0.
It’s a long season, Joe. Stay ready.
And anyway, I was comforted by Jesse Mendes who played right into my hands early by offering us a definition of foam: “It’s basically water, with air”.
He also told us that Medina had bulked up this season and was five pounds over his normal weight. For those who know, that’s a frightening and tantalising prospect.
He introduced himself to the 2024 season by stuffing Callum Robson on what would’ve surely been a scoring wave. Robson had the position, Medina the priority.
However, Robson would have the last laugh, taking the heat win and the single highest wave score of the day with a deserved nine for a deep Pipe tube.
No issue for Medina. He moves on comfortably and looked assured throughout the heat. He has no-one to fear at Pipe.
Slightly embarrassing, however, was Robson’s post-heat interview where it was revealed that the major (and only?) sticker on the nose of his board was one that said “Bonsoy”.
Bearing in mind I’m not totally sure what this is (despite the number of Bonsoy Brew Breaks I’ve endured), it did seem an indictment of pro-surfing, because I’m fairly sure Bonsoy is something totally shit and nowt to do with surfing. No slight on Robson, of course, the man has to grift where he can, but is this really where we’re at?
I pondered this predicament through the Cup Noodle Wave of the Day.
A battle of heavy Pipe hitters Kelly Slater and Jack Robinson followed. Both went through at the expense of Rio Waida who looked understandably lost in probably the hardest line-up in the world to infiltrate and get pre-comp reps. Robinson squeaked the win, but Kelly looked promising, even if he was angling for a Backdoor wave early in the heat when all the best waves in previous heats had been at Pipe.
The round of 32 draw has been extremely kind to Slater. Of the eight men who could make the semi in his section, you’d have to say he’s the favourite at Pipe. All forecast dependent, obviously.
We’re all hoping for waves, but no-one more so than Kelly right now. There’s more than an event victory at stake here, there’s a legacy that should’ve been assured and concluded two years ago at this same location.
But despite the stakes, the history, the prestige, or anything else of value, somehow the WSL will find a way to dull it down or make mockery.
The broadcast missed Slater’s opening wave today, so too Robinson’s. All in favour of some meaningless chatter from Kaipo Guerrero and Felicity Palmateer.
Kaipo offered us some stats instead, whilst live surfing happened somewhere behind him. There was a new stat – Average Place. We discovered that Kelly’s average place was 4.8, and if that’s not the most useless statistic and abominably pointless use of a decimal place, I’m not sure what is.
Bravo, WSL statisticians. Bravo, Kaipo.
And well done, too, for still, STILL, subjecting us to “Stay Tuned” screens in the midst of live action!
Honestly, this remains one of life’s great mysteries for me.
Anyway, at least there was some light in the fact that John Florence remains a professional surfer with a will to compete and entertain us. He toyed with Pipe today, casual as ever. Let’s hope the forecast does him justice.
There were further confident showings from Barron Mamiya, Griffin Colapinto, and the Pupo brothers, but as always with the opening round, it all felt a bit like a non-consequential warm-up. So often good days of waves are wasted in this way.
And hello again to you, casual or longtime reader, industry lurker, BeachGrit freak boys and trolls. Kelly.
It’s good to be back.
I should’ve long since fled this cesspit of surf-adjacent curiosity and trivia. But I’m my own worst enemy. And when Derek called, I was never really saying no.
I’m of the mind that it’s almost impossible to produce good work unless your back’s against the wall. So it goes for me right now, and so I find you again. I’ll spare the details for now.
But I’ll continue to wade through the muck, thigh deep in clots of bitterness and desperation.
I know surfing won’t save me. Nor you. Pro surfing even less so. But here we go again. Hanging on yet wailing dissent.
Might as well burn together.
Jon Pyzel and Matt Biolos by @theneedforshutterspeed/Step Bros