Filipe Toledo Olympics
Filipe Toledo, king of the little wave!

Filipe Toledo returns to competition days after quitting pro tour mid-event following embarrassing Pipeline fail

Toledo's one-year hiatus from competitive surfing temporarily on hold as world champ and small-wave wizard hunts ISA gold!

Surf fans have been gifted the second coming of world champion Filipe Toledo at the ISA Games, a feeder contest for the Olympics and which is being held in the US protectorate of Puerto Rico.

Two weeks ago, the same surf fans were in meltdown over Filipe Toledo’s embarrassing fail at the tour opener the Lexus Pipe Pro, the champ managing only a 1.77 heat total in the clean four-to-six-foot waves.

His lesser regarded opponents, meanwhile, jackknifed waves hither and yon. Shion Crawford rode one wave for eight points, Samuel Pupo found an almost-eight and an almost-six.

Filipe Toledo, a small man with a neat little belly, is considered unbeatable in waves three feet and under, the Finals Day location of Lower Trestles a gift for the small-wave wizard, and a unconquerable mountain for John John Florence and Jack Robinson, although Toledo’s big-wave bona fides have long been questioned.

Following his humiliating loss and relegation to the elimination round, Filipe Toledo subsequently withdrew from the event citing food poisoning and, a little later from the tour itself.

A press release from the WSL said Toledo would be taking “a one-year mental health break from competition.”

Well, dang, don’t time fly.

Filipe Toledo, who is the first Brazilian in history to win back-to-back world titles and who has won an astonishing seventeen tour in events, has fought off his demons to win his first heat the ISA Games, held in clean three-foot waves.

It wasn’t an easy win by any measure.

Chilean Manuel Salman, Venezuelan Keoni Lasa and Swede Greyson Grant all came within striking distance of Toledo.

The contest runs through seven rounds and twelve repechage heats although it usually loses its big names, Medina and co, long before the final as mysterious sickness strikes the superstars, who are obligated to compete in the ISA Games.

In 2023, Medina, Carissa Moore, Griff Colapinto, Jordy Smith and Caroline Marks all withdrew after surfing several heats.

However, this year, a rule change means the superstars have to “actually take part in good faith.” And, if you wanna tap out, you gotta submit an ISA medial review or your Paris 2024 slot could be revoked.

Filipe Toledo now moves into the second against an Argentinian, a Canadian and an Ecuadorian.


O'Leary (left) eyes Kanoa Igarashi's perch.
O'Leary (left) eyes Kanoa Igarashi's perch.

Connor O’Leary fires shot over Kanoa Igarashi’s bow in wild blood feud no one saw coming!

Who is the face of Japanese surfing on tour?

It is impossible to find man, woman, non-specified or child who is not inspired by former World Surf League rookie of the year and current number five Connor O’Leary. The Cronulla-born screw foot is generally soft-spoken, “letting his surfing do the talking, gotta love that,” as Joe Turpel might say.

Surf fans were, thus, shocked today when the cherubic 30-year-old fired a heavy shot directly over Olympic silver medalist Kanoa Igarashi.

O’Leary, you see, while Cronulla-born, has a Japanese mother along with an Australian father though officially shifted allegiance from the latter to the former six-ish months ago, stating, “I‘m excited to announce that in 2024 I will be representing Japan on the WSL World Tour. I will also seek representation for Japan at the Paris 2024 Olympics by competing in the next ISA World Surfing Games.”

With the Paris Games merely five months away, O’Leary sat down with The Guardian and discussed the switch, saying, “It’s been a conversation, a thought for a long time. (But) due to the timing of the Olympics, a lot of people have said: ‘it’s just because he couldn’t get into the Australian team.’”

Which, by the way, is a fact seeing that Jack Robinson and Ethan Ewing will be representing the Lucky Country at “The Place of Broken Skulls.”

O’Leary has yet to qualify for Japan but will, potentially, after the World Surfing Games just underway in Puerto Rico. The aforementioned Igarashi has qualified and maybe cause for the fusillade?

For after discussing his upbringing and personal goals, O’Leary openly declared, “I want to see some Japanese surfers on the tour in the next couple of years – there’s so much talent. To be that face on the tour for them, and help the Australian kids as well, what more can you ask for?”

Boom.

Stripping figurehead status straight from Igarashi’s grasp.

In this unforeseen blood feud, who do you see coming out on top?

I’ve got to go with Kanoa. His surfing sparkled at Sunset and he also model-handsome.

Feel free to disagree.


Artist rendition of ISA Parade of Nations.
Artist rendition of ISA Parade of Nations.

Geopolitical tension nears snapping point as Puerto Rico hosts final World Surfing Games ahead of Olympics!

Watch the bloodbath live.

These are, undeniably and undoubtedly, extremely tense times. The Russo – Ukrainian war is stretching into its third year and at a bleak stalemate, Israel versus Gaza has neither end, nor clean possible conclusion, in sight, two tottering geriatrics are vying to become “leader of the free world,” and “healthy drinking” is trending.

It is amongst this twisted tableau that the globe’s suspicious and eggy surf teams are meeting in the U.S. protectorate of Puerto Rico to compete in the final World Surfing Games ahead of the 2024 Paris Olympics.

A paltry sixteen Teahupo’o tickets remain. Nine for women and seven for men.

Slim.

Gimlet eye’d hopefuls arrived in the beachside hamlet of Arecibo, yesterday. Over 260 of what are described as “the best surfers in the world” ready to bash or broil each other for the opportunity to not even come close to winning an Olympic medal. Things got underway with the jingoistic “Parade of Nations” where it was said flags flew high and chants rang out.

Victory or death.

International Surfing Association president Fernando Agguere, described as a “dignitary,” tried to ease the strain by declaring, “We are, today and every day, the united nations of surfing. This year we celebrate 60 years. The ISA was founded in Australia in 1964 during the first world championships. Our vision is ‘a better world through surfing’. These times of the opening ceremony are our way to bring the world together though surfing, in peace. All of us are ambassadors of the ocean. When this event is over we are going to be ambassadors of Puerto Rico as well. Some of you will take home medals, some of you will take home Olympic slots, but all of you are champions for being here this week. Viva Puerto Rico!”

Surfing huns, hoping to eat each other’s lunches, looked on passively.

Today, they fight.

Watch the bloodbath here.


skating more difficult than surfing says kelly slater
Skating more difficult than surfing says Kelly Slater.

World’s hardest sport debate heats up as Kelly Slater says skating more difficult than surfing!

Surfing not even in Kelly Slater’s top five!

Only yesterday ESPN released their definitive list of “sports ranked by degree of difficulty” with surfing filling the lowly twenty-third position barely beating badminton and well behind tennis, volleyball and squash.

According to ESPN, the results were compiled by “our panel of experts, a group made up of sports scientists from the United States Olympic Committee, of academicians who study the science of muscles and movement, of a star two-sport athlete, and of journalists who spend their professional lives watching athletes succeed and fail.”

“Surfing doesn’t generally feel easy but, apparently, it is,” wrote BeachGrit’s Charlie Smith.

In a sharp turnaround, an exhaustive online poll had surfing facing off with soccer as the hardest sport of them all.

 

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Pubity Sport, which is a satellite of the Pubity Group, “biggest Gen Z publisher in the world” asked its two million followers, “What sports are the hardest to play?”

And Kelly Slater, the greatest athlete of them all, across all sports, genres and so on, dived into the comments, as is his wont, to divest anyone of the notion that surfing, or soccer, could possibly be that hard.

“I wouldn’t rate soccer but I don’t play,” writes Kelly Slater. “I wold say skating, free soloing, F1, MMA, gymnastics etc are all at the cutting edge of ability for humans.”

Which is pretty true.

Kelly Slater and Cristiano Ronaldo.
Kelly Slater says gymnastics, F1, MMA, skating and free-soloing more difficult than surfing. Which is pretty true.

Anyway, after the results were compiled, soccer came in as the runaway number one, hardest sport in the world, garnering seventy percent of the votes to surfing’s thirty.

Soccer fans were unusually quiet as surfers, and those surf-adjacent, defended the profound and delicate act of balancing on a surfboard and gliding magnificently shoreward, gods and goddesses in human form.

People can’t even balance on a bicycle and say surfing is not hard

Throw a football player on a big wave and see what happens

This is the worst thing anyone has ever done on the internet.

Etc.

 

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Goulding (pictured) experiencing surf bliss.
Goulding (pictured) experiencing surf bliss.

Surf instructing hunk who taught Shakira to slide moves on with pop sensation Ellie Goulding!

"Ellie Goulding looked blissfully happy and was laughing and joking with him as they messed around in the sea.”

As every grumpy local knows, today’s lineups are simply too full. Between adult learners who “discovered” a healthy, naturally socially distanced exercise during Covid and adult learners who “went on vacation” during Covid and discovered lessons, surfing has never been more… chockablock.

Enter Armando Perez.

The sun-kissed Tico is the very picture of “surf fantasy.” Tall, blonde and lantern-jaw’d, Perez teaches surfing in his home country of Costa Rica with his brother in which they guarantee customers “the wave of their day” or some such.

Perez also enjoys to make dalliance with extra promising students. Less than one year ago, the professor taught none other than Shakira as she mended her broken hips after breaking up with cheating footballer Girard Pique. Less than one day ago, the selfsame guide was captured soothing British (I think) pop sensation Ellie Goulding who, herself, is in the midst of a romantic rift with art dealer Caspar Jopling.

An eyewitness reported to The Sun, “Ellie and Armando seemed very into each other. They share a lot of interests including their love of nature and the ocean. Armando runs a surf school on the beach with his brother and he has been giving Ellie lessons. When Armando wasn’t teaching Ellie, he couldn’t keep his hands off her and pulled her in for a hug and a kiss. Ellie looked blissfully happy and was laughing and joking with him as they messed around in the sea.”

Nice.

Though do you tick the boxes “love nature” and “love the ocean” on your dating profile?

Certainly worth some consideration if you, too, are tall, blonde and lantern-jaw’d.

David Lee Scales and I, anyhow, did not discuss the current relationship status of Shakira nor that of Ellie Goulding. We did discuss the resurgent World Surf League longboarding tour and whether or not you (pl.) should buy a gun a chase bigger surf during winter.

Thoughts?