Chas Smith says, “Kelly Slater will never win another pro surfing heat!”

"He don't got it anymore! It's over!"

Shortly after Kelly Slater was narrowly beaten by Ethan Ewing, the baby-faced Australian with the “plumpest and most spankable bottom in surfing” at the Sunset Pro, he threatened to call it quits for the twenty-sixth consecutive year.

Kelly said he was “questioning competing…I haven’t surfed in about something like five or six days. I just haven’t been practiced up. It doesn’t help the confidence. But I felt fine out there.”

The week previous, Kelly Slater referenced his recent hip surgery where doctors “took a cadaver’s labrum, inserted it and tied it to my bone” as reason for his inability to shine in the inconsistent three-foot waves at Pipe.

The first time Kelly retired was in 1998, the then six-time world champ having just-turned twenty-six.

This year, however, with Kelly nearing sixty, the final curtain is near.

And Chas Smith, who hates surfing, says:

“There’ll be no more heat wins, no more bolts of nearly smashing a man half his age into the water. He doesn’t got it anymore, it’s over. How does that make you feel? Be honest with yourself. Look at yourself hard in the mirror. Can I go on if Kelly Slater doesn’t?

“He has been such a part of our lives, a part of every professional surf memory I have. I can’t picture life without Kelly Slater. I don’t know where we go.”


Open Thread: Comment Live on Day Three of the Hurley Pro Sunset Beach!

Plenty of room for you in this big playing field.


Fake surf brand Quiksilver accused of ruthlessly stealing designs from li’l core boardshort co.

"Brazen and blatant."

The surf industry’s implosion happened so quickly, and so thoroughly, that has yet to fully register. Only a baby handful of years ago, brands like Quiksilver, Billabong, Hurley, RVCA, Volcom hung on surf shop racks, each almost different, all sort of their own thing. Then, in the blink of a pterygium eye, big New York private equity firms swooped in, buying the lot, throwing them all into one gross bucket filled with lye and boiling down for their once-iconic logos that could be slapped on anything from beard oil to women’s bathing suits for men to timid surf champions.

Yuck.

And no longer of interest to the surf fan… except. Apparently the zombie designers who now toil under the yoke of “investor value” have run out of inspiration and are poking into the world, looking to “borrow.”

Enter Ola Canvas. The small Costa Mesa atelier has been making core and true pants, jackets, tees and boardshorts for real surfers for the better part of five years. It’s best seller, the blackball. A simple trunk seen here being enjoyed by Jackie Freestone.

Well, apparently Quiksilver’s composition team saw, liked and almost identically borrowed for Griffin Colapinto.

Baldfaced.

Ola Canvas took to the public court to make light complaint, describing its mission etc. and how being ripped off by soulless goons ain’t cool before ending with, “Ironically Quiksilver’s tagline says a lot. ‘When life is in the balance, yours should be too.'”

Quiksilver’s tagline is “When life is in the balance, yours should be too?”

What the hell sort of absolute garbage is that?

Worth a boycott right there, if you ask me.

Support core here.

 


BeachGrit’s World Surf League tour scrivener gets lost in Amsterdam underworld eerily similar to unruly day two of Hurley Pro Sunset Beach

"I wanted to write, but found neither solace nor inspiration in Joe Turpel’s lilting song."

Apologies for the lateness. Amsterdam got the best of me.

Let me be upfront. If you’re here for a report on day two from Sunset Beach, you’ll be sorely disappointed. However, if you would like to know how I coped in the padded vice-grip of Amsterdam whilst the guilt of not submitting a comp report for the first time ever swirled around my shoulders like an opaque fog, then read on.

After I’d emailed my day one wrap things become hazier. I ate a gummy and went for a run in the rain. At some indistinct point, it kicked in. I coasted down cobbled streets. Hanging baskets wept green joy over balconies. Bikes jostled and slouched by bollards. It was a grey sort of day, muted by dampness. Bridges rose and dipped beneath me, hips swerved and weaved down lanes. Canals ruffled brown with sharp gusts, like ploughed furrows of earth.

Memories of that evening remain molten and uncast. I know I fled in terror from a “multisensory experience” that Melanie had booked, immersive lights and sound etc. Mess with your perception type stuff. She thought I’d like it. But it was all too much. I left without making it past the first room. Forty Euros down the drain.

We compensated by gallivanting through the curious aviaries of the Red Light District. And I tried to work through the copious packets in my pockets that had to be empty before I left the city. It required a workmanlike approach. A bit like Sunset Beach, I mused to myself as we sat for a beer on a slanted cobbled street.

A dark-haired prostitute snaked her hips and smiled from her neon throne across the canal. I squinted my eyes. Did she look a bit like Gabriel Medina? I couldn’t be sure.

I did watch some surfing when we returned to the hotel in the wee hours, but I couldn’t find the relevance. I was looking for truth and found none. I saw only a day where the life of a pro surfer was unenviable. Making salt circles round the globe, conscripted to poor waves and hope.

Sunset was unruly and uninviting. Surely only the most ardent or psychotic fans clocked in a full day yesterday, I thought. No-one will be waiting for the things in my head. Derek will understand.

I wanted to write, but found neither solace nor inspiration in Joe Turpel’s lilting song.

I slept, then woke with the dread of last night’s excess lingering round the industrial chic of the hotel room furniture.

A few barges sloughed lazily back and forth. Dense, grey smoke puffed from a chimney on the other side of the water.

Our hotel was in one of those urban areas recently hauled out of gritty industrialism. Once dedicated to the shipping and processing of timber, today it is marked by open floored, waterfronted apartments for Amsterdam’s bourgeoisie that run into millions of Euros. Strips of land along canal banks were auctioned on one hundred year leases. Private developers tightened their parasitic grip on city housing. Same story the world over.

Here, tiered glass offices set in monoblock glint above decaying barges. The slow assuredness of a barge is no longer viable in a world where expectations of service or gratification are instantaneous. And so they are lashed up and decommissioned in silent shame.

As the port sheds its industrial skin, the past and the future co-exist in jarring harmony, each with unspoken questions of the other. We drift ever further from the things that once anchored us, I thought. Work means something different to most people now. Easier, cleaner, maybe. But not better.

Somewhere in this reverie I heard Kelly Slater.

“I’m just glad I don’t need to go back out”, he said after losing to Ethan Ewing. “If you can get two turns you’ve mastered it. Three turns is a ten, pretty much.”

Slater didn’t manage three turns, but he did manage his patented carving 360 on a foamy wave at the death of his heat. Claimed, no less. Personally I thought the old goat deserved the 6.17 he needed, but after some time, the judges did not.

I watched it again, but any significance I felt had evaporated.

Heats seemed like a lottery. No-one was in control. Perhaps no-one could be.

At the peripheries of my vision I was aware of other names to fall alongside Slater. Names I should have things to say about. Yago Dora, Gabriel Medina, Barron Mamiya…

But nothing came.

I needed a walk. I needed to leave the hotel, even though my flight wasn’t til the evening.

I thought of J A Baker, and the decade of his fading life he dedicated to the pursuit of peregrine falcons. He became the bird. It was his purpose and his idol. To know it was his only desire.

That singular focus is what I desperately needed, what I’ve always needed. To go forward I must become the hunter, stalking an uncertain prey. I wouldn’t write about Sunset Beach. I had to accept that. I would search for something else.

I packed my bag, felt for the ones in my pockets, and slunk low into the belly of the city.

I turned my face towards the soft tattoo of lukewarm rain as I made my way from the tethered barges towards the flats. The street level windows would be an impossibility in Glasgow, Edinburgh or Aberdeen, I thought. Too near drunk feet, too easy to pan in.

This was up-and-coming, regenerated Amsterdam. The city swelling like a gluttonous beast. I wanted to find the grit, the real city beneath the tourists.

An old woman halted me. She was stopped and bent in the street. She had a hung dog face and her mouth gaped like a corpse on the cusp of words that would never be uttered.

Suddenly I thought about aging, and I didn’t want the grit anymore.

I found a cafe, ordered a beer. Light house music tilted on the air, Cafe Mambo style. My head began to nod and I wrote some notes on my phone amidst the vintage paintwork and mock Rennie-Mackintosh stained glass.

How ludicrous it all seemed, sitting there, trying to think about what to say about Sunset Beach and competition I’d only half-watched.

Best get through these bags instead, I thought. Workmanlike.

Trams shimmied back and forth. Bikes flew in every direction yet never collided. The streets might well have belonged in Diagon Alley.

An attractive girl with dark roots beneath pulled back blonde hair sat under the window. She wore a calculated baggy green sweatshirt and her oversized gold hoop earrings swung like pendulums of emphasis as she vented to her friend.

A bookish man with clear framed glasses and a slim blue jumper ate alone, smiling between mouthfuls of Eggs Benedict. At what, I wasn’t sure.

One person’s narrow view can be as worthwhile as anything else, I thought. What else is there?

We left the cafe and wandered back into the streets for a while. I went back to work ingesting the contents of my pockets. Thoughts took on a mercurial air. I might have said the word “mercurial” out loud, because I was aware of Melanie telling me my “chat was shite”, and asking why I “always had to kick the arse out of it?”

I had no satisfactory answers.

An Uber took us to Schipol airport.

Dystopian travelators fringed with LED lighting carried us onwards to the androgynous command of “PLEASE MIND YOUR STEP.”

A harassed Chinese man in a burgundy leather jacket coughed at the top of stairs.

“Maya, don’t feed into it”, said a women somewhere to the side in a south London accent. “Ella, get up.”

“You’re going to be ok,” another man reassured his wife. “Calm down”.

And a man with swarthy skin and greying hair held both hands on a Malaysian woman’s shoulders: “Never, ever having anything to do with you…considering our four decades of friendship…”

As the plane taxied I underlined a passage from “The Peregrine” by J A Baker, for no other reason than its overwhelming beauty:

“He fell so fast. He fired so furiously from the sky to the dark wood below, that his black shape dimmed to grey air, hidden in a shining cloud of speed. He drew the sky about him as he fell. It was final. It was death. There was nothing more. There could be nothing more. Dusk came early. Through the almost dark, the fearful pigeons flew quietly down to roost above the feathered bloodstain in the woodland ride.”

I put headphones on, and felt the music so intensely it was like an out of body experience. Afu-Ra, Whirlwind Through Cities; Mos Def, Champion Requiem; Killer Mike, Anywhere But Here; The Fugees, Ready or Not; People Under The Stairs, Acid Raindrops…

And as my shut eyes brimmed, I knew that Sunset Beach did not matter. Not now.


Jamie O'Brien almost dies
King of Pipe Jamie O'Brien almost dethroned by the wave that has made him world famous.

Surf fans asked to pray for YouTube star Jamie O’Brien almost killed at Pipeline

“I don’t wanna get a head injury and die from drowning”

The YouTube sensation Jamie O’Brien is reportedly in good spirits after his “deadliest wipeout ever” and, incredibly, his third brush with death in the past five years.

Forty-year-old Jamie O’Brien, a man described as the “carrot-topped king of Pipeline and a sad-eyed degenerate” was surfing the famous wave when when he tried to straighten out, telling his 1.2 million followers.

“It was a triple double up! It was worth a try, but ended up slamming me straight to the reef!!! Very violent one I literally popped up 30 feet from the beach.

“It sucks cause you never know what part of your body you’re gonna hit that’s why I’ve been wearing a helmet recently because I don’t wanna get a head injury and die from drowning! But weirdly mostly hit your back.”

Koa Rothman, “extremely experienced local, and son of legendary strongman Eddie Rothman” wrote “Soo friggin deadly that you survived!!!” while another Pipeline specialist, Mike Stewart, was curious about the physics of the event asking Jamie,

“Did it blow you upward or did the lip overtake you and if so did you get drilled to the bottom?”

The wipeout marks Jamie O’Brien’s third near-death experience while surfing, a record of some sort you would think.

 

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A post shared by Jamie O’Brien (@whoisjob)

One year ago, he nearly died while surfing the world’s biggest river wave.

The famous Waimea River had become swollen like never before following wild rains and locals had opened it up to create the biggest rivermouth waves ever seen.

Jamie tried to ride it only to be sucked out to sea and when he eventually returned he said he’d almost died.

“I knew that it was going to be the biggest river wave ever ridden. It was sending me everywhere. I was like, ‘Don’t fall on this, Jamie. Don’t fall.’ I couldn’t control my board, and I honestly just fell right back. It’s like a 10 or 12 foot wave, and it sucked me back. Then there was another wave, and it was just as big, and I’m like, ‘oh my god. I’m gonna die. My leash is gonna break. I’m in a very bad spot.

“That wave just tumbles me, and tumbles me, and tumbles me…then, boom. It lets me out where the river meets the ocean. And the [ocean] waves were 15 feet. Huge Waimea. Probably one of the dumbest things I’ve ever done in my life. I don’t even know where I am. I pop up in the middle of Waimea Bay, 300 yards out in the middle of the ocean and the waves are 15 feet. Not a good idea.”

And back in 2018, Jamie O’Brien almost perished among rocks at Waikiki during a one-foot swell.

Fooling around in Waikiki, Jamie was examining an interesting rock on a breakwall and “stating the obvious,” says Jamie, “I turned my back on the ocean. Honestly, I had put my hand up in front of my face at the last second and I face-planted into my hand. It almost knocked me out just hitting my hand. I almost died at one-foot Waikiki. I almost died at one-foot Waikiki. Frick. I got so lucky.

“I was thinking about it a lot. You do all this crazy shit your whole career, crazy waves, sitting yourself on fire, and you almost die at one-foot Waikiki. Death is a stone’s throw away, always, but to realise that. I was overwhelmed. It was one of the heaviest moments of my life. I still trip out when I watch the clip. That night, I was laying in bed, thinking, that I almost died at Waikiki. Literally.”

As always, thoughts, prayers, like, hit the subscribe button etc.