Simmers (left) and Mamiya (right) on top of the world. For now.
Simmers (left) and Mamiya (right) on top of the world. For now.

“Rampant inferno of youth” rages hot as Caity Simmers, Barron Mamiya deliver Pipeline show for the ages!

Proved, once again, that only an arena like Pipeline should be considered as having the gladiatorial potential to decide world titles.

Our time here is measured by a clock of blood. A maddening metronome of existence.

How to best use our time is the question that drives us.

Is it enough to do one thing? What will that be? How long will it take? And will the time you pour into it, the hours and days and years pounding in that clock of blood, will they be worth it in the end?

“I wish I could make the argument that a river/and a sunset plus a calm disregard of the ego/are enough,” begins Jim Moore’s poem, Fear and Love.

I’ve kneaded these lines over and over. Whipped and folded and tossed them. And then left them to sit, in the vain hope they crystallise into an argument I can make. Because I want to believe the simple things are enough, I really do.

But they aren’t. Not for most of us.

Nothing‘s ever enough. Not wealth or love. Not beauty or success.

There are only moments. Snapshots in your mind that might assemble into a loose collage of hope. Imperfect, fragmented.

And there are days. Days when you can believe there’s something worth pursuing. Your enemies or addictions, meeting your dreams head on in a cacophony of bliss.

There are even days when the frivolity of surfing competition becomes something worth remembering. Something transitory yet beautiful, moments that might live forever but will never be repeated.

Today was one of those days.

Today was held by the rampant inferno of youth. Men and women at the aching threshold of desire, untainted by the weight of lived experience.

As per my brief, I don’t often mention the women, but today I can’t not.

We witnessed surfing history today. We witnessed a quantum leap in women’s surfing.

If the best the WSL can do is have Felicity Palmateer and Laura Enever giggle through it, or have it lost in the mush of Turpel’s neverending stream of superlatives, then let’s recognise it unequivocally here.

Today a line was drawn in the sand of Ehukai Beach Park. On one side exists all that has gone before in the history of women’s professional surfing; on the other stands Caitlin Simmers and Molly Picklum.

The performances of these two girls, one just eighteen, the other twenty-one, were nothing short of era defining. For those on the other side of this line it might well be a chasm. The distance between the women we saw today and everything that has gone before has never seemed so vast.

“Pipeline for the fuckin’ girls,” were Simmers’ first words following her victory.

Whether it had political, pointed intent or was simply the flaming impetuousness of youth and adrenalin hardly matters, but it certainly functioned as both.

As a political statement it was note perfect. Put us into these waves, it said. Stop mollycoddling us. Stop paying lip service to equality yet holding us down at every turn. Stop pretending we’re equal to the men but sending us out in substandard conditions. Give us proper waves, proper Pipe. Forget all you think you know about women’s surfing.

Let us fuckin’ show you what the girls can do!

She’ll probably get fined, such as things are within the staid, puritan idiocy of the WSL, and once again they’ll bite the hand that feeds them.

If they were wise, they’d realise that these girls, Picklum and Simmers in particular, are heroes of a new age. They should do everything in their power to give them the stage they deserve.

As for the men, they put on a decent show, too.

You might argue that such a spectacular finals day means that the WSL are vindicated. That the litany of gaffes and fuck-ups that led us here – cancelling the competition because it was “too big”, sending men and women out in paltry conditions – can be swept under the rug.

Competition ended as a resounding success at the final hour, right? Phew. Wipe the sweat from our brow and move on the next one, all is forgiven.

But you’d be wrong.

Everything that happened today was in spite of the WSL. It was a day carried by the athletes and the waves. A day marked by the unextinguished, undeniable verve of youth, dreams and commitment.

If anything, all today did was gaslight the WSL in their fumblings of this shimmering sport they so often conspire to dullness.

It proved once again that only an arena like Pipeline should be considered as having the gladiatorial potential to decide world titles.

As a venue for elite competition, Lower Trestles looks like a limp joke next to Pipeline. Having it conscripted to the front of the schedule where the reigning world champion can opt out is criminally inadequate and certainly doesn’t serve the fans, nor the athletes willing to commit to the world’s most challenging waves.

It proved that the very best athletes, the ones with the power to carry sports leagues, want to be challenged. Mamiya was vocal in his displeasure of not being allowed to compete on the day that never was. I’m certain Florence wanted to surf.

And on evidence of today, I’m absolutely certain the two women’s finalists would have too. The best of the best want the big days, the wild days, the challenging days. To deny them this is an egregious failure of duty.

But it’s true that at least today the production, the punditry, all of it was dulled to an unobtrusive hum amidst the blaze of young athletes at their zenith.

It’s also true that the right men were in the final, but aside from the Florence vs Fioravanti quarter, all the match-ups were shamefully one-sided.

Barron Mamiya tripled the score of Jordy Smith in their quarter final. He more than doubled the score of Connor O’Leary in the semi. Two of his throwaway scores, 7.83 and 8.50, would have beaten O’Leary’s heat total of 7.43.

John Florence steamrollered Ian Gentil in the other semi, 16.10 vs 7.16. It never looked like a competition.

Fine, it happens. Especially when guys are in rhythm with a place they know so well, as Mamiya and Florence were. But you can’t help feeling cheated that we didn’t get to see battles against the likes of Robinson and Medina, denied the opportunity because of the decision not to run the competition on the best day.

In the final, Mamiya took the win against Florence with a perfect score in his sixteen point total. It must’ve been a dreamlike scenario for the local prodigy. A ten-point ride at your local break, against the incumbent local legend.

 

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“Without John, I wouldn’t be who I am,” said Mamiya graciously.

“I’ve watched John surf out here every single day. Watching him is how I learned to get barrelled. I give him lots of credit for the way I surf.”

Several times he said of his ten: “I didn’t think I was coming out.”

He had slipped into that magic realm that only he can return to, and only in the soft grip of dreams. Moments that will never abandon him.

Fairytale stuff.

It had taken a long time to get here, Mamiya said.

At just twenty-four years old I might refute his concept of time, and he can’t possibly know enough. But this was followed by prescience, and the recognition that moments are all we have, all that we can hold. “I’ll never forget this day for the rest of my life,” he said. “These moments are the ones that’ll live forever.”

Caitlin Simmers seemed even more tuned into this sense.

“This is always the weird part,” she said. “You’re like, oh you did it and now what?”

And in this lies the beautiful tragedy of life.

Mamiya and Simmers have already achieved their dreams, but the dreams must keep expanding. Even though they’ve reached heights we never will, it still won’t be enough.

They’ll still wake up tomorrow and need something to pursue, just as we will. Otherwise, what are we doing here?

John Florence knows this. He didn’t state explicitly that winning a world title was deflating, but that was the clear subtext. When he became champion, he realised it was the process of getting there he missed. You became addicted to this process, he seemed to suggest. You love the moments, not the outcome.

I think we’re always looking for truth. Even in a sport happening on the other side of the world, in a context and level most of us will never understand, finding threads of universal truth is important.

Even John Florence hears the clock of blood.

Today the ticking may have been interrupted by youth and fire and dreams. But tomorrow, for Simmers, for Mamiya, and for us, it will only get louder.


2023 Sunset Beach Pro champ Fil Toledo in action.
2023 Sunset Beach Pro champ Fil Toledo in action.

As “historic” Pipeline final’s day recedes, eyes turn toward Sunset and incoming XXXL swell!

Big big.

The suds are not yet dry on the singlets but there is no rest for championship tour professional surfers, as the saying goes, save most of every heat, all those lay-days and that weird four months between the end of one season and the start of another.

Yes, Pipeline was historic yesterday and a full rundown from top-tier analysts JP Currie and Jen See will be available shortly but the aforementioned CT pros have no time for reflection for the countdown timer for the Hurley Pro Sunset Beach is officially under 24 hours and shrinking fast.

The forecast for the early hours is not favorable, though, and according to the World Surf League’s official witchcraft partner Surfline, a XXXL swell arrives Thursday that will pack enough punch to quake booties.

35 – 50ft the subscription service declares.

Big big.

Will the World Surf League run, is the first question, after turning down a Pipeline day last week for being “too big and good.” Who will the conditions favor, if they do, is the second.

Eyes turn toward the Rocky Point rental home of sitting Sunset Beach, and world, champion Filipe Toledo. BeachGrit’s many citizen-surf-journalists have reported, daily, on the timid tiger’s comings and goings since he shamefully bowed out of the Pipe Pro, refusing to give effort in bigger conditions then feigning food sickness. He remained a story throughout the event, thrust back onto center stage yesterday as the women put on a show for the ages. It was formalized, in the famed Open Thread: Comment Live section that there are now, officially, five women braver and better than the lilting lion in waves of consequence.

Caity Simmers, Molly Picklum, Carissa Moore, BettyLou Sakura Johnson, Moana Jones Wong.

Toledo, it has been noted by those citizen-surf-journalists, exclusively surfed Rocky Point after bowing out of Pipe and claiming he didn’t need to prove anything to anyone, making good on that claim and not proving anything to anyone.

Was he saving all that gas for maxing Sunset? Forcing all surf journalists, citizen and non, to eat lukewarm crow?

Discuss.


Barron Mamiya on top of his world.
Barron Mamiya on top of his world.

Barron Mamiya bags perfect 10, deposes John John Florence in “changing of guard” Lexus Pipe Pro win!

Hawaii ruling all.

The World Surf League tried its damndest but could not destroy surfing today. The much ballyhooed swell arrived, as predicted, and treated those watching to a feast of barrels and barrels and barrels with a few sides of tasty turns. Fine winds, mostly, and inane jibber jabber from the booth.

It will all be wrapped expertly by JP Currie but let us rush, quickly, to the final where to local human beings surfing in their backyard met after mowing through their various sides of the draw.

Mssrs. Barron Mamiya and John John Florence.

Sitting World Surf League champion Filipe Toledo, surprisingly, sitting in the kiddie pool out front his Rocky Point rental.

Turpel and crew could not stop talking about the Deoxyribonucleic acid connection between the two and their ancestor Jamie O’Brien.

More on that later.

The last heat started quick, Mamiya and Florence trading initial waves then Pipeline nuggets. Florence, critical drop though not deep, netted an 8.00.

Mamiya’s, crazy, won him a Yeti cooler.

10.00.

The heat was over then, in terms of hype and excitement for team Mamiya. A cooler, or eskie, can be stuffed with all sorts of cold foods and remain so during the course of a few hours. In the belly of a Yeti, though, they will stay absolutely frozen for a week. The whole world could shut down tomorrow and Clan Mamiya will survive a week longer than you or me. Or, actually, than you. I have a Yeti.

In any case, the battle continued because, per the bylaws, it had to.

Though didn’t need to.

Mamiya’s 10.00 held and he noted to Strider, in the channel, that he didn’t think he would make it an that’s that and we are one event into the final World Surf League season.

Hawaii on top.

Pip on bottom.

I am 80% more stupid after listening to eight ours of Turpel and Jesse Mendes.

Hors.

Owers.

You’ll pay for it.

Get ready for duuuuuuuumb dumb.

More as the story develops.

More questions than answers.

Ow my balls.

Etc.


Caity Simmers wins Lexus Pipe Pro
"Pipeline for the fucking girls," said Caity Simmers, now rated #1 in the world.

Caity Simmers and Molly Picklum create history at Pipeline with “greatest performances by women ever”

"Pipeline for the fucking girls," said Caity Simmers. "I respect everyone who wants a part of it and I respect anyone who doesn't want a part of it."

Teenager Caity Simmers and Australian Molly Picklum have delivered the best performance ever by women at Pipeline, with Caity Simmers beating hall-of-fame performer Picklum in a final marked by good, but diminishing, four-to-six-foot surf. 

The waves peaked, fine, offshore glass, in Molly Picklum’s semi-final with Hawaiian Bettylou Sakura Johnson. And, Picklum, who is twenty-one, rode a wave that shattered the belief that only men or women raised at the infamous left could expertly ride a set wave there. 

Taking off on a six-foot peak, Molly Picklum rode with the sorta form usually characterised by a John John Florence or a Jamie O’Brien, scoring unanimous tens from the panel of judges. 

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Caity Simmers wasn’t far behind in her ability to wrangle Pipeline, although preferring the Backdoor. The dimunitive, befreckled surfer from San Clemente, who held a three-zero head-to-head lead over Molly Picklum prior to the final, was always in the game, almost matching Picklum’s 9.27 with a long Backdoor tube. 

The difference between the pair would, ultimately, be each surfer’s second wave score, Picklum holding onto a 1.37 and Caity a 3.83. 

“Pipeline for the fucking girls,” said Caity Simmers, now rated #1 in the world. “I respect everyone who wants a part of it and I respect anyone who doesn’t want a part of it.”


Darrick Doerner, cancer.
Jeff Hornbaker's iconic shot of Darrick Doerner from an equally iconic Nick Carroll profile in Surfing and, inset, Darrick and son Tiger in California, pre-op.

Legendary North Shore lifeguard Darrick Doerner “in good spirits” after cancer surgery

"Competition brings out the wrong feelings. People get aggressive, they get into fights. It's like, try another sport if it comes to that." 

One of the titans of surfing, the North Shore lifeguard and tow-surf pioneer Darrick Doerner is reportedly in “good spirits” after an operation at a California hospital following his diagnosis with prostate cancer.

Doerner, who turns sixty-seven in one week, is recovering after a prostatectomy at the famed Scripps Mercy Hospital in San Diego, a “heavy-hitter” reportedly brought in to operate on the much-loved waterman.

The legend of Darrick Doerner, born in Fresno to a French mama and who began surfing in France in 1962, was cemented when he rode a thirty-footer on Super Bowl Sunday, January 21, 1988.

From a 1990 profile on Darrick Doerner by Bruce Jenkins,

The surf was 3′ in the morning and 15′ at 1:00 in the afternoon. By 4:00 PM, Doerner, Bradshaw and Little were paddling over 25’+ sets. The whole affair had a strong out-of-control feel, with far too many closeout waves moving through—but Doerner positioned himself in the vortex of a wave pushing 30′. “Kenny was around there somewhere,” says Doerner. “He said he could’ve had it, but realized I’d picked it up outside. And when I went over the edge, they all wrote me off. They all said, ‘That’s it for Darrick.’”

But Doerner handled it. Caught some air on the way down, but reconnected, hit bottom, turned the corner and finally got blasted by a closeout section. Peter Cole later said it was “the most impressive ride I’ve seen in the past 10 years.”
Four years later, and along with pals Laird Hamilton and Buzzy Kerbox, Doerner co-founded tow surfing.

From Warshaw,

In 1992, along with Laird Hamilton and Buzzy Kerbox, the steely-voiced Darrick Doerner became a cofounder of tow surfing, a revolutionary approach to big-wave riding where the surfer holds on to a towline attached to a personal watercraft and is pulled into waves that are too big to catch by paddling. In early 1996, at a Maui big-wave break named Jaws, Doerner slotted himself in the hollows of a massive barrel, setting a new standard for big-wave tuberiding.

Darrick Doerner placed sixth in both the 1986 and 1990 Quiksilver in Memory of Eddie Aikau contests at Waimea Bay, but was ambivalent about competitive surfing.

“It brings out the wrong feelings,” Darrick Doerner once said. “People get aggressive, they get upset, they get into fights. It’s like, try another sport if it comes to that.”