Surf fans in meltdown over world champion Filipe Toledo’s embarrassing fail at tour opener

Following the humiliating loss Toledo has subsequently withdrawn from the event citing an unspecified "illness".

The world of professional surfing has gone into meltdown this afternoon after another embarrassing fail by the reigning, and two-time, world champion Filipe Toledo.

Surfing in the opening round of the Lexus Pipe Pro against Shion Crawford and Samuel Pupo, Filipe Toledo looked uncomfortable in the clean four-to-six-foot waves, scoring a 1.77 total (0.5 and 1.27).

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

Filipe Toledo, who’ll turn twenty-nine, in April is considered unbeatable in waves three feet and under, the Finals Day location of Lower Trestles a gift for the small-wave wizard.

Following his humiliating loss and relegation to the elimination round, Filipe Toledo subsequently withdrew from the event citing an unspecified “illness”.

Surf fans on the WSL’s own live broadcast were unsparing.

“Why is Toledo always sick when the waves have any type of size?”

“World champ? No mushy surf no win.”

“Toledo conveniently unwell. LOL.”

Memes were quickly assembled.

Filipe Toledo meme
Filipe Toledo meme
Filipe Toledo memes.

And so on.

More worryingly, in a little under a year, Brazil is going to field Filipe Toledo as part of its two-man team to the Olympics, the surf event being held at Teahupoo.

No Gabriel, no Italo.

Filipe Toledo, as surf fans are often reminded of, is the only surfer to score a zero-point heat there. A moment in 2015 that was subsequently dubbed “A brave act of cowardice.”

In 2022, Filipe Toledo reprised his brave act of cowardice when he refused to paddle for a set wave in his heat against old-timers Kelly Slater and Nathan Hedge. 

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

Time to put your fingers where your mouth is.

Hurley issues bizarre press release touting Filipe Toledo dominance at Sunset Beach ahead of Pipe Pro!

Get ready for exceptional shows of in-water ability!

When the gilded name “Filipe Toledo” is mentioned, many qualifiers spring to mind. World’s best small wave surfer. Two-time world champion. Future Brazil Olympian. Brave Teahupo’o coward. One that doesn’t register is 2023 Sunset Beach winner but it is true and being celebrated by his sponsor Hurley ahead of the Lexus Pipe Pro which, according to Kelly Slater, will launch today.

In a bizarre press release, the beard oil manufacturer, which also happens to sponsor the Sunset Beach Pro, declared it was, “stoked to play host to the world’s best surfers as they take on one of the most challenging waves on tour in what will certainly be an exceptional show of in-water ability.”

In-water ability the new “ripping.”

And in any case, the piece quickly pivoted to Toledo, reading:

As the second stop on the World Surf League (WSL) World Tour, the Hurley)( Pro serves as a crucial event that will set the tone for the entire competitive season. With the best surfers in the world in the water, each heat will be action packed, but all eyes will surely be on back to back 2x World Champion and last year’s Hurley)( Pro winner, Filipe Toledo. Says Brett Simpson, head of Sports Marketing at Hurley, “It’s always special to see how World Title winners come out the following season, and since Filipe’s run has been truly iconic, we’re all really looking forward to watching what he does with this momentum.”

Are you?

Looking forward, that is, to what he does with that momentum?

I think we sorta know by now. It will propel him past the mid-season cut to Teahupo’o where he will bob, shivering, out the back either not catching waves, being schooled by 50-year-olds or both, then on to Lower Trestles where he will win his third world title.

Sunset Beach, here we come!

Chas Smith responds to Boycott Rip Curl transgender furore!

"This debate has gotten dull because mob mentality is dull. Thinking flattens."

Over the last week, the pitchforks have come out for the once-iconic-but-now-discount wetsuit brand Rip Curl after a post celebrating the pioneering transgender surfer Sasha Jane Lowerson.

The mob erupted after anti-trans-women-in-sport activist the swimmer Riley Gaines slammed Rip Curl as “crazzzyyyy”.

“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?” wrote Gaines, whose activism was ignited after the terrific success of Lia Thomas in the pool. 

Rip Curl and Bethany parted ways, it’s believed, because of Bethany’s opposition to trans-women in gals’ sports.

Calls to boycott Rip Curl quickly grew from a murmur to a worldwide raw.

Skateboarder Taylor Silverman joined in the chorus, unsparing in her criticism of the New Zealand-owned company.

“According to Boycott Rip Curl this man is a ‘waterwoman’…reality is he’s just a mentally ill man making a complete mockery of actual women and “The “community” is so supportive that Rip Curl had to disable the comments!”

For context, Sasha Jane Lowerson is a talented strawberry blonde goofyfooter of middle age who created history last year when she added the Western Australian women’s longboard trophy to her mantlepiece where it sits alongside the trophy she won when she was still Ryan Egan.

Rip Curl had joined two other Australian swimsuit brands in a pivot to the queer market describing their trans ambassador as, “West Australian waterwoman who loves the freedom found in surfing, disconnecting from the mainstream, and the feeling of dancing on constantly changing waves… 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.⁠”

Here, Chas Smith, who hates surfing, asks surfers to put aside the trans debate and Boycott Rip Curl hashtag for a moment and remember the truly oppressed, and sadly forgotten, victims of the once great wetsuit company.

Boycott Rip Curl etc.

Rumor: Celebrated surf show “Make or Break” back for third season!

Big if true.

The wildest, and most unexpected, of rumors floated across my astral plane today. So, there I was, early-ish morning, knowing that the World Surf League season kick-off, the Lexus Pipe Pro, was going to be called off because Kelly Slater told me it would but addiction gonna addict so there I was.

Watching Yeti commercials.

And that’s when it happened. My phone sparked to life with a message from an almost wholly reliable source declaring, “Heard some hints that Box to Box is back filming Make or Break but not for Apple TV.”

Wow and whoa.

But you certainly recall the behind-the-scenes streaming program, from the geniuses behind Drive to Survive, that showcased what happened when professional surfers stopped being polite and started being real. Surfing’s best, and only, historian Matt Warshaw declared it a “near-absolute triumph,” writing:

Zero chance the show will match Drive to Survive for viewer share. But with Make or Break we nonetheless have something that feels true to the sport (the tiny sliver of the sport that is competitive surfing, anyway), while also having the potential to be a modest hit in the general marketplace.

We have Tyler Wright and Gabe Medina, both of whom, to my admittedly biased eye, are more compelling personalities than any of the Drive to Survive gasoline alley hotshots.

We have women in general. Survive is a high-bred sausage party.

We have sharks, and while I appreciate the drama an apex predator brings to the table, I was both grateful and impressed that the producers chose not to overplay the shark fatality just prior to finals day at the 2020 Honolua Bay Maui Pro. The death was instead presented, correctly, as a trigger for the WSL’s quick and bold decision to move the event to Pipeline, where the women competed for the first time.

The show went dark before the Kelly Slater culling at Margaret River, but and again, rumors suggest it is back. The question is where? The World Surf League certainly has neither the money nor sense to air…

…oh, wait.

Days ago we learned that ESPN+, lovingly called “The Ocho,” was set to air a behind-the-scenes offering and might this be it?

If yes, a real fall from grace for Box to Box, which could not lose just a few short years ago, now doing something that ocho and a half people will see.

The poo poo touch, man.

I want to direct a streaming series about that.

Erik Logan’s ghost reaching from beyond the grave and cursing with hepatitis fingers.

More as the story develops.