Pipeline (pictured) un-contestable.
Pipeline (pictured) un-contestable.

Surf fans broil after World Surf League calls Pipe Pro off while waves pump!

"WTF happened to pro surfing now days? It’s a circus run by clowns."

Surf fans are, currently, melting down after the World Surf League called off the second day of the Lexus Pipe Pro even though massive tubes could be seen, threaded, on Surfline. The theoretical day, which kicked off at 7:45 am, Hawaii time, was directly put on a thirty minute pause, followed by a fifty minute pause, followed by a two-hour pause, forty-five minute pause, thirty minute pause then called off entirely.

The World Surf League went straight-faced with the announcement, simply stating on Instagram, “The @lexususa #PipePro is OFF for the day. Next call: February 6 at 7:45 am HST.”

The aforementioned surf fans were not so… bland.

Johnny Boy Gomes kicked in the door with… “You gotta be kidding me, cancel today‼️ WTF happened to pro surfing now days 🤪 It’s a circus 🎪 run by clowns.”

…and was followed by an assortment of rage.

A sampling.

“What an absolute joke. Bring back the days when Keiran Perrow was running the tour, he’d go out and get a bomb then send everyone out there, WSL is a complete clown show.”

“Seriously is the WSL trying to lose all fans? I’ve never been more embarrassed about a sport I love.”

“Just seen Italo get spat out of a monster barrel!! Who actually made the decision to call it off??”

“Need another professional surf league to compete against the WSL! Too soft and a men’s karen champion from last season!”

“Completely unfair to the guys that charge on days like today. Simple fact.”

There were many clown GIFs and middle finger emojis included.

Ariel Mann was the lone voice of support, for the “global home of surfing,” penning, “Good call. Doesn’t look great at all.”

Do you have thoughts? Were you sitting on the Open Thread all day, waiting patiently?

Father of embattled world surfing champ Filipe Toledo pleads for empathy in stirring online monologue

"I'm sorry, but they're not machines, it's a tiring hour, and Filipe is really tired of all that!"

The father of world champ Filipe Toledo has delivered a stinging attack at “the haters on duty” after Toledo’s embarrassing fail and withdrawal from the Lexus Pipe Pro prompted an unprecedented backlash from fans and media alike.

Australia’s most credible news source, The Sydney Morning Herald, was unsparing in its criticism.

Fearsome winter swells have already injured five pro surfers in a variety of incidents since December, with big-wave specialists John John Florence and Australian Jack Robinson starring on day one.

Toledo, though, was barely sighted in his round one heat, waiting almost 25 minutes for his first wave – which did not barrel and was scored 0.50.

A follow-up of 1.27 saw the Brazilian champion relegated to the elimination round, from which he withdrew due to illness.
Toledo’s no-show continued a theme of several notable misfires in heaving conditions, most infamously registering a 0.0 score at Teahupo’o in 2015 and then opting not to paddle for waves in a 2022 heat at the Tahitian break.

…repeated questions have been asked over his big-wave approach upon his two world titles and the WSL format that decides the championship in a winner-takes-all shoot-out at Trestles in California, typically a smaller, high-performance break.

Shortly after, Filipe Toledo wrote with a ferocity sadly absent from his approach to Pipeline.

“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!’”

Now, instead of choking the matter of oxygen, Filipe’s daddy Ricardo has given the story another day or two of traction with a lengthy to-camera piece.

Father of Filipe Toledo, Ricardo Toledo
Daddy of Filipe Toledo, Ricardo, attacks “haters on duty.”

“Hey guys good afternoon. Passing by here to leave a rant, and to thank everyone who sent us messages of support, during these days, in which Filipe has been severely attacked, as if no athlete had the right to have a bad day, and was forced to always be fine, and surf to win.

“Sometimes we forget that they are human beings, who suffer, get tired, get exhausted, have pain, longing, bad days, and that will not always meet the expectations of the haters on duty, and that will cause so much hate, for simply not meeting the expectations of some. I’m sorry, but they’re not machines, it’s a tiring hour, and Filipe is really tired of all that!

“My affection and love to you my son, you have every right to be tired and to have your bad days, and NOBODY can charge you for that, NOBODY!!! If you are not happy, or you don’t like him, unfollow him, delete your followers, but don’t talk about something you don’t know and have never lived in your life, besides, it will not change anything in our history, nothing in what was conquered, but in The truth only speaks more about you, than about who you are trying to attack! MORE EMPATHY, PLEASE!!!”

Richard Toledo has long been a fixture on BeachGrit, starring in such classics as Filipe Toledo’s “huge scuffle at Lowers” takes unforeseen twist as Daddy Ricardo comes swinging in; Blood Feud: Alex Gray vs Filipe Toledo (‘s Dad), Blood Feud II: Ricardo Toledo vs all-comers, and most recently a few months back when he spoke, a little candidly in hindsight, of the terrors Teahupoo gives his kid.

“The truth is that he is afraid of hitting the coral bottom. That is the fear he has, of hitting himself there and really hurting himself and suffering an irreversible injury. It’s something that stays in his head,” said Toledo Sr. 

Surfer Mag bot (left) slings ex-wife barbs. Photo: Lost in Space
Surfer Mag bot (left) slings ex-wife barbs. Photo: Lost in Space

Surfer Magazine bot generates hurt feelings, lashes offending surf journalist with ex-wife!

"A typical 20-something, amoral, douchebag bachelor..."

Mankind was put on warning, hours ago, when an artificially intelligent robot generating surf and surf-adjacent content for the once-proud Surfer Magazine developed hurt feelings and brutally lashed out at the source of its duress. Jake Howard, as it’s called, took to surf journalist Chas Smith’s social media in the wee hours of the night to bitterly complain about being “slandered.”

The charge revolved around Smith opining on Howard’s defense of Brazil’s Filipe Toledo for giving no effort/looking terrified during the opening round of the Lexus Pipe Pro, comparing the timid champion to Andy Irons and citing “hanging out” with both of them at different times as evidence.

Smith wrote, “At the end, and this should go without writing, Andy Irons and Filipe Toledo’s situations are so disparate that it boggles how the robot wove them together.” A charge that remains as true today as it was 24 hours ago. In case it does need to go with writing, though, Toledo has all the talent, training, equipment and then some, and yet has repeatedly shown that he doesn’t have the heart to throw himself over scary ledges, going further and excoriating his critics for daring challenge him. Mere mortals like you and me have varying degrees of limited skill, no training, middling equipment. All we have, at the end, is our guts. We, each, fail often to live up to our own ideals as it relates to being bold but still pick ourselves up and try, or else get leveled by our peers, and that is why this whole Toledo business irks.

The lack of struggle and the lack of accountability.

Howard, anyhow and as mentioned, swung into Smith’s lightly trafficked Instagram account with, “So weird how you have my phone number, and one of your minions has been texting me for the last 48 hours, and yet here we are, coping and pasting my words for clicks and to slander me. You’re quite the man.” Adding, “Ask homie’s ex wife about is literary output: ‘It was almost as if my attractive, fun, sweet and loving husband had morphed into your typical 20-something, amoral, douchebag bachelor. At least that’s how he portrayed himself in his writing, and his readers lapped it up.’”

Ex-wife a brutal and painful cudgel.

In truth, and exiting the third person, I have no beef with Howard, just as I have no beef with my calculator or AirPod Pros. I do have beef with thin-skinned, defensive access journalism, in general, and Surfer Magazine, specifically. A dug-up corpse being fed upon by Wall Street suits and no different than Hurley, Quiksilver, Billabong, RVCA, Volcom or any of the brands that used to represent something real.

But here we stand, Howard clearly piqued, and might we finally have an opportunity for a great and public debate on the point, or pointlessness, of surf journalism? What it should be and where it should go? An expansion into what surf culture should mean in the era of its Costco-ification?

I’ve been waiting a decade plus for a Gore Vidal to my William Buckley Jr.

Howard? Are you man enough?

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

No Pip, no problem.

Vintage stab magazine covers
Vintage stab magazine covers. Lil man on the right is Owen Wright.

Warshaw: “Stab magazine was too good or maybe too strange to last”

"In print form, Stab was without precedent, an essential protein or two away from being a new surf-media lifeform."

The print version of Stab magazine, which was published out of Australia from 2004 to something near 2014 (that’s where my collection stops, anyway) was a distant cousin of a short-lived early ’90s magazine called Beach Culture, in that the graphic design jangled and jarred and did everything but reach up and grab you by the throat.

Stab was also a bit like Playboy, softcore and lad mag-y and happy to venture from its primary subject (naked girls for Playboy; surfing for Stab), and also because the tone and voice for each magazine so clearly belonged to one person—Stab cofounder Derek Rielly, I think, would be happy to be called the Hugh Hefner of surfing, and if the rest of us think that’s icky and retrograde, Derek’s wolfish white-toothed smile will only grow; kiss-my-lavender-scented-ass provocation wasn’t job #1 for either man, but it was (still is, for Derek) Top Five for sure.

Stab borrowed a little from Surfer’s Journal and Game Boy-era Surfing World by splurging on 70-pound semigloss paper stock, lux-quality inks, square-binding, and as a rule taking the most expensive option in every aspect of the printing process.

Finally, and Rielly brings this with him wherever he goes, Stab at times did a pretty decent imitation of Mad magazine—it’s there in the cover blurbs (“If you think our LAST ISSUE was bad, wait till you read this one!”), and especially in the fantastic and much-missed Stab Comics series, which pulls equally from Mad and Playboy’s Little Annie Fanny strip, and that makes sense because Annie was created by Mad founder Harvey Kurtzman. 

“Kelly Slater is an American Hero”  ran in the September 2005 issue. There’s a whole backstory there with how pissed off Kelly was with Derek Rielly and the Stab crew in general, but I don’t recall the details. In the second panel, that’s Derek and Stab cofounder Sam McIntosh cowering under the table, and you can probably figure it out from there.

Stab magazine cartoon of Kelly Slater by Derek Rielly and Ben Brown
Kelly Slater cartoon from 2005 Stab magazine.

But for all that, my take on Stab has always been that, in print form, it was by and large without precedent, almost sui generis, an essential protein or two away from being a new surf-media lifeform.

It was focused and manic at the same time. The pockets felt very, very deep (I’ll bet my two-thirds-paid-for house that Stab was page for page not just the most expensive surf magazine ever made but among the most expensive news-rack-available magazines of any kind), yet each issue looked and felt like something made, front to back, on a three-day speed binge.

I don’t mean that as a slight.

I read something once, it was either about Stax or Muscle Shoals or maybe the early Beatles records, that talked about how if a group of creative people are exceptionally talented and on the same page and on a mission, then amazing work can be accomplished with equally-amazing speed. Stab wasn’t the Beatles. Chas Smith, Fred Pawle, Matt George, Lewis Samuels and a few other contributing writers put some ballast in there, but the magazine almost comes off as a throwaway. Which for me is part of the thrill.

Stab was high-end and dispensible (The Surfer’s Journal version of high-end, by contrast, begs to be collected and preserved and archived), except if you tossed it you would never fully understand and appreciate how much Rielly and team put into every page, no detail too small to not mess with, the hundreds of color choices, the wordy captions and sub-heads, the confetti-drop of fonts, bolds, italics, underscores.

For two years straight, the Stab magazine logo changed every issue. The magazine’s trim size wasn’t quite that flexible, but close—I count six sizes between 2004 and 2009, including a 2008 hardbound Special Millennium Issue (“We know, we know, eight years late. Them deadlines are killer!”) that measured 16.5″ x 12″ weighed over three pounds. Starting with issue #11, you got halfway through the magazine and had to flip it over and upside down, and there’s a second cover and sort of but not really a second magazine, Stab Style, which I’m 98% sure was a grab for more surfwear ad contracts but never mind, the fun continued. Stab was extra, 15 years before that word came into (and fell out of) fashion.

Stab magazine was too good or maybe too strange to last, but it lasted way longer than it probably should have. Rielly and cofounder Sam McIntosh had a major and never-mended falling out; in 2014, Derek went on to cofound BeachGrit, which has all of the humor of Stab but none of the flash or fine detail; McIntosh wisely and deftly steered Stab out of print into the handsome but mainstream finger-on-pulse website you see here.

I don’t miss Stab, exactly. It was very much a creation of, and a force behind, the period in which it lived.

Like a lot of great things—Led Zeppelin, Happy Days, Elgin Baylor—the print version of Stab hung on a little too long, or at least didn’t quite go out on its own fizzy terms. I do find myself wishing that something else would come along, another bolt from the surf-media blue. Not a replacement for Stab, but something with Stab-like ambition and layers and confidence and verve. But I suspect the sport has outgrown or evolved or devolved to a point where a project like that could take root and flourish. I hope I’m wrong.

Stab is not the “Last Surf Magazine,” as my original and overwrought title for today’s Joint stated before I erased and started over. It is not even the last surf magazine I’ve enjoyed or learned from or otherwise valued.

But Stab is the last surf magazine I devoured.

(You like this? Matt Warshaw delivers a surf essay every Sunday, PST. Maybe time to subscribe to Warshaw’s Encyclopedia of Surfing, yeah? Fifty bucks a year.)