Austin Gibbons, injured at Pipeline
New Yorker Austin Gibbons, injured at Pipeline.

Surfer rushed to intensive care after Pipeline wipeout on day deemed too big for world’s best pro surfers

“Please pray for Austin Gibbons. He is a fighter and a warrior.”

The popular New York surfer Austin Gibbons was rushed to intensive care yesterday following a wipeout at Pipeline on a day that was too deemed too big, and too unsafe for the world’s best surfers competing in the Lexus Pipe Pro.

The WSL was criticised hither and yon for not running the Lexus Pipe Pro on a day that was as spectacular as it was wild.

The legendary Hawaiian strongman Johnny Boy Gomes, winner of the 1997 Pipeline Masters and a man of “superhuman strength”, reacted angrily.

“You gotta be kidding me, cancel today‼️ WTF happened to pro surfing now days 🤪 It’s a circus 🎪 run by clowns,” wrote Johnny Boy Gomes on the WSL’s page, the comment getting 353 likes and ten replies.

Although details surrounding the accident are scarce, New Yorker Balaram Stack posted a story on Instagram calling for prayers for his fallen pal.

“Say a prayer for Austin Gibbons. Went down at Pipe yesterday. In the ICU now. U got this kid.”

San Clemente surfer Max Beach, son of Electric sunglasses founder Bruce, posted:

“Please pray for Austin Gibbons. He drowned today at Pipeline. He is a fighter and a warrior. I love you brother.”

It’s been a horror season for injuries at Pipeline, this the sixth serious injury since December.

World number four Joao Chianca, Tahitian kingpin Eimeo Czermak, Pipe regular Koa Rothman and Peruvian shredder Joaquin Del Castillo were the big names sidelined proving it ain’t just the kooks getting belted.


Former World Surf League CEO Erik Logan emerges from months-long exile with moving post to fallen country legend Toby Keith

"Some of my most cherished memories will be on the sidelines, cheering on the Sooners with a dear friend."

Though it seems a lifetime ago, it was only this past summer that saw surfing rocked to its very core. Erik Logan, the everything, everywhere all at once CEO of the World Surf League, was in Brazil posting yet another to-camera video to Instagram one moment, fired in the most terse press release ever the next.

“Erik Logan is no longer with the company.”

Surf fans were left scratching their heads, trying to piece together a plausible narrative that led to his dismissal.

All silent from World Surf League which went back to the work of destroying professional surfing.

All silent, too, from Erik Logan who hid from his shame.

Until yesterday, that is, when the Oklahoman with the magical wetsuit of armor reemerged to remember himself in the death of country legend Toby Keith who lost his battle with stomach cancer earlier in the day.

I grew up in the country music industry alongside Toby. I was blessed to call him a friend. As a very young DJ in OKC, I intro’ed him at Chastains with his Easy Money Band, with many a late night talking about life, careers and dreams. When he went to Nashville, most people didn’t expect the meteoric rise, but I did, I saw it first hand, long before he ever recorded Should’ve been a Cowboy.

I had the honor of being the first person to interview TK when “Cowboy” went #1, his debut single, a feat never done by an Oklahoman, live on the air on KOCO-TV, it was like we were still at that bar in Moore OK. From there a we always held up many Red Solo Cup post concerts, and loved OU Football. Some of my most cherished memories will be on the sidelines, cheering on the Sooners with a dear friend.

Sending love and light to Trish and the entire family, and everyone today who mourns the loss of TK.

Rest in peace Cowboy. Many a Red Solo Cups will be raised today with your name in black sharpie.

Surf fans left, at the end, to wonder if Logan has ended his self-imposed exile. The water-testing seems to be going well with surf luminaries such as Tom Carroll and Peter Joli Wilson consoling.

Hope springing.


Open Thread: Comment Live on Day Two of the Lexus Pipe Pro (Smaller Wave Edition)!

Fingers crossed up.


Bitter antipathy between the World Surf League and its fans at record highs!

"I wonder if some of you get up every day and stir the milk into your coffee, thinking about what you can write that day that might humiliate the WSL."

A worse start to the 2024 World Surf League Championship Tour could not be imagined. Balky messaging beforehand led directly to a much-anticipated day one of the Lexus Pipe Pro. It was a moment that should have been applauded by those who toil on either side of the Wall of Positive Noise. Fine waves greeted the morning, crossed up and weird but crackling with the possibility of superlative.

As the sun set, though, only one storyline would dominate. The World Surf League’s twice, and sitting, champion, crowned at Lower Trestles both times due the introduction of “Finals Day,” was too afraid to paddle and got bumped out citing “food poisoning.”

The Filipe Toledo drama metastasized in the days that followed, called off thanks to unfavorable conditions, with the world’s best small wave surfer becoming extremely defensive and surly, his surrogates more defensive and more surly, the World Surf League maintaining its patented head-in-the-sand silence.

After days upon days of “Toledo Wouldn’t Go” headlines, nature gifted a swell large enough, exciting enough, to bury the Brazilian lede.

Except.

While surf fans sat at home watching bombs on Surfline, reeling as Italo Ferreira, Ethan Ewing and more threaded the glories, the World Surf League hemmed, hawed, delayed then finally called the day off with the narrative of it being “too big” baking in.

Surf fans lit fire to the World Surf League’s social medias while its twin acting, though non-surfing, CEOs kept hush hush alongside lower downs.

The World Surf League’s owner, billionaire Dirk Ziff, has only been forward-facing once in his stewardship of professional surfing. Back in 2018, when being crowned co-Waterperson of the Year alongside his wife, Ziff took to the stage and delivered a memorable speech including the passage:

Some of you are here in this canyon. Journalists, and other influential voices who unload on social media. I wonder if some of you get up every day and stir the milk into your coffee, thinking about what you can write that day that might humiliate the WSL. It goes way beyond constructive criticism, which we all need and which the WSL frequently deserves, and into the realm of foul spirited attack, which I think we can all agree we have enough of right now in this country.

I have a message to the haters, and it is simple. Be tough. Call us out. Keep us honest. Tell us what we need to improve.

But don’t pretend you don’t know that when you go beyond constructive criticism and cynically try to rally negative sentiment towards the WSL, when you try to take us down, you are not just going after us. You are going after Kelly Slater. You are trying to take down Lakey Peterson. You are going after the dreams of Caroline Marks and Griffin Colapinto. You are undermining the hopes of every kid who lives with salt in their hair, dreaming of being a world champion one day.

And I ask you: Why? It seems pretty obvious that if the WSL keeps growing in popularity, and surfing takes its rightful place among the great and elite competitive sports, everyone connected with our sport, and certainly all the members of SIMA, will prosper, except maybe a few grumpy locals who have to deal with some new faces in the lineup. So…why not work together?

Imagine how he feels now.

Foul-spirited attacks to the moon.

I think we also must assume the “why not work together?” is officially off the table.

What a complete tool.


Italo Ferreira on Lexus Pipe Pro lay day
Italo Ferreira on Lexus Pipe Pro lay day

Pipe Master Johnny Boy Gomes and baffled surf fans eviscerate WSL for not running Lexus Pipe Pro despite epic waves

“Who’s the contest director, Filipe Toledo?”

The legendary Hawaiian strongman Johnny Boy Gomes, winner of the 1997 Pipeline Masters, has reacted angrily to the WSL’s decision this morning not to run the Lexus Pipe Pro despite eight-to-twelve-foot waves.

As Italo Ferreira rode an epic ten-foot barrel on a seven-two (“That’s how a world champ tackles Pipe”) and various underground shredders took advantage of a peaking swell, the beleaguered organisation made the decision not to run any heats of the Lexus Pipe Pro.

 

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“You gotta be kidding me, cancel today‼️ WTF happened to pro surfing now days 🤪 It’s a circus 🎪 run by clowns,” wrote Johnny Boy Gomes, the comment getting 353 likes and ten replies.

 

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Surf fans were equally dismissive of the call not to run  the Lexus Pipe Pro.

“Felipe must be the athlete representative helping to make the calls.”

“Who’s the contest director, Filipe Toledo?”

“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??”

“Just watched 6 epic waves in 5 mins. What gives?”

“Surfline: It’s 10-15 and good! WSL: Off for the day! Next call when it’s 4-6 and poor!”

“You are gonna be running the finals of the Lexus Pipe Pro in conditions the groms surf pipe in. Bobby was right. This is a tennis tour.”

“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.”

For reference, this was Pipe at a little before eight this morn.