More difficult than surfing (pictured).

Surfing between racquetball and fencing on definitive list of “sport ranked by degree of difficulty!”

We get no respect.

We lifelong lower-to-middle intermediates, we surfers know the immense joy but also frustration of our “sport of kings.” Nailing a pop up that don’t automatically guaranteed a poor line straight away, for example, or a bottom turn that doesn’t drain forward momentum. Getting the knees properly bent, shoulders open on a wrap-around carve already filled with hitches. Racing too far out front. Getting gobbled for being too slow.

Etc.

Surfing doesn’t generally feel easy but, apparently, it is.

For ESPN, the “worldwide leader in sports,” has just released its definitive list of “sport ranked by degree of difficulty” and where do you think our watery dance lands?

Third after Brazilian jiu-jitsu?

Fifth after Australian Rules Football?

Nope.

23rd between racquetball/squash (harder) and fencing (easier).

Ouch.

The number one game, in terms of challenge, is boxing followed by ice hockey and football (American).  The simplest, badminton.

How do you feel about that?

I, for one, am happy that it made the list to begin with and those thinking they might like to try the water dance should, instead, opt for bobsledding/luge which is easier and, I’d imagine, more fulfilling.

But, quickly, when was the last time you played racquetball? I haven’t thought about it for a while, but a few years ago my very best friends toyed with making it our thing. In retrospect, I wish we would have. It’s a good time.


Nikolas Plytas foilboarding and Kelly Slater.
Nikolas Plytas flies while Kelly Slater bangs keys.

Kelly Slater puts Greek foilboarder Nikolas Plytas to sword over incorrect caption in wild online debate!

“I’m sure I’ll get tarred and feathered for this comment…”

The world’s greatest surfer, although the crown has become tarnished in recent years with one pundit even predicting he’ll never win another pro surfing heat, has taken the foilboarder Nikolas Plytas to task for what he believes was a mistake in an Instagram caption. 

Nikolas Plytas is a “professional water sports athlete” although this refers to his penchant for water skiing, wing foiling, wakeboarding as well as the aforementioned foil boarding and not to the eye-raising sport of showering in gold.

Plytas, who is twenty eight or to give it some perspective Kelly Slater had already won three world titles when the little Greek baby was spat onto the linoleum of an Athens hospital, posted a short video on Instagram with the caption.

“Landed another new trick today. I would say it is a Frontside 360 backflip. How would you call it? It’s the second Worlds First trick I land within three days so I’m super exited.”

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Nikolas Plytas (@nikolasplytas)

Kelly Slater was quickly into the comment pane writing,

“I’m sure I’ll get tarred and feathered for this comment but…I get that skaters call rotation based on direction of rotation but in surfing, everything done facing the wall is and always will be considered frontside.

“The first rodeo (clowns) were done going (and called) backside rotating opposite to this. If skating is a precursor for direction of spin then should this just be called a backside mctwist and not a rodeo?

“Seems the medium you’re riding matters when distinguishing and thus the confusion we surfers suffer. Super sick though not matter what.”

Debate ensued with much earnest back and forthing about whether or not Nikolas Plytas’ air is a rodeo 7, a backflip 360, an Air Reverse Spin (the old bodyboarding move) or a McTwist.

Reader, do you wonder about such things?

Or does a strapped-in foil board air give you shivers of disgust as if you were ordered to pluck a songbird or hull a large punnet of strawberries?

 

 

 

 


Jack Robinson wins Sunset Beach Pro
In reprise of Australia v Japan's Pacific War, Jack Robinson beats Japanese surfer Kev Igarashi in final at Sunset Beach Pro.

In savage reprise of Pacific War, ANZACs Jack Robinson and Molly Picklum storm to victory at Hurley Pro Sunset Beach!

Australia über alles.

The sun rose on Sunset and revealed almost perfect surf. Biggish and clean groomed by offshore winds. There were sixteen surfers left in the Hurley Pro Sunset Beach, eight men, eight women and they got right after it, women first as is polite.

Molly Picklum started things and chewed through Lakey Peterson and Brissa Hennessy on her way to the final.

Kanoa Igarashi, as it happens, kicked it off for the men and ate Seth Moniz and Jordan Michael Smith on his way to the final.

Molly Picklum met local girl done good BettyLou Sakura Johnson and took her down, without stress, in order to become a back-to-back Sunset winner alongside Layne Beachley and others. The highlight of the day, maybe the event, though happened the heat earlier when the New South Welshwoman smacked the lip so critically that the famed Hawaiian Water Patrol was forced to treat multiple aneurysms in the World Surf League booth.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by World Surf League (@wsl)

Igarashi was not so lucky, coming up against a “cat-like” Jack Robinson, who had been surfing “loosey-goosey” all day.

Jesse Mendes said it best: “When you prove your ground here in Hawaii it is where people start most respect you.”

Jack Robinson had Igarashi in a soft combination at the halfway mark though the Japanese star broke it by surfing on point.

No overcooking.

A magic recipe.

It didn’t even begin to matter. Jack Robinson’s very next wave was a double barrel with monster hacks thrown in.

Joe Turpel said, “The ocean is part of Jack Robinson’s body. He feeds on mana,” while the Hawaiian Water Patrol cleaned its aneurysm equipment and rushed back to the booth.

As the World Surf League had run out of Yeti coolers, Jack Robinson was rewarded a 9.87 and not a 10.00. The two judges who awarded him a perfect score likely receiving harsh tongue lashing from the accounting dept.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by World Surf League (@wsl)

Igarashi entered a hard combination.

And stayed there.

Australia over Japan-adjacent in the Pacific Theater.

Complete, and proper, recap tomorrow.


Filipe "Rocky" Toledo (pictured) at bite-sized Teahupoo.
Filipe "Rocky" Toledo (pictured) at bite-sized Teahupoo.

Hopes build for greatest ever sport story as timid champ Filipe Toledo declares he will “focus a lot on the Olympics” during mental health break!

Roping dopes.

I’m telling you, I called this thing and long before the two-time, and sitting, world champion Filipe Toledo stunned surf-watchers by bowing out of the 2024 Championship Tour due “mental health.” I said, and I quote, “What if the Brazilian flyboy, universally recognized as the globe’s best small wave surfer though also bigger-wave-over-reef coward, is making a play to be the greatest sport story of all-time thereby forcing internet technicians to eat a lifetime of crow?”

Well guess what.

It’s happening.

Toledo, of course, announced his break after an embarrassing Lexus Pipe Pro performance that saw him refusing to give effort on a large-esque day. The aforementioned internet technicians lit him up, he angrily declared that he didn’t need to prove anything to anyone before handing the microphone to his father, Ricardo Toledo, who lambasted all haters.

In the days after, the Lower Trestles maestro signaled that he would be taking his children to school for a few weeks then probably start going on surf trips.

Surf fans imaged enjoyable adventures to Australia’s Gold Coast, New Smyrna Beach and Portugal’s Algarve region but I… I thought, and I quote, “The kid is smarter than that. He is roping us all as dopes and is going to conquer his fear, go to that Place of Broken Skulls and bring home gold.”

Am I right?

Seemingly so, for Brazilian surf media is sharing that Toledo plans to focus “a lot on the Olympics” during his respite. Now, we all know that the Tahitian mutant, which will host the surfing portion of the 2024 Paris Games, has been notoriously unkind to the 28-year-old’s psyche. Toledo famously scored a 0.00 there and also, last year, sat and watched two fifty-year-olds eat his lunch.

Dopes, though, at the end. The lot of us. Except me.

Toledo has the wild skill, the ability to cherry-pick coaches (both mental and non) and money to post up “at the end of the road” for the next five months, or travel to any other slabbing left on earth. Practicing. Hunting. Growing strong. Stronger.

Do you believe?

Do you imagine that he might be crafting a tale better than Miracle on Ice, Cool Runnings, Eddie the Eagle?

If he does, if he Rocky Balboas for the next five months and ends up atop the Olympic podium will he eclipse Kelly Slater as the GOAT?

Something to think about.


Open Thread: Comment live on Final’s Day of Hurley Pro Sunset Beach!

Aloha also means goodbye.