skating more difficult than surfing says kelly slater
Skating more difficult than surfing says Kelly Slater.

World’s hardest sport debate heats up as Kelly Slater says skating more difficult than surfing!

Surfing not even in Kelly Slater’s top five!

Only yesterday ESPN released their definitive list of “sports ranked by degree of difficulty” with surfing filling the lowly twenty-third position barely beating badminton and well behind tennis, volleyball and squash.

According to ESPN, the results were compiled by “our panel of experts, a group made up of sports scientists from the United States Olympic Committee, of academicians who study the science of muscles and movement, of a star two-sport athlete, and of journalists who spend their professional lives watching athletes succeed and fail.”

“Surfing doesn’t generally feel easy but, apparently, it is,” wrote BeachGrit’s Charlie Smith.

In a sharp turnaround, an exhaustive online poll had surfing facing off with soccer as the hardest sport of them all.

 

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Pubity Sport, which is a satellite of the Pubity Group, “biggest Gen Z publisher in the world” asked its two million followers, “What sports are the hardest to play?”

And Kelly Slater, the greatest athlete of them all, across all sports, genres and so on, dived into the comments, as is his wont, to divest anyone of the notion that surfing, or soccer, could possibly be that hard.

“I wouldn’t rate soccer but I don’t play,” writes Kelly Slater. “I wold say skating, free soloing, F1, MMA, gymnastics etc are all at the cutting edge of ability for humans.”

Which is pretty true.

Kelly Slater and Cristiano Ronaldo.
Kelly Slater says gymnastics, F1, MMA, skating and free-soloing more difficult than surfing. Which is pretty true.

Anyway, after the results were compiled, soccer came in as the runaway number one, hardest sport in the world, garnering seventy percent of the votes to surfing’s thirty.

Soccer fans were unusually quiet as surfers, and those surf-adjacent, defended the profound and delicate act of balancing on a surfboard and gliding magnificently shoreward, gods and goddesses in human form.

People can’t even balance on a bicycle and say surfing is not hard

Throw a football player on a big wave and see what happens

This is the worst thing anyone has ever done on the internet.

Etc.

 

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Goulding (pictured) experiencing surf bliss.
Goulding (pictured) experiencing surf bliss.

Surf instructing hunk who taught Shakira to slide moves on with pop sensation Ellie Goulding!

"Ellie Goulding looked blissfully happy and was laughing and joking with him as they messed around in the sea.”

As every grumpy local knows, today’s lineups are simply too full. Between adult learners who “discovered” a healthy, naturally socially distanced exercise during Covid and adult learners who “went on vacation” during Covid and discovered lessons, surfing has never been more… chockablock.

Enter Armando Perez.

The sun-kissed Tico is the very picture of “surf fantasy.” Tall, blonde and lantern-jaw’d, Perez teaches surfing in his home country of Costa Rica with his brother in which they guarantee customers “the wave of their day” or some such.

Perez also enjoys to make dalliance with extra promising students. Less than one year ago, the professor taught none other than Shakira as she mended her broken hips after breaking up with cheating footballer Girard Pique. Less than one day ago, the selfsame guide was captured soothing British (I think) pop sensation Ellie Goulding who, herself, is in the midst of a romantic rift with art dealer Caspar Jopling.

An eyewitness reported to The Sun, “Ellie and Armando seemed very into each other. They share a lot of interests including their love of nature and the ocean. Armando runs a surf school on the beach with his brother and he has been giving Ellie lessons. When Armando wasn’t teaching Ellie, he couldn’t keep his hands off her and pulled her in for a hug and a kiss. Ellie looked blissfully happy and was laughing and joking with him as they messed around in the sea.”

Nice.

Though do you tick the boxes “love nature” and “love the ocean” on your dating profile?

Certainly worth some consideration if you, too, are tall, blonde and lantern-jaw’d.

David Lee Scales and I, anyhow, did not discuss the current relationship status of Shakira nor that of Ellie Goulding. We did discuss the resurgent World Surf League longboarding tour and whether or not you (pl.) should buy a gun a chase bigger surf during winter.

Thoughts?


Seale (left) and Trump.
Seale (left) and Trump.

Donald Trump credited with saving professional longboarding after World Surf League releases robust new tour schedule!

"Only I can fix it..."

Days ago, the World Surf League’s belittled longboard tour was on the chopping block, whittled away to an event and a half, disregarded and maligned. Hours ago, its acting chief Kirra Seale met with presidential candidate Donald J. Trump. Minutes ago, the World Surf League released a new robust longboard tour for the 2024 season.

Per the press release:

Today, the World Surf League (WSL) announces the 2024 WSL Longboard Tour schedule. The WSL Longboard Tour celebrates traditional lines of surfing with updated and progressive approaches and crowns the men’s and women’s Longboard World Champions each season.

“It’s great to see the continued growth of the WSL Longboard Tour,” said Jessi Miley-Dyer, WSL Chief of Sport. “We premiered the new one-day Finals format last season on the Longboard Tour and are excited to bring that back in 2024, this time in El Salvador. With the new structure, we hope to continue to offer more opportunities for our surfers, and we’ll continue that approach this season. For the 2024 schedule, we’re excited to announce details of three of the four events and will share more details about Stop No. 3 soon.”

The 2024 Longboard Tour will feature four international events between July and October, starting at Bells Beach, Australia, and followed by Huntington Beach, California. The third event will take place in September and the location and exact dates will be announced in the coming months. The WSL Longboard Championship will take place in El Salvador in October.

Coincidence?

Also, do you think Chief of Sport Jessi Miley-Dyer feels like a traitor?

More as the story develops.


Seale (center left) and Trump conspiring.
Seale (center left) and Trump conspiring.

World Surf League longboard tour chief enlists Donald Trump to help revive sagging fortunes!

Make longboarding great again.

Since trust fund billionaire Dirk Ziff purchased the Association of Surfing Professionals for free, in 2015, and re-branded it the World Surf League, it has been known for two things. 1) hating live surfing, preferring waves to be observed in a comfortable setting after they’ve already been ridden and 2) a progressive politics including, but not limited to, whatever is currently en vogue amongst Oberlin College undergraduates.

Occasionally called the “Woke Surf League” by haters and internet technicians, the “global home of surfing” does not seem to mind and also does its best to be a good ally for social causes including, but not limited to, planting a bush in Western Australia.

You can imagine the shock, then, when the League’s acting longboard tour chief, Kirra Seale, turned to none other than Donald Trump in order to shore up the 9-foot-plus offering’s sagging fortunes.

Surf fans, of course, know that the longboard tour has been long ill-thought by the World Surf League’s other chiefs who enjoy belittling the nostalgic dance. Last year, longboard fans had to turn to static Surfline cams in order to watch their heroes and heroines glide. Two years ago, sitting champion Joel Tudor was suspended in the most draconian of fashions.

Not even Sasha Jane Lowerson’s inspirational story of becoming both the first man and the first woman to win a professional longboarding event seemed to help.

Enter Donald Trump.

Kirra Seale, who once competed on the longboard tour herself was, nearly two years ago, promoted to “overseer” of the show alongside Tory Gilkerson, promoted to head judge.

“I am proud to welcome two great leaders to the forefront of longboarding in Kirra Seale as the Senior Manager of the Longboard Tour and Tory Gilkerson as Longboard Head Judge,” said Jessi Miley-Dyer, World Surf League then SVP of Tours and Head of Competition, now Chief of Sport, at the time. “This is an exciting chapter for longboarding, and I am confident in these two women at the helm. I look forward to working with Tory and Kirra to continue to develop and grow WSL’s Longboard Tour and competitive opportunities for surfers.”

Miley-Dyer might have been lying, however, as she continued to belittle the cross-stepping corp by actively not promoting any of it and also chopping contests and probably prize money.

Re-enter Trump.

Days ago, Seale was seen cozying up to the polarizing United States Presidential candidate alongside her husband, Billy Busch, whose name is eerily similar to Billy Bush of “grab-them-by-the-_____” fame. Trump offers his signature thumbs up while various babies are pressed toward him. It must be assumed that the topic of professional longboarding was floated. How it used to be the only surfing around but is now a lightly-regarded clown show. I would imagine Trump, who trades in sentimentality, was moved. I would imagine he will discuss potential ways to make longboarding great again.

Though how do you think this power move will play in the World Surf League’s new veterinarian offices?

A civil war brewing?

More as the story develops.


Jack Robinson wins Hurley Pro Sunset Beach
Jackie Robinson, master of deadly Sunset! | Photo: WSL

Finals Day remains a creeping effigy of Erik Logan and it should be exorcised at once!

Epic Sunset Beach contest shows absurdity of a world title showdown in Trestles mush…

Pipe and Sunset Beach done and dusted. Gender equality amidst stellar waves for a Finals Day once again. Victory for Australia. New faces in the finals. Nary a Brazilian in sight, except Italo who exited at the quarters. Miley-Dyer conspicuous only by absence.

Are you not entertained?

Pacified, at least?

All day we were told it was as good as Sunset Beach gets. For once I believed it wasn’t just WSL bluster and hyperbole.

Opportunity abounded for all. The four men who made the semis, Jack Robinson, Kanoa Igarashi, Ryan Callinan and Jordy Smith, were a curious collection, diverse in styles and demeanour, but all were deserving of their place.

John Florence and Italo Ferreira would have deserved it, too, but there’s no shame in losing to Jordy Smith or Jack Robinson on days like that.

As mentioned in a recent report, Italo must have far and away the highest losing heat totals over the past twelve months or so. Continuing the theme, the 15.60 he logged in his quarter loss to Robinson would have won all but four heats in the entire competition. Surely, he’s due a run?

Despite John Florence’s loss in the quarter, he wears the yellow jersey going into Portugal. He seems to have found a new verve for competitive surfing that perhaps no-one outwith those who know him well could have predicted. The tragedy is that the excitement we might feel for John’s renewed vigour is completely nullified by the current Tour format.

More on that later.

Jordy Smith and Ryan Callinan were standouts throughout the competition. These waves at Sunset Beach were always going to suit Jordy, and seeing his power was a reminder of the gaping hole in the schedule left by J-Bay. Callinan, for his part, did some of the most vicious backhand hacks seen at Sunset. Both lost at semi-final stage, but neither in disgrace.

Which left childhood rivals and former Young Guns, Kanoa Igarashi and Jack Robinson, to duke it out in the final.

Robinson had made his way there in a blitzkrieg of warbly barrels, scything hooks under lips and nappy fumes.

His heat totals from the quarter onwards were 17.37, 16.10 and 18.04. It was a finals day run of the sort of veracity that I thought we may not see from Robinson this year, given his circumstances. Children are a blessing, no doubt, but they do not facilitate zen.

Kanoa posted his standard pocket sevens, and there was a little flash, but he never displayed the joie de vivre of Robinson, nor was he on the best waves in comparison.

The ocean was “part of his body or something,” gushed Joe Turpel of Jack Robinson. “He feeds off mana!”

“Another cool redirect,” he said of Kanoa.

But for me, Jack’s Sunset Beach barrels were a touch overscored.

He notched the highest single waves of the event with a 9.77 and a 9.87 for finding tubes where others could not. Perhaps that in itself is justification for the scores. Certainly you had to appreciate how deep he took off for his 9.87, a backdoor entry no-one else conceived, let alone attempted. But in a competition defined by critical turns, the scores for the barrels were a little jarring.

At the prizegiving (where drone shots made the average school sports day look like the Superbowl in comparison) Jack Robinson told the few gathered souls that he’d held a board that had belonged to Andy Irons on his lap that morning. He’d talked to the board.

“Just go frikkin surf,” it told him.

And that’s what he did.

But you’ll forgive me for ending on a despondent note. Come down or otherwise, it’s how I feel as we leave the North Shore.

You see, I like watching turns.

Turns to make us ooh and aah. Turns that make our balls wince. Turns that we can only do in our feathered dreamscapes.

I like watching barrels, too.

And it strikes me that there were so many turns carved at Sunset Beach and tubes threaded at Pipe, but that none of it matters when we know it’s all going to end with a damp flatulent echo at Lower Trestles, where turns and tubes like these can never exist.

Yes, the Final Five showdown can be great entertainment. The concept works. But it is not how world titles should be decided. How are we supposed to get behind a title race if it’s not really a title race?

More to the point, how are the athletes?

We might have John and Gabby (if the latter picks up, which he will) in the prime of their careers, the white knight/black knight rivalry we’ve longed for since the heady days of Kelly vs Andy.

Add to this genuine Australian talent (for the first time since the Coolie kids) in the shape of Robinson and Ewing; wildcards like Yago Dora and Italo (given it’s slightly disrespectful to call a past world champ a wildcard); mainland America’s best hope since Slater in the shape of Griffin; and even Barron Mamiya and the absent Chianca to stir the pot.

That’s a lot of talent, a lot of character too. But, it might all be wasted.

John could thread mind-bending barrels from here til Trestles, win every single comp, and still lose the world title to Kanoa Igarashi stitching sevens in Trestles’ mush.

Without treading too much old ground, the premise that underpins the Trestles contest is solid. Yes, competitive surfing can lack excitement. I’ll vouch for that. The average contest in just about any other sport is better entertainment than the average surf contest. So competitions do need to happen faster, and they do need a sense of drama and consequence.

But this premise is flawed, because surfing isn’t like any other sport, and trying to make it like other things is a fool’s errand.

(Let’s put the argument about whether it should be a competitive sport at all to one side for now.)

The WSL should be doing everything in its power to highlight the unique aspects of surfing, not stymie them. A world title fight deserves waves of both quality and diversity, and a single day showdown to decide a world title – particularly at Trestles – makes a mockery of the skills it requires to be in the top five at year end.

Trestles remains a creeping effigy of Erik Logan, and it should be exorcised at once.

Make the changes, WSL. The athletes and fans deserve better.