Shayne McIntyre (pictured) in Liberia
Shayne McIntyre (pictured) in Liberia

Alternative to much-hated World Surf League presents as Liberia to host first ever African surf tour!

Rebel yell.

The Margaret River Pro is currently bumbling along in glorious Western Australia, bumbling being the optimum word. The World Surf League, caught yet again in a ten day run of bad swell, has been forced to start, stop, start and stop its competition with even its most ardent fans growing frustrated and surly. Waves, when they do come, are somehow miraculously missed by the team, Joe Turpel’s mouth has entered a twilight zone and silly branding rules the day.

But what, then, is the most ardent fan supposed to do? There has long been hope in a “rebel tour.” One that boils off the World Surf League’s nonsense and simply puts the world’s ten or twelve best surfers in the world’s five or six best waves. But, let’s be honest here. Red Bull is not going to come to our rescue nor is Kelly Slater.

Enter Liberia.

The west African country hovering just north of Côte d’Ivoire, just south Sierra Leone, has just announced it is hosting Africa’s very first surf tour entirely independent from the World Surf League.

Per the Liberian Observer:

President Joseph Nyuma Boakai, Sr., has expressed excitement over Liberia’s rise to a place among the top 10 surfing destinations in the world and the choice to host the Africa Tour: Surf to Rise competition.

The event, scheduled to take place in West Africa for the first time, will be held in Robertsport, Grand Cape Mount County. It will be a five-day event, bringing in more than a hundred (100) persons including sixty (60) athletes, all of whom will be staying in Robertsport for the duration of the event to be held from May 23-28, 2024.

According to a press release from the Executive Mansion, this initiative is a significant moment for Liberia’s tourism sector, which aims to rebrand the country and attract visitors from around the world. It also comes as the President prepares to submit the Tourism Bill to the Legislature as part of his legislative agenda.

As part of the transformative agenda outlined in the Agriculture Roads, Rule of Law, Education Sanitation, and Tourism (ARREST) Agenda, the President reaffirmed Liberia’s commitment to harnessing its natural assets for sustainable development.

Arrest? Tell me this isn’t the future.

You can watch a film about professional surfing’s savior here.

Joel Tudor delivers stinging hydra-headed ripostes to BeachGrit commenters.
Joel Tudor delivers stinging hydra-headed ripostes to BeachGrit commenters.

World surfing champ Joel Tudor delivers stinging ripostes to BeachGrit commenters in new blood feud!

“Just before I rip your arm off, I’ll put my balls on your forehead for good measure…”

Even with the moans and bucking from yesterday’s blood feud still reverberating through the surf world, we can report the snow blond surfing champ Joel Tudor has opened a new online front with back-to-back insults on Instagram today.

In response to a video of joggers high-stepping and which Joel Tudor has much fun with, “When you finally meet the random nobody goobers/burner account dweebs who always argue on your posts” Surfival League proprietor Taylor Lobdell responds with,

“This is what longboarding looks like to me.”

Joel Tudor likes this response.

“You’re not wrong,” says the forty-seven-year-old daddy of two and holder of three world longboarding titles. “It’s what the majority of longboarding looks like to me as well.”

Much agreement etc.

Joel Tudor opens new blood feud
Joel Tudor and latest blood feud.

The conversation takes a turn, however, when the BeachGrit commenter, or former BeachGrit commenter, Wiggolly’s Paddling Style takes a swing at Joel Tudor’s fav sport.

“This is what jiujitsu looks like to me mate. I’ll snap ya,” he writes.

Joel Tudor replies, “I found your mom.”

Surfival League’s Taylor Lobdell writes, “You don’t like getting a sweaty dudes foot in your face? What’s wrong with you?”

And, here, Joel Tudor pulls the trigger, baring his teeth you would imagine in an awful smile.

“Just before I rip your arm off , I’ll put my balls on your forehead for good measure….its called t-bagging pre shoulder surgery –you can place bets on how long it’ll take…”

To which Wiggly replies,

“Can’t really see the point in paying $45 per session to take turns cuddling a bloke wearing a dressing gown. It’s given Joel an excessive amount of self confidence so I guess it’s good for something.”

True or false?

Are you in camp anti-jiujitsu per Wiggs and Taylor or does rolling thrill you for the connection it gives you with other men, like it does me?

Jiujitsu meme

Open Thread: Comment Live on business-ish end of Margaret River Pro!

There might be blood.

Young Mozart.
Young Mozart.

On childhood, loss and growing up in the shadow of surfing’s Mozart

"Kelly Slater, even as a kid, was legendary..."

My world in the 1980s was a roughly 100 mile Atlantic oceanfront strip, stretching from Stuart Rocks in the south to Cocoa Beach in the north, with a few discrete landing points in between, spots like Tiger Shores (named for the shark, not the mammal), Power Plant, Ft. Pierce North Jetty, Sebastian Inlet, Spanish House, First and Second Light, and, most importantly, the beach breaks in Indialantic down the street from my buddy Steve’s house (for those unfamiliar with Florida geography, Indialantic is a little hovel situated a few miles south of Cocoa Beach and a bit north of Sebastian). I lived at the southern end of this strip, in Stuart, about an hour and a half south down I-95 from Steve’s house.

Steve and I met at a church summer camp in Ocala, which is a seemingly picturesque central Florida town dotted by freshwater lakes, the picturesque part masking the fact that alligators outnumbered humans by a factor of about 5 to 1. Ocala was located about 60-70 miles straight inland from Ormond Beach, which itself had a fun little beach break where I rode my first ever real wave, a clean waist high runner on a borrowed 6-8 red G&S single fin.

But I digress. Back to Steve. Steve was cool, but even he admitted that he wasn’t as cool as his friend Danny. Steve and Danny spent time at a small Christian school together, which in that part of Florida in the 80s basically meant you were co-members of the same tiny cult. And since I also attended a tiny Florida Christian school, I kind of felt like I was in their cult too.

Every once in a while a cult member would break through and make a name for themselves in the outside world. And the reason Danny was so cool is that he was one such break out star. His last name was Melhado, and he was a terror in the ESA menehune contests.

Just being good buddies with Steve, who knew Danny, was like being one step removed from Florida surf royalty. I don’t even remember ever being introduced to Danny, but in the internet / social media deprived world of the 80s, one degree of separation was practically inside the club, or at least that’s what I told my grom self.

But actually that summary skips an important fact – Melhado was indeed an ESA contest terror who genuinely ripped. But like Soliari, fate cursed him. Because while Melhado would have ruled the ESA in any other era, in the era in which he lived there was a real life surf Mozart, the one grom king of the entire global surf universe, and unfortunately for Melhado that kid also happened to live in Central Florida, in fact right there in Cocoa Beach, and that kid was also cutting his competitive teeth in the ESA.

Kelly Slater, even as a kid, was legendary. He absolutely, undeniably, fucking ripped. And that wasn’t all. He surfed Kechele’s boards, and Kechele himself was one of the most progressive surfers on earth, routinely pulling big punts off the wedgy peaks at Sebastian Inlet. And Kelly was sponsored by Sundek, which in the 80s made incredibly cool trunks. Or maybe they sucked, but Kelly wore them so who cared.

At the time, Sebastian Inlet was a scintillating surf amphitheater. This was back before First Peak was ruined by the Army Corps of Engineers, back when there was a miraculous wedge that would refract off the jetty and form a wave at least a couple of feet bigger than anywhere else on the Florida coast at the moment.

You can walk on the Sebastian Inlet jetty, so you could stand right up above the action and watch as the local crew shredded the peaks below. Standing on the jetty in the mid to late 80s on a sunny Florida day with a decent little swell running and watching Kechele and Kelly and John Futch and the rest blister every inch of breaking water – that was a grom surfer’s dream (right behind actually getting in the water and trying to score a couple waves at Second Peak, or more likely at Spanish House a bit north of the inlet where the waves were not quite as good but the lineup far less packed). I’ll never forget those moments.

But back to Danny and Steve. Danny got some results, Kelly didn’t get him every time. In our little crew we held out hope that Danny would be the next one, that Steve’s buddy would one day grace all the mag covers, be featured in full page ads wearing tweaked out boardies, that Steve would get invited to cool ASP parties – and most importantly that Steve would invite a couple of us, and maybe just a little surf fairy dust would fall from the stars and land on our sunburnt shoulders.

But really we knew the truth. Because even then, Kelly was faster, more creative, threw more spray, did more everything – he was him, as the kids say.

The years passed. Kelly became Kelly. Danny moved to San Clemente for his senior year of high school, and as far as I can tell continued to shred. Steve and I went on surf trips together. The two of us helped hoist board bags up to Rabbit Kekai on the second floor balcony of Rabbit’s hotel. Steve stood next to the table and watched as I was annihilated by Miki Dora in ping pong. He was sitting next to me in a Pacific lineup when I paddled into a set wave big enough that a guy on the beach later described it to me as watching an ant go up and down a hill.

Then in the 90s, Steve moved to a landlocked town for a better job and met a girl. I moved away from our Florida roots too, still surfing, but almost always alone. Steve eventually married the girl. He got an even better job as a sales rep for a well-known farm equipment manufacturer. He wasn’t surfing but he was happy, or so I heard, because we didn’t really talk anymore after about 1996 or 97. I even missed Steve’s wedding, because in the late 90s I was often a selfish douchebag who let other things take priority over shit that matters.

So missing Steve’s wedding was the first thing I thought of when I got the call a couple years ago from a mutual friend telling me that Steve had passed away. Came home from work one day, sat down in his recliner, and never opened his eyes again.

When I got that call, all the memories with Steve flashed through. How he seemed to secretly enjoy skimboarding more than surfing. How he kept a throwaway tire from a 24 Hours of Daytona race in his bedroom because he loved cars. How we paddled out together in the dark one night when an overhead swell was running off the central Florida coast, but we couldn’t see much of anything other than the phosphorescent lines of whitewater pounding us – and it was still a blast.

Then my mind drifted to Danny. I wondered if he had heard about Steve passing. I thought about trips to Sebastian with Steve and watching Kelly and Steve always hyping Danny over Kelly. I wondered whether Danny still wonders what might have been if he weren’t born at the same time and in the same place as surf Mozart. (Things worked out ok for Danny, he was even inducted into the East Coast Surfing Hall of Fame in 2022, in the same induction class as CJ Hobgood. But still.) And then, of course, I thought about Kelly.

That was a couple years ago. Fast forward to this past week. I sat on my couch, in the same living room where I got the call that Steve was gone, and I watched Kelly being chaired up the beach at Margaret River. I thought about Danny, wondered if he was watching the moment too, wondered if he could have predicted this future back when he was bashing lips in ESA menehunes with Kelly.

And then I thought about Steve. And wished I had made it to the damn wedding.

Brazilian champ Adriano De Souza showcases enlarged heart with hatchet-burying praise of Kelly Slater!

"He is insane, everything is done for surfing is next level."

Now that Kelly Slater has pretend retired, all-comers are flooding, praising the greatest surfer of all time for his years of servitude. But a heretofore unforeseen question has suddenly arisen. Is there actually a greater-est surfer? Oh but we must turn our eyes south, to the proud nation of Brazil where impoverished* Americans and Australians are no longer welcome.** Chris Cote, Devon Howard, Jack Freestone, Adriano De Souza…


Adriano de Souza?

Though who could forget eight years ago when Kelly Slater unleashed his wave tank hours after De Souza won his gorgeous, and hard fought, first and only Occy-esque surf championship?

Not me.

Champagne not yet dry on Mineirinho’s hair, Slater showed his Kelly barrel in Lemoore, California on Instagram and then proceeded to make this face.

The entire world following that gaze toward the cow stink, away from the new champ.

Or, years before when Slater and De Souza had an in-surf interaction in which the former “likens Adriano’s intemperance to a chemical imbalance due to his “passion.”

The most ancient of blood feuds.

It should be assumed, then, that De Souza harbors injustice like Indigo Montoya. Counting the days until vengeance is his.

That, friends, would make an ass out of you and me.

The boy from São Paulo, hours ago, took to Freestone’s sonnet and wrote, “i don’t know how to say to him, this is your last or not and yes 🤨 probably we don’t know tomorrow and what we can say is today right @jackfreestone he is insane, everything is done for surfing is next level 👏 @kellyslater”

Very polite dig at the start chased with a crystalline good nature.

Gorgeous and what a jolly good fellow.

Though, what do you think De Souza meant by “insane?”

More as the story develops.