"In many ways it was predictable that Cole’s brand of surfing would suit Bells Bowl, being very much in the mold of men before him who found success here. I was forced to engage in some familiar self-flagellation for not placing the pre-event bets I’d thought of. I’ve got them here on a post-it. Cole Houshmand to reach the semi: 34/1. The uncertain forecast stopped me from putting it on. His odds to win must’ve been over 200/1." | Photo: WSL

How 200-1 outsider Cole Houshmand won the world’s most coveted surf trophy!

I was forced to engage in self-flagellation for not placing the pre-event bets I’d thought of. I’ve got them here on a post-it. Cole Houshmand to reach the semi: 34/1.

The Rip Curl Pro from Bells Beach ended bearing scant resemblance to how it began.

The epic opening day seems like a distant memory. All those worthy waves wasted by the inconsequence of non-elimination.

I can’t imagine how difficult it is to remain focused as an athlete. So much can happen in the lay days. You might be buoyed or sunk by the sound of a forecast.

Especially when you can no longer trust it, and the WSL twist empirical data into gross hyperbole.

“Five to eight feet” was what Kaipo called the waves at Bells for finals day.

Not his own opinion, surely, for that would belie his heritage, but that of the Surfline data he’s instructed to regurgitate. (Though we know by now that Kaipo will spew up anything he’s fed, heritage be dammed.)

Perception of surf size is being altered by Surfline in Orwellian fashion. Head-high waves are now twelve feet. Two plus two has always been five.

(Oh, I know the sizing of waves has always been antiquated and mostly nonsensical, but at least it was ours. If you knew, you knew. Just another quirk of surfing that’s been diluted and lost.)

So on we went with finals day in onshore ruffle. Contestable, sure. But also all that was left and all that would be.

Cole Houshmand rang the Bell, taking victory over fellow San-Clementian Griffin Colapinto with his smooth yet punchy backhand. In his rookie season, no less. (Spare a thought for Kolohe Andino.)

I wasn’t mad about a Cole Houshmand win. I’ve admired his surfing this season, and he shares a name with my son. (One of the few names I’d never come across while teaching in Scottish schools.)

In many ways it was predictable that Cole Houshmand’s brand of surfing would suit Bells Bowl, being very much in the mold of men before him who found success here.

I was forced to engage in some familiar self-flagellation for not placing the pre-event bets I’d thought of. I’ve got them here on a post-it. Cole Houshmand to reach the semi: 34/1.

The uncertain forecast stopped me from putting it on. His odds to win must’ve been over 200/1, but I don’t recall exactly.

It’s an impressive win for a rookie’s resume. But let’s not forget the run of luck that gave him a leg up.

The controversial round of 32 victory over Medina, obviously.

Though this was less egregious than the quarter final win over Ethan Ewing in conditions so inadequate that only three waves were attempted in thirty-five minutes. Ewing caught one wave, Houshmand two.

That’s not a viable competition, and that should be addressed.

Fellow finalist Griffin Colapinto continued his charmed existence on a little cloud of air, solidifying his number one ranking with second at Bells.

At some point during this event I realised Colapinto had become an unmissable interview.

What wisdom will he impart? I found myself wondering. What can I learn?

The irony of a man who’s spent a life in formal education hankering on the words of a winsome, home-schooled 20-something whose greatest academic challenge has been memorising a four digit pin code is not lost on me.

Colapinto seems to attract luck. For my money he was grossly overscored in comparison to Rio Waida in their semi match-up.

Griffin held a brace of eights and threw away another, but something about his surfing left me cold. Late in the heat Rio Waida rode what looked to be the best wave. It wouldn’t have turned the heat, but it would’ve given him a chance.

The score came in at 7.60, nearly a point below Colapinto’s best wave. There was consternation in the booth from Ronnie and Richie. Both were sure they had seen “excellent surfing”.

Kaipo had compared Waida to Kelly Slater, for heaven’s sake!

The split-screen comparison was illuminating, and it did the judges no favours.

The pundits had been right. Perhaps – and I don’t say this lightly – even Kaipo. Rio’s wave was clearly better.

Somewhere, Gabriel Medina puffed out his chest. Maybe this was the worst judging we’ve ever seen after all. Rio Waida would be well within his rights to question it.

As, by the way, would Johanne Defay.

If you’ll allow me a brief note on the women’s final: Caitlin Simmers’ winning wave, caught at the death of the heat, was screamingly mediocre. When it came in as the highest of the final and gave her the victory I was nothing short of appalled.

To compound this, something about the stars and stripes draped immediately over her shoulders as she was chaired up the beach was equally distasteful.

I don’t believe the Tour is anti-Brazilian, but if it becomes too American I might struggle. We’re already forced to tolerate the world title locked in the prison of Lower Trestles.

Speaking of poor taste, can anyone enlighten me as to Griffin Colapinto’s “shoutout to the 2% boys” prior to the final and again during the prizegiving?

Tell me I’ve missed something? Surely this can’t be a boast of economic privilege, as in the term “one percenters”?

And by the way, have we also missed something with regards to Jesse Miley-Dyer’s whereabouts?

Where is our Chief Of Sport?

Once again Renato Hickel presided over the call (which is preferable, obviously), but JMD hasn’t been seen since Pipe, where she was widely criticised for opting not to run on the day when waves were deemed “too big”.

As is the WSL way, she is simply unmentioned and unseen.

Maybe she’s fled, on the heels of bosom buddy Logan.

Maybe I don’t blame her.

Surf contests are a weird thing. The ends are unpredictable, often unfulfilling. Sometimes they string out over days and weeks, like Bells did, and you’d be forgiven for forgetting what the purpose of being here is, or all that has come before.

When it’s good, it’s great, but this season still feels wanting. We’re still to see a comp with even back-to-back days of good waves, let alone an event completed in one, solid swell.

On reflection, the opening day of Bells looks even better now. If only we could get these things done in a day and didn’t have to pull out with limp disappointment.

On we go to Margaret River in a few days. Kelly said about a week ago there’ll be a Box swell. I’d suggest this might be blind hope rather than actual forecasting, but that’s enough for me.

On a personal note, I feel I must apologise for the lack of lustre in my words recently. I’ve not been particularly happy with what I’ve produced. Maybe you haven’t noticed. Maybe you don’t care. But I feel it. I’m finding things particularly joyless at the moment. But I’m searching for the light. Things will get better.

Money on John and Jack for Margaret River.

Can’t lose, right?


Rich Porta (left) and mad Brazilian Gabriel Medina.
Rich Porta (left) and mad Brazilian Gabriel Medina.

Former head judge Rich Porta conducts “surf progression seminar” amid sizzling charges of anti-Brazilian World Surf League bias!

"If you're looking for new ways to progress your skills and possess a greater understanding of the rules in surfing competition..."

The Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach is now, officially, in the rearview as the World Surf League’s traveling show points west toward bucolic Margaret River. Joe Turpel talk of wineries, kangaroos, Jack Robinson’s backyard and the Bailey Ladder Leaderboard will soon fill the airwaves and shall we take a li’l peek around Kontractor Kaipo to see how things currently stand?

San Clemente’s Griffin Colapinto is, of course, on top followed by Australia’s Ethan Ewing, Hawaii’s John John Florence, Encinitas’s Jake Marshall, Japan, South Africa etc. and we must fall all the way to the sixteenth spot to find our first Brazilian in Yago Dora.

Yes, the land of order and progress once had professional surfing by the neck and it seemed as if there would never not be another gold and green champion.

Oh how the proud nation has fallen.

Or was pushed?

Former number one, and arguably the greatest talent on tour, Gabriel Medina set the world on fire, days ago, in his loss to event winner Cole Houshmand when he declared a fix was in and that the judging needed to get sorted in order to save professional surfing.

Surf journalists immediately pounced on a broader, ominous storyline. Namely, the World Surf League is sacrificing Brazilians for clicks.

Yikes.

Well, former World Surf League head judge Richard Porta, never afraid of the fire, took this very delicate moment to announce a “surf progression seminar” that will take place on April 23 at the Gowings Pacific Trader Shop in Coffs Harbour. Per the promotional material:

If you’re looking for new ways to progress your skills and possess a greater understanding of the rules in surfing competition, come along to Rich’s seminar where he shares his knowledge and offers invaluable insight to aspiring professional surfers on how to maximise your scoring potential and elevate your standards within local surfing competition.

Timely.

But do you think Brazil will send a contingent and learn the new ways or simply skulk off to the dark Neco Padaratz days?

The mid-season cull might very well lead to full-scale revolution what with the aforementioned Medina, Italo Ferreira and Brothers Pupo all in very much danger.

A day without a Brazilian.

Yikes.


Cole Houshmand wins Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach
Cole Houshmand, tour rookie, killer of Brazilian dreams, wins Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach.

Giant killer Cole Houshmand dominates world at epic Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach

Proves the felling of Gabriel Medina no fluke!

Ain’t it amazing the difference a few days makes.

After felling Gabriel Medina in a last-second win in the round of 32, a victory that brought Brazil to its knees sobbing, San Clemente tour rookie Cole Houshmand has won the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach in a tense  battle with neighbour and pal Griffin Colapinto.

Earlier, in his post-heat interview three-time world champ Gabriel Medina had claimed the fix was in, that his opponent Cole Houshmand was gifted his win as part of an ongoing conspiracy against the Brazilians.

“It’s bad for the sport, I’ve been through a lot of judging things but I feel like this is the worst one.… we pretend it’s not happening. It’s happening. It’s bad for the sport,” said Medina.

The Australian world champ Barton Lynch seemed to confirm the bias telling a Brazilian interviewer,

“Over the years, I worked as a commentator and I was watching the heats and this (strange things) happened to Gabriel Medina a few times where I said. ‘What?’ said the universally respected BL. “I saw things differently and I always felt like the Brazilians had been robbed and I verbalized what I felt, I said what I thought”.

In his victory speech Cole Houshmand said,

“I’ve been visualising this every day for the last two weeks and ringing that Bell…my biggest goal was to make it to Fiji on year one, I’m glad I’m going there. The cut’s out of the vision but there’s bigger things for me to achieve now.”

As to surfing a final with his pal Griff,

“I told him, this is what we dreamed of since we were kids. I just wanted to enjoy it and at the same time there’s no one I want to beat more or rather lose to, so it was a weird mind set.”

A full day’s analysis from BeachGrit’s Scotland-based correspondent JP Currie a little later tonight.


Erik Logan in happier days.
Erik Logan, back when he ruled the WSL like benevolent king!

Sacked WSL chief Erik Logan gives clue to mystery disappearance in latest confessional!

“My trauma manifested into a default mindset for me to be a runner - specifically, run away, escape, and protect myself.”

The former WSL chief Erik Logan, whose almost five-year tenure as pro surfing’s north star was cut short on a moody June day in 2023 with no reason given, has continued his run of confessionals on his wildly addictive Substack.

One week ago, Erik Logan posted a lengthy screed detailing his cataclysmic descent from 42-year-old beginner surfer, loving everything surf, to architect of the entire sport with all its ensuring baggage. Stroke, heart surgery, divorce, losing his WSL job and surprise pivot from surfing and into tennis!

“We’ve all been told, ‘Do what you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life.’ Or maybe, ‘Follow your passion; the money will follow you.’  There are countless variations on this theme,” wrote Erik Logan.

“Throughout my career, I let this idea guide my professional choices, and tried to make my job my passion. The reality was that I was passionate about my work, but it was never my burning passion. Four years ago, I took a passion that I had discovered and made it my job and I can now say I’m not 100% sure this cliche is the best advice, at least for me.”

In today’s confessional Erik Logan, who may look like a doll but who ain’t stupid, mines his childhood trauma.

Erik Logan as a child.
Baby Erik Logan, mid-seventies, with Oprah and WSL still in the future!

“My childhood was complicated.  All of us have different issues from childhood, so I’m not assuming mine was any more or less special than anyone else’s.  Any abuse you experience as a child shapes you for decades to come.  Whether it is verbal, emotional, or physical, it all takes a toll on you, primarily if you never deal with the trauma properly.  My trauma manifested into a default mindset for me to be a runner – specifically, run away, escape, and protect myself.  Run from everything: problems, unhappiness, whatever I didn’t like – shut down and run.”

And,

“My coping mechanism for trauma at a young age was using my feet to get running.  The physical running also spilled over into emotional running, leading to avoidance, shutting down, and countless other not-so-great personality traits.  My therapist, whom I will call Jennifer (in honor of Dr. Melfi from The Sopranos), now has lifetime employment and works with me weekly on this trauma.  A lifetime of conditioned reactions to stress or trauma means that I react by running (physically) or emotionally (shutting down) at times still to this day.”

Clues to the disappearance of Erik Logan? Forced to run, escape and protect from WSL trauma?

Read here for more clues!  


Open Thread: Comment Live on the historic Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach final day!

Loose the dogs.