John John Florence perfect ten at Margaret River.
10! 10! 10! 10! 10! for John John Florence!

Snot and piss and tears fly in World Surf League judging booth as epic Margaret River final evaporates drudgery that brought us here!

Or wait... did it?

Good waves cure most ills, as we well know.

But historic low level trauma is hard to cut through. That’s what this Margaret River comp felt like. On again, off again. Insufficient waves. Achingly long lulls. Hanging on to the vain hope of something good on the final day. Watching compelling narratives spool out, then sag.

No-one within the WSL will understand this, of course. All they will see is a successful finals day and believe it evaporates memories of the drudgery that brought us there.

The final, between the enigmatic John Florence and Jack Robinson, a man forever hovering between psychopathy and transcendence, was valid. Both traded in numbers deemed to be excellent on the arbitrary, fluid, and oft controversial scale set by the WSL. But there was no controversy this time.

Florence gave a good account, and will still lay claim in the minds of many to the title of best surfer at Margaret River.

But Jack Robinson won, and he would stand vehemently against this. He did so in the final by mainlining uncut panache, leaving his best performance til last in tantric mastery of heat strategy.

His 9.10 was unquestionably the best wave of the heat. It was only two turns, but the opener was the best of the whole competition. It was a turn worthy of a poster, whipping him back into the pocket with such ferocity that he momentarily disappeared behind the falling lip.

Yet he emerged, as he always does, to connect with the end section and add exclamation to ecstasy. The resulting finger wagging claim was well-warranted.

Not so justified was the hard sell on the final wave of his quarter final against Imaikalani deVault. There was doubtful conjecture in the booth about whether he’d got the 7.17 he needed to turn the heat, yet the score came in at 8.33, perhaps owing mostly to his vigorous reaction.

Judges are prone to this sort of emotional response, especially in the final moments of heats or from surfers who use claims sparingly. They latch onto narratives like the rest of us, and this can skew the scores into the highly subjective region of objectivity.

They’d been dying to give John a ten, as they eventually did in his semi final match with wildcard George Pittar.

How many excellent scores has Florence had now at Margaret River? How good is he here?

And, oh, what’s that board he’s riding!

Please, sir, won’t you tell me again?

When Florence blew out the tail in a layback no-one should’ve recovered from, the judging tower squealed with the collective glee of middle-aged men watching bias confirmed.

In the booth, Taj Burrow, ageless as a woodland sprite, assessed the score at a 9.63. Both wonderfully precise and highly agreeable.

Yet in the judges tower chubby digits had been poised for John, just waiting to punch in perfection. Snot and piss and tears flew.

Unanimous tens!

Somewhere, Clay Marzo peered at his phone and furrowed his brow.

It was a great wave, a spectacular wave, but did it really deserve a premium insulated tub?

Does any?

Worthy of note were the performances of Seth Moniz, who looked better than he ever has. According to commentary, the strategy in the Moniz camp was a code word to encapsulate his approach. That word was “Moledo”, a neologic mash-up of Moniz and Toledo.

The approach worked. Not only did Moniz notch his best finish in a long time, but he vaulted eleven places in the rankings and far away from the cut line he’d been hovering round.

It was a valid strategy, for surely Filipe would’ve made mincemeat of Margaret River over the past couple of weeks. No Box to worry about, just mediocre Mainbreak walls to eke power and speed where others would find none.

Moniz had clearly been watching lots of tape, and in the glare of a midday sun you’d have been forgiven for mistaking him for Toledo. His rails were incisive, his surfing faster and more torquey than usual. And his arm placement, those high elbows so emblematic of Toledo’s style, was picture perfect.

But performances like this, the entertaining finals, the solid waves, all of it was too long coming.

Was the waiting period for this competition really only ten days? It felt double that.

We need these things done in two.

Put simply: we need fewer surfers and better waves.

The first thing is easy, and from this point forward will be somewhat addressed.

The second is a little more complex. You can’t script the weather, but you can give yourself a better shot at aligning with it.

Overlapping heats should be standard. This format speeds progress through rounds, maximises good waves, and alleviates lapses in action.

On days like this, a lot might happen in a short space of time, and I’m sure judges hate it when a flurry of waves leads to a backlog of scores. But it’s not about them, it’s about the viewing experience.

This is the mistake made relentlessly by the WSL. They remain ignorant of the end user experience, the fans that might make or break them.

I’m sure ten days of trawling wineries in Western Australia or scoring waves around the Peniche peninsula (everywhere but the contest site) suits the WSL employees just fine. If I was part of that bubble I’d love it, too. Maybe I would even grin inanely and happily spruik milk substitutes and ladder companies.

Of course there’s a wall of positive noise. Why would you challenge such a cushy gig? And of course they’re pumped on a final day of good waves. It’s the climax of a ten day holiday!

Whether it’s wilful or blinkered ignorance of their failures hardly matters.

To its detriment, the World Surf League is still largely an insular, jobs-for-the-boys, cottage industry. It is resistant to change and ignorant of simple truths.

They might think that one day of good waves cures all, but it’s a handjob without eye contact.

How many days of glaring mediocrity is that really worth? How much time and sustained interest can we really give?

It’s hard to love pro surfing when it doesn’t love you back.

The WSL wants to be a serious sports league. Its existence depends on it. But no amount of brand activations or gushing superlatives can compensate for the fact that competitions can only muster a few hours of genuine entertainment among days of mush.

And that, quite simply, will be the death of it.

Kelly Slater back on top?
Kelly Slater back on top?

Earthquake cracks pro surfing’s foundation after revelation beheaded Kelly Slater has actual path to requalification!

"Let’s assume he gets wildcards to Tahiti and Cloudbreak..."

We, many of us here, have all been pretending that the world’s greatest historical surfer Kelly Slater is done. Goose cooked. Bun firmly in oven. That his retirement announcement after failing to advance at the just-wrapped Margaret River Pro, thereby dropping him below the cut line and off tour, was real twice over. First, in that he wanted to “step back” with baby boy on the way. Second, that he simply could not continue due not being on tour.

Now, last year the World Surf League fixed it by gifting the 11 x champion a special season long wildcard. This year, the “global home of surfing” has not offered a similar golden ticket miffing Slater’s most diehard fans. These Slateries want to see him in a competition singlet come hell or high water and they just might get their sinful wish.

For an eagle-eye’d surf fan has run the numbers and… well here.

Hey Chas,

I was just thinking about the GOAT’s retirement.

Let’s assume he gets wildcards to Tahiti and Cloudbreak. He can definitely win one if not both those if it’s pumping.

Now, according to WSL rules. Ex champions accrue points towards the ranking post cut even if they are wildcards.

If Kelly was to win one and do ok in the other, make 2 semis for example, he would probably have enough points to secure a place for next year right? If he places above the 22nd surfer.

Could we see Kelly rising from the ashes back from retirement in three months?

He now sits with 3990 pints. 1 win and a semi would add 16085 points taking him to 20000. With only 2 more events besides these it would be hard for the bottom surfers to secure more than that.


Interesting is right.


More as the story develops.

Brad Domke and foldable surfboard.

Big-wave skimboarder Brad Domke becomes face of breakthrough foldable surfboard brand!

"The kickstarter is live! What are you doing?"

The big-wave skimboarder Brad Domke needs little to no introduction, although some introduction may be necessary if we wish to to cement his bona fides as the face of a new foldable surfboard brand.

He rides Nazaré, Puerto Escondido, Jaws and even the big wave in Western Australia called The Right on his little disc.

Brad Domke became world-renowned for castrating his surfboard by using it only to paddle into the wave before jumping onto his fifty-three-inch, flat-rockered, finless disc, an event that is difficult to remove from your consciousness.

(Did you know Brad Domke only has one board? He rides the same carbon-fibre aureole at Teahupoo as he does at three-foot shorebreaks. Quivers? Who needs ’em?)

Lately, Brad Domke has become the face of NIMBL, a start-up foldable surfboard brand that is raising the required money to go into full-scale production via Kickstarter.

With four days to ago, and with sixty-five backers pledging money, NIMBL has exceeded its modest 20k goal.

The foldable surfboard has long been the holy grail of the men with slicked back hair who wish to chase waves but don’t want to give up their little red coupes or former bodyboarders who miss carrying their vehicles on their backs.

As far back as 1964, Karl Pope and Thomas Price registered a patent for their foldable surfboard. The Bisect was “characterised by its simplicity of construction and in its adaptability to economical manufacture.”

Foldable surfboard
An early version of the foldable surfboard.

A couple of years later, Herman Bank launched his multi-board, which was also known as the “suitcase surfboard”.

NIMBL, “is a no-brainer for both beginner and seasoned surfers looking to keep a spare mid-length board in the car, ready for any conditions. Now instead of meticulously securing boards on roof racks, you can throw it in the trunk and spend more time surfing. From driving to your local beach for an early morning sesh to barreling in the most remote waters when the opportunity arises – Epic trips are imminent with a board that is as on-the-go as you are. Leave your worries behind with your board safely tucked away in the trunk. NIMBL takes the hassle out of surfing, anytime and anywhere.”

In the clip below, Brad Domke, who is the salaried face of NIMBL, details its many advantages.

Domke’s fans aren’t sold, howevs.

Dude, you dominate but you know that’s gonna buckle under any pressure

This is satire ?!?!?

You’re a few days early… this is an April Fools Joke, right?

Kook stick.

To which Domke replies,

“I bring a foamie with me every time I head to the beach. And I break them all quickly. And it cost me tons of $. I’ve always kept in eye on what could be the next perfect all around foamie to ride and do transfers with. As I’ve tried so many soft top brands. When I found out about the NIMBL foldable fomie. I was instantly interested knowing the board was already in half and rideable! Which is the direction I am moving into having a one board does all “surf/transfer” and the fact that it’s already in half and not ending my sessions snapped and unusable like what ends up happening to me time after time. @aethiaoutdoors created this foamie before I had even met the company. After meeting them I personally tested this foamie model out before joining the team and seeing how well it works with this mechanism. After testing and realizing it’s worked well I’m proud to join them and help evolve this brand. But this surfboard particularly is great for beginners and up who just want to get wet and get in the water for a healthy surf however the conditions are. And it fold up.s and it’s easy to store in the trunk/backseat or bring to the beach with the back pack it comes with which lets you be hands free on the way there. Which I personally love about it.”


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Bryan and the jerks. Photo: WSL
Bryan and the jerks. Photo: WSL

Pod of narcissistic dolphins mars otherwise perfect Margaret River Pro women’s final

Big time priority interference.

The World Surf League, yesterday, became blessed for the first time in as long as its most ardent fan could remember. Waiting periods stretched out to the bitter end has been the rule for two years now? Three? Professional surfers forced to battle for their supper in low quality waves offering little natural scoring potential. Commentators done crazy by forcing to pretend “critical” and “critical” mean the same thing.

But not yesterday.

For yesterday, the sun rose upon Margaret River’s main break and the swells pulsed forth and professional surfers overlapped them to the awe and amazement of the aforementioned ardent fan, who only sometimes complained about it not being contested at a nearby Box.

Local son Jack Robinson bested Oahu’s John John Florence in the men’s final, wrapped lovingly by an in-form Derek Rielly.

One them women’s side, Kauai’s Gabriela Bryan saved herself from the cut, and beat San Clemente’s Sawyer Lindbald, hoisting the golden wine goblet in triumph.

The only blackness marring an otherwise perfect ten hours came when a group of narcissistic dolphins decided the time was right to steal the world’s attention by committing priority interference on Bryan’s second highest scoring wave.

CNN, which bills itself “the first name in news,” breathlessly shared the “magical moment” leaving the exploits of the long-suffering top tier surfers all but on the cutting room floor. Fox News, following, declared it a “postcard from heaven.”

Left unmentioned was the fact that Lindbald also avoided the dreaded mid-season cut.

Potential ardent surf fans cooing at spotlight hogging cetaceans instead of congratulating the ten women and twenty-two men who will be allowed to professionally surf moving forward.

Yago Dora survived.

Callum Robson did not.

Bonsoy, dear friend.

Bonsoy and fare thee well.

Jack Robinson wins Margaret River Pro for a second time.
Little Jackie Robinson wins Margaret River Pro for second time and again over John John Florence. | Photo: @greenroomtimes

Jack Robinson womb-strokes rampaging John John Florence in hall-of-fame Margaret River Pro final!

Daring for Jack Robinson is not a habit but a well-figured out challenge.

In six-foot waves painted the prettiest blue, Jack Robinson suffocated a rampaging John John Florence in the final of the Margaret River Pro, the second time the Western Australian has crushed the storied Hawaiian Olympian in a MR final.

If popularity can be measured by collective madness and scenes of amorous women weeping for his autograph, there is no shadow of a doubt that John John Florence is the most popular surfer in the world.

John John Florence, whose plain face is marked by a thousand anxieties and half-formed thoughts, was adjudicated to’ve completed a perfect ride when he utilised a manoeuvre in his semi-final first brought to the world’s attention by Tom Curren at J-Bay, a throwaway layback brought back underfoot; a turn weaponised by Andy Irons in the late nineties and named the frontside disaster, although it had only a passing resemblance to the skate turn of the same name.


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“I’m just excited to surf out there,” said John John Florence after. “I can’t wait to go out in these waves. I look at these walls and I feel so much excitement. I love that.”

For his effort, John John was gifted a Yeti cooler by the WSL’s celebrated sponsor, a prize worth almost five hundred dollars on the secondhand market. 

Jack Robinson, meanwhile, a Western Australian with the excessively broad shoulders of a man who makes love a lot, drew his famous lines on the wide blue faces, hitting a nine and an eight against John.

He treated the champ like a peasant he’d found among the grapevines of his vineyard, scrutinising every wave until the death case lest his victim escape.


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Read JP Currie’s analysis tomoz morn sometime.