Kelly Slater (right) doing nothing suspect yet getting accused of nasty things.
Kelly Slater (right) doing nothing suspect yet getting accused of nasty things.

Surfer Magazine AI robot accuses living legend Kelly Slater of attempted murder

A heavy accusation from the machine.

One of the high points of this still-young year has been the blossoming of a spite tree in Kelly Slater’s heart. The greatest to ever do it, 11 time world champion etc. had seemed lost entering the 2024 World Surf League season. Yes, he had been gifted a special season-long wildcard and didn’t need to win in order to stay on tour but going along/getting along is not in the GOAT’s DNA and he looked… lost. Empty. In need of… something.

As a keen observer of the surfing life, and longtime surf journalist, I knew that he needed spite in order to fly again and so began carrying on about the fifty-six year old never winning a heat again. Planting it deep, watering it daily. I knew it would be hard on him, so also sowed a spite baby, insisting that he was having a girl thereby gifting him a boy.

Now, the scattering of spite is a delicate task, one entrusted to the most noble though Surfer Magazine and its AI-generated robot “writers” don’t understand nuance though do enjoy a good bit of plagiarism and decided to plant spite seeds of their own, accusing Slater of attempted murder.

The piece reads real weird, as artificial intelligence often does, as the robot struggles to describe Slater dropping in behind Ryan Callinan then shooting his board at his head. A heavy accusation and very confusing as to what is supposed to be achieved with this spot of spite?

You can watch the entirely benign tableau here.

Does the machine want Kelly Slater to actually start murdering people?

Very terminator.

Ugh.


Gabriel Medina gives controversial interview.
"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”.

Pro surfing rocked as anti-Brazilian bias confirmed by Australian world champ and WSL’s own commentator

"I always felt like the Brazilians had been robbed."

There is neither a dam nor sea deep enough to contain the tears of Brazilian surf fans after a decision goes against their favoured sons Gabriel Medina, Italo Ferreira and Filipe Toledo. 

The Brazilian surf fan is the wretched poor crying at the gate, tormented by his losses, shivering with fury, gallons of salty sad.

The complaints are too many to list, of course, although surf fans will remember the death threats thrown at Griffin Colapinto for beating Filipe Toledo in El Salvador and the solemn promise to kill Ethan Ewing after easily despatching Gabriel Medina at Surf Ranch.

And, reluctant to stem the fury, Medina, Ferreira and Toledo are quick to fan the flames even higher, pointed comments on the WSL’s Instagram posts, letters to the judges published on Instagram etc. 

Yesterday, the giant killing rookie Cole Houshmand beat Gabriel Medina, who was fresh of his Olympic-qualifying episode and in electric form. 

Houshmand needed a sixish and gave hell to the running little Winkipop rights, got the score and then some.

In his post-heat interview Gabriel Medina wept,

“Ah, this is funny…this is the worst judging I’ve ever seen,” he told big-wave maven Laura Enever. “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.

“The last wave was pretty small, I didn’t even paddle… this is sad. yeah, so much… (long sigh) I just feel bad. It sucks.”

Is there really an anti-Brazilian bias in pro surfing?

Filipe Toledo’s two world titles, which were gifted in two-foot waves tailor-made for the notoriously big-wave shy father of two, and Brazilians winning every world title since 2018 would suggest otherwise.

But now!

In a bombshell interview on Brazilian legend Rico De Souza’s channel with the world champion Australian surfer Barton Lynch, the claims are indeed true!

Gabriel Medina…is…persecuted!

“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”.

Also feeding into the conspiracy is the Brazilian-born two-time longboarding champ Phil Rajzman, whom you may’ve seen doin’ chop-hops on his log.

Writing on the WSL’s Instagram page,

The WSL is now executing what has already been done with longboard surfing, a category with less promotion and therefore easier to manipulate… In our case, they began by changing the traditional criteria (defined by the sport’s creators), which valued classic surfing and the sport’s evolution, in favor of “traditional Californian” surfing, which limits the sport to the equipment, maneuvers, and wave conditions surfed in California in the 60s/70s. In this way, they took a big step back in the category’s evolution and automatically eliminated several athletes who do not follow this culture, either due to the type of waves where they were born or because they do not agree with the limitations in the sport.

Next, they took advantage of the pandemic to hold a two-stage circuit in California (Kelly’s pool + Malibu), where athletes needed official letters from the organization to enter the country during the pandemic. However, they did not send me my letter, despite persistent requests more than three months in advance, and I ended up missing out on the circuit that year… After the organization’s “error” was publicly proven, they gave me a wild card the following year, but they did what they did with Medina to remove me from the circuit once again…

I managed to get 2 x 4.7 in the same heat, needing 4.8 😂 In 2023, we did not have a single Brazilian representative on the longboard circuit, while out of the top 16, 10 were Americans… Do you know why? The “California Surf League” closed sponsorship deals with the giant Californian footwear industry of the 60s/70s, which sells this retro Californian longboard lifestyle to the world… From then on, judgments in longboard surfing ended and the results began to align with the commercial interests of the sponsors…

Heady days, yes?

 

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Hawaiian surfers prepare to receive foreign attack after revelation island chain not part of NATO

“It’s the weirdest thing,” says David Santoro, president of the Pacific Forum think tank in Honolulu, who added that even most Hawaii residents have no idea their state is technically adrift of the alliance.

Hawaiian surfers went to sleep last night feeling very similar feelings to those felt the day before and the day before and the day before. Namely, a sense of languid calm. Life, on the islands, moves at its own pace. Wake up, grind some loco moco, check the waves, grind some Spam musubi, check the waves, grind a mai tai, check the waves, go to bed. The sun shines during the day, generally, the wind blows warm, generally, the flowers smell floral, generally, before they are cut, strung and whipped around tourist necks.

Ahhhh.

Well, sorry. Tomorrow might be very different. See: bombs raining down from foreign powers whilst the free world shrugs her shoulders and says, “sorry ’bout it, kingdom.”

Ouchh.

Per CNN:

Sweden became the newest member of NATO earlier this month, joining 31 nations in the security alliance, including the United States. Well, make that 49 of the 50 United States.

Because in a quirk of geography and history, Hawaii is not technically covered by the NATO pact.

If a foreign power attacked Hawaii – say the US Navy’s base at Pearl Harbor or the headquarters of the Indo-Pacific Command northwest of Honolulu – the members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization would not be obligated to rise to the Aloha State’s defense.

“It’s the weirdest thing,” says David Santoro, president of the Pacific Forum think tank in Honolulu, who added that even most Hawaii residents have no idea their state is technically adrift of the alliance.

Heavy.

Slash weird.

And should Hawaiian surf heavies forbid the paddle of every European/American interlopers until Hawaii’s flank is covered?

I’m very much on the side of “yes.”

Ish.

The islands, as mainland Americans often forget, is the only united state to taste foreign rage when imperial Japan drilled Pearl Harbor.

So?

Where you at re. NATO?

Scared?

Well, if yes, you must listen to the latest offering from David Lee Scales and yours truly. Stop your rudeness and just give it a try.


Comment live, Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach, “This could be an Easter Sunday finals day!”

"We love it down here!"


Houshmand of the moment.
Houshmand of the moment.

“Queer collection of quarter finalists” remain as suddenly controversial Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach nears end!

What do Kade Manson, Rio Waida, Cole Houshmand and Jake Marshall have in common?

At dawn I sat to re-watch some of what I’d missed. Heats were still running, but I felt I needed to see what had come before.

Chest high Winkipop. At first smooth and clean, later fat and ruffled as tide and wind pushed in.

Surfers traded in sixes, sevens, six-point-fives, seven-point-ones. All looked the same. There were no tens, nor nines. The eights awarded were figments, in my eyes.

Joe Turpel was talking, talking, talking.

By way of contrast, the Victorian sandstone cliffs glowed deep oranges and reds in the morning sun. Beautiful, I thought. A fine morning for a quiet surf.

Somehow the bash bash bash of pro surfers in this setting was an affront.

On my side of the world the sun also shone. Outside my window a blackbird eyed me from the top of the fence, orange-gold beak tilted curiously. There were questions in its beady eyes. Valid ones.

I looked back with spite and envy. What a life, I mused. What a simple life, free of vice and folly.

Then I went back to watching pro surfers on the opposite side of the planet in a place I’ve never been bash bash frantically bash soft lips, trying to eke points from pointlessness.

What a queer collection of quarter finalists we’ve ended up with as a result.

We’ve arrived here in unspectacular fashion and by way of some odd scoring. Perhaps not “the worst judging I’ve ever seen”, as Gabriel Medina asserted, but poor nonetheless.

Ramzi Boukhiam has cause for complaint. On evidence of the day, the 6.80 he received for his final wave could easily have been a point higher and should have turned the heat.

The benefactor was Liam O’Brien, who ironically should have his own judging consternations this evening.

His round of 16 bout with Ewing was one of the most entertaining of the day, but was cooked from the off by an 8.50 thrown at Ethan Ewing for a three turn opening wave that was certainly good, but absolutely not a point better than everything else.

As is so often the case with Ewing, judges go giddy the moment he hits the water. And although the scoring thereafter was reasonable, the match had been spoiled.

O’Brien, for his part, showed impressive variety in his turns. He’s a surfer for whom I have a growing admiration in terms of style and approach. He’d have won many other match-ups today, and should win many in the future.

The most controversial judging decision saw rookie Cole Houshmand take a last second victory over Gabriel Medina, and the controversy is mostly because Medina was so vocal in addressing it. So rare is the post heat losers interview, I felt sure it was Medina who instigated it.

Post heat, Laura Enever begin by suggesting it was a mistake to give Houshmand the wave without priority. “I did the mistake?”, Medina bristled. “This is funny.”

He did not hold back.

“It’s the worst judging I’ve ever seen. It’s bad for the sport. We pretend that it’s not happening. It’s happening. It’s sad. We need to talk about it. Hopefully they listen to us.”

It was unclear if he had seen Houshmand’s wave at this point, or if his criticism was purely based on the fact he felt the wave was too small to offer that sort of scoring potential. Either way, for once I’m not sure I agree with him.

Scores flatten in poor waves, scales become opaque. You’ll have noticed that there are few controversies over scoring when the waves are good, no complaints from surfers or fans. Partly this is due to the gulf that becomes apparent between guys like Medina and Florence and all the rest, and partly it’s because we’re all just enjoying ourselves a lot more. Simple, really.

John Florence lost to Kade Matson today. It was the way John normally loses, more or less the only way he can lose: when the waves are sub-standard.

He held the highest number of the heat with a 7.67 and needed only a four-something to take the heat from Matson, who caught only two waves in total. But his final effort was tragic, a fat wave he barely scraped into. The tragedy belonged to the moment, not the man.

I love the history of Bells, I do. I love the prestige, how much it means to Australian surfers. But I did find myself asking today if this really was the best we can do for the best surfers in the world? For them and for us.

The WSL remains structured around profit margins (or at least minimising losses). Behind the edifice that purports to be about entertaining fans and serving athletes, they see and serve only themselves. They treat surf competitions as business, not entertainment.

Until they recognise the dire need to serve surfers above spreadsheets, interest in their product will continue to be frittered away on days where many of us wouldn’t bother to surf ourselves, let alone watch someone else do it.

Maybe improving the Tour means strike missions with a scaled down production, including the field itself. But we’ve had a season and a half now where among the thousands of hours we’ve watched this (or turned it off in disgust) you can count the hours of good waves on one hand.

The Colapinto brothers know this. The heat of their childhood dreams and squabbles played out today with few opportunities. Crosby sat sullen in the unbreaking lumps of the high tide, managing only a 4.67 total in three attempts.

Elder brother Griffin was busier but mostly manufactured the scores he got to take the victory. There was one bendy layback, Marzo-esque, that gave him a 7.17, but the heat was slow and ruffled with the onshore breeze.

It was so lacking in opportunity that Crosby said it had left a bad taste in his mouth.

“We’d hyped it up too much”, said Griffin, wisely. “Keep on an even keel always.”

Perhaps this approach is the only way you can survive as a pro surfer. Just accept what’s in front of you. It’s neither good nor bad. It just is.

And it was with this mindset that I looked on at Kaipo Guererro, in hard hat and high-vis vest, up his Bailey ladder.

Grinning from ear to ear, he was a vision of the purest happiness.

I could only smile in response.

Fair play, I thought. Fair play.