Developing: World surf champ Filipe Toledo seen charging small Teahupoo in lead-up to Olympic showdown!

“Haters will hate but the dude charges harder than them…”

There is egg on the face of every surfer who’s ever been critical of Filipe Toledo’s ability to wrangle Teahupoo after the two-time world champ was spotted almost completing a four-foot tube there in the lead-up to July’s Olympic showdown.

Filipe Toledo, the twenty-nine-year-old San Clemente-based father of two, has long had to fend off suggestions he is scared of the joint after a series of underwhelming performances, including a zero-point heat total against Italo Ferreira in 2015 that was subsequently dubbed “A brave act of cowardice.”

In 2022, Filipe Toledo reprised his brave act of cowardice when he refused to paddle for a set wave in his heat against old-timers Kelly Slater and Nathan Hedge. 

In this year’s tour opener at Pipeline, and after an embarrassing 1.77 heat total in perfect six-foot barrels, Toledo withdrew from the event citing an unspecified illness. 

Memes were quickly assembled.

More worldly voices, most notably BeachGrit’s own Chas Smith have suggested, however, that this fear of abrupt barrelling waves has all been a front, a game of rope-a-dope with the world.

What if, asked Chas back in December, Filipe’s masterplan was to make the world think he was too scared to paddle into a set at Teahupoo and then, with Olympic gold on the line, create one of the most unlikely wins in Games history?

Well, dreams do come true, as they used to say in Disney movies. And, earlier today, Filipe Toledo released footage of a four-foot tube almost successfully ridden.

“Quick trip to Teahupoo with Team Brazil,” writes an upbeat Toledo, failing to mention his grave disappointment at missing last week’s ten-foot swell, which was enjoyed by teenagers and girls alike.

Some surf fans were thrilled with Toledo’s four-foot tube and celebrated the achievement on his Instagram.

“Haters will hate but the dude charges harder than them,” writes one.

“Haters are fans in denial. If you have haters, you are doing something right,” agreed another.

However, the expert wave forecaster James Frazerhurst threw a cat among the birdies when he asked the above gents, “Please explain wtf happened vs Slater and Hedge…vs Ferreira 2015?????????”

Toledo fans responded with the same sorta logic-defying gymnastics currently employed by Hamas apologists.

“You’re talking about a back to back world champion who definitely gets barrelled at world class waves. Acting like having bad heats and bad days is not human. That’s also happened to people like Slater and Andy and the greats many times as well. Besides you wouldn’t even think of paddling into some of hte waves this guy surfs.”

Frazerhurst shoots back, “Bummer than the bad/off days have been when the waves are thick and heavy. People watching and following along might get the wrong idea about his charging-ness! Lucky you are here to tell them they don’t surf as good as him.”

Then, another sceptic, Harpy–Harvey, arrives.

“Show me when Kelly or Andy never caught a wave in a heat because it was too heavy for them please.”

“Stop hating Harpy. Not good for the soul. Just ’cause it’s not his best strength doesn’t mean the dude is not capable. Also, I’m not gonna go digging for details for your satisfaction. It has happened multiple times. The best in the world see him as a threat in any conditions. He would rock you in any heat anywhere for sure.”

Harpy Harvey retorts, “You’re not digging because there’s nothing to dig. The best in the world fear him in EVERYTHING but heavy surf especially heavy lefts. No hate, just facts.”

Then!

“Did you just watch that video or nah?”

“The barely overhead wave? Lol.”

“You would shit yourself. That’s a critical slabbing Chopes wave on very shallow sharp reef.”

And, so on.

The exchange also includes a cameo from Negatron himself who writes, wryly: “Charging harder than faceless nobody kook haters isn’t much of an achievement.”

Follow the trail here and watch the video here.


Carissa Moore wins contest
Carissa Moore, Tahiti Pro wildcard! | Photo: WSL

Carissa Moore accepts wildcard to upcoming Tahiti Pro

Where's Filipe?

Modern professional surfing is currently in what experts are calling its “Goldilocks and the Three Bears” phase. We have Kelly Slater, who has hung on way too long. We have John John Florence, who hung it up way too early. And we have Carissa Moore who has done it just right. You, of course, recall when the ever classy Hawaiian declared that she would be stepping away from the tour at the beginning of the year. That she would also be representing the United States, again, in the Olympics hoping for back to back gold.

“My favorite rides, the greatest thrills have come when I’ve paddled over the ledge even though my heart or my head is telling me not to, you know?” she gamely declared at the time. “The anxiety comes from ‘am I going to show up?’ I just want to be proud of myself. I want, at the end of the day, to be like, ‘Ok, I did my best. And I rose to the occasion,’ you know?”

Well, in a perfect turn, Moore has accepted a wildcard into the hours away Tahiti Pro. The 2024 Games will, maybe not coincidentally, be held at the exact same reef shelf in two-ish month’s time. A who’s who of surf celebrities celebrated the news via Instagram.

Shaper to the stars Matt Biolos offered, “Pedal to the metal.”

Post surf interview maestra AJ McCord added, “We love to see it!!! Have so much fun Riss.”

Big wave stud Shane Dorian penned, “It’s time” while adding a robust flexed arm likely juiced with the very latest in recovery aids.

While Moore’s decision is perfect, like each previous, there is still silence in Filipe Toledo’s camp. The timid small wave surfer will also be Olympic surfing and has already made a name for himself at the Cave of Skulls by refusing to paddle when it gets scary.

Should he have screwed up enough courage to wildcard himself?

Obviously.


Nina Dobrev before (left) and after with Shaun White (insert) sad.
Nina Dobrev before (left) and after with Shaun White (insert) sad.

Shaun White’s actress girlfriend Nina Dobrev hospitalized after gruesome wipeout on “rabble kook scum” electric bike

"Charlatans all. Including of course the plebeian aspiring surf stars who whore themselves out to the lowest bidder."

Nina Dobrev, the longtime actress girlfriend of snowboard spectacular Shaun White is currently receiving care in a hospital after suffering a gruesome accident on an electric bicycle. The Canadian, who made a name for herself on The Vampire Diaries, had shared a self portrait straddling the machine, cheekily penning “How it started vs how it’s going” underneath.

The next slide should have included a trigger warning. The 35-year-old is lying on a hospital bed, possibly emergency room, with a neck brace, knee brace and maybe bicep brace.

Nina Dobrev (pictured) inert.
Nina Dobrev (pictured) inert.

While not explaining what led to the accident, fans were quick to point out that she wasn’t wearing a helmet though her head does seem to be in working condition. Others, more famous like Sophia Bush, who recently came out as queer, wrote, “Nooooo! You poor babe,” while Dancing with the Stars’ Julianne Hough added, “That’s my girl! 🫠 Obviously wouldn’t make jokes if you were not ok…”

It was not necessarily obvious to those who know neither starlet.

BeachGrit readers will recall the e-bike furor that engulfed our surfing world two years ago when shaper Tyler Warren circulated a petition to have them banned at Lower Trestles. Andy St Onge, author, responded, “The recreational integrity of surfing has been so hopelessly degraded by the combined compounded impact of unrestrained commercialism with hordes of par venu kooks and their endless gear fetishes. Charlatans all. Including of course the plebeian aspiring surf stars who whore themselves out to the lowest bidder. Rabble kook scum one and all.”

BeachGrit readers will also recall when conservative longboard firebrand Joel Tudor posted a video of e-bikes becoming washed away and declared it, “the greatest moment in rewind history.”

So, after the latest Dobrev dustup, where do you stand on e-bikes? Still the future of transportation or a grave menace?

More as the story develops.


Chas Smith salutes the glittering career of retiring world surf champ John John Florence

"You were no Slater. You were Florence."

Yesterday came the unsurprising news that John John Florence, the two-time world champ and most favoured to win this year’s Olympic gold medal at Teahupoo, was, according to a well-placed source, set to retire following the season finale at Lower Trestles in September.

John John Florence, who is the proud daddy to newborn Darwin and husband of model turned horticulturalist Lauryn Cribb, will busy himself with business duties surrounding his eponymous brand FLORENCE, which now employs middle brother, the surfer of the year Nathan Florence, and, most importantly, enjoy the brutally short time on earth we have with our children.

In this, the 100th episode of Chas Smith Hates Surfing, Chas salutes the glittering career of John John Florence

“One thing I would love to do with surfing is retire from it,” says Chas. “I would retire from surfing, not as an old man, aged and broken, I would like to retire from surfing in my prime.

“And that is what we have John John Florence doing. He has thrilled since he was a pint-sized tow-head packing barrels at Pipeline. An impressive young man who grew into an impressive older man.”

But, says Chas, “When people retire in their prime, who’s to blame? I think we know who’s to blame. The World Surf League.”

Essential.


Portugal's Erica Maximo swings at Willow Hardy in "squalid act of surf comedy."
Portugal's Erica Maximo swings at Australia's Willow Hardy in "squalid act of surf comedy."

Historian Matt Warshaw weighs in on “squalid surf comedy” of “bungled hit job” at world junior surfing titles

"Allow the surfers to touch each other. Encourage it. Let my opponent look at me and say 'Let’s fight it out to the end.'"

You’d need to be a lot deeper in the competitive surfing weeds than I am these days to have seen, live, the bungled hit job Erica Maximo of Portugal laid on Australian Willow Hardy during a four-surfer repecharge heat at the recent ISA World Junior Championships in El Salvador.

The set-up is a little complicated (read here), but basically time was running down and Hardy needed a low score to advance.

Maximo herself was out of contention, but her teammate would be eliminated if Hardy got the score, so Maximo decided to sabotage Hardy final wave and take the interference, to ensure her friend would advance.

The result was a squalid bit of surf comedy. Maximo, paddling out, turns around and sneaks into the wave behind the already-riding Hardy. Maximo rides prone for a bit, stands, and immediately shoves and bumps rails with Hardy, who is now hopping and turning as she looks for the score; Maximo then leans forward and yells something at Hardy. A few moments later, falling off her board, Maximo reaches out and tries to pull Hardy’s leash.

The Aussie, somehow, remains unfazed throughout. The response was swift. Online uproar, public shaming, official statements, DQ for Maximo, followed by her tearful Instagram apology.

 

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If you’re jaded enough to see humor in this woeful little pas de deux, as I am, do we also agree that the best part is the announcer, lashed to surfing’s Wall of Positive Noise (or Positive Void, in this case), absolutely refusing to call the action?

“Blue up and riding, 45 second remaining.”

Mayhem onscreen—silence on the mic. Time passes.

“Thirty-five seconds.” More dead air.

“Twenty-five seconds.”

Continued silence as the rides finally plays out, with Hardy stepping off her board, turning, and flipping off Maximo. She got the score. Her result helped push Australia to victory in the Teams competition.

What would Peter Drouyn think?

More specifically, how would he score it?

Drouyn is remembered today for many things, and although I wish his actual wave-riding were ranked higher among his achievements—for five or six years, beginning in 1966, Drouyn was a dark horse contender in any robust world’s-best-surfer debate—I suppose his greatest gift was to promote surfing’s one-on-one competition format.

You silverbacks out there will recall that this happened in 1977, at the debut Stubbies Pro, held in fantastic overhead point tubes at Burleigh Heads. What you may not know is that Drouyn had what he thought was another ace up his kimono: Contact surfing.

“We’re gonna see guys trying to make it through to the next round any way they can,” Drouyn said to Phil Jarratt before the Stubbies contest while discussing the new “effective cheating” rules Peter had just unveiled.

The conversation continued:

Meanwhile, the judges are still awarding points for surfing, the same way they would in a standard competition.
It’s surfing in two categories, yes—physical and creative. The cheating rule is there to give the contest character.

By “character” you mean…
A bit of bloody flair. Something more concrete than what you get in a regular contest; some contact, physical and mental. The surfers need to vibrate off each other in a way that the judges and the spectators can really feel and appreciate. Like in boxing. Allow the surfers to touch each other. Encourage it. Let my opponent look at me and say “Fuck you,” or ”I love you,” or “Let’s fight it out to the end.” Let’s have some contact.

But surely you’re not suggesting that surfing is a real contact sport?
Phil, it can be. I feel it’s the only way surfing is going to become a big money sport. Contact both physically and mentally. A blow must be thrown. I mean, I can dance around a ring for my whole heat, showing style, but what’s the judge going to say? “Oh, Drouyn’s got a lot of style. He would have done well if there’d been a fight.” There must be contact in surfing. A guy can actually whip his opponent off the wave, and they come onto the beach and have a fight if they like. That’s okay. We won’t give any bonus points for it, but the important thing is that they can beat each other up.



One-on-one heats were a hit, contact surfing was not, and I think we all agree that was the right way to go. But credit Drouyn for keeping things interesting and entertaining—for always giving us, as promised, “a bit of bloody flair.”

Here we are 50-something years later having a laugh at the idea—but we’re also fascinated by an Instagram clip of two young CT hopefuls going at each other just as Drouyn envisioned in 1977, which maybe doesn’t prove his point, exactly, although I’d say it pretty strongly makes the case that surf competition by and large remains, as Peter suggests, a quart or two low on flair.

(I’m of the firm belief that Matt Warshaw, along with Dane Reynolds, John John Florence, Stephanie Gilmore, Matt Biolos and a few others, is a keeper of the surf culture flame. These weekly essays are sent to subscribers of Warshaw’s Encyclopedia of Surfing. You can join the club, here, and you should, for five bucks a month or fifty for the year. It’s a million-plus word archive you can bury yourself in for years.)