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.)


BeachGrit friends (pictured) sexually confused.
BeachGrit friends (pictured) sexually confused.

Director of Cannes darling ‘The Surfer’ accuses grumpy locals of being “confused about their masculinity”

"They listen to Joe Rogan and Jordan Peterson, explore neo-shamanism and long for a tribe..."

There is nothing more exciting on our surf-adjacent horizon than the new Nicolas Cage vehicle “The Surfer” which brought Cannes’ discerning audience to its feet and kept them there for six minutes. Its Irish director, Lorcan Finnegan, has crafted a rich, lush, sun burnt ode to Australia New Wave cinema of old and recently sat down with Variety in order to provide further insight into his vision.

He shared about how the film is not a “sexy” exploration of our favorite pastime but rather a tense and raw descent into madness. The interviewer, picking up on surfing’s gorgeous image versus what appears on screen, wondered about why everyone was so “aggressive and territorial.” Finnegan, wise, answered, “We talk about pain in this film, so they had to be mean to him. It’s a weird therapy he undergoes in order to find himself, but surf localism really does exist. And not just in Australia! A lot of surfing beaches tend to be in wealthy areas. You have bankers, CEOs, all these ‘strong’ guys who are confused about their masculinity and fall into a weird trap. They listen to Joe Rogan and Jordan Peterson, explore neo-shamanism and long for a tribe, which makes them vulnerable to ‘father figures’ like Scally, played by Julian McMahon. We had fun exploring it in the film.”

Oh.

Shoot.

Are you a “strong” guy confused about your masculinity and stuck in a weird trap?

An explorer of neo-shamanism and Joe Rogan listener?

Vulnerable to a father figure named Negatron?

Fairly damning, I guess.


Kelly Slater and John John Florence.
Who gonna retire first, Kelly Slater, 57, or John John Florence, 33? | Photo: @tsherms/Steve Sherman

John John Florence to retire at end of year after one final swing at winning third world title

“Last year on tour for John John Florence. Will do all stops then say ‘see ya!’” according to the source.

Yesterday, the lovely revelation that two-time world champ John John Florence had just welcomed a baby boy with his wife Lauryn Florence neé Cribb and had named him Darwin after the noted English biologist.

Exhilarating, audacious and in-step with his own mama Alex naming him after the brave little boy, not even three years old and trussed up in a powder blue peacoat, saluting his dead daddy’s casket in 1963. 

A lesser known fact, of course, is John F Kennedy junior got the John-John tag from a White House reporter who misheard JFK senior calling him John twice in a row. No one in the Kennedy fam used it. 

John John Florence turns thirty-three in 2025 and, if the rumour is to believed and it comes from if not ringside, the next row behind, he’ll quit professional surfing to chase waves with his surfer of the year brother Nathan Florence, pursue his business interest with the high-quality surf brand FLORENCE, which now employs Nathan, and enjoy the profound thrill of being a daddy to little Darwin. 

“Last year on tour for John John Florence. Will do all stops then say ‘see ya!’” according to the source.

It makes more than a little sense. 

With small-wave wizard Filipe Toledo, who is virtually unbeatable at the world title decider which is held every September in weak two-foot waves off the tour, John John could conceivably win the third title that has eluded him since his two-pack in 2016 and 2017. 

The retirement will continue the WSL’s leakage of big-name world champs from the tour, including Carissa Moore and Stephanie Gilmore, who may take another swing in 2025 although after watching a year of Molly P and Caity Simmers and with Erin Brooks coming online maybe not, and, possibly, the madcap queen of drama himself Kelly Slater.


Anthony Kiedis (pictured) little.
Anthony Kiedis (pictured) little.

Red Hot Chili Pepper Anthony Kiedis takes much younger Brazilian model-girlfriend on sizzling warm surf date

"Taut torso and tattooed arms."

Oh to be handsome, a former dead President, bank robber and, to top it all off, mega famous rock n roller. Oh to be Anthony Kiedis. The Red Hot Chili Pepper frontman, 52 years old (or 62 maybe) but still entirely striking, pixie-ish even, has been a known surf aficionado for many years, enjoying Malibu’s little political wet energy mounds on full volumed craft. And for those past two summer seasons he has enjoyed them with 20-year-old Australian model Helena Vestergaard.

Well, out with the old, in with the new as Leonardo DiCaprio says and, just yesterday, Kiedis was snapped with the 22-year-old Brazilian model Wanessa Milhomem. Daily Mail breathlessly described his “taut torso and tattooed arms as he walked with his wetsuit pulled down to his waist while making his way back to dry land” and Milhomem, who “towered over him as she strolled in a patterned string bikini.”

Kiedis is listed as 5’9 though seems the exact same height as the Red Hot Chili Pepper’s bassist Flea who swings in at 5’6.

Which leads to the important question. Is it better to be plain and tall or minuscule and ab fab?

Back to the loved up surf date, though, there’s not many more details I am able to share other than Kiedis carrying his longer board wax side in.

Wet Sand.


Surf champ John John Florence and wife Lauryn Cribb welcome newborn son, Darwin Florence!

US Olympian pays homage to game-changing biologist at birth of son!

A few days before Christmas in 2022, John John Florence, the little canary-haired boy raised on peanut butter and Wonder bread, who enchanted the world as the first tweenie to ride Pipeline and who was later credited with saving the surf industry, married his long-time girlfriend, the Australian Lauryn Cribb.

John John Florence proposed to his long-time girlfriend, a model turned horticulture student, in 2019 using a diamond ring his mama Alex had found on the beach and right before a one-month yacht voyage.

The pair were married in the nearby Waimea Valley despite torrential rains, the same storms that created an epic river wave that nearly slaughtered sad-eyed degenerate Jamie O’Brien.

When Lauren announced she was pregnant in December 2023, pregnancy of course being a natural consequence of a CIS marriage, she wrote: “Swallowed a watermelon seed and now it’s growing. We’re excited for our little baby boy to join us in May…”

 

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At the time, we wondered if, like his mama Alex, John John would gift his boy a similarly unique handle.

Well, yeah.

Even better than John John is…Darwin Florence, named, you’d suppose, after the towering British biologist who gave the world the theory of evolution via his knockout bestseller Origin of the Species.

In a nutshell, Darwin theorised, and with plenty of evidence, how species change over time, driven by natural selection and the wild ol’ game of survival.

Traits that help organisms thrive in their environment get passed on, while less helpful traits fade away.

Undaunted by the trauma of childbirth, John John posted this clip, today, of him testing fins shortly after the birth.

Congrats to John John Florence and mama Florence and welcome baby Darwin.