Ferreira (pictured) out on his ear.
Ferreira (pictured) out on his ear.

World Surf League rankings rocked as Italo Ferreira and Griffin Colapinto slaughtered on crazed day two of El Salvador Pro

"Medina is up five places to number seven. Those above him must sense the reaper at the door."

Well, friends, I must apologise for my tardiness. For the first time in three (?) seasons of reporting, yesterday I failed to deliver a report on a day of professional surfing. A good innings, surely, but also personally disappointing, even if you don’t give a shit. But I’ll make up for it.

Excuses? Many and varied.

Life is one extended floater, closer to dropping into the flats and shattering kneecaps than anything else.

The good: I delivered my creative nonfiction writing workshop in a local bookshop whilst the world’s best surfers began to hack and joust with Punta Roca.

The (publishable) bad: I lost 3k worth of carbon foil on a downwind run last night. I’d winged upwind for five miles, and was nearly home, cruising back on shin to knee high windswell (the efficiency of a foil is mindblowing, friends and foil doubters) when the mast snapped midway through a gybe with a sound like a gunshot. A half mile or so paddle to shore was by far secondary to the thought of all that cash sinking into the depths.

But my sermon, ahem, ‘workshop’, on writing went really well, thanks for asking.

Eight brave souls paid the princely sum of forty Pounds Sterling to be there. All were keen of pen and gracious of ear, and I must confess to having rather enjoyed it.

I began with an anecdote (but of course), one I had conceived during my fifteen minute bike ride to town, three beers down, helmetless, and sucking hard on a passionfruit ice vape pen.

Leaving the house again, barely having arrived, the boys had wondered where dad was going this time?

“I’m off to pretend to be a writer!” I called from halfway out the front door.

I was unsure whether it was a joke or not.

So I told this to the group, and I said that we all suffer from the internal agonies of purpose and ability. All artists need validation, because art cannot exist in a void. Creation needs an audience, writing more than most.

I brought excerpts from John McPhee, John Vaillant, Kae Tempest, William McIlvanney, J A Baker.

These diverse voices reflected those in front of me.

There was Gwin, a stout man in his fifties or sixties, owner of a local shop selling art curiosities and tourist tat. Gwin used to be a geologist, and though his writing lacks flair, this is compensated by the orderly detail with which he describes things.

There was Jemma, a girl in her twenties who wrote about her grandparents’s house, and the comforting hum of their fishtank. She was embarrassed to admit that she had searched for this sound of this particular brand of fishtank on YouTube, adding it to a playlist that she listens to regularly. But there was no need to be embarrassed, because this perspective was unique, and beautiful as a result.

Similarly, Alasdair, a young man with rich red hair and a wizardy beard that masks his shyness, was slightly hesitant to reveal that the most precious thing he’d ever lost was a gaming code. His hands shook as he told us the code allowed him to access an online world to which he’d dedicated hours, days and months of his life. His friends were in there, he said, real people confined to the virtual world in which he’d known them. Years later, when he managed to get back in, all were gone. Moved on, he said. Without him. It was a poignant glimpse into a world I know nothing of.

And there was Ian the arborist, immersed in a very different world, an ancient, living world that few of us will ever know. He spends his days clambering branches, exploring root systems, and grafting life from one thing to another.

I took something from all of them.

We talked about finding your niche and purpose, and why it’s vital to search for meaning as a writer.

Then I came home and watched pro surfing from El Salvador on my phone in my kitchen til 3am (replays in real time, because I’m a sicko) and tried to think about what I might write about it.

Do as I say, not as I do.

So the surfing, as surely one or two of you are here for…

What I’ve seen has been dynamic and highly entertaining. An entirely different competition to the one just past, obviously, but a beautiful diversity and juxtaposition of skills, like the writer’s group.

Punta Roca has served up two consistent days of waves in the head high range. A little warbly at times, not nearly perfect, but a fine canvas for some tight heats.

Several in the opening round were solid entertainment. Surfers traded waves, often subsequent waves of each set at a frantic pace for the judges to try and keep up with.

The beauty of Punta Roca is that we might watch two surfers on screen together on scoring waves. This is advantageous as a spectator, but also adds a little edge for the competitors, who might kick out in joy or disappointment to see their adversary detonating the wave behind them.

In the booth, Cote, Salazar and Wasileski, have provided a soundtrack sponsored by amphetamine sulphate and Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater. Not entirely unlistenable. I have a little soft spot for Strider and Cote. Their relentless positivity may not reflect the real world, but you can’t fault them for the approach.

Mitch Salazar, on the other hand.

Play a drinking game for the finals. Take a drink every time he mentions he surfed on the QS, or intimates that he’s actually a really, really good surfer. You’ll be buckled in no time.

But again, if I were in his position, with his face and taste in shirts, I might do the same. So no judgement really.

The other benefit of these late season comps is that the chaff has well and truly been scythed. Few heats are without interest, and when wildcards like Bryan Perez show up and show out, it’s even better.

There have been some significant ratings jumps already (credit where due to WSL for introducing the live rankings).

Medina is up five places to number seven. Those above him must sense the reaper at the door.

Crosby Colapinto will surf a quarter final against an in-form Florence in which he has a chance. But even a loss sees him jump five places to ninth, with a sniff at a finals berth at his home break. Griff vs Crosby at Trestles? I’m down for that.

And Yago Dora, the standout at Punta Roca so far, leaps six places to eleventh. He’ll match-up with Robinson in a titillating quarter final prospect. Win or lose, he’ll head to Rio as defending event champion with a damn good shot of cracking the top five.

We might not like the Trestles finish, but if we play it where it lies, you can’t argue that a top five of say, Griffin Colapinto, Jack Robinson, Italo Ferreira, Gabriel Medina and Yago Dora would be as good as you might hope for.

Of course I’ve missed a ton of what’s happened in a frantic couple of days, but I promise to get into the weeds and trenches again for finals day, if that’s even what you want.

And I’ll endeavour to give you a little extra something in the coming days to make up for it. A virtual fluffing, say. A happy ending that makes us all feel good for a moment before the guilt descends again like a low-slung cloud.

Now I’m off to search the literal murky depths of the low tide to look for my foil. Wish me luck.


Open Thread: Comment Live on Finals Day of the El Salvador Pro

Curse-apinto.


Griffin Colapinto bundled out of surfing grand slam after controversial interference call “caused by one man’s insecurity”

“Wrong and sad call. What was João gonna do, go left? He should have been penalized for silly games."

Tears across Southern California tonight after San Clemente’s great world title hope Griffin Colapinto was deemed to have interfered with Brazilian João Chianca in their round of 16 heat at the El Salvador Pro.

Examine the footage below.

The pair are jostling for priority. Griffin Colapinto has to do a little duck-dive under João, whom we last saw getting his head belted into the Pipeline reef, who appears to be going left at the righthand point. Immediately, João theatrically throws his hands in the air demanding a paddling interference.

Which he gets.

 

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The WSL’s Wall of Positive Noise is briefly shattered when commentator Strider Wasilewski says, “Ooof, honestly that was a bad…uh…I mean a tough call.”

In a post on Instagram the WSL’s Renato Hickel explained the decision,

“Unfortunately for Griffin (Colapinto) a pretty text book interference. Heats start with no priority and the normal interference rules apply. And, in that situation, João was in position for that wave and Griffin did a classic block so he loses half of his second scoring ride.”

Which meant, in theory, Griff could still win the heat but even with an almost perfect score, a 9.43, the decision meant his second best ride, an eight, was slashed to a four.

Final heat tally, Joao, 14.50, Griff, 13.99.

Without the interference Griffin Colapinto would’ve won 17:43 to 14.50.

“Complete and utter bullshit, flagrantly and purposefully caused by one man’s insecurity, knowing he was vastly inferior in the conditions,” wrote Griffin’s shaper Matt Biolos.

BIPOC surfing icon and activist Selema Masakela wrote, “This call is HORSESHIT…”

Former tour standout Cory Lopez, “No need to call that, let them surf.”

“That call was DOG,” wrote Jett Schilling.

“Just a bad call honestly,” wrote Kade Madson.

Big-wave surfer Rusty Long: “Wrong and sad call. What was João gonna do go left? He should have been penalized for silly games. I think they should re do the heat how incorrect that call was.”

A little push back, here and there, and some crowing from Brazillians, but most commenters critical of the decision.

“I knew I would have to play tough against Griff, he’s one of the best,” said João in his post-heat interview. “Such a bummer that that interference happened so early. But when that happened, the first thing I thought is, ‘Don’t hate the player, hate the game.’”

In these matters I tend to cede to the judge’s call, but, here, it did seem like João forced the interference.

You got an opinion. Where do you stand?


Deadpool actor Ryan Reynolds viewed as savior after Goldman Sachs lists surfing “sport family offices want to own”

"Many investors view sports as a largely uncorrelated asset class, making it a good hedge when markets are down."

The men and the women are in El Salvador, currently, slogging through elimination rounds at stop number seven on the World Surf League’s Championship Tour and it sure does feel doggy. Not Punta Roca, per se, or any of the competitors, necessarily, just the vibe. Like, no one really cares. After the intense rush of Teahupo’o, it makes sense, I suppose. Still, surfing as sport is weird and only appeals to degenerates who will put up with anything, from Joe Turpel to the spelling of Deivid Silva, and come back for more.

Rumors, anyhow, have been intensifying this year that WSL owner Dirk Ziff is actively looking to unload the Pastime of Kings, quite possibly to a Middle Eastern interest. Well, his quest just got easier as the august investment firm Goldman Sachs includes surfing amidst the list of women’s sports and ultimate fighting that “emerging sports family offices want to own.”

The story, which appears in Fortune, shares that Canadian actor Ryan Reynolds and his partner Rob McElhenney’s purchase and subsequent marketing of the small market soccer team Wrexham has spiked interest in being in the sports’ game. Owning an NBA franchise or MLB or NFL of course nets billionaires more billons but Anushka Gupta, head of Goldman Sachs Apex in the Americas, is bullish on smaller fries like surfing.

Per Fortune:

Family offices are mostly in the early stages of considering sports investments, evaluating factors such as whether leagues are open to expansion and how they handle media rights. “There’s been a lot of focus on the rapid rise in media contract values,” said Gupta, “which has allowed engagement with a much broader audience.” Many investors view sports as a largely uncorrelated asset class, making it a good hedge when markets are down.

Very cool.

Back to Reynolds and McElhenny, though. Would you like to see a power couple like that atop competitive professional surfing?

Welcome to Woozle?

Exciting times.


Open Thread: Comment Live on Day Two of the El Salvador Pro

Guerillas in the mist.