Category Archives: power rankings

Tahiti POWER RANKINGS: 16-20

Adrian Buchan

Tahiti Result: 17 Previous Result: 17 ASP Rating: =14

Truly cutting edge surfers today realize that contest winnings and sponsorship agreements should only represent a fraction of their earnings.  The big money is in tell-all memoirs, video games, and merchandising. Just ask Kelly, who’s penned two books, created one video game, and now has his own skin cream from Kiehl’s.  Ace Buchan has a reputation for being one of the sharpest tools in the shed of tools that is the Top 45.  He’s been moving strong into the diversification game, profiteering off his writing skills.  Ace wrote a children’s book and he has a surprisingly insightful blog going on Surfline, where contributors are rumored to make in the neighborhood of $100 dollars per article!  Who said surfing doesn’t pay – that’s some P.Diddy money, right there.  It will be interesting to see how the ever-gracious Buchan spins his loss to Mick Campbell, who is basically a geriatric orangutan with alopecia and a bunch of moles that need to be looked at.  Ace parked himself in a few tidy ones during their heat, but Mick got the best of the priority situation and utilized his opportunities.

Kelly Slater

Tahiti Result: 17 Previous Result: 17 ASP Rating: =25

Sporting lives are lived in dog years.  For fans, watching a great athlete stream by and then inevitably pass away is like losing the family dog.  Surfers of my generation grew up with Kelly Slater – he was young with us, wildly successful when we were groveling students, rich when we were poor, a retiree just when our lives were getting started, and then he was vanquished just as we started to succeed.  Seeing Kelly struggle, like watching Michael Jordan struggle, is just as painful as seeing a once great dog grow old and lame.  Sure, you feel bad for them.  But they’re just fucking dogs – mostly we feel bad for ourselves, because watching a dog die reminds us of our own mortality and expiring dreams.

Slater’s comebacks allowed us all to breath deep and inhale a lungful of vitality – as he won again and again, we felt immortal again.  But now - watching these three 17th s in a row?  Well, in shaky times, no one wants one more reminder that we live in an age of decline, an era in which things once held bedrock-stable crumble to ruin around us.  No one wants a reminder that death is coming, death is the end, and that believing otherwise is a pastime for emotional children, who still need to be lied to.

Dane Reynolds

Tahiti Result: 33 Previous Result: 33 ASP Rating: =28

Watching Dane Reynolds surf makes me feel young again.  A frisky, buoyant Reynolds tail-pitch gives me hope for the future.  Things are headed in the right direction!  I used to be cynical about surf companies and their new Little Emperors. “It’s all marketing hype!” I’d whine. “None of these kids are the next Slater or Curren!  The next Slater will come from some third-world ghetto.  It’s just too convenient for Quiksilver that the next Slater would be a marketable, charming, handsome kid from Southern California.”

That my friends, is what I USED to believe.  But Quiksilver’s videos and articles in the surf mags about Dane going on Quiksilver-funded boat trips opened my eyes to the truth.  Dane Reynolds is in fact the best surfer on earth.  Kelly Slater said so, and why would he say that if it weren’t true?  And you know what’s even better than Dane’s ultra-progressive surfing?  It’s the fact that he’s not some corporate stooge – he’s a super-laid back artist type just like me.  He likes independent music, he takes photographs, and he’s such a good photographer that he even has his own line of T-Shirts, with his photos on them, available from Quiksilver.  He’s the real deal, as evidenced by his last two 33rds.

Jeremy Flores

Tahiti Result: 17 Previous Result: 17 ASP Rating: 17

Here’s another kid with a tremendous future.  I didn’t really know anything about Flores, or like his surfing very much, until I checked out this awesome trilogy of movies about a group of 4’ tall hobbits on a quest in a scary foreign land.  I’m talking of course about Young Guns 1-3.  Turns out I’m way off base about Jeremy.  He’s probably the best young competitor on earth and a major star, which I hadn’t realized because he’s European, and Europe is this sleepy little backwater with a giant fucking economy and untapped consumer base, just waiting for a once-in-a-generation Quiksilver-sponsored surfer to emerge and introduce them to the sport and clothing style that is surfing.  Now that I’m well-informed, and my American-prejudice has been broken down, it’s obvious to me that Jeremy Flores, who’s gotten 17th in the last two events, is clearly a world title contender… and if you haven’t figured that out yet, then you’re not watching the Quik vids closely enough.

Jay Thompson

Tahiti Result: 9 Previous Result: 9 ASP Rating: 13

You know when you go to tasteful, exclusive, high-end restaurant, and you’re having a relaxing meal of the highest level, drinking a special wine, and some goddamned out-of-state tourist walks in and sits down at the table next to you?  And he’s wearing clothes from wall-mart, and talking loudly to his simply tacky date, and they’re laughing and having fun like idiots, and you think to yourself, “How did HE get here?  He shouldn’t be here! He doesn’t belong! He doesn’t even have on a tie!”  That’s how I feel about Jay “Bottle” Thompson.  I mean, this fellow isn’t even an official member of the Top 45. He’s surfing in place of the injured Luke Stedman.  And everyone knows that injury replacement surfers are meant to be seen, not heard.  And now this Thompson gent has the audacity to win heats against better-sponsored surfers, like Jeremy Flores.  This uncouth man has gotten two 9ths in a row, and he’s ranked 13th in the world! Have you ever heard of such a thing?  I’m really peeved.  He’s not even supposed to be here!

Tahiti POWER RANKINGS: 21-25

Josh Kerr

Tahiti Result: 9 Previous Result: 33 ASP Rating: =20

It’s easy for cynics to discount Josh Kerr as a latter-day Christian Fletcher type, an aerial specialist, scrubbed clean and toned down for a different market.  Clearly, Josh Kerr feels that he’s capable of more than winning airshows – why else the nonchalant return to tour?  Kerr is not a one-trick pony, as his ledge-friendly, Kieren Perrow-like charging at Chopes shows.  Josh looked lazily comfortable navigating a running tab of backside pits in his first heat against Tiago Pires.  But the truth is, Kerr’s act is about as solid as a block of swiss cheese – there’s some big holes, anyway you slice it.  It’s not that Kerr can only do one thing – it’s that there’s still about 3-5 important things that he can’t do.  But hey – enough years on the world tour and anybody can conform.

Kai Otton

Tahiti Result: 17 Previous Result: 9 ASP Rating: =20

I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again: the concept that there’s two different judging criterias, based on whether the waves are barreling or not, is kinda fuckin’ retarded.  (No offense to any retards out there who may well be smart enough to take umbrage at being compared to ASP judges.) In the first heat of the morning of day 63 of the waiting period, Kai Otton surfed against Taylor Knox, and the scoreline reflected the judges’ confusion with how to score the conditions.  It was clear the panel was keeping a damper on awarding turns, as "Tahiti is a tube-riding contest."  Trouble was, there weren’t many pits.  In hindsight, it’s hard to argue that the pedestrian little tube Kai Otton threaded was more impressive than the two waves he carved into bloody little pieces.  But the judges didn’t see it that way, and Ottz lost by less than a point.  In the end, however, Otton must blame himself – he fell on 3 waves that could have been keepers.

Kekoa Bacalso

Tahiti Result: 33 Previous Result: 5 ASP Rating: 18

Kekoa’s 33rd at Teahupoo shouldn’t be dwelled on – it comes with the territory.  Very rarely do rookies blaze through their first season without being taught some lessons. And it’s even rarer for rookies to avoid early-loses when they’re jovial drunks.  One of the many issues with the new contest format is that it double-insulates the Top 16.  Not only do they get seeded into R2, but when a surfer like Kekoa works his way up to the edge of the Top 16, he gets effectively beat back down by being seeded against wildcards in R1.  At least that’s the way it worked out for both Bacalso and Khodr.  These guys performed admirably in Australia, and as a result they were dealt death-draws in Tahiti.  Now poor Chunk is locked in the cellar with Sloth, and mean old Mama “ASP” Fratelli is guarding the door.  Sloth will save you, Chunk! Baby Ruuuf! Baby Ruuuufffff!

Dean Morrison

Tahiti Result: 17 Previous Result: 9 ASP Rating: =20

If only Dean Morrison surfed like a cross between Dean Martin and Jim Morrison.  It would make this write-up so much easier.  I could’ve spun some arcane tie between Dean Martin’s Jerry Lewis partnership and the Doors/Jerry Lee Lewis “Light my Great Balls on Fire” mash-up.   Instead, I’m left to sift through yet another performance in which Dean Morrison looked amazing in one heat (putting up 17.00 with ease in R1) and average in the next (getting schooled by Damo Hobgood in R2).  As it stands, Dingo’s career is shaping up to mimic that of Taylor Knox, minus the power.  Both won a single WCT event early in their careers, and both are talented enough to stay on tour without ever living up to expectations.  Trouble is, I’m not sure if Dingo Morrison will be an entertaining veteran.

Dayyan Neve

Tahiti Result: 17 Previous Result: 17 ASP Rating: =25

I understand that many readers have difficulty discerning when I am employing irony, and when I am not.  Some have suggested that I begin using emoticons to help my audience understand when things are meant to be taken lightly, as opposed to taken seriously, as opposed to LOL OMG HA HAHA!!!! My response to that suggestion is, go fuck yourself.  Yes, I know, without an emoticon following that epithet, you’re probably wondering, “is he joking?”    You’ll never know, you simple custard pudding bastard.  Keeping that in mind, I have to admit that I’m a strong supporter of Dayyan Neve’s surfing.  He has the no-nonsense, handy, can-do approach of a strong lesbian.  This is a good thing.  Neve taught that twink Pat G a lesson in R1, but in R2 Dayyan got burned playing the waiting game against Bobby.  Neve only needed a 5.24 but it never came.

Tahiti POWER RANKINGS: 26-30

Drew Courtney

Tahiti Result: 33 Previous Result: 9 ASP Rating: =20

Watching senior citizen/rookie Drew “Benjamin Button” Courtney surf Teahupoo was inspiring.  It reminded me so much of the first time I saw “Cocoon.”  Drew surfed and lost within the first couple hours of the waiting period… which was good for him in that he made it home in time for the early bird special.  Against Marlon Lipke (don’t look for anymore German jokes from me - I learned my lesson) Drew was quickly rounded up and put in the oven with a combo situation. Taking off on shoulder, Drew also attempted to back into shacks like an octogenarian in a Lincoln continental who only uses the rearview.  The judges were impressed to the tune of 2.07 and 3.83 points.  Maybe this isn’t like Cocoon at all? OK, it’s like the first scene when all those pimping wrinkly bastards go swimming. What a curmudgeon ol’ Wilford Brimley was, that oatmeal slingin’ sonofabitch.   And God, I miss the hot mess that was Jessica Tandy. Meow!

Heitor Alves

Tahiti Result: 17 Previous Result: 33 ASP Rating: =30

God damn do I love me some Heitor Alves.  It’s reminds me of how I used to hate hot sauce, but now I squirt Vietnamese Sriracha  Rooster sauce onto everything I eat.  There are two possible explanations of my shifts in allegiance : 1) As we grow older, we grow wiser – with an open mind we learn to embrace new cultures and the type of pleasure that’s accompanied by some burning pain.  2) As we get older, we literally develop poor taste – our senses are dulled, so everything must be brighter, louder, spicier, and type must be bigger.  When it comes to my rapt appreciation of Heitor Alves, I’m not sure which it is.  But I can tell you this: Some inexperienced surfers hold back at Chopes.  Others, like Heitor, make up for their inexperience with sheer bravado, pulling into death sections and hucking tailpitches.  Although he went down to Jordy Smith, Heitor committed to fins-free chucks in a way very few other surfers did in Tahiti.

Chris Davidson

Tahiti Result: 33 Previous Result: 33 ASP Rating: =28

I can’t fucking stand pretentious chicks who quote Shakespeare.  They’re the kind of girls who are so obvious that they’ll play “Imagine” at their wedding.  For some people, looking intelligent is more important than having something intelligent to say.  Barmy wankers.  Back to Tahiti: When considering Chris Davidson’s performance, I’m reminded of an obscure quote from As You Like It:

All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players.
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts...

Pretty insightful, huh?  Don’t place too much emphasis on the experience of being that one man playing many parts.  Instead, think about what it’s like to experience seeing one guy keep showing up in your life, playing different parts each time.  Sometimes I feel like my life is such a poor, insipidly produced stage production that the same extras keep appearing time and again.  One day Chris Davidson is the veteran phoenix, risen from the ashes to a 5th at Kirra.  The next day Davo looks old and baffled, as he pumps in front of barrels, cowering in confusion on the shoulder.

Jihad Khodr

Tahiti Result: 33 Previous Result: 17 ASP Rating: =20

As some of you might remember, Jihad Khodr held down the bottom spot on the Power Rankings for much of last season, due to his truly shiteous performance at Chopes.  Since then, ol’ Jihad has made massive strides in his surfing and confidence.  But against Andy Irons in R1, Jihad was right back to his old tricks. This is what I had to say about Jihad last year: “There were so many anti-highlight reel moments, from Jihad’s average of 2.17 on his scoring waves, to Jihad’s Herman Munster barrel style, to Jihad seemingly watching his own heats from the channel.  Seriously, I think Jihad’s caddy sat deeper than him...  Rabbit was overheard describing Khodr’s performance as ‘embarrassing.’” The only thing that changed is that this year Jihad improved his average wave score to 2.39 points, and Rabbit wasn’t there.

Tim Boal

Tahiti Result: 17 Previous Result: 17 ASP Rating: =25

Look, between you and me, I’m not sure that this Tim Boal chap is on the level.  Something just doesn’t smell right here, and my dog’s in the other room, so it’s not her.  Let’s revisit the facts: Boal grew up on a boat in the West Indies, was a championship sailor, and he speaks perfect English along with four other languages.  I’m thinking he’s some kind of secret agent or something.  Who the fuck speaks four languages?  Here in America, most people can barely speak one language, and we’re proud of that fact.  Salt of the Earth! Booyah! Team America, baby.  Anyway, another clue is how Boal surfs: look closely.  Yes, he rips, but he rips like someone pretending to be a Top 45 surfer.  He does not rip like the real McCoy, or Malloy, or whatever.  What I’m saying is this: Tim Boal is a master of disguise, so skilled that he can successfully impersonate a Top 45 pro.  Motherfucker probably assassinates diplomats and has a stack of passports with different names.  This is the guy I should be scared of – not Dustin Barca.

Tahiti POWER RANKINGS: 31-35

Tim Reyes

Tahiti Result: 17 Previous Result: 17 ASP Rating: =30

Who knew that Timmy Reyes could grow hair?  I erroneously believed him to be prematurely bald, like you know who and that other guy.  So when Tim showed up at Chopes with curly locks, I kid you not, I thought he’d sprung for a toupee for this contest.  I was all like “Daaaaamn, homegirl must be makin some Benjamins from O’Neill to afford that rug… shit looks real!” That’s how I talk.  I’m actually a 52-year-old overweight black grandmother from Birmingham.  I’ve never surfed before, but when a chatroom turned me on to the fact that almost everyone in the surf industry is a moron, I figured it would be really easy to take over.  On to moronic statistics: In Tahiti, Tim Reyes managed to beat Picon in the lowest scoring heat in Chopes history, despite a staph infection in Reyes’ elbow.  Against Kieren Perrow, Reyes tied with 11.50 but lost on a countback.

Tiago Pires

Tahiti Result: 33 Previous Result: 17 ASP Rating: =30

Before you name your firstborn after Aritz Aranburu, consider this: Like Aritz, Tiago Pires also unexpectedly beat Slater and then made the semis (last year in Bali).  But, after that Tiago accomplished little else, requalifying through the WQS, not the CT.  And this season, Tiago’s been on a losing streak, following up two 17ths with a 33rd at Chopes.  Worse yet, the Portuguese Tiger deserved to lose this time – normally he’s ripped off.  In their R1 match, Tiago played the waiting game, while Josh Kerr kept busy.  Tiago held down the highwave, with a technical 9.10 shack, an impressive feast as Pires’ barrel was preceded and followed by small seizures.  Tiago finally lined up a second set wave, but he basically choked and blew a perfect shack.  Instead of grabbing rail off the drop, he apparently decided he was Bruce Irons and went for the no-hander.  The tiger got pitched. Meowwww.

David Weare

Tahiti Result: 33 Previous Result: 17 ASP Rating: =30

Honestly, it’s actually extremely gratifying for me when guys blow waves and lose heats deservedly.  It offers a bullet-proof reason to talk shit, and I’d probably be doing that anyway.  Davey Weare?  This simple, wheat thin motherfucker botched two of the best looking waves of the entire event.  On the first, Weare slotted it nicely and then got blasted in a last little clamping clamshell.  It was the type of section AI (even in his current state) would have made in his sleep.  The second wave Weare blew was straight-eight shameful.  Confronted with a perfect section, that looked like, well, Teahupoo, Dave appeared to momentarily freeze up, as if drawing a blank on how to ride the barrel.  Unsure whether to stall or grab rail, Weare chose to dig rail and got splattered instead.  It was the rough equivalent of a teenager getting Megan Fox naked and then throwing up on her.

Chris Ward

Tahiti Result: 33 Previous Result: 17 ASP Rating: =35

Wouldn’t it be great if Chris Ward took a page from the book of my favorite author/surfer, David Eggers, and became a writer? I’d love to see Wardo transition from the debauched, drug-addled life of a pro surfer to the role of sensitive, insightful scribe.  That’s the second act I’d like to see for Chris Ward, as opposed to following in the footsteps of Anthony Ruffo or something.  But who knows?  Perhaps prison will change him, if Wardo’s legal troubles actually land him in prison.  Prison changed Sunny Garcia – oh, wait, scratch that.  But prison changes some people.  Why is it that convicts become Muslims in prison, or born-again Christians, or gang members, but they don’t ever seem to ever become Jews?  Think about it.  Mull it over.  I’d like to see people go to prison and emerge as cynical, bitter, self-serving Jewish writers, who beat up on people using sarcasm.  Now that is a gang I would join.

Dustin Barca

Tahiti Result: 17 Previous Result: 33 ASP Rating: =30

Look, just to put this whole “Lewis is scared of Hawaiians” rumor to rest:  I’m not scared of Hawaiians.  I’m scared of getting beat up by Hawaiians.  PSCHYE! Just joking.  I’m totally not scared.  Why not, you may ask?  Because I have my own gang.  It’s only been three sentences or so since I started my Jewish-writer gang, but already we’ve grown strong.  We call ourselves Da MarmosetPak, and if you cross us, we will fuck your shit UP.  What’s that, Dustin Barca? You won beef? Well you better be ready to get intelligently verbally rebuked by Phillip Roth.  You got something that needs to be settled, Kaiborg? Let’s see how tough you feel after Woody Allen tells you what it’s like to be nagged by his Jewish mother.  Kala Alexander, in MMA anything goes, brah.  You may know Juijitsu, but J.D. Salinger is coming out of hiding just to write circles around your ignorant ass.  Don’t get it yet, Hawaiians?  Well maybe I’ll get my brah Shel Silverstein to draw you a fucking picture!

Tahiti POWER RANKINGS: 36-40

Ben Dunn

Tahiti Result: 17 Previous Result: 33 ASP Rating: =35
I’ve been wracking my alcohol-drenched brain, trying to determine if there was ever a more boring Australian pro surfer than Ben Dunn.  Ces Wilson? Jake Spooner? Bryce Ellis? Ben Dunn might take the cake.  If you’re gonna be a bottom-rung guy, might as well make it interesting – like Rod Kerr did.  According to the legendary Derek Hynd, Rod “The Box” almost single-handedly peer-pressured the entire 1991 ASP tour into months of drunken, debauched hedonism. He beat Damien Hardman in a 36-hour, 2-continent drink-off, even though Hardman smoked Kerr in heats.  Hardman was moved enough to declare “It should be a double World Championship.” If Ben Dunn managed to egg Slater into 36-hour drinking contests, I’d claim the kid.  No such luck, but I’ll tip my hat to Dunn’s monumental backside progress: Last year at Chopes, Dunn’s performance was so bad Rabbit called it an embarrassment.  This year, Dunn got shacked, put up 16.00 in R1, and then came within 1 second of beating Mick Fanning in R2.

Roy Powers

Tahiti Result: 33 Previous Result: 33 ASP Rating: =35

I’m honestly shocked by just how boring of a group of surfers I’ve assembled to write about today.  Take a look at these 5 vanilla wafer bastards.  They seriously should form an a cappella group and sing Michael Bolton tunes, instead of compete on tour.  On paper, Roy Powers seems like the kind of guy who should excel in Tahiti.  Like the Irons Brothers, he grew up surfing shifty, hucking, critical tropical pits.  But Powers has gotten a 33rd in Tahiti each of the three times he’s surfed the Billabong Pro.  Worse yet, Powers has never scored over 10 points total in any of his losing efforts.  These are Jihad Khodr-type stats.  Granted, Teahupoo was hit by a small hurricane during Roy’s 5.87 point heat against Mick Campbell.  But did that stop that freaky little ginger leprechaun from getting shacked?  No sir, it did not.

Phillip MacDonald

Tahiti Result: 17 Previous Result: 33 ASP Rating: =35

Phil MacDonald is another example of a surfer not to bet on at Teahupoo.  He’s surfed the event 7 times, in every variety of condition, and he’s managed to win 2 out of 14 heats.  I thought Roy Powers stats were pitiful, but Macca’s numbers are just plain shameful.  His most recent heat win, against Wardo in R1, was handed to him.  Wardo burned Macca in the first 10 seconds, copped an interference, and Ward still almost managed to win the heat.  Macca got one deep little dogger for a 6.83, but compared to the better backsiders, Phil’s stance looks about as stylish and flexible as that of a He-Man action figure.  Perhaps Macca thought his terrible luck was turning around – but it wasn’t so much luck as Wardo’s idiocy that handed him the heat.  In the next heat, Phil scored a TOTAL of .77 points.  The only lower scores in ASP history have come when Brazilians have refused to take off on a wave during heats on big days.

Marlon Lipke

Tahiti Result: 17 Previous Result: 33 ASP Rating: =35

I got a lot of flak for making some unfortunate German jokes about Marlon Lipke in the last Power Rankings.  On a rational level, I understand that it’s totally unfair to make comedic generalizations about zee Germans. But on an emotional level, I can’t get past that one time zee Germans backed a sociopathic leader who attempted a genocide against my people. And there were those two world wars that Germany started… Anyhoo, I’m willing to look past all that, because Marlon Lipke has solid barrel steez (good enough for two 7’s in R1). It was Marlon’s first time at Chopes.  When asked how he did so well, Marlon made pretty much the same point I did a couple days ago: “The wave is so good.  You just have to stand up and go straight when you get the good one.  Anyone can do it.” That quote won me over.

Greg Emslie

Tahiti Result: 33 Previous Result: 33 ASP Rating: =35

Watching Greg Emslie surf Teahupoo is like watching someone try to slit their wrists with a  wooden spoon.  Over the years, Emslie has won a couple heats at the Billabong Pro but the majority of times he’s bombed out.  It was another 33rd this time around for Bigfoot. Against Bottle Thompson in R1, Emslie simply never took off deep enough to compete.  On one wave he banged some hooks off the shoulder, on another he tried in vain to back into a shack parking space, like a senior citizen with a neck brace. Way back in the 90s, Slater helped lead a revolution in backside tuberiding by proving that dragging ass and backdooring peaks can be an advantage.  From the antiquated look of Emslie’s approach, he never tuned in, turned on, and dropped in.

Tahiti POWER RANKINGS: 41-45

Michel Bourez

Tahiti Result: 33 Previous Result: 33 ASP Rating: =35

Once you’re moored down here in the doldrums, it’s a mental battle, as much as anything else.  How do you resist feeling sorry for yourself when things don’t go according to script? Michel Bourez was supposed to win Rookie of the Year. As the first Tahitian to ever surf the Billabong Pro with a Top 45 seed, the Spartan was supposed to dominate Chopes.  Instead he lost to Heitor Alves in a windy, awkward affair... like having sex after eating a carnitas super burrito.  The Brazo got the better waves, and that’s all it took to win most heats this year.  The weight of a nation’s expectations can’t have made the loss any easier on Bourez.  Writing about these cellar-dwellers is so fuckin’ depressing.  Barely finished my morning tea and I already need a drink.

Nic Muscroft

Tahiti Result: 33 Previous Result: 33 ASP Rating: =35

I’ve asked this question already…but, again Nic: Why so glum? Did someone steal your lollipop at Chopes, too?  What’s up with all these Top 45 bullies stealing candy from babies? Poor little Mushy has to have the saddest headshot in the Top 45.  You can almost see Nic’s lower lip quivering in the photo, as he contemplates how completely out of his league he is.  In all fairness, Muscroft can hold his own at certain spots… with Teahupoo not being one of those venues.  In R1, the Aussie faced a giraffe of a Frenchman who put up 7.24 points total... and that was enough to beat Muscroft.  It’s easy to blame the waves, again, but over the course of 2 years and three heats in Tahiti, Nic has put up HEAT scores of 5.20, 2.97, and 6.93.  Shit, I think my blood-alcohol level might beat some of those totals.

miky

Mikael Picon

Tahiti Result: 33 Previous Result: 33 ASP Rating: =43

By the end of ’08, I was almost starting to believe in Miky Picon.  How can you argue with a semifinal in Brazil? (Don’t answer that.) But after Miky opened ‘09 with three 33rds, I’m beginning to think I was right the first time.  Picon is like that exchange student on The Simpons.  I knew it was going to be a long contest when the first heat featured Miky and Timmy combining for the lowest heat score in contest history (3.90 to 3.23).  Only one decent set wave came through, and Miky caught it.  He proceeded to pump past a lip without hitting it, and then bottom turn around a barrel without pulling into it.  In all seriousness, Keala Kennely would have surfed that wave better.  Yes, I remember, Picon beat Bobby in Tahiti last year, and ripped in Bali at The Search… but where’s the fun in remembering that?

Nathaniel Curran

Tahiti Result: 33 Previous Result: 33 ASP Rating: =43

I hate to say it, but Nathaniel Curran kinda proves my point about the value of the ASP.  Read the magazines, and Curran is a star. Watch the heats, and you see the gap between stylish, industry-darling Californians and stink-bugging, claiming foreigners.  Nathaniel needs to hang out with Aritz Aranburu and Jiihad Khodr more.  They’ll remind him what it’s like to surf from a hungry place.  They’re seizing the day while Curran hangs with Bobby and Dane and jokes about “losing my trials heat.”  Unluckily seeded against Dingo in R1, Curran was left playing catch-up after Dingo back-doored a 9. At that point, Curran should have approached the heat like Peterson Rosa.  But instead, he relied on clean, tepid technique and conservative positioning.  He lost handily, but the greater sin was how boring it was to watch him surf.

Luke Stedman, Gabe Kling, and Pat Gudauskas

Tahiti Results: 33 & inj. Previous Result: 33 & inj ASP Rating: =43

I asked my friend last night if I should still write about Luke Stedman, despite the fact that he’s missed all three events this year with a foot injury. “I don’t think anyone has even noticed that Stedman’s been gone,” my friend replied. “Except for you and his family.  All most Americans know about Luke Stedman is that he’s a running joke in the Power Rankings. Write about Pat G instead.”  Oh, the truth.  It burns! It burns!  So: Pat Gudauskas has surfed in the last two events, because Luke and Gabe Kling are both gimps. Thus far, Pat has merely acted as further confirmation of my above point concerning hyped blonde Californians.  Yes, I know, if I lived in San Clemente I’d totally be a believer in the G-Bros!  But, like, dude, bro, ummm, doesn’t that fact tell you something? At least we don’t have to watch a “Simply Simpo” about him.  Yet…

Tahiti Power Rankings: War Games

The World Tour is a shakier tower than many of it's followers would like to believe.  It always has been, really - the ramshackle brainchild of a handful of competitive motherfuckers who wanted to whip it out and see how they stacked up against each other.  So they constructed subjective measures and called them objective; created whimsical rules and regulations and passed them off as logical bedrock.

Thirty-odd years down the line, and the World Tour is a loose confederacy of 45 surfers, three brands and one parent organization, all of whom are arguably on the path to financial ruin.

adrianodesouza

It's easy to kick a man when he's down.  I should know - I do it all the time.  But, if cornered, despite my misgivings with the current state of the ASP, I will still defend the concept of a World Tour.  Why?  Because it allows us to see what surfers do when they are cornered.  Contests give us a glimpse of what these athletes are actually made of - what they can and cannot do when the pressure is on. Contests are artificial recreations of our Day of Reckoning - they are War Games.  A chance to see who will step up, and who will perish.

So I will keep following competitive surfing, for now at least.  Because without contests, professional surfers become a hybrid of models and pop stars - vaguely talented, stage-parented kids with a marketable image, based on good genes, good connections, and better management. The tour strips away at least some of the facade - allowing blond-haired, blue-eyed spoiled OC brats to get sorted out by mutant leprechauns like Mick Campbell and ghetto-born Star Wars rejects like Heitor Alves.  This is a good thing.

120pm

So despite my issues with the over-scoring of easy barrels, I appreciate the fact that the ASP gives surfers like Aritz Aranburu and Jihad Khodr a chance to go to war.  We make up rules, we live by them, and it allows us to see that true champions like Bobby Martinez have heart (just like Aritz has heart - he proved it.) Contests also peel back the surf industry curtain at least a little bit, revealing that some highly-touted, over-sponsored surfers are false idols.

Look for the Power Rankings over the course of the next week on PostSurf.

COMMENT of the WEEK

What's most interesting to me at this point about Surfline's "new and improved Power Rankings" (as described objectively by Surfline's editor) is that they feature yet another attempt by Surfline to stifle dissent from their audience.

Like all Surfline features, the comments section for the new rankings is moderated.

Unsurprisingly, I received a large number of emails from surfers this week who claimed to have left non-profane, respectful yet critical comments on Surfline, only to see them go unpublished. Instead, Surfline's editors cherry-picked a batch of comments that painted the picture they wanted to tell.  Then they went back and removed some more comments, then they closed the comments section altogether.

free_speech_1

This isn't the first time Surfline has tried to control the commentary surrounding their actions.  Surfline allegedly shut down their message boards after being bombarded with negative comments concerning their actions regarding Barra and Scorpion Bay. More recently they closed comments on both my last installment of the Power Rankings and their new version, once the mood turned sour.

Students of history are well aware that attempts to squash dissent and mute the exercise of free speech usually only encourage more vitriolic responses.

Surfline has learned this the hard way - or perhaps it's more accurate to say they've experienced negative repercussions, without learning at all.  The harder Surfline has tried to snuff out critics, the more discussion has bloomed concerning Surfline on other message boards.

Same thing in regards to the Power Rankings - see the "Hey Surfline! CENSOR THIS!" thread on FantasySurfer or the "Why was my Power Ranking thread removed?" thread on Surfer's forums.

Innocents will of course think that Surfline's moderation amounts to responsible comment management instead of censorship.   It's paranoid to think Sean Collins is actually trying to control what people say and think - right?

Turns out, not so much.

In emails from June 2008, variously sent to Surfline employees, industry insiders, and the editors of Surfer, Surfing, and Transworld, Sean Collins expressed the following thoughts concerning online discussions:

"With the propagation of Web 2.0, blogs, user generated comments, etc. Everyone can post anything they want...While this new information age brings many great things, for sure it's also troubling times as the safeguards aren't yet in place to control those people who may try abuse the system..."

"This is sickening stuff... We learned that from Barra last year but at least you guys have the opportunity to react quickly, and with a "cooperative" non-competitive media in the surf world to get the truth out quickly..."

Well, good luck attempting to "control those people" who have the nerve to excercise their constitutional right to express opinions. You may be able to silence their voices on your own site, or even lobby editors of other magazines in what you see as a "'cooperative' non-competitive media" to remove dangerous opinions from their sites.

But this is PostSurf, and things work differently here.  And the funniest part is, a shitload of people in the industry are reading.

So our comment of the week is simply one of many that Surfline's editors refused to run on their site:

Objective says:
April 23, 2009 at 9:29 am

As attempted to be posted on surfline:

“Nice job, fuckwits. This already sucks.

And I like how any negative comments are edited out by the thought police (sorry for the reference you don’t understand). Go Stalin! Go Mao! Go Collins!

Even if you are editing only because of the powers that be, then you have traded your morality for money.

Surfline has sunk even lower. 'Oh, cool! Another ‘Groms Attack’ feature.' Fuck you.”

Bells Power Rankings: 1-5

parko

Joel Parkinson

Bells Result: 1 Previous Result: 1 ASP Rating: 1

Well that was relatively easy.  After breezing to two seemingly preordained victories, Parko’s all but secured the World Title.  He’s like an NBA player on the free-throw line now, who only needs to make 1 of 2 to seal the deal and prevent the game from going into overtime.  It’s always revealing – getting to see an athlete sweat in the spotlight.  Will they focus or choke?  Trouble is, Parko has to stand on that free-throw line, all eyes focused on him, for another 8 months.  All the Aussies have conceded the title to Parko already.  But Mr. Slater will be there, boring holes into Parko with his laser-beam eyes, trying to convince Joel that he’s really Bill Buckner in the ’86 World Series.
fanning

Mick Fanning

Bells Result: 3 Previous Result: 5 ASP Rating: 2

It’s easy to become lazy and chalk up World Titles to conspiracy theories.  The ASP pushed Slater to his first comeback title, Mick Fanning won his because the ASP wanted an Australian champ, and now Parko has been anointed, because Fanning didn’t prove a worthy successor to Slater.  Obviously, this is a paranoid and simplistic perspective on how titles are won. The judges and the ASP are not hiding the truth about Roswell.  They do not know what the Chupacabra really is, or why the towers fell.  Instead, the media, fans, and competitors choose a narrative each season, and then the contenders and judges play along and subconsciously guide us towards the expected outcome, like children on an Ouija Board.  Mick Fanning is surfing as well as ever.  But the story this year is Parko, so, somehow, for some reason, Mick has lost close heats (as he did to Jordy) while Parko has won his.
cj

C.J. Hobgood

Bells Result: 5 Previous Result: 5 ASP Rating: 5

I can honestly say that I didn’t see this coming.  Because the ASP season kicks off with two events in tricky rights, non-Australian goofyfoots pretty much take it for granted that they’ll start the year off in the middle of the pack, at best.  But due to a strange confluence of events, including but not limited to the shape of the bracket, the shape of Slater’s boards, Taj underachieving, and the Irons Brothers dropping off tour, CJ  and Fred now find themselves in the Top 5 heading into Tahiti.  Brave new territory after years of getting clowned at Bells.  If Globe had kept Fiji on the schedule, both goofs could legitimately consider themselves title contenders.  Without Fiji?  Ehhhh.  But the more creepy and unpredictable CJ gets, the more likely his success.  The darkside is calling.

jordy

Jordy Smith

Bells Result: 3 Previous Result: 9 ASP Rating: =3

Shot, Bru.  Turns out, now that Jordy doesn’t think he’s automatically a Top 5 surfer, he may actually be a Top 5 surfer, after all.  At Bells, in conditions seemingly ordered up by O’Neill and Rip Curl marketing directors, Jordy faced Fanning and came out on top.  The power was on, and the stats told the story, as Smith put up the highest wave score (9.7) and heat score (18.70) of the event in R1.  It was a glimpse of the rampaging primate we’d been promised.  Even more impressively, Jordy surfed a bafflingly mature heat against Mick, in which he waited patiently for the best wave of the heat, and then destroyed it when it came to him.  The next step in Jordy’s maturation?  Ditch his Dad. It doesn’t matter how well-intentioned or knowledgeable Pops is – this isn’t Little League anymore.  World Title contenders don’t need their parents doling out advice before and after every heat.
fred

Freddy Patacchia

Bells Result: 3 Previous Result: 9 ASP Rating: =3

Well, clearly the Bud Light isn’t working – if it was, Fred P’s results would be as mediocre as the beer.  Are you cheating on your “core” sponsor, Fred?  (Speaking of core: Bud Light lists their surfing marketing initiatives as follows: “Sponsor of professional surfer Fred Patacchia and title sponsor of Bud Light WakeFest in Toronto, Canada.”)  Thus far, Patacchia has followed in the hazy competitive footsteps of Kalani Robb, if Robb was bros with some guy at Bud Light instead of Taylor Steele.  Now, all of a sudden, Fred’s found consistency and turned his weakest events into strengths.  Patacchia was the only goofy to earn a 9+ wave score, and he put up the second highest heat total of the event -17.57 against Dingo.  He did it by cracking the Occ-code and finding that one steep spot that accommodates vertical hooks on Bells Walls.  But now, like a recovering addict teetering on the brink of a relapse, fans are walking on eggshells, waiting for the old Fred P to return with a 33rd.

Bells Power Rankings: 6-10

taj1

Taj Burrow

Bells Result: 17 Previous Result: 3 ASP Rating: 7

Poor Taj.  Always a bridesmaid, never a bride.  In recent years, Taj has revealed his deep desire to emulate Cocoa Beach’s most famous son.  Unfortunately for Taj, his personal trainer thinks Carrot Top, not Kelly Slater, is Cocoa Beach’s most famous son.  (According to Wiki, Carrot Top is a comedian from Cocoa Beach who recently has become infamous due to his “dramatic muscle gain and facial change.”)  At Bells, Taj did look like he’s bulked up some.  But he also lost his only heat – to Jay Thompson, a guy who didn’t even manage to re-qualify.  Carrot Top’s comedy act relies on one-liners and props – Taj’s rockered-out Firewire looked like a prop capable of explosive one-liner turns, but it lacks flow.  Surfing's Stuart Cornuelle reported that a fellow competitor noted after watching Taj lose, “That’s what happens when you have a personal trainer instead of a coach.”  And when you emulate Carrot Top instead of Kelly Slater.

adriano

Adriano de Souza

Bells Result: 17 Previous Result: 2 ASP Rating: 6

Adriano had me going there, for a minute.  After his incendiary Gold Coast performance, I thought he’d broken through to contender status.  But at Winkipop, something just didn’t look right about his frontside hack.  It’s doubtful anyone seeded into R2 will complain about the new format.  But it is interesting to note how many top seeds were upset in their first heats – Kelly, Taj, Bede, Ace, and Adriano.  Perhaps the buffer of R1 is important for top seeds too – it allows them to get in rhythm with the conditions and gather some steam.  The true competitors will adapt – and Adriano is a true competitor whose 15.60 heat total would have won most bouts – but Ben Button put up 16.07.  Mind you, if Brazilian competitors were allowed to paddle out for heats in groups of say, 8, as they do when free-surfing all over the world, a Brazo would surely be world champ.

ace

Adrian Buchan

Bells Result: 17 Previous Result: 5 ASP Rating: =9

The historical importance of Ace Buchan may boil down to the significant progress Ace has made in proving that pro surfers are not inherently as stupid as the average European kindergartner.  Either that or he’ll be remembered as “that guy that beat Slater in France in that one contest.”  In all seriousness, how much farther can Ace rise? If he breaks the edge of the top 5, I reckon that’s pretty much maxed out, no matter how articulate this fucker is compared to Shaun Cansdell.  Ace emerges from the Australian leg ranked equal ninth, which is pretty pimp for a goofyfoot.  At Bells, his 17th was the unfortunate result not of a lapse in technique but a lapse in wave judgment.  Buchan put up some cracker backside hooks, but lost to Dingo 15.50 to 6.13.   The scoreline makes it look worse than it was – Ace interfered in a last-ditch effort, only succeeding in diminishing his stats.

bede

Bede Durbidge

Bells Result: 17 Previous Result: 5 ASP Rating: =9

Bede Durbidge got force-fed a dose of his own medicine in his first and only heat at the Rip Curl Pro. Despite surfing in admirable Bede fashion, Durbidge lost to a rampaging underground darkhorse Aussie who had nothing to lose.  Falling to a wildcard is a bitter pill – but at least Adam Robertson followed through and made the final after downing Bede 16.10 to 15.84.  Tough luck for Bede, and tough luck for former ASP pro Luke Munro, who put a $1000 bet on Bede to win the World Title, at 8/1 odds.  After bogging in the first two events, Bede can pretty much give up on earning his mate any money off that dreamer’s wager.  Still, Bede’s got the judging criteria pegged – each turn acts as punctuation, stringing together waves that are a deranged amalgamation of Courtney Love’s all-caps blog entries and an e.e. cummings poem.

dane

Dane Reynolds

Bells Result: 33 Previous Result: 9 ASP Rating: =19

What the fuck to make of Dane Reynolds?  This is a dilemma, right here.  Surfing needs its American Jesus figures, even when they’re media manufactured.  We needed Dora, we needed Lopez, we needed Curren and we still need Slater.  But with Slater on the wane, the vampires need Dane Reynolds, and they need to suck him dry.  Inconveniently, Dane is an actual human being, who is obviously conflicted concerning his savior-of-the-industry status.  At Bells, Dane characteristically disappointed the vampires: not only did he lose to Owen Wright (who surfs like the deranged lovechild of Dikembe Mutumbo and Flynn Novak) but by losing to Owen, Dane set in motion a chain reaction that culminated in Slater’s loss to Owen Wright.  And that will likely culminate in a Joel Parkinson World Title.

Bells Power Rankings: 11-15

kekoa

Kekoa Bacalso

Bells Result: 5 Previous Result: 17 ASP Rating: =9

On a more serious note: it’s a well-know fact that surf journalists cannot write about Hawaiians with anything approaching candor.  My former employer was happy to let me throw Brazilians or Euros under the bus.  But when it came to Hawaiians, even Hawaiian haoles, I was aggressively edited.  This issue obviously goes far beyond the confines of a 150-word write-up of Kekoa Bacalso.  For now, let me just say this:  Freedom does not entitle me to discount the importance of Hawaii in pro surfing.  Hawaii does matter, and it always has.  For that reason, the tour desperately needs positive Hawaiian role models.  We need an Eddie Aikau for this generation.  From a media perspective, the concepts of aloha and Hawaiian pride have been eclipsed by an intense fear of Hawaiian enforcers and the potential for violent retribution.  So when positive things are written about Hawaiians, savvy readers will wonder whether fear or respect has motivated the analysis. Hawaiians deserve better than this.  Kekoa is a step in the right direction – he’s earning respect through performance, without the crutch of special treatment.

perrow

Kieren Perrow

Bells Result: 5 Previous Result: 17 ASP Rating: =9

Kieren Perrow returned to his core competencies at Bells: tube riding and beating up on lower seeds.  Perrow is the type of competitor who is lethal with a good seeding on his side – and in ‘09 he’s crept back into that comfort zone.  At Bells Kieren edged Aritz Aranburu, torched Tim Reyes, convincingly beat Jay Thompson, and barely lost to Fred P in the quarters.  Perhaps the most unlikely aspect of the preceding storyline is that Perrow managed to win heats via the tube at Bells.  I suppose I should acknowledge at some point just how good the waves actually turned out to be -- for Bells, that is.  We should expect nothing less from a Rip Curl event – swell is almost a guarantee.  For instance, someone in marketing definitely went the “Robert Johnson at the Crossroads” route to make that Mex contest come together.

whits

Tom Whitaker

Bells Result: 9 Previous Result: 9 ASP Rating: 8

You know how smart, hot girls always have that one loyal, ugly friend they keep around just to make themselves look hotter?  Sometimes I fear that poor Tom Whitaker is that loyal friend for Taj Burrow and Luke Stedman.  Taj keeps Whits around to make him feel like he’s still ripping, and Luke keeps Whits around to keep him feeling extra pretty.  Trouble with Whits is, he has a tendency to out-perform his hotter friends – as was the case at Bells, where Whits notched up his second-consecutive 9th, while Taj languished with a 17th.  For the hottie, being upstaged by the ugly friend is almost as unacceptable as not having Daddy’s attention. That said, all Whits really did at Bells was unleash some grab-rail carves and limp-wrist hacks to convincingly beat Jihad Khodr 12.57 to 9.67.  But that’s not much to write about.

damo1

Damien Hobgood

Bells Result: 17 Previous Result: 5 ASP Rating: =9

I’m not sure what Damien Hobgood expected surfing against Jordy Smith in bombing, offshore rights.  But Damo ought to have expected to get fucked – especially if Damo has seen Jordy surf similar conditions at J-Bay or read about Jordy’s predilection for anal with Cougars.  It’s enough to strike fear in the heart of a good ol’ Christian boy.  Perhaps Damo thought “safety first” and worked out a safe word with the testosterone-laden Saffa beforehand.  I’m pretty sure that if Damo has a safe word, it’s Ned Flanders-esque, like “St. Peter’s Whistle!!!”  Anyhoo… kinky stuff aside, Damo put up a 7.17 in his heat against Jordy, but was left searching for a 6.2 that never came.  Still, it’s been slow and steady on the comeback trail, with Damo working himself up to equal 9th in the ratings, and Tahiti is yet to come…

taylor

Taylor Knox

Bells Result: 9 Previous Result: 17 ASP Rating: =14

Oh, Taylor.  Why do you tease SoCal surf fans so?  For those so-ultra-gay-they-don’t-even-know-it ASP-obsessives, watching Taylor is like watching the most frustrating stripper ever.  When it comes to exposing his naughty bits, Taylor knows absolutely nothing about suspense and narrative.  He’ll bare all on an inconsequential wave, and then take off his socks and nothing more when a heat is on the line.  At Bells, Taylor went from indifference to trying too hard – each turn contained punch, weight, grunt and flexed muscles.  But the turns often were contained in too small an area – not given room to breath.  On Bells’ wide-open walls, Taylor might have been better served by keeping it on rail a bit longer, just to remind the judges what’s under the hood.

Bells Power Rankings: 16-21

drew

Drew Courtney

Bells Result: 9 Previous Result: 17 ASP Rating: =14

One of the most common mistakes novice drunk drivers make is going too slow.  If you’re driving 15 MPH and swerving like a sidewinder, everyone knows you’re plastered.  But if you’re fanging it in 5th gear, people are going to notice the pure speed before they notice the erratic driving. Such was the case with the ageless Drew Courtney, who went Mach 10 and won heats despite throwing pizzas.  The judges bought in to the speed, doling out 16.07 for his Mark Sainsbury floater tribute at Winkipop against Adriano de Souza.  Honestly, I figured Drew would be a permanent fixture at his local pub by next year, but rated equal 14th, Courts looks poised to crash his way into requalification.

flores

Jeremy Flores

Bells Result: 17 Previous Result: 9 ASP Rating: =14

It should come as no surprise to regular readers that my taste in literature as a child was different than that of my peers.  While they were reading “The Indian in the Cupboard,” I was working my way through the later novels of Kurt Vonnegut.  Watching Jeremy Flores surf, I am sometimes reminded of Vonnegut’s “Slapstick,” in which the Chinese successfully shrink themselves to a near-microscopic size, and begin infiltrating the bloodstreams of Americans.  At Bells, Jeremy Flores appeared to be channeling the layback snaps and hand-jive of a pint-sized Gary Elkerton.  Not microscopic yet – but he’s on his way.  I’m not sure if this is something we need to see.  The judges weren’t sure, either, giving Kekoa Bacalso the nod in his R2 clash with Flores.  It was a close heat, and if Flores had nailed the lip with conviction after exiting a long Winki tube, he might have been given the nod.

jihad1

Jihad Khodr

Bells Result: 17 Previous Result: 9 ASP Rating: =14

For now, this little pot o’ interweb fuckery called PostSurf has afforded me the freedom to express every poor idea that enters my head.  Strange thing is, I’m actually less inclined to say offensive things these days than I used to be.  For one thing, our regular commenters say plenty of offensive things themselves, leaving me in the questionable position of Ted Danson on Cheers. For instance, I don’t have much to say about Jihad right now.  But Blasphemy Rottmouth?  Here’s his informed, level-headed opinion: “You have to admit that Jihad surfs pretty well for having bifurcated hoofs in place of human feet. And the fact that he has no knees; just really long femurs doesn’t help anything. Maybe I’ve been too hard on the ol’ chap.  I’d like to think he’d fare pretty well as the first WCT competitor to surf a heat on stilts.”

dingo

Dean Morrison

Bells Result: 9 Previous Result: 33 ASP Rating: =24

Fuck, Dean Morrison bores me to tears.  This guy is so normal, nice, down-to-earth and stylish… what the fuck am I supposed to say about him?  Bleh.  Do something!  Dance, monkey, dance!  It’s not like you’re entitled to a normal life and comfortable athletic career!  Don’t you know that by virtue of being one of the Top 45 surfers in the world, you are now simply a target here to amuse the masses.  If you cannot succeed beyond our wildest expectations, please have the common courtesy to self-disintegrate in an impressive and violent fashion.  Take a lesson from Chris Ward – this born entertainer manages to win heats just as unpredictably as you do, but in his off-time he gets arrested for having fist-fights with 3 Mammoth Cougars.  In fairness, Dingo did almost die in a drunken Gilligan’s island episode last year… but I already used that joke.

ottz

Kai Otton

Bells Result: 9 Previous Result: 33 ASP Rating: =24

This isn’t the first time that Kai Otton has come up short on his backside against Joel Parkinson in offshore, open-faced rights.  Happened last year too – at J-Bay.  The fact that I’m discussing Otton losing to Parko as being anything other than a foregone conclusion is a great and lasting testament to Kai’s amazing progression over the last few years.  I mean, seriously – this guy now puts so much whip and pizzazz into his top turns that both the judges and I are almost willing to overlook the shut-in-whose-skin-grew-over-the-toilet-seat stance that Ottz applies during bottom turns.  Anyhoo… Kai opened up his first heat against Dayyan with an 8.0, but statistically it was all down hill from there.  Next heat, Parko torched him.

bobby

Bobby Martinez

Bells Result: 9 Previous Result: 33 ASP Rating: =24

As discussed in my Elton-John-Tiny-Dancer-Jeremy-Flores-Pint-Sized-Kong-Elkerton thesis, I believe the judges want to see nostalgic lines at Bells.  They want to see the great regularfoots hearken back to the great regularfoots of yore, and they want to see the great backsiders look like Occy.  Bobby Martinez is bizarrely as close as we get to Occy these days – so the judges were happy to gift him an 8.73 when Bobby did some feign hand gestures and cleared his throat in a way somewhat reminiscent of Occy crica ‘86. Lesson learned kids: draw those tribute lines.  Against Mick Fanning, Bobby pulled his usual shtick against top seeds, in which he waits the whole heat for that Big Wednesday wave, instead of just surfing a normal fucking heat.  Predictably, Fanning smoked him as Bobby barely caught a wave, scoring 3.43 TOTAL.  Reminds me of the time Bobby lost to Fanning in Chile, after Bobby scored a perfect 10, simply because he waited all heat for a second wave.

Bells Power Rankings: 22-27

slater

Kelly Slater

Bells Result: 17 Previous Result: 17 ASP Rating: =24

Lately, I feel old.  Hedonistic, selfish pursuits don’t consistently bring me the same joy that they used to.  When I get wasted, I have fun, but I’m haunted by the fact that in my 20s I got more wasted, and had more fun.  When I surf, I’m haunted by the fact that after decades of single-minded obsession, only mind-blowingly perfect waves are capable of igniting the same sublime, deranged joy that even average days used to provide me with.  Most of my friends have moved on – lost to family, jobs, responsibility, expectations.  I watch them now, as they mimic the deranged smiles on their childrens’ faces, and I wonder if they possess a level of contentment that my selfish, surf-centric existence has robbed me of.  But hey, that’s just me.  Compared to say, Kelly Slater, surfing has played a relatively small role in my life.  And I still wonder if it’s closing time; if perhaps the hour has arrived for me to focus on something other than surfing and selfishness.

davo

Chris Davidson

Bells Result: 33 Previous Result: 9 ASP Rating: =24

Often enough, ASP heats are held in sub-standard conditions.  Scorelines reflect this, with one surfer getting two average waves, while the other gets one average score but not a second.  In situations like that, the contest rolls on.  But when both surfers only manage one average score in 30 minutes (as in the R1 heat between Chris Davidson and Adam Robertson, won 9.56 to 9.00 TOTAL) it’s a sign the contest should be put on hold.  By moving on to the final, Adam Robertson vindicated his close R1 heat win.  But from Davo’s perspective, their dismal scoreline is a clear indication that the new format is far from fair when the conditions aren’t cooking.  Surfers should get an opportunity to surf more than one average wave in an entire fucking contest.

neve

Dayyan Neve

Bells Result: 17 Previous Result: 17 ASP Rating: =24

Speaking of the great format controversy: check out Jed Smith’s Stab article for some arguably justified whining from Dayyan Neve. In the interview, Dayyan mentions that his traveling partner Kai Otton loves the new format, as it seeds him into R2.  Meanwhile Dayyan hates it, along with the notion of a single-tier rating system. “If you change it now to a single-tier tour, there is gonna be massive hell to pay. I wouldn’t be surprised if there was legal action,” Neve told Stab. What a tough guy! Oh, the irony: Kai drew Dayyan in the next heat.  The final exchange was as tight as a professional mermaid’s box – Dayyan needed a 6.18, and the judges gave him a 6.  I wonder if vocal criticism of the ASP earns a deduction of half a point?

boal

Tim Boal

Bells Result: 17 Previous Result: 17 ASP Rating: =24

At the moment, my main beef with Tim Boal is the following: His stylish surfing and consistent determination make it difficult for me to make jokes about the French (most of which hinge on an innovative technique I call “juvenile, prejudiced stereotyping”).  Against fellow Frenchman Miky Picon in R1, Boal showed that patented European desperation that used to be exclusively the secret weapon of Brazilians – effort born from a simple understanding that each World Tour heat represents the best chance they’ve ever had to break through the bullet-proof glass ceiling of Western surf xenophobia.  If Nathaniel Curran had surfed at Bells as well as Boal surfed, we’d be reading feature articles about his performance right now.  Instead, Boal was arguably underscored against Californian Bobby Martinez in R2.   The Frenchman surfed above himself, but was predictably rewarded with two sixes and a loss.

weare

David Weare

Bells Result: 17 Previous Result: 17 ASP Rating: =24

Watching Davey Weare surf makes me nervous.  It’s an experience akin to watching a predictable suspense film, in which a happy family uses an axe to cut firewood.  Rest assured that someone will be hacked to pieces with that same axe by the end of the film.  That’s how I feel about Weare’s sick layback snaps and his kneebrace.  (Anton Chekov noted back in the late 1880’s that "If in the first act you have hung a pistol on the wall, then in the following one it should be fired. Otherwise don't put it there.") Granted, one of the most compelling things about professional sport is that it’s not scripted – the kneebrace/snap combo could foreshadow nothing, in a reality-based fashion that Chekov found unacceptable in a narrative. Speaking of reality: Weare won his R1 heat against Curran convincingly, only to lose a close, wave-starved affair against Fred P.

taigo

Tiago Pires

Bells Result: 17 Previous Result: 17 ASP Rating: =24

Watching Tiago Pires surf against Mick Fanning in R2, a cynical viewer might have gotten the impression that the judges decided the outcome of this heat before it began.  Match-ups like this are like a coloring book:  the outline and shape of the result is there on the page for everyone to see, including the judges.  All the surfers have to do is catch a couple set waves that hint at inherent respective talents – hand the judges the right color crayons.  They’ll fill in the expected picture from there.  So for Tiago to win heats against world champs, he was to do more than make it close.  He has to decimate Fanning.  Tiago caught the bigger waves, committed to his gouges, and scored perhaps the hollowest barrel of the event.  And like fellow Euro Tim Boal, he lost anyway.

Bells Power Rankings: 28-33

campbell

Michael Campbell

Bells Result: 17 Previous Result: 33 ASP Rating: =29

From a historical perspective, when an Aussie thinks of backside surfing at Bells, they think of Mark Occhilupo and little else.  But throughout the late 80s and early 90s, Damien Hardman ruled the Bells bowl with a methodical precision.  With the help of high-volume, low rocker period equipment, Dooma cleared pesky flat spots at will and moved from rail-turn to rail-turn without the usual twitchy pumps that afflicted other 80s competitors.  Pitted against the futuristic looseness of Josh Kerr in R1, Mick Campbell belted set waves with the focused, tedious precision of a rejuvenated Damien Hardman.  The judges bought in, and even in a losing effort against CJ Hobgood in R2, Mick looked worthy, kicking his back foot through snaps with the fiery, ornery resolve one demands from gingers and leprechauns.
reyes

Tim Reyes

Bells Result: 17 Previous Result: 33 ASP Rating: =29

Two people who appreciate the enigma of Luke Stedman more than I do: Jay Thompson and Tim Reyes.  Thanks to Luke’s absence, Thompson has gotten two starts and two 17ths this year.  Tim Reyes, on the other hand, got bumped up to a Top 16 seed, meaning he didn’t have to surf in the oh-so-popular sudden-death chaos of R1.  Good thing for Timmy, too – judging by his shitty luck this season, he’ll need all the help he can get.  Against Kieren Perrow in R2, Reyes saw the door slammed in his face when Perrow wailed into a 9.23 late in the heat.  Not a surprising result, really – everyone from Kelly Slater to Evan Slater have noted that Perrow is one of the most intelligent competitors on tour.  In comparison, Tim Reyes is often characterized as a super-optimistic, talented charger who has learned all the tricks – meaning he’s about as savvy as your average Golden Retriever.

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Chris Ward

Bells Result: 17 Previous Result: 33 ASP Rating: =29

Speaking of Golden Retrievers – do you ever wish that animals could talk?  Wouldn’t it be fascinating to see what goes through the mind of, say, Paris Hilton’s Chihuahua?   Same goes for Chris Ward – if only he was articulate enough to link words into full sentences, the world would be awed by the Fear and Loathing stories Wardo could tell us.  It would be surfing’s equivalent of Keith Richards learning how to use the English language, as opposed to the incomprehensible language of gargles, grunts, mumbles and power chords that Richards presently uses to communicate.  Free from hey-bro aphasia, Wardo could explain why the hell he surfs so sharp in some events and then pushes water through top turns in the next event, as he did at Bells.  Wardo spent the majority of his bout with T.Knox in comboland – and that was before Taylor put up his best scores.

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Josh Kerr

Bells Result: 33 Previous Result: 17 ASP Rating: =29

If the ASP were the NBA, Josh Kerr would have been drafted straight out of high school.  He would have rode the pine for much of his rookie season, but made Sportscenter’s Top 10 Plays of the Day on numerous occasions, when the coach put him in during the fourth quarter of blowouts.  During his sophomore season, Kerr would have been arrested for taking a handgun on the plane with him “by mistake.”  He would have impregnated both his high school sweetheart and an “adult model” with the stage name of Boobonce.  Both children would have been named Jazzmyn.  Luckily for us, the ASP is not the NBA.  Josh Kerr is simply a friendly Aussie family man who gets 33rds despite sticking blowtail reverses…while making every highlight reel.

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Heitor Alves

Bells Result: 33 Previous Result: 17 ASP Rating: =29

As I mentioned a lifetime ago in the last installment of the Power Rankings, I am now 100% a fan of all the Brazilians on tour.  It’s a contradictory ideological position, like being one of those “Jews for Jesus.”  So like a good fan, I was deeply saddened by the less than stellar results suffered by the Brazo Force.  Against Jay Thompson in R1, Heitor Alves was left playing catch up after Thompson opened up with an 8.83.  Despite being a razor-sharp humble ripper, Heitor never found more than a 4 and his heat total was a woeful 6.60.  Less than impressive stuff - the judges have been known to give Parko 6.60 wave scores for bellyboarding off the jetski.  Chin up, Heitor.

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Roy Powers

Bells Result: 33 Previous Result: 17 ASP Rating: =29

Anyone can win heats.  It’s losing heats that distinguishes the real pros from the pretenders.  Take Roy Powers for instance: the poor guy got absolutely shellacked by Michel Bourez in R1 – Roy only put up a 2.33 and 3.93 on his two scoring waves.  The judges have been known to give Kelly Slater’s fecal matter scores like that for the turns it does while being flushed.  So how the fuck do you bounce back from a shocker like that?  How do you prevent yourself from spiraling into depression, especially considering the circumstances?  Like all the other 33rd finishers, Roy got only one chance, in shitty waves… only to watch the waves crank for the remainder of the contest.  If Powers can lose like that, yet completely forget about it and move on – that’s a pro move, right there.