Synergist of the Year Award!

PostSurf Synergist of the Year award goes to Paul Naude, President of Billabong USA!

In his other role as SIMA Environmental Fund President, Mr. Naude presided over the Waterman's Ball this past weekend, which raised over $400,000 for various environmental non-profit organizations.

The Waterman's Ball also honored Dave Rastovich with an award for Environmentalist of the Year.

Mr. Rastovich's award was based in part on his role as the "face of some of the surf industry’s prominent environmentally friendly product campaigns," according to the SIMA website.

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Not all those in attendance were equally impressed by Mr. Rastovich's Environmentalist of the Year award.

"I don’t understand what he’s really accomplished other than getting his name in the papers," a career environmentalist who asked to remain anonymous told PostSurf. "His cause is an easy thing to get behind - who doesn’t want to save a fuckin’ whale?  I think Rasta’s intentions are pure, but Billabong has taken his beliefs and turned them into an eco-marketing campaign for their recycled boardshorts and wetsuits."

To some environmentalists, who despite years of post-graduate education have chosen to work for a pittance at non-profits, Rasta's award is irresponsible at best.

Recently, Rastovich raised a few eyebrows when he attended The Climate Project Australia Asia Pacific Summit, hosted by Al Gore.  Prior to the summit, Mr. Rastovich explained “Part of attending this summit is to become an advocate for climate change and to pass on the messages through my own activities.”

Even casual environmentalists noted that climate change brought on by global warming is something that Mr. Rastovich has dedicated himself to preventing... not becoming an advocate for, as he remarked in a Billabong press release.

"Rasta's not educated," noted a prominent environmentalist after the Waterman's Ball. "I do shitloads of research and prepare myself, and Rasta is just cruisin', goin' surfing for the cameras -  he doesn’t know the details, doesn’t know what’s going on, he’s misinformed in terms of what’s happening with the causes he represents. "

Because of this, some figures in the environmental community have expressed concern that awarding Dave Rastovich as the Environmentalist of the Year sends the wrong message.

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"There’s tons of people that are not individual egos, but they do the real work for environmental organizations - they're the ones who make a real difference yet don't get any credit."

As we go to press, the great minds of surf culture are trying to figure out whether Dave "The Face of Billabong's Eco Campaign" Rastovich's Environmentalist of the Year award is in any way related to Paul Naude's dual presidency of both the SIMA Environmental Fund and Billabong USA.

Synergy or pure coincidence?

PostSurf has decided to give Mr. Naude the benefit of the doubt, and celebrate his accomplishment with a PostSurf Synergist of the Year award.

Comment of the Weak: BalanceGate

Not to beat a dead horse, but this whole Power Balance deal is possibly the best thing to hit PostSurf since the Power Rankings.  The more I look into Power Balance, the more comedic gold I discover.  At this point, as TurtleGate enters its 46th day, I wouldn't be surprised to learn that Andrew Mooney IS in fact an animal lover.  Perhaps he wasn't raping those poor turtles - he was slapping Power Balance holographic stickers on them.  Bless his heart.

BalanceGate!

Comment of the Week goes to Jimmicane, who despite sucking at the teat of the surf industry via his position for Surfing Magazine, was smart enough not to be fooled by the Power Balance con.

Jimmicane says: August 6, 2009 at 4:37 pm

"There was a weird guy at NSSA Nationals promoting these. What he’d do for his proof that they work was make you put out your arm and stretch it back. Then he’d put the hologram wrist band on you and have you repeat. Your arm would mysteriously stretch back further this time and it was because of the hologram of course. Right? Wrong.

The first time you did the drill, it would stretch your arm out so that obviously the next time you did it you’d be able to stretch further.

Genius plan. Give the hologram dudes some credit. Brain washing people is tough shit."

Speaking of people that Jimmicane thinks have been brainwashed by Power Balance, check out the priceless video below of Granger Larson, Clay Marzo, Jamie Sterling, Kamalei Alexander and Dustin Barca endorsing Power Balance at the Volcom Pipe house.

Just when you think it can't get any funnier, Eddie Rothman appears, upping the ante significantly.

"Thank you Bruddha, my name is Eddie... with Da Hui, and dis ting works good.  REALLY GOOD!" Eddie notes.  "I'm gonna eat 'em. I'm gonna swallow this fucking thing."

No wonder Bruce and Andy got involved.


Runner-up Comment of the Week goes to Captain Irony, who like many professional surfers, is a true believer.

Captain Irony says: August 6, 2009 at 8:15 pm

"I just received my power balance sticker pack and it has truly changed my life. From the moment the pack arrived, it was as if the laws of the universe were annulled on my behalf. Yesterday it was raining in the morning but in the afternoon I put a power balance sticker on my new board and the sun came out. I couldn’t believe it either, I wasn’t expecting to see immediate results. Then today something totally unexpected happened. I checked the surf this morning and it was one foot and offshore. I cruised back home and was bored so I decided to put a power balance sticker on my kombi van, right next to my “Magic Happens” sticker. Roughly 37 minutes later the wind turned onshore and the swell started to pick up! I know what you’re thinking and you’re right, 37 is a prime number. That’s enough proof for me that the scientific team at power balance have tapped into a newly discovered transcendental universal force. Thankyou Power Balance, $59.95 for access to the secrets of the universe is a fair price. I’m going to put a sticker on my triple chamber bong and wait for the next miracle to materialize."

PHOTO DISPATCH: LOCALS ONLY

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Today we have the photogravures of Edward Sheriff Curtis , a professional photographer from Seattle, who documented over 80 North American Indian tribes between 1907 and 1930.

The photo above depicts a Qagyuhl wedding party, Pacific Northwest coast.

Nearly 100 years later, not far from where this location, meth-addled white trash of Aryan descent now jealously guard a handful of quality points.  Tactics of intimidation include camouflaged pits lined with Punji sticks and broken glass, to keep non-local invaders from hiking into "their" spots.

But hey - when Meth-abuse makes your IQ decline in equilibrium with your number of remaining teeth... such xenophobia seems logical.

No matter - like the native tribes before them, the current locals will be swept away by the masses; outnumbered by aliens with better resources.  This new wave of pasty Caucasian invaders will rely on entitlement, enthusiasm, lawyers, and $100 Costco foamies.

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From the “Bitch Please!” File…

Every now and then, I'll run across some piece of surf culture that is so uniquely suited for ridicule, that I'm overwhelmed with PostSurf-love at first sight.  I swoon to myself as I sight my target and think, "This is why I created PostSurf!"

Case in Point: Power Balance - Wearable Performance Technology.

Take a look at the website, and the first thing you'll notice is that Andy Irons endorses Power Balance.  So does Bruce Irons... but keep in mind these are the same two geniuses who gave $1 million to the Bernie Madoff of Kauai.

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You're probably wondering about now what in the custard-fuck these Power Balance loonies are selling, exactly. (Unless you're bat-shit crazy and/or gullible, and you're already using Bower Balance.)

Well... primarily, Power Balance Performance Technology consists of Hologram Stickers.  You put 'em on your board or in your shoes.  Why?  Here's the pitch, friends:

"The totality of our existence depends on the efficient exchange and balance of positive and negative electrical charges called ions...

Power Balance®, after years of research and development, has produced a system to safely restore and optimize the electro-magnetic balance within the human body… IMMEDIATELY.

POWER BALANCE’S Mylar Holographic Disk (the same substance used to keep static electricity from damaging electrical components) has been imbedded with an electrical frequency that restores your body’s electrical balance...

When the static Power Balance Hologram comes in contact with your body’s energy field, it begins to resonate in accordance with each individual’s biological, creating a harmonic loop."

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Sold?  If you're anything like Andy Irons, Bruce Irons or Dave Rastovich, of course you are!

For you clearly have the mental capacity of a small child.  Perhaps you are overly impressed by all holograms, and dinosaurs too.  Or perhaps, like a cat, you are drawn to shiny objects, often chasing wadded up balls of tinfoil across the floor.

If so, click on over to Power Balance and buy a pack of hologram stickers for only $59.95.

But wait!  It gets better.  In fact, nearly every facet of the Power Balance website is inherently funnier than anything Dane Cook has ever said.

Not entertained yet? Click on over to the News section, and learn about Coutney Conolgue's US Open win:

"Last year at the US open of Surfing the waves were so small, spectators blamed the all-grom woman’s final on their small statues, this year proved them wrong. Courtney’s competitive drive, fierce training and use of Power Balance performance technology were evident in each of her heats."

Yes, of course.  This makes perfect sense.  Last year, the spectators all clutched small statues.  They blamed these tiny statues for an all-grom final.  This year, these same macaroons will surely accessorize with blameless Power Balance pendants.

People who blame small statues for contest results will buy anything.

Finally, if you're still having your doubts about Power Balance, the testimonials will change your mind.  The Irons aren't the only pros to use Power Balance - No!  These highly scientific products are also endorsed by professional surfers such as Yuri Soledade, Alex Miller, Charley Stevens, Vince Allesi, Mirabai James, and Alfredo Villas-Boas.  Kelly Slater needs look no further for the wildcards for the Rebel Tour.

Alfredo notes, "On my surfboard I am grounded like cement on my feet and my confidence on the critical drops is improved 100%. At the lifeguard tower, it helps me make the best decisions in life or death situations.”

Sweet.  Thanks to Power Balance, when Alfredo (who apparently supplements his robust pro surfer income with some lifeguarding) sees someone drowning, he consults his hologram sticker to make the best decision.

Solid gold!  (That's a figure of speech, by the way.  Power Balance products do not contain solid gold - they are made of mylar, silicone, neoprene, spandex and terry cloth.) But worth every penny!

READER CHALLENGE: Surfline Drinking Game!

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As previously mentioned, it's been slow out there lately in terms of compelling surf content.

I decided to spice things up by playing a drinking game while readings Surfline's Tavarua Spot Check.

At first, I was hoping to write something witty about the inherent advertorial irony of a 39-slide feature exclusively dedicated to an exclusive resort, narrated exclusively by the resort's co-owner/manager Jon Roseman... and sponsored by Oakley no less, who must be wondering why in custard-fuck they funded an infomercial that doesn't even feature any of their teamriders.

But after the first couple slides, I became completely obsessed with Roseman's insightful narration, in which the word "PERFECT" is consistently used to describe his resort.

In slide two, Roseman starts off with "Looks like a perfect 4-5 foot day... just hitting the inside ledge perfectly."

Naturally, I decided to make a drinking game out of it.  Each time Roseman says perfect, you do a shot.  BOOYAH!

Sadly, I passed out drooling on my keyboard somewhere midway through the feature, around the time Roseman describes the wind conditions in the shot below as, you guessed it - perfect.

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So the Reader Challenge is this: a Surfline Premium Membership, giftbag of ready-to-throw rocks, AND a pair of Von Zipper shades go to the first reader who can do a shot each time Roseman says "perfect," keep track of the number of shots, and get their stomach pumped before they're killed by alcohol poisoning.  I'm guessing completing the reader challenge will take upwards of 30 shots.

Get to it!

Terms and Conditions: If you kill yourself while attempting to win this Reader Challenge, the gift-pack will NOT go to your next of kin.

LONG TIME COMING

We're in the midst of summer doldrums.  No ASP events running, no big swells to hype, no big controversies that haven't already been covered.  Nothing to do but drink and fornicate... and endlessly gossip about Kelly Slater's new Super-Dreamy Tour.

It's an understatement to say that the online speculation concerning this new World Tour has been at frothfest levels.

I have very little to offer, but I'd like to clarify one crucial point.

Many pundits have speculated that Mr. Slater's involvement in this new tour is on some level vindictive: that Kelly is championing this alternative because he's pissed about losing this year.

Not so.

I offer as evidence the following transcript of a conversation I had with Mr. Slater in May of 2008 - while he was in the midst of his record-breaking run towards a ninth title.  At the time, Kelly had no reason to be vindictive towards the ASP - yet he laid out his grievances.  He spoke of the same issues that have surfaced in his recent brief communications concerning the impetus for a new tour: the need for less surfers, more money, outside sponsors, a consistent product, and media rights owned by the league instead of the sponsors.

Kelly's views are not impulsive - they have been germinating for quite a while.

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KELLY SLATER INTERVIEW, MAY 2008

LS: When you first came back on tour in 2002, you talked about one of your goals being to help change the ASP, as opposed to just winning titles.  How do you feel about the progress that’s been made in the last 6 years?

KS: I think there’s been some good progress made, in certain ways... The one thing I will say is it’s a little bit frustrating with the ASP, to be honest, because every 5 or 8 years it seems like there’s some monumental idea to change things.  They moved ASP off to Australia, they were talking about getting bigger global umbrella sponsorships, there was all sorts of talk about things changing.  They hired Brodie (Carr) and Rabbit, pumped a lot of new life into it, but I’m not sure if there’s a whole lot of tangible difference.  At the end of the day there’s not more dollars in it.  We’re still surfing with the same prize money as years ago.  The price of living has gone way up, the cost of housing has doubled, and the amount of money guys are making hasn’t gone up.

When fans picture the ASP they think of a giant organization, like the NBA, but it’s more like a small company.

Yeah, when I talk to people who are out of touch with the ASP and pro surfing, just business people, they ask about how much we make, about the structure and organization of pro surfing.  And it’s almost, on a global sports level, I don’t know if this is too harsh a word, but it’s almost embarrassing when it gets down to it.  When people don’t know, they’ll say “Wow, I figured you were surfing for $100,000 first place minimum.  Maybe half a million when you have to surf Teahupoo or Pipe.”  The one thing about it, is it proves surfers don’t do what they do for money.  They do it for the love of what they do.  The reward for us is getting to surf those waves with only one other guy out.  Spots like J-Bay, Pipe, G-land back in the day…That’s really more the payment for us, when we get classic conditions and it really is the dream tour.  We get to have that experience of controlling those line-ups, probably the only time in your life with one other guy out.  That’s more our payment right there.

I don’t know what the answer is to the question – why isn’t it bigger?  Why isn’t the ASP a stronger business presence, why haven’t they been able to capitalize on marketing like the NBA or NFL? There’s something inherently missing in the professional side of it, and I don’t know if that finger should be pointed and blamed on administration, or if it’s just the nature of what we to.  I can’t say it’s not a marketable thing, but it’s not based on marketing.

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So much of it comes down to three major brands driving 90% percent of the tour.
There could definitely be a wall there, blocking everything else to be able to come in.  There really haven’t been any outside companies able to penetrate that wall.

Right -  I’m not an insider, but I imagine it doesn’t just have to do with a lack of interest from outside companies – it has to do with those major surf brands blocking them from coming in.
Yeah.  And the way the tour is set up is pretty ass-backwards.  The sponsors own all the media rights to their events.  And the ASP does not.  It takes a lot more infrastructure to set that up, but once you do you have so much more control and ability to do what you need to do with the tour.  At each event you go to, you don’t know if you’re going to get a good webcast – Billabong is doing that one, Quik is doing that one, Rip Curl that one,.. all of a sudden you’re going, “Wow I hope this next one works good.”  Some stops don’t have a dedicated web commentary.  If the ASP owned the events themselves, and the money would just be brought in by sponsors, instead of having a whole independent crew for each event to run the webcast, you’d have a more standardized system.
I’m just saying, in a perfect world, if the ASP had the structure set up properly, where they owned all the events, they owned the rights to the events, etc, they were doing the webcast, they had dedicated commentators – you create a show, you create a product, and it stays that way.  And I think that would be step a in the right direction.

I remember when I first started out, in the early nineties, and I was at an event, in a hotel room, really sick, and I was looking down at the contest site, and I was thinking, “Gosh  how amatauerish is this entire thing?”  The whole way it’s set up – I didn’t get the feeling I was at a worldwide professional event, I got the feeling we were at a local contest.  I’ve always thought that ASP has a long way to go, even though we have what we call a Dream Tour.  But ultimately the structure needs to be changed around.  That would allow for a more standardized product, and I don’t think that would pasteurize or water it down too much.

The ASP should have a log of all the footage from all the events they own.  I’m not sure where they stand now, but I know that there’s about 10 years of the tour that a guy named Allen Gibby owns the footage for, cause he worked for a company called Dynocom, or whoever, and they own all that footage for years and years of the tour.  Can you imagine the NBA or NFL just saying “Oh, we don’t have '84 to '92 cause some guy owns it.”  It’s crazy – you should be able to draw on that footage at any time.

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Another issue is simply having 48 guys in each event.
Well, if you’re talking about a real “world” tour, with guys’ careers on the line… maybe we should look back and see who’s the lowest ranked guy to win an event.  Not wildcards, who’ve won quite a few, but the lowest tour seed.  Start from there…

But to really answer your question I think there are far too many people on tour.  When it really comes down to it, fortunately or unfortunately, there aren’t 48 guys that people are getting online to see.  There’s far fewer than that.  It just takes so much extra time, most swells are only two days - you can’t run through 48 guys and give everyone an equal, fair opportunity to surf their best.  To really present to the public what the best surfing is, you’d probably need an hour long heat, maybe two two man heats out…  I’m getting into the idea of having a totally different type of system for surfing altogether.  I think the judging criteria, the number of heats, the people in it, I think all those things should be changed and that’s probably the only way to bring out real big revenue for prize money.

...Like I said before, I’m starting to think of ways for professional surfing to be presented a little bit differently.  Does everyone have to surf against everyone, or can we start thinking about who people want to see surf against each other, and base events around that?  I’m a just a little fed up with ASP, as are most of the guys on tour right now.  We butted heads with them about a few things, when it really should be seen as our organization.  It’s not unlike the people of a county getting upset at their government.  There’s this "us against them" feel, when it’s actually supposed to be our government.  We’re supposed to be all for them, but the pro surfers, a good percentage of them, view the ASP as limiting us, limiting what can be done in some way.  So there’s a sense of frustration there when you talk to me.

COMMENT OF THE WEEK: Survival of the Fittest

Comment of the Week goes to Fishing w/ Brautigan.  Why?

1) His screen name alludes to a brilliant alcoholic mentally-ill American writer who committed suicide with a handgun in 1984, a stone's throw from my childhood homebreak.

2) Fishing with Brautigan's comment - a semi-incoherent fitness diatribe from someone who seemingly obsesses over professional surfers' exact weights - gives me an excuse to post the photos below.  Some things are inherently funny.  Case in point: the following images.

I need say no more.
barca

kekoa

Fishing w/Brautigan says:July 27, 2009 at 11:27 am

Taj Burrow is out of style! Not as a surfer, but as an athlete. When he first game out on tour, a talented young surfer could show up for his heat 15 lbs overweight and slightly hungover and still win, but that is all over now. Two years ago Mick Fanning showed up trim and fit, and he won a world title. Then last year Kelly dropped from from something close to 170 lbs down to about 155 and took his 9th world title. This year Parko hired a personal trainer, dropped twenty pounds, and it looks like he will be the champ.
Surfers are one by one starting to become the world class athletes they need to be to continue competing on an International level, and party boys like Taj are going to get left behind.
This ain’t Golf folks! It is an extreme sport, so they had better start to train for it. Burning your way through beer and Aussie swimsuit models, although great fun, is not real training.
In the end Taj, who may be an incredibly talented surfer, is not an elite Athlete; so, it is doubtful he will continue to be able to compete on a World Tour.
BTY all of this goes for Dane Reynolds (who I’ve noticed has lost some weight this year) as well?

PHOTO DISPATCH: MAASSEN on SHAPING

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Let's pause for a moment from all our bilious ruminations to consider a holy trinity of thankless surf industry jobs:

Shaper, photographer, and writer.

Although all three roles are underpaid, shapers differ from photographers and writers in that they're actually necessary.

Trouble is, doing what you love is no way to make a living.  But I'll let the talented youths of today test out that maxim for themselves.

Today we have Morgan Maassen, photographing the work of 23-year-old Santa Barbara shaper Ryan Lovelace, of Point Concept and Timberline Surfboards.

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Don’t Encourage Them

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Peel back the orange curtain separating the surf industry from most of the surfers in the world, and you'll find a small group of white men wielding an enormous amount of influence over the general surf culture.

Why?  Fear.  Some surfers are scared of sharks, some are scared of big waves, but nearly all surfers are absolutely TERRIFIED of being uncool.  So they look to the magazines and brands to help keep them informed as to what is cool and what is not.

I know that most of the editors of the major media players read this site (God knows why).  With that in mind, I am challenging these influential individuals to use their powers for good instead of evil:

Stop promoting destructive, dangerous surfing trends by glorifying them with coverage.

For example - stop glorifying SUPing crowded big waves.

Both Surfing and Surfer ran photos of SUPers sweeping Wedge during the 50-year-storm.

In fact, Surfermag led off their south-swell media orgy with the image above.

While Surfing ran this one, with a bit of a caveat in the caption:

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A few days later, Surfermag put up this photo of the same Sea Sweeper, about to bail his board, sideways no less, into a group of bodyboaders.  This shot hints at the wider implications of SUPs at spots like Wedge - it's fuckin' dangerous.

Eventually, someone will be killed by an errant 12' Chinese Pop-Out.  What if it's not a bodyboarder?

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So my simple plea to the surf media: don't encourage these certified custard pudding bastards by giving them coverage.  Instead, heckle them mercilessly for being uncool.  That's what I'm doing.

Yes, some SUP enthusiasts mistake my campaign of SUP-bashing as the needless spewing of vitriolic hate.

Wrong, bitch!  Discouraging SUPing of crowded lineups is a public service.  I'm doing God's work here, saving the lives of innocent children who would otherwise be crushed to death by aforementioned errant Chinese Pop-Outs.

Help me keep our lineups safe by spreading the hate.

Another Nugget from INSIDE THE GOLDMINE

I am going surfing today.  In the meantime, please click on over to Gra Murdoch's Inside the Goldmine for another excellent example of investigative surf journalism. - Ed

Dog and Master Reunited after Master Seemingly Vanishes Off Face of the Earth for 40-minute Surf.

TUES. JULY 28, WEST COAST, VICTORIA – 33 year old Airey's Inlet surfer Jason Bridgeford has been found safe and well, miraculously stepping back out of a mysterious other-world to rejoin the land of the living, his dog told all within earshot on the beach yesterday...

READ FULL ARTICLE at INSIDE THE GOLDMINE...

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J-BAY POWER RANKINGS: 1-5

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Kelly Slater

Why is Kelly Slater back at number one in the Power Rankings?  Because he holds the fate of the ASP in his hands.  If that isn’t power, I don’t know what is.  The question now is will Kelly use his vast influence for good or evil?  Lately, ASP insiders are looking at their talented figurehead and seeing more than the physical doppelganger of Lex Luthor.  Trouble is, the only Superman who can save the ASP is also Kelly Slater.  In each of his contest appearances over the course of the last couple months, Slater has played both roles: dominating Brazil, ruling the barrel at J-Bay and Superman-handling Huntington like, well, Superman.  But there’s been allusions to dissolution there, too: Kelly slapping the water at J-Bay as the ocean let him down, Kelly slapping the water at Huntington as the ocean let him down again.  He moved his frustrated hands across the surface of the waters with a vengeful callousness that hinted at the genesis of a super villain - Lex Luthor en utero.

More seriously, as Mr. Slater faces the grave responsibility of deciding the ASP’s future, I’m reminded of fact instead of fiction.  Although a new tour sounds good in theory, Kelly may find himself walking into a quagmire beyond his control, just as US military forces did in Iraq.  Destruction is easy -- overthrowing the existing regime will take only another flick of Slater’s Lex Luthor wrist against the surface of professional surfing’s waters.  But the process of rebuilding a stable governing tour may prove more difficult than Slater has envisioned.

I foresee two major problems:  First, the concept of contest results having validity at all is a bit of an illusion, kept in place by faith in the system.  The fact that we even begin to accept the fairness of completely subjective judging decisions is largely due to our familiarity with the current paradigm.  A bit like the way religious fanatics believe their belief system makes sense, simply because they’ve been raised in it.  If the format changes completely, once-devout fans may inevitably spot the holes in its logic.

The other issue is this:  How will they cull numbers with any semblance of fairness?  If they take the current Top 16 and ditch the rest, Tom Whitaker will be in and Dane Reynolds will be out.  But if they draw up a dream team of the subjectively most-talented surfers on earth, the new tour will be nothing more than an imperialistic popularity contest.  Look no further than Surfing Magazine’s recent article, in which they declared that Mitch Coleborn should be on the new elite tour… while current world #3 Adriano De Souza should not.

Reality isn’t easy, and change doesn’t come cheap.  Kelly may not like where he’s at, with title 10 out of reach.  But if he doesn’t buttress his idealism with informed advisors instead of yes-men, the king may find that Fiji looks more like Fallujah than he ever could have imagined.

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Joel Parkinson

The decision has been made.  The role has been cast.  Now it’s time for the extras to follow the script, and play out the rest of the scenes.  Joel Parkinson will be world champion.  As with Slater in 2008, the universe seems to be ushering Joel towards this fate, and other contenders away from it, like a sheepdog nipping at heels.  How else to account for the inexplicable early-round losses of every other contender? Does Billabong’s influence run that deep?  It’s now easy to mistake 2009 for 1989; like Martin Potter, Parko seems to have suddenly snapped awake with a whiff of smelling salts, and convinced the field in a single event that he’s The Man.  In addition, it was intriguing to see how little Parko gambled on his way to victory at J-Bay – nearly every turn was low-risk, on rail, beautiful and timeless.  His approach was anything but futuristic - closer to Tom Curren circa 1992 than even Slater circa 1996.  The fins barely got loose over the course of his entire calculated run.  It was a performance even children of the 60s could relate to – call it neoclassicism.

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C.J. Hobgood

There’s a bit of Mr. Miyagi in CJ Hobgood these days – he’s transitioning into his role as resident Sensei of the World Tour.  CJ’s proving to be the rare veteran who keeps progressing, pushing himself farther as his body ages and the competition creeps up.  Watching him attack the lip in Brazil this year, one got the distinct suspicion that Mr. Hobgood sleepwalked through the formative years of his career.  (Yes, I am excluding his anomalous 2001 title from the argument.) Simply put, there is an awareness to CJ’s approach that was lacking through many of his early seasons.  He’s taking risks that others are not, and finding that, like Slater, he has a gift for improbable recovery.  Although Kelly took the victory in Brazil, CJ placed the most consistently risky, radical bets of the event, going "all in" with each defining turn on each mediocre wave.  At J-Bay, CJ was felled with a strain of swine flu, leaving him weakened and lucky to make it through even his first heat vs. Miky Picon.  Watching CJ’s heat and then Damien’s was like watching Tom Hanks degenerate in Philadelphia, in reverse.

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Adriano de Souza

Overconfidence is an interesting thing.  It causes humans to lose the ability to discern between things we can control and things we can’t.  Adriano De Souza’s career nestles snugly within the rewards of this overconfidence maxim.  To quote a recent New Yorker article by Malcolm Gladwell:

"The psychologist Ellen Langer once had subjects engage in a betting game against either a self-assured, well-dressed opponent or a shy and badly dressed opponent (in Langer’s delightful phrasing, the 'dapper' or the 'schnook' condition), and she found that her subjects bet far more aggressively when they played against the schnook. They looked at their awkward opponent and thought, I’m better than he is. Yet the game was pure chance: all the players did was draw cards at random from a deck, and see who had the high hand. This is called the 'illusion of control': confidence spills over from areas where it may be warranted ('I’m savvier than that schnook') to areas where it isn’t warranted at all ('and that means I’m going to draw higher cards')."

It doesn’t take a psychologist to tell you that Adriano is still viewed as the tour schnook, despite being firmly entrenched in the Top 3. In Brazil, Adriano was underestimated by Jeremy Flores, Bede Durbidge, and Joel Parkinson on his way to the finals.  Only Slater remained wary of him.  At J-Bay, the tables were turned on De Souza: he viewed Nathaniel Curran as the schnook, and lost accordingly when the ocean went flat.  Some things even world title contenders cannot control.

mick

Mick Fanning

I remember reading a brilliant essay by Mickey Munoz years back, in which he envisioned the perfect surfer, and the perfect session.  I’m paraphrasing here, relying on a deficient memory ravaged by alcohol, but what Mickey pictured was this: a formless, out-of-shape surfer patiently studies the ocean.  He then surfs an entire session without expending any energy at all – floats out in a rip, catches a wave without paddling, gets barreled without engaging a rail, kicks out, lets the rip suck him back out, and does it again.  To Mickey, surfing wasn’t about athleticism and aggression.  Surfing boiled down to knowledge and flow.

That’s one way to see it.  Mick Fanning vs. Michel Bourez at J-Bay is another way to see it.  The Spartan vs. The Machine – two muscled gym-rats pushing each turn farther than it should go while Tom Curren watches, his right eyebrow raised a thousandth of a millimeter in an act of protest.  Mick put up 17.17 and lost the heat.  His year is dust.  Bourez has now beat Parko, Bede, Kelly, and Mick man-on-man in his short career.  He beat Fanning off a 10 that included three barrels and two claims.  If Mick had won Brazil and J-Bay, we’d still have a title race to look forward to.  Instead, Fanning was laid down to rest by surfer who probably does a fist pump claim when he grunts out his morning shit.

J-BAY POWER RANKINGS: 6-10

damo

Damien Hobgood

You don’t finish runner-up at J-Bay twice by mistake.  Unless you’re Damien Hobgood, that is.  Shades of Peter Sellars in Being There, as Damo somehow won heat after heat, despite being seemingly only dimly aware of his surroundings, what year it was, and perhaps even what his name is.  A touch of Zen, too, as Hobgood planted himself firmly in the moment: each section another section, each heat simply another heat.  Against Taylor Knox, Damo squared off and committed to every blast, blissfully unconcerned with making the wave.  J-Bay rewarded his hubris – where others raced only to get left behind, Damo slowed it down, confident in the moment, and somehow made the wave. It was just enough to beat the stronger regularfoot.  And that is a good summation for Damo’s J-Bay effort: he took down Chris Davidson, Bede Durbidge, Taylor Knox, and Dane Reynolds consecutively – all by less than a point.  I dare you to find another instance of a surfer making an ASP final without ever definitely winning one heat.  All the same, this result represents redemption for a former title contender who looked set to drop off tour towards the end of 2008.

bobby

Bobby Martinez

Are the judges intimidated by Bobby Martinez?  Or are they simply fans?  It's hard to tell sometimes.  Bobby Martinez surfs rights with the confidence of someone who's been told many a time that they surf backside better than everyone else.  The hulking grace, the precision, the style… the marketed ghetto roots and street tattoos… Bobby is a surfer that commands almost fearful respect from the ASP machine. Judges respect his backside carve like they respect no other goofies' since Occy.  For most backsiders, turns must be vertical to garner any serious points.  An open-faced backside carve is now considered a set-up turn.  But when Bobby does his version, he's consistently rewarded for it.  Despite this, he's never been able to make a final backside - while he's won four events in lefts.  Something doesn't add up here.  Martinez gets an 8.5 off a few set-up turns and one doggie-door pit to down Dunn, but gets smoked by Parko.  Actually that probably explains it all; Parko's frontside power swoops are even more well-respected than Bobby's backside grunters - call it a marketing bout of signature turns.

taj

Taj Burrow

I’d like to believe that I’ve deservedly had zero-effect on how the general surf media covers the tour.  Sometimes, however, I fear that’s not the case.  Influence through imitation: it’s occasionally a terrifying thing.  Reading ASP write-ups from the majors, I’m sometimes reminded of a trailer-trash heifer in a g-string: she thinks the look suits her, but it does not.  Where once there was tepid marketing prose, I now see a grimy reflection of my own dubious work: controversy for the sake of controversy, wild claims, absolutism, indignation, nationalism and lame attempts at ironic humor.

Don't believe me?  Recently SurfingMag referred to Taj as a surfer who has been "prematurely aged" by the tour, but who might prove to be "the Benjamin Button of the bunch."  Sounds familiar...although that moniker is reserved for Drew Courtney on PostSurf.  What does this have to do with Taj Burrow?  Well, I’ve put Mr. Burrow in the discount bin labeled “Tapioca Fuckwit” many a time in the last few years.  Simply put, he’s an easy and deserving target.  In addition, fate has not exactly dealt the dolt a cruel hand – so what’s the harm in teeing off on him?  A few years ago, when I started in on him, Burrow was the media’s darling.  Now, he’s referred to as “The Cheyne Horan of the 2000s” in nearly every write-up.  I almost feel sorry for the guy.  He’s out of style - and I feel partly responsible for that.  What doomsday proclamations should be made about Taj’s future after his loss to Sean Holmes in R2? Let’s leave it as this: Sean Holmes is a fucking pimp.

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Bede Durbidge

Speaking of bathwater gone cold: Bede has quietly screeched his freefall to a halt with his nails dug deep into the concrete on the side of the building.  After two consecutive first heat losses, Bede punched the clock at high noon for a 5th in Brazil and 9th in South Africa.  Durbidge racked up some high-scoring heats (17.50 at J-Bay, 16.90 Brazil) off the usual emoticon turns – meaning his surfing is lethal but lacks subtlety.  It’s reminiscent of Jaws’ approach in the mid-70s Bond films.  But just as Roger Moore will never be a favored Bond, Bede is unlikely to ever be a favored contender.  At the best of times he attacks the wave like a Parko-Tribute Act on Angel Dust -  but he’s never lost the wide-eyed stare of an Okie straight off the bus.  Against Damo Hobgood, Bede fell decimals short – the difference was an end-section boost over the bricks that Bede couldn’t stick.  Like Slater, Bede is finding that lucky wins are so 2008.

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Dane Reynolds

I feel for Dane.  It’s professional courtesy - one false messiah tipping his hat to another.  It’s a tough business, leading from on high, tacked on that cross.  Yes, it’s a stretch to compare our predicaments, and it’s also a stretch to compare Dane’s predicament to that other guy’s.  But my point is this: each time Dane rises to his feet, fans expect a miracle.  Every turn must be a revelation, every air must revolutionize the sport.  Dane is expected to lead a dying and battered breed to redemption, even though it's a forum he barely cares about and a job he’s not sure he wants any part of.  Normal Americans can do what they want with their measly lives.  But Dane Reynolds is the awkward voice of a generation, and therefore he must do what the fans want him to do.  If he doesn’t do it, those fans have an idling bus ready to throw him under.  Their entertainment is far more important than Dane’s personal well-being.  At J-Bay, Dane dutifully stopped fidgeting and returned to the job of surfing savior.  He delivered what the masses wanted – miracle barrels, miracle airs.  Dane may not believe in himself, but the machine sure as hell believes in him – after all, there’s profit in it.  That’s where we differ.

COMMENT OF THE WEEK: BVB vs. SUP

SS BVD: photo 4pizon

Comment of the Week comes from the Bad Vibe Bob, a shadowy, notorious voice of dissent known to frequent surf sites both real and virtual.  Bad Vibe was kind enough to share with PostSurf via electronic mail his recollections of recent SUP encounters. -LS

I have tried to mount many a SUP - the first off mid-beach; the guy was trying to hog the peak (good rights)  so I went at him, up close and personal with the verbal taunting. He made some smart-assed comment so  I tried to mount his rig. All hell and banter breaks loose. He fell off twice. Eventually having to retreat. I shit you not, another surfer paddles by and said something to the effect ʻ... surprise surprise, BAD VIBE yelling at peopleʻ. Defending the Oarsman... what a guy.

The surfer that said it  was pretty ugly, like a human faced version of a Pitt-bull so I quickly paddled south and away. Next up was a week later down the beach. Same thing, " I say, "bro, get off the waves, get out of the way, find another peak, youʻre dangerous, what a kook, go home, barney, asshole, fuckwad...ʻ He sayʻs, ʻI donʻt know you? You sound like some punk from Santa Cruzʻ. To my mind this means one thing: MOUNT ... After a couple of sets on the head he split. Saw the same beefy dude at a school function and he looked on at me not knowing WTF! to do? Saw him Tuesday and paddled right at him, ready to mount. He saw the most hateful stink coming towards him and split.

At the Point earlier this summer a couple a guys were on the outside chumping the shoulder so Billy and I watched and then COULD NOT TAKE IT ANYMORE! I had one guy out the back; cursing and trying to mount the fucker but he held me at a distance with his oar! There I am taunting him and heʻs being a fucking newly re-seeded hairline prick and I am desperately trying to pirate his SUP  and he manages to stay on top of his board. Iʻm grabbing the rail, diving underneath a murky ocean and darned if I canʻt fucking dunk the guy. Meanwhile Iʻm missing all the good sets. He finally sayʻs, ʻ You are being filmed...ʻ
I keep at him. Then he and his buddy ( who in the meanwhile is busy with Billy) quickly paddle into the bay towards whatever drain and are gone.
One hour later a policeman walks past our Peanut Gallery and then doubles back and stops in front of me and sayʻs, "ʻ Uh... were you surfing... a " Paddle Boarder" said that you told him that, " You were going to fucking eat his eye balls for dinner.ʻ" To which I say, "I never said anything of the sort." Runs my license. Clean.
Later the two accusers tried to slink by the Peanut Gallery along the railing but my friend said, ʻ Hey, those two are giving you, or us, hard looksʻ. Sure enough. Odd Todd went at the smaller guy with the stick that he uses to hold up the back hood of his piece of shit van. Heʻs invoking hilariously the scene from Taxi Driver. "You want a piece of me!" One guy sayʻs to Todd, " Are you drunk?, on something? and reaches for his cell phone and begins poking. Wise decision to leave when I did. As I was headed up the hill another Policeman is firing down the hill...

This is the sad state of affairs.
All true. No bull.

--Bad Vibe Bob

PHOTO DISPATCH: MYLES McGUINNESS

9mphoto_6924

We make all of this more complicated than it is.

The water holds no answers.  I don't hold any either.

Sometimes it's enough to bear witness.

Myles McGuinness, corroborating what we already know.

See 9mPhoto for more of Myles' work.

Firestorm 2007 Blacks Beach Big Wednesday Blacks Beach 12.05.2007

9mphoto_tres 9mphoto_nica Oceanside-Fall "Twin Peaks"

Morning Juice Oceanside Blacks Beach 9mphoto_rivermouth

Secrete Spot 9mphoto_lafamilia Lennox Head, Australia

LinkWiper Removes Negative Online Reviews . Michael Roberts