Notes from the Quiksilver Pro Webcast

2 03 2010

Jordy Smith was one of many top seeds regulated to the loser's round. Most of them, including Jordy, made it out alive. Photo: ASP/Cestari

A tsunami warning cancelled the event on Sunday. I fully expected Pat Robertson to claim those damn convicts had it coming. He did not and there was no tsunami. Unless you consider Jamie O’Brien’s impending arrival. 

In nearly every post-heat interview the surfer is asked about the board he is riding. He is never asked about his boardshorts. Think about that for a moment. 

Kelly Slater is nearly 40. He is still the best surfer in the world. 

Progressive surfing is not defined by being airborne. 

The event is being aired live on TV in Australia. I believe it’s on a wakeboarding channel. I can’t recall the name because the announcers never tell us. 

A salty teardrop cascaded down my face when Craig Anderson exited a small barrel and hit the lip during his second-round heat with Bobby Martinez. Bobby won the heat but Mr. Anderson won my heart. 

Dean Morrison is not human. He may be a sea monkey. But sea monkeys are adorable creatures. 

Dane Reynolds proved he is human in round one. In round two he proved humans can sometimes be superhuman. Surfing is Dickensian at times. Dane is both Great Expectations and A Tale of Two Cities

If a Jehovah’s Witness came to my door over the weekend, I would have invited him in and told him about Damien Hobgood’s backside hacks. “They are glorious,” I would have said. Then he would refuse to drink with me and I would have thrown him out the door head first. They wear helmets for this very purpose I would have reasoned. 

Watching Kekoa and Jay “Bottle” Thompson in round two was like watching two flies hump on the wall for 30 minutes without a climax. 

Luke Stedman’s legs end at his ear lobes. If humans share 98% of the same chromosomes as chimpanzees, Luke Stedman shares 98% of his chromosomes with ostriches. 

I had a bowl cereal this morning. I checked the side of the milk carton just to make sure Andy Irons wasn’t on it. 

Finally, 4 of my top 5 rookies are still alive and there are some intriguing round three match-ups, including two back-to-back scorchers. Owen vs. Taj, followed by Bobby and Andy. Later, we get Fanning vs. Simpson and Parko vs. Dusty Payne. 

My picks in are in bold. 

Heat 1: Adriano de Souza (BRA) vs. Jadson Andre (BRA)
Heat 2: Taylor Knox (USA) vs. Adrian Buchan (AUS)
Heat 3: Tom Whitaker (AUS) vs. Chris Davidson (AUS)
Heat 4: Taj Burrow (AUS) vs. Owen Wright (AUS)
Heat 5: Bobby Martinez (USA) vs. Andy Irons (HAW)
Heat 6: Damien Hobgood (USA) vs. Luke Stedman (AUS)
Heat 7: Dean Morrison (AUS) vs. Kai Otton (AUS)
Heat 8: Mick Fanning (AUS) vs. Brett Simpson (USA)
Heat 9: Joel Parkinson (AUS) vs. Dusty Payne (HAW)
Heat 10: Fredrick Patacchia (HAW) vs. Kekoa Bacalso (HAW)
Heat 11: C.J. Hobgood (USA) vs. Daniel Ross (AUS)
Heat 12: Dane Reynolds (USA) vs. Jeremy Flores (FRA)
Heat 13: Bede Durbidge (AUS) vs. Luke Munro (AUS)
Heat 14: Kieren Perrow (AUS) vs. Mick Campbell (AUS)
Heat 15: Kelly Slater (USA) vs. Patrick Gudauskas (USA)
Heat 16: Jordy Smith (ZAF) vs. Tiago Pires (PRT)


The Top Fucking 5© 2010 WCT Rookies

5 02 2010

Dusty Payne is the first Maui surfer on the WCT. Photo: Childs

Winning the WQS is like being the best a plumber in the world. I guess it’s something to be proud of, but no one really cares. That being said, Daniel Ross won the WQS in 2009. But I can’t include Dan “The Plumber” in The Top Fucking 5© because he’s not really a rookie. This is his second attempt after a one-and-done 2008. With the new one-tier format starting next year he’s the penultimate WQS champ. Let’s look at the cream of the WQS crop.

5) Patrick Gudauskas
Pat narrowly missed the cut last year and his motivation propelled him into second place in the WQS ratings. His rodeo clown in the Maldives got a ton of press. Then all three Guduaski (I’m assuming the plural version is akin to Cacti) surfed the same heat at Sunset last month. Even Octomom was envious. This is what I wrote about the Gudauskas brothers a few months ago. “The Gudauskas brothers are everywhere. Just now I went to the fridge to grab a beer and one of them was parked right beside the hardened butter and eggs. The little fucker had his wetsuit on too. They are multiplying I tell you. On the seventh day God got so tired of producing the little miracles of joy that the Gudauski are, he needed to take a day off, kick off his Reef sandals and decompress.” Prepare to see more of them. Pat is part of the San Clemente trio that qualified for the WCT this year. Pat and Tanner Gudauskas, along with Nate Yeomans, might not be Athos, Porthos, and Aramis but the “all for one, one for all” credo might just give them a boost for their maiden Dream Tour voyage.

4) Matt Wilkinson
The Aussie goofyfoot told Stab Magazine earlier this year he had the ASP judges figured out and it looks like he was right. “They will give you a seven for one air reverse,” he said. “I thought, surely I can do two air reverses in 15 waves. Two sevens in a heat is all you need to beat someone who does backhand or forehand reos all contest. You’d have to be retarded to fail to do two air reverses in 15 waves.” Matt has reverses wired but he’s going to have to mix it up to compete with the elite. He can go either way, He might blow up or he might struggle. If he puts together a good showing at Snapper and Bells he just might be a darkhorse candidate for Rookie of the Year.

3) Brett Simpson
Brett comes from a long line of talented Huntington Beach surfers that seem to fizzle out like candle at the Playboy mansion’s grotto on fat girl night. When they hit the world stage something happens. Most don’t even make it this far. Brett peaked at the US Open last year. Speaking of HB, last week the Huntington Beach City Council introduced a measure aimed to outlaw beer pong. I’m serious. But Simpo is part of the new Huntington…clean cut, progressive. But I’m a sucker for the seedy side. The side that would charge 15-foot Pipe and Chopes then down a few Hinanos in the channel between heats. It might take a few years, but he’ll find his rhythm and embrace the dark side of Surf City.

2) Dusty Payne
What’s this? A Volcom surfer on the WCT? Seeing more than two Volcom surfers on tour is like seeing more than two Indians together off the reservation. It never happens. Except Indian casinos. The 21-year-old from Maui replaced fellow Volcom Stoner Bruce Irons and qualified for the ’CT on his on his first attempt. He just might be the best of the lot and if you’re going to gamble on Rookie of the Year, he’d be a solid bet. With the new, one-tier ranking system even Dusty is in the dark. “Guys on the tour have no idea how it works,” he said during the Volcom Pipeline Pro. I predict Dusty will make the cut and finish in the high teens this year. However, the over/under on the amount of times web announcers utter the phrase “Maui Wowie” is exactly 420.

1) Owen Wright
Editor’s Note: I asked the infamous Enoch Ward (AKA Blasphemy Rottmouth, AKA Ol’ Dirty Bastard, AKA ♂ ) to tackle Owen’s segment.
Dear Owen Wright,
I congratulate you on being the only surfer on earth that prays each night to his Laird and Savior for ALL of his heats to be against Kelly Slater. Luckily you never pearl because your nose acts as a tri-pod anytime your thorax bends in excess of 13 degrees forward. I don’t mean to poke fun at something only the Good Laird or an inebriated plastic surgeon in Tijuana can fix… but good god man! That nose would cause a continually-lying proboscis monkey named Pinocchio to blush with envy. I halfway expect there to be 74 smaller noses in your left nostril alone. Do your boogers come with training wheels on them? If Larry King grew his frosted tips out, shed his glasses, and donned a Rip Curl rubber, then you’ve found your stunt double for Kai Neville’s next rumored project: ‘Modern Colonoscopy II: Bare-Back Mountin’ with Dion Agius and some of his Special Friends.’ In summary, keep the sacred words of Alfredo Villas-Boas near and dear to your heart as you paddle out for your first heat at Snapper: “On my surfboard I am grounded like cement on my feet.” Peace and good tidings.

Always and forever,
Enoch Ward

Rookie of the year favorite Owen Wright. Photo: ASP/Warbrick

Holy Gudauskas!

7 12 2009

Two thirds of the Gudaukas power trio are in for 2010.

By now you know Joel Parkinson won the O’Neill World Cup yesterday at Sunset Beach. It was a nice little precursor to the impending world title showdown at Pipeline as Parko took down Sunny Garcia, Mick Fanning and Dusty Payne. It was the last WQS contest of 2009.

The final 15 ASP WQS qualifiers for the 2010 World Tour are:

Ross, Daniel (AUS)
Gudauskas, Patrick (USA)
Andre, Jadson (BRA)
Melling, Adam (AUS)
Wright, Owen (AUS)
Munro, Luke (AUS)
Thompson, Jay (AUS)
Yeomans, Nathan (USA)
Payne, Dusty (HAW)
Simpson, Brett (USA)
Wilkinson, Matt (AUS)
Gudauskas, Tanner (USA)
Logie, Travis (ZAF)
Polo, Marco (BRA)
Thornton, Blake (AUS)

Notable Nuggets:
California is well represented with the Gudauskas brothers, Brett Simpson and Nate Yeomans.

Brett Simpson joins fellow Huntington Beach surfer Timmy Reyes.

Dusty Payne becomes the first Maui surfer of qualify for the WCT. Additionally, half of the Modern Collective is now on tour.

Aussies continue their dominance on tour with nearly half of the rookie class.

Travis Logie rejoins the tour and joins Jordy Smith as the only other surfer from South Africa for 2010.

Owen Wright and Dusty Payne might become the most talked about rookies since Dane Reynolds and Jordy Smith.

And finally, with renewed optimism the Rebel Tour will debut in 2010, there are several surfers on the cusp of qualification that may gain entry to the Dream Tour due to fallout.

The Unfiltered Trestles Preview

11 09 2009


Much like real estate a surf contest has three steadfast rules—Location, location and location. In 2000 the ASP ditched crowd-friendly beach arenas of Huntington and Oceanside as World Chapionship Tour events and embraced Lower Trestles. Now, Trestles is the only location in the US that hosts a WCT event.

Walking down the trail to the San Clemente pointbreak is like entering a time machine. It’s one of the few parcels of undeveloped coastline in Southern California. Whenever I make the trek I’m reminded of the stories my dad and his friends used to tell me. There was no trail. They had to traverse swampy terrain and massive amount of brush to get to the break. On the way back they usually had to elude Marines with automatic weapons. Boards were often confiscated. It was an adventure. No so much today. Now we are spoiled. We  park, walk and enjoy unmolested.

The 2009 Hurley Pro Trestles marks a first for the Nike-owned surf brand. This year’s event will be its debut as the main title sponsor of a WCT event. Last year they shared the markee with Boost Mobile. That leaves Volcom as the only brand in the elite 5 (Volcom, Quiksilver, Rip Curl, Billabong and Hurley) who doesn’t sponsor a WCT event. Curious you might say. Volcom is either the savviest company in the boardroom, or the dumbest.

Last year, Bob Hurley upped the winner’s purse from $30,000 to $75,000 right before the final that was eventually won by Slater. According to the official ASP heat draw, the winner will get a meaty $105,000 later this week, making it the largest winner’s check in ASP history.

Unfortunately the waves may not cooperate during the Trestles waiting period (September 13th-19th). I read several previews of the event and all were hyping the swell. Each had a quote from Surfline’s Sean Collins, who interestingly enough, is one of the event sponsors. Smelling a conflict of interest, I decided to ask an independent source. According to Adam Wright, long-time surf forecaster and operator of, the surf probably won’t get much bigger than shoulder high.

“Overall the surf for the Trestles contest isn’t looking great,” Wright said. “It will be playful but never really firing. There will be a mix of swells in the water at the beginning of the waiting period, but at this point none of them look very big and the different swell angles, while playful at the beach breaks, may be a little too crossed up to set up the classic Lowers lines.

For the first few days we can expect a mix of shadowed NW swell (290-300) and some smaller, less consistent SW swell (200-220). Waves will be in the waist-chest high range but with a few chest-shoulder high sets sneaking in. Near the end of the contest the SW swell will shift a little more southerly (190-210) and strengthen as the NW swell drops out. Looks like we should see more consistent chest-shoulder high sets by the 18-19th as the new pulse of SW energy filters in.”


–Six surfers with the best chance of winning

Kelly Slater
As far as I’m concerned there are only three certainties in life—death, taxes and Slater making the final at Trestles. He won the event in 2008, 2007 and 2005. Was second to Bede in 2006 and second to Parko in 2004. Couple that with the fact his girlfriend lives just up the road, providing a home-away-from-home atmosphere and we might as well just throw our arms in the air and declare him the winner already.

Adriano De Souza
With Pat O’Connell off the tour and in the contest director’s perch, the fate of surfing’s “little people” rests squarely on his shoulders. The Brazilian sits at third in the WCT rankings and has a home in San Clemente.  I like his chances, especially because there should be smaller surf and morning high-tide conditions bogging down early heats. If he doesn’t make the final, I expect no less than a quarterfinal berth.

Joel Parkinson
Rumors are circulating that he may not show. Is this Slater-esque gamesmanship or a clue he may not be 100 percent healthy. Nevertheless, skipping the event is a huge gamble for his world-title campaign. If he’s there he’ll get no less than a 3rd.

Dane Reynolds
Dane had an equal 3rd at JBay and a quarterfinals appearance last year at Trestles. He just may pull of his first-ever WCT win at Trestles. Who knows? Everyone thinks his upside is untapped—including me. What is Dane’s secret weapon? It’s a vibrating ab-belt to increase his core strength and a shitload of beer.

Jordy Smith
I saw a video recently of Jordy and Taj surfing a reef in Indo. On this day Jordy clearly surpassed Taj’s surfing, and that’s saying a lot since most consider Taj’s surfing some of the most progressive on tour. But he hasn’t gotten the competitive results to back his potential…yet. Something tells me he’s going to have a big result here.

Taj Burrow
Taj finished second last year. A lot of people actually think he won. If he can stay clear of the San Clemente pubs at night, expect him to do just as well. His surfing is perfectly suited for the skatepark sections.

–The longshots who may make noise

Dean Morrison
I like Dingo’s chances and his Hemmingway beard. He’s not exactly a longshot but I think he’s under the radar and not a popular pick per se. He should have some success with the long skateable walls at Lowers. Predicted finish–equal 5th.

Heitor Alves
The Brazilian goofyfoot will be on his backhand most of the time. If the lefts are working, expect him to pick off a few of those morsels and do damage. He’ll probably make the fourth round at the very least.

Brett Simpson
Hold the laughter. If his ankle has healed, he will do well. The waves most likely won’t get above shoulder high and Simpo may surprise, feed on the momentum gained at Huntington and pull off a few upsets. Unless he runs into Parko or Slater early. Then he might as well get on the 5 freeway and head north back to the aforementioned beachbreak.

The 2009 US Open of Surfing

29 07 2009
The hometown kid wins $100,000. photo: Hurley

The Hometown Kid Wins $100,000. photo: J. Klein

A wise man once said or maybe it was David Lee Roth, “Money can’t buy you happiness, but it can buy you a yacht big enough to pull up right alongside it.” Hurley not only anchored the yacht right beside the barnacle-encrusted pilings at the Huntington Beach Pier, it brought the money with it. 
The hype started nearly two weeks ago. The swell was going to be big. Really big. The Internet was buzzing. Texts were exchanged en masse. Twitter accounts were exceeding the 140 character maximum. The surf industry was foaming at mouth like a Jewish dog at the end of the Yom Kippur fast. Surely the city had already hired an engineering firm to design a new pier, because certainly this one wouldn’t withstand the might of the impending swell. 
Then there was the money. A record $100,000 first-place check would go to the winner. Meanwhile, some half-retard on meth wins millions for driving in circles for three hours. Sure, most surfers are half-retards, but usually they aren’t on meth. Perhaps someone should alert Slater or ESPN about the missing ingredient to immediate riches. It works for NASCAR.
As it turned out the swell peaked late Friday, maxing out at a few feet overhead, but it sure as hell beat the typical Huntington two-foot slopfest won by a Brazilian or a midget or both. For many (including myself) the Huntington event is a love/hate thing. Think of it as a bacon-wrapped hot dog bought on a Tijuana street corner at 2 a.m. The stomach says no, but the stomach is no match for the mind after that much tequila.
The money or the swell, or maybe it was boredom, brought a bevy of WCT surfers and icons that have been skipping this event for the past five years or so. The 100 grand was a smart move. People waned to see Andy Irons, Mick Fanning, Taylor Knox and Slater. Gony Zubizarreta and Wiggolly Dantas sure aren’t driving webcast traffic.
Slater was clearly the stand out surfer on Friday and Saturday. In the round of 48 his carving 360 on massive closeout sent Artiz Arramburu home. Later he called it one of the best he’s ever done. Impressive yes, but hardly worth the 9 for one maneuver. Then there was the 10-point barrel on Saturday. He was toying with the conditions and his opponents, eventually losing to De Souza in a wave-starved quarterfinal.
Let’s pretend Joel Parkinson is Luke Skywalker, a young ultra-talented surfer who has the future of surfing resting on his shoulders. That would make Parko’s coach, Luke Egan, Obi-Wan Kenobi. Now let’s say Huntington Beach’s own Brett Simpson is Anakin Skywalker. Would that make Ian Cairns Jabba The Hut? Well, you have to give Ian the Hut credit. Simpson’s coach is doing something right.
The 24-year-old Simpo disposed of Nate Curran, CJ Hobgood and Mick Fanning on Sunday en route to the win. Along with Slater, Fanning, CJ, Curran, Pat Gudauskas and De Souza, Simpson was one of the most progressive surfers all week. Conspiracy theorists may think it’s a little too convenient that a Hurley surfer took home the big money. But Simpson won fair and square. He earned it. Now Simpson sits at 5th in the WQS ratings, basically securing a spot on the CT next year. He proved he is a formidable threat, no matter the opponent, in breachbreak conditions. But, then again, there aren’t many beachbreaks on the Dream Tour.