A Surfer’s Guide to the World Cup and Beyond

15 06 2010

Jeffreys Bay. Queen of the South African coastline and home to the World Cup

The online surfing world has been stagnant lately. Well, that’s not completely true. Surfline posted its 47th “How Good Was California This Week?” photo gallery this month. I did enjoy that. Kurungabaa posted the complete works of Dostoyevsky (in Russian). Transworld, (God bless them) ran a Vimeo video of something. And Boardistan (perhaps my personal favorite) kept a tidy tally on its Google news alert with the keywords “Surf, Skate and Snow.” Copy and paste carpel tunnel is no laughing matter gentlemen.

…and so it goes.

The FIFA World Cup kicked off this week in South Africa. I know what you’re thinking. What does surfing and World Cup soccer have in common? Quite a bit actually. The waiting period for the Jeffereys Bay event begins just after the World Cup culminates on July 11. And the World Cup is played every four years, which is roughly the same amount of time between ASP World Tour events. If Nugable had a marketing director he would probably moonlight for the ASP. Or a midget wrestling tour.

Despite all of man’s flaws there are but two types of people on this Earth. Those who enjoy soccer, and those who do not. The same divide or separation criterion exists elsewhere of course. For instance, people who don’t enjoy Frank Zappa or Thenolious Monk. Or Salvador Dali. And of course The Surfer and Non Surfer—heathens who have never ridden a single fin or never enjoyed an evening session waiting for one last wave before the sun lazily slumbers into the pillowy horizon.

Then there’s the soccer fan. Although the soccer fan is batshit crazy. He is not completely batshit crazy. That distinction is reserved for Los Angeles Lakers’ fans who attach purple and gold flags to their cars.

The World Cup is an international affair with teams from every single continent including Antarctica AND Arizona. Okay, I was kidding. I’m not sure if Alabama  Arizona is really a continent or a country or what it is. Don’t get me wrong. I did the research. Arizona’s chamber of commerce website, although impressive in its own right, had nothing but advertisements for a talking Jesus doll and piñata crucifixes.

OK, back to the Soccer or the Surfing. The ASP will cut its premier product down to 32 surfers in two months. The same number of teams in the 2010 World Cup. Let’s look at some of the teams and how they correspond with the surfers we love and even some we hate.

Surfer the team resembles: Jordy Smith
Key Players: Fernando Torres and Iker Casillas
History: Semifinals (1950), Quarterfinals (1934, 1994, 2002), Knockout Round (1982, 1990, 2006).
Odds to Win: 4-1
España is one of the favorites to take home the gold trophy. They are the second ranked team in the world. Let’s just say Liverpool forward Torres and Jordy enjoy the finer things in life and leave it at that.

Surfer the team resembles: Tom Curren or Kelly Slater
Key Players: Every single goddamn one of them.
History: Winners (1958, 1962, 1970, 1994, 2002) Finals (1950, 1998) Semifinals (1938, 1974, 1978) Quarterfinals (1954, 1986, 2002)
Odds to Win: 4.5-1
The play a beautiful brand of futbol. They have the pedigree and back it up. They don’t just win, they win with style. And if they don’t, they stab themselves and feed off their own blood.

Surfer the team resembles: Dane Reynolds
Dane is a media darling. When he is on he is on. When he is not he is not. Like a fickle New York apartment furnace with Beethoven or Bach providing the background music on an old record player, popping vinyl and sizzling lows. The Three Lions aren’t as cool but like Dane they don’t always show their best stuff.
Key Players: Wayne Rooney and Frank Lampard
History: Winners 1966, Semifinals 1990, Quarterfinals (1954, 1962, 1970, 1986, 2002, 2006).
Odds to Win: 6-1

Surfer the team resembles: Occy
Mr. Occhilupo is an Australian Italian. Perhaps the best combination on genetics possible. Like a rhinoceros and a koala bear with athletic ability and cooking skills.
Key Players: Daniele De Rossi and Gigi Buffon.
History: Winners (1934, 1938, 1982, 2006) Finalists (1970, 1994) Semifinalists (1978, 1990)
Odds to Win: 12-1

Surfer the team resembles: Mick Fanning
Key Players: All of them. Tall Arians who score and expect nothing but ze best. Precision. Like A Mercedes running on beer and nuclear ethanol.
History: Winners (1954, 1974, 1990) Finals (1966, 1982, 1986, 2002) Semifinals (1934, 1958, 1970, 2006)
Odds to Win: 12-1

Surfer the team resembles: Bede Durbidge
The Clockwork Orange is a formidable squad, seemingly always in the hunt. Durbidge is a formidable surfer. They shall be formidable together. Expect a quarterfinals appearance for the Orange.
Key Players: Arjen Robben and Robin Van Persie
History: Finals (1974, 1978) Semifinals (1998)
Odds to Win: 12-1

Surfer the team resembles: Jamie O’Brien
Key Player: Franck Ribery
Les Bleus has had plenty of success on the international stage. The Frogs are abhorred by some and adorned by others. They both show up when it counts. Like Pipeline or the premier sporting tournament in existence.
History: Winner (1998) Finalist (2006) Semifinalist (1958, 1982, 1986)
Odds to Win: 16-1

Surfer the team resembles: Gabe Kling
I vaguely remember Kling winning an ASP Prime event at Trestles. It was like the Bizzaro Seinfeld episode when there was an alternative Kramer, Jerry and Costanza. In this bizzaro universe the Yanks might actually have a shot.
Key Players: Clint Dempsey and Tim Howard.
History: Semifinals (1930) Quarterfinals (2002) Qualified (1934, 1950, 1990-1998, 2006)
Odds to Win: 80-1

Surfer the team resembles: Bobby Martinez
Who else, right? El Tri is scrappy. They get good results. They aren’t afraid to get dirty.
Key Players: Giovanni Dos Santos and Andres Guardado
History: Quarterfinalists (1970, 1986)
Odds to Win: 80-1

South Africa
Surfer the team resembles: Travis Logie
The host nation is soccer’s equivalent to a wasted ASP wildcard from the event sponsor. They are ranked 88th in the world by FIFA. They may become the first host nation to not make it out of the knockout round.
History: Qualified 1998, 2002 (banned from 1966 to 1992 because of Apartheid)             
Odds to Win: 125-1

North Korea
Surfer the team resembles: Marco Polo
Is he still on tour? Did North Korea really qualify for the Cup? Is Kim Jong-il on the team? Hell, I don’t know? If Marco Polo launched torpedoes at opponents this season would he make it out of a heat? Who knows?
History: Quarterfinals (1966)
Odds to Win: 2 Million-1


JOB Hires Firm to Restore Most Hated Title

1 04 2010

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA — On the heals of the Mick Fanning controversy it was announced today Jamie O’Brien has obtained the services of a top shelf public relations firm to regain his status as the most hated man in surfing.

Industry insiders say the professional free surfer and former Pipeline Master has become a distant second to the current ASP World Champion and O’Brien wants to do whatever it takes to restore his universal title as the most hated surfer. A recent focus group held by Stab Magazine found 50 percent of its readers strongly oppose Mick Fanning, while 10 percent had no opinion on the matter. The remaining 40 percent said they did not know what “strongly opposed” means but liked pretty pictures and looking at naughty bits.

Schwartz, Putz and Weinstein is a full service public relations firm, founded recently by Charlie Smith and Derek Rielly. The firm specializes in image overhalls, one-of-a-kind athlete requests and the occasional bris.

“I burned the ASP Rule Book, dressed up like Mormon for my movie…even wore a Chinaman’s hat, but then Mick Fanning calls Chas Smith a ‘fucking Jew’ and it’s like all of a sudden I’m practically invisible,” said a clearly bewildered O’Brien while unhooking his Red Bull dialysis machine “Shootz…What’s up wit dat?”

Smith said he and Rielly will give O’Brien the much-needed guidance to resurrect his ability to cause hatred among surfing’s rank and file. And they will unveil a barrage of print advertisements with the slogan ‘Mickshuggener Fanning is my Homeboy.’

“First, we’ll have Jamie take a crash course we like to call ‘Wiggerology 101.’ It’s kind of like waterboarding except we use malt liquor. Then we force him to listen to Eminem for two days straight and feed him nothing but government cheese, barbeque and menthol cigarettes. It’s early in the process but Jamie appears to be a natural. He’s already showing a strong desire to impregnate multiple women out of wedlock. When he hears police sirens he runs like a gazelle. And he’s seen Scarface 36 times. When we’re done with him he’s going to make ’Lil Wayne look like John Wayne.”

But they didn’t stop there. He recently blinged out his ride by installing a $50,000 sound system and a set 30-inch rims with spinners.

He made it clear he will also change the way he approaches riding waves. Instead of pulling into massive barrels, he’ll dodge them. Airs are out and floaters are in. He’s also spent countless hours in the film room studying skimboarding techniques and Jeremy Flores.

“We’re so excited to be handling J.O.B.,” said Rielly. “He’s obviously taking this seriously and we’re confident Schwartz, Putz and Weinstein will put Jamie back where he belongs…on top. Or should I say the bottom? However he likes it. He’s the client.”

Five Photos, Five Quotes

16 03 2010


“One should never drive away from good surf.”
— Allan C. Weisbecker, In Search of Captain Zero 

 “Four legs good, two legs better!”
— George Orwell, Animal Farm


“I often think how unfairly life’s good fortune is sometimes distributed.”
— Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace 


“They were like two enemies in love with one another.”
— Fyodor Dostoevsky, The Brothers Karamazov 

“I fear someday I will meet God, he’ll sneeze and I won’t know what to say.”
— Ronnie Shakes

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)

Jamie O’Brien-Post Volcom Pipeline Pro Interview

4 02 2010


Tell me about that quarterfinal heat. That was a good one.
Definitely. The heat with John John, Bruce (Irons) and Marcus (Hickman) was probably the hardest heat I’ve ever had at Pipeline. I was really nervous coming into it, but at the same time I wasn’t trying to think too much about it because I figured everybody else was pretty nervous too. It was kind of funny. I paddled out and Bruce was like “Oh you’re in my heat?” And then he sees John John and says “you too; and then he looks over at Marcus and says, “AND you? Damn!” 

What about the final?
It was two Australians and two Hawaiians. Myself and (Danny) Fuller. Mark Mathews and Anthony Walsh. It was cool because there were really good rights and lefts. At first everyone wanted the lefts and Mark wanted rights. So me and Mark kept almost colliding at the top, but I got lucky and got a couple really good waves and it worked in my favor. It was a fun final. It was a bit long. I got nervous. 

You got nervous at the end?

Then Mark got the nine.
Yeah, Mark got the 9.7 and it was funny because I paddled for that wave and I didn’t really look right, started paddling and I looked back. Last second I said, “I’m going no matter what. I’m in the spot. If he dogs me he dogs me.” I got a pretty good wave. I was really stoked. When I paddled back out I didn’t even know Mark went right. After they announced the 9.7, I was like “damn I better sit on Mark.” I got an 8.7. Then it got more inconsistent throughout the morning. So it worked out for me. 

Did you actually regret getting that score you needed in the final knowing full well you’d have to go to the beach and do about 20 interviews and not get to freesurf after?
(Laughs) Actually the waves were good and I wanted to stay out there. And I saw all the boys paddling out. After my wish for (the ocean) to go flat with 8 minutes left in the final it became a reality. Ten minutes after my heat was over it was still flat. (laughs) So it was kind of funny. 

How did you prepare for the final day? I imagine you did some yoga and downed a few protein shakes?
(Trying to hold back laughter) Actually when I’m in contest I get nervous so I don’t eat too much. I just fill myself with liquid…I was drinking water and Red Bulls all morning. 

I was kind of surprised you skipped the six star in Brazil?
I wasn’t even entered. 

But it was a six star. What about the points?
I was talking to a friend because Hang Loose sponsored that contest and my friend who rides for them said “come down I’ll get you into the event.” And I said, “nah, I’m good. I just wanted to stay at home in Hawaii and work on my movie. Just chill in Hawaii.” 

I’m looking at the ASP rankings and they have you 48th place in the one-tier rankings.
I’m coming in. 

But the ASP fined you?
Yeah, I got fined. I burnt the rulebook and they fined me. Whatever. It’s OK. It was kind of funny because during the contest they were like “you know you owe us money.” Every time I checked in for a heat they’d be like “there’s money on the side.” These guys were really trying to put the pressure on me. (Jamie was shown burning the ASP rule book in the trailer to his movie.)

Like the IRS?
Yeah, pretty much like the IRS. They were just waiting to tax me, but it worked out well. I burned the rulebook. It cost me. I was stoked to win the event and pay them back and get on my way. 

You board looked one sticker light?
It’s actually a couple of stickers light (Jamie is no longer riding for Rusty clothing). Red Bull stepped up. They wanted to back my movie making choices and help me in that direction. And that’s the direction I wanted to go. I wasn’t getting too much backing from some of the other companies for my movie, so I put my head down and went with Red Bull. They’re great people. A great company. There’s nothing better than riding for Red Bull. 

Are you looking for a lighter sponsor now?
A what? 

A lighter sponsor. Like Zippo or Bic.
(Laughs) Well, there’s definitely some interesting stuff going on. Right now Red Bull has my back and we’re open to offers. It couldn’t happen at a better time. 

This is your fifth win at Pipe, right?
My fifth win and my third time winning this event, so I was pretty stoked. I’m trying to rack up the wins at Pipe. That’s my goal in life. 

To win contests at Pipe and free surf?
Yep, exactly. 

If they held the whole tour at Pipe would you be world champ?

You don’t have trouble getting waves at Pipe but it still must be nice having only three other guys out?
It’s nice to have three guys out but when the level that high in your heat it’s probably harder to catch waves, because everyone wants that same wave. And it’s a contest so you can dog your friend. In a free surf you aren’t going to want to dog your friend. You know what I mean? Your friend can say “it’s a contest” and you have to kind of agree with him (lowers voice) “I guess so damn it, but I kind of hate you right now. I ain’t gonna lie.” 

It’s no secret you’re mainly a freesurfer and don’t do many contests. There’s a lot of guys who are really good surfers but can’t surf contests. That’s not the case with you.
I know I’m a competitor deep down inside, but I don’t like being at one place in the world when the waves are better somewhere else. I want to be where the waves are the best. During this event I saw that a good swell was hitting Bali and I was freaking out. Saying I got to get to Bali. But it just didn’t fit my window. It just so happens that every time there’s a surf contest the waves are 30 million times better somewhere else across the world. 

How’s the movie (Who is J.O.B.) coming along?
The movie is coming along really well. We have everything together. We have some final stuff to run through on the film. We going to be filming from now until mid-April and we’ll be doing a huge premiere in L.A., a big celebrity party. So it should be pretty crazy. It should blow up. It will be all done in May and we’ll start a new project straight after that. I’m going to try to go do something new and different after this. 

You play a big role on the editing process don’t you?
I like to be a big part of the editing. I used to do it, but I found a really good editor. He’s really good with the filming too…which is Dayten. I’ve also been working with my friend Rueben. It’s always nice to help your friend out. I’ve been working with Vincent Laforet. We have a really good team. It should come out really good. Red Bull is backing us 10 million percent. They’re telling me they are going to blow it up even harder than Travis Rice’s (snowboard) film. I’m ready. I want to see it. This is my dream. This is my world title…making a movie. 

Note: The preceding interview first appeared on Surfline.com




Five Photos, Five Quotes

1 02 2010

Subject: Jay “Bottle” Thompson.
When in doubt, go for the dick joke.
-Robin Williams

Subject: Jamie O’Brien 
It’s impossible to get anywhere without sinning against reason.
-Albert Einstein

Subject: Alex Knost
Though I believe it sinful to be queer, it has at least saved me from becoming
a pillar of the establishment.

-W.H. Auden

Subject: OP Pro 1986
Crazy people can often be very charismatic.
David Mazzucchelli, Asterios Polyp

Subject: Frank Zappa
Rock journalism is people who can’t write interviewing people who can’t
talk for people who can’t read.* 
-Frank Zappa
*Maybe he was talking about surf journalism.

Surfboard Stereotypes

11 01 2010

Jamie O'Brien and his quiver of trusty Rustys. Photo: Tyler Cuddy/Surfline

A surfboard is the most important component of any surfer’s arsenal. Surfboards are conduits that splash brushstrokes on saltwater canvases. They are extensions of our souls. They are muses and swords, trophies and brothers. We give them names like Black Beauty, Mother of Pearl or the Egg. We protect them like fragile infants. When everything goes right, they are magical. Like it or not, the board you ride says a lot about you.  

Channel Islands: You are a classic front-runner with no taste. You have been married at least twice. You live in the suburbs; have 2.5 kids, a golden retriever, a mistress and a $1000-a-week cocaine habit.    

…Lost: You’ve never had a job that requires a W-2 form. You have a minimum of 12 tattoos. You root for the bad guys in westerns. Idols include GG Allin, Johnny Cash and Aaron Cormican.   

JS Tractor:
You aren’t exactly gay but would snuggle up with Occy like a koala bear in heat if given the opportunity.

You used to kill puppies and sell your body for drugs, but found Jesus a few years ago.   

Firewire: You are well-to-do stay at home dad, watch the Oxygen network and fantasize about Oprah wearing black leather. You have It’s Raining Men on your iPod.   

Superbrand: You’re an aspiring artist who wears designer T-shirts. You pay the bills by DJing weddings and Bar Mitzvahs. You can’t execute a simple cutback but you attempt an air on every wave. One day you will pull one off. You have an Andy Warhol shrine in the basement.   

T. Patterson: You have a permenant tan line where your state-mandated ankle bracelet used to be. 

Velzy: You don’t surf anymore and but still buy boards at collectables auctions.   

A Kneeboard: You’ve never been past second base with a girl.   

Santa Cruz Epoxy: You belong to a food co-op and are attracted to European women who don’t shave. You smoke speed on weekends.   

Tropical Brazil: Your interests include soccer, Carnival and milking 2-foot mushburgers to the beach.   

Ben Aipa: You have a beer belly you’ve nicknamed “the 12-pack.”  

Yater Spoon: You are a sucker for six-foot peaks and love the smell of napalm in the morning.   

Maurice Cole: You masturbate to old Miki Dora photographs. You keep a copy of Catcher and the Rye under your pillow.   

Surftech: You conceived your first child at a Radiohead concert and your wife/girlfriend thinks iPhones are more addictive than crack.   

An Alaia: Your’re a disgruntled former pro still cashing checks from a third-tier clothing company. You have a fugazi Jackson Pollack in the living room and dream about opening an Asian fusion restaurant.   

Chilli: Your ancestors were petty thieves and grifters before they were and shipped Down Under by the British.   

Xanadu: You are a strip club DJ in San Diego. You drive an aftermarket Honda and eat sushi 4 nights a week.   

T&C: You went to Hawaii last summer and got a surf lesson at Waikiki.   

Kechele: You drive a monster truck. You think Todd Holland was the greatest surfer of all time (besides Slater of course…amen). You have an enormous case of West Coast envy, but routinely tell your friends the East Coast is way better. Your great-grandfather was in the KKK.   

Robert August: You are a construction contractor. You sold your Harley Davidson on eBay. You struggle to fit into your 20-year-old Aleeda wetsuit.   

Patagonia: You sell Mona Vie acai juice for a living. Someday you will achieve your dream of riding along with the Sea Sheppard crew. You drive your wife’s Subaru station wagon.   

Wave Riding Vehicles (WRV): You think Ron Jon is core surf shop and get a 10% discount.   

A self-shaped board: You excel at making “will work for food” signs and your current address is under a freeway overpass.   

A SUP: You own a dozen Ed Hardy shirts. You want to commit suicide but don’t own a shotgun.