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.

Spain
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.

Brazil
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.

England
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

Italy
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

Germany
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

Netherlands
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

France
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

USA
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

Mexico
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.”





Mick Fanning vs. Stab Magazine

22 03 2010

In December Mick Fanning clinched his second Dream Tour world title. Now he is dealing with a public relations nightmare. Photo: ASP

You have most likely heard about it by now. In its January/February edition Stab Magazine published a story titled “Tales of a Fucking Jew.” In it writer Charlie Smith recounts his altercation with Mick Fanning at a December party in Hawaii to celebrate Fanning’s second world title. Smith stated the newly-crowned ASP World Champion called him a “Fucking Jew” four times. The issue has been subsequently pulled from the newsstands, most likely due to pressure both legally and financially.  

There are a few things I find completely absurd about the situation. First, the statement Mick posted on his web site. I do not know who is advising him, but he should have just apologized unconditionally. End of story. Instead he fires a shot at Stab. He states: “Prior to the exchange with the reporter, I had refused to speak with him because I understood he worked for Stab Magazine and that it had previously published articles which I believed were racist and anti-Semitic.” He continues. “I strongly object to views, statements and comments of that nature.”  

That’s why you felt to need to call Smith a “fucking Jew” four times? Because you “strongly object to views, statements and comments of that nature?” Never mind the fact Smith is not Jewish. But your statements were taken out of context right? It leads me to wonder in what context is it acceptable for a surfing champion to call someone a “fucking Jew?” Fanning stated he was trying to be ironic. Well, congratulations. You succeeded. What’s next? A photo op with a surfing Rabbi?  

Second, for the most part the surf media is not touching the story. The only publications on the story are the Australian newspapers and tabloids. I understand the surf media might view this as a non-story and would rather focus on surfing, not verbal altercations between a journalist and a surfer. I can respect that. But I suspect this is a financial and access driven decision.  

Let’s imagine for a moment if Kobe Bryant or Peyton Manning called a reporter a “fucking Jew.” What would happen? It would be the lead story on ESPN and every single media outlet in America. It would be career suicide. They would be losing endorsements deals, backpedaling and apologizing unconditionally. But this is surfing not the NBA or NFL. And surfing can be so absurd at times. Instead, Stab is being painted as the bad guy here because they had the balls to publish the story and have published so-called racially insensitive stories in the past. 

I am not suggesting Fanning should lose his livelihood for this or I am not going to pretend I am outraged by his comments. What I suspect is Fanning simply had a little bit too much to drink and said something he shouldn’t have.  

Smith told the Australian newspaper on Saturday an inebriated Fanning was upset about an earlier article in which he had criticized the surfer’s “boring” sense of style. Well, one thing is certain. Mick is no longer boring.





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 Quik Pro Part III

4 03 2010

Parko Defeats Dane? Wait...that's not right.

There is white smoke rising from the Coolangotta Vatican. A new Pontiff has been selected. His name is John Paul Dane I. But the Pope is not perfect. He is human. He has his faults. Like the time he told Africans not to wear condoms. For the sake of future surfing generations, Dane should never wear a condom.
 
The storyline of the day was upsets. Big, nasty ones. After witnessing favorite sons Joel Parkinson and Mick Fanning lose, Australians must feel like Dick Cheney when he found out his daughter was gay.
 
Kai Otton’s disposal of Mick Fanning was impressive indeed. Yesterday I spoke highly of his backhand surfing on the tricky Snapper walls. The day after he threw the bones like a craps shooter on a roll in Vegas, and Ottz beat the house. Then he ran into Pit Boss Bobby Martinez. No person should be able to surf Snapper on his backhand like that. I am convinced Bobby sold his soul to the Devil many moons ago at the crossroads of Bates Road.
 
Speaking of Rincon, It should surprise no one that the only two Americans remaining grew up in close proximity to the California pointbreak.
 
Jordy Smith beat Kelly Slater soundly. He deserved that one, but he has been on the good side of several close calls including his heat with Bede Durbidge. Bede was underscored on the 6.5. That I am sure of.

When Kelly Slater surfs we watch like a dog  sticking his head out of an open window of a moving car. We are happy. Win or lose.
 
Taj Burrow is quietly winning. Everyone is talking about everyone else. What about Taj? “When God? When does he get to see the Goddamn sailboat?”
 
Adriano is the best Brazilian ever. I would not be surprised if they built a statue of him overlooking Rio. Jesus is old news. Yesterday there were approximately 5,000 babies born in Brazil. They were all named Adriano.

The most important ingredient in competitive surfing is quality waves. 2009 was a weak year as far as waves go on the WCT. When the waves are good not much else matters. Even bad decisions can’t screw up a good thing. Which leads me to the comment of the day…
 
“Nice Guys Finish First” summed up the decision to run the women’s draw after round 4. “I just heard that when the Cavs meet the Lakers in the NBA final they are going to halt it after the series is tied 2 to 2 and hold the final game of the WNBA finals. Kind of let Kobe and Lebron rest a little you know.”





Best Bets for the Quiksilver Pro

24 02 2010

Will 2010 be Slater's last drink? Photo: ASP/Roberson

The first event of the WCT season is crucial to world title aspirations. A good start on the Gold Coast can slingshot you into world title contention. A bad result can affect your entire year. A perfect example is Kelly Slater’s early exit last year at Snapper. He seemingly never recovered. Since 2005 only 14 surfers have won a WCT event. Just 14. Can you believe that? If that doesn’t prove how difficult winning a ’CT event is, I don’t know what does.

The new One World ASP format will make things even more interesting this year, even if an Asian MIT grad can’t figure out how it works. With the Top 44 being reduced to 32 surfers at the mid-point of the season, a good start in 2010 is more important than ever.  Additionally, there’s been a lot of hype surrounding the “revised” judging criteria for 2010 and the Quiksilver Pro will be its first test at the elite level. And according to recent reports, Snapper is looking prime and ready to fire just in time. But who knows? This is a mobile event and Duranbah might see a little action as well.

Joel Parkinson (2009 Result 1st)
The aftertaste of last year’s debacle may be still haunting him like Macbeth’s demons. Unless his conscience is “too full o’ the milk of human kindness,” Parko will be looking for blood in 2010, and he’ll have more of the crimson liquid on his hands than the aforementioned Shakespearean protagonist. After nursing a bum ankle during the later half of ’09, he appears to be 100 percent healthy and that equals bad news for the rest of the top 44. Because he’ll be surfing in front of a hometown crowd, you know he wants to win this one badly. And I expect him to do just that.

Kelly Slater (2009 Result 17th)
On his death bed whiskey maker Jack Daniel went out in style. His last words were “One last drink, please.” 2010 might be Kelly’s ASP farewell tour and if he truly wants it he will be popping champagne bottles in Hawaii (or before that) in lieu of Tennessee whiskey. Last year, on the Gold Coast, everyone was talking about the kneeboards he was riding. This year they’ll still be talking about his boards, but instead opponents will also be on their knees praying they don’t draw the 9-time champ in a heat. I expect no less than a finals appearance, and if he decides to do the entire tour he’ll win number 10 this year. Book it.

Bede Durbidge (2009 Result 5th)
Bede finished second in the world in 2008. Last year he finished third. How does this guy get virtually no press? Maybe Al Qaeda should recruit the Australian, because he’s so far under the radar he could hop on a Qantas flight from Sydney to Los Angeles with bomb strapped to his belly and no one would notice. Maybe he should start wearing eyeliner or go on a Tiger Woods-esque sex bender. All kidding aside, his local knowledge and ability to beat anyone when he’s on will pay off. Expect him to make the semis.

Mick Fanning (2009 Result 3rd)
If the “revised” judging criteria holds true, which on paper rewards progressive surfing more than ever, Mick might suffer more than any of the other world title contenders. He just doesn’t have the manuevers in his arsenal to match up with like Dane, Jordy, Slater and the up-and-coming young guns. But the ASP Tour is not a Kai Neville or Taylor Steele film and the two-time champ knows how to win. Besides, the judges have suffered from Paris Hilton’s Lazy Eye Syndrome for years. Why should 2010 be any different? You certainly can’t knock Mick’s innate competitive desire and ability to win when it counts. I’m pretty sure he’ll get a good result, but don’t expect them to hand out Micktory T-shirts and trucker hats when it’s over.

Taj Burrow (2009 Result 3rd)
Taj is on a roll. He won the last WCT event of 2009 at Pipeline and the recent 4-star WQS at Burleigh. That might give him the momentum he needs to mount a world title campaign in 2010. Consistency is his strength and weakness. He’s always in the hunt but can’t seem to ever finish the job. His clock his ticking.  It can be argued the Western Australian gave progressive contest surfing its launching pad. If the tour was a Tennessee Williams’ play he’d be Amanda Wingfield, longing for the days when he was the belle of the ball. He still has a few prime years left, and half of the time competitive surfing is just luck. Taj always comes through with good results on the Gold Coast. I can’t see him finishing with less than an equal fifth here. 

Dane Reynolds (2009 Result 9th)
There’s so much hype surrounding Dane he’s like a genetically engineered love child of Barack Obama, Miki Dora and Christian Fletcher. Dane is progressive surfing’s perceived savior. Last year at Jeffreys Bay he hit his stride and began to live up to the hype—at least competitively. He has so much talent and is so in tune with the ocean, that if he was female the tides might just ebb and flow with his menstrual cycle. If the revised judging criteria isn’t just PR propaganda, his go-for-broke approach in heats will surely benefit. A good start here may just propel him into the top 5 this year. It’s a sizable gamble to state he’ll be on the winner’s podium. At Snapper, he could lose in the first round or win the whole thing. My prognostication skills are like Dane’s surfing and I’m willing to gamble on this one.

Jordy Smith (2009 Result 9th)
I saw the South African assassin surfing a marginal beachbreak in Orange County about a week ago and he was just lighting it up. He might be the best surfer in the world right now. What amazes me about Jordy is he’s 6’2’’ and nearly 200 pounds. He can throw buckets of water and huck himself six feet in the air on the same wave. He probably won’t win, but I predict he’ll make the trek to Bells with no less than an equal fifth under his belt.

Owen Wright (2009 Result N/A)
Owen is my dark horse pick to win the Quik Pro. The only negative for Owen at Snapper is he’s a goofyfoot, which means he’ll be on his backhand. If some of the comp runs at D-Bah that might help his chances even more because it’s a right or left. When it comes to competing he has balls the size of watermelons. Slater? Parko? Mick? No worries. It doesn’t seem to faze the kid one iota. If he drew Jesus of Nazareth in round three he’d probably shrug and say “looks like I’m going to have to one up this guy’s walk-on-water routine.” And he probably would.





Surfing Motivational Posters

8 02 2010

H/T to Your Daily Donkey