Stab Magazine | No Hawaii? Say It Ain't So

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No Hawaii? Say It Ain’t So

Letter From The Editor: Why losing the Hawaiian leg is unacceptable, longboarders need to lighten up, and we need more guys on tour like Wade Carmichael. 

news // Feb 9, 2018
Words by stab
Reading Time: 5 minutes

Morning, lovers.

After four days in sunny Florida—attending to family affairs, sitting bedside with my dear old GMa—I caught a late flight out of Orlando, back to Los Angeles, but not before a heavy and confusing conversation with the WSL’s Dave Prodan—a man for whom I have a great deal of respect and am very fond of—who at the time of our phone call had been put in a very unfortunate position, indeed.

Our conversation was on background, nothing on the record. These types of conversations are incredibly helpful, in that they allow us to speak freely and honestly without simply repeating the same old talking points the job requires.

Like Dave, I was less concerned with the technicalities and politics around the permits, nor with WSL CEO Sophie Goldschmidt’s decision to show up to the Mayor’s office unnanounced or to go to the press to voice the WSL’s concerns…

I wanted to know just what was on the line. What bold new professional surfing future was at risk, that Sophie felt it required such drastic action?  

Because if at the end of all this media jockeying, it meant no Pipe Masters, no Hawaiian professional World Tour surfing, no Triple fucking Crown, well… that was almost too much to swallow. Ask 10 surfers who’ve spent time on the World Tour the last forty-five years what their favorite part of the year is, and 8 out of 10 will tell you: Hawaii. Why? Do I really need to justify that argument?

Suckah, please.  

In the sudden and unexpected deterioration of relations between the WSL and the State of Hawaii—which has seen the WSL threaten the very real chance of them pulling all Hawaiian events from the 2018/19 season (and possibly for years to come) if the schedule changes aren’t accommodated—the WSL is yet to make clear the hopeful transition schedule that they are proposing for the next two years.

While Dave was unable to speak on the record w/r/t the subject, he’s smart enough to know I can read between lines.

The Hawaiian drama is playing out in service of a radical shift in Tour format the WSL is trying to bring to the table, news of which leaked in September of last year, when Stab reported on an all-hands, closed-door session wherein the WSL unveiled their new Tour concept: 

Instead of crowning a champ at Pipe, the WCT’s regular season would begin in Hawaii, at the Pipe Masters.

The CT season would end in September. (Possibly, at Teahupoo.)

Instead of being decided by accumulated points, the World Champ will be crowned in primetime surf, at a specialty event held in Indonesia and featuring only the tour’s Top Shelf…

To win the World Championship, the sixth-ranked surfer would surf against the fifth, the winner of that against fourth, and so on, until the final matchup: Whoever’s made it through will face the world ranked number one.

The Qualifying Series would commence immediately after the title is decided, in September, operating in similar fashion to the Minor Leagues or the NCAA in other pro sports, and allowing a level playing field and tight, four-month-long schedule for CT surfers to compete and re-qualify, or train and enjoy an actual off-season.

The QS Season will run from September through December, and end in Hawaii, presumably with the Triple Crown (which would provide three very big opportunities for local Hawaiian surfers hoping to make the CT), with the Volcom Pipe Pro being held in December, deciding the next year’s World Tour.

Which all sounded, well, radical.

For decades, the ‘QS has been considered by many an unfortunate, often year-long drag, “The QS Grind” etc. etc. With no CT events to overshadow the ‘QS, 16 or so of the previous year’s ‘CT back end fighting to get back on against a fired up pack of hopefuls who have been training all year, putting out free-surfing clips instead of slugging it out in Rio, or Virginia Beach, or China all year long…

The shortened season would allow for pro surfers to pursue more stable, adult lives, while having eight months to sharpen their teeth before a focused, robust, four-month ‘QS, (presumably) held in choice locations, and with a three-gun North Shore salute at the end with the Triple Crown (whether the Volcom Pipe Pro would become the third leg in that tripod is obviously anyone’s guess right now).

Sure, Lowers and Cloudbreak were dust, but the whole concept, in theory, looked like a drastic improvement—for ‘CT and ‘QS surfers, as well as fans, local Hawaiian pros, etc., etc.

While these plans have been under consideration by the WSL for months, according to the Mayor’s office the variances were not included in the application due in August 2017, nor were changes to that application submitted by the November 7th deadline. You can read about all of that right here, in the piece that landed in my inbox upon touching down at LAX, Rory Parker’s remarkable, tirelessly reported feature (which, for his depth of reporting and attention to legal and political detail, found him unwittingly on the receiving end of some undeserving, unkind words from a certain World Champ and Triple Crown winner).

With the Mayor officially denying their request, the WSL is left in a tough spot solidifying their hoped-for 2018/19 tour, and the reality of their streamlined, primetime 2019 is looking very different.

Which is a shame, no matter where you place the blame. Here’s hoping for some backchannel miracles, because November through January, there’s no place I’d rather be than on the North Shore. 

Fittingly, Hawaii flexed its muscles for the Volcom Pipe Pro, and local boy Joshua Moniz kept the crown on Oahu.  How fun is a comp to watch in pumping Pipe? Nothing compares, sorry.

Last week, we rode shotgun through the Goldie with some of its favorite sons, Crewsy, Bottle, and the Occster himself, in our favorite travel series in the surf game, About Town.

Jake Embrey’s carrying the weekend dead weight like a damned champion, ain’t he?  And how about that cheeky Insta Stories surfcam hack? 

Speaking of which, is Wade Carmichael the underdog Australia needs? 

The WSL announced Richie Porta’s replacement, Australian Pritamo Ahrendt, a 19-year WSL veteran and by all accounts a “bloody fucking legend.”

Talen Kanlow released one seriously gorg showreal. The Nazare Destruction Derby 2018 has been given the Green Light. Burch and Veeco released a capsule full of ’90s-nostalgia. 

And you wouldn’t believe the fire and brimstone longboarders tossed at Buckley’s snowball fight. Heartbreaking stories of vulnerable children shelving their logs, shamed by Buck’s twisted sense of humor, one man’s Opinion shattering childhood dreams of drop-knee glory, nasal exploration, beat-up Birdwells and rusty Econolines.

The only time I’ve ever received such vitriol was, ironically enough, when I first started posting longboard clips here at @Stab, insisting to readers that we simply host the best surfing being done no matter the equipment, as long as it suited the conditions, horses for courses, and so on.

I’d wanted Buck to write an honest argument against logging, to balance out my unwavering, stubborn pride in boards over-9ft (in waves under head-high), for our ongoing series, The Problem With Surfing, but Buck wasn’t feeling it.

He just wanted to write something about having a completely irrational and entirely personal Opinion about longboards. Because he thinks it’s funny. And stupid. 

And boy did it make longboarders angry.

I told Joel Tudor, “these kids have no clue how much shit we were given as kids for logging!”

“It’s a joke—don’t worry… this stuff is hilarious,” Joel said. 

More on that later, but I can’t wait to hear what everyone has to say about Rory’s forthcoming defense of hi-performance longboarding. Talk about hate. 

My trip home to Florida refilled my tank, reminded me just how much grovel I endured as a grom, just how fortunate I am to live somewhere I can surf everyday, with the right equipment. 

With that, I’m bolting to the Breakwater for an afternoon dip, and a few little west swell runners on a 9’4 Son of Sam. Frankly, if you live in 90% of coastal locales and don’t have a log in your quiver, you’re blowing it. 

Keep it cutty, with a little class, Stab.*

Bashon Loggans



*And consider Alan Watts’ lovely lecture in this broody goddamned Morocco edit below, if you have the time.


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