Ultimate Surfer: Surfing's Most Talked About Reality Show Debuts - Stab Mag
Photo by ABC/WSL

Ultimate Surfer: Surfing’s Most Talked About Reality Show Debuts

We watched the Ultimate Surfer so you wouldn’t have to.

news // Aug 24, 2021
Words by The Ultimate Surf Fan
Reading Time: 4 minutes

*Read the Ultimate Surfer Episode 2 recap here.

Fourteen of the world’s best surfers walk through the gates of an alleged ‘surf ranch.’

At the same time, I casually wipe hummus off my parents’ living room furniture, hoping mother doesn’t see the chickpea smear on the good sofa.

We’re huddled around the TV for episode 1 of the Ultimate Surfer, the biggest, hottest, and juiciest thing in surfing. My parents know nothing about surfing, but as a writer for Stab, I let them know that I’m not an expert on the subject either.

Lets get started: 

Our contestants, all of whom are gorgeous, lacking body fat, and allergic to T-shirts, sit in the common area awaiting their first challenge. The surfers include:

Men: Alejandro Moreda, Kai Barger, Koa Smith, Luke Davis, Mason Barnes, Zeke Lau, Austin Clouse, and Koa Smith

Women: Brianna Cope, Bruna Zaun, Juli Hernandez, Anastasia Ashley, Kayla Durden, Malia Ward and Tia Blanco

The show’s host Jesse Palmer walks into frame. Total hunk; dad scruff, nice teeth, and presumably an expert surf analyst.

“Jesse Palmer!” Calls out my half-sleeping father. My mother hasn’t looked up from her phone yet, and I learn who Palmer is after the contestants emphasize their love for ESPN and the Bachelor.

Jesse introduces his handsome self, and lets us know what’s on the line:

One female surfer and one male surfer will win $100,000 each, three wildcard spots on the CT, and most importantly, the title as the Ultimate Surfer.

As the voice of pro surfing, Joel Turpel, puts it, “Going straight to the Championship Tour would be like a high school basketball player skipping college and going straight to the NBA.”

The surfers then disperse into their mobile homes, and meet their roommates. Everything is fine, until Brianna Cope learns she has to live with Malia Ward. For unmentioned reasons, we learn that the two are not friends, so Bri moves out. Crisis averted.

For whatever reason, Malia and Anastasia seem to get along well, as do Bri and Tia. Both lady duos seem to have formed alliances of their own and marked the other group as sworn enemies. Foreshadowing for future drama, exciting.

We’re only twenty minutes in, and my ultimate surf parents are uneasy. “They haven’t even shown any surfing yet,” Father complains. Mother, who is a known viewer of the Real Housewives of OC, The Bachelor, and other nonsense claims the show is ‘boring.’ 

I ignore their neglect for my culture. They don’t know what it’s like to be a surfer.

The first activity for the group is, omg, spin the bottle! Sadly, the WSL and ABC did not force the beautiful young people to swallow each other’s tongues. Whomever the bottle landed on had to choose a partner of the opposite sex, and the newly formed teams will compete in beach battles throughout the show. Win the battle, and your team is safe from the dreaded surf-off.

It is crucial to note that the surf-off is the gauntlet of the show, so you either put up a winning score, or you go home. The format for elimination is male vs male, and female vs female, so the two winners will form a new team if need be.

This first beach battle was ‘Combo Turns.’ This was a confusing term at first, but luckily, Joel fills us in. A combo turn, which is a singular word, is when you combine multiple types of turns over the course of a single wave. To differentiate between carves and snaps, a surfer by the name of Kelly Slater puts on a vibrant demonstration. Kelly appears to to be stuck in a television, which is alarming. Please, someone help him get out.

The surfers’ surfing was spectacular. They rode fast, made a big splash, and when the wave got too big, they fell hard. The constantly changing camera angles and dramatic music let me know that this wave is intense. I’m not so good at measuring the splashes, but Luke and Anastasia won the Combo Turn competition, with an average score of 5.35 out of 10. That seems like a pretty low winning score, but these are the best surfers in the world, so it just means surfing is #hard.

As the winners, Luke and Anastaia get to select one team to go to the surf off. The team selected would then get to pick which team they face against. Luke and Anastasia send Zeke and Kayla to the surf off, who then drag Austin and Malia to the nighttime sudden-death soiree.

Zeke does the splash thing again, this time super hard, and gets a 9.5! Holy cow, I wouldn’t be surprised if this guy won. Like at all. If Zeke Lau wins, my level of disbelief would remain untouched. Seriously, I think he’s got a solid chance.

Austin gets clipped in the part of the wave they keep calling a barrel, but there’s no cylindrical wooden structure in sight. Kayla also gets hit into the head by water, and falls.

Malia thinks she is trapped inside the round wooden structure that I still can’t see, as she tells herself, “Get pitted, Malia, and come out.” 

Zeke, who I think has a solid chance to become the Ultimate Surfer, beat Austin. Malia, with the curly hair, beat Kayla. Austin and Kayla now go home to Florida.

Episode 2 airs tonight. Mom bought more hard seltzers because I drank all the ones before. Canceled on my probably unemployed tinder date so I can watch again. Why have shameful sex when you can watch the Ultimate Surfer? 

That was a lie, I never had a tinder date. I said that to sound cool.

– Ultimate surf fan

*Read the Ultimate Surfer Episode 2 recap here.


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