Stab Magazine | Is Progression A Bigger Threat To Surfing Than Sharks?

Is Progression A Bigger Threat To Surfing Than Sharks?

A serious investigation into a serious sport. 

style // Jul 10, 2019
Words by Stab
Reading Time: 5 minutes

As we all know, the North Shore’s gift to surfing sustained a knee injury after trying an air and has pulled out of competition until the further notice. 

Yes, it will be sad to watch the J-Bay Open without Coco Ho around. Heal up, darling.  

In other news, John John Florence also hurt himself trying an air (really more of a kick out) which has prompted a hot topic of debate in the intellectual surfing community. 

Is modern-day surfing the biggest threat to modern-day surfing?  

The recent string of injuries has earned airs a place amongst the most dangerous aspects of our sport — right there with sharks, drowning, and middle American department stores. And while there once was a time when it seemed as though airs were the most logical way to progress surfing, it is now apparent that Bede Durbidge was more of a prophet than a performer.  

It’s called safety surfing for a reason. 

Luckily, J-Bay is one of the safest waves on tour when you look at it that way — and especially if you completely negate the fact that Filipe Toledo does airs at pretty much every venue, lands most of them and almost never gets hurts. 

From here on out, if you truly respect surfing and want it to progress healthily, you shouldn’t do anything that Gary Elkerton can’t do. 

Onto the rankings. 

#69 Stephanie Tillman 

I grew up with a chick who recently stabbed a guy at a motel in New Jersey. As an established surf journalist, I was following the story very closely. As a result, Google now brings me to an article about this odious crime every time I try to go to the Stab site. 

It leaves me feeling angry and confused — shoutout to all the reef booty wearing dads who just clicked into this article from Facebook. 


#33 Jadson Andre 

Some things never change. And there is something about watching him do an early-grab air reverse on a warbly chest-high left that makes me feel so safe while striving to meet an increasingly large list of demands in our wild and confusing modern world. 

#27 Ricardo Christie 

Everybody knows that winning the World Title is a game of consistency. But people forget that losing the world title is too and he looks hard to beat with 17th place in all of the five events so far. 

#23 Waves That Look Fun But Turn Out To Be Annoying Or Hard To Surf


-Most of WA 

-Not Lowers 


-Big Hossegor 


-What’s yours?

#21 Crosby Colapinto 

Is he the new Griffin Colapinto, who is the new Kolohe Andino, who is the new Dino Andino? Is he Dino Andino? 

#19 The Brazilian Fans 

They showed up on the beach in droves. They sang. They danced. And they kicked balls with a ferocity we haven’t seen in surfing since Marshall’s went out of business. 

#16 Conner Coffin 

If not doing airs is the new doing airs, then Conner Coffin is actually the most futuristic surfer on tour — no offense to Joan Duru. 

#15 The WSL

They pulled one of the most cunning marketing tricks of the year by not running the women at big Barrinha — never before in surfing have so many people been so enthused by the idea of watching Sally Fitzgibbons surf overhead waves. 

#14 John John Florence 

It took him a while to go through with it, but you gotta give John props for honoring one of the greatest traditions in all of surfing — pulling out of the Brazil event. A dignified way to hang up the jersey for the year. 

#13 Gabriel Medina 

If he’s a real competitor, he’ll damage his MCL just to one-up John John. 

Screen Shot 2019 07 09 at 6.58.28 AM

#10 Jordy Smith

Coming off a second place in Rio, all eyes are on the big South African as he sets out to win his first major event since the 2006 O’Neill Grom Prix. Will the tears flow on his homeland?  

#8 Kelly Slater 

As another US election season is starting to take shape, the 47-year-old social media fanatic could be hungry to prove himself as the most progressive surfer on tour. It will be interesting to see him face off against the right at J-Bay. 

#5 Kanoa Igarashi 

He’s Japan’s highest rated surfer since Brett Simpson and this is where he found a new gear last year. Let’s hope that he can keep it coming.  

#3 Kolohe Andino 

A lot of people say that second place is the first loser — if that proves to be true, can he be the first loser to win an event this year? 

#2 Stephanie Gilmore 

She got 3rd in Brazil and is 3rd in the rankings, but it doesn’t matter because she already won J-Bay just by existing. 

#1 Filipe Toledo 

The story of this year’s World Title comes down to a single wave — and it’s the one that John hurt himself on in Rio. But when you analyze the data, you can see that Filipe would have never pulled out. It’s about time for a World Title berth.   

Springsuit Of The Event

Springsuit Of The Event

And now, we take a moment of silence to collectively express our gratitude to Owen Wright for his never-ending commitment to the short ams, short legs game. 

Word Of The Story

Word of the story 



extremely unpleasant; repulsive.

“a pretty odious character”


Conspiracy theory of the event

John John’s largely plant-based diet was responsible for the collapse of his knee due to the fact that he was consuming enough protein to support an incredibly active human body BUT not enough to make his brain function in a way that jacks him up with enough chemicals to make him feel like throwing a spear at a Wooly Mammoth or surfing like Italo Ferriera/trying to land an air on that section.  


Meditation of the event 




Comments are a Stab Premium feature. Gotta join to talk shop.

Already a member? Sign In

Want to join? Sign Up


Most Recent

The Vans Triple Crown Of Surfing Returns In 2023

Can anyone beat John Florence and Carissa Moore in a three-week window?

Dec 1, 2022

What Will Airs Look Like In 10 Years?

The final installment of our editorial exploration into the nuances of airborne surfing.

Dec 1, 2022


Can A South African Cavern Queen With No Pipeline Experience Do Well At The Vans Pipe Masters?

Sophie Bell will have a steep learning curve in Hawaii.

Nov 30, 2022

After Years Of Tragic Shark Attacks, Surf Competition Returns To Reunion Island — And A CT Event Could Follow

"We compete at J-Bay and Margarets where there's the same problem." -Johanne Defay

Nov 30, 2022


Sharing Tubes And Hummus In The Middle East’s Surfing Jewel: Israel

No Contest does Tel Aviv!

Nov 29, 2022


Joao Chianca Wants A Pipeline Rematch With JJF

And ain't afraid to ride more foam to do it in the Vans Pipe Masters.

Nov 29, 2022

An Unorthodox Marriage Of Science And Surf

Cliff Kapono and The Mega Lab are changing stereotypes on all fronts.

Nov 28, 2022


Harry Bryant Dumps Crutches, Visualizes Pipeline Pits After Snapping Leg

“For once in my life, I’m taking something a bit more serious."

Nov 27, 2022

What If You Bought This Sumatran Surf Camp For $690k?

Making a blue print out of surfing's most recurring day dream.

Nov 27, 2022

Sierra Kerr On Greasing Full Rotes, Making Dad Cry & Her Concussion @ VSHPBME 

'I haven’t got my license yet, but I'm thinking of buying a little truck.'

Nov 27, 2022


“There Definitely Needs To Be More Girls That Try Airs”

Caity Simmers' thoughts on her Vans Pipe Masters debut.

Nov 26, 2022

Preview: Who’s John John Florence Flushing Down The Haleiwa Toilet Bowl?

The final event of the CS schedule is almost upon us. Let's dissect.

Nov 25, 2022


Dane Reynolds Said These Clips Weren’t Good Enough

Could'a fooled us.

Nov 25, 2022

Watch Now: Kael Walsh, Rolo Montes, And Al Cleland Jr In ‘Saturn’

Quik’s new 20-minute surf film is so good you’ll want to burn a DVD of…

Nov 24, 2022


How A Magic Island Birthed One Of The Most Radical Surf And Skate Scenes In The World

Mateus Herdy, Pedro Barros and friends in Red Bull x Stab's No Contest, Brazil.

Nov 23, 2022

The Uber Driver Turned Crypto Millionaire Who Denounced His US Citizenship And Whips Into XXL Nazare

"I do what I want, I don't have a boss." -Toby Trouble

Nov 23, 2022


‘I Thought He Was Gonna Grab A Machete… Then He Picked Up A Rock’

2x SSOTY Jai Glindeman’s drama (& left-tube) filled Sumbawa trip.

Nov 23, 2022


“The Inside Of Pipeline Sounds Like The Center Of The Universe”

Tosh Tudor seeks solitude at the Vans Pipe Masters.

Nov 22, 2022