Welcome To The New Disruptive Age
Letter From The Editor: What the hell just happened?
Did you stop everything to watch Julian and Lakey take out the Quiksilver and Roxy Pros? Did you leap from your San Clemente seats for your rookie, Griffin Colapinto? Or were you amongst the Gold Coast throngs with Rory, Morgan, Jake and the boys, the crowd swollen beyond capacity from the Commonwealth Games’ overflow, surf fans tip-toeing to catch a glimpse of Mick Fanning’s last crack at a deep one at Snapper in a singlet? (And shouldn’t there have been, like, a fucking parade for White Lightning’s last bolt through to Rainbow Bay?)
In the last week it’s become obvious surfing’s enjoying the dawn of a new disruptive age…
From Kelly’s no-show to Mongrel Mike’s Giant Killing rampage (which John John fans will chalk up to the Champ’s sand-kick shenanigan slip-up), Mikey February’s late-start show stealing to Mick’s aforementioned premature exit, and early dustings of Steph, John John, Tyler, Wilko, and a tower-rushing Gabs—not to mention the naysaying amateur swell forecasters, all proved gloriously wrong, with Snapper turning it on from the first heat’s horn, and Kieren Perrow and WSL making the 50/50 call to move to Kirra—it seemed a surprise awaited us at every turn.
I mean, we blinked and suddenly the dreaded Round 5 was—poof—gone!
While Stab never leaves low hanging fruit un-tugged w/r/t the WSL (see Buck’s nose-thumbing at Filipe’s “Nosepick Underwater Reverse” or Mike C.’s speculative retroactive amateur mathematics), we’re surprised, and honestly impressed, with the WSL’s new progressive, reformist direction, the organization seemingly shaking things up every chance they get.
While we thought the big news of the week would be cause for celebration, with solid rumors around the WSL and Josh Kerr’s fledgling Air Show tour kicking off this fall in France, we didn’t foresee the media maelstrom following our scoop on a WSL meeting addressing concerns around, amongst other hot button issues of our time, sexual harassment, as well as the filming and photographing of female athletes in, um, revealing gear.
Boy, did that story have some fuckin’ legs on it. From Fox to Newsweek, the Daily Mail to the New York Post—even fucking Breitbart—major news outlets jumped on the reports our sources offered, and in the process offered all of our writers lessons in headline writing from some of the best in the biz:
Breitbart: Butt Out: World Surf League Wants Less Focus on Female Surfers’ Bikinis.
Newsweek: BROADCASTERS TOLD TO STOP PERVING ON FEMALE SURFERS
NY Post: Pro surfing tries to solve it’s butt problem
The Daily Telegraph: No butts about it – times are changing in elite world of surfing.
Alas, while details from the meeting are still very much unclear, credit’s due to the organization for taking up the subject officially, as we’ve seen so many sports suffer from less direct action.
While photographers and filmers were conscious to keep a softer focus on surfer’s more exposed nether regions, surf fans were unable to ignore the softer focus newly appointed Head Judge Pritamo Arendt was putting on doling out excellent scores.
Let’s hear it for the judges, eh? (When’s the last time you heard that?) Answering the masses (and Albee Layer’s) call for a near-cull of perfect rides, Pritamo and the boys in the booths made it very clear that, in 2018, safety surfing wasn’t going to be getting anywhere near the excellent range. Shane Beschen— Stab’s ace in the hole performance surfing sage, and a man who knows a thing or two about 10-point rides—was one of the first to comment, applauding the judge’s adjusted scale.
Following many a questionable score last year, Shane, Mike, and I have spoken at length about the elephant in the judge’s towers, and the urgency with which the WSL need to address the judge’s familiarity with the degree of difficulty of this new generation’s ever deepening bag of tricks. Well, according to anyone who knows the man, with Pritamo Ahrendt we’ve found a good one, a true progressive with solid enough performance chops to give the scores coming out of the tower much-needed authority.
And he ain’t the only handy one in the booth. Remember Ben Dunn? After Snapper, Louie Samuels hit me with a quick reminder, from his 2009 post-J-Bay PostSurf Power Rankings:
Along with Drew Courtney, Ben Dunn is one of only a handful of Australian competitors who are confirmed to have marsupial pouches. While Mr. Courtney now reportedly keeps Nivea cream in his pouch, Mr. Dunn keeps a heat sheet, a waterproof copy of The Indian in the Cupboard, and ironically, a small Indian. That said, Dunn hopped into perhaps the second finest performance of his young career, with only his backside tuberiding effort at The Search in Indo surpassing his J-Bay performance.
Dunn’s a bit of a Joe Friday when it comes to surfing by the book – not coincidentally, his father is a surf coach specializing in technique. Dunn’s surfing lacks the emotional spontaneity of well, just about any other surfer with emotions. But when the waves get good, Dunn tends to avoid mistakes – He smoked Tommy Whitaker with a three barrel 9.23, without ever risking anything – during each of his pits, the nose of his board was clearly visible. But there’s a logical purity to Dunn’s surfing, and his lines at J-Bay were evocative in the manner of a Chopin etude based on the Golden Ratio.
Do you miss Lewis’ mad ramblings as much as we do? Regardless, it seems the WSL’s scoring is in good, capable, caring hands, and for that we should be thankful. We’ve been trying to get Shane and Pritamo on the horn for a chat. That should be a good one.
As I write this, the Stab staff are scattered across the globe, heading home—to Los Angeles, to Kauai, to Sydney, to France—ready for a big week playing catch up. Here in Southern California, a few soft pulses of swell await, enough to get in a wiggle, but not enough for a proper dance.
We hope you’ve been getting yours, wherever you dip your toes. Keep it cutty, Stab.
Editor in Chief
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