Stab Magazine | On The Road With The WSL Band

Live Now: How Surfers Get Paid — The Queens of Ascension

0 View

On The Road With The WSL Band

Jake Howard’s Almost (not) Famous moment sharing a world tour flight to Tahiti.  

// Aug 12, 2017
Words by stab
Reading Time: 2 minutes

“Excuse me, but is this flight full of surfers?” asked the sweet old lady on the Air Tahiti Nui flight from L.A. to Papeete last night. 

“I guess, but they’re not all competing in the contest” I politely explained. “A lot of the people on this flight are the worker bees that make the world tour happen.”

She had just spent the eight-hour flight nestled between a photographer and judge. Two rows back from Dave Prodan trying to sleep. Two rows up from Kanoa Igarashi and Zeke Lau sat comfortably with their noise cancelling headphones on. “The U.S. Open ended on Sunday and now the whole circus is going to Tahiti,” I continued.

“My grandson really wanted to go the U.S. Open but we weren’t able to make it,” said the perfumed grandmother, completely oblivious to the fact that she easily could have extended an arm and patted Kanoa, the newly crowned Open champ on the back.

What’s often overlooked when talking about “tour life” is how small and how tight the scene is. Waiting to board the flight, the airport lounge was a who’s who of the WSL. In the crowded terminal, Jordy Smith stood a head taller than most. Rosy Hodge waltzed by. They chirped back and forth in their cute South African drawl. Filipe Toledo, his father, his filmer and photog Bruno Lemos quietly huddled in a corner, Filipe weighted down with a big bag of camera gear strapped to his back. No prima donna here.

Judge Jack Shipley lightly joked with a consortium of other career critics. Tour doc Warren Kramer and his son fiddled with their bags. A bearded Jake Patterson showed up wearing his coach’s hat. Strider Wasilewski was adorned in a red sweatshirt and red shorts, adding credence to this nickname: “Raspberry.” WSL filmers and camera operators shuffled about. Conner Coffin’s parents sat quietly waiting to board.

In the air, Josh Kerr occupied some of the time by pacing about the cabin. “Gotta keep the legs moving”, he grinned. But the real action came when the flight finally landed. “There are 17 board bags that didn’t make the flight”, announced an otherwise reserved Stephen “Belly” Bell. Kerr, Toledo, Igarashi and a whole slew of others quickly transitioned from happily groggy after the trans-Pac flight, to a sense of nervous urgency. Considering the recent interference scandal at the Open between Igarashi and Toledo, it was a curious thing seeing them standing shoulder to shoulder in the oversized baggage area. Gab’s Medina’s step-dad, Charlie Rodrigues, lurked, waiting for two overstuffed coffins. He chatted with Toledo’s pops to kill some time. One of the customs agents asked Kerr for some stickers, “I’m stickerless at the moment,” he answered, referring to both his lack of board bags and lack of sponsorship.

All the boards showed up on the next flight 30 minutes later, but given the current surf forecast for the Billabong Pro Tahiti, the anxiety was palpable. It’s looking like there’s a shot of overhead swell that fills in on Friday and holds through the weekend with another reinforcing southwest swell expected to fill in on Sunday and Monday. Not great, but should be plenty to work with. There’s not much lining up after that and winds could be problematic. Don’t be surprised if this thing is over in the first four days of the waiting period…with everyone piling back on the plane next week.


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

Already a member? Sign In

Want to join? Sign Up


Most Recent

Can Medina Overcome His CT Drought In Tahiti?

Tahurai Henry offers his picks for the SHISEIDO Tahiti Pro

May 21, 2024

The 35 Best Song Pairings In Surf Films, As Ranked By Dane Reynolds, Taylor Steele & You

From Noa Deane and Courtney Love, to Andy Irons and Coldplay, to Creed McTaggart and…

May 20, 2024

Is This The Most Cost Efficient Way To Noticeably Improve Your Surfing In A Single Month?

All you can eat for $1500 AUD at URBNSURF Melbourne.

May 20, 2024

Watch And Learn: How To Score A Solo Sesh At 8-Foot Teahupo’o With Leonardo Fioravanti

Skip lunch and gorge.

May 19, 2024

Full Frame: The Story Behind The Photo You’ve Seen 1,000 Times

A viral ménage à trois in Bali.

May 18, 2024

Meet The Man Who Runs Kelly Slater’s Burgeoning Surf Empire

The Stab Interview with Dylan Slater. 

May 18, 2024

How Surfers Get Paid: Season 2, Episode 4

80+ interviews later, it's time to "send out the chicks".

May 17, 2024

How To Get To Stab High Japan

BYO ligaments. 

May 16, 2024

CT Earlybirds, Tahitian Warlords, And Aspirational Teenagers Divide Spoils From “11 out of 10” Teahupo’o Blob

Eimeo Czermak, Balaram Stack, Liam O'Brien, Cannon Carr, and Ryan Miller divulge tales from the…

May 16, 2024

The Lefts Off The Rights

Detailing the goofy-footed proclivity to go against the grain.

May 15, 2024

Watch: ‘Shotgun’ featuring Josie Prendergast & Taj Richmond

The allure of contradiction, displayed in the virtue of Northern Rivers sand.

May 15, 2024

How Accurate Were Our Pre-Cut Predictions?

Reflecting on the rookie-centric forecasts offered by CJ Hobgood, Stace Galbraith, Brett Simpson, and Mikey…

May 14, 2024

Local Wildcard Jordy Lawler Dusts 79 Transplants, Issy Nichols Denies Prodigy Erin Brooks Another Plush Toy

The Stab High winner is one semi-final away from tour qualification after only two events.

May 14, 2024

Which 2024 Stab High Competitor Has Given Us The Best Surf Part?  

Noa Deane, Chippa Wilson, Julian Wilson, Ian Crane and more duel for the most impactful…

May 13, 2024

There Are Still Perfect, Empty Waves Left In The World

Soli Bailey, Timo Simmers + Layne Stratton on the sand-bottomed unicorn seen in ‘Maps to…

May 13, 2024

What Happened To Bali?

And is an ethical future for surf development possible in Indonesia?

May 12, 2024

Premium Peek: Mason Ho + Sheldon Paishon Vs A Scottish Widow Maker

Less like a wave, more like a German Panzer tank (180 tons, FYI).

May 12, 2024

Tactical Burn, Shove + Leash Pull Ends In Tears, Disqualification + Fines At ISA World Juniors 

The young Portuguese surfer has since apologized for her 'grevious unsportsmanlike conduct'. 

May 11, 2024