“Thank You SURFER Magazine”

7 12 2011

Last night I was up a little late, because last night I was running on Hawaii time.  The SURFER Magazine poll Awards went down and for the second year in a row they took place in the home of surfing on the North Shore of Oahu.  The awards are an annual reminder of whose opinions matter most in the world of surf, the fans.  Not the writers, or the judges or the bloggers or the surfers, the fans matter because without that base of people who follow surfing, whatever reason their’s might be there would be no industry.

The awards covered all aspects of the sport recognizing everyone from the best in freesurfing to the contest superheros we watch on tour.  As well there was a few tiny surfboards handed out for the film side of things and major achievements like the new “Andy Irons Break Through Award” which went to John John Florence and the “Lifetime Achievement Award” that saw SURFER founder John Severson recognized for his contribution to the lifestyle.

The thing I love most about surfing is it’s diversity.  By it’s very nature it is more freeing than other sports and therefore more free to interpret for the audience who takes it in.  Whether you want to see Kelly Slater win another world title as determined by judges with a predetermined set of rules and a potentially alternate agenda, or if you just love seeing Dane Reynolds piss around in head-high surf the sport is yours to enjoy.  And on this night all aspects of the game were recognized.

There were a few highlights from the night, Rabbit Kekai partying like he was 19, not 91 or the multiple curse words used on live TV were just a few.  Add to that the fact that there was a large amount of female surfers dressed to the 9’s and a handful of different liquor sponsors and just like that, we had ourselves a party!

But there was a plan for the night, and the show had to go on despite the fact that everyone in attendance would have been happy to just get crushed and watch wipe-outs all night.  The crowd eventually filtered in and the night got started with what seemed like an impromptu intro from Hawaii native Freddy P, and action sports emcee extraordinaire Sal “Al Makelela” Masekela.  All jokes aside, the awards themselves were pretty awesome.

For starters the night kicked off with Alex Gray winning the award for best barrel and accepting with a heartfelt tribute to his brother.

After that we got into the actual SURFER poll which breaks down the top surfers in the world as voted by the fans online, with social media and in the magazine itself.  The bottom of the list for the men was one of the most touching things I have ever watched as the Irons’ brother Bruce and Andy finished 10 and 9 respectively, with Bruce accepting both awards.  Of course this included the classic Bruce “I don’t give a F+CK! attititude”.

Then, just as I thought I was in for a touching night of speeches, tears and thank-yous, we got into the fun stuff, like Dane Reynolds making multiple appearances on stage and hot surfer chicks accepting awards and complaining about not being able to surf a contest on the North Shore…AND SO THEY SHOULD DAMMIT!  The surfers finished being counted and the drinks continued to flow.

The dancing went on late into the night and surf celebrity Bethany Hamilton even dropped a hint that she was looking to Dance With The Stars.  I won’t say I told you so if it happens, but you did hear it here first.

Here are the list of top pros and a nice little video paying tribute to the father of SURFER John Severson.  God I love this sport!

Men’s Top 10

10. Bruce Irons
9. Andy Irons
8. Jordy Smith
7. Joel Parkinson
6. Mick Fanning
5. Taj Burrow
4. Julian Wilson
3. Owen Wright
2. Dane Reynolds
1. Kelly Slater


Women’s Top 5

5. Sally Fitzgibbons
4. Alana Blanchard
3. Stephanie Gilmore
2. Coco Ho
1. Carissa Moore


-t

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Long Live The King

3 11 2011

Yesterday Kelly Slater clinched his record 11th world title on the ASP World Tour.  He did so in pure Kelly fashion; catching a wave in the dying minutes of his round 3 heat and doing what only Kelly can do.  He linked together a set of solid turns, displacing water and spraying it high into the California skyline.  Everyone knew what happened on the face of that wave was solid, but it was not a guarantee that it would be enough to overtake the lead built up by Dan Ross earlier in the heat.  As the scores dropped and the tension rose, enough numbers were finally displayed that sentimental anticipation became mathematical reality.

King Kelly had once again done the impossible.  Defeating someone who was only a grom when he spent his first season on tour, but then again that is something that has been happening for years at this point.  So with that in mind let’s reflect for a moment, not only on what Kelly has done by winning 11 titles but the dominating fashion in which he has done so.

For starters, 11 titles let’s break that down.  I think Kelly’s girlfriend Kalani Miller’s post heat t-shirt said it best, Jordan + Kobe = Slater.  Like it or not, Kelly Slater has accomplished on his own what 2 of the greatest basketball icons of our time accomplished together.  Not only did it take 2 greats, competing at different times they both had great teams behind them.  The only thing Kelly had behind him on his road to 11 was a hungry pack of the world’s best up and coming surfers looking to dethrone a god.

There is literally a generation of surfers who have grown up with Kelly on top and have dreamt of nothing more than knocking him down.  Unlike Roger Federer, possibly the greatest tennis player of all time, this has been impossible.  RF, like Sampras and Borg before him had his time in the sun and then succumb to not only the pressure of being on top, but the next wave of young talent.

Slater has withstood wave after wave of this talent, and in the process defying not only time and age but also the mountain of pressure and expectation that comes with being the youngest, oldest and winning-est wave rider of all time.  With the exception of Andy Irons who was taken from us much to quickly last year the collective professional surf world has been but a blip on Kelly’s competitive radar for the last 20 years.  Sure there were years in the last 20 when he didn’t win the title (’91, ’93, ’99, ’00, ’01, ’02, ’03, ’04, ’07, ’09) but you need to factor into that his hiatus, the death of his father, and the inevitable hangover that comes after just 1 championship.

Think how rare it is to see ANY repeat champion, let alone a 5-peat.  In the history of pro sports (in North America) there has been 1 in each of the major sports.  The Celtics (59-66) won 8 straight, the Montreal Canadiens (56-60), and the New York Yankees (49-53).  And now, as I always do I will present my argument.  None of these came in the “common era” where athleticism is at at a much higher level and competitive sports in general have become much more of a profession.  By this I mean, I don’t believe the 1957 Montreal Canadiens were training every day, year round trying to defend their title. Oh yeah, and they were also only playing against 5 other teams.  The Celtics and Yankees also had the advantage of being able to eliminate the weak links on their team and grow their squad to properly adapt and accomplish the feats they did.

When it comes to individual athletes, NO ONE has ever done what Kelly has.  Jack Nicklaus spent just over 20 years on the PGA tour, but was far from being the undisputed best for more than half of those years.  And as a final piece to this short discussion I dare you to compare the physical aspects of these two sports.  For example, Occy would get absolutely dominated on the current tour, while golfers of advanced age still shoot low scores that would be competitive on the PGA.

Kelly Slater is the greatest athlete of all time.  If you want to dispute this fact with me, I welcome you to it.  Show me a pro athlete in any discipline who has dominated the highest level of their sport for more than half of their career that also spanned 2 decades.  In addition to the physical ability needed to compete for the “Greatest Athlete Of All Time” award the candidate must also be the face of their sport, like Jordan, Tiger, or Wayne Gretzky but they must also have taken a sport that was not well known prior to them arriving on the scene and making it an internationally recognized and respected discipline a la Tony Hawk.

Ok, go… Told you he is the greatest ever.

Call him what you want.  Ke11y, KS11, Robert Kelly Slater…
I am calling him The Greatest Ever.

 

Slater photos : Surfer Magazine





Andy Irons : A Year Later

2 11 2011

Very few things, other than stubbing my toe can bring me to tears.  Of those few things the primary one is when monumental things happen in the world of action sports.  Good things like watching Tony Hawk pull his 900, or viewing That’s It That’s All for the 100th time.  But last year the surf world was struck by something the very opposite of those heart-warming and memorable moments.  The sudden death of Andy AI Irons took the global community by total surprise and they are still struggling to come to terms with it 12-months later.

After leaving an event in tropical conditions with suspected Dengue Fever, Irons died in a Texas hotel room, alone and without immediate explanation.  As it would later be revealed, Andy was having continuing trouble dealing with his inner demons, and the struggle ultimately cost him his life.  The list of reasons why this event was tragic is a lengthy one with everything from his new marriage, expected son, resurgence in the surf world and more positive mindset all being things that should have kept him going.

The other side of it was the poor manner with which the ASP handled the events.  Hiding things, masking the details of Andy’s situation and changing the tune of their story multiple times over the the course of the past months.  But at the end of the day the reasons, happy or sad to talk about this are now non-issues.  The fact of the matter is that one of the most loved and talented surfers the sport has ever seen is no longer with us and the pain that comes with the loss of life is magnified by the truth that he had an immensely positive impact on our world.

My heart continues to go out to those closest to him.  That obviously includes the surfers and people involved in AI’s professional life but more importantly to his family, his wife Lyndie, his son Andy, brother Bruce and parents Phil and Danielle.  Regardless of how much the surf media talks about his life as a surfer who changed the game, the day he lost his struggle impacted those people infinitely more than any of us outside of that group.

That is not to say that Andy didn’t have an amazing impact on a countless number of people, including myself who will use today to pay tribute for what he did for all of us.  So here is my tribute, a simple thank you to AI, a condolence to his family and a few images that will remind us all of the surfer and the man that we said good-bye to one year ago.

Gone, Never forgotten.  Mahalo AI

-t





Joel Tudor’s Duct Tape Invitational : Presented By Vans

5 10 2011

A few weeks back an event took place that doesn’t get NEARLY enough love, and it’s put on by one of the coolest dudes in the entire world.  Joel Tudor is an old school surfer at heart, and unlike a lot of guys who make this claim, Tudor straight lives it.  A competitive longboarder and professional laid-back surfer dude, Joel Tudor rides for Vans, and Sector 9 making him very legit in the field of surfer bro guys.

He rides massive boards with very few fins, and from the looks of things it’s purely for fun, which at the end of the day is really what surfing is all about.  The Duct Tape Invitation is Joel’s event and takes surfing back to its roots.  Boards used in the event must be 12 lbs. and employee a single fin design.  The main goal is having fun, and it appears they have an awful lot of that!  Enjoy the video, but more importantly think about these dudes the next time you are out shredding.

Maybe it will make you relax and little, and just have good ride.

 

-t





Boardworld Girls Magazine : By Girls, For Girls

4 10 2011

Last week the launch of a new girls magazine was announced.  It’s called BWG (Boardworld Girls) and it is based on art, fashion, music, and action sports for the fairer sex.  I was originally drawn to this site, because chicks are awesome and looking at them is fun, then I realized it is one of the most well thought out, well put together sites I have come across in a while.

Everything is done cleanly, tastefully and decidedly feminine, which even if you are a dude, isn’t the worst thing in the world.  I was excited to be watching good videos and reading good content in a format that was soft, easy to follow and didn’t use bro for every second word; don’t expect me to stop doing that anytime soon, bro.  The site has features, videos, photos and blog and style sections that rival ANY lifestyle magazine out there.

Girls are beautiful, talented and creative which gives them at least one leg up on us hairy, sailor-mouthed, talented and creative dudes.  So do yourself a favor and check out BWGMAG.COM and show some love to the ladies pushing the envelope in our industry.  You can also check them out on Facebook and Twitter.

Oh yeah, and they are Canadian!

-t





Wilko Has A Blog : It Rules

30 09 2011

As if kicking ass and taking names on the World Tour isn’t enough, Matty Wilkinson aka Wilko also wears dollar bill wetsuits.

Oh yeah… And he just launched one of the best blogs in action sports that I may have ever come across.  Don’t get me wrong there are some truly great action sports blogs out there but like Dane Reynolds web space this one is by a surfer, for surfers and people like me, who are pure fans of the sports and it’s accompanying lifestyle.

In the never ending search to find the truest of action sports content and get rid of the widely mentioned “Cheeseball representations” of our lives I really do believe that what these guys are doing is a huge leap forward in the depiction of action sports in any form.

But on a lighter note, one of the best things about Wilko’s spot, titled “Out To Brunch” is that it is just straight fun.  Which is something that this industry could use a lot more of, and as a result I will be spending a lot of time on the site named after my favorite meal.

Check out this video.  If you don’t at least chuckle, then you are F+CKED!…Just kidding, but it is pretty funny!  And as usual, thanks to Runamuk for the direction.

-t

 

 





Superstar Tow-In Session

27 09 2011

When a bunch of the world’s best big-wave surfers are all in the right place at the right time, the result is one of the heaviest sessions in the history of the sport…








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