“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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Franch-Eye’s View Vol. 2

11 03 2011

Better Surfing Makes For Better Life.

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I spent last week on a rollercoaster. There was 5 straight lay days at the Quik/Roxy Pro at Snapper Rocks, and each one toyed with my emotions more than the one that came before. What happened in the last few days of the holding period however, totally made amends for all of the sitting around waiting for surf.

The last few days of the contest were nothing short of game changing. The men’s contest was run when the waves were really pumping and the women ran when it was a little smaller, but still clean, lippy and fun. These small, rampy waves allowed for some of the most forward-thinking, progressive surfing I have ever seen. A handful of the sports most respected even went was far as to call it “The best women’s contest ever”

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Tyler Wright Just Being 16

I can’t argue that at all, mostly because the people saying this have been watching surfing longer than I have been alive. But also because this contest blew the doors off all that have come before it. It had all the makings of an epic surf contest, guys or girls. Fast surfing (they were clocking surfers and the top speed was a betty), progressive maneuvers (I saw more 360’s than a truck full of Xboxs) and neck-and-neck heats galore.

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The ladies were putting on a show from start to finish in this contest and a lot of spectators claimed that they were watching the surfing and not the bikinis, which is a new concept for sure. In another epic story line the kids are alright. The average age of the final for woman was 18.25 (I did the math), and if it helps with perspective Kelly Slater has been a CT surfer for 20 years. Needless to say I am going to be glued to the Women’s World Tour this year right along with the men.

What I really want to talk about though, is the guy’s contest. The sick thing for me is that when the comps are in Oz, they run in the afternoon and evening here so catching heats is pretty doable. As a result of this, I got to see THE BEST competitive surfing I have seen. Ever.

Epic shit was happening left, right and centre…But mostly right, cause that’s how the waves break at Snapper.

My jaw dropped in round 3 when Hawaiian Dusty Payne knocked off White Lightning, Mick Fanning, it kind of sucked because I think the jaw was dislocated it never really came back up. Right after Dusty took down Mick world number 2 Jordy Smith lost his round 4 heat and didn’t get to sit out round 5, that luxury went to American Brett Simpson, who is a relative unknown in the world of elite tour surfing, but happens to be on my fantasy team (giggle).

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Taj With A "Hack" Off The Top

To the dismay of my jaw, and my heart rate, things were just getting going. It was the middle of the afternoon at Snapper, but the fireworks were clearly visible. Round 5 heat 3 featured Taj Burrow who was the most on point surfer of the contest and Adriano De Souza who is a young, fiery assassino hailing from Brazil. De Souza started the heat with a few bangers, but made one fatal error…He did the finger guns toward Taj, faux pas. After that TB hacked the shit out of every wave he stood up on. Seriously it was like the Texas Chainsaw Massacre. In total the heat had 4 nine-point scores more than most contests… I was frothing.

At this point it was close to midnight and I had no plans of going to bed. Jordy and Parko were up next. It was a super close heat the whole time, but Joel Parkinson looked to have it wrapped up. I was on the edge of my seat the whole time, and when Jordy took the heat on the last wave I had to change my boardies.

Lost in the moment, but never far from my thoughts was the fact that KS10 was, almost quietly making a case for elite tour victory number 46 and getting to hear everyone start rumbling about KS11.

Slates snuck past Ace Buchan in Rd. 5 and had a pretty breezy quarters and semis. Everyone at the event was primed and ready for the final. Slater vs. Burrow a duke out of drunken Aussie proportions. I don’t mean to sound rude with that comment, but the finals were on a Wednesday afternoon in the land down under, and the beach was overrun with spectators. It was a party.

Moving into the final, it was a coin toss as to who would take it, the best surfer of the event or the best surfer of all time. Even I was unsure, and Kelly is my boy! By this time, the interweb had locked on to the fact that shit was getting heavy and my connection started to slow. It was shitty, and so were the waves. If it wasn’t the world’s best in the water it would have looked amateur and two of the sports finest didn’t disappoint.

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Kelly kicked things off immediately with a five-point ride and Taj fired back a few minutes later with a three of his own. Kelly added a 5.27 and looked in control, until TB took off on a gem and threw down a 7.17 fuck me right?!?

Being the champ that he is, Kelly answered back with a 5.93, which was barely enough to earn the victory. The battle was well fought on both sides but it takes some thing special to K.O. the heavyweight king.

As I’m sure you can assume, this whole thing had me fired up and I have the ASP and it’s surfers to thank. You are all truly world-class athletes with the strength, stamina and skill set to rival any of the best in mainstream sports.

To the World Tour’s finest Kelly, Taj, Tiago Pires, and Jordy Smith as well as the ladies Tyler Wright, Laura Enever, Sally Fitzgibbons and Roxy Pro Champ Carissa Moore and the rest of the field for the men’s and ladies draw thank you. Thank you for some amazing days of top level surfing as well as thank you for once again showing me why this truly is the sport of kings.

Photos and Video Courtesy of ASP WORLD TOUR





Kelly Slater: King Of Bells Beach

9 04 2010

Surfing is slowly taking over the home of streetjesus, with nightly sessions of DC’s “DUDECRUISE” and “Flow” being pretty much the only way either one of us can fall asleep.

Given this recent rekindling of my love for surf, I thought this was appropriate. 9 times world champion Kelly Slater was in fine form Thursday night, and no one needed to turn on the DVDs until the Ripcurl Pro Bells Beach was over.

The contest was forced to go nomad and moved all over Australia’s Victorian Coast. From Bells, to Thirteenth, to Winkipop and finally Johanna the world’s best surfers were on the hunt for the world’s best waves. Thanks to the ASP and contest director Damien Hardman for pulling this one out.

I decided not to recap the whole event, being as the final day’s swell was a little worbley, and inconsistent. I will however talk a little bit about how 2 of surfing’s best got in done in the rain and slop down under.

The final saw Aussie world champ Mick Fanning face off against Kelly “The Greatest Surfer Of All Time” Slater. Everyone from the fans at the venue, to the contest announcers, to Mark Ennis knew we were in for a good one.
The heat started rather slow, with waves scoring in the 3’s and 4’s. This only cemented my belief that things would get stupid very soon.

Sure enough right around the halfway point of the heat, Kelly caught a banger! On a less the perfect takeoff Chea-Boy managed one face-smashing hack of a turn. Just as I thought he was going to kick out and paddle back into the line-up, he came right back with a huge alley-oop 3 into the white wash. I just about shit when I saw him stand up (on his broken right foot) about 3 seconds later, after the foamy mess had chilled out. This got the king an 8.93, and we were off!

Mick answered back to keep from getting combo’d later in the heat, but Kelly’s next wave was the one that put this contest to bed.

The 38-year-old Cocoa Beach Freakshow paddled into another tasety treat connecting on several different sections and riding one, almost to the rocks. Oh and he threw in a nasty little reverse on the face for good measure.

Long Live The King!

So although Mick surfed a solid heat that would have easily had him ringing the bell against a human, he was up against Kelly Slater and that’s just not fair.

And so, for the 42nd time in his career Kelly was carried to the podium. He rang the famous bell for a record-tying 4th time (he is tied with Mark Richards).

This has me excited for one thing, because winning events is passé.
World title, number 10.








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