Surfing is heaps rad.
Maybe even more rad than hoverboards. Nah, nothing is more rad than hoverboards, but it’s definitely more rad than rollerblading (unless you’re rollerblading backwards with a boombox playing Michael Jackson’s ‘BAD’ on your shoulder). The peak of surfy radness comes every November/December when everyone goes to Hawaii to ride the huge winter swells, do heaps of blow at house parties, and compete in the three surfy contests that make up the Hawaiian Triple Crown. It’s a time of year when surfing decides who the World Champions will be, but more importantly, it’s also when careers are forged or destroyed: one good wave at Pipeline and you’re a hero forever–one fuck up at the wrong party and you might never be allowed back on the island. Of all the shit that can, and probably will, go down over the next two months, I reckon the following five stories will be the biggest to keep an eye on.
5. Can Wilko requalify?
Everyone has a soft spot for Matt Wilkinson. The 30-year-old from Copacabana is as loveable as Barry Manilow’s song of the same name, and he might be the only surfer in history who’s had a faux poo dropped on his chest mid-sexy time (sadly long deleted from his surf comedy blog Out-2-Brunch). For the past couple of years, Wilko’s been on a wild tear winning comps, and has featured legit in World Champ conversations, but this year’s been a shocker. Sure, he’s copped a few judging decisions that can best be described as pure fucking horseshit, but there are 11 comps and having only three mediocre results ain’t gonna cut it come season’s end. Wilko currently sits at number 24 on the ratings. Only 22 surfers qualify for the 2019 season. He needs another big run and he needs it at Pipeline, a wave that’s scarier than Voldemort’s hissing snake dick to an 11-year-old Harry Potter. Every heat Wilko wins will help keep his competitive career alive and if Pipe gets big, that’ll make for some unmissable viewing. Our prediction: he’ll make the final and qualify easily and we’ll drink beer and punch the air and scream ‘YAY!’
4. THE RETURN OF JOHN AND GOAT
Defending World Champ John John Florence hasn’t surfed a WCT heat since June, and GOAT Slater has only surfed selectively since breaking his hoof last year at J-Bay. You can bet these guys will want to make a statement when they return to Pipeline, a wave both believe they are heaps-good at surfing. Astoundingly, JJF has never won a Pipe Masters, while Goat has won the conny seven times. JJF will be keen to flex some muscle, having relinquished his chances of a third World Title, while Kelly will be gearing to play spoiler in the World Title race before he embarks on his last lap of full-time competition next year. Expect one of these two guys to win Pipe, beating Wilko in the final. Don’t expect one of them to drop a cute nug on Wilko’s chest afterwards.
3. Noz, Chippa or JJF for Best Performance of the Year at Surfer Poll
Since 1963, readers of Surfer Magazine (the longest running surf media brand in the world) have voted for who they think is the world’s best surfer, and each year the winner is announced at Surfer Poll: a red carpet gala on the North Shore. It’s basically the People’s Choice Award for waxheads, and the result is a nice little ‘I knew everybody loved me’ moment for whoever comes first. Where things get a little more interesting is in the other categories such as ‘Best Movie’, ‘Best Performance’ and ‘Best Short’ voted not by the public, but by legends and luminaries of the industry. This year sees some heavyweight clips going at it with Noa Deane’s Head Noise, Chippa Wilson’s Movie No.4 and John John Florence’s Space all vying for Best Short and Best Performance. As this is the only event in the world where the contributions of freesurfers are recognised with a small trophy in the shape of a surfboard, a win is a pretty big deal, especially for the sponnos who can’t otherwise justify why they pay someone shit tonnes of cash to get drunk and go surfing from time to time if they feel like it. Surfer Poll is streamed live and is excruciating to watch but, thankfully, someone always gets fucked up and saves the day. Who can forget when Noz took to the stage off chops with the Globe boys and told the world ‘Fuck the WSL!’ He was almost castrated for it. Come to think of it, surfing isn’t heaps rad at all. It’s conservative, vanilla and tastes of heaps lame. Noz for the win.
2. Battle for the World Title
There’s a three-way battle going on for the World Title as we head into the final and longest named event of the year: The Billabong Pipeline Masters in Loving Memory of Andy Irons. Brazilian Gabriel Medina, a man famous for shaving his own nipples, is the clear favourite to take out his second championship, but fellow Brazilian Filipe Toledo and Australia’s Julian Wilson are also well in the hunt. It’s Gabby’s to lose, but two factors could work against what he would see as the will of God and Jesus in delivering him the crown. The first being if it’s a monstrous predominately backdoor swell for the Masters (in which case, advantage Julian), or if it’s a year where there’s no swell and the comp is held in shit beachies (advantage Filipe). If you were going to bet money based on nothing more than what we tell you here, then bet on Steph Gilmore. Her nearest rival Lakey Peterson has to win the last comp on the women’s tour just to force a surf off, which definitely won’t happen (unless it does). #carnjoycey
1. Farewell Parko
Easily the biggest story to jump on in Hawaii this year will be the competitive retirement of Joel Leslie Parkinson. Once considered the best surfer in the world to have never won a World Title, Parko got that monkey off his back in 2012, claiming a memorable championship by defeating GOAT Slater at pumping Pipeline. Possibly the smoothest cat to ever guide foam and glass across the face of a breaking wave, Parko will long be remembered as an all-time great and it would be well worth the spend if local councils Australia-wide erected a bronze statue of Parko’s nose in every beachside suburb. And while winning the Triple Crown would be the ultimate send-off for fans, what pundits really want to see post-retirement from the man they call ‘Snorkella’ is his re-teaming with Cooly mate Mick Fanning to reprise their roles as Greasy and Lemmy in the sequel to cult classic surf flick, Doped Youth. ‘Who the fuck are them fuck pricksssssssssah?’ Why, them’s just a couple of old fuckers who used to rule the world. #loveyaparko