On a recent episode of my podcast Ain’t that Swell (link at the bottom), I made the call that 2018 was the best year of surfing ever.
I suspect it’ll be a call that incurs the wrath of many, especially those who think the oceans are fucked with pollution, and there are too many people in the water, and surfing peaked in the mid-70s and has been a pile of corpo fuckery ever since. But seeing as I don’t go online anymore (not by choice; I haven’t paid my internet bill) the haters can pretty much say what they will and I’ll be none-the-wiser (it’s a glorious way to live and I highly recommend it). So, that being said, allow me to reiterate… 2018 was THE. BEST. YEAR. OF. SURFING. EVER.
Now check this out: I believe 2019 will be even better than 2018 and waaaaaaaay better than 1970-76. Here’re five reasons why.
Johnny Johnny Floz Floz is Back!
Remember last year when Gabriel Medina won his second World Title in huge crazy waves at Pipeline and everyone dropped to their knees and worshipped his shiny shaven nipples like they were two miniscule Christ the Redeemers on top of two tiny mountain tops in two little hairless Rio de Janeiros? Well, when Gabby won that World Title he also won the world over. For so long chastised by non-Portuguese speaking surf fans for being a precocious cry baby grub, there could be no denying his absolute mastery of the surf and peerless competitive domination in that final event of the year at Pipeline. Only the most clueless kook (or racist) could possibly think otherwise. But spare a thought for the other sub-25-year-old dual World Champ who wasn’t there to have a say in any of it. As we’ve noted in this column before, John John Florence was all but a total no show in 2018, thanks to a busted ankle hinge back in June, and in his absence Gabe not only matched his World Champ trophy tally (duo) but also stole the one jewel that has eluded John for most of his esteemed career: The Pipeline Masters. Now I don’t consider J-Flo to be a violent man, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he went out to his yard, kicked a tuft of grass and muttered ‘phooey!’ under his breath when Gabby got the jump on him with that win. So, now the stage is set for a monster clash of the Titans… John John the fave against Gabby the almost likeable. Throw in a sprinkling of other genuine title contenders–like Joycey the brave, Toledo the Torpedo and Italo the Ferrari–and, heck, maybe even a from nowhere year for a dark horse legend like Jordy the White Chocky and you have yourself a race worth supergluing your peepers to. Told ya–better than 2018 already!
Having a bit of fucken attitude is the shit right now!
One need only review the quality and variety of the surf clips made in 2018 to realise attitude in surf is back in a big way. It’s nothing if not ironic that words like ‘authentic’ and ‘engaging’ have been raped of all meaning in marketing meetings worldwide for the past 24 months, while genuine and original personalities are just nailing shit. Let’s look at some of the highlights, shall we? Noa Deane in Head Noise, Shaun Manners in Blastoid, Chippa Wilson in Video No.4, Mick and Mase in Outer Inner Space (directed by me, but I’m claiming it cause it was character driven), Globe’s Cult of Freedom, Harry Bryant’s Orb, Dane in everything he did, and the list goes on and on. And don’t think I’ve forgotten about the ladies–Steph, Lakey, Jaleesa Vinnie, and Keala Kennelley have been bringing the mongrel all year as well, and that’s to say nothing of Mikey Wright qualifying for next year’s tour with best mullet in the game and Avoca Jesus Wade Carmichael winning the 2018 Rookie of the Year. I’m telling ya, being real is where the future lies, and that can’t be concocted in the back room of some marketing department, no matter how many buzzwords get thrown around. 2019 is all about celebrating the culture shifters and I think we’ll be seeing more of them than ever.
Kai Lenny has changed the big wave surfing game completely!
In 2018, the WSL Big Wave World Tour called off two events because… the waves were too big? LOL! (Even the Carcass Catcher from Kona Shane Dorian believed they should have run the events! Listen below for proof!) On both occasions, Maui’s Kai Lenny went surfing anyway, and basically rewrote the book on how waves north of 60 foot can be ridden. Whipped behind the ski, Lenny was doing bottom turns that projected him up into the lip where he’d then arc the fuck outta the thing before air-dropping two stories back to the base of the wave. Then he’d throw big old snowboarding methods off the end section. It was wild, wild, game-changing shit that before Lenny only really existed when you stuck a cut-out surfboard to the feet of a smurf and carved your way down a breaking doona (duvet) wave being held by your little brother. And get this quote Lenny just dropped over on Stab the other day: ‘It’s great that the women have equal pay, but the next step is equal pay for big wave surfers.’ Fearless and a campaigner for equal rights for the downtrodden big wave surfy guys! I’m telling ya, this kid will change the world!
Steffy G. is going for 8!
Our Stephanie is back where she belongs, hoisted upon the shoulders of oiled iron men as they carry her to and from the water’s edge for each sesh. She’s queen of all oceans, mother of corn draggins, and now she has the chance to immortalise herself as the GWOAT, the Greatest Woman of All Time–in the surf at least–when she pulls on the rashie to defend her crown in 2019. Hoooo-boy! She’ll have her work cut out for her. Carissa Moore has been unable to find consistency for a couple of years now and is surely ready to tap the form that’s already netted three Titles. Cortney Conlogue and Lakey Peterson have both lost close WT races and will be hungrier than ever, and the mysterious absence of dual World Champ Tyler Wright may also be a thing of the past now that she’s got both her brothers competing on the men’s CT. It all points to a women’s world title race that’ll be absolutely absorbing right from the very first heat of the year at Snapper. The question is, can Steph retain the animal needed to go one better than Layne and own outright status as best ever? We’re backing her!
Heaps Surfy Radness is now WEEKLY!
Perhaps the truest indicator of 2019 being twice as good as last year for surfing is I’ll be writing twice as many HSR columns for MC. Granted I only wrote four HSR last year, but this year we’ll be coming at you weekly. That means more inside goss on who’s got the worst knob rash on tour, more tips on waxing, more advice on achieving ‘a surfy look,’ and more everything to do with surf culture every single Thursday no matter what and without fail. Unless I forget. Which does tend to happen a lot. Still, I’m backing 2019 for surf. Who’s on board with me?