The 6 Biggest Stories in Surfing This Year

I woke up this morning in a really shit mood.

Dunno why. Didn’t have a Koel bird outside my bedroom window or anything like that. (If you’ve got no idea what I’m talking about, you should probably sign up to the Monster Children newsletter right now.) Just came to life with an itchy, irritated balloon knot and things went downhill from there. Now Crombie wants me to write a list of the biggest stories that happened in surfing this year for my irregular column called Heaps Surfy Radness. I can’t help but feel that in my current state of mind the overall reflections of such matters will be a touch skew-whiff and, to be honest, I’d rather headbutt the corner of a brick wall than write anything at all. But fuck it… I don’t make the rules, I’m just another puppet in a controlled society, dutifully eating my processed sugar and drinking my fluoride water and having any and all vibrant ideas battered into submission by big business, corporate profits, and their bent over government affiliates. What’s the point of resistance when ‘the man’ need only apply the meekest pressure to the heel on the back of my neck to end it once and for all? Sigh. Someone get me a Coke.

6. Both defending World Champs vanished completely

Remember John John Florence and Tyler Wright? Me neither. They were Champions of the World just 11 short months ago, then they both disappeared (most likely abducted by aliens) and few people have given them a second thought since. Truth is JJF—the crust-eating curly-headed wunderkind with a crook neckbeard—got hurt trying an air in Bali back in June, and that smoked any chance of his winning a third consecutive crown (though he did manage to drop a banger of a clip called Space that’s well worth your time if you missed it). Tyler, meanwhile, caught the flu back in J-Bay which then morphed into a chronic fatigue-like illness that she’s still trying to overcome now. How fucked is that? We hope you get better heaps soon TW. Anyway, a year without World Champs is big news to people who care about such things, but right now I’m more concerned with trying to finish this story and don’t even know why I included it. Next…!

5. Kissed by God, the Andy Irons doco, was finally released

Since his passing in 2010, the story of three-time World Champ Andy Irons has been clouded in conspiracies and theories and cover-ups and all sorts of smokescreens designed, many believe, to hide the truth about his addictions and self-destructive behaviour, and to protect the interests of the surf industry. Well, this year the veil was pulled back and the truth revealed in the startling documentary Kissed by God, as those who knew Andy best talked openly and honestly about the man and his struggles. It was cathartic and disturbing and ultimately very, very sad, and all we can say to that is RIP you absolute fucking legend.

4. Mick Fanning said, “Thanks, fuck yas, I’m out of here!”*

Shark bashing hell-man and three-time World Champ hero Mick Fanning retired with a runner-up finish at Bells Beach this Easter in one of the most glorious career send-offs pro surfing has ever seen. After 17 years on tour, Mick’s last comp signalled the end of a glory era for Australian surfing too, with close mate and fellow World Champ Joel Parkinson also announcing he’ll be hanging up the rashie after the Pipeline Masters in Hawaii, starting next week. With John John Florence out injured for most of the season, the ‘Brazilian Storm’ rolled in and absolutely dominated 2018 by taking out every elite event on the men’s calendar bar two, both of which were won by Australia’s Julian ‘Joycey’ Wilson. Thus, the only questions that remain are these: Can Joycey halt the momentum of an entire surfing nation by winning at Pipeline and creating the individual surf story of the year? Or will Gabby Medina and Filipe Toledo fulfil the will of Jesus in the final event and announce once and for all that Brazil is tops now? And how many grapes can each guy fit in his mouth at once? Surely that has to count for something too, otherwise pro surfing is dead to me.

3. Wave pools became a thing

It’s surfing’s equivalent of the Space Race with chimps, dogs and humans getting launched into the stratosphere on barely tested rockets, fingers crossed they’ll get heaps pitted and find a good air section. Though they’ve been around for a while now, 2018 saw two world-class pro surfing events held in chlorine, and at least six different companies with wildly varying designs sticking shovels into dirt globally in the hope of cashing in on the fake wave phenomena. They’re not without their critics, however, with many dolphin-rooters arguing that riding mechanical surf is not really surfing at all, and there’s also the brain-eating amoeba that claimed the life of one surfer after a pool shred in Texas that’s got some peeps freaked. Regardless of what you think, though (and it’s important to remember that nobody with money cares what you think at all), wave pools are here to stay.

2. Noa, Chippa and Chunny were the sickest

You can only hate for so long. Like eating too much McDonald’s or watching Big Bang Theory or slipping a finger in your own date while jerking off, it’s all a bit of fun in the moment, but eventually leaves you feeling pretty gross and shamed-out. There comes a time when you need to ditch the darkness and let the light back in and for me, the biggest revelation of this year came shining out of Noa Deane, Chippa Wilson and Shaun ‘Chunny’ Manners. Holy shit, did you catch their clips? Head Noise, Movie No.4 and Blastoid are pure surf madness, with more attitude than a chihuahua on a meth bender. I recommend ditching whatever it is you’re wasting your life doing right now and watching all three of these films simultaneously while drinking beer in an unbuttoned shirt and with legs spread as wide as is humanly possible. Aaaaaahh… that’s the tonic for alleviating a bad case of the hate right there.

1. Steph Gilmore won something

This week Stephanie Gilmore won something, her seventh world title I think, equalling Layne Beachley Pengilly’s record and becoming the best female competitive surfer since Kate Bosworth in Blue Crush. It’s been four long years since Steph was World Champ, and many doubted whether the 90-year-old still had the competitive fire to match it with the younger, more aggressive girls on tour. But this year, Steph semi-secretly teamed up with super coach Jake Paterson, a mastermind of the contest game and former Pipeline Master who literally has a tattoo of ‘the eye of the tiger’ on his shoulder. In a landmark moment for the sport that saw the prize money for women’s surfing equal that of the men’s for the first time, Stef and Snake put together a campaign that all but wiped the floor with her opposition. And because Steph is a dear friend of Monster Children we did a little wee in our undies when she won because, as luck would have it, you can still purchase one of the many, many editions of her Guest Editor’s magazine that didn’t sell right here. Love you Steffy!

*I actually said that, not Mick Fanning.

Sign up for the Monster Children Newsletter