The World Surf League, “Hard Yards,” Sharing, Not Sharing

Without permission from the World Surf League (WSL), I’ve taken a photo from their site. If they disapprove, here are several things in my argument: 1. I love the WSL  and their live coverage (and the fact there is live coverage). I’ve gotten up early and/or stayed up late to watch contests from all over the world. 2. It’s not like I make any money on this site, even IF I mention the WSL. 3. I’ll see if I can get “express, written permission…” in a moment.

This is a drawing I did for a piece on the World Mind Surfing League

 

Here’s the shot I’ve borrowed. Decisive scores for a close heat between Kelly and Gabriel Medina were about to fall. Kaipo Guerrera had, boldly, aggressively, just grabbed both of them, all looking at the screen in anticipation. I do always root for the overdog, if it’s Kelly Slater, and felt he should have won the heat. In the same way, having watched Stephanie Gilmore lose a close one to Carissa Moore, a heat that, if Stephanie had been scored correctly on either of her two best waves… yeah, big Stephanie fan, also, not taking away anything from anyone else on the tour, each of whom surfs better than… Here’s the truth:The difference between any WSL surfer and a regular (or ‘real’) surfer is the same as the difference between us and the casual, once-in-a-while-on-vacation surfer. Massive.

I really wanted to talk about secret spots and the information we share about secret and/or fickle surf spots. If you knew that I took off right after this moment, then got back in time to watch Stephanie win the final at Snapper Rocks, and Owen (“O Dog” according to Martin Potter) Wilson, back from a year off after a concussion at Pipeline, win a close one against Wilko (okay, I’m just going to use nicknames for people I don’t actually know); if you did some calculations on time and distance, checked back on buoy readings, tide charts, you might know something, too much, possibly, about where I surfed (and that I surfed, if I did), secret, fickle, or great. Check it out, Sherlock.

So, here’s something Potts says all the time. “You have to put in the hard yards.” That’s the thing about sharing info. My friend Daryl Wood, pathfinder in surfing on the Strait of Juan de Fuca, said surfers would see his vehicle parked on someone’s private property (with permission), and, the next time he came there, other surfers would be there. Word had spread. It’s been a while since surfers had to call people to have anyone to surf with.  And we love to brag. Other surfers have gone down trails, followed streams, explored; keeping a mental record of when a spot worked, how well it worked. Hard yards. Anecdotal becomes, with enough of it, science.

We’ve all benefited from information on where to go and when; but most of us have spent some long hours studying, waiting; have traveled in search of waves. It can be irritating when someone who hasn’t just checks out a forecast; or gets a call from the beach, shows up. “My wave.”

But I love to talk; and, if I score… so guilty. Trying to quit, but I only have a small circle of surf friends. And they have friends. Basically, if you share too much information, expect the person to share waves with you, and some of his or her friends, next time.  That said, the waves weren’t awesome the time I’m writing about;  at least not where I went. A couple of other surfers did show up, weren’t impressed, didn’t want to have wet wetsuits for the next day when, they hoped, there was a chance for some waves. “Really?” I asked.

The truth is, we don’t need more information, we need more swell. Meanwhile, next WSL event, Margaret River. I think their dawn is, geez, I don’t know; probably prime time here. We’ll see. I’ll still be rooting for the overdogs… and O Dog. And a shout out to Strider.

Illustration for World Mind-Surfing League

I’m going to insert this into the piece, but, since I have enough folks who get a message, psychic or over the mysterious intranet, when I post something new, I’m putting it here first. I’ve got a secret (okay, letting you in on it) plan to get this to the WSL, which I love (and was watching earlier, before the Seahawks game started. Wouldn’t it be great if they did a little skit where…

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…Hey, if you have some contacts… that’d be great. Greater. Also, I wouldn’t have finished the drawing if the surf had just cooperated and followed the forecast.

Semi-Finals, Mind-Surfing Championships, Live Now

You’re switching from a site featuring photos of ‘mature’ nude women to WM-SL.com. “LIVE NOW” is flashing at the top of the page. You hit on a photo of perfect waves. It takes a long moment to buffer. Eventually, with a few stops and starts, an image of a man standing in a parking lot, most of the crowd obvious tourists, including an older (‘more mature’) couple with matching t-shirts reading, “Obviously we’re Tourists.” The angle moves in on an attractive man in his thirties, obviously unaware the show is about to start.

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JACK E. WILLIAMS (holds microphone close, wipes his eyebrow away from his right eye):
Oh. Hey. So, the second semi-final heat of the World Mind-Surfing Tour is about to start. Welcome to all you web and mind surfers, and to the crowd here in the parking lot at the edge of the cliff. Yes, we’re at Swamis, world famous point break in Encinitas, California. The surf is… how would you describe the conditions, Pete?
PETER POTTER (looking out at the lineup, eating a slice of pizza. He motions that he’s still eating, then spits pizza over the bluff):
Blown-out. Simple, Jackie; blown-the-hell-out. (pause) Um, it’s a boiling cauldron of mixed-direction swells. I mean; Surfline called it; six to eight south Chubasco-generated south swell, north-northwest Santa Annas howling, and a long-period northwest all the way from Alaska. It’s, I mean; it’s Swamis, for gosh sake, and no one’s out. (takes a bite of pizza) Back to you, Jack.
JACK (drops hand mirror from shot):
Peter, the field is down to four Americans. Oh, one’s from Hawaii; but, Pete; what happened to the Brazilians and the Haitians and that guy from Indonesia? And Don Reynolds, John-Jack; wildcard entries. None of them could make it out of the elimination heats.
PETER (wipes mouth with back of hand, hand on t-shirt):
Accents, Jackie. The judges couldn’t understand what they were saying. I mean, geez. Mumble mouth, shyness, that won’t get you to this level, Jackie. I mean, maybe you.
JACK (rolls his eyes):
Well; Peter, always real. Maybe too… hey; we’re going to get underway; this is a different game; the waiting is over. There’s tension, and we have waves, AND no one out to spoil the mind surfing… great. We’re now going to Brent Savage, over in the contestant’s area. Brent, are the semi-fnalist’s ready?
BRENT SAVAGE (older guy in Hawaiian shirt, glasses, standing next to the public bathrooms. He puts a woman’s purse behind his back):
Sure enough! Ready! Now, in semi-final one, Simpo Martinez narrowly defeated Sleeter Kenny, our wildcard entry from the northwest; great event for Sleeter; just… it was that floater into the inside rock finger, with the Hawaiian pullout… awesomely described… I mean, it was like you could see it; that gave Simpo the victory. Here’s the after-heat interview:
SALLY DeBOIS (very tall blonde, French accent):
So, Simpo; you took down a legend in the mind-surfing sport. It’s said Sleeter’s wave knowledge and experience in, um, challenging conditions, is… did I already say, ‘legendary?’
SIMPO MARTINEZ (with flower neck tattoo):
Um, yes. Uh, yeah; Sleeter; maybe this wasn’t his year; I, um, most definitely… all respect… he’s… yeah.
SALLY (moves in front of Simpo, looks at camera):
Yeah? I mean, that’s your answer? Yeah?
SIMPO (steps around Sally):
Yeah. Definitely.
SLEETER KENNY (about 60, with dark sunglasses, wearing a track suit, walking by, stops):
I’m coming back. Seriously. No. Wait. I’m through.(puts on hat that says, ‘FTS’) Fuck this shit!       SALLY (chuckles as Simpo reaches out for Sleeter’s hand, Sleeter smiles, shakes his head as if to suggest he’s just being dramatic:                                                                                                                         Back to you, Jackie-bird.                                                                                                                                      JACKIE (fakes shock, chuckles):
Okay; we’ll be seeing Simpo in the finals. Sleeter, greatest mind surfer of all time. I think he’ll be back. He personifies the sport. But first… Pete; re-introduce us to our semi-final contestants.
PETER (pouring beer into a red plastic cup):
Hey, Jackie; I’m… never mind. Look, web-lackys; and I do love re-explaining this all the (mutters) time. Slider Gustovson, from Oceanside… well, now Escondido; and Jay Coxworth, our Australian; have thirty-five minutes to describe what they’d be doing if they were actually in the water. The five judges, separated from the contestants and from the actual water, will view the surf on several monitors, each from a different camera angle. That way, reality and what’s being described; hopefully you get that. Not that you couch surfers get a vote. We had a drone, but it got too close to the Self Realization compound, the authorities were called, and, well, the footage is available on our site. Not pretty. Also, we didn’t think the nudies would be out around the point past Boneyards, what with the wind and all. (winks) Check my Facebook page, Droners.
JACK(checks out attractive woman in the parking lot as he looks out at the water, holding his hair down with one hand):
So, we’ll be in our roving WM-S League studio, seeing the same thing viewed by the judges AND the contestants; listening to the descriptions of each ride; seeing how the judges score. Roger Platnik, five time Mind Surfing Champion, will join me for analysis. After this break. So exciting.

swamisoverviewself realization
AN ADD FOR HANSEN SURFBOARDS starts and stops, ends with “We used to sell surfboards; now we’re all about the fashion; a few surfboards upstairs and on the world wide web.
A SHOT OF THE PARKING LOT shows three old vans and an even older RV, awnings connecting them, in the back corner. Jack pushes Brent out of the RV. Brent kicks the tires, pulls out and lights a cigarette. He opens the door and looks back into the RV. The woman Jack was checking out earlier, adjusting her top, steps out, then throws a kiss back inside, pauses for a moment, throws a kiss at Brent, hands him her purse, goes inside the RV.
A WORN KANVAS BY KATIN BANNER RIPS down the middle in the wind. two sides flapping.
THE SURF IS SHOWN, BIG AND BUMPY, BUT with some shape coming off the point.
SLIDER (voiceover): I’m on a 5’10” Hynson Fish, black, with all down-rails; and the extra flotation allows me to, it mitigates, one could say, the chop, as I paddle through. Ew, duck dive that one. And up.
JAY (voiceover): I’ve just switched to a Channel Island semi-gun, template taken from a classic Yater.  I think there’s a bit of Pat Curran in there. Sorry, Aussies; it’s, yes, Cal-i-for-ni-an. I’ve just paddled past Slider, out and around, and I’m going to take a chance on the inside break. A little bit cleaner, perhaps. (breathing a bit heavier) The wind is just brutal. Thankfully, I’m wearing my new O’Neill Windbreaker hood. Yeah, also Californian.
PETE: Geez; have you seen these guys? I mean, fuckin’ Slider is old and fat and no way he… what? Oh. Okay. Sorry. I just… (cuts off).
SLIDER: here’s… second wave of the set; clean, backlit; I’m…(breathing)… I take off late, in the shadows, drop… freefall… connect; cranking it… vertical; slam off the heavy lip. OW! trying… my fins are free; side-slipping, my right hand deep in the wall; no! Tucking-in. Owwww! And out! Cranking, everything onto the rail. Yes! Back up, pull it off the foam; down again. I aim for the shoulder as another section grows, opens…
JAY (talking over Slider): It’s an outsider. No, it was a ploy; I’m hitting the long section, driving straight off the roll-in whitewater takeoff. Will I connect with the… pumping, a long floater off the roof; down swoop, set my eye on the…
SLIDER: Hey, Jay; you didn’t have time to get outside; Wanker. Meanwhile, I’m still going, a few jukes and go for the nose on the rock ledges inside. So clean, so…                                                                       JACK (breathing heavily):                                                                                                                                        Oh, oh! Amazing! What did you think, Roger… Platnick… Plats? (pause) And, um, where are you, Plats? PLATS: Upper bunk, Jackie. Watching the show. Here, let me turn on my, um, actual camera.
THE VIDEO FREEZES. It may never recover. You switch to PETERPOTTERPUNTS.com, see a still aerial shot of the old couple on the beach, pulling off their t-shirts. You wait a moment, open another bag of cheetos, then hit the arrow.                                                                                                                         The next day, on the site, there’s an update. An interference by Jay Gustavson, Slider goes on to the finals, the finals then put on hold due to the surf cleaning-up and fifty surfers heading out. Photos of the contestants are from years past, though a rival website, Wasted Mind Surfing.org, shows the actual surfers. Brutal. Keep mind-surfing; we’re all champions.

MEANWHILE- while I’m working on a drawing, Happy Thanksgiving. No Hate, No Fear. I spent a lot of last Thanksgiving watching the currently-on-hold Target Pro from Honolua Bay. I actually love that the WSL allows the rest of us to watch quality surfing and, yes, do some mind surfing ourselves.

The Kook Judge hits the Surfrider’s Cleanwater Westport Surf Contest

It was Tom Burns who got me the gig, two days of judging at the Cleanwater Surf Contest in Westport. Oh, I knew it would be exciting, thrilling, and I’d get some food, a place to stay, and a hundred bucks. Professional. Professional-ish. Pro-Am. Yes, I could see myself moving up the ranks, hitting the World Surf League’s Qualifying Series, then the World Tour; France, Portugal, Honolua Bay; explaining to Joey and Potts why I gave Kelly Slater a 12.9 (out of a possible 10); talking them into supporting the number.

“I have to agree, Joey; it was an incredible move. Total commitment, risking… ” “Me too, Potts; and, sure, why not factor age into the mix of Speed, Power, Flow? Say, Erwin, it’s a lay day in another surfing mecca; what do you have planned?” “Well… oh, hi, Strider. Um, maybe see what’s on HBO, maybe a nap.” “I hear that, brother; but for me, the excitement is just about out of control.” “It’s flat, man, sideshore chop; raining like a cow pissing on a…” “So, folks; another lay day here, with new judge Elwin Dence explaining best surfer of all time Kelly Slater’s remarkable…” “It’s Erwin.” “Huh?” “Huh?” “Huh?” “It’s Erwin, boys; not Elwin.” “Thanks, Rosie; love how you say my name.” “And, Erwin, what is on HBO?”

That was my image. Here’s a shot of the actual conditions on Saturday at Westhaven Jetty, Westport, Washington:

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Gosh, it makes you want to suit up and run for the water. Actually, unprepared because I had to work my ass off to finish a job on Friday, I sort of packed, then got up before three am, threw stuff together, made sure I used the bathroom (this is sooo critical- for any surf trip) and headed down Surf Route 101. Then the McCleary Cutoff. Then Highway 8 (I think), then the twenty miles from Aberdeen to Westport, arriving only a little later than head judge Gary Milkie (not sure of the spelling) would have liked. The first heat was about to start, and the judging tent was set up about 75 yards from the main contest area. You know, where the out-of-the-water action is happening.

This is the head judge, Gary; quite a serious guy; and a spotter, checking his Facebook status

This is the head judge, Gary; quite a serious guy; and a spotter, checking his Facebook status

Despite Tom… wait, I should say that I originally met Tom while I was volunteering, trying to make a few bucks for the Olympic Peninsula Chapter of Surfrider, a couple of years ago. I did a crappy job as a heat check-in guy, and a shaky job as a flag changer. “Is it red and green; just green… what?” But, hanging with the judges (who mostly are about my age; I thought I did pretty well. “Red up; no, it’s orange… oh, and, way over there, yellow’s up. No, he’s down. Greennnnnnn!”

The next time I volunteered, two years ago, I signed up early, and put myself in the spotter position for all day Saturday. Evidently, it was revealed later, some other volunteers were a bit perturbed by my hogging of the position. As usual, perturbation noted, not dwelled-upon (they should’a signed up earlier). I did have one chance to judge when Tom had to go the 75 yards (imagine a triangle, bathrooms, main event area, judges tent) to go number one (he says). I was doing fine until two surfers took off on one wave, splitting the wall, three more on the next wave, one of those way down the beach.

“Errrrr! What?” “Put the pencil down,” Gary, whose normal position is stalking behind the row of five judges, asking constantly for a wave count, said. And I did.

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Hey, look; I have to go. I’ll get back to this; wanting to do it right. Tonight, and I’ll upload some of my photos. These were taken by Tom Burns. That’s Sonny; Larry; me with the Seahawks cap under the hoody, concentrating (probably commentating); Gus, one spotter also concentrating, another spotter probably concentrating while trying to keep his parts warmed.

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Again, I’ll be adding more later. “No, I gave him a 5.6. Oh, it’s old guys in this heat? 5.9.”

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There’s no instant replay here. Just getting this from my GOPRO to here took about three heats worth of time. So, we have… no, I have to go. Now that the photos are on this site, I’ll move them around and tell a few tales that, if my performance as a judge doesn’t do it, will keep me from being invited back. No, nothing serious; but, well, you probably can see why judges and on-air talent are different (I wanted to say) animals.