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    Does anyone watch professional surfing? Fox has acquired the rights to WSL in the USA and are showing highlight on FS1 and 2-4 hour blocks of heats on FS2. I'm a fan but might might be the only one, which will make this a null thread. If anyone else is watching, chime in.

    For now, I'll say that the current Margaret River Pro in Australia has been a bit crazy. The first few days on one side of the cliff where waves break normally and then Friday (US time) in the Box where it's drop in hope to get in the tube but mostly get wiped out, and that's that. For big wave riding the box is interesting but in terms of the beauty of the sport, not so much.

    If you're not getting anything on cable or satellite but like to watch surfing, the WSL has all heats here: (replay experience features full heats)

    I wish I could do surfing. It seems like the best sport. Not just the sport itself but the whole vibe of it.

    Unfortunately I donít live anywhere near any surfable breaks and moving to Southern California, etc isnít viable for me.

    I also have a strong aversion to drowning.

    I saw some of the highlights from that Margaret River event. Some impressive surfing. Of course, all professional surfing is impressive but that looked like an especially tricky wave.


      Can't get that site's player to work for me, either on 'watch now' or 'replay experience'. Shame as I'd definitely watch this.


        I wish I could do surfing. It seems like the best sport. Not just the sport itself but the whole vibe of it.
        Having lived a couple of hundred metres up the street from one of Southern California's "iconic" surfing beaches for five months, I do share this view. The self-proclaimed "locals" were gold-plated assholes.


          Well, yeah. It does seem to have a lot of macho dickheads - including a lot of the Hawaiians and Australians, which runs counter to the stereotype of those nationalities. Any predominantly male youth culture is going to have a certain amount of that.

          But I suspect the growth of womenís surfing might help and the people Iíve known who actual do it are all very chill. Perhaps the scene is better in places with more marginal conditions like some of the breaks on the east coast or very cold places like in Scotland. Iím not sure, though.

          What I like about it is that, unlike most American sports, it doesnít seem to be dominated by hypercompetitive suburban parents throwing money at hucksters to get their kid on a U-8 travel team while paying consultants to help build their kidís personal brand. And, unlike something like cycling, the chatter seems to mostly be about the conditions and the experience, rather than about how much money one spent on oneís gear.

          I also admire skateboarding for its lack of parental meddling, but it does attract a fair number of straight-up thugs and I never could get the hang of it. I have a strong aversion to broken bones.


            I have a niece who is very much in the positive change demographic that you describe, so there is indeed reason for hope.


              The future is female.


                delicatemoth moth: Where do you live? Maybe the site is blocked outside the US. If you are outside the US, try downloading a free VPN like Windscribe, signup for a free account, and then choose a US location. The site is really good, although as an older guy I prefer watching on TV.

                I think surfing is a lot like soccer in the US: there are some rich people in the scene who have money for good boards, good gear, good lessons early on, proximity to good breaks. There are thugs who believe in the "locals only" vibe. And then there are people who are chill, and believe in a link between surfing community and some connection to the earth. It's a kind of hippyish approach but also seemed to exist alongside some other environmental movements in the 1960s and 1970s.

                I don't know if any of you saw the documentary Dogtown and Z-Boys, which was mostly about skateboarding but also had some surfing included. That film really showed the competitive, locals only vibe. It's a really exciting film in terms of pushing a new style of documentary filmmaking. But it's a very different vibe than The Endless Summer, which imagines and shows a global connection among people who are excited to meet other surfers.

                I grew up in Southern California and mostly kneeboarded (shorter, hardboard but longer than the kneeboards used for lakes/being towed by a boat). And I tended to avoid the big pier spots near me (e.g., Huntington Beach pier) because there were too many dicks. But the Huntington Cliffs were always great. People were friendly.

                BTW, the WSL has implemented a change starting this year so women and men earn the same prize money. That's really cool and I don't think that kind of split exists in any other sport. Granted, there aren't many sports where men and women are performing at the same time in the same place, but in the US we've seen how a shitty USMNT makes more money in football, whereas perennially winning women's teams earn less money. I don't know if men and women in athletics/track and field earn the same prize money even though that seems to be a sport where the top athletes in the men's competition and women's competitions attract the same viewers.
                Last edited by danielmak; 02-06-2019, 05:23.


                  I love watching the surfers here. It's just so elegant. I've never got into watching it as a sport - I don't think I'd know what to look for. But as something to watch when hanging out at Swamis or Windansea or whatever famous local breaks, it's great.

                  We were discussing it earlier today on the bike ride. A load of the cyclists also surf, but others have the same opinion as me - you'd have to be kind of nuts to get up before dawn, wrestle yourself into a wetsuit, spend hours looking like a slow fat seal on top of an ocean full of sharks, only for a few seconds of massive power thrashing and then some crazy balance and muscle work to get yourself upright on the board, only for the whole thing to be over in 30 seconds and then you have to go to all the effort to paddle out again. It's not for me. But the guys who do it absolutely love it, and mostly they're just really nice, relaxed,chilled out dudes. There's none of the competitive edge you get even with social cycling. None of them care about being better than the other guys, they just care about catching nice waves and being as good as they can be.

                  I'm pretty sure one OTFer, Steve9e I think, used to surf a huge amount, and surely has lots more to say.


                    I suppose that, ultimately, women surfers are just as marketable as male ones, so why not pay them the same? Even if that isnít quite true, itís probably close enough that the PR value and basic decency value of paying them the same makes up for it.

                    Thatís not true in soccer, unfortunately. The USMNT makes more money than the women because they have more leverage. They donít actually need to play internationally to make a living at soccer - they could just play for their clubs - so they could threaten to walk away. The women generally cant make a living just playing club soccer so their federation has them over a barrel. Thatís why they could force them to play a World Cup on shitty AstroTurf. That doesnít happen to the men not just because Sepp Blatter is a sexist dick - though thatís true - but because the men would simply refuse to play on it.

                    As it is, the federation is subsidizing the North American womenís league, which otherwise probably couldnít survive. Two versions of it already failed. Thatís not the case with the menís team vis-a-vis MLS. Their symbiotic, but not to the degree that the federations are with WPS. The men get paid by the federation only when they play for the federation. The federations are subsidizing the USWNT players WPS wages.

                    The USWNT draws well and gets good tv numbers but attendance for WPS isnít great and their TV numbers are small. If people want to support womenís soccer, they need to support the club version, not just the national teams. (Of course, support would be better if the venues were better. Thereís a catch-22 there).

                    I understand that the USWNT players want a better deal and they deserve support in trying to get it - I was hoping theyíd go on strike before the last Olympics - but if they actually got the same deal as the men, they might sink their pro league, which would be a high price to pay.

                    I really liked the film Generation Momentum about the group of US surfers, including Kelly Slater, who all lived together and mostly all had a lot of success. But Slater was the only one really driven to win on the tour and it alienated the rest of them for a while and, despite the money, didnít seem to make Slater very happy. He seems to be in a better place now as are his friends.

                    It also showed how now some surfers can make a decent living just making cool films about their surfing adventures, whether or not they actually win completions. Itís kind of a cool deconstruction if what pro sports really are. Weíre used to thinking that winners make money because they win the prizes, but the prizes only exist because sponsors give money to the promoters to fund the prizes, and they only do that because they want their logos and such to be seen by people watching the surfing (or whatever sport). But the viewers, at least for surfing, may not really care who wins. They just want to see cool surfing. So it turns out the competitions are kind of superfluous, really. Just send the surfers out there, get some good camera people, put Bad Religion or whatever in the soundtrack and donít worry about who ďwins.Ē Just make it look cool.


                      I only had a "locals" incident once, they only really happen at narrow spots where there is only one break. Even if you pay your respects and let locals take waves, you're bound to piss off some frustrated twerp who can't catch a wave for love or money. That's what aggressive locals always are, frustrated surfers. The whole point of surfing is having fun, they say the best surfer is the one who has the most fun, and it's so true.

                      Overall, I chose spots with multiple breaks and would sit on one of the less crowded areas and be fine having less opportunities to catch a wave. I was a technically awful surfer, but my expectations were low, I primarily likejust justl oved being in the water, sitting on my board. Catching waves and enjoying the ride for as long as possible was a bonus. I was in a tube, once, had to duck sooooo low to fit in that hole, but I made it!

                      Have seen arsehole girl surfers in line-ups, usually part of an all boy group and they're trying to demonstrate that they're tough to their male peers.

                      Sometimes though, you can paddle up to an unfamiliar line up and just have the greatest time. Will always remember a really early morning session, big line up full of old frazzled surfers like myself and the waves were so good it was impossible not to catch them and have really long rides. There was also a small rip current which too you straight back to the line up without paddling! Such a buzz, everyone smiling and complimenting each other.

                      In terms of competitive surfing, I've never been into watching it, the distance between what they do and what I could dream of doing is so huge, they're practising a whole other skillset. But I love watching videos if people just enjoying rides, I've posted it before, but Jane's Addiction's "Ocean Size"v and song brings back every emotion I gave about surfing. Just the rhythm of the song and the way Perry is just enjoying a truly personal session, caring more about the ocean and his connection with it than any cut back, that's what it's all about.

                      God, I miss it so much.


                        Originally posted by Hot Pepsi View Post
                        Well, yeah. It does seem to have a lot of macho dickheads - including a lot of the Hawaiians and Australians, which runs counter to the stereotype of those nationalities.
                        Eh? The word "Australian" meens macho dickhead...


                          Cool, got it working now. I hope they have a round in Scotland, I know that Moray Firth is a popular surfing site.


                            Originally posted by Gangster Octopus View Post
                            Eh? The word "Australian" meens macho dickhead...
                            All the Australians Iíve ever met were very chill and friendly. Plus, Paul Hogan.


                              There is a level of friendliness from Australians, but there's a very unpleasant macho-ness about the society.

                              Still, like many of my posts, it was largely in jest.


                                Originally posted by Hot Pepsi View Post
                                All the Australians Iíve ever met were very chill and friendly.
                                I've met a number of Rupert Murdoch's senior lieutenants (as well as dozens of larrikins acting out across Europe). So my mileage varies.


                                  Surfing is going to be in the next Olympics. It's causing a lot of controversy within the sport. Many don't think it fits the Olympic pattern, ie: you can't do it in one location over several days, suppose there are no waves? And doing it in a wave people just takes away from the total vibe. If you're going to do it competitively at all it has to be in very different places under varied conditions. And there are some diehards who think competitive surfing is an anathema anyway.

                                  I've attempted it a couple of times, though I've never managed to actually stand up! The West Coast of Vancouver Island has some of the best cold water surfing anywhere, so I'm told. And there are indeed a lot of Aussies involved.
                                  Last edited by Amor de Cosmos; 04-06-2019, 02:40.


                                    Iíd like to get into body surfing. Itís easier.


                                      I wish that we could see demonstration sports done as actual demonstrations at the Olympics

                                      Japan is particularly good for this, given that Sumo, Kendo and other traditional Japanese sports have deep artistic traditions. Surfing may have shallower roots in the country, but could fit into that context rather easily.


                                        I think the stereotype (as opposed to the reality) of Australian men is a very macho one. It's all about beer, and sport, and throwing animals on the barbie, and calling women sheilas. It's hardened sheep-shearing, croc-fighting, fly-blown men in the outback. And as with all stereotypes there is some truth and some myth in there. Look at the treatment of Julia Gillard for example. I dunno, maybe the stereotype in the US is different, but I'd say Crocodile Dundee is sort of playing on and playing with the stereotype.

                                        Anyway, back to surfing, about which I have nothing to say.


                                          To extend Steveeeeeee's comment above, I think another factor that influences how open people are is age. Older people might be dicks but sometimes they can fake niceness. Most aren't worried about publicly displaying masculinity as some kind of alpha male. Of course, there are exceptions to this rule, but younger men are trying to figure out what it means to be a man and their general public role models are messed up and so they perpetuate the problems.

                                          Anyway, the competition I mentioned above is probably complete. I'm currently watching the second women's semi-final and will check out the men's semi-finals and both finals tomorrow since it's late here and it was a longer day than I would have liked. Both women's heats have been excellent. Unlike Steveeeeeee I'm totally good watching something that exceeds my skill level but really that relates to all sports, where at one time I could claim "average" and now can't even claim that. So I would have to avoid watching any sports if I used my own skill level as a gauge. Haha. I will say that there are some surfing competitions that suffer from the worries expressed above about the Olympics: flat, inconsistent swells, mostly watching surfers just sitting on their boards. But this competition at Marget River has been amazing: big waves, consistent swells,, strategy related to a dry reef at the end of right turn waves. So very little downtime. If you have any interest, check out the link above in my original post, go to select heat, and start with the semi-finals (the very bottom of pop up window where you select a heat has a choice between men or women). The second women's heat had a slight delay because of a shark in the ocean....

                                          Hot Pepsi Body surfing is much easier as long as the waves are right. And you will be able to ride the wave with different takeoff points. Body boarding is also really fun, but requires some expense ($40-60USD for a good board). Body boarding is easier than surfing for sure but catching waves can be more difficult than body surfing. But body boarding is super fun and feels a bit better than body surfing for me because you get more speed on a board. Here is a mix of body boarding and surfing at the Wedge, which is a crazy break in Newport Beach (Southern California).

                                          You can find less extreme videos on youtube that just shows ordinary waves for body boarding and body surfing.
                                          Last edited by danielmak; 04-06-2019, 06:28.


                                            Iíve done some bodyboarding in small waves with a fairly cheap board. It might be fun to do it properly with better gear and better waves.

                                            I also have a hand board thing and fins for body surfing, but I have never found any particularly good waves. Iíve watched a lot of YouTubeís of the Wedge. I particularly like the ones where they surf random pool floaty things.

                                            Iíve seen video of people doing it in Hawaii where they kneel or have one knee down on the board. I guess some Hawaiians think itís purer than regular stand-up surfing because it doesnít have a tailfin or something like that.
                                            Last edited by Hot Pepsi; 05-06-2019, 03:13.


                                              I was traveling in June so didn't have time to post about the two most recent tournaments (Rio Pro and J-Bay open in South Africa). Both tournaments featured some thrilling final rounds but if anyone wants to check out final heats here are links. The waves in South Africa were quite big and featured long runs that had a major impact on how the surfers needed to strategize. The long runs especially impacted the women's final. And the men's final in Rio featured one of the best rides I've seen this year. The crowd that turned out to watch the final in Rio was crazy. I've never seen that many people watching a tournament.

                                              Just scroll down to watch replay:
                                              Women's Rio

                                              Men's Rio

                                              Women's South Africa

                                              Men's South Africa
                                              Last edited by danielmak; 22-07-2019, 05:32.


                                                I'm about a third of the way through William Finnegan's Barbarian Days, which is a memoir that uses surfing as the through line. It was a little slow at the beginning, since a story about a young kid is less interesting but once he starts traveling more the story becomes a lot more interesting. There's an On the Road vibe to it, which is always going to speak to my interests as a reader. And the book features some very detailed literary descriptions of figuring out various breaks. Finnegan has published a fair amount with Harpers/New Yorker (including a really interesting piece a couple decades back about skinhead gangs in southern California) so his background in literary journalism. Given what I've read so far I'd recommend this one if you're interested in a globe hopping coming of age story that (primarily) takes shape in the late 60s/1970s.


                                                  I think Barbarian Days has had mixed reviews on OTF. If I remember right, Inca wasn't a fan. I really enjoyed the long meandering trip across the Pacific section that you're on, but the stuff that bookended it didn't engage me so much. I feel like we had at least one other reader, but can't remember who.