Banquets Need to Go

The WSL is no longer of punk rock, nor has it been for some time, but after last night’s party held for Mick Fanning at the Torquay retirement home banquet hall, it is certain.

The retirement party, which was live-streamed and instagrammed by most people in attendance, was a not-so-subtle reminder of the days when Wardo and AI and Bruce and, hell, Eugene were on tour and the atmosphere felt more like a dystopian battle royale than a friendly get-together before an afternoon nap.

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I’m not sure what the solution is, but I, along with many others, would love a nice shot of adrenaline and (disregard for) life to be shoved into the flimsy arm of the World Surf League.  Perhaps I am more a fan of Brazilian surfing than I initially thought.

I’ll take white-walker Felipe charging the judges’ tent or Medina dropping in on everyone within sight because he’s in a bad mood over this lesbian haircut tea party that the WSL has become.

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Where is the grit?  Where are the fights?  Where’s the tequila?

As in any sport, there comes a time when the torch is passed — it’s inevitable.  However, it’s much nicer when it happens willingly and doesn’t become a necessity.  I fear we are teetering on that very thin line.

It’s like Batman says, “You either die a hero, or live long enough to see yourself become the villain.”

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Kelly seems to be getting grumpier with age, at least.




The SAGA of Boy Wonder Begins

I’m not one to toot horns, but I think I’ll make an exception here.  I called this, and I did so early.   Toot.  

Griffin “Boy Wonder” Colapinto took to the lineup donning Gretzky’s #99, and then in ‘Great One’ fashion proceeded to dominate the competition, culminating in his defeating World Champion Joel Parkinson.  The kid appears to be on a mission to ditch the Robin tights in favor of the black mask of Gotham.

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He surfs next against Kanoa Igarashi and our very own Prince Charming, Julian Wilson, who was looking rather prince-like the other day as he exited the lineup.

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Will Prince Charming slay the dragon and save the damsel in distress or will it be Boy Wonder and his late drop acrobatics that rule the day.  Stay tuned.




The Branding of Pro Surfers Pt. Deux

And the beat goes on!  More on the branding of our beloved professional surfers. Click here for part one.


4. Kelly Slater: The Aging Grand Master

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With wisdom far beyond his years, Kelly Slater is clearly the Aging Master on tour.   He has battled and survived Pamela Anderson, a short acting career, balding, injuries, his own mind, and a constant target on his back since the early 90s to garner 11 World Titles becoming arguably the greatest athlete to ever live.  And now, he’s taken nature into his own hands and manifested his very own wave.  Is there anything this man cannot do?

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I’ve heard he’s not such a hot basketball player.

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Master Slater has conquered the art of aging, a truth illuminated further with the recent retirement of Mick Fanning.   He will outlast us all.  Only Yoda can stand toe to toe with this man.  They are the same height, that is neat.

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5. Griffin Colapinto: Boy Wonder

The radical maneuvers of the San Clemente local are reminiscent of the trapeze work of the famed Boy Wonder aka Robin, Batman’s right hand man-boy.

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With the same angst and impatience that Robin took to the streets of Gotham, we hope Griffin Colapinto will take to the waves of the World Tour.   He surfs with reckless abandon, uncaring of who he hurts or how — including himself.   Classic Marvel tale.

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The question always remains, when will Boy Wonder become Man Wonder?

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6. Dane Gudauskas: String Cheese Spirit Guide

The Sultan of Stoke.

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The Fantom of Froth.

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The King of Kawabunga.

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The Emperor of Epic.

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The Caliph of Classic.

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The General of Gotcha!

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The Bosshog of Bitchin.

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The Sherpa of Shaka.

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And his hair reminds me of string cheese.

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We’re rootin’ for you this year, Spirit Guide…even if you’re not on tour.

The Branding of Professional Surfers

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As in any professional sport, the athletes naturally brand themselves — whether they like it, plan it, or hate it, there are certain qualities that come to define athletes.

A simple example to start.  Kobe Bryant, for the entirety of his career, outside of Los Angeles was the villain.  An unapologetic psychopath.  A silent, deadly assassin.  Hated but respected.

In this article, I am going to explore the current branding of several professional surfers, providing critiques, suggestions, and observations.  I apologize if I offend anyone, and I’m sure I will.

  1. Connor Coffin: Pensive Heartthrob Screen Shot 2018-02-15 at 11.57.42 AM.pngAs wholesome as they come, Connor Coffin reminds me of warm banana bread fresh out of the oven.  A talented musician it would seem as evidenced through the many photographs of him with a guitar, Connor has effectively branded himself as the antithesis to the Noa Deanes and Creed McTaggarts of the surfing world.  It’s not a bad play, but it’s not one that I particularly care for.  Connor is so skilled at this imagery that he makes Jack Johnson look like Ozzy Osbourne.  Although, I must admit, I’ve never heard Coffin play or sing or any of that — this is strictly a branding exercise.  I once dubbed him the Golden Nugget of Glory, California’s last hope.  I no longer feel he embodies this title, for he has transformed.  No longer gold or a nugget, Connor Coffin has become the Pensive Heartthrob, California’s favorite jam puppy and, perhaps, last hope.  That being said, those who brand themselves in this very warm light, usually have a dark side.  One day, and I hope it’s soon, Connor’s dark side will reveal itself.   Until then, however,  I’ll still root for Connor and his demons.  Coffin will always have a place in our hearts here at Surf Heater.


2. Gabriel Medina: Evil Overlord

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Gabriel, simply put, must embrace his role and his brand, which has quite organically sprouted into the villain of the WSL.  Gabriel is the Jafar of the League and it would behoove him, and us all, to grab his serpent staff and accept the\ role with open arms.  Every great story pins good versus evil, and in surfing it should be no different.

Not everyone can play the villain, so young Medina should take this role as a compliment, and run with it.  Become the Jafar you were meant to be, Gabriel.  Fear not, for you will no power like you never have before.  Embrace the dark side!  Screen Shot 2018-02-15 at 12.07.53 PMPerhaps, Gabriel can recruit his stepfather Charlie to sit on his shoulder like Jafar’s trusty, loud-mouthed sidekick parrot, Iago.  Actually, as it is now, that’s not so far from reality.

3. Julian Wilson: Prince Charming

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I mean, look at this man.  If he doesn’t scream Prince Charming then slap my ass and call me Nancy, because I’m going out tonight!

Every villain must, must, must have an adversarial prince with whom to go to battle against.  Julian fits this mold and he does it with ease.  Ever since he willingly paddled quite literally into the jaws of a Great White Shark to help Mick Fanning escape imminent danger, he has been the Surfing World’s Prince Charming.  Now, if we could only get him a few more wins and lodged like broccoli between buck teeth in the running for a World Title.  The stage with its bright lights will soon be set.  The marquee matchup: Good vs. Evil.  Let us drink.  Let us dine.  Let us sing.  Onward.

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Coming up next: the Aging Master, Boy Wonder, and a String Cheese Spirit Guide…



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My hands are shaking.  No, I’m not angry.  I’m not fuming with indignation or disgust.  I’ve simply had far too much to drink.  Coffee.

With an energized mind I tend to focus on things I despise.  A curse?  Perhaps, but I write on.

“I would never donate to any charity that would help sharks.  I hope they all die,” said President Trump.

Chas Smith of BEACHGRIT recently (not that recently, but I’ve been drinking) wrote about the President’s statement, referencing the ancient proverb, “The enemy of my enemy is my friend.”  Chas went on to dub President Trump an honorary surfer, which can only mean that Chas Smith shares our leader’s contempt for the large fish.

I, too, am terrified of these underwater beasts, but alas I am not so quick-fingered and impulsive (sounds like a teenage boy aiming for the slip for the first time).

I want to wholeheartedly disagree, but I then fantasize about a world without sharks.  It’s fluffy, and safe and there aren’t any sharks.

Tut, tut.  There are reasons this world should not exist.  Namely, science.  The ecosystem exists in a delicate balance, the ocean especially.  Sharks provide invaluable skills that keep said ecosystem in balance and, thus, thriving.   Yeah, yeah, you’ve heard the arguments.  Are they true?

When an ecosystem is thriving, its reefs are healthy and full.  When those reefs are healthy and full they provide the infrastructure that grant people like Chas and every other surfer those things called waves.

Alas, I, too am not getting out of bed to campaign for sharks, nor are any of these others surfers, let alone the professionals.  So, although Chas is, perhaps, wrong to lend his support of the President’s bedtime remarks, I fear I’m no different.

This topic, however, got me to thinking: What do professional surfers campaign for?

I don’t see them banding together to protest any sort of ecological or oceanic preservation or anything of the sort?  Why is that?  DGAF?  One would think these surfers would do all they could to protest and rally their fans and supporters to champion ocean conservation efforts.

Aside from the bald one, Kelly Slater, I’m hard-pressed to think of any professional watermen that have outwardly, vocally, passionately stood to protect the very oceans in which they make their living.

Perhaps that’s it there.  Their livings are made traveling the world surfing the most beautiful waves it has to offer.  Life is good.  Life doesn’t get much better than that.

To rock the proverbial boat may be unwise.  Examples have manifested aplenty, no one more so than Colin Kapernick.

This all being said, I could very well be dead wrong – and I hope I am, but if these surfers are out there campaigning and supporting efforts to conserve our oceans, their voices have not reached the likes of me and I’m much closer to the sport than most.

I’m going to do some digging.  Let’s find out who stands for what in professional surfing.  Stay tuned.

-S. Ben Willoughby

Top 10 Surf Colleges…Again

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How many times can SURFER recycle one article? Forever, it seems, for they have done so with the BEST Surf Colleges article for the last ten, maybe twenty years, maybe thirty years. We sat down with SURFER this year to get the inside scoop on the contest. Let’s check it out and see who won this year!


STRANGE BEN: Hi Surfer, thanks for sitting down with us. We’re psyched to see who won the best surfing college this year. It’s always a barn-burner.

SURFER: Whoaaa! Hey there Strange! Good to see you, brother. Well, it was a tight, tight race but it seems this years belongs to UCSD. We compiled some heavy-hitting, I’m talking lip-smacking, analytics to the group of finalists this year and this the list we came up with. Pretty sick, right?

SB: Damn! Who would have thought? Hard-hitting analytics, eh? And UCSD came out on top?

SURFER: Yeah, I know. Big surprise to us here, as well. Crazy analytics, brah. I’m talking some straight up scientist tip, dude.

SB: Well, what changed from last year?

SURFER: Well, not much, but we couldn’t let Santa Barbara win again so we moved ’em down to 4th. And then slotted Cal Poly to 6th and brought in good old Monmouth University at 10th to really shake things up, ya know?

SB: Haha, no I don’t but that’s okay.

SURFER: Yeah, I mean the BIG surprise this year was Point Loma Nazarene University at #3! Can you believe that? So happy for them.

SB: No I can’t believe it because I thought the only people who go there are studying to become Bishops. Do Bishops surf?

SURFER: Hah! They might now that we’ve put them on the map!

SB: I doubt it. Well, I’ll say goodbye now. Thanks for sitting down with us and, uh, can’t wait till next year???

SURFER: No problem Strange! Keep shredding, dude!

SB: Yeah, okay.


I would say get some new material, but I’m genuinely entertained by the article and its ever-rotating cast of colleges. What they should do is set it up like one of those squirt gun races at the county fair — and film it. More squirt gun races in general, I guess. So long.

-Strange Ben Willoughby

STAB v. BEACH GRIT: Final Thoughts


I’m back.  And the first thing I’ve been asked to do is to weigh on the recent “debate” between Chas Smith of BeachGrit and Ashton Goggans of Stab.

God, was the whole thing awful.  It felt set-up, or like two caricatures coming to life to almost fight each other.   There were parts, though.  There were parts.

To start, I want to say that I wish Chas had socked Goggans.  I also wished Goggans had socked him back prompting a savage, full-scale brawl.   Doubtful that wish has anything to do with the actual debate or Chas or Goggans themselves, but more of a personal thing.  Worry not, for I’m trying to work through it.


Chas is a dick.  Plainly.  Goggans is a blowhard industry feeder (he has the perfect voice for it).  Obviously.

In discussing surf media/journalism as a whole I side with Chas.  They cater to sponsors, protect their own, and refuse to do any sort of hard-hitting reporting that might make one of them look bad.

“Surf journalism is not a noble pursuit,” said Chas, and I agree.  It is not.

Chas, however, aside from being a dick believes he is gasoline and his pen is a match.  His goal, which he has made clear, is to burn the whole place down with hope that, in its stead, something much more pure and true grow back.  For that, I cannot fault him.

On his way in Goggans, I’m assuming with a tilted head and puppy dog eyes, said to David Lee Scales,  “On the way down I listened to your podcast with Jamie…sooo sick.”  In my estimation of Goggans, I believe he uses that phrase perpetually.   I imagine that that grows tiresome, and I was glad to hear him spit some venom during the interview, albeit droplets.

As long as the world of surf journalism is run by people like Goggans who claim that cupcake interviews with Kelly Slater and obscure WQS trivia are entertaining as hell, then it will stay in its current jerking state.

The Inertias (not quite yet STAB) need to die, and quickly, painlessly, if surf journalism ever wants to be held in any regard.   Think about the constant debate and scathing attacks that go on every single day in every other sporting arena by every other reputable sports media outlet and you begin to realize why surf journalism is essentially (as verified by Goggans) a bunch of stylish edits and “cool” art pieces and fluff pieces meant to do nothing more than cast a friendly breeze.  There’s no “Fuck Medina and his Stupid Antics” or any “Kelly Slater thinks he’s a God” or “Whatever happen to all the good ol’ drunks in surfing?”  or “The Fucking True Story on Anything”.

Instead, it all gets swept under the big soaking wet rug.  And so be it.  I’m not here to change it.

I will tell you who won, though.  The podcast won.  Knockout.

-Strange Ben Willoughby