This Week In Surfing: Does The Volcom Pipe Pro Prove Kelly Won't Win The 2017 Title? Obama Is A Natural Footer? & Sabre Back On Ellen

10 Feb 2017 1 Share

Mike Jennings

Senior Writer

John John Florence, four time winner of the Volcom Pipe Pro, might be a five time winner by the time you read this caption.

John John Florence, four time winner of the Volcom Pipe Pro, might be a five time winner by the time you read this caption.


Ten Things From Surfing & The Internet On The Week That Was February 10, 2017

1. Has The Volcom Pipe Pro Signalled Kelly Won't Win Another Title?

The Volcom Pipe Pro is running all the live long day today and by sun down will be crowning a champion of the very best QS comp of the year for the eighth time in its history. Anyone could win it, John John, Soli Bailey, Seth Moniz, Mitch Coleborn, anyone! Anyone except for Kelly Slater that is, because Kelly Slater lost his very first heat, which was on Day 3 at perfect Pipeline. 

The comp has been pretty great. It's had a half day of average waves, a good day of really sweet backdoor stretched out like a hollow right point, and a day of classic Pipe (from which the highlights sit below). It was on that Pipe day that Kelly Slater paddled out and got a big ol' L handed to him by Bruce Irons, whose event results of the past five years have not been great, and Seth Moniz, who is one of the top crop of hot young surfers to keep an eye on for this year's QS.

This would be no big deal, nothing to shake a tamborine at, if not for two things. Kelly Slater has signalled he's going to have a big 2017, and this was Pipeline breaking like Pipeline.

As we know, back in October in the days following John John Florence's maiden World Title victory, Kelly Slater took to Instagram to announce that he'd be getting his mind and body together and giving a World Title campaign one last real crack this year.

If you go over the last three years, the idea of a Kelly Slater World Title is statistically improbable, if not downright absurd. Despite finishing in the top ten in each, over three full years the winningest surfer of all time has managed just a single event win. Teahupo'o last year. In fact, the only other time he made an event final was at the same event two years earlier. Just two finals in three years. And to top that off, Kelly had three last place finishes in 2016.

Now that's just looking at event results, numbers registered into excel spreadsheets or whatever, which is obviously a far too narrow way to look at surfing, or at Kelly. Because, as we all know, there isn't a wave on tour that Kelly can't win on a good day, and it would surprise no-one if he were to go ahead and do just that. But the general consesus amongst surfing analysts (lol) is that if Kelly is to go ahead and win the 2017 World Title three things need to happen. Those three things are: Teahupo'o needs to be good, Cloudbreak needs to be good, Pipeline needs to be good. Because when those waves are good, the difference between Kelly and the rest of the field is pulled into sharp focus, and it provides him the field of play to not only compete, but perhaps even dominate with Gabriel Medina and John John Florence, and if we want to see Kelly take the title, he must steal wins from those surfers at at least two of those three events.

Take Tahiti last year for example, let me regurgitate the stats I wrote in this column following his win there last year because they are the stats of an incredible performance, possibly the most dominant performance in modern surf history, and they came in the middle of Kelly's worst year on tour in his entire career:

– There were 36 waves scored 9 or above in this competition. Kelly Slater had ten of those.
– There were six 10s in this competition. Kelly had four of those babies too.
– Kelly's average heat score was the ridiculously high 18.6. To put that into context, that heat score would have won every single heat Kelly wasn't in except for one (the John John Florence vs Gabriel Medina semi-final). Think about that for a second. Kelly Slater's average heat score in that event would have won 50 out of 51 heats!!!

See, when those big hollow lefts turn on, Kelly Slater is the man to stop. There is no-one with a better record at Pipe. There is no-one on the tour who has spent more time at Cloudbreak. And Teahupo'o, you just read about what he's capable of there. But this week, at a lowly QS3000 at a wave he could be argued to be the best ever at, and where he was defending champ, he lost in his very first heat. That certainly does not signal a good start to the 2017 World Title campaign for Kelly.

Is it unfair to put this kind of weight ona  single heat of surfing? Probably, but on the other side of the coin, Kelly kinda sorta maybe invited this concentrated view on his surfing when he announced to the world his intentions for 2017 way back in October.

It’s a very long year, and to cancel out a World Title possibility based off a 35 minute competitive heat is certainly foolish, particularly when that heat was run in a four man format that Kelly won’t have to take part in again in 2017… but I'm nothing if I'm not a big dumb fool. So there you go, will Kelly win the 2017 World Title? Not if he can't win a Round 3 heat in the Volcom Pipe Pro, no way.


I love you Kelly.


How rad is the Makua Rothman claim at 1.30? 

SEE ALSO: Weekend Surf Forecast 9 - 11 February

2. Obama Goes Kitesurfing, Is A Natural Footer

With Richard Branson no less. This is the number 1 trending video on Youtube right now. I repeat, a kitesurfing video, is the number 1 video trending in the world right now! Isn't that a slap in the guts.

It basically shows the ex POTUS hanging out holidaying with super millionaire man Richard Branson on the dude’s private island, in this instance kite surfing. Obama, ever the traditionalist, opts for the normal kite surfing set-up, while Branson, the futurist, has a foil attached to his kiteboard… which is terrifying. Have you seen how easily kite surfers lose control of their shit? Ask anyone who grew up on Melbourne’s Port Phillip Bay. The answer is: Very easily. I knew a guy who’s good at kite surfing, and he got lifted up and over the Half Moon Bay (Black Rock, not the big wave spot) pier and damn near broke his spine. Can you imagine adding a flesh slicing foil to that nonsense? Chaos!

Anyway, how long till we see the U.S. president that the Atlantic called "The Ocean President" on a proper surfboard? How long until we see a man cut in half by a foil-boarding-kitesurfer? How long until I can take my frozen pizza out of the oven. All important questions.

3. Sean Mawson's Grandma's Garage

With the Surfing World Reelers short film comp entry period coming to a close last week, a whole smorgasboard of sick as surf clips have hit the computernet and are getting around the surf sites. This here is a good one. It’s called Grandma’s Garage and it stars Sean Mawson. He’s that NSW south coast surfer who goes by the name Sea Mullet. Sea Mullet surfs some slabs. Drives a car. Shapes a surfboard. Does some airs. Goes to New Zealand. Wears booties. Jumps between some rocks. Meets some seals. It’s a good time.

SEE ALSO: Nick Carroll On: Now For The Controversey That Is PLan B

4. Jake Willcox and West Oz Barrels

Out of the part of Australia that isn’t Eastern Australia, or Northern Australia, or Southern Australia, comes this Margaret River barrel fest starring amongst others, a dude we hope will be close to qualifying on the CT by the end of the year, or at the very least be ranked high enough to give it a real crack in 2018 (the young fellla finished 96th in 2016). The kid’s got mad potential. Oh, I forgot to write his name. It’s Jacob. Hey Jacob.

5. Sabre Norris Was On Ellen Again

Sabre Norris was on Ellen a while back, and that clip has now accumulated more than 30 million views, and that basically means she’s heading into Mick Fanning/Laird Hamilton/Kelly Slater territory of mainstream surf fame. This week she got invited back on Ellen’s show where it was announced that she'd be Ellen’s correspondent for the Nickelodeon's Kid’s Choice Awards on March 11. It’s a pretty big deal. Ice Cube was also on the show. He used to be a rapper and now he's a movie star. It's a lot to take in.

SEE ALSO: The 8 Boards In The Midst of A Surboard Evolution Right Now

6. Ando For Former

Dane Reynolds and Craig Anderson both left Quiksilver, as you know, and now they’re launching a brand called Former. This is a clip in promotion of it. I’m leaving this here so that people can complain about posting hipster stuff. People love complaining about hipster stuff, and I don’t want to deny them that opportunity. Have at it!

7. Occy Has A UFC Guy On His Podcast

The guys's name is Luke Rockhold, which has to be the most appropriate name for a UFC fighter of all time, right? Rock hold! He’s in town staying with Mick, where he alludes that Mick has been training the house down... read into that what you will (shhhh, title campaign, shhh). Rockhold, a UFC World Champ, is a surfer too, from Santa Cruz. What’s with the crossover between UFC and surfing? They’re so unrelated, aren’t they? But all the pros are into it, Keanu Asing is engaged to a pro fighter, RVCA sponsors a bunch of them, and, of course, pro big wave surfer and Ours regular Richie Vas is an accomplished MMA guy. Not knocking it or anything, just seems bizarre.

VIDEO: This Week's Gold Coast Grovel

8. Nick Pollet's Showreel

Nick Pollet, who doubles as one of Matt Wilkinson’s best mates and personal filmer, and is now on the books as a filmmaker for Rip Curl, is one of the best dudes you can ever meet hanging around a CT competition. He’s hilarious. He’s friendly. He speaks French. He’s the best. Oh, and he’s also really good at making surf flicks, which is arguably the most important part of his role... arguably.

9. Big Wave Guys Talk Hold Downs

This here is a neat clip where the stars of the WSL Big Wave World Tour talk about how hold downs work."Estimates are that a wave that’s 33 feet tall, 66 feet wide, and eight feet thick weighs nearly 500 tons, or 250 Jeep Wranglers…" explains the WSL Big Wave World Tour medical director, with a very handy sponsor plug slid in there, but who is estimating that? How do those physics work. I’m not suggesting that being held down by a wave like this is not terrifying and incredibly dangerous, nor that I'm a maths genius and he is wrong, but can you just say stuff and not explain how it works? Does that take into account the 66 feet of width of the wave? Is that width concentrating the weight onto you, are you feeling all 66 feet of that as you’re being held down? Maybe you are. How many Wrangler Jeeps are in an average one foot Collaroy wave? 

SEE ALSO: Portugal Is About To Blow Your Mind

10. Blissful Ments By Drone

The world is complicated. It's a tough , confusing life out there guys. So why not watch pefect Mentawai waves from 2016 with some 2004 Presets playing behind it, and zone out. That's nice.

And bonus, of course, Weak Wrap...

Sometimes your life loses all meaning. You're sitting there at work, toiling away, when you're hit by a moment of clarity: we're all just ants in an ant hill. Insignificant worker ants in a giant universe spinning round, millions of events happening instantanously for no reason, with no meaning. We exist, then we don't, and none of it matters. And then you click play on Weak Wrap and it shows you the best compilation of people GoPro filming themselves getting smoked that's ever been on the Internet... and everything is okay again. Thank you, Weak Wrap.

And that was this week in surfing. Have a good weekend everyone. Love you.

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