The Weirdest WSL Week Ever, Pumping Kirra, and Nate Florence's Backdoor Gem

18 Dec 2020 1 Share

Mike Jennings

Senior Writer

Photo: WSL / Bielmann

Photo: WSL / Bielmann

COASTALWATCH | THIS WEEK IN SURFING

Ten Things from Surfing & the Internet on the Week That Was December 18 2020

1. Pipe Masters got the Rona

Was this the most bizarre week in the WSL's time as an organisation? It has to be a contender, right? To recap: on Sunday, Aus time, the WSL announced that they were halting the Pipe Masters "as a result of positive COVID-19 tests within the WSL staff, including WSL CEO Erik Logan".

Who could have foreseen that coming? The running of an international sporting event in a public and natural environment, in a country easily hitting over 2000 COVID-related deaths a day? But what came next was even more bizarre. Following the suspension of their competition, the WSL went completely silent. They didn't post on Instagram or Facebook for a full five days. Not once. To put that in context, they normally hit around eight posts a day on each of those platform – the most of any surf related media or brand – so, yeah, this was odd behaviour. It's quite hard to imagine any other major sporting body the world over handling an incident like this in a similar way. It led a few of us to start filling the information void ourselves: "Are they in crisis talks right now?" We asked. "Is the WSL going under? Will the ISA and its fantastic and colourful CEO Fernando Aguerre be the new competitive surfing overlords?"

Sidenote: All the while this was happening, Pipe was pretty pretty pretty good, and the surfers were surfing.

And then, like your troubled friend's on again off again partner, the WSL came back into our lives right before Christmas and acted like it had never left us.

So the Pipe Masters is back. They ran an incidentless full day today, getting through the elimination round, the round of 32 and three heats of the round of 16. The broadcast has been assuring us they have all the protocols in place to ensure the event is covid-safe and whatnot, and then immediately crossing to interviews with an often mask-less professional surfer standing on a public beach in a region that is currently averaging 93 new COVID-19 cases a day. It was also cool to see them wish a special happy birthday – screen graphic and all – to Mike McCartney, the, umm... "Director of Hawaii’s Department of Business, Economic Development & Tourism.” Which is a super normal thing to see. 

When the event picks up again, Jack Robinson will take on Kelly Slater in an epic match-up and they'll try and push the rest of the event to finish. And in the same time at least 2000 more Americans will have died.

2. Kirra Kinda Pumped

Well it certainly wasn’t easygoing when the first big push of the east coast tropical swell window hit Southern Queensland on Sunday and Monday, December 13-14. There was a lot of weather – rain, wind, huge tides and an aggressive swell –combining to make things pretty difficult. Aussie WSL commentator Ronnie Blakey copped a lip to the leg on Sunday and suffered a tibial plateau fracture – helped from the water, ambulance, the whole deal (get well soon Ronnie!) – “A lot of rainwater making those lips collapse without notice…” explained Kirra icon and 1978 World Champ Rabbit Bartholomew, on Ronnie’s Instagram. But amongst the chaos were some frothy chocolate barrels at Kirra and Noosa.

Here’s Nick Vasicek, Chris Zaffis, Brent Dorrington, Dextar Muskins, Dion Atkinson, Kai Hing, Harrison Roach and more getting amongst it.

3. Here's Some More Noosa from that Swell

Noosa too was one of the places that made some sense out of the madness of that weather. Highlights from further north up the Queensland coast here:

4. While the Comp Was Off, It Was Pretty Good At Pipe

Griffin Colapinto's filmer once again just sets up the camera and lets it roll at the world's most famous wave.

5. A Go-Pro View of Nate Florence's Best Wave of the Winter Entry So Far

This is one hell of a Backdoor doggy-door, my goodness. Nate Florence once again proving he's one of the world's premiere tuberiders, and capturing it with a camera in his mouth at the same time.

6. There's A Cyclone Hitting Fiji

Tropical Cyclone Yasa has been bringing record level winds and a certain amount of fear and destruction to Fiji. There are already reports that over 23,000 people have been impacted and two lives has been lost. If you want to read about the development of that storm, you can read the full details in Ben Macartney's forecast here.

7. Leo Beat Mikey Wright for the Wildcard

Before the Pipe Masters got the Rona and went mute for five days, Mikey Wright and Leo Fioravanti faced off on a best of three heat showdown, with the winner taking the last wildcard spot on the 2021 Championship Tour. Leo won out, and this is his YouTube vlog about it. 

8. Following Kolohe Andino

It's getting hard to keep track of all Red Bull's surf YouTube Series, but nonetheless, here's another one. It's called Following, in which they... follow... a pro surfer around. Ep 1 stars Kolohe as he prepares for the Pipe Masters by surfing at the not at all similar spot of Huntington Beach. He's been pretty fire in a host of web clips lately though. But his Pipe Masters result? Not so fire, losing in the round of 32 to Miguel Pupo and his beautiful teeth.

9. Australia's No.1 Surf YouTuber Went To URBNSurf

Now that he's allowed, Kale Brock flew down to Melbourne to retest the Tullamarine wave pool and give it the most thorough review we've yet seen – including the cruiser and intermediate waves, as well as of course the advanced and expert settings. 

10. Koa Rothman Breaks Down the North Shore

A lot of us surfers who've never been to Hawaii have spent hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of hours staring at North Shore waves in comps, surf vids and magazines over the course of our lives. So it's nice to get a little reminder of how all those famous breaks fit together on the jigsaw puzzle of these seven miles of Oahu coastline.

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

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