Recounting some of the more puzzling moments from 2013, from the strange to ironic.
Congratulations, I guess
After Mick Fanning's somewhat (depending on who you spoke to) surprising 9.7 heat and title-winning wave at Pipe, there were no prizes for anyone who could guess what Kelly Slater was going to say in his pre-heat interview. Kelly, who'd just finished runner-up to the world title for the second year in a row, again during a Pipeline showdown, is the master of the damning comment sweetened with platitudes. And, so, as surf fandom crouched around their computers, Kelly was as predictable as ever, "He got a 9.5, and we were all blown away."
And the platitudes? "To be fair, we were watching it on TV, and you don’t see the whole scope of how big the wave really is and what the sets look like and there is an emotional part that comes in as well – the excitement, the buildup of the thing coming – you see it coming on the outside, the guy gets it. There’s definitely something poetic about it for Mick.”
Not that we're counting or anything
Hastened to the commentary box after Mick's title-snatching wave, head judge, Richie Porta, said, "When I saw the wave I thought he got the score." Really? Aren't waves judged out of 10 instead of whether or not "they got the score"? One real good reason why judges need to work in a soundproof booth.
Okay, we like the dancing, we like the vibe, but the waves?
Rio gave a little something wave-wise this year, at least enough to throw the fins, but it's not the Pacific. Strike the sojourn to South America, and replace it with a venue like P-Pass or somewhere similar that will more effectively test the limitis and range of the modern WCT surfer's skill set to fill the gap.
In his own time (which is now)
It's partly the good looks and the fine luck of growing up with a pro surfing, careerist dad, that so taunts the online trolls about Kolohe Andino. But do we really appreciate just how good this kid is? How sharp his turns are, how refined his airs? It's taking a little longer than I thought, the script had him pencilled in as a contender by year one, but 2014 is the year of Kolohe Andino. Big waves, small, reef and beach.
Anastasia Ashley as Kevin Bacon
The pious renouncement of Anastasia Ashley was a most peculiar occurrence. Fed to the online and print lions following her pre-heat twerking clip (made and posted by someone else), it was remarkable how little flak Rip Curl's number one teamrider, Alana Blanchard, got for using the same body part to vault her to mainstream stardom, instagram fame and the top of many media outlets' "Hottest Female Athletes" lists. Surfer Editor Brendon Thomas claimed Anastasia's twerking clip made him "physically ill" while almost simultaneously handing over the Surfer of the Year award to, uh, Alana Blanchard. Okay, the Surfer Poll is voted by readers, but irony?