Filipe Toledo was mid-board swap in his Round 4 heat against Zeke Lau and Adriano de Souza when it happened: '88 World Champ and 2017 WSL commentator Barton Lynch scurried down to the water's edge to get a better look at Toledo's board, and we got a better look at Lynch's '90s-dad style sandals-and-socks combo.
In a surf culture where cool is the ultimate currency, it was a bold move for Lynch to show up at the contest site in footwear that would make Ned Flanders blush. But his choice of tread only further cemented what many WSL fans already suspected: Barton Lynch operates on a different level than his peers—and that's a good thing.
The world of WSL commentary can feel like an awkward purgatory sometimes, especially when there's no action in the water and Martin Potter starts discussing things like the size of Caio Ibelli's thighs. But Lynch never fails to deliver entertaining quips and poignant insights, often while speaking away from the camera, toward the ocean, like some sort of ultra-Zen wave whisperer. Lynch seems more comfortable interviewing the surfers, more comfortable leveraging his deep knowledge of competitive surfing and it's history, and just plain more comfortable. And now that we've seen his shoes, I think we finally know why.