The San Francisco Treat:
Damien Hobgood said "I've never seen a beachbreak that good in my whole life." Josh Kerr, Damien Fahrenfort, Ricky Whitlock, Taylor Knox and most Ocean Beach locals agreed. For four days straight, a long-period Northwest swell was met with offshore winds as it unloaded on San Francisco's fickle beachie. Lines stacked for miles out the back. Peaks teepeed and exploded from Kelly's Cove to South Sloat. Down the road they ran the Mav's contest and just off Noriega St. Mike Parsons broke his neck. And with the Giants fresh off a World Series win and the 49ers en route to the Super Bowl, it was a busy time in Bay Area sports.
Teahupo’o Goes XXL:
Dave Wassel said Teahupo'o on May 13 was "the most dangerous, chaotic scene the ocean has ever seen." And he's right. The swell that descended upon the End of the Road that day was the most awe-inspiring in recent memory. Laird Hamilton towed Koa Rothman into arguably the biggest wave ever ridden out there. RED Cameras were lost and inexperienced Hollywood shooters found themselves swimming for their lives after being thrown from the "safety" of their boat. Makua Rothman was sent face first into the reef and countless others endured the beatings of their lives. To this day, reliving the photo and video evidence from May 13 makes you wonder how in the world no one lost their life. And it also begs the question: What's going to happen next time?
The Loneliest Reunion Island:
In the last 2 ½ years, there have been nine shark attacks with five resulting in fatalities on Reunion Island. Those are terrifying numbers. Most victims were surfing when it happened, or on vacation swimming, or on a honeymoon, or in front of their mother. Subsequently, because of the attacks, the Reunion Island (tourist-based) economy is crumbling, with empty hotels, cafes and even emptier beaches. The problem has gotten so out of hand, that this year an island-wide ban on surfing and other watersports was put into effect on Reunion, following a 90-shark cull (extermination). Meanwhile in the US, swimming with sharks and a GoPro has become the hottest thing since Dumpster D’s.
TransWorld SURF gets shutdown:
On May 20, 2013, GrindMedia (the parent company of SURFING and SURFER, amongst others) acquired TransWorld Media and all the TransWorld titles. One month later the powers that be decided the market couldn't support three surf magazines and closed TransWorld SURF's doors after 14 years in business. It was cited as a "financial decision" and was a tough pill to swallow for staff, readers, writers, surfers and photographers alike. Losing the magazine is an unfortunate byproduct of the times.
Nathan Florence and Tony Heff Win Steep and Deep Pipeline Photo Challenge:
It's become an annual grassroots contest that every Pipe surfer looks forward to. Held in memory of Sion Milosky, the Steep and Deep Pipeline Photo Challenge awards the surfer and photographer that link up for the best Pipe/Backdoor shot of the season. Last year, according to a panel of Pipe specialists and photography experts, that shot was of Nathan Florence, taken by Tony Heff. They each got $2,500 from Vans and a framed print of their image. With all the crazy Pipe days already this season, it's tough to imagine how a winner will be chosen in 2014.
Anastasia Ashley Serves Easter Hams:
And they were cooked to perfection. In 2013, popular culture was introduced to a dance move that is a seductive as it is spastic. Twerking’s the name, and Anastasia Ashley was the dame who built the unlikely bridge between the surf and the twerk. As she readied herself for heats at Oceanside’s Supergirl Pro, Anastasia twerked and she twerked and she twerked. Her efforts earned her a respectable six million hits on YouTube, and an Easter dinner that anyone can enjoy.
Kelly Slater Dominates At The Volcom Fiji Pro:
20 years removed from his first world championship — and at 41-years old — Slater's performance in Fiji this year may have been the finest of his career. He racked up three 10-point rides over the span of three heats at perfect Cloudbreak on the final day and was clearly surfing on another level. Joel Parkinson said after the event; "He had that look in his eyes, you just new he couldn't be beaten that day. You knew after his perfect 20 heat against Seabass in the quarters he was going to win that contest." Slater's other two victories on tour this year — at firing Kirra and at flawless Pipe — prove that these days Kelly goes as the waves on tour do. In heavy or perfect surf he's clearly still the world's best and his performance in Fiji was just another reminder.
John John Florence Wins Alley-Oops:
It was the most wow moment of the year. At the Oakley Pro Bali, John John Florence stuck the biggest air ever done in competition. It was a fully rotated alley-oop that was maybe 5, or 6, or infinity feet high. The crowd on the beach exploded and it is rumored that Ben Dunn, whom was watching the webcast slammed his Dell computer shut, spilt his glass of orange juice and proclaimed, “I don’t believe in witchcraft!” And you may call John a dreamer, but he’s not the only one. Since that fateful ‘oop, both Felipe Toledo and Julian Wilson have mimicked the massive spin in a jersey — but neither of them hold a glass of freshly squeezed Ben Dunn OJ to Long John Florence’s.
Trevor Moran Wins Follow The Light:
Surf magazines are about the photos and Follow The Light is the go-to route for surf photographers to burst into the big leagues. The track record for those winners is studded with stars. Chris Burkard, Todd, Glaser, Ray Collins, Morgan Maassen and Duncan Macfarlane have all won, and have since become staple photographers in the industry. Not only did Trevor Moran win 2013's Follow the Light, he did it coming from Ocean City, NJ — a clear subject disadvantage to all other finalists he was matched against. Look to see much more from the man they call "Tall Teef" as he'll be following the ASP tour around the world in 2014.
Jamie O'Brien VS Ricardo Dos Santos:
1969 was the summer of love and don’t you dare forget it. 2013, however, was not the summer of love and a reminder came in the form of a mid-wave fisticuff. During the trials of the Billabong Pro Tahiti, Jamie O’Brien and Ricardo Dos Santos both took off on a wave in the dying seconds of a heat. In an act of frustration, it is alleged that James punched Big Rick in the mouth. Neither photo nor video ever surfaced from the incident, possibly due to embarrassment from both surfers, or possibly due to Willian Cardoso eating them for breakfast one morn alongside a warm glass of Tahitian whole milk because he thought they may have been indigenous fruits.
The Shittiest Riot In History:
In 1986s, during Huntington Beach's OP Pro, the fans went mad and totally rioted. They burned a police car and punched the lights out of each other and lost their minds. Helicopter footage looked wild. In 2013, during Huntington Beach's Vans US Open of Surfing, the fans became slightly agitated and crafted the shittiest riot in the history of riots. They pushed over a port-a-potty. They yelled swears. Someone stole a bike. It was an embarrassment to both 1986 and also surf in general.
John John Drops Hammers:
Five times in 2013, the surf world was put on hold for a day as John John Florence and Blake Kueny rolled out the highest quality online edits ever seen. From Departure Delayed to & Again, all were free for the world to view. Feelings from watching these included: joy, shock, depression, confusion, anxiety, excitement, disbelief… etc. One feeling that was never experienced though, was disappointment. The greatest accomplishment of all is re-setting the bar as high as John and Blake did. They just keep getting better, or everyone else is getting worse.
Cam vs. Dane:
We were all asleep before Lower Trestles' Hurley Pro and then came Cam. Cam Richards from Garden City Beach, South Carolina lit up the internet as he took on Dane Reynolds in an internet vote to be included in the draw. Cam who? Richards! He enlisted Will Smith's son and a slew of other celebrities to drive his numbers through the roof. More importantly, he made Dane Reynolds care. Dane had never cared before but, thanks to Cam, he created an Instagram account and begged his friends to work for him. And boy did his friends ever work. Dane made it into the event and, though he performed poorly. But his Instagram account is still amazing.
Nazare Grand Canyon:
In late October Nazare Canyon reared its ugly head again. That ugly head with surprisingly soft features. And while world-record cries by the media were premature and likely inaccurate, Carlos Burle did ride a giant wave. Maya Gabeira did too. Then she fell, then she drowned. Carlos rescued her and brought her back to life and for that, rather than riding a big wave, he is a hero. And Maya proves once again that she is among the most resilient and hardheaded surfers around, male or female. And so cute, too.
The Encyclopedia of Surfing:
The online surf world is vast and difficult to navigate. Where does one go to find information on, say, Carlos Dogny, founder of Club Waikiki and the father of Peruvian surfing? Or Chas Smith, author and provocateur? Last year one dug around and hoped to stumble on something interesting. This year one goes to the online Encyclopedia of Surfing. It is vast. It is, "both the old and new testaments of surfing" according to the Los Angeles Times. One can find anything there. Anything at all. God bless Matt Warshaw for creating this masterpiece. God bless us all.
Carissa Moore, 2X World Champ:
While Mick Fanning had the kind of consistency that'd make any surf coach go from 6 to midnight, there was another surfer in 2013 with even better digits. 2X womens world champ Carissa Moore won four out of the eight events, with three 3rds and a 5th to boot, clenching her second title in the last three years at Cascais, Portugal. With someone thrilling back-and-forths between her and Aussie nemesis Tyler Wright, the bubbly Hawaiian princess prevailed with her patented frontside hacks and relentless competitive momentum.
Point Of View Takeover
The GoPro has grown exponentially into something so big and so common, that we can forget about it ever leaving our peripheral. The fact that the owner advertises himself over Kelly Slater and Alana Blanchard, yet still flourishes, is a sign of true domination. The reasoni behind this madness? Everyone wants to see themselves perform — from a beginner aiming down the line on a two-footer to Shane Dorian aiming at exiting a 30-foot barrel at Jaws. People eat it up and double-tap their phones all day. Word on the street is the ASP might even start requiring it on surfer's boards in 2014. On another note, we predict 2014 will be the year defined by GoPro drones. It's already in the works.
The inimitable, afro-ed and ever-smiling Buttons Kaluhiokalani passed away from lung cancer on November 2, 2013. Known as the father of modern day surfing to most of the world, and simply Uncle to the rest, Buttons led the charge in above the lip surfing, 360 degree maneuvers and outstanding switch-stanced shredding, bridging the gap between the classic and the radical. However, beyond his phenomenal talent and 'fro, Buttons brought a certain spontaneity, flare and don't-give-a-fuckedness to surfing that defined why we keep jumping in the water. Buttons' style was a surfing that will forever define fun.
With surfers pushing things as hard as they are in big waves, safety is as discussed as the swell forecast these days. Inflatable vests, comprehensive action plans, individualized rescue teams — it's becoming the norm. Still, we're not quite there. On November 13 of this year, Kirk Passmore drowned while surfing one of Oahu's outer reefs. While competent Jet Ski rescue attempts were made, Kirk was not wearing flotation and his body was never found. A week later, the third annual Big Wave Safety Summit was held on the North Shore. Over 60 surfers spent two days in the classroom and on the water learning proper preparation and rescue techniques from Brian Keaulana. The idea is catching on and a summit in Northern California is currently in the works.
Mick Fanning Holds On To Win His 3rd World Title at Pipeline:
Over the course of 12 months and 10 ASP World Tour events in 10 different corners of the world, Mick Fanning surfed his way into two finals (winning one, the Quiksilver Pro France), four semis and three quarters in a myriad of conditions. The old adage, "It's a marathon, not a race" rings true regarding the ASP's point system; and Mick's freakish consistency went unmatched in 2013. We can argue the merits of his 9.7 against Yadin Nicol at Pipeline in the quarters — a controversial world title sealing score — until we're blue in the face. But we cannot argue the fact that Mick Fanning is a 3-time world champion and a very deserving one at that.
Kelly Wins Pipe Masters, Take 7:
This was Kelly Slater's year, but it was only his year part-time. With three wins under that wizard sleeve of his, Kelly was the only surfer to claim more than one event on 2013's 'CT. That lucky number three came at the Banzai Pipeline, and vividly so. In a battle of old and new, bald and blonde, regular and… regular, Kelly defeated John John Florence in the final. It was an event that was cherished for the best waves that the Pipe Masters has seen in years. We’ll be seeing you next year, Slates.