“I called it. I could sense it and I knew that one more like Bells and things were going to hit the fan. And now they have and here I am with open and loving arms.”
Over the weekend huge drama played out at the one stop that WSL CEO Erik Logan has been looking forward to more than any other event this year, the Surf Ranch Pro.
This was supposed to be his shining star. His safe and comfy echo chamber inside Kelly’s walls, where he could snuggle up like a kitten in the skin of a bulldog and smugly fudge the numbers of people in attendance while sucking on his baba.
The contest was supposed to have gone through like machine work. The waves, the surfing, the broadcast, the perfect combination of monotony and stale bread.
Nothing could go wrong, not even the Apple watches.
And all of the surfers? The elite athletes who we tune in to see? They were going to fall in line like good little soldiers.
After all, they had just survived Erik’s mid-season cut. They had been chosen, and it seems that Erik believes he was the one doing the choosing.
One thing is certain, Erik Logan was feeling VERY comfortable leading up to the Surf Ranch Pro.
So comfortable, in fact, that it led him to print out a picture of the bare chest (nipples exposed) of one of his employees, print it on a shirt, put that shirt on, and bombard said employee during an interview. All the while, filming it for his social media channel.
During the bombardment, with the nipples of his employee proudly printed on his shirt, Erik Logan, the CEO of the company, is heard shouting repeatedly, “Take your shirt off! Take your shirt off!”
Unashamed, he’s still got the video up on his instagram.
This is unequivocally bizarre behavior at its most innocent.
At its worst, it’s sexual harassment in the workplace. This shit does not fly anywhere else today.
You can’t think of one professional setting today where this is appropriate. Please, if you do, let me know.
I don’t even think this would be okay at a strip club. I’m not certain, but I have serious doubts.
It’s this interaction that really kicked things off for the contest.
Filipe Toledo, the employee whose bare chest Erik Logan wore on the front of his shirt, seemed to enjoy the funky rouse, but underneath I believe a different emotion was churning.
In the video of the incident, Logan promises Filipe that he’ll wear the shirt with Toledo’s nipples and tattoos displayed on stage when he presents the trophy to the winner.
To the winner…
That’s where Filipe’s mind was. Or, perhaps more accurately, on the judging.
After Bells Beach when Filipe Toledo aired his frustrations in a post-surf interview, stating, “There’s scoring that I don’t understand sometimes.”
This was in response to Jackson Baker being awarded a 9 during their heat, pinning Toledo up against the wall of elimination. Toledo was able to scratch and claw his way out and come away with the victory, but his irritation over the state of the event and the judging was firmly cemented in the young man’s intricately tattoo’d chest.
After Bells, I wrote an article about this vexation being felt across the entire field of surfers. It was strange, but one could sense things bubbling, especially among the Brazilian crew.
I wrote in that article, published 4/17/2023:
“Despite the many hiccups and blunders perpetrated by the WSL, we haven’t had any Bobby Martinez-esque blow-ups, though they would be welcomed with open and loving arms.
After Bells, though, I sense that trend might be changing.”
Now that the judging has eked its way into the conversation, with doubts having been raised to their willingness to favor narrative over reality, I’m expecting a full-on meltdown any contest now
What on earth possessed the judges to not reward airs in 3-foot Winki? We saw 3-time world champion Gabriel Medina fall victim to this strange criteria.”
I called it. I could sense it and I knew that one more like Bells and things were going to hit the fan. And now they have and here I am with open and loving arms.
I’m loving all of it. The drama. The stakes! The frustration! The endless open letters!
Outside of the Brazilians there are two surfers who are central to his unfolding drama: Ethan Ewing and Griffin Colapinto.
The conspiracy reads, the WSL is sick of the Brazilians dominating the sport. The trio of Brazilian surfers, Gabe Medina, Filipe Toledo, and Italo Ferreira have won 6 of the last 9 world titles.
The markets in the USA and Australia need some love, too!
After Ethan Ewing won at Bells, he was met with an onslaught of critics shouting things like “Overscored!” “Home wave advantage!” among others. I was one of them. I thought he was overscored. Every contest I think someone is overscored.
En route to his ringing the bell, Ewing defeated both Medina and Toledo consecutively. I don’t think that sat well with them.
The Brazilians were appeased for a single contest in Western Australia when Gabriel Medina took down Griffin Colapinto in the finals.
Ethan Ewing defeated Italo at Margies in the round of 16, but Italo bit his tongue.
At the Surf Ranch Pro, Ethan Ewing defeated Gabriel Medina in the quarterfinals.
Italo then beat Ethan Ewing on one side of the semifinals, while Colapinto prevailed over Toledo on the other side.
This set up a Colapinto vs. Italo final.
Colapinto then defeats Italo in the finals of the Surf Ranch Pro inspiring Gabe Medina to pen his open letter to the WSL.
His letter was followed up with open letters from both Italo and Filipe supporting Gabe’s questions and concerns regarding the judging this entire season.
These letters were then responded to by WSL CEO Erik Logan with yet another open letter…not to any one individual, but to the entire “WSL community”.
In turn, we have seen a fiery response from many corners of the internet, as well as many other current and ex pros of the surfing world.
It seems the entire country of Brazil has advised ELO to not set foot in their country.
That will be difficult as the CT travels to El Salvador next, followed by Rio.
All eyes will be closely watching what goes down in El Salvador, for if there is another incident surrounding the judging and the Brazilians on tour it is very possible that this could erupt into a full on meltdown.
I mean, protests could very likely happen where Brazilian surfers and possibly others refuse to surf another contest until changes are made.
It’s a proper powder keg of a situation we have on our hands, and I couldn’t be happier to finally have something interesting developing in the WSL.
Lord knows, this year’s tour has not been about the waves or the surfing.
With all this said, I have 3 burning questions about WSL CEO Erik Logan and the Surf Ranch Pro judging controversy:
1. Is this the beginning of the end for WSL CEO Erik Logan?
It very well could be. It’s going to depend on the billionaire upstairs, Dirk Ziff, and how much more patience he’s willing to have with Erik Logan, someone who doesn’t surf, as CEO of the World Surf League.
He’s displayed a complete inability to understand what true surf fans want in a world tour, opting instead for a bajillion weird sponsors, a messed up schedule, and a finals format at a wave of little consequence all while hiding behind his strangely impenetrable wall of positivity.
Frankly, Erik Logan seems out of touch with not only the world of surfing, but with life in general.
He regularly boasts about his many world and humanity saving ventures through the vessel of the WSL, then slaps harsh punishments on those who raise even the slightest question labeling them as dissidents and objectors.
Take a look at longboarding champion Joel Tudor’s recent suspension. Tudor is now back and has been relatively quiet
There is no discourse. There is only his narrative and it is one of excruciating cringe.
None of it is surprising, considering this was Oprah’s lieutenant before the world of surfing was gifted him. He’s operating the WSL like it’s the Oprah Show.
But unlike the Oprah Show, Erik Logan thinks it necessary to perpetually make outrageous record-breaking revenue, attendance, and streaming claims.
If the financial health of the WSL is so stellar, why on earth would they fire the CFO midseason, and before their golden event at the Surf Ranch?
There were 3k viewers on the Youtube livestream for the Surf Ranch Pro at one point when I tuned in.
The venue was not filled, not even close. They were forced to slash ticket prices repeatedly leading up to the event.
The one thing that Erik Logan has had going for him during his stint at the WSL is that the surfers on tour were happy to go along with his charade.
Perhaps, they were under his corpo snake-speak spell, but now that seems to have changed – at least for three of its top Brazilian athletes, who are all three world champions.
If he loses the surfers on tour, he’s done. Chum for the sharks, because they’re circling.
None more so than his wing-woman, Jessi Miley-Dyer, who has been unusually quiet during this controversy.
Is she lying in wait for her chance to assume the throne?
After wearing a shirt with one of your employee’s nipples exposed and then yelling repeatedly, “Take off your shirt! Take off your shirt!”, she might have good reason to lay low in the tall grass.
If these next two events don’t go smoothly, I predict that Erik Logan will be removed as CEO of the WSL by season’s end.
2. Are the complaints from the Brazilians legit?
Any complaint with judgment is legitimate. Subjectivity lends itself to critique.
The real problem is the unwillingness to explain why something is judged a certain way.
If we could get an explanation as to why the scores were given, and there was a real conversation about it, then I believe this would help to alleviate a lot of the current tension.
As of yet, there has been none.
The only thing that has happened is WSL CEO Erik Logan coming out publicly to shake his finger at Gabriel Medina, Italo Ferreira, and Filipe Toledo.
There have been plenty of side-by-side comparisons of the waves in question, yet still no clarity as to why one was awarded more points to the other.
Slater did a recent interview and was asked about the judging controversy.
Regarding the Gabe vs. Ethan Ewing heat he stated, “I thought Ethan beat Gabriel. I rewatched the heat a few times. Other people (I trust) watched it, who are very in the know. I won’t name any names, but they thought Ethan won the heat.”
As for the Italo and Griff final, the Great One didn’t offer anything quite as definitive, “I’m not sure about Italo and Griff’s heat. I haven’t looked at it as closely.”
Everyone has been waiting to hear Slater’s thoughts on the matter, including the surfers involved.
“Gabriel has won nearly every contest there. Filipe has won one of them. Those guys have it wired. (All of this negativity) it’s not good for surfing, that’s not what surfing is about, so it’s kind of just turned me off to even dealing with it.”
As the future commissioner or director of president or CEO or whatever the title will be of the WSL, Slater is going to have to learn to handle this kind of stuff.
What do you think, was Italo robbed?
3. Would this all have been avoided if the schedule was fixed and the athletes were able to surf actual waves?
We haven’t had good waves this year, and I think it owes primarily to the schedule.
I’ve written on this before and I think it’s becoming more and more clear that adjustments need to be made.
Start in Australia in the Spring (April). Europe in the Fall (September). End in Hawaii in December. Mix in the other exotic locales accordingly. If you want to get real fancy and smart, throw in my beloved Strike Tour concept and we’re cookin’ with gas.
Regarding the Surf Ranch, the judging is difficult. I will give them that. It’s a lot of the same. A lot of good surfing. And, outside of a fall, hard to differentiate why one wave is better than the other.
The need for transparency of the judging criteria is paramount. WSL CEO Erik Logan stated in his open letter that all of the competitors are given the criteria before each contest.
Are the criteria the same for each wave, because they shouldn’t be.
The WSL should lean into this transparency and make it a point during each broadcast to say what the judges are looking for. As a fan, why don’t I know what the criteria are before each contest?
Why is it such a secret?
Each wave on tour should have different criteria.
If it’s flow at the Surf Ranch, then say that loudly.
In waves like Pipeline and Teahupo’o, these controversies don’t arise as often because each wave is different, and it’s very apparent who has bested the other.
Oftentimes, it’s simply who gets the last wave.
In conclusion, I’m eagerly awaiting how this all will play out. El Salvador has never looked so good. And for the first time ever, I cannot wait until we get to Brazil.