Bells Was Rigged!
After scouring the internet and cramming every article I could find down my gullet like White Goodman in Dodgeball after feeling cheated out of a victory by the nimble, deadly, and downturned thumb of the Texas Ranger, Chuck Norris, I’ve surmised that Bells was rigged.
That’s the simplified internet consensus, at least.
Do I think it’s true? Do I think Bells was rigged? Yes, but not in the way that you think.
The waves were drab and colorless, and the judging was clumsy, spilling extra points for the home-country Australians at every turn.
Many have claimed the Australians were perpetually over scored throughout the event. It was an all Australian final and podium. The first in a long time.
Obviously, or at least I hope it is, I don’t ever mean to suggest that the contest was fixed in the way that big Tony Soprano would do the thing. What I mean is that the contest was rigged for failure from the get go. It never had a chance.
The forecast…the season’s momentum…the sponsors…the WSL in general…Logan…
Is it time for him to step down? I don’t believe he feels that way.
Another Logan just took an exit from a flailing company, too. You understand if you’ve watched episode 3 of season 4 of HBO’s Succession.
There are no comparisons in any shape, way, or form other than a shared name. One fictional. The other very much real.
For our real one, I only wish success because his success is our success.
Unfortunately, Bells is another in a string of poorly received events by the WSL, not including the management debacles being proudly paraded on social media by Logan and Jessi Miley-Dyer daily.
The two of them, uplifted by delusions of their impenetrable wall of positivity, are still giving standing O’s to the ever malfunctioning and seemingly pointless Apple watches that were forced onto the wrists of competitors at the start of the season.
To add salt to the wound, recent rumors also suggest that the Apple TV show Make or Break will not be renewed for the third season.
Now, even more sponsors seem to be running for the hills – Quik and Vans are already well in hiding – and the powers that be at the WSL are forcing Uncle Kaipo into gimmicky hard-hats and up onto Bailey Ladders, Australia’s #1 Ladder Brand, to get a closer look at the live bracket on the beach at Bells.
“How’d you get up there Kaipo?” asked Joe Turpel.
“Bailey Ladders,” replied Kaipo with a grin, or something close to this.
The only string holding Bells to any sort of yarn ball of interest was the gambling. The WSL has announced its new partnership with sports betting site ALT.
It’s smart that they’re leaning into the betting side of things, but it’s like Joe Frazier into the gloved fist of Muhammed Ali.
We all know what happened to Frazier.
The Surfival Gods of the Beach Grit sponsored Surfival League, which always heightens the stakes and sprinkles in a wonderful element of giddy suspense and fun, also seemed to think Bells an absolute snoozer and gave nearly everyone the contest off.
They forewent their usual blood-bathing and spared 80% of the OG League and 78% of the Second Chance aka Losers League.
When asked to comment, founder Taylor Lobdell had this to say:
“When the Surfival Gods give a relative break from the relentless bloodlust, you know they will be hungry the next comp. They always are. Remember, bloodletting is necessary for the health of the league!”
If you win the OG League you get a 3-board quiver from Panda Surfboards and $5k USD.
If you win the Loser’s League you’re awarded one board from Panda, $1k USD, and a Ho Stevie! wetsuit.
Cost of entry: $20 USD.
All you have to do is pick one surfer for each event to advance past the round of 32. You can’t pick the same surfer twice. Last person standing wins. As I’m sure you’ve guessed, because there is, in fact, a Losers League, it’s not as easy as it seems.
The biggest names going down before the round of 32 were Italo Ferreira and world #1 Jack Robinson.
I, my friends, and the loser-est loser of the Losers League. I hitched my horse to Jack Robbo’s carriage, and that carriage busted a wheel and now lays sideways in a ditch.
I suck again ad infinitum.
To keep my eyelids pried open, I placed a few bets on surviving surfers in the later rounds.
Still, I turned it off at one point during that grueling Finals Day, opting instead for a long nap while The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King played in the background.
There aren’t many naps superior to ones with creatures of Middle Earth trudging through New Zealand while Howard Leslie Shore’s score plays long and slow.
There’s probably another movie spin-off idea there, based on the inevitable return of Kelly Slater, who finds himself on the wrong side of the mid-season cut. He’ll need a win at Margs to avoid such a fate.
As I’ve referenced before, the WSL made changes to the rulebook to allow for such a spinoff.
The betting side of things really goes out the window when the waves aren’t good – and they haven’t been in any of the four contests to start the year. It’s taking a toll on everyone, especially the fans.
One fan had this to say:
“Clearly something is not working when the first four events do not provide good waves yet the surfers are still expected to qualify for a cut in dismal conditions. That’s like having basketball games in the snow or F1 cars with 3 wheels!”
As surf fans, we are willing to put up with a lot and we have, but we broke long ago. Our dissent has been well documented and cataloged.
It’s the surfers on tour who are the steel frame. It’s their ability that holds the whole thing together. They’re the ones we come to see.
And I’m sorry, but it’s not the Carlos Munozes or the Sammy Pupos or the Yago Doras. I wish it were, but it’s not.
It’s the blue bloods we want to see and we want to see them on the best waves the world has to offer. Unfortunately, the tour isn’t providing that.
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.
The strangest fiction, however, came with a 9-point score being awarded to affable Jackson Baker while surfing a heat against last year’s world champion and small-wave firecracker Filipe Toledo.
The wave was surfed well, but a 9? I’m afraid not, and Toledo, despite pulling out the victory, let his frustrated heart sing post-heat, ripping the universal language of F-Bombs on the stairs, among other grumblings in his native tongue.
He continued afterwards in his post-heat interview, “There’s scoring that I don’t understand sometimes.”
We’re all frustrated, including the competitors. So, what do we do?
In the latest episode (211) of The Grit with Chas Smith and David Lee Scales, they ask the same question.
They venture further and ask ChatGPT what it would do.
The first thing off the wire-bound lips of the artificially intelligent smokeshow was, “BETTER WAVES!”
Not those exact words, but that’s what it said.
I love the WSL (in theory, at least). I love surfing. I love professional surfing. I love seeing people do things that I cannot do.
That’s the point of tuning into professional anything. To see someone do something you cannot.
I’m not saying any of us can surf like these tour surfers can. No one would be that daft. What I’m saying is that I know they can surf better than all of us, but I want to see them surf waves I would never in my wildest dreams consider surfing.
Okay, maybe not all the time. It’s nice to sew in contests like Trestles and bad Bells and even sloppy Portugal.
I’m okay with all of that if it’s all leading to something. Right now, the tour feels like the road to nowhere.
If you read one of my last articles, then you’ll know that I’m getting to The Strike Tour.
It’s like the Majors of professional golf for surfing.
We need at least four of them, and the entire tour should be leading up to them throughout the year.
The Majors strike when the swells hit. Only the top 16 surfers qualify to surf in them. They’re worth more points, more prestige, and more MONEY.
They’re MAJOR. And the contest, because of its agile strike-while-the-iron’s-hot quality, can run in one beautiful day.
Think of the ratings.
One of them has to be Pipeline. That’s really the only stipulation thus far And Pipeline has to be the last one. That too.
Other than that, I don’t know what we’re waiting for.
PACK YOUR GO BAGS COMPETITORS!
Last thing, Surfline can’t be in charge of forecasting.
STRIKE TOUR ENGAGE!