Hey All,

I wonder what percentage of you guys watch WSL events? At the risk of boring those who do not (sorry, Dad!), holy smokes, what a thrill-ride it was at the Box day before yesterday.

For those of you didn’t tune in, click here to see Italo Ferreira’s Heat One opening ride. And not just the opening ride for the day. That’s Italo’s first wave EVER at the Box, no warm-up, no free-surf, just paddle out do the impossible, and I simply cannot think of anything to compare. It was the best, most difficult, most technical first wave imaginable (Tom Curren’s first wave at J-Bay, 25-plus years ago, would be runner-up—except it wasn’t really Tom’s first wave, it was his second or third), and while I understand that the judges want to leave room in the scale during the early going, the 8-something they threw Italo was bullshit, that thing was the perfect 10 to which all perfect 10s aspire. Ferreira lost in the quarters yesterday to John Florence who looks pretty unstoppable for both the event win and the 2019 world title, and no complaints here as John is an absolute sea-god. But I’ll be pulling for Italo from here till Pipeline and beyond, if for no other reason than his joyous response to his first-ever WCT win, at Bells last year. Watch and smile.

Encyclopedia of Surfing

Speaking of feel-good world tour moments, “Thirty is the New Twenty,” last week’s History of Surfing chapter, is mostly about Occy’s amazing late-’90s comeback, which took him from obese, depressed, and couch-bound, to a ripping and ripped-physique world title in 1999, at age 33. (Sunny Garcia, another world tour competitor north of 30, won the following year. Very little news on Sunny’s condition over the last two weeks, except a report that he is breathing on his own, which to my ears did not rise to the level of cautiously optimistic.)

Bruce Valluzzi is EOS’ latest spirit animal. I met Bruce just once, at SURFER, a year or so before his death, in 1989, at age 37. He was handsome but weary-looking. He’d burned so bright, probably too bright at times, over the previous 20 years. “I’m really reckless,” Bruce once said in an interview. “The faster I can go, the more dangerous it is, the more I like it.” His drug-related exit, sadly, made the point. Surfing-wise, Bruce is sometimes referred to as the East Coast’s first really good big-wave rider—although you’d have to put Dick Catri in the conversation also. (Here’s a short edit of Bruce surfing the North Shore, which doesn’t do him justice—although he’s just 18 here, on his first trip to Hawaii, and that last one at Sunset is a bomb!) When I think of Bruce, however, it has less to do with his wave-riding and more to do with his intelligence and humor, which comes through loud and clear both in this Q&A and in this Hunter Thompson-esque romp through Morocco.

Encyclopedia of Surfing
Encyclopedia of Surfing

I once made some remark to Mike Tabeling, Bruce’s close friend, about how Bruce in many respects seemed distant from the surfing scene, while also at or near at its center, and Mike agreed. “He was thinking way ahead. The rest of us were all caught up in where we were from. Florida guy, Malibu guy, North Shore guy. Bruce kind of floated above all that. Like, to give you an example, he spoke fluent French. How many surfers learn how to speak French, you know? So I was looking at Bruce, and I wanted to be like Bruce. He was probably my biggest influence.”

Qui court deux lièvres à la fois, n’en prend aucun. For a while, Bruce chased and caught all the rabbits.

Thanks everybody, and see you next week!