Hey All,

I wanted to catch up on on a few things before we begin sampling the latest EOS offerings. First, Brad Melekian and I haven’t actually had a conversation, but we’ve managed to exchange a phone message or two, and I can report back that his Andy Irons book is still very much a living project. Looks like Brad has gone full Robert Caro. The original publishing date should have seen his still-untitled work on the Amazon best-seller list back when “Gangnam Style” was making you rethink K-pop. Instead, four full drafts (maybe five, he wasn’t sure) have been completed and discarded and there is no pub date in sight. No matter. I’ll wait for as long as it takes. Last year’s ballyhooed Kissed By God was by no means a total misfire, but it didn’t feel like anything near the final word on our doomed supernova three-time champ. There is a void, still. No pressure Brad, but you’re our last best hope on this one.

Encyclopedia of Surfing

Sunny Garcia, meanwhile, as you probably know already, developed pneumonia in early July and was moved from Oregon to California for lung surgery. Then radio silence. My guess is that the Garcia camp would have let us know if there was any improvement in Sunny’s condition, no matter how small. The lack of info suggests that he is still unresponsive and on life support. Not exactly a “no-news-is-good-news” deal, but it could be worse.

Finally, just one of you out there agreed with me that Mick Fanning is the most likely candidate to be surfing’s defining figure 300 years from now. The rest of you offered a bouquet of raspberries and a lot of mostly-worthy nominees, with Laird and Kelly being the two most-mentioned names. I’d be fine with Phil Edwards or Wayne Bartholomew, but will stick with Mick as top pick, and here’s hoping my cryogenically preserved brain will be taunting all of you on this subject in the August 16, 2319, Sunday Joint hologram.

Encyclopedia of Surfing

Shane Powell kidnapped my attention on Monday and held it hostage till this morning. So much to explore with this quiet world-title runner-up. I can’t seem to gauge his surfing talent, for starters. I have watched footage of Powell that almost feels like ’90s surfing satire, the performance is so awful. His check-turns contain check-turns. He surfs long fast lefts with the power of a day-old foal on its first cantor. But I have also watched footage of Powell (and seen it in person, during the French leg of the 1994 world tour) working absolute magic in the ocean, especially in wonky short-period beachbreak surf, where his frontside turns land with Ali-like force and variety and beauty. This Shane Powell clip doesn’t really show the disparity I'm talking about here because you do the polite thing and pick only the good footage. And as you see, the good is very good indeed.

Encyclopedia of Surfing

Reading this article on Shane by Andrew Farrell, and this one by Nick Carroll, it seems possible that the man drank himself out of a world title. The amount of beer Powell drank over the course of his 14-year WCT run could fill the Yeppoon wavepool twice over, with enough left over to run the concession stand from here till bankruptcy. And he nonetheless breathed alcoholic fire all over bluestocking contenders like Tim Curran. I covered the WCT for SURFER in 1994, when Powell finished runner-up to Slater for the title, and after going over the year’s results I realized Shane out-performed Kelly over the back half of the season. “He’s a better competitor than Slater,” I wrote at the time. “Better than Hardman even.” But ’94 and ’98 (when he finished the year ranked #3) were the only two seasons where his focus on winning trumped what Andrew Farrell called “the bender-monster” within. I don’t judge. Or actually I do judge—just not in terms of Shane’s drinking, and what it meant for his WCT win-lose stats. I judge, and do so approvingly, that Powell dropped off the scene in 2003 as quietly as a bottle of Emu Bitter sliding down a polished mahogany bar, and found such bliss fishing for barramundi and whatnot that he grew gills. Cheers to you Shane, and may your line never be tangled.