“After being a judge, it’s the least popular job in surfing." Sean Doherty on commentating.

Opinions are like assholes, everybody's got one.

With the new ASP announcing their commentary dream team ahead of the WCT opener at Snapper in less than a fortnight, we all have an opinion on surfing’s webcast commentators. Some are loathed, very few are loved, and there’s a hell of a lot of cyber emotion in between.

Here's SE's guide to surfing's mic'd up wordsmiths, past, present (and maybe back in not distant future when Zosea goes tits up)...

Joe Turpel

Nicknamed 'The Chocolate Jesus' (by Sean Doherty), Joe tends to divide the masses, the Aussies can’t stand the honeyed Seppo twang, the Americans love his ability to talk for 23 hours straight on anything remotely to do with surfing. Either way it seems the professional straight guy role seems to be his for the taking. If you ever have the misfortune to be staying at the same hotel during an event, watch out for his shameless acoustic guitar lobby renditions of 'Cum By Ar, my Lord', the complete Jack Johnson back catalogue, etc.

e.g. "Rrrrrreaaaally nice wrraaaaaap arroooouuuund thru to the inside section, how'd you like that second turrrrrn Raaaarrrrrrnie?"

Turple (left) and Doherty on the job.

Ronnie Blakey

The acceptable face of Australian commentary, moderately handsome, unbiased and plays the anchor role to the assembled rabble of pro surfers and others. Maybe needs more of the Ron Burgundy about him, but surely a safe pair of hands, for an Australian. Did you know he was Mick Fanning’s media manager? You do now.

Peter Mel

Hard to argue with a man who has been at the cutting edge of big-wave surfing for more than two decades. Articulate, large and likeable. Also looks a bit like real life Ron Burgundy, Will Ferrel... no? Does anyone out there disagree?

Martin Potter 

Has a world title and legendary innovative status behind him, plus about a decade of box experience. This is up against a clipped South African accent and slightly jaded edge. A mainstay of pro surfing, knows the venues, surfers and game inside out.

e.g. (slightly camp Saffa/Oz loud whisper) "Jo-ell Park-o, comes aht the doggeeee dooooorrrrr..."

Will the angry Pottz make the cut?

Todd Kline

Former (middling to very very average) pro and American motormouth with a super quick turn of phrase and incredible knowledge of surfing. Firmly in the Quiksilver camp, so not sure if this will help or hinder. One fellow commentator once said, "Talk to him off camera and Kliney is one of the funniest cunts in the world, but put a mic in his hand and he's about as funny as cancer."

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Mark Occhilupo

For a guy who ignores syntax and likes to eat syllables for breakfast, Occ does a remarkably good job at talking about nothing for lengths of time. Legend status adds credibility and a lack of filter makes him honest. Everyone loves Occ, don’t they? Some of his highlights include replying on air to the conversation the webcast producer is having in his earpiece... Gold.

e.g. "Hey I think I've surfed here before, I might have been here, um does anyone actually know? Um anyway yeah, for sure, look, hey, unreal Joey, he's an unreal surfer aw look they're gonna cuddle I'm actually getting emotional right now..."

Sean Doherty

Respected Australian author and journalist ("One of the great wrrri-terrrs of our sport" as Turps loves to call him), he has been on the microphone for over decade and experience shows. Alas so too do his brutal rural Australian vowels. Sean-O's provincial Australiana blue collar vowels are roughly the same size as the sum of Uluru, a Holden V8 303 engine and Errol Flynn's cock, times a hundred. He wears the Australia flag, proudly, and has thus been accused of bias,  perhaps not helped by the fact he is Parko’s media manager/apologist. As far as the WCT, has not survived the USA based ZoSea cull, but we suspect he'll be back.

e.g. "We-he-he-he-hell, Kelly Slaaaaydah, scor-hoh-hoh-hoh-re's droppin' Jowweeee, something noorrrrth of an aayyyt pooyyynt rooyyyyd..."

Sal Masakela

The former E! Network TV presenter and ESPN “voice of action sports" adds some star dust and high level broadcasting experience to the mix. Loves his surfing and loves his Kelly Slater, surely Sal has better jobs to do than follow the tour around all year. Or has he? Perhaps not the most accomplished of commentators, one top webcast director/producer recently described his own borderline miracle-performing  credentials as, "I'm the guy that made Sal Masakela sound good."

Sal and Parko in Bali.

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Chris Cote

Writer turned broadcaster turned internet chat show host, Cote brings humour and close personal relationships with surfer to the box. No problem with his self-esteem, but can he play it straight for the new world mainstream order? Sounds a bit like a fat Sean Penn with a cold. He features in below clip.

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Dave Stansfield

Has been calling pro surfing since Duke was a boy and if you want to know who was came third in the second round heat of the 1982 Smirnoff Pro, he’s your man. A Hawaii stalwart, but is he the kinda man the kids want to see? Looks more like a union guy who does nightshifts in a Pittsburg steel foundry in a 1980's Bruce Springsteen vid than the face of pro surfing.

Luke Egan

Incredible surfing pedigree and peer respect, although his colourful surfing style doesn’t always translate to the box when he appears at the Billabong events. One of if not the slowest talkers in the entire world, averaging about 7 words per minute, words seem to emerge from his cake hole with about as much ease as a month overdue baby being born sideways. Despite all this, has come out with one of the most curiously succinct and poignant off the record rebuttals when one of his daily calls was questioned at J-Bay:  "Do.........you.........want........to........be..........con........nest.....director......................................cuuuuuuunt?"


Other contenders: Reggae Ellis, Taylor Knox, Ross Williams, Pancho Sullivan, Jodie Cooper.

Beach Reporter

Rosy Hodge

Tall, blonde, fit, South African and former top 16 surfer Rosie doesn’t win any Pulitzer’s for hard hitting question, but easy on the eye and relaxed approach has won her fans, as have her new fake cans...

Rosy and Pete Mel, cracking six foot jokes.

Toby Martin

Former Aussie pro known as the Murderer, was no doubt passionate and comes with a stack full of sports cliche and knowledge of the sport.  Seems to be out of the mix. Quite... intense.

GT (Grant Tomlinson)

Once again a huge divider of online opinion, the Von Zipper founder has a unique style (both verbal and sartorial) and an inability to crumble often under intense embarrassment. Do the surfers like him? Do you like him?

Kelly and GT, a match made for webcast.

Vaughn Blakey

Australian Editor of Surfing World and Goons of Doom singer is animated and excitable and damn fun. Could the new owners constrain his natural exuberance, or does he even want the gig?

Wildcards - Usually a mix of current, recently retired or over the hill pro surfers who come in to the event for the paycheck,  the exposure or being forced by sponsors. Which one of the these could make the full time grade?

Dave Wassell, Spencer Hargraves, Alex Gray, Kamalei Alexander, Rob Machado, Shane Dorian, Tom Whitaker, Nathan Webster and.... Kelly Slater

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