Burning is a cardinal offence in any conversation on etiquette. The evolution of burn punishment began with a surfer’s duel (also known as a beach fight). Heavies realised going to the beach and fighting was a waste of time, prompting a shift. Breaking the fins off the boards of offending surfers in the lineup gained popularity. In the case of Ken Bradshaw, biting chunks out of a board became the retribution du jour. In recent decades, aerials and agents rose to prominence; emotional manipulation supplanted traditional approaches to lineup regulation, and the regulators became the burners. In surfing’s new world order, Gabriel Medina and Filipe Toledo positioned themselves as the Regina George and Cady Heron of professional surfing for their popularity and, now, their burns.

In the movie Mean Girls, Regina leads The Plastics, a clique of “hot,” popular girls. Cady Heron, new to school and ingratiating herself to The Plastics, abandons her real friends and turns mean. The Plastics fill a “Burn Book” with vicious gossip about other students until Regina feels her power slipping and writes herself up in the Burn Book in an effort to frame Cady as the creator of the burn book and a “grotsky little byotch.” The emotional manipulation and trivializing behavior of Mean Girls represents the psychological apex of surfing’s current evolutionary trajectory. Apparently fans of the film, Toledo and Medina have been covertly chronicling “burns” in a shared journal. By releasing contents of the journal, fans gain an unfiltered glimpse inside the minds of two premier surfing talents.

The Burn Book

May, 2017, Oi Rio Pro

Gabe, I think these WSL judges need pterygium surgery. How can they claim interference on me, Prince of Saquarema? Without Felipe, how can there be an Oi Rio Pro? It’s too bad security didn’t let me in the judging booth. When I stormed up there, I was gonna really give it to them! I was gonna give them… each a pair of my signature polarized Oakley glasses so they can do their jobs effectively! #oakleyfamily


August, 2017, Vans US Open of Surfing

G, what do these judges have against me? That’s three times icky Igarashi offended me. Two heat interferences, and one style interference when he stole my bleached hairdo! Desenmerda-te, Kanoa! Please, Gabe, can you remind me how to commit a real burn?

- Felipe

December, 2017, Billabong Pipe Masters

Oh, Fel, your burn techniques are mediocre, that is why the judges punish you. First lesson: consider burning someone that everyone wishes they could burn. Who doesn’t want to snake Kelly? Cocky old man, I would be 30-time champion if I had been alive in the 90s. Everyone who has not gotten to ride the Surf Ranch should be allowed to snake Kelly once. Everyone who has surfed the Ranch should get to burn Kelly twice! The only thing worse than his wave pool was the double shaka he threw after I burned him. The judges said: “Put those away, poser Hawaiian.”


October 2019, MEO Rip Curl Pro Portugal

Portugal was supposed to be lesson number two, Fel, but I got too excited reminiscing about burning Caio when we were kids! Cow Ibelli will always be my tour grom. I just love to heckle him. In Portugal, he acted angry and surprised, but why? He should celebrate beating me! It’s my little gift-not-gift to him.

- Gabe

December, 2019, Billabong Pipe Masters

Now that was lesson number two, Toleds. Moo Ibelli got the gromming of the year. If these commentators want to earn their paychecks, they should invent a term for when I burn someone to earn a victory and an opponent’s elimination! I’m just a surfer, not a man of letters like Occy and Pottz, but I do have a few suggestions: “wurn” is too portmanteau, and “snake cake with icing” is too literal (and sounds a little gross). Maybe “stuffing with gravy.” No, wait, I’ve got it! We can call it “Crème brûlée”! Yum!

- Gabe