The WSL's gun commentator analyses the tour at its mid point…
I have never heard talk come more naturally or casually than from the mouth of Mr Ross Williams, the 43-years-old WSL commentator, and one-time tour habitué.
It has none of the tautness or deadly care that is the in the speech of his contemporaries. He is devil-may-care. He gets in an easy rhythm and he saws without cease.
The Fiji Pro, men’s division, starts in one week. I was compelled to ask Ross his opinion of what lies ahead. The following interview was made over email, which I usually hate, but which I had no choice since Ross is in Fiji and I’m in the Mentawai Island with only the smallest sliver of phone reception. Satellite internet, on the other hand (three grand a month on my vessel) was decent.
And, therefore, we begin…
BeachGrit: I was thrilled to hear from you again. I don’t what it is, or maybe I do (such zest!), but your commentary enlivens the game! With Fiji about to boil, I do want to ask these questions. First, is Filipe, this year, the most exciting thing you’ve ever seen? Did your heart explode in Brazil when he ran down the line and punched out the ten?
Ross: Filly is surfing out of his mind right now. The performance he put on in Brazil was radical on its own but if you think about the fact that he’s been displaying that level all the way back from the Goldie, shows me that he can sustain this circus act for the entire year. Fiji, Tahiti and Hawaii will be places where his act gets diluted a bit but I think he could definitely muster up decent results in heavier waves as well. In my opinion, he will have a shot come Pipe time to win the title.
BeachGrit: If you were still in the pro game, what would be your strategy against the kid?
Ross: I’d personally just try to draw attention away from the airs with throwing spray. Especially in non beachbreak venues. Nothing anyone can do in rippable beachies.
BeachGrit: Fiji is a diff game to Brazil, and to Snapper and Bells and Margarets, for that matter. Four foot and under, who are the favourites?
Ross: For Cloudbreak? I’d say ADS (Adriano de Souza) and Gabriel. When it’s smaller out there they are really tough to beat.
BeachGrit: Six feet and over, who would you sling your cash on?
Ross: Kelly, JJ (who’s out, anyway) and Owen are big favorites when it’s heavy at CB.
BeachGrit: Overall, who thrills you to watch at Cloudbreak?
Ross: Kelly reads that wave better than anyone. He draws super aggressive lines and always maxes out the tube time with his positioning.
BeachGrit: If it moves to Restaurants, what’s your call on event favs?
Ross: Still Kelly, but I think the goofies will be stoked, as the waves can be tricky to find the right pace.
BeachGrit: Last time, we spoke about your gun phrases, event-specific phrases you dress a contest up with. What’s on the griddle for Fiji?
Ross: All my little cheeky phrases just pop in my head at random. Most times I’m just as surprised as the people listening. Ha!
BeachGrit: The riddle of Kelly in 2015. Thrown out in terrible conditions, languishing in the middle of the tour ratings. What do you see? What are your thoughts?
Ross: I think Kelly will be heavily energized if he wins this event. If he gets another poor result in Fiji it could really force him to check out mentally in terms of competing on tour. His surfing is on-point and still more than relevant on tour. No one would be surprised if he wins the next three events.