The WSL's #1 commentator cuts through the bull!
It all happened so fast! In just one dazzling year, the carrot-haired former sparring partner of Shane Dorian, one of the leaders of the so-called Momentum Generation, has become the number one voice in surfing.
It isn’t hard to see why. Those liquorice lips hurling blaxploitation and early hip-hop smilies, actual recent-ish tour experience and a candour that, to use a slightly spicy American idiom, “cuts through the bull.”
Ross Williams is the WSL’s own Marv Albert, but without the same ability to pair heels and dress.
Today I asked Ross for a post-Tahiti rub down. It’s an email interview, as these things tend to be these days, so I couldn’t say things like, “You’re full of shit! Pour another drink!” to create some kinda rapport.
Two important points emerged: one, Julian will most likely win the world title and, two, Gabriel’s ass is fried…
BeachGrit: What was the most significant, moment, for you, in Tahiti?
Ross: Jeremy’s win was really cool. It was nice to see his hard work pay off. From a year ago with his incident at J-Bay evoking punishment in the form of watching Tahiti unfold right in front of him – that event being one of, if not the, best events of all time at his personal favorite location. That situation lit a serious fire inside to not only appreciate his “job”, but to embrace the opportunity to compete at his personal best. Now he’s come full circle with his steady comeback trail in competing and rebounded from his life-changing injury just prior to this year’s South Africa event. Considering all of that, it has to be one of the most impressive wins in surfing history.
BeachGrit: Adriano leads the ratings. What chance do you think he has of winning the world title?
Ross: Obviously Adriano has a good chance. Leading now and heading into three events where he can win let alone get solid results. That being said, momentum is a funny thing and it’s currently not on his side. He’s one of the hardest working guys in the game and his approach is so comprehensive.
BeachGrit: Trestles, France, Portugal, Hawaii. All I can think of is Gabriel, Gabriel, Gabriel, Gabriel. Give me your thoughts on a beautiful last-minute title defence for the reigning champ?
Ross: Gabriel has found his 2014 self. It went missing for a minute, but he’s back to his normal status of not just winning heats, but smashing them. I think he’s dug himself too big of a hole to win the title, but he will be in the Top 5 no problem which is a commendable follow-up year.
BeachGrit: How’s Kelly looking right now? What’s working, what’s not?
Ross: Kelly is ripping. He’s a bit preoccupied with his business adventures, but he’s still definitely surfing at a level that’s good enough to win events. If he can clean up the mini-blunders and keep his wave-catching rhythm throughout an entire event, he can still win. If he manages to get in the hunt by year’s end, he will be without a doubt the favorite at Pipe.
BeachGrit: Filipe, like Gabriel, is going to go crazy in these last few events. What kinda shot has he got? What might stand in his way?
Ross: I’m curious how he’ll bounce back at Lowers. Now that he’s had a couple slices of humble pie, I hope he continues his swagger-like approach. He’s so confident on those kinds of waves that he achieves two things at once: his opponent is baffled and he believes in himself enough to not fall on huge moves where most tighten up. Mentally, this is power that he needs to maintain to do well.
BeachGrit: Name, for me, the final eight surfers at Trestles…
Ross: Filipe, Julian, mick, Kelly, Owen, Adriano, John John and Gabriel. Not sure if it’s possible with seeding and the draw but you get the drift.
BeachGrit: It’s early, early, this I know, but give me three names coming to Pipe as the world title contenders.
Ross: Mick, Julian and Owen
BeachGrit: And who will win?
Ross: I’ll go out on a limb and say Julian. He’s looking razor sharp this year. Arguably the toughest year in a long time to determine who will win though. It’s a total toss up. Kelly, ADS, Owen and Filipe still have a shot.
(Now let’s watch Ross at his heady peak!)