What sort of questions would surround a Filipe Toledo world title?
When I think of Pipeline in season it evokes the pleasure of seeing the world’s best surfers amid the turbulence of the world’s heaviest wave. Pipeline amplifies weakness and has no time for gratuitous theatrics, claims aside.
In three weeks, six surfers will compete to win the 2015 world title: Mick Fanning, Adriano De Souza, Owen Wright, Julian Wilson, Gabriel Medina and Filipe Toledo.
Five of the six are comfortable at Pipe. One is not.
The scenarios are many, and you can read the spreadsheet here.
Most what-ifs I’ve read presume the waves are going to be six-feet or better, a classic mid-sized west-north-west swell with south-east winds.
But the cumbersome nature of the WSL’s format, with its 36 surfers and its two no-loser rounds (rounds one and four), and the unlikelihood of a swell stretching for such a period, means crucial heats have a nightmarish tenacity to be run in poor waves.
Run down a list of the Pipeline Masters winners and if it ain’t Kelly, John John, Jamie O’Brien, KP or Andy Irons in the last dozen years, it wasn’t classic Pipe.
So what is possible this year if the first few rounds of Pipe run in marginal surf, is the elimination of Mick Fanning. And if Mick finishes 13th or worse, this scenario comes into play.
– Owen Wright & Julian Wilson will need a 1st
– Gabriel Medina will need a 3rd or better
– Adriano de Souza will need a 9th or better
– Filipe Toledo will need a 13th or better to clinch the World Title
Therefore, Filipe Toledo, who made pro surfing history by not catching a wave in a crucial heat at Teahupoo and later explaining it away with an unconvincing story about a sore elbow, could swing through one heat in crummy surf, lose when it gets good, and win the world title.
Can you imagine a world title with more question marks around it?
How would history record such a thing?