I understand how hard it is for these guys to surf this unimpressively. Average Joe does not.
There’s a kava bar down the road from me I’ve been going to a bit lately. Kava’s okay. It looks and tastes like dirty dishwater, leaves your mouth and throat as numb as a bump of terrible blow. But it gets the mellow on and that works for me when I’m latched onto a subject and can’t let it go. Which happens less and less as I age, but still more frequently than I’d like.
The real reason I go is because of the woman who works there. Maybe she owns it. Tall, attractive. Got long dark curly hair. The hair deal is a thing of mine. Don’t know why but it really gets me going. Super thick, can’t run your fingers through it. You know what I mean. Jew hair. Absolutely love it.
I fell asleep on the couch with a numb mouth around 9:30. A few heats in to this year’s J-Bay comp. Not a huge deal, conditions were difficult. Watched White Lightning win his heat on a funky ankle. Sat through a kind of boring number Ferrari came out on top of.
Really only wanted to watch John John surf. Which I did. And it was weird.
Kanoa took the win, and I can’t say I was super surprised. I think the biggest problem with the rookie’s surfing is its hesitancy. He always looks like he’s trying not to fall. Backs off right before the end of a turn. Which is where the magic happens. Pushing through for that extra split-second is what separates the very good from the absolutely excellent.
But at J-Bay, in these conditions, it kind of works.
Not that I’ve ever surfed there. If I’m shelling out the type of cash it takes to get me halfway across the world I’m going somewhere warm. But, still, slightly overhead, howling side-offshores, on a fast running wave is difficult to deal with. I’m well aware that it’s a hundred times harder than they make it look.
And so Igarashi’s semi-check turn approach did well. Because it was the right one. And he got one very good wave with three (I think?) long tight tubes.
What really struck me as odd was the commentators’ jabber about him during the heat. Talking about how well he’s done his rookie year. Which he hasn’t. Only made it past the third round once.
His post heat interview with Rosie seemed scripted and awkward. And, you know, if it was scripted, or rehearsed a little beforehand, I can’t blame anyone. It’s okay trying to give the kid a PR leg up. I often forget he’s only eighteen, surfing against guys who were legends when I was his age. When I remember how young he is I think about some of the things I’ve written, then I feel bad.
I couldn’t have handle living under a microscope at eighteen.
If conditions stay like this, and he keeps surfing like this, he’ll do well in this event. But if it gets bigger or the winds backs off he’ll be in trouble.
ADS is another guy whose approach works well in these conditions. Stocky little squat man, wide stance. Low to the water so wind’s less of a problem. I think he’s surfing better than he was. Maybe it’s a confidence thing. He did a good job of surfing down the line but remembering to give it that extra little push.
The most interesting part of the heat was Kerr’s meltdown towards the end. Bad head space going on over there.
I nodded off right after this heat, so the rest of this is pulled from the analyzer.
Speaking of the WSL’s web presence, when did they start posting all the judges’ scores? Hover over the average and there they are! I like it. Definite change for the better.
Though I don’t understand why no jet ski assist during this event. Such a long paddle. Recipe for slow moments.
Anyway, a quick glance at the heat totals show they’re mostly low scoring affairs. Which happens in tough conditions.
Medina grabbed a convincing win in round one. Found a couple that went a little slower, linked his backside whacks together. Lot of skill, not a ton of engagement. Functional backhand surfing on a point break bores me to tears.
Slater snuck into round three with a heat winner in the final minute. Which is what he does. Or did. Doing again?
Kolohe surfed safe, got the numbers. Not easy to do when you’re surfing into head on gale force winds.
Which is where we run into a problem with competitive surfing in general. I understand how hard it is for these guys to surf this unimpressively. Average Joe does not. Do an aerial maneuver!
They can’t, not today!
Wiggles Dantas used some proper wave selection to find a slightly slower number, linked some very good turns together for a low nine. But it wasn’t enough to beat Jordy. Lanky local boy used his extra meat to link up big spray tosses off the top.
Julian Wilson surfed to his potential. Made Mother of Dragons and the second Nat Young look like they were struggling.
The wind backed off a bit and allowed Seabass to catch fire. Heat ended with both Bourez and Kennedy combo’ed.
Round two so far saw Wilko barely edge out the wildcard.
JJF looked loose and beautiful and smoked Ribeiro. The haole kid’s ability to thread his way through small barrels never ceases to boggle my mind.
Filipe surfed very well against Otton. Judges underscored him a bit on his 8.77. Big flowing turns, an ACL killer reverse towards the flats. On a smaller wave though, and I guess that matters?
Final heat of the day saw the wind drop. Glassy heaven looking rights.
But neither Asing nor Buchan could do much with it. Buchan took the win, Sing left the event with a heat score of 3.87.
Day one wasn’t bad. Wasn’t great. Tomorrow looks like the swell will stay steady and the wind will drop. Which will hopefully make it a little easier for the guys to really spread their wings. We’ll just have to wait and see.