How many other waves (on tour) are being surfed to a fraction of their potential?
How the hell can anyone come up with a coherent power rankings post-Margs? You pick John Florence numero uno then throw darts at the dart board to get the rest. Take him out of the equation and it wasn’t a happy event for elite CT surfing. To realise for years we’ve watched elite pros butcher and bog Margs begs the question: how many other waves (on tour) are being surfed to a fraction of their potential? Bells might provide a salutary answer straight off the bat. J-Bay, definitely. The kids ain’t alright.
- John John Florence, 24, Hawaii.
Nothing more to say about the gaping performance chasm between John and the rest of the field. That’s been thoroughly marinated and masticated by every surf commenter alive. Thats the what, as to the how and the why one comment cut through: “He showed that the wave isn’t really the problem. They’ve all been surfing it wrong.” – GBP
Key to understanding Florence’s new and correct approach, and I can’t believe I didn’t get there in the finals wrap because he mentioned it two or three times during the day, is snowboarding. Where others tried (and failed) to use traditional top-to-bottom lines on an open ocean sloping peak Florence found the natural fall-line and used it relentlessly to get to the top of the wave with maximum speed.
Once there he simply inserted his board rail and fins against the trim line and, in the same manner a hunter with a razor-sharp bowie knife skins a deer, cut the wave open in one seamless high-speed slice. He executed this turn with a variety of body positions depending on the angle of attack to the lip. Sometimes a classic one-arm-back layback, sometimes using both arms thrown back as the turn lever and sometimes with a more classic “open the shoulders” rotation with an extra tweak at the end, powered up through the ankles and feet and driven through with the hips. It was scored highly and that is just and true.
One human could have matched JJF, theoretically, and he wasn’t surfing in the event. That’d be little Jackie Robinson. Bells Beach has a similar sloping face with a lack of bottom tension in the base of the wave. With a rambunctious Southern Ocean storm track expected to dish up ripe purple fruits over Easter we are on track to see the dose repeated. That is the most hype-free and sober technical description of John’s surfing I can conjure. Ross done good eh?
2. Margaret River Mainbreak.
Any objective world-historical analysis has to focus blame for the disgraceful performances and general adolescent attitudinal deficit at Mainbreak over the past few years on Kelly Slater. Precisely to the doubled up Pipeline wave he rode in 1991 during his first world title year. This shifted Momentum Era focus away from Sunset Beach, fat burger, unsuited to the moderne equipment, to the shorebreak and beachbreak style waves where it has remained ever since. Performance benchmarks at Sunset Beach and J-Bay slid seawards from the Tom Curren/Kong Elkerton high-water marks. I pray Matt Warshaw is neglecting his family and vital Facebook postings to flesh out the narrative in this development in modern surf history. Long-period, open-ocean, enigmatic-but-comprehensible limestone reef, power to burn, specific line required. That’s the equation a generation of pros failed to solve.
3. Adriano DeSouza, 30, Brazil.
In a recent interview Welcome to Paradise, Now lets go surfing then score an eightball and go big at Club Femme Nu author Chozza Smith said he hated the orthodox response. That’s paraphrasing, but you get the drift.
Hating De Souza has become the orthodox response du jour. Bad misread, terrible orthodoxy. De Souza has become the premier problem solver in the biz, the Winston Wolf of professional surfing.
Hating De Souza has become the orthodox response du jour. Bad misread, terrible orthodoxy. De Souza has become the premier problem solver in the biz, the Winston Wolf of professional surfing. He figured judges wanted neo-classical surfing: fully formed bottom-to-top surfing and developed the best combination in the game.
He realised Kelly Slater felt there was a respect deficit from the Brazilians towards him and he used it to needle the the champ and build a strong winning percentage against him. He would have handily won a final against Kolohe and probably Jordy. Cut the wave with better equipment than anyone bar JJF. Strong contender for Bells if John gets caught sleeping in a slow early round heat.
4. Jordy Smith, 29, South Africa.
He shifted the most water and I really wanted to love his surfing after the J-Bay cut in Just Now. But on reflection, and after sober analysis of all his waves on the heat analyser I couldn’t give it more than three stars. Maybe two-and-a-half. Bells favourite based on forecast.
5. Sebastien Zietz, 29, Hawaii.
Singlehandedly lifted day one from mediocrity with his 10-point tube ride. Imagine if that was the first wave of the day and not the last and they gave it an eight. Wouldn’t have been a single double-digit heat score all day.
6.Kolohe Andino, 23, USA.
Will Brother regard the final with John John as a keeper result or feel the sting of being publicly humiliated in a one-sided final? Psychological question to determine the rest of his year. Answer will be determined in the first heat at Bells.
7. Michel Bourez, 31, French Polynesia.
I thought judges over-cooked his scores all event so I went back to the heat analyser to confirm the impression. I bring your attention, as exhibit A, to his last scoring wave in the quarter-final against JJF. A double-pumped bottom turn to a tail-slide-to-recovery, a two-stage cutback and two nice turns at the end. Based on the scale set by JJF, a tail-slide off the fins should have got a slow clap not a high eight. Cynics might suggest judges wanted to make a closer heat of it than reality was providing. No matter. His boards looked, once again, chattery and under-nourished.
8. Julian Wilson, 28, Australia.
Technically superior to every other surfer on tour, physiologically adapted with a wombat arse enabling low centre of gravity not seen since Occy. Can win at every stop on tour, charges heavy lefts blah blah blah.
Can’t control his own destiny.
The problem seems to be mental, namely an insufficiency of or inappropriate arousal. No snickering in the back please. This is serious. He needs a coach, an expert in rising to the occasion. If Ross Williams has been a success for JJF then perhaps Joey Turpel can mimic the magic for J-Dub.
The problem seems to be mental, namely an insufficiency of or inappropriate arousal. No snickering in the back please. This is serious. He needs a coach, an expert in rising to the occasion. If Ross Williams has been a success for JJF then perhaps Joey Turpel can mimic the magic for J-Dub. That would solve two problems in one elegant fell swoop.
9. Zeke Lau, 23, Hawaii.
First season in Hawaii, I slept on the beach at Three Tables beach, under the pine trees, until a Vietnam vet in camo squatted over me one night and chased me after I woke in fright.
Second, in my car, a Lincoln Continental mk4 that got about half-a-mile to the gallon.
Third, in a series of bush camps culminating in a deep camp behind the Kui Lima at Kawela bay. We had endless supplies of ephedra from a contact in town and added it to pancakes cooked on open fires. Surfed all day on it. Financed this subterranean anarchic existence selling Big Island bush buds, or Mex dirt weed, maybe an eight-ball to backpackers.
This story has no relevance to Zeke Lau but his early round exit at Margs was powerful and I very much look forwards to seeing him lay it over in the Bells Bowl. He was one of the few who didn’t turn flat at Margs.
10. Mick Fanning, 35, Australia.
Second comp in a row he got torched. Out of anyone on tour he’s probably best placed to learn and apply the Florence Line. The extra tweak at the end of the turn is in reach, as is a power advantage in the Bells Bowl with the torqued-out extended body wrap. He’s surfed five-to-ten percent better this year and been cruelled. If justice applies, Bells will mark the comeback into contention by J-Bay.
11. Owen Wright, 27, Australia.
He looks too thin to me and lacks power but gained the finals by several massive closing turns. Wilko will shade him at Bells.