Expert contest analysis, day one, OK Fiji Pro…
Good afternoon in Australia, evening in America, middle of the night in Brazil and welcome to the Beachgrit coverage of the Pacific leg of the WSL.
I had a nervous bobble of a start this morning after a little DMT around a campfire last night. It was a very, very successful trip, believe me. Missed the opening exchanges and turned up for Owen’s heat just in time to see him doing the death march under a blue-grey axe before being spat out of the gas chamber untouched, slouching.
I scribbled 8.17 with a Bic Classic fine and the judges awarded 8.5. Fair enough. We are all hyper-vigilant now about being made a laughing stock by the judges keen to propel fairytale storylines as a way of propping up a title race.
Well, while the Grit is alive and publishing, they won’t. They won’t. Believe me.
Speaking of compliant media, wasn’t that the biggest own goal, ever, in sport’s history? I mean the way Speaker came in and tried to put a massive claim over every piece of WSL content.
“We own everything now!” he said, \alienating the greatest asset the ASP/WSL ever had, a tame surf media ready to cheer-lead until the crack of doom.
How could you fuck that up?
Second biggest own goal was disowning and turning away from the sport’s drug culture which spawned modern surfing. They tried to scrub it clean and sterilise it to capture middle Australia and America and in doing so forced it into a future of perpetual lies, confirmed it’s status as third tier sport doomed to mediocrity, constantly running in fear of it’s own shadow.
Speaker doubled down on the bland and made pro surfing as cool as tiddlywinks. Mainstream culture now makes pro surfing look hopelessly reactionary and conservative. You disagree Shaun Tomson, Fred Hemmings, Ian Cairns?
Come on down into the comments and prove me wrong. The false dawn and the slow fade out are the hallmarks of professional surfing and I say that with complete joy in my heart.
This dream is too beautiful to die.
I was watching JJF, looking for his ability to read the line-up. Multiple swell angles, too much west in most of them put clean makes at a premium. And we got dead air for the start of the heat. Not even a shot of Barton in the mother ship swaying to yacht rock, just an unidentified Fijian man cruising on the deck while head high Restaurants peeled off in the background.
When we got back to live action JJF had an 8.17 next to his name. Must’ve been good. They showed a replay…..a drive through a chandeliering section before a non make. That couldn’t have been it. But it was. Bizarre. That over-score was enough to distort the spread and keep him clear of his opponents. Still, it seems totally counter-intuitive but Cloudbreak remains a weak point in the JJF arsenal.
Jack Freestone flew the flag for millenial fragility in the heat before. Coming in from a good ragdolling and a snapped board Barton asked him if he was back out there with five to go.
“No more boards”, was his terse reply.
What? He only bought one board to Cloudbreak?
A long period of two or three heats of ratty Cloudbreak ensued. It’s like that. As a recreational surfer you surf it in long dream-like sequences covering four, five, six hours, shivering in the squalls getting swept up or down the reef trying to make sense of it before the wind clocks around behind the brown hills of the main island and the surf goes perfect again.
Which it did, for Julian Wilson who enacted the Michelle Obama doctrine, “when they go low we go high” or as Rosy put it, “ it’s so crucial to stay har.”
That 9.5 was the best wave of the day, up to that point.
It went dreamy for Bourez, Miggy and Ace. Gunmetal grey cylinders went glacial blue and they were threaded, first by Ace, then Miggy before Bourez locked them both out with a pair of nines.
Kelly was in the mothership watching on. Salivating no doubt. He paddled out with Fanning and Bede and it immediately turned back to mud. Could there be a clearer sign for a man who believes how you surf in heats is a kind of spiritual litmus test of how your life is progressing that maybe the tour has moved on from Kelly? That it just isn’t that into him anymore? I hope not.
It was disconcerting seeing Kelly in single figures at six-to-eight-foot Cloudy. He had nothing, a total absence of what Foucalt calls pouvoir-savoir-knowledge, power.
An almost make on a weird bulbous inside section that he tried to grope his way through before being roughhoused into the reef was about the best of it. They ran a heat of round two and Brother eliminated Fijian wildcard Tevita Gukilau, who looked deserving.
That was the day. It was OK, better than Brazil.
Are you with me on that, or have I read it all wrong?
Christ, I forgot Europe. Good evening Europe.