Another glorious day of professional surfing this time featuring a shark!
Do you understand anti-depression? No, me neither. All I know is that with everything pear shaped I skipped out of the house this morning whistling a happy tune*, took a crow bar to the broken door of my wifes car, jimmied it back in place, gave it a belt with the back of an axe, stretched one Dakine legrope from the other door to it to hold it in place. Made a pot of coffee, though, If there is a happier working gal on the planet this fine morning then God bless her, took it into my beloved and said, “Your car is good to go babes”.
Hang on, also what made cheerful, reading Kelly Slater this morning: “Sometimes a bad thing is a good thing.”
Yes, of course.
His career maybe over, mine is just beginning. Or as Polish salty dawg Joe Conrad put it “Art is long, life is short and success is very far off”. Don’t quit Kelly. Ever.
And watching Flippy Toledo light up the southern Hemisphere last night. That elevates. Right from the start there’s been- what the prison warden said to Paul Newman in Cool Hand Luke, a “failure to communicate”, the real meaning and purpose of pro surfing: which is quite simply to entertain the working gal; to transcend the corporeal and temporal limitations of existence, if you want to get flowery.
It’s not to provide a career path for “project kiddies” whose Daddios never got to surf for money, it’s not to pacify sponsors or attract tourists. That’s all putting the cart before the horse. The principal thing is to entertain the working stiff. Hawaiians understood that before Cook and the missionaries emasculated the Polynesian culture of surfing. Speaker, not so much.
First up, to steal a phrase and give some credit to a top five surf writer Craig Braithwaite: The WSL has been kissed on the dick by an angel this week at J-Bay. Repeatedly. J-Bay normally provides one, maybe two days of peak surf per waiting period thus exposing the core deficit in the WSL long form format and reliably producing some of the most brutal anti-climaxes in world sport. Not this time.
At some point, right about halfway through Jordy’s heat the judges became completely emotionally overwhelmed in a day exalted with sunshine and perfect surf. I missed his first ten getting a beer out of the fridge but the second one, for a tailslide and a floater, I thought, no way.
For every scoring wave of Florences you could feel the judges getting antsy.
Was that a ten?
Looks over shoulder to Richie Porta.
Did he feel it? Nope.
And then boom, the skies opened and it started raining tens, everywhere : all over the lineup, in the South African savannah on the high veldt little baby gazelles grazing on perfect 10’s, lions roaring with perfect ten smiles, Rainbow Nation on Mandela day blowing perfect tens out of vuvuzelas all over South Africa. Vulva. Perfect 20 for Jordy. It was a feel good pair of 10’s par excellence. I’ll watch it again in the cold light of day but they never quite look as good taken out of context.
Seriously I thought Julian surfed more perfectly… and it seemed no-one else could see it. The most beautiful, critical edge work. He got his ten, claim-called it when he got it.
The super heats kept coming. Coffin v Parko and Coffin dropped the secret turn twice ; it’s an extended layback used as a finishing move. He used it to combo Parko and keep him there the entire heat. I know Chas will make any apposite calls required on fashion or physique but did Connor Coffin look like he had been sneaking fried peanut butter sandwiches for a midnight snack or was it just a soggy jersey flapping in the breeze?
The biggest super heat of the day was marked absent. Kelly vs Filipe. Do you think Kelly faked the injury, called an ambulance and posted a fake X-Ray (available on the dark web) to avoid getting smoked by Filipe at perfect J-Bay, or does that sound a little far fetched? A little too conspiracy? What odds would you give, if responsible for a betting agency for Kelly to takedown Toledo on current form? I say very low. And what odds that Kelly is tested for banned substances out of competition? Again, I say very low to nil.
After the storm of perfect tens had passed and the sky cleared judges critically underscored Italo Ferreira. They were probably suffering a scoring fatigue and Italo was the unfortunate recipient. After one brilliant ride Joey Turps said, “Those verticals, they can’t be denied.”
I was the best backhand surfing of the day and it was denied.
Every other goofy looked soggy, blunt and ill-formed by comparison to Italo, including Medina, Duru and Wright in the opening heat of round four.
Heat two, found four. My head was swimming, seeing double, I could feel my old friend, a mild dose of Tourettes syndrome tapping me upside the head. Vulva. But there was an inescapable feeling that John Florence would score a perfect Ten. Vulva. Shithead. The one hybrid hook, top turn, savagely tweaked into a cutback manouevre shut the book on the question of historical high water marks. John hit it, John reset it.
Should have been game over but Fred Morais started landing haymakers left right and centre. Incredible huge hacks. Two mid nines. He put John into a situation needing a frigging nine after the best wave ever ridden at J-Bay. Nutty. Nutty nutty vulva.
John rode a beautiful wave. Throwaway deadpanned Pottz. Six. Eight minutes remaining.
Cut to the boat out the back. A shark boat? Where are the shark boats, the jetskis with all the shark detection gear they announced with such fanfare last year? Gone? Has the white shark abandoned J-Bay? Real Estate too expensive? The clock ticks down. Morais victory.
You’d have to be a churlish little person with a grey little soul to not appreciate the genius of round four, heat two. That was incredible. An incredible, incredible spectacle vulva.
Huh….a horn sounds in the next heat with Jordy, Julian and Filipe…. Turpel carries on, smooth, ….in the background we can hear Gigs on the beach mic say we are on hold. Julian and Filipe are ferried to a rigid inflatable vessel just out the back. Is it a shark? A white shark? Rosie supplies the update: Safety first and everyone seems to be in a panic deciding what the protocol is. But what the fuck happened? A breaching shark, they say Mako, I say juvenile white….that was a shark boat! I bet Nick Carroll never saw that. And we’re done, and I’m done. So done. See you tomorrow.
Every so often when angels appear on the Earth Pro surfing transcends sport, not because of itself, but in spite of itself. So it was today in Jeffreys Bay, Republic of South Africa.
* Liftr Pullr Flex and the Buff result: You know the chain smoker, he called the stock broker, he said “Hell I hate to sell when we’re doing really well but I need a little liquidity, you know I think they might be onto me.”