Will the winner of 2017's WSL crown forever wear an asterisk?*
Could it be argued, right at this moment, that Filipe Toledo is the best surfer in the world? I think it could! Oh of course there is a possible hole in his game (plus-size Teahupo’o) but otherwise… what?
He was magnificent at J-Bay, surfing the best wave in competitive history during a contest that saw nothing but A+ swell. He was set to win Huntington in what would charitably be called “below average” conditions.
He truly seems unstoppable. Doesn’t even the great John John Florence seem kind of yawn at this very moment in time? Doesn’t the whole rest of the tour feel a touch outclassed?
And yet he has been stopped. By the machinations. By the structure. By the rulez.
Let us quickly rewind the tape. Filipe came out of the gate on Australia’s Gold Coast surfing poorly and netting at 25th. He turned it around at the Drug Aware Pro with a 3rd and backed that up with a 5th at Bells and onto Rio where he was totally going to win until the judges screamed interference and he was bumped to 13th and also cancelled from Fiji.
But let us say the judges didn’t ding Filipe on a technicality in Rio. Let us say he won the event like he was totally going to and then traveled to Fiji. The waves that came forth during the very slow OuterKnown Pro were custom made for him and just imagine if he would have surfed them like he surfed the following J-Bay.
He would have won. And he did win J-Bay. Which means his score line would read 25th, 3rd, 5th, 1st, 1st, 1st.
The young man could have refused to surf Tahiti just for fun and still easily win Trestles, France, Portugal and which point Pipe would be nothing but his coronation.
Just yesterday he really should have won Huntington Beach’s U.S. Open of Surfing and of course it is not a championship tour event but still. He was called out. Denied $100,000.00 (is the purse still $100,000.00?) on an interference decision the great Brett Simpson lambasted publicly. Kanoa Igarashi went on to win but examine his picture holding the trophy.
Those sad eyes hidden by sunglasses, a disingenuous smile pulled taut. One limp finger half-heartedly raised to the sky.
Kanoa knows he was not, in fact, number 1 this day. He knows he was only saved by rules and regulations.
His face is an asterisk.
And don’t you think whoever wins the title this year, if it is not Filipe Toledo, might also forever carry an asterisk?
Let’s wait and see but I think Kanoa’s asterisk face is a clear and present possibility for the winner of the World Surf League’s 2017 season.
Wilko should probably practice his.
*If the winner is not Filipe Toledo