Gives away priority and Julian nails a bomb to win Tahiti Pro. It's done! An insane final.
The Universe. Benign, indifferent or hostile?
I say benign.
Why else would God/Nature/Evolution make glacial blue head-high peelers on a reef in the South Pacific and give us the ability to ride inside them? Or let us marinate a bunch of diced tailor (bluefish) fillets in lime juice and coconut milk* for a morning poisson cru to start the day?
Are we, as a sport, disabused of the notion of white supremacy? I believe so but Medina’s people took great umbrage to my assessment of his attitude yesterday. My inbox was full of angry emails despite my record of being one of Medina’s biggest fans.
And although it was neglected in previous coverage I had made a call on Medina, to be confirmed by Beachgrit publisher D. Rielly via text message yesterday. Further confirmation, via a tube-ride to alley-oop in round five against Connor O’Leary, a clear statement of intent.
Then a 10-point ride to start against Owen in the first quarter final. Maybe a little overcooked by the judges but an inevitable result of cumulative pressure. A gripping heat ensued. The Gabby strategy: advancement by making mistakes, saw many nervous moments as he hunted and stalked half-rides and low scores. The clincher, an 8.23, looked a dramatic over-score designed to put Owen out of contention but was fair balls in the wash-up.
Can we finally put this one to the big sleep. The spelling/pronunciation of Teahupoo that is. Okina or apostrophe in Polynesian languages is a glottal stop and signifies the enunciation of both vowel sounds. In the case of Teahupo’o it would make the last two sounds oh-oh. Which it ain’t. Chope-oo. The oo is Polynesian deep, from the back of the throat not southern Californian nasal.
What did it take to let that wave go to John Florence? “Mainly that thing between my legs. It took big balls” On heat strategy? “You learn as you get older- every day you learn something new” And my favourite, “All the crumbs make a loaf of bread.”
John Florence employed the Medina strategy in his super heat against Jordy. Opened with two mistakes. Jordy caught the better waves, riding without distinction but solidly. Was I the only surf fan pining for a Superman over dry reef? Not to be. John clawed back the lead with a skilled ride on a wave that Jordy passed up, paddled back and sat in right up in Jordy’s grill. Jordy calmly slotted the only set wave of the heat and that was that. Yellow jersey for California.
One thing that did enter the excellent range was Jordy’s post-heat pressers. The homespun wisdom was beautifully delivered. What did it take to let that wave go to John Florence?
“Mainly that thing between my legs. It took big balls”
On heat strategy? “You learn as you get older- every day you learn something new”
And my favourite, “All the crumbs make a loaf of bread.”
I got straight on the phone to Jordy’s people back in South Africa and suggested a coffee table book of Proverbs, maybe something that could be tacked onto the end of Gideon Bibles (after the Book of Revelations, as a source of hope) and placed in hotel rooms. Possibly even a new religion, with Jordy as the white-robed leader. Could be a real goer as a post-professional surfing career option.
Strange memories of the night before Andy’s last event win, right here in Tahiti 2010, just months before he died. Golden light and perfect head-high backlit tubes. Andy was glowing, ethereal, gliding around the lineup like a ghost. Death had already seemed to have cast its shadow upon the living but in reality he was probably high, in that strange euphoric semi-death familiar to the opiate addict. No judgement here, I love the oxy.
John got the AI award, a downbeat presentation given the conditions. Strange memories of the night before Andy’s last event win, right here in Tahiti 2010, just months before he died. Golden light and perfect head-high backlit tubes. Andy was glowing, ethereal, gliding around the lineup like a ghost. Death had already seemed to have cast its shadow upon the living but in reality he was probably high, in that strange euphoric semi-death familiar to the opiate addict. No judgement here, I love the oxy. And If I end up shuffling off the mortal coil on the end of a couple of oxy’s and too many tallie’s don’t posit any nonsense about dying doing what he loved. Just the machinations of an indifferent universe.
Nothing indifferent about the Medina/Kolohe semi. It began and ended with tactical supremacy from Medina. Trolling Kolohe deep up the reef, then doubling back to spike the opening score. Paddling him around, blocking, putting his body in his face. I didn’t see a board flick by Kolohe against Medina, did you? It has been reported. Chas will elaborate.
With a stranglehold on the heat, Medina paddled Kolohe right up the reef to close it out. Masterful. Same thing he did to him in 2014 in ten-foot surf.
Medina starts the final with continuing physical intimidation. How you like that action? Repulsed or turned on? Me, thrilled. Then tube-threading and full-rail-cutdown-to-fins-free hooking. Taking off deeper and there’s no need for the most ugly stance in surfing: the double armed forehand stall, with that gross bent elbow leading instead of delicately splayed fingertips. Wilson combo-ed at the halfway point on the back of two sizzling rides from Gabs. Wilson breaks combo with ten to go on the back of a long soft tube and strong basic turns. Then roars back with a fins free sideways take-off on a west bowl.
Medina blew it. He gave away priority and Julian nails a bomb to get it. It’s done! An insane final.
Wilson dominates a benign day at Teahupoo, master for the day of a benign universe that smiles on boldness and audacity.
Thus endeth the coverage of the Indo-Pacific (Grand Slam) leg of the Tour. I hope you have, like me, enjoyed the highs and learnt from the lows. We give the final shovel load to Henry Miller and his concluding words from Tropic of Cancer, written about professional surfing in the 1930’s.
“Human beings make a strange fauna and flora. From a distance they appear negligible; close up they are apt to appear ugly and malicious. More than anything they need to be surrounded with sufficient space ― space even more than time.”