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Beach Grit

Margs, Day 1: “How is Jack Robbo not on tour?”


by Longtom

A thousand journeyman flowers can bloom but we can't get Jack in the big leagues?

Did you get caught out by the start of the comp today/tonight like me? Wasn’t it weird. I got no notification from the WSL app and was right down a worm hole reading comments on a story about a canuck who carved up a deer leg in front of a bunch of protesting vegans when I flicked over to the WSL site and caught Jack Robinson doing an absolute number on eight-foot North Point. A number that turned out to be the pinnacle performance of the day.

First thought, ‘How the fuck is that guy not on Tour?’ Seriously, can someone explain to me how the fuck Jack Robinson is not on Tour. A thousand journeyman flowers can bloom but we can’t get Jack in the big leagues?

Second thought, is Kieren Perrow starting to look a little bit gaunt these days, maybe a bit…haunted? It’s not like his superior skills at determining when to run and when to go on hold, and whatever else the Commissioner does are going to be in high demand at the Wave Ranch. Ergo, the WSL Commissioner looks like being one of those jobs like chimney sweeps and bus drivers that will be steamrolled by the techno-utopian avalanche. 

Jack gave two pressers, both classic. The first, in a baritone, when he declared “It’s not toddler North Point” and the second, in a falsetto where I could not make out what he was saying because I was so stunned at the pitch. It was like watching Barry Gibb from the Bee Gees warming up at a sound check. This is obviously a very loosely wound cat.

Eight-foot North Point is a hectic deal, if you haven’t surfed. It’s no wave for gimps. Keanu Asing made a deep one and backed it up to make double figures for the first time this year and make a heat. Prediction: Asing to win the Surf Ranch CT with sterling meat and potatoes surfing after Filipe Toledo falls on both waves attempting 15-foot alley-oops. Asing fails to requalify and comes back 2020 as Olympic Coach for Team USA.

Heat 3: Jack Robbo was back against Owen and Miguel Pupo. It was finally made clear why he was surfing North Point before the comp started. It was a repercharge heat from the Trials to see who would replace the injured Caio Ibelli. Jack just went straight back to doing what he was doing before, completely toying with the wave and making it look delectably attainable for the average gimp. Easy win. How can a guy not even on Tour come out and suddenly look like a red hot favourite to win the event? How can the best in the world suddenly be made to look second-rate by a guy who can’t get out of the QS?

Sophie, fix the broken QS.

You were pining to see John Florence in round four against Mikey Wright and Wade Carmichael. A very big match-up. Crucial heat for the champ’s confidence. Peter Mel said John looked “gritty” but when he strode down the beach he looked more nervous to me, like he had the weight of the world on his shoulders. And that Le Rouge et Le Noir board spray just seems a bit downbeat. Ten minutes in, John sat motionless out the back. Remember how the “old” JJF, when he was a kid would do that? Just sit there, staring out to sea. Then he seemed to snap back to reality, maybe the coache’s plan suddenly impinged on his cognition. He looked weak and shaky on his first couple of rides. 

Mikey Wright hassled him a bit and with priority took a bomb that destroyed him. That was the turning point. John relaxed and started to surf, pounding away on some deeper tubes and adding deep rail work to the end section. He came off looking every inch the cucumber but he looked vulnerable despite declaring in the presser that he hadn’t thought of Mikey Wright at all. That statement lacked credibility and his mental state was far more revealed when he said that in the break between Bells and Margaret River he’d “figured some things out”. He surfed like a man struggling with mind noise and lack of confidence until he finally snapped into the reality of where he was. Eight-foot barrelling surf. 

A tetchy Julian Wilson made a promise after his heat win “not to be timid”. And in the final heat of the day a herd of freesurfers seemed to mock Filipe Toledo’s ability to “hold the space”. He did not rise to the occasion. He did not hold the space.

What a weird sport.

The highlight of the day comes from a wildcard who gets a second chance in a heat before the main event even kicks off and then makes the rest of the field look like Chris Hitchens’ “herd of anti’s in search of a climax”.

Tell me again how Jack Robbo is not on Tour?

Margaret River Men’s Pro Round 1 Results:
Heat 1: 
Keanu Asing (HAW) 10.70, Matt Wilkinson (AUS) 5.33, Connor O’Leary (AUS) 4.64
Heat 2: Jordy Smith (ZAF) 12.17, Ian Gouveia (BRA) 10.67, Tomas Hermes (BRA) 2.54
Heat 3: Jack Robinson (AUS) 13.94, Owen Wright (AUS) 4.03, Miguel Pupo (BRA) 2.40
Heat 4: John John Florence (HAW) 14.60, Mikey Wright (AUS) 11.87, Wade Carmichael (AUS) 8.50
Heat 5: Gabriel Medina (BRA) 10.16, Kael Walsh (AUS) 8.96, Joan Duru (FRA) 1.97
Heat 6: Julian Wilson (AUS) 10.56, Jesse Mendes (BRA) 10.00, Dave Delroy-Carr (AUS) 3.40
Heat 7: Filipe Toledo (BRA) 6.14, Conner Coffin (USA) 5.87, Michael February (ZAF) 2.57

Margaret River Men’s Pro Remaining Round 1 Matchups:
Heat 8: Adriano de Souza (BRA), Kanoa Igarashi (JPN), Yago Dora (BRA)
Heat 9: Adrian Buchan (AUS), Griffin Colapinto (USA), Willian Cardoso (BRA)
Heat 10: Italo Ferreira (BRA),  Sebastian Zietz (HAW), Michael Rodrigues (BRA)
Heat 11: Kolohe Andino (USA), Frederico Morais (PRT), Ezekiel Lau (HAW)
Heat 12: Joel Parkinson (AUS), Michel Bourez (PYF), Patrick Gudauskas (USA)