Twenty-one scored totals under 10. At clean six-foot Keramas.
I spent the day watching the opening day of Keramas taking notes, toggling desperately between tabs to try and get a fix of giant Cloudbreak, which was falling out of the heavens.
The few clips I saw of perfect 20-foot glacial blue tubes lit me up like a junkie with a spike in the vein.
Keramas, not so much.
Still, the best live surfing I’ve ever seen was the Volcom Guerilla Freesurf session after the pros capitulated. It seemed Volcom would sponsor Fiji until the crack of doom after those epic years. But they fled, leaving Ziff to pick up the tab, and then Kelly, who inked a three-year deal and reneged after one, blaming the Fijian government.
Such is life.
A little problem presented itself almost straight away at Keramas. A nagging one, which a very smart commenter named Toin Coss inadvertently put his finger on a couple of stories back. He called it the naturalistic fallacy, the tendency to confuse what is with what ought to be.
I reframe slightly to credit the source, that turgid Scottish cunt David Hume (kidding: he was a great laugh, apparently). Hume named the is/ought problem after the tendency to determine what ought to be, from what is. The WSL gives it to us arse about. We can all plainly see what is, but they tell us what ought to be.
Joe and Pottz ran themselves ragged this morning telling us how Keramas was the highest performance wave on Tour now (false), how we were going to be blessed by a blitzkrieg of surfboards raining down from the high heavens, an aerial bonanza, a shredfest of greco-roman proportions. A radical sceptic like Hume would have drop-kicked the computer off a high building.
Italo got the best shack of the first heat, but gave away priority and Parko sneaked through with a ten-point total. Owen dialled in two bombs waiting patiently, a strategy John Florence admitted he cribbed for the following heat.
Rosie had dialed up the is/ought fiasco by claiming John, at the halfway mark without a wave ridden was “looking fantastic”. He did look good later with a coupe of slick tube-rides, but is he back?
Not to be outdone, Pottz claimed a little later that “all these guys, in my eyes, have the ability to win a World Title (false). Maybe five guys in a year, maybe three.
Did you notice the narrative change in the most subtle but delightful way when Kieren Perrow, with images starting to dribble in of Kelly spearing giant Cloudbreak, attributed Kell”s absence, not to injury but to the fact he “can’t compete at the very high level he wants to”. I appreciated that. The injury line was starting to really throw sand in my gears.
Heat four saw Mikey Wright come out snarling and swinging like a wild animal. Unfortunately he picked the thick waves that filled up on the reef, not the bulbous mid-range waves that stayed open. He buckled a board, he couldn’t get a score. I still see the Weet-Bix-kid-Mikey I used to surf with as a grom, which is unfair. People grow up, they change. Strider was enthused at “how well he’s put together the rig.” Filipe was average and Connor snuck through with another 10-point heat total.
With the promised high-performance bonanza starting to slip away the is/ought dilemma had to be jammed into Ronnie’s back pocket for the next heat with Gabe. Maybe it fell down the crack in the couch with all the loose change. Parko was in the booth. He was fantastic. Who woulda thought he was so fantastic as a story-teller. He raised some important issues.
- The wave is hard to turn on.
- The seawall built to retrain the river-mouth may have negatively impacted the wave and
- Gabe Medina has under-performed since 2014.
A weird, wonky heat ensued. No waves came. With a 9.45 remaining Gabe had no scores. Finally he picked a couple of scraps and tore them to pieces. The winning total: 5.60.
I do not kid.
Julian’s preparation was revealing. He had no preparation. Just head home and hang with the Mum and bub and leave the sled in the covers. It worked. He rode the throatiest bomb of the morning beautifully, perfectly for an easy win against C O’leary and Indonesian wildcard Oney Anwar.
By this stage, with J-Flo in the water I had to reflect on Chas’ Olympic story with its allusions to dangerous and damaging techniques. Keramas demands a certain line. The deep tube to the deep, deep cutback back up into the bowl. It’s a turn that demands strength and maybe good board design. Watching pro’s fail to penetrate the rail was dispiriting. Seven heats in and there had been two proper turns. J-Flo did one of them, JJF the other.
But with strength so lacking and at such a premium surely pro’s must avail themselves of “dangerous and damaging techniques”?
Finally, what ought to be arrived on stage. Jordy hacked and gouged away and threw tail on the boiling inside section. When Jordy attacks people are happy. The crowd roused. Judges lowballed him, maybe an ongoing punishment for the safety surfing sins of events past? He looked imperious.
It was a shame the is/ought propaganda had been shelved by heat nine. Pottz had lost steam and was in full “ a win is a win” territory.
Colapinto had other ideas. He effortlessly bested Jesse Mendes in an aggressive paddle battle then started throwing it into the sky. He was the best, maybe the only true hi-fi surfing of the day. In the presser, he made intentions clear. He’d been waiting all year for sections like that and he was glad the judges only gave him an 8.5 because there was room to grow.
They called it off after heat 11, with the trade-wind tearing strips off it and even Ronnie felt emboldened to call it slop.
Thirty-three surfers surfed 11 heats. Three scored heat totals over 15.
Twenty-one scored totals under 10. In clean albeit wonky six-foot Keramas.
Just the facts. Just what is.
Corona Bali Protected Men’s Round 1 Results:
Heat 1: Joel Parkinson (AUS) 10.37, Italo Ferreira (BRA) 10.10, Keanu Asing (HAW) 7.17
Heat 2: Owen Wright (AUS) 14.17, Michael February (ZAF) 9.74, Ezekiel Lau (HAW) 9.57
Heat 3: John John Florence (HAW) 15.17, Michael Rodrigues (BRA) 8.00, Miguel Pupo (BRA) 4.16
Heat 4: Conner Coffin (USA) 10.94, Filipe Toledo (BRA) 9.46, Mikey Wright (AUS) 5.84
Heat 5: Gabriel Medina (BRA) 5.60, Barron Mamiya (HAW) 2.97, Tomas Hermes (BRA) 2.07
Heat 6: Julian Wilson (AUS) 11.50, Connor O’Leary (AUS) 6.44, Oney Anwar (IDN) 6.27
Heat 7: Jeremy Flores (FRA) 8.77, Kolohe Andino (USA) 8.66, Ian Gouveia (BRA) 2.73
Heat 8: Jordy Smith (ZAF) 15.10, Joan Duru (FRA) 13.04, Kanoa Igarashi (JPN) 8.33
Heat 9: Griffin Colapinto (USA) 15.07, Adrian Buchan (AUS) 10.83, Jesse Mendes (BRA) 10.40
Heat 10: Michel Bourez (PYF) 12.16, Patrick Gudauskas (USA) 8.57, Matt Wilkinson (AUS) 5.67
Heat 11: Willian Cardoso (BRA) 7.84, Frederico Morais (PRT) 6.44, Wade Carmichael (AUS) 4.83
Corona Bali Protected Remaining Matchups:
Heat 12: Adriano de Souza (BRA), Sebastian Zietz (HAW), Yago Dora (BRA)