Brazilians Medina, Toledo and Ferreira storm to finals in teeny waves at Teahupoo…
Where are you at with the backlash to Ziff’s speech… are you part of the backlash to the backlash?
Feeling sorry for WSL?
I confess when I saw that frothy baby food on offer this morning I couldn’t help think of Richard Yates’ Revolutionary Road. The opening scenes of the novel are a brutal, brutal depiction of bush league batters and their dreams dying on the diamond.
“She was working alone and visibly weakening with every line.”
Cue Surf Ranch ad.
“She had begun to alternate between false theatrical gestures and a white-knuckled immobility… you could see the warmth of humiliation rising in her neck.”
Watching made me ponder whether there was a universe where I could come on over to the Team WSL, transgress completely, just for the sheer thrill of it. If surfing takes its rightful place among the great and elite competitive sports , says Ziff, everyone connected with it will prosper.
I am connected with it. I’ve watched, paid careful attention to more pro surfing than Jehovah himself. Written thousands and thousands of words. Do I not have a legitimate self-interest in pumping up the tyres, in grabbing a slice of the action?
Well, I’m gunna.
Straight after Surf Ranch. I’m thinking of a number, WSL, sufficient to let me spruik Blink 182 full bore, full-blast without gagging.*
Medina looked the hottest pick today, no real change to the forecast or his prospects for victory but before I go full 100% positive sicko mode I just need to clear up two little misconceptions which Coté and Mel have been pumping all comp. Coté kept saying during close losses that hard work will pay off. He said it after Jesse Mendes lost by a tenth of a point to Wade Carmichael. Mendes has been working his arse off. He needs the opposite of a Calvinist approach. Less work, more flair.
Mendes himself had a much more accurate read: “ I guess the judges don’t like my surfing.” A much tougher nut to crack.
Mel continued the innocent fraud by repeating the conventional wisdom that the “talent level keeps rising each and every season.”
I’m afraid your own judging panel disagrees with you. Talent ebbs and flows but you’d be brave or myopic to discount Dane then JJF, Medina in 2011 as great leaps forwards in talent. Many, many one-year rookies and journeymen ground to sausage meat since then. Italo is probably the one exception that proves the rule.
Great and elite competitive sports realise the rarity and the extraordinary value of marquee talents. And there will be a deficit when half the Tour retires at the end of this season. Recycled Aussie rookies will have to do a lot of heavy lifting to raise any kind performance bar if staying on Tour remains the end game.
Today in the course of the coverage I met not one, but two of the mythical unicorns the WSL once counted as “hand raisers” for pro surfing. The no- surfing surfing fan. Well close enough. A Prague local, twenty-something, now living in Sydney. Rides a 7S fish at Bondi. I gave her the screen for the ADS/Igarashi heat. Put it on full-screen and silent so she couldn’t see the scores. Told her to write a number beside every wave then add up the top two for each surfer at the end.
She had Adriano winning by three points. I told her Igarashi won.
“Why,” she said. “How?”
“In the same way we can’t understand quantum physics, we cannot understand pro surfing judging,” I assured her.
On the return journey I got a forty-something naturalised German, aid worker for the UN just back from separating warring tribes in Ethiopia. Sometime surfer. Could name Kelly and the “guy who fought the shark, the albino guy”. He correctly identified, with German precision, Yago Dora as winner against Mikey Wright.
“How did you tell he won?” I asked.
“The scarecrow with the mullet fell off too many times,” he said.
It was noted that Wright offered no handshake to his Brazilian victor.
Did you see Strider find his own version of the unicorn late in the afternoon in the channel in one of the boats? Dangerous blonde here on her own for a month. Looked like someone straight out of a Raymond Chandler novel. Poor old Strider went into full sicko mode himself when he heard she was here alone
“Whoa boys…come on down!” Settle sick boy.
Toledo was dominant on a quad against wildcard Smith in heat six. His equipment has looked a notch above all season.
Mike February won his round four heat to advance to the quarters. I’ll let that sit there, while it sinks in.
And then be a wanker by reckoning I would put even money on me beating him in barrelling four-to-six-foot Teahupoo.
Owen waited for two bombs on a day when they might not come at all. His surfing drew the high pitched yuk-yuk-yuk excited whinny from Barton that showed it was legit.
Medina blew a bomb on his opening strike against Brother and Yago Dora and then relentlessly regained control of the lead with two massive rides. Massive in the context of the day, that is.
The last heat of round four, to finish the day was epic entertainment. A worthy half-hour if you wanted to watch one heat in it’s entirety. J-Flo hula-hooped his way through a blue-hued traveller then burrowed in like a tick to suck the last drops of tube plasma from a tight and technical ride.
Connor O’leary and Italo Ferreira fought a pitched battle to progress. A flurry of rides in the last three minutes decided it. Italo launching a clean reverse then a rotation into the flats onto dry reef to better both scores. Connor answered with power surfing, spray turning golden against a low slung sun. An age passed after the heat as judges reckoned with the rides. You could not imagine our unicorns being able to split them. Italo got the nod. He roared and punched his board with delight.
Brazil remains the dominant pro surfing nation as the sun sets August 17, year of our Lord 2018.
Wait, August 16… it’s yesterday in Tahiti!
*80 Grand, plus super. Paid leave. Company car and phone. Cheap as chips.
Tahiti Pro Round 3 Results:
Heat 1: Michael February (ZAF) 9.66 def. Jordy Smith (ZAF) 4.83
Heat 2: Ezekiel Lau (HAW) 12.50 def. Michael Rodrigues (BRA) 5.07
Heat 3: Wade Carmichael (AUS) 9.50 def. Jesse Mendes (BRA) 9.40
Heat 4: Owen Wright (AUS) 14.27 def. Joel Parkinson (AUS) 10.83
Heat 5: Kanoa Igarashi (JPN) 11.40 def. Adriano De Souza (BRA) 11.17
Heat 6: Filipe Toledo (BRA) 14.66 def. Tikanui Smith (PYF) 6.90
Heat 7: Gabriel Medina (BRA) 14.73 def. Wiggolly Dantas (BRA) 13.67
Heat 8: Kolohe Andino (USA) 13.27 def. Frederico Morais (PRT) 12.36
Heat 9: Yago Dora (BRA) 12.90 def. Mikey Wright (AUS) 8.24
Heat 10: Connor O’Leary (AUS) 16.53 def. Michel Bourez (PYF) 11.34
Heat 11: Jeremy Flores (FRA) 13.14 def. Adrian Buchan (AUS) 9.93
Heat 12: Italo Ferreira (BRA) 12.14 def. Ian Gouveia (BRA) 10.34
Tahiti Pro Round 4 Results:
Heat 1: Michael February (ZAF) 14.10, Wade Carmichael (AUS) 12.07, Ezekiel Lau (HAW) 10.97
Heat 2: Owen Wright (AUS) 12.69, Filipe Toledo (BRA), Kanoa Igarashi (JPN) 8.26
Heat 3: Gabriel Medina (BRA) 13.67, Kolohe Andino (USA) 10.43, Yago Dora (BRA) 9.50
Heat 4: Jeremy Flores (FRA) 15.24, Italo Ferreira (BRA) 13.10, Connor O’Leary (AUS) 11.34
Tahiti Pro Quarterfinal Matchups:
QF 1: Michael February (ZAF) vs. Filipe Toledo (BRA)
QF 2: Owen Wright (AUS) vs. Wade Carmichael (AUS)
QF 3: Gabriel Medina (BRA) vs. Italo Ferreira (BRA)
QF 4: Jeremy Flores (FRA) vs. Kolohe Andino (USA)