Are any pros excited for Lemoore?
I have always been a fan of Matt Wilkinson though became very much less so when he jettisoned the good-natured, blue-collar thing for front-running, weight-lifting, no-cocaine-sniffing potential World Champ.
Do you remember? A few seasons back when he won three events in a row? It seems like he lost his sense of humor during that run. Like it drowned at the bottom of a protein shake. Like when the great Australian journalist Fred Pawle called him a “yobbo” and Wilkinson took great offense threatening physical violence etc.
What a strange time it was and sad for what is surfing without being laughable?
Today, sitting outside the qualification bubble after a tough luck stretch, Matt Wilkinson feels back. Honest, real, though semi-depressed. His post-heat interview with Rosie after his loss to someone is a study in manhood.
I would imagine he would rather not talk through his frustrations but he does, eyes betraying genuine feeling, soft voice working through the pain. The most interesting part of the chat, though, is when he speaks about his prospects for the rest of the tour.
Rosie: Matty you are outside of qualification at the moment. How are you gonna turn your season around?
Matt: Yeah, I’ll keep plugging away and the wave pool should be… fun? I kinda don’t really know what to expect there. I’ve done a few days there and put some practice in and hopefully put more than a five on the board and… I don’t know… do the wave pool…
His voice loses all steam as he goes along, deflating entirely by the end. There clearly seems to be no relish in going to Lemoore and, now that I think about it, I haven’t heard any pros talk with gusto about the Surf Ranch event.
Why? Are they hedging bets in case the performance is found wanting? Genuinely not excited about four days in Lemoore? It is a known quantity by now. There are no surprises left and I wonder if the woke feel the tug of history pulling away from tubs.
Or maybe the deflation has directly to do with how the World Surf League has marketed the event. Inside sources tell me ticket sales are lagging far behind expectations but this information came before the blink-182 announcement so who knows.
Whatever the case, I’ll be there cheering for the Matt Wilkinson I used to know and love. High-fiving Tom DeLonge (emotionally).