For the third time in a pool event, Gabriel Medina leaves other competitors (exception: Filipe Toledo) like caught fish, gasping for air!
Soz, but your burnt-out hack got the lay-out and implications of Finals Day, Surf Ranch Pro, horrendously wrong. I can only blame the cognitive deficit of four days of compounding sleep deprivation but I thought Finals Day was remaining top eight men and to four women having one run each.
One left, one right to decide the matter.
Which would have placed a premium on conservative, finish-the-wave type surfing.
As it happened there was a glut of surfing. The basin was playing up and “defect” waves plagued some competitors. When replacement left waves were added to both men and women the empty rights got pounced on by Strider, who was the closest and loudest seagull to the chip.
Strider live-narrating a funnelling right hander was almost the highlight of the Finals Day, for me. It was a welcome break from the monotony of mandatory high performance – as compelling as one of those live car chases shot from a chopper that American TV does so well. Apart from Kolohe’s dummy spit yesterday about the only true non-scripted moment.
There were a lot of fails in the opening rides from the men.
Stage fright? Some weird wind ribs and general funkiness in the lefts that made accurate reads hard to come by.
The first excellent ride was an insanely well ridden right from Filipe Toledo. The foot forwards tube technique was a cross gendered homage to Steph Gilmore who had looked shaky in her opening run. It was obvious from the 8.33 that judges had reset the scale overnight, because by the scale set by Kelly’s opening day wave it was a mid nine.
Kanoa’s opening right with a failed air on the end was awarded a 8.17. It caused consternation in the booth. Blakey must have been getting a little BeachGrit into him overnight because he came out firing.
“Would you stick that in a free surfing clip?” he mused, “because that’s my definition of high-performance surfing.”
Hate to break it to you Ron Dog but by that standard less than a dozen waves ridden in four days would make the High P cut. The judging applied to Filipe was curious. He was measured against a theoretical limit of what he might produce, versus what he actually did.
Gabe’s first right was ridden with a mixture of brute power and palpable relief; he slotted deeper into the end section than anyone and emerged with pale hams quivering with lactate in the Steinbeckian sun.
Again, we were treated to passionate discourse from Pete Mel telling us rides would have to feature the progression of above-the-lip surfing if they wanted to get in the excellent range.
Unless you’re Kelly Slater.
Three thousand four hundred fans in Oceania tuned in on Facebook to watch him score an 8.60 without loosing the fins and falling on the end turn. It did not raise an eyebrow.
Wobbly, weird lefts caused confusion for gals and guys. Carissa’s power game on the forehand was imperious but her lefts looked a little forced. No matter, she held a winning lead from start to finish, despite a fast finishing Lakey Peterson and an air game from Caroline Marks who somehow, out of all the surfers this weekend looked more stylish in the tub than the ocean.
Julian was going big, skate style big. But couldn’t stick a single one of the varial/big spin attempts on the lefts and just wasted too much real estate on the right boosting on the end section.
Which bought Toledo into the mix on run two. Righthander. Three clean, boosted and greased airs, the first one launched near the outside pole 69, if my eyes did not deceive. Huge hacks, tube-rides. The best wave of the event by so far it wasn’t funny. The one wave that did deliver on the promise of the wave systems vision of the future.
Ten, I wrote in the notes. Got to be.
Got to be.
Except it wasn’t. Judges short changed it in a miserly display.
Kelly deserves his plaudits. His janky, jangly angular foam climbs and twitchy backside re-entries were definitely not to my eye or taste but they impressed the judges and made a hometown crowd – as close to hometown now as he will get – wild with joy.
“What do I have to do to get a ten?” he announced to fans who had erupted in boos when the judging call was announced.
Fucked if I know. Maybe shave your head and stick an outerknown sticker on your board?
Now, now, that is unfair. Kelly deserves his plaudits. His janky, jangly angular foam climbs and twitchy backside re-entries were definitely not to my eye or taste but they impressed the judges and made a hometown crowd – as close to hometown now as he will get – wild with joy.
Gabe was the only one to capitalise on the bonus left. The drive, zap and drift through turns was stunning. The ability to redirect with deep gouges and not lose forwards momentum, a notch above. Just before a live TV audience on CBS was cut he stuck a lofted Kerrupt flip that crop-dusted the entire end section with rad from a frothy height. The winner of last year’s Future Classic, the best surfer at the Founders’ Cup was again the best surfer in the basin. Even if Filipe got a ten, he would not be bested. The Medina family went nuts, tears of joy flowed freely etc etc yet the silent evidence seemed to fill the room. Facebook audience stayed static between two and three thousand. Pitiful. Everyone I spoke to pronounced: boring.
Is this Betamax or the internet?
I know I’m a bum, the very essence of Teddy Roosevelt’s nameless critic who does nothing compared to the great ones etc etc. I never pretend otherwise. Kind to my kids, polite in the water, try to write the best sentence I can. That’s the best of a very flawed package. I take my lessons from what’s poor: as Bonnie Prince Billy said. That’s what God has put me here for.
But bizarrely I have friends in high places. One of them texted me as the show wrapped. I give the last word to her: A pure corporate dusting of the intangible.
Thank you for reading, hope you enjoyed the coverage.
If you’ll excuse, there’s something involving a man and a mat I need to investigate.
Surf Ranch Pro Men’s Final Results:
1 – Gabriel Medina (BRA) 17.86
2 – Filipe Toledo (BRA) 17.03
3 – Kelly Slater (USA) 16.27
4 – Kanoa Igarashi (JPN) 15.77
5 – Owen Wright (AUS) 15.40
6 – Julian Wilson (AUS) 15.37
7 – Sebastian Zietz (HAW) 15.07
8 – Miguel Pupo (BRA) 12.96
Surf Ranch Pro Women’s Final Results:
1 – Carissa Moore (HAW) 17.80
2 – Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) 16.70
3 – Lakey Peterson (USA) 16.57
4 – Caroline Marks (USA) 14.77
2018 WSL Men’s CT Jeep Leaderboard (After Surf Ranch Pro):
1 – Filipe Toledo (BRA) 49,785 points
2 – Gabriel Medina (BRA) 45,685
3 – Julian Wilson (AUS) 37,125
4 – Italo Ferreira (BRA) 31,825
5 – Owen Wright (AUS) 29,485
2018 WSL Women’s CT Jeep Leaderboard (After Surf Ranch Pro):
1 – Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) 61,175 points
2 – Lakey Peterson (USA) 54,260 points
3 – Tatiana Weston-Webb (BRA) 41,415 points
4 – Carissa Moore (HAW) 41,235 points
5 – Caroline Marks (USA) 37,000 points