So we're back, deeper than ever in the land of socialized medicine and decriminalised drug use. Portugal.
Ten years at Peniche. A decade at Supertubos. Despite the mostly crap surf it won’t cross Sophies desk marked Not to Renew. Rip Curl, the only remaining surf industry sponsor and power bloc and the main resistance to ZoSea’s 2012 hostile takeover, discovered the only successful, sustainable pro surfing business model in existence, namely the Bells model, and transferred it seamlessly to Portugal.
The model rests on two key factors: a willing government ready to stump up cold hard cash to underwrite the event and a major population centre nearby with a chunk of fans who’ll populate the bleachers. S’why Bells and Portugal remain fully sponnoed up on nexts years schedule and Fiji is not. It’s why the USA with it’s potential mid-west millions of fans cheer Kanye and have no clue about Kelly.
Basic business logic would suggest a return to a more US-friendly time zone prior to Pipe. But while tech billionaires elbow each other out of the way to throw 55k a day at the Ranch for stoked kooks to dodge the tube there is no stomach for socialized Pro Surfing in the Americas. Not my opinions, just a restating of the facts as reflected in the Tour schedule past, present and near future.
Basic business logic would suggest a return to a more US-friendly time zone prior to Pipe. Puerto Rico always struck me as a perfect place to run a CT as a penultimate event. Warm water, consistent surf, easy access to US fans and eyeballs. But while tech billionaires elbow each other out of the way to throw 55k a day at the Ranch for stoked kooks to dodge the tube there is no stomach for socialized Pro Surfing in the Americas. Not my opinions, just a restating of the facts as reflected in the Tour schedule past, present and near future.
So we’re back, deeper than ever in the land of socialized medicine and decriminalised drug use.
European fickleness swamped the site this morning and Asst. Comish Trav “the angry inch” Logie put the event on hold, then again before finally running six heats in slow but shreddable rippy head-high surf. The mental key to success, according to three-time World Champion Mick Fanning, who mercifully stood in between Kaipo and Mel for a second night in a row was “being OK with being uncomfortable”. As a severely sleep-deprived surf writer about to hurtle up the highway there was solace to be found in his advice.
The day started with injury drama. 2015 World Champion Adriano De Souza inexplicably buckled over in pain negotiating the shorebreak. He gestured for help, face twisted in a grimace of pain before a shoed man in long trousers helped him to the beach. Knee strapped up he returned to the water, surfed a wave with no apparent ill effects before buckling over in pain a second time as he rode a left. Popped a ligament. That gave Joan Duru a walk through and set a tone for the day of backmarkers staring down CT extinction finally getting an even break.
I thought an-in form Seabass would maul Wilko in junky beachbreak with air sections. That is how the heat progressed. Last stanza of the heat and Wilko needed a 5.43. A score that is everything and nothing. A position Wilko has been in all year long and been shanked. Four minutes to go Wilko diced a little right, threw down a nifty little whipped reverse and kicked out with a minor claim. Fanning was unconvinced he got the score, I wrote down, “Nope”.
Judges finally highballed him and he sneaks through. You could watch that heat on the analyser all day long and get a different result each viewing. Wilko didn’t seem too fazed. Maybe the post retirement prospect of hanging with Mick and Mason on the Search has kicked in.
Close to seven thousand people on Facebook live, more than the J-Bay Final, more than any heat in France, watched Jeremy Flores dispatch M-Feb back to the QS. It took the Quiksilver ads shown in France for me to finally appreciate the M-Feb style.
But in current incarnation he’s wounded gazelle on the savannah for any competent CT surfer. It’s incomprehensible to me why he didn’t back himself up on the QS like Kanoa and Colapinto.
MEO Rip Curl Pro Portugal Remaining Round 2 (H7-12) Results:
Heat 7: Joan Duru (FRA) 12.83 def. Adriano de Souza (BRA) 4.50
Heat 8: Matt Wilkinson (AUS) 11.33 def. Sebastian Zietz (HAW) 10.83
Heat 9: Jeremy Flores (FRA) 12.50 def. Michael February (ZAF) 9.84
Heat 10: Patrick Gudauskas (USA) 11.10 def. Griffin Colapinto (USA) 10.66
Heat 11: Ezekiel Lau (HAW) 13.26 def. Connor O’Leary (AUS) 8.36
Heat 12: Frederico Morais (PRT) 11.44 def. Yago Dora (BRA) 9.16
MEO Rip Curl Pro Portugal Round 3 Matchups:
Heat 1: Italo Ferreira (BRA) vs. Jesse Mendes (BRA)
Heat 2: Kolohe Andino (USA) vs. Ezekiel Lau (HAW)
Heat 3: Jordy Smith (ZAF) vs. Matt Wilkinson (AUS)
Heat 4: Conner Coffin (USA) vs. Frederico Morais (PRT)
Heat 5: Michel Bourez (PYF) vs. Michael Rodrigues (BRA)
Heat 6: Gabriel Medina (BRA) vs. Ryan Callinan (AUS)
Heat 7: Filipe Toledo (BRA) vs. Joan Duru (FRA)
Heat 8: Kanoa Igarashi (JPN) vs. Jeremy Flores (FRA)
Heat 9: Wade Carmichael (AUS) vs. Tomas Hermes (BRA)
Heat 10: Owen Wright (AUS) vs. Patrick Gudauskas (USA)
Heat 11: Willian Cardoso (BRA) vs. Adrian Buchan (AUS)
Heat 12: Julian Wilson (AUS) vs. Ian Gouveia (BRA)