The WSL gets airshow spectacularly right!
Did you watch the ‘Red Bull Airborne’, which was streamed live to an audience of almost thousands, during yesterday’s lay-day in the Hossegor Pro?
“Crowds love the athleticism and creativity of aerial surfing, and so do the surfers. Many say the future of surfing is in the air,” WSL CEO Sophie Goldschmidt had said in June, and which I’d jabbed at, airshows were a relic of the nineties and had died along with everything else ghastly in that epoch, but now I say…
How wrong could I be?
Even without Filipe Toledo and Gabriel Medina, who withdrew because, what, they win and everyone yawns, I told you so, or they lose, and the air crowd yaps about paper gods, the contest was an entirely blissful experience.
The Josh Kerr-confected air contest did two things.
It let the WSL loosen a few buttons on its starched pinafore and show that surfing didn’t have to be six hours of heats, grimly fought, like trench warfare. There was a spirit and, let me hitch my pyjama pants up for a moment, a joy to the game.
Eight months ago, Chas Smith wrote that “Todd Richards is the answer to all our surf commentary problems” and asked readers to email the WSL and demand his inclusion.
And there he was, just like magic, putting a ferocious amount of pressure on Peter Mel and Attack Tits Wasilewski. Kindly, but sternly, Richards responded to Mel saying goofy things like, “I really like the term ‘cork’. It reminds me of a corkscrew. Is that where it came from? Is it a corkscrew?”
Suddenly, pro surfing felt like surfing. Alive, unraped.
Accidentally, Red Bull Airborne revealed what the WCT still gets wrong, what the ASP got wrong. The events are too long, the roster of surfers is too unwieldy and, unless you’re swinging over the ledge at Teahupoo or Pipe, no one wants to see cutbacks and turns at three-foot beach breaks.
In the end, Yago Dora won with an ability to strike that isn’t always apparent within the strictures of a regular event.
Red Bull Airborne Final Leaderboard:
1 – Yago Dora (BRA) 18.27
2 – Griffin Colapinto (USA) 17.21
3 – Jack Freestone (AUS) 15.3
4 – Kalani David (HAW) 5.66
5 – Matt Meola (HAW) 5.40
6 – Eithan Osborne (USA) 0.00
Qualifying Round Leaderboard:
1 – Kalani David (HAW) 16.83
2 – Griffin Colapinto (USA) 14.29
3 – Yago Dora (BRA) 13.83
4 – Matt Meola (HAW) 12.46
5 – Eithan Osborne (USA) 12.34
6 – Jack Freestone (AUS) 11.26
7 – Leonardo Fioravanti (ITA) 9.84
8 – Jordy Smith (ZAF) 9.80
9 – Albee Layer (HAW) 9.76
10 – Eric Geiselman (USA) 9.60
11 – Mason Ho (HAW) 9.17
12 – Leif Engstrom (USA) 8.63
13 – Kael Walsh (AUS) 8.36
14 – Maxime Huscenot (FRA) 6.20
15 – Italo Ferreira (BRA) 4.96
16 – William Aliotti (FRA) 2.60
17 – Chippa Wilson (AUS) 1.46
18 – Sebastian Williams (MEX) 0.00