Still, John John Florence surfed with "divine violence" and a little seaweed terrified pro surfers and caused temporary postponement of event…
John John Florence, back-to-back World Champion in 2016 and seventeen, walked with head bowed slowly and carefully across the intertidal platform at Winkipop. His feet dodging the sharp spires of mineralised paleogene sediment and enjoying the crisp crunch of Neptunes necklace (hormosira banksii-edible*) underneath them.
Wan yellow light, typical of a sun well past the autumn equinox, strained through the high cloud. A day in the sun that would not strain the melatonin of an Irish redhead.
Classic Victorian morning.
Day six of a disjointed waiting period. Heat 10 of round one had already been surfed. Inconsistent, sectiony head-high walls with a funky little cross hatch running through it from the south-west.
Another day where the highest command would be “get the job done”. Bourez smashed it, he blows tail on the end section now, like Connor Coffin. Once I realised that the official narrative had changed and round one was now the Seeding Round and round two had been renamed the Elimination Round I went back to the Quik Pro cached web archive in a panic.
Would the WSL be so bold to rewrite history so soon after it occurred?
No, it was safe. Round one and two still existed, for now. Only the present had been changed.
Being on the beach at sea level I didn’t get as comprehensive a view of John John’s surfing at D-Bah as I would have liked. Straight away during his first wave at Winki this morning I could see he had modified his technique.
The casual upright skating stance had been replaced with a more compressed line drive to the bottom of the wave, staying more coiled into the bottom turn. The extra zest in the bottom turn as a result of the centrifugal accelerative force was noticeable and significant.
John improved wave on wave all heat, with no priority. His surfing has been stripped back, every turn has a beginning, middle and end. He punched holes in the closeout sections with a divine violence.
A single criticism might be humbly made that his turn speed is still a notch away from both his 2017 high point and the Dane Reynolds bar circa 2009-2012.
I still bear a grudge from 2017, when John arrived at Bells after his era defining performance at Margarets and blew Fanning into irrelevance during their round four heat, only to be denied a final with Jordy Smith by an unforgivable judging snafu with Ciao Ibelli.
The forecast remaining still offers some hope of a retributive justice being served on that crime. John vs Jordy at six-to-eight-foot Bells Bowl. That would make wading through these hard slog days a worthwhile sacrifice.
And they are a slog.
Luckily, we are free to make the anti-depressant observations that no matter how you dress up the front end of the comp, rename it, rewrite history, put your best men and women on the job of hard-selling it to an uncomprehending public it’s an almighty slog that hoovers up vast amounts of time and leaks audience interest like a bucket with no bottom.
I’ve always made a living trusting my senses, relying on judgement; but in the moment you can get it wrong.
I was too harsh on Kelly last article, pointed out by a valued commenter and I did go back and look at the numbers and I got it wrong. Kelly’s performance was above standard for the day.
I’ve also stood beside Mikey Wright and know him to be a big man. Over six foot 80 kilos-plus. 176. Fighting UFC he would no doubt add the bulk and fight light heavyweight.
But there was Pete Mel on the sand telling us he came in at a scrawny 74 klicks. Isn’t Pete the “facts and numbers” guy?
In a tight heat Mikey was pushed into the dreaded Elimination Round by Peterson Crisanto and Kanoa Igarashi.
The women’s and men’s surfing running concurrently creates a disjunction in the aesthetic phenomenon of pro surfing, far more abrupt and disturbing on broadcast than when viewing live.
Carissa Moore and Steph Gilmore hold their own when put into this close quarters comparison, the rest of the women suffer badly when viewed in such proximity to their male counterparts.
“Carrissa looks pissed,” said Old Bitch Tits Wasilewski , perhaps forgetting the meaning of such a phrase on the edge of this dusty old continent. She did look ferocious but Coco Ho clearly had her measure with extravagantly kicked out top turns.
Steph, no surprise, laid down the benchmark with – no surprise – perfect flow.
The four Elimination Round heats went down in weak high-tide Winkipop. The first one being delayed when Jack Freestone, seeing a large clump of seaweed, made the sign of a shark.
A little clumsily, I thought, by clasping his hands together and placing them on his head, in effect imitating a shark. I much prefer the single upright hand making the shape of a dorsal fin cleaving through the water.
Did you see it?
Wonder, like me, what the hell was going on?
Ronnie said something about wildlife. Lots of dead air.
Had the shark been erased from history like Rounds One and Two?
Was the shark now merely a metaphor, an unutterable word?
Owen Wright later admitted it was merely a clump of botanical material,- edible, no doubt, “jeez it was a big clump!” The show went on and the local wildcard was eliminated.
Soli Bailey made comeback from last to first after a shaky start, with some incisive inquiries into the lip and some cute little airs that judges paid.
Reef Heazelwood, can we just call him Catweazle and be done with it, has got a unique backhand where he can go up and come back down the same line, with a tweaked tail thrown in at the zenith of the arc.
Good enough to win heat three by a large margin.
M-Rod was underscored in the last heat, then over-scored by way of compensation to progress through with Caio Ibelli.
They ran the Fight for the Bight campaign heavily through the broadcast.
A delicate, delicate dance don’t you think?
The energy intensive lifestyle of the modern surfer relies on the utilisation of these ancient deposits of hydrocarbons.
No human on earth past, present or future is more dependent on it than the Pro Surfer. The ocean means so much to the WSL, yet they are partners and advocates in a technology of energy hungry devices making waves in tubs with precious fresh water. Devices they wish to propagate around the world.
I don’t judge.
There’s no life worth living on Earth without a measure of hypocrisy.
Will you simplify your life? Cut down on resource use, OS trips, surfboards?
Go on then. I will if you will.
But, you go first.
*Very nice raw, or dried, ground up and sprinkled on a green salad.
Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach Men’s Remaining Round 1 (H10-12) Results:
Heat 10: Deivid Silva (BRA) 10.67 DEF. Michel Bourez (FRA) 10.60, Reef Heazlewood (AUS) 10.34
Heat 11: John John Florence (HAW) 13.00 DEF. Willian Cardoso (BRA) 7.67, Jesse Mendes (BRA) 7.53
Heat 12: Peterson Crisanto (BRA) 10.87 DEF. Kanoa Igarashi (JPN) 10.46, Mikey Wright (AUS) 9.33
Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach Men’s Round 2 Results:
Heat 1: Owen Wright (AUS) 11.30 DEF. Jack Freestone (AUS) 10.80, Harrison Mann (AUS) 8.37
Heat 2: Soli Bailey (AUS) 13.03 DEF. Wade Carmichael (AUS) 11.74, Xavier Huxtable (AUS) 11.40
Heat 3: Reef Heazlewood (AUS) 12.67 DEF. Mikey Wright (AUS) 11.50, Jesse Mendes (BRA) 11.46
Heat 4: Michael Rodrigues (BRA) 12.83 DEF. Caio Ibelli (BRA) 11.07, Joan Duru (FRA) 7.64
Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach Men’s Round 3 Matchups:
Heat 1: Julian Wilson (AUS) vs. Kelly Slater (USA)
Heat 2: Peterson Crisanto (BRA) vs. Michael Rodrigues (BRA)
Heat 3: Conner Coffin (USA) vs. Soli Bailey (AUS)
Heat 4: Michel Bourez (FRA) vs. Ryan Callinan (AUS)
Heat 5: Filipe Toledo (BRA) vs. Caio Ibelli (BRA)
Heat 6: Mikey Wright (AUS) vs. Seth Moniz (HAW)
Heat 7: Kolohe Andino (USA) vs. Jacob Willcox (AUS)
Heat 8: Wade Carmichael (AUS) vs. Deivid Silva (BRA)
Heat 9: Gabriel Medina (BRA) vs. Reef Heazlewood (AUS)
Heat 10: Willian Cardoso (BRA) vs. Yago Dora (BRA)
Heat 11: Owen Wright (AUS) vs. Ricardo Christie (NZL)
Heat 12: John John Florence (HAW) vs. Jadson Andre (BRA)
Heat 13: Italo Ferreira (BRA) vs. Jack Freestone (AUS)
Heat 14: Ezekiel Lau (HAW) vs. Jeremy Flores (FRA)
Heat 15: Kanoa Igarashi (JPN) vs. Adrian Buchan (AUS)
Heat 16: Jordy Smith (ZAF) vs. Leonardo Fioravanti (ITA)