That beautiful samba storm is in full swing!
At the risk of getting fired midway through the coverage can we just thrash Kelly around a tiny bit more, before we get started on todays analysis? Yep? OK.
I think it’s insulting to the GOAT to imply that after 55 CT wins and 27 years on Tour, a recent showing in the QS and a very good showing at Pipe last year that he no longer understands the criteria.
He doesn’t have a brain injury, only a busted hoof. He surfed exactly the same crazy weird Slater-only style that got an excellent score at Surf Ranch in September. Yes, the game has changed, but to imply the Champ does not comprehend it is an extraordinary claim with no evidence to back it up.
The indifference though, not just from the judging panel but from the general surfing public, especially the Gold Coast surfing public, is what was staggering.
We’ve had a full nine months to gestate on the retirement lap of Kelly Slater and the turnout to watch the Champ’s last (maybe) ever showing at the Gold Coast was paltry. It was piss weak.
Kelly said he felt more like crying than laughing, as well as the pain of the loss, the lack of adulation and even respect from a sporting public he has given so much too must have hurt. If not now, then on reflection.
Well, he chose the path of super twitchy after breaking from CI , a move that looks more and more like a massive wrong turn. I fondled many shooters today. JJF’s, Jordy’s, Zeke’s, Kanoa’s, Gabes. The common denominator was a generous foil through the mid to aft rail section. Beef is in. Big turns need resistance is the simple calculus. Yet Kelly came out in public at Surf Ranch spruiking his new whip telling us to ride the one “that felt too small”.
Heat one, round three, first man on man. Right now, I declare a conflict of interest reporting on Soli Bailey heats. His old man is a friend. I bounced Soli on my knee when he was a bambino. I’m clearly biased. Reader beware. Looking at three-to-four-foot blue-water wedges at D-Bah I thought advantage Bailey. Rivermouth breakwall wedges are bread and butter for North Coast surfers. I’ve surfed North Wall with Soli more times than JP Currie has had standing wanks at midnight watching the EPL.
He looked good, started strong. Filipe looked asleep. A bit off like he did in the Air Show. Not there. Not on.
It was only Dickie Toledo standing on the shore, whistling like a demented rainbow lorikeet and gesturing wildly for Filipe to move a little north that seemed to wake him up. With four mins to go and needing a mid-seven Filipe leant back and hooked into three solid gaffs and loosed the fins on the closeout. The eight-pointer was enough to send Soli packing.
He should have had Filipe. Opportunity lost. Every heat on the Australian leg is especially critical for rookies.
From my vantage the over-lapping format and wide open spaces of D-Bah, as well as the small crowd played right into JJF’s hands. A non-claustrophobic atmosphere with a ton of waves, some of them wedgey and shapely, in warm blue water. You could not ask for a better set-up for a return to the Tour. There was enough draw for him to delay the bottom turn, and the timing off the top looked impeccable. Big, big sprays.
That was from the beach.
The irony for John is heats get less crucial the deeper in the draw he gets… at this stage of the year. The main thing, the only thing, was not to lose early. Not to show up and look off the pace.
I was pilloried by pro surfing legends for suggesting the game had changed and John was at risk of looking like yesterday’s man compared to a new Brazilian standard but let’s not forget the new scoring scale put in place last year was not kind to John. A new level of risk and aggression was required. John brought it this morning.
How’d you like the over-lapping heat format? Worked much better as a broadcast product, very much cut down on dead time, immeasureably more action. From the beach it was confusing.
And again, the crowd was small. Way, way down by historical standards. If the emphasis is on the broadcast and beach numbers are dissipating, is the justification for Tourism bodies to underwrite it also diminished? It does seem a question the suits will need answering at some point.
I was hiding in the shade behind the VIP tent, almost empty, watching Reef Heazlewood demolish Julian Wilson with crazy whips and big airs when a brawny man towering over me called out “Longtom”.
Bounced? I wasn’t even in the tent.
It was Mikey Ciaramella, from STAB, nee BeachGrit! I looked nervously around for the yellow beanie.
“Oh he’s here,” said Mike.
My mind scrambled for back-up. Carroll? Doherty? Neither of them reliable.
I would just have to hope Ashton was in a peaceable mood away from his home continent.
What about the fan picks? Yay or nay? Aren’t they at the wrong end of the heat. Shouldn’t it be more of a fan call on the heat. Now that would be interesting engagement. If 78% of the viewing public thought a call was a dud would there be a recount? A resurf?
Nothing remotely controversial today, to my eye. I found a screen for the final few heats. To try and understand and analyse it better with the benefit of slo-mo and replay. It really is a far superior product to consume online than it is to watch live, with rare exceptions.
I still can’t really find words to describe what happened next.
First with Gabe, who opened with two monstrous unmade airs then took to D-Bah in what can only be described as a feeding frenzy. I really hope Kelly was watching. Watching and understanding where the new level is at. I really hope all the Gabriel Medina haters can open themselves up to the truth and understand he is surfing at an entirely different level.
I thought the alley oop had gone extinct. Gabe bought it back. Huge straight airs. Backside power hooks of all different stripes and flavours. Everything.
I have to admit, and Derek Rielly will back me up, when I heard D-Bah was on this was the vision I had. The vision was Gabe and Italo.
They surfed side by side, or close enough. They made the heats surrounding them look superfluous and vestigial. They made the concept of an Air Show totally redundant.
I can’t call up the heat analyser to run the numbers and my notes are inconclusive but between them Gabe and Italo stomped what? Twenty airs?
Add Yago to that mix and it might be twenty five.
Poor Ricardo Christie. Pottz said he needed to find the better waves and get back to his power game. He needed a fucken miracle, an act of God, maybe a full scale terrorist attack or something equally horrific to stop Italo.
For maybe the first time ever I was in full agreement with Joe Turpel when he intoned “Italo is melting my brain”.
It was hard to keep up with all the wtf moments. A very big day.
Sand bank update. There is a short, hollow little sand bank now at Snapper behind the rock. Not much sand moving there today.