A good opening day…
Even at it’s absolute worst D-Bah is still a great venue. Ronnie was pondering with Pete Mel the preponderance of champion surfers on the Gold Coast.
They neglected to mention the obvious fact that was right in front of them.
Through onshores, tidal ranges, wind squalls and every other vicissitude of wave and weather D-Bah throws up surfable peaks. As it does every day of the year, so it did today.
The swell line is split into multiple wave trains as it runs across the Tweed River tidal bar. Separated swell trains arrive at a multitude of angles, some of them bouncing and refracting off the river breakwall. Tell me, did you see a single straight closeout today? That is why.
Pete Mel said he had been studying waves in the off-season as part of his pre-season training. He came up with refraction and convergence.
I know you are reading Pete, Phase enhancement is the term you are looking for.
The swell line is split into multiple wave trains as it runs across the Tweed River tidal bar. Separated swell trains arrive at a multitude of angles, some of them bouncing and refracting off the river breakwall.
Tell me, did you see a single straight closeout today? That is why.
WSL came out cock-a-hoop for the opening day of 2019.
Taking stock: the QS is thriving, the WSL has merged with it’s former mortal enemy RedBull and is producing slick content with them and on its own terms. New three-year deals have been inked with Quiksilver and Rip Curl for Snapper and Bells, Margies is locked in for two.
All of a sudden, with Sophie G’s hand on the tiller it looks more solid than ever. With Redbull in the tent the chance of a Rebel Tour is nil. As Steinberg observed of Lyndon B Johnson: “(She) has learned to seize authority from the lazy or slow, threaten and storm the weak, flatter the vain, promise the greedy, buy off the stubborn, and isolate the strong”.
I’ve been thinking about Kelly’s legacy a lot.
It’s an appropriate past-time for surf writers. It presents us all with many facets of contradictory feelings, that even a great artist could barely give expression to. For one, the strange incongruity that despite decades of dominance there is barely a hint of his style or approach in any of the top 34 surfers on Tour. No one looks like him. There are no imitators. His influence, even as his time on Tour winds down looks to be weirdly understated.
There is legacy – what Wikipedia and the casuals will think when they hear his name – and legacy. Let us be honest: pro surfing is a sport for the very few. It is those few who decide the legacy.
Or is it silly to make that distinction?
The back half of the heat draw looked like it might be a let down after the first half. Medina had set the pace, as expected. Non-forecast dependent. Non-location dependent. He threw the opening manoeuvre on his opening wave up towards the wall, twisted like a pickle fork in the breeze and carried on as if 2018 never ended. A power down-carve and sped-up nose-pick reverse was adjudged (rightly) as the only excellent scoring wave of the day and in so doing established a template for good surfing in 2019.
The biggest turns of the day belonged to Michel Bourez, who had trained for onshore D-Bah surfing Teahupoo thereby “getting the good waves out of my system”. Soap around the bath-tub cutbacks with a Baryshnikovian rebound and exaggerated sprays were the foundation of his heat win.
Kiwi battlers > Aussie battlers. Like many I rooted for Ricardo Christie who earned a second go around at being a rookie. Unluckily for him, a Brazilian battler on a clear board, Michael Rodriguez and noted Aussie battler Wade Carmichael, who ran his closing wave “wet and deep”, pushed him into relegation. Christie needs nothing more than some luck to run his way.
A slovenly D-Bah threw on a touch of mascara for heat 11 as an offshore wind spruced up the lineup. I had made a bold prediction that Kolohe’s unfashion with judges would be balanced out this year by more favourable views.
Such it was as he got highballed for a series of cutbacks into first place. Luke Egan was in the booth with Ron Blakey. Luke’s normally deeply somnolent style had been injected with extra vim and vigour. It was not an unpleasant coupling.
It was good to see Travis Bickle picking up his contest jersey for the last heat of the day.
Caught you out too?
I had to go on my own training program for this year, and I’m glad I did because a lot of people got very emotionally exercised when I suggested JJF’s opening heat, his opening wave, was crucial to his re-integration into the Tour.
It was just an obvious point that to keep up with the new front-runners of the Tour he needed to come out of the blocks firing. Somehow that made people very angry.
Opening turn, opening wave John, launched an awkward air reverse. A stray foot couldn’t kill it. A flat five was awarded. Mikey started hacking away with a classic Aussie power-squat stance that is somehow derided as unstylish when performed by Gabriel Medina.
Thirty seconds to go and John is in danger of being shunted to round two – where, let’s face it, a loss would put his 2019 into Rigor mortis – he catches a weird looking peak, pumps for speed and launches a difficult to land air reverse away from the wind.
That, sports fans, may be the most crucial wave John rides this year. Good opening day.
A bold and beautiful move by a newly confident WSL to take it to D-Bah.
For the first time the Tour did not look dependent on either Kelly or John for star power.
The locus of leverage has shifted.
Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast Round 1 Results:
Heat 1: Griffin Colapinto (USA) 10.26 DEF. Soli Bailey (AUS) 9.83, Owen Wright (AUS) 8.23
Heat 2: Jack Freestone (AUS) 10.67 DEF. Ezekiel Lau (HAW) 10.47, Jordy Smith (ZAF) 5.03
Heat 3: Yago Dora (BRA) 14.33 DEF. Italo Ferreira (BRA) 11.93, Kelly Slater (USA) 9.70
Heat 4: Joan Duru (FRA) 11.10 DEF. Filipe Toledo (BRA) 9.53, Caio Ibelli (BRA) 7.60
Heat 5: Seth Moniz (HAW) 11.17 DEF. Reef Heazlewood (AUS) 9.50, Julian Wilson (AUS) 8.36
Heat 6: Gabriel Medina (BRA) 13.84 DEF. Ryan Callinan (AUS) 13.57, Mateus Herdy (BRA) 7.23
Heat 7: Adrian Buchan (AUS) 10.13 DEF. Conner Coffin (USA) 10.00, Jadson Andre (BRA) 8.40
Heat 8: Michel Bourez (PYF) 13.27 DEF. Jeremy Flores (FRA) 8.90, Leonardo Fioravanti (ITA) 7.57
Heat 9: Michael Rodrigues (BRA) 13.17 DEF. Wade Carmichael (AUS) 13.07, Ricardo Christie (NZL) 12.67
Heat 10: Kanoa Igarashi (JPN) 12.73 DEF. Deivid Silva (BRA) 12.00, Sebastian Zietz (HAW) 8.03
Heat 11: Kolohe Andino (USA) 11.00 DEF. Jesse Mendes (BRA) 10.90, Willian Cardoso (BRA) 8.40
Heat 12: Mikey Wright (AUS) 12.10 DEF. John John Florence (HAW) 10.93, Peterson Crisanto (BRA) 8.36
Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast Round 2 Matchups:
Heat 1: Julian Wilson (AUS) vs. Leonardo Fioravanti (ITA) vs. Mateus Herdy (BRA)
Heat 2: Jordy Smith (ZAF) vs. Ricardo Christie (NZL) vs. Caio Ibelli (BRA)
Heat 3: Owen Wright (AUS) vs. Peterson Crisanto (BRA) vs. Kelly Slater (USA)
Heat 4: Willian Cardoso (BRA) vs. Sebastian Zietz (HAW) vs. Jadson Andre (BRA)