The greatest surfer ever has other ideas, howevs.
It coulda been so good. The best epic double-bill ever.
In the end, it was a damp squib, but maybe all for the best. Red Bull Cape Fear and Corona Bali Protected both playing at the same time gave us Chris Cote and David Wassell simultaneously broadcasting over the web with Joe TURPEL and Martin POTTER*.
Pretty quickly a decision had to be made and I made the call to mute Cote, abandon baby Shipsterns and pay attention to waist-to-head-high Keramas on a silky, sleepy Indonesian morning.
It was the Seeding Round. I don’t understand it, nobody understands it: JJF and Medina still met too soon on the wrong side of the draw at Bells so it’s a dud idea but someone must love it because in the booth it was presented as the greatest innovation since the silicon chip.
Note: in his post-heat presser John John Florence, two-time world Champion and understudy to great strategist Ross Williams, said he doesn’t understand it either.
John looked a little sleepy in his heat, threw a clean flat-spin full-rotation for a mid-seven and that was pretty much the heat. It was an unfortunate decision because it set a scale for the day that paid mediocre aerials and relegated some of the best high-fi turns of the year to the bargain bin.
Jordy Smith being the biggest loser. Even though he won. His razor sharp repertoire was judged merely good by judges. It was the best surfing of the day.
Luke Egan proclaimed that today we would see a “level much higher than it was last year.”
Lack of waves was the biggest issue. And lack of size of waves.
There was a lot of really ugly threes and fours desperately ridden in scraps to avoid last place. That has been the main impact of the change in format. Someone gets the best waves and skips ahead. The other two scrap for last place.
Jack Freestone’s last-to-second-place heroics with a three and a five to advance over Ace Buchan being an example of the tone of the day.
Something has changed in Italo’s style and approach and I don’t like it. Last year he had the perfect blend of verticality and aerials. His vertical backhand whips spat white noise.
This year, the turn approach has become more lateral. He sacrifices more real estate for the aerial or fins-free whip/reverse. Judges are paying it, for now, but it’s looking scrappy. The idea of good surfing here has yet to be set but if they are defining it by two pumps and a launch as they did today then there will be big ramifications for the rest of the year.
I think head judge Pritamo, after a good massage and a go on some oxygen, will settle the panel down and they’ll get the mix correct.
Have you noticed anything missing from the broadcast this year and last?
No water footage.
The great Sam Smith used to provide but got an email saying don’t come Monday. Did you also notice the credit at the end of the dreamy M-Feb edit in West Africa: the same Sammy Smith. I don’t know why I bought that up except the day seemed to need a little more M-Feb flow and not so much adrenal pumping.
By the time Filipe Toledo hit the lineup it was looking like a perfect little day at Trestles and that is how FT dealt with it. Spiked, slid, soared.
The only excellent score for the day for a single lofted punt with a pillowy landing. I think a FT/Jordy final with a judging panel suitably chastened by over scoring airs today would be a logical outcome for a forecast chock-a-block with more head-high Keramas.
Thirty-six percent of the fan vote in heat nine was directed at Kelly Slater. Thirty-five to Kolohe Andino. Slater, on a sexy little Akila Aipa squashtail thruster, construction unknown though spruced up in Firewire technology clothing, promised to “put a little Sunny backfoot into it.”
The broadcast went missing for three-and–half long minutes. When it kicked in four waves had been ridden. Kelly looked skittish and weird to open with a 3.73 and a 4.83. Turpel seemed to allude, if in a Freudian manner to the nature of Kelly’s quest, by stating that Kelly had “started another year, where, in his mind, he’s going for another World Title”.
“Yes Joe, he’s clearly delusional,” said an unleashed Martin Potter in an alternative universe of unmuzzled commentary.
Except he wasn’t!
Kelly pulled a carving three-0, which Joe disrespectfully called a “speciality manouevre”. The slo-mo showed perfect execution. Wel,l if they paid a flat spin air with a seven, I thought they should pay that at least a low six. They left that carving three-0 floundering in the Lombok Strait like a turtle drowning on a plastic straw.
Andino let Kelly have a wave under his priority and Kelly leant back into a savage back foot heavy layback hook. It was the turn of the day. The turn of Kelly’s year. It lit a little candle of hope in the deep dark cave of Kelly’s retirement year.
A lowly 4.60.
It was hard not to see that as Kelly’s whole year up in smoke.
An unmuzzled Potter was shocked. “I don’t agree with it,” he muttered to a silent Joe.
What he did next was astounding. Kolohe had looked amazing. He let Kelly have a wave under his priority and Kelly leant back into a savage back foot heavy layback hook. It was the turn of the day. The turn of Kelly’s year. It lit a little candle of hope in the deep dark cave of Kelly’s retirement year.
Sometime in the next couple of heats I tuned back into Shippies for an entertaining final. Not a fan of the mixed tow and paddle format. Nate Florence was paddling bombs, Laurie Towner threading deep ones. One of the Tassie boys – there were so many! – got towed into a bomb and Nate took the bikkies.
Two other highlights of the day.
Luke Egan’s deadpan delivery is not to everyones taste, but I enjoy. Referring to Joan Duru’s habit of punching himself in the head to claim a good wave he deftly described the Frenchman’s claim as showing an “alternative excitement.”
The other unexpected treat was brother of Sam George and writer/director/actor of In God’s Hands Matty George’s turn in the commentary booth during Steph Gilmore’s heat.
He riffed on the Wallace Line, got it a bit wrong, with the marsupials, monotremes and eucalypts on one side and tigers and rhino’s on the other.
But no matter.
He also introduced us to a new movement called “Bali Power.”
Not something to be on the wrong side of presumably.
He sagely noted the viewing pleasure to be gained from Nikki Van Dyk’s bottom turn. Steph looked a bit shakey. Caroline Marks looked solid.
It was a double billing that didn’t quite live up to it’s promise. Still better than digging holes though.
* Caps Lock but it looks better in caps, yes?
Corona Bali Protected Men’s Round 1 (Seeding Round) Results:
Heat 1: John John Florence (HAW) 11.50 DEF. Michael Rodrigues (BRA) 10.16, Leonardo Fioravanti (ITA) 7.47
Heat 2: Jordy Smith (ZAF) 14.00 DEF. Jadson Andre (BRA) 10.44, Sebastian Zietz (HAW) 9.04
Heat 3: Julian Wilson (AUS) 10.90 DEF. Jack Freestone (AUS) 8.60, Adrian Buchan (AUS) 7.74
Heat 4: Italo Ferreira (BRA) 11.50 DEF. Caio Ibelli (BRA) 8.97, Ezekiel Lau (HAW) 7.80
Heat 5: Filipe Toledo (BRA) 16.17 DEF. Peterson Crisanto (BRA) 10.40, Jacob Willcox (AUS) 7.60
Heat 6: Rio Waida (IDN) 9.60 DEF. Gabriel Medina (BRA) 9.54, Deivid Silva (BRA) 6.77
Heat 7: Yago Dora (BRA) 11.63 DEF. Owen Wright (AUS) 10.33, Soli Bailey (AUS) 9.50
Heat 8: Conner Coffin (USA) 11.24 DEF. Jeremy Flores (FRA) 10.00, Jesse Mendes (BRA) 8.17
Heat 9: Kelly Slater (USA) 11.66 DEF. Kolohe Andino (USA) 11.23, Ryan Callinan (AUS) 10.67
Heat 10: Ricardo Christie (NZL) 11.93 DEF. Wade Carmichael (AUS) 8.63, Seth Moniz (HAW) 5.10
Heat 11: Mikey Wright (AUS) 12.00 DEF. Joan Duru (FRA) 9.50, Kanoa Igarashi (JPN) 1.77
Heat 12: Michel Bourez (FRA) 12.43 DEF. Griffin Colapinto (USA) 9.63, Willian Cardoso (BRA) 8.73
Corona Bali Protected Men’s Round 2 (Elimination Round) Matchups:
Heat 1: Kanoa Igarashi (JPN) vs. Deivid Silva (BRA) vs. Jacob Willcox (AUS)
Heat 2: Willian Cardoso (BRA) vs. Ezekiel Lau (HAW) vs. Leonardo Fioravanti (ITA)
Heat 3: Seth Moniz (HAW) vs. Adrian Buchan (AUS) vs. Soli Bailey (AUS)
Heat 4: Ryan Callinan (AUS) vs. Sebastian Zietz (HAW) vs. Jesse Mendes (BRA)