Gorgeous backlit peaks, Gabriel, Toledo, Smith, Italo and John John dominant…
Three events and one day down on the fourth, I think sufficient time has elapsed to make some judgements about the format changes for the CT this year.
Over-lapping heats: brilliant, transformed what would have been a debacle at Bells beach into an historic day.
Seeding Round and Elimination Round: Bollocks, as our English Pals would say.
They front load the contest with inconsequence. Drag it out interminably. Even the great Assenter, Joey Turpel, after another long, long fatally unspecific day, was wont to drift off script. Towards the end of the day, in gorgeous backlit peaks whose silken dresses were shunted skywards by professional surfers Turpel riffed that he couldn’t think of a more open-minded sport than surfing.
Emboldened, he proffered the first original thought I have heard him utter in, what, ten years?
“What about a shot clock for priority, Pottz?”
For a bloke who has never once stared pro surfing in the eye and wondered “why is there something and not nothing” it was revolutionary.
You know if Joey is visibly drifting the action is slow. Pottz shoved him back in the box, quick smart.
“What about the bloke who waits all heat for priority?”
Bad idea. Or words to that effect.
Not much more controversy today than Joe’s blue-sky thinking. I spent the duration of the time from the end of Keramas to Margies going over each of the scoring waves from the heat analyser. Kanoa’s 9.1 in the final still makes no sense.
Therefore the first question of day one at Margs: Would judges recover their composure and bring the scale back to sanity and comprehension.
By and large, they did.
Second question. Would John John Florence show up with 2017 form and potentially create an almost unassailable gap between himself and his pursuers?
One of the favoured cliches uttered in the pressers is that it’s a marathon, not a sprint. Not really true. John had the Title wrapped after Margs in 2017. Kelly had many won before the halfway mark. Poor starts have cost Gabe Medina at least one world title, possibly more.
JJF overpowered Kelly and Jaddy Andre in heat one. His 2017 form looks within reach. It was good to have Barton back in the booth. He said Kelly looked great. He did not look great. He looked terrible. Board choice is a nightmare for him. The Akila Aipa seems locked in a goldilocks zone, too easily overpowered by Kelly today in textured-up mainbreak.
Is there a bigger irony than the fact that the only guy on Tour who owns his own surfboard company can’t get his personal whips dialed? Kelly’s next heat is likely to be in ten-foot surf.
Will he have a board to deal with it?
Third question. Would Italo Ferriera bring an injured repertoire into Margs from Keramas. The ugly moon boot was there, but infringement on the repertoire there was not. In twelve heats Italo launched the only successful rotation and was highly rewarded for it.
Easily took the heat.
Do you get a feeling when you see him and his gal walking up the steps together. Not quite Mickey and Mallory in Natural Born Killers, not that doomed.
But there is something rock and roll: it’s you and me against the world babe, no?
Gabe Medina is in tenth spot on the rankings. That is an aberration. Gabe Medina has been the best surfer on Tour this year. Cruelled by the decision to sit out perfect three-to-four-foot D-bah and hold the Finals day in slop on the Gold Coast, loser of a line ball call against JJF at Bells and one landed huck or tube ride away from beating Fioravanti in Bali.
The second I wrote Gabe: Whats wrong? In my notes he exploded into the best wave of the day. No one comes harder and more definitively off the bottom on the opening manouevre. It was the first and best excellent score of the day.
Kelly Slater rode a 5’8” and looked short changed. Jordy rode a six three-and-a-half and was alpha. Big turns, full turns. He admitted to Rosie Hodge that the Keramas loss had really hurt but had come to the conclusion that you “can’t let the hair in the salad spoil the salad.”
Which would be the opening line of the opening lesson in kids’ sex education classes if I ever designed the curriculum.
I know this will sound silly but hear me out.
After J-Flo’s tight loss to Igarashi in Keramas and watching him surf today the top turn match up I would most like to see in big Margs, or even tube-riding at the Box is JJF and Jezza Flores.
Jezza lost the heat. Sorry, there are no losers in the Seeding Round. Barton waxed lyrical about the Seeding Round, about how it could incentivise you and make the seeding bracket dynamic. Eyes glazed over here, Barton.
You can’t explain it. No one can. John Florence doesn’t understand it. I bet Jake Patterson is the only man in pro surfing who does.
Jesse Mendes threw the biggest golden showers. Jack Robbo missed his heat, on the way back from Chile, which seemed a very Robbo thing to do. God I would love to see him give Kanoa a good old fashioned flogging at the Box or North Point.
Not to hate on Iggs, we are all learning to love him. Each in our own imperfect way. Such is life.
Twelve heats in very nice surf, three excellent rides, no losers: was the return on investment.
Margaret River Pro Men’s Seeding Round (Round 1) Results:
Heat 1: John John Florence (HAW) 12.84 DEF. Jadson Andre (BRA) 11.64, Kelly Slater (USA) 10.34
Heat 2: Kanoa Igarashi (JPN) 12.73 DEF. Soli Bailey (AUS) 11.80, Yago Dora (BRA) 9.33
Heat 3: Peterson Crisanto (BRA) 10.56 DEF. Julian Wilson (AUS) 10.27, Caio Ibelli (BRA) 10.17
Heat 4: Italo Ferreira (BRA) 14.03 DEF. Joan Duru (FRA) 12.84, Frederico Morais (PRT) 11.90
Heat 5: Gabriel Medina (BRA) 14.70 DEF. Deivid Silva (BRA) 11.94, Jacob Willcox (AUS) 11.60
Heat 6: Filipe Toledo (BRA) 14.73 DEF. Sebastian Zietz (HAW) 12.00, Jack Robinson (AUS)
Heat 7: Jordy Smith (ZAF) 14.77 DEF. Ricardo Christie (NZL) 9.14, Adrian Buchan (AUS) 8.93
Heat 8: Kolohe Andino (USA) 11.70 DEF. Seth Moniz (HAW) 11.23, Jack Freestone (AUS) 10.73
Heat 9: Ryan Callinan (AUS) 11.57 DEF. Conner Coffin (USA) 9.77, Leonardo Fioravanti (ITA) 9.57
Heat 10: Ezekiel Lau (HAW) 13.53 DEF. Michael Rodrigues (BRA) 12.67, Wade Carmichael (AUS) 11.50
Heat 11: Jesse Mendes (BRA) 14.60 DEF. Jeremy Flores (FRA) 13.34, Willian Cardoso (BRA) 9.70
Heat 12: Owen Wright (AUS) 12.10 DEF. Griffin Colapinto (USA) 12.00, Michel Bourez (FRA) 5.33
Margaret River Pro Men’s Elimination Round (Round 2) Matchups:
Heat 1: Wade Carmichael (AUS) vs. Jack Freestone (AUS) vs. Jack Robinson (AUS)
Heat 2: Michel Bourez (FRA) vs. Leonardo Fioravanti (ITA) vs. Jacob Willcox (AUS)
Heat 3: Willian Cardoso (BRA) vs. Yago Dora (BRA) vs. Frederico Morais (PRT)
Heat 4: Adrian Buchan (AUS) vs. Kelly Slater (USA) vs. Caio Ibelli (BRA)