Some days there ain't nowhere to hide…
God: heroics, carnage, mastery, acquittal of fragile egos, small-wave reputations put on trial, local mastery from a non CT surfer etc etc at the Box today.
What would be the chances that the best wave of the day would be the first one ridden?
And the odds it would be the first wave someone has ever ridden out there?
And that that person would be a Brazilian goofy foot?
Well it happened.
Not the best heat, not the most masterful display.
That belonged to local wildcard Jack Robinson who made the rest of the field look like kooks, in the same way he did at North Point last year.
“Just another day for me,” he said. “I do what I do”.
Big day of reckoning for the Brazilian contingent with, let’s be generous, mixed results.
Italo Ferriera could not claim “just another day.”
Somehow he got to the bottom of the first nugget to detonate on the reef this morning, survived a wobble onto the heels that had shades of Kelly at Teahupoo and Kelly at Pipe, snuck under the axe and rode out clean.
As pure a ten point ride as the WSL has seen in a decade.
It lacked the composure of Jack Robbo’s waves but had the originality of pure “beginners mind.”
Soli Bailey could not get a make and that really set the tone for the day. Deep combinations and mostly one-sided encounters going to those who could and would spear the take-off on the right waves. The others couldn’t or wouldn’t.
Same as last time WSL came to the Box in 2015.
Same as the next time they surf it.
Anticipation redlined after Italo’s wild make when John John took the water. A close to perfect opening wave choked him out on the exit. He followed straight up with a clean make. It wasn’t the dominant display he hoped for against Freestone and Jack had the winning wave come to him in the dying stages but could not manufacture an exit.
The exits were full of what Barton Lynch called, very accurately, “complicated little moments”. Decompression chambers would suddenly bottom out, ledges would reach up and strangle passing fins, square tubes would become bulbous and collapse suddenly like buildings in an Indonesian earthquake.
A pair of clean makes was enough to win most heats.
Medina’s loss is probably a death knell to him backing up his Title. He did not disgrace himself. His opening two rides would have gone excellent but clamped on him with an uncommon ferocity. Ciao Ibelli was the best Brazilian on the day and toyed with deep shacks.
A very technical and generously scored bomb from Medina where he manufactured the tube put him a score away from a win. Perhaps sensing a willingness of the panel to suspend disbelief he tried to sell a very lacklustre final wave with a risible claim.
They laughed at it.
Kelly was not masterful against the Panda. Sucked up over the falls, knocked sideways at the base of the tube, could not knife in. A board change suited the come from behind approach needed. The defending champ got hustled and rick rolled and slapped around. It was like watching a live mugging in broad daylight.
He lost a paddle battle to a man almost two decades older and in the end the scoreboard flattered him in a heat Kelly always had control of. Kelly’s ring-the-butler claim on a 5.83 was unnecessary but betrayed the release of pressure from the GOAT.
I don’t want to riff too much on Conner Coffins dolphin ride.
Nothing personal against sharing the tube with dolphins, it’s just when Barton Lynch said it was an Instagram moment I turned agin it. Whenever a baby boomer says “Instagram Moment” I want to throw a billionaire off a cliff.
Terrible, irrational but who knows those dolphins weren’t having a rape party and one of the damsels wasn’t trying to escape?
If WA Tourism gets its shit together we’ll be watching that wave ten thousand times next year.
It was five minutes or so when we finally got back into live action in the Jack Robbo/Pip Toledo matchup. There was already an 8.5 next to Jack’s name. He laid down two more perfect makes within the next five minutes, finding a positioning and entry point into the waves that others had not.
Five minutes and it was all over.
Pip was a plucked and naked chook jammed in the freezer. Jack roamed around, he stood on his board and thrust his torso into the sky looking for set waves. When they came he simply took them at will off Pip. It was as brutally efficient as the annexation of Poland.
His second nine should have been a ten. Not many sporting products in this uber-hyped consumer capitalist world live up to or exceed the hype but Jack Robinson at the Box did so effortlessly.
A gloomy Pip Toledo on the stairs put the loss down to his (Robinson’s) local knowledge and actually compared the Box to his local beach of Ubatuba. He said it “felt like knockout to me.”
It was a very moving and very lonely interview.
As it ended, Robinson was behind him on the stairs. By contrast he was almost aggressively humble. Claiming he knew Filipe could get the waves and get the job done (he couldn’t). It feels like a loss that will haunt Filipe and and a win that will define Robinson.
Seth was way too good for M-Rod, Owen likewise for Zeke. Andino and Griff fought a comical at times battle with Griff going over the falls and Andino triple- fist pumping on a wave that was top five for the day.
Things started to turn south for the heat between Julian and Jaddy. Five brutal wipeouts defined Jaddy’s first half of the heat.
Kieren Perrow came on and said this would be the last heat because of the increased danger factor.
Jaddy had caused me to reflect on something I’d read in one of those pump-yourself-up self-help books written for and about tech-billionaires.
The story was a billionaire Dad who tried to get his kids to become fearless.
“What’s on the other side of fear?” he kept asking them.
“Nothing,” he said.
Move into your fear.
Jaddy showed what is on the other side of fear at the Box.
His last wave he pancaked and the wave scorpioned him and slammed him into the reef. He came up waving for help. John Florence has broken his back at Pipeline, so has Leo Fioravanti. He had his shoulder ripped from it’s socket out there this morning.
What lies on the other side of fear sometimes is that sickening feeling of having your body ripped apart or slammed into the bottom. It wasn’t tiddlywinks out there today and us vicarious parasites watched it with a strange relish.
When they went back to chubby Margarets the deflation was immense.
By hook or by crook they have to get Jack Robinson on this Tour.