Every heat is gold for Kelly now but makes an existential decision at the end of the year harder…
Yeah look, sorry about the paltry report last night, still getting my specs in on the night shift. I’m very out of shape on the all-nighters.
Two am and the grey matter was nothing but panicked mush.
Realised now why I haven’t watched Brazil: it’s on in the middle of the night on the other side of the world. Calling Slater loose and jerky was very poor form. Very poor.
What I meant to say was how much more fun it is watching, observing, analysing pro surfing this year with him around. Him and John John. Pro surfing is the definition of one step forwards, two steps back. Most change for the fan is in the negative. We lose Trestles and Cloudbreak, get our data mined on Facebook; we get a format change that makes the front half of the comp an irrelevant War and Peace that drags on for an eternity. They did make one inarguable step forwards this season though and that is over-lapping heats.
A drunken, belligerent lineup that was like a transgendered beachbreak version of Bells Beach, except worse and with a trickier close-out to hit.
Today we got 16 of them, which accounted for round three, in some ways the most important round of the event, in a drunken, belligerent lineup that was like a transgendered beachbreak version of Bells Beach, except worse and with a trickier close-out to hit.
Two surfers on the roster traditionally decipher the drunken ramblings of incoherent beachbreak better than their peers: John Florence and Gabe Medina.
Is that a skill or a mental faculty?
Can you relate?
I find them the least relatable conditions.
A recent summer of incoherent beachbreak made me want to quit surfing.
Both stepped up and got the job done. John with composure and patience against wildcard Krystian Kymerson, great-great Grandson of Stalingrad tank commander Krymov Kymerson. Judges paid brutal force applied in two turn combinations with the close-out hit the most favoured. John punched his half way through the 40-minute heat and cruised down the final stretch.
Big men got the big scores. Wade Carmichael and Jordan Smith punched close-outs hard for the biggest of the day. Jordy claiming later he was glad to have found some space and to have escaped the clutches of “pus-ey little waves”. He also laid down a challenge to the pride and passion of the Brazilian surf nation with an ominous warning of being ready to claim in whatever fashion was required.
Medina’s victory was a bizarre affair with a tight, tricky ending. He cruised to a solid lead over Jaddy with perfect flow in smaller inside waves outside of the main priority. His best wave being aptly described by Barton as a “piece of art on an odd little wave”. Then sat outside and went to sleep.
Holding priority he gave Jaddy his best wave of the heat and was then forced to roll in on the whitewater on a nothing righthander to defend a slender lead at the death. It was strange and inconclusive but if Gabe does mount some kind of title defence in the back half of the year that heat will be enormously critical.
Kelly won ugly, which was beautiful. Scrapping around with a broken chair in a bar-room brawl of a heat where no-one really landed anything significant. Seabass got nothing, Kelly made one close-out for a high five and laid down a three-turn combo on a very funky wave for a low six.
Every heat is gold for Kelly now but makes an existential decision at the end of the year harder. Ensconced in the Top Ten at 47 after a last place finish at the Gold Coast is… mindblowing. With J-Bay, Teahupoo and Pipe ahead as well as his own surf tub event a top five finish is likely.
Would he retire still in contention for a title? That is not the Kelly we know.
Filipe showed no signs of a confidence deficit after being rogered at the Box. Snapped his board in half on an air attempt first wave then tracked down two clean lefts for the second highest heat total of the day. Lucky for him the next comp was homeground and not Teahupoo where fragile confidence might have undergone a more rigorous assessment.
In a sense round three has become the true losers round. Round two, the so-called elimination round, where only four surfers take a long walk off a short plank has become tokenistic. Losers in round three will not requalify, will not challenge.
Which means Italo’s loss, like his early losses last year will probably cruel a late season run. Even though the lineup confused the worlds best, Kelly claiming he was a “little confused on where to sit”, Italo’s loss was still confounding.
He came out like a feisty bantam rooster throwing aggro little rail turns everywhere. It looked like one of those heats where he would catch a lot of waves and build and build.
Then he disappeared. Freddy Morais seemed to be in the heat by himself and rail roaded him by a comfortable margin.
Hard to see much, if anything, carrying over from todays mess into more manageable conditions tomorrow. Yago Dora looked the best of day one and couldn’t make any sense of it today.
No form guide is applicable like it was at Bells and Margaret River.
Maybe a dark horse, maybe Deivid Silva?
Are there official odds on Kelly’s retirement? I think if he makes the quarters tomorrow they must lengthen.
Oi Rio Pro Men’s Elimination Round (Round 2) Results:
Heat 1: Sebastian Zietz (HAW) 12.77 DEF. Kolohe Andino (USA) 12.00, Alex Ribeiro (BRA) 7.33
Heat 2: Krystian Kymerson (BRA) 11.43 DEF. Jordy Smith (ZAF) 9.67, Adrian Buchan (AUS) 7.54
Heat 3: Conner Coffin (USA) 14.83 DEF. Ezekiel Lau (HAW) 10.73, Peterson Crisanto (BRA) 7.54
Heat 4: Wade Carmichael (AUS) 11.77 DEF. Jack Freestone (AUS) 9.10, Jeremy Flores (FRA) 8.46
Oi Rio Pro Men’s Round of 32 (Round 3) Results:
Heat 1: Filipe Toledo (BRA) 14.26 DEF. Adriano de Souza (BRA) 10.27
Heat 2: Kelly Slater (USA) 11.93 DEF. Sebastian Zietz (HAW) 8.20
Heat 3: Kanoa Igarashi (JPN) 13.67 DEF. Ricardo Christie (NZL) 10.37
Heat 4: Joan Duru (FRA) 12.40 DEF. Owen Wright (AUS) 10.13
Heat 5: Frederico Morais (PRT) 13.27 DEF. Italo Ferreira (BRA) 7.13
Heat 6: Michael Rodrigues (BRA) 12.06 DEF. Willian Cardoso (BRA) 6.20
Heat 7: Julian Wilson (AUS) 8.90 DEF. Ezekiel Lau (HAW) 6.10
Heat 8: Jesse Mendes (BRA) 11.60 DEF. Conner Coffin (USA) 11.10
Heat 9: John John Florence (HAW) 11.83 DEF. Krystian Kymerson (BRA) 9.24
Heat 10: Wade Carmichael (AUS) 12.37 DEF. Yago Dora (BRA) 11.40
Heat 11: Jordy Smith (ZAF) 15.83 DEF. Jack Freestone (AUS) 11.00
Heat 12: Griffin Colapinto (USA) 10.73 DEF. Ryan Callinan (AUS) 7.57
Heat 13: Kolohe Andino (USA) 12.87 DEF. Soli Bailey (AUS) 8.56
Heat 14: Deivid Silva (BRA) 14.83 DEF. Seth Moniz (HAW) 8.33
Heat 15: Michel Bourez (FRA) 11.44 DEF. Caio Ibelli (BRA) 6.10
Heat 16: Gabriel Medina (BRA) 13.00 DEF. Jadson Andre (BRA) 10.90
Oi Rio Pro Men’s Round of 16 (Round 4) Matchups:
Heat 1: Filipe Toledo (BRA) vs. Kelly Slater (USA)
Heat 2: Kanoa Igarashi (JPN) vs. Joan Duru (FRA)
Heat 3: Frederico Morais (PRT) vs. Michael Rodrigues (BRA)
Heat 4: Julian Wilson (AUS) vs. Jesse Mendes (BRA)
Heat 5: John John Florence (HAW) vs. Wade Carmichael (AUS)
Heat 6: Jordy Smith (ZAF) vs. Griffin Colapinto (USA)
Heat 7: Kolohe Andino (USA) vs. Deivid Silva (BRA)
Heat 8: Michel Bourez (FRA) vs. Gabriel Medina (BRA)