Julian Wilson, high. | Photo: WSL

Open Thread: Comment Live, Oi Rio Pro Round of Sixteen!

Filipe Toledo escorted to contest by military police!

It’s on and live and Kelly Slater x Filipe Toledo are in the water, Pottz is jabbering excitedly, Renato Hickel is telling the fans at home that Filipe Toledo had to be escorted to the event site under the protection of military police.

That is how thrilled everyone is.

Are you that thrilled?

You should be. It’s Saturday morning in America and all real sports, besides baseball, are finished for the year.

Baseball and professional surfing.

As Brazilian as caipirinha.

More boozy than apple pie.

Oi Rio Pro, Day Two: “Kelly won ugly, which was beautiful!”

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)

Revealed: Hot new actor Douglas Smith surfs with boxers underneath his wetsuit!

What is your "under wetsuit" secret?

Are you a fan of HBO’s Big Little Lies? Oh you should be. The star vehicle featuring Nicole Kidman, Reese Witherspoon, Al Skarsgård, Michelob Gold Ultra’s Zöe Kravitz, Laura Dern, Shailene Woodley etc. is a spicy, saucy show that is shot on location in and around California’s Monterey.

Season one featured violence, sex and murder. Season two might feature the same, though it is too early to tell. The cast has been augmented by the award-winning Meryl Streep and hot new actor Douglas Smith who plays an on-the-spectrum marine biologist.

I used to want to be a marine biologist, growing up, before everyone realized that I am stupid. Like, mentally stupid.

Anyhow, The Failing New York Times decided to feature Douglas Smith and decided it would be best to take him surfing at Rockaway. He claims to be a surfer, and I don’t doubt him, but rode a giant yellow foam board and had a “thick wetsuit” chosen for him by the owner of a surf school.

Also, from the article:

Mr. Smith stepped inside the shipping container and stripped down to his Banana Republic boxer briefs, before pulling on the borrowed wet suit. “I’m used to being naked under my wet suit, but I guess I’ll wear underwear,” he said.

Politely, dubiously, he accepted neoprene gloves and bootees (“You people and your cold-weather surfing,” he said), along with a bulky foam board that looked like a nine-foot ripe banana. Mr. Smith typically uses a short board. But the choppy waves slapping the Rockaways don’t favor short boards. “I’m very much a beginner when it comes to this environment,” he said.

Ok, so at second reading here it seems that Mr. Smith is very much a beginner in shit cold waves but if he is a ripper in quality warm-ish ones he should have declined doing the interview at the beach and suggested… I don’t know. Sleep No More. Have you done that? It’s fantastic.

But I digress. I don’t know why he didn’t strip naked but have you ever surfed in boxer shorts under wetsuit? How did it feel?

What is your “under wetsuit” secret?

Happy Brazil people! | Photo: WSL

Open Thread: Comment Live, Oi Rio Pro Round of 32!

Big, fun messiness! Barton Lynch can't stifle his laughs!

I just woke up. Ugh. My eyes are still blurry etc. and I can’t see well but well enough to know that the Oi Rio Pro is back in the water in big fun messy conditions. Kanoa Igarashi just played to his base by asking Peter Mel if he could say something in Japanese then went on forever in Japanese.

Many “arigatos” etc.

The rest of the commentators made sure to say “Igarashi” with much Japanese inflection afterward.

Barton Lynch just laughed about trying to find scores on the “big lumpy” set waves.

Overlapping heats.

So far…

Filipe T. beat Adriano de S.

Kelly S. beat Seabass Z.

Kanoa I. beat Ricardo C.

Plus the elimination heats have wrapped. Jeremy Flores and Ace Buchan got tossed.

The other commentator, not Barton Lynch, just said that Owen Wright paddling back out after his head injury was the “greatest comeback in sport’s history.”

Do you agree?

Hit it here!

Oi Rio Pro, Day one: “Kelly Slater beats Griffin and Conner in two-foot waves, looks loose and jerky!”

And title contenders John John Florence and Italo Ferreira waltz through seeding round heats…

Shameful admission for a surf writer but like you, like Kelly Slater, I’d paid scant attention to pro surfing in Brazil over the years. Watched John John take a cleaver to close-outs one year and that’s about it.

Something changed last year and Brazil became compelling. I think context and contrast.

Founders Cup at Kelly’s wave pool put beachbreak events in the cross-hairs. The august Derek Rielly predicted their imminent demise. Somehow in that context, and in immediate contrast Saquarema looked spicy and a nutty little challenge for the top 34.

Brazil sought to justify itself, looked, maybe for the first time…….relevant.

That was then. The context for this year is a red hot JJF coming off another event at Margarets where he cleaned the reef with his opponents and a Brazilian storm that can’t quite seem to keep pace with him.

Gabe’s Title defence is looking very Joel Parkinson 2013, not in the sense that Medina is closer to the end of his career than the beginning like Joel was, in the sense he came out of the blocks on the Gold Coast looking clearly like the best surfer on Tour but bad luck, close calls, emotional over-reactions are slowly dragging him off the pace.

Filipe was humiliated by a local wildcard. Medina was a day late and a dollar short at the Box. Only Italo looked the goods and John destroyed him, as my ten-year-old boyo would say.

Gabe’s Title defence is looking very Joel Parkinson 2013, not in the sense that Medina is closer to the end of his career than the beginning like Joel was, in the sense he came out of the blocks on the Gold Coast looking clearly like the best surfer on Tour but bad luck, close calls, emotional over-reactions are slowly dragging him off the pace.

Wobbly lefts were breaking adjacent to the rock outcrop at Itauna, one end of the bay at Saquarema. Fresh combinations were in the commentary booth. Pottz and Kaipo, pretty good. Brad Bricknell and Barton, also solid. Ronnie Blakey got the bye. Hard work day for them.

No matter how they spin it WSL can’t make the Seeding Round and the subsequent Elimination Round seem like anything more than a dull trials event for the main circus. It do drag on.

Search the heat analyser for an excellent score and you’ll search in vain. Let me save you picking the needle out of the haystack. Yago Dora was easily best guy out there today and bagged a nine, the sole excellent wave ridden today, for a punchy little left that he sliced and diced into little pieces.

Are judges going to restore the strict scale after dropping their bundle in Bali? There are good signs to hope so.

Ace Buchan expressed a dissenting opinion in a guest stint in the booth. He was very good btw.

“It’s no secret,” he said, “the surfers all think the scale is a bit low”. He found it “hard to digest” the world’s best surfers could barely post an excellent score in a full day of surfing. Judges wanted more from surfers, he was happy with that.

But when the format doesn’t require it, why would they?

A pair of fives was enough for most heats. Italo could make a claim to be under-scored after loose and inverted surfing. John John looked smooth, controlled, unhurried, calm, composed… take your pick of those adjectives. His surfing stood out for it’s lack of inter-turn hustle. One perfectly controlled rotation on his forehand, one or two lefts ridden at a steady pace with big turns. Putting Italo and John next to each other reinforced a common feature of their surfing: no roundhouse cutbacks. Not that the wiggy little beachbreaks needed it but have you noticed?

Kelly’s almost the last Mohican as far as the classic cutback goes.

I lost the feed on the WSL site, went along with a couple of thousand of my closest buddies to throw angry emojis on Facey to catch Slater’s heat. In between the action I was reading up on the disappearance of Malaysian airlines MH370. Sometime around one am it just dropped off the face of the earth.

Suddenly, the Facey feed dropped out, WSL feed gone. Spooky. What a way for Slater to go out: suddenly evaporated in broad daylight in front of thousands of fans at his favourite stop on Tour.

I missed the Slater heat. I can report after watching on heat analyser that as much as JJF was calm and composed Slater was in mood to lay down some electrifying boogie. He caught 11 waves, hustled and hassled, looked loose and jerky. Stole the heat on the buzzer with a fiver.

To answer the original question: How would Brazil shape up this year following on from Margaret River instead of Surf Ranch?

Don’t shoot the messenger but, how to be diplomatic, as dull as dishwater.

Oh yeah, Adriano came back and put Kolohe into the elimination Rd.

I missed the gals but assumed they got the best waves of the day, what a reversal of fortune!

Oi Rio Pro Women’s Seeding Round (Round 1) Results:
Heat 1: Caroline Marks (USA) 8.90 DEF. Macy Callaghan (AUS) 8.10, Nikki Van Dijk (AUS) 6.17
Heat 2: Carissa Moore (HAW) 15.50 DEF. Keely Andrew (AUS) 12.23, Johanne Defay (FRA) 10.20
Heat 3: Coco Ho (HAW) 11.60 DEF. Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) 10.00, Taina Hinckel (BRA) 8.63
Heat 4: Lakey Peterson (USA) 12.83 DEF. Paige Hareb (NZL) 8.87, Brisa Hennessy (CRI) 6.37
Heat 5: Silvana Lima (BRA) 13.20 DEF. Tatiana Weston-Webb (BRA) 13.10, Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) 9.93
Heat 6: Courtney Conlogue (USA) 14.77 DEF. Bronte Macaulay (AUS) 12.40, Malia Manuel (HAW) 10.00

Oi Rio Pro Women’s Elimination Round (Round 2) Matchups:
Heat 1: Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) vs. Nikki Van Dijk (AUS) vs. Taina Hinckel (BRA)
Heat 2: Malia Manuel (HAW) vs. Brisa Hennessy (CRI) vs. Johanne Defay (FRA)

Oi Rio Pro Men’s Seeding Round (Round 1) Results:
Heat 1: Kanoa Igarashi (JPN) 12.17 DEF. Jadson Andre (BRA) 10.60, Peterson Crisanto (BRA) 7.83
Heat 2: Gabriel Medina (BRA) 12.10 DEF. Soli Bailey (AUS) 8.40, Adrian Buchan (AUS) 6.93 | Heat 3: Yago Dora (BRA) 16.33 DEF. Adriano de Souza (BRA) 11.27, Kolohe Andino (USA) 11.16
Heat 4: Filipe Toledo (BRA) 13.97 DEF. Frederico Morais (PRT) 9.60, Sebastian Zietz (HAW) 9.30
Heat 5: Italo Ferreira (BRA) 12.17 DEF. Deivid Silva (BRA) 11.07, Mateus Herdy (BRA)
Heat 6: John John Florence (HAW) 13.67 DEF. Caio Ibelli (BRA) 10.53, Alex Ribeiro (BRA) 9.60
Heat 7: Willian Cardoso (BRA) 10.47 DEF. Ricardo Christie (NZL) 9.00, Jordy Smith (ZAF) 6.30
Heat 8: Julian Wilson (AUS) 12.67 DEF. Michael Rodrigues (BRA) 9.06, Ezekiel Lau (HAW) 6.00
Heat 9: Kelly Slater (USA) 10.87 DEF. Griffin Colapinto (USA) 10.80, Conner Coffin (USA) 9.93
Heat 10: Seth Moniz (HAW) 13.77 DEF. Owen Wright (AUS) 11.90, Jack Freestone (AUS) 7.43
Heat 11: Ryan Callinan (AUS) 13.17 DEF. Jesse Mendes (BRA) 11.53, Wade Carmichael (AUS) 9.74
Heat 12: Michel Bourez (FRA) 11.13 DEF. Joan Duru (FRA) 10.76, Jeremy Flores (FRA) 7.23

Oi Rio Pro Men’s Elimination Round (Round 2) Matchups:
Heat 1: Kolohe Andino (USA) vs. Sebastian Zietz (HAW) vs. Alex Ribeiro (BRA)
Heat 2: Jordy Smith (ZAF) vs. Adrian Buchan (AUS) vs. Mateus Herdy (BRA)
Heat 3: Conner Coffin (USA) vs. Peterson Crisanto (BRA) vs. Ezekiel Lau (HAW)
Heat 4: Jeremy Flores (FRA) vs. Wade Carmichael (AUS) vs. Jack Freestone (AUS)