An epic day. A superlative day.
Caveat emptor: if things get a little fuzzed out in the following wrap please call BS at your leisure: it’s been a big week, late night, pumping surf day after day, days in court, too many beers etc etc.
It’s possible a more sober assessment may be needed tomorrow morning in the comments after viewing what I think we can all agree on was an epic Finals day at…. what? Four-to-eight-foot J-Bay?
Accusations of swallowing the Kanoa Kool-aid were proven valid. I’m a soft touch, love a hustle being laid on me. First thing I do if I see Donny or Maz Cow in the streets of Byron, guys who can’t keep a roof over their head, is ask them how they are fixed. Peel off a twenty spot if they look grim. I don’t care what they spend it on. Even Kanoa admits the mojo and the trash talk is all a bit of play acting but we’re so starved for theatre and rivalry I’ll skol it all night long.
Kenny just didn’t have the legs to match up the talk in his QF against Italo Ferreira. Italo was tactically superior, starting strongly , catching fewer waves on a big, blustery day where energy usage was at a premium and gave the judges exactly what they had so clearly demonstrated they wanted to see. Set waves ridden from beginning to end, starting strong and ending strong. Incomplete rides, no matter the work done, did not factor in. Italo rode four waves, all over six. Kanoa could only breach the six mark on one occasion, his first ride.
That mental image of how judges wanted to see J-Bay ridden , and thus scored was meticulously laid down in the opening heat of the day with Medina and Owen Wright. Medina’s nine seemed a little high at the time, but in the context of the day the big opening turn, lip punches vertical speed turns and a tube-ride that he made were a perfect exposition of what judges wanted. There could really be no excuse for any surfer in the draw about what would score big.
That heat was also incredible for the repeated symmetry of Medina’s heats, since the Houdini effort against Ryan Callinan. He started slow, waited and then finished strong in the back half of the heat. We spoke about the essentially random nature of the thirty-minute ocean heat, with it’s baffling and unrepeatable array of forces and human decisions. Medina’s consistency in repeating that pattern amidst the chaos seems almost supernatural.
Felipe couldn’t repeat it.
He looked shaky against SeaBass. It took him four rides to get a six. SeaBass looked to have the superior arsenal of turns, judges ate up a big vertical lip punch on his best wave. It was only a late set wave with a mid-wave tube-ride that came from nowhere that rescued the heat for him. He was well beaten in the semi by Italo who had the same magic symmetry as Gabe, except in reverse.
Half-way through the semi he put Filipe to sleep with a set wave that was almost perfect J-Bay backhand surfing. Huge high hooks with freefall drops and a monster finish that culminated with an ornate claim that would have made a Balinese finger-dancer green with envy.
For a man of such froth Italo’s heats were almost tactically perfect. They started with a strong first wave. A 6.5 against Kanoa, a 7.67 against Filipe, a 9.10 against Gabe in the Final. Low wave counts conserved energy and the closing turns were the biggest of the event, same as the ones he used to crush Bells in the 2018 Final against Fanning.
Half-way through the semi he put Filipe to sleep with a set wave that was almost perfect J-Bay backhand surfing. Huge high hooks with freefall drops and a monster finish that culminated with a most ornate claim that would have made a Balinese finger dancer green with envy.
That wave quashed an incipient controversy concerning the previous semi with Kolohe and Medina. Kolohe had looked much more confident back on the Mayhems and came in with a pre-configured plan to go to the air, which he attempted on multiple occasions. One very lateral alley-oop on a smaller wave was low-balled by judges and instead of going back to the winning template and jagging a set wave from end to end Kolohe panicked and tried to repeat the dose on a series of insignificant waves.
Kolohe seems trapped between the instinctual approach needed to ride a wave and the strategic thinking required to figure out what the fuck needs to be done to win the heat. Thus, eight years on, yellow jersey but not a single event win.
He seems trapped between the instinctual approach needed to ride a wave and the strategic thinking required to figure out what the fuck needs to be done to win the heat. Thus, eight years on, yellow jersey but not a single event win.
There was a lot of historical and emotional enmity built up in Medina’s performance in the final. He wouldn’t say that of course, “Having fun, he’s an amazing surfer etc” No blame, he does fine for a second language. But you could see it in the body language, the facial expressions in the claims. It was payback for the QF loss to JJF at similar sized Bells, a chance to peg back the 5:1 losing record against Italo.
Italo did what he did all event. Started like a raging bull. Laid down a nine.
Gabe did what he did. Started slow. The tactical play was in full effect. Italo caught three waves. Gabby caught eight. Testing and teasing short rides to see if they could lead anywhere. The lineup was now boisterous and hard to handle. Collapsing sections, big chunks of wave energy that would split off from the main swell train or come through it in a giant wedge.
It was one of these wedges that Gabe Medina found himself behind at warp speed on his third wave. He went straight up into it, whipped it and air dropped back into the bowl, came hard off the bottom with a serious sling-shot of speed and carved over and across the collapsing close-outs section.
The biggest close-out turn ever completed? Show me a better one.
That could have been a ten. His second scoring ride was even better, more radical, if that’s possible.
All week there has been bitching and moaning about the lack of variety and risk on the backhand. Medina shoved that complaint sideways where the sun don’t shine on his winning ride. It had high hooks, body extended carves in the lip, lip line floaters across collapsing sections, jagged super quick speed connecting snaps and a deep double tube ride. Again, a ten would have been appropriate.
A soggy Charlie, stripping down in the rain, almost went apoplectic calling for a ten.
In the end that left Italo comboed. Comboed!
With the Italo hoodoo dealt with and JJF out the last remaining barrier to a Medina back to back Title has been removed. I know the Brazilians find it appropriate to thank God for victory, I would like to ask the same God on behalf of all of us sinners, if he is still listening, to send us ten foot surf for Teahupoo.
Question: Can you remember a single one of Kolohe’s losing finals?
J-Bay Men’s Final Results:
1 – Gabriel Medina (BRA) 19.50
2 – Italo Ferreira (BRA) 16.77
J-Bay Men’s Semifinal Results:
SF 1: Gabriel Medina (BRA) 14.30 DEF. Kolohe Andino (USA) 14.00
SF 2: Italo Ferreira (BRA) 17.50 DEF. Filipe Toledo (BRA) 14.00
J-Bay Men’s Quarterfinal Results:
QF 1: Gabriel Medina (BRA) 15.67 DEF. Owen Wright (AUS) 14.60
QF 2: Kolohe Andino (USA) 15.43 DEF. Adrian Buchan (AUS) 14.10
QF 3: Filipe Toledo (BRA) 15.00 DEF. Sebastian Zietz (HAW) 14.40
QF 4: Italo Ferreira (BRA) 15.53 DEF. Kanoa Igarashi (JPN) 12.37
2019 Men’s CT Jeep Leaderboard (following Corona Open J-Bay):
1 – Kolohe Andino (USA) 33,845 pts
2 – Filipe Toledo (BRA) 33,280 pts
3 – John John Florence (HAW) 32,425 pts
4 – Italo Ferreira (BRA) 29,950 pts
5 – Kanoa Igarashi (JPN) 29,450 pts