"Poetic justice," says Kaipo Guerrero.
I do feel some sympathy for the minions at the coal face of the WSL hype machine.
When you’ve OD’d on the most historic, the most epic, the most crazy etc etc the comedown in the cold light of the next morning will never be a pretty look.
Thus, groomed six-foot Teahupoo looked underwhelming for this Finals Day.
For the first time in history I agreed wholeheartedly with Turpel when, after Owen completed his five hundredth deep tube ride, he intoned “Wright can do no wrong.”
I could not agree with the judges when they awarded Owen a perfect ten for a leftover bomb wave from yesterday’s mack-fest. That robbed fans of a genuine contest in the closing minutes of his tube duel with OG Jaddy baby who was charging into them like a maniac.
He deserved a shot, no matter how infinitesimally small the odds, of taking the heat. The ten put him in combo land with a minute to go. In the end though, it was nothing more than cosmic justice: the Wright guy won and got to where he deserved to be.
Cosmic justice made a mockery of the next quarter between ADS and Jordy. Deep charging goofyfooters were a cut above naturalfooters all event and this heat seemed ghosted by the lack of Italo Ferriera.
Both Jordy and ADS looked shakey and not quite up to the task. The heat turned on a decision by Adriano to let Jordy go on the only proper set wave and when judges lost control of their scoring rigour and awarded a 9.23 the whole contest was in danger of spilling to a very messy conclusion.
“How do you know what you don’t know?” asked Barton Lynch in the booth, pertaining to the decision making process.
He claimed a vague interior process that lay beyond the bounds of rational thought, which he called “feeling”, that was the superior mechanism.
Whatever it was, or is, Gabe Medina had his Feels all lined up in quarter-final three against Jeremy Flores. On paper, the best quarter final of the contest. The waves did not show up.
No matter for Gabe. He walked Jeremy up the reef like a small dog on a leash, and then walked him back. Jeremy cracked first and took a small south insider, for a small score. That left Gabe with an open lineup, which he luxuriated in for twenty minutes before calmly opening up on very clean mid-rangers for an easy win.
The Seth Moniz-Caio Ibelli quarter was a mystery bag which, despite the lack of any semblance of rivalry, Kaipo tried desperately to spin as a grudge match.
Ibelli got the wave of the heat, a thick-set bouncer of a wave that he snuck in under after slippery fins finally engaged to bear hug to the safety of the channel. If it wasn’t for a display of cockiness, paddling arrogantly up the inside of Seth and trying for a too deep inside nugget he may have won the heat.
Moniz, like he was all event, backed his skill set and took the next set on offer to take it out.
How many tubes did Owen complete against Jordy in their semi? How much total tube time did he log for the event? Must be minutes It seems a little obscene. A very one-sided affair. I lost track of the final third of the heat after a kerfuffle out the back door distracted me.
It was a duck beating up on a rooster. Have you ever seen a drake beat up on a rooster? He was really kicking his ass. I didn’t know whether to punish the perpetrator or comfort the victim.
In the melee, I could not help noticing the duck, tall and handsome with slender but powerful neck, bore an uncanny resemblance to Owen Wright and the rooster with his powerful physique, plumage and proudly erect comb reminded me of Gabriel Medina.
Pardon me Barton Lynch, but that was how I based my decision making on who was going to win the final. My “feels” if you like.
Seth simply made too many mistakes to trouble Gabe. And judges could not pay the faked exits. Valuable learning for him. He’ll be on the podium here before too long.
Which put us to the final, with the two best guys of the event. Judges got the feels right. There were vapour trails from Owen and Gabe paddling each other up and down the reef. A ritual that did feel a bit played out by that point.
Priority was confusing and in the end all that tactical showboating made no difference. It was past halfway when the wave riding began. Gabe had the best of it, but the medium, large sets now looked fluffy and inconsequential compared to the inside nuggets which ran square across the very shallowest part of the inside reef.
They shared an exchange.
Gabe came out low with a fade out of the tube, Owen came out high with a speed pump. Scores could have gone either way. Owen was favoured by a half point.
Five minutes to go.
Medina defended a slender lead that never looked like being enough. He sat while Owen drifted in and measured up on an inside nugget, fluttering on the foam ball the whole ride. That wave turned the heat, paddling back out he repeated the dose while Gabe sat motionless on the outside and Charlie fumed and fussed about like a wounded bird at the end of Owen’s flight path.
Game over. Poetic retribution, Kaipo called it.
The Gods must be laughing to have Filipe Toledo, after all that transpired at Teahupoo, leading the race into the Wavepool.
Meanwhile, in a stunning counter-factual, John John Florence, who watches somewhere, surrounded by tasteful walnut and mahogany fittings, in my imagination at least, remains in the top five.