Vintage Carissa Moore, world champion elect perhaps, at Hossegor…
I am not a morning person. Unless the surf is firing, you will not see my bouncing out of bed with the sunrise.
And really, even if there is good surf, well, let’s just say, I’m not exactly rainbows and unicorns in the morning.
That means, when Carissa Moore won the Roxy Pro France this morning, I missed the whole damn thing. Snug in my bed.
Surfing, what surfing? Ah, right, a title race. I’ve heard talk of that thing.
When I saw the results, I immediately sent Chas a text. Omg Carissa!
The semi between Moore and Lakey Peterson was billed as a super heat. They started the day leading the rankings. It turned out to be a bit of a slog. A nerve-wracking slog. Scoring waves looked few and far between in the lumpy high-tide lineup.
Moore picked up a 6.83 on her second scoring wave, but looked in vain for a back-up score. The best she could find was a three. It was enough.
Peterson never really got into the heat. She finished with a 3.83 total heat score, which is a bit of a shocker for a world-title contender. Peterson managed one of her trademark hooking top turns, but as Jeremy Flores said way back in the Young Guns days, you can’t be world champion with only one turn.
Peterson struggled to find waves and the superheat was mostly a fizzle.
With her home crowd on the beach, Johanne Defay has ripped through this Roxy Pro. She paddled out and straightaway, went looking for barrels. Nothing doing. Caroline Marks, meanwhile, went for turns. Big, arcing, strong-woman turns.
It was the kind of surfing that’s kept the hype train well-fueled this year in relation to the teen wonder. She earned this heat win.
Defay won my heart with her fearless willingness to get smashed in the closeouts. That didn’t look comfortable, but a single make would have put her straight into the heat. The end result looked more lopsided than perhaps it should have — though Marks certainly surfed the smarter heat.
A pair of sixes sent Marks on to the final against Moore. Defay was out with a 7.06 total.
Standing on the beach, watching the lineup after her semi-final, Moore noted in her post-heat interview that conditions were changing. We’re going to get barreled in the final, she predicted, with a cheeky grin. Moore has described herself as a “surfer’s surfer,” and by that she means, she is at her best, when the waves are good. Her head can get in her way when the waves are slow or shitty.
There was no danger of that in this final. Moore came out swinging. A couple of turns put her on the board early with a five. Then she started looking for barrels. It took her three tries to find a make. On a thick right, she went in deep and came out with a rare claim. Clearly, she was having fun in this heat. She followed it up with a left, with more size.
Beautiful, clean take off. A 9.0.
And with that, Moore sent Marks to combo land. On her fifth wave, Marks scored a 3.83 — and that turned out to be a keeper. Marks looked out of sync and uncertain. I would not have expected her to barrel dodge, but dodge she did. The difference in experience between the two women showed clearly as Moore exuded confidence — and a rare joy. Marks looked tentative and out of her element. The final score reflected the disparity: 17.60 for Moore, 7.00 for Marks.
With her victory in France, Moore extends her lead in the world title race. It’s not a done deal. But Peterson trails by just over 7000 points. If Peterson wins in Portugal and Moore finishes fifth, the race narrows to a spread of 2000. Then the race would go to Honolua with all the marbles in play. Peterson has won two events this year, and Moore has finished fifth on two occasions.
So it’s not out of the question.
There is a momentum to Moore’s surfing right now that will make her difficult to dislodge from the top of the rankings. It isn’t that she isn’t beatable. Certainly, she is. But the confidence is clearly there. It’s worth remembering also, that Moore typically surfs very well at Honolua. Peterson, by contrast, rarely does. For Sally Fitzgibbons, meanwhile, a world title is a much more difficult task. Impossible, maybe.
On the Olympics front, the Australian women’s team is all-but set. Steph Gilmore and Fitzgibbons head to Tokyo next year. Nikki van Dijk is too far down the rankings now to overtake either of them. The U.S. team, meanwhile, remains in play. Moore, Peterson, and Mark stay in contention for the two U.S. slots. Courtney Conlogue has dropped to a long-shot now.
Next up, Portugal.
Two to go!
Will you be sad when it’s over? I will be sad when it’s over.
But we can look forward to Honolua, one of the best contest stops on Tour.
And I won’t even have to wake up early.
2019 Women’s Championship Tour Ratings
Carissa Moore (HAW) – 57,260
Lakey Peterson (USA) – 49,935
Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) – 46,815
Caroline Marks (USA) – 46,020
Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) – 40,855n