But one thing that will never bore is a Kelly Slater heat…
France elevated itself over the fatigue with a magnificent home town win but as day one rolls around in Peniche, Portugal I’m sensing boredom in key markets. Onshore muck, rain and miserable close-outs did not elevate the hype despite Joey Turpel bald-facedly declaring we were in for an “incredible day of competition”.
Putting aside all other considerations for a second it really does beg the question, why WSL couldn’t have an extended waiting period for Europe and run the contests interchangeably depending on the storm track?
Make modern forecasting a handmaid instead of the bearer of bad news.
I guess that might entail disentangling the men’s and women’s Tours again, shoot, too-hard basket.
Ricardo Christie came last in his round one heat. I’ve waited all year to find something to say about the second-time debutante, and other than him fitting into my theory that pro surfing hates a late blooming journeyman, haven’t been able to.
A heroic performance today.
A lot of people have chipped in their hard-earned for him to pursue his dreams. His major sponsor dropped him and he’s out watching his own dream die in grimy close-outs in front of thirty people. You could forgive him for displaying some of what Slater’s therapist might call “negative emotion”. He scrapped through the entire heat, last from start to finish in total control of his body language. What sighs of despair or wailing and gnashing of teeth in frustration were all done internally. Total dignity.
We learned, via announcement and interview, that Kanoa Igarashi had “provisionally qualified” for the Olympics under the flag of the rising sun. Kanoa was suitably thrilled, achieved my goals etc etc.
Were you thinking, like me, provisional?
When I went to school provisional and its adverb provisionally meant subject to change or further confirmation; for the time being. I won’t even pretend to understand the qualification process but where’s the provisional part of it come in?
Are there Japanese contenders waiting in the wings, total unknowns wielding surfboards like sashimi knives who could knock the might Igarashi off his Olympic pedestal before he even gets there?
Is it provisional because he might get injured, because a super-typhoon might wipe out the contest site?
Jen See? Chas, you’re a linguistics prof: wherefore this “provisional” and what does it mean?
Soli Bailey was also pushed into the elimination round. Also surfed good. Showed amazing control to survive a late under-the-lip hit on his backhand that received no love from the judging panel. Showed amazing control over his body language, too. Maybe that is part of what coaches do nowadays, one of the few things a pro surfers can control in the beachbreaks of Europe.
The Brazilians were a class above, you won’t be surprised to hear. Yago, in the ascendancy after being acquitted of the accusation of cowardice in Teahupoo debacle. So smooth, backside and front. John Florence must dream of having the constitution of Italo’s knees and ankles. So robust, flinging airs into the flats, smashing heaving close-outs. With a finicky forecast and sans injury, hard not to put the peroxided gymnast at the top of the pile.
Caio stayed busy, looked tinny before connecting strongly with a closeout section, which he belted with the loose authority of Matt Hoy in his prime. He dominated a sleepy Jordy Smith and wildcard Crosby Colapinto.
Filipe will make a great forty-year old, hopefully retired by then with two world titles under his belt, the last delivered at macking Pipeline which he surfed on painkillers before retiring with a bad back. That back, susceptible to flaring up under pressure and stress, which we know our Pip feels most dreadfully is also having the paradoxical effect of freeing Pip from expectation.
He surfed loose and nice. It calms him down.
In the presser later he made it clear he had let go.
But miracles do happen. A win here. A three-foot day at Backdoor.
Gabe started his heat with two misses. One closeout the drone shot showed him desperately paddling into had me worried for a brief moment. Was he cracking after the French result, where he had a shocker at La Nord?
Just going back to the Medina template of hoovering up anything that moved, chewing it up and spitting out the gristle. Surfing a beachbreak with Gabe Medina is not an unpleasant experience. He moves through the line-up so definitively, with so much variety and geographical scope he may as well be surfing a different break.
He’s down the beach, he’s fifty yards away, he’s right next to you paddling for a wave that didn’t even look like a wave. It’s a continuously moving feeding frenzy on a bait ball. Fins and spray everywhere.
Gabe landed a full rotation on his backhand and judges paid the slightly messy completion. It was not a hard heat for him.
The Australians were mostly compressed into the middle heats of the day. Am I the only one completely bored shitless by Australian surfing at the moment? Trying to figure out why. We have – for the first time ever?- no World Title contender. No genuine excitement machine. The next gen contenders, J-dub and Owen, look distracted and contented with family life. Callinan looks like a top ten surfer who may have a good year or three in him. The rest, honest journeymen.
Where is the future? Recycling Matt Banting and Ethan Ewing?
If, despite our previous testy exchange, High Performance Director Kim Crane takes my call, I will find out what the top brass have in mind. From this perspective the future looks, not bleak, but bland.
Owen and Ryan end up in the losers round, the rest through.
One thing that will never bore is a Kelly heat. Anything Kelly, realistically. The last Mic’d up episode, featuring Kelly at his Tub was fascinating, in a slow-motion car crash kind of way. Kelly in the hands of a self-serving, self-promoting “healer”, being spiritually micro-managed despite an obvious resistance to the process.
A million kinds of weird. You have to watch.
The tide had come in, the wind a little lighter, the waves marginally improved for Kelly’s heat. He started strong, fresh and crispy as a baby cos lettuce. So loose on the redirects. He failed by a millimetre to lay down a lofted oop.
Rode the wave of the day just after the buzzer. Got through easily.
He continues to confound. To amaze and repel us in equal measure. In the water, it’s pure amaze. I know that makes no sense, but if Wozzle can make no sense, me too.
MEO Rip Curl Pro Portugal Men’s Elimination Round 2 Matchups:
HEAT 1: Owen Wright (AUS) vs. Ricardo Christie (NZL) vs. Miguel Blanco (PRT)
HEAT 2: Seth Moniz (HAW) vs. Leonardo Fioravanti (ITA) vs. Crosby Colapinto (USA)
HEAT 3: Ryan Callinan (AUS) vs. Jesse Mendes (BRA) vs. Frederico Morais (PRT)
HEAT 4: Michel Bourez (FRA) vs. Ezekiel Lau (HAW) vs. Soli Bailey (AUS)
MEO Rip Curl Pro Portugal Men’s Seeding Round 1 Results:
HEAT 1: Willian Cardoso (BRA) 10.60 DEF. Kanoa Igarashi (JPN) 8.83, Ricardo Christie (NZL) 5.50
HEAT 2: Griffin Colapinto (USA) 10.96 DEF. Kolohe Andino (USA) 9.20, Soli Bailey (AUS) 7.74
HEAT 3: Yago Dora (BRA) 13.56 DEF. Italo Ferreira (BRA) 12.37, Frederico Morais (PRT) 8.37
HEAT 4: Caio Ibelli (BRA) 10.84 DEF. Jordy Smith (ZAF) 8.30, Crosby Colapinto (USA) 5.17
HEAT 5: Filipe Toledo (BRA) 11.70 DEF. Vasco Ribeiro (PRT) 9.56, Ezekiel Lau (HAW) 9.33
HEAT 6: Gabriel Medina (BRA) 14.67 DEF. Joan Duru (FRA) 8.60, Miguel Blanco (PRT) 6.80
HEAT 7: Jack Freestone (AUS) 10.30 DEF. Jadson Andre (BRA) 9.53, Owen Wright (AUS) 8.73
HEAT 8: Deivid Silva (BRA) 11.34 DEF. Jeremy Flores (FRA) 9.16, Leonardo Fioravanti (ITA) 6.43
HEAT 9: Julian Wilson (AUS) 12.66 DEF. Conner Coffin (USA) 10.97, Jesse Mendes (BRA) 7.33
HEAT 10: Peterson Crisanto (BRA) 11.04 DEF. Adrian Buchan (AUS) 8.77, Seth Moniz (HAW) 5.47
HEAT 11: Sebastian Zietz (HAW) 11.50 DEF. Wade Carmichael (AUS) 10.13, Ryan Callinan (AUS) 6.76
HEAT 12: Michael Rodrigues (BRA) 12.27 DEF. Kelly Slater (USA) 11.00, Michel Bourez (FRA) 8.06