Best day of the waiting period, on paper at least, so European head honcho Jessie Miley-Dyer had no choice but to wring the sponge dry on what turned out to be a minor classic of professional beachbreak surfing.
My favourite battler, Soli Bailey, whom I predicted to shine in France finally made it out of round three in my highlight heat of the day. There were very many.
The most impressive numbers, seeing as BG is the website of record, were granted to Peterson Crisanto, currently languishing at 28 on the Jeep leaderboard. Seventy-eight percent of the global fanbase expected Jeremy Flores to back up his French win and send the beleaguered Brazilian back for an early vino.
Overcoming the weight of a heavy combination the 5’6” rookie caught a five-foot wave between the 20th and 21st minute and launched a high, corked, tail-high full-rotation reverse onto the bolts. The total distance from maximum height of air to landing was estimated by Peter Mel to be ten foot. Two judges, an Australian and a Brazilian, awarded the single manoeuvre wave a ten.
The score, after averaging, came in at a 9.67. A back up 6.67 was enough to take the heat.
All the proper big dogs had bite to the bark. Gabe looked very relaxed, after a quiet start before getting his heat started with an air as stylish as a prawn cocktail. A classic straight air with a subtle, tail-high tweak thrown in. Maybe slightly undercooked by judges for a seven. You could forgive judges a recency bias given Kelly Slater was still in the water after going ballistic in the previous heat against, shit, I’ve forgotten, Kelly was that dominant, ah yeah Seabass.
What’s the spiciest chilli?
I’ve got some really nice Honduran chillis which are mellow and some Thai Birds Eyes which make your eyes water just looking at them. Kelly was spicier than the whole bush. Just the intent to go vertical at maximum speed on the opening left was astounding. The dramatic recovery on the following right was vintage Kelly and drew a subtle rebuke from Ryan Callinan in the booth when they declared Kelly made the “easy things look really hard.”
As if responding to, not just Ryan but all his critics, Kelly took aim at a bulbous, threatening close-out section that came at him like a mushroom cloud. He rode out so clean for a 7.83, and that, in the opening ten minutes of a forty-minute heat and without any priority, was the heat.
Despite the magnitude of the performance Kelly graciously conceded that when it came to Olympic qualification John John Florence, despite not having surfed for “months and months” was still ahead of him on the ratings and by implication more deserving of the Olympic spot.
I think we can declare Kelly provisionally qualified after that heat.
I’m not for a second saying Filipe Toledo’s back injury is a fake. But if it were, even if some miniscule proportion of it was being somehow sub-consciously manufactured as a way of alleviating this dreadful pressure we know causes Toledo so much suffering , it would up there as one of the greatest rope-a-dope’s in the history of sport.
Pip opened with a feet forwards, very stylish tube-ride to lip glide floater, threw in a backside roter, rode eleven waves and looked loosey-goosey against Ribeiro.
Hosed down expectations in the presser before declaring, “I’m staying focussed because God has something special in store for me.”
Wade Carmichael avenged his controversial loss in France with a complicated, gnarly heat against Yago Dora. He swung the axe on a frothy, ugly left punching a fins-free floater that was like throwing a bag of cement off a building, according to a commenter in the live thread*. That turned the heat with a few minutes to go. Dora snapped a board. Carmichael went further in front after lacing a small right with arsenic flavoured turns. Dora threw soft, graceful airs and judges, in my eyes, rightfully paid the power fundamentals of the hairy man.
No-one can deny the fruitfulness of the Australian loin but only one of the Fathers, Jack Freestone, was able to penetrate the draw past the round of 32. Three Australians left in the Round of 16, not a single contender amongst them.
Has the Antipodean zeitgeist shifted back to mid-length twin-fins, acoustic guitars and escaping the system?
Or is this just some temporary blip that history will one day record as an aberration?
Wayne Murphy? Ian Cairns? There are wise heads out there with a broader scope than mine.
What is going on?
No-one will accuse Kolohe Andino of a lack of nationalist feels. He professed to love surfing and love his country after getting the provisional (there feels something vaguely mafioso about it) nod for Olympic quals. He trundles on, under the radar. Title hopes still alive. Michael Rodrigues, beak brilliantly bare, also under the radar and with a lot to play for his next opponent.
Tell me if I am reading this wrong, but despite the closeouts this comp has become riveting viewing. If they could go on hold through the nadir of the tidal cycle we could see a very, very entertaining ending.
I think Gabe will falter close to the end and it will go to Pipe. That’s my prediction and Ziff’s dream.
MEO Rip Curl Pro Portugal Men’s Round 4 Matchups:
HEAT 1: Jordy Smith (ZAF) vs. Griffin Colapinto (USA)
HEAT 2: Kolohe Andino (USA) vs. Michael Rodrigues (BRA)
HEAT 3: Filipe Toledo (BRA) vs. Wade Carmichael (AUS)
HEAT 4: Kanoa Igarashi (JPN) vs. Kelly Slater (USA)
HEAT 5: Gabriel Medina (BRA) vs. Caio Ibelli (BRA)
HEAT 6: Peterson Crisanto (BRA) vs. Jesse Mendes (BRA)
HEAT 7: Italo Ferreira (BRA) vs. Conner Coffin (USA)
HEAT 8: Jack Freestone (AUS) vs. Soli Bailey (AUS)
MEO Rip Curl Pro Portugal Men’s Round 3 Results:
HEAT 1: Jordy Smith (ZAF) 8.57 DEF. Crosby Colapinto (USA) 3.17
HEAT 2: Griffin Colapinto (USA) 10.80 DEF. Adrian Buchan (AUS) 7.54
HEAT 3: Kolohe Andino (USA) 11.83 DEF. Jadson Andre (BRA) 8.17
HEAT 4: Michael Rodrigues (BRA) 9.27 DEF. Deivid Silva (BRA) 7.27
HEAT 5: Filipe Toledo (BRA) 14.60 DEF. Vasco Ribeiro (PRT) 10.10
HEAT 6: Wade Carmichael (AUS) 11.10 DEF. Yago Dora (BRA) 10.60
HEAT 7: Kanoa Igarashi (JPN) 12.30 DEF. Leonardo Fioravanti (ITA) 11.86
HEAT 8: Kelly Slater (USA) 15.56 DEF. Sebastian Zietz (HAW) 1.93
HEAT 9: Gabriel Medina (BRA) 13.67 DEF. Miguel Blanco (PRT) 8.33
HEAT 10: Caio Ibelli (BRA) 12.97 DEF. Michel Bourez (FRA) 11.57
HEAT 11: Peterson Crisanto (BRA) 16.54 DEF. Jeremy Flores (FRA) 15.00
HEAT 12: Jesse Mendes (BRA) 11.20 DEF. Owen Wright (AUS) 10.93
HEAT 13: Italo Ferreira (BRA) 16.20 DEF. Frederico Morais (PRT) 10.33
HEAT 14: Conner Coffin (USA) 13.64 DEF. Willian Cardoso (BRA) 9.60
HEAT 15: Jack Freestone (AUS) 15.00 DEF. Joan Duru (FRA) 11.10
HEAT 16: Soli Bailey (AUS) 12.70 DEF. Julian Wilson (AUS) 11.43
MEO Rip Curl Pro Portugal Men’s Elimination Round 2 Results:
HEAT 1: Owen Wright (AUS) 10.96 DEF. Miguel Blanco (PRT) 9.87, Ricardo Christie (NZL) 6.60
HEAT 2: Crosby Colapinto (USA) 12.10 DEF. Leonardo Fioravanti (ITA) 11.47, Seth Moniz (HAW) 9.66
HEAT 3: Jesse Mendes (BRA) 15.90 DEF. Frederico Morais (PRT) 12.76, Ryan Callinan (AUS) 11.33
HEAT 4: Soli Bailey (AUS) 13.00 DEF. Michel Bourez (FRA) 10.60, Ezekiel Lau (HAW) 8.46