Scenario: the number one contender has won four events and has a shocker at Trestles and loses to the number five who haired out at Tahiti and Pipe. What sorta world title is that gonna be?
Asterisks at the ready, with the new Tour about to throw fat in the fire, I think we can all agree today is a very good day for we, the people.
I was literally up to my elbows in goats nuts as the word came down the wire and my phone lit up. Unfortunately, the op got a little muddled, the scalpel and sutures not as precise as they could be and a haemorrhaging kid has kept me away from the keys until now.
I’m resisting the urge to make a allegory about the bleeding goat and the WSL.
Hawaii is on, unless it’s not, according to VP Patty O but promised via podcast that “We will crown a World Champ next year”.
The statement from the Woz is full of weird little qualifiers, I guess mandatory in the age of Covid, that suggest any iteration of the current schedule could run, with the highest confidence in what is a stunning return to power of the USA.
Four CT events will be adorned with the stars and stripes, with a finals day at Trestles to decide the World Champ.
I think the last gal standing knock-out format of the finals day is a grand addition to the Tour, although it has dangers.
Notably, it fixes a problem that already had a wonderful solution, that being a finals day at Pipe and it does erode the edges of one of the Tour’s chiefs strengths, that being: It takes a Tour to Make a Title.
Now it takes being in the Top 5 and having a red hot finals day to make a title. It’s not quite the same thing.
If the number one contender has won, say four or five events, and has a shocker at Trestles and loses to the number five who haired out at Tahiti and Pipe, for eg. You know what I’m saying and who I’m referring to, right?
The very big sense I’m getting is that we don’t love it. It’s got the Romans’ Thumb down from me. I do love Trestles as a tour stop. I love the dramas that come from splitting the peak and the fine grained disputations over the minutiae of high-performance surfing.
What it offers in high performance it lacks in gravitas, aesthetics, drama, the lack of demand on any reserves of courage or high stakes decision making etc etc. In short, it will compare poorly to the historical record of Pipe finals days, for existing fans.
For new fans the same criticism applies even moreso.
Cloudbreak was the obvious choice to run as a finals day venue, especially in the Covid era.
Hats off to the Wozzle for getting the Tour running again.
The attempts to create some kind of pre-Tour buzz with the Countdown series have been dismal. Nine events have been run, according to Patty O’Connell.
Nine! Have you watched?
I got most of the Tweed Coast Pro, three heats at Straddy, about ninety seconds of the fluoro Mardi Gras in Brazil and less than five minutes of the Euro comps. If ELO held a gun to my head and asked me to come up with five highlights I could only remember the incredible duration of Tyler’s raised fist drop knee protest for BLM.
I just don’t know whether the positive pairing of ELO and Patty are the guys to bring the Tour back from its coma. According to media chieftain Dave Prodan the great leap forward ELO has made since beginning his CEO-ship is to “bring the focus back to the CT” and realise it as the engine of the company.
Get Ziff on the phone and double his pay for that brilliant insight. That’s genius.
The rejigged Tour itself has a mixed bag of opportunities and threats. Starting at Pipe is a massive advantage for incumbency.
Rookie slaughter expected, with a few exceptions.
Taking the first third of the Tour big winners would be:
Jordan Smith: Getting better at Pipe. Three big fat, challenging right-handers ahead. Sunset, Steamer Lane, Bells. That offers potential for an easy Top 5 finish for Jordy. Nerves of steel in small surf and an unbeatable mix of power/repertoire at Trestles.
Jack Robinson: Pipe Ace, first among equals at Sunset would put him on a no-pressure run into the Aussie leg where anything to do with the Box or North Point sees him win again. G-Land, J- Bay and Tahiti play right into his wheel-house.
JJF: Pipe, Sunset, Bells and Margaret River he can do at 70% without even attempting an aerial. Could conceivably sit Surf Ranch out to freshen up for Trestles as a way to dig the knife into Slater.
Kelly Slater: Almost has to win Pipe to compensate for weakness at Sunset and the other fat rights on Tour. We’ll never misunderestimate his level of uncomfortability at chubby rights but there is a slight compensation due to not having to scrap around in European close-outs against a local wildcard. Question marks about his anti-vax stance if a vaccination becomes available and mandatory.
Ethan Ewing: After winning Tweed Coast Pro momentum has been lost. Seen a lot of Ethan surfing lately. He’s Top 3 in sand-bottom point surf. At Pipe and Sunset and Steamer Lane? No chance.
The QS: What the fuck is going on the QS? Dave Prodan said stability was the best building block to developing new Tour structures but stability for the QS is not even on the horizon.
Who you got on truncated Tour, with some likelihood it may be missing as many limbs as the Black Knight (just a flesh wound!) come Trestles?
I say Jordan Smith and he will not like any asterisks beside his name.
I predict some very fiery pressers as the over-sensitive Saffa takes umbrage to even the softest of soft balls.
What say you?