Crazy, crazy entertaining day…
Crazy, crazy entertaining day at Narra.
We start the analysis round of 16 heat 1. Punchy peaks, lefts reeling off, rights into an air wind. Filipe Toledo needs not ride the best waves of the heat to beat Fred Morais.
Filipe sits out to sea for half over half the heat, letting Fred clock up fives below him. First of many confounding decisions from the world’s best. Toledo gets caught in a roll-in on a set wave, his feet are in the wrong spot, he throws what Brad Gerlach calls a “utility turn”, a dreamy carve then flubs the finish.
Following that wave he streaks across an Alley Right into the wind, hits the section and snaps the board in front of the fins, the offending particle recoiling from the collision and soaring into space like it had been shot from the Hadron collider.
OK, now go catch some waves.
He’s waiting for sets though. One of the worst strategic heats ever surfed. Let a guy catch waves he can get fives which you can get sevens and end up holding the short straw after thirty minutes. It seems Filipe was not humble enough to learn any lessons from it, claiming after the heat there was “nothing I could do, that’s just surfing”.
Amazingly Ethan Ewing adopted the same strategy against Jaddy Andre. Paddle out and sit there for twenty minutes and not catch a wave. Jaddy went to work but could not make a wave. Surfed four waves, fell for four. Forcing Bugs to call the heat, accurately, a “whole bunch of nothing.”
You would have to call that a lucky draw for EE. Any respectable CT surfer would have made him pay.
As it stands, despite Ewing himself calling the heat “one of the worst… frustrating heats” he gets through to the quarters against Fred Morais.
It was one of those days where the best surfers didn’t get through, either by bad strategy, like Filipe, or bad judging, in the case of Italo and Reef Heazlewood.
More on that in a moment.
There’s a reason I don’t bet on surfing.
It’s because I’d lose all my money and end up pulling tricks for rent money. I felt sure Caio would be able to rattle Medina’s cage and force the upset, given what we’d just seen with Fred and Ewing. Medina surfed close to the perfect heat. Paddled away from Caio, started riding waves, put the crowd energy on his side, asked plenty of the judges, shredding backwashy lefts. There’s so much flow in his surfing at present. I want to call him the premier stylist on tour, if we consider style to be the efficient translation of movement into speed and torque.
Ibelli was stranded out to sea, waiting for, what, a miracle?
The Newcastle Air at Ladies Left was an Evel Knievel stunt leap over a school bus, the backside full rotor he landed at Alley Rights was travelled less distance but covered more vertical. His board hung so long in the air it was bone dry when it landed. Which he did with the composed grace of a Gallic waiter carrying a tray of hors d’oeuvres.
The claim was from the NBA genre, officially a “mid-court step back” to shoot.
Heat over for Caio.
John John Florence saw the heat-winning air. Had a little chat to Medina about it in the water. Head-high rights into an air wind, with little elbows to land on. In the other bewildering decision of the day he tried to match power surfing turns with Morgan Ciblic, probably thinking he could break the kid with “classic” heat strategy. Build house blah blah.
Richie Lovett called Morgan’s backside lip blasts “power blows”; there was very much controlled violence about them. JJF surfed at eighty percent, beautifully, with deep, round bottom turns and flair in the tail on the top turn. Morgs surfed at ninety to ninety-five percent.
“You can’t surf soft anymore,” he declared in an interview snippet.
Which means turn for turn, wave for wave, he out-surfed the two-time Champ, widely hailed in the last six months as the best in the world.
Momentarily, JJF overtook Ciblic after a score was dropped. The emotional effect was similar to Steven Spielberg’s 1971 road rage movie Duel. John looked like the hapless business commuter in the Plymouth Valiant being viciously pursued and terrorized by Ciblic in the Peterbilt 281 truck.
John was so phased he gave Ciblic the best wave of the heat, while he had priority.
He gave him the best wave of the heat.
A short, bowling set wave that unleashed the killer inside Ciblic. Squaring up straight off the bottom he attacked the lip with the fins and back third of the board anchored on nothing but a sheet of spray across the coping. Progressive power surfing.
Is that even a thing? It is now.
And Morgan Ciblic has smashed John John Florence with it twice now. John had no arrow left to fly. No air attempt into the wind. He just sat there at the end of the heat like he’d been hit with an icepick behind the eyes.
All the heat for the day rests on the judges call that a very fast, very large full rotation backside air that Italo launched against Connor Coffin was incomplete. Thus, instead of a high seven or eight it was awarded a one and change. I think a heinous error. Bugs called it a “radical outcome, but not controversial” if you can get your head around that verbal gymastics.
All five judges scored it an incomplete.
My main beef with the panel goes back earlier in the heat to a left that Italo surfed that should have been at least a point and half or two better than Connor’s scoring waves. That critical underscore fucked the correct unfolding of the back third of the heat. Italo was flayed and cooked either way.
The best guy did not win. He knew it, we knew it, the whole beach knew it.
I feel like the judges were making a statement, I’m just not sure what it was. Air fatigue maybe?
If there was some kind of reactionary movement against airs happening in the judging booth then Reef Heazlewood read the room perfectly. His first ride, with a full wrap roundhouse, the first one done all comp, maybe Newy as well?, was almost achingly beautiful. Shocking that this “air guy”, our answer to the Brazilian storm could flow through such a neo-classic turn. His surfing was sharp, he looked the far better surfer than Griffin Colapinto.
He should have kept surfing.
But with way too much time left on the clock he tried to perform priority jiu jitsu on Griff. By maintaining top position he allowed Griff to slip into a nothing wave and huck what looked to me like a low speed, flat air. Yes it had projection, yes it had inversion. But with little speed they highballed the shit out of it, gave it a seven, and Griff took the heat.
We all love underdogs.
But underdogs who win on their merits, not because the other guy can’t make a wave or the judges are mentally fatigued and all lose their minds at the same time. If Morgan Ciblic can get past Medina, that makes him some kind of favourite, which sounds completely crazy.
But that is what reality obliges from us.
But really who knows, it might be a Kanoa/Morais Final.