Connor Coffin's winning waves, minus the artificially inflated 8.77, averaged out at 5.14 over the tournament. Tell me how a guy who struggles to get over a five, who managed one excellent ride in the whole event, can get anywhere near the final?
TL:DR: Medina wins most one-sided final ever over a guy who never should have been there.
Judges cooked the spread to avoid a combination score over Connor Coffin but it didn’t matter.
In fact, Medina must realise in his heart of hearts, none of these wins matter now. In fact, they just increase the chances of the nightmare scenario we outlined when the Trestles Finals Day was announced. Medina miles ahead, run down by Italo or Felipe at head-high Trestles. Medina will still have to solve the Italo problem, absent faulty judging which artificially cruelled his only real opponent outside JJF at Pipe.
Connor Coffin’s winning waves, minus the artificially inflated 8.77, averaged out at 5.14 over the tournament. Tell me how a guy who struggles to get over a five, who managed one excellent ride in the whole event, can get anywhere near the final? This guy, as nice as he is, should have been in the stands with a Corona watching Gabe Medina in head-high beachbreak, not surfing against him.
Apart from that though: huge, huge success. Glistening beachbreak peaks, enough challenge, enough variety, good enough waves. Peacocks and peahens in full plumage. Crowds every day and unless everyone they spoke to was lying, an insatiable hunger for pro surfing and a real joy to see it back at Narra.
I ask the same question we’ve asked all week.
What now? They can’t dump Narrabeen. I see no substitution, no subtraction, only addition. Gold Coast, Narra, Newy, Bells, Margarets. WSL have already broken their own rules about the number of CT’s allowed per country, so what’s the problem?
They make the rules. They break ’em.
The booth was frothing over the possibility of a new CT winner but the newbies weren’t up to the task, in the end. Ewing was well beaten in the first ten minutes by a trio of six point rides from Fred Morais. Griff had moments of brilliance, mostly an 8.5 air against Yago in their quarter. Connor did slightly better versions of the same turn he did all event; a mostly lateral power hook with a close-out reo for incremental gains.
One of the reasons I’ve fallen in love with Narra as a contest venue, apart from the fact it’s not in my backyard, was the extreme discombobulation it was able to generate in the minds of the world’s best surfers. These aren’t people being called on to solve differential calculus or perform brain surgery on kiddies but their livelihood does require being able to place themselves in a position to catch a wave.
In three-foot surf with a reliable sandbar it flummoxed the best. Including Filipe Toledo. None moreso than former CT event winner Kanoa Igarashi. Kanoa tried to get cute on a paddling interference on Connor Coffin, got denied, gained a restart because that move denied anyone catching a wave and then dropped anchor. For thirty minutes. That was the heat, one more above his rightful station, that should have exposed Connor Coffin and sent him packing.
Instead Igarashi, one of the highest paid surfers on tour, sat there with a 0.8 heat total as the siren sounded. Igarashi’s summation of the debacle seemed to lack insight. He said he only “made one mistake”. True I suppose, if you count not catching waves in rippable three-foot beachbreak with only other guy out as a single mistake.
It’s a single mistake in the same way that taking your hands off the wheel and closing your eyes while driving on the freeway is a single mistake.
Coaching has become integral in the post-covid, post-Slater era. You wonder what is being coached.
Morgan Cibilic had Medina on the rack after the best wave of the event. The only proper left hand tube-ride ridden expertly for an high eight. Then he sat, for most of the heat with priority, letting Medina run riot all over the bank. Up and down he roamed, hustling every corner. We got the insight from coach Andy King. Hunt the bank, don’t go outside, “if it’s clean and green go for it”. King called it simply a numbers game, with X amount of waves Gabe would swing for excellent and sooner or later complete.
When you give the best guy in the world unlimited opportunity then it’s likely to work in his favour. As it did in Newy, as it did at Pipe, as it did at Narrabeen.
Defence as a strategy generally, was a losing game at Narrabeen.
JJF, by contrast, fell to pieces against Cibilic. Over-surfing at Newy, under-surfing at Narra.
And Medina was kind.
He paddled up and down, past the kid, never bothering him, never getting up in his grill like he did to Fred Morais in the dying moments of their semi. It seemed to hypnotise Morgan. He stopped surfing and sat there, immobile.
Medina pegged Morgs back and then on the buzzer, with the score perhaps being needed (it wasn’t), threw a lofted air rotation into the teeth of the comps most vicious close-out section. A career ender for lesser surfers. Gabe greased it, looked to the judges, made elaborate hand signals to let them know the landing was complete and then stepped onto the sand. It was an undeniable gesture of solidarity with Italo.
Coach King made an astute observation: “You’re creating a new space for yourself there, brother”.
Space: in the air, on the face, from the tyranny of family dynamics. A mother who can’t let go. The sensation of cutting loose, of being free, of being in charge of his own destiny seemed to create in Medina great, even tremendous quantities of energy. He made time slow down in his heats somehow. For others the thirty minutes raced by with barely an opportunity. For Medina it seemed to be filled with the luxury of time and ample waves.
The problem with a hot take is the emotion drives the pen.
It’s later, when cooler heads can rationalise what seems incomprehensible. On reflection, I think I understand now the message judges were sending to the Tour by deeming Italo’s air an incomplete. Even if that pushed a wholly inappropriate candidate forwards into the finals. It was a mistake for the greater good, a recession we had to have, if I’m reading it correctly.
Something like: no manufactured scores, no tricky recoveries, no reversion to the Slater era when sleight of hand in the whitewater won out.
Everything has to be brutally clean and separate, like a lone tree silhouetted on a hill at sunset.
If that is the case, then I propose we make peace with the judges, as long as they apply the standard equally. The harsh scale all event was appropriate. It left clear mountain air for those willing to go huge.
Big questions for Australian surfing after the first three events.
Lots of backmarkers languishing on the cut-off.
No combatants in either final, no ladies or men in the semis.
Our best guy is a kid no one heard of a year ago.
Can he hold the line in WA? His style would seem perfect for it.
One more early loss for John and his whole year looks as brittle as chalk.
The Dream Tour is over as we knew it, but we’re doing fine.