And, oh yeah, No J-Bay, back to Barra in Mexico.
For fun, at various points during the event, and especially on Finals Day, I tried to put myself in the minds of the various Tourism suits watching the action from the VIP tent. V
Very much glad handing going on, butterfly prawns dipped in a handmade seafood sauce, mid-strength beers served by cute waitresses and buff waiters. Much joviality.
What price a local victory? For them, I mean.
Even with the most conservative estimate, a lot.
The claims made as return on the investment compound with local media going into overdrive on a homegrown champion.
The technical term is “media equivalency”.
It’s one of those things we call in the sportswriting biz an intangible. We can all feel them, but bringing them into the material realm is eternally problematic. That intangible tailwind was right behind hometown hero Morgs through the day.
Through the event.
The same tailwind behind Ryan Callinan produced a draw, determined by a countback.
It produced a two-point spread in his semi against Medina after the opening exchange.
A two-turn combo adjudged a clean seven against Medina’s five. That kind of push, especially at the start of the heat can distort the outcome but the only distortion we saw was to time and space when Medina unexpectedly angled left off the back bank, the Ladies Left as Luke Egan called it, pumped twice and sailed across a cricket pitch’s worth of oceanic real estate.
Medina called for a three-pointer, judges threw a 9.57 at it.
That was reality slapping the judges in the face, an involuntary exhalation, the gallic pppffftttt for the tourism suits, the end of the local dream as we prophesied y’day.
No disrespect to Morgs though, if he can back up that result anywhere on the Aussie leg, he’s secured his career for a few years.
The quarters were dull, hampered by lumpen surf with inconsistent curves and few opportunities. It was the closest heat for Italo, who had to swing many, many times on chubby lefts against Deivid Silva before he got the tail high air for the win.
The three-point claim wasn’t the biggest display of emotion.
Toledo claimed that, wandering around roaring like a lion kicking soft furnishings after his win over Connor Coffin. He made it look harder than it needed to be. After scoring some points in the shorey he moseyed out to Connor on the back bank who had a score from a single turn.
Priority followed him out there, which seems ludicrous.
An easy rule fix? Surely someone surfing an entirely different part of the area should have automatic priority if the decide to change locations?
Start afresh, surely.
The final exchange in that quarter looked to go Toledo’s way easily but judges waited and waited cooking up a false drama that eventually ended with Toledo’s excellent choice of furnishings to kick.
Maybe a broken foot was what he needed to stop Italo in their semi?
There was a moment in the semi, which Toledo had seemed to control with a slender lead, when Italo roared back into it with a multiple turn wave. Four big turns on the outside, something playful and jazzy in the shorebreak to bring the crowd into it. Maybe the crotch grab claim and straight stare at the judges which was the hallmark post-ride celebration for the champ.
The replay in slo-mo close-up showed Italo grinning inanely, during the ride!
This guy was having the time of his life. Not even a hint of pressure.
What he did do, and all contest, was put the pressure on opponent. None more so than against Medina in the final. A relentless weaponising of pace. Never seen before, if my reading of pro surfing is correct. Wave after wave, after wave. The conventional wisdom is build a house and then wait for the best waves in the heat.
Not so for Italo. Tail-high air revs on the forehand, big whipped backside rotors. You could feel the gears grinding in Medina’s brain as Italo kept catching, roaming the line-up like a frothing dog. Catching anything that moved.
Don’t look, don’t look.
But he kept looking.
It chopped the legs out from under him. He looked shakier and shakier as the final went on.
The opening exchanges were fierce. Medina went straight up on the best wave of the final, then swung his board into a vicious bottom turn that left a deep cut in the base of the wave, freeing the fins on the top turn. It was a clear and clean advancement on the basic building block of backside surfing.
For mine, the best meat and potatoes wave of the event. Lowballed with an 8.6? A high nine if done by a local? Intangibles we will never know.
Medina fell on an alley oop attempt that never looked right. In the same way he did in the final at Pipe his mojo and skill set seemed to dissipate as the clock wound down. Technically he only needed a mid-ranger six. In our guts, we willed him to do it, but it never seemed likely.
I’m not sure there has ever been a more one sided display of dominance, can we use the term alpha?, than Carissa Moore’s charge through the field. Derek Rielly called the surf a cute two-to-four-feet, the ocean seemed a more generous benefactor to Moore, sending her multiple well overhead waves that I’d have no probs calling four, five foot. Shades of John John at Margarets with the cut through on the carves, the total dominance over the field.
Completely one sided final against Isabella Nichols. Over after Carissa rode her first wave, though she would never admit it. I think the girly diffidence has to hide a deeper sense of steel. No one can be that good, develop the skill set at Pipe for example, without a hidden beast.
Some of you may be wondering about the comparison between Newcastle and Lennox or Newy and Bells. Newy smashed both of them. They would have been royally skunked at the Ox, not a single banner day, many heats run in terrible onshore surf, brown water and rain.
Clean babyfood today, not even breaking at the Point. Bells not much better.
If the suits do get their way and were to win a bidding war against Bells to upgrade the Newy comp to a permanent CT then I think we saw enough to justify the claim. Four CT’s in Oz, could there be five next year?
One axiom I live by: The Woz will never let Tourism money get between them and a CT, no matter how many rules they have to make up as they go along.
Oh yeah, No J-Bay, back to Barra in Mexico.
Can we have Dane as the wildcard pls.