And Gabriel Medina stumbles over his own aggression…
One Australian male in the quarter-finals after our Olympians failed again.
Possible, probable even, there will be no Australian in contention for a world title. No Australian at the Trestles final.
I mention, not as blunted rah-rah Aussie-Aussie-Aussie-oi-oi-oi jingoism, but merely to ask whether the dismal state of Aussie pro surfing amongst the men puts in jeopardy the CT project downunder. Will the greatest supporter of Pro Surfing yet discovered, the Australian taxpayer, continue their lusty support if the hometown heroes so continually disappoint?
I dunno, I just ask the question.
In greasy six-foot surf the world’s best struggled to an unnatural extent. It was light on for excellence, heavily stacked for entertainment. Certain heats verged on Keystone Cops level of slapstick, most notably the heats around and including Gabe Medina in heat five, which overlapped with Fred Morais/Ryan Callinan in heat four; Kanoa/ Matt McGillvray in heat six and Italo/Caio in heat seven
I feel like we are a ways down the track in understanding our duelling world champions John John Florence and Gabriel Medina. John has a brittle exterior, which can be easily broken in competition by aggressive tactics from those who he considers his inferiors. The template to beat him was laid down by Zeke Lau at Bells and enthusiastically embraced by Morgan Ciblic at Newcastle and Narrabeen.
John feels bothered and disrespected by hard-core competitive tactics. John gets flustered, loses composure and under or over surfs. He looks eminently beatable in this event.
By contrast, Gabe usually beats himself. He stumbles over his own aggression, as we have seen many, many times. Today he blocked Seth Moniz on an opening wave, “should have got a paddling interference, he blocked me” according to Moniz.
Took a humiliating trip over the falls then fell into a funk so complete it catalysed the worst performance of Medina’s career. Flubbed turns, mistimed turns, spin outs, bad wave choices.
Moniz wasn’t much better, he really wasn’t.
Was Medina drugged?
Seems a reasonable question. Did someone slip a Rohypnol in the morning coffee? And what was Coach King’s response? Medina claimed King was working with him on matters of technique, not strategy, but strategy is clearly Medina’s Achilles heel. Why get involved in a skirmish with Moniz in a forty-minute heat when he could easily out-surf him ninety-nine times out of one hundred?
If Coach King earns his ten percent he’ll soothe and soften Medina up for Rottnest and eliminate any of the revenge fantasies which marred his last failed title bid in 2019.
Halfway through the Medina/Moniz heat Kanoa opened his account by blatantly burning McGillvray. Automatic loss of half the second scoring wave.
Almost up there with the 0.8 heat total in Narrabeen.
This guy has literally been bred to be a pro surfer. What’s the problem here? Is it stupidity? Incompetence? Arrogance? Brain explosion under pressure? Toxic mix of all of it? Kanoa could make the top five. Kanoa could be World Champ. It’s a scary thought, but a realistic scenario.
Jordy laid on a heroic/tragic claim on a minor left to score the four-point ride needed to best Julian Wilson. Kanoa bested it on his best wave to persuade judges to give him a score to lead in his heat. If words can be violence in our current safe space culture, what status do we allot to claims which offend?
Can claims be a kind of violence?
Taj Burrow in the booth noted wryly “ no wonder people claim!” when judges awarded the (over) score. Taj called a six. Judges gave it a high 7 seven.
The surfing had been down rezzed since JJF in heat One. Safety turns for the champ. Missed opportunities on the end section. Peterson Crisanto could not capitalise. Colapinto looked more switched on, as did Ryan Callinan. He sheepishly called his three banger combo for a nine “simplified, in a way, it’s simple surfing” in the presser but it’s what gets paid. Australia’s best surfer at the moment, our only potential top five candidate.
Are Aussie kids looking at him or Noa Deane and Torryn Martin for inspo?
Maybe there is an unseen tribe of Morgan Ciblics gathering in the deep valleys like Germanic Barbarians preparing to launch total warfare on the ruling classes?
I can’t see it.
But, I never saw Morgan coming either.
Only Italo seemed comfortable in the confusion and alive to the comedy. He went left for his first wave, dodged a collision with McGilvray, cut back right, to see Medina dropping down on him, went past Medina, launched a backside air, greased it then belted the end section. Then just went to work tearing pieces out of the six-foot rights.
The turns were sharper, edgier, higher in the lip, what WA GOAT Taj Burrow called “foolproof eights”.
A very big advance on his 2019 showing where he lost to John Florence in the quarters. Based on current form, that result would be reversed. Judges are more aroused by the higher angle in the lip and more theatrical finishing turns of the goofyfoots on this Margaret River vintage.
A finals day at the Box, of course, would annul that advantage.
But you’d still bet on Italo over Filipe even with what Ronnie Blakey diplomatically termed the “added physicality” of Toledo.
Despite the baying for blood my gut feeling is Jessie Miley-Dyer will not be as positively disposed to running finals day at the proto-slab compared to Kieren Perrow.
Which means another day of six-foot Main Break to bring the event home and see whether Florence can find the magic performances which so far have seemed below 2017 levels and a three peat.