Great day in waves Hawaiian Seth Moniz described as "five feet".
Great opening day in what Seth Moniz called Hawaiian five feet at Main Break, Margaret River.
We know the biggest waves went unridden, Moniz said the “bomb sets are not rideable” but nonetheless it did confirm the full extinction of the mid-length step-up in the pro surfing caper. The days of pro’s riding anything bigger than 6’6” are over.
The black hole in the quiver is between 6’6” and 9’0”. Pros now ride 6’2″s, what my pal Derek Hynd calls “Christmas boards for kids”, as a matter of course in ten-foot surf. No current, no crowd, and a jet ski to ferry you back after every wave; there’s no need for a board that can deal with a big paddle anymore.
You can’t argue, of course, with what John Florence can do on a 6’2” in big surf. It’s been so era defining that Griffin Colapinto admitted he was riding a 6’1” copy of John’s board and the rest of the field was doing likewise.
Medina was on a 6’2”, looking imperious, Ryan Callinan on a 6’4” laid down the best backside two-turn combo ever seen at Main Break rights for a 9.80.
We barely need to say Main Break rights, it is righthander now as defined by the world’s best. By my count, three lefts were ridden today. One by Japanese rookie Amuro Tsuzuki for the heat winning high score of a 7.33, a wobbly fat-faced thing. Other lefts ridden by Jordy Smith and Ace Buchan were inconsequential to heat totals.
Thus, despite some spitting bombs in the afternoon and an over fifty-year history in surfing competition the lefthanders at Main Break were left to go unridden.
The one impression left by John Florence, both after his heat, and the extended edit he dropped the day before the comp began was that we wanted more. Like Cleopatra in Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra he makes hungry where most he satisfies.
Unlike Sally Fitzgibbons, who nonetheless did us a great service in the booth when she broke down the mechanics of the Main Break right, describing the difficulty of getting the first turn high on the face, the extensive area of dead, flat water to be traversed and the insanity of the end closeouts, whereby two great confluences of whitewater triangles converge, making surfers into versions of aquatic crash-test dummies.
I paraphrase her, but that was the gist of it.
It highlighted, seconds later, the rarity, the perfection of the read and the gap between John and the rest of the field, when he backdoored the right, spent the whole wave ducking and weaving deep behind an imperfect curtain and emerged with just enough time to throw a claim and smash the end section.
“You never see guys backdoor the bubble,” said Jack Robinson with respect to John’s ten-point ride.
Was it the best tube-ride ever at Margarets?
Jack Robinson: “It’s the best one I’ve ever seen”.
John sees something other’s don’t out there. Primarily the line drive off the bottom. He was the first guy to identify that very thin band of energy at the base of the wave, a fraction higher up than had traditionally been ridden as the correct place for a bottom turn. That would slingshot him high into the face without losing the speed and centrifugal force necessary for the high-speed arc he pioneered in 2015 and perfected in 2017.
Others are now starting to take the same line. Griffin Colapinto found it, as did Ryan Callinan.
Heat five, with Italo, Jack Robbo and Jacob Wilcox saw all three surfers utilising the Florence line. It was the best heat of the day. I favoured Italo’s forever bottom turns, probably only shaded by Medina’s for length. Judges were more impressed with Wilcox’s efforts to attack the lip. I’m not totally convinced by Robinson’s top turns; they sometimes look two-staged. There is the opening drive, then a second effort, which lacks the fluidity and the drama of that Florence whip in the late stages of his top turn. No doubt that is where he is aiming though.
Today would have been a great day for long heats with a leaderboard. Everyone surf once, in an hour or ninetyminute heat; we would have got a lot more John John, a lot more radical surfing as everyone warmed up. John had plenty more to give, as did Gabe.
Matty MacGilvray probably didn’t. He surfed about as good as he ever has in a heat to lay down an excellent score. If there is a rookie to explode out of this event, it will be him. Morgan Ciblic was not able to recover after wearing monster set on the head. In an extended heat with a leaderboard he could have easily had the time.
We could have then cut the field based on those who couldn’t cut it at ten-foot Margarets, instead of having an entertaining day with zero consequences for the draw.
No one got sent home.
Everyone gets a gold star and a second chance.
Which makes tomorrow a difficult decision for the comp director.
Two more heats of round one, then the elimination round.
Do you throw them out at the Box? And “waste” what could be peak conditions out there?
Or run them at Main Break and then go to the Box?
Now that the gals are also being fitted into the same waiting period time is a precious commodity. They won’t get it done in this swell cycle, which means gambling on fair winds at the end of the waiting period, by which time, this semi-epic day will be ancient history.
It’s the same old problem.
And we are no closer to a solution.