Not what the Duke had in mind when he envisioned the Sport of Kings as an Olympic sport.
I could have sworn, after Day One, that today was going to be a no-name bloodbath, and it did in the end up being that way.
But not at first as Steph Gilmore, then Johanna Defay, were bundled out of the Olympics in very shitty three-to-four-foot-gurgled-out beachbreak by Bianca Buitendag and Yolanda Hopkins respectively. Potential super-star Ella Williams went early, Tati got knocked and from there it was close to a complete shut-out of the off-tour underdogs.
The two-point plus spread that we identified yesterday as the key metric held true for the most part. The Peruvian men provided the sternest resistance of the roughies, with Miguel Tudela just getting pipped by local Hiroto Ohhara (fellow Pipe stud, I think?) and Lucca Mesinas grafting a slim win against Leo Fioravanti.
It was a sloppy, muddy mess of a lineup, I feel quite sure not what the Duke had in mind when he envisioned the Sport of Kings as an Olympic sport.
Nonetheless, a bit of a revelation for the men’s commentary having the non-surfing Englishman in the booth with Barton. He quickly indentified the key ingredients of surfing as sport: character, match-ups, skill and reality.
Just such a refreshing relief after the drinking from a firehose rainbows and unicorns positivity of Turpel and crew. Seems when you take pro surfing out of the hands of the WSL and play it like a true sport with an independent commentary it comes out OK.
Maybe lessons learned for the next billionaire who hates space travel and wants an expensive toy to play with.
The muddy mess and incomprehensible scoring will not provide succour to ELO’s fevered dream of an Olympic led surfing boom.
It’s already happened, for one.
For two, VALS don’t give a fuck about competition.
Even the architect of Olympic surfing ISA Prez Fernando Aguerre is savvy enough to realise that, claiming in a media interview this week that, “We (surfers) exist outside of competitions. You can’t be a boxer or a fencer if you don’t box or do fencing against somebody. But everyone can be a surfer without competing. This is a sport you do on your own.”
And to drop a final unflushable turd into the Olympic Wavepool dream, he then took an aggressive, egalitarian, pro-ocean stance: “The ocean is free. It doesn’t belong to anyone. No one can buy it. Nobody can sell it. Nobody can charge you. You can be Bill Gates’ son or the janitor’s son, black or white, gay or straight, male or female, young or old, fat or skinny. Nobody cares. The ocean doesn’t care.”
It does care a little bit. But who’s counting.
The rest of the mainstream press coverage involved the typical pro surfer whining about how negative stereotypes were holding the sport back. Which is a complete load of cock and bull.
Fast Times at Ridgemont High was forty years ago. Everyone surfs.
Obama, Zuck, Thor and his bro that was married to Miley Cyrus, that cunt from Google who keeps a superyacht moored in the Mamanucas near Cloudbreak etc etc. The biggest outdated stereotype about surfing is that outdated stereotypes still exist. The mass market has had fifty years of exposure to pro surfing and knocked it back everytime.
It just don’t appeal.
Despite crap surf, the match-ups today did appeal to the hard-core. And no offence to the women, but there was no real heat in the exchanges until Andino and JJF hit the water for the second heat of round three men’s.
JJF on the maroon Dark Arts, which stands accused of having unreliable handling and a low make rate on airs and completions. Andino on a stock PU/PE Mayhem driver. Neither men making concessions to injury with visible strapping.
Brother opened the heat in emphatic fashion with a whipped and lofted slob reverse, full rotation. Seven and a half.
He waved his arms frantically to hear the score again. Not for information but as as psychological ploy to rattle JJF.
And, John did look rattled. The completions failed to materialise. The rail game looked solid but the final turns would not stick, adding fuel to the flame that carbon construction has too much of a rigid flex modulus, making it unforgiving for bumpy surf.
Brother was pumped by the judges on a very handy back-up ride that should have beem a mid-five. Judged not to have completed the final air and given a 2.7. He did not crack.
Twelve to go, JJF failed to stick an air. Nine to go, he failed again.
Four-and-a-half minutes to go, Brother nails a slick slash and air combo for a 6.33. 14.33 plays 8.93 with three on the clock.
The tension causes an intense physical reaction in me. My fingers are twitching and spiders are crawling all over the back of my neck. I want Brother to win so bad. John launches a tail-high air with a weird, fluffy landing.
It needs an 8.07. I think it’s a six. Will judges crack? They highball it a 6.77.
Ninety seconds takes an eternity. Brother catches a wave, gives JJF the dancefloor with twenty seconds remaining. He does not catch a wave. JJF exits without a medal. He will be thirty-two at the next Olympics, in his prime as a Teahupoo surfer, assuming no injury.
Medina starts his heat the exact same way. With a clean landed air for a mid seven. Jules responds with a two-turn combo. Slick, non-threatening, house building.
Medina falls and falls and falls, then falls again. He’s miles up the beach from Wilson, close to the next jetty.
Who has the highest completion rate in the air? Has to be Medina.
Failure seems not to bother a hair on his head.
Wilson stomps a single air. Takes a narrow lead with twenty to go.
It’s tight with a third of the heat down. Wilson 11.84, Medina 10.10.
Fifteen to go, tension once more rises.
Each man seems to revert back to previous, more primal stages of their surfing existence. Wilson as a kid surfing onshore slop at Coolum and Medina running thousands of hours in the closeouts of Maresias. Each in their own little world now, deciphering the confused patterns of mixed windswell in the Olympic Games.
Medina catches a wave. Snaps hard and runs a heavy roof-top float in the barrage of the shoredump. It’s a high six. Team Wilson will call it an egregious over-score.
The Private Idaho ends. With the lead Medina smothers Wilson, living all over him with ten to go. Too early to play total defence, I think. A risky, finely calibrated strategy that offers the maximum potential for a Medina interference call as he pushes the limit of heavy D.
Ninety seconds, “he’s living all over me” thought the Aussie crowd, inhabiting the psyche of Julian Wilson’s last moments as a professional competitive surfer.
Forty seconds. Wilson sells Medina on a block, the first wave he has caught in ten minutes.
Twenty seconds, Wilson gets his wave, hits it, launches a clean spin, greased landing.
God, he could have that, I thought. Ice veined judges lowballed a 6.83.
Wilson looked relieved. His team on the beach, ropeable.
The spread flatters Medina, but the result: correct.
Who can beat him at an air-wind beachie?
Two guys. Italo, still going and the other: the best guy in the world in beachbreak surf, Filipe Toledo, did not make the cut.
For convicts, Our Sally and O-Dog remain in medal contention.