Beautiful! Brilliant. Why not?
One of my favourite things, if not the favourite thing, about pro surfing is how it can create its own reality.
It’s very post-modern, very “now”. In this reality retirement does not exist. It’s like dark matter. Very post-physics. We are not allowed to call a pro leaving the sport, “retired” they are merely starting a new chapter.
In this reality, Kelly Slater, beaming down on the big five-o after a Round of 32 win over Miggy Pupo, more on this in a minute, can use the post-heat presser to announce a Title run. The reasoning, according to Slater: If I win this comp and then win Tahiti, I’m mathematically a chance to make the five…..I paraphrase, but words to that effect.
But, beautiful! Brilliant. Why not?
And with Gabe and JJF out of Tahiti, along with who knows how many other pros choosing a “new chapter”, he might be right.
This crazy old man, just might be right.
Have you read the Carlos Castenada classic on Mexican shamanry “A Separate Reality”? Carlos gets all whacked on mushrooms, jimson weed and peyote with Don Juan and describes a whole new way of perceiving the Universe.
Look, it turned out to be a hoax but no matter, the concept of considering psychedelics as “allies” as we know Slater did with Ayahuasca, works.
It flat out works.
We simply have to accept this separate reality when it comes to the WSL and the Goat. How else to explain a fifty-year-old man doing the best turns of the day (opening turns on wave one and three) in head-high point surf?
OK, retirement doesn’t exist in pro surfing, Slater proves it. Julian Wilson has time to study for a Ph.D in pharmacology, epidemiology, become a real estate baron and still come back in a decade and challenge for a Title.
Slater was magnificent on a Firewire FRK, a board I have ridden and claim as the worst sled I’ve ever had under me.
Made me a complete kook.
Made Kelly look better than 2006.
Mexico is a separate reality.
Anyone who has been there will testify. It made Filipe Toledo surf one of the most confoundingly inept heats in pro surfing history. He sat for forty minutes with a million runners available and a repertoire that could turn any single one of them into a seven at least with a two-point heat total.
Then shredded an eight, left wildcard Rio Waida with priority, who duly safety surfed a midsized set for the mid-four required.
Did his brain melt in the heat?
Magic mushroom omelette for breakfast?
What explanation can be offered?
Would be sufficient?
All the Mexican wildcards got knocked, which left Rio Waida, riding the Olympic high as a potential spearhead for a new surge from Indonesia and the sole remaining wildcard. Is this slim cat a CT surfer? Only question on my mind watching him surf against Toledo.
Heavily qualified, yes.
Agile, lightfooted surfers need to improve rail game to make impact at Bells Beach, Margarets, J-Bay etc etc. But Toledo did it with a similar physique and approach so no reason Waida can’t follow suit. If he gets through against Jack Robbo in the next heat the momentum surge will be huge.
Could our Aussie lambs turn into lions we asked yesterday?
Jack Robbo and Ethan Ewing principally, our non-retiring pros or whatever the correct term is for those not choosing a new chapter. You’d have to say, yes.
Ewing’s people wonder why I am so anti their man. “What did he ever do to you?” they ask me.
Not a damn thing, and that’s the problem.
My problem is people getting paid big bucks to do the business, not doing the business. People getting relentlessly hyped as top three surfers, as Andy Irons clones, who haven’t got a functioning above-the-lip game.
There ain’t a snowballs chance of surviving a day under even the shadiest Cabana in Barra de Cruz of a surfer making the Top 3/5 without a functioning air game in 2021. And so far, to my knowledge, despite an Aussie leg with two beachbreak venues, Ethan Ewing has completed zero aerials. I might not even like an aerial attack, you either, but that’s the way it is.
Ewing got the highest heat score of the day against Matt McGillvray. I thought the 9.2 very generously scored, considering the last third of the ride was essentially safety surfed. It did, however, lift the scale for Kelly’s turns.
It put judges in a quandary.
They paid Gabe’s last-minute low altitude rodeo flip on a nothing wave, fair enough. They also paid Italo’s very weird last ride against Wade Carmichael. A whipped reverse out of the lip, a whole lot of nothing and a closing turn. That score could have gone anywhere. I thought, low six and not enough. Judges went 7.33, which kept Italo in the comp and probably pushed Wade’s career into a new chapter.
Gabe vs Ewing first heat of the round of sixteen. A very intriguing match up. A solid Gabe performance steadies the ship, gives him some mental breathing space for a month. Puts Ewing in his place as a non-top three surfer. A fired-up Ewing who blows away Medina shuts up the critics (me) moves into 2022 with a first half of the tour suiting him to a tee.
Conditions will suit Ewing. Not many waves, judges in favour of his surfing.
Kanoa out, Griffin out. Ciblic in.
The strangest outcome this year is a Kelly Slater World Title. Second place, a Morgan Ciblic Title. Nothing that has gone before now is relevant. Which is lending a very weird vibe to a comp that barely matters, despite being the penultimate comp before the Finals.
Shizer, Waida and Mateus Herdy, last remaining wildcards.