The sea, eh.
Old Grandmother Ocean. The snotgreen sea (according to Ulysses Buck Mulligan), which it was for the first few heats.
Even better, and again according to Milligan: the scrotum-tightening sea.
Not something we normally associate with Lower Trestles, but today it was compared to Sunset beach by Kelly Slater. Today it did provide a genuine scrotal contraction in eventual winner Gabe Medina when he did end up on the back of the sled during a White Shark heat disruption.
Elo’s and Ziff’s fever dream: the one day Title decider, did it work?
Yes, with caveats.
Mostly due to the best ever surfer at Trestles, Pip Toledo, being dominated by the year’s best surfer Gabe Medina surfing at a different level.
Somewhat due to the shark.
And a fair bit due to the heavy hitting in the booth from Kelly Slater, and to a lesser extent Mick Fanning.
Slater is the only one not completely mind-controlled by the WSL total corpo agenda, somehow, despite being the winningest surfer ever.
Too old, too narcisstic, too intelligent, too many Titles.
All of the above.
Pip was brilliant, he was beautiful.
His turns, his repertoire: the spice, the speed, the rotation.
Better than anything I’ve ever seen at Trestles.
He needed two waves to defeat Connor Coffin, he caught two waves.
That was ruthless and clinical and patient.
The Title decider at Trestles, was it as good as Pipe?
Not even close.
A crowd that seemed vastly in favour of Brazil tried to create an atmosphere but it was nothing on Pipe, or Snapper or Brazil itself for that matter.
The over-hyping from Cote and Turpel, left a sickly sheen on the snot-green sea that only a bright sunshine and the passive-aggressive sniping from Slater could dissipate.
Kelly called Sally Fitz “athletic-minded” as he pointed out that she had just missed a “World Title wave” in her loss to TTW.
Harsh, but incredibly accurate.
“Style is technique,” according to the mind of Tom Curren.
By that framing, Tatiana Weston Webb’s technique is deficient. Too much bobbling and limbs counter-rotating. A centre of gravity that never seems to sit quite right.There never quite seemed a clean connection between the bottom turn and the top turn, something lost in translation.
Nonetheless, the finishing turns were huge.
And judges paid big time, no matter how weak the lead up work was.
Carissa Moore connected everything beautifully but after an opening ride where she fell going big she dialled everything back to a safe medium. Slater noted the safety surfing, insinuated that judges were over-scoring what was pretty, but low-risk surfing.
Fanning called a mistake the result of a fifty percent approach.
Three clean carves and a safe close-out reo got mid-to-high eights for Riss.
That was enough for her to overcome Tati in a two heats to one victory.
It was tight, Tati had a chance on the last wave. Did the two best turns of the day for her and fell on the final closeout hit.
No woman reached the nine-point mark today, but that won’t matter. Safety surfing, like we saw at Pipe, will be overshadowed in the hysterical, historical mainstream record by the mere fact of today’s existence.
Women’s and Men’s Titles decided on the same day at the same venue with the same prizemoney will be the story, not the lack of nine-point rides or over-scored safety surfing.
The lack of nine-point rides was picked up by Coach King as the potential point of difference for Gabe coming into heat one of his World Title match with Toledo, who had easily accounted for Italo. And, in fact, was looking unbeatable.
The repertoire was sumptuous, making Kelly quiver in verbal ecstacy in the booth. Judges salivated over a skate-style coping grind on an end section in the heat with Italo.
King said Medina would go big. His first two waves were only average: a five for a backhand floater and hit, then a 7.30 for two tail-drifting vert reo’s and a smash. Already though, his board looked to be on tracks, high-speed luge runs, powerboats punching onto the plane.
No bobbles, no wiggles, more skate than surf, in the sense of building speed through each trip to the lip.
The key exchange occurred at almost the exact half-way point in the heat. Lefts had been left to die on the vine all day, despite many plump fruits being spotted on the webcast, notably by the GOAT.
Toledo scrapped into a soapy left that bore a frothy scarring from a previous wave and did a Surf Ranch number on it. The swallow-tail quad sparking drive and spice from each backhand turn.
On its own terms it was the best wave of the heat and Toledo claimed fulsomely.
The camera lunged northwards, in time to catch a sheet of water a full three feet high, being the spray from Medina’s bottom turn, on a bigger left, seaward of any scarring. Medina sliced the green water, sped through another turn and launched a high, long straight air with a slight slob grab, sunlight radiant on sparkling seas in background. It would have made a Noa Deane final cut.
There was the first nine-point ride of the day.
There was the Medina intent, made manifest.
“All Glory and Honour to the guy up there.”
Nine-point ride played 8.33. In pure surfing terms, I side with Slater.
What Toledo was doing was about as much as could be done, about as good as it could be done.
But, Medina could not be denied.
16.30 to 15.70 was a fair spread after Heat 1.
Most sports embrace fatigue as a factor, seeing where the limits of human performance and skill lay when under load. Despite the rhetoric, the WSL did everything in its power to remove or reduce the fatigue factor. Ski rides, long lulls, luxuriant breaks between heats.
What the quad offered Toledo in pure performance it took from him at the outer limits of control as fatigue pushed the edge of the envelope ever so slightly inwards.
Fin lift was identified by Slater as the critical factor leading to crucial falls by Toledo in heat two. At ninety percent, the quad looked amazing.
As Toledo pushed to ninety-five percent the falls came.
He left a full point or more on the table falling on a final air reverse after an insanely well surfed wave, which still scored an 8.53.
That was a mid-nine or even potential 10 if he landed. A heat winner.
This is after the shark scare, which, if you believe it, occurred with Mick Fanning in the booth, along with Joe Turpel and Kelly Slater.
High times on Grandmother Ocean. White breast of the dim sea cleaved by the fin of some ancient predator, while the sing-song voice of Turpel lullabied us into sweet cavalier oblivion.
Who could blame Elo then for thanking the Guy Up There?
Not you or I, that’s for sure.
Shark phobia vanished with faith above for Medina.
He opened up, multiple airs, a weird Flynnstone flip.
Scoreboard pressure mounted on Toledo, who crumbled.
It seemed weird that Toledo could even have a reachable score but when the siren sang, hot salty tears flew for Gabe.
Choking on emotion, Gabe had the mien of the innocent man acquitted of a crime he did not commit.
Perhaps the very definition of innocence mentioned by Camus, “On the day when crime puts on the apparel of innocence, through a curious reversal peculiar to our age, it is innocence that is called on to justify itself.”
Justify himself he did, and by doing so, ensured the absurdity engineered by Elo could not rob him of the Third Title which by rights should have already been won.
An egregious error was avoided today comrades, for men and women.