"Another reason why I hate Sunset," says the Champ.
It went bad. Real bad. The kind of bad that’s disturbingly close to being great. I could be telling a whole different story, but instead it’s the same as it ever was.
Drawing out my bracket yesterday I felt prescient, confident. The gamblers trap. Feeling like you’re one step ahead.
I got lots right. I knew Barron was beating Italo. I had Slater to lose to McGillivray regardless. Filipe to beat Billy, Jadson over Fred, Seth all the way to quarters, Robbo too…
But the others. God, the others.
On that: if god is willing to show up for a Rd of 32 heat for Caio Ibelli, where the fuck is he for me in the throes of desperation bets?
I signed off three heats before the end last night. Negligent? Fuck you.
Stress often manifests as sudden exhaustion for me. I place a big multi before I go to sleep. It’s the only way. Turn it off and squeeze my eyes shut. I threw one on the heats remaining (as well as a couple on NBA games) then closed my eyes and hoped.
I imagine I’ll wake up and all my problems will have been erased. It’s pure gambling. Chucking money into the void in the hope it somehow comes back. I might as well be playing slots, or endlessly piling on my favourite number on the roulette wheel and trying to burn through it with my eyes in the illogical belief I can make it stop.
Round and round and round we go.
I didn’t sleep well, drenched in sweat despite the cold. Storms are lashing most of the country just now. Biblical downpours and winds tearing trees from the ground. I dashed round the garden before dark rescuing the boys’ bike ramps that were pinned against the fence. A neighbour’s polytunnel was shredded. A loose sheet on the metal roof of the house warped and rattled all night.
Anyway, it’s 5am now and I’m awake to face it.
No euphoric redemption.
I’ve just rewatched the Filipe vs Ewing heat. (I had Filipe, obviously). Looked good. Can’t argue with that last score for Ewing. Is this a surfer finally stepping into his destiny? In appropriate synthesis, this is the guy I’d questioned as the most overrated surfer in memory just yesterday.
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The day got off to a terrible start with Conner’s loss. That single result was a death knell. He was in most of my multis. (You know that of course). But beyond that he was also my Surfvival pick. He’s a surfer whose style I’ve always admired, compounded by some very pleasant interactions we’ve had in the past. And beyond that, still, was he not the event sponsor or something? Very confusing hearing his name in the ads.
But what can you do when the other surfer is doing the lord’s work? Thanks god, said Caio in his post heat interview with Rosie. Or words to that effect.
I thought He only showed out for finals day. So aye, cheers, big man.
It was a bit of a day for Brazilian good-guy journeymen. Ibelli is through to the quarters on merit and not simply divine intervention.
Jadson bested Frederico “Timelord” Morais before meeting his natural end in the round of 16 against Kanoa.
Is it just me, or is Kanoa looking more and more like the clinical competition machine he was conceived as?
Deivid Silva was a bundle of backhand joy all day. How have I overlooked him to this point? His post heat interview after demolishing Callinan in the round of 32 was innocent and pure and just lovely. I noted the fact it was the first time I’d seen him interviewed and that he reminded me of a young Italo. An Italo before his soul was stolen by Instagram.
Silva lost to Barron in the next round but seemed like he shouldn’t have. Regardless, he’ll be a personal favourite going forward.
Oh to have faith…
Sunset made Negatron’s negativity look a little negative today.
The shift in swell direction to a more northerly angle served up long and hackable walls which seemed to get cleaner all day.
At the start there was still some conjecture from the booth about old vs new at Sunset. Outside or inside, long or short.
Most of this came from Makua, who had some solid moments today in which I didn’t completely hate him. Notable were his blunt corrections of Kaipo’s wittering. “He’s slowly working his way back into the heat,” said Kaipo of Morgan Ciblic as he registered his first decent wave and still needed a high nine in the dying minutes.
“He can’t slowly do anything!” scoffed Makua.
Later, I noted another dismissal of Kaipo’s irreverent and airy praise, for what or whom I can’t remember, not that it matters.
“This is a four-foot wave,” Makua interrupted. “There’s ten-foot waves out the back.”
This is all we want. A bit of truth. A bit of reality amidst the toxic positivity.
Nat Young looked in glimpses like he belonged on tour. He had clearly gone heavy on the elf elder water at breakfast and was rewarded with a magical backhand attack, but the elixir wore off later against Seth. Microdose, Nat, microdose.
I saw glimpses of the fuss about Ethan Ewing today. Something in his rail line, something in the way he holds his arms, the height of his elbows as he comes off the top…reminds me of something…
He’s into the quarters, but really he should’ve been out against Sammy Pupo who was underscored, at least in the context of that heat.
The judges collectively lost their shit after this.
There was a three heat period that might warrant a few thousand words alone.
They threw a 9.43 for a single Connor O’Leary backhand re-entry. Dramatic yes, but it didn’t fit the scale.
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Matthew McGillivray’s wave to open against Kelly will be forgotten in the melee that followed, but the nine awarded was bizarre.
John went down to Jake Marshall in a heat that tells us everything we need to know about betting on surfing. Or not, as the case may be.
After snapping the tail off his board on a top turn, John was left scrambling. It looked painful and I don’t think I’ve ever seen a board break like that. Jon Pyzel winced on the beach as JJF’s crew tried not to side-eye him.
But the story, as always, was Kelly.
Winning or losing, in madness or in rapture, he’s still the most interesting man on Tour.
In the non-priority heat, Kelly took off on the same wave as John, bottom turning round the whitewash as Florence got to his feet. It didn’t interfere with the wave, but it was still an interference by rule. Kelly knew it immediately, but it would be some time before he accepted it.
The script had been torn up. There was panic in the booth.
Laura immediately called it as an interference.
“We…we cannot confirm that…”stuttered Kaipo, his voice shaky and uncertain.
“I retract that,” said Laura.
All of a sudden it had turned into the set of A Few Good Men.
Then it was confirmed. Kelly was out.
Laura was flummoxed. “He needs a combination right now,” she said, when McGillivray had already logged a 12.83 and Slater was only allowed one scoring wave.
McGillivray scuttled to the inside in fear of his life or being suckered into an interference call by Slater’s low blood sugar voodoo madness.
Kelly stayed out. He inexplicably went to caddy Jackson Dorian to swap boards.
“A lot of tension,” was just about all Strider could manage.
It seemed like Kelly might not accept the decision. Did he think might later bend things to his will with a protest?
The situation turned comical as he refused to leave the water, refused to leave our consciousness.
Kaipo found the old script. As Kelly wiggled his way down the line before furiously fluffing the end section, Kaipo was still calling him the GOAT, the 11 time champ, etc etc, as if nothing had happened. As if the heat he was surfing to nothing, against nobody, was in some way meaningful.
Slater continued to float in the line-up after his heat had finished, stubbornly refusing to leave the peak.
Any other surfer would have been forced to leave, but no-one knew what to say to the furious man in yellow. So in WSL tradition, they simply pretended he wasn’t there.
“I don’t like the wave. I don’t like the crowd,” Kelly said in a rare and glorious WSL post-heat loser interview. “I don’t respect Sunset and it doesn’t respect me back.”
The fury subsided, he was calmed now, clear-eyed and reasonable, accepting of his fate. One can but imagine the tortured dreams he’s having right now.
I feel you, Kelly.
Never stake your life on pro surfing, friends.
On to quarters then.
How are the odds looking? We’ll spin away regardless, because there’s always a chance.
Mercifully, it’ll be over soon.