With Gabe out of the picture and Toledo susceptible to meltdown, one hopes Italo can maintain his newly popping up rage/exogenously supplemented testosterone frustration and channel it towards becoming the top surfer on Tour.
Looming like something that would loom intimidatingly, the menace of the mid-year cut set the Tour a tizzy.
It came, mostly*, from those on the lower rungs of the season’s leaderboard/Tour hierarchy (basically the barnacles), who see it as a threat to their future livelihoods, knowing it becomes harder to justify a career as professional surfer not on Tour.
One toothless threat of a boycott later and we’re on to Margs where, if any one of them could manage a semi-final result, except R-Cal, who would need a second, to guarantee their spot on Tour and further carve out a nice little career existing simply as fodder for Fil and Gabriel to feast on in the early rounds.
Live the dream, guys…
Other than that, Fil, as expected, dominated.
36. Liam O’Brien/Matthew McGillivray
What can I say about Matthew McGillivray? Not much, except for that two last-place finishes in four contests does not bode well for one’s requalification chances… or go very far to justify one’s existence on Tour. That’s all I have to s… oh, he and Leo are basically the same surfer, but he’s not Italian.
I should be feeling some way about seeing Liam go without having the chance to compete, but I don’t really. I guess it sucks and will make for a great story for him to tell people later that he once was a professional surfer who once upon a time qualified for the World Tour but didn’t compete, only to have those high school students not believe him.
35. Carlos Muñoz
Injured since Pipe, Carlos will not make the cut. No matter, he dies a Tour hero’s death trying to compete with the busted shoulder. Woulda been cool to have him compete at Bells because the whole Easter-Zombie-Jesus thing that could have been a forced metaphor…
34. Ryan Callinan
A last-place finish at Pipe and three almost-last place finishes everywhere else, Ryan has a lot of work to do to make the cut.
Like I mentioned above, he will need to at least make the semis, and only guaranteed by a finals appearance, in order to sneak in.
A semi would give him 10075 points for the season which, while most likely gets him across the line, doesn’t guarantee it, as there is a scenario where everyone below the cutline win enough to keep him out… but whatever.
33. Lucca Mesinas
Doesn’t belong on Tour, but a quarterfinal at Pipe probably gets him in, if he can manage a ninth at Margs.
32. Deivid Silva
Surfing in possibly the best non-Joao-John-John heat of the contest in the Round of 32 against Miguel Pupo, Deivid Silva ripped at Bells, using his Taz shaped body to unload on the mushy faces. Sad to see his Hispanic workman’s goatee potentially go.
31. Jadson Andre
A Round of 32 loss hurts for Jaddy, who will have to requalify for the Tour via the minor leagues, in this case the Challenger Series, for the umpteenth time in his career. If the contest goes to the Box, it will be fun to see him charge haphazardly, pushing himself over the ledge to almost certain wipeout, no regard for his safety etc.
30. Leonardo Fioravanti
Another Opening Round win to Round of 32 loss for Leo. Whether he is simply experiencing just a bit of bad luck, I don’t know or care. What I do care about, though, with great excitement, is his future show about his friendship with Kanoa, a behind-the-scenes type deal showing how they do a bunch of stupid shit like making a new music video featuring Leo dancing to Bananarama while Kanoa tries to pick the muffins from his mouth to give him direction.
29. Imaikalani deVault
Controversial win over Slater in the Round of 32 was a feel-good incident for the young Hawaiian who hasn’t been able to put it together this year. Many fantards thought Slater shoulda won, but Imaikalani didn’t surf predominantly on the shoulder like Slater did, was able to stay in the pocket for vertical snaps and tight arcing cutbacks.
Despite all that, he still manages to have the worst board spray on Tour.
28. Frederico Morais
Among the long line of Euro journeyman pros who never really had an apex, not to mention the King of 5-point-something rides, it’s a little sad to see him below the cut line, but that’s just how things go.
Poor performances, relative to expectations, at Sunset, Portugal, and Bells, all of which should have suited him, have him on the outside looking in. One good result could change things at Margs, where he could do well at either potential location, but unfortunately, mounting disappointing performances tend to lead to more disappointing performances.
27. Conner Coffin
A brutal last-place at Bells for the young Santa Barbara Hobbit Master of the Cutback, who one would imagine could dominate, s-turning and roundhousing in the totally unpretentious, aesthetically pleasing way he specializes in to at least the quarterfinals.
Just below the cut line at the moment, a decent result will put him over the top and let him continue making the 805 commercials for the WSL and be on his way to living up to his potential as a regular-footed Ace, before he inevitably falls off and starts his new future as a founding member of the Toad the Wet Sprocket and Cherry Garcia Blend 805 Tribute Band.
26. Owen Wright
Despite a quarterfinal finish at Bells, O-Dawg remains on the wrong side of the cut. Perhaps he should ask Tyler what he can do to send his ovaries into a winning overdrive before Margs.
25. Morgan Cibilic
Morgs surfed the best he has all year at Bells, kinda getting back the mojo he had in 2021 when he proved to the wider world how cute quokkas were and how much they could rip.
24. Caio Ibelli
A depressed performance at Bells for the former Rookie of the Year sees him continue his steady slide down the ratings, which I expect to continue the rest of the year. Luckily for him, he is qualified for next year, so he has that to look forward to. In the Top 10, it would seem a little weird to rate him here, but I guess I don’t think much of him, not in the sense that I don’t like him, but I just seriously don’t think of him.
He never enters my mind until I read his name or see him in a heat.
Also, he muffed Margs last year when he had that terrible The People™ sticker I did not design on his board.
23. Jake Marshall
Found himself in the Elimination Round but was able to get though by virtue of being in a heat with Matthew McGillivray. No drama concerning Snake, as he’s safe, already having secured his spot for next year. Not everyone can be exciting or inspiring, which is fine, being those things can be overrated.
22. Zeke Lau
Zeke has really settled into his every-year groove of being on the borderline for qualification. How exciting is it that we’re within a hair away of hearing him start to speak of himself exclusively in third person?
21. K-Hole Andino
K-Hole, as I’ve previously written, is no longer a World Title contender, but that does not mean he is no longer fun to watch, he can be… ish. That’s a pretty solid endorsement.
20. João Chianca
João has had the unfortunate bad luck of keeping running into John John in these contests, first at Pipe and lastly at Bells. In both heats he was eliminated but excited spectators with his ballsy flair. Fortunately for him, he will have little problem requalifying via the Challenger Series unlike most of the others who will get axed.
19. Connor O’Leary
There is a scenario that sees Connor not make the cut, however, that is extremely unlikely, as everyone rated below him would have to prevail in all their heats against higher seeded surfers until McGillivray or Callinan win the whole contest for that to happen.
His lack of belief in himself, as evidenced by his signature to the petition to protest the mid-year cut, is quite, not stunning, as he has already fallen off Tour previously, quite interesting. Where was I going with that? I don’t know.
18. Samuel Pupo
Rated here for his choice of a bucket hat when cheering on Fil in the quarters. Not elite, but solid.
17. Griffin Colapinto
After a thrilling victory in Portugal, Griff couldn’t keep up the momentum at Bells, dropping to Metronomic Owen in the Round of 32. Scaturient with talent, he can hopefully live up to his promise and make his way into the Top 5, but only if he can avoid these types of setbacks.
To do so, I’d suggest he ditch the coach, cease thinking about strategy and just fucking surf. Speaking of coaches, how is it that Snips is still sought after? None of his surfers win, so what’s the appeal? The fact that he looks like Opie? You don’t know either.
16. Jackson Baker
Jacko had a good event, completely outsurfing Jordan in their Round of 32 heat, despite Jords trying to sell an interference on the Bake near the end of the heat. Clearly not being part of the elite on Tour, he is still fun to watch, riding antiquated boards with a little bit of the nineties power flair we grew up with.
If this surfing thing fails to work out this year, maybe he can get a jump on starting the new phase of his professional career as Australiafied reincarnation of Wilford Brimley, enjoying his ice cream and apple pie while reminding fellow Type IIs to test often to keep their diabeetus under control.
15. Nat Young
Natty surfed really well at Bells. A pity he’s not Aussie, as I think that may have nudged him ahead in his heat with Owen in the Round of 16. Is this really the case? Probably not, as all judges’ scores are really just degrees of difference centered around whatever the head judge determines the score is (suspect how little variation in scores there are, but whatever).
Also, I would like to personally apologize to you Nat for comparing you to Caliban from The Tempest and for making fun of your freckled complexion. You’re a very well-rounded surfer, with no real obvious weaknesses. Will I stop making fun of you? No.
14. Seth Moniz
Seth shit the bed at Bells and got a last-place finish. He probably should try to avoid the Elimination Round if he wants to improve his standing. That is now his second appearance there this year, and probably should have been his third, if he had not luckily landed an Opening Round heat with Lucca Mesinas in Portugal.
13. Jordan Michael Smith
Got waxed by Ben Luckett in the Round of 32. Did not tank his ranking just because he could still get into the Top 5, improving with El Salvador, J-Bay, and G-Land coming up.
12. Ethan Ewing
One of the informed (shout-out Richie) surfers of the event, Ethan was thoroughly outclassed by Fil in the semis, left sitting there executing the great strategy of not catching waves. His little temper tantrum at the end of the heat, slapping the water with slicked back hair, was funny. Aussie passion.
11. Barron Mamiya
Surfed solidly but just got a bad result. Out of the six waves he surfed during his losing heat against Morgs he showed remarkable consistency, with five of his waves scoring over 5 points. Avoiding having too many wasted waves and shit scores will be critical to his future World Title hopes, helping him grind through enough heats to keep him in it.
10. Jack Robinson
Jack had a good contest, sharp on his way to a semi-final finish. His win against Italo in the QF seemed a bit suspect, but he won, so suck it. If Margs ends up going on at the Box, Jack could blow every non-John surfer out of the water and potentially get another win. Will they contest enough rounds there for him to do that? No, but that one day will be fun. If everyone surfed well, as I have basically claimed with saying so many guys surfed well, just means that Bells sucks.
9. Kelly Slater
Despite the early loss, the Bald One still finds himself in the Top 5 heading into the fifth event, looking like he might have a real chance at finishing there at the end of the year, considering G-Land and Chopes are still out there for him to semi or better in.
8. Miguel Pupo
Ripped off in his quarterfinal heat against this year’s Morgan Cibilic, or future Aussie journeyman, Callum Robson, Miggy surfed well enough to climb into the Top 10 and not have to even bother with the Challenger Series. Not a bad place for Thing 1.
7. Kanoa Igarashi
Sometimes at these surf contests, there are competitors you can just tell did not grow up surfing a similar type of wave they are competing in, like Andy at J-Bay or Fil in anything big. In the best of circumstances, their tastes for these waves are acquired and they can end up turning them into a strength.
In the case of Kanoa at Bells, he looked like he grew up surfing shit, a different kind of shit to Bells, epileptically pumping for nonexistent sections to bash and manufacture a score, rather than letting the wave come to him to lay down some nice looking carves. He was trying too hard. I know the feeling.
6. Callum Robson
Bells saw Callum’s coronation as Aussieland’s next great tradie-inspired-non-aerial-surfing pro to take the Tour by non-Brazilian storm during his rookie year.
5. Mick Fanning
How sad is it that a long retired pro, one who has let his body go to dough, is still one of the best surfers in the world at a longstanding Tour spot? Also, what is the threshold for the time to have to elapse for something to be considered nostalgic?
4. John John Florence
Despite clearly and deservedly losing to Fil, he is an overwhelming favorite to win at Margs. Not rated higher because of Trestles.
3. Italo Ferreira
Two straight good results for him, a semi in Portugal and quarters at Bells, Ike looks on his way to getting back to the top of the rankings. Storming the judges tower in ager after his controversial loss to Jack in the quarters, Ferreira strengthened his case to being the second-most exciting surfer in the comp.
With Gabe out of the picture and Toledo susceptible to a meltdown, one would hope that he can maintain this newly popping up rage/exogenously supplemented testosterone frustration and channel it towards becoming the top competition surfer on Tour. If he can’t, a couple karate chopped boards would be an acceptable substitute.
2. Gabriel Medina
Gabe’s absence this year has left a gaping hole in the talent on Tour, one that Fil has rammed his small Sharp Eyes through in an effort to fertilize this year’s World Title, which happens to actually be a shithole.
1. Filipe Toledo
Taking the yellow rashie at Bells, where he dominated, displaying the best rail and air game on Tour throughout the contest, Pip cemented himself as the favorite for Trestles in September. It really shouldn’t have been a surprise that he’s here.
For those dumbasses who thought Pip actually had a chance to miss the cut and that I was dumb for being so confident in him being a shoo-in, I would like to say, borrowing from the immortal stoic poet, Shaquille O’Neal, “tell me how my ass tastes.”
*Pip being the one notable exception, done probably as a display of solidarity with Jadson and Yago.