The bigger they are...
The great “Challenger Series” experiment is officially well underway and what are your thoughts thus far? Completely tuning it out, only enough care in heart for very top level Championship Tour surfing? Lightly “Challenger Series” bi-curious, dipping a toe into BeachGrit‘s Hot Live Chat? Thrilled to the moon like Dave Prodan, the World Surf League’s Chief Strategy and Brand Officer, who took to Instagram in celebration, posting various memes from the beloved film Despicable Me?
Well, I was bi-curious enough yesterday to tune in for an hourish while my young daughter suffered stomach flu upstairs. I caught Snapper looking totally uninspired, real doggy, and Jadson Andre etc. Still, it was enjoyable enough. The rifling four person heat format, with two of those persons going directly home, provides for more surfing as well as small drama.
Morgan Ciblic, for example, is staying.
Owen Wright going home.
And if Wright can’t crack the Challengers, is his career officially over? He fell below the recent “merciless” “depressing” cut line and will not be allowed to participate at the very top level until he fixes up, looks sharp.
Julian Wilson may be plotting his return, doing just enough to squeak into the round of 24 wherein he will face the Ultimate Surfer Zeke Lau.
Surf legend Kelly Slater did not fare as well, following contemporary and “best female surfer on earth” Keala Kennelly out the door by falling to Leonardo Fioravanti and Cam Richards in heat 11. Two young men less than half his age which creates extra drama.
Slater, of course, doesn’t need the Challenger Series result as he survived the guillotine but does it amaze that he is still surfing professionally? Over a decade ago, surfing’s preeminent, and only historian, Watt Warshaw, wrote an op-ed for The New York Times or maybe Washington Post about how the 11x World Champion should do the age appropriate thing and hang it up. Slater, of course, went on to win two more titles as well as becoming a Pipeline Pro late last year.
Much gas in the tank, apparently, but wow. Florida’s living fountain of youth.
Here’s to G-Land.