Wearing a knee brace, John John took the lead on back-to-back waves with just five minutes left. For the first, he backdoored a short, clean tube on a wave that was barely head-high, yet sufficient given the inconsistency of conditions. | Photo: WSL

Quiksilver Pro G-Land Day One: “For the world’s best, today did not deliver the waves of their pre-event fever dreams. Nor are we likely to see those types of waves during this waiting period.”

Will we see G-Land decided by psycho airs over dry reef? As admirable as that sort of bravery is, let’s hope not.

Tell me, how over is the Indo dream? I’ve been thinking about it a lot recently, the way a man does when he reaches certain ages and stages and finds himself reflective.

Surfing is the ultimate pastime for memories in hues of gold. It’ll never again be as good as it was ten years ago, last week, yesterday.

It was always better an hour ago.

My experience of Indonesia is thin. A month and a half spent flitting between Bali and Java when the Sari Club was still Bintangs not bombs, and my primary concerns were the satitations of mind and body out of the water.

Youth is wasted on the young, as we know.

But even then I’d missed the real Indo dream by decades. What has happened in a further twenty years?

Today was not the finest example of what G-Land or the archipelago at large can produce, but nor was it the worst. For most of us I’m certain it would’ve been more than welcome. To have the vastness of that line-up to ourselves? That would still be enough.

The water sparkled, the winds were light and the line-up was pristine and empty. There was a dreamlike quality about the whole thing. Despite not being perfect, it was different enough to feel fresh. Looking into the sun and at some distance away there’s an almost voyeuristic sensation. There were no crowd shots, there was no background noise of beach announcers, and no watery microphone static.

Strider lay in a hammock. There was certainly an affectation in his sleepy delivery, but it echoed the atmosphere of the event as a whole.

It was almost peaceful. Not competition, just surfing.

I wasn’t the only one dreaming of the late 90s this week. The most vivid dreams surely belonged to the pundits. The voices of Luke Egan and Tom Carroll were heavy with the weight of bliss, imbued with the memories of moments come and gone. You can hardly blame them.

Visions of the 1997 Quik Pro haunted today, as Surfads predicted. Competitors too young to remember – or not yet born – had clearly used footage of the comp as a primer. John Florence, a mere five years old at the time, noted as much in his post-heat interview.

Everyone was worried about John for the first thirty minutes of his heat. He had barely caught a wave. All we knew was that he strapped on an industrial-looking knee brace pre-heat. His face gave nothing away, silent and unfathomable as ever.

For me, Florence has an aura of power more tangible than usual at G-Land. It’s a wave that demands a degree of technicality that you never doubt in his game. More importantly, there’s less fanfare here. The scaled back production dictated by the location means the focus is squarely on surfing. This suits John. If there ever was to be a reimagined format that relied on strike missions to remote locations, one that reduced both the field and the pandering to tourist boards, would you ever doubt him?

By heat end, the worries about the mystery knee injury were quelled, for now. He was less Forrest Gump, and more Universal Soldier. He took the lead on back-to-back waves with just five minutes left. For the first, he backdoored a short, clean tube on a wave that was barely head-high, yet sufficient given the inconsistency of conditions. The second was bigger, justified with two backhand hacks and a cover-up to finish for a low eight. It was the highest score of the heat and assured a comfortable victory.

Another man with reason to be reflective was Kelly Slater. I noted the little water splashes at the beginning of his heat. They’ve become somewhat of a Slater trademark when he’s feeling spiritual and/or desperate. He believes he can conjure waves into existence. Pundits talked about how Kelly was feeling, how happy he was, that his mind was in a good place. Look out, they told us. A happy Kelly is a dangerous Kelly. True, perhaps, but not without waves. His opening wave demonstrated the flow he was obviously feeling. Right until he got clipped at the end.

His water splashing incantations will need to be more powerful than ever to summon something from this forecast. There is no doubt Slater could be masterful here if the water gods allow it.

But what we might see from Medina, both here and over the next few months, is the weight on everyone’s mind.

For us, there’s excitement; for his rivals, fear.

A pre-recorded clip of Kelly told us that Gabriel had been in Indonesia for weeks. Despite being absent from competition, he was “probably more prepared than anyone”, according to Slater.

As the sun sank low he assured a comfortable victory over Callum Robson and Sammy Pupo, but there was little in the way of a spectacular return. An eager start, he took several waves early, pumping his way down the line on shoulder-high closeouts. Each pump seemed to build the sense of anticipation we felt. We wanted a mind-blowing return where we might sit back and feel a heady mix of relief, satisfaction and joy.

But it was not to be.

Instead, it was a patchy sort of victory. Pupo and Robson had two of the better waves of the heat early on, but neither could make them count.

A surfer who did make his opportunity count was Indonesian wildcard Rio Waida. Fresh from his victory in the Sydney Challenger series event, he dispatched weighty opponents in Filipe Toledo and Nat Young.

I confess to knowing absolutely nothing about him. He’s 22, apparently. Born in Japan to mixed Japanese and Indonesian parentage, moving to Indonesia when he was five. By the look of things, this was also right around the time his profile pic for the WSL website was taken.

Let’s see what else he can do, it’s always worth supporting a wildcard who has a good dig.

For the world’s best, however, today did not deliver the waves of their pre-event fever dreams. Nor are we likely to see those types of waves during this waiting period. The week after? Pumping.

Deflating for us and the athletes? More than a little.

Richie Porta’s pre-event breakdown told us that judges would be focused on barrels and barrels only. They wanted to see surfers deep and disappeared, he said. There were some cover-ups today but they were forced and brief. It looks like that might be the story of the event to come, more’s the pity.

Will we see G-Land decided by psycho airs over dry reef? As admirable as that sort of bravery is, let’s hope not.

Open thread, comment live, Quiksilver Pro, Grajagan, “If you’ve never seen it before, it’s actually really hard to imagine!”

“It was our surfing monastery. We should never have told anyone," says G-Land pioneer Gerry Lopez.

Triple world champ Gabriel Medina, a gambler's best pal. | Photo: Steve Sherman/@tsherms

Sports bookmaker responds to wild betting plunge on returning triple world champ Gabriel Medina by slashing odds and cancelling bets, “Gabby was at $21 to win the title, then $12, then they cancelled my multi with him saying they made mistake with the odds!”

Gamblers go wild for Medina, subsequently freak out online gambling daddy… 

Nothing it seems, not a messy estrangement from family nor the sudden separation from a wife of only one year, can convince sports fans Medina is anything but the dead favourite to win this year’s world title, his abbreviated campaign beginning today at Grajagan.

On Tuesday, the online gambling company Sportsbet was offering a return of $21 for every dollar waged on returning triple world champ Medina winning the title. 

Easy money, no?

Turn a c-note into two gees; a thousand will give you enough green to carry you for a season in Canggu admiring the rich, ripe and fantastically curvaceous bodies of the Russian modelling diaspora.

But, following a wild betting plunge by surfers shrewd enough to know that Medina is gonna waltz into the top five with almost guaranteed results at G-Land and Teahupoo, the odds were slashed to twelve bucks and any multis featuring the champ were cancelled. 

In a letter to one surf gambler from Sportsbet, 

“This correspondence serves as notification that your multi bet on the WSL Season Championship has been cancelled due to the wrong odds being posted. Your bed was cancelled in accordance with our rules” etc

Sportsbet is a little touchy these days when it comes to losing.

Last year, it paid out punters on the Melbourne Cup, Australia’s biggest horse race, two weeks before the event, so sure they were the favourite was gonna win.

Another horse won and they lost fifty mill.

Earlier this year, the Irish-owned company was hit with a $2.5 million fine and  ordered to refund customers $1.2 million after spamming ’em with texts.

Still, twelve bucks for Medina ain’t bad, John John is at three, Filipe four, Italo and five and a half.

Slater (pictured) young.
Slater (pictured) young.

Respected surf podcaster makes startlingly ageist pronouncement regarding upcoming G-Land Pro: “It’s a young man’s wave. There is no way Kelly Slater’s 50-year-old body will be able to shine!”


But how thrilled are you for the beginning of the G-Land Pro?

Our non-cut heroes and heroines are all currently in Indonesia and ready to try their luck on that iconic racing left and have you seen the forecast? Oh it was very good before the event window and will be very good after the event window but fine enough during the event window. Not, like, great but contestable.

6ish feet.

4.5 German male lower legs.

It has, anyhow, been years since G-Land was a tour stop thus many of our non-cut heroes and heroines have never surfed it.

Instagram posts and stories show wide-eyed stares as they exit boats and soak in the history. Point their fingers etc.

One man who has surfed it, though, and even won it is Kelly Slater. The 11x World Champion, currently sitting at 13th, has an excellent advantage I feel, or at least felt until chatting with David Lee Scales yesterday mid-morning.

David Lee is convinced, you see, that G-Land is a young man’s wave too long and fast for Slater’s 50-year-old body to properly glorify. That his old man hips won’t be able to swivel and pop like they’ll need to.

I found the sentiment startlingly agist and think that Slater will reach the semi-finals where he will become beaten by Gabriel Medina who will go on to win.

What do you think? Does experience trump elasticity? Does it in your field of work?

Something to ponder.

Developer fears billion-dollar Kelly Slater wavepool and “intensive” housing development on rural flood plain will be lost to rival Gold Coast; warns of “dire shortage” of homes in area and “need for hotel rooms”!

The developer "used the ‘Surf Ranch’ as the ‘hook’ when it is in fact a Trojan Horse for intensive urban sprawl onto the critically important Maroochy River floodplain."

The developer behind the WSL’s billion-dollar pool and residential play on 1200 acres near the Queensland beach town of Coolum, featuring a Surf Ranch, a six-star “eco resort”, a 20,000 person stadium and 1500 homes, says the Woz will move the project to the Gold Coast unless state government red tape is slashed.

“The World Surf League that owns the Kelly Slater Wave Co system is understandably pretty frustrated by the process,” developer Don O’Rorke, chairman of Consolidated Properties which owns the land, told the Courier Mail. “It’s a significant tourist attraction, it’d be a shame if it went to the Gold Coast and that is an imminent possibility… There’s a dire shortage of residential options on the Sunshine Coast, a big need for hotel rooms and big need for employment land.”

The pool and real estate play has been kicking around the halls of power for three years, and has met with some pretty stiff push-back from local residents and environmental groups.

Spokesperson for the non-profit Sunshine Coast Environment Council (SCEC), Narelle McCarthy, whose group’s protest signs were mysteriously stolen says “Both O’Rorke and (the WSL’s Andrew) Stark have unashamedly used the ‘Surf Ranch’ as the ‘hook’ when it is in fact a Trojan Horse for intensive urban sprawl onto the critically important Maroochy River floodplain and conflicts with numerous and long-standing statutory planning instruments and intent.”

O’Rorke will meet with six reps from different community groups, including the SCEC on May 31, see if maybe they’ll ease back a little and let ‘em get the development through.

Might be tough going for O’Rorke, who “donated the land and a half-a-million dollars for the Hurley HPC and was subsequently made a life member of Surfing Australia.”

“Our position has not changed,” said Melva Hobson, from OSCAR, the Organisation Sunshine Coast Association of Residents.

“We are still opposed to the proposal. The area involved is part of the Maroochy River flood plain and does what a flood plain should do.”

In a series of stories that followed the project, the dearly missed Steve “Longtom” Shearer walked the site.

The developer’s eye eludes me. I see trees and bush. Birds, insects, frogs. I feel sad that surfers will be the ones behind the bull-dozers, erasing this wildlife, this bush from history.

From what I can see though, although there is ambivalence, distrust and even hostility to the Coolum wave pool development, that is unlikely to stop the bulldozers.

The greenwashing on the project will be immense. Next level.

But I wonder, when Kelly thinks about what is being done in his name and looks in the mirror, does he still see an environmentalist looking back at him?