"There’s nothing to wait for but delayed inevitability. Heats completed in sub-par conditions, dictated by a forecast that hasn’t changed from beginning to end and still won’t."
Dream location; nightmare forecast.
It seems to be passing in an opioid haze. Time feels thick and jelly-like, the way it can on a surf trip where all there is to do is surf. The sun rises and the sun falls.
The weather remains the same. Days merge into one.
There’s nothing to wait for but delayed inevitability. Heats completed in sub-par conditions, dictated by a forecast that hasn’t changed from beginning to end and still won’t.
In situations like this, desperate situations, there should be a contingency to move the waiting period for a couple of days. I don’t profess to know the intricacies of planning permits and jiggery-pokery of greasing palms, but what we’ve ended up with here serves no-one.
Salt rubbed vigorously into weeping wounds has been the spectre of 1997, which the WSL haven’t had the decorum nor the sense to stop banging on about.
Don’t they realise the contrast is killing us?
Images of reeling tubes and voices from the past telling us how epic it was are laced through heats, serving only to make them seem more flaccid.
Here’s what you could’ve had…
It should be a gambler’s dream, a comp like this. I can’t remember a time when it’s been so predictable. But it’s been too dull a prospect even to bet on. Mostly.
“Jungle fever” was noted a couple of times in post-heat conversations today. The dancing has clearly died. It has to happen. The worst part of a comedown is not the comedown itself, it’s the moments when you’re still immersed in revelry but you feel it coming on. It might be hours away, even days, but you see in neon flashes that it’s inevitable.
Today was the beginning of that comedown. We’ve got a surf comp to finish, and this is what we have. Sketchy lefts that run off down the line so fast even Filipe Toledo finds himself racing round sections.
Sure, there were a few, as they say.
Regardless, WSL-Speak was “high-performance lefts”.
I wait with bated breath for the next headline to spin today’s “action”. Did you see the last one?
“Moore, Medina Mesmerize Amid Modern Tour Icons’ Debuts At G-Land
Grajagan Bay, the place where the Dream Tour got its name, provided jaw-dropping moments as the modern era collective let sparks fly for memorable starts.”
Utter mince. The worst kind of tabloid tripe.
A headline so poor it wouldn’t even fly on BeachGrit.
Who watched today? Degenerate gamblers and direct family members only is my best guess.
I did. I watched it all, waking at four am to do so. Intermittently hating myself throughout. Honestly, it would be disingenuous for me to pretend I found there was anything interesting to say about it. Despite the fact eight elimination heats then the round of 16 was completed, it had all the drama of Luke Egan’s voice.
Well, if we look at the quarter final match-ups, more or less nothing. There are few surprises.
Significant and joyful as ever was Jadson winning. His buzzer-beater four-point-something enough to beat an injured John Florence.
Unfortunately Andre will meet Medina in the quarter final, and that’ll be the end of that.
Sammy Pupo similarly had a wave right at the horn to eliminate Slater, who could only manage to find three waves in a heat where neither man could break into double figures for their total.
I did enjoy the group flow and hivemind energy cultivated by the Brazilian support crew in the cafeteria as they celebrated these last minute wins. That’s something I can certainly get behind.
McGillivray vs O’Leary is an admittedly unusual quarter final match-up, but also unfortunately uninspiring, especially at the expense of Ewing vs Ferreira we could’ve had.
For the most part, heats were slow, overlong, and finished with the dappled shadows of two men sitting in the water waiting for waves that still weren’t coming.
It got better as the tide dropped, admittedly, but still it lacked any real urgency or verve.
If only we had more time.
That’s the message I delivered to my departing classes yesterday. It’s the end of another school year. We switch to next year’s timetable on Monday. Really it’s just treading water for three weeks, then no school til mid August.
I’m losing some classes I’ve really enjoyed. It’s not always like that.
Sometimes the end of year comes and goes with little more than apathy, a bit like this comp. Onto the next. But this year I would’ve liked more time.
What makes a good class varies, but it’s little to do with how good at English they are. What’s really important is that they accept each other’s differences yet retain individuality.
This year I had the kind of kids I’d like to tell you about. They’re not like you think. They’re not like I generally perceive teenagers. They wanted to read, they wanted to write.
More importantly, they were willing to think.
They’re all different, as any thirty adolescents will be. But although some of these kids might never talk to each other outwith the classroom, they will all get up and dance unselfconsciously in front of each other. That’s what they did yesterday, and not for the first time this year.
So I’ll miss them. And so I left them with some advice.
Language skills will take you anywhere you want to go, I said, like a ship under full sail.
But it’s more important to simply be curious about things. Be interested in the world. Ask questions. Challenge opinions. Listen as well as you talk. Care about stuff.
Find what you love and let it kill you.
Because that’s the point of it all.
In the face of algorithms and automation, it’s more important than ever to cling to what we have, what the machines can never do.
Creativity, empathy, critical thinking, humility, wonder…
They’re our superpowers. Our keys to unlock the world. And language is the foundation of it all.
A machine can’t ever know inspiration like a sudden flare in the dark. Or what it feels like to run through the woods in spring. Or what it means to comfort or connect with someone, even just through the subtlety of a single word or touch.
We can know all of this and more.
So today, instead of trying to parse and overthink a professional surfing contest in less than mediocre waves that no-one’s really watching anyway, I’m taking my kids out. We’re going go-karting, then to the pumptrack, then for a walk through some Caledonian pinewoods that encircle a loch with a ruined castle on a tiny island.
And tomorrow I’m racing 18 miles along a mountain ridge on the Isle of Skye that I had to sign a death waiver for.
And I’m going to enjoy it all a lot more than this contest.
See you on finals day?