It’s the equivalent of the NBA playing out the lacklustre end of the season but with a half-inflated ball.
The swell today was appropriately symbolic of my recent mood.
Fading, uncertain, fractured.
There were moments that teased clear air, but at other times there was just exasperation.
You might think, given the fact I have six weeks off every year at this time, that I would adore the summer.
You would be wrong.
Inevitably, at this time of year, I find myself mired in mild depression.
Too much choice, I think. Too many opportunities and no clear path to follow.
A winter spent dreaming of light and plans, a spring of burgeoning hope, and then a summer of stasis.
The nights are fair drawing in.
So too is the noose that chokes out all but the top five.
It’s becoming clearer by the day, but there are some niggles.
Toledo is assured. Robinson too, I think.
Colapinto, despite his early exit today, is more than likely.
I’d be shocked if Italo doesn’t manufacture a place.
Kanoa’s loss today somehow makes his chances swing wildly from certain to precarious.
Who won’t be there is just as important. Almost definitely no John or Gabby, more’s the tragedy.
The problem with this growing certainty is the shadow it casts over J-Bay and Teahupo’o. Both exciting waves, of course. Two of the best, actually.
But what of consequence? What’s left to play for?
There’s a certain malaise that can affect games played in the NBA’s regular season, particularly in the latter part of the schedule. Because of the playoff structure and the excitement of these games, players can lose a sense of purpose or motivation for the regular games.
At some point they know for sure if they’re heading to the playoffs or Cancun, and all remaining games are just treading water. Everyone can sense it, fans especially.
There’s a danger of that happening in the latter part of the WSL season under the current structure. Perhaps it already is.
If the waves show up I’m sure we’ll be entertained by good surfing even if not good competition, but if there’s a bad run like we’ve had recently it’s the equivalent of the NBA playing out the lacklustre end of the season but with a half-inflated ball.
Even a half-pumped-up Gabriel Medina would have escaped elimination at the hands of Callum Robson today.
With all due respect to Robson, who put together two solid scores and continues to show the sort of workmanlike approach with flashes of something other that must have Australian fans titillated, Medina should have left him bloodied and spent.
Medina’s first wave was a 7.5. I’d like to see some DEEP STATS on the number of times Medina has lost a heat after taking the lead with a keeper score on his first wave. If the number was zero I wouldn’t be shocked.
As it was, in the ten waves that followed he couldn’t muster anything above a 2.87 and couldn’t land airs he never even looked like making when he launched. It was perplexing to say the least.
Seeing him on the injury treatment table post-heat at least made it feel less like the world had spun off its axis.
If we’re honest, we’ve all been too bold about what Gabriel Medina might do in the latter part of the season. He’s just a man, after all. A man who missed the first five events entirely. A man who has endured various traumas in his personal relationships and openly admitted suffering from mental health issues.
Who knows what’s going on behind the scenes in his home country. Who knows what lingering ghosts are suddenly more present in Brazil?
Faring much better in the earlier heats today were wildcards Miguel Tudela and Mateus Herdy, who dispatched top seeds Colapinto and Igarashi, respectively.
Neither Griffin nor Kanoa surfed poorly, which makes these upsets seem more valid. Herdy, in particular, has an aerial repertoire that could snuff anyone’s flame in short order, including that of Jackie Robinson, whom he’ll face in the next round.
Also heading to the next round is Caio Ibelli, who managed to find not only a rare barrel but one so long and impossible that the judges had no choice but to give him a ten on a day when no other score came close. Full marks were awarded for the drama of emerging when he’d looked lost, and you might struggle to find someone who’d deny him the score, even me.
I was denied a hefty payday today, first by Joao Chianca, and then by the judges who robbed Caroline Marks of a rightful quarter final victory over Carissa Moore.
Is Chianca the unluckiest surfer we’ve seen?
He lost to Ethan Ewing by just 0.1 points in a see-saw heat. It was groundhog day for Chianca. Just as earlier in the season, he was part of an entertaining heat, surfed to solid scores, impressed everyone, and still lost.
Ewing’s passage to the round of 16 looks even better with Griffin and Kanoa out.
Half of the surfers remaining are Brazilian, marginally increasing their dominance from the start of the event.
There looks to be a layday tomorrow but solid swell after that, even if slightly suspect wind.
Waves cure all malaise. That we know for sure.
Honest question: would you have preferred Slater’s pool in place of any of the past three events?
I know my answer. I’d be interested to hear yours.