Meanwhile, Italo Ferreira struggles to stay in world title contention…
Joe Turpel and Mitchell Salazar kicked us off today, each man resplendent in the statutory Hawaiian shirt uniform of the WSL announcer.
Turpel, muted pastels and grey; Salazar, a more robust orange pattern on black background.
Joe turned to Mitchell for introductions.
“Joe Turpel, here with Mitchell Salazar, a man who competed here at the QS level…a few years back.”
The pause was critical.
The pause seemed to look Salazar up and down.
Deliberate or otherwise, it was a wonderful start to the day.
The waves, however, were less than wonderful.
Onshore throughout the day. Never to the stage that they were unsurfable, but relentlessly sectiony and distinctly unpretty.
The quality of the waves was not helped by continual comparisons to J-Bay. In classic WSL Emperor’s New Clothes tradition, they followed the script they had hoped to deliver, not the one we could see.
But the day was not lost, and not without moments of entertainment. More so for me because this comp runs at sociable hours and I’m better able to respond in a timely and lucid fashion.
Not so for the BeachGrit principals, it would seem, who couldn’t even manage to get a live comment post up.
(Editor’s note: A little comms static ‘tween DR and Chas. Stream saved in the back end by DR, instructions sent to Chas to kick live if contest runs, Chas in Germany, good times intervened etc.)
The message was clear: European (or Central American) Gritters be dammed.
One might imagine the mood in El Salvador as low today.
The jewel in the crown of their self-proclaimed “Surf City” failed to shine for the first WCT event in Central America, and Bitcoin continued to plummet to lows not seen for a year or more.
This is the country, if you recall, that made Bitcoin legal tender, and whose government, led by president Nayib Bukele, have gone all in on the digital asset, purchasing 2301 Bitcoins for a cost of around $105 million.
Today, that stash is worth around $51 million.
(I wonder how Mr Diamond Hands is feeling?)
It’s a bold strategy to throw your country’s wealth into such a volatile asset, especially when you’re already in debt.
But what else to do when your back’s against the wall? You might as well gamble.
Far be it from me to criticise.
Buy the dip, boys. Buy the dip.
Safer bets, however, would have been made on professional surfing today, and it’s not often you can say that.
Gabriel Medina, Filipe Toledo and Jack Robinson seem unflappable right now. Victories over lower seeds seem assured in any conditions they’re forced to go in.
Ethan Ewing is close behind.
He never advanced through his heat today, narrowly losing to Yago Dora’s tail-high rotation, the only truly spectacular moment of the day.
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But I was sure that in these conditions he would struggle. I still see Ewing as a surfer who needs good waves to perform, but maybe that’s just a hangover from previous failures at this level. I’m not quite ready to bet the house on him, but his immaculate style and flow was evident even in today’s junky surf, and I noted the improvement.
There is no consistency nor improvement for poor Italo, who can’t seem to buy a win right now.
Would you believe me if I told you that Italo’s only had four scores above an 8.0 all season?
Don’t believe me? Believe Joe Turpel. That’s who said it.
I haven’t fact-checked it (why would I need to, Joe don’t lie) but it’s more than a little surprising. Shocking, even.
Think of how many waves Italo catches. We’re six events deep. Just four scores over 8?
On more than one occasion this season I’ve thought Italo to be judged harshly.
Pritamo Ahrendt…a vengeful god…I’m not sure. All I know is that he’s on someone’s bad side.
Caio Ibelli, however, seems to have fallen back into favour now that he’s wound his neck in, ditched the white wettie, and diligently performed his prayers at bedtime. He advanced through to the round of 16 at the expense of Griffin and Jake Marshall. Not entirely surprising given the conditions, I suppose, but I had expected (more than hoped) that Colapinto would be juiced up on Haribos and smash him.
I’m not sure I can stomach any more of Caio Ibelli’s unspectacularly moderate success this season.
At the opposite end of the scale was Medina, who looked underscored yet still unbeatable. The acceleration he gets from his bottom turns is perplexing. He seems to find speed in dead sections of the wave where there should be none.
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I know he’s only been back two minutes, but if Medina appeared at my front door as Vecna from Stranger Things I’d happily let him eat my brain and snap my limbs.
Onto elimination we go.
Let’s hope the wind swings tomorrow, along with my fortunes.
Unfortunately for this writer, Brisa Hennesy’s hoof injury wiped out nearly half of my initial stakes for this competition.
Eat me, Gabriel. Eat me.