“I’m in tune with what the community is saying…people were very judgemental on how he surfed,” responds the one-time Cocaine Cowboy lookalike CEO.
This time tomoz, logic points to world number one Filipe Toledo, a Brazilian ex-pat who now calls San Clemente home, being crowned world champion at Lower Trestles.
His challengers, Jack Robinson, Ethan Ewing, Italo Ferreira and Kanoa Igarashi, will have to summon the sort of superhuman reserves of stamina usually only found in churchgoing women with plastic vibrating dildos, as well as an inconceivable leap in performance to match the world’s best surfer in waves three feet and under.
But there’s a hitch, a caveat to Toledo’s forthcoming glory.
The Brazilian, who is twenty-seven, has come under fire in recent weeks following his historic failure to catch a meaningful wave at pumping six-to-eight-foot Teahupoo.
As Chas Smith reported at the time,
Slater and Hedge traded waves, big and perfect, one after the other after the other with Toledo holding priority well out the back, refusing to paddle, one after the other after the other.
Slater, barreled, unable to contain smile.
Hedge, barreled, unable to contain smile.
Toledo, un-barreled, holding priority for fifteen-odd minutes while Slater and Hedge swapped beneath him.
In the dying seconds, the King of Saquarema swung on a baby tube then punched board in channel.
Seven years earlier, Toledo had sat through an entire heat with Italo Ferriera at Teahupoo without catching a wave, the world’s largest surf news site describing it as “a brave act of cowardice.”
Now, the WSL’s CEO Erik Logan has addressed pro surfing’s elephant in the room on The Boardroom Podcast with Scott Bass.
There’s a little back and forthing between the two about Finals Day, Logan pointing out that if it didn’t exist “Filipe would’ve won his world title in a house or sitting on the beach at Teahupoo after the elimination round after someone else lost.”
What follows is an explosive exchange between the pair when Bass, despite adding a bank of caveats to his question, oh I love Toledo etc, says, “If you watch that first heat of him surfing at Teahupoo, you’re kinda like, Is that really my world champion? Am I really gonna put on a Filipe jersey? Am I feeling that.”
In a final spasm of honesty, Bass adds, “When you look at the Vans Pipe Masters, guess who’s not gonna get an invite, Filipe Toledo !”
Logan, potent as ever, tries to douse the flames.
“I think, to be fair to Filipe, certainly, again, I’m in tune with what the community is saying, I read too much, people were very judgemental on how he surfed. The counter to that is, he went out and surfed good in his next heat.”
Logan then applied the Chris Cote argument, that Toledo wasn’t terrified at all, but as cunning as a fox.
“The reality was, he was the number one surfer in the world and he’s playing the long game, he’s playing the game of, ‘I’m not throwing myself over the ledge and potentially getting hurt.’”
Toledo’s thinking, theorised Logan, was, “I have the number one seed and people are having to come to me, which is going to be four-to-six at my home break. Come get me.”
As reported earlier today, super coach Mike Parsons, also of San Clemente, says this supposed tactic at Teahupoo could prove his undoing on Finals Day.
“As incredible as he is at Lowers, I feel there will be a lot of pressure on him this year at Lowers and a lot of people chatting about what we just brought up, about his performance at places like Pipeline and Teahupoo and if you look at past world champions, you look at John John and Gabriel and Kelly Slater, they are all incredible surfers at Teahupoo and Pipeline… to be the world champion, you have to perform in all the venues.”