"I was just like, ‘Filipe have a dig, you’re so talented and so good in these waves’ and he just decided ‘no I’m not going to do it.’”
The 2023 tour is a few weeks from kicking into gear, starting at Pipe, Jan 29, for the Billabong Pipeline Pro, not to be confused with the Vans Pipe Masters.
And, wetting his little feet will be the new world champion, Filipe Toledo, a small-wave specialist from Brazil who cemented his formidable rep in waves of no consequence by winning the world title at Lower Trestles, a soft wave near the Californian town of San Clemente.
Toledo, a married daddy of two who turns twenty-eight in April, shocked sports fans shortly before Finals Day when he didn’t paddle for a wave in a heat at the Outerknown Tahiti Pro against two middle-aged surfers, the wildcard Nathan Hedge and the fifty-something Kelly Slater.
And that first morning heat? An exciting draw featuring an iconic relic in Nathan Hedge, the world’s greatest surfer Kelly Slater and the current number one surfer in the world Filipe Toledo.
Toledo, with reputation for not enjoying the Teahupo’o battle, would certainly spear naysayers in the throat by dropping in to infamy, no?
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 or beat, smartly, boss.
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.
“I really expected Filipe to just kind of go Rambo mode and just show everyone ‘hey I’m gonna charge no matter what, I’m gonna give it a solid dig’ and I was (here Snips pauses for emphasis) bummed that he didn’t do that in his first round heat. It was eight foot, pumping, there were some really good waves coming to him and he opted not to take off on them. And I was just like, ‘Filipe have a dig, you’re so talented and so good in these waves’ and he just decided ‘no I’m not going to do it.’”
In 2015, Toledo, a surfer seemingly incapable of a fiercely honest self-appraisal, famously 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.”
BeachGrit’s tour correspondent JP Currie wrote last September,
Now, in sweeping changes proposed by a real nice real estate agent pal of mine down at the beach just then, both of us waiting for the onshore to kick in a little and the tide to run out and maybe the crowd to back off as its summer prettiness diminishes, tour events would be weighted according to their heaviness.
A win at Pipeline or Teahupoo, therefore, would deliver 15,000 points to the winner compared to 10,000 at Rio or Bells.
One event at Jaws offering a whopping 20,000 points.
Finals Day stays, but moves to Cloudbreak, and runs only when the swell is six-feet or bigger, a one-month waiting period takes care of any sort of worry about getting it done, as does the cut-off period.
And happy days for Jack Robinson and John John Florence, for whom two-foot Lowers dooms both to never winning a world title within the current format.
You think, yes?