"If we ignore Trestles, of course. And I plan to, for as long as possible."
That’s the difference, isn’t it? Between men like us and men like Jack Robinson, I mean.
And I don’t mean the Brazilian model wife. Or the lucrative sponsorships. Or even the ability to hurl himself over the ledge at waves that would shatter mortal men.
I mean the ability to keep going, to endure, to battle through objectively terrible conditions when the will of others is crumbling around you.
The quality of being “grindy”, in WSL-speak.
Liam O’Brien is a grinder, so said Kaipo. He was absolutely sure of it, too. It was a strangely certain assertion just three heats into O’Brien’s career at this level.
I’m not sure I’d like to be known as a grinder, or being grindy. It sounds a bit like a sexual threat.
But endurance and doggedness are the qualities I do admire, and those I like to explore in myself.
I’ve done my time with discomfort and pain. It’s mostly why I run, I think. I like to suffer the vagaries of weather and explore the limits of physical resilience. It’s all preparation for any given doomsday scenario, apart from anything else.
I can be dogged with other things, too. If there’s a problem needing fixing I’ll be terrier-like until it’s sorted. Chainsaw not running, van broken down, spreadsheet formulae not functioning, axle broken off monster truck that’s been thrown down the stairs…
But what I can’t endure, what I alluded to yesterday, is dullness.
Jack Robinson surely can. Despite, as we all know, his happy place being the kind of waves we all want to see at Pipeline, he can summon the fortitude to win in those that no-one wants to watch.
Is that not three victories where Finals Day has taken place in terrible conditions? Margaret River and G-Land last year, and Pipe today?
That’s World Champion material.
(If we ignore Trestles, of course. And I plan to, for as long as possible.)
You’ll forgive me if I spare you the Xs and Os today. Heat totals speak for themselves, including the final itself where neither Fioravanti nor Robinson could break ten points.
Not even John Florence could make a silk purse out of what was on offer. His 19.33 heat total from yesterday remains a masterful blip. The WSL should thank him for glossing over so much mediocrity.
The frustrating thing for me is that we can’t even blame the WSL for this one. The event window just didn’t deliver, and this was all the more painful in context of last year.
Ross Williams did mention something early on about “taking advantage of these conditions.” An odd statement, I thought, but no more than we’re used to.
It was somewhere around the appearance of Richie Porta’s head, an event I’ve grown to love. What is his actual role these days? Is he employed by the WSL?
I hope he is. I hope he has a fancy WSL title.
The Judge Of Christmas Past.
Chief Of Judge’s Humanity.
Richie told us they were still looking for barrels today. There was only one of note.
To the surprise of no-one, the best wave of the day was bequeathed on Caio. The 9.00 awarded was by far the best score and highlight of the day.
I was sure I heard a voice.
“That’s your lot, son,” it whispered in the ether.
I wasn’t sure if it was meant for Caio or me.
Ibelli would go on to lose his semi against Leo, but in the very next heat my world came tumbling down.
I’d bet heavily on Toledo in this event. Something I never normally do, but his odds were just irresistible. All I needed was for him to win that semi against Chianca. After that it would’ve been gravy.
For my money, he was the better surfer. Chianca had a couple of nice turns (literally two) but Filipe was more dynamic, yet unrewarded.
Such is life.
On the beach, when asked who he’d prefer to surf against next, Chianca said he thought he might have a rivalry with John, and that he had “a really competitive atmosphere with Jack inside the Volcom house.”
It was a welcome departure from the typical vanilla response to this question, normally something along the lines of “Oh, I don’t really mind, everyone’s a really great surfer, I’m just out here having fun etc etc…”
We see you, Joao.
Somewhere around this time I started to question my life choices.
Is this not self-flagellation of the highest order? I stay up all night watching pro surfing in objectively poor conditions. Lack of sleep and time impairs my family life and my job. (I’ve got sixty school reports incomplete with a deadline of yesterday, you know.) I enjoy the writing, obviously, and there’s financial recompense. But I’ve burned all that and much more in pursuit of…what?
“That’s your lot, son,” the discombobulated voice breathed again.
I stood up, wobbled a little, then sat down again.
The waves on screen blurred.
Someone in the peripheries of this confusing soundscape said “spicy”. But it might have been sendy or grindy.
The voice spoke again.
I chose to ignore it and continued my descent into the abyss.
I’ll be back in time for Sunset.
Luck always turns, right?