"And how appropriate for the WSL to get a crypto sponsor just as the US gov launches lawsuits against the big exchanges and prices go through the floor."
How can this possibly feel like the longest event of the year with a reduced field?
Is it the inconsistency of the waves, and the fact we don’t expect anything more than three feet? Fun for us, no doubt. Not such a perfect canvas for world-class surfing.
Or is it the ungodly trio of Mitch Salaazar, Kaipo Guererro and Chris Cote? Men fond of words. Many, many words with little meaning, and all afforded more time than they should ever be given to speak them.
Whatever, it’s been painful.
Especially because Scotland is glorious right now, and watching pro surfing in mediocre waves seems like a chronic waste of daylight. It hasn’t rained in nearly three weeks here, the sun splits the sky every day, and the light stretches til midnight and beyond. The rivers and lochs we swim in every day are as warm as blood. There’s endless opportunity for all manner of fun beyond surfing, nevermind watching surfing.
The coast is largely a fading memory, as it can be in summer. The mountains, on the other hand, are green and clear and filled with bliss. I see clips of people grovelling for summer windswell and it looks like fun, in a way, but also desperate. Nothing compels me to seek it.
Yet here I am, sitting through back-to-back heat restarts, and watching scores so seemingly arbitrary that nothing makes sense anymore. Fives and sixes and sevens fall like lines on a fruit machine. It’s a delirium that casts me back to younger days when I would stand in pubs for hours feeding the machines in a stupor, leaving only to shuttle back and forth to the bar for more cashback from my student overdraft. Dark days.
But I’ll try to make no further mention of the scoring because I’m finding it genuinely perplexing.
What I can say is that eight of the top ten ranked surfers were gone before the quarter-final stage. Only Colapinto and Toledo making it through. There will be some shuffling of the top five before Rio, and at least that gives the remaining events some competitive edge.
You might say it was a day of upsets, but the waves are so inconsequential that there’s no real drama. One guy wins, another loses. In these conditions it’s mostly down to luck and judging chaos…sorry, criteria…to decide a winner.
A fucking lottery, in other words.
I do hope my mood isn’t doing any stellar performances a disservice, and please join me in a golf clap for Ian Gentil, Liam O’Brien and Barron Mamiya for dispatching Chianca, Ewing and Medina, respectively.
And now a more vigorous round of applause for Ian Gentil for his defeat of Italo in the quarter which sees the lanky Hawaiian in the first semi-final of his career.
The Toledo vs Waida heat was the slowest of the day, requiring two restarts before they were informed there would not be a third. The waves were mostly of the kind that only Toledo can make look interesting. Rio Waida did, too, just as he did yesterday, but the judges clearly hate him. I don’t imagine Indonesian Instagram has the clout for it to matter.
Leo Fiorovanti and childhood rival Kanoa Igarashi surfed an entertaining heat which saw the latter make it through to his first quarter-final of the year. A surprising stat for sure, but one that marks just how off the boil Kanoa has been this season.
He went on to lose to a typically spicy Toledo, but god only knows why he wasn’t rewarded for a Kerrupt on his final wave, a move we almost never see in competition, performed with some style and landed cleanly.
Connor O’Leary had a great run before hitting his ceiling against Colapinto in the quarter. Our current yellow jersey wearer has seemed infallible throughout the event, and it will be a joust to the death with Toledo for the victory.
“O’Leary’s backhand is filthy,” I noted at one point. And it is. And that’s all I’ll say about that, beyond noting that he’s quietly built a solidly unspectacular season, but I still don’t want to see him in a final five at Trestles.
Unfortunately that’s the way we have to look at this, isn’t it? Who will entertain us at Trestles. This comp is a pretty good marker for that, I reckon. A crumbly, cobblestone point where surfers mostly have to manufacture speed and power. What promise.
Much was made throughout the day of the physical demands of surfing two whole heats in a single day! And slippery rocks! Don’t forget the slippery rocks!
Honestly, have you ever heard such a fuss over rocks in your whole life? “Doin the rock dance…watch those rocks now…those rocks are lethal…they need to be so careful on those rocks…those rocks are so slippery…” etc etc and so on and so fucking forth.
It’s partly symptomatic of the commentators having too much time to use all their words, but you’d never believe they’re talking about professional athletes. Imagine having to surf a three-foot pointbreak for an hour a day, and walking over some rocks to get there. Imagine!
Yesterday I took part in a mountain race that was eight miles long and climbed three and half thousand feet. It was twenty six degrees centigrade. We climbed for an hour to reach the first summit, sometimes following faint paths made by stalkers and animals, sometimes none. The route traversed a long ridge, tagging two more summits before descending back to the valley.
It took me an hour and fifty three minutes of solid effort, some others three hours and more. My heart rate topped out at 193 and averaged 172.
One runner was airlifted off by helicopter, another treated for a gruesome head injury. Two more crossed the line then fainted. Others nursed scrapes and cuts and blisters.
No-one bickered or squabbled or complained about their injuries. We quietly acknowledged the toughness of the route, drank some water, exchanged smiles and well dones, jumped in the river to cool off, then went home. It was absolutely nothing like surfing, in the best possible way.
And I would guess that almost every amateur runner put in more physical effort than it takes a full time professional surfer to compete on days like today at Punta Roca, even if they do need to cross some slippery rocks.
Leo Fiorovanti joined the booth late today to explain that “Tokash”, the mysterious logo adorning the scoreboard is a cryptocurrency token exchange, and also Leo’s personal sponsor. How gloriously appropriate for the WSL to get a crypto sponsor just as the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission have launched several lawsuits against the biggest exchanges in the game and prices have gone through the floor.
Bravo, WSL, you sponsorship whores, bravo.
The day closed with Barron Mamiya and Liam O”Brien sitting largely immobile in a ruffled, lukewarm ocean. O’Brien caught his second wave of the heat with just four minutes left on the clock, and only then in desperation. Then he lucked into an inside one under Mamiya’s priority just two minutes later for a 4.87 and victory.
It was a random wave after few opportunities and a mid-range score where two judges disagreed by a whole point. A fitting closure to the day’s proceedings.
Onto the semis we trudge. Ian Gentil faces Filipe Toledo on one side, Griffin Colapinto vs Liam O’Brien on the other.
More choppy three foot windswell you say? Superb. Can’t wait.