Italo Ferreira wins Tahiti Pro.
"Job done," says Italo Ferreira, Tahiti Pro winner.

Re-animated Italo Ferreira beats John John Florence to win Tahiti Pro

Brilliant, horrifying, absolutely impossible to turn away from unless one happens to be named brave coward Filipe Toldeo.

Teahupo’o, or Alter Head, now, according to famed linguist Kaipo Guerrero, was the star of the day that may well have been the day of the 2024 World Surf League Championship Tour men’s season. Brilliant, horrifying, absolutely impossible to turn away from unless one happens to be named brave coward Filipe Toledo.

The Surfline forecast came true, WSL jinxing didn’t take hold until the very end and, at that very end, Italo Ferreira got the trinkets.

Posterity will celebrate the winner but there were so many moments worth remembering through the run.

Kelly Slater got gorgeously cocky in his quarterfinal loss to the “Rockin’ Moroccan” Ramzi Boukhaim, styling on a bomb before getting eaten whole but was otherwise vintage, especially when conjuring a score out of thin air in the round of 16. Boukhaim was a revelation both in the water and in front of the mic only coming undone in the semis.

Gabriel Medina strained Yeti and the World Surf League’s collaboration, almost winning two of the coveted YETI Tundras. John John Florence claimed that he was spitting up blood after a heavy wipeout, though the revelation was not chased by the commentary team nor mentioned again.

Alter Head revisited.

The heat that everyone wanted, John Florence versus Gabe Medina fizzled at the start, needing a restart, with the winner waiting to take on a 75% stoke-ed Italo Ferreira. Viewers were treated to more linguistic stylings until Medina went down on a tank, bloodying himself, smiling. Florence followed with a gaping 9.77. Basically a 10.00 if they hadn’t been outlawed moments earlier. His second wave, nothing spectacular, put Medina into a hard combination as opposed to the soft varietal.

Medina was the surfer of the day and let posterity remember that.

But Ferreira and Florence met at the end of the end of the road.

Florence took off first and got busted, Ferreira followed on a “wave of the day” according to Jesse Mendes who, somehow, became the lesser of evils over the course of the aforementioned one. Unfortunately, the broadcast missed Ferreira’s next channel igniter which, essentially, ended it for Florence before it even began for him.

Mana gives and mana takes, apparently.

Medina, though.

My goodness.

Oh wait. Florence just shot out of a wild one and almost undid himself via claim.

Never mind.

Full wrap from JP Currie tomorrow.

Mihimana Braye (pictured) taking scalp of World no. 1 Griffin Colapinto.
Mihimana Braye (pictured) taking scalp of World no. 1 Griffin Colapinto.

World’s no. 1 and 2 Griffin Colapinto and Jack Robinson fall in Tahiti Pro as Teahupo’o delivers wild show

"Surf contests need waves, good ones. When this happens, everything falls away but the surfing itself."

I watched Teahupo’o from the back of my van last night, absent from my family home. An absence that was unforced but not unnecessary.

I parked in a clearing by a river in a treasured area of woodland. My own personal oasis where sunlit boughs of hazel shimmer and you are lulled to sleep by the final throes of water tumbling from the high glens, before merging into itself in the main river.

When I started this gig I would stay up all night to watch southern hemisphere comps then begin writing immediately. But that approach isn’t sustainable without whisky and cocaine, and those are not sustainable habits.

And so now I like to mull things over for an hour or four, to swish up the dirt, and when it settles to see it all the clearer.

This morning I ran into the woods. The air was thick with the leaden hum of insects among the stillness of the unbroken day. Chaffinches wittered to each other among Sitka Spruce and Douglas Fir.

I moved into the undulations of the trail, hips swerving, shoulders dipping, mind beginning to blaze.

Wild thoughts. Unhinged fantasies. Reveries dripping and begging among the sap oozing pines.

I thought about Teahupo’o. I thought about Chris Cote.

I thought about the juxtaposition of beauty and ugliness.

Rhododendrons thickened, clambering and choking everything around them. Their invasiveness offset by their prettiness, a cerise dreamscape masking the tangled, strangling roots.

Originally imported from Asia in days of Victorian decadence, today they’re everywhere in Scotland, spread through the countryside like a poisonous confetti.

And I thought about how often we fall for beautiful, dangerous things.

I ran through a stretch of trail that winds among an old stand of Scots Pine. Many of them were dying. Rhododendrons clawed at them. Ashen, bark-stripped trunks screamed into a listless sky.

I turned this last image over in my mind as I ran, shaping the words to describe it like clay. I was consumed by reverie, flitting through a fantasy of my own design, tumbling through the beauty of it all like an astronaut without a ship.

And then, reader, I fell.

My feet disappeared from under me, swiped by a wet root, and for a moment I was weightless, before hitting the ground with some force.

I felt it was significant, this return to ground. A sign. Momentarily stunned, I recognised the inevitably of falling when trapped in the pursuit of beautiful things.

Beauty is deadly. Yet we will always chase it. It’s nature’s kill switch.

And once you understand this, all that’s left to do is weigh up if it’s worth it.

Is momentary bliss, fraught with danger, an acceptable trade for safe but enduring mundanity?

Those surfers at The End Of The Road, flinging themselves into the maw surely believe the answer is yes. The reward for commitment to one of those waves can only be theorised by the likes of me.

Both Jake Marshall and Cole Houshmand claimed they had ridden the waves of their life today. Young men they may be, but this should not lessen their claim.

There could be few complaints from anyone at Teahupo’o, once again exemplifying the lesson that hardly bears repeating: surf contests need waves, good ones. When this happens, everything falls away but the surfing itself.

Half of the eight men’s elimination heats were decided by less than a point.

Approaches to the heaving Pacific tubes varied from finesse to flagrant recklessness. For examples of the latter see Ramzi Boukhiam’s 9.13 against Liam O’Brien, and Cole Houshmand’s 9.57, both of which saw the men escape foamballs like they were fleeing the darkest depths of their souls.

For the finesse, see Yago Dora’s victory over Jack Robinson, who will surely be stewing at not going further here. The heat might have gone either way, but Dora sealed it late by taking off deeper than anyone had attempted to this point and threading a noticeably longer tube.

Liam O’Brien was similarly stylish in losing to Boukhiam. The margin between the two just 0.12 points. It was hair splitting between two committed surfers, which never feels entirely just.

The most assured victory of the day went to Barron Mamiya in his win over Matt McGilivray. Mamiya looked as comfortable as you might expect a Hawaiian Pipe specialist to be, notching his 16.83 heat total with his first two waves in the opening minutes of the heat. His rhythm was palpable, despite citing nerves in his post-heat interview.

But the jist of the day was very much blissed out gratitude. There was a sense that everyone involved with this Tour was relieved to see good waves for once.

For some, they were beautiful waves.

And even if the pursuit of beauty is reckless, or consequential, or even if it’s only temporary, to hold it in your hand, just for a moment, is surely worth it.

Open Thread: Comment Live on Finals Day of the Tahiti Pro

History will be made.

Glee in Tokyo.
Glee in Tokyo.

Official 2024 Olympic surfing heat draw announced teeing off wild celebration in Japan

"We got Pip! We got Pip!"

We surf fans are currently in the throes of thrill what with Teahupo’o putting on a spectacular show, yesterday, with more on tap for today. It is nearly impossible to look away from “head place,” as Kaipo Guerrero translated yesterday whilst perched in the brand new aluminum tower dug right into the reef, and, majestically, a whole ‘nother Teahupo’o event is just around the corner.

As you well know, Paris was gifted the 2024 Olympic Games years ago and chose to conduct the surfing component in its Polynesian territories.And, yesterday, the official heat draw was announced.

On the women’s side…

Heat 1: Yolanda Hopkins (POR), Caroline Marks (USA), Sarah Baum (RSA)
Heat 2: Sol Aguirre (PER), Janire Etxabarri (ESP), Vahine Fierro (FRA)
Heat 3: Anat Lelior (ISR), Sanoa Dempfle-Olin (CAN), Tyler Wright (AUS)
Heat 4: Tatiana Weston-Webb (BRA), Molly Picklum (AUS), Caitlin Simmers (USA)
Heat 5: Johanne Defay (FRA), Brisa Hennessy (CRC), Candelaria Resano (NCA)
Heat 6: Tainá Hinckel (BRA), Camila Kemp (GER), Luana Silva (BRA)
Heat 7: Nadia Erostarbe (ESP), Siqi Yang (CHN), Saffi Vette (NZL)
Heat 8: Carissa Moore (USA), Teresa Bonvalot (POR), Matsuda Shino (JPN)

And for the men…

Heat 1: Ethan Ewing (AUS), Tim Elter (GER), Jordy Smith (RSA)
Heat 2: Joan Duru (FRA), Jack Robinson (AUS), Matthew McGillivray (RSA)
Heat 3: Alonso Correa (PER), Filipe Toledo (BRA), Kanoa Igarashi (JPN)
Heat 4: Gabriel Medina (BRA), Connor O’Leary (JPN), Bryan Perez (ESA)
Heat 5: Ramzi Boukhiam (MAR), Billy Stairmand (NZL), João Chianca (BRA)
Heat 6: Andy Criere (ESP), John John Florence (USA), Alan Cleland (MAR)
Heat 7: Kauli Vaast (FRA), Lucca Mesinas (PER), Griffin Colapinto (USA)
Heat 8: Rio Waida (INA), Leonardo Fioravanti (ITA), Inaba Reo (JPN)

It must be assumed that the streets of Tokyo were packed with revelers last night, celebrating last Olympic’s silver medalist Kanoa Igarashi heat three score of Filipe Toledo. The timid world champion has a long history of failing to paddle at Head Place all but guaranteeing Japan advancing to the bracket stage.

Other notable draws include heat 4, for the women, which rudely pits Tati Weston-Webb against Molly Picklum and Cait Simmers.

Which are you most looking forward to?

Female surfers create history in jaw-dropping barrels at Tahiti Pro

“This is women’s surfing! We’re doing it!”

It seems like for every passing day a new milestone in women’s surfing is created. Australian Molly Picklum’s ten-pointer at Pipe and give-em-hell closeout hit at Sunset; teen sensation Erin Brooks’ ten-point ride at Snapper Rocks; Caity Simmers whenever she paddles out.

And, today, in six-to-eight-foot waves at Teahupoo, site of the Paris Games in a couple of months, there was the steady thud of explosions as spectators in the channel flotilla banged and screamed while Tahitian local Vahine Fierro, Hawaiian-Brazilian Tatiana Weston-Webb and Costa Rica’s Brisa Hennessy consistently buried their muzzles in barrels that were long considered to be beyond the skill of women.

Tatiana created history when she became the first woman to score a perfect ten at the Tahiti Pro, although that number wasn’t enough to get past local surfer and eventual winer Vahine Fierro, whose post-contest quotes were almost as delightful as her bold approach to the barrel.

“Thank you to Jessi (Myley Dyer) for trusting the women because we were more than capable out there,” she said. “It’s just insane. Thank you Teahupo’o, you’re so special, and thank you for sending me the best waves of my life… Teahupo’o is for the women after all.”

As for Tatiana’s barrel,

“I knew I needed to go and get a good score to try and make the heat and when I was paddling and looking down, I was [thinking] ‘just make the drop and then you can barrel’. I caught a little edge and then from there I was just like ‘stay calm’ and all of a sudden it was just a little tunnel. When I came out I couldn’t believe it. I was just beyond myself screaming… This is women’s surfing. We’re doing it. I feel like I won the contest but obviously I didn’t.”

Click here to watch the day’s highlights. 

And, tomoz, more juice in the waves and the men get down to the biz end of the Tahiti Pro.

Gonna be good.

(And, swing back tomoz for Jen See’s take on today’s theatrics.)