Question: Does the shorter waiting period negate the glorious benefits of having fewer surfers on the WSL Championship Tour?


Will we see G-Land ruled by psycho tunes on a dry reef? As admirable as that kind of bravery is, let’s hope not.

Tell me, how over is the indo dream? I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately, like a man does when he reaches certain ages and stages and finds himself thinking.

Surfing is the ultimate pastime for golden-hued memories. It will never be as good as ten years ago, last week, yesterday.

It was still better an hour ago.

My experience of Indonesia is slim. A month and a half spent twirling between Bali and Java while the Sari Club was still Bintangs not bombs, and my main concerns were mind and body satisfaction out of the water.

Youth is wasted by youth, as we know.

But even then, I had missed the real Indo dream by decades. What happened twenty years later?

Today wasn’t the best example of what G-Land or the Archipelago as a whole can produce, but it wasn’t the worst either. For most of us, I’m sure that would have been more than welcome. To have the vastness of this line-up all to ourselves? That would still be enough.

The water was glistening, the winds were light and the line-up was pristine and empty. There was a dreamlike quality to it all. While not perfect, it was different enough to feel fresh. Looking up at the sun and at some distance there is an almost voyeuristic feel. There were no crowd bangs, there was no background noise from beach announcers, and no watery static microphone.

Strider was lying in a hammock. There was certainly an affectation in his sleepy delivery, but it echoed the atmosphere of the event as a whole.

It was almost peaceful. No competition, just surfing.

I wasn’t the only one dreaming of the late 90s this week. Surely the most vivid dreams belonged to the experts. The voices of Luke Egan and Tom Carroll were heavy with the weight of happiness, imbued with memories of times past. You can hardly blame them.

Visions of the 1997 Quik Pro haunted today, as Surfads predicted. Competitors too young to remember – or not yet born – had clearly used images of the model as a primer. John Florence, who was only five at the time, noted this in his post-heating interview.

Everyone worried about John for the first thirty minutes of his series. He had barely caught a wave. All we knew was that he had attached a pre-heated, industrial-looking knee pad. His face revealed nothing, silent and inscrutable as always.

For me, Florence has a more tangible aura of power than usual at G-Land. It’s a wave that demands a degree of technicality that you never doubt in your game. More importantly, there’s less fanfare here. The reduced production dictated by the location means that the focus is on surfing. That suits John. If there were to be a reinvented format that relied on strike missions in remote locations, one that would reduce both terrain and tourist board submission, would you doubt it?

At the end of the round, concerns about the mysterious knee injury were allayed, for now. He was less Forrest Gump, and more Universal Soldier. He took the lead on back-to-back waves just five minutes from the end. For the first, he stole a short, clean tube on a wave that was barely high, but sufficient given the inconsistency of the conditions. The second was bigger, vindicated by two backhand hacks and a cover-up to finish for a low eight. It was the best score of the round and ensured a comfortable victory.

Another man who had reason to think was Kelly Slater. I noted the small splashes of water at the start of its heat. They’ve become something of a hallmark of Slater when he’s feeling witty and/or desperate. He believes he can create waves. Experts talked about how Kelly felt, how happy he was, that his mind was in good shape. Watch out, they told us. A happy Kelly is a dangerous Kelly. True, perhaps, but not without waves. His opening flurry demonstrated the flow he was obviously feeling. Until it is cut at the end.

His water splash incantations will need to be more powerful than ever to summon something from this forecast. There’s no doubt that Slater could be masterful here if the water gods allow it.

But what we might see from Medina, both here and over the next few months, is the weight on everyone’s mind.

For us, there is excitement; for his rivals, fear.

A pre-recorded clip from Kelly told us that Gabriel had been in Indonesia for weeks. Although he was absent from the competition, he was “probably better prepared than anyone”, according to Slater.

As the sun went down low, he secured a comfortable victory over Callum Robson and Sammy Pupo, but there was little spectacular comeback. A spirited start, he caught several waves early, smashing his way along the line on shoulder-high fences. Each pump seemed to create the sense of anticipation we felt. We wanted a stunning comeback where we could sit back and feel a heady mix of relief, satisfaction and joy.

But it was not to be.

Instead, it was kind of an unequal victory. Pupo and Robson had two of the best early heat waves, but neither could make them count.

One surfer who made his opportunity count was Indonesian wildcard Rio Waida. Fresh off his victory in the Sydney Challenger Series event, he dispatched heavyweight opponents in Filipe Toledo and Nat Young.

I admit I don’t know anything about him. He’s 22, apparently. Born in Japan of mixed Japanese and Indonesian parentage, he moved to Indonesia when he was five years old. On the face of it, this was also around the time his profile picture for the WSL website was taken.

Let’s see what else he can do, it’s always worth supporting a wild card that has a good dig.

For the world’s best, however, today didn’t deliver the waves of their pre-event fever dreams. We are also not likely to see these types of waves during this waiting period. The following week ? Pumping.

Deflate for us and the athletes? More than a little.

Richie Porta’s pre-event breakdown told us that the judges would only focus on barrels and barrels. They wanted to see deep surfers and disappeared, he said. There were cover-ups today, but they were forced and brief. Looks like this could be the story of the upcoming event, the more that’s a shame.

Will we see G-Land ruled by psycho tunes on a dry reef? As admirable as that kind of bravery is, let’s hope not.


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