Toledo now in the lodge at number three.
Thank goodness they had the two right men and women for the final, finally, and lots of analysis to come, I promise, so stay tuned for that.
Allow a rapid (existential) digression, please re: the Surf Ranch Pro.
Can you legitimately create a sporting event where no drama occurs, where there is only light and no shadow, nothing is allowed to penetrate the veil of the sun and rainbows, where there is there is no controversy, no conflict?
Where big is small, soul is aggressive, huge is subtle, the guys about to be relegated to QS are “legitimate world title contenders” or “the future of the Top 5”? Where the “blessed” psychobabillage reigns supreme, the losers quietly disappear without being interviewed and the creator of the place creates his own rules at his discretion?
The answer is yes, I guess, because this is the universe that the WSL created at Surf Ranch.
However, I drove an hour north yesterday to watch an NRL game at a Gold Coast stadium with two eleven-year-old boys. Foaming groms who chose not to watch a single wave of Surf Ranch. The crowd was full of Rugby League fans who got what they paid for, without being preached, assaulted with Greenwashing, and hammered with countless inexplicable commercials and pauses.
The second half was a bang. The losing coach faced the media, answered questions. Called his team’s performance “unacceptable” and “horrible”, said it was “the lowest he has ever felt as a coach”. This presser was broadcast, without shame, without self-censorship. After being stranded on the island of the WSL, the honesty and embrace of reality was as intoxicating as the air from the highest mountain.
We described Italo as a step behind the competition yesterday. He failed to fix his weakness on the left in his bonus run. Falling early and missing the finals cup line. Kelly, slightly outclassed after a spider surfing, end to the left for a 7.07 made the cut. Owen Wright, critically pointed at right, was knocked out by one. Owen’s thoughts weren’t researched on the score. He just disappeared as if he had never existed.
Yago Dora made the left his own by performing a version of the Medina line, which involves free ailerons at every turn, with acceleration from the grind. A pair of throwing tunes, one just after the wave decelerates halfway and the other in the final turn.
In one of his many pressers today, a defensive Kelly Slater responding to criticism of the pool as a venue cited Dora’s performance as justification.
Is this a legitimate rebuttal? I say no.
Only the last stanza of the Toledo and Medina rides had a dramatic meaning about them. This has led some to suggest that the venue for the finals day should be moved from Trestles to the basin. I think there is more merit in this idea, but not a top five. A top three only. Three races each. Run and do in hours like a Super Bowl.
We don’t need to see days and days of mind-numbing safety surf from the rest of the Top 34.
Even in the final, people surfed safely.
Ethan Ewing, who had nothing to lose and everything to gain by finally showing the world just how well he can surf, got a seven on the right and a particularly weak pair of wrinkles on the left, scoring a 4 and a 5, 67.
Who trains this guy?
Want him to come back to the QS without firing a shot at the CT level?
Carissa Moore peaked in the two bonus points with a brace of eight. There was more fluidity and power in the female performances compared to 2018 and 19, but a glaring lack of progressive risk.
And when I say a lack, I mean zero.
No one took Lakey Peterson’s final winning aerial trick or the reverse of Caz Marks’ high tail and attempted to duplicate it.
The judges showed they were perfectly happy to reward safe safe surfing when Sally Fitzgibbons did seventeen identical snaps, surfing only the fins and rear rail for a 7.5. The brains of the judges finally melted in the heat, after an astonishing demonstration of rigor.
Performance was much lower, with rare exceptions, but the rating did not reflect that.
There was a long period of sheer aggravation for surf fans heading into the final which felt like a deliberate provocation by the WSL.
The machine stopped, there was no indication of when the action would resume, we were verbally and visually assaulted by the talking heads and the program filler. By the time they cut to a small “feel good” piece on Chef de Pasquales, Mexico, now Chef at the Surf Ranch wobbling left on a moss, the vibe was starting to resemble the one inside the house. ‘elevator in Dirty Harry 4.
Do you know this one?
An exasperated Harry Callahan grabs his executioner by the tie, yanks him back and says, “Listen to punk, to me you are nothing but dog shit and a lot can happen to you. dog shit. It can be scraped with a shovel, it can dry out and fly away with the wind, or it can be stepped on and crushed…. “
But alas, in our universe of fairy bubbles, Cote and Mel and Turpel and Rosie did not dry up and fly away in the dry wind. It didn’t matter how much we wanted them too.
The aggravation continued with the spread. Failed wave starts. Replays are not displayed. The judging scale has obviously been reset for the finals, especially for the women, but why? And how?
And for what purpose?
Despite all the provocations, for a magical quarter of an hour, everything clicked. I do this period during the last part of the men’s semi-finals. Kanoa was in first place. Medina needed a combination of partitions. His waves to respond were the highlight of the event. A late float on entering the last section of the right tube was a legitimate risk, the precise on-board work that only Medina can handle. The left was seamless. Super deep turns, slippery air and a seamless kerrupt flip at the end. Still behind on its strengths in 18/19 but sufficient to qualify for the final.
Defay was strong. She did what she did all the events. Didn’t bring anything new to the finale, but she didn’t have to because neither did Carissa Moore. The two chose to keep the fins engaged at all times, to focus on flow and timing and in the end, Defay was rewarded for riding safely on a straight, away from her best wave for a 7, 93 winner.
But Toledo did.
He botched the end of the first two laps for a pair of sevens. This left the door open for Medina, who fell oddly, overcooking his left opening. Toledo’s second right was the wave of the event. Board slide, tube, alley oop to full rail turn to slide. It was the final streak.
Perfect execution. His left was outclassed.
The 9.28 requirement for Medina was easy to achieve. Another inexplicable suffocation.
Toledo now in the lodge at number three.
Assuming he holds the position of Trestles. He surfs twice, on his favorite wave. Sleep in your own bed, enjoy home cooking. Paste everything. Arrives fully excited and warmed up against Medina with his poor record there. Best of three rounds.
I want money on Filipe Toledo.
Meanwhile, in another, much grittier and darker universe, the rest of Australians are clustered at the bottom of the rankings like flies on sheep.
Besides Morgs, of course.