“I’m confident that Jack Robinson feels he can bend things to his will, the waves, the judges, the heats. But this time that wasn’t the case.”
When the two Aussie hangers, Robson and O’Leary, were finally dispatched, and we came to a conclusion that somehow seemed inevitable from the start, the first day of all-Brazilian finals since 1963, some things became clear.
First, and most importantly, it was clear why we got here.
It’s not because there is home advantage or the fans are crazy.
And it’s not because the waves are crap.
There is no problem with the country or the competition.
It’s not even the work of God.
It’s simply because Brazilians are the best surfers.
Toledo and Ferreira can end up anywhere, as we know, but Sammy Pupo and Yago Dora seem to belong too.
We know Dora is capable of excelling in all conditions. His competitive mettle could still be questioned, but he has performed well so far, especially given his recent injury history.
Sammy Pupo is still a bit green, like all rookies, but he looks as well-rounded in skill as anyone, and perhaps has a tantalizing mix of fire and composure.
Much has been said about the Brazilian camaraderie on the Tour this year. While this isn’t new, it seems more powerful than ever for producing hungry, competitive surfers with a wave of clear energy behind them.
Compare the situation of Brazilian surfers to that of Nat Young and Jake Marshall, for example. By all accounts, their main support network in Brazil is simply the other.
But it’s not just because we’re in Brazil that this energy is apparent among those in green and gold. All year long they stayed together, trained together, ate together and supported each member of the pack when they paused to chase a round win.
It must be daunting to face them when each is carried by a tide of support.
How else to explain the career best performances of Miggy Pupo and Jadson Andre?
My other recognition was how much the WSL needs Brazil.
Surfing in Brazil is too big for the WSL to neglect. Plus, the fans deserve better than the surfers who retire with questionable injuries or visa issues.
In the absence of evidence, these surfers should be convicted in the future.
Why don’t you go where the fans are? In sports, sometimes you just have to give people what they want. It’s part of your job.
Work was going to be difficult today. It was a big playground, as they say. Lots of moving water, as they also say.
Rippy, against the tide. Probably as hard to surf as it is to watch.
The lefts were all that was offered, but they were of questionable quality. Surfers struggled to find positions among the shifting peaks.
It seemed longer than a two-day layoff when the proceedings began. It’s hard not to lose momentum when something is so stop-start, no matter if that something is supposed to be elite athletic competition.
And if that’s hard on us as fans, imagine how surfers feel.
How do you maintain a game face for several days without doing anything?
I wondered how to change that, how to prevent athletes and fans from opting out. Same conclusions as ever: smaller terrain, and/or strike missions, and/or artificial waves.
The other option is to embrace what we have. Make it something, make it a point of difference among other sports.
I admit I don’t know what it looks like. Let’s hope Kaipo doesn’t advertise.
A much calmer man today was Jack Robinson, despite a round of 16 defeat which could have gone either way.
Only 0.07 points separated him from Mateus Herdy when the 7.07 he expected on the sand resulted in a flat seven.
Given what we’ve seen of Robinson all year, I was ready to believe. Joe and Pete were too. Unusually for Joe, he unequivocally stated his belief that Jack had hit the score he needed right on the buzzer.
Robinson followed his routine. He first crouched down with the board on his knees and his head bowed. Then he turned and walked, right shoulder, towards the athletes’ area, before stopping and closing his eyes again, murmuring incantations.
I’m sure he feels he can bend things to his will, the waves, the judges, the heats. But this time, that was not the case. He was frighteningly kind and professional during his post-heating interview, accepting the decisions and the outcome.
More uncertain was a scoring oddity that occurred in the Round of 16 between Dora and Ewing.
Attention conspiracy theorists
With about 21.43 remaining in the heat, Dora earned a 7.27.
Except that a few seconds later, the score magically went to 7.23? !
Go see it for yourself.
It didn’t make any difference to the outcome of the round and didn’t even change things in the moment, but it was weird.
Both Filipe and Italo confidently went through their innings today.
At some point, and to no one’s surprise (except, clearly, him), Filipe was announced as qualified for Final 5. It was an emotional moment (for him).
He cried, he prayed.
Kaipo said his success was due to a “love bubble” around him.
I don’t know what he meant but that sounds rude.
As for Italo, twice today in interviews with Luisa, he was strange and trembling. The closest approximation I could get to his face was that of a junkie queuing in the morning for methadone. He said he didn’t like wetsuit surfing, but it was annoying.
But he’s done with his brothers.
At the end of the game today, as Yago Dora arrived on the beach, having defeated Callum Robson’s high white hopes, the sun dipped and Robson was reduced to a silhouetted head, floating in a fiery orange sunset.
A lone Australian, cast adrift as a sea of fans wildly cheered his loss from the shore.
The crowd chanted the seconds as the clock counted down.
And for once, it looked like a sport people cared about.