‘Wow! Welcome to the WSL 2015 Billabong Pro Tahiti. Pottz have you ever seen the glass so awesomely half full?’
‘That’s right Joe!. When I was on the tour the glass was never this half full. The surfers and the viewers at home must be stoked’
You get the picture. It was a less than awesome Teahupo’o. That said it was still better than any spot I surf.
Things didn’t really get going until Round 3 Heat 5 when Medina outfoxed an in form John John. But the points and results don’t do the battle between professional surfing’s chalk and cheese justice. Gabe is certainly smashing the stereotype of Brazilian small wave wizards. In a heat with more nines than a Berlin police station Florence might have been thinking he should have spent a little less time on his movie View from a Blue Moon (but when it comes out we’ll be glad he did).
On finals day it looked like Owen Wright and Filipe Toledo would be lifting trophies but Gabes and Flores stepped in and stepped up to prevent either from taking the yellow jersey. Italo Ferreira (Bra) showed real guts and flare while a seemingly impotent Toledo let the rookie slaughter him 15-0
But Ferreira was stopped by an Owen Wright with his eyes on the final, a replay of Fiji and the yellow jersey. And while the rookie fought back rabidly countering a 7.50 with a 8.67 ultimately the Avatar had his way, and, as the swell built, he muscled into a 9.43.
In the following round Medina show the rookie how to deal with the tall Aussie. In a single heat he revenged his countryman, progressed to the final and protected Adriano’s top spot, quite the act of solidarity and loyalty.
Jeremy Flores suffered a fractured face surfing in Indo prior to the JBay event but surgery or not this was arguably his best shot in remaining on the tour. After accidents and hissy fits hampered the last two years of competition he pulled on a helmet, the likes of which haven’t been seen for nearly a decade, and charged throughout the event. He was on full tear by the time he met Slater in the Quarters. Slater’s need to get back into the top five was clearly less than Flores’ to get back to the WSL full time.
He then took down an inspiring Hobgood, leaving the Floridian in combo-land. C.J. walked away with the Andy Irons Most Committed Performance Award as a consolation prize.
There’s a lot made of ‘momentum’ when competing in these events. Surfers often blaze through the early rounds only to peter out before the finals. Flores’ momentum built and built throughout the event and he opened the final with a 9.87 with a scorching barrel. It was enough to rattle Medina, and although they went blow for blow, barrel for barrel the champ never quite managed to match the Frenchman’s hunger.
Post-Teahupo’o the title race is wider than the events barrels – but equally as messy. With four events to go Adriano cannot falter in anyway, cannot miss a heartbeat or take a moment to draw breath. Fanning always builds through the year; his slow burn is as deadly as a forest fire. Owen, Julian, Toledo and even Slater could still reach a title. But Trestles, France and Portugal are high performance waves and obviously favour Wilson and Toledo. At the moment it looks like it’ll be a purely numbers game, looking back for 13th’s rather than a fiery duel, but who knows? The European leg is the graveyard of title runs and as for Pipe? Well it’s the slavering, spiting, monstrous keeper of broken dreams.
So with that in mind it’s off to Trestles. Come on Jordy let’s be having you mate!