Rio Pro: Day 2
Sixteen heats run today in surf of similar size and quality as the opening day.
Super tricky, with occasional excellence, lots and lots of heats decided by single turn waves. Medina smoked by rookie Callum Robson. South American Wildcards went to the air and bundled out top seeds who looked to be showing signs of fatigue as we round the turn and head for the home straight in 2022.
There's your TL:DR if you are busy and/or don't care.
The Women’s Semi-Finalists were decided in surf that seemed to get weirder as the sun set behind the Church on the Hill over Barrinha.
For the life of me, I can't seem to see the World Title favourite amongst the front-runners this year. The incumbent Carissa Moore, looks hesitant on so many waves, unable to break out of a performance barrier that seems set to about 70%.
I guess that consistency and the Finals Day at Trestles maintains favouritism for Moore, but there's a brittleness to her performances this year - especially in Finals.
Steph was bundled out early by Izzy Nichols in a tight, scrappy heat that will not make a highlight reel for the year. Apart from El Salvador there hasn't been a single comp where Steph has looked like claiming the 8th Title.
Tyler Wright's Bells showing was easily the most dominant World Title-worthy performance but she's now missed too much action due to Covid and paperwork not being in order.
Maybe it's Defay? Lakey? Brisa?
My gut feeling is whoever comes out of Tahiti with the most confidence and momentum will storm the citadel. 0.0 heat totals are not unknown at Chopes and are always devastating to Title campaigns.
Some say I have been too harsh with commentary on Sally Fitzgibbon so I leave these pure stats here without comment.
Sally surfed twice, winning her opening heat with a total of 8.24. That put her into the Quarters, where she lost to Defay with a heat total of 8.10.
Those two sub ten point heat totals were enough to garner her (another) 5th place finish and $20K USD for seventy minutes work.
By contrast the winning NSW Womens State of Origin team played 80 minutes of full contact Rugby League last night for match fee payments of AUD $8800.
The Semi-Final match-ups for the gals seem fair enough: Johanne vs Gabby Bryan and Carissa vs Tatiana.
On form you'd say the Finals should be between Gabby and Tati. They've charged the hardest and made the most of chunky single turn sections.
You'd hate to have your career on the line in this stuff. Which makes me think of the perverse suggestion that the Tour should be slightly rejigged to have Brazil as the Cut-off comp. The stakes have decreased - not increased - since the cut for the back half of the Tour. There's a few guys punching the clock and collecting the checks. I'll throw Jordy Smith and Kolohe Andino as two names into the mix on that front.
Even Medina, the most competitive animal God ever set breath into (bar Kelly Slater 2002-2012) was in cruise control today. He paddled up the beach and left the chunky rights to Callum and had what looked like a perfunctory free-surf. Fell on a few airs, caught a bunch of nothing waves. There was no consequence. Gabe gets a fresh scorecard come January.
Imagine if there were consequences to this shifting, chunky beachbreak? If careers really did depend on sticking the Hail Marys the Brazilian wildcards continually launched today?
Very much more entertaining in my view.
Not just Brazilian Wildcards. I thought Peruvian Olympian Miguel Tudela was a Pipe guy. Turns out he is a Pipe and Air guy. Two big hucks was enough to ignite the crowd and send Griff to South Africa early.
Mateus Herdy did the same to Final Five aspirant Kanoa Igarashi. Popping two on one wave for an 8.83. If you want to check one wave on the Analyser, go look at that one. That will give you the drift of what scored big in Brazil.
The other one to check is Caio's 10 pointer for a long, deep tube. A passable Back-door imitation on a day when most struggled to find a clean corner.
The most entertaining and consequential heat of the day was the Elimination Heat 5 between Chianca and Ewing. They traded turns, they traded tubes. There was more punch to the first vertical hit of Ewing, on a wave for wave basis and in the end judges made the call he was 0.1 point ahead of Chianca. It felt like a tactical error from Chianca. His Wildcard brethren sunk CT ships with aerial attacks and he stayed on the face, where Ewing had the advantage.
Ewing consolidates a dark horse run at Trestles with a huge hand to play at J-Bay. Those silky huge turns, powerboat rooster-tails, with no JJF as comparison, should stand alone.
Somehow, possibly because the discordant time zone has tweaked my sense of time and space, we still have 18 heats to run.
It seems like we should be closer to the finish, but here we are.
You'd think the comp ripe for the picking for a hungry Wildcard, likely against Filipe Toledo in the Finals.
Can you see it any different?