Second Thoughts On Finals Day
Wild haymakers often get thrown in the heat of battle and I'm one of the worst offenders. Now that the dust has settled from the Finals Day melee it's time to take a more sober assessment.
First, to address some of the more hyperbolic claims.
Let's start with Steph Gilmore's run from fifth place on the rankings to a record setting eighth World Title. The following statement is too much: “What we got from Steph en route to an 8th World Title was the most sustained run of rail surfing excellence ever seen in the sport. There is no comparison, no historical precedent to set her achievement beside. It stands alone."
I dearly wish it were true, and went looking for evidence to back it up, but alas, it's way out off the cliff edge, Wile E Coyote-style.
Her achievement does stand alone, of course, because in this second edition of Finals Day, no-one has made the run from fifth spot to World Champion - no-one's even done it from second spot - and her rail surfing was a cut above the rest of the field. It had to be seen and acknowledged in context from the start of the day to the end and appreciated as a whole body of work. It won't be something I forget in a hurry.
The magnitude of Steph's achievement was also heavily recognised in the mainstream media. Every major and minor news site in Australia ran with it. It made the LA Times, where “hundreds of fans” lined the cobblestones to watch it. It did not make the NY Times.
Gilmore's comments immediately following the title triumph were a weird mix of elation and delegitimising of both her achievement and the Finals Day format. She claimed Moore, was, in fact, the real champion. In saying this, Steph reflects a common sentiment, often seen below the line.
But sport doesn't work like that. The more I think about it, the more I'm liking the Finals Day format. It fundamentally bakes into the pie one of life's great tenets. Life is unfair.
What happened to Carissa is massively unfair. Despite what would've been an unassailable lead prior to this new format, no-one will remember she came second to Gilmore. All swept into the dustbin of history.
We've all had a shocker session in deteriorating surf and seen someone in total rhythm make it look easy. To have a whole year crumble under your feet in those circumstances is cruel.
Life is cruel. Bad things happen to good people.
Sport is at its best and most compelling when the contestants put all the chips on the table. You bring everything and either leave with everything, or nothing at all.
Now, lets talk about the show itself.
I'm so completely numbed to WSL presentations of, what might be termed, an American hype style that I barely noticed the Boxing/UFC style of walk-out they did before each heat, except for a momentary cringe. Ethan Ewing, in particular, looked like he had spiders crawling all over him. Since then, every person I've spoken to who watched the show expressed horror at the pure cheese of it.
The rest of the broadcast was up to the usual incredibly high standard. For the most part we caught the live action which is one of the great bugbears of normal webcasts. It was slick. Having Mick and Kelly in the booth for the Finals was epic. Once Mick loosens up and gets away from the 'company man' script he has a wealth of great analysis to share. Kelly has never seen a situation he can't steer back to himself, but his independent thought more than offsets any deserved self-absorption.
Kelly hinted several times that Finals Day may return to Trestles, potentially as a moreorless permanent location.
Which brings us to our concluding reflection on Finals Day. Trestles is a fun wave and deserves to be on tour. But as a Finals location it's too lame, too undemanding, too soft to carry the drama and gravitas of a Finals Day. If your Finals venue can be comfortably surfed by ten-year old kids, if athletes can surf five times out there without a fatigue factor to contend with, it doesn't make the cut.
Looks like we will have to suck it up though. WSL pressers in the following days were massively big-upping the numbers of viewers, etc etc. We are being buttered up to accept Trestles as a fait accompli, on the basis of a popularity contest.
It's a slap in the face to the greatest backer pro surfing has ever known - the Australian taxpayer. Most of Finals Day happened on the dog watch between 1am and 5am. A mid-Pacific timezone would be much kinder.
There's a strong sentiment to return Finals Day to Pipe. I can see why that is not feasible. January is just a better slot, which means it works now as the tour opener. There is no other slot available, especially early season.
But the solution is right in front of our eyes.
Cloudbreak has huge tubes, turns, and challenges all. It's a glorious, bluewater, amazing spectacle.
Recreational surfers there would lose one day, where they could easily go surf Namotu, or Restaurants. And September is still prime time.
Cloudbreak as Finals Day would also leave a tiny sliver of hope left for the most unlikely of unicorn outcomes: a post-50 Kelly Slater World Title.
Any beef with any of these more sober assessments?
// STEVE SHEARER
No beef, love your write ups.
I thought the reason they can’t do Pipe is because they need to have an allocation of locals in any comp. You can’t have a wildcard with a final 5 scenario.
There are a plethora of slightly more rambunctious waves (see what I did there?) that would fit the bill. The issues are always going to be around logistics and taking away the best day of surf of some punters holiday who doesn’t give a crap about the tour.
One day ? pfft most punters would coo that. A few who gets then lots of people watching.
Fiji jus hosted a international windsurfing event at Namotu for gods sake. Great call - let’s get it back there/
correction - the event was at Cloudbreak. One day and small group of competitors - sound familiar ?
Steph is great. The fact the tour has been and is predominantly right hand waves has played a part.
i personally cant support the wsl and even watch a second of this crap.
Great reflections FR. Cheers.
Sport can be very unfair & cruel for sure, which makes losing so hard to swallow at times but makes winning taste so much sweeter!
Trestles sucks to end it on but the one positive like pipe/backdoor at least it gives the option of surfers having a choice to go left or right, i think that's important for this kind of surf off winner takes all ending.
agree. the finals day location can't be a dedicated right or left. options for both leaving it up to what avenue the surfer sees fit to take
Depending on swell direction,on many days at Pipe they're either going left or right,not both.
One way has all the good scoring potential and the other way doesn't have near as much.
That's how it's looked to me at many CT events there over the years anyway.
Yea , nah ... the best surfer in the world should be able to tear it apart no matter left or right .
Look at John John , Medina , Jack , they are equally impressive forehand or backhand .
... in fact thats where a full tour can expose weaknesses in technique , whereas a soft buttery Trestles right can hide them
I didn't watch much, but did many end up going left?
Only Italo from memory and he surfed it pretty much the same way every time.
I'm with you Steve, if we cant have Pipe, then Cloudbreak is the alternative compromise for the wozzle show. At least it provides the broader spectrum of all the elements the worlds best are tested in when actually surfing it. Not just pump and airs, and it satisfies the thirst for all of us who love the sport and its complete essence, bring on Cloudbreak for the final
I love the fact that you are humble enough to admit getting carried away with some comments in the initial post.
Also, your comments about sport/life and their tendency to be unfair at times are spot on. With that in mind I feel a setup like another, at times unfair, sport called rugby league might be the answer. They have the winner of the regular season, with a trophy to go with it plus prizemoney (i think?). Then in the best of 8 final series it's like a new comp starts over.
* at the same time i disagree that surfing should be a sport even though i love/hate watching the competition, due to the huge variations in fair opportunity during a heat because of waves and priority and also the massive impact style has, which is open to personal opinion of the judges. Really who can judge, unless their is a wide gap between competitors
Whilst free, the WSL broadcast left me wanting when they cut to ads whilst Steph was being chaired up the cobblestones, such a big miss, like watching the grand final & not seeing the winning team celebrate.
Also to hold the event at Cloudbreak, the WSL would have to book out Tavarua for the entirety of the waiting period, don't see them doing that to run for just one day.
WSL isn’t free. There are externalities- ever growing global surf crowds and spot exposure for a start - that are a cost born by all of us.
Very true. If WSL was even moderately successful in its most lofty growth goal for participation it would be misery for us all.
I can still laugh about Elo's dreams only because they seem to be failing and surfing is a hard gig for most to stick with.
There should be an event there again anyway,if not the finals event.
It's the best wave in the world for it's combination of performance surfing and hollow barrels,and it's ability to break from 3 foot to 30 foot.
My first read (“What we got from Steph en route to an 8th World Title was the most sustained run of rail surfing excellence ever seen in the sport. There is no comparison, no historical precedent to set her achievement beside. It stands alone.") was directed to Womens surfing.
To fight those demons and emerge World Champ from last on the grid is quite epic. If this format remains will be interesting if anyone can do this again (both Men and Womens) so I'd stand by that copy Steve.
I don't really understand how the best womens rail surfing ever was done in 2 to 3 foot crumbly trestles and not 6 foot good as it gets Jbay a couple or so weeks prior.
If that's the case,it's an indication womens surfing still has a lot of progress left to achieve.
Virtually any objective assessment will plainly show that the WSL have brought nothing of any worth to the concept of a professional world tour.
Before the WSL bought it for a gold coin, the tour structure was already in place, the web cast was arranged and constantly improving with technology . The judging concept was sorted. The locations were already established. The various national tour stops were already shovelling in taxpayer’s loot to subsidise it all.
So what has the WSL added?
Nothing of substance or worth.
/ They fluffed around with the name in order to Americanise it and came up with a title that managed to somehow exaggerate the gulf between a surfer’s blind passion for watching great surfing and the splash splash regimented rash shirt carnivals.
/They installed a farcical Reality TV vibe which takes the inherent cool of surfing and shits on it from great height. In a classic Post-Oprah World misread, the executive team has come to the conclusion that nauseating two dimensional hype adds to…..anything. Anything at all. The fact that this hype is pinched wholesale from the worst of professional sports everywhere compounds the situation. The fuck ups aren’t even original ideas!
/ The WSL is so self-satisfied with its own confected corpo language that they don’t care that their actions directly contradict everything they proclaim to be important and show no concern that the bullshit is completely transparent. The constant hype line is “World’s best surfers in the World’s best waves” then the grand final is staged at a location which closes out over 4feet and almost never barrels. Finals day was in cross shore, grey sky slop for fuck’s sake.
You’d have to be a fricken clown to have the best surf forecasters vying for your attention, the entire globe as potential location, a good window of opportunity ….and still manage to stage a mere 6 hour block of competition in unchallenging rubbish surf.
That’s some next level hopeless shit. Pretty much guaranteed I could go to any beach in the world , tap any half-decent surfer on the shoulder and employ them to provide a better final day outcome and they’d succeed without raising a sweat.
Do t even get me started on the Green-Wash Eco masturbation which every one knows is an utter pisstake. Come on …..you’re jetting hundreds of people and ton upon ton of infrastructure around the planet to generate a viable profit stream. If you gave a single tinker’s cuss about the G Land trees or the Bell’s foreshore you wouldn’t be denuding them to install a pavilion for VIP’s to suck cans of sponsor’s piss.
/Remember Dirk Ziff’s waterman of the year speech when he said that grumpy locals are putting at risk the dreams of the world’s best pro surfers? Yeah , tell that to Jack Robinson , Brissa , and Ethan Ewing as they are sent to battle for a world title at the surfing equivalent of staging an Formula 1 race in a Woolworth’s car park.
You reckon Robbo was dreaming of duelling cutbacks on waist high waves for his title shot when he was a kid pushing himself through the tombie’s ledges?
/ Surfers tune in to watch live surfing. Why the fuck, I repeat, Why the fuck are we watching prepackaged adverts for the WSL finals day whilst live WSL finals day action is going on ? Why the fuck would you show a surfer bio for Kelly Slater during the live world title grand final between two surfers who are not Kelly Slater?
/ Thing is, the WSL has entered into an unwritten social contract with the surfers of the world. Every surfer on the planet dislikes crowds and abhors the idea of surfing becoming mainstream crowded, yet this is the express reason for the existence of the WSL. The desires of the two sides of the equation are in direct contradiction. The only reason surfers entertain the idea of professional surging is to watch the best surfers live , head to head in the best waves. The WSL needs to remember that without fulfilling this simple exchange, surfers are happy for the WSL to fuck off and die.
Get out of the way WSL. Show the broadcast from great surf and put the rest of the Hollywood kitsch in the bin. Show the action live. Put on commentators who don’t make you want to kick the Tele with their vapid and condescending attempts to expunge every moment of genuine interest by smearing the whole thing with a veneer of nonsensical hand-jam bullshit.
I reckon that any decent producer gifted taxpayer cash to get together a team of cameramen and tech for the broadcast would do a better job. The make or break team showed up the WSL in their first look at surfing. Says it all.
You think this is a rant? Ive been watching and supporting the pro tour for about thirty years before the gronk the WSL put in charge had ever swum in the ocean. I woke myself at midnight to watch the finals after hyping it online to help get other surfers caught up in the excitement. I wa# more than ready to kick on and have the hell time. The finals was staged in such shit conditions that it was unwatchable and I soon turned it off and read a book.
How fuvked is that ?
Now you can ignore what I’m saying and shrug your shoulders and claim it’s the unimportant opinion of a malcontent….or you could realise that I embody the true hardcore fan and I’m telling you to get an act and sort your shit out cause what you did to the finals day of the sport we all love was fucken atrocious. You can victim blame the fans or you can consider that the product you deliver is sub-par shit.
Have a go cnts.
Get rid of the clown Director trying to turn surfing into an Oprah inspired shitshow for a start. No one has time for that rubbish.
You’d have to be a fricken clown to have the best surf forecasters vying for your attention, the entire globe as potential location, a good window of opportunity ….and still manage to stage a mere 6 hour block of competition in unchallenging rubbish surf.
That’s some next level hopeless shit. Pretty much guaranteed I could go to any beach in the world , tap any half-decent surfer on the shoulder and employ them to provide a better final day outcome and they’d succeed without raising a sweat."
Classic but true...
DS you ripped that flaccid 2-3ft wall all the way from the take off zone to the inside corner and onto the bricks! spray flying into the grey sky and casting double rainbows courtesy of a turgid cross shore wind!
Cheers mate. Someone with a lesser talent for whinging might’ve looked at a morning of Toledo and Gilmore ripping the bag out of fun enough head high waves and only thought it capable of generating a 2 point whine at best. I was confident in my talent to push the score into the excellent range if I could pull off the Hail Mary gripe.
Contacting Oprah’s execs as we speak to pitch the WWL (World Whinging League). You in?
I set the alarm and got up to watch the final. Then I went back to bed it was so drab.
That just spells fail.
6 to 8 foot Cloudbreak would have had me glued to the TV.
they are sent to battle for a world title at the surfing equivalent of staging an Formula 1 race in a Woolworth’s car park.
This made me snort
One of the all time great rants. No need for me to write anything, sums up my thoughts perfectly and then some. Thank you mate. Wish someone of influence could take note.
One other question, do you actually like the finals concept? I definitely don’t. I don’t like the cut either.
Farken Tennis Tour!
Yep pro surfing has had some ups and downs over the years, but it really does feel like the finals format is killing the goose that laid the golden egg.
All for some short term dollars.
So you didn't like it?
hehehehe....best comment here.....
Couldn't agree more DSD.
Unfortunately I think the WSL are only looking at the number of clicks and views. They don't care what people think, as long as they are watching. Next step will be to put the whole shemozzle behind a pay-to-view service, as has happened with other sports.
The only meaningful feedback is to just not watch it.
Ments boat trip. No home ground advantage. Plenty of spots to choose from. Money to grease the wheels the locals of the spot they end up at for the days. Girls one day then boys the next day/swell to allow for conditions. Punters get shafted but it’s no secret spot. Resorts/camps/boats are happy cos bookings will go thru the roof. Commercial success!
Either this or a 4 month window/floating licence at multiple best exposed waves in the world (ie fiji, North Pacific reef pass, mexico) and choose the best location on forecasted conditions. Logistical nightmare but unreal for competitors.
Love the Concept of a Ments Final but think the logistics too difficult to broadcast
No bums on seats and prime time viewing window for the seppo market with that idea though.
I think the post pandemic tour has shown these are the major factors they consider,not holding events in places with the highest odds in the world of giving them quality waves,that already has plenty of sufficient infrastructure in place to do that.
Sport is sometimes cruel/unfair but that is the nature of winning and losing .No need to make the rules cruel or unfair as well.
Good comment MMR. Loved Steph's surfing but I'm sorry, Carissa was robbed by a dumb format. Money, money, money.
Worked out good for this Comp Gowsa
I disagree that the finals day location must be a left and a right. The reasoning the Wozzle gives is to make it fairer, but having the event at Trestles advantages some (Filipe) and disadvantages others (eg. Robbo) already.
I think the only sure-fire way to have a good finals day is to have it in good waves. The only obvious answers I can see for September are Ments or Mexico.
I think the main reason the Ments are not in the finals conversation is the dodgy timezone for the seppo audience.
Besides cost, what constraints prevent pro surfers/ their sponsors forming a rival tour?
The current WSL circus can be cruel atm, decisions are made without considering; wave quality, effectively engaging the immense reserves of available talent, sponsors & maintaining viewers (customers) for longer than one day at a soft spot.
Is it a titanic effort to turn the WSL ship towards quality?
....from the guys who guided & produced AC/DC to stardom
Aside from Trestles being a bog-standard venue I can't bring myself to like the top 5 shoot out.
If they are going to stick with this format, it needs to be in waves of consequence, not pickle spinners paradise. Cloudbreak is an excellent choice.
As for the introduction of surfers before the heats, Cote is basically an insufferable douchebag.
He could say anything and I'd still want to punch him in the brain.
The only way those intros could have been worse is if Shannon yelled them through a megaphone.
Thank Christ she was nowhere to be seen. Or heard.
I have come to the conclusion that the WSL is trying to find a format that has excitement for the general punter irrespective of how good the surf is. As a commercial model, events that depend on the whim of nature would suck, so they want to minimise their risk. The fundamental problem we all have with this is that it is primarily the waves we want to see, enhanced by the surfing of the world’s best. I’d always prefer watching a QS or challenger event in good waves than a CT in poor surf.
I prefer watching punters in good surf on a webcam than any surf comp in shit waves.
The waves are always the star of any show.......or not.
Bring back the 80s. Comps in everything from Bondi to Waimea. A big trials field to keep it interesting. Still produced the best world champs MR, TC, TC.
The inmates took over the asylum in the 90s with the dream tour and it's been downhill since.
It’s free to watch and it’s run by the yanks. Can we really complain and are we really surprised?
Bet that deep down, beyond all the talk of equity and respecting the sexes , the WSL would give anything to be able to stage mid-event bikini comps and to be able to do the good ol’ lingering arse shot of some girl on the beach, which was a glorious specialty of 80’s surf contest broadcasts.
Sex still sells and captivates regardless of how loudly the modern puritans protest otherwise.
Slater's never gonna come anywhere near a world title again.
He couldn't pick up 1 out of 10 attempts post 40.
Post 50 is all but impossible for him unless it's a 3 event year with Pipe,Chopes and Cloudbreak on good swells.
And was only a serious contender in the first 2 of those 10 attempts.
But this final 5 and mid year cut format is gonna keep him around on tour for a few extra years if he chooses to.
His pet event Pipe being the first event,which he virtually always rates highly in,gives him the points to make the cut as long as he can win 3 or 4 other heats in the next 4 events.
The day Slater gets knocked out of Pipe earlier than the quarters,or more likely semis,is the day he either retires,or strings out his retirement for 4 extra events.
If he didn't make the final at Pipe this year he wouldn't of made the cut.
And i think there's no GOAT season injury wildcard passes left in the WSL's drawer anymore.
Finals day at lakey peak. It’s part pipe part trestles.
Thats what I was thinking
Good call would need to be solid though. Left better than the right?
Good correction Steve. I too was stoked for Steph and a little sorry for Carissa .
However , as pro surfing has been slowly being morphed into some cheesy Omerican
"sport" , I'm done !
I got better things to do than watch this WSL shite . My plan is to surf instead of watch others surf .
Thanks WSL for this revelation .
The problem with the finals day compounded by the Trestles location becomes clear if you think about an extreme situation such as this:
Along comes an incredible run from a hyper talented surfer who wins every event in pumping waves. They lead the tour all year and the world is agog at the next big thing.
The finals day gets dudded with a wimpy swell and a surprise howling side chop wind. The new big thing loses to a chop hopper with some air reverses in the shorebrreak.
That would be wrong on so many levels.
Personally I love the FORMAT
Stop yourself pretending that pro surfing isn’t a sport. . As fans of sport we want to see the best preform on the grand finale day. Who can rise and who can not. No one cares what you did through out the yr ( unless its Kelly) it’s what you do on the big day that matters
Get the venue correct and fix a few of blowins points too.
And how simmers didn’t get a 9+ point score for that double tube at snapper this yr I’ll never know.
Thanks again Steve
Some of you folk seem to want to go back to the good old days of the purer surfers’ comp, the ASP.
That’s the one that was sold at its market value. $0.00
The KON says “Fuck the WSL”
15:14 to go in the Italo Jack heat, Jack falls and camera man duck dives. Behind camera man, what is that slowly swimming towards him?
Ill check it out v j.
I've only made it through 3 heats of finals day so far.
not a dolphin
I'm just so pissed off. I feel like my only sport has been taken away from me. The pipe final and the ratings race has become a part of my fabric. Trestles was really crap. So was Steph winning from 5th. I hate it so much.
Meanwhile in Brazil, haha..
Saddest thing I've ever seen. Spur of the moment decision to hold a parade?
It's like they'd never seen a big truck before.
Did you see those spectators at the 17.25 mark, one was trying to pat the truck and another was trying to feed it a carrot through the grill.
They clearly thought it was a horse or a cow.
Lucky he didn’t get zapped !
For all the hate it gets the WSL delivers great surfing, great comps and some great discussion.
But are the great comps and great surfing dependent upon the WSL? For mine, the best comps of the year are the ones done themselves ie Volcom Pipe Pro/Backdoor Shootout
I am pleased Steve peddled back on the Steph Gilmour description.
For a moment there I had a flashback to another high profile surf journo's "Jump the Shark" article where Mr Nick Carroll tried to turn a nice ride by Steph at Keramas, that I might never have thought twice about otherwise, into a cosmic and momentous landmark in surfing history.
Having just read Nick's article again, it becomes clear that the subtle, beneath the waterline theme, was that the real hero of the story was possibly not meant to be Steph's surfing, but Nick's own writing. He managed to lay down so many surf journo flourishes, metaphors, similes, analogies and wankeries in a handful of paragraphs that the reader feels queasy and greasy just reading it.
It is worth a quick read to have your mind blown by how thick he laid it on.
Be cool. Have opinions. But don't ever put on the leather jacket, water skis and and jump the shark.
lol absolutely spot on. average first turn, standard kick stall to short barrel, excellent closeout hit but the hyperbole this wave got from the surf media in general was bizarre.
Maybe life is fair, Steph got screwed out of pipe where she was showing good form at back door…Toledo ripped in the finals - so far ahead of the others.
In my mind small waves are the hardest waves to look good in…in comparison pulling in to a big barrel is easy…
Surely there is a push for a rebel tour? This crap can't keep going.
Bring back the Dream Tour - Rabbit for President
10 events for the year. 1 month waiting periods. Competitors are given 3-4 days notice of impending swell at each location.
Start and finish in Hawaii
February - Pipeline
March - Gold Coast
April - Bells
May - Kerama's
June - G'land
July - J'Bay
August - Tahiti
September - Trestles
October - Specialty Event (somewhere), say Baja Mexico
November - Hawaii (mobile event, best waves to decide a WC)
Ok Nov is too early in the season for Hawaii..
Too much sand on the reefs.
Yes Steve, i do indeed have one beef with your analysis- that this outcome just simply showcases one of life's tenets, that 'life is unfair'.
That is what you say when your lismore home floods twice in a month, or you get sick or injured and you cant surf a comp. This 'situation' was indeed unfair for Clarissa, but its one that was entirely manufactured by a few folk who had the power to do so. And those same folk have the power to change the situation to whatever format they wish. This result is entirely their responsibility. It seems that having this shitshow in a soft surfing spot like Trestles specifically provides for this outcome to happen.
Thats not 'life' as in the context of that saying.
And having it at cloudbreak would clearly advantage the points winner, so why not go back to the old format with the final comp at pipe? No matter how much spin it, nothing will match those finals days. The drama of who might be the overall winner, pipe winner. and who might make the cut for the following year. And the fact that all the surfers on tour and there experiencing it together rather than just the 'chosen; few.
Yep! And everyone is involved. It is so much more exciting. the whole "the cut" drama can be made on the final day should the world champ not be decided on the day.
Except for when someone wins the world championship on points by the 3rd last event and Pipeline means nothing in the context of the world title race. But agree that there is enough drama in simply finding the pipe master and determining the cut to make it significantly more exciting than the current format.
I expect to find the remaining challenger tour events more exciting than I did the second half of the champ tour.
Very thoughtful title Steve!
Ben Crowe brainwashes our like minded Queens of the World!
Queen of the Court + 8x crowned Surf Queen share a common mantra.
Around 6 months to a year ago this guy was in the news & since then Ash & Steph become besties
Ben has no 2nd thoughts about serving up a pair of Oz Queens & Australian of the Year!
Nor do they think twice about courting him.
Righto Steve no more on the subject please while your credibility is still up there. If you're not wasting your time writing on the subject I won't be tempted to waste my time reading it.... it's garbage..... Moving on to your great write-ups on other subjects, please!!!
Did they have Longboard finals at Trestles too? What about the QS? Juniors? Masters? A teams event?
The good thing about that long distance swell, it tends to hang around for a few days and tresLA is a kind of level playing field if not a powerful one.
California deserves a big comp, maybe call it the Festival of Pro Surfing? Crown winners in all divisions over a few days? Call them premiers.
World champ already decided by tour points like a normal legit sporting competition.
Sure there'd be plenty of action on the beach, hot competition in the water and eyeballs tuning in.
Please change it, as the climax of the barnstorming world championship tour it's a wimpy final.
Why has nobody taken this approach yet to the wsl final analysis? Imagine steph is neither Aussie or female. And imagine Filipe is neither Brazilian or male. Which one is more one dimensional? Which is worse relative to their peers at heavy reef lefts of consequence? But one is getting relentlessly praised for coming from 5th and the other has an asterisk for holding on to first. Imagine if it were reversed and Filipe used mediocre lowers to come from 5th. I think the interpretation of finals day is more a statement about country and sex than surfing. And I’m guilty of it. And you too Longtom?
A week on and i'm seeing far less of this attitude towards Felipe. I think a lot of people have come around on it.
With the WSL unlikely to make any major changes, I feel like the best thing they could do to appease the fan gripes somewhat and provide an outcome that at least seems a bit more fair would be to break things up into two awards/trophies. A less lauded, but at least acknowledged, 'season winner' and a 'world champion'. I'd prefer if they scrapped the entire format and went back to the way it was before, but that ain't gonna happen.
And yes, Cloudbreak please. Doesn't matter that it's just a left.
WSL should hold the Finals in a different venue each year. If they claim to be a World sport then give the fans of each country a go. Mid year cut sucks.
On 2nd thoughts there is a just winner!
tbb backtracked to 2nd guess all the best finals moments...well worth it.
Here's what we missed...& it's a big deal because it outs the truth!
Only 1/4 Finalists "Steph" complied with competing in all required 2022 WSL Comps
Steph also had to compete & win more final's heats than any man or woman on Finals Day!
Steph's lowest back up score from 5 combos was highest [6.67] & claimed WOTD [8.83]
Steph 'easily' scored highest Combo of 'ALL Top 10 surfers' in 'each & every round'.
Steph went for big scores in each & every knockout heat...ain't no 2nd prize!
Steph was also judged best Finals surfer by going for & nailing 8's in each Final surf off.
Best surfing performance all day long...no extra prize...that shows how nice our Queen is!
Never once took the pedal off the gas & put on a showcase final for WSL fans!
Crowd could not ask for a more explosive start to finish finals day surfing performance!
If crew have seen better...please share!
Steph was well & above the best surfer in WSL finals & saved the day from disaster.
All other Top 10 VIP's surfed like crabs with a dose of the crabs...
Gold Medal Olympian was still claiming wins from 5's & often after wiping out. (Loser!)
Talk of just fair champs being robbed at last minute...Please! (Vomit bags!)
Ordinarily one would feel for our fallen Olympic Gods!
Any please show where 3/4 Finalists complied with WSL Rules any day of the year!
Toledo / Moore / Defay / Italo...all refused 100 + chances to surf CS / QS Comps for fans!
The Lazy VIPs should've been fined each breach & disqualified from competing in Finals!
What is not fair! That these VIPs bludged their way into Finals Day...Who'd sponsor them!
VIP: "I might get cut up in Little League...even worse! I might get nipped by a Crab!"
VIP Olympians are Waste of space & a drag on the Sport...Bye! Bye!
[disclaimer] tbb is a proud Goldie Steph Fan & Salutes our Queen!
But also once a comp surfer/judge & for Oz Skateboard Finals
Sure! Crew are right to suss tbb as biased but first think where these stats came from...
WSL judges already scored all of this on their Comp Sheets way before tbb relayed it!
tbb did back check all CS / QS comps for our lazy VIPs ...they never put out for the fans!
They chose to sleep thru to the finals without getting wet...do not feel sorry for WSL VIPs!
This Final played out more fair than all other lazy days of the year together... or as each.
Simply ask 3/4 VIP Finals surfers if they were happy they were even allowed to compete!
Reckon any other sport Comp & they'd be gone & we've all seen that play out!
Steve called it right...The Queen saved Finals Day from yet another WSL Crab invasion!
WOTD ~~~~ ! ~~~~^ ~~~~ /`~~~~/\ ~~~~/|~~~~/(~~~~ /(`~~~~/(C..[ steve )
For the Record ....many Surf / News titles ABC & MSM have it wrong!
Most are heralding our Queen "Smashing" some record of sorts?
Steph will tell you that she now equals Layne's 8 World Titles...crew already knew such!
All things being Equal...
WSL Finals is also the only day of the Year where CT Men & Women are paid equal performance money.
No excuse why the Men failed to surf as good as the Chix...(Not Again!)
Steph : 'Greatest Men surfers surf like Chix'...(All WSL fans only wish they could...or at least give it a try!)
#1 Finals surfer not only surfed & won 5 times in the one day...
Steph was also more than 10 years older than fellow female & male finalists.
That takes some doin' in the fruit loops era!
Queen : "That's the Cool part about Surfing ... you can be creative & do your Thing!
"I have to be more progressive in my Surfing....!"
Finals Commentators : "On Steph's Game Changer"
Crowd : Yeew!
"This maneuver is obviously a cool big point of difference so well executed with the flow thru!"
"That was pretty progressive out there with that nose pick air reverse!"
"I loved it...Very inspired..hope Steph keeps goin' for it!"
"I love to see the Progression!"
"Wow! Amazing...Wow! Steph turns the Heat...momentum shifts!"
[ Wotz New in Queen's Head Surf Stickers )
[ Chiko Chick kicks sand in the face of Gameboy Gromz )
Mid year cut meant field got small and repetitive. Some who made it didn’t cut it as world class. Specially when it got heavy. If you want reliable quality for finals day with crowds France and Portugal get good in September.
The Atlantic is a fickle beast.
Its pretty fickle in September.
Believe me i know. I was there for a flat one.....
Fair enough. I'll suck that up. Why September anyway? Doesn't feel like the end of anything.
I vote for Cloudbreak, one of the most spectacular and challenging waves know to man!
Personally just don't like how someone can come from fifth to world champ due to one day at one break, or come from first place and lose first heats then come fifth place.
Just a crap format and unfair.
Wave and location also sucks.
I dont think they will ever have a good format until "strike mission title tours" become a thing.But leave that for wealthy free surfers and free surfer pros.
Who decided this format wasa good idea?
Noa Deane or whoever that was years ago at some awards night, was right when he got on xanex and blasted out with "fuck the WSL!" It caused a stir and he may have lost a sponsor or two but he was right, they are trying to turn surfing into Gridiron football.
Thanks for the write up Steve. I think though that the key thing about this format is not unfairness but rather chance. We love chance. We get addicted to it. Chance keeps us attending and our attention is the product. This is well understood by the socials and the WSL has caught on.
The flip side is that chance makes it more difficult to find out what's actually true. That is, this format is here to stay because it'll make money but it is not as good for actually finding out who are the best surfers.
Lakey peak for the finals man .
Kinda like trestles, but on steroids with tubes and awesomeness
No Beef... a well written article, and balanced, both slams and praises.
Steph deserves her 8th, the format obviously helped that. For me I just love watching her style, flow and grace.
Stephanie, also has the grace and 'sportsmanship', (I'm now falling foul of some equalitarian), to give Carissa the credence she deserves for the years achievements, dustbinned as they were for the final 5.
To see a complete change of Heat strategy from Steph was (about time) sensational. The bottom line is, she is probably 'too nice', hunger/agression give way to manners in the water.
For me, I was over the moon, she deserves it.
I am a big fan of surfing and AFL and soccer.
In AFL, the minor premier after 22 rounds doesn’t get too much accolade, it is all about winning the grand final, which is pretty much a knock out format.
The English Premier League does it well with a season champion and an FA cup winner.
So lots of formats can legitimately uncover that year’s champion. And it doesn’t have to be that year’s season champion.
It was exciting seeing Carissa going head to head with Stephanie, and best of three makes it less than just luck.
Solitude: Yep, I do like the final day format except for a couple of glaring inadequacies: There’s not enough advantage for surfer’s who’ve been dominant throughout the regular year and the current venue is inappropriate.
1/ The venue: Last year’s final day was one of the most enjoyable day of sports viewing I can remember. But the venue was still too advantageous to a certain style of surfing .
This year Italo Ferreira got an 8+ ride for a single air on a closeout. There is no manoeuvre which could’ve countered this except for another air; no single face turn could garner that total at a weak wave like Trestles and there are no high scoring barrel opportunities. This disadvantages surfers whose strengths are turns or barrels as opposed to airs. This subjective prioritising of one style of surfing over another makes for an uneven playing field.
The finals should be held in a challenging wave where all styles of surfing ( turns / tubes / airs) can all score evenly. This discounts Pipe unfortunately. The venue doesn’t even have to be a split peak as in modern surfing there is no real disadvantage going backhand or forehand.
The window of competition needs to be longer. Probably two weeks to get the best day even at a premium wave.
2/ The final’s day format:
The result of Carrisa losing to Steph was an abomination. The final should be weighted much more in the favour of those who e done well over the entire year.
I suggest that the surfer with the higher points lead over their rival in each heat match up should be granted an amount of time to have exclusive priority equivalent to the ratings points lead they hold. This is in addition to the regular heat duration.
Example : If the fourth rated surfer enters the final day with a three thousand rating’s point lead over the fifth rated surfer, then the number four surfer should be able to signal the judges at any time during their heat and get sole priority for the next three minutes. They could do this in the first three minutes , the final three minutes or any three minutes in between. Right as a set approaches if they want. The lower ranked surfer must not catch waves during this period.
The final confrontation between the first rated surfer and whoever else gets through would involve strategy as to when the first rated surfer deploys their extra time , whether in the first, second or third heats.
It might sound a bit convoluted for an uneducated punter to get their heads around if they were tuning into final day with no prior knowledge of the criteria but……fuck ‘em. The onus is on the surf fan to figure out the not-too-difficult methodology.
There needs to be a genuine advantage to accumulating as many points during the year instead of just having to get through an extra level-pegged heat or two.
In this instance it means that Carrisa would have had 11 minutes of lineup to herself as she entered final’s day with an 11000 ratings points lead over Steph. She could have declared that extra 11 minutes at any time during any of their heats, whether to establish a lead, break Steph’s heat rhythm or just for bonus time up her sleeve if she was losing any of the heats.
The heat with the bonus time claimed would then be 35 minutes long for Steph and 46 minutes long for Carrisa.
Way fairer and way more exciting.
"The result of Carrisa losing to Steph was an abomination. The final should be weighted much more in the favour of those who e done well over the entire year."
Carissa was fresh. Steph had already surfed 4 times. Do you consider that an advantage or disadvantage? Steph obviously had rhythm going in, but must have been a little fatigued.
2022 Prize Money Breakdown
CS (New Tour)
Mens $155,000 @ $1,614 / appearance/s (96)
Women $133,000 @ 2,087.50 appearance/s (64) or 22.65% extra / appearance
CT Full Tour
5 Events Mens $542,000 @ $4,442 / appearance/s (122)
5 Events Women $ 269,400 @ $4,988.88 / appearance/s (54) or 11% extra / appearance
CT Back Half Bludge
(CT Must surf 2 CS/QS Events > revised down to 1) Only 6 / Top 10 Surfed CS / QS events
5 Events Mens $528,000 @ $7,542.86 / appearance/s (70)
5 Events Womens $377,000 @ $11,088.24 / appearance/s (34) or 32% extra / appearance
Top 5 Finals
Mens $ 470,000 @ $39,166.66 / appearance ( Only Equal % Pay Comp that WSL runs )
Womens $470,000 @ $39,166.66 / appearance ( Equal %)
Prize Pool : 1st $200,000 > 2nd $100,000 > 3rd $ 75,000 > 4th $ 60,000 > 5th $20,000
Gotta surf 2 Finals to earn 2x > 4th Place can just rock up & earn 3x normal pay? (So! Not quite Equal?)
Women's appearance $ > Top 5 Equal Pay > (Full) CT +11% > CS +22.65% > (Top 10) CT +32%
WSL Formula is calculated to transfer enough Pay to prioritize Women's Career Ladder Surfers.
This explains why WSL revert back to equal performance fees for Top 5 chix who don't need the extra boost.
WSL promised to even up Competitors...to even out Mens / Women's price gap...(They're in no hurry?)
Crew can see that the Cut Lunch milked extra 22.65% Women's CS boost + 32% Women's CT Boost.
Pro Chix can legitimately command 32% higher fee than men as surf instructors...(All above board!)
PS : tbb was under the impression WSL are working to close this unfair pay gap, not exploit it further!
If crew honestly believe the standard of Men's surfing is fading...then so too are their careers!
"Every major and minor news site in Australia ran with it". No shit. Doesn't validate the hyperbole, they'd run with a tiddlywinks world champ.
But fair play acknowledging it. For someone who doesn't do jingoism, the previous write up had more than a whiff.
Scrap finals day, and may the best surfer (of the entire season) win.
Best thing was Steph winning.