Sunset 2023: Day 2
Sunset 2023: Day 2
Surfable gurgle - it has its benefits. Most people turn their nose up at it but the Woz had no choice but to get some heats done today at Sunset Beach in waves that made a dog's breakfast look tidy.
No point trying to bury the lede so let's jump straight into the most interesting and dramatic feature of the day: a last-second interference on serial hassler Zeke Lau against Rio Waida.
Before they scrub it you'll get to see Zeke come into the shorey after the call, scream out “What the fuck!” in a very intimidating fashion before storming the beach in a white fury, jumping the bunting, striding past a mute AJ, past a hand-written sign saying 'Please, Please Keep Off'.
The broadcast cut away to an ad break and that was the last we saw of Zeke.
What we know so far:
- With three minutes to go Zeke is cruising in first place with a pair of 5's for a 10.93 total, and he has priority.
- Leo is in second place and last priority. With 2:12 to go has a weak, non-comittal half-paddle. No change in P.
- 1:58 to go, both Zeke and Leo have another half-paddle for a wave - presumably as a defensive tactic to keep Rio, sitting in third but within striking range, away from it. The wave is nowhere near breaking and neither was committed to catching it.
- 1:30 to go and Rio waves his left hand up in the air to plead for a priority change.
- 53 seconds remaining priority switches.
- 11 seconds remaining and Rio paddles into a peak, Zeke clearly looks at him and takes off. Rio seems to exchange words with the Hawaiian and Zeke falls/bails out.
- Rio puts both hands up to claim the interference and surfs the wave into the shorey.
- Zeke raises both hands in disbelief, quickly looks at his Apple Watch and raises his hands again.
- The interference is called. Zeke is out with a last place, which combined with his second-last at Pipe, almost certainly spells the end of the current phase of his CT career.
- Did Zeke know? Almost certainly he couldn't hear the beach announcer (we have been told repeatedly this is the justification for the Apple Watch). He probably didn't see the beach P signs change either.
- Rio did know and so did Leo - because in his post-heat interview Leo told us he screamed at Zeke not to go - which is why Zeke bailed IMO.
- Does Zeke have grounds for a protest?
- I believe so. Both on the grounds of the P call itself, it was very similar to the reversed call on Filipe Toledo yesterday, and if the technology failed.
Two more points of discussion:
- Zeke strode up the beach alone. Noticeably absent were the Make or Break camera crew we saw last year and 2021. Looks like this may be the last season, unless they were absent for some other reason. This would have been absolutely golden drama for a professional production company looking for juicy storylines. A pro surfer meltdown, possibly career ending, on a day of crap surf and weak drama. Can't script that.
- Second, and inverse to the first point. The Woz took one look at the unfolding drama and ran away like a teenage thief caught in the act. Any other pro sport would have carefully walked us through the drama, analysed the event in forensic detail, and produced some hot takes. When it comes to actual Sport: drama, intrigue, and true competition, the reason people actually tune in, they are just not up for the task. The taproot of that trouble of course is they are reporting/broadcasting/commentating on themselves and they are petrified of pissing in the tent. It's a structural issue and it's never going to change.
What else happened today?
Not much. Kelly's opening 5-point wave yesterday looks insanely important in retrospect. No way on God's Green Earth a 51-year old would have got out of the Elimination Round today. If he makes the cut, that ride will be crucial.
The sport remains brutal to journeyman rookies. As well as perennial rookie Zeke Lau's major fuck-up, we saw 30-year old Maxime Huscenot catch one ride in thirty mins before getting a mushburger on the head as the siren went on the last heat of the day. Second last at Pipe. Last at Sunset.
At least he got a go unlike his mate Ramzi Boukhiam. Both now almost certain to get cut at Margies, with Ramzi likely to have salt rubbed into the wound as some career veteran gets the injury wildcard (possibly Slater).
Ten years of striving and you're done in two lacklustre, wave-starved heats with barely a shot fired.
Jack Robbo, as predicted yesterday, showed the little hiccup from the first day was nothing to be concerned about with a composed performance against Kai Lenny and Jacko Baker. Again, a close call went Jack's way as Kai's last wave was judged just under the requirement he needed to eliminate Robinson.
Medina looked strong in his goofy foot clash with Ryan Callinan and Connor O'Leary. Second-last and last for Connor means he will have one eye on the Challenger Series. It's not a stable picture as far as basing a career on. Two months into 2023 and the calendar is looking very blank; only two comps confirmed on the Gold Coast and Sydney. Sure, there will be more, but if you are looking at making house payments on coastal real estate, it won't be a good feeling.
Fun gurgle would have been a pleasant way to pass the time if you were tooling around on the North Shore with nothing better to do and all day to do it. Likely could have surfed it solo. Different story with your career on the line. You'd be wondering what sin you committed in a past life to deserve judgement on a dog day afternoon like this.
// STEVE SHEARER