Rip Curl Pro Portugal: Day 2
Rip Curl Pro Portugal: Day 2
There are those who thought I was being slanderous in condemning closeout beachbreaks and I have to admit the four Elimination Round heats held overnight in, let’s call it 8-10ft close-outs, were almost entertaining enough to turn me.
In the end though, after watching twelve surfers, including the GOAT, scramble around dodging wave after wave of massive sand sucking closeouts, it was impossible to escape the obvious conclusion.
What a fucking waste of a swell.
Imagine how sick that would have been with a reef or point handling that energy? Apart from Cal-tex's perfect 10, of course. More on that in a sec.
Briefly: Andino, out. Could not find a wave. Almost certainly will not make the cut after three failed results.
Zeke, out. Back to the bush leagues after a nightmare start to the Year. Almost impossible to overstate how much of a worst case scenario has unfolded after a podium finish at the Eddie and the wave of the day award had him on top of the world. Everything about the pre-cut events suits a big body like Zeke, including and especially the Hawaiian opening, and he butchered it by overcooking the alpha male aggression. Getting stranded in huge closeouts looking for a corner almost felt like a biblical punishment for his indiscretions.
Maxime Huscenot, who makes his debut at 30 after a decade of trouble and toil on the Q-ey, also out.
For the second time this year, just pipped into last place. In this instance a demonic bomb defused by Callum Robson for the year's first 10. Luck of the draw for Cal to be in the right place at the right time. Insane skills and courage to get the job done by successfully riding it. 99 out of a 100 surfers would not have made it to the bottom of that wave.
Maxime has alternated between looking like a deer in the headlights (heat totals: 1.96, 8.27, 7.44, 4.50) and on the wrong end of bad luck (heat totals: 12.14, 10.44).
At least he has got to surf.
I won't stop saying his fellow Q-ey grinder Ramzi Boukhiam's name because I know WSL higher-ups read these wraps and no-one deserves an injury wildcard and shot at the CT more than Boukhiam. If the Woz is serious about making the tour more inclusive of developing surfing nations then Ramzi needs his crack at it. God knows he deserves it.
Kanoa easily got through his heat with Slater and Morais. I don't know whether it was edifying or humiliating watching the GOAT scrap among closeouts looking for a sub-2 point ride and manufacturing a weird wave into the required score (2.03). It won't make any career retrospective highlight reels, that’s for sure, but the grittiness was impressive. That wave saved him from a last place finish and certain relegation. It may - big, big may - save his bacon due to the fact that so many mid-fielders are struggling around the cut-line like him. Kelly's gracious presser on the sand, after losing to Joao Chianca, hinting this could be his last time suiting up at Supertubos, was one thing. But like all things Slater, we observe and note the words that come out of his mouth, but make judgements according to his actions. That's the main thing.
And his actions indicate his spot on tour will be prised by force from his cold, dead hands.
Such is life.
After the break we came back to light onshore Supertubos with a closeouts-to-makeable waves ratio probably 70:30, as opposed to 90:10 in the morning. That did offer more opportunity. Overlapping heats kept the action chugging away, mostly at a slow simmer.
I enjoyed the commentary of Jesse Mendes - I found it measured, insightful, and honest when needed. He correctly identified the bobble in Kelly's opening left against Chianca contra Kaipo's reflexive hype. And the mid-3 score was right on the money. He then threw some magnificent shade on the GOAT saying his pro-surfing pals hoped to surf as much as they could with Kelly on the QS or CT. Sure, he was speaking retrospectively, but to even suggest Kelly is a QS surfer or could be back on the Q-ey is a slur.
The crowd was with Chianca. His rides were enthusiastically celebrated. Kelly has never looked comfortable in European closeouts - his rare Portugese successes all co-incide with good/great surf, most notably his runner-up finish to Adriano in Oct 2011 and his win in 2010 at 38-years of age. Five minutes to go, Kelly needs a five and change. Has priority. Lets a little nugget slip through to Joan Duru who surfs it and proves it was the score Kelly needed. Those little inexplicable errors now define a Slater heat.
Oh yeah, Kelly's 10.83 heat was the first time he has made double figures this year. In five heats in Hawaii he could not make a 10 point total.
Toledo, out. Didn't seem to really care for the conditions. Toledo has, in recent years, defied the critics by refusing to work on his weaknesses in heavy water and improving his strengths instead. And with a win at Sunset, more wins ahead, and a Finals Day at Trestles that is an entirely logical approach. Despite it being offensive to purists, he is simply adapting to the format.
John John was much on my mind last night. On both sides of the coin: as a guy who could tame giant closeouts and get a 10, and as an example of wasting generational talent in said closeouts. How much more live surfing will we get out of John? I want to see him in the best waves redefining what is possible at the absolute edge of his performance envelope, not scratching around in beachies looking for a 4. But that is what happened. And he looked a bit off in his loss to Rio Waida. Snapped a board (again), which didn't help. Timing looked a bit off, boards didn't look quite right etc etc. John is mid-pack with Bells and Margies ahead, both of which he could easily win, absent injury of course. There just seems to be a subtle note of disinterest in all his performances this year.
Good day for Australian mid-field goofyfoots with both Connor O'Leary and R-Cal getting through with solid, unspectacular heats. Connor is in a great spot to leap-frog Slater if he can punch through the draw for a few more heats.
Sorry for disrespecting any closeout beachbreak fans here. I feel qualified as a Bribie boy who learnt to scrap for corners in 2ft closeout shoreys to put my biases up front (in short: to hell with closeouts). But I know others feel differently, including a healthy beach crowd who seemed to very much enjoy the days action before a thick fog bank rolled in from the snot-green sea, two heats shy of completing the Round of 32.
// STEVE SHEARER
Great work Steve. You have managed to polish it and roll it in glitter. You made me feel like I had actually missed something.
I tried watching this morning, but closeouts in the fog were a hard ask. Went for a long walk with Ms IB instead. Did catch JJF looking disinterested or jaded, riding a board that looked too short and not rockered enough.
Cal-tex analysis? Am I missing something?
How's that shot - looks like Ours or something. Thickest beachie every made on the 'CT?
Obvious from a few underdogs getting through R32 heats Eg Barron and gentil etc surfing 8 ft closeouts pretty much gets fully down to luck for which surfer has priority for the only 1 or. 2 waves in a heat that didn’t closeout
Sure rio surfed well but got 2 smaller ones that allowed 3 turns and he wins vs JJF
That beach is crap with 90% closeout and waiting period means little choice then to run it
Is there not a couple of other beaches close by that would handle that size swell better?
If JJF ends up middle of the road this year, he won't be back.
They would offer him a wild card like they did Sally
Props to you Steve, that midnight sesh must have been up there with one of the hardest alarms you've set
10/2.5, it was a strange looking scorecard.
He stroked hard straight at it when he saw what must've looked like a small cinder block motel heading towards him. There's no way he was in position to spin for it but he never hesitated, not for a milli second. Fear? No time for that shit. Elite talent.
What happened next I don't know, I doubt Cal does, it wasn't really technical, I mean there's a technique for a late takeoff but the late late takeoff?
It was definitely physical and we know he's gifted there, Cal fired every finely tuned twitching synapse at his disposal to negotiate what is imho the most critical human movement in the world of sport.
CRob's strength is his mind though, 'I'm going to find a way to make this!'. So creative, So spectacular. He just refused to fall. Outstanding performance. Huey loved it too, did something pornographic all on Callum.
Overpowered beachy never really went into the Porto Escondido mode I was hoping for but there were nugs if you wanted them and I think we saw who wants it most, the wizards of Oz mastering raw, jumbled, chaotic, power.
All Aussie final five? Dare to dream
Great read as ever, thx Steve
could not have said that better….in the context of what was going down there with the massive closouts, that was one of the bravest and exciting waves i’ve ever seen at ct level
"Great read as ever, thx Steve"
You too SL. Nicely put.
What I loved was the hail Mary nature of the move, in the face of almost certain elimination. As he was paddling he must have known the odds of making it were next to zero (I said as much to my wife while he was paddling) but he also knew that this was his only chance of not getting cut, therefore taking it with full commitment, come what may.
Well put SL!
'Fucking waste of swell' drifted between my ears pretty much the whole time. Cal-texs'10 replayed was strangely welcomed.
Nice work. That 'snot green sea'...Carob got spat out of a throaty one there too...
Soz Steve, saw your bit about Cal. Agreed.
Also, how you know the Woz reading these? If so does not look like they taking heed.
Honestly FR, i spent the whole night watching trying to work out if i loved it or hated it.
When a good moment came, it was spectacularly good,...a massive chunky barrel, a huge closeout hit that could hospitalise you or a duckdive to broken board.
But the waiting in between watching mostly unsurfable closeouts, and then the bad waves that were ridden and the scrapping for a 1.2....really hard to watch and justify it as an elite event.
Overall, its enjoyable seeing the pros put up to a real challenge and see how they respond.
Callums wave was mental. It was the sort of wave you almost are yelling out to him through the screen not to go it was that heavy.
You have to feel for those who get knocked out in these kind of waves purely because they didn't have priority when a wave that didn't closeout came thorough.
Too much luck involved in these type of waves, still id rather watch it that the ranch.
Ha Ha I love it. The quote "And his actions indicate his spot on tour will be prised by force from his cold, dead hands." is probably the best and truest statement about Slater I have ever heard. .. so true!!.
Gold, FR, gold. thanks for the read during my coffee break at the key board!!
"Sorry for disrespecting any closeout beachbreak fans here. I feel qualified as a Bribie boy who learnt to scrap for corners in 2ft closeout shoreys to put my biases up front (in short: to hell with closeouts). "
Yep you've captured the zeitgeist in this corner with that quote. When I see the VALs learning in shape part of me screams out at the inequality of it all.
If France goes closey-outey as well, I'm expecting you to maintain the rage on our behalf FR.
Oh yeah, the diamonds in the rough - Callum's 10 I'm thinking of - absolutely incredible. Hope it gives him the energy to have a huge season.
In his non-Woz media interview, KS concurred with the general consensus:
"Overall, what Supertubes can be and what Supertubes is for the contest are two different things. It's been pretty tough conditions for us.."
Meanwhile, the WSL claimed there were 32000 people on the beach watching throughout the day. Had to do a double take on that one!
Full screen and playback at .25 speed
After that drop and bottom turn he made Smooth little fine tune 4inch adjustment of the back foot
And another one....Almost like Kelly has aggrieved you personally. You mentioned him in I think I counted 6 paras... You've got form too, every wrap you spend big chunks of text tearing him down. At this point you seem obsessed with seeing the arse end of the bloke or proving some point of yours that you think he surfs shit. If it's the latter, I think at this point most known you don't rate him.
I see it as Steve reporting on WSL’s Slater Strategy. He’s 50+, he wants the limelight, he keeps showing up, he’s not performing anywhere near his best or at the level he needs to be to remain on tour. Last night’s highlights package had Slater vs Chianco heat and showed Kelly doing a turn but no J-wow wave - I concluded Kelly won the heat until I read this report. You can’t put Kelly on a pedestal and not expect criticism when he doesn’t perform. Steve is merely pointing it out.
And his ER heat was farcical. His 2.03 was nothing near Kolohes 1.7 in the previous heat. Freddy Morais was suitably pissed.
Read the words mate.
Kelly is a big story, the biggest IMO- I'll always write about him on any day he surfs.
I called his 2 point ride maybe one of the most crucial of his career. That was a ride for the aficionados of Slater's competitive drive, which now at 51, is clearly a double edged sword.
I don't think he surf's shit- I've written thousands (maybe tens of thousands) gushing over his performances.
I write what I see- not what fairy tales the Woz would like to be written.
Every observation I made about Kelly is backed by pure empirical evidence (mostly numbers). Those numbers have only been going in one direction and that is down.
Happy to debate those if you think those aren't correct.
Read the words? I have been. Usually can't be fucked with commenting as most of the time I enjoy the reads and skip past comments about him having now power in his turns, rail games gone to shit etc etc, however 6/7 times, on a nothing day of competition in portugal is ott imo and has nothing to do with what fairy tales the readers from the wozzle want written here on SN. An observation over an extended period of time mate
You think it's OTT, fair enough- thats your opinion and your entitled to it.
I'll keep writing about him while he's on Tour- and seeing as his appearances are getting briefer and briefer - I'll take every opportunity I get.
Edit: I'm sounding more testy than I actually am- you're perfectly entitled to that opinion.
No worries at all FR and all good mate! Fwiw, apart from all the above, i rely solely on your wraps while away in new guinea and have enjoyed the reads and don’t bother watching much else other than what you highlight. I think the judges have been severely underscoring him past few years, particularly Mexico a couple years back, the comp that JR one. He was ripping yet the judges didn’t pay and from there it seems likes it’s all downhill from a scoring perspective when it’s not consequential surf. And bells last year, i felt he got robbed there too, loss to de vault i think it was. Just how i see it anyway and he doesnt help himself by surfing boards that dont look as good under his feet as what he should be surfing and for which he only has himself to blame
To be scraping through enough heats to keep qualifying at his age is ridiculously impressive. Good on the bloke for milking it for all its worth. The WSL won't take the piss once he gets knocked off tour, but I'm sure he'll (justifiably) get a couple of wildcards for Pipe and Teahupoo. His commentary is a bit self-absorbed, but he's good to listen to and I'm sure he'll get a few gigs throughout the year.
Tricky place to ride with big tides, rips & backwash; too random for the stars to shine on a foggy day.
Everyone was trying to score, with only one lucky winning wave.
Sort of like watching a soccer match with a few attempts and only one goal....OK for 40min....
It may not be healthy to watch WSL for +10 hrs + adverts
Callums bailoutbarrel @1.32
Callums' blownoutbarrel @ 4.52
Joyce didn't surf Steve...not many waves around Bray...though he had a keen eye for describing it, and much more, as you know.
If... the WSL judges and commentators had to go out 1st before the pro's start heats each day & catch two good waves... call it the dream team or demo,lition blurby....?
I wonder what the ladies in the comp are thinking, if they watched todays heats..?
You take the worlds best surfers and put them out in conditions that 95% of surfers wouldn't give a second look to.
It would be like watching the worlds best golfers playing on an abandoned and war-torn putt-putt course.
Like asking the world's best pianist to play a beat-up kids toy piano.
Like asking a ....you get the point.
It's just so sad to waste such talent, and deny us the opportunity to see the worlds best surfing. [Currently that happens on Youtube! videos]
Until the WSL can find a way to put the worlds best surfers in the worlds best waves, I can't see them ever being successful.
Thanks for the interesting take of the day. Yes, the surf was multi crap. Chance is key on those sorts of days and it is harsh that a career may or may not be decided by a twist of fate. As for Slater; his surfing is incredible for someone post 50 - but overall a shadow of what he once was (as well we all are in the back half of life). But I think it doesn't help his cause that he rides boards that don't seem to go very well; they look to have no drive, appear too small, seem squirelly of the bottom when nursing those bottom turns and also seem pretty boaty. I think on any standard board he would perform better. But having said that, he may know a little more than me!
I think Supertubos is an almost perfect representation and analogy of the weakness of televising the sport. A venue, which on its day, is one of the most spectacular and dramatic examples of everything within the sport that would draw viewers - beautiful visuals, danger, lots of waves, quick fire lead changes, a 10 pt ride possible at all times etc.etc.
But like surfing itself, something that every surfer identifies with, we chase the perfect day - at our local beach, our favourite go to spot - for that rare day, when the conditions come together and its perfect.
The only scenario where surfing presents itself as a successful sporting spectacle is THAT day. The one we all chase. The one which randomly occurs for us and randomly occurs for the Woz. But more than often doesn't.
The current format will NEVER succeed. A business doesn't survive on those metrics.
Even though we know that those rare days won't come around often, we continue our search for it, daily, weekly, whenever we can...because we love to surf, because we don't have an outcome or target to chase. A grovel is ok. An onshore day is ok. Sometimes just to get wet with a body bash is ok. It is a life and a love to be in the ocean.
When its a sport and a business with expected outcomes, sadly/gladly nature will prevail over your ambitions. The Woz has misread the room. It thinks with repeated corpo-speak and planning it can create the perfect day for itself over and over again.
And every surfer laughs at their ignorance.
I think the only format that could have legs for the general public is the 'Surf tag' - Australian Boardrider Battle style format. Even the most unsightly, onshore, small dross is made exciting by the pressure applied by the time constraints and team environment.
Negative of this format is it takes away from the real elite spectacle of getting the best surfers in the most idealic, high level waves - in its current state, that very rarely happens due to the confines of the tour schedule and waiting periods.
The whole word is about 'growth' at all costs. Maybe we need to accept that ain't going to happen with professional surfing for the multitude of reasons that have been previously posed on here and elsewhere.
Nicely put crg
“99 out of a 100 surfers would not have made it to the bottom of that wave.”
Exactly, including most of the pros. Good on him, that was ballsy.
As a declaration, I have watched none of this, been busy in Adelaide at a 4 day music festival. Looks like I only missed moments though.
As a general commentary, watching pro surfers in close out beach breaks? I don’t mind, those perfect days are beautiful and what the sport should be about, but I rarely get to surf really good conditions Watching close out beach breaks might just give me a few ideas about places I surf on a regular basis.
One spot I’m a regular at often has a deep gutter into a shallow bank and negotiating a take off is tricky, finding an edge is a dream, getting a blasting fast ride into a close out shallow bank is three quarters of the fun. You know there are some good ones out there, finding them is difficult.
At 3-4’ it gets intimidating, at the size of CalRob’s wave it’s terrifying. What an effort. Someone above said it wasn’t a very technical wave but I have to disagree. Making those drops and pulling off that bottom turn is the hardest part of surfing, imho.
Nice write up, as usual FR. Unlike other comments I think your views on Kelly are correct. The best of all time is still just, maybe, good enough to hang around, but like the boxer who gets into the ring one too many times it looks just a little, ummmh, undignified.
Unless the wave is perfectly to his liking he can’t compete with the best of the younger surfers. Even if it is perfect for him he still has a hell of a job on his hands against a highly competent up and coming, or already established set. And he is taking up a spot that someone else could really use.