Jordy Is No Longer The Best To Never Ring It
Finally, Mr Smith climbs the stairs a winner.
Before we begin the purification process of deciphering if Bells should remain on tour, let’s talk about how strange and weird and entertaining finals day was. Competitors woke up to a wonderful 6-10 foot swell gracing a very foggy Bells. And while there was a slight weather delay on account of the haze, rounds four, five, the quarterfinals, semifinals and finals all went underway. With Jordy Smith (a man we chatted with prior to his ringing of the bell) eventually emerging victorious. There were buzzer beaters, controversial calls, rushes towards the judging tower, upsets, all-star Barton Lynch commentary and more.
Before we dive in, side observation: How good were the remaining members of team Quiksilver florescent-green wetsuits with the ostentatious Quik logo tramp stab today? The Hotline Wetsuits ’93 winter line is calling, and they want a word with Zeke Lau and Wiggolly Dantas. Now, here’s a lengthy breeze-through of today’s highlights:
Starting with round four, the first surprise of the day was Owen Wright’s poor performance. As the lanky goofyfooter’s two highest scoring rides were a 6.00 and 5.43 in heat one. His 11.43 finishing third behind Caio Ibelli’s 16.46 and Frederico Morais’ 15.50.
Mick Fanning faced off against John John Florence and Sebastian Zietz in heat two. And for a majority of the heat, everything looked to be coming up Mick. Who was on a tear for the first half, picking up a 7.83, 9.93 and 8.93 from the get go, which put him in the lead with two minutes remaining. However, with 1:42 left, John picked off a set wave, leant in, and launched an absolutely massive alley-oop for a 9.97. Putting the Hawaiian in first with a combined 19.54, a lead that he held until the final buzzer.
“I was super stoked to get that last one,” John said afterwards. “I thought as I was going in that I might as well do a big alley-oop. It worked out so nicely. Such a gnarly heat, Mick is such an amazing surfer and really motivates me.”
There was an odd confrontation in the following heat between Zeke Lau, Filipe Toledo and Adriano de Souza. While Zeke won the heat from a numbers standpoint, utilising his power game to gather a collective 16.73, besting Filipe’s 15.67 and Adriano’s 14.20, he took off on a wave in front of Filipe (apparently) after the final buzzer. And while Zeke thought his feet were on the wax before the horn, the judges thought otherwise.
Even after review, judges believed Zeke had, in fact, jumped to his feet after the horn. Which Zeke, in turn, received an interference call for, relegating him to round five by default, despite having won the heat by 1.06 points.
He responded with a disoriented charge towards judges tower with his coach, Jake Paterson. And while I’d like to say having a fuming Hawaiian made the judges reconsider, I also think they’re pretty jaded to these type of encounters (two words, five syllables, rhymes with Charlie Medina) at this point. Hence, why they were reluctant to overturn the interference.
However, about an hour later, the call got overturned. And Zeke was given his rightful spot in the quarterfinals, bumping Filipe and Adriano down to round five.
“We just had the chance to go into the broadcast truck,” said WSL Commissioner Kieren Perrow after the miscall. “Reviewing that situation with Filipe at the end of the heat with Zeke, we overturned that decision based on not having an accurate sound to vision sync at the time of the call.
“When the judges were trying to review it live, Richie (Porta) wasn’t able to see the correct sound to vision sync. What he saw instead he decided to make the interference call on. Because his sound to vision was out of sync. But after reviewing, he overturned the call. It’s terrible when those kinds of things happen. Because both the surfers get accustomed to what the result is. Especially with what you saw with Filipe, he was ready to go into the quarters. But it’s the correct thing to turn over that interference."
Probably the best heat of round five was the meeting between Mick Fanning and Owen Wright. And while Owen’s backhand wraps on the Bells bowl were tighter than a pair of Oakley Radars are on the eyes, Mick was completely in tune with the reeling Bells walls. Wrapping his way into a 9.60 and 9.03 for a final 18.63. Edging out Owen’s 17.60, the result of an 8.50 and 9.10.
Moving into the quarterfinals, John repeated his last second hero antics in the quarterfinals over Mick. Needing at least a score of a 6.54 in heat two with only a few minutes left, John dropped off on a smaller set wave, leant in (again) and launched (again) into a massive air (again), giving him a score of a 7.57. Which allowed him to jump Mick (again) for the heat win.
In a rematch of interference-gate, Zeke and Filipe met up in heat three of the quarterfinals. Filipe started off strong, looking surprisingly calm in the bigger conditions. However, with 2:32 remaining in the heat, Zeke scratched into an outside set, which he banged several solid turns off of for a 9.77. Which awarded the Hawaiian a final 18.60, 1.94 points above Filipe’s concluding 16.66 score total.
In the first heat of the semifinals, Caio Ibelli upset John Florence. A consequence of the Brazilian picking off a late set for an 8.73, giving him a final 17.63 (his first ride was scored an 8.90). John stepped down with a 17.43, but will keep the yellow jersey as he enters Brazil for the Oi Rio Pro.
In the concluding heat of the semifinals, Jordy Smith managed to shut down a steaming Zeke. Zeke held the lead for a majority of the heat, grabbing a 7.97 and 7.20 for a collective 15.17. But snagging the last wave of the heat, Jordy was able to throw his weight around for a 7.70, which built off his previous 7.93 for a complete 15.17. Feeling positive he got the score to jump the Hawaiian, Jordy rode the wave into the sand, brimming as he walked up Torquay’s most illustrious coastal staircase.
The final between last year's runner-up, Jordy Smith and the day’s giant killer, Caio Ibelli (just like the gipsy lady predicted) kicked off in a glassy, high-tide Bells. Jordy delivered the first blow of the exchange with a 7.00, Caio only grabbing a .50 and 3.83 in return. Jordy would then follow up his 7.00 with a 9.10 and 8.53, giving him 17.63 total with more than 18 minutes remaining.
In regards to Caio, he did manage to pick up a 9.63 and 7.83. However, the Brazilian looked a little flat. Maybe a result of a post-John John victory hangover? Regardless, Jordy continued his onslaught, picking up a 9.13, giving him a heat final score of an 18.90. Which carried him to the podium and a championship at Bells.
The technical breakdown from today:
Heat one: Caio Ibelli 16.46, Frederico Morais 15.50, Owen Wright 11.43
Heat two: John Florence 19.54, Mick Fanning 18.86, Sebastian Zietz 12.94
Heat three: Ezekiel Lau 16.73, Filipe Toledo 15.67, Adriano de Souza 14.20
Heat four: Jordy Smith 15.30, Wiggolly Dantas 14.70, Joel Parkinson 14.50
Heat one: Frederico Morais 18.10, Sebastian Zietz 13.16
Heat two: Mick Fanning 18.63, Owen Wright 17.60
Heat three: Filipe Toledo 16.76, Joel Parkinson 15.00
Heat four: Adriano de Souza 18.17, Wiggolly Dantas 17.60
Heat one: Caio Ibelli 16.00, Frederico Morais 14.50
Heat two: Mick Fanning 16.70, Mick Fanning 15.77
Heat three: Ezekiel Lau 18.60, Filipe Toledo 16.66
Heat four: Jordy Smith 16.77, Adriano de Souza 10.53
Heat one: Caio Ibelli 17.63, John John Florence 17.43
Heat two: Jordy Smith 15.63, Ezekiel Lau 15.17
Heat one: Jordy Smith 18.90, Caio Ibelli 17.46