A Few “Bombs” Graced The Teahupo’o Lineup Today
Using Barton Lynch’s patented approach, we were able to thoroughly enjoy the Tahiti Pro’s Day 3 action.
At the start of the webcast this morning, Barton Lynch gave an insightful analysis into the world of competitive surfing.
Barton explained that when he’s watching the ocean before a heat, he’s both qualifying and quantifying what he calls the “four different wave types”.
According to Barton, there are your “throwaway waves”, which don’t offer much if any scoring potential. Then there are your “starter waves”, which are good to get a small number on the board but are not desired in the scoreline come heat’s end. There are your “keepers”, which provide ample scoring opportunity and can happily go toward a surfer’s two-wave total. And lastly there are the “bombs”, which have nines and tens written all over them if and only if you can find yourself in the right spot to catch them.
Back in his competitive heyday, Barton would watch the ocean and count how many of each wave type came through the lineup in heat-long intervals. With that info in mind, Barton would develop an informed heat strategy regarding what waves he should or should not take, thus increasing his chance of victory.
The best part is, this strategy can be applied regardless of conditions. It works at 10-foot Pipe the same way it does at, say… three foot Teahupo’o.
So let’s cast our tubular preconceptions aside and consider today’s conditions in a vacuum.
Who caught the starters, the keepers, the bombs?
Who strategized best?
Round 3 Heat 1: Jordy Smith vs. Michael February
While Jordy sat there waiting for the “bombs” that would never come, a few scorable “starters” slipped under his priority, allowing his compatriot February to swing a few half-snaps on his way to victory. As a Tour pro, it’s worth remembering that the points earned at this event, no matter how bad the conditions, count the same as those earned from Pipeline, Snapper, and Lemoore. This fact is oft forgotten when the waves go pear, leading to countless World Title snafus and, on one occasion, Keanu Asing winning a CT event.
Round 3 Heat 2: Zeke Lau vs. Michael Rodrigues
As much as I hate to project surfing stereotypes, Zeke looked very Hawaiian today in his committed and reef-savvy approach, whereas Michael looked incredibly Brazilian with his arms splayed out and rails skipping through turns. Zeke won easily.
Round 3 Heat 3: Wade Carmichael vs. Jesse Mendes
Wade and Jesse both surfed as well as they could have on the few waves provided in this heat – so similarly well, in fact, that they almost tied. However Wade won by several facial hairs.
Round 3 Heat 4: Owen Wright vs. Joel Parkinson
Owen owned this heat in an impressive but unsurprising fashion, but what really matters here is Parko. Joel Parkinson, the guy who’s been obsessed with sinking his shortboard’s tender rail since the age of (probably) four, was riding a full-blown groveller today – short, fat, and probably epoxy! This little board was slipping and sliding all over the place, meanwhile Parko struggled just to hold on. Might we see him go straight for the alaia at Lemoore?
Round 3 Heat 5: Adriano de Souza vs. Kanoa Igarashi
In an otherwise sleepy heat, Adriano provided a dynamite ending by twice-tagging and once-poo-floating a wide west bowl, giving him just the 7.5 he needed to take the lead. Not yet knowing that he needed a score, Kanoa took off on a crumbly runner and threw a couple windshield-wipers at the lip before barely surviving an end section snap. As the horn finally sounded, the judges decided that Kanoa had gotten the score by two tenths of a point. Now seven events into the season, our 2015 World Champ has yet to claw his way into the quarters.
Round 3 Heat 6: Filipe Toledo vs. Tikanui Smith
Tahitian wildcard Tikanui Smith slid out and fell on the best wave of the heat, likely the result of the busted knee he earned in the wave-rich trials. Like the savage predator that he is, Filipe preyed on that weakness and beat the hell out of Teahupo’o’s translucent walls, which after the wave he caught here a couple weeks ago, must have felt like a helpless punching bag to the 2018 World Champion.
Round 3 Heat 7: Gabriel Medina vs. Wiggolly Dantas
Despite several impressive power hacks, Wiggolly’s failure to mix turns with tubes left him chasing Medina the entire heat. And there’s no beating Medina at Teahupo’o on turns alone.
Round 3 Heat 8: Kolohe Andino vs. Frederico Morais
There’s no doubt in anyone’s mind that Kolohe Andino pours his heart and soul into competitive surfing. The emotions he expresses (both good and bad) in the heat of the moment give a direct insight to his passion for the sport. That is admirable.
Today, caught in the throes of a seesaw match with Freddy Morais and needing a high six, Kolohe threaded the best tube of the heat before throwing a mid-wave claim, finishing with two turns, then claiming again.
While this initially made me cringe, Strider reversed my logic when likening Kolohe’s post-wave emotion to that of the Brazilians, and how almost everybody on Tour has adopted that type of overt competitive spirit.
Strider’s reasoning, which is quite profound if you ask me, is as follows: “Surfing creates all these crazy emotions inside of you, so why not just let it go… when you feel it?”
Round 3 Heat 9: Mikey Wright vs. Yago Dora
Yago Dora caught one “keeper” and one “bomb” but got the scores reversed on account of safety-surfing the most bulbous tube of the heat. No matter, Mikey’s wave selection was piss-poor and Yago slid through with ease.
Round 3 Heat 10: Michel Bourez vs. Connor O’Leary
If the WSL weren’t so forthright in their business strategy, you’d have to believe that they’d script a Tahitian victory for Michel Bourez. But no, the WSL is far too pure for that.
One thing worth nothing from this heat is that Michel was beaten in every. single. exchange. For each two wave set that approached the lineup, Michel either had worse wave selection or worse surfing than the on-fire Connor, who used the same barrel-smack approach that earned him a final berth at Cloudy last season (plus today’s only nine-pointer).
Round 3 Heat 11: Jeremy Flores vs. Adrian Buchan
Jeremy Flores is stubborn as an ox and it does him such good. Every time he’s won a tube-riding event (two Pipe Masters, one Tahiti Pro) the competition has finished in far-from-stellar conditions, but because Jeremy is willing to sit there and wait for the one “bomb” in each and every heat, he often finds himself atop the the podium.
In his matchup against Ace today, Jeremy got a couple fives then sat out the back and watched as Ace built an increasingly threatening house right along his fence line.
Jeremy sat as Ace scored a high-5 for three big turns, and he continued to sit as Ace slipped out of a tube and narrowly missed the 4-point-whatever he needed to win. In the end, Jeremy’s patience paid dividends as he was gifted the only “bomb” of the heat, leading to a win that looks wider on paper than it did in real life.
Round 3 Heat 12: Italo Ferreira vs. Ian Gouveia
In the opening stanza, Ian Gouveia stroked into position on a fun-looking left when OUT OF FUCKING NOWHERE Italo motorboated his way deeper and hooked in behind his Brazilian comrade. Peter Mel believed that Ian’s immediate ejection was some smart competitive tactic, but it looked to me like Ian got the ol’ leash tug from his mate Italo. With no interferences awarded it was water under the fins, and Italo stole victory despite his noticeably damaged hammy. Seriously, the guy’s turns were 80% front leg and 20% back.
Round 4 Heat 1: Wade Carmichael v. Zeke Lau v. Michael February
Throughout most of this heat the positions flip-flopped around like a group of vacationing Euros, and it wasn’t until the last three-wave set that the winners were decided. On the first wave, Wade Carmichael negotiated an ultra-ribbed tube before stinging the lip with a masculine hack. Next was Michael February, who threaded a much cleaner tube with the presence of a child cookie thief, tip-toeing his way out of the kitchen before mom could see him. Now needing a score and on wave three of the set, Zeke got partially clipped then totally clamped, leaving him just outside of a quarterfinal berth.
Round 4 Heat 2: Owen Wright v. Filipe Toledo v. Kanoa Igarashi
In his post-loss presser, Kanoa made an initially inane, but on second thought startling (if true) observation. “Whoever makes the least mistakes in a heat usually wins. So [this loss] is my fault.”
But is it true? Is the surfer who makes the least mistakes actually the one who wins most often, making factors like natural talent and luck ultimately moot?
To me this sounds like something a good coach (Snake) would tell an athlete who’s less naturally talented than his peers (Kanoa —-> Owen, Filipe), but maybe I just need to dig into the Heat Analyzers more.
Round 4 Heat 3: Gabriel Medina v. Kolohe Andino v. Yago Dora
And for one beautiful moment in broadcast history, we were able to see Strider’s lizard (or perhaps it was dog) brain battle his professional oaths, when a random but altogether attractive woman in a channel-bound boat revealed that she was in Tahiti… alone… for a month.
Why Strider was interviewing a completely random person in this setting remains unknown, but the dialogue following this revelation was spectacular.
“A month in Tahiti on vacation, and you just happened to show up and the event’s on…” Strider said. “Well, she said she’s here solo for a month so… everybody, come on down to Tahiti, enjoy it, watch some heats, looks like we’re gonna wind this one down.”
You could almost see Strider reminiscing about the days of 10-foot tubes and adoring surf groupies, but as a 40-something commentator with a lovely wife and children at home, Strider knew those things were in the past, despite this present reminder.
Besides, this woman clearly wasn’t there for him, the ex-pro commentator. If anything, she wanted the fresh meat in the lineup.
Shortly after that encounter, and of course completely coincidentally, Kolohe Andino rode a wave and lost his wedding band on the toilet bowl section. Again, just a coincidence, but how weird right?
Brother eventually finished second to a rampaging Medina, who has no real or metaphorical ring weighing him down in any aspect of life.
Round 4 Heat 4: Jeremy Flores v. Connor O’Leary v. Italo Ferreira
Jeremy kept up his elite wave magnetism, this time nabbing two legitimate “bombs” in the space of 35 minutes. This left his competitors fighting eternally for second – a battle that was once within the Australian’s grasp but swung into Italo’s favor when he dropped Fat Man and Little Boy (dual devastating air revs) on Connor’s poor head.
And with that, we bid today adieu.
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