As The Clock Struck Midnight, North Point Turned Ablaze
A fiery recap from Day 1 of the Margaret River Pro.
So the last time I checked, which was around 8 o’clock PDT, worldsurfleague.com had called the Margaret River Pro off for the day. I’m not sure if this was a technical glitch or if the conditions magically improved, forcing contest organizers to reconsider their previous decision, but two-and-a-half hours later I received a WSL email saying Round 1 was ON.
Normally I’d be elated to watch the world’s best surf pumping North Point, but in this case I had just gotten into bed and had hopes of scoring my own little tubes in the morning. For the first time in a long time, Southern California had waves on the way and I was excited to greet them.
Yet here I am, with the clock nearing four, computer light scorching my retinas, as I work tirelessly to provide your Day 1 contest wrap. I truly hope you enjoy.
(Please forgive the framegrab images. I simply cannot wait any longer for the WSL to send their four daily photos from the event.)
Watching the webcast, I learned that North Point has a peculiar way of breaking. On most waves, a small bubble of energy travels just beyond the trough, threatening to double-up or perhaps impede the surfer but never really doing so. I can’t think of another wave in the world that does this, nor how or why it would happen.
Nevertheless, it was a great decision to run here today.
Despite a harsh wind, North Point was absolutely bonkers on this West Australian arvo, and as I predicted Jack Robinson torched his trials death-heat, nailing multiple excellent rides and making his competitor, fellow local Jerome Forrest, look very much the lame duck.
Robbo probably terrified the Top-34 with that performance, and rightfully so. I quickly swapped him onto my Fantasy before Round 1 started. Sorry M. Wright.
Keanu got an 8 in his first heat. As he dodged the wave’s initial section, I started to get that cringey feeling in my gut, but soon I realized what had inspired Keanu’s tube elusion. Down the line, North Point’s wicked end bowl was standing up something fierce, and the Hawaiian needed every ounce of speed to shoot through the cornhole.
After escaping several chandeliers, a tube-drunk Keanu squealed to the camera: “Woo! I’m getting double digits!”
It’s unclear whether he was talking about getting a perfect score on that wave or simply earning over a 10-point heat total, but I prefer to think the latter. Both because Keanu has only achieved a double-digit heat score twice this year, and because it makes him more likable than if he was calling an eight a 10.
After garnering a mid-2 backup, Keanu just barely realized the prophecy, but he won the heat and that’s all that really matters.
In the second heat, Ian Gouveia impressed me with his backhand tuberiding but lost to Jordy on wave selection. In other news, Tomas Hermes needs to hit the gym or maybe some PEDs before he paddles out in WA again.
Speaking of bad barrel riders, Jack Robinson is definitely not one. The kid’s style, positioning, and read of the wave are immaculate and truly a pleasure to watch. Jack easily won his Round 1 heat but what really interested me was his entry into this event, or rather, Caio’s exit.
Jack, of course, is only in the draw because Caio Ibelli broke his foot, which led me to an intriguing realization: A last-place finish in a CT event nets you a cool $10k. If you were in Caio’s position, wouldn’t it be really easy to paddle out into your Round 1 heat, literally just attempt to stand up, and collect a phenomenal payday? Caio did the right thing by gifting his slot to Jack, but the fact that he’ll receive no payout from this event just adds insult to injury. I don’t know if I could’ve accepted that injustice were I in his position.
Sidenote: it’s worth mentioning that Jack Robinson audibly went through puberty in the middle of his post-heat interview. For the first half of the interview, Jack was a shy, squeaky 12-year-old. The second half? Baritoned man. Something about Rosie’s presence must have catapulted Jack straight into manhood, which I think most of us can understand. I highly recommend you find this interview in the Heat Analyzer.
Meanwhile Ronnie, who has been a man for quite some time, made quite the interesting comment about John’s opening ride — a double-tube ridden quite conservatively to the tune of 4.67: “Does this wave give you a bit of an idea of where John is at mentally at the moment, carrying these two poor results?” Ron asked Pete. “I just feel like John never catches a wave like that without stuffing himself as far back in the barrel as he possibly can.”
While we predicted that John might treat his competitors with more aggression after the Bells snafu, we hadn’t considered how two early round losses might affect his actual surfing performance. As the heat went on John started looking more like himself, but he never clicked into high gear. Nevertheless he won his stressy Round 1 clash.
Speaking of stressful, Kael “The Mailman” Walsh was sending it like no other on the opening day of competition. On more than five occasions, the 18-year-old hucked himself over the falls of a mutant double-up that he had no business trying to catch.
“He’s not scared, is he Joe?” asked a rhetorical Martin Potter.
Medina won the heat, but Kael won our hearts.
Unlike Kael, but a little like John, Julian Wilson appeared hesitant in his Round 1 heat. A couple big, throaty tubes were threaded with his Hurley sticker fully visible, which is both flattering and infuriating to the viewer. Granted, Julian’s timidity is completely acceptable due to his nagging shoulder injury. The last thing he needs right now is a brutal wipeout.
Wilson was lucky to come up against two inexperienced competitors in Jesse Mendes (not many surfs at North Point) and David Delroy-Carr (first time in a CT), allowing him to waltz into Round 3.
Meanwhile Filipe, the poor little thing, failed to “knife in” on one of the day’s best waves, leaving him floundering in the flats while an A- tube rifled across the reef.
At least he didn’t pull back.
Despite my fatigue, and despite the surf alarm that’s set to ring in a mere two hours, I’m glad I stayed up to cover tonight’s event. When North Point is cooking and you’ve got John, Jack, and Mikey stuffing their faces, competitive surfing can be damn fun to watch. I can’t wait for tomorrow’s heats, right after I surf and take a verrrry long nap.
And please understand if typos. I tried my very best.
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