Carissa Moore Must Learn To Pick Her Nose
And Steph Gilmore swings the World Title race with a vicious layback, today at Keramas.
Brisa Hennessy is like a younger, slightly less talented version of Carissa Moore.
She's also fearless when surfing against veteran stars and uncommonly pleasant on camera. The type of gal that's impossible not to like, unless you're surfing against her.
The Costa Rican put Carissa on the ropes in their quarterfinal match with a seven early. Riss fought back with a six, but Brisa used her priority wisely and returned with another seven, leaving Carissa in need of an 8.5 to get past the rookie(!).
Being the champion that she is, Carissa swung into her next section with a tidy forehand reverse, followed by several connecting maneuvers through the inside. Judges called it right at an 8.6.
This was an objectively stellar ride—one any of us peanut munchers would be proud to call our own. With that said, would you allow me to lob a small critique of our 3x World Champion’s frontside spin?
The reverse Carissa pulled today was reminiscent of the 90s or early-2000s – a time when longer boards and smaller stances marked the pinnacle of surfing performance. This is a time when speed-dealer shades were unironically cool and board grip consisted of a traction pad supplemented by one-square-foot of wax below the craft's wide-point (which measured 17.63).
While that was a wonderful time in surfing's history, the sport has clearly elevated since, as has the wax crept its way slowly and surely up our boards. That’s due, in large part, to the ‘nose-pick’ reverse – a specialty maneuver of all of our favorite surfers, from Dane to John John to Filipe Toleeds.
The nose pick works like this:
Surfer approaches the lip at a near-vertical angle (Carissa nailed this part)
Surfer pushes board past its midpoint when riding over the lip, as to release the fins on the direction change (she nailed this too)
Surfer slides front foot up the board while simultaneously rotating the shoulders and hips toward shore (this is where Carissa missed the foot slide)
Surfer shifts all the weight to their front foot while continuing to whip the tail around, using the front foot as a friction-free pivot point to complete their spin.
Now, the argument could be made that Carissa has a handle on the elder generation of the forehand reverse, so why change?
My response: the nose-pick is a more dynamic (and higher scoring) rendition of the flat, tail-based reverse. It’s also a more functional maneuver, as the widened stance and increased pivot point makes the surfer both more stable and able to spin more quickly. It’s something that Carissa, and many of the women on Tour, could benefit from learning.
And it really shouldn’t be that difficult for surfers of their caliber. Give the gals a week at Waco and they’ll be spinning like dreidels.
Mansplaining over, now back to the heat.
After Carissa’s 8.6, rookie Brisa Hennessy, known as "Buzzer-beater Brisa" throughout her childhood, needed an 8.08 heading into the final minute. She opted for a smooth set wave and surfed it impeccably from start to finish, bashing each section that came her way with an intuitive timing and maneuver choice.
When “8.37” came over the beach mic, Brisa did her best to hide an involuntary gasp.
Who can blame the girl? She’d just beaten the 3x Champ and her personal hero, Carissa Moore.
Sally Fitz came out of the gates hot on her sparkling JS, forcing fins over the coping and completing her turns with an extra dash of oregano. Silvana Lima went over the falls on her first attempt then continued to quarrel with the Indian Ocean on the majority of her rides, placing good turns here and there but failing to truly connect with a wave.
On her highest-scoring wave, Sally laid down a scintillating carve on the end section. It was truly a thing of beauty.
Driving through the back foot with her weight evenly distributed, Sally provided the slightest glimpse of a slide but maintained total control. This is one of the best-feeling turns in surfing and Sally nailed it for seven points and change.
Needing a high-seven to advance, Silvana put one last coin in the machine and was granted a silky, stretched-out wall. The 34-year-old tagged the first section with a down-the-line focus, drove around whitewater to skrrrrrt the bowl, then banged the end section with what I'd call a 70% snap.
Silvana thought it was plenty good enough, as evidenced by her claim, but the judges did not agree. 7.07 was the number that sent our Brazilian queen packin'.
"This heat has huge World Title implications," said one of the commentators before Quarterfinal 3, featuring Stephanie Gilmore and Courtney Conlogue.
He wasn't wrong. With Courtney being the only top-3 surfer remaining in the event, and Steph, last year's World Champ, needing a final finish to get herself on track for another Title, it's clear both women had a reason to win.
As a wise person once said, "(S)he who has a 'why' will typically find a 'how'."
Unfortunately for these two hungry competitors, only one could feed her why today.
Meanwhile, the ocean was beginning to slow with the outgoing tide, but Courtney caught a wave before the restart could take effect. This is a clever tactic when facing an opponent of greater ability. The less time they have to catch waves, the better.
After the first few sequences, Courtney had banked a seven and six while Steph was left holding a six and a five. For those who struggled through first-grade arithmetic, that means Steph needed a score.
A whistle sounded from the shore with a few minutes left, signifying a wave on the horizon.
Ricky Toledo, was that you?
No! It was Steph's coach Jake Paterson, who's adopted all sorts of mid-heat tricks in 2019, including flag-waving and the old tea-kettle call.
It was worth the embarrassment this time around, as Steph met the tallest wave of the day right on its peak and proceeded to glide in.
A sloppy first turn was forgiven by a vicious layback in the pocket, followed by another pure carve, then an error of excitement on the final section, with Steph falling out the back as her fins lost their traction in the lip.
The Champ kicked the water in disgust, no doubt wondering if those two completed turns were enough to cover the six she needed.
The judges gave Steph nod, because how could they not? That was the best turn of the day, period.
Then KP called it off.
Bad tide, he said. Come back tomorrow!
Today we saw three quarters completed, leaving one to simmer overnight, plus the remainder of the men's heats still to run.
If you flunked out second-grade arithmetic, that leaves a total of eleven heats to complete on finals day. The swell shouldn't be an issue, but all we can do is hope the winds stay light and the tides aren't too much of a punish.
From the viewer' perspective, there are worse ways to spend a Friday night/Saturday morning.