Stab Magazine | Filipe Toledo Soars, John Florence Loses, And Steph Gilmore Will Win The 2018 Title
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Filipe Toledo Soars, John Florence Loses, And Steph Gilmore Will Win The 2018 Title

Highlights from a huge day in Saquarema.

news // May 17, 2018
Words by stab
Reading Time: 6 minutes

The Championship Tour is currently in Brazil and would you believe the waves are pumping? It’s true! The last three days have featured clean, overhead, relatively not-closed-out surf making the Oi Saqua Pro surprisingly enjoyable to watch.

For once it feels less like a financial necessity/token nod to Brazil and more like a legitimate CT event.

As we know Stephanie Gilmore won the women’s event today but beyond that were a few key moments worth discussing. Let’s sip caipirinhas and chat!

Silvana floats like a butterfly, stings like a bee.

Screen Shot 2018 05 16 at 2.39.52 PM

Looks funky in photo, but check the Heat Analyzer and be amazed. Photo: WSL

Watching Ian Gouveia’s 9.93 on yesterday’s Heat Analyzer, I was surprised that his throaty yet straightforward tube could garner a near-perfect score. Just as I was about to lambast the judges for falling back into their Porta-era ways, I watched Ian karate kick the end section before air-dropping to the bottom and riding out with control.

The 9.93 was justified after all.

Recognizing the potency of this maneuver, Silvana Lima gave her own impression of the lipline float-bash this morning, earning her an 8.9 and well-deserved Round 3 heat win. These two turns are tied for the best of the event.

Filipe the freak
Some surfers don’t need to do turns at all – Filipe Toledo being one of them. After securing a couple of eights in his Round 4 match, Filipe took off on a long, lefthand wall and pumped…

And pumped…

And pumped…

Did a quick check turn and pumped…

Then pumped thrice more and unleashed the widest-spanning punt the WSL’s ever seen, flying halfway to Argentina with a backside air reverse and landing it more easily than most of us would an end section floater.

Filipe bowed. The beach erupted. Seabass was visibly dumbfounded and the judges gave it a 10.

Which raises the question: What if Filipe had done two check turns?*

The John conundrum.
Before John surfed in Round 4 this morning, his coach Ross Williams posted a poignant and heartfelt message about his pupil’s underwhelming 2018 season:

Screen Shot 2018 05 16 at 10.52.21 AM

The caption reads: Johns had a couple poor results this year but it was never due to a lack of effort or will. Despite all the talk, some warranted and frankly some due to just laziness in my opinion, John has been surfing with the same conviction and froth as the last two years. All these amazing surfers go through their dry runs. It happens. He had a couple insane rides in his heat today but honestly I was happier with how well he built to his aggression. He fought hard for a couple scores which led to him putting the hammer down. Funny how much John gets scrutinized against his own potential. He’s had some of the most aggressive and progressive rides this year and some decent heat totals. Just a couple sloppy heats in the mix to give him those bad results. It’s a testimony more to the level of the tour. Everyone rips. At the end of the day it’s good to eat humble pie. I think it’s made his fire even stronger. He will continue to draw different lines and push the sport with integrity. Hoping it will inspire the yarners to do the same.

Man, that arrow shot straight through my heart! However as a professional “yarner”, there’s an obligation to break this message down piece by piece.

Ross is right that John gets scrutinized against his own potential, but he’s wrong to see that as a negative. John is the best surfer in the world right now, so why would we compare his surfing to that of… say, Tomas Hermes? John’s seven-point ride means he’s surfing at half-mast, while Tomas’ seven-point ride has him pushing the 90th percentile of his own personal abilities. If John is surfing simply to stay on track with his half-as-talented competitors, he’s doing everyone, but mostly himself, a disservice. So of course we expect more from him.

As for John’s performances this season, according to Ross they’ve been “aggressive and progressive” but also a little “sloppy”.

Is this true? Let’s look at the numbers.

At this point last season, John’s average heat total was just shy of 17 points.

This year? 12.57!

So what’s changed?

Maybe the first event loss to Mikey Wright got in John’s head and hasn’t left him since. The Zeke thing certainly didn’t help, the loss of WA was demoralizing, and his performance in the pool drove the nail in the coffin (although he did do the air of the event).

The only thing John’s got going for him is he can still land a massive air on command, as evidenced by his two best scores of the season – both 9.8s, both ridiculous frontside revs – at Lemoore last week and yesterday in Brazil.

Today, facing the warbly lefthander of Itaúna, John was left bogging or falling through standard maneuvers, looking completely unlike the surfing savant we know him to be. To put John’s performance today into perspective, it would have been a terrible heat even for Tomas Hermes. This is worse than Ross wants to believe.

Steph didn’t love Brazil, but she might now.

Screen Shot 2018 05 16 at 2.40.06 PM

A gal of the people! Photo: WSL

For reasons related to her smooth, stylish approach, the best female surfer in history has struggled around Brazil’s tricky sandbars, leaving her winless after a decade-plus of CT events.

After beating Nikki Van Dijk in her semifinal heat, Stephanie Gilmore was asked what it would mean for her to win in Brazil.

“It would be great,” Steph replied. “The fans here are awesome… It would definitely help the world title campaign,” she said before slipping away into the competitors’ area.

But Happy Gilmore was faking it. This uncharacteristically uninspired interview gave her away faster than Pinocchio’s nose. Steph doesn’t love Brazil any more than Filipe loves condoms.

Well, that was until she won.

In a humdrum final between World Numbers 1 and 2, Gilmore bested Lakey Peterson with a heat total of 11.53, earning her first-ever win in Brazil and creating an even wider margin in the women’s Title race.

Steph might have another title in her… or four

Screen Shot 2018 05 16 at 2.40.17 PM

She’s not going anywhere. Photo: WSL

Can you believe Steph Gilmore is only 30? And before you jump to any nasty conclusions, NO, I’m not saying she looks physically old or surfs without a youthful elasticity, but it does seem like Steph has been around forever. You’d think she’s gotta be at least 34, right?

For biological reasons, women mature physically (and mentally, if we’re being honest) at a younger age than men, which is why we see gals as young as 15 (hey, Caroline!) qualifying for the CT, while no man has done it before his Sweet Seventeen.

In that same vein, or perhaps for entirely different reasons (I ain’t no scientist/psychologist), men have been willing and/or able to remain on Tour for much longer than their female counterparts. At 46-years-old, Kelly Slater is the most ancient CT competitor, while historically speaking most female champions have called it quits in their early-to-mid 30s (Layne Beachley, 7x World Champion, retired at 36 “due to her age”). 

After a three year dry spell, during Carissa and Tyler’s reigns, Stephanie Gilmore is right on track to win her 7th Championship, which would tie Layne Beachley for the most ever in women’s surfing. And while it feels like Steph might be getting toward the latter stages of her career, that assessment may be arbitrary. If she chose to do so, Steph, like Slater, could very well surf the CT into her mid-40s, meaning she’d only be at the halfway point in her career at this current moment.

And who knows how many more titles she could win in that time? Despite the increased competition from women like Carissa, Tyler, Courtney, Lakey, Sally, and beyond, Steph is clearly right up there with the best and could easily steal three or for more Titles in a 15-year span.

I for one hope she never leaves.

*I’m just fuckin’ with ya Pritamo!

Oi Rio Pro Women’s Final Results:
1 – Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) 11.53
2 – Lakey Peterson (USA) 8.00

Oi Rio Pro Women’s Semifinal Results:
SF 1: Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) 11.00 def. Nikki Van Dijk (AUS) 9.67
SF 2: Lakey Peterson (USA) 11.27 def. Tatiana Weston-Webb (BRA) 10.40

Oi Rio Pro Women’s Quarterfinal Results:
QF 1: Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) 13.06 def. Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) 10.00
QF 2: Nikki Van Dijk (AUS) 10.83 def. Keely Andrew (AUS) 5.77
QF 3: Tatiana Weston-Webb (BRA) 15.33 def. Silvana Lima (BRA) 4.60
QF 4: Lakey Peterson (USA) 12.67 def. Carissa Moore (HAW) 9.57

Oi Rio Pro Women’s Round 3 Results:
Heat 1: Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) 11.17, Keely Andrew (AUS) 9.64, Tyler Wright (AUS) 6.17
Heat 2: Nikki Van Dijk (AUS) 14.36, Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) 12.50, Caroline Marks (USA) 4.67
Heat 3: Silvana Lima (BRA) 15.90, Lakey Peterson (USA) 15.23, Johanne Defay (FRA) 13.16 
Heat 4: Carissa Moore (HAW) 15.33, Tatiana Weston-Webb (BRA) 11.50, Sage Erickson (USA) 11.34

2018 WSL Women’s CT Jeep Leaderboard (After Oi Rio Pro):
1 – Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) 29,490 pts
2 – Lakey Peterson (USA) 25,630 pts
3 – Tatiana Weston-Webb (BRA) 20,020 pts
4 – Carissa Moore (HAW) 18,980 pts
5 – Caroline Marks (USA) 17,000 pts

Oi Rio Men’s Pro Round 4 Results:
Heat 1: Filipe Toledo (BRA) 18.33, Michael Rodrigues (BRA) 10.94, Ian Gouveia (BRA) 8.00 
Heat 2: Julian Wilson (AUS) 12.73, Kolohe Andino (USA) 11.90, Kanoa Igarashi (JPN) 9.43
Heat 3: Gabriel Medina (BRA) 11.84, Ezekiel Lau (HAW) 9.73, Sebastian Zietz (HAW) 9.00 
Heat 4: Yago Dora (BRA) 13.94, Wade Carmichael (AUS) 11.40, John John Florence (HAW) 8.00

Oi Rio Men’s Pro Quarterfinal Matchups:
QF 1: Filipe Toledo (BRA) vs. Kolohe Andino (USA)
QF 2: Julian Wilson (AUS) vs. Michael Rodrigues (BRA)
QF 3: Gabriel Medina (BRA) vs. Wade Carmichael (AUS)
QF 4: Yago Dora (BRA) vs. Ezekiel Lau (HAW)

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