Filipe Toledo And Johanne Defay Win 2021 Jeep Surf Ranch Pro - Stab Mag
Fun fact: This photo was taken yesterday, but you wouldn't know the difference. That's the Ranch for ya. Photo: Tony Heff/WSL

Filipe Toledo And Johanne Defay Win 2021 Jeep Surf Ranch Pro

The arduous construction of a moment.

Words by Brendan Buckley

The Surf Ranch is the most widely detested event on tour by the competitors. 

On site, I’d seen surfers leave the venue after their heats with hair still wet—a feat, in such dry heat. Nobody I spoke with seemed to be awed by the miracle of Lemoore. Even Kelly, after his last heat, supplied an unprovoked, “Say what you want about Surf Ranch as a competition.” 

On the comments of the Facebook stream (more reliable than the WSL’s native player in my experience), people wanted to say vomit emojis. 

As an aside, Adriano de Souza’s retirement tour is proving how incredibly lovable he is. At the Surf Ranch, he swapped jerseys with a handful of competitors (Filipe wore his in the final) and was generally being a lord. Photo: Tony Heff/WSL

But tell me, truthfully: Is there something so nauseating about watching Filipe Toledo and Gabriel Medina go head-to-head on an incredibly long rippable wave? 

The trouble is what it takes to arrive there. Three days, hundreds of waves, and thousands of turns, the majority of which could fairly be described as monotonous. 

Our sometimes beloved WSL made a conscious shift this year. They want to create a moment—hence the new Finals Format, which will conclude with one single heat with everything on the line. And they are damn sure making it known. The broadcast hammered on about how the Finals are coming up, who’s in, who’s out, etc. 

Welcome to the narrative.

The moment isn’t just going to construct itself. 

And perhaps the excitement of the Final showdown will justify a few boring patching along the way. A scaled-down version of that logic could be applied to any event (see: The Elimination Round), but it’s magnified at the Surf Ranch Pro. 

Another aside: This cannot be classified as boring. Yago Dora and the most fascinating wave of the event.

You can’t deny the pleasure in watching the final. The format narrowed the field down to two and had them get two lefts and two rights for the final, counting their best wave per direction. After the first six of eight waves put Carissa Moore in the lead, Johanne Defay got a 7.93 under pressure on her backhand to win it.

On the men’s side, Filipe started with a solid Fu wax base coat of scores. Medina looked immaculate on his first right (8.67) then fell early on an air attempt on the left. Filipe capitalized on his final two waves with a 9.67 on the right and a 8.27 on the left. He finished both waves with airs—can you imagine the strength required in both the brain and the calves to do such a thing?

So then it was Medina—the ice-veined wave pool fucking god—alone, waiting for a train. His right started well until he bobbled and started throwing everything at it, which consisted of a completed air rev and a botched rodeo flip attempt. On his left, he needed a 9.28, which was well within the realm of possibility. And he fell.

Who wouldn’t want to watch that?

But, in the same breath, who could deny the emotional numbness of the event as a whole?

The appropriate thing to say here, I suppose, is that the Surf Ranch Pro finished with a bang and it’d be nice to see rematches of today’s finals at Lowers. 

The inappropriate thing to say here is that we should hope for the United States of America to coax a small but volatile nation into war so that they can fire a missile at Los Angeles which would be redirected by state-of-the-art technology and explode at the Surf Ranch while a herd of rich corporate people wearing Apple watches compliment each other on barrels that have never and will never count. 

Both feel applicable. 

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