Stab Magazine | Filipe's Tahitian Training Pays Off While Julian's Title Hopes Tremble
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Filipe’s Tahitian Training Pays Off While Julian’s Title Hopes Tremble

Teahupo’o may have embodied a decent day at a Sydney beachie, but that didn’t stop Round 1 and 2 from getting underway. 

news // Aug 14, 2018
Words by stab
Reading Time: 5 minutes

Boy does it feel good to be watching competitive surfing again after a month long hiatus. And oh fuck how bad it feels to realise your favourite, most enthralling, blood pumping stop on tour is being run in what’s best described as a decent day at Bronte left.

The Tahiti Pro has been served a piss poor excuse for a forecast, and subsequently, Kieren Perrow had to make the call to let the dogs out; usually the women would unfortunately receive the brunt of a lacklustre forecast, but since Tahiti’s not on their schedule, the gents were streamed out to the 1,000 or so people watching. 

Yes, there was the occasional tube, and yeah it would be incredibly fun for the layman to surf, but it wasn’t what we surf fans yearn for when the August waiting period rolls around. Nevertheless, Round 1 and a few heats of Round 2 were wrapped up, and although the surfing itself was a proportional snore, the competition was surpisingly entertaining.

For some godforsaken reason the heat analyzers vanished again, so let’s dive into a comprehensiveheat by heat recap from the day’s wash up.

*Concise and veiled with negativity

Flores is unstoppable in hollow lefthand reefs, so it’s unfortunate that today was resemblant of an almondy Sydney beach break. Photo: WSL/Cestari

Heat 1: Wade Carmichael vs. Jeremy Flores vs. Joan Duru

There were concerns prior to the heat that Wade Carmichael wouldn’t be able to squeeze his bulky frame into today’s almondy tubes, but luckily the contest’s maiden heat went down to turns.

He’s also ditched the blackened rails from his boards, and while his surfing remains the same, it’s done his aesthetic appeal wonders.

Heat 2: Jordy Smith vs. Ezekiel Lau vs. Ian Gouveia

Zeke Lau tried to get barrelled, did, and therefore came away with the win. Special mention to his seemingly finless inside slide – the judges hate manufactured tubes, but there was no denying the skill and entertainment factor on that one. 

Heat 3: Italo Ferreira vs. Sebastian Zeitz vs. Miguel Pupo

Italo Ferreira had to withdraw from the US Open last week with a Huntington hop induced hamstring injury. Despite slipping on his first wave today, he locked himself into two comparatively decent tubes and posted a pair of 7’s. 

There’s no way a small niggle was stuffing Italo’s 2018 title hopes. That little pocket rocket never stops. 

Forget about the turn, don’t you agree he looks like his ball-booting counterpart, Cristiano Ronaldo here? Photo: WSL/Cestari

Heat 4: Gabriel Medina vs. Wiggolly Dantas vs. Tomas Hermes

No surprises here – Gabriel got piped, did a punt, and won. 

There’s few surfers with a read on Teahupo’o as good as Medina; whether it’s soft-feathery tubes or throaty, bottomed-out funnels, he’s got it covered. 

Heat 5: Joel Parkinson vs. Julian Wilson vs. Mateia Hiquily

Not exactly the conditions Parko would’ve been hoping for his last ever Tahitian event, but he scraped past the wildcard and previous Jeep leader, Julian Wilson, with a handful of fun-ish tubes.

It’s not quite prototypical Chopes, but there’s no denying Filipe looked comfortable today. Photo: WSL/Poullenot

Heat 6: Filipe Toledo vs. Yago Dora vs. Tikanui Smith

Filipe’s forgoing of the US Open (and the $100,000 winner’s cheque) could be the key to his maiden World Title in 2018. Filipe swung, grabbed rail, and slipped out of the tube of the day for an 8.50, a wave which he might not have handled so calmly if it wasn’t for his week long Tahitian training session.

The forecast is homogenous for most of the waiting period. Only a money-enamoured fool would bet on anyone but Toledo for the title right now. 

Heat 7: Frederico Morais vs. Willian Cardoso vs. Michael February

I missed this heat and my internet is currently fried, but judging from the heat totals you didn’t miss much. The scores were close, the totals low, and Frederico managed a win.

Fire up the condensed re-cap if you’re absolutely desperate.

Heat 8: Michel Bourez vs. Keanu Asing vs. Kanoa Igarashi

Earlier on I said there was no one with a better read than Medina at Teahupo’o, that was because I briefly forgot about Michel Bourez. The bloke lives here after all, and when he’s up against ‘not-exactly-tube-specialists’ like Kanoa and Keanu he’s a shoe in for the win.  

A few tubes, a couple whacks, and an easy Round 3 entrance followed for the thunder-thighed Tahitian.  

There’s few who maximise tub-time as much as old ADS. He might not be poised, but he sure is precise. Photo. WSL/Poullenot

Heat 9: Adriano de Souza vs. Matt Wilkinson vs. Mikey Wright

Teahupo’o isn’t a spot where heats are won with busy perseverance, especially when genuinely scoreable waves are rarer than candid post-heat interviews. 

Adriano de Souza only caught three waves, but two was all he needed. ADS might not be stylish in the standardised sense of surfing, but there’s no faulting his fastidiously dialled backhand tube technique. 

Heat 10: Kolohe Andino vs. Griffin Colapinto vs. Pat Gudauskas

An all American affair, and for once Kolohe Andino wasn’t a victim of the underscore. He’s the most tour-experienced of the three gents and managed to grab two worthwhile waves to dodge a Round 2 elimination heat. 

Heat 11: Ace Buchan vs. Owen Wright vs. Jesse Mendes

[More vulgarities removed by Editor] Ace was looking feisty, and with that, he won the heat. 

Heat 12: Connor O’Leary vs. Michael Rodrigues vs. Conner Coffin

Connor with an ‘O’ has had a horrible year. After somewhat surprisingly taking ROTY titles in 2017, Connor looked like a future top-10 hopeful. This year he’s slumped back to 27th, but if today’s heat is anything to go by he may have rekindled his passion for frontside tubes and hammers.

He looked good to me and the judges too, therefore finding himself in Round 3 later this week. 

And on to the dreaded Round 2!

Round 2 – Heat 1: Tikanui Smith vs. Julian Wilson

This hurts me to write, but Julian’s title campaign is looking dreary and dilapidated following this afternoon.

The heat started off promising with the two going tube for tube, but then, as if the South Pacific were a Toledo fan, the lineup went flat. 

The Tahitian Smith holding his buckled knee through a tube on the way to beating Julian. Photo: WSL/Cestari

Tikanui caught a wave that I would’ve been embarrassed by and bogged it to the shoulder for a 2.17, putting him in the lead and leaving Julian needing a 1.84. A lump rolled through at the five-minute mark that would’ve easily provided the score, but Jules decided to let it drift by.

As a result, Julian’s hopes for a Tahitian defence withered away. He’s already holding two 13th’s, so with a 25th here one of those 13th places will now be contributing to his end of year tally.  

Heat 2: Jordy Smith vs. Mateia Hiquily

The judges weren’t letting another local wildcard knock out a (semi) title contender twice in one day. Jordy was looking damn sharp, but copping an ‘excellent score’ for a few turns out Chopes is questionable at best.

Regardless, he easily out-surfed the local and won’t be leaving the South Pacific early. 

Heat 3: Wiggolly Dantas vs. Willian Cardoso

A nailbiter!

I do, however, have a confession to make; this is the first heat I’ve ever bet money on (thanks to Shinya’s across desk convincing) and fuck did it make a seemingly sterile affair fizzle with vivacity. 

Wiggolly’s stretched wingspan might result in a peculiar paddling style, but they’re helpful when it comes to frontside stalls. Here he is trying to figure out what to do with his hands. Photo: WSL/Cestari

Wiggolly Dantas pulled out his usual elongated arm-stall for a few nicely manufactured tubes, while Willian ran with a combination of backhand sledgehammers and grab-rail tubes. The last heat of the day came down to the final minute as Willian no-grabbed into the wave of the heat, briefly stalled, and came out before the spit towards an overly-excited channel.

He undersurfed the best wave of the day and fell 0.06 short as a result. Wiggolly won and I was $4.63 richer. 

What. A. Rush. 

Today might not have been anywhere near what you imagine when you hear the word Teahupo’o, but hey, at least it’s infinitely better than the Huntington Beach clusterfuck.

The remainder of the week looks dire, with fleeting hopes of a solid-ish swell due on the event window’s final day. Here’s to hoping we see one surfer get a 10, or at the very least, a showreel worthy flogging. 

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