Stab Magazine | Freshwater Pro Day 1: Kanoa Igarashi Hucks Himself Into The Number One Slot Over An In Form Gabby Medina
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Freshwater Pro Day 1: Kanoa Igarashi Hucks Himself Into The Number One Slot Over An In Form Gabby Medina

Lemoore’s first day of heats was littered with surprised and intrigue!

news // Sep 20, 2019
Words by stab
Reading Time: 7 minutes

Contrary to popular assumption, day one of the 2019 Freshwater Pro, stop number seven on the WSL Championship Tour, was not oppressively hot. 

Although, with no spectators in the stands on this lonely Thursday, the tolerable weather hardly mattered. Surfers performed for an audience of none in their round one heats, unless of course you count the judges, WSL minions, and a few brand executives that hold enough lobbying power to leverage private pool access. 

Rumors are the Zuck himself made a surprise appearance by private helicopter, surfed two waves before the start of the event (both lefts), threw Seabass an unrequited shaka (trying to mend his Kauai island relations, we’d presume), and disappeared into an air-conditioned press box for the remainder of the day. 

Somehow, that was hardly the strangest thing that happened on day one of the 2019 Freshwater Pro.  

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Leg training for the pool.

You might recall that they switched the competition format of the Pool comp in 2019. Here’s how Round 1 works according to the WSL: 

Round 1 is all 36 men and 18 women; 

Normal seeding – 4 waves each

Best left and right will form a competitors total heat score

Brackets are 6-man heats, top 2 advance straight through to Round 2

Leaderboard decides remaining 12 men and 12 women into Round 2

In practice, it looked like this: surfers were placed in their six-man heats based on a tiered seeding system. So, the number one seed (Filipe Toledo) would surf against seeds 12 (Michel Bourez), 18 (Willian Cardoso), 24 (Sebastian Zietz), 30 (Ricardo Christie), and 36 (Kade Matson). 

However, because Filipe was the number one seed, his “heat” went last, which is a huge advantage in this instance, because it allowed him to know where the entire field’s cut-off line was prior to surfing. In fact, Filipe’s heat didn’t even surf today, so he’ll start tomorrow knowing exactly what he needs to do to make Round 2. 

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We won’t see the young stud til tomorrow, sadly.

The first heat of the day, which if you’re following along with the logic of the WSL’s heat system, naturally included the sixth seed (Kanoa Igarashi, who is technically number seven in the world, but will surf in the six seed because world number five, John John Florence, is currently drifting in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, as far from the physical and theoretical concept of a wavepool as imaginable), along with seeds seven (Owen Wright), 13 (Jeremy Flores), 19 (Michael Rodrigues), 25 (Griffin Colapinto), and 31 (Soli Bailey)—also known as a fucking stacker, in the pool or otherwise. 

As the heat’s low seed, Soli went first, providing saltine surfing on his first left for a mid-six, then falling hard on the right’s inside section while attempting an air. 

“I just needed a little wind,” the Australian insisted in his state of the heat address. “But it’s a little too early in the morning, I guess.”

First surfer up and already a conditions-based complaint—who said pool surfing was dull!

Adding insult to Soli’s perjury, Griffin Colapinto quickly debunked this wind-borne myth. After pushing too hard on the left’s fourth section and paying dearly for it, the San Clemente kid, who many CTers have tapped as a darkhorse favorite to take out the event, launched into a furious but controlled board release before the first tube section, halting his rotation with a front foot stomp and leisurely drifting fins-first into the pocket before allowing the fins to engage and locking into a lengthy artificial tunnel. 

The WSL, wily little foxes that they are, got Rolex to sponsor this year’s Tube Timer. The only problem was, the luxury brand insisted that they use an analog graphic to track the surfers’ time, so it’s anyone’s guess how long Griff actually spent in there. 

No matter the time, Griff was eventually freed from the vortex and proceeded to unleash a carve-snap-carve-snap combo that chapped lips and egos alike. A final tube to relatively safe fin-ditch was all that Griff needed to achieve excellence, putting an 8.5 on top of his 2 and riding anxiously back to shore, knowing that just half of his morning’s duty was done.  

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Tick tock, Griff.

Speaking of morning duties, did you know that Slater has monitors live-streaming the pool action all over his resident Airstream? And if you believe the rumors, that means in his bathroom also. The man is always watching, learning.

The young Japanese stud, Kanoa Igarashi, now safely back in the fishbowl, went full Keramas mode in his opening round, putting together a healthy left-combo and then truly decimating the right with not one but two frontside rotations, the latter stomped so hard in the flats that it buckled his blade. 

After all six competitors had surfed their first left and right, it was straight back out to complete the first heat. Griffin showed little nerves on his must-complete left, stinging the first few sections with great vigor before getting stuck behind an odd crumble. Four points are all he managed, leaving the surfers’ pick at risk of a Round 1 departure. 

The other competitors, including a be-helmeted Owen Wright (“I think it’s my lucky charm, so I’m gonna wear it until I lose. Plus, it’s pretty shallow on that end section.”) put together quality performances, making Heat 1 the highest-scoring of the day.

Heat 1 totals:

  1. Kanoa Igarashi|Right:9.33|Left:7.67|Total:17

  2. Jeremy Flores|Right:7.27|Left:8.1|Total:15.37

  3. Owen Wright|Right:7.93|Left:6.2|Total:14.13

  4. Michael Rodrigues|Right:6.33|Left:|6.57Total:12.9

  5. Griffin Colapinto|Right:8.5|Left:4|Total:12.5

  6. Soli Bailey|Right:5.23|Left:6.5|Total:11.73

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    Noa knows best.

It’s truly odd how the WSL disallowed spectators on Day one of the event, but your friends at Stab saw this as a cultural engagement opportunity. 

In an effort to recreate the excitement of one of Stab’s finest journalistic endeavors, we hired a scissor lift (from the same guy as last time—thanks, Sal!), parked it in more or less the same position as 2017, and allowed Lemoore locals and WSL fans alike to join Morgan and me in surfing’s true nose-bleed section, where a cooler full of Coors regulated our internal temperatures and kept the conversation flowing. 

Once again, the WSL did their damnedest to kick us out, even inciting some Lemoore building codes to get us removed from the adjacent sidewalk. That problem was solved rather quickly, as a Surf Ranch neighbor named Christyne was happy to host our mechanical lift on her private property for $50 and a case of beer, giving us a stellar vantage point to catch Yago Dora three-punting his way to a high-eight left. 

Heat 2 totals:

  1. Yago Dora|Right:7.17|Left:8.93|Total:16.1

  2. Mateus Herdy|Right:8.33|Left:6.5|Total14.83

  3. Italo Ferreira|Right:8.3|Left:5.93|Total:14.23

  4. Seth Moniz|Right:6.5|Left:6.73|Total:13.23

  5. Conner Coffin|Right:7.67|Left:5.2|Total: 12.87

  6. Joan Duru|Right:2.67|Left:5.23|Total:7.9

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Step right up to see the greatest show on earth!

Slater made the pool and sold all rights to the WSL, but it’s Medina who really owns it. 

On his four waves today, Medina never scored less than seven points, giving him the highest average point average of any surfer. 

On the right, it’s robotic backhand hammers and the most effective backside tube-riding we’ve seen. On the left, it’s bullish railwork and a little nosepick on the end (we suspect he’s saving the big punts for when it counts). Gabby might not win this comp, but he won’t get worse than equal-third, either. 

Slater, on the other hand, has put his fate in the hands of Heat 6 (which will surf tomorrow). After falling on his first three rides (L,R,L), Slater needed a substantial score on his final right to even have a chance of making Round 2. 

As he tends to do, Kelly clutched up and beat the boat wake like a disobedient child, the entire ride culminating with one vicious slash on the inside corner. 

“I’m not too happy with my performance today,” Kelly revealed in his post-surf serenade. “I think I’m just a little tired from last night.” 

“…What happened last night?” quipped Rosie.

“Oh… you know,” Kelly glanced back at the pool. “Just did some laps around the property on my carver board. I never let my legs achieve stasis for more than 12 hours.”

Heat 3 totals:

  1. Gabriel Medina|Right8.67:|Left:7.5|Total:16.17

  2. Jesse Mendes|Right:6.77|Left:7.83|Total:14.6

  3. Deivid Silva|Right:7.23|Left:5.1|Total:12.33

  4. Kelly Slater|Right:8.17|Left:3.77|Total:11.94

  5. Barron Mamiya|Right:4.27|Left:3.17|Total:7.44

  6. Peterson Crisanto|Right:5.2|Left:1.93|Total:7.13

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No wonder Slater has to push so hard—look at that gap between pad and plug! 

Strider made a remarkable observation while watching Adrian Buchan’s metronomic rhythm:

“Ace is the human equivalent of a vanilla ice cream cone. It’s good, it’s sweet, but you wouldn’t really want to have sex with it.”

Ace rode four waves today and got a 7.5 on every single one of them. Upon further review, using the WSL’s side-by-side video analysis, it was revealed that his two lefts and two rights were exact duplicates of one another. The WSL will be investigating this issue further, but Ace’s response was simple: 

“I thought we were supposed to figure out a routine that worked well in the pool. I just did it better than everyone, and now people are upset? Well, that doesn’t seem very fair.”

Separately, but also to Ace’s point, Julian recreated his slob from 2018 and took heat 4 with ease. 

Heat 4 totals:

  1. Julian Wilson|Right:8.33|Left:7.27|Total:15.6

  2. Adrian Buchan|Right:7.5|Left:7.5|Total:15

  3. Kolohe Andino|Right:6.33|Left:8.17|Total:14.5

  4. Wade Carmichael|Right:7.67|Left:4.33|Total:12

  5. Jadson Andre|Right5.1:|Left:3.33|Total:8.43

  6. Crosby Colapinto|Right:4.7|Left:2.17|Total:6.87

In a shocking turn of events, the day’s final heat offered an interference, with Hawaiian Zeke Lau paddling out before his final set of waves and hassling wildcard Jett Schilling off his second right. 

The 16-year-old was granted a second chance to catch his final wave but fell on the drop because he was, “so rattled.”

Zeke offered no apology for his actions, stating simply, “Grom thought he could just come on the CT and take our waves? No way, bra. You gotta earn it in the big leagues.”

Zeke lost his second scoring ride as a result of the altercation, and Aussie limber lads Jack Free and Ry Cal advanced to Round 2, with Jordy Smith not far behind. 

Heat 5 totals:

  1. Jack Freestone|Right:8.17|Left:6.77|Total:14.94

  2. Ryan Callinan|Right:7.2|Left:7.33|Total:14.53

  3. Jordy Smith|Right:8.5|Left:5.67|Total:14.17

  4. Caio Ibelli|Right:4.5|Left:5.67|Total:10.17

  5. Jett Schilling|Right:3.33|Left:5.27|Total:8.6

  6. Zeke Lau|Right:6.17|Left:INT|Total:6.17 

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Benefits of the burn.

Tomorrow we’ll see the final heat of men’s Round 1, the entirety of women’s Round 1, and likely the start of men’s Round 2. 

Expect updates early and often. 

Round one leaderboard (final heat still to be completed):

  1. Kanoa Igarashi|Right:9.33|Left:7.67|Total:17

  2. Gabriel Medina|Right8.67:|Left:7.5|Total:16.17

  3. Yago Dora|Right:7.17|Left:8.93|Total:16.1

  4. Julian Wilson|Right:8.33|Left:7.27|Total:15.6

  5. Jeremy Flores|Right:7.27|Left:8.1|Total:15.37

  6. Adrian Buchan|Right:7.5|Left:7.5|Total:15

  7. Jack Freestone|Right:8.17|Left:6.77|Total:14.94

  8. Mateus Herdy|Right:8.33|Left:6.5|Total14.83

  9. Jesse Mendes|Right:6.77|Left:7.83|Total:14.6

  10. Ryan Callinan|Right:7.2|Left:7.33|Total:14.53

  11. Kolohe Andino|Right:6.33|Left:8.17|Total:14.5

  12. Italo Ferreira|Right:8.3|Left:5.93|Total:14.23

  13. Jordy Smith|Right:8.5|Left:5.67|Total:14.17

  14. Owen Wright|Right:7.93|Left:6.2|Total:14.13

  15. Seth Moniz|Right:6.5|Left:6.73|Total:13.23

  16. Michael Rodrigues|Right:6.33|Left:|6.57Total:12.9

  17. Conner Coffin|Right:7.67|Left:5.2|Total: 12.87

  18. Griffin Colapinto|Right:8.5|Left:4|Total:12.5

  19. Deivid Silva|Right:7.23|Left:5.1|Total:12.33

  20. Wade Carmichael|Right:7.67|Left:4.33|Total:12

  21. Kelly Slater|Right:8.17|Left:3.77|Total:11.94

  22. Soli Bailey|Right:5.23|Left:6.5|Total:11.73

  23. Caio Ibelli|Right:4.5|Left:5.67|Total:10.17

  24. Jett Schilling|Right:3.33|Left:5.27|Total:8.6

    ROUND 2 CUTOFF

  25. Jadson Andre|Right5.1:|Left:3.33|Total:8.43

  26. Joan Duru|Right:2.67|Left:5.23|Total:7.9

  27. Barron Mamiya|Right:4.27|Left:3.17|Total:7.44

  28. Peterson Crisanto|Right:5.2|Left:1.93|Total:7.13

  29. Crosby Colapinto|Right:4.7|Left:2.17|Total:6.87

  30. Zeke Lau|Right:6.17|Left:INT|Total:6.17

STILL TO SURF
Filipe Toledo
Michel Bourez
Willian Cardoso
Sebastian Zietz
Ricardo Christie
Kade Matson

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