Is Donning All White After A Fortnight In The Top 5 Hubris Or Pro-Level Trolling? - Stab Mag
KS donned all-white six titles deep. Caio after a fortnight in the top 5. A fatal lack of self-awareness or pro-level trolling? Photo by WSL

Is Donning All White After A Fortnight In The Top 5 Hubris Or Pro-Level Trolling?

Porty recap Day 4 sees a white wetsuit inquisition, superabundant tubes, and the season’s first 10.

news // Mar 6, 2022
Words by Billy Wilson
Reading Time: 6 minutes

It was by far the best day of the waiting period, a full morning of almost all-time Supertubos, uninterrupted heats from dawn ‘til dusk. What did we learn?

Nat Young’s apparently still alive. You know those friends or acquaintances you’d forgotten existed, who turn up unexpectedly at some event or other years later? You rack your brain, finally recall them from what feels like a different lifetime, or like a weird dream you once had.

“So good to see you again,” you lie. But today, at least, Young was much funner than you probably remembered. Then there’s Ewing. He looks so cool, and everyone’s been telling you what a legend he is, if a bit shy. Sometimes, though, or maybe most of the time, you get the feeling it’s more style than substance. Plus he’s always bailing from the party early. 

Ethan will not be at kickons. Photo by Damien Poullenot/World Surf League

Young’s 9-point ride in their heat was one of three today. Jordy got the second, backed up with an 8 in his Round 4 win (over Connor O’Leary), the performance of the morning. The third, which came a few heats later, was awarded to John John and sent Nat Young packing, back into the depths of your subconscious.

There were permutations to think about. To draw temporarily level with Kanoa at the top of the rankings, Seth Moniz had only to swat aside Jackson Baker, who was still effectively scoreless with most of the heat already gone. I was just about to write him off – maybe he was just about to write himself off – when he took off tight under the lip on a throaty right-hander, holding on for some middling vision and a high 6. He seemed mildly surprised to have made it.

His next wave was mental, a larger, deeper version of the one before. Freefalling to the trough, he loaded his inside rail; a thick lip clattered into his shoulder blade. He shrugged it off like a rugby tackle.

Baker has a winsome, beavery energy about him. I’m going to go out on a limb and just say it: he’s the best ginger-haired surfer in the world right now. Evans once devoted a whole article to ranking our sport’s best ever gingers – the g-g-oats, if you will. Hopefully he’s working on an updated version.

Baker, beaverish, in the den. Photo by Damien Poullenot/World Surf League

It was one of the heats of the day (Baker would later fall to Kolohe). Kelly vs Caio was one of the others.

Now if the goat has an achilles’ hoof, if there’s one thing he just can’t handle – besides Sunset, the passage of time, and any wave under 6ft – it’s a determined, workmanlike, slightly squat Brazilian.

I realised today that all these years I’ve been mispronouncing Ciao’s name to rhyme with João, i.e. to sound exactly like cow. On Friday, the Stab caption writer wrote that this match-up was “frankly loaded with weird interface energy”. Do cow and goat have, so to speak, beef? 

Standard livestock rivalry, perhaps. That or the white wetsuit. Slater was a good six world titles deep when he famously donned an all-white wetsuit in competition. Caio had been fourth in the rankings for the best part of a fortnight. Would he wear it again today was the real question. 

Fatally unaware or aware all too well? Photo by Thiago Diz/World Surf League

Yes was the answer. In Round 1 this bold wardrobe choice seemed like a faux pas – an act of hubris that might undo him, a fatal lack of self-awareness. Reconsidered in the light of the Round 3 heat draw, and bearing in mind Jadson Andre’s inspired jersey nod to JMD, it suddenly looked supremely self-aware. Were the Brazilians, once thought so unsmiling and self-serious, becoming pro-level trolls?

We all know what happened to the goats in the classic Brothers Grimm story, the one with the troll and the bridge and the luscious green grass. Okay I’ll tell you. The goats got turned into kebabs.

I might be getting my fairy tales muddled here. Maybe what actually happened was the troll was persecuted by a panel of corrupt officials for the sake of a happy ending. I really can’t remember.

Anyhow Slater advanced to meet a quietly in-form Colapinto, but was out of position the whole non-priority half of the heat, which he spent in pursuit of a peak visible only to his third goat eye. Belly, surfing’s 3rd greatest ranga, watched on from the beach, concerned.

Both goat and cow got minced today, not after a dignified graze of the pastures though. Photo by Thiago Diz/World Surf League)

With fifteen minutes left, Colapinto had already ridden his two scoring waves, while Slater had just a 1-point ride to his name and hadn’t caught a wave for twenty minutes. Naturally, the producer cut to an interview with Kolohe Andino, whose reticence to say anything interesting seemed almost deliberate. When the cheers went up from the crowd on the beach, was that a slight smirk I thought I saw on his face, which still took up the entirety of the screen? Slater’s wave – a mid-range score, and the cause of the cheers – got him back in the heat, but there were no further opportunities.

By the time the women’s quarterfinals began, the wind was up and the tide making mischief. An unfortunate coincidence, no doubt. It was still hollow though, which allowed Steph and Carissa to show once again that they’re by far the division’s most skilled and intuitive tube-riders. If they don’t meet in the final, it will be a cosmic injustice.

Speaking of women, a word on the jersey names. The vibe feels midway between elite-level professional sport and show-and-tell at nursery school, so basically right on-brand. The Women’s Tennis Association, or WTA, has supplied many of the names: Jean King, Osaka, Barty (x2), Williams, the Brazilian legend Maria Esther Bueno, others I may have forgotten. 

Is Bobby M’s prophecy is coming true? Photo by Thiago Diz/World Surf League

Personally, I would like to have seen Kanoa forgo the routine national allegiance and instead pay homage to his parents – by representing one of the Williams sisters. A tribute to predestined sporting success and purpose-bred athletes everywhere. But the real disappointment, moving away from tennis for a second, was not to see anyone sporting Jones Wong on their back. A missed opportunity, and possibly the only way of out-trolling Jadson.

Bobby didn’t wannabe on no wannabe fucken tennis tour, but it can be instructive to look across at other, maybe more established sports for guidance and inspiration. Curiously, for all the talk of tennis, I’ve heard no mention so far of Emma Raducanu, the young Englishwoman who won last year’s US Open as a qualifier – effectively a wildcard. Her ranking shot up as a result of her victory, and on the basis of that ranking she now qualifies for Grand Slams automatically.

This isn’t me tub-thumping, I hope. It’s just a different way of doing things, and that’s what the WTA have always been about, to be fair. The best tennis players on the best tennis courts.

Cola’s 10 was nuts, this too was nuts, but not a 10. Let the underscoring Brazilians dumpster fire convo ignite. Photo by Damien Poullenot/World Surf League

The men’s quarters ran in surf that looked fun but that hardly enthused like the morning’s superabundance of tubes. The event’s four standout surfers remain: Italo, Filipe, John John and Griff – the last of whom, in the last few minutes of the day, finally succeeded in wrangling a ten out of the judges.

A grand day’s surfing. Tomorrow drops right off, but new swell is due Tuesday.


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