John John Florence And Gabriel Medina Continue Their French Dominance (Barely)
Jordy Smith, Matty Wilko, and Kelly Slater all head into elimination.
This morning, almost every surfer got their glare of publicity. And, the waves came to party sporting substantial five-foot peaks splitting in both directions, spliced with a whole lot of close-outs.
After the first two heats suffered a proper flogging on day one of the waiting period courtesy of eight-foot close-outs, and a sketchy call by the commish which left the 11-time world champ, Kelly Slater with a seven-point for his heat total. But, pre-“it’s on”, Mr Conner Coffin, did snag the tunnel of the event, so you know, blame Conner for that…
After Mr Perrow didn’t hesitate to make the call–an 8:15 start–all eyes were on three gents: Jordy Smith Gabriel Medina and John John Florence, and one lazy eye on Matty Wilko.
The first round although important is the least stressful. And some surfers use a first round loss to bolster their performances and build their rhythm from the second round on. Round two, is a different demon.
For Jordy–at least–that’s his hope. He never got the opportunity to open up on the bowling rights and placed second behind Kai Otton. The goofy-footer looked solid on his backhand and felt freedom on the bigger faces taking advantage with huge hooks and the necessary score. Jordy looked fresh on the waves he rode but never picked up that quality he was searching for.
In a somewhat low scoring heat, Matt Wilkinson also went down, narrowly losing out to Miguel Pupo, but ahead of Leo Fioravanti (not that it matters). Wilko didn’t underperform, neither did he shine. It was exemplary of his appearances at the recent events. We are all hoping for the animal to resurrect in Wilko, but for now, it seems, we’ll have to wait for another full moon.
Gabby Medina trailed rookie Ryan Callinan before lucking into a big right (hard to call it luck, he always seems to get the score when he needs to) and due to the wave size, two big turns, one over the lip and one under the lip, he secured the heat win. Despite the firm belief that Gabby is the most determined, focused, 1000-yard-stare surfer in the title race. he won his round one heat without looking like he had ‘champ’ tattooed on his forehead, He knows there’s a lot of work to be done if he wants to overthrow Mr Florence.
John John showed no signs of looking like a champ either. He must have found out that the Let’s Be Frank movie, of which JJF played a leading part, won the recent London Surf Film Festival. Maybe distracted, early in the heat, he was resemblant of 2014 JJF. And, local wildcard Joan Duru, was on his game and held the lead. Until a big right-hander lurched for John, he turned, paddled hard, and by the time he got to the bottom, a promising section reared up and at the two-minute mark John slid into a tunnel. It was a big, thick barrel with bumps and warbles, and he rode it like a Backdoor bomb – deep. He snuck out the doggy door as the close-out section exploded on the bank for a score of 8.73, and the heat win.
Out of the top five surfers (The “Title Race”) Gabby and John John–who have been the most dominant in France for the past few years–are through to round three, while Kelly Wilko and Jordy head into elimination. Is this a foreshadow of where the world title is headed? A face-off between Gabby and JJF, with the others badgering ’till the end, but never venturing into their space.
Also, isn’t it a strange how we’ve all but forgotten about our 2015 World Champion? His World Title victory was completely nullified by the video drop of Kelly Slater’s wave pool, and his performances this year have done little to put him back into the limelight. Would it be fair to say that he has been one of the quietest world champions in recent years? Maybe even less visible than Joel Parkinson, as a world champ. Maybe not. Either way, he won the final heat of the round, with pugnacious surfing against Adam Melling and Michel Bourez.
Round One Results:
Heat 3: Kai Otton 11.84, Jordy Smith 8.83, Jadson Andre 7.03
Heat 4: Miguel Pupo 8.57, Matt Wilkinson 8.24, Leonardo Fioravanti 8.14
Heat 5: Gabriel Medina 13.50, Ryan Callinan 12.10, Dusty Payne 10.4
Heat 6: John John Florence 16.10, Joan Duru 15.34, Conner Coffin 10.74
Heat 7: Adrian Buchan 13.26, Stuart Kennedy 8.33, Jeremy Flores 6.50
Heat 8: Italo Ferreira 12.46, Alex Ribeiro 9.74, Wiggolly Dantas 8.53
Heat 9: Caio Ibelli 13.36, Julian Wilson 12.76, Alejo Muniz 12.10
Heat 10: Kolohe Andino 14.24, Sebastian Zietz 11.54, Jack Freestone 10.80
Heat 11: Davey Cathels 13.60, Filipe Toledo 8.80, Josh Kerr 7.83
Heat 12: Adriano De Souza 14.00, Adam Melling 8.97, Michel Bourez 7.90
Round Two Match-Ups:
Heat 1: Matt Wilkinson vs. Joan Duru
Heat 2: Jordy Smith vs. Ryan Callinan
Heat 3: Kelly Slater vs. Leonardo Fioravanti
Heat 4: Joel Parkinson vs. Matt Banting
Heat 5: Julian Wilson vs. Jeremy Flores
Heat 6: Filipe Toledo vs. Alex Ribeiro
Heat 7: Michel Bourez vs. Alejo Muniz
Heat 8: Josh Kerr vs. Jack Freestone
Heat 9: Sebastian Zietz vs. Adam Melling
Heat 10: Wiggolly Dantas vs. Conner Coffin
Heat 11: Stuart Kennedy vs. Dusty Payne
Heat 12: Kanoa Igarashi vs. Jadson Andre
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