Neither Windy Nor Drowny Nor Thrilly - Stab Mag

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Fil stings kept the head from nodding today. Photo by WSL.

Neither Windy Nor Drowny Nor Thrilly

Your Day 3 Porty recap.

news // Mar 5, 2022
Words by Billy Wilson
Reading Time: 6 minutes

There is no obligation, of course, to watch the opening few rounds of a surf event. But what’s a fiend gonna do?

Give a crack addict some subpar crack and he’s unlikely to put it to one side and get on with some admin while he waits for a purer supply to hit the corner. Stringer Bell, the fictional Baltimore drug dealer, understood this well.

There are several problems with the above analogy, the main one being that drug dealers tend to make money: Stringer was an astute businessman and helped run a profitable concern. Also when he got shot, it was not in the foot nor by his own hand, but in his vital organs by Brother Mouzone and Omar, with a Walther PPK and a shotgun respectively. It was all over with fairly quickly.

I would be in favour of holding the first two rounds behind closed doors, as it were – no cameras, no broadcast, no temptation to watch in spite of ourselves. Pretend it never happened. One argument the WSL has put forward in support of the new mid-year cut-off is that a neatly pruned field of competitors will shorten the running time of events, which can thus be held in better conditions. This sort of own-goal reasoning, this missing of the point, is characteristic. Why wait until mid-season if, by implication, the field has already gone to seed?

‘Not conducive to thrills’. Photo by Thiago Diz/World Surf League

The Woz manages to shoot itself in the foot with unerring accuracy. It’s funny to watch it hop, sad to see it slowly bleed.

It was tricky out there today, tricky in a different way to yesterday (drowny), and to the day before that (windy). The waves looked good early on – clean, smaller than yesterday, less tubular – but for much of the day they were awkward and not conducive to thrills. At least there was something on the line, winners and losers in every heat, the stuff of sport.

It was tough on Picklum, up against Defay in the day’s first heat. After a decent start to the year, and with neither rankings nor form-book following any clear pattern, the latter could be a title threat. Wave choice was the main difference between these two here.

I won’t say Sally Fitzgibbons looked good in her heat against Gilmore – that unfortunate crease in her style, knees and bosom in such close proximity – but she did look capable of winning it. The result, which went in Gilmore’s favour, was tight but seemed fair to this not very observant observer.

Steph tubes warrant carrots. Photo by Damien Poullenot/World Surf League

Steph went left a few times, and did so surprisingly well. Her right-hand barrel was scored a little stingily, though – a low 4, lower even than her forgettable back-up wave. The tube wasn’t deep or long, but it was clean, skilfully negotiated and the morning’s only tube at a wave called Supertubos. The judges are there not merely to administer justice but to encourage and discourage certain types of surfing behaviour. Sometimes they could make better use of their sticks and carrots.

The broadcast cut to the competitors’ area, where Luiza told us that everyone was “wondering if the tide’s going to go down.” Was this to be read as a reflection on the morning’s general standard of entertainment, or on Luiza’s understanding of tidal mechanics? If the latter, you’d have hoped for slightly better from the self-described moon ceremonialist. Or perhaps she had some inside knowledge.

When a moon ceremonialist wanders ‘if’ the tides going to drop, treat them with suspicion. Photo by Thiago Diz/World Surf League

Tyler, Carissa and Tati all impressed. Talk of a generational shift may yet prove premature.

It’s a good thing, on the whole, that the women’s tour now runs to the same schedule as the men’s, but clearly it’s not without complications. Balancing the interests of the various stakeholders – men, women, barrel-hunters, barrel-dodgers, fans, insurers – will require both bravery and tact. A tough job indeed.

But there’s also the question of time. With the women in the mix, the size of the draw has effectively increased from 36 to 54. Meanwhile waiting periods aren’t any longer than beforehand. According to my back-of-a-vape-packet calculation, this means roughly 12 extra hours of competition with no extra time to fit them in. All things being equal (to coin a phrase), the conditions surfed both by the women and by the men will be, on average, worse.

‘Bred for competition’ said Pete Mel of Kanoa yesterday. Kanoa fulfilled his prophecy. Photo by Damien Poullenot/World Surf League

Hence the somewhat panicked feel of the last few days. Can they cram in the remaining heats and finish the comp tomorrow? That kind of arithmetic is beyond me right now, but that will have been their intention at the start of today.

Here’s a question: does Glen Hall coach every female surfer on tour? Surely there is some conflict of interest here that needs looking into. It’s another irony of the push for equality, the hike in women’s pay to match the men’s, that the prime beneficiary has possibly been Micro.

“20% cut of all prize money? Aww yeeeah mate.” (Raise your internal-monologue voice two octaves for the full effect.)

Prole grit and a drive enhanced by the Northern Rivers flood disaster. C-Rob gave Evans Head a reason to cheer today, if only they had internet. Photo by Damien Poullenot/World Surf League

The late afternoon cleaned up, smooth lumps of building swell enticed in the golden light. From a punter’s point of view, this was the most inviting the line-up had looked in the waiting period. Miguel won the battle of the Pupos; Jordy showed that Barron was not invulnerable; Filipe was electric, today’s standout by far. Robinson’s prodigious and pampered talent was no match for Robson’s proletarian grit, discussed in detail yesterday. Other things of interest surely happened.

I’m very tired and moderately pissed and I’ve more or less hit my word count, so I’ll leave it there. There are replays, I think? See you tomorrow, when it’s sure to run. Many heats still to be surfed.

MEO Pro Portugal Presented by Rip Curl Women’s Round of 16 Results:
HEAT 1: Johanne Defay (FRA) 11.10 DEF. Molly Picklum (AUS) 9.04
HEAT 2: Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) 11.00 DEF. Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) 10.27
HEAT 3: Courtney Conlogue (USA) 10.26 DEF. Brisa Hennessy (CRI) 7.50
HEAT 4: Lakey Peterson (USA) 10.54 DEF. Isabella Nichols (AUS) 9.06
HEAT 5: Carissa Moore (HAW) 13.17 DEF. Bronte Macaulay (AUS) 8.07
HEAT 6: Tyler Wright (AUS) 14.17 DEF. Gabriela Bryan (HAW) 6.20
HEAT 7: Tatiana Weston-Webb (BRA) 14.83 DEF. Luana Silva (HAW) 10.83
HEAT 8: India Robinson (AUS) 10.34 DEF. Malia Manuel (HAW) 9.73

MEO Pro Portugal Presented by Rip Curl Men’s Round of 32 Results:
HEAT 1: Italo Ferreira (BRA) 11.83 DEF. Imaikalani deVault (HAW) 8.03
HEAT 2: Miguel Pupo (BRA) 11.87 DEF. Samuel Pupo (BRA) 10.90
HEAT 3: Jordy Smith (ZAF) 10.20 DEF. Barron Mamiya (HAW) 9.36
HEAT 4: Connor O’Leary (AUS) 12.57 DEF. Morgan Cibilic (AUS) 12.50
HEAT 5: Filipe Toledo (BRA) 15.44 DEF. Owen Wright (AUS) 9.40
HEAT 6: Jake Marshall (USA) 12.93 DEF. Leonardo Fioravanti (ITA) 9.00
HEAT 7: Conner Coffin (USA) 13.17 DEF. Joao Chianca (BRA) 12.50
HEAT 8: Callum Robson (AUS) 11.93 DEF. Jack Robinson (AUS) 11.34
HEAT 9: Kanoa Igarashi (JPN) 12.17 DEF. Justin Becret (FRA) 9.53

Remaining MEO Pro Portugal Presented by Rip Curl Men’s Round of 32 Matchups:
HEAT 10: Ezekiel Lau (HAW) vs. Frederico Morais (PRT)
HEAT 11: Ethan Ewing (AUS) vs. Nat Young (USA)
HEAT 12: John John Florence (HAW) vs. Ryan Callinan (AUS)
HEAT 13: Seth Moniz (HAW) vs. Jackson Baker (AUS)
HEAT 14: Kolohe Andino (USA) vs. Lucca Mesinas (PER)
HEAT 15: Griffin Colapinto (USA) vs. Jadson Andre (BRA)
HEAT 16: Kelly Slater (USA) vs. Caio Ibelli (BRA)

Upcoming MEO Pro Portugal Presented by Rip Curl Women’s Quarterfinal Matchups:
QF 1: Johanne Defay (FRA) vs. Stephanie Gilmore (AUS)
QF 2: Courtney Conlogue (USA) vs. Lakey Peterson (USA)
QF 3: Carissa Moore (HAW) vs. Tyler Wright (AUS)
QF 4: Tatiana Weston-Webb (BRA) vs. India Robinson (AUS)

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