Of Course Filipe Toledo Wins The Oi Rio Pro
Fate gonna fate.
They say you can’t script this.
This, meaning professional surfing — specifically that which occurs in the dance halls of the World Surf League.
And they said you couldn’t script it, most likely, because they hired a “gun” from an overpriced marketing agency who was very experienced in the conception and/or production of advertisements for cleaning products and that “gun” found romance in the idea that sometimes people get mauled by sharks or Wade Carmichael during professional surfing contests.
They were right. Corny, but correct.
You can’t script this. Sometimes because people get mauled by sharks or Wade Carmichael, but more often, because why would you? Some things are too obvious to warrant words. It’d be like scripting the sun rising or a Jeremy Flores meltdown after a close heat.
And so Filipe Toledo won the Oi Rio Pro today because of course he did.
The sun rose today, without a script, and the heats started almost immediately. First up was the women’s quarterfinals and Sally Fitzgibbons shined bright like a diamond or like Sally Fitzgibbons’ teeth.
Yesterday, Barrinha enjoyed a few hours of being considered a wave of consequence but it was not in the same mood today. Whatever. We go through phases, all of us.
Today, we saw fun, but mostly inconsequential surf, which I suppose caused a great deal of pain for people who own and operate penises and are sickened by the idea that a woman might make the same amount of money as a man for riding waves in the ocean.
Sally won, Keely won, Carissa won, Steph won. Color you surprised, or?
Then, the men’s quarters.
Filipe won, Frederico won, Jordy won, Kolohe won. And you wore the color of surprise quite well.
You wore the color of surprise quite well because you knew Frederico fell off the CT last year. And because you had your money on Julian Wilson beating him. You were surprised because John John pulled out of the event after a fly-away yesterday. And you were surprised because Kolohe Andino beat Gabriel Medina in Brazil. And you were surprised because what the fuck is wrong with Gabriel this year? You considered a joke about his shaved armpits or stepfather but then you realized it was low, stale, horse-like and deceased.
Sally Fitzgibbons won the first heat of the women’s semis with 7.63 points and if you want to talk to anybody about that, talk to a licensed therapist because you are detached from reality. Gone.
Then Carissa and Steph surfed a damn good heat. For my money, they’re the best two female surfers in the world. Steph dropped a 9, but Carissa was sturdy with commendable use of the barrel and rail and earned two mid-high 7s. Steph bailed, and left behind an important yellow jersey.
In the men’s semis, Filipe beat Frederico because of course he did. And Jordy beat Kolohe because hmmm. Jordy looked fucking good. Watch his section in Modern Collective and you can see that the only person who has ever prevented Jordy Smith from winning a world title is Jordy Smith. Talent is not the issue, and it wasn’t an issue in that heat.
Sally won the women’s final because her teeth were bright, her surfing was sharp and because Carissa didn’t surf like Carissa. Carissa manufactured scores and had a chance to win at the end, but surfed more like Sally Fitzgibbons than Carissa Moore and when does that ever work for anyone?
Then, Jordy Smith vs Jordy Smith vs Filipe Toledo in the men’s final.
In surfing, generations don’t work like generations. They happen suddenly and without warning. Jordy Smith and Filipe Toledo are 7 years apart yet represent entirely different generations. You can see it in their clothes, you can see it in their surfing.
And so Filipe beat Jordy today because of course he did. He’s as tech as they come north of the lip, but his straight in the final was worthy of reverence. Straight airs, so sexy. So good. You love to see it. Jordy looked lost the the whole time. He didn’t have to beat himself — Filipe was inevitably going to take care of that — yet he made sure to for good measure.
In the post-heat interview, Filipe wept and mentioned that he’s been dealing with some personal stuff and that it’s been a mentally taxing year. As a dedicated surf journalist, I solemnly swear to bury any whispers I might hear about it and wait for a movie to be made from someone just outside the fringes of the industry a la Kissed By God. See you in 2028.
Sally Fitzgibbons snatched Steph’s jersey, but JJF held onto his. Both title races are now open, wide open. J-Bay has been historically good at giving the race some character.
Lastly, the day ended with Peter Mel on a stage, sweating profusely in the hot sun, speaking a language that the majority of the crowd didn’t understand, trying to manufacture scores.
You can’t script this. But it would have been pretty funny if you did.
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