Slater’s “Secret Right” Riles Competitors, But Medina and Moore Come Out On Top
The Surf Ranch Pro is done and dusted. What have we learned?
According to an on-site informant, there’s a conspiracy going around the competitors’ area that Kelly Slater has a special righthander sent to him by the tower-dwelling overlords.
This right is slightly squarer than the others and a little more critical, but only where it needs to be.
Offended parties are calling the wave KS-1*.
Unlike the night-surfing rumor, we needn’t ask Kelly if this is true. Of course it’s not. Kelly Slater is many things, but I refuse to believe that an outright cheater is one of them.
Of course he did try to sneakily give Andy Irons an interference in the 2003 Pipe Masters to win his 35th World Title — a trick he pulled to perfection against Shane Beschen in the 1984 US Open — but both of those sneaks were well within the rules whereas this blatant wave disparity would be not.
And Slater strikes me as a rules guy.
Conspiracy theories aside, the Surf Ranch Pro’s final day offered plenty of things to blab about. Let’s stroke in.
Surf Ranch Pro winner, Riss Moore, with the emotional embrace.
First, the gals
Lackluster season withstanding, Carissa proved her preeminence over the field at this event with surfing of exceptional power and grace. Speaking of power and grace, while Lakey has plenty of the former and Steph a legal copyright on the latter, Carissa’s ability to combine the two factors makes her the most adept female competitive surfer alive today.
This 2018 season is an anomaly and something to be quickly forgotten. Carissa will be World Champ again in 2019 and to reiterate for the third time: her turns in this event were not platitudinally but legitimately better than most of the men’s in the event — stronger and with more aggressive lines.
Eights and nines rained down her finals scoreline, as did the tears of Dirk Ziff, who watched in dismay as both surfers won “while sitting on the beach pool deck” today.
Steph continued to amaze for the sheer beauty of her approach, Lakey has taken on Conlogue and/or Tyler’s role as the most fearsome competitor, and the (still) 16-year-old Caroline Marks is impossible not to love.
Did you see her kinda-sorta-made rotation on the left?
Closer than any female got to sticking a punt in this event, and also closer than Slater’s infamous 4.17 at Lemoore By the Sea. If she ain’t a future World Champ then I’m not inches from dwarfism.
Today, Owen Wright proved that you don’t have to be small to make the finals in Lemoore.
The curious case of the half-shrunken lefts
Swell dropped today.
Wasn’t forecasted to do so, but you never know with the oce…
Wait, what the fuck? We’re in a pool! Why is the left so small?
Is it possible that the pool, like many who attended Social D yesterday eve, woke up dehydrated and therefore unable to function at full capacity? Or did the wave gods (Adam Fincham and crew) just decide to play a funny prank on finals day?
We’ll never know for sure, but the result was Kieren Perrow gifting each finalist one extra left — that’s four instead of three — to determine the champions of the Surf Ranch Pro.
“We’ve seen a lot of irregularities in the left today,” said KP to the webcast mic, “so we’re gonna give everybody in the final an extra one to ensure all surfers get a fair go.”
This was a nice but ultimately futile gesture as, by my calculations, not one surfer used the designated “bonus” left to advance their position in the rankings. Strange, but true.
The one major effect this had on the competition was in its US television broadcast.
Not halfway through the men’s final, Joe Turpel came on screen to announce that CBS would now switch to its “regularly scheduled programming”.
If you do the math, it would seem that these 12 extra lefts (utilizing almost an hour-and-a-half of broadcast time) affected the event’s timetable in such a way that CBS could not possibly air the entirety of the Men’s final.
Which makes me think: did the WSL have to consult CBS before making such a bold decision? One could presume a hefty paycheck was cashed for the rights to air the Surf Ranch Pro on their channel, which means that, if I’m CBS, I’m fucking pissed that the WSL switched up the scheduling.
Imagine if at halftime, the NFL decided to add another quarter (thus making it a quintarter) to the Super Bowl. FOX or NBC or whichever broadcast co. that paid millions to air the Big Game would be livid, especially if they had programs scheduled to run following the Bowl.
Could be nothing, but totally might be something.
The Youngest CT competitor ever, Caroline Marks and CT vet Lakey Peterson with some pre-finals contemplation.
A missed PR opportunity
Another interesting layer to this “extra lefts” business is the fact that every time you run a left, the plow ends up on the other side of the pool, meaning a right inevitably has to follow.
Which is to say, 12 rights that were not included in the competition had to pass through the pool today.
So the WSL had a decision to make: would they let anybody surf these perfect peelers, and if yes, who?
After letting the first few go unridden, the eternally stoked Strider was granted access to (at least) two of the rights, which he surfed fairly admirably given the circumstances. On his second attempt, Strider even gave live verbal updates while he was hitting the lip, chuting the tube etc., which was genuinely amusing.
What the WSL should have done —and of course this is easy to say from the sidelines, blissfully unaware of all the potential legal ramifications that could be incurred — was pull a few lucky schmucks from the crowd, have them quickly sign a hold-harmless for, pick a board from Slater’s arsenal and surf the wave for themselves.
Can you imagine how great that would have been, both for the performers and everyone else in attendance?
The opportunity of a lifetime for 10-or-so surf fans and a nod from the WSL to everyone watching that, Yes, we do care about you, you filthy little peasants!
This would have been the highlight of the whole damn event, and I’m genuinely upset that the WSL didn’t capitalize on the opportunity they’d accidentally created for themselves. I believe that this single PR move could have shifted the public perception of the WSL brand into an overtly positive light, both for core surfers and non-endemic observers.
They could have at least turned the air section on and let Albee do something cool.
And now, the men
Filipe Toledo’s 9.8 was a perfectly ridden wave.
There was literally not one hitch, and it’s hard to imagine at what particular point he could have pushed any harder to get the ten. That said, I appreciate the judges leaving room, because you never fucking know, do you? There might be a backflip on that end section some day.
Sadly, even with four attempts today, Fil just couldn’t figure out the left. He fell on the tube, he fell in the air, he scored a seven when he needed an eight.
Julian too — man he looked good on that off-the-rack JS, but the guy was so obsessed with the end section varial that he shot his World Title hopes right in the gut.
By getting sixth in the final, Jules received the equivalent of quarterfinal points, whereas his stock standard approach would have gotten him to the semis with ease. I appreciate the fact that he was going for the win, and god was his last slob sexy, but this wasn’t the most cerebral competitive approach IMO.
Charlie singing “Celebrate good times, come on!” presumably.
Slater’s third place finish was surprising but not at all. While the 46-year-old lacks the repertoire and dexterity of certain competitors half his age, he makes up for it with dogged competitiveness and, most importantly, pool reps.
In a recent interview, Slater alluded to the idea that some CTers may have surfed more waves In the pool than him at this point.
Sorry, but that’s bullshit.
There’s no hard data I can provide to back up these claims, but logic implies that Slater, who is admittedly there “a lot”, and who has on many occasions shared the pool with just he and a few famous pals, on top of who-knows-how-many solo sessions, has to have surfed at least 3x more waves in the pool than any other person on the planet.
Unless I’m somehow completely wrong in which case apologies, Slates. Either way congrats on your impressive finish.
After a blurry few days of half turns and teeny weeny tubes, Gabriel was one of the few to wake the fans from their perfection-overdose stupor. (Photo: Rowland/WSL)
Lastly we have Medina, whose Terminator-like approach looked impermeable from his very first ride on Friday.
On the left, Gab performs an endless series of windshield wiper whacks until the end section where a stomped rotation is inevitable. On the right, his turns are more impressive but overshadowed further by his ridiculously adept tuberiding. It looks like Gab could be verbally accosted by a crackhead while simultaneously being flicked in the balls and still he wouldn’t lose his line or control. If you ever forget how good a surfer Gabriel Medina is, just do yourself a favor and don’t.
He, John, and Fil are all once in a generation talents and to have them coexisting like this is truly remarkable. As fans of sport, we can ask for nothing more.
You want the one that say’s ‘Jeep’. (Photo: Cestari/WSL)
Title plots thicken and spread
Fil should be pleased with a third at Chopes and second here, but it would be hard to feel good about anything when Medina has won the last two events and is only halfway through his most dominant leg of the Tour.
Now just 4,000 points ahead, Filipe will have to keep a steady hand through the Europe leg to provide enough cushion for himself at Pipe. Flyguy’s not incapable of a result out there, but Medina is more than likely to take the win the Masters so a few thousand point barrier is mandatory.
And woe be Australia, their golden piglet Julian is essentially out of the race barring a series of highly unlikely events.
A Brazzo will win in 2018. I’d bet my anything on it.
On the femme side, Steph augments her lead while Lakey slowly drifts away into the abyss. Because the women don’t compete in Portugal, the odds of a comeback at this point are infinitesimal.
Steph will equal Layne at seven Titles, fucking incredible.
Miss Gilmore slides into the second spot in Lemoore and tightens her hold on the yellow jersey.
This event was interesting, unique, and at some points confusing, but excepting a few outliers the cream well and truly rose to the top and that’s all we can ask for in this sterilized setting. As a spectator there were many exciting moments but also many dullards, however I feel the WSL will learn from the Ranch Pro and only improve from here.
Hopefully trimming the men’s tour is numero uno on their agenda, but somehow I doubt it.
Overall: 7/10 would watch again.
See you in Waco.
Surf Ranch Pro Men’s Final Results:
1 – Gabriel Medina (BRA) 17.86
2 – Filipe Toledo (BRA) 17.03
3 – Kelly Slater (USA) 16.27
4 – Kanoa Igarashi (JPN) 15.77
5 – Owen Wright (AUS) 15.40
6 – Julian Wilson (AUS) 15.37
7 – Sebastian Zietz (HAW) 15.07
8 – Miguel Pupo (BRA) 12.96
Surf Ranch Pro Women’s Final Results:
1 – Carissa Moore (HAW) 17.80
2 – Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) 16.70
3 – Lakey Peterson (USA) 16.57
4 – Caroline Marks (USA) 14.77
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