Stab Magazine | Teahupo'o Provides Waves Of The Year And Kolohe Loses The Yellow Jersey

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Teahupo’o Provides Waves Of The Year And Kolohe Loses The Yellow Jersey

Wildcard takes out Kolohe, Kelly can’t hang, and Medina destined for victory. 

news // Aug 29, 2019
Words by stab
Reading Time: 12 minutes

You going?!

That would have been the most commonly heard phrase between competitors today at the Tahiti Pro, where Teahupo’o went from six-foot and perfect to eight-foot and ugly to ten-foot and melting. 

Plenty of waves on offer, more West in the swell than a Kardashian tuckus, and no lack of cajones amongst the world’s best made for an incredible day of competitive surfing, but more importantly, competitive surf spectating. 

There’s frankly too much to write about for a standard daily report, so please forgive if I neglect a highlight or twelve. Plus, I’m more interested in the implications of today’s action rather than the action itself. 

After all, you can only describe a Teahupo’o barrel in so many ways, but the ramifications of a hair-drop to boat-yard baptism can reach far and wide.

Andre JTahiti19Dunbar9261

Take, for instance, Jadson Andre. 

The guy pre-qualified for the 2020 CT before this year’s elite Tour even started, then went on to lose every event before the fourth round. Some will say his talents are best suited to the QS, which might be true, until the waves get six-to-eight foot and square. 

Meanwhile, Kanoa Igarashi goes the other direction. He excels in high-quality performance venues (Keramas, J-Bay, etc.) but tends to lack gumption when the horizon goes black (big Bells, big Pipe, etc.). So despite their relative rankings (Kanoa, 5; Jadson, 35), it was the Brazilian who came into Round 3 Heat 1 the favorite. 

Jaddy found a couple healthy mid-rangers to affirm this notion and sent Kanoa back to Japan. 

That wasn’t racist or anything, he’s actually gotta go there for the ISA World Games next week. 

 Buchan ATahiti19Dunbar9824

The safest bet of the day had to be Ace Buchan vs Deivid Silva.

Ace, a veteran and tube-wrangler of the highest order, would surely make rice pudding from small wave Deiv’s quivering limbs. 

Except Ace fumbled. He chose bad waves, fell on drops, didn’t even get to his feet on a couple. “I did more lagoon trips today than I’ve done in my entire career,” Ace revealed to Rosie following his loss. 

Meanwhile, Deiv was picking off hard-spitting insiders and making it look easy. Terrifically fun, actually. Like if he could do it, so could any of us. Except that can’t be true because Ace fuckin’ Buchan couldn’t do it, so good on ya Deiv. 

Did I mention the heats were overlapping? Forty-six minutes for each pair, half with priority, half without. A truly magnificent system both for its entertainment and efficiency values. We got through 24 heats in just 10 hours, and probably twice the amount of waves were ridden (in comparison to strictly two-man heats).

So while Ace was getting familiar with the ski crew, Owen Wright was paddling into the lineup with a union-provided Gath helmet. 

He would be the first of several surfers to opt for protection today. Very unlike our tribe to cover their heads before stuffing pits but maybe a step forward for the sport. It’s only a matter of time before the WSL requires the use of helmets for all surfers, right? 

Owen squeaked past Soli Bailey despite the Aboriginal’s spirited final tube. 

 Wright OTahiti19Dunbar9504

Seabass too, was rocking a brain bucket. Probably has to do with him being a dad now. Apparently, that whole having a kid thing really “changes your priorities.”  

Seabass seemed to have taken that saying quite literally, as he came from two body lengths behind Michel Bourez to smoke the Tahitian in a paddle battle. Granted, Michel had just eaten shit in great masochistic splendor, and he looked pretty haggard at the time, so let’s not be too hard on the Spartan. That said, it’s kind of a miracle that he snagged a five to defeat Seabass in the final exchange. 

Meanwhile, Italo Ferreira and Adriano de Souza were entrenched in a real humdinger of a heat. “The best of the year,” said Rosie, who would later revoke that honor and bestow it upon another, probably better, heat.  

Basically, Italo scored three eights in a row and put the 2015 World Champ in combo. ADS, being the persistent little man that he is, leveraged his JOB-taught backside tube technique and veteran wave knowledge to nab the two best waves of the heat at the bottom of the hourglass. 

“Italo was having so much fun he forgot he was in a heat,” my friend texted me. I think, true. 

Can you blame him?

But ADS could never be so foolishly lured into having “fun” at a competition. He’s here for one reason, and that’s to get more points than his competitor in each and every heat. That’s why he was the first one out at Teahupo’o this morning, and why he arrived in Tahiti ten days before the event window started. 

And why he beat Italo today. 

 Ferreira ITahiti19Dunbar0656 

Was it just me, or was the WSL stream was struggling today. And if it was struggling, do you think that’s because of #RemoteIslandsProbs or just too many people watching? The WSL and surf media in general did a damn good job of advertising both the lead-up and culmination of this epic swell event, and for that reason, I’d imagine there were a few extra heads peeping the live stream. Rumor has it the most-watched WSL (actually, ASP) event of all time was the pumping Teahupo’o day in 2014

Could today compete?

Willian Cardoso sure didn’t. The Panda failed to reach the one-point mark on a single wave today, which in a way is more embarrassing than Filipe’s infamous 0.0.  

Jordy Smith was looking much more comfortable in bigger backhand tubes, but he’s still nowhere near the plane of John John/Kelly/JOB/Robbo. Because as we already suspected, no matter how much time a person spends practicing their pigdog, it seems there’s something intrinsic about truly mastering the tube. 

You either got it or you don’t, and Jords belongs to the latter camp. That’s not to be confused with the ladder camp, whose president is Tomas Hermes. 

 wilson j4582TAHITI19cestari

Julian’s right on the bubble of being an elite tube-rider. He opened his day with a 9.3 and proceeded to catch every ripple that reared its head from that point on. CJ Hobgood, who was guest-appearing in the booth, warned this was a dangerous strategy, as it could expend Julian’s physical and mental energy for later heats. 

Meanwhile, Yag0.0 sat out the back twiddling his thumbs. Forty minutes passed before Yago finally caught a wave and threaded it beautifully, with ease! The goofy-foot appeared totally comfortable knifing under this liquid canopy, which begs the question, what the fuck took him so long? 

World Number 1 Kolohe Andino made the rookie yellow-jersey mistake of winning his first round heat at Teahupo’o. This, of course, made Brother the number one seed going into Round 3, which pinned him against the local wildcard.

Never a good idea with an eight-foot swell en route.  

So Brother faced the 17-year-old Insta-star Kauli Vaast. Kauli has had logged of the heaviest waves at Teahupo’o this year and won the Tahiti trials against the best non-CT tube-riders on earth. He also wears a helmet so that mind games can’t penetrate. 

Needing a six to get past Kolohe in the final minutes, Kauli stroked past a smirking Kolohe into a pearl of an insider, bucked over the shockey and got spit out the end, his one-hand salute standing erect in the wind. 

I’ve never been to Teahupo’o, but it’s been explained to me that there are two distinct reef shelves—one that heaves at six-foot, and another that heaves at ten-foot. Eight-foot waves, like most of the sets we saw around the time of this heat, fall somewhere in between the prehistoric ledges and make waves a little flimsy because of it. 

Kauli used his local knowledge to score the perfect six-footer under Kolohe’s watch and ripped the yellow jersey off his back in the process.  

 vaast k4709TAHITI19cestari

Jeremy Flores was the third surfer to don a helmet today, and he looked awfully timid, taking off on small waves and performing tentative ass drags. 

“Jeremy, that ain’t you…” Damo said from the booth. 

Jeremy was also riding an old, yellow-ass board that irked me beyond explanation. He won the heat but only barely.

“I feel like this is my strength,” Jeremy told Rosie post-heat, “but I think I haven’t been surfing waves like this a lot, so I don’t feel very comfortable. I hope next heat I can do better.”

In the next heat, Ryan Callinan pencil dropped on his first wave, then proceeded to go for a bunch of little ones.

“If you’re fading off the bottom out there, you’re not gonna get a good score,” Damo explained from the chatterbox. “Most of the ride is already done as you paddle into the wave. Where you takeoff determines if it’s a four or a ten”

Callinan’s competitor, Griffin Colapinto, looked equally uncomfortable pig-dogging eight-footers as he did eager to try. Griff relied heavily on his gonads and his rail-grab to will himself through two ridiculous pits, amassing 17 points and an exciting heat win. 

“The nine was cool,” Griffin told Rosie, “but the eight was my favorite,” he said of the thicker, taller wave of the two. “That was equal to the Kirra wave, I think.” (Griffin scored a 10 in his first-ever CT event for a triple-tube.)

colapinto g5074TAHITI19cestari 

The commentators, but mainly Ross Williams, were quick to give Filipe grief for his weak wave selection. “I really want to see Filipe swing on a big one,” said John John’s coach. 

After several pocket-rides, Filipe finally knifed deep on the bowl and no-hand pumped into its guts. He came into the channel with a self-affirming hoot, which was then rewarded by the judges with and 8.17. It was enough for the heat win and World Number one—the third time he’s achieved that status in the past five years. 

At this point, there was only one top-5 surfer still in the event. Brother, Italo, Kanoa, and John (asterisk) were all out. And with the race as close as it is, these early eliminations opened the Title up to just about anyone in the top 10. Especially…

…Medina made quick work of Zeke Lau and Seth did the same with Peterson C, setting the stage for a true battle between two of the Tour’s most stable surfers, Conner Coffin and Caio Ibelli. 

Back and forth the gremlins went, hurling sixes, sevens, and eights at one another with their faultless pigdog techniques. In the final minute, Caio netted 9.5 points for a no-hand drive through a humpty dumpty peak, leaving Condog in need of a high-eight. He swung on the following wave, and threaded it nicely but came up point-something short. Woe is he. 

 Slater KTahiti19Dunbar2039

Rather than practicing at Chopes, Kelly had a secret session at “the right” this morning with Raimana. When he finally paddled out at the contest site, in the final heat of Round 3, Slater looked unlike himself, selecting average waves and pin-dropping off the bombs as Jack Freestone wove through quality funnels. 

At one point, Belly paddled up to his boss and implored him to switch boards—Kelly listened and proceeded to earn his highest score of the heat, but Jack was on a bigger, thicker one behind it, vanquishing Kelly’s dreams of another Chopes win. 

Kelly later admitted that he hadn’t surfed bigger Teahupo’o in a while, and it took him a while to get accustomed to the lineup. Perhaps if he hadn’t spent his morning hunting empty rights down the coast, Kelly would still be in this damn Title race. 

Oh, and Kelly’s loss also means that John’s Olympic hopes remain fully intact. 

Meanwhile, Jack’s post-heat chat was hilarious. He went on about his “heated rivalry” with Kelly, how they’d had two heats together before (1-1), how everybody wanted the trilogy. 

“And I guess I took the cake,” Jack sardonically boasted. “I’m the best surfer in the world now. I get all of his eleven Titles.”

 Freestone JTahiti19Dunbar2081

Finally, we hit Round 4 and Jadson went beast mode, dropping a hot 18 points on his good pal Deivid. If the waves stay up tomorrow, consider Jaddy a legitimate threat for a finals berth.

Remember when I mentioned that Rosie changed her “heat of the year” call from Italo vs ADS to a later heat? Owen vs Michel is the one. 

Two of the Tour’s strongest, most intrepid men went to battle—not with each other, per se, but rather Teahupo’o’s heaving mass. 

Michel started with a mid-eight, and Owen came back with a seven and mid-eight of his own. 

Michel lost his fins on one of the heaviest waves, and, ultimately, wipeouts of the day, somehow breaking just his leash in the process. 

Meanwhile, head-gear Wright found himself billowed in a super-west bomb, charging through the section with his hands held high for a 9.7. 

Needing a near-10 to flip the heat, the Tahitian swung on a gurgling beast and slid down the face, missing the first section but disappearing behind a fountain of spit that likely landed somewhere on Kauai. Michel then emerged from the avalanche and puffed his chest like an emperor penguin. The judges justified this response, granting the Spartan a 9.3, but it wasn’t enough to push him over the line. 

Albee Layer was outraged by this, saying Michel’s ride should have earned a 10 for its sheer ridiculousness. I found this surprising, as the Tahitian did only a straight air kick-out. 


Heat of the day? Easy. 

Heat of the year? Well, Surf Ranch is still to come…

Adriano’s functional barrel stance and superior wave knowledge prevailed over French tubesmith Joan Duru. ADS’ two heat totals for the day were 17.5 and 17.8, making him statistically the second-best performer of the day.

You won’t guess who was first. 

 Ibelli CTahiti19Dunbar1766

Those heats sucked all the energy out of the ocean, leaving Jordy and Julian with sub-six heat totals more than 30 minutes into their match. 

Julian landed the first blow with a thick but shallow ride for 7.83. Jordy was on the next one, slightly smaller, receiving a mid-six. The Saffa then backed it up with a nearly identical score, leaving Julian in need of a mid-five. 

The next wave Julian caught was a bottomless cavern, ten-feet tall and thick as a lion’s mane. Jules made the drop, set his line, and reached for the channel with all his might, but the foamball kicked him in the undercarriage and spoiled all his fruit. Had Jules made the wave, it would have been a perfect 10, no doubt. Instead, he took an all-expenses-paid trip to the lagoon and Jordy slipped into the quarters.  

Right at the start of his priority heat, Jeremy locked into a short, boisterous tube that deposited his Gath-covered cranium into the flotilla. The judges threw it a near-perfect 9.93, which seemed a little much to me, considering some of the other waves we’ve seen, but whatevs. Jezza smartly backed it up and waited to see if wildcard phenom and Jeremy’s Tahitian understudy, Kauli Vaast, could find his way back. 


Coming up against Medina, Griffin Colapinto knew he needed something special to survive into finals day. The Californian got a little over-excited on his first wave, opting for a last-second no-hand pump that went awry when he hit a bump in the face, sending white boi into an innovative breakdance move on the exit. Griff then got slammed on the reef, stuck his foot in a hole and twisted his knee. 

Then he fell on another bomb. Yikes. 

Meanwhile, Medina got a perfect but somehow breezy-looking bomb and threaded it with ease. Nine points, said the score lords. 

Griffin pushed back with a seven, then another off-balance 8.1.

Medina was on the very next wave, knifing, foamballing, fighting through the pinch but somehow maintaining his balance. 

“Ten?” he asked the judges.

“Yes,” they replied. The first one of the year on the men’s tour.

Medina moved onto the quarters and if he didn’t still have to face Jeremy and Owen, one might assume that this comp was already a wrap. 

 medina g5233TAHITI19cestari

At this point, Ross was really hammering Filipe about his positioning. How he was either on the apex or shoulder, never (except that one time in the last round) behind it. Ross called this a “Weird mental block” and Seth Moniz called it a walk-through. 

Did Fil just relinquish the yellow jersey before he even wore it?

In the last heat of the “official” day, Caio slipped under Freestone, nabbing a 9.27 and, thanks to Jack taking the next wave and “losing” the paddle battle back to the lineup, priority at a crucial juncture in the heat. 

On the final exchange, Jack took wave number one and earned a quick no-hand pit. Caio was steeper and deeper on number two, fins-free falling into a bulbous section and amassing the highest combined heat totals of the day in the process. Mr. Ibelli might just turn his non-injury wildcard into a spot on Tour next year.

The conditions were sheer lunacy at this point, then somehow the ocean went flat for CJ and Damo. 

C’est la vie.

With many stupendous tubes and no major injuries, we’re onto finals day. Y’ready?

Tahiti Pro Teahupo’o pres. by Hurley Round of 32 Results:
HEAT 1: Jadson Andre (BRA) 12.16 DEF. Kanoa Igarashi (JPN) 9.00
HEAT 2: Deivid Silva (BRA) 10.10 DEF. Adrian Buchan (AUS) 9.34
HEAT 3: Owen Wright (AUS) 12.73 DEF. Soli Bailey (AUS) 12.36
HEAT 4: Michel Bourez (FRA) 11.60 DEF. Sebastian Zietz (HAW) 11.23
HEAT 5: Adriano de Souza (BRA) 17.87 DEF. Italo Ferreira (BRA) 16.83
HEAT 6: Joan Duru (FRA) 14.67 DEF. Willian Cardoso (BRA) 1.43
HEAT 7: Jordy Smith (ZAF) 13.20 DEF. Ricardo Christie (NZL) 7.74
HEAT 8: Julian Wilson (AUS) 14.57 DEF. Yago Dora (BRA) 5.27
HEAT 9: Kauli Vaast (FRA) 14.50 DEF. Kolohe Andino (USA) 12.16
HEAT 10: Jeremy Flores (FRA) 10.27 DEF. Wade Carmichael (AUS) 8.74
HEAT 11: Griffin Colapinto (USA) 18.10 DEF. Ryan Callinan (AUS) 14.07
HEAT 12: Gabriel Medina (BRA) 14.03 DEF. Ezekiel Lau (HAW) 10.00
HEAT 13: Filipe Toledo (BRA) 12.00 DEF. Jesse Mendes (BRA) 11.07
HEAT 14: Seth Moniz (HAW) 14.67 DEF. Peterson Crisanto (BRA) 9.66
HEAT 15: Caio Ibelli (BRA) 17.73 DEF. Conner Coffin (USA) 16.96
HEAT 16: Jack Freestone (AUS) 17.17 DEF. Kelly Slater (USA) 14.20

Tahiti Pro Teahupo’o pres. by Hurley Round of 16 Results
HEAT 1: Jadson Andre (BRA) 18.23 DEF. Deivid Silva (BRA) 11.84
HEAT 2: Owen Wright (AUS) 18.50 DEF. Michel Bourez (FRA) 18.10
HEAT 3: Adriano de Souza (BRA) 17.50 DEF. Joan Duru (FRA) 9.27
HEAT 4: Jordy Smith (ZAF) 13.54 DEF. Julian Wilson (AUS) 10.83
HEAT 5: Jeremy Flores (FRA) 15.76 DEF. Kauli Vaast (FRA) 13.66
HEAT 6: Gabriel Medina (BRA) 19.23 DEF. Griffin Colapinto (USA) 15.43
HEAT 7: Seth Moniz (HAW) 16.40 DEF. Filipe Toledo (BRA) 6.17
HEAT 8: Caio Ibelli (BRA) 18.64 DEF. Jack Freestone (AUS) 15.83

Tahiti Pro Teahupo’o pres. by Hurley Quarterfinal Matchups:
HEAT 1: Jadson Andre (BRA) vs. Owen Wright (AUS)
HEAT 2: Adriano de Souza (BRA) vs. Jordy Smith (ZAF)
HEAT 3: Jeremy Flores (FRA) vs. Gabriel Medina (BRA)
HEAT 4: Seth Moniz (HAW) vs. Caio Ibelli (BRA)


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