That Filipe Toledo And John Florence Heat Was A Thrill
Wilko’s out, and it’s time for Gabriel Medina and Mr Florence to slip away.
“Conner Coffin’s almost a throwback,” said Ross Williams, finishing with, “He doesn’t have that fidgety style…” Either way, he got beaten by current world champ Adriano, proving that manoeuvres always trump style. At 24th on the Jeep Leader Board, Conner might have to start forcing a few moves, get a bit fidgety for points and a chance at requalification.
He looked good in loss, while Matt Banting looked average in victory against Italo Ferreira. Banting was grateful for the win. “It’s going to be good to have an opportunity going forward,” said Banting. “I was really just trying to deal with nerves and hope I was going to take it. It wasn’t the prettiest, but I’ll take it.”
The John John Florence v Ryan Callinan battle was a warm thrill, with John John powering through big carves and full rail turns as well as rotations giving him an early lead, banking 7.83 and an 8.97 for a convincing lead. After digesting the JJF scores and moves, Ryan knew he had to go for broke to have a chance. He threw a big rotation on his backhand and landed cleanly. Sitting in the top 10 on the QS is Callinan’s back up, he can requalify through that route.
John John wanted to come back. He was leaping and falling. while Callinan lurked. He needed a 7.67. There was a wave at the end, and it was John’s priority. John John went, blocking the final wave from Ryan leaving him stranded.
“I’m stoked for Ryan,” said John. “He really pushed me. It was a battle and it’s good when it’s a battle but it’s great when it’s over and you win. I’m feeling really good. I’ve surfed a couple of heats with the Yellow Jersey and I’m getting into a rhythm. When I came in the crowd was just crazy. I couldn’t even walk. It was like Oh. My. Gosh. But it was super fun”
Gabriel Medina in his round three heat, took to the sky for a lofty air–that he nearly made. It would have been a ten. He was fully inverted about ten feet above the lip but didn’t pull it off. Leo, on the other hand, was having a quiet start. He couldn’t find a score for the first ten minutes. He was playing patient, which has been working – the wildcard’s beaten Kelly twice of late. With 15 minutes to go, he was sitting with 1.16 and deeply combo’d. Gabby took to the air again and then Leo took to the barrel. It was a great tube, thick and deep, which he capped it off with a cool carve for 8.57.
The camera panned onto Pete Mel who had found one of Gabby’s boards with measurements on it, a rare find. Pete explained on the dims, the particular foil of the FCS2 fins, and started on a few other interesting facts until Charlie came and snatched it from him on camera. He then sat, watched the heat while the camera hung on him and hung on him and hung on him– he eventually smiled.
In the background, a split peak appeared with both surfers going to their forehand. Leo on the right, and Gabby on the left. Gabby fluffed his finish, and Leo hooked a 4.33 while needing a 4.77. It was a little frustrating, with everyone cheering for the underdog from Rome. Our world title contender came out unscathed, barely.
“That was a good win,” said Gabby “Leo is a dangerous guy. It was a tough heat. I was just trying to find a good one at the end.
To finish the script that “can’t be scripted”, Wilko was ushered out of the event by fellow goofy-footer Kai Otton. At this stage, one can’t help but feel sympathy for Wilko. He couldn’t buy a score out there. He bows out, and the two horse race pulls away from the pack.
The round four heat between Toledo, Florence and Kennedy was ethereal. John’s airs were crazy, but nothing could prepare us for the animal inside Mr Toledo. He took off on a good looking left, hucked himself into the air, spun perfectly with massive projection and a gymnast landing for a ten. That move could be one of the biggest and wildest airs of the year, and he finished it off with a tight little backhand crack to emphasise his dominance. John John was doing everything as well with barrels and airs, but Toledo was the man of the moment in the heat of the year.
Title race? To be honest, wide open.
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