The Commentators Ride The Best Waves At The Surf Ranch Pro
Plus concerns over high scored safety surfing, skateboard warm ups and the Wookie of the Year’s onsite campground.
Visitors could see Kelly Slater, enjoying the fleeting position atop the leaderboard, deflate subtly, then not-so-subtly, throughout the day Friday, as Filipe, Gabriel, and a handful of others pushed his name down the line.
But after a few drinks yesterday evening, you’d never have guessed he was feeling it. It’d be good to see him in a final but he’s gonna need a lot of competitors to fall to take the win.
Sorry, but the progressive nature of Filipe, Julian and Gabriel will outclass the greatest surfer of all time.
Responding to the under-caffeinated but near-breathless complaints of VIPs yesterday AM, the WSL was kind enough to get their shit together as far as AM coffee service goes, and thank Jah for that. Yesterday, the nearest cup of joe was a solid hike and parking space sacrifice away.
The crowd is probably half the size of the Founders’ Cup’s. Largely it seems due to people’s sense that they’ve already gotten their fix seeing it live, which would have been fair the first two days of competition, but Saturday’s eliminations and wave-to-wave leaderboard changes were perhaps the first real taste of the tension to which wave pool events should aspire, and made for very engaging watching, as some of Stab’s favorites slipped into or slid down the coveted top-8 slots.
Also, regarding the crowd, tickets were gifted to the local colleges, who seem to have taken the invitation to heart, the lake adjacent to the wave pool littered with coeds, and the crowds along the walls largely comprising Central Cal bros in flat-bill caps, knee-length fluoro boardies, tank tops and so-American tattoos sprawled across juiced up tummies.
We back it.
The WSL is talking about scoring the best single wave as opposed to two, for next year’s Surf Ranch Pro.
Surfers have been saying that man-on-man heats should be introduced as opposed to a round robin leaderboard. This is a fucking ridiculous idea that’d make the event days longer. The current format is streamlined and the best it can be, given the five-ish minute break between waves.
Joe Turpel, Pottz, Ronnie Blakey and a handful of the other commentators have been waking up before the rest of the pack, to pick off the first two “calibration” waves that run each day, the entire WSL commentator’s staff more or less admitting they’re still insatiable groms, and illustrating a true fact that gets muddies in the surf industry: if you aren’t working in the industry so you can surf more, you’re here for the wrong reasons. Also, the first wave of the day (right and left) are hands down the most perfect waves of the day.
The world’s favorite journeyman, Wade Carmichael, takes the award for best Central California travel hack: According to sources at the WSL, Wade rolled into the Surf Ranch on Tuesday and more or less hasn’t left, bouncing between Tachi and the wave pool in an RV, sleeping wherever he feels comfortable. This morning, guests were greeted by the bearded beast drying out on the island in the middle of the swimming lake, bronzing in the morning sun surrounded by some very attractive female companions.
A desert wind-swept Malia Manuel, readying for her heat Saturday.
During the current battle to stay in the fight tomorrow, Kolohe Andino gave his post heat interview noting an aura of confusion. Last night, after “surfing his wave to the best of his ability” he felt he was deserved a better score. He noted him and Jordy – they’ve been giving the wave their all, and going for broke, but the judges have been rewarding safety surfing. “A waist high tube shouldn’t get a bigger score,” Kolohe said. “I’m just a little frustrated and confused. I feel like I get the short end of the stick a lot. But this is professional surfing. This is the career I chose. I don’t know, I’m a bit confused about what gets a good score out here and disappointed. That’s all.”
The Surf Ranch is the only stop on tour where there’s no chance of warm up. This is something that seems obvious, but is strange for the competitors. Have a think about this. Look how crowded those morning sessions are at Snapper, at J-Bay, at Keramas. A lot of these guys are really superstitious and not in their lives would they have surfed a wave in a heat having not ridden another wave in the past 48 hours.
Pat Gudang signing a fan’s Kolohe Andino’s jersey—because San Clemente pride.
“The WSL Judges don’t understand airs,” a viscerally offended Jimmy Wilson offered. “This is a joke. Kolohe fell on his air on the right, or he would’ve been for sure in. Jordy got straight up screwed. Why did Pat G. get under a 7 when his wave was the highlight of the day on their website? Julian’s smoking everyone. How many people in this comp can do the airs Julian did? Meanwhile, Drew Brees, Shaun White, and three bros on a SUP can get nearly as barreled as the entire field. It’s fucking bullshit.”
The day’s best surfer, though you wouldn’t know it from the leaderboard: Julian Wilson, and his “sparky” stock Jason Stevenson Hy-Fi.
While some were too cool to strip down and dive in, the lake adjacent the wave pool offers sweet relief to anyone willing to brave the murky, and admittedly a little swampy waters.
Prior to heats, it’s common to see surfers riding around the grounds on a Carver skateboard. Earlier today, while sitting inside the “Sports Bar”—the only area with half-assed AC (fans galore!) on the grounds, other than than the competitors sanctuary—Italo Ferreira was spotted jamming up and down the sidewalk.
While the lower seeds slugged it out Thursday, Kolohe was more than happy to bail Lemoore and score uncrowded and unmentionable Central California beach breaks north of Morro Bay. Of course, after a scoring shocker Friday, and a disappointing result Saturday, the San Clemente kid’ll be more than happy to blast back south tonight with stablemate Griffin Colapinto, to catch the next ten days of south swell at home at Lowers.
Matty Wilko, getting weird post-elimination at Surf Ranch.
He did snaps, cutbacks and even pulled into a few imaginary tubes. Watching the chiseled, and very cool, Brazilian slide up and down the sidewalk was quite the sight.
No skateboards for today’s best surfer, Julian Wilson, however. Just golf.
Tati Weston-Webb, psyching up amongst the VIP swarm.
Needless to say, a lot of people were wondering why they hadn’t thought of bringing a fuckin’ poolside hammock.
Owen Wright’s a sweetie, ask any of the fans who’ve scrambled to get a shot with the tall glass of water.
Kelly Slater started the day up against the wall, but found his footing on a backside meat and potatoes banger, that shot him back into the top-8 for Final’s Day.
For first timers, the allure of Kelly Slater’s wonderland is eye-opening to say the least.
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