Stab Magazine | Is The Wavepool Surfing's True Test Of Ability?
339 Views

Is The Wavepool Surfing’s True Test Of Ability?

How do you explain all the top seeds at the top of the leaderboard?

news // Sep 8, 2018
Words by stab
Reading Time: 6 minutes

Stab is good at many things but internal communication is not always one of them. 

Which explains how, as the final heat of the Surf Ranch Pro’s second day was nearing its end, with Julian Wilson loosing his fins on the inside bowl, Stab’s Chihuaha in Chief sent through the following message: 

“Mikey, we are working on the galleries, can you hammer out a comp wrap?” 

Uhhh… sure, boss!* 

Thus began an intensive review of the Surf Ranch Pro’s “Replay” feature, which provided all the necessary data for a late-night competition review on the eve of a 4 AM wake-up. 

It’s currently pushing 2:30 so may we fucking begin? 

Screen Shot 2018 09 05 at 2.31.55 PM

Everybody in! Photo: WSL

The event as a whole:

Being able to watch every person on Tour approach the same(ish) wave from myriad angles and abilities is more interesting than I’d assumed. There are still many boring rides, especially on day one, but as a surf geek I find it fascinating to dissect the surfers’ different approaches, physically and mentally, in pursuit of a “score”. 

Also, the Surf Ranch Pro’s cutoff-line system makes the whole event feel directly competitive, even if singular waves are not. This is appreciated. Surfers like spectators can look up at the pool-side monitors and, based on a quick analysis of the cascading integers, determine what their next rides, both right and left, will have to include to transcend that pesky yellow line.

As it turns out, this rule applies to some but not all competitors.

“Nah, not at all actually,” said wildcard Mikey Wright, when asked if the leaderboard was dictating his approach to the wave. “I’m just kinda surfing the wave as it comes.” 

Interesting.

wright m2794sr18rowland mm

“Hey look, it’s gonna tube!” thinks the easily surprised Mikey Wright. Photo: WSL

Meanwhile Jordy Smith took the opposite angle.

“Yeah, 100%,” Jordy responded to Rosy Hodge, who had just asked her countrymate whether he’d decided in advance to set up for airs in lieu of the end tube. “I was just looking at the scoreboard and made my decision based on that.” 

Now, how is it that two highly-rated professional surfers could have such divergent approaches to this new judging system? Both the scores and logic say that Jordy is in the right, so what, beyond a stubborn surfer’s mentality, could be fueling Mikey’s neglect of the board? 

And what the fuck does he mean by “surfing the wave as it comes”?

toledo f6420SR18cestari mm

Think for a moment about how many incredible surfers have peed in this pool. Filipe gets a golden shower of the highest pedigree! Photo: WSL

The best surfers in the ocean are still the best in the pool.

On both the men’s and women’s sides of the draw, there are zero (0) surfers currently above the cutline who surfed on day one of the event. On the men’s side in particular, there is only one surfer above the cutline who is outside of the CT top 10 (Kanoa Igarashi).

So what does this mean?

Either the waves were significantly better today, or there’s a very good reason for why the people at the top of the CT rankings are at the top of the CT rankings. 

Considering the nature of this event, it’s probably the latter. 

Does that make Slater’s wavepool the true test of a surfer’s ability?

gilmore s5329SR18cestari mm

No one can touch her in the tube. Photo: WSL

The women sizzled, sparked! 

Based on her 9.23 this morning, Steph Gilmore has retained the title of best tuberider in Lemoore (earning her the Jose Cuervo “Shot of the day” – yes, actually), but her backhand leaves much to be desired. 

Steph has always favored her forehand, no doubt the result of her upbringing on Queensland’s Gold Coast, but typically there’s not such a blatant disparity between her toe and heel sides. Steph still scored a seven on her left and is sitting well above the yellow poverty line, but in order to win this thing she’ll need to find another gear on the heels.   

…Especially when Carissa Moore’s turns look better than 90% of the guys’. 

After scoring an 8.9 on her opening right, Carissa knew she could let loose on number two, which spawned a few of the most powerful and impressive hacks seen all day. She would have gotten an 8 on the men’s scale, easily, had she not fallen on the middle section. 

Female air update: Several attempts, no completions. Yet.    

rodriguez m2278sr18rowland mm

M-Rod will need to land this tomorrow, should he want to advance. Photo: WSL

Airs matter most for men, but only just.

Airs are the only thing that make this show truly interesting, and the judges get that, so they score them well – usually. 

One exception would be rodeo flips – a move historically gifted eights in its own right, but for some reason in Lemoore, even when preceded by a wave full of turns and tube, it’s worth only six or seven. Poor Pat and Jordy probably don’t know what to think! 

Another exception would be Kolohe Andino. 

Following his second righthander, wherein Kolohe stomped not one but two forehand air reverses – one before the first the barrel and the other after the last – Kolohe approached Rosy for a giddy post-heat presser. 

After answering several of her questions, Kolohe visibly stopped listening to Rosy Hodge and snapped back with a query of his own: 

“Wait, what did I get?” Kolohe asked to nobody in particular, “…A 7.7? That’s… weird.” 

andino k3129sr18rowland mm

Not the wave in question, but still something Kolohe did. Photo: WSL

And who could blame him for having such a reaction? Considering both Kanoa and Griffin had just gotten high-eights for waves with a similar air out the back and a fall on the inside, it would be totally logical for Kolohe to expect an equal-or-better score for himself. 

Alas, his fell a full point short.

And I must admit, at first glance this felt like a highway robbery. It wasn’t until I poured through the replays, really dissected the eights of Kelly, Seabass, Kanoa, and Griff that I came to understand what the judges were alluding to with their score: by setting up his whole ride for those two impressive maneuvers, Kolohe forgot to surf the rest of the wave.

He did quarter-checks out the back, half-turns through the middle, and failed to ever get deep in the tube. Also, in comparison to Kanoa and Griff, Kolohe’s air out the back looked forced and without pop (though the ender to the flats was magnificent).

So if Kolohe was cruelled by the judges, it was only by a hair. 

One just hopes he’ll take this as another learning experience rather than getting bitter and confused. 

Which is to say, Kolohe: Adding a couple Carissa hacks and Steph tubes between punts will see you to the top of the pack.  

medina g6341SR18cestari mm

According to Kelly Slater, the best backside tube-rider in the pool. Judges agree. Photo: WSL

The men 

Speaking of the top of the pack, how fucking good is Gabriel Medina at riding surfboards? 

Despite surrendering a couple rides to his sister on the practice days, the first Brazilian World Champ looks possessed by adding another goblet to his mantle in 2019, Filipe be damned. 

Even the World Number One had to admit Gabriel was impressive: 

“He was definitely the most solid surfer today,” Filipe said, after retiring with a nine of his own. 

Medina and he own the only two nines on the male side of the draw, though Filipe is currently sitting on a soft six for his left. 

Other notable performers include: Jordy Smith, who refused the tube and instead decided to fly, fly, fly(!), Owen Wright, who made a quick joke out of Jordy’s “[human] size = [lack of] depth” claim, by stuffing himself deeper than most in two back-to-back rights and also demoing his left, Kelly Slater, for that foot-revealing hack, and Italo Ferreira, who I just love so very much.

ferreiro i6215SR18cestari mm

How could you not want to pinch his chubby little cheeks? Photo: WSL

TLDR

Watching the (true) world’s best surf this wave was genuinely enjoyable, and in conjunction with the current leaderboard, it made me realize just how clearly the CT needs to be halved. 

It’ll save money, time, and increase the viewing experience for all.

The only people it would hurt are the low-to-mid-tier CT surfers, and frankly, I don’t give a damn. Maybe a little occupational uncertainty would make Connor, or Conner, want to throw an air every once in a while.

See ya tomorrow, when the real fun begins!

*I was actually much more difficult than this.

 

Comments

Comments are a Stab Premium feature. Gotta join to talk shop.

Already a member? Sign In

Want to join? Sign Up

Advertisement

Most Recent

Yes And Welcome Back: The First Day Of Female CT Competition At Teahupo’o Since Melanie Redman-Carr Was Taking Scalps In ’06

Carissa Moore is now two heats away from her 6th World Title, btw.

Aug 17, 2022

“Airlines Hate Me:” Bad Boy RyRy’s Guide To Surf Travel

Want to get pampered at the pointy end of the plane for free?

Aug 17, 2022

7:11

What Happens When You Borrow A Pro’s Board?

Joyride: The Shrizz from PANDA surfboards.

Aug 16, 2022

2:17

Mick Fanning Samples California’s Finest Local Produce

Mayhem at Lowers.

Aug 16, 2022

Mountains Died So You Could Surf

The value of sand.

Aug 15, 2022

9:12

UPDATE: People Are Still Surfing ‘La Jetee’ in Reunion Island

Returning to the best & sharkiest air wave in the world, as seen in Mod…

Aug 14, 2022

These Are Your Favorite (Female) Surfers

What the Stab reader survey teaches us about taste.

Aug 14, 2022

2:14

Kelly and Local Gal to Win Teahupo’o?

Local insights and a firing forecast.

Aug 13, 2022

These Are Your Favorite (Male) Surfers

Insights from the 2022 Stab Reader survey.

Aug 13, 2022

16:04

Fear And Loathing in Mainland Mex

Parker Coffin, Harry Roach, and the Roark crew embark on an authentic Oaxacan (surf) trip.

Aug 13, 2022

Tahiti Preview: The End Of The Road For 72% Of The CT

And hello there, blob of swell.

Aug 12, 2022

3:24

While Everyone Flocked To Tahiti, Kelly Stayed in Jbay

...And proceeded to rip the hell out of it on a "borrowed" 5-finned Tomo.

Aug 11, 2022

1:38

Can A GQ Cover Boy Take Out Teahupo’o?

Kauli Vaast is your incredibly handsome Tahiti trials winner.

Aug 11, 2022

Watch: Ramble On With Caity Simmers 

An action-rich tour behind the scenes of her triumphant first voyage to Oz.

Aug 11, 2022

PSA: Surf Filmers Not Welcome In Nicaragua

Cameras and drones are being seized on arrival, Stab spoke with two recent visitors.

Aug 11, 2022

Inside The Alternative Surfboard Marketing Machine 

Two of the biz's best — Matt Parker and Blake Peters — spill many beans.

Aug 10, 2022

The Tragic Parallels Between The Murder Of Ricardo Dos Santos & 8x World Jiu Jitsu Champion Leandro Lo

Two Brazilian sporting icons killed brazenly by off-duty police officers.

Aug 9, 2022

The Pick-Up, Vans US Open: In The Belly Of The Beast

Finger flips, shaping with Zion Wright, slurpees, Hawaiian takeovers, and the king of Surfline rewinds.

Aug 8, 2022
Advertisement