Maybe worse than this all-hands-on-deck chest high closeout. Careful on that foot, Kelly! Photo: WSL/Cestari
The World Title Will Be Decided In Very Whatever Pipeline Surf
Womp womp womp.
It's true. The 2017 world title will be decided, much like 2015, in truly rank conditions. Looking at the current forecast, tomorrow (Saturday) will be smallish and, despite the predicted light winds, the ocean is likely retain a residual lump from three days of howling NNEaserlies. Sunday will start off small and build throughout the day, but the biggest sets will be only slightly overhead and the winds a tricky south. Monday is probably the best day in the period, with a slightly larger NW swell but still south winds, while Tuesday and Wednesday continue to grow but with a less favorable wind and swell direction (North).
All signs point to the Pipe Masters, and the world title, being won in crumbly Backdoor tubes and/or funnish air conditions.
This is obviously less than ideal for the viewer, but we must remember there are bigger objectives to settle than our own petty entertainment. The world title is still up for grabs, so let's discuss how lackluster conditions will play into the battle between Medina and John (...and Jordy and Jules).
Medina's Round 2 clash against Dusty Payne will be a tricky one. The Caucasian-Hawaiian is a virtuoso at Pipe and Backdoor, and he's also damn good in the junky stuff. The one thing Medina has going for him is that he's Medina, meaning he can and will do just about anything to make a heat. This passion will only intensify under the pressure of a world title race, so don't expect Gabby to go down without a fight.
On there other hand, there really aren't "bad" conditions for John at Pipe. Whether it's 12-foot cylinders or 2-foot slop, John surfs the wave at an noticeably higher level than his competitors. In fact, at a Backdoor air-wind day, I reckon John is twice the surfer of anyone else on the planet. Hopefully he'll put together some barrel-punt combos like he did at the 2015 Volcom Pipe Pro. Sunday and Monday look right up his alley.
But keep in mind, it wouldn't be that hard for John to lose the world title. If Gabby were to win at Pipe, which he easily could, it would take John making the final to secure his position at the top of the Jeep Leaderboard. And John hasn't made a Pipe Masters final since 2013, so yeah... this thing is still wide open.
I know I've barely spoken of Jordy in Jules throughout the world title debate but, do we even have to? I mean yes, statistically those two are still in the race, but it's hard to imagine a world in which John and Gabby would lose early enough and Jordy or Julian would go on to win the event and title. Though maybe with the abysmal forecast on hand I should learn to expect the unexpected.
In 2017 a world champion will be chosen based on his performance in subpar conditions. Every wave surfed throughout the entirety of the season is washed away (beyond John's slight point advantage), and half-baked Pipeline will decide who's the best surfer in the world. With this in mind, are you starting to like the WSL's 2019 plan a little more, or is it still bullshit?