Oh Mick was livid.
The WSL Just Fucked Up Its New Rule
...and more from day three of the Hurley Lowers Pro!
Day three came and went like an atomic bomb, with heads flying everywhere and particularly devastating effects for Japanese(-American) bystanders. Let's jump straight into the most explosive moments from the day!
Adriano’s depressing victory speech
In the first heat of the morning, Adriano de Souza traded sleepy sixes with Josh Kerr, whose sixes were slightly more sleepy than Adriano’s. As is tradition, the winner, Adriano de Souza, was approached by Rosie Hodge for an elevated victory speech. What transpired was, well, just watch:
All week the commentary team has referenced Adriano’s heightened sense of solitude, his steely-eyed focus, etc., but this interview steers “professionalism” into the realms of depression. I understand he’s doing what he thinks is best to win win win!, but man, someone needs to remind Adriano that he surfs for a living. Like literally rides a little floaty toy in the ocean.
Medina gets flustered
Man, how weird have Medina’s last few years been? After his title in 2014, I would have bet my (parent's) house on Gabby owning the next decade of competitive surfing. He seemed too omnitalented and too competitively savvy to fail. And yet, somehow, his results have rollercoastered over the last three seasons.
Today Gab lost to Jadson Andre, who surfed beautifully (for Jadson), in a heat that revealed the cracks in Medina’s game. Once behind in the match, Medina acted like a cornered animal -- attacking anything in his field of vision and, in the process, losing his sense of balance and logic. He was taking bad waves, forcing maneuvers, and falling often. The old Gabby, Teenage Wunderkid Gabby, was untethered and cold as ice. The new Gabby, World Champion Gabby, has a status to uphold. And it’s much harder to keep a steady hand when you’ve got something at stake.
The 2017 Lowers Pro Champion ...lost
In a heat that can only be described as alpha malic, two of the CT’s heavyweights traded haymakers over cobblestone. Huge turns, huge sprays, and two healthy heat scores were the outcomes, along with a winner (Fred) and loser (Zeke).
Zeke came into Lowers with a ballsy Instagram claim. And while he won’t be winning the 2017 Lowers Pro, he did succeed in the most important aspect of his promise: he surfed the way he does in freesurfs (which is really fucking good). Zeke’s loss came as a result of wave selection, but his surfing was as good as could be for the waves he caught. He should take confidence from this event and approach the remaining three in a similar fashion.
John and Jordy are here to win
If Zeke vs. Freddy was a battle of the alpha males, then John vs. Jordy would (and hopefully will) be a clash of the titans. Both possess equal or greater power to Z&F but reside within the next stratosphere of natural surfing ability. Today, the two true title contenders confirmed their intentions.
Mick continues his dreary season
In Round 3 of Heat 9, the WSL’s new priority rule came into play -- kind of. When the first wave entered the lineup, Kanoa and Mick turned their noses toward shore in order to catch it. Kanoa made a couple light paddles from the top of the peak, so Mick, who was waiting to see if Kanoa would take the wave, was forced to pull back. Kanoa waited until the last second to make his decision, which was ultimately to pass.
Mick’s hands went up, signalling for the judges to give him priority, as per the new rule. The judges denied Mick’s request and as a result Kanoa caught the best wave of the heat... and then the next best wave of the heat. Mick lost out early, again, which hurts my Fantasy team but moreso just hurts my heart. Fanning outside the Top 10 is not a world I wish to live in.*
Bede Durbidge goes all White Fijian
You know how Bede does. Clean wall, all rail, 18.43. Maybe should have Freddy P'd it.
The heat of the day
Jordy, Frederico, and Ace, but not in that order. It was a proper battle, with each surfer holding the lead at some point in the match, but after thirty minutes it was the Man-o-War, Frederico Morais, who stung his competitors into submission. That forehand zap is lethal.
*BUT WAIT! The judges have changed their minds** (as a result of Mick’s tower-climb). There's to be a resurf of Mick vs. Kanoa, first thing tomorrow!
**After giving the situation a second look, the judges, and Kieren Perrow, deemed that Kanoa had in fact blocked Mick from taking the wave, which should have given Mick priority, which would have changed the outcome of the heat. I find this motion to be correct, but also very unfair to Kanoa, who surfed an impeccable heat.
It's true the WSL should have caught this in the moment, but, if we are to be fair (and what is Stab if not a bastion of impartiality?), this rule is not only new to the surfers, it's new to the judges and commissioner as well. This case, Fanning v. League, will be referenced in surfing history books and studied by Supreme Tour judges for centuries to come***.
***Right next to this photo of Kanoa Igarashi.