Top six tour waves of 2014, so far
Story by Craig Jarvis At this time of the year everyone starts looking at what’s to come. There are some serious events on the horizon (JBay, Chopes, Pipe), and there’s also a bunch of soft shoulders behind (Margs, Bells, a little of Snapper, a smidgen of Rio). So as the waves increase in velocity and […]
Story by Craig Jarvis
At this time of the year everyone starts looking at what’s to come. There are some serious events on the horizon (JBay, Chopes, Pipe), and there’s also a bunch of soft shoulders behind (Margs, Bells, a little of Snapper, a smidgen of Rio). So as the waves increase in velocity and height, so does the drama and spectacle. Chopes is always going to be weighted on the dramatic side as opposed to Rio. Yet it’s the world’s best surfers, and they know how to pull off a show when they need to. So let’s go back through the mists of time to the beginning of the year, to see what waves stood out.
6. Gabby’s contest-winning wave at Snapper
With a big crew of spectators and interested parties watching this wave, it was always going to be controversial. Chasing a 7.78 for the win, Gabby picked up a wave that was well wide of the barrel section, reeling across the end of the bank up to the aforementioned Marley rocks. A wave right in front of the judges that consisted of a couple of decent hits, a couple of rock-n-roll floaters, and a score of 7.83. The local crowd screamed foul, the Brazilian contingent roared their approval and hundreds of g-stringed buttocks headed down to welcome Gabby as winner out of the water. One man who was watching closely was Matt Biolos. His interest was impartial, as Taj was already on the bleachers. “A lot of people were saying he was playing it safe down the beach and doing turns like Damien Hardman would have done in the 80’s,” said Biolos. “I disagree. He stabbed that wave over and over, and released his fins out the back nearly every turn. If you were sitting out the back, you would’ve seen his fins repeatedly. There’s nothing safe about that. People say it was repetitive, but then again, people say that about guys like Mick and Joel all the time. Repetitive brilliance right, isn’t that what the competitive side of surfing is about?”
5. Michel’s 9.5 at Cloudbreak
In this world of surfing that we live in, we all think in clichés. From the commentators, to the journalists, to the lowly web reporters, it’s our nature to think in clichés. Michel in cliché is the real Mr X, third in row behind Glen Winton and Mike Burness, who both held the Mr X title for times. Michel is low key, quiet, but utterly powerful and explosive in the water, with no extra waving of arms or butt-wiggles, however insignificant. In this round three heat against Jeremy Flores, he drops down and straight into the barrel with an economy of movement, riding the foamball and negotiating out of the first section to bottom turn and high-line another solid backhand tube on the inside for what Potzz questionably called ‘the bonus section’ a few times. That bonus section was a real tube over the inside shelf, and Michel emerged to power into a solid backhand hook and slip out, for a very fair and positive score of 9.5. When Michel followed up with a 9.2, Jeremy was toast, as anyone would be against a bear perfect score like that.
4. Parko’s 9.93 at Snapper
The Quik Pro has always been a tube contest. When Parko dropped into that backdoor pit in his semifinal against Adriano, it was one of those waves that symbolise the Quik Pro legacy. A throaty pit with a clean, but tight exit, and a full wall reeling all the way to Little Marley, allowing him to still execute two full-speed hooks, a couple of tight wraps and ride it all the way through to the inside. It definitely lacked a 10 on it, possibly because the rest of the moves were fast and stylish but not that critical, but it reeked of high-fives all round. When it dropped as a 9.93 it did feel like it was the correct score. Snapper has always been a tube contest, and the barrel is still the highest scoring move.
3. Jordy’s shoulda-been 10 at Bells
Keeping on a South African scene, imagine you heard that Oscar Pistorious was found innocent. That he was allowed to walk free for shooting Reeve Steenkamp through that toilet door. It would be diabolical, wouldn’t it? A similar but somewhat less gory feeling was evoked after the Jordy/Julian clash in round five of the Rip Curl Pro, Bells. Needing a 9.97 with 30 seconds on the clock, Jordy unleashed like never before on a sluggish Bells wall. A medium-sized wave that was surfed super-critically and at full-speed had every single person believing that they had just witnessed the impossible, and that they had seen a 10-point ride, ridden out of desperation and anger, in the last minute of the heat. The first two-point turn combo was enough to get 10 points in most people’s books. And the wraparound cutback and closing reverse just put him into the 12-point realm. Slater was convinced it was a 10, three judges were convinced that it was a 10, but two judges dropped an edge off the scale, and saw it come in at a 9.93, as close as it comes, and as good as it gets for being hijacked. “It sucks,” said Jordy to Rosy. “It’s a hard feeling and it really sucks losing this way.”
2. John John’s 10-point punt at Bells
It was one of those moves that everyone saw, and no one wanted to call. Did the ASP judges have enough behind them to give it straight tens? Are we going to expect more 10-point rides for single moves? Did John John look Gabby in the eyes when he landed the biggest air of the year and nearly rode him over? Was it better than Kelly’s forehand rote into the flats in 2012 at the same break? A big move, a big statement by the Hawaiian, and a chance for everyone to claim it as a sneak into the future, when in reality, it was just a carbon copy of Kelly’s wave, two years earlier, as mentioned.
1. Kelly’s 10 at Barra da Tijuca, Rio
This was one of the most bizarre waves of the tournament. It happened so fast and the judges dropped scores so quickly, it was one of the most deserved 10’s of the year thus far. It was a big wave, bigger than the norm, and the first wave of the day. Kelly picked up on a thick left, dropped in late, got to the bottom and turned the corner hands-free into a below-sea-level sandy pit that had broken neck, broken board, enema and pain written all over it. Instead, it covered our champ in glory and vindicated the somewhat dubious venue location. “I owe that guy,” said Kelly about his not-so-rival Adriano. “He’s been killing me – I think he won six in a row against me before today.” So how did Kelly do it? How did he steamroll his way out of a gnarly pit over barely covered sand? “I spent a lot of time last night thinking about the situation. I’ve had enough of losing to that guy for now.”
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