Not today, Jules. All photos: WSL
Upsets Reign As Medina, Wilson, And Smith Crumble At Keramas
Only two Top-10 surfers remain in the event.
Gabriel Medina had a massive opportunity today.
With John and Italo out of the event and a clear path to the final before him, Medina had to be thinking about gaining ground in the Title race. All the reigning World Champ had to do was beat Leo Fioravanti in clean, 4-6 foot Keramas.
Easy enough for the world's best competitive surfer, right?
Today's first heat, which was actually Heat 13 of the Round of 32, proved slow, but not for lack of waves. There were plenty of opportunities throughout the 30-minute match, but time after time we saw Gabriel Medina and Leo Fioravanti just slightly too deep on the zippy, low tide walls.
To offer some perspective, at one point in the heat, seven consecutive waves scored less than a point.
After plenty of floundering from both parties, the heat came down to Leo's last wave.
Needing a mid-five to defeat the Champ, Leo took off on the biggest wave of the morning and went straight up into the guts, stabbing the section half-a-second too late which threw him slightly off-balance. After a quick recovery, Leo carved through the pocket with a powerful arc before finishing with two half-turns.
To my surprise the judges fucking loved it, offering a 7.33 for his, dare we say, blemished approach.
But there's one thing I did like about this call—namely, the judges were being consistent.
Yesterday the tower hounds awarded Joan Duru a win over John Florence for a wave very similar to Leo's with almost identical surfing. In other words, the judges are favoring wave height and commitment to the first couple sections, even if it means bogging in the process.
Jeremy Flores would take this finding and run with it in his Round of 16 match (more on that later).
Kanoa Igarashi seems to have found a new gear in his surfing—again—which must be really annoying for his competitors. How is it that Japan's greatest Olympic hope can still be visibly improving while the majority of the Tour suffers from decades of stagnation?
You could blame it on the boards, as those Sharp Eyes look fast and light as ever, but I think there must be something else at play here—training, coaching, going blonde—but it's tough to tell which. Kanoa looks remarkably confident every time he stands up on a board, driving through his turns with newfound power and stomping each spin with flair and control.
This mightn't be a scoring maneuver, but Kanoa's shimmy back to the tail after a nosepick rotation is the best in the biz, barring maybe Toledo. He trounced Peterson Crisanto in the Round of 32, despite the Brazilian's lofty air attempts.
The last heat of the 32-Round looked like a total lock, with an in-form Jordy Smith drawing the lukewarm Jesse Mendes in buttery, overhead rights.
Of course, it wasn't that simple.
Jordy threw up two scores early on, the first for a snap-floater into a late, off-balance reverse that the judges liked enough to throw out a 5.5. Next came Jordy's favorite wave of the heat—a scissors-through-gift-paper carve followed by a mistimed float climb, flat section cutty, and end section slam. Oh, and a not-so-subtle claim to the judges.
Turns out, they didn't care for it. 4.93.
Jesse Mendes finally got started with a grand slam + hashbrowns combo for a 5.6, then, under Jordy's priority, snuck into a cheeky backside tube just for kicks.
...Or so I thought.
The judges saw that manufactured funnel as the tied-for-best wave of the heat, leaving Jordy in need of a 5.7 to advance. With two minutes remaining, the opportunity arose, but Jordy was too frazzled to surf. He fell on a simple first turn and relinquished his chance to usurp the Jeep Leaderboard.
Jordy's bad juju must have shifted over to Julian, as the Sunny Coaster fell into the same vicious cycle as his African comrade, putting up a middling score at the start of the heat but failing to stay on his feet beyond that.
Can you imagine Julian Wilson, the same Julian Wilson who put out "Drive Fast and Take Chances" four years ago, collecting a total of 6.77 points in 30 minutes at pumping Keramas? Well it happened today and he lost to an injured Michael Rodriguez in the process.
Joan Duru and Wade Carmichael had some fiery exchanges in the next match, continuing from their big wins yesterday. Wade went full lumberjack, Joan used a slide, and as they've done all week, the judges sided with power. Wade hurdled past Frenchy into the quarters.
Speaking of power, let's chat about Jeremy Flores and Jack Freestone.
The former is 5'9 and roughly 160. The latter is 6'1 190.
While both surfers have impeccable timing and technique, it's Jeremy who overpowers Jack by a visible measure of 3:2.
How can that be, you might be wondering.
Well, Jeremy just fucking tries harder.
For me, this was the second most interesting heat today, as the differences between two theoretically similar surfers could not have been more clearly defined. While Jack connected the dots with clean, flowing maneuvers, Jeremy threw 110% into every single turn, nearly losing his sanity in the process.
The judges originally favored Jack, before realizing that, in relation to Jeremy, he just wasn't doing that much. The Frenchman's eight-pointer was an incredible display of willpower (above all else), and if there's a silver lining for this heat's loser, Jack Freestone, it's that he needs to dirty up his surfing if he wants to compete against the men.
Also, don't claim flimsy air reverses when you need a seven.
Andino vs. Coffin was another California fizzer, except for the final two minutes when Brother left Conner alone out the back needing just a four. Pretty baller fucking move if you ask me—I can't imagine the psychological effects that would have on an opponent—and it ended up working, kind of, as the ocean went flat and Kolohe was proclaimed victor.
A little "fuck yeah" on the live cam summed up his feelings.
Next up were Filipe Toledo and Ryan Callinan who, having surfed several heats together lately and being two of the top performers in this event, promised fireworks.
They did not disappoint.
R-Cal came out of the gate all goth and shit, piercing the lip with two dirty daggers and dropping a high-six on the prince of pop.
Fil returned with a 5.9 for a frontside whip, followed by another five from Callinan.
Having grown tired of their little numbers game, Filipe delivered eight points for one seismic hack followed by two aftershock spins. Shortly after, he put a seven on Ryan's head and that was it.
R-Cal left the water needing a nine but it wasn't for lack of effort or skill. Filipe's just on one right now, which should be concerning for anybody left in the field (disclaimer: with only two surfers in the top 10 remaining, we're not really sure who that is!).
Last night, with a full moon shining bright over the Lombok Strait, and with half the World Tour scarfing down fishy platters at the Kommune dinner bar, a bald, middle-aged man ran past the crowd with a surfboard under his arm and a grin from ear to ear.
Slater reportedly threaded the low tide keyhole and, with the help of the moon and Kommune's infamous flood lights, proceeded to stuff himself in tube after tube as his peers watched with envy.
"You could actually see a lot better when you were in the barrel," Slater said of yesterday's post-dusk session. "The light would just reflect off everything."
Slater was quickly joined by a number of his competitors (including Kanoa Igarashi, who forbade Coach Snake's orders to go to bed just so he could get a couple tubes in the dark) who wanted to share in the nightly fun, but that's not the point. The point is what Slater did to defeat a clearly superior Michel Bourez.
Did those last words sting, my Slater sycophants?
Soz, but it's true. In the current conditions and under our modern criteria, Michel Bourez was the surfer most likely to advance. He even told Strider before the heat, "I'm gonna smash Slater."
Slater knew that, and he used it to his advantage.
Michel Bourez delivered a six and an eight for two devastating forehand hooks—the type that make your knees wobble and quake when sitting on a plush sofa. Slater meandered in the 3-5 range, but his turns looked awfully cute compared to the Spartan's.
Recognizing he couldn't beat Michel turn-for-turn, Slater opted for unique lines and maneuvers to test the judges' resolve. A weightless snap-to-float followed by a true roundhouse and two quick stings resulted in a 6.93—better, not quite what Slater was after, hence his disrespectful foot splash upon hearing the score.
Sneaking inside of Michel, who held priority, Slater nabbed a mid-sized double up that, despite the afternoon onshores, packed enough heat to hurl over itself. As he's done at least three times before, Slater used his arm to pull down the curtain, causing his brief but not-insignificant disappearance from our view.
As Slater exited the tube he dropped his foot back on the pad and unleashed every ounce of power into the approaching section, falling back momentarily but popping to his feet without much trouble.
Would this barrel to layback be the 7.35 Slater needed?
All but one judge agreed—it was enough! Slater took the lead of a heat that he never should have been able to win, and what do you know, Michel never got it back.
That's why, or perhaps how, Slater became an 11x World Champion. It's not about how you surf on a wave—it's just some Art of War shit.
Ace slipped past Leo, Jesse got comboed by Kanoa (who got an eight on floaters!) and the day was over.
Finals could run tomorrow, stay tubed!
Corona Bali Protected Remaining Men’s Round 3 (Round of 32) Results:
Heat 13: Leonardo Fioravanti (ITA) 12.73 DEF. Gabriel Medina (BRA) 11.00
Heat 14: Adrian Buchan (AUS) 8.73 DEF. Mikey Wright (AUS) 6.50
Heat 15: Kanoa Igarashi (JPN) 13.90 DEF. Peterson Crisanto (BRA) 7.60
Heat 16: Jesse Mendes (BRA) 11.20 DEF. Jordy Smith (ZAF) 10.33
Corona Bali Protected Men’s Round 4 (Round of 16) Results:
Heat 1: Michael Rodrigues (BRA) 13.67 DEF. Julian Wilson (AUS) 6.77
Heat 2: Wade Carmichael (AUS) 15.50 DEF. Joan Duru (FRA) 13.87
Heat 3: Jeremy Flores (FRA) 14.17 DEF. Jack Freestone (AUS) 13.00
Heat 4: Kolohe Andino (USA) 11.16 DEF. Conner Coffin (USA) 9.67
Heat 5: Filipe Toledo (BRA) 15.93 DEF. Ryan Callinan (AUS) 13.47
Heat 6: Kelly Slater (USA) 14.46 DEF. Michel Bourez (FRA) 14.27
Heat 7: Adrian Buchan (AUS) 11.23 DEF. Leonardo Fioravanti (ITA) 10.80
Heat 8: Kanoa Igarashi (JPN) 15.66 DEF. Jesse Mendes (BRA) 5.86
Corona Bali Protected Men’s Quarterfinal Matchups:
Heat 1: Michael Rodrigues (BRA) vs. Wade Carmichael (AUS)
Heat 2: Jeremy Flores (FRA) vs. Kolohe Andino (USA)
Heat 3: Filipe Toledo (BRA) vs. Kelly Slater (USA)
Heat 4: Adrian Buchan (AUS) vs. Kanoa Igarashi (JPN)
Corona Bali Protected Women’s Quarterfinal Matchups:
QF 1: Carissa Moore (HAW) vs. Brisa Hennessy (CRI)
QF 2: Silvana Lima (BRA) vs. Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS)
QF 3: Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) vs. Courtney Conlogue (USA)
QF 4: Bronte Macaulay (AUS) vs. Nikki Van Dijk (AUS)