Stab Magazine | We Went To The Founders' Cup So You Wouldn't Have To
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We Went To The Founders’ Cup So You Wouldn’t Have To

Here’s everything you missed, or maybe didn’t, from Saturday at the pool. 

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

Day One is done and dusted and what have we learned?

Frankly, tons. And for fear of boring the reader with a long-winded intro, we’ll jump straight to a recap of Round 1 at the inaugural, historic, MINDBLOWING Founders’ Cup event.

Sorry, I think the poolside announcers got into my subconscious.

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Some surfers were cooked by the judges, others by the sun.

Photography

Sam Moody

The judging was… curious

With Pritamo Ahrendt leading the WSL’s pack of critics, many expected excellent scores to be nearly impossible this event, but the first wave of the day proved this theory to be wholly unfounded.

I scored Filipe’s cookie-cutter left at a conservative 5.67. To my eye, he never truly committed to any particular turn, and he bobbled a few times out the back. When the judges delivered a near-excellent 7.83, I was both shocked and appalled.

How could they deem this wave as being two points from perfect?

In a conversation with Pritamo later in the day, he explained that their scale was based off extensive pool-based research. In the days leading up to the event, the judges clocked countless hours in the tower, furiously keeping notes about wave performances and scores.

Which makes sense. But it also makes me think the surfers were sand-bagging in their warm-up sessions. Think I’m lying?

In a conversation with Filipe Toledo, I asked why he hadn’t tried any airs in his freesurf session earlier that morning.

“I’m just saving them for the event,” he told me.  

Right,” I replied, “but most people would want to practice the maneuvers they’re going to perform in the event in their freesurf sessions, so they can become more confident about landing them when it counts.”

“Well, that’s kind of the difference between me and some of the other surfers,” Filipe said. “I have complete confidence in myself to go out and land those airs in the competition, pretty much every time.”

Today Filipe made good on his promise, riding one of the best complete waves in the Surf Ranch’s history, which included a tightly-wound reverse out the back, two solid tubes with crisp turns in between, and finishing with a full-rotation alleyoop and carve-to-slide combo.

Filipe received a 10 for his efforts, and while it’s safe to say this ride was the best of the day, I find it weird that on this very historic day, judges are essentially telling surfers: “You can’t do better.”

In the traditional contest environment, tens come in a myriad of ways – a freak tube, an incredible air—sometimes just riding a flawless wave without falling – but in the pool, where you’re dealing with a static platform and a competition format where the heats are not independently isolated, but instead each wave is compared directly to every other wave throughout the round, the benchmark for Perfection must be higher.

While Filipe’s wave was incredible, the logical progression that nobody (including Filipe) could surf the wave better is both laughable and offensive.

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The WSL claimed 5,000 fans were in attendance, but at times it felt like many, many more.

Photography

Sam Moody

The wavepool attracted a diverse fan-base

Perhaps like any big sporting event, there was a vast socioeconomic spread when it came to the Fans in Lemoore.

On one side of the gate were the veneered 70-year-olds, with that money-canbuy-happiness grin, Rolex on one wrist, silicon doll on the other.

On the other were degenerate, bearded, Coors Light-drinking middle-aged men, who on the rare occasion that Dr. Pay-for-Play took a stroll into the non-VIP slums, had no qualms about cartoonishly craning their necks to watch his mistress bounce across the wood chips.

There were also plenty of normal people on either side of the divide, but the extreme cases are always more interesting to discuss.

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JJF struggled early but salvaged the day with a 9.8 on his very last ride.

Photography

Sam Moody

The wave settings are NOT equal

After a collaborative effort between the surfers, commissioners, and wavepool engineers, it was determined that the wave settings for this event would be CT2 for the right and CT3 for the left.

CT2 is the secondest “highest” setting on the pool, meaning it is almost as big, fast, and hollow as they can push the wave down the track. They chose this version because the predominant NW winds blow offshore into rights, making both the first and second barrel sections viable options for scores. However they also wanted the wave to maintain enough curve for the surfers to perform committed maneuvers between barrels, which is why they avoided the very fast, very steep CT1.

CT3 is (you guessed it) slightly slower and mushier than CT2. They use it on the left because of the constant onshore winds, which render the opening tube section useless. So instead of having a section that’s too crumbly to get a proper tube but too steep to perform a committed maneuver, they figured it was best to just turn the settings down and eliminate the tube entirely. Which is why the right offered two tubes on each wave and the left only one.

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In her afternoon heat, Lakey came within inches of landing the first female air reverse (that we’ve seen) at Surf Ranch.

Photography

Sam Moody

The wavepool has further promoted gender equality

Kelly Slater’s creation is perfect in theory, but the wave’s incessant down-the-line speed makes it difficult to perform full maneuvers, causing the surfers to bang half and quarter turns all the way down the line, which you might not think is a big deal when we’re talking about gender equality, but it worked to further equalize the men and women’s surfing.

Turns out that a half-turn is a half-turn is a half-turn, no matter which genitals are hanging above it.

Even in a straight-up, no-gender-bias scenario (which Pritamo has informed us will NOT happen in this event), it’s safe to say that a couple of the gals would have smoked a handful of the boys today.

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Try as she might, that little CBS reporter will never best our beloved Rosie Hodge.

Photography

Sam Moody

Surfing went mainstream!

If you didn’t already know, one hour of today’s event was broadcast live on CBS Sports (Which is like a real, big boy, American TV station).

For the WSL, this was certainly a big deal—they brought in an NFL sideline reporter who, despite making a cringeworthy football pun, did her best to make surfing interesting to the wider public.

I have no idea if it worked, but if you believe the WSL’s Minister of Propaganda Dave Prodan, they received nothing but positive feedback.

Suffice to say, Sophie’s vision* is finally coming to fruition.

Mixed feelings etc.

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If this photo doesn’t sell you on 1. Lemoore, 2. Team events, and 3. Mustaches in general, then I’m afraid this seat is taken.

Photography

Sam Moody

The competition worthy in its own right

Despite some timid surfing in the early heats, the competitors became increasingly more confident throughout the day, leading to some exciting and memorable moments from every national squad.

Some highlights include: Jordy’s “froggy” air, Medina’s mini-rodeo, Slater’s barrel-roll attempt, Silvana’s float-to-tube, and John’s miracle reverse.  

Having completed two-thirds of the Qualification Round, competition is incredibly close, with the team totals falling thusly:

  1. USA: 80.83 points

  2. AUS: 75.82 Points

  3. WOR: 75.33 points

  4. BRA: 72.3 points

  5. EUR: 72.12 points

And frankly, the nationalistic aspect of this event has been totally awesome. Surfing needs more team events, says pretty much everyone in attendance. 

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Despite all the chaos and pressure surrounding his pool’s inaugural event, Slater was able to put on several impressive performances in the water today. But did he achieve success across the interwebs?

Photography

Sam Moody

We need your feedback!

We’re incredibly curious, readers: how did this event perform in webcast form? Was it more or less extraordinary than any other Championship Tour event?

Better than Rio but worse than Pipe?

Please let us know.

And if you can’t already tell, besides the radioactive heat that nearly killed our beloved Sam Moody, we had a wonderful time viewing the Founders’ Cup live. It’s day we’ll remember forever.

*Or, technically, I think it was Paul Speaker’s vision.

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