The Title Will Be Won In Hawaii
Well, that was anticlimactic (unless you're Kolohe or Kanoa).
This morning the day's events felt fated, fresh fish and destiny's crisp scents wafting south from Peniche and over the Supertubos scene.
Before the first buzzer rang, you could catch glimpses of the World Title being paraded around the beach, the WSL capturing it in all its glory from every angle, filming for what would surely be a necessary World Champion-crowning highlight reel.
But as the crossshores suddenly whipped texture into the faces of the overhead wedges, suddenly something felt wrong.
As the opening heat saw Julian Wilson and Sebastian Zietz put in the work to make the most of the unpredictable morning sick lineup, turning in one of the event's lower scoring heats, Jules taking the W with a low-4 and -3, beating Seabass 7.5 to 7.4.
While John found visions, he couldn't find the light. He'll have to win the title on home turf. Photo by Alan Van Gysen
But their's was never going to be the heat that Portugal had risen early for (or for which Americans set 3AM alarms). As John John Florence and Kolohe Andino paddled out, the energy we've seen in the Supertubos lineup seemed to suddenly drain out. What followed diverged from the narrative already written, the morning crowd enjoying a scrappy, commanding performance from Kolohe, the not-so-little rascal anymore clawing his way through a dirty cave in the heat's first five minutes, then backing it up with a 6.83. Meanwhile, while John struggled to find waves with anything resembling scoring potential, even with John's rabbit-filled bag of tricks, the once and predestined future king looking lost amidst the chunky, swirling beachbreak mess.
And so the door that looked about to slam shut will remain ajar for now, and with each heat Gabby and Jules wins it draws open wider and wider. It looks like they'll run through to completion today, despite the difficult winds. Kanoa Igarashi just dusted Miggy Pupo with one of the morning's more picturesque pits, and Gabby remains on a roll, sending Mick packing 11.33 to 3.17.
As I write this, Julian and Kolohe are turning in excellent scores in their Quarterfinal heat, and though it won't be the Title-crowing day we were hoping for, it's going to be a beautiful last day of the European leg.