What I l Learned From 23.5 Hours In Lemoore - Stab Mag
Stab's psychic pick to win, Italo Ferreira, still has chance. Photo: Tony Heff/WSL

What I l Learned From 23.5 Hours In Lemoore

Notes from in and around a sweaty ranch made for surfing.

Words by Brendan Buckley

“Covid is over now.” 

It was 11:15 on a Friday night and the Tachi(ana Weston-Webb) Palace casino was cranking. Most people were maskless. In front of me, two guys waited to cash their chips. Half-jokingly, one of them supplied the remark I opened with. The half that wasn’t joking sounded like it didn’t believe in Covid all along. 

California updated its Covid policy on June 15. Now, you don’t have to wear a mask indoors if you’re vaccinated. And nobody is allowed to ask if you are vaccinated. And so the result has been a lot of chins. 

There are some very handsome chins in Lemoore, especially when the Surf Ranch Pro is on. 

I went up there to admire them at the Surf Ranch Pro. Here is what I learned.

Anyway, this video exists.

The roulette tables at the Tachi Palace are full on Friday nights 
That place is huge. And, as far as I could tell, they only had two roulette tables which sat five people apiece. They were surrounded by about 20 Blackjack tables, all of which had multiple empty seats. The vibe in there was hopeful and miserable at the same time. 

Sally’s backhand, though. I swear. Photo: Tony Heff/WSL

Sally Fitzgibbons is maybe your 2021 World Champ
Her backhand impressed me more than anyone else’s. Every turn seemed perfectly timed, and sharp. I’m not too much of a coward to suggest that she’ll win the World Tile this year. Are you?  

The WSL has been going HARD on the Top 5 Final showdown narrative. Gabby, unsurprisingly, is the first male to qualify for the cobblestone dance. Photo: Pat Nolan/WSL

Gabriel Medina is a fucking god 
Yeah, I don’t know, his 10 million Instagram followers or escapades with Neymar should have suggested this to me by now. I’ve been to plenty of CT events and seen crowds swarm him when he enters or exits a heat—which has the tendency of making a person look like a god. But, without any fanfare in Lemoore, he still exuded such a presence. Proper superstar shit.

A frankly human attempt at an air rev by Alex Ribeiro. Photo: Pat Nolan/WSL

There’s something humanizing about seeing it in person 
A competitor walks out of a Red Bull circus tent. They jump on the back of a Jet Ski. The Jet Ski drops them off about 100 feet away. They sit, they wait. A machine roars. A blue train starts moving. A wave comes at them. They paddle, then boom. What a strange way to compete in a sport that is normally so tuned into the moods of nature. It’s mildly fascinating. 

Ethan Ewing, on the beat. Photo: Tony Heff/WSL

Rhythm, however, exists
You almost feel bad for a competitor over 50% through a wave they’ve been out of sync with. Like, what the fuck are you going to do? Try a rodeo flip? Equally, it’s rather impressive to see someone in rhythm with that wave for all 315 turns. 

On site, Gabriel would look like an ant or be invisible for most of this.

This event is better to watch from home 
Maybe it was the crowdless crowd. Maybe it was the oppressive heat. Maybe it’s the fact that you can only see the lefts from the watching area (the rights move away from you). And sure, there’s a screen—but I also have one of those at my house, where the risk of heat stroke is significantly lower. 

So, au revoir Le Moore. 

Our 23.5 hours together were indeed full of wonder.

Men’s Surf Ranch Pro presented by Adobe Leaderboard Top 8:
1 – Filipe Toledo (BRA) 17.80
2 – Gabriel Medina (BRA) 17.00
3 – Kanoa Igarashi (JPN) 15.33
4 – Ethan Ewing (AUS) 14.54
5 – Griffin Colapinto (USA) 14.53
6 – Yago Dora (BRA) 14.37
7 – Owen Wright (AUS) 14.27
8 – Adriano de Souza (BRA) 13.80

Click here for full leaderboard.

Women’s Surf Ranch Pro presented by Adobe Leaderboard Top 4:
1 – Johanne Defay (FRA) 16.63
2 – Carissa Moore (HAW) 15.17
3 – Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) 14.93
4 – Tatiana Weston-Webb (BRA) 14.83

Tomorrow morning, a handful of competitors will have another shot to crack the Top 8 (essentially the semifinals).

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