Who's beneath brothers feet this week? All photos: WSL
What Non-Mayhem Craft Has Kolohe Andino Been Riding, And Who's Gonna Stop Kanoa Igarashi At J-Bay?
A thorough analysis of day 3.
Jeffrey's Bay was ugly this morning.
Consistent and good size, but wrought with lump and plagued by el diablo. Still plenty contestable though.
The Commish (whoever that is at this point) called for 46-minute overlapping heats, something no sane surfer would oppose. Who's gonna say no to more time in the water?
I can't pretend that I stayed up all night watching this, so let's just get into an analysis of the Analyzer, shall we?
Jordy Smith got 10 waves in his heat this morning, which is pretty impressive for a heat at Jbay. Granted, he did have 46 minutes to do it, and a vast majority of said waves came in at under a three, nonetheless Jordy waltzed to victory over Soli Bailey (soaring "inappropriately" above) despite a few head stitches from a misread tube.
Joan Duru had the Owen Wright by the balls after two huge first turns on a clean morning wall, but two unnecessary bobbles resigned his eight to a 6.9, leaving enough wiggle room for the judges to fudge a Wright victory.
It feels like Owen has been stuck in second gear all season, with the same slow, placed, backside turns seeing him either to victory or defeat, and Owen showing little emotion either way. Even his post-heat interviews come off as distant and forlorn, which I understand can happen to veterans of any discipline, but as a fan, it's unfortunate to see.
I won’t pretend to understand the diverse and potentially abundant ramifications of the head injury Owen faced in 2015. It’s possible that the trauma affected his general personality and demeanor, which, if that is the case, there should be no shame or judgment. But if the big cat cares to regain a seat amongst the world's top surfers, he'll need to bring something more dynamic to the table.
Gabriel Medina did a ridiculous fin drift on a feathering end-section, throwing his head way below his feet to counterbalance his board, which, for most humans, would have flown halfway to Antarctica had it been placed that high above the coping on a backside "turn." Medina being Medina, he somehow rode away with control. That comes down to incredible strength and ability, which reminds me of Mark Occhilupo, who is the last goofy-footed Jbay winner (in 1984!).
Yago Dora just looked too damn slow on Jbay's wind-blown walls. The Brazilian's first scoring wave could have been a seven with more speed and flow, but its disjointed nature relegated the ride to a 4.5. Furthermore, Yago's highest-scoring wave (a 6.83) could have been an eight if he'd hit the opening section rather than having to pump past it.
That said, Yago surfed pretty well on the sections he could reach, and I honestly thought Ryan Callinan got a little overcooked. The heat was much closer to my eye than it appeared on paper, but alas, Yago is out.
Adriano’s second wave of the heat—a 4.53 that started with a carve and a down-the-line tube—was on its way to being a very fine score until he fell awkwardly on a patented ADS drop-wallet, his right knee flaring involuntarily outwards to shield itself from potential pain rather than inwards to control the drift. This goes to show that the psychological effects of an injury long outlast their physical restraints. Let’s just hope the same doesn’t apply to John, whenever he should return.
Meanwhile, Kolohe Andino continues to not lose heats, using superior wave selection and a wide variety of claims to keep his world-beating streak alive (yes, Kolohe's technically the best surfer on earth right now). But more importantly, Brother rode a DHD in his heat today.
Here's his story, slimmed down for brevity: Kolohe asked Mick Fanning what boards he should order for Jbay. Mick told him to order a couple of DHDs. Kolohe did just that and ended up loving the DHDs, or at least one of them, to the point that he wanted to ride it in his heat. However, Kolohe feared potential backlash from his longtime board sponsor/builder Matt 'Mayhem' Biolos, who is infamously gruff and grim. Luckily for Kolohe, several years back, Mick grabbed one of Brother’s trade-ins from the ...Lost (Biolos' company) factory and rode it to great success in the Lowers comp. With this precedent established, Mayhem obliged Kolohe’s request to ride the DHD at Jbay (probably gruffly), and Kolohe remains in the event.
But how salty would Mayhem be if Kolohe were to his first CT on the Handley?
Deivid Silva beat Jeremy Flores with one extended backside fin drift, which reportedly started all the way back in Ballito. But Jezza don’t care. Teahupo’o next!
Zeke Lau dashed any remaining hopes of a Julian Wilson Title run in 2019, securing a heat-flipping score in the final minute with surfing that was stronger, faster, and more aggressive than Australia's last great nope.
Adrian Buchan got two sevens in the first six minutes of his 46-minute heat—the first was great, the second was grossly overscored. Meanwhile, Ace’s competitor, Conner Coffin, waited until beyond the halfway point (18 mins remaining) to start his heat. The judges punished Conner's complacency with low-fives for waves that, in relation to Ace’s, should have been at least sixes, maybe sevens. The score lords used to love Coffin’s long, swooping arcs. What happened?
Filipe Toledo had a bit of a walkthrough against Mikey February, who actually surfed alright but was never gonna beat the 2x defending champ at clean, but not quite tubing, 3-4 foot Jbay.
Frankly, I don’t think Michael February should ever ride a “performance board” again. Did you see his surfing in the Corona Highline (below)? How about in his new clip (from Mick's "Snake" wave)? The cat’s too damn cool to be fighting for points with the Brother and the Brazilians.
If I could have it my way, Mikey would take every twin, bonzer, single, and asym available and post up at a distant African point (perhaps that one^^), and refuse to leave until a 30-minute film has been completed. If Mikey's extra clever, he’d get Steph Gilmore to ditch the Tour and come along with him.
Who wouldn’t watch that?
Speed, power, flow, progression, and variety of maneuvers—that’s what the WSL’s criteria is supposed to reward. In the heat of Michael Rodrigues vs. Willian Cardoso, the judges ignored all that shit and threw points at a single quality index: spray. Despite thrusting three times harder than his opponent, Michael Rodrigues struggled to produce the same thick white plumes of Willian Cardoso, whose viscosity of spray excited the tower-dwelling voyeurs.
In the ugliest neoprene known to man, Wade Carmichael was eliminated from another should-win event at the three-thumbed hands of Sebastian Zietz, who had the highest single score of the day for a tube-to-many-turns combo. This loss will sting for Avoca Jesus, whose pet events have already passed on the schedule. Wade will requalify this year but probably won’t crack the top 10 as he did in 2018.
Michel Bourez and Ricardo Christie had a genuinely close heat, with the judges choosing short, punchy power hacks over long, languid carves. I'm not sure what Ricardo will take from this event, other than another 17th (his sixth straight!).
Jbay marks the one year anniversary of Kanoa Igarashi’s transition from a cute and cuddly spinster to a full-blown fuckboi (in the most endearing sense of the word). After switching board sponsors from Channel Islands to Sharp Eye, Kanoa’s confidence soared, manifesting itself in yellow hair, huge endorsement deals, his first CT win, this interview, and the highest heat total of the day, today.
Poor Frederico Morais was caught in the fusillade of clout and claims—he never stood a chance. Begging the question, if Kanoa maintains his current form, who the fuck’s gonna stop him?
Kelly Slater’s board looked too small, too slow, and too chattery today at overhead Jeffrey's, but fuck if that's gonna stop him from grabbing the bitch by the throat!
Caio Ibelli surfed well in response, but it's clear the judges aren’t taking any heat away from Kelly that they don’t absolutely have to in 2019—which is a good thing to consider when punting (one Stab-adjacent bettor might have wagered his paycheck on the GOAT today, which would have theoretically paid in droves). Let the good times roll!
In his heat against Italo Ferreira, Jack Freestone took off on the worst wave of the day and did two ridiculous fin drifts, scoring under five points for what could have been an eight on a wave of substance.
The kid is so damn close to unlocking his ability in competition, but there’s still a slight disconnect between Jack's mind and body—when one is on, the other is off.
Italo won with exactly the surfing you’d expect: fast, loose, electric.
The women went next. Steph glitzed her way to glamour; Caroline went upside down and over Paige Hareb’s head (again); Keely Andrew was never gonna touch Carissa Moore; Johanne Defay, in the most well-matched heat of the round, got the jump on Tatiana Weston Webb; Sally Fitz beat Macy Callaghan, who, like a baby giraffe, still looks unaccustomed to her height; Brisa Hennessy crumbled under the veteran heft of Malia Manuel; and like that, the sun set over a long, wonky, but fantastic day at Jeffrey’s.