But how will he fair in the Big Leagues? Film: AprimoreSurf
How Will Yago Dora Fare On The 2018 Tour?
One of the world's most technically gifted surfers steps into The Arena. Will he come out alive?
Yago Dora is one of my favorite waveriders in the world. He surfs fast, loose, and with a radical disposition, all of which is complemented by his velvety Brazilian style. Yago's arms fall casually, his legs bend in all the right ways, and he's stuck to his board like gecko in a glue factory. If you really pushed me, I'd say that Yago is one of the Top-5 technically gifted surfers on the planet. So that should make his rookie year on tour pretty easy, right?
In my experience as a professional surfing super-fan, the most high-profile, progressive surfers don't do well in their rookie years. Look at Jack Freestone, Ryan Callinan, Kolohe Andino, Dusty Payne, and Jordy Smith: all guys who've been featured in Kai Neville films, all guys who had odious rookie seasons on the CT.
So what's behind this? Why do some of the most naturally talented surfers bobble early on, if not forever, in the Big Leagues? In my mind, it's equal parts psycho-and-physio-logical.
The psychological part is fairly simple. If you live your whole life hearing, and experiencing, that your shit don't stink, it's hard to jump back into a humble mentality. The CT is an incredibly difficult workspace and can catch even the most talented surfers off-guard, to the point where they lose more in one year than they have in their entire careers. This makes them question their abilities, which makes them hesitate in the water, which makes them lose more heats.
The physiological aspect is perhaps even simpler. The most proven way to make heats on the Championship Tour is by hitting critical sections and throwing a lot of spray. High risk maneuvers like shuv-its and nosepicks may look cool, but in terms of winning you're better off sticking to meat-and-potatoes surfing. Two perfect examples are 2017's top rookies, Frederico Morais and Connor O'Leary. Their surfing is based around strength and stability rather than video-clip maneuvers, and they beat the shit out of high-profile rookies Zeke, Leo, and Ethan.
Rightly or wrongly, this is how the CT functions.
So while I'd prefer to watch Yago surf over Patrick Gudauskas, and while we can say Yago's an objectively a better surfer than Willian Cardoso, that doesn't necessarily mean he'll finish ahead of them in the 2018 CT rankings. In fact, history says he probably won't. But boy do I hope I'm wrong!