Video: Morgan Maassen
This Is The Best We've Seen Soli Bailey Surf
Plus it's cut by Morgan Maassen, so you kinda have to watch.
Soli Bailey finished 30th in his rookie year on Tour.
Sounds bad, but it's not really. Because the deck is fucking stacked against rookies. In order to get out from under the thumb of the top-5, you need to have a huge result in the first three events of the season. If you don't, you end up drawing John, Gabby, Italo etc. in all of your round 3 heats, making defeat more or less imminent.
Just for fun, let's take a look at the surfers that ended Soli's runs at each event last year: Filipe Toledo, Conner Coffin, Adrian Buchan, Italo Ferreira, Kolohe Andino (x2), Jordy Smith, Owen Wright, Gabriel Medina, Jack Freestone, John Florence.
Most, if not all, are acceptable losses on paper.
Which is to say two things:
1. The level on Tour is extraordinarily high.
2. Finishing 30th on a Tour of this caliber should be considered an achievement, not a diss.
And if you had any lingering questions about Soli's surfing being up to snuff, take a look at the video above, which was filmed in Indo/Aus/Hawaii/ZAF and produced by Morgan Maassen.
According to a witness, Soli was the best surfer on O'Neill's team trip to Indo, which included none other than last year's World #3, Jordy Smith. The last two waves (plus the massive lien earlier on) lend credence to those claims.
Bonus! Morgan's thoughts on Soli:
10 years ago, an Australian surf magazine editor handed me one of my first photography assignments and said "capture Soli". We had only a few hours together, shooting portraits and action on a small day in Hawaii, but I was immediately struck by the incredible demeanor of the teenager. Polite, quiet, but so fiercely determined to make his mark, Soli was rising through the junior ranks and dreaming of make the World Tour. As time went on, we crossed paths countless times in random, far-flung places... but this last year i was bestowed both the pleasure of travel with him to Indonesia to score perfect waves, and to watch his inaugural year competing on the tour. The highs of his performances in incredible surf, and lows of watching him struggle with the complexities - and literal luck - that comes with being a professional surfer, was nothing short of amazing, and as I release this short film, I cannot express how proud I am of this human's fruition into a young adult who surfs with incredible talent and carries the flag for Indigenous Australians with dignity.