This Week In Surfing: Now The Aussie Leg Is Done Who'll Win The Titles? Plus A New Dane Clip!
COASTALWATCH | THIS WEEK IN SURFING
Ten Things From Surfing & The Internet On The Week That Was April 14, 2017
A thousand years from now, when the digital archeologists are given the inevitable and super important task of trying to work out who Jordy Smith was, all they’ll need to do is watch this one clip, and witness this one wave, and they will know everything there is to know about Jordy. The brilliance, the power, the smoothness of high velocity surfing perfectly in rhythm with one of the hardest waves to get in sync with in the world, and then, of course, the audacity of the claim, ringing a pretend bell with a full 16 minutes left on the clock. Wasn’t that wild? There’s some folkloric laws around the Bells trophy: it can only be rung by a past winner, and if some plebian does go ahead and rings it, the event will be cursed with awful waves, so it’s said. But what are the rules around ringing a pretend Bells trophy before it's been won? Will it curse pretend events in the future?
Anyway, Jordy Smith, who has long held the title as the best surfer at Bells to have never won there can finally shake that backhanded compliment off and let John John Florence pick it up. Is John John the best Bells surfer out there now that hasn’t won it? Should we add that to his title of best Pipe surfer to not be a Pipe Master?
Or how about Zeke Lau, a guy who’s reportedly never been to the wave and throughout the event looked more and more like a man who was meant to win it, in fact, with every heat he looked more and more like a man who won it three times. The comparisons between him and Sunny are boring in their obviousness, both being powerful native Hawaiians. But Sunny is the best Hawaiian to surf Bells in the pro surf era, having won it three times, and despite their being a bunch of Hawaiians who have felt right at home in the bowl since Sunny first took it out in 1995, the legacy has certainly been passed down to one Mr. Zeke Lau. But enough about Zeke, this was Jordy’s time, and he closed out the Australian leg with a dominant win at a place that has haunted him with close losses. Congratulations to Jordy.
With three events down, John John has a first and two thirds, which is a frighteningly strong and consistent beginning to a World Title defence, particularly when you take into account how much better John John gets on the schedule as soon as it leaves Australia. This time last year John John had a fifth and two 13ths, and still chased down the crown before the tour even got to Pipe. He is ions better this year. Had he not even won at Margarets, the two semi-final finishes that sandwich that event would be proof enough that John John has the consistency this year that wins Titles. Look at the world title years of Parko, Adriano, and Mick. Semi final finishes everywhere. Now look at the rankings of the Championship Tour today: in the three events of the Aus leg there wasn’t a single surfer who got past the quarter finals more than once, except for John John of course. Bigger than that, John John was the only surfer to make it to the quarter finals in every event, too.
Last year, John John won a relatively easy World Title after he caught the runaway World No.1 in Matt Wilkinson at Teahupo’o, and built a lead that couldn’t be topped by the end of Portugal. This year, he has made it even easier for himself. Especially with the likes of Kelly Slater and Mick Fanning, both of whom’s best results are lone fifths, are apparently contemplating if they’ll even be contending the rest of the tour with full vigour, Kelly going so far as to say live on the WSL broadcast that he might not even go to Brazil. Medina too is faring not much better with his best result a third so far.
As said above, it's consistency that wins Titles. And so far John John is the only surfer on tour who’s showed any of it.
This time last year John John had a mere 8,700 points (while Wilko had the unfathomably near perfect start of 24,000 points), right now, John John has pulled a Wilko-like 23,000 points out of his weakest leg of the tour. Sure, it’s early in the year, and Jordy and Owen sit less than 4,000 points behind him, but, save for injury, when you look at John and everyone else’s past results over the next seven events, it’s so terribly hard to see anyone catching him from here, and if they do it, it will be the best title race ever since the last best title race ever. So, ahh, yeah...
the 22. Conlogue Goes Back To Back At Bells, Gilmore Takes The Aus Leg
What's with the women at Bells going back to back at the hallowed event. Conlogue just did it. Carissa Moore won three in a row before her, and before that Sally won it back to back too. And the first time Steph won it in 2007, she followed it up with a second win in 2008 as well. In fact, the only surfer not to win Bells twice in the past decade has been Brazillian Silvana Lima, who took it out the sole win in 2009. It seems that once you work out Bells, you really work it out, and Conlogue has worked it out, scratching a hard fought win in her first final this year, taking down the oh-so-back-in-form Stephanie Gilmore.
With the Australian leg done, Stephanie Gilmore has had a dream start, with a win, a second, and a semi-final finish giving her a commanding lead as the tour boards planes for Brazil.
It's hard to analyse just how she'll fare for the rest of tour, as she hasn't been good anywhere since 2014, with 2015 being a year she missed the majority of due to injury, and 2016 being a complete shocker. 2017 is a true return to form for the six-time world champ, and it feels like the first real opportunity we've seen from her to tie Layne Beachley's record seven World Titles.
It's also been a true return to form for World No.2 Sally Fitzgibbons who's got an event win, a semi, and quarter final finish. Despite perhaps feeling a little left behind in recent years in the advancement of high performance surfing by the rest of the field, she's got the toughness and mental aptitude to finish in the finals at any event on tour, and come away with an unlikely, but also overdue World Title. The next three events, Brazil, Huntington, and Fiji, are all events she has won before (Brazil and Fiji twice each), so she'll be feeling mighty confident she can hang tight with Steph, and perhaps even take back the World No.1 spot before Trestles.
The real surprise on the women's tour after the first three events is Carissa Moore, with a trio of quarterfinal finishes. She's set herself an uphill battle for the rest of 2017 if she's to keep her tradition of winning a World Title every second year. She'll be helped by the improved performances of Steph and Sally, as well as Title contenders Conlogue and Wright, all taking points away from each other. But only if she can get some wins back into her results.
There's been a lot of talk about the men's tour being the closest it's ever been, and having more true World Title contenders than ever, but with the comebacks of Steph and Sally, World Champ Tyler Wright yet to win an event but that not looking beyond her either, the improvement of Lakey Peterson, and the shocking start of world beater Carissa Moore, that call is more of a reality over on the women's side of the tour. You get the feeling that by the time the tour reaches event no.10 at Honolua Bay, the World Title could be anyone's and the rankings will be so tight you'll be able to throw a blanket over the top six.
3. Dane For Former
I’m sorry guys, that was far too much WSL talk, wasn’t it? Like 1300 words of it. Surfing is so much more than pro surfboarding competitions, so here is Dane Reynolds in an ad for his new surf shorts brand Former. Kelly Slater said during the week that Jordy and Dane have been the two best surfers in the world for the past half decade in regards to pushing the sport with power and aerials. Do you wish Dane Reynolds was still on tour? Do people still think about that? Remember when people would write long think pieces on Surfer and The Inertia about why Dane owes it to us to get back on tour? That was a funny time. And remember the time Dane wanted to requalify, and signed up for every QS, only to have to surf awful one-foot mush at Newcastle and Manly and decide that losing in one-foot mush was not a fun way to spend your life? Would Dane be on tour today if the QS wasn’t so crummy? So many questions.
SEE ALSO: Sean Doherty On Bells The Musical
4. A Beautiful Nazare Clip
Well would you look at this highlight reel from the 2016/17 winter at Nazare, Portugal. Slow motion and big wave surfing are two things that get pretty boring pretty quickly, yet this clip is fantastic! This clip is beautiful! This clip is the best clip of the week! The quality cinematography and dramatic action is helped in some part to be so good by the soundtrack, which is a song by south coast Australian legends Shining Bird, who are actually on tour at the moment, and are put out by Spunk Records. Do you know about Spunk Records? Their office is on top of a surf shop and cafe in Thirroul and run by a legend named Aaron with a decent frontside carve. Good onya Spunk.
5. Shane Dorian Still Rips The Medium Stuff
If you go back two decades to the 90s, and watch the surf videos of Taylor Steele and Jack McCoy, you’ll rediscover and remember that Shane Dorian is so much more than a big wave paddle pioneer. The guy is one of the best ever, perhaps second only to Kelly Slater as the best natural footer of the decade. Now, at 44 years of age, we don’t get to see much of him in waves less than a million feet. But it’s sick to see he still rips.
SEE ALSO: Maldives Early Season Pumping Swell
6. The Dooley Episode 11
This week the weekly surf quiz podcast switched it up for a reverse episode, throwing Danny the Weak Wrap guy into the hosting position to ask questions about paddle battles, Kelly Slater's Instagram wars and a new game called: Potts Knows Everything, But What Is He Talking About, And How Did He Know It, He Must Be Psychic...
7. Zac Haynes Will Fire You Up
Talk about drama! The sound and music on this clip, which is the year of West Australian Zac Hanes whipping into death-defying slabs and paddling Nazare, makes me feel like I’m about to watch an elimination final of the NRL or AFL. Phwoaaar, I’m so amped I feel like I should be screaming at a television at a mate’s place while we scoff packets of chips and smash frothies. Man, I wish I had chips and beers… and mates. That’d be the best. Sick clip, Zac.
8. Brad Domke and Jamie O'Brien Do Stuff In Mexico
Apparently this Mexico highlights clip featuring skimboard freak Brad Domke and Pipeline freak Jamie O’Brien swapping boards and towing waves was released way back in 2015, but was locked to a magazine that sadly no longer exists (long live print!). So here it is, for the first time a second time. Is Brad Domke the biggest outlier in surfing? We should get him, Kai Lenny, Zoltan Torkas, and the guy who rides motorbikes in the ocean, and put them all on a surf trip together, film it, put out a clip, and then never watch it. That’d be so fun.
9. Freddy Mo and Dog Marsh On The Occ-Cast
After Frederico Morais’s super impressive performance at Bells this week, he and his coach Richard Dog Marsh travelled back in time to the Hawaiian winter and jumped on Occy’s excellent podcast for an interview. Unfortunately Occy was still in the past, and didn’t know Freddy Mo would take down Gabriel Medina and make the quarters over easter. but it was still just after he’d qualified for the 2017 tour, and with longtime friend of Occy, and part of the new wave of CT coaches on there too, it’s an interesting insight into the modern approach to pro surfing, as well as a good laugh.
SWELL FEATURE: 40 Places That Had Amazing Waves Last Weekend
10. A Little Bit of Droid
To balance out all that super jock WSL surf junk at the beginning of this edition of This Week In Surfing, we’ve got Andrew Droid Doheny to save the day with two minutes of counter-cult surfing from when he was in Australia over the end of summer. From Matt Tromberg of Metal Neck.
Bonus... Weak Wrap Is Back!
Yes! After a two week hiautus, the best/worst thing in surf media is back, it’s Weak Wrap! In this episode, Danny insults little people, continues his passive aggressive attacks on Alex Gray, shows no respect for Robbie Maddison, tarnishes the noble sport of wakeboarding, and gets weird about sex with Alex Knost. “Try surfing not on fire, it’s even better,” is a good line, though. Welcome back, Danny.
And that was this week in surfing. Have a good weekend everyone. Go Raptors!
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