The QS Is Really Bad but Could Be Really Good, Plus Harry Bryant Rules and Is This the Wave of the Winter?
COASTALWATCH | THIS WEEK IN SURFING
Ten Things From Surfing & The Internet On The Week That Was December 7, 2018
1. Zeke Lau Just Won Sunset On an epic Final Day of the QS That Proved Just How Bad It Is Right Now
I'm going to do my best to not write 1500 words on this, because this isn't the time or place to go that into detail and there are other things to get to from the past week in surfing... buuuut we really need to talk about how poorly set up the QS is.
First though, let's take a moment to lay down before the greatness that is Zeke Lau at the iconic wave of Sunset. Watching the powerful young Hawaiian at the powerful old Hawaiian wave just felt right. The partnership between that man and that wave is the surfing equivalent of one of those Buzzfeed articles with 98 photos of things fitting perfectly into other things. Here's a quote from a professional organiser (yes, that's a thing) about that kind of content – "Part of the reason I enjoy organising is that I enjoy the actual hands-on, being able to take a space that is total chaos and bring some order to it.” – Is that not the most perfect analogy for the chaos that is a macking Sunset line-up, with all its wash throughs and shifting peaks, and the innert pleasure we get from watching Zeke Lau make order out of it? He was, he is, brilliant.
Sunset was sick today. It was the final day of the QS for the year. The final chance for those who aren't on the CT, to swing on a mountain and commit to something grand in an effort to graduate to surfing's biggest stage. And, for the occasion, Sunset came to the party and provided the mountains. Unfortunately, the structure of the WSL's QS system did everything it could to ruin it.
The mathematics of trying to work out who might qualify, who might not, what each surfer needs to do give themselves a shot did not exist on the broadcast. Chris Binns' tweets spoke for all of us who tuned in and tried to watch.
For Australian surf fans, we started the day with our eyes on Soli Bailey and Jack Freestone, who before Sunset sat just outside the qualification bubble, as well as how theirs and other results would affect Ethan Ewing, who sat at the precarious cliff edge of tenth on the QS. As the heats went on, and Soli Bailey and Jack Freestone progressed to the quarter-finals, we learnt little more. And again as Freestone crashed out there, and Soli crashed out in the semis, we got little more than scant guesses and speculation from a commentary team who had no data on what was going on at all.
At one point, the broadcast waited till the 23 minute mark of Jesse Mendes' Semi-Final to announce Mendes had confirmed his requalification for the 2019 CT. He, and the rest of us, had no idea what he was surfing for in that very heat? What reason other than general ineptness and/or a confusing and complicated mathematical qualification structure could they have for waiting till 7 minutes remained in the heat to give us and him that info? It is absurd. All the while epic surfing was going down in clutch moments, but we were unsure what any of it it meant, only that it meant... something.
It was like watching a thrilling NBA playoffs game, but with no-one in the arena, on the broadcast, or watching along at home having the ability to understand the score. Is this a game winning three? Did Soli Bailey just miss that wave, and thus blow his chance at fulfilling his lifelong dream of reaching surfing's greatest stage? Shrug your shoulders cause who knows? Funnily enough, the WSL's broadcast through Facebook allowed viewers to point out the problem in plain sight, as Joe and Joao Public consistently flooded the bottom half of the screen with comments asking who was qualifying and how, trying to work it out amongst themselves in real time, but with no certainty.
By the end of the day, the final standings of the QS were locked, and we eventually got to see who ended up where. The top 10 being:
2. Griffin Colapinto
3. Seth Moniz
4. Ryan Callinan
5. Peterson Crisanto
6. Jesse Mendes
7. Deivid Silva
8. Ricardo Christie
9. Leo Fioravanti
10. Jadson Andre
Soli Bailey, Zeke Lau, Jack Freestone, and Ethan Ewing made up 11th to 14th respectively, and with Kanoa at 8th on the CT right now and Colapinto 20th, you would suggest that Soli is a lock for the 2019 CT, while Zeke Lau is a likely incusion. On top of that, Zeke Lau is currently 18th on the CT, should he double qualify with the help of Colapinto, Jack Freestone would also see himself back on the Championship Tour in 2019.
Anyway, the weird maths, the strange set up, and the lack of ability the WSL has at adding all these things up and delivering us the situation in real time has robbed us surfing fans of what could have been a wonderful spectacle of modern pro surfing.
So can we fix it?
Yes, actually, it's easy. The answer is to not run the QS and the CT at the same time.
Imagine a world where the CT and the QS were run concurrently. It would be so sick. The CT, as I've written about in detail, is far too long already. If we compressed the ten events down and ran them in one half of the year, then ran the QS in the CT offseason (or at the very least, ran the 6 QS10,000s that ultimately decide who qualifies), those surfers who fell off the Championship Tour could dedicate themselves 100% to the qualifying series once more (which then elevates the QSs themselves), while the CT guys who finished top 22 could make freesurfing movies or get a proper offseason to recuperate from injuries. And then the final event of the QS, like today, would be a grand final of sorts. Us surf fans would know exactly what every surfer needed to qualify going into the event, and the event, the qualifying series, and the sport of surfing itself would be far more compelling.
So let's do it.
Anyway, thanks for listening to my Ted Talk, I'm sorry I started crying.
Here are some highlights:
2. Pipe Starts In A Day, But Bad News: No John John
While I'm being cranky, here is some more cranky news: John John Florence, the best surfer in the world, has pulled out of the Pipe Masters, the best event of the year. John John of course has been out of CT action since he injured his knee in Bali back in May. The Pipe Masters will still be exciting though 'cause, if the other events of the Hawaiian season are anything to go by, we should have a pretty active ocean for Pipe – and, of course, the World Title is on the line. Here's a refresher on who needs what to win:
– Medina can't lose the title if he makes the Pipe Masters final.
– If Medina crashes out in the semis, Toledo or Julian can win the Title if they win the event.
– If Medina doesn't make the semis, Toledo or Julan can take the title if they make the final.
The waiting period opens early morning Sunday, Aus time. Get your snacks ready.
"I think I’m close to 100%, but I'm not there yet. I noticed this week that I still don’t have full trust in my movements... The Pipe Masters is my favorite contest on tour so it’s a really difficult decision, but I am going to withdraw from the event." - @johnjohnflorenc pic.twitter.com/ZinnZhiDHi— World Surf League (@wsl) December 5, 2018
3. Speaking of Pipeline
Is this the Wave of the Winter?
4. Harry Bryant Drops A Banger
Harry Bryant is one of the funniest surfers we have. But more than being funny, the dude rips. And more than jsut ripping, he’s one of those surfers who’s really fun to watch go surfing. Orb is a 15 minute super clip that dropped in the last month of 2019, and can now sit nicely with Noa Deane’s, Chippa Wilon's and Shaun Manners’s in a standout year for Australian freesurfer edits. Hit play.
5. The Trent Mitchell Mini Doc is Gold
If you were to have a conversation about who the best surf photographer is, who the best photographer we have connected to surfing, hell, who the best artist we have in any way connected to the ocean, Trent Mitchell’s name would be one of the first to get mentioned. The dude is an insane talent and has a passion for capturing beautiful imagery rarely matched anywhere. This is a beautiful little mini-documentary on the man, and it’s an inspiring watch.
6. Colapinto, Parko, Italo (all the Os) and More Star In Billabong's New Hawaii Clip
The latest episode of Billabong's most excellent web series – Life’s Better In Boardshorts – sees the team hitting the Hawaiian Islands over the last few months where the likes of Josh Moniz, Jack Freestone, Italo Ferreira, Kai Hing, Seth Moniz, Joel Parkinson and Griffin Colapinto embrace the tradition of making the most of the Hawaiian winter, when the waves turn on and the surfing world turns its head to the north shore of Oahu.
Plenty of highlights here, including the proper Pipe bomb Griffin Colapinto packed, the tweaked out aerials of Seth Moniz and Italo Ferreira, and, of course, the eternal effortless style of Parko on the North Shore. Dive in!
7. Hawaii Live Episode 3
And while we're doing team clips outta Hawaii, here's the O'Neill team, including 2019 rookie Soli Bailey, you bloody bewty!!!! P.S. How good are layback tubes? Very good... is the answer... to that question.
8. Kai Borg On the Occ-Cast
Kai Borg Garcia was on Occy's podcast and... I'm too scared to write anything else. Enjoy!
9. Billabong Ladies Doing The Shredding
Seekers of the Sun is a launch clip for a summer clothing range, I think, but it mostly features some very good surfing, edited in a sick, fun style, starring some girls who rip, and that's what's important. That's Felicity Palmateer, Alessa Quizon, and Laura Enever – who is the standout, threading some sick righthand Mexican point break tubes. Super rad.
10. Every Brazillian Superstar Is Going For Medina
Are you kidding me?! Pele! PELE! Pele is in a Rip Curl Medina support clip as the 2011 Brazillian World Champ gets ready for the 2019 Pipe Masters showdown. Also in the clip are freaking Ronaldinho, Kaka, Gisele Bundchen and more. Vai Medina!
Here is Soli Bailey celebrating his qualification for the 2019 CT. Onya Soli!
And that was this week in surfing. Have a good weekend everyone.
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