Sean Doherty On: The Lowers Shuffle

15 Sep 2017 0

Sean Doherty

Senior Writer



Day 2 The Pacific Wave Tank
Day 1 The Rainbow Elite

While we’ve heard the inside line on the WSL’s reimagined, reconfigured men’s world tour, we haven’t heard a word about what’s happening with the women’s tour. Not a crumb, which is strange because as we well know the WSL is an iron-fisted matriarchy, with the men simply a token addition to the real show.

Anyway, I got an idea.

Hold all the women’s tour at Lowers. Every event, all 10 of them. Because if they could replicate the level of surfing we saw from the girls today there’d be no need for any other venue and maybe, eventually, no need for a token men’s tour.

There’s some strange alchemy going on here at Lowers, because this cannot be the same group of surfers who slogged and wiggled, dispirited and awkwardly through the slop of Huntington a few weeks back. Nuh-uh. Couldn’t be. The surfing today was arguably the best the women’s tour has delivered, and it wasn’t just one girl shining, there was a bunch who would’ve won dude heats out there today.

How the hell Carissa Moore and Lakey Peterson are sitting at nine and ten in the rankings bends my brain. They’ve gone MIA for most of the season, but today they clicked… sadly in a heat against each other. Steph finally looked like Steph as she danced all over Lowers and danced all over Tyler Wright’s title hopes, before losing in the quarters to the day’s other standout, Silvana Lima.

While the guys in the top 10 buy up whole streets in their home towns, Silvana Lima has had to sell her modest house at home in Brazil just to fund her tour this year. She sold her house and pretty much everything in it, so understandably there’s been a little hustle in everything she’s done, but nothing has really come together for her until today.

Here’s an interesting one for you. Do you know that not only is Silvana the lone Brazilian woman on tour, but also the only Brazilian woman in the top 100 on the qualifying series as well? While the Brazilian guys threaten to make the tour their own, Silvana is an army of one for the Brazilian women, and you can only imagine the situation outlined above – the whole selling of the house thing – is the reason why this is so. But is it simply financial reasons preventing Brazilian women from surfing on the tour? Or is it cultural? Anyone able to throw some light here? Anyway, a Silvana win tomorrow would not only buy back half her house, but also maybe, at some point down the track, inspire a few Brazilian girls to keep her company on tour.

As predicted yesterday, the shitfight surrounding the Kanoa Igarashi resurf went well into the night – right through the night actually – with Igarashi’s coach Jake Paterson lying in his bed at 3am, in his underpants, sweating, swearing, rolling himself up in the sheets, marinating in the bad call the judges gave his boy the day before, contemplating all sorts of unholy retribution. There was talk of even boycotting the resurf entirely, which would have really been something but wasn’t without merit. This wasn’t a missed call from the judges; it was a reversed call and where does that slippery slope end?

Anyway, Kanoa simply paddled out and beat Mick again. He then removed Julian Wilson from the draw, and now finds himself in the quarters tomorrow against Phil Toledo. Jake Paterson’s strategy is becoming clear. Every time one of his boys gets involved in some kind of controversy – Kanoa at Huntington, Zeke Lau at Bells – they pull a result. Snake’s gaming it. He knows the game and knows the application of the rulebook better than anyone on tour – the surfers, coaches, judges and even the guys who wrote the rulebook – and if anyone is going to push it to its limit, it’ll be him.

Do you remember a few years ago when Parko called out Julian for being crabby after landing his airs? Remember that? Jules didn’t like it, but at the time Joel had a point. This was in the Precambrian days of performance surfing when transitioning from progressive airs to smooth rail carves involved an awkward, ugly moment where the surfer who’d just shuffled his front foot forward to land his air now had to somehow shuffle it back. It looked horrible. That awkward second felt like it took an hour, and it ruined the flowing aesthetic of the wave completely. The Great Leap Forward with progressive surfing has been, well, this great leap forward. The front foot shuffle just happens now, you don’t even see it with the better guys… a group that now of course includes Julian. He, John John and Phil Toledo have it on lock. It means they can go to the air on their first turn, and when judges have to split multi-turn waves at Trestles this is the ace. Jordy has the shuffle, but so far this event he’s won heats conservatively. He hasn’t used the shuffle, but if he’s going to win the contest he’s going to need to.

I could bang on here about Jordy and John, but that’d leave me little to write about tomorrow with the pair of them on a collision course for the Lowers title… and a world title later in the year. Toledo might be the spoiler for both. But with the ritual hyperbole being spread a little thick already on the broadcast, I quietly prayed for a De Souza/Buchan final at Trestles, just so they had to conjure up the enthusiasm to call it.

For good measure we got De Souza and Buchan in the first quarter, “a classic match up” as Joe described it, and indeed it was a classic as the pair sat there for 20 minutes doing nothing, the only thing breaking the monotony being a minor squabble over the only wave that remotely looked like breaking, Ace throwing his arms up dramatically, hoping to take advantage of the collective paranoia in the judges booth and score himself priority. Instead he managed to eventually snag the first wave, visualize Adriano’s head in the lip, and spritzed the thing.

Short of a Kim Jong-Un ICBM making the distance to Camp Pendleton overnight, tomorrow should be an interesting days surfing.

Tags: sean doherty , world surf league , wsl , surfing , trestles , hurley , swatch , mick fanning , kanoa igarashi , ace buchan (create Alert from these tags)

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