Sean Doherty: Jalan Jalan
COASTALWATCH | SEAN DOHERTY
Corona Bali Protected Round of 16
I thought I was shrooming when the screen resolved into view from Bali this morning. There was Gabby Medina sitting there waiting for a wave, but, was I tripping? It appeared to be raining cartoon plastic bottles all around him. It appeared I was in The Dude’s dream sequence and it was raining ten pins. But no, the producers had spliced the Corona plastic bottle promo into the live action… a technological breakthrough that should have had the ad team at the WSL dreaming up all sorts ways to sell shit… except the old ad inventory is running on fumes, and the scheduled ad breaks were sitting there empty anyway.
Bigger, better Keramas today. Slow but awful pretty when they came through. I scratched my head though. Why wouldn’t they consider the overlapping 50 minute heats they deployed at Bells? Here especially in Indonesia on long, long swell periods, you’re going to get 10-minute lulls followed by six-wave, eight-wave sets. With just two guys in the water that’s a lot of unridden waves. And Keramas too, where you can surf up and down the reef seems made for it. When I spoke with Pat O’Connell earlier in the year he’d said surfers should turn up expecting to surf overlapping heats, but just not here apparently. And this argument isn’t one of logistics. There’s plenty of waves coming in the forecast. This is simply from a surf fan’s point of view.
This morning they had to mop up the final heats of the Round of Tumescence, before they could begin the Round of “Is Bali Still Running?”
There’s something about watching Gabby in clean, fun, reef surf. Is it just me, or does he not capture the imagination in the same way he does when it’s big and busted up? Like he did at Bells? A movie of Gabby on a Mentawai boat trip? Not sure how quickly I’d sign up for that. The Beast needs something beastly. Today he wasn’t sure how to deal with how squeaky clean it was. His board looked corky. He didn’t get his waves, and he left the door open for Leo Fioravanti, who put some of his freshly acquired beef to work and aimed straight at the lip for the winner.
Misery soon had company. With Keramas looking like a hundred-yard slice of J-Bay, Jordy was expected to make short work of Jesse Mendes. He opened fluidly, but progressively tightened up. Then he sat there. Then Mendes got the lead. The Brazilian hasn’t made it out of the Dirty Third round yet this year, so he had desperation. I’m not sure whether Jordy has ever experienced it. They overcooked a Mendes barrel, but it didn’t matter. Jordy, gone.
In contrast, Julian never got going against Rodrigues in the first heat of the next round. He hasn’t got going this year, but of everyone in this field he’s done more man hours in the Keramas line-up over 15 years but might as well have been surfing it for the first time. As soon as he fell behind he just locked up. Badly overthinking the five he needed. Three in a row he fell. Couldn’t complete anything. Gone.
While over in Westeros they were sorting out the Iron Throne, Keramas resembled last week’s battle scene with all sorts of long running characters eating shit and exiting the script. But should it be this tough? Look how fun it looked out there? You could have sailed in a charter boat of punters on their annual boozy Bintang boat trip and they would have made it look better than the guys in the morning heats had.
It shouldn’t be that hard, and it wasn’t. The unsung Wade Carmichael and Joan Duru paddled out next and suddenly it looked like it should – punter-friendly and totally rippable. It actually felt like a hard scrabble nineties heat, no bullshit, no flair, no airs, just turns. Big fucking turns, hard as they could. Joan went wack-wack on his backhand. One of his turns jam-flicked backwards he pushed it so hard, ugly but beautiful at the same time, but it was Avoca Jesus who reminded everybody that surfing here is simpler than everyone was making it. One flying speed carve was actually performed a foot above the lip, carving fresh air but somehow holding his line. He kept it simple, which was lucky because Pottz had the telestrator out again, but it was brutal. This was the key.
Ronnie described the surfing as he’d seen up till that point as “smooth and silky”, and it jerried that smooth and silky surfing in smooth and silky waves was actually kinda boring. It needed something wild. Carmichael was wild.
Toledo must have been sitting there manically laughing as one by one the top ten went jalan jalan and disappeared back up the Ngurah Rai bypass road. He had a tough heat though in Callinan, who’s been the pick of the goofies on tour so far this year. Callinan will win a tour event this year and/or finish top five. But Phil Toledo was just going through the gears. He took Carmichael’s blunt power game and added some dizzying air revs. He’s the favourite for finals day, if he wasn’t already favourite simply by turning up.
The Slater/Bourez heat suddenly held real intrigue. Bourez might be the best and least likely guy out there at Keramas. No one comes from behind the section and surfs in and around the pocket better. And nobody surfs harder. You knew he’d get out there, over power his board, over power the wave… and yet make it all work. Bourez paddled out and did just that. He was going to bludgeon Kelly out of the contest. Kelly meanwhile drew great lines. The Aipa is tuned. Kelly has the Kelly wrap back. Joe loves his Kelly stats, but the stat I’d love to see was how many times during a day’s competition has Kelly been the first guy to get tubed. There’d be hundreds of them. He did it again today. On the dropping tide he found a double-up tube, then signed it off with an under-the-lip snap as vicious as anything Bourez could manage. Kelly will again be there on finals day… unlike Bells, this time with a formline.
As this report goes jalan jalan however, the one they might want to watch is Igarashi. After Gabby’s Bells floater, Filipe’s cross-step float today, and then Kanoa Igarashi’s double-float in the final heat of the day… they are experiencing a renaissance. Igarashi manned up out there this afternoon… manned up with floaters.
They are down to eight. The Round of Denouement commences tomorrow.
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