This Week In Surfing: How Did The WSL Botch The John John World Title Broadcast? Plus, Occy's John John Interview, and Ryan Burch in Cloudbreak
Ten Things From Surfing & The Internet On The Week That Was October 28, 2016
1. John John Is The World Champ
Have you heard? John John Florence won the World World Title. He's the guy. The World Champ. The big cheese. The real deal. The great one. The ol' cup o joe. The chicken parmigiana. The hot chips and gravy. The ridgey didge. King cockatoo. Chitty chitty bang bang. Seasons 3-7 of The Simpsons. The true mashed potato... ...McNuggets! Umm, all hail King John!
He also won the MEO Rip Curl Pro Portugal this week. So, he's really done the things. So how'd he do it? Well, basically, going into the contest at Portugal he had a neat 2,700 point lead over Gabriel Medina who would have to make just the quarter-finals to push the showdown to Pipeline. And to be honest, I thought Gabriel was going to do that, and then some. A quarter-finals finish? Pffft, easy. I thought Medina would even take the win at Pipe, that guy is really really good at competition surfing. And the way John John ended his comp in France and started in Portugal, I thought, "Ahhh gee, I dunno John..."
But I was so delightfully wrong! In Portugal, Medina really wasn't good enough. Jeremy Flores, who hasn't been past Round 3 all year, chose this event and his biggest match up of the year to finally do that. He beat Medina, and opened a door for John John to win the title. All JJF would have to do was make the final and his lead would carry him past Pipe.
For a little while there it looked like Jordy Smith might stop John. He had a slim mathematical chance, and would have to win the event to keep that slim mathematical chance alive by comp's end, and when he scored the sickest of barrels for the sickest of tens at the end of the penultimate day, locking himself into the final four, he looked like the man to beat in the contest.
Enter Conner Coffin, the morning of finals day, John John already waiting for the final having beaten Kolohe in Semi-final no.1. Conner beat Jordy, stopping the surfer of the event, and winning John John a World Title.
Josh Kerr won Parko the World Title when he beat Kelly Slater in the semi final of the Pipe Masters, and now those two own a brewery together (with Bede Durbidge and some other dude, Mick something), so I can't wait to see what Florence, Flores, and Coffins bring out in the future.
SEE ALSO: Weekend Surf Forecast – 28-30 October
2. Did They Stuff Up The Broadcast of John John's Moment?
Putting together a WSL broadcast has got to be a tough job, surely surfing – with all it's unpredictability, long lulls, long days, and remote locations – is one of the hardest sports in the world to cover well. And this is a small team, with a passionate and super critical audience, so I'm not a fan of throwing shade at them. They get a disproportionate amount of that from everywhere else in the world. But this, this was a bummer.
So, John John had officially just won the World Title. The World freaking Title! All of us surf fans were watching history, live. It was great. We saw John John get hugged by friends and handed a Hawaiian flag and then walk down the stairs for an immediate interview with Rosie Hodge on the sands of Peniche. The interview was whatever, we've long given up on the WSL doing great interviews in post heats, and asking how he feels to be World Champion, four times in different ways, was disappointing, but adequate enough. And the idea that Ron Blakey, the WSL's best asset when it comes to presenting all this, could have been the man on the mic and wasn't, is just not right (sure, most of the WSL broadcast takes one or two events off of the long year so they can be home with their families, but don't let Ron miss a World Title broadcast, you kidding?).
But that's not the gripe.
The gripe is that after just five short minutes of John John officially being the World Champion, they threw to a pre-recorded highlights clip detailing John John's year. That clip went for nearly eight minutes! Eight minutes we were kept in the dark of what was happening live. For eight, long minutes, the WSL locked us out of the moments we'd watched all year for.
Can you imagine the end of the AFL or NRL Grand Finals, players you've watched for years having the peak moment of their careers, careers that started when they're six, seven, eight years old, not being broadcast in real time to the the fans who've waited all year for it, instead being forced to watch a pre-recorded clip they could watch at their leisure over and over again the next day?
It's the equivalent of finishing a game of Solitaire on Windows 95 and not watching the end-game animation. I know, utter madness! That animation is nothing impressive, in fact it's pretty boring, but that's not at all the point. The point is that that boring little animation is something you only get to see when you reach the pinnacle of the game. It's the moment you exhale, lean back in your chair, and savour the cascading deck of cards as a symbol and reflection of your victory. "Look, there goes the six of diamonds, haha." If you won Solitaire and then accidentally closed the window, you probably wouldn't watch a Youtube clip of the Solitaire end 15 minutes later, even though you know it's the exact same thing. It has to be right there and then. Just as you wouldn't watch a 25 minute clip on Youtube of John John being splashed in beers, receiving hugs, and getting ready for a heat, in a week's time, because a guy being hugged and having beers splashed on him is not interesting, but it is when it's in real time just after he's won the ultimate prize in a sport he's dedicated his life to winning.
In the part of the world I live in, it was four in the morning as this was all happening. I did not set my alarm to watch a clip that would be on Youtube by the time I was eating breakfast. I got up before the sun did because watching sporting events, the big ones, can only truly be enjoyed in real time.
I can only imagine how his friends and family back in Hawaii felt, the distance from their boy being exacerbated by the broadcast's decision to cut away. Hopefully they had their Facebooks open, where the WSL had a live video feed shot on a phone with no production values whatsoever, but still offering far more compelling and intimate content than what the WSL's front of shop broadcast was providing to the majority of their fans.
The clip ended with a pre-recorded voice-over of Joe Turpel announcing that John John Florence was the World Champion. The problem with that was, we knew that Joe Turpel said that into a microphone at a time when that wasn't true. It just felt lame.
The WSL has run the tag-line "you can't script this" all year. The thing is though, when it comes to a broadcast, you can. And the World Surf League should have written a better one. One a little more befitting of the best surfer in the world.
Or maybe it was just 4am, and I was tired. It was probably that.
3. Hurley's Celebratory Clip
I'm sorry for that rant up there guys. I'm going to watch this excellent clip Hurley put together celebrating their boy's big victory. It'll make everything better.
4. John Florence On Occy's Podcast
“It’s such a wonderful life, it’s a wonderful life.” Occy’s podcast fires off another episode with this eight minute conversation recorded back at the Billabong Pro Tahiti. The interview opens with Occy commenting on John John’s good performance that day in Round 1, scoring two nines, which is a reminder of just how good he was this year in events he didn’t even win. And then a great Occyism, “You’ve got to be the most adverse surfer in the new millennium.”
Even though this podcast was recorded back in August, it gives a great explanation of just how JJF's mindset changed in his approach to the WSL this year:
“You want to rest and you want your body to be like perfect for the event, especially now days, it seems like every year I’ve been on tour it just gets gnarlier and gnarlier, everyone is getting finding new little things and getting more in tune with it. And just watching like, Gabe and Adriano and Mick, and those guys they’re so like… their prepertation, you see how it works too, they’re so consistent. I’ve been watching Mick a lot. He’s just so to the tee every time, he surfs perfect. So I kind of took a little bit of that and I was just like, okay I wanna try do this.”
5. Radical Times In France
Pendant les competitions Française, l’equipe de Quiksilver trouvait les belles vagues et les barrels. C’était vraiment amusant. Aussi, ils dansaient à la discothèque avec Mike D de la Beaste Boys. Ça le fait une très bonne vidéo. Jeremy Flores est en feu!
6. Mad Hueys Find Epic Left
The Mad Hueys are really good at enjoying themselves, there's no group better at having a good time, and in this three day strike mission, they certainly do that. Somewhere in desert Australia they get really really barrelled, two at a time, one at a time, and they may or may not have discovered a ridiculously photogenic left wedge, and named it after a chicken they found, and also named. Man, that wave is pretty wow. Oh, and it seemed the lads have gone and done a Balter and made their own beer too! You can say what you will about the Mad Hueys.
7. The Spectacular Showreel of Rick Rifici, Kerby Brown Is A Freak
Rick Rifici is a West Aus based cinematographer that heaps of people call the best cinematographer in the game, especially shooting from the water. His latest showreel is a who's who of surfing, (Mick Fanning, Steph Gilmore, Jordy Smith, Matt Wilkinson, Jack Robinson, Kelia Moniz, Ry Craike etc.). Kerby Brown's big wave exploits is the real highlight though. Apparently this was shot with, or while riding, a red dragon, I’m not sure. It’s all clickety clackety mumbo jumbo to me. But, oooh, pretty waves.
8. World Champ Wright On The Search
Tyler Wright (the World Champion!), Niki Van Dijk (from Phillip Island!), and Alana Blanchard (Alana Blanchard!) went to Indonesia for a Rip Curl Search trip, scored sick waves, did really great surfing, and got a car stuck in a ditch. Fun fact: The guy walking past in the background at the 1.50 mark is incredible photographer Trent Mitchell. One of the most top blokes in the history of stuff that is tops. Hi Trent!
9. Billabong Bloodlines Japan
Remember how good school camp was? Getting away from home with your mates and doing all sorts of weird stuff, staying up past your bed time talking ridiculous rubbish and eating lollies you snuck in your sleeping bag? Now imagine that school camp was to Japan, and you got to go surfing the whole time. And now imagine that instead of teachers coming with you, Taj Burrow came instead. That’s Billabong Bloodlines Japan.
SEE ALSO: November's Swell Outlook For Australia
10. Ryan Burch In Cloudbreak
Ahhh, Ryan Burch. Ahhh Cloudbreak. Ahhh, Ryan Burch surfing Cloudbreak. The lanky shaper/surfer Californian who makes those asymmetrical shapes is in fine form in this edit called Influent. There;s just something about the lines he chooses, the way he approaches the famed left. It just feels right.
Let's take another look at this Jordy 10, because it deserves a couple of repeat viewings.
And that was this week in surfing. Have a good weekend everyone.
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