John Florence and Lakey Peterson are the 2019 Margaret River Pro Champions, with heavy hitting performances worthy of praise, the tour needs more waves like The Box and, once again, the judges are all over the shop.
As always, pointless to do a ‘cut n paste’ of what you already know. That would be like sending you an Excel document, with a spreadsheet of scores complete and an embedded code of Martin Potter’s voice on loop, breaking down the day’s action. Then you’d snap your tablet or smartphone in half and that’d be the end of that.
So let’s instead keep our devices intact and look at some moments that counted from the shoot out in the Wild West.
Florence For World Title No3?
With a scorecard that reads 3 1 1 and a throwaway of 17, its way more possible of World Title no3 been realised, than an unlikely collapse considering the events coming up. The intensity of Florence’s performances appears to still be lifting, whereas, in the case of many of his rivals, the opposite seems to be happening. A dangerous proposition if you want to rope him in before the hammer really drops in J-Bay.
For me, the concentration to keep focused on the prize, throughout a long event with a broad range of conditions, made all the difference. Florence wasn’t peaking in isolated, singular moments that took his attention off the job at hand, he was pacing himself. All. The. Way.
There’s a difference in outcomes when you surf an event focused on smaller ‘heat to heat’ moments, quick advancements, as opposed to the long view: I will be there at the end.
Whilst the strategy was a slow burn, his surfing was done at breakneck speed. Every angle, long elongated wrap, and the tight snap was done at speed. It was marked. Some looked slow, others indecisive in the roaring winds, Florence looked accurate on every approach.
Have a look at the difference in pace on both his 9’s in the final here. It’s his ability to disguise speed and variety of attack that has the Two Time World Champ heading for Title Number Three.
Indomitable Andino Where he Deserves To Be
Kolohe Andino’s 2019 card reads 2 5 2 and throwaway of 17. Advantage to the young American over many rivals going into Rio. We all know the air strike rate, and I mentioned in the last report, just how talented he is at mid-air variations to surprise the judges to send scores North.
At Margaret’s, Andino’s attack was based on a long rail and an assuredness of making sure every closeout section was tagged. Gone is the petulance and abrasive attitude toward calls that didn’t go his way in the past. That’s been replaced by confidence and presence of mind to know which situations to let go of and rather move forward with purpose onto more important things. I think we’ll see Andino in a top 3 position all the way to Europe, if not beyond.
The Bloody Box.
Where do we start? That is a seemingly impossible wave to ride 90% of the time? Its willingness to injure? Or that The Box needs to be on tour for all the drama it brings now that we’ve lost Chopes?
What a wave to try and navigate. It broke bodies (get well soon Leo) shattered possible World Title aspirations ( Toledo will be back) presented uncanny tube-riding prowess ( take a bow Jack) and in Italo Ferrera, showed that the impossible is possible.
Reportedly practicing his approach for his first ever surf at the mutant slab by removing the fins from his board, placing it on the mattress at home and ‘ghosting’ his technique for a first run, Italo had one of the waves of the year. Nuts.
Jordy Needed to Push Harder.
From a Saffa perspective, Smith, unfortunately, let one get out of his reach in the Wild West. He surfed steadily and is always going to threaten when the waves push back. Smith was right in it against Ciao Ibelli in the quarters but needed to push harder against an opponent who looked hungrier for the full 40.
Still, a 5th place is not a throwaway by any stretch. Expect some mongrel in Rio, a place where the big Saffa has tasted victory before.
Lakey Peterson Brings The Heat.
The powerful natural-footer used impressive down timing on the rail to defeat Tatiana Weston Webb in a final that was closer than the scoreline suggests. Check it out here.
Tatiana’s 6.4 was underscored in my opinion when framed next to the same scoreline for Lakey’s opener, but overall the American surfed with conviction the whole event and it was great to see the women really committing to the elements. Female surfing is on the rise.
Will Rio have barrels, will the water be clean and can we expect a return of form from the surprisingly quiet Brazzo camp?
Will the WSL develop a mute coding function to go live over Potter’s commentary?
I’ll be there, watching from the armchair and look forward to your company as always.