11 September, 2018 11 September, 2018

Surf Ranch Pro Chairman’s Report

Forget the numbers. Waves ridden per day. Runs remaining. Score requirements and fractions needed. The lefts. The rights. The tube timer. Amongst all the crunching of data and possible outcomes for those 8 surfers who qualified for the final run and shot at making history, fortune and glory, only one thing mattered: Adaptation.

Nobody moved better, evolved, changed up their approach and synchronised an attack with greater strike power and versatility than Gabriel Medina.

(left to right) 6X World Champion and current Jeep Ratings Leader Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) placed women’s runner-up, 3X World Champion Carissa Moore (HAW) is the women’s Winner, current men’s Jeep Ratings Leader Filipe Toledo (BRA) placed men’s runner-up and 2014 World Champion Gabriel Medina (BRA) is the men’s Winner of the 2018 Surf Ranch Pro in Lemoore, CA, USA.

He flew when others hid behind the chlorinated curtain, drove longer tubes when his rivals took to the sky, and more importantly, was the first to do things differently. And in a sedate, staid environment, where predictability is ironically applauded, it’s only when somebody genuinely shocks you with something unexpectedly original that you stop to think:

Why the hell have I been so impressed by the expected, by something so unoriginal? Yes, that guy got an 11 second barrel, but that’s exactly what I expected. And that’s the problem. You’re giving the audience and the judges what they want. Unless you’re Gabriel Medina.

Julian Wilson (AUS) has a points total of 15.37 (out of a possible 20.00) after his final run in the 2018 Surf Ranch Pro in Lemoore, CA, USA.

Medina surprised. On every single wave. He did it differently. He didn’t give you what you wanted. He gave you what you didn’t see coming.

Over 4 days at the Surf Ranch He was that plot twist that makes you watch a gripping movie again and again. And again. He’s the book you couldn’t put down.

It’s difficult to be original and win people over these days. Whilst the masses (and judges) will demand it, they’ll also scold you if you get it even slightly wrong. Why didn’t you just do what was asked of you? Because that doesn’t win people over. And it certainly doesn’t win world titles.

If what we saw at the Surf Ranch was a movie, then Gabriel Medina played good cop/ bad cop, Filipe Toledo the people’s champion and Julian Wilson the antihero. It co-starred Kelly Slater as the returning hero, Kanoa Igarashi as the new kid and Owen Wright reprising his role as ‘possible world champ in the making’. As for the rest of the field, they were all extras.     

Owen Wright (AUS) has a points total of 15.40 (out of a possible 20.00) after his final run in the 2018 Surf Ranch Pro in Lemoore, CA, USA.

No doubt about it, the 2018 Surf Pro was a big production. It needed to be. Many people hadn’t seen it before, the jaded cynics who had wanted to see it fail , and to the surfers themselves, who would probably like to consider themselves the real stars of the show, it was a stop on the schedule that was either going to de rail their world title ambitions, or put them back on track. The fact that the wave itself was driven and created in large part by a train, is merely circumstantial.  

Let’s take a closer look at some of the heroes and villains of the 2018 Surf Ranch Pro.

Kanoa Igarashi (JPN) has a points total of 12.00 (out of a possible 20.00) after his Finals Run 1 at the 2018 Surf Ranch Pro in Lemoore, CA, USA.

The Big Basin. Starring a clock that counts a chlorinated curtain.

The soft, weak 12 second tube ride. The official barrel of purgatory. The ultimate consolation prize. With all the power of a wet rag and the kick of a sedated dwarf.

There was nothing more frustrating than watching surfers become contortionists as they somehow had to grapple and grab their ankles to fit themselves into the small tubes of the Surf Ranch.

There was no threat of bloodletting over dry coral, no kinks or foam balls, there was just a straight line and a clock to count some inane curtain time. As Griffin Colapinto said, “all you gotta do is just not fall off and you’re coming out.” Hardly suspenseful. Definitely boring.

If its banal to watch, imagine the frustration Kolohe Andino is feeling right now as he tried everything (including some lofted high risk airs) to shake the judges from staring vacantly at the tube clock to award a suitable score.

For me, the tube section on both the left and right was too predictable and too boring. But the show, frat boys drinking beer, band stands, and CBS broadcasts included…the show must go on…and as long as it does…so will the tube and its chlorinated clock counter, just to keep you, and more importantly, the judges scale in check.

Filipe Toledo (BRA) has a points total of 15.16 (out of a possible 20.00) after his Finals Run 1 at the 2018 Surf Ranch Pro in Lemoore, CA, USA.

The Ten Denied. Starring Filipe Toledo.

“What do I have to do to get a ten?” Filipe Toledo announced to fans who had erupted in boos when the judging call was announced after a ride that everyone knew was perfect.

What’s a man gotta do to get the judges attention? If it’s anything more than 3 perfectly weighted and executed airs on a single wave, please let us know.

Maybe Toledo should have just gone for a 12-second tube instead. After all, in the Big Basin, that’s really laying it all on the line. A bunch of high-risk airs is for pussies. That’s why it deserved nothing more than a 9.8. After all, the judging scale needs room to move, what if somebody did a backflip inside a barrel?

Jordy Smith (ZAF) has a points total of 14.87 (out of a possible 20.00) after his Qualifying Run 1 and Run 2 at the 2018 Surf Ranch Pro in Lemoore, CA, USA.

Man Robbed. Starring Jordy Smith.

Jordy Smith can feel shortchanged. Again. This certainly isn’t a pity party or a South African bias. It’s a case of Smith being on the wrong side of a judging call that was inconsistent and unfair. He looked razor sharp, light and fluid and got underscored.

Hell, it’s not like it hasn’t happened before to the big guy. Cast your mind back to his quarterfinal loss To Julian Wilson at Uluwatu and his backhand drainer barrel that was definitely undervalued. Maybe Jordy should have chlorinated that pit and the judges would have responded more kindly?

Yes, underscoring may be a common theme in the Smith story of late, but what it can’t do is rattle his concentration on the job at hand: a strong Europe leg and a big Pipe finish. Time to shine in the brine and reclaim a rightful spot in the top 5.

Expect a David Guetta album to be crap, the All Blacks to stick 40 points to your team in the second half and the water to be cold in Cape Town, but don’t expect the obvious from Gabriel Medina. Ever.

Will Gabriel go back to back in Europe, can anyone stop him?

Will February and Smith gain ground, what about an Owen Wright versus Wilko final? Will Kelly stub his toe on an empty wine bottle and gift Mikey Wright an injury wildcard?

I’ll be watching as always and look forward to your company. See you in France.

The Chairman


  1. Craig
    11 September, 2018 at 10:45 am · Reply

    I must say that owens final tube riding was spectacular. He got really deep and threaded the tube. Kelly also got deep on the right. That said, the tube shouldn’t be over scored and remains very predictable. The woman ripped the pool with stunning style and grace. I recon the event was pretty cool and we have alot to look forward to in the years to come. The cream certainly came to the top and many surfers were exposed as well. Perhaps only the top 12 or 18 should be invited to surf this event? Maybe the wildcards could be earned through Kerrs new air event. The downtime was really frustrating but all in all a well staged event. Nice one pie man.

  2. Pine Nut
    11 September, 2018 at 11:42 am · Reply

    Nail on head Chairman-the tube counts for nothing. We want to see big innovative airs. That’s what this thing is going to come down to and why this event is even relevant/. It will cause surfing to progress form the ridiculous air point of view. In years to come unless you’re doing minimum 3 airs per wave you’re insignificant. And we want to see new airs and combos. Otherwise this will be a bore fest producing millions of dollars for the corporates and adding nothing to surfing. Chicks ripped though-good on them. Will do more for their surfing I think. Lets see next year.

  3. Trevor
    11 September, 2018 at 12:28 pm · Reply

    I’m tired of Jordy getting so screwed by the judges. For years now. Agreed with Kolohes comments.
    Medina is the freak of freaks. And a monster competitor. I can’t wait to see if he dominates Europe again. Or maybe Jordy will win… yeah right. sigh.
    Great report Chairman

  4. Alex
    11 September, 2018 at 1:55 pm · Reply

    Going with the author’s movie meraphor, this was a taut, gripping review of a hard-boiled suspense thriller. Great stuff. More entertaining than watching Groundhog Wave itself.

  5. Bushy
    11 September, 2018 at 3:06 pm · Reply

    That wave looks so fun, mindsurfing it gave me a sort of contact high, so it feels churlish to be so critical, but I gotta agree with you and fellow commentators regarding the barrel and some of the mind-numbing repetitive look of a lot of the rides, as well as fewer surfers suggested above. But if it is to remain on the tour, then the whole roster needs to compete, but surely the format needs to change and watching it, I could not help to think that all surfers need to surf their first wave before any surf their second. What about putting half the surfers on one end riding the right and the other half on the other riding the left back and then repeat in opposite direction? There was almost a 2 day period between the 1st waves of the lower seeds and the 1st of the top dogs. This results imo in a lot of safety surfing as there is no real marker as to the what the likes of Toledo and Medina are gonna do.
    And surely something can be done about the time between waves, so this whole exercise can be streamlined? Seeing 3 replays and the same ads between every wave does not make for great viewing.
    Great report as always, Chair.

  6. Bushy
    11 September, 2018 at 4:09 pm · Reply

    After all the congratulatory back-slapping and how well the announcement of the men/women prize money parity announcement was received, they go and give Medina a bigger red tractor than Carissa Moore! C’mon WSL ha ha.

    • The Chairman
      12 September, 2018 at 10:27 am · Reply

      thanks for the feedback Bushy, stoked you enjoyed the report.

      Sounds like the WSL just gave Carissa Moore a ‘John Deere’ letter instead of a tractor of equal men/women parity.

      Totally agreed on the seed splitting that favours the top guys and the dead time between waves needing to be more engaging than ads re runs.

      Strider was classic , he’s the man .

  7. Craig
    11 September, 2018 at 6:59 pm · Reply

    Bushy. I didn’t even notice the size of the tractor. Spot on dude. That advertising repetition was awful. I certainly know what it means to be bold now (thanx to Carissa). Watching strider was epic. Commentary in the tube was a blast. What was with the long breaks in the event? I was stumped when Kelly mentioned that he wasn’t going to Europe. Also had an interesting read today that the 88 days allocated for pool use is now sold out at a cost of $50k per day. Finally the wsl may have worked out a damn good income stream.

  8. The Chairman
    12 September, 2018 at 10:30 am · Reply

    Sounds like the WSL have tapped into a genuine money spinner Craig.

    Certainly makes for a more dependable and rewarding surfing experience for both the end user and the WSL than flogging a few t shirts online.

    thanks for the heads up

  9. Mark
    17 September, 2018 at 5:59 am · Reply

    If this show was a movie … Medina was Robert de Niro in “Taxi”
    I really like the format thought it does have it’s flaws… Lag time means more waffle from the commentators… The girls surf the Ranch better than the boys!

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