Ladies and gentlemen, the man is back. Not just any man. The Chairman. Get stuck into yet another top-shelf piece of surf reporting. Where Glen Drysdale like a professor in Ichthyology dissects the subject matter with precision. We give you – The 2018 Corona Bali Protected Chairman’s Report.
Italo Ferreira and Lakey Peterson grab gold on the black sands of Keramas, Michel Bourez is once again a contender, Jordy Smith bares his teeth and vaults 12 places up north on the rankings and the surfing world asks, when will John John Florence make his move?
The 2018 Corona Protected Bali Pro has left us with more questions than answers. The most obvious one is when will defending World Champion John John Florence shake off the worst start to his professional career? What about chasing down title number 3? Has that ship sailed or is it already sunk? John’s scorecard this year reads 25th, 13th, 13th, 9th, 13th. If he doesn’t throw in some wins soon, dare I say it, the QS awaits.
Put the rankings under a microscope, zoom in and focus on the upcoming schedule and the picture becomes clearer and sharper: There’s a very strong possibility of another Brazilian World Surfing Champion. Three Brazzos in the top 5. Three Brazilian champions in the first 5 events. Seeing a pattern here? I can’t see either Italo Ferreira, Filipe Toledo or Gabriel Medina slipping up at venues that suit either one of them to go on the attack and break away from the pack. Uluwatu, JBay, Chopes and The Wave Ranch. One of them will final in at least one of these events. That’s as certain as an exclamation mark in a Trump tweet.
From a South African perspective, the return of Jordy Smith’s form was first and foremost necessary to reset his year and then in no unequal part, a welcome return to his high-risk approach that has been missing for some time. Watch the intensity of his round 1 performance, getting right into Medina’s grill and under his skin in round 4 and the self-assured confidence he showed to take down Toledo in the quarters. For me those were the watershed moments in Smith’s Corona Protected Bali Pro campaign. The entire event, he was breaking the lip line with lofted airs, the tube sense undeniable and of course, the rail was set deep. Welcome back.
Michael February needs to borrow some of that confidence and swagger. Better yet, create some of his own. It’s there somewhere. We all know it. And so does the man they call ‘Freestyle February’ thanks to the thing that sets him apart: his style. Maybe that’s the point of difference that M Feb needs to trust now more than ever. But it needs to be harnessed with more power and conviction. As a stand-alone quality, style is not enough. Pepper it with physical strength and mental fortitude and you have a dangerous weapon. Time for February to sharpen the tools. Everyone knows he’s got them.
A lot happened on the black sands of Keramas and I think the general consensus was a welcome return to a high-performance wave that broke in the ocean, not a pool. Let’s leave that to sipping Corona’s on lilo’s in the shallow end for now.
To summarize, here’s an A to Z guide of what went down at the Corona Protected Bali Pro.
Accurate. Italo Ferreira’s timing and approach. Let’s throw in aggressive as well. Watch the placement and savagery of his attack. It is pinpoint and unrelenting. The 10 against Jordy in the semis is a case in point.
Balanced. The weight distribution in the turns and mental calmness Michel Bourez displayed was unflappable. Matched only by Smith and Mikey Wright on the power scales, Bourez proved that there is still space, thank goodness, for big bash surfing.
Concerned. What camp Florence should be feeling right now. And if they’re not, they should be. John talks of wanting to win on a higher level this year. Problem is the level has been set by his rivals, not him. And it’s stratospheric.
Dead. The air rotation. Good riddance. R.I.P don’t slam the door on your way out. It should be underscored.
Engaging. Strider Wasilewski. Brings the human touch to an otherwise dull and lifeless broadcast. Fresh, unrehearsed and honest. A welcome relief to the teleprompted banality of Turpell and endless rhetorical questions of Martin Potter. We need Strider in the booth. Full time. Him and Barton Lynch.
Facebook. A face plant broadcast decision by the WSL. It’s tough growing a new audience in a sport with a highly niched following. But forcing the hand with a broadcast through Facebook is not the way to do it. Unless Zuckerberg is in your Fantasy Surfer Team, there’s not much love for Facebook at the moment. Read the user comments here.
Gap. A pretty significant one among the top 5 surfers in the rankings and the rest of the field. Both in approach and points. Every year it seems the gap widens between those who can contest for the world title and the ‘also-rans’.
Hubris. Medina has it in spades. Which makes him dangerous going into the next stretch of events. He’s going to be the most dangerous to draw. His rivals know it and he loves it.
Informative. Ronnie Blakely. Without being smug and patronising, he brings some class to the broadcast. Take some notes, Potts.
J-Bay. Jordy Smith will come out swinging. Toledo will be harder to reel in than last year and expect a Slater to return.
Keramas. It was needed after we lost Trestles to the chlorine machine. Would be great to see Taj Burrow back as wild card. After all, it is Bali and beers.
Losers round. Get rid of round 2. No one needs it. Sudden death all the way.
Mikey. A wild man with a wild card. The tour needs his abrasive surfing, mullet, and menace.
Neutral. The WSL’s stance on Slater’s injury. They need to make a call on the legitimacy of it. It’s denying other surfers a start. It’s unfair.
Obedient. Kanoa Igarashi’s surfing. He’ll be around for a while.
Purpose. Griffin Colapinto has it. And one gets the feeling he’s going to use it to win a world title within 3 years.
Quirk. Wilko’s always had it. And it’ great to see he hasn’t let it diminish under Micro’s rule. It vanished for a while, but its back.
Reserved. How most surf fans are still feeling about The Wave Ranch.
Sublime. Toledo’s speed and direction changes.
Terminated. See the air rotation.
Unique. How Martin Potter continually describes ‘our sport.’
Variety. We need more of it. There are too many surfers doing the same thing.
Welcome. The Uluwatu event. A master stroke by the WSL. Without it, the title race would have felt empty and incomplete.
X factor. See Mikey Wright.
Youth. The youngsters on tour have never looked more destructive in sticking it to the established. It’s great to see the rookies not rolling over and playing dead.
Zero. Throw a 1 in front of it and that’s what John John Florence will have in his scorecard at Uluwatu. I’ve just got a feeling…
I’m looking forward to more lefts after the Keramas rights, the continued Saffa charge and watching the drama unfold from the comfort of my chair. Bring it on and bring it home team SA.