14 August, 2017 14 August, 2017

The Chairman’s Report – Billabong Pro Tahiti

Julian takes Tahiti, Jordy grabs the yellow jersey and the ratings lead.

No flying sharks, near catastrophic water safety craft barrel rolls or petulant dummy spitting in the direction of the judging tower. Just a well-deserved winner and a world title race that is, once again, wide open.

Julian Wilson is the 2017 Billabong Pro Tahiti Champion, defeating 2014 World Champion Gabriel Medina in a combination breaking, come from behind victory that was decidedly more vivid than the muted grey skies, annoying cross shore winds, or anything that came from the WSL commentary box.

Wilson is the seventh different event winner on the 2017 Championship Tour, which means were in for a hell of a world title race going into the last 4 events.

The seventh different event winner on the 2017 Championship Tour! We’re certainly in for one hell of a title race. Image: WSL / Cestari

It also means we have a new surfer wearing the yellow jersey and holding onto the ratings leader board, all at a venue that will potentially set him up for a very strong chance at a maiden world title. Take a bow Jordy Smith. More importantly, take out a win at Trestles and bring it home.

The Billabong Pro Tahiti happened so quickly that at times, it felt as foggy as the weather that prevailed.

Who won , who needed to win, which commentator would embarrass themselves first, would the wind arrive, would a shark fly , what about an angry flock of birds crapping on the heads of SUP boarder’s that got to close to the competitors area?

Finishing 3 days of surfing back to back, with a 12 hour time difference pushing you deep into the night and early hours of the morning, it was all a bit of a blur, a combination of coffee and commentary team ketamine.

There were moments of gripping action, powerful drama and engaging back stories. Unfortunately, it’s impossible to tell how long you’ll need to wait for these pockets of magic to present themselves, as you watch two surfers impatiently and inanely bobbing, waiting for a 3ft cross shore wave that may never arrive. It’s tough for them. It’s another kind of hell been forced to watch it.

Here’s what made a difference at the 2017 Billabong Pro Tahiti, or at least the bits I can remember:


The reinvention of Jordy Smith. Now available in fiercely determined ‘Yellow Jersey’ Leader Board Mode.

Smith to defeat Florence at Chopes.

Almost as believable as Martin Potter not asking a rhetorical question or referring to grown men as ‘kids’.

Not only did Jordy Smith beat John Florence at his favourite game (backhand tube riding) at one his favourite waves, he did it under pressure and his heat strategy and decision making was impeccable. I may get flack for saying this, but the Jordy Smith of old would have folded and counted a 5th as a keeper score at a venue that he doesn’t like to court.

This is the last time we gana see Mr Smith in a red or blue jersey for a while. And hopefully till the end of the year. Image: WSL / Cestari

But the 2017 version of Smith is a different beast. The focus and intent is spiked, the adaptability to a range of conditions has never looked sharper and the mental fortitude under Gallagher’s coaching seems to look beyond ‘event to event’ thinking and appears to be more ‘single big goal’ in its approach.

And we all know that goal is. For Jordy Smith, it’s never looked more achievable.  

Medina will fight. Julian will be there all the way to Pipe.

Whether by design or not, not many people like Gabriel Medina. Aloof, arrogant and unapproachable with the swagger of a winner to boot. Go onto any web forum and there’s reams of contempt directed at the 2014 World Champion.

People generally don’t like posturing and posing winners. But in Medina, they have also found a whiner. And this is not helped by the ever whinging presence of step dad Charlie.

Whether you love the confidence, or hate the arrogance, Medina will push hard with his brand of electrifying surfing, including massive airs and clinical tube sense, which will work wonders for him considering the venues that await. And of course, there’s the mental edge and ego that could either work for or against him.

Love him or hate him, there’s one thing we can agree upon, Gabby’s surfing is electrifying. Image: WSL / Cestari

If Gabriel is the Dark Prince, Julian Wilson is the People’s Champ. Affable, approachable and engaging, Wilson’s clean cut approach, good looks and easy going nature mask a ferocious competitor with an assassin like approach.

Everything is clean, calm and collected. The faultless bottom turn, grounded stance, easy style and variety. And like a trained assassin takes out a target, you won’t even know you’ve been until it’s too late.

Julian is a former Pipe Master and he’ll be staring down the barrel all the way until the end of this Title race.


What will happen at Trestles? Will Richa Porta finally set the judging scale correctly, or will we see more 9’s that are actually 7.5’s? Will the WSL fine members of the commentary team every time they use the words ‘kid’, ‘lully’ and ‘wow!’? Will Jordy Smith win and will you be watching?

I know I will, I’m cranking up the coffee percolator right now!

See you there, The Chairman 


2017 WSL Men’s Jeep Leaderboard (After Billabong Pro Tahiti ): 1 – Jordy Smith (ZAF) 37,850 pts 2 – John John Florence (HAW) 36,900 pts 3 – Matt Wilkinson (AUS) 35,950 pts 4 – Owen Wright (AUS) 35,350 pts 5 – Julian Wilson (AUS) 33,200 pts

For the heat analyzer, scores, images etc… click here



  1. Alex
    14 August, 2017 at 4:28 pm · Reply

    Yup, Jordy definitely got a whole new game. Before this I reckon the odds of him beating Florence at Chopes were about as slim as him passing up an opportunity to get his board signed by Taylor Swift. Did the petulant, piddly conditions suit him? Would he have prevailed in 12 foot heaving pits of death? All that is academic – the dude from Durban is wearing the yellow jersey and that’s what counts. Hopefully Jordy 2.0 has the mature temperament to keep it on and not, in immortal Fleckie style, start celebrating before the tryline. As for the commentators, one wonders what that job application form looks like. Given the current crop of charisma-less clowns I’m guessing it goes something like this: ‘Are you an insecure dullard with a single-digit IQ? Does your vocabulary not include the word “vocabulary”? Are you utterly devoid of spontaneity, wit, charm or sparkle? Do you become painfully, paralyzingly self-aware when speaking into a microphone? Is what passes for your “personality” entirely derived from the recreational abuse of horse tranquilisers? Do you enjoy inflicting unbearable pain upon the English language by inventing and then endlessly repeating abominable and idiotic adjectives such as “lully” and “almondy”? If any of these describe you then you definitely have a stellar career in surf commentating ahead of you!’

  2. Stevey
    14 August, 2017 at 5:13 pm · Reply

    Saffa expectation is really effing heavy if you put yourself in Smith’s shoes…….but at the end of the year if he pulls of a WT……he needs to do a whole SAFFA coastal tour waving that Trophy like an astronaut that has returned from outer space……because damn oke we have been waiting 40yrs for this!!!!!!! Yeah surf commentating is sucking ….unless you are starring at Rosey Hodge’s deliberate on set leg flash…..loving that.

  3. Name (required)Jeff
    14 August, 2017 at 6:34 pm · Reply

    All these big words used to try convince readers of your command of the English language only serve to draw people’s attention to the fact that it is plain that you Alex know fuck all about Jordy and it looks like surfing in general.

    • Alex
      15 August, 2017 at 11:12 am · Reply

      Haha you’re too right Jeff. As you correctly aver, I know a lot more about the English language than surfing. Just tryna create some balance in the universe here since most surfers, in all probability yourself included, know fuck-all about the English language. XOXO

  4. Trev
    14 August, 2017 at 8:53 pm · Reply

    Thanks Chairman, always enjoy your insights and observations re the title contenders – and how the race is shaping up… keep these reports coming…

  5. Lang-O
    14 August, 2017 at 10:41 pm · Reply

    Shot Pie.

    Whilst half of me applauds the business model that is WSL,

    the other half cannot ignore how the WSL machine is not dissimilar to dung beetle’s rolling shit, picking up more as they gravitate towards the final goal, a chief scarab dweller dictating along the way how the shit should be rolled and shaped to fit into it’s final resting place. Only for the Goliath already in waiting to eat from the spoils….

    Dung beetles are currently the only known non-human animal to navigate and orient themselves using the Milky Way…… and you have to ask yourself.

    Are the WSL losing their way?

    Try get yourself a seat next to Pottz, Turpel, Mel and Wasilewski and give a few brothers some interstellar direction….

  6. Paul
    14 August, 2017 at 11:02 pm · Reply

    Such a negative article and comment by Alex..I would not like the job to jabber on during those long “lully’s”..would you…it must be harder than a five day cricket game where at least something happens every ball bowled. I think the guys are all pretty cool and insulting them is disgusting…maybe you would prefer Trevor Noah doing a stand up routine while waiting for waves. The production is one of the best live sports broadcasts for any sport on the web so “good on them” I think the judges get 9/10 spot on and WSL continues to highlight this amazing sport, their effort at JBay was spectacular to say the least. Jordy number 1 so cheer up man..

  7. The Oracle
    15 August, 2017 at 4:13 am · Reply

    That’s a massive result for Jordy. All he needs to for Pipe to be 3ft sideshore as well and he will win the world title.
    I personally like Gabe’s fire and confidence. We need a few “MacEnroe’s” in this sport, to combat the clones.

    So Jeff why is it important that Alex is not a surfer. Is it not the job of the WSL to embrace new audiences.
    Or is it just to preach to the converted. It’s core to every business to grow your audience. And apologies for the negativity in advance, but that’s where the WSL has failed. You the surfers, are hard core fans, so you don’t see the product is broken.

    Sorry Paul. I agree with Lang-O, Pottz, Turpel, Mel and Wasilewski are boring. But it really not their fault.
    They have a tough job. It’s the product. Let’s be brutally honest, watching the early rounds in Tahiti was like watching paint dry.
    3ft sideshore waves offering two possible turns and then clamping down on dry reef.
    This wasn’t the best spectacle to showcase the world best. But the real problem is also obvious even in good waves.
    You get one minute of action and twenty four minutes of replays and commentators rambling.
    That’s why the audience will never grow. The non surfer is going to flick the channel and watch pro wrestling.

    Other sports like Rugby have adapted to grow their audiences. Think the Sevens. Cricket has created twenty-twenty format to grow their audiences.
    Surfing is stuck in 40yr format. Wave-pools might be the only saviour which is why the WSL bought Kelly’s tech.
    But I am not sure old Dirk Ziff will keep bankrolling the whole operation for another 18months. Wavepools might not arrive in time, before the circus packs up shop.

  8. Craig
    15 August, 2017 at 12:03 pm · Reply

    Go Jordy. Stoked he proved to be threat in shallow lefts. Now onto victory.

    • Mark
      15 August, 2017 at 4:13 pm · Reply

      Hardly think that is an accurate evaluation of Jordy’s performance, his highest wave score in the entire event was an 8 and that was the gift of the wave more than his surfing. He still has heaps to prove in shallow lefts of consequence. That being said I’m loving the openess of this world title race and I sincerely hope that it does all come down to heaving pipe/draining backdoor to settle who is the best in 2017! With flashes of brilliance in Margarets and JBay, and the fairytale of snapper, to the ringing of bells and local flavour outside of Rio, I am excited that Julian wilson, as the good chairman points out – a stealth assassin – has thrown his hat into the ring… bring on the next four events….

  9. KJ
    15 August, 2017 at 2:57 pm · Reply

    Spoilt by J-Bay still, so decided to save time and wait for the report, great decision!-)
    Go Jordy, you big grown up “kid” who is currently no 1 in the world!
    AKA; The MAN!

  10. Louis
    15 August, 2017 at 4:54 pm · Reply

    Great read Pie I am stoked to see you doing well after all these years. Go Jordy!

  11. Jon
    15 August, 2017 at 7:49 pm · Reply

    Awesome round up there Chairman.
    That was my favorite report so far. Jab jab uppercut. ha ha

    I loved the Potz ” referring to grown men as ‘kids’ comment. So funny, so true.

  12. Jacques
    16 August, 2017 at 7:00 am · Reply

    Why is it such a miracle that Jordy beat John John??
    I don’t get it I reakon Jordy is better than him and will beat him alot more in the future. Tired of the massive american bias in favour of him. Sure he’s good but so is Jordy!!!!!!!

    • The Oracle
      16 August, 2017 at 8:00 am · Reply

      Jacques, ever notice that Jordy is NOT such a great backhand tube rider? I actually prefer Jordy’s fronthand to JJF, but in tubing lefts there is no comparison. One surfer dominates big hollow lefts and the other due to a bit luck, now has the Yellow jersey.
      Giving credit, where credit is due, you make your own luck. The big bloke deserves it.

  13. Liam
    16 August, 2017 at 10:33 am · Reply

    Thanks again for an entertaining report chairman!

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