12 June, 2018 12 June, 2018

Chairman’s Report – Uluwatu

A lot can happen in 4 days. And if your name is Willian Cardoso, you went from world number 16 to 5. Just like that. In those 96 hours, Cardoso’s life trajectory took on a new shape, an entirely different form. He went from hard slogging QS warrior to CT Event Champion. He’s no longer an ‘also ran’, Willian just ran over the whole pack.  

Brazil’s latest powerhouse addition to the nations complete domination on world surfing will enjoy every moment of a hard-earned victory. And rightfully so.

But one gets the feeling that Cardoso isn’t the type of man to bask in the glory for too long. Victory can be snatched away pretty quickly if you don’t remember the hard yards it took to earn it. That warmth and comfort of going from ‘underdog’ to ‘top dog’ can rapidly be reversed. And the chasing pack all know: Revenge is a dish best served cold. 

(left to right) Willian Cardoso (BRA) men’s winner, Julian Wilson (AUS) men’s runner-up, and Johanne Defay (FRA) women’s winner and Tatiana Weston-Webb (BRA) the women’s runner-up in the 2018 Uluwatu CT at Uluwatu, Bali, Indonesia.

But if there’s something we know about our 2018 Uluwatu CT Champion, it’s that he has an insatiable hunger of his own. Now that he’s tasted victory, he’ll want to feast at the winner’s table again. No more cold scraps dished out on the QS for the man they call ‘Panda’.’ Those days are done. Hell, he spent 10 years at that trough getting his big league meal ticket. It’s time to tuck in. 

Talking of hunger, Jordy Smith seems to have developed a voracious appetite for winning of late. It’s great to see him chomping at the bit again. He surfed boldly at Uluwatu. The expressive performances and confidence are soaring, along with the spray. Smith’s 2018 backhand approach is more angled and acute, the manoeuvres sharpened with an arrangement and variety that the 2017 version lacked. The slow start to the year is thankfully gone. The appetite for destruction is back. 

Jordy Smith of South Africa placed second in Heat 2 of the Quarterfinals at the Uluwatu CT, 2018

The 2018 Uluwatu CT had a frenetic, almost anxious ‘stop-start’ pace and feel to it. But strip away the weird timing of the event and the potential ‘deal closing’ importance of it regarding the World Title race presents itself. One gets the sense that those who kept their eye on the prize were the very same people who got the desired results. With the exception of Cardoso, Andino and Mikey Wright (surprise, surprise) as the party crashers, all the World Title candidates got results to keep them in the hunt going into J-Bay.  

For me, here are 3 talking points from the 2018 Uluwatu CT worth mentioning.

  1. The judging scale is off. Again.

They finally got it right after years of benevolence and ambiguity under Richa Porta’s rule. Back then, 7’s were sugar-coated and paraded as 9’s. Scales set so high, so early on that, there was little or no room to move away from the heaping praise on mediocre performances. 

But the 2018 panel, under the strict control and scrutiny of new head judge Pritamo Ahrendt, thankfully wound it back in. At Snapper Rocks, we saw mid 5’s that would have been 8’s in 2017. Finally, the restoration of a judging system that genuinely awarded risk and didn’t decorate safe surfing as savage intent. 

Julian Wilson of Australia won Heat 2 of Round 4 at the Uluwatu CT, 2018.

But unfortunately, we’re now back to a scale that can’t define itself or be clear as to what it’s looking for. Watch Filipe Toledo’s opening wave of heat four and you be the judge. A 5.67 for that level of surfing? Another case in point was Jordy Smith’s 6.5 drainer in his quarter-final against Julian Wilson. 

Compare his tube to Julian’s (yes Julian’s wave was bigger and he nailed the floater) but I’m looking at the technical difficulty vs completion as a score comparative. This isn’t about Saffa favouritism, it’s about delivering on a score that matches the level of performance.

You be the judge right here and give me your thoughts? I’m hoping to see a judging panel at J Bay that doesn’t favour banality but rather heaps praise on brutality. 

Mikey Wright of Australia won Heat 3 of the Quarterfinals at the Uluwatu CT, 2018

  1. Mikey Wright will qualify for the CT as a wildcard.

And the tour will be better off for it. The reckless abandonment in approach and lack of any obvious threats to his abilities make for a wholesome, entertaining character that is welcomed in an over-coached, cookie cutter, pop em out age of uniformity. 

Mikey Wright has shown that having your own set of rules beats following the rule book. It’s full tilt, calling all pockets surfing. He’s the surfing equivalent of John McEnroe. And we certainly don’t need more Stephen Edberg’s on tour. Why play it safe from the baseline when you could be charging the net? Or in Mikey’s case, the next triple upset.

Filipe Toledo of Brazil won Heat 10 of Round 2 at the Uluwatu CT, 2018.

  1. Brazilian lead pack to widen the gap, Jordy to stay in range.

Filipe Toledo vs Jordy Smith in the final at J Bay. Who wouldn’t want to see that? It’s not impossible and I really hope that’s the case for both South African surf fans and Smith’s world title aspirations. 

One gets the feeling that Jordy is getting close to taking out an event win in 2018. J-Bay would be the perfect place to do that. Besides the obvious familiarity with the wave, it wouldn’t hurt to do it in front of a home crowd before departing for the more ominous Teahupo’o. 

Regardless of where Jordy Smith’s places at J-Bay, one thing is certain: the Brazilian pack will break further away. Onward and upward they will go, seeking their next World Surfing Champion, taking their new favourite son on board for the ride…who knows…maybe that World Champion could, in fact, be everyone’s favourite Brazilian surfing Panda Bear?

Will Julian Wilson stay in the yellow jersey, what about a surprise injury wildcard return by Kelly Slater, perhaps even a shark steering a rubber duck? Whatever unfolds, I’ll be on the chair watching…always watching. 

See you at J-Bay. 

The Chairman. 

Gabriel Medina of Brazil placed second in Heat 3 of the Quarterfinals at the Uluwatu CT, 2018




  1. Jon
    12 June, 2018 at 10:10 am · Reply

    Spot on there bru!
    But, in my opinion Cardoso’s surfing doesn’t excite me at all. Its predictable and safe. Theres no flex or fire.
    Just because somebody weighs more, doesn’t make them a power surfer.

    Thanks for the Repo, always a considered piece… thanks Mr Chairman.

  2. Liam
    12 June, 2018 at 2:36 pm · Reply

    Thanks Chairman, as always a colourful report. Great insights.

  3. Bushy
    12 June, 2018 at 2:52 pm · Reply

    Judges seem intent on nudging Julian Wilson through heats this year. Jordy and Kolohe Andino have way better backhands than the 2 finalists and both got shafted against him.

  4. The Chairman
    12 June, 2018 at 3:13 pm · Reply

    Thanks for the feedback guys, its always good to open up the conversation.

    I do agree Jon that Cardoso runs the risk of predictability. Its fairly easy to map out his rides. The point of difference may be that the judges are expecting the air attack more often an from a greater range of the surfers on tour and they might be warming to the old rail approach again. But yes , variety in turns is still key.

    Bushy re the Julian ‘nudge’. I wrote about the Jordy vs Julian heat , which heat or round do you feel there may have been an obvious bias ? Kolohe looked faster than ever imo.

  5. Sven
    12 June, 2018 at 11:08 pm · Reply

    So agree with the chairman. Judging has improved so much and at Kerama’s it was spot on but at Ulu a bit off. If you ever surfed Ulu’s you would know how risky that drainer was that Jordy went for. Apart from the skill it is dam shallow there and I think his fins were skipping inch’s above the reef. 6.5 was very low. Wilson does seem to be overscored and he really has been surfing well but scraping through heats and somehow managing to hang in there. World champ status, not in my opinion. If Italo keeps up with the way he performed at Kerama’s wow!! Variety IS the spice of life. Anyones game now and I like it like that.

  6. Stu
    13 June, 2018 at 4:59 am · Reply

    My only hope is that Jules doesn’t grab the matching yellow trunks again… wtf was that?

    Great read Pie, well done mate,


  7. Bushy
    13 June, 2018 at 7:36 am · Reply

    Was in the semi’s Chair, Kolohe was faster as you point out, more powerful and no double pump bottom turn’s like Wilson. Judges seemed to overly-score the finishing/close-out manouvers that he did, disregarding the rest of the wave, one being a glorified chop-hop when the wave had already faded out in the channel.
    Maybe J-Bay is the litmus test whether he’s world champ material.

  8. Alex
    13 June, 2018 at 11:42 am · Reply

    Could Jordy vs Brazil emulate Blitzboks vs Fiji? Fiji lifted 5 tropies, SA only one. But the latter won where it counted, made it to every semi and pipped the Fijians by the most marginal of margins to take the World Cup crown 2 years running. Moneyball babes.

    • The Chairman
      13 June, 2018 at 2:03 pm · Reply

      Ha ha ha, a moneyball spread on Jordy vs Brazil…i like the concept Alex. More importantly, the odds going into J bay are favourable.

  9. The Chairman
    13 June, 2018 at 11:47 am · Reply

    Thanks Bushy,

    just watched that semi again. the big point of difference was the underscoring of Kolohe’s 7.70 in my opinion. no doubting the power of wilson’s opening turn for the 8 but perhaps they needed to give Kolohe a little extra on his opening score

    check it out here , what do you think ?


    You are right Sven, critical placement by Jordy on that 6.5. as you say re the world title , it’s anyone’s game which will make for a dramatic j bay event . high risk surfing all the way.

  10. The Chairman
    13 June, 2018 at 1:33 pm · Reply

    Thanks Bushy,

    i just watched that heat again. For me , Kolohe’s 7.70 was underscored in comparison to Wilson’s 8.5. no doubting the power of the first turn Julian laid down on that score but the rest felt a little flat.

    check the heat here, what do you think?


    Agreed Sven , that part of Ulu’s is knuckle drag shallow, I felt they could’ve gone higher for Jordy. I like that you say it’s anyone’s game at J-Bay , will make for high risk surfing.

    hoping for 6 to 8ft walls as well 🙂

  11. Andy
    15 June, 2018 at 4:46 pm · Reply

    No bear butts to scope out with the ladies in Jbay fullsuits …..arrrr darn.

    Dirty old ballies.

    Tricky to have two events over the same waiting period.

    Women are going to get the scraps.

    Pie maybe Smith at 30 has switched on …..not wanting to be a Taj repeat ?

    Have at least one WT trophy before retiring.

    Lekka write up -always enjoy it.

    • The Chairman
      18 June, 2018 at 1:15 pm · Reply

      Agreed Andy,

      It’s going to be tough running both Men and Women over the same waiting period. But history suggests it may be the men who get the grovel waves. Last year at almost every stop , the women got the waves. Either way it’ll be steamers over boardies and bikinis. that much we can guarantee.

      I can’t see Jordy not getting a final at J bay this year. There’s a very good chance of a win. Maybe Taj can fly in for some beers …just in case.

      Glad you enjoyed the read Andy.

  12. Kung Fu Panda
    15 June, 2018 at 4:53 pm · Reply

    Oh btw it’s Kung Fu Panda …….not the Panda.

    Cardoso definately Kung Fu’d the snot out of the top lot.

    Maybe he’ll blow the judges gasket by pulling a rotator or 3 – that would be sick to check.

  13. The Chairman
    18 June, 2018 at 1:20 pm · Reply

    Kung Fu Panda. Noted.

    I wouldn’t want to get on the wrong side of the naming rights. Perhaps Dream Works should consult Cardoso before production starts at J-Bay ?

    One Kung Fu Panda…3 air rotators…coming to a WCT screen near you…

    i like your thinking.

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