One Cloudy Day in Tahiti
It’s time to give credit where credit is due: yesterday was a pretty sick day for competitive surfing. Never mind that a lot of the A-List Teahupoo WSL surf celebs (Kolohe, Kelly, Conner, Julian, Felipe, Michel, Seabass and Griffin) are out. Never mind the dime-store knockoff of The Black Keys song that was forced upon on us every commercial break. Never mind the baffling optics of the “Glowing Glowing Gone” coral reef initiative—how strange it is to hear calls to action while watching Jet Skis rip across a reef, dripping fuel directly onto the coral. Never mind that massive scaffolding tower, drilled straight into the reef. No, this campaign doesn’t really shout “lead by example.” But bad optics are kind of typical for the WSL…and surfing, too, for that matter. We deal in contradictions. And that is why I can’t help but appreciate the surfing yesterday. I can’t remember the last time I wasted an entire day so guilt free.
The whole presentation the WSL puts on continues to feel like an evangelical Tuesday night youth group. I was able to see through it all yesterday and I went to sleep feeling genuinely good about a few of the bright spots in surfing. There were the blissful faces of Jadson Andre and Adriana de Souza, both beaming every time the camera spotted them. I doubt they remember a single thing, they were in a trance. I loved it. Those two dudes have been through enough hell and grinding in the message boards and comment sections and in real life that it’d be hard to not clap every time they emerge from a legit Chopes pit. It’s the best kind of middle finger: peaceful and smiley. Not a bone in my body would be upset watching one of them win.
Another thing I quite enjoyed yesterday was the nonchalance shown at strapping a helmet to your dome. Owen, Seabass, Jeremy and Kauli all looked right at home with helmet flair. It has to be the raddest thing going right now. Watching Owen Wright strap his on (are they still Gath? Who’s making these things?) and send it over and over, despite his history of head trauma brought tears joy to my eyes in appreciation of this madman’s tumultuous journey. I love seeing the two Frenchmen embrace their Tour de France roots and strap an egg on and go too. Kauli Vaast is a kid with nothing but a big future. Earnest, smart and seriously adept at both charging and gamesmanship. It’s clear as day. That shot of Kolohe watching him slip into his last inside wave will be permanently etched in my mind. Kolohe’s, too, no doubt. Yet another priority blunder for Brother on an otherwise heater of a season.
The Griffin Colapinto and Seth Moniz bro-down is another highlight. The surf community should be more proud of these two. They’re unpredictable and spontaneous in the small stuff, and they have an A.I. commitment to getting good at waves like Teahupoo. That used to be the standard. Griffin and Seth are throwbacks to bygone era. Kolohe and Filipe could learn a lot from them in terms of approach and enthusiasm. They show up early and stay late.
Final Crib Sheet from the Tahiti Pro:
· Owen to win: I’m taking Owen to win. He has another gear. Watching him glide in early with his tentacle arms only to hit the pedals and brakes just right with that hockey helmet strapped to his melon is a highlight of 2019.
· The Jadson Andre and ADS story can’t be overlooked: Close your eyes and think back to a day when you more than likely wrote those two off in one way or another. You didn’t like their style. Their claims. Their passion. Something. They erased every single doubter, hater or whatever you wanna call it with their showings yesterday. You’d be a laughingstock to pay them out at the pub now. Watching those two blissfully make heat on waves of the day is enough to make any true fan of surfing or surf culture feel all gooey.
· Hawaii’s new Prince: The kid can do airs. He’s genuine. I can’t think of a better modern representative for Hawaii than Seth Moniz. His performance both in the water and in post-heat chats and his commitment to show up early, chase a swell and get after it with his best homie Griffin is the stuff the tour needs more of. Between him and Zeke, the Hawaiian flag has two solid sets of shoulders to sit on. It’s only a matter of time before it’s draped over them on top of the podium.
· Nice to Have Ross back in the booth: Ross Williams commentary is a well-balanced diet of core insight and general perspective. He delivers it in a tone that I think both the lot lizards and the general VAL consumer can appreciate. I thoroughly enjoyed his commentary all day. I hope he returns. It made me keep the volume button up when he was in the booth.
· Can you fucking believe the next contest is at the wave pool? Now I’m not only saying this because I believe mechanization of surfing is a potential death blow to the art of surfing, but as a surf fan, it seriously fucks up the season. Imagine if we were going to Lowers! Kolohe might actually have a shot. At least it’d be worth watching. But instead we’re going to get choreographed wave dances in the casino town of Lemoore, CA. It’s ridiculous to the point of boycott and sandbagging. Anyone in? I hope some people do. It’s like adding boogie boarding or skim boarding to the judges criteria or something. I’m so angry seeing the ads for it, especially as we see signs of Southern hemisphere swells prepping to hit Lowers all September.
OK, I don’t really like recapping surf contests. I’ve long since retired from writing about heats like this, but I enjoyed my day watching from home so thoroughly that I felt the need to chit chat. And since it’s basically flat today where I am and I have a couple fruity IPA’s floating around in the fridge, I’ll be back on the Beachgrit comment forum, right here watching again today.—Travis Ferré