And pulls the air that stopped a surfing nation.
There had been some stellar surfing, but we were still waiting for that glorious moment – a leap to your feet, spill the beer and popcorn kind of deal.
In the battle of the Ferraris (Ferreira and Fioravanti), Italo was already dominating Leonardo with his switchblade backside snaps. One may be a Brazilian who resembles an Italian concreter from Leichardt and the other a legitimate Roman playboy, but this was a battle for points not modeling contracts.
Just when Leo crept into striking distance, Italo felt the gentle puff of a cross-shore breeze prickle his skin and instantly knew the skies were his to own.
Presented with a crumbly, four-foot sidewinder that throttled around the rocks, Italo aimed up at the first section and launched a sun-snatcher with a V-12-powered spin. The hands-free reverse had altitude, the rotation was dizzyingly fast and definitely the full way round by the time Italo begun his descent. Tick, Tick, Tick.
Front-row onlookers cheered with delight but figured the boxy goofy-footer had been sunk by the foamy spill – when he stood upright they were on their feet. Demonstrating a propensity for the ostentatious, Italo garnished his Icarus spin with a Varial, followed by a switch-foot snap. Aerial mastery mixed with a slapstick finish proved a winning formula.
The judges rewarded Italo with the first men’s division ten of the year (well four of them did, which is enough when you drop the highest and lowest scores) and the first ten in Italo’s WSL career.
Grinning through trumpet-player cheeks after the heat, Italo explained his choice to fly. “When I see the wind come the other way, I think ‘wow’ that’s the time"…
When one member of the media flotsam suggested that Italo’s back foot had slipped off mid air, the Brazilian dynamo looked incredulous and replied earnestly. “No, I didn’t feel that, but it doesn’t matter – I made it ... You know I think it was my best air, my first ten point ride.”
After a mostly small-wave Hawaiian season there was much talk amongst industry players and surfers about Italo’s air raid in the free-surfs. Photographers also had plenty of evidence of his lofted ambitions on file.
Now Italo has proven that he has the capacity to drop a nuclear air mid-heat – the kind of move that can almost wipe out the opposition in a single blow.
Suddenly Filipe is out and Italo is in. Competitors will be praying they don’t come up against him in a cross-shore wind.