The winds of change are blowing hard on the WCT
The Rip Curl Pro had two important heats. The final between Jordy and Caio and we all know where that went, and the quarterfinal between John John and Fanning.
Mick represented the old guard. Presided over by Slater, at this event it comprised himself, Joel, Bede, Ace, Adriano and Kerr. Mick has hordes of fans in Australia and especially at Bells where he is one of the most winningist surfers of all time, and the roaring of the crowds in appreciation was bolstering.
His first wave was slightly conservative and slightly wobbly. It spat out a low score, while John John’s opening wave was all arcs and speed turns and carves. He fell, he blew it, but he did push it on the rail before falling and as commentator Pottz said in reference to the encounter, “Mick doesn't make any mistakes.”
That was the point of difference right there. Mick actually doesn’t make mistakes. John John pushed it hard and made a mistake on his opener. All competition rules are thrown out the window with John – bank your first wave, finish it well, put a solid score on the board and build a house from there. Instead John was falling off all over the show, going for air reverses on a solid second wave. Mick banked two real scores, 8.17 and 7.60, and edged into the lead.
Then the contrast became obvious. At this stage the world was watching, waiting. There was so much on the table. The rookies were circling, smelling blood. The veterans were pensively sipping on their lattes, hoping that their tiring champion, their aging warrior, would be able to push through, to mind-over-matter the win, and prove that experience and contest savvy trumps young blood and supple limbs every time.
There were two minutes to go and JJF took off on a smaller wave, with a long line on it. Some speed, a quick pump, and straight into a huge, critical air reverse with candor, followed up with three tight snaps in the close out section, where most mortals manage a single close-out reo. It comes in at an honest 7.47 and John John takes the lead.
It’s a fun heat if you’re watching for entertainment. It is a seismic shift, if you’re looking for a deeper narrative. It is a shift that pushes the smiling John John school into the forefront of the revolution and leaves the distinguished gentlemen of the league chasing the tail ends of their careers – saving some money for when they hit the road as craft beer owners, property moguls, prawn fishermen, or t-shirt reps – however they have set-up the next phase of the their lives.
Meanwhile Jordy fits in snugly with the children of the revolution. He is close to seniority in this classroom, but he has all the skills and necessary characteristics, as well as a novel look on life, especially when things are going well. To ring a bell before the final hooter has gone, smacks of arrogance, but when you see the incredible smile on his face, and understand the laughter that is going on all around it, there is not a trace of egotism involved; it’s just entertainment all around, and all we really want to be is entertained.
The rest of the year will see some valiant acts from the gentlemen of the league, but they will just be spurts of action as the uprising kicks in for real. Slater will fight the hardest. Hell, he’s done this before, but the winds of change are going to blow like crazy this year.