The Box was brilliant, but didn’t it leave you just wanting more?
No matter what happens in the last few heats of the Margaret River Pro, it’s unlikely anything or anyone will match The Box’s performance on Saturday.
John John could put on another groundbreaking display of rail-work, Kolohe could finally claim a win, Jules and Caio could surf the final sloshed on the region’s finest plonk and none of it would elicit the same response the waves drew through the better part of Round 3.
It was a memorable day of competitive surfing, probably the most memorable since the Jaws BWWT event ran in November—the kind of visual spectacle that appealed to surfers and non-surfers alike.
Whether many non-surfers actually tuned in, I’m not sure, but for those who did, it probably wasn’t the usual ho-hum affair that gets the rest of us so inexplicably excited. This was a sport where the risks were high, the consequences real, and the action for once coming thick and fast.
It was, in short, exactly what the WSL was after. Real drama. Not the manufactured kind that requires an oh-so-serious American voice-over and the embellishment of all kinds of half-baked storylines to bring to life, but the kind that has always captured people’s attention, since slaves were getting chased around the coliseum by lions.
Danger, risk, violence and heroism.
This species loves it. Can’t get enough.
And if the WSL wants to expand their viewership beyond those of us who get riled-up over full-rotation air-reverses and finely-executed cutbacks, it’s something they’re going to have to deliver more of.
Which is easier said than done.
Look at Mark Mathews and co’s attempts to recreate the miracle that was Cape Fear 2016. Three years of waiting only to run the sequel at a lacklustre day at Shippies.
But Mathews and co aren’t going for the mainstream sports-style exposure the WSL are aiming for, even with Red Bull in their corner.
And if the WSL has proven one thing, it’s that they’re not afraid to spend a buck.
Not that loading the tour up with waves that put the athletes at risk is necessarily a good thing. As epic as it is to watch, charging and navigating death-defying tubes is only a small part of what makes a great surfer.
But from a cold, calculating perspective, you don’t need to be Einstein to realise it’d draw in more eyeballs.
Maybe they could just add a couple of slabs to the schedule.