Saquarema draws a line in real sand on a real beach
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness.”
That was Deputy Commissioner Travis Logie doing his Facebook live call this morning from Brazil. And if you thought that was a little odd, he wasn’t finished there.
“It was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.”
He was bang on, even if he’d obviously just inhaled 12 grams of Brazilian marching powder and had sped read Charles Dickens’ Tale of Two Cities in the taxi on the way to the beach.
You see the Oi Rio Pro had come at a pretty weird time for professional surfing. It came almost with no warning, the first CT after the Margaret River Pro cancellation and on the heel’s of the first proper competitive look at Kelly’s wave.
After the Founder’s Cup many had predicted that the invention of artificial perfection would endanger both the CT format and many of the current tour locations. Brazil seemed to be at the top of the extinction list.
Despite the long professional history of events in the country, despite the deep talent pool and the trademarked “passionate” fans, very few days, let alone whole events, stick in memory. Sure, there’s been the odd special wave (Kelly Slater’s below sea level drainer, Filipe Toledo's aerial antics), moments of World Title drama and the time when the Brazo coppers tried to interrupt Occy’s pre-heat spliff routine, but on the whole, the waves have mostly been average or below.
Till now that is. “It’s epic, it’s the sickest wave. It is wedgey, has heaps of power, a tube and a bowl,” Wade Carmichael said after his Round 1 win. “I didn’t know this wave was here, we’ve been going left the whole time, but I’m stoked.” The second day of the Men’s comp was easily the best day in Brazilian professional surfing history. It had throaty tubes, massive airs, huge hacks, backwash, brutal closeouts and even more brutal close-out re-entries.
So basically all the things that we’d forgotten we were missing at the Surf Ranch. That it was Brazil that reminded us has been the biggest surprise.
Even yesterday’s move back to the left didn’t really dampen the enthusiasm. If anything Filipe Toledo’s backside air, easily the longest, if not the biggest, ever seen in competition further highlighted want you can’t get at the Surf Ranch.
By the end of the day, with the sun streaming down on the green waters of Saquarema, with Julian Wilson capitalizing on the losses of Italo Ferreira, Carmichael forcing John John Florence’s exit and Steph Gilmore’s win moving her closer towards a seventh world title the event had, surely, drawn it’s own line in the real sand of a real beach.
In the Tale of Two Cities, Dickens asserts his belief in the possibility of resurrection and transformation. In the space of three days despite, or maybe because of, the weird state surfing is in, Brazil has done the same.