Huge world title implications on day 3 of the Meo Rip Curl Pro Portugal.
Peniche – The Meo Rip Curl Pro has had everything we need in a surf event so far, and there’s more to come. It kicked in with giant, dark and unfriendly chunks disgorging over the shallow banks on Saturday, with some horrendous wipeouts and sick barrels in the process.
There was conspiracy as well. Why didn’t Mason push harder against Gabriel? Had someone from Rip Curl whispered something in his ear before the heat pertaining to a team member on a world title run? Probably fake news, but there was a time when there were two Instinct team riders in a Pipe event, with one in a world title showdown many years ago, and the surfer who was not in the title race was quite happy to throw the heat, if needed, to get his team mate a world title crown. What is a world title worth to a brand’s bottom line? Is it enough for a professional athlete to throw a heat?
Mason just seemed stoked to be in Portugal, but he didn't seem to be hunting very hard, and then Gabby took off towards the end and punted a huge alley oop, and the point was moot and everyone forgot the conspiracy.
Continuing with the fun and games, Bede Durbidge had an absolute brain fart in his round two heat against Connor Coffin in firing surf at Supertubos. The waves were peaking, throwing some ridiculous barrels, and both surfers paddled for the first wave of the heat. With no priority marked, Coffin was deeper and paddled hard for the wave, only to find Bede dropping down the face in front of him and straight into the barrel. Coffin raised his hands in the air and Durbidge was marked for interference.
“I saw him on the inside but he wasn't looking at the wave,” said Durbidge. “I put my head down and paddled, and I didn't look again because you have to paddle so hard down the wave here.”
It didn't end there. Bede was finding barrel after sick barrel, and his highest score was an 8.60. Unbelievably, Connor was looking under pressure nearing the five-minute mark, falling short of the required score with two waves tallied, but at the end of the heat he secured the waves that he needed to usurp the Australian.
To continue the drama, we came up with two heats back-to-back that both had world title repercussions. John John’s heat against Vasco was one completed backhand air short of a loss for the Hawaiian. Ribeira had a sick backhand tube and came flying out into a drawn out tailfirst backhand air reverse that he failed to complete and fell just short of the required score to beat the world champion. Having said that, John John nearly pulled off the biggest, fastest and highest backhand air after one of his waves, twirling into the wind to land in the flats and crumple on impact.
The heartbreak of Jordy’s heat against Josh Kerr was overshadowed by Strider crapping on about the hassling tactics Kerrzy needed to employ to put Jordy on the ropes.
Kerrzy’s approach was a little more hands-off, and Strider lamented the Australian’s approach throughout, but it was a wave starved heat, the South African bowed out, and Kerrzy moved on to what will be his best result of a very poor year. With no chance of qualifying on the CT, he’s going to need a massive end to his QS season in Hawaii.