Back to Main Break, and back to the rail.
The conditions at Main Break were tricky for the round of 16 of the Margaret River Pro, and a mere percentage of the bliss that was The Box yesterday. In solid, blustery peaks, the waves of choice were the right-handers, with a few lip-lines, the occasional open face and a whole bunch of rocky, ledgy weirdness.
Both John John and Seabass never really got going in their round of 16 match up, with a number of falls and fluffed turns. Only one big move – the trademark John John swooping carve – was what impressed the judges enough to get the winning score. “It was really weird out there, with the waves at Main Break kind of splitting,” said John John. “It was hard to find one with a wall. Still it was super-fun.”
The scale was so different today. Three lip hits were getting double the scores of a throaty barrel yesterday, and the surfers who adjusted to it were winning their heats. Caio Ibelli got it right, and beat Slater with fast and tight moves, and resolutely finishing off every wave on the ledge. Julian Wilson was another who got it right, surfing ‘with venom’ as Barton mentioned more than thrice, but he was right. Julian was nailing it, surfing with intent and finishing every single move.
Jordy’s heat against Conner was a cracker, with both surfers giving it their all. Jordy looked a little more committed, and edged through with two good right-handers. Conner blasted one left into the wind, but didn't do enough.
“I knew that Conner was focused on the rail and the bigger sets,” said Jordy. “My game plan was to stay away from the lip, and then I went and did the opposite. I went left, I went for the lip, but I trusted my gut instinct. It’s always changing out there.”
Sitting at number 6 on the Jeep Leaderboard and still smarting after his untimely demise at the Corona Bali Protected, Jordy looks hungry.
While immortal at the Box yesterday, Jack Robinson came across as a jerky, twitchy mortal in the windy and flat peaks of Main Break. He picked waves with ruffles, and his board was chattering. He committed to a few big hits, but he fell. Everyone was falling. His competitor Seth Moniz was falling. It wasn't nearly as pretty as yesterday’s gnarly perfection at The Box. This heat was no reflection of Robbo’s skills and talents, and it will only be a matter of time before he is on the Championship Tour, we all know it.
The final heat of the round had a lot riding on it. Kanoa Igarashi has been looking good ever since his win at Keramas, but his opponent Ryan Callinan is fast turning into the modern day Mr X, with so many surprises and so much talent in the bag. The heat was evenly matched throughout, and both surfers were hard-pressed to find good waves with scoring potential, but they were hammering away at the right. Towards the end of the heat a great set approached, and Ryan clearly sold Kanoa on the first wave. It turned out to be a dud, and as Kanoa kicked out he had the vision of Callinan bottom turning on the wave of the heat. He made good on it, banking an 8.57 to climb into the lead with a few minutes to go. Needing a 7.51 Kanoa picked up a final bomb. He started off with a big vertical frontside snap with plenty of whip, and finished tight in the pocket, setting up for his second turn and staring down the required score. Then the wave went weird on him, hit a ledge, and developed an extra lip. His forehand carve turned wobbly and he fell, but recovered. It ended up coming in around the 5-point mark and Japan was out the contest.
“There was no doubt in my mind that I was going to get the score, said Kanoa after the heat. “I was going to get it, but then the wave got a bump on it, a little step, and I was going to do a carve, but it didn’t work.”
Callinan downplayed the selling technique, when he sent Kanoa on a flop of a wave at the end. “I thought it looked like a pretty good wave,” said Callinan with a wry smile on his face. “I probably would’ve gone anyway, but when he went I just turned around and saw that the next wave was way better.”
By the end of the round, seven competitors out of the top ten were out of the game. Kanoa Igarashi, Kelly Slater, Conner Coffin, Gabriel Medina, Jeremy Flores, Filipe Toledo and Wade Carmichael, were all packing their bags and changing their flights. Suddenly there was room to move. And move they did.
In the first quarter, JJF took out number three ranked Italo Ferreira with an electric performance. With big carves and tighter swoops, airs and full-on variety. Burying rails on one foot sections in front of the rocks. Italo just wasn’t getting enough room for the huge backhand airs he is famous for.
The second quarter was as close as it gets. Jordy and Caio were both on form, both going hard, and they were both looking totally motivated. Jordy’s slightly longer board looked good out there, beating the chatter, helping him incise the rides when there was whitewater coming from two sides, and he looked solid. Caio was also looking on-point, and despite Jordy’s closeout forehand rotation on the bricks, Ibelli came back with four big turns on his best wave to get the nod over Jordy by 0.02 of a point. Tough loss for Jordy, who must be feeling somewhat unsatisfied (read: totally fucked off) by the number of close calls he is experiencing.
After a brief shark intervention, Kolohe and Seth paddled out for their encounter. It was another even match, with a nice little evening glass-off. Andino looked hungry, and Seth looked wobbly. Andino’s win is a big deal, finally seeing him in decent world title conversation. In the Margaret river twilight, and the final heat of one massive day of surfing, 19th-rated Julian Wilson defeated Ryan Callinan with some impressive surfing, and made his move to try and enter the conversation … any conversation.