An unstoppable force meets a man-made object.
Confusion reined supreme when I logged on for the final day of action at the Surf Ranch Pro. First I headed for the app where I got a bit of vision, before it suddenly took off in fast forward, returned with no sound, then froze altogether. To make sure it wasn’t a glitch I tried a further two times with the same result.
So over to Facebook I went, which worked fine for a while before the sound slowly departed from the vision. A lag of a few seconds between the two came and went and made viewing a frustrating affair. Judging from the comments flowing up the screen from the 2000 viewers joining me, I was not alone. The tech headaches that have plagued the WSL since the Zuckerberg deal are not letting up.
Anyway, let’s get to the surfing, which to be honest wasn’t any less confusing at that point. I had joined the stream in time to see Lakey Peterson ride the last wave of the women’s event, a right that wouldn’t be enough to knock Carissa from the top spot.
Cut to Carissa biting nails waiting for confirmation of her victory, but it never came. All of a sudden we were back with Caroline Marks, who had already finished her runs but was strangely in the water waiting for a left.
Word soon filtered through that due to fluctuations in the wave quality on the lefts in both Caroline and Lakey’s final runs, they were being given another wave. In the end it didn’t make a difference and Carissa was finally able to pop the cork on her champagne. The first victor of the day decided.
The final eight men left in the draw were offered the same grace as the women. They would each be offered a bonus left to try and improve their scores before the final runs commenced. And because they would be riding only lefts, this meant that as the hydrofoil moved back into position it sent unridden rights spiralling down the length of the pool, er sorry, ‘basin’.
This must’ve been torturous for the sunstroked and dedicated surf fans on the sidelines, who fter three days camped in a field 100 miles from the coast, would’ve offered up their first born child for the chance to wash the dust and agricultural stench from their bodies.
It proved too much for Strider, who seemingly broke protocol and stroked into one. Still miked up and overdosing on froth, he attempted to talk his way through the ride. This act of spontaneity provided one of the most genuinely entertaining and engaging moments of an otherwise heavily scripted event. #letstridersurf
As the dampners settled the wash from the last of the bonus lefts, nothing had changed in terms of positioning within the field, including Medina being perched at the top of it. Gabe did however manage to extend his lead with a masterful performance punctuated with a lofty Kerrupt flip on the end section.
All event Medina has looked the most natural while riding the mechanical. He has time, his turns aren’t forced, it looks … dare I say it … like he’s surfing in the ocean. Perhaps his superior mental strength is able to force the fact that he’s 100 miles from the ocean surfing in a pool amongst cows and casinos from his brain. Something seemingly lodged in the frontal cortex of the majority of competitors.
The final runs themselves were something of an anti-climax. No-one was able to better their scores, or really able to complete a wave.
The only thing worthy of note was Kelly Slater. After Kelly’s metamorphic career, right now he occupies perhaps his most enigmatic and strangest incarnation. Injured/not injured. Can’t surf/can surf. Arguably changing surfing in more profound ways than he did with the singlet on. Placing third in a CT event yet announcing five minutes later he is still too injured to compete in the next comp? What is going on? WSL? Anybody? However, he did make sure to give his foot a very public, and to my cynical eye, somewhat token rub after his final wave.
Apart from that the Surf Ranch Pro fizzled down to a deserving Medina win, and sets us up for a genuinely exciting title race between Filipe and Gabriel who are currently numbers one and two respectively on the Jeep Leaderboard.