A little while ago we mentioned in an article that brevity might be the way forward for the WSL Championship Tour, and that less surfers and shorter events might be a way to keep the excitement flowing for the premier league of the sport.

At the Outerknown Fiji Pro it seems that the long wait between swells put some of the best surfers off their games yesterday. A week of no waves, plenty of eating and chilling and fishing and what-have-you, but not enough surfing, and the best surfers all fall under the guillotine when contest resumes.

It could be about focus. When Martin Potter won the world title in 1989 by the biggest margin ever in the sport, he did it was absolute focus throughout. It was the sort of focus that forced him into winning, forced him to snarl his way through heat after heat victory after victory.

When Tom Curren won his world title through the trials he was at the time quite possibly one of the most focused athletes in the world. He awoke every day to do whatever he needed to do to be the best surfer in the world. He had that absolute single-mindedness.

In our current society, perhaps there is just too much going on for people to remain so focused for so long? A week off in the middle of an event is enough for anyone to lose sight of the goal, to let minds wander, to watch sport on TV and catch up on social media. Hang with friends, wives and/or girlfriends. This contest quite possibly just had too much time.

It makes no difference to the fan though. When the contest was called on we were all frothing. So it might not have been the booming sets we were hoping for, but there was surfing. The world’s best were back out there.

Not for long.

The best surfers in the world were beaten, eliminated, decimated. Medina was the first to fall, putting up a good fight against Italo. Fanning was next, falling to a ferocious Spartan. JJF, who was on top of the Jeep leaderboard, went down to Leo Fioravanti, who might I add upped his game nicely for this win. Surprises and shocks were not in short supply by this stage of the game. Jordy lost to Joan Duru. The goofy-footer chose this moment to A-Game his opponent, and his waves allowed him multiple turns and better scores than the unfocussed Smith. Then O’Leary beat Slater. It was a slaughter. All the surfers who were expected to be the stronger competitors, the hardened and experienced pros, were falling at the hands of rookies, of sophomores, of youth.    

By the time the last heat of the day came around we were expecting the weirdness to continue. There was no way that Adriano was going to beat Stu Kennedy. That would not be following the day’s narrative. He needed to keep the youth uprising going, to keep the codgers old and new at bay.  He did just that. It was a close heat, but then they all are, and a miss is as good as a mile. Adriano joined a crew of ex-world champs and aspirant title chasers onto the boats that were going home. Stu joined the renaissance.

This narrative is not, however, about the changing of the guard, of new school vs old school. It might just be about a group of surfers losing their focus, and having a collective crap day.

Main Image is a digital reappropriation of an image by WSL/Cestari