But sometimes the WSL rules are a little confounding
The waves have been firing in Hossegor the last few days, and the Quiksilver Pro France has been powering through with long days and some savage shore break dumps. Gripping stuff throughout, and today’s performance was just as thrilling, albeit at little confounding at times.
Zeke Lau was looking the man in the first Quik Pro heat of the day. The surfers had moved down the beach to a punchy high-performance right-hander that was spinning down the bank. Zeke looked sharp and focused and was putting the hammer down as he is wont to do, but Michael Rodrigues did what needed to be done and took to the air for a superior aerial performance to take a pleasing win over the disappointed Hawaiian power-monger. M-Rod has got plenty in the bank, and could prove to be a real upsetter as this event winds down.
Then it was time for the relative newcomer against the veteran as Mikey Wright faced off against retiree Joel Parko. There has been much said recently of Parko and his incredible and illustrious career as he wanes down for his swansong, but for this heat he couldn't find what he needed against the fired-up rookie, in what was a fairly low-scoring heat. Mikey too took to the air, and climbed into the front and hung there as Parko’s more conventional but solid surfing was not enough to eclipse the Wright brother’s score, and he was eliminated from the event.
The following heat was so perplexing. Kolohe Andino and Patrick Gudauskas were both totally pumped, and were going for airs and fast combos on every wave, blowing a lot of moves in the flats but giving it their best every single wave. It was full-on commitment, garnering loads of support from fans on the beach and online, and with both surfers going balls-out, Brother slipped in ahead of Patty Gee.
Sometimes it’s hard to watch Brother. He has so many close calls not going his way, so many unlucky situations and so often it just seems that the dude is shit out of luck. Over time it must surely do some sort of attritional damage to the poor kid. Being an unlucky runner-up four times did damage to Cheyne Horan’s sense and sensibilities, and similarly there was the absolute rage and frustration that started to manifest in Gary Elkerton when he could just not get a fair shake from the judges or fellow competitors when chasing his world titles. For Kong it eventually resulted in three frustrating years of runner-up positions on the world title chase, a fairly deep and well-founded case of Persecution Complex*, and the resultant well-documented public ire for years.
Brother had the heat by showing the judges a point of difference with his flamboyant approach, and sticking the big airs when it counted. As the heat ticked out, Patty took off on a desperate last wave for one last attempt to slip into the lead. With priority, Brother took off to block him, but unbelievably he stood up after the siren had sounded, and was therefore awarded an interference call, and the heat loss. There was a bit of confusion around the call, but rules is rules, and Patty Gee took what was an ignominious win over a gut-wrenchingly frustrated Brother.
With the perfect vision of the World Surf League replay hindsight, Brother did the right thing for the situation, ensuring that Patty didn't get a final shot while in second priority. The fact that siren ran out was just deeply unlucky, and lets hope he can bounce back from this as the star-crossed surfer is an integral and valuable component of the current crop of professional surfers on the Championship tour. Still, it was a very confusing situation to many.
It was Dirk Ziff himself who mentioned in his Waterman Of the Year speech that there are elements of Championship Tour surfing that are a bit confusing.
“The event format remains confusing to new fans,” admitted Ziff in Lemoore. “We continue to have an antiquated system for determining world champions.”
This rule that got Brother seems a little puzzling. Not sure if it’s antiquated, it just seems a little bit unnecessary, and maybe it can be reviewed.
Still, without wishing to detract from the excitement of professional surfing, Mr. Ziff did qualify his initial statement thereafter that night at the Surf Ranch by framing our sport in a broader context.
“Surfing heals,” said Ziff. “Surfing empowers. Surfing inspires. Surfing is magic. Thank you very much.”
Quiksilver Pro France Remaining Round 3 (H8-12) Results:
Heat 8: Michael Rodrigues (BRA) 13.53 def. Ezekiel Lau (HAW) 11.16
Heat 9: Mikey Wright (AUS) 11.53 def. Joel Parkinson (AUS) 10.90
Heat 10: Patrick Gudauskas (USA) 8.06 def. Kolohe Andino (USA) 6.77
Heat 11: Sebastian Zietz (HAW) 12.70 def. Griffin Colapinto (USA) 12.33
Heat 12: Julian Wilson (AUS) 13.53 def. Joan Duru (FRA) 10.36
* Persecution Complex - an irrational and obsessive feeling or fear that one is the object of collective hostility or ill-treatment on the part of others.