Florence, Zietz and Lau all ready to drop hammers as we move into the finals.
It was a long day of surfing, and there was a gamut of heats to watch at the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach. I decided to choose a few heats that I hoped would be exciting.
The Slater v Fanning was the obvious heat from round three, but scanning the rest of the heats I came to a cool conclusion: the rest of the heats that I really wanted to watch all had an Hawaiian in them, and the reason why I wanted to watch those heats was because of the Hawaiian.
Seabass is always so much fun to watch, for the simple reason that his surfing is unorthodox, in a pleasing way. When you’d expect him to do a big hit he wings it round to a cutback in the deepest corner of the pocket, and when you expect him to slow down, to surf a little bit safer to get the necessary score, he suddenly does a loopy, over-the-roof float to tail drop out of the blue that gets the score, but comes in so unexpectedly that it can’t help to impress all and sundry.
We see so much of Seabass surfing in good waves, but not the barreling waves that he has grown up on in Hawaii. It’s the very nature of waves that he grew up on that makes his surfing different and unusual. He finds different sections to generate speed, he looks at barrels differently and sees more opportunity in them than simply getting covered, and he has such absolute faith in his equipment at all times that he oozes confidence and doesn't even know it. Still, to reiterate, he is so interesting to watch.
Of course when Jeep ratings leader John John Florence paddles out in any and every heat, the world turns on their WSL app and dials in, just in case they’re going to see something amazing and don't want to miss it. In 2013 there was an amazing contest in Bali, at Keramas, called the Oakley Pro Bali. There was one day of the event when the waves were firing and it was a full day of surfing, with heat after action-packed heat, and towards the end of the day a few of the journalists got an early bus back to the hotel to file their respective stories for their respective websites confident in the knowledge that they (we) all had enough material to write a cracker daily report.
We got back, we toiled until drops of blood formed on our foreheads, and we posted our best ever work within tight deadline times and as we do as web editors, posted immediately to our sites, and headed out for the Oakley drinks evening.
It was only when we got to the hotel for drinks that the rest of the crew told us in babbling, excited tones, that we the journalists, who had all filed our stories, had probably missed the best move of the event and one of the best moves in pro surfing ever – John John’s ten point alley-oop. We all missed it. Nowadays it is imperative to not miss anything that the best surfer in the world might do, and miss being part of a very important conversation in pro surfing. John John could and does do the improbable and the impossible in every heat these days, and it would be folly to not watch.
That ten-point alley-oop here:
Then there is Zeke. At last year’s Ballito Pro 10,000 WQS event the two fresh faces that were the most entertaining to watch were Connor O’Leary and Ezekiel Lau. Willard beach provided solid right-handers for the last few days of competition, and Zeke was the man of the moment, matching those big walls with his brawn and his power. Huge rooster tails of spray and solid rail lines everywhere saw him all the way through to the semi-finals with power that reminded of a young, lithe Sunny Garcia. He was eliminated by the eventual event winner O’Leary but left a good impression of power in his wake. It was no surprise that he beat Brother in the slightly funky late afternoon Winkipop sets, the waves needed to matched off with power, they needed to be dealt with, and Kolohe was on the one side of the power battle while Zeke was on the other. Those pocket sevens were as a result of exerting solid force and almost overpowering what was on offer.
The Hawaiian presence is solid this year.