The world’s best surfers, and some of the worst, have congregated in Japan for the 2019 ISA World Surfing Games. With the Women’s division almost over and the Men’s about to begin, we look at just what we have learned from the Olympic test event. 

Another Four Olympic Qualification Spots Have (Almost) Been Confirmed

Kiwi Ella Williams, Japan’s Shino Matsuda, Israel’s Anat Leilor and Bianca Buitendag have provisionally claimed their places in the Tokyo Olympic field as the highest placed surfers from Oceania, Asia, Europe and Africa. With the limit of two athletes per nation at Tokyo 2020, the only scenario in which Buitendag, Matsuda, Williams and Lelior would not qualify is if two compatriots of the same gender qualify ahead at next year's 2020 World Surfing Games. While that’s possible for Williams and Matsuda, Leilor and Buitendag have no real challengers. The two goofys can book their tickets for 2020. 

You Need To Get Your Head Around The Repechage Rounds

Repechage in French means fishing out or rescuing and is used in sport to allow competitors who failed to meet qualifying standards by a small margin to continue to the next round. The sudden death repechage rounds have acted as a second side of the draw. So while two from the group of Sofia Mulanovich, Tatiana Weston-Webb, Silvana Lima and Buitendag will progress from the Final to the Grand Final, having made it through every heat, the two other Finalists will come from the Repechage rounds. There are eight surfers left in that of which seven are CT surfers including favourites Moore, Gilmore, Conlogue and Marks. They have all failed to finish in the top two in an earlier Round, but get the second chance to get “fished out.” Basically you can lose at least one heat and get another chance, even if the loss is in the latter stages of the competition. While the Olympics will have 20 surfers, not 128, it will be interesting to see if this format will be used next year at the Olympics. Our guess is yes. 

What About The Men? 

The Men's is due to start on Tuesday Tokyo time after the medalists are determined in the Women.  140 surfers are currently in the field which will be whittled down using the same format as the girls. With no Olympic spots or prizemoney on offer for the CT surfers there has been talk of some of the top brass throwing their heats so they can exit Japan early and get some training done in Kelly’s tank. With the repechage system in place, they would have to throw two heats, but as they are there under duress, that scenario is entirely possible. That would also hurt their team point scores, but do they really give a flying fuck about that? We shall see. 

Any Heats To Look Out For?

Julian Wilson is up against his arch-enemy, the Russian Nikita Avdeev, in the opening heat of the competition. Or what about Italo Ferreira taking on the Norwegian Frode Goa? Kelly Slater will battle against Geroid McDaid, Sidy Camara and Juan Migel Carabello in one of the more random sentences you will read. With all the ISA’s territories involved in the early rounds (the Womens featured first-time competing nations Thailand, Sri Lanka, American Samoa, and Lebanon) you will never see a more wider gulf in surfing talent in any surf competition, anywhere, ever.  While for some surfers it will be the opportunity of a lifetime, for the CT surfers it will mostly be just plain bizarre.