Torrid over-achievers to clash with world title contenders
Is Jordy going to choke? How can John John lose? Will Kanoa con Fil’ into an interference? The WSL’s premier, performance wave, Trestles, serves up a fight card, which pits world title contenders against valiant underdogs. What can we expect from the remaining showdowns?
Ace Buchan vs Jordy Smith: Semi Final One
Backside flow and tail-blow are the preferred weapons for Ace Buchan, the sole goofy footer remaining in the draw. Surfing on his backhand allows Ace to approach the lip at a more vertical angle than the frontsiders. This is particularly effective in smaller, crumbly conditions when forehand turns can look soft and ineffective. Ace is also surfing with maximum flow; rarely spoiling his threaded arcs with a catch or hop. However, he risks being blown out of the water by Jordy if he doesn’t monopolise the best waves and make the tail wafts (his only real, high-scoring move) sting.
Jordy survived the slug-fest against Frederico Morais in the quarters, dialing in a dynamic 9.43 when he needed a score late in the heat. While the quality of his surfing was impeccable, the fact he did it under pressure suggests he is more mentally fortified than ever. He is last year’s Trestles champion and knows that the judges are horny for his snap, carve, float formula. The world title is beginning to look within reach of his big mits, but he has to be careful not to get clumsy. Psychologically, fear of success is now the enemy for Jordy.
Physically, he has to be careful to stay agile and springy on the wave. If he gets a little stop start then his turns can look slow and heavy; particularly if Ace is choreographing uninterrupted backside whips. For Jordy it will be all about that favourite new sporting buzz phrase – ‘sticking to the process.’
Jordy should win and set up a deliriously exciting match up with either John John or Filipe in the finals.
Jeremy Flores Vs John John Florence: Quarter Final 3
Nonchalant brilliance matched against red-blooded, chip-on- the-shoulder machismo. Jeremy Flores is hovering around the cut off bubble at 21 on the rankings and needs to consolidate his position on tour before the world changes and a new-look WSL is ushered in. John John is sitting in second, casually trying to prove he is not a one-hit wonder when it comes to world titles. Flores will come out and swing at the lip like an unhinged kick-boxer. John John will wait for his moment and attempt something with a degree of difficulty almost no one else can match. If he pulls it, it will likely be au revoir for the fiery Frenchman. However, if John John falters on an early attempt, the waves are slow (as they have been) and Flores already has a couple of keepers then John may struggle to win dirty.
Filipe Toledo Vs Kanoa Igarashi: Quarter Final Four
Hot-headed Filipe will have to be careful. He apparently got caught up in a post-heat tiff with Julian Wilson after round four, and Kanoa is his nemesis when it comes to interference calls. It was a moment with Kanoa that fueled Filipe’s tantrum in Brazil, which in turn saw him slapped with a one-contest ban. Then he incurred another interference against Kanoa in the semi-finals of The US Open.
Of all the waves on tour, Trestles seems like the one custom built for Toledo’s exciting coalescence of acrobatics and knifey carves. He’s yet to win here, but knows the wave has the potential to propel him to his best. Kanoa can crash the party if he continues to snaffle the best waves, as he has done in early heats.
A patriotic crowd of Americans will be cheering for Kanoa, who calls Cali home. Filipe will have to hustle without overstepping the mark and fly above the star-spangled-banner sentiment to claim victory.