Welcome back to the 5 Minute Recap. A quick concise overview of each event on the WSL championship tour. Today, a recap of the Corona Bali Pro-tected.
The 2018 Corona Bali Pro-tected, a new name to a not exactly new event. 2013 was the last time we ‘CT even in Bali, that event too was held at Keramas. The next will begin in the 48 hours over at Uluwatu, the site where they’ll complete the previous postponed Margaret River Pro.
The Corona Bali Pro changed it’s name to “Pro-tected” 1 week prior to event launch to call attention to horrendous trash disposal problem that plagues the island, much of which ends up in the ocean. Through out the event competitors were picking up trash while walking in from their heat.
This event will marks a number of important shifts in the 2018 season; in regard to who still has a mathematical shot at a title, in regard to progression, and in regard to an all-star performance by both the commentary team and the judging panel.
The entire first week of the waiting period was blessed with swell and favorable tides during the windless mornings, and nearly the entire men and women’s events ran in head high, often barreling right handers.
Italo’s backside spin to combo for which he earned a 10 in his semi final again Jordy will be the most wave from the event, but it distracts from the fact that power surfing is not only as relevant as ever, but it’s also consistently was scored highest throughout the event.
Jordy’s 9’43 against Conner Coffin in Round 3. All of Michel’s 8’s and 9’s through the event. And even Italo’s consistently high-scores, were mostly for a series of radically fast, perfectly timed, smashes through the lip. This reward for power was also the reason Willian Cardoso made the quarterfinals, despite constant falls, double checks of the bottom and poor wave selection. Once he connects with a section, his power is undeniable. Really only rivaled by Jordy and Michel Bourez, who semi-finaled and finaled respectively.
Gabriel, Zeke, Caroline Marks and Lakey Peterson all also showcased impressive displays of power.
This even crystalized the strength of this new judging regime. Head judge Pritamo Ahrendt would assess the conditions daily and publicly announce precisely what the judges would be rewarding. This practice isn’t new, but the adherence of the surfers and the follow-through by the judges provided a brand new level of clarity for the viewer. The judging was precise and consistent, and perhaps for the first time I can remember, almost completely predictable. I could watch a surfer complete a ride, and successfully predict the score. Now, there was also a consistency and predictability in the waves that really helped facilitate that, but this event serves as a template for what we should hope to execute in every event throughout the season.
The consistently high quality of waves and judging further served to accentuate the spectacular surfing. There were many heats, starting in round 3 that were supremely exciting and tightly contested. Griffin and Wilko who did a rodeo to secure a score and hold a lead until the 5 minute mark when Griffin needed a 8.23 and blitzed a wave with a combination of power and air to secure a 8.67. Michel and Zeke’s power surfing extravaganza. Julian Wilson waiting for scores on the black sand and hearing that he got nipped by Mikey Wright by half a point. John John Florence held the laziest of leads and fell on 5 of his 9 waves against Jesse Mendes, who got a 1 section opportunity with 1 minute left, threw everything into a spin, albeit with a layback recovery and secured the score to beat John John and reject his 3rd consecutive world title campaign.
On the women’s side progression was not found above the lip as I expected to see from Silvana Lima, Joanne Defay, Carissa Moore and Lakey Peterson. There seemed to a certain conservation and deserve to not blow great opportunities for rail surfing, and perhaps this was a wise a choice, as I mentioned on the men’s side, it’s what garnered the highest scores. Progression was found however through turns, both in regard to power and releasing into slides, namely Tyler and Carissa.
There was also a new dogged ferocity in competitive spirit that was driving some of athletes on the women’s tour. In post heat interviews: winners, Steph, Lakey, Tati, and even Sally spoke with a healthy amount of ego and a lack of lauding of their opponent, something that’s been commonplace in past events. Steph even said about Tati and her position on the ranking, “Yeah, she’s doing fine, but I’m doing better.”
Stephanie said that just before losing to Tati in their quarterfinal heat, which admittedly, went flat. She surfed with her trademark fluidity, but never really fought her way through anything. Sally Fitzgibbons on the other hand, finally made her return to world-class form, not only surfing brilliantly; getting the best barrel of the event and and repeatedly drifting fins through the lip, but she also fought for it. She always shows tenacity, and so it was great to see her surfing and connectivity with the ocean return. She ultimately lost to eventual event winner Lakey Peterson. Lakey narrowly beat Tyler Wright in that final.
Lakey deserved to win this event. And she earned the Jeep Leaders yellow jersey, which she stripped from Stephanie Gilmore. There was a major point of difference for Lakey in every heat she surfed; and that was the placement of her turns. She’d place her big frontside carve under the lip, in the steepest, bowling section of a wave while many of her competitors were aiming for the open shoulder. And when cracking the lip, she’d drive straight into the biggest section, rather than angling for softer edge. It was critical surfing like no one else was approaching. Even Tyler, who rampaged through her side of the draw, nearly every one of her power turns was placed on the open face, mostly so open that she’d actually wrap all the way back into the whitewash. Powerful, which again scored high, but not critical. Lakey exhibited power on edge, a critically fine balance that simply stands in stark contrast to what her competitors were doing. Again, all represented in where her turns were placed.
Lakey heads over to Uluwatu in 1st place. Only 2 women have won events this year; 2 for Steph and 2 for Lakey. They are also both still in the Quarterfinals of the Uluwatu Pro.
On the men’s side it’s way too early to assess real title implications, but there’s a lot guys still in it. Julian got dethroned from 1st place down to 3rd. Italo is not in first and Filipe is still in 2nd. Michel Bourez moves up 3 spots into 4th and the Rookie of Year race tightens up with Griffin Colapinto in 7th and Wade Carmichael in 8th.
Jordy broke his string of 13ths by semifinaling with unrivaled frontside surfing at Keramas. You could argue that Michel surfed as well, but not as well rounded. Jordy showcased all the power of Michel but with much more variety, stomping big airs and controlling fin blasts with a fluidity and casualty that belies it’s difficulty. In fact, he only narrowly lost to Italo by 2 tenths of a point in the semifinal despite Italo earning a 10 point ride. We will see Jordy in round 3 at Ulu’s, hopefully in this same form. Jordy got tangled with Gabriel Medina in a full contact paddle battle, which Jordy won and then discussed in his post-heat interview, a highlight of the event.
In an event full of highlights, no one produced more than Italo. And he delivered them with a pacing and progression the ensure that the most spectacular took place on finals day, where he peaked with a 18.87 heat total in the final against Michel Bourez and it’s his 2nd win of the 2018 season.
He is simultaneously one of the most powerful surfers on tour and one of the greatest aerialists. He’s also the fastest and his timing serves to accentuate all of those things. There’s also an element in his routine backside snaps that I think gets overlooked because of his speed and precision, but he’s releasing and sliding across the coping through the rotation of what is disguised as a snap. And he does it almost every time. Rather than pinning against the lip and pushing the fins through, he’ll often slide with the lip, either across the coping or off the wave and finishing the rotation as he lands and catapults into the next bottom turn. It possesses the judging criteria within 1 turn, speed, power, and flow.
We’ll see you across the Bukit peninsula in the next 48 hours.