6 Things We Learned at the Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast 2016
We do need another hero, but do we want it to be Wilko?
Bugs, Coffin & Strider... great name for a Grime crew
1. Stu Crew is a Thing
Stu Kennedy's charge was a classic sporting tale of journeyman come good, and who doesn't love that? Familiar - even tired - narrative maybe, but no less enjoyable to behold as he vanquished those with significantly more noughts in their bank accounts, including Slater, Medina and Florence. The best part was that he didn't do it by 'battling' or with more 'passion' than each of his more fancied adversaries, just that his own surfing was rather good.
Still the best way to win a surfing heat, that surfing.
2. Between a Rook and an old Face
Jah bless the new faces on tour, the 2016 rookies. Will many of them bust into the Top 10, come year end? Dunno. Will any of them do significantly better than previous rookie intakes? Don't care. Isn't it just refreshing to see a relative abundance of new meat, rather than just the same turds who failed to make WCT all year regurgitated via the WQS, or if you prefer, refuse to flush?
3. Slater's Latest Excuse
Is a curvy brown surfboard, apparently. Surely that's the reason he's trying out 'different craft' urges the armchair cynic inside you. Nobody knows his form and fitness and thus relative vulnerability in head high manoeuvres waves better than the man himself, which brings your correspondent to speculate that knowing he's kinda thoroughly beatable, he doesn't want to come up short while seen to be actually trying.
Now Slater has very much earned the right to do whatever he likes, of course, but there is something unbecoming, a touch unsavoury, about the 'I lost coz I wasn't really feeling it' vibe. Not angry with you Kelly, just disappointed.
In this regard, I refer Slate to the 'How To Be Dethroned As The Greatest of All Time With Dignity' example set by Miguel Indurain in 1996. Big Mig, having won 5 Tour de Frances in a row from 1991-95, found himself in big trouble, ravaged by illness and lack of fitness, and up against younger, smaller, faster and as drugged* or better riders on a mountain stage near his home in Navarra. He could have gone back to the peloton, but he instead decided to try and come in a heroic second, (failing spectacularly, blowing up and losing 3 minutes in as many km) and almost broke his massive, massive heart in the process. 'That's how a champion goes out,' said the very excellent sports radio journalist Danny Kelly later of the effort, 'he goes out on his shield.'
4. Rounds 2 & 4 Are Still Highly Regrettable
Another vestige perhaps from days when tour surfers themselves designed the tour, or if you prefer, marked their own homework a la the Financial Standards Authority, how many times are you allowed to lose a heat yet still win the comp? Twice, in fact, which is still twice too many. Jeopardy is required if some level of interest is to foster, even if that jeopardy comes via suspended disbelief. Yeah, we know Bond isn't going to die, but we allow ourselves to pretend we think he might for the purposes of entertainment. Alas, not so in the game of surf. Combo'd to all feck they might be, yet we all know we're about to see their ugly mugs again the in very next round.
5. De Souz is Still Ugly-Gate
Following the Desouz world title backlash, came the backlash backlash. Articles quickly appeared, well intentioned, if perhaps misguided, not only championing his cause, but attacking anyone who dared express disappointment in the new world champ as a bigot. Assuming most of those who stood accused were Australians and Americans who would've preferred a champ from their own shores, is that not standard fan partisanship? Not so much racist, as just 'sport'. I reserve the right to not particularly like someone's surfing, based purely on my own set of criteria, none of them being ethnicity/religion/sexual orientation. Is that ok? I mean, please? Am allowed to find the squatty hurrumph visually displeasing?
6. Wilko Gets Free Get out of poo card?
Something of a retraction on my last point perhaps, but surely, if Wilko was Brazilian, his stance would be getting slaughtered by the commentminati, wouldn't it? Wouldn't keyboard savants from Walpole to Warrnambool with clever pun handles be expertly weighing in with relish?
Sure, it was a great win for new, slimmer more focused Matthew Wilkinson, but at times, those backhand bottom turns were at best agricultural, and at worse faecal.
p.s. Do you want your Wilko slimmer and more focused? Do you take heart in considering your Wilko to be in bed early, teeth brushed, in a happy, safe monogamous relationship? or did you in fact prefer your Wilko gormless, tubby, disheveled and barely clinging on to his shit, much less his tour spot?
Photos by Kirsten/WSL