8 THINGS WE LEARNED FROM THE OAKLEY PRO BALI
We went, we saw, we made the observations.
1) Parko Relaxes Into Contention
It's no great secret that Parko has been taking it easier this year. And after ten years chasing a world title, who could blame him for not being arsed to defend one. I mean when you miss a heat to go fishing, you sense that he might have his foot off the pedal a little. The grueling training sessions have been replaced with family time and beers with the boys. Bali was no different. Any more relaxed and Parko could have been sponsored by Valium. And yet in perfect conditions in a wave he knew better than any other, he was simply too talented, too good, to lose. And just like that he was back in the race, back in contention. And if he is doing that without trying, who knows what can happen if he gets serious.
2) Gaby Is Getting Desperate
Gabriel Medina is starting to feel the pressure. The Brazilian wonder jumper is currently sitting in 16th on the world rankings, and only a third place in Brazil, is saving a ranking place far worse. After another heat loss here the rumour was that he tweeted in Portuguese that if Keramas was a left, he would have taken everyone down. It was removed quickly, but it smacked a little of both immaturity (fair enough he is only 20) but also desperation, something he hasn't faced in his career.
3)Jeremy Flores Is Brave
In his round 3 heat against perennial nemesis Julian Wilson, Jeremy sliced his heel open, a two centremetre wide gash that would later need 7 stitches. If it had been a inch higher would have taken his achilles, and his career. Despite doctors advice though Jeremy paddled back out finished the heat. He didn't win, but it's a safe bet to say that very few of his fellow pros would have battled that pain to compete.
4) Kelly Is Human
Kelly Slater was off all week. "I don't think I have ever seen him so out of rhythm in an event," said Mick Fanning. Such was his weird lack of form, it wasn't even that much a surprise when CJ took him out in the quarters. Of course, with Fiji still fresh and Tahiti coming next, the old adage that form is temporary, class is permanent, will probably ring true, but it's still nice to see he is human
5) Dirk Ziff and the ASP State Of Flux
It's a weird year for the ASP. They have sold the media rights for to ZoSea headed by Slater's manager Terry Hardy and backed by a Floridian billionaire Dirk Ziff, who nobody can seem to get much info on. This year, with ZoSea's reps at each event doing reccies, it seems both the end of an era, and a year in a weird state of flux. No one knows what the new product will be next year, or what will happen if the ZoSea's experiment and Ziff's zillions goes tits up.
6) Nat Young Is The Real Deal
A second at Bells, a third here in Bali, a 6th in the rankings. And when he waited for 15 minutes for the set of the day against Julian Wilson in his quarter, then late dropped into a 5 second pigdog tube, well the stats stacked up. This kid ain't going anywhere.
7) Michel Bourez will win a CT, maybe even the next one.
The Spartan is getting closer. He is surfing harder, and crucially smarter. The final was the only time his decision making let him down, and you can sense by how hard he took the defeat that he won't make that mistake again. And with Tahiti next, it just might be Michel's turn to win a World Tour event.
8) This Event Isn't Going Anywhere
It has a wave that offers everything from four foot slingshots, 6 foot aerial ramps and 8 foot heaving barrels. It has a pool, overlooking the wave, that was usually filled with a United Nations list of scantily clad women, soundtracked by dj beats. It's in Bali, every surfer's second favourite home. It is seemingly designed for that most weirdest offshoot of riding waves, professional surfing, and if the circus don't work here, its not going to work anywhere.