The Surfer in White’s Melling, the Surfer in Blue’s Pupo

Reflections on the Two Turn Combo Pro

Turning to my notes from this year’s Oi Rio Pro, I find the following:

  • No Kelly, no Mick, no Parko. Which means the entire field has just two world titles to show for itself. How long since that was last the case?
  • And no Ross Williams, no Ronnie Blakey, no Rosy Hodge: the three Rs, all absent. No KP either.
  • Gosh I love two turn combos.
  • If the fact that John John Florence made a movie last year, or that Italo Ferreira was discovered by his coach “Pinga” by accident, is mentioned one more time I will stick my head in a blender.
  • R4, H3: The surfer in white’s Melling, the surfer in blue’s Pupo.

Not much to go on, but perhaps enough to wring out a paragraph or two. As I’m obsessive compulsive wherever meaningless trivia is concerned, I took the trouble to find out exactly when the competitors in a men’s CT last possessed only two or fewer world titles between them. As expected, it was the last time Slater missed an event — Rio 2012, before Parko had won his world title and before Mick had won his third. And before that? Not since 2001, before Slater’s return. I hope you feel better for that knowledge. I certainly do.

Taj Burrow wasn’t in Brazil either, but while Taj had to retire in order to miss Brazil, and Kelly and Parko had to forge doctor’s notes, not all WSL employees are bound by the same contractual obligations. Ross, Ronnie and Rosie have seemingly managed to negotiate a no-Brazil clause, as has commissioner Kieren Perrow, whose absence meant that Travis Logie, like an improbably short reserve goalkeeper, was brought off the bench for a rare first-team outing alongside fellow stand-ins Kaipo Guerrero and Gigs Celliers. It felt a bit like a League Cup tie.

Fortunately John John (he had a movie out last year, a low-key affair, have you heard?) was taking the whole thing very seriously. His two turn combos ultimately proved superior to those of Jack Freestone, who earlier denied us the seemingly inevitable Florence-Medina showdown (even fate yields before an effective two turn combo) when he throttled the unsuspecting Brazilian in the semis.

But onto the more important issue at hand: Heat 3 of Round 4 presented a wonderful and possibly unique opportunity. Adam Melling was in white. Miguel Pupo was in blue. Italo Ferreira was also there wearing red but never mind him. Melling vs. Pupo — it recalled, via the slenderest of linguistic threads, the duel at the Oval in 1976 between West Indian fast-bowler Michael Holding and English batsman Peter Willey, which resulted in the immortal if apocryphal line of commentary: “The bowler’s Holding, the batsman’s Willey.”

Joe Turpel and Martin Potter were in the commentary booth. Redemption for every mind-numbing, ear-wearying inanity they had ever uttered was within their grasp.

Instead we got “Pupo’s up, speed jam off the roof, speedy top turn for Pupo and he’ll lay low” and “yeah, a beautiful two turn combo right there” and “thinking about Italo getting discovered, it was kinda by accident — Pinga was going up that way to a regional event to watch a different surfer and sort of accidentally ran in to Italo…”

My head didn’t fit all the way in the blender. The only casualty was a lock or two of dangling fringe, which left me bearing a faint resemblance to a young Jason Gillespie. And if Mikey Wright were really as punk as all that, that’s how he’d get his hair cut too.


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