By Julien ‘Vico’ Hamel
The Oakley Pro Bali, kind of like a 2013 fusion of MTV’s 90’s show The Grind and a sporting event… Freddy P squeezes the juice.
# 20 Kolohe ANDINO – BALI #25 – ASP #21
Hyperactive during his first heat against frequent flyers Taj and Yadin, Kolohe seemed to want to do too much, too fast, frothed out. No proper link, or target (ha ha) on one single maneuver, the kid wanted to show all his repertoire without proper focus on rhythm, which could have worked, if Yadin hadn’t focused on quality over quantity with a sick, lofty air reverse.
Against Wilko in Rd2, Brother is calmed down, building a smart heat, with a more composed, patient surf stacked with variety. He even went for the full-on, Matt Archbold double hand drag carving turn, eventually overpowering himself, taking too much time to recover from his own rebound.
Sadly for him, no match again Wilko’s raw power and lethal backside hacks, Kolohe even lost a fitness/paddle battle, massive fail if you compare the ultra-fit, over-prepared trio (Kolohe/Dino/Parsons) vs. the totally awesome one (Wilko/Nick Pollet/ Ryan Fletcher). Still plenty of room to grow for Kolohe, don’t know if it will happen in Teahupoo though.
# 19 Matt WILKINSON – BALI #13 – ASP #19
Jordy, Kolohe, then Adriano, Wilko the Flamboyant didn’t have the easiest draw, against contest machines. Just as in Fiji, he found the winning mix early in the event and kept on the same formula, spicing his mechanical backside off the tops with some always-awesome blow-tail-to-reverse, dreaded by most of the WCT surfers. Great start of the heat against Adriano, but couldn’t find the best waves, the right rhythm and ended up watching De Souza catching all the crumbs, unable to match the Brazilian’s hunger for victory and smart heat building in the tricky high tide conditions. Smart and collected in Fiji, already got a 10 in Teahupoo: Wilko can do good next month if he is in the right frame of mind and has the good draw.
# 18 Kai OTTON – BALI #13 – ASP #17
14,44pts heat average, his best surfing was in Round 2 but still nothing really amazing from Kai, showing his usual smart heat management. Normally super sharp and aggressive on his backhand, Kai’s turns in Bali were slower, softer, weaker, pivoting hard on his back foot and spending waaaaayyyyy too much time on the lip recovering from his turns. Losing twice against Nat Young’s razor sharp, dynamic and vertical surfing should be a good sign for Kai to start trying a little harder if he doesn’t want to be pushed off the cliff by the new goofy generation. Can do good in Tahiti if it’s not stupid big.
# 17 Jeremy FLORES – BALI #13 – ASP #14
For once things seemed to go his way during Round 1, with the wind turning offshore and allowing more barrels than airs minutes before his heat. Tuberiding being his forté, Jeremy did the job and chose the best waves, hunting tubes after tubes and finally showing positive reaction and smiles after a heat. Opposed -again- to Julian WILSON in Round 3 in more faceturns / progressive surfing conditions, Jeremy badly butchered his foot on his very first wave attempting his patented club sandwich thing but, as a true warrior, chose fight over smart thinking and went back in the water without any proper idea of how bad he was injured. Good thing he did not make it worse though, the kid having already struggled long enough from a weak ankle. Nevertheless, Jeremy could score a super solid 2-turn combo posting 6,87pts, but came short to Julian in an affair that would have certainly favored the more versatile Australian anyway, may he not have slashed his foot. Let’s hope he will be fixed and free of any infection to freefall with delight in poop-in-your-pants-big Teahupoo.
#16 Adrian BUCHAN – BALI #13 – ASP #18
Averaging 14,25pts per heat for 2013 brings solid competitive skills. Ace displayed his usual strong, smart, sharp surfing, getting most of the best waves in his heats and surfing them with little to no flaws. His 9,63pt oh-sweet-Lord-double collapsing-roof combo was balltastic, to the point one judge got a little too stiff and awarded him a perfect 10 (seriously?), but at the end nobody tried to go all floatergate on Ace so I guess it’s okay. Beaten twice by another experienced goofy (C.J) Ace would have won his Rd3 may he had exited his little-too-greedy first barrel. A few uncanny mistakes after this fail, and down he goes, in an event he seemed to be one of the few goofies to have a real shot at a final placing. Sitting mid-season at an unacceptable #18 on the ASP ranking, expect from Teahupoo onwards more fireworks and beaming post-heat interviews packed with super complicated words.
#15 Filipe TOLEDO – BALI #13 – ASP #13
Disappointing thirteenth for the Brazilian aerial freak whom a lot of people were putting their money on. As a natural footer he was fairly advantaged in the aerial department compared to his mates Medina and Pupo and went looney in his round one win, trying often too hard on too complicated airs, Filipe eventually went more casual on a “safe” (for him, not for the rest of the World) technical slob to frontside grab combo (because yes, indy grabs are only done backside). In his round 3 against Kerrzy, it was an all-tube affair and sadly Filipe was out of luck in his wave selection (his lowest scoring heat of the season so far), Josh being the magnet in a heat we would have loved to watch in good tide onshore ramps. Let’s see if he can step up to the plate in Teahupoo against the rookie double threat of Nat & Seabass.
#14 Gabriel MEDINA – BALI #13 – ASP #16
Three 13th, one last place and one 3rd. Inconsistency is the adjective you’re looking for when it comes to describing Gabe’s season so far.
Totally out of the picture in Round 1, he caught 12 waves with visibly no game plan whatsoever and was surfing as if he had lost already. His second Rd2 versus Cardoso was showing a few signs of his former self: dominating, smart, spot-on with all the sections, only to be dismembered again by Michel in Rd3 with soft, shy, uneven surfing…
Disappointment, anger, frustration, loss, humility… so many things the kid has to learn as he’s currently going down through every single stinky shade of the shit rainbow. The hardest thing for a whiz kid is to face failure, to accept he can do mistake, and to be able to process it in a productive way, without blaming anybody else but himself. And as if it was not already complicated enough for Gabriel, he also needs to deal with his parents, family and all the entourage he’s dragging with him, who lives and relies exclusively on his results …that’s a humongus amount of pressure for a kid not even 20 yet, and burnout his just around the corner…
The best thing may be for him to go back to whip some a$$es on Prime events, get back into the zone and most of all trying to go to a couple of events WITHOUT all this performance-parasitizing entourage.
#13 C.J HOBGOOD – BALI 5th – ASP #9
C.J got an excellent 5th place with a not excellent surfing. That is when experience kicks in. Smart heat management, great wave selection, clean, sharp surfing with plenty of rebound off his turns, the 2001 World Champ went through his heats rather discreetly, and like in Fiji was the last goofy footer standing. C.J showed everybody how the job needs to be done, smartly projecting way more spray than the maneuver itself should produce, he had some amazing hits (his blowtails-forearm-on-the-board are ridiculous) and built momentum through every turn against Kelly (even if is 8pt ride was slightly overrated). With 3 results within the top 9 at mid-season, C.J is already pretty sure he will requalify for 2014 and could even aim at a 5th TOP 10 finish in his 15 year-WCT career, may he win again Teahupoo and surf that good in hollow Hossegor, Supertubos and Pipe.
#12 Adriano DE SOUZA – BALI #9th – ASP #7
After a disastrous 25th in Fiji, the former ratings leader was ready to get back into the Title race, spending two weeks training in Keramas prior to the event, with great boards and preparation, Adriano seemed at some points over-amped, going sometimes so fast he had to stall and calm down on his waves, pumping multiple times down the line to eventually hit the sections off tempo. No link, no rhythm, his surfing was on and off, sometimes brilliant (his tube + big-ass carve in Rd4 was awesome and would have earned Parko a 16 out of 10). He ended at a 9th place after an uneven performance, waking up too late against a more in form Nat Young, even with a – how come is that so high ? – 9,27pts. Virtually 5th without his two throwaway results, if he wants to stay in Title contention, DE SOUZA can’t afford anything else than a 5th from now on…
#11 Taj BURROW – BALI #5th – ASP #5
There’s nothing to hate about Taj. He’s got the whole package, knows and dominate all the waves on Tour, masters the whole repertoire, and is constantly frothing and in a insane good mood.
Solid knowledge of Keramas brought him most of the best waves in each of his heats, mastering his tubetime and being amazingly fast and precise in his giant roundhouse cutbacks. Stopped in a lame-ass heat against Parko with a terrible bad tide + swell-not-arrived-yet combo, TB nets his fifth Top 9 finish of the season.
What’s to focus on about Taj is that even if now seated on slot number 5 of the WCT, his heat average has been steadily going down over the seasons, falling from high 15 in 2007 to a shy 13 in 2013. His surfing still has sparkles, but tends to fade away with time, in comparison with the new guard, who scores high but lacks consistency. TB reached a 5th place in Bali with a poor 12,68pts heat average, which proves two things: 1) he’s relying more on his experience on Tour and heat skills than on his high scores. 2) With such low heat averages, it’s a good thing he can still benefit from a good seeding, as he would be kicked out way earlier if he had to face the likes of John John, Seabass straight from the beginning.