Mon, 21 October 2019

The CT will probably lose the wave pool next year, G-Land is probably in, Medina mishap opens door for Jordy, with the Olympics coming up in 2020. Craig Jarvis previews the final stretch.


PUNCHY WAVE POOL: Kelly Slater bottom turns for the barrel at Pipe. Photo WSL / Bielmann

We're into the final straight of 2019, so let’s have a look-see at the state of surfing right now. There has been much talk about what events will stay, and which will go next year, but remember we will only know those that will be axed when they announce the 2020 lineup later this month. It looks like there could be newcomers, and to the good in terms of wave quality for jaded fans tired of the sloppy little ramps that pass for surfable waves at some spots these days.

The strongest rumour is that the wave pool will be gone, and that Grajagan returns. The WSL has booked out the camps at G-land. They have employed people outside their normal scope, and in the process, a brand-new camp has just opened in the corner of the bay. It's the worst kept secret around, with stories swirling for several months now.

But that still leaves us with 11 events. Several don't have sponsors, so it remains to be seen who gets the chop to join Mavericks on the WSL Boulevard of Broken Dreams.

There are theories. There is conjecture. Could it be Keramas? Good chance. Teahupoo? Medium chance. Margarets? Slight chance. JBay? Slim chance - stranger things have happened, remember?

As we log into the penultimate event of 2019, it still looks like a Medina World Title year. He has been in blistering form, and he will be hard to stop. Maybe Ciao Ibelli, but that was yesterday and not in the normal way. Hubris is what will undo Medina, like it did yesterday. For Filipe or Jordy to overtake him, special things must happen, and his exit yesterday was a good start.

Jordy needs two podium finishes and a lucky breakMedina is on 48,015 points as world #1 before he banks his 3,320 for his 9th place finish. World #2 is Filipe Toledo on 45,730, followed by Jordy on 43,515. This puts Medina 4,500 points ahead of Jordy, who will want nothing less than a win in Portugal to put pressure on the Brazilians with one event to go. Banking 10,000 points will take Jordy to 53,515 against Medina's 51,335, if you remove what happens to Toledo and next in line Italo Ferreira or even Kolohe Andino, who Jordy must beat in the semi-finals coming up. It will be down to the wire in Hawaii for sure, and a thrilling finale. Jordy needs two podium finishes and a lucky break, for which he is due.

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SURF SPOTS: Good crowds and good waves are not always feasible. Photo WSL / Poullenot

Having said that, we all want Jordy to have a good crack at this world title thing. He is not out of the game. He has yet to win in Portugal, but he always does all right in Europe, mixing things up, surfing different boards, always surfing progressively, and always looking for the winning edge.

His cause has been bolstered by the fact that he is an Olympic athlete now, and is in the top three with two events to go. It’s 2019, and Jordy was 5th last year, 4th in 2017, and runner up in 2016. He was also runner-up to Kelly Slater in 2010. Those are some incredible numbers, and great results, and his consistency in the top 5 means that a world title is still there for the taking. The forecast for Portugal at this stage has been and remains for small waves, and that’s great for Jordy. He can take to the air and he can turn on the power taps. Lets just see what transpires.

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KERAMAS CUT: Jordy Smith rips at the Bali event, which is likely to be removed. Photo WSL / Dorsey

Going back to Kelly, he goes into Portugal at number 13 on the rankings. He is still surfing top of his game, and his recent performance in France was scintillating. It is still tangible when he gets eliminated though. People turn off the streaming, others leave the beach when he is out. In France, he was gutted, and went and hid after his loss to Leo Fioravanti.

He needed that win and a big result in France to keep himself in the conversation, even if it is just the pro surfing conversation. With the stories abounding about the WSL surfers rejecting the Surf Ranch, Slater might well be irritated at this stage, and he’s not the best person to be around when irritated.

Then there’s Pipeline. Gabby’s the defending champion, Filipe has yet to shine there, and while Jordy’s results have improved dramatically over the last few years; he’s not really Pipe Masters material yet. It shouldn't take him long to get that something special though, with a house right at Pipe now and really working on perfecting his style in grinding, hollow reef-break lefts.


ROLL ON: Pipeline will always be the jewel in the crown of the WSL world tour. Photo WSL / Cestari

This year has been a strange old year on tour. It has been a good to great year, but there is no sign of JJF nor is there any sort of timeline on his recuperation and of his expected return to pro surfing. Kelly is pretty much out the game, and I don't know if he is going to return to the tour next year. He probably will though. He always does. The event looks set to finish on Wednesday this week, possibly later if the swell doesn't materialise.

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