Wed, 11 December 2019

He finds Italo Ferriera’s surfing ugly, and still can’t fathom the 10 points Italo got for that huge backhand air reverse back in Portugal. Craig Jarvis ponders the world title permutations.

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CRUISING THROUGH: Gabriel Medina is the logical choice to win the world title. Photo WSL / Cestari

To me, there should still be more to it. If that's perfect, then what is perfect in the speed-power-flow paradigm? The ghastly truth is that Italo could become a world champion by mainly doing huge backhand air reverses, arms all over the place, and claiming profusely. If it’s good enough to win contests, so why not titles?

I just don’t feel the 10-point value in those turns any more. They are scripted. Italo takes off and pumps down the line and launches and lands and claims. He does it in CT finals; he does it in air shows; he does it in free surfs. These moves don't even get a ‘wow’ from me, although my 10-year-old liked the one he pulled in Peniche. He’s also a goofy-footer.

A surfer like Jordy gets 10 point rides for a dazzling array of different moves, like this

Anyway, at least Jordy made the final in Portugal, and now he's through to the Round of 32 in Hawaii as the third best surfer in the world. A 6-10ft swell pounded the Rock for Day 1 of the Billabong Pipe Masters yesterday and early today (ZA time).

Five surfers are in contention: three Brazilians, an American and a South African. Italo, Gabriel Medina (BRA), Jordy Smith (ZAF), Filipe Toledo (BRA), and Kolohe Andino (USA) all won their opening heats. They all go straight to the Round of 32.

Italo is the highest ranked surfer in the world, sitting just above Gabriel Medina, who is sitting just above Jordy, with Toledo in 4th position. Kolohe is in 5th, and although he does have a mathematical chance, the top four are too hungry, too desperate, to really allow Andino into the circle.

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JOHN JOHN RETURNS: Florence can't win the title, but is set for the Olympics. Photo WSL / Sloane

On paper, it’s Medina’s world title to lose. He is the defending champion at Pipe and is one of the best closers out there. He should take it, but after his priority blunder in Portugal he has proven to be fallible, as well as possibly not that smart a tactician. He has also introduced a world of negativity to his name after his social media antics, and that very negativity could be his undoing. The Hawaiians will not be shy to voice opinions to his face, if they have any.

Jordy is my take for the second most likely surfer to win the world title. He has been living in Hawaii for some time, and has dedicated a lot of time and effort to learning the intricacies of the Pipeline reef, and the nuances of the wave. It takes years to learn it, and he has been fast tracking it in order to be comfortable in as many different conditions out there as possible.

Jordy would like a world title, and he has had two runner-ups, so this could be his chance of getting it done. Jordy is not scared, he has evolved his surfing to a place where he loves a big left barrel, and he could easily silence all the naysayers this year.

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THIRD IN LINE: Italo Ferreira can't do too many air reverses at Pipe. Photo WSL / Cestari

Italo Ferreira is my third most likely surfer to win the world title, and that’s probably a lot to do with the fact that the Portugal final still somewhat irrationally irritates me. I changed my whole day to be at home and watching the final on the webcast and it was a downer.

Pip Toledo however, is the fourth most likely to win a world title at Pipe. He doesn't have that experience and the hunger in big waves yet, and his dodging of sets and his reluctance to charge at The Box is testament to the fact that if it’s eight foot (Hawaiian) Pipe he is going to be nowhere. He has shown a little bit of grit of late, but not nearly enough, and will always have the zero heat score at Teahupo’o in his permanent record.

It is exciting though, and there will be a lot of people watching and cheering on, exactly what the WSL want. You couldn't script it.

For more on the Vans Triple Crown https://vanstriplecrownofsurfing.com

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SMITH ALL SET: Jordy is in the Olympics. Now he needs to win at Pipe. Photo WSL / Heff

Men’s World Title scenarios
- If Italo Ferreira wins Pipe, he clinches the world title;
- If Ferreira gets a 2nd, Gabriel Medina & Filipe Toledo will need a 1st to take the title from Ferreira;
- If Ferreira gets a 3rd, Medina needs a 2nd, Toledo & Smith a 1st;
- If Ferreira gets 5th, Medina needs a 3rd, Toledo a 2nd, Smith a 1st;
- If Ferreira gets 9th, Medina needs a 5th, Toledo a 3rd, Smith a 2nd & Kolohe Andino a 1st;
- If Ferreira gets 17th/33rd, Medina & Toledo will need a 9th, Smith a 5th & Andino a 2nd

This event will also determine the final male provisional qualifiers for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 as the 2019 WSL CT rankings at the end of the season will decide 18 of the 40 places (10 men and 8 women). Following the lululemon Maui Pro, the women’s provisional qualifiers are set but there are 6 places remaining for the men.

The 18 places that are allocated at the WSL come with a condition that a country cannot qualify more than two athletes per gender. This means that if Australia qualifies three athletes only two can go to the Games and the other place is allocated to the next highest-ranked, subject to all qualified surfers meeting the ISA’s and IOC’s eligibility requirements and being selected by their respective National Olympic Committee.

Provisional Olympic selection based on the current WSL Rankings
USA - Kolohe Andino, John John Florence, Carissa Moore, Caroline Marks
Australia - Owen Wright, Julian Wilson, Sally Fitzgibbons, Stephanie Gilmore
Brasil - Gabriel Medina, Italo Ferreira, Tatiana Weston-Webb, Silvana Lima
Japan - Kanoa Igarashi
South Africa - Jordy Smith
France - Jeremy Flores, Michel Bourez, Johanne Defay
Costa Rica - Brisa Hennessy

Billabong Pipe Masters Seeding Round 1 Matchups
Heat 1: Kanoa Igarashi (JPN), Conner Coffin (USA), Soli Bailey (AUS)
Heat 2: Kolohe Andino (USA), Griffin Colapinto (USA), Jadson Andre (BRA)
Heat 3: Filipe Toledo (BRA), Deivid Silva (BRA), Ricardo Christie (NZL)
Heat 4: Jordy Smith (ZAF), Peterson Crisanto (BRA), Frederico Morais (PRT)
Heat 5: Gabriel Medina (BRA), Willian Cardoso (BRA), Imaikalani deVault (HAW)
Heat 6: Italo Ferreira (BRA), Michael Rodrigues (BRA), Billy Kemper (HAW)
Heat 7: Owen Wright (AUS), Jack Freestone (AUS), Leonardo Fioravanti (ITA)
Heat 8: John John Florence (HAW), Adrian Buchan (AUS), Jesse Mendes (BRA)
Heat 9: Jeremy Flores (FRA), Caio Ibelli (BRA), Ezekiel Lau (HAW)
Heat 10: Kelly Slater (USA), Michel Bourez (FRA), Sebastian Zietz (HAW)
Heat 11: Julian Wilson (AUS), Wade Carmichael (AUS), Joan Duru (FRA)
Heat 12: Seth Moniz (HAW), Ryan Callinan (AUS), Yago Dora (BRA)

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