John John “Rough Boy” Florence lays down a heavy glove on day one at Margaret River Pro; Kelly Slater in shock from the first round!

Eight hours of non-elimination surfing in big wobbly waves.

It took an age for this competition to begin. Five days of laying in a row can certainly take your breath away.

But when it happened, we were introduced with a familiar script, swell on pressure, vineyards, great local food, striking nature – visually, spiritually, sexually even…

And don’t forget all manner of creatures that trot, swim, and dive in pairs across vast landscapes.

Western Australia is paradise, you don’t know.

Part surfing competition, part government-funded tourist tour, as it always has been.

The waves appeared, not in perfect shape, but more than enough in size.

Not all competitors wanted to surf, according to Richie Lovett. They had made their voices heard on the suitability of the conditions, with some clearly preferring to expect a little less size, a little more shape.

You have to get rid of that negative mindset, Richie said. If you surf, you surf. If you paddle in the wrong frame of mind, you will surely lose.

He was absolutely right, of course.

Thinking about this, I realized that this was exactly the kind of information that could help someone make a lot of money betting on surfing. If you had an idea of ​​someone’s mind in those warm-up moments, you might have an idea of ​​their upcoming performance.

I love these fiery new voices, whatever they are, and you can’t blame them for searching for the best canvas on which to practice their dodgy art.

Personally, I like the heat when the waves are less than perfect. Seeing the best in the face of challenge is enlightening, at least from a highly specialized and arguably masochistic perspective.

I was all aboard the WSL hype train early, learning that there was a huge swell in the water. Surely that meant all-around competition surfing at its finest: death-defying drops; competitors surf for their lives and livelihoods, make or break; and full-rail sculptures that left water hanging in the air like the clenched jaws of fans at home.

But that wasn’t quite it.

It was simply eight hours of non-elimination surfing in big, choppy waves. There were rambling heats, gurgles in the face, bouncing sculptures that were visually unappealing and never quite under control.

Main Break felt wild and woolly, like a worse version of the Bells worst version that is so heavily criticized.

Callum Robson is a man who has smashed his way through the adversary of not only his competition, but the veiled faces of a wave he’s never ridden before. In a rookie game for the opening round of the day, he dispatched Sammy Pupo and Imai deVault, leading early and throughout.

Despite the days off, he clearly carries some Bells momentum, and there doesn’t seem to be any reason he can’t do as well here. Is he Australia’s new Great White Hope? It might be a fight with Ethan Ewing, but he has a blue-collar appeal touted by so many Aussies.

Well, maybe aside from the kind of Puritan Aussie who drinks wine and shames neighbors and seems to frequent Swellnet. The type with a dedicated drawer for instruction manuals. The guy who could give you the ins and outs of a cat’s asshole on the various merits of pressure washers.

Not that kind. The good kind. The kind like Robbo himself. He must be Robbo, right? Or more likely: RRRROBBOOOOOOOOOO…

From a new hope, we have moved on to a fading hope.

Considering the early heat and the well-documented fact that Kelly doesn’t like mornings, it was a pretty safe bet to visit another round of losers.

I enjoyed the interaction with the little boy who approached him as he came out of the water. The boy was dressed in a Slater singlet with a pen at the ready, too young to understand the nuances of adult moods. Slater glared at him, seemed halfway between silently saying Fuck Off and mowing down the very soul of the child with a laser death stare, before noticing the camera and donning his mask.

Good for him, I thought, even if it was just for the camera.

Later, during a post-heat breakdown, Shannon claimed “Kelly was just on fire” in her heat. It was a little confusing considering he was in last place the whole round, but I guess his psychological conditioning took over for a while.

John Florence cruised through the next round against easy opposition, but not without producing a turn you could watch and then watch again. It was the kind of tip-to-tail carve that makes your rectus femoris burn to witness it. The kind of trick that sold thousands of Pyzel Ghosts.

John occupies a solitary pedestal in the minds of many. Moments like this show that it’s not without justification, but WCT events are not expression sessions.

However, it is a competition that has been good for Florence, and there is a world in which this becomes a pivotal and defining moment for the season.

Additional title threats Kanoa and Filipe both negotiated first-round wins with average scores on a day when the average scores were more than enough.

On paper, Filipe looked shaky against Owen Wright in a meaty swell. In all transparency I bet significantly against him. But he’s the newest champion here, and at some point the narrative that he can’t compete in waves of a certain size or power will change.

With more transparency, I will admit that I missed the next three round wins for Italo, Ethan and O’Leary. (I had to check the latter several times. Connor O’Leary, first-round win? Unlikely but apparently no less true).

You will excuse me for the absence, but it was around five or six in the morning and I needed at least an hour of sleep before work.

Please let me know if I missed anything important. I didn’t get a chance to catch up today and in all likelihood I won’t.

There’s nothing exciting about replay sports, let alone the early rounds of a CT event. It wouldn’t take me long to count the number of innings I watched after the fact. There’s nothing compelling about a recorded version of something that’s already recorded. Live sport exists in the moment, and beyond that moment it is so diminished that only the greatest moments endure. Even then, they may only have a fraction of the initial impact.

I tend to consume pro surfing in a dream state, time zones as they are. Something I considered is the fact that if a new audience were to come, it would likely come from Europe and the continental United States. As such, something needs to be done to make the format more palatable and easier to consume without losing consciousness for the enjoyment of watching live sport.

The answer to that, in part, is to make it much, much shorter.

I woke up with the victory of Joao Chianca in a round which was announced to be difficult in terms of quality of opponent and waves. He appears to be the poster boy for the cuts squad, the only surfer on both sides of the debate who somehow should be saved. Maybe he will through his own performance here. If not, I strongly suspect there will be wildcards in his future.

The first round ended with victories for Leo and Griff. The fate of poor Seth Moniz, relegated to the losers round for the second competition in a row, was somewhat confusing for such a talented and dynamic surfer.

Considering what we saw of him at Pipe, surfing the final against Kelly so exhausted he could barely speak, if you told me he suffered from chronic fatigue, I wouldn’t question it.

More noteworthy was another delightful phone from Shaun Tomson!

It provided less witty meandering this time around, but just as much comedic silliness. Jordy is the “god of power”, according to Shaun. No one on the Tour can stand next to him in this regard. Additionally, he is a cross between Joel Parkinson and Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Thanks for that Shaun. What a horrible beast that must be.

And with that, I went to work.

Margaret River Pro Men’s Opening Round 1 Results:
FIELD 1: Callum Robson (AUS) 12.17 DEF. Imaikalani deVault (HAW) 10.00, Samuel Pupo (BRA) 9.83
ROUND 2: Jackson Baker (AUS) 12.03 DEF. Barron Mamiya (HAW) 10.77, Matthew McGillivray (ZAF) 10.17
HEAT 3: Ezekiel Lau (HAW) 15.00 DEF. Ryan Callinan (Australia) 13.37, Kelly Slater (USA) 9.20
FIELD 4: John John Florence (HAW) 15.60 DEF. Lucca Mesinas (PER) 8.93, Jacob Willcox (AUS) 8.44
ROUND 5: Kanoa Igarashi (JPN) 13.10 DEF. Conner Coffin (USA) 8.50, Ben Spence (Australia) 7.70
HEAT 6: Filipe Toledo (BRA) 1:00 p.m. DEF. Owen Wright (Australia) 9.63, Jack Thomas (Australia) 6.90
FIELD 7: Italo Ferreira (BRA) 14.17 DEF. Jake Marshall (USA) 13.26, Jadson Andre (BRA) 6.17
FIELD 8: Ethan Ewing (AUS) 13.70 DEF. Nat Young (USA) 10.90, Deivid Silva (BRA) 7.63
FIELD 9: Connor O’Leary (AUS) 13.80 DEF. Morgan Cibilic (AUS) 12.90, Caio Ibelli (BRA) 9.24
HEAT 10: Joao Chianca (BRA) 12.43 DEF. Kolohe Andino (USA) 11.87, Miguel Pupo (BRA) 6.27
HEAT 11: Leonardo Fioravanti (ITA) 11.33 DEF. Jordy Smith (ZAF) 11.17, Seth Moniz (HAW) 6.50
HEAT 12: Griffin Colapinto (USA) 14.07 DEF. Jack Robinson (AUS) 11.47, Frederico Morais (PRT) 11.43

Margaret River Pro Men’s Elimination Round 2 Matchups:
HEAT 1: Kelly Slater (USA) vs. Jadson Andre (BRA) vs. Jack Thomas (AUS)
HEAT 2: Caio Ibelli (BRA) vs. Deivid Silva (BRA) vs. Ben Spence (AUS)
HEAT 3: Miguel Pupo (BRA) vs. Frederico Morais (PRT) vs. Jacob Willcox (AUS)
HEAT 4: Seth Moniz (HAW) vs. Samuel Pupo (BRA) vs. Matthew McGillivray (ZAF)

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