Back to Reality

| posted on July 06, 2011

Shea takes a load off in some tropical left-handers. Photo: Glaser

Shea Lopez

The author of SURFER’s Top 32 Review, Shea Lopez spent 11 years competing on the World Tour and now reigns as our resident expert on the pro surfosphere.

I have always needed some separation between surfing as my job/sport and surfing as my joy/family pastime where we all go to get away from it all. This year, immediately following the finals at Lowers, I went tropical with my brother, Matty, and some new and old friends. Not many of life’s experiences can elevate the endorphins nearly as high as an epic evening glass-off surf after a few cold ones on the beach.

Now that I’m refreshed and back from my yearly self-imposed hiatus from surf competitions, I will be watching all the mid-year cut drama preparing to unfold. I wish I could look at the One World Rankings and see who is preparing to drop big scores before the cut, but with two Prime events and three World Tour events, there is still a ton of surfing left to decide the Top 34.

I’ve been surfing the net though, and here are a few things that have interested me lately:

Even if holed up in Siberia, I would still know the Brazilians are the best small-wave contest surfers in the world right now. The post-Dream-Tour ASP landscape favors these determined athletes—so much so that already the surfers in Prime series events consist primarily of this Brazil youth movement. Watch out, world.

The current world No. 1 is Adriano de Souza, who attained this ranking by taking out Owen Wright with an 8.25 for one floater in a quarterfinal victory before going on to win it all. I agree with the notion that floaters have the capability of being scored as high as any move in surfing. When done in large, hollow surf over a sharp reef or even hard-packed sand, the floater becomes much more difficult and impressive than 90 percent of the turns done before, under, or after a big, dumping floater section.

So, yeah, ADS deserved an 8.25, even though he over-dramatized the move with a dramatic low squat upon landing and an emphatic claim upon completion, which the judges bought hook, line, and sinker.

BUT…

I think Owen deserved a pair of 8s for his perfectly ridden waves that failed to raise an eyebrow from the judging panel. Common knowledge says that that type of surfing—variety of moves seamlessly linked from start to finish punctuated by progressive aerial finishes—is supposed to be receiving the excellent scores. But that’s the thing about common knowledge; it is always changing. And just when you think you’re up to speed with the now is when the next has left you behind.

Know this: J-Bay is the next WT event, and no wave sets up better for a big finishing float than Supers. Chris Gallager’s backside bomb-drops as the end section raced off, along with Peterson “Animal” Rosas extended roof rides over the same section are fresh in my memory banks. So is my year out of the water from a misjudged floater—which is why today I generally take the safe route and skip floating-the-boat on waves of consequence, leaving that to the crash test dummies of the WT. Popping ibuprofen nightly in loving memory of all my past far-too-ambitious floaters during WT heats is the only connection that remains for me.

When I get an idea of who’s out and who’s in, as well as a better read on the swell forecast, I’ll be back with my Fantasy Surfer team for J-Bay. Until then, enjoy bombing Ballito at the Prime Event.

  • Richard

    Finally some spot on´ words on that Owen/ADS heat… The tour has been exiting, both WT and WTR, can´t wait for J-Bay…
    keep it up Shea

    cheers

  • André

    Hi Shea. Definitely Adriano’s floater deserved an eight, if you also get in perspective M.Bourez’s eights, day before. The floater was in a set wave and the landing was very tough, on only a foot of water.

    But, even been a brazilian, i totally agree that Owen’ s waves shoul be scored one point higher and, the most important, the second wave counted by Adriano should be a high 4 and never a 6.

    It was a shame, no doubt. But people can’t start saying that the WT now favors the brazilians. No way. We don’t have any quality wave that resembles a bit Snappers, Bells, J-bay, Trestles, Teahupoo or Pipe. And the beach breaks of France, at Lacanau, and Portugal, at Supertubos, are usually more perfect and powerfull than ours.

    I think the international media is misjudging the recent sucess of our incoming kids. They assign it by the fact there a lot beachbreaks in the Primes and 6 stars events. But it’s always been like this. The point is that this new breed of brazilians is very talented and they train a lot. Guys like Medina and Pupo, they go to Hawaii every year since their early teens. Every grom goes to places like the peruvian and the chileans coasts, which deliver WT quality waves. And of course, they’re no strangers to cameras, so they can correct their moves.

    .