Keanu Wins France! Title Race Tightens!!

John will keep his yellow jersey for at least one more event. Photo: Corey Wilson

For me, France was a pretty sleepy affair.

That’s partly due to the waves, but mostly due to the fact that I was REMin’ during 95% of the 2016 Quik Pro. Such is the nature of being on opposite ends of a spherical world.

But I did get to watch finals day, and, wow.

First Tyler won the world title. Next Keanu beat John. Then Carissa took a Roxy Pro victory. Finally Keanu defeated the Brazilian Terminator. Near presidential-debate-levels of excitement. Enough organic energy to appease Ken Bone. Ah!

Keanu is a legend. Dealt the short stick hereditarily, decided to work twice as hard as everyone else instead of moping. The everyman, the workhorse, Pancho Smallivan, whatever you want to call him, Keanu’s now a CT winner — something Taylor Knox and Josh Kerr can’t even say. “Against all odds — that’s what I’m all about,” Keanu quipped from the podium. “The bigger they are, the harder they fall. That’s all I know.”

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Alternatively, the smaller they are, the easier they are to carry. Photo: Corey Wilson

Despite his win, Keanu still sits on the cut line for the 2017 CT. He’ll likely need a couple decent results in Portugal and Pipe if he wants to keep the dream alive. Which begs the question — should surfing, like golf, give exemptions for past-season winners?

Keanu’s win over Gabby helped Hawaii’s favorite son retain the yellow jersey. Going into Portugal, John will have a total of 48,150 points, while Gabby rests unsettlingly close at 45,450. This 2,700 point lead basically equates to two heats of difference, meaning whomever places higher in Portugal will probably go into Hawaii with the number one seed. At this point it is guaranteed that the title race will be decided at Pipeline, and it will likely be a two-man battle between John and Gabby.

I haven’t been this excited for the title race since every year after 2011. That’s kind of a joke, but also not really. The past five years (including 2016) have come down to Pipe to decide the winner, and that speaks volumes towards the diverse talent pool in the world today. No longer is a Slater or a Fanning closing out the season with an 18,000 point lead and two contests to spare. We are at a tipping point in competitive surfing, one in which the 33rd ranked surfer can defeat the two best surfers in the world, consecutively. There are no more gimme heats. My fantasy team is in shambles. I love every second of it. –Michael Ciaramella

This man is looking dangerous. Photo: Corey Wilson