Gabriel and the view from a safe place somewhere in Round 3. Photo: Corey Wilson
After a handful of days of sub-par surf, Round 1 of the 2015 Rip Curl Pro Portugal finally kicked off today (minus a little high-tide hissy-fit) in whatever par surf that’s between sub and ESA Regionals. Salt Creek-par perhaps? Regardless, when isn’t watching the Top 34 (plus a couple guys that you just discovered weren’t Brazilian) go toe-to-toe in punchy beachbreak not exciting? An answer: Never. It’s always exciting. And forgive me Vasco Ribeiro; thought I had ya pegged!
Sure, the day had room for improvement conditions-wise but there was also a ton of stuff that hit our palettes just right. CoughKerr’sairCough. Here’s a little Cliff’s Notes of what we might want more of, or less of, based on Day 1’s shenanigans.
Filipe, Filiping. Photo: Corey Wilson
More: Waves. Nobody likes seeing the world’s best have to grovel, and watching hawg-heavy men like Michel Bourez trying to generate speed in 2ft-slop is a sure-fire boner-killer. And John John reverting to lip-hits and floaters? No obregado.
Less: Mason Ho in a jersey. K maybe this is just MY opinion, but unless it’s Pipe, I don’t wanna see Mason trying to please judges in a contest. Not at Bells, not at Lowers, not at Portugal; shit just don’t feel right to me. Mason’s vibrations are free and groovy and naked like the Summer of ’69 and contests — Lord knows I love ‘em — have time-limits and score cards and piss-tests. I know he’s a Rip Curl wildcard, and maybe I should be thankful for that, but I’m not hearing Jimi Hendrix riffs singing from Mason’s lines out there like I do when he doesn’t have a jersey on.
Let that freedom flag fly Mase! Things looked a bit tight in Ho’s first rounder, hopefully he loosens up in Round 2. Photo: Corey Wilson
More: Josh Kerr. Kerrzy showed us today that when the ocean gives you Salt Creek-flavored lemons, ya make lemonade. Despite the day’s challenging backwash, the guy fully bottom-turned into a section to stomp a hefty frontside stale-fish reverse. Here, here, J. Kerr!
Less: Backwash. I was gonna say, “More: Clean Pulls,” but I blame this on the backwash. Today, the Peniche backwash was fucking up guy’s flow out there like a girlfriend coming home WAY too soon because she forgot her yoga mat during your Incognito Mode-time. (Warn me why dontcha!?!) The backwash led to a lot of sloppy-pulls and whitewater rafting, both of which did not help the scores.
Less: Old school fucking alley-oops. Talking to you Aritz. I know guys like John and Julian and Filipe ruin it for everyone by doing 6-foot high ones in their heats, but non-full-rotation-oops should be outlawed in this day and age. This is not a 1996 Taylor Steele part-ender; this is 2015 and landing backwards on an alley oop is not a thing anymore.
John john Florence and a proper display of alley oop-ing. Photo: Corey Wilson
More: Tubos. Preferably of the “Super” category. Indeed, a few gents like CJ Hobgood and Aritz Aranburu tucked into a couple slouchers but the tubos seemed more novelty than title-track today.
More: Scarf on Mel. Now that it’s finally gone, I just kinda miss it. -Beau Flemister