All Photos: Corey Wilson
Game of turns
The judging was stern. Jordy Smith and Bede Durbridge occupied the morning’s first heat and both surfers wooed the wise men with some fine rail work. Bede swooped his way to two high 7s; Jordy carved up an 8.00 and needed a 7.30 to clinch. In the desperate last minute of the heat, Jordy caught a smaller wave and did a turn. But then he stuck a tail high-reverse! Would the judges bite? Should we embrace aerials with a wet kiss and a Carlton Dry? Nah. It’s turns or bust at Margaret River. Like Jordy and his huck, these dudes also busted in the Quarterfinals:
Gabriel Medina: For the first time in 2014, Gabriel Medina looked out of rhythm. He looked, for once, like he could actually be beaten — and Josh Kerr did just that.
Joel Parkinson: Sure, Parko’s heat total would have won any other heat in the Quarterfinals but you probably would have groaned that he was over-scored anyway.
Nat Young: It wasn’t a good day to stand with your right foot forward. Like Gabriel, Nat couldn’t locate his flow this morning and one-upped his 9th place result on the Gold Coast with a 5th here.
Then came the Semis, the first of which appeared to belong to Bede Durbridge. After beating Taj Burrow twice in the same heat earlier in the event, Bede was a frontrunner. And how fitting is that? Like, you guys are having a contest at Margaret River? No shit Bede Durbidge is going to win. But then, Josh Kerr drop-kicked fate in the mouth and comboed a few waves to beat Turbo by .23 points.
Heat two featured Kelly Slater and the Spartan himself, Mr. Michel Bourez. Slates earned a lively 8.83 and, for a fleeting moment, it felt like he was building up to one of those wild, peaking-in-the-final performances that are visually synonymous with his bald head. Oh, but then Michel Bourez annihilated a wave for a 9.37. Thankfully, the movie 300 was never referenced. And the finals were set.
Michel Bourez and Josh Kerr had both appeared in a WCT final before, but neither had won. Michel lost to Parko at last year’s Oakley Pro Bali. Kerrzy lost to Parko at the 2012 Billabong Pipeline Masters. But they were safe from Joel down by the River. Bourez and Kerr took vastly different approaches during the 30-minute break between the Semis and the Final. Kerrzy was relaxed and smiling, high-fiving every man, woman, child and grass-wookie he could find. Meanwhile, Michel was quiet. Inward. A zone exists somewhere out there and he’d be damned if he didn’t find it — which he did. It just took a little while.
The first half of the heat was boring. Watching it was like eating a large bowl of white race and washing it down with lukewarm tap water. The waves were inconsistent and neither surfer put a dent on the scoreboard. Kerrzy caught a ton of waves with hopes of doing an air, but could hardly find a good section and whenever he did, shit didn’t work. Michel sat patiently out the back. Maybe that’s where the zone is?
Eventually, and suddenly, the heat came alive. Michel chowed a wave for a 7.57. But here comes Kerrzy with a barrel and a 7.37! Wait, Michel just got an 8.33? The Spartan got his keeper scores for doing turns — but he does modern turns. His turns are different. They’re faster. Angrier. More pent-up and suggestive of chronic aggression. Certainly more exciting.
The clock melted away, just like Salvador Dalí said it would, and Kerrzy needed an 8.53 if he didn’t want to go home with another bridesmaid. He caught a wave with less than a minute left, but another botched air attempt saw the spoils go to Michel. It was his turn to win.
Qantas Airlines is going to have a busy day with the tour dashing off to Bells. You’re not tired of turns yet, are you?