The Doherty Report: Toledo’s Way, Silvana’s Day

Recapping Finals Day at Lower Trestles, from the notes of Sean Doherty

If we took as our starting proposition a week ago that Filipe Toledo would win the Lowers Pro, then yesterday, we were proved correct, although the way he got there wasn't quite how we might have imagined. If we believed a week ago Silvana Lima would also win? Well, you wouldn't have put your house on it, although that's exactly what Silvana had gone and done.

Hopes of Finals Day turning into a quantum-physics-level, Hurley Surf Club display of technical surfing, a prelude to the Slater Wave Tub event, were scuppered on the cobblestones when the waves yesterday at Lowers simply wouldn't push back. If Lowers was indeed a skate park, yesterday it was a skate park for your dad. It was a day for the straw-weights and carrying 180-pounds was a decided handicap. Most heats were won on chubby lefts, and the most groundbreaking move seen all day was Toledo's toe-tap floater.

If the men's draw ultimately went to script, the women's was flipped upside down. Silvana Lima and Keely Andrew both came from well outside the Top 10, and up until this week hadn't threatened it at all this season, but both deserved their places in the Final. Keely took down Courtney Conlogue on the last wave of their semi, removing the last Title contender from the draw, while Silvana beat Lakey Peterson, the two form surfers of the contest getting the best waves of the day, the surf degenerating from that point on.

The oldest woman on Tour with the youngest turns didn't need them to win the Final. Silvana, as she'd done all event, surfed from behind the section and hooked sharp in the pocket. She didn't need her straight forehand air, the turn that a decade ago set her apart from the rest of the girls on Tour, instead beating them at their own game. Silvana averaged eights all week, and considering the level of surfing the women conjured up here at Lowers, to finish top of the pile was really something.

But the real victory for Silvana was simply being here at all.

At 32, she's the lone survivor of a distant age where the women's Tour suffered from an identity crisis and was perennially on life support. No one knew what to make of it, and it was hard enough for the Australian and American girls to make a dime out of it despite having the surf industry on their doorstep, let alone a young girl from Brazil, prone to knee injuries, who was selling puppies to get to the next event. Silvana is now the lone surviving Brazilian woman anywhere on Tour, and the last survivor of the dark days before the WSL got the women's Tour on parity and gave it a stage and some love. Seven years after her last win, it was awesome to watch Silvana clean them up this week. Despite all the ink and the gnarly competitive aura, she's a sweetheart who's been doing it tough, selling down all her earthly possessions just to stay on Tour. Yesterday’s win will mean more to her than any win for anyone else on Tour this year.

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With the juice gone from the swell, we could at least have had some kind of priority incident go down between Toledo and Igarashi to liven things up a little in their quarter. I think Kanoa was up for it – I'm sure he and coach Jake Paterson had schemed it – but Tricky Phil was one step ahead, and with Kanoa holding the inside for the right, he simply took off left. By this stage the lefts were the bread and butter scores, with bread and butter surfing, even Toledo reduced to '90s backhand wipes.

By the time Filipe paddled out against John John in the semis, the waves had deteriorated further, and Toledo won the battle of kinetics. Anytime John John's six-two frame pushed a turn, the wave simply turned to marshmallow underneath him. Filipe stayed sparky and his short slashing rails did to two-foot Lowers what they'd done to six-foot Jeffreys Bay.

The final was expected to go the same way. Jordy needed to luck into two unlikely gift-wrapped set waves, and he dropped anchor wide and waited for them. Phil meanwhile bounced around the inside like a hairy atom, but even he was having trouble juicing anything from the swell. A floater and a little spinner was the best he could do on his best wave. Jordy finally got his wave, surfed it sinking to his knees and was comically overscored for a nine that at least created the appearance that he was still in the Final, but the reality of the situation, the physics, were always stacked Toledo's way, and that's the way it stayed.

And so now onward to Lemoore. We don't know much about what's going to happen at Kelly's wave pool event next week. It's all on a need-to-know basis, and at this stage ,the public don't need to know. At some stage in the next week, the lights in the diners and burger joints in downtown Lemoore will flicker as something big drains the power grid, an experiment going on at a secret facility on the outskirts of town that might tear a hole in the fabric of surfing space-time.