Holy shit, what a difference a day makes. And a Mother's Day, at that. The waves at the 2014 Billabong Rio Pro on Sunday were large, square and scattershot. Churning slabs of water unloading on the shallow sandbars. It was the type of day where you see a hundred perfect tubes but they're always just over there. And if you did get one, you still had to make the drop. Which sounds silly, but the best surfers in the world were struggling at times — surfboards just aren't built for waves with such steep curves.
What's the matter?
Field notes from Men's Rounds 3 and 4
It's a matter of time
…As in right place, right time. With a playing field a quarter-mile long and sandbars with schizophrenic consistency, surfers were lucky to find a gem. Or more accurately, if a gem found a surfer. With one minute remaining and needing a 9 against Gabriel Medina, a perfect, below-sea level gem found Travis Logie. He dropped. He skirted under the lip (anyone taller woulda been axed), shacked and then spit out for a 9.5. Travis was elated. The beach was devastated. So was Gabriel. Another Brazilian that fell victim to the coin-toss conditions was Filipe Toledo. After losing to Bede Durbidge, Filipe just stood in the back of the VIP area with his wetsuit halfway down, staring off into the distance. After a while his mom came and talked to him. Aren't moms the best?
…Better time that paddle out. The competitor's area got their giggles today watching Jadson Andre struggle to make it out for his heat against Jordy Smith. He tried once and didn't make it, and was still battling to reach the lineup — not 100 yards off the shore — when Jordy caught his first wave. Josh Kerr shrugged and said, "If anyone has the energy for that, it's Jadson."
…Time to wrap things up. The buzz around the comp is that they'll try and finish the contest tomorrow. There's five and a half hours of men's competition left, three and a half for the women. Nine hours! Gonna be a long day. Advantage has to go to those already into the Quarters (Nat, Bede, Jordy, Taj).
It's a matter of craft
…Paul Speaker actually does have a Samsung Galaxy phone. It's huge.
…SURFING's Corey Wilson has a drone. We launched it today to get some aerial shots of the competition and crowd. Look for the photos in our Rio flipbook, which will be up on May 19.
…Kelly Slater has a surfboard — a 5'9" PU Fred Rubble, rounded pin, thruster setup — which he used to barely beat wildcard David Do Carmo in Round 3. Kelly was in the production area when the scores were announced. The crowd booed. It was an awesome spectacle to see.
It's a matter of circumstance
…Mitch Crews, undoubtedly one of the most grounded surfers on tour, admitted to me that Dion Atkinson is the only person he hopes loses heats. "I feel bad wishing that on someone, but I really want to win rookie of the year." Both Mitch and Dion lost today in Round 3.
…You may have noticed a change up in the announcer lineup. Ross Williams isn't here. Peter Mel's in the booth. Strider Wasilewski is at the desk. I asked around about the changes and learned that they're not permanent. Each member of the webcast team can miss one event and Ross is taking this comp off to hang with his family at home. He will be back for Fiji.
They say that tomorrow…
It's gonna be a 7am start with Adriano De Souza vs Kelly Slater or Lakey Peterson vs Pauline Ado. Waves should be smaller, but that's a good thing.