2009 Billabong World Jr Championships Day 6
By Nick Carroll
Surf: Three foot bumps and four foot lines, with nasty winds
Events held: Boys round two and 12 heats of round three
Nature's Call: I ain't telling you a damn thing
Predicted: Supergrommet Fireworks
There's a great, old, very boring cognitive weakness haunting the big old surf cultures of the world. To wit: Brazilian surfers sorta suck.
The cliché goes like this: they're clumsy, they're conservative, they try too hard to flow, and they never score beyond eight.
Well something tells your correspondent that everyone in the US, Australia and Hawaii who're still holding said prejudices are gonna have to eat their livers on that score.
On today's evidence, and on everything we've seen so far at the Bong World Juniors, Brazil's kids are the best in the world.
In the form of Gabriel Medina, Jadson Andre, Wiggolly Dantas, Marcos Fernandez and their buddies, there's none of the supposed wannabee awkwardness we've clung to as excuses why Brazil isn't allowed to play at the same table as its global peers.
Quite the opposite, in fact.
Medina turned everything upside down at Narrabeen today. In mushy three to four foot surf, he paddled out against renowned Aussie reef surfer Dean Bowen and very nearly repeated his amazing 20/20 from the King of the Groms event in France – a heat we saw on YouTube but didn't quite believe, till his effort against Bowen.
Dean headed out and rode a couple of quick, OK waves, hoping to build a score and figuring to put the pressure on this 16-year-old freak. Whereupon Gabriel, who'd kept his light on dim so far in the event, just seemed to snap.
Within 10 minutes he'd shut the door on Bowen so hard you could hear the slam, with consecutive double-air waves that racked up a 10 and a 9.57 – waves ridden with such utter fluidity and precision that anyone in the top 45 who happened to be watching the webcast must have seen their own demise in the making.
I'm not kidding. Medina was that good.
He was followed by Wiggolly, whose awesome name scarcely does justice to his calculated performance, and by Jadson, last year's runner-up and this year's top seed, who actually outdid Gabriel with a single air move that went beyond reverse and into spooky territory.
These three go into the closing days of the championships on the same side of the draw, which means only one of 'em can make the final. But you'd be a bold human if you put your money anywhere else. Ventura's Cory Arrambide has been a grand fighter here, but we have no idea how he'll combat the Medina craziness in the next round; he might just have to hope Gabriel's already done his worst.
As for the host country's hopes: the Aussie superheat featuring Owen Wright and Garrett Parkes fell flat as a badly cooked pancake. You coulda added up their combined scores and not beaten Gabriel.
Still going include kids from Reunion Island, France, Spain, Japan, South Africa, and (with a sigh of relief) Clay Marzo and Granger Larsen from Hawaii, and Nat Young from Santa Cruz, whose success only seemed to make it clearer that Country of Origin is increasingly irrelevant in the 21st century.
Something's happening right now in world surfing that's often been predicted but never been realized. The supergroms are turning old power structures upside down; and if we're smart, we'll learn to cheer.
Live webcast HERE.