There were some pretty out there rumors floating around this year's Oakley World Pro Junior event in Bali this year. It's sad because many of you weren't around to pass them on. Fortunately, we have surf journalism.
The first rumor was that Ezekial Lau is a cannibal. "Yeah, he eats human babies," they said. "That's why he's so much bigger than everyone else."
Makes sense. Watching Zeke warm up for heat, it's like some ancient gladiator preparing to slaughter unarmed peasants. Merciless. Blood-thirsty. Downright scary.
Zeke's the same age as Jon Jon, Kolohe and Conner, but he spent the last four years attending a prestigious, Hawaiian-only high school which forbade him from doing freesurfing trips to Amsterdam, filming with Kai Neville or too-easily qualifying for the elite World Tour.
I asked Zeke how that made him feel. "Like a bull in a cage," he said. "But I took those feelings and pushed it all into a little ball deep down inside me, so I could tap into them later."
It's later now. And, yikes.
The Raging Bull graduated in May and just trampled Andrew Doheny in the semi-finals at windblown Keramas. (There was a rumor Droid trains by eating croissants.) It was David & Goliath out there, without the whole slingshot, underdog part. Zeke's smashed a big 360 air, pulled into the only barrel of the onshore day and screamed, "Are you not entertained!"
Straight to the finals with a baby on his breath.
They also said that the Aussie golden-boy Jack Freestone was sleeping with the head judge. That can't be true, can it? The things people say.
You know he won this event two years ago, right? Of course, he knows what he's doing.
Still, grumbled that he was unfairly pushed past local wild card Gazali Hamzah in Round Two. (Or, more accurately, that's Hamzah's last-second, soul-arching comeback barrel was intentionally underscored.) They also said Jack's scores in the close Quarter Final against Conner Coffin were a hair too high. Not that it mattered.
Everyone's an expert, you see. Every single person on the beach, they are never wrong. That's how they know all this.
You, on the other had, might want to check the replay. Heats on demand at www.oakelyprojunior.com are quite professionalistic. This will also dispel any rumors the press release might spread about perfect waves. The waves were not perfect.
When they say "perfect," it's code for waiting period is over.
If you're watching Heats on Demand, start with Jack's Perfect 10 alley-oop in his Round 4 domination of Arashi Kato. OMFG, the judges just creamed their score cards.
Now skip to his semi-final against the formerly-stylish Portuguesian junior Ramzi Boukman, where Freestone posts a 9.5 and another Perfect 10 stalefish kurrupt air-reverse combo-thing. People compared that one to Matt Meola's hippie flip, but Freestone did it in the Semi-Final.
All for your viewing pleasure. You, me, and Ramzi.
The poor Portuguesian just sat and watched Jackie's relentless firecracker airshow for the full 25 minutes. After coming so far, there was a rumor that he didn't catch a single wave his whole heat. That's just wrong. He caught one to the beach at the end, then signed an affidavit stating that Jack Freestone was the best aerial surfer he'd ever seen in a contest. And that he had no knowledge one way or another about him sleeping with the judges.
I signed it, too.
Then here they were in the final. The Cannibal and the Concubine. Goliath and Peter Pan. Z-Lau and F-Stone. It was like the first time in ASP history the two most deserving surfers ended up in the final together. And perfect waves, too.
That was the rumor, at least.
But don't watch the webcast of that heat. Because right then the waves stopped breaking and the final turned into some sad parody of the US Open. Some Balinese grovel session. Neither surfer was ashamed to make the worst of it, but do not to watch the Heats On Demand of this heat.
There's a rumor that the judges all took shrooms.
There's a rumor that girls surfed the best waves of the event and the boys got jacked. That the new Komune Resort is a secret terrorist plot. That regularfoots control the ASP. That MSG is bad for you. That Bintang contains formaldehyde. That all those ducks are actually leading the man with the stick. That wearing a tiny bikini will net you a higher score.
There's a rumor that webcasts, heats on demand and new super press-release-writing robots have made surf journalists irrelevant.
Don't believe any of it. Just know that Jack Freestone (AU) and Ezekial Lau (HI) are two of the gnarliest competitive surfers the surfing has ever known. The Tour should tremble to see them approach.
And congratulations, Mr. Freestone.
OAKLEY WORLD PRO JUNIOR CHAMPIONSHIP MEN'S FINAL RESULT:
Jack Freestone (AUS) 13.83 def. Ezekiel Lau (HAW) 13.77
OAKLEY WORLD PRO JUNIOR CHAMPIONSHIP MEN'S SEMIFINAL RESULTS:
SF 1: Ezekiel Lau (HAW) 15.20 def. Andrew Doheny (USA) 7.50
SF 2: Jack Freestone (AUS) 19.53 def. Ramzi Boukhiam (MAR) 2.17
OAKLEY WORLD PRO JUNIOR CHAMPIONSHIP MEN'S QUARTERFINAL RESULTS:
QF 1: Ezekiel Lau (HAW) 16.37 def. Wade Carmichael (AUS) 10.26
QF 2: Andrew Doheny (USA) 14.77 def. Cooper Chapman (AUS) 12.67
QF 3: Jack Freestone (AUS) 15.0 def. Conner Coffin (USA) 14.27
QF 4: Ramzi Boukhiam (MAR) 14.00 def. Frederico Morais (PRT) 8.37