Congratulations are in order:
Keanu Asing has taken a formidable list of more talented surfers (Medina, Florence, Slater, Buchan) and soundly beaten them through smart-if-somehwat-conservative competion surfing. It was, as he admitted himself, his first event win since his junior days (including a history of no outright wins during his QS days), so we can all be forgiven for our surprised response to the news of him taking his maiden event.
Did he deserve it? Absolutely; he won each heat without controvery.
Is there a long list of 'better' surfers who have never won a CT event? Without a doubt. That's not his fault though.
Will it be his last tour event win? Probably, but it's still more than I've had.
Will it guarantee his qualification next year? Not quite, he'll still need a modest result over the next few contests to lock it in.
Does any of that matter? Not really; he has marked his place in surfing's record books and banked himself a cool US$100,000. Maybe he could reimburse the $50 he cost me on my Medina bet, but other than that I like the guy; he's humble, he knows the importance of hard work and he hasn't let the win go to his head. Hopefully we see him again in 2017.
'Congratulations' probably aren't a strong enough term for what is owed to Tyler Wright. She has been in 6 of the 9 women's finals this year, winning 4. Her sheer dominance in 2016 has only been slightly less obvious this season because of the fact that Courtney has also been surfing so well (6 semi-finals or better, 4 finals and 2 wins). Otherwise, Tyler may have had this whole thing wrapped up back at Trestles. It's so great to see her get up; she's surfing great and looking very focused. I can't help but wonder the impact that it will have on Owen and his return to competion.
Noted also is just how clinical Carissa was in taking down our latest women's world champion in the final, locking up a Hawaiian quinella for France in 2016. Tyler may have been too overwhelmed by her recent crowning, but let's not take anything away from Carissa.
Let's look at the event as a whole:
- France lived up to its expectations in regards to the challenging conditions, with two consecutive heats often enjoying completely different fortunes in regards to the waves on offer. Then there were the lay days, and frustrating multiple holds doing their best to keep us from frothing too hard on the semi-finals/finals. I know that there are financial imperatives to running the men’s and women’s contests together, but the shifting tides, massive rips and changing winds make it hard to have full days of contestable conditions, which in-turn makes the waiting period feel shorter. Then there's the fact that surfing relies on an unreliable commodity: the weather. The WSL needs to either extend the waiting periods at such venues to allow for more selectivity in running heats, or run men's and women's events in isolation. The disappointing surf in the ultra-hyped JJF vs. FT rematch is testament to the corner into which they have painted themselves by trying to fit so many heats into such a limited window. Speaking of which…
- Round 1 was a farce. Conner’s freesurf barrel was amazing - a 10 in a contest singlet – but the waves just weren’t good enough for the ‘dream tour’ to run that day. It was a bad call, and one which could have had massive (and inversely fortunate) implications for both Slater and Asing in an alternate universe. Kelly sat on a total of 7 for the last fifteen minutes of their R1 heat, waiting for a wave that never came. In the end he only needed a 2.73. However, with that all said…
- Slater looked terrible. His boards again seemed to be front-and-centre of his woes, coupled with the misfortune of suffering through some of the worst conditions of the contest in both of his heats. Hopefully he can become relevant again before Portugal, OR he can do fantasy players a favour and slip back into Tier B before Pipe; you know we’ll all have him.
- Wilko’s fall from grace is complete. It hurt. There were some serious feels. See our awards section below for a little more detail.
- The title race was whittled down to the two surfers that we all knew were going to there be at the pointy end. Apparently Jordy and Matt aren't completely out of it, and Kolohe is now a very small possibility, but when your chances are only referenced in conjunction with the word 'mathematical', you know you're pretty screwed. Not that I mind seeing JJF and GM go head-to-head.
- There were several redemption stories for surfers in the qualification wilderness; for Banting, Kai and especially Keanu, France was significant in improving their circumstances.
- The ROTY race is basically down to two horses: Caio (14th, 25,700) vs. Stu (18th, 21,200). They are both throwing away two 25ths, so it all comes down to the next two events.
- Only one guy picked the perfect WSL fantasy team, but it was possible. Selecting the best 2 surfers from Tier C would have required either a crystal ball or some serious narcotics. This guy was close in FS, but he was 250,000 off being able to afford Kai over Dusty. People with better prices for JJF or others could have easily done it though, it's just that nobody did.
- Julian may have gotten a 5th, but didn’t he do it ugly? There were some very tepid performances in his route to the quarters, and I still get an uneasy feeling every time I hover my mouse over his selection in my fantasy team.
Congratulations to the following clubhouse champions:
Surf-Stats WSL group (event) – It looks like Francisco over at FantasySurfingTips tweaked his modelling perfectly for France, with his v1.7 team (yes, he has 7 teams) taking out the honours with 630.75 points and 316th place overall.
Surf-Stats FS group overall –The Badger is back, baby! The interview curse is done and he is back in the sniff. It will be interesting to see what happens in the placings now that players start dropping their worst scores…
Best Possible Team
This team was totally selectable, with all surfers falling into the Tier restrictions set out within the WSL game. Only one person had it though, for 722.33 points.
Worst Possible Team
There were some very good surfers in this group; they just weren't good for this contest. Slater stank, Kerr’s recent form spike crashed, Flores found even more ways to lose and Bourez couldn't out-power the conditions. Joel, Dusty, Alex and Jadson all lost too, but their ownership was all below 10% so few got stung.
Surf-Stats Projection Reflections:
Surf Stats WSL Numbers WSL: 582.67 (2,790th overall)
Tier A rocked. Tier B had all of the top options too. The pity is, most teams had these same surfers (there were 6 teams with this same squad in our clubhouse alone). Only Tier C let us down.
Surf-Stats FS Numbers: 695 (16,501st overall)
Slater, Jordy, Joel? Ouch. Gabs and Double-John were the lone success stories, although Ryan overachieved enough to justify his place (despite our criticism).
These winners are in the running to claim the overall SS awards at the end of the year:
Best wave: Connor’s non-competition barrel. It was so stunning that KP actually lost sight of his role as commissioner and made two world champions roll the dice on their R1 heats. Does that make Connor a dick? Hell no! Does it make KP's call look stupid? Hell yes.
Best heat: John John vs. Filipe. No, not the abysmal quarter final, but the thrilling, back-and-forth exchange of progressive surfing and tube maximisation that we saw in R4. Some commentators got a little over-hyped with their 'best heat of the year' calls, but it was certainly a shining light in what was -at times - a fairly dull affair. For the record: there may have been another surfer in the heat, but we didn’t notice.
Biggest disappointments: See the JJF vs. Toledo rematch as referenced above. Add to that R1’s false start, Slater falling like an embarrassing uncle at Christmas, Flores’ continued spiral into WCT irrelevance and my ‘gut instinct’ team’s haemorrhaging of points, and it seems I had a lot to be disappointed about. The prize in this category ultimately goes to Wilko though, and his lukewarm withdrawal from the title race. I did feel a little like Lisa watching Ralph’s heart break when Wilko lost his R3 heat. Sure, we all knew it was inevitable, but that didn’t soften the blow for anyone watching.
Best Manoeuvre: Was it Kai’s dancefloor moves at the end of his quarter final defeat (5:51)? Maybe not, but it was possibly the best manoeuvre of his heat. This one goes to Filipe though; his backside full-rote-to-claim-to-reo-to-claim monster gets the prize for this contest (see 'best heat' hyperlink for video). It was the icing on a great heat-cake, plus it was a huge manoeuvre - beautifully landed we may add - in its own right. The claim(s) was/were a little distracting though; I nearly gave it to Gab's full-rote-oop in his semi final, just because he didn't claim the shit out of it.
Most impressive: There's nobody who comes close to Keanu in this category. Where did that result even come from? Filipe, Gabe and JJF were surfing the best and providing the most fodder for the WSL highlight reels, but it was a blue-collar performance by the until-this-event 33rd placed surfer who stole the show.
Portugal is our next destination, kicking off next week on October 18th. We’ll be rushed to get it all in, but have no fear that our regular helping of numbers and dribble will drop in the coming days.
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