Tahiti Result: 5 Previous Result: 5 ASP Rating: 4
Bitter truth: there was a moment in Tahiti, after Joel and Mick had lost, but before Taj had bested CJ, when Hobgood had a clear path to a legitimate world title. It was Teahupoo, for fuck’s sake! The last venue on tour in which the cards are clearly stacked in CJ’s favor. But the moment slipped away, and the opportunity was lost. As expected, CJ surfed his heats with a keen awareness of what it takes to win at Chopes: pits. But things fell apart against Taj, as the regularfoot looked more aggressive in the deteriorating conditions. Throughout his heats, CJ’s cutbacks lacked flow and purpose, as he tacked on Donovan-esque style slouches and two-stage positional finishes. Fair enough, as the judges weren’t really scoring the cutbacks, anyway – just ask Bobby, who fell almost every time he tried to put it on rail. But against Taj, CJ’s rail-apathy might have cost him.
Tahiti Result: 9 Previous Result: 3 ASP Rating: 6
Really, folks: is it any wonder people laugh at professional surfing? Jordy Smith is supposed to be our Lebron James. The savoir of the league. And he’s out there giving interviews about fucking cougars up the ass. And then following that up with interviews about taking it up the ass. “I don’t want to go to prison that’s for sure… if that’s what it feels like, I don’t want to go,” Smith told GT. Oh, how the tables have turned, Jordy. (And for the record, I’m not sure exactly what kind of rectal trauma Smith suffered, and, unlike GT, I don’t really want to know.) The fact that the unspecified injury was one of the biggest stories of the event tells you a lot about professional surfing. The other big story? Josh Kerr getting stung by a wasp on the tip of his penis. For god’s sake, let’s focus on actual surfing for a moment. Smith looked much improved in his first heat, but against Adriano, he went into desperation mode after getting clipped on his opener. There were like 20 minutes left, and Jordy only needed a 4. He didn’t need to start launching rodeos.
Tahiti Result: 5 Previous Result: 9 ASP Rating: =10
For many fans, Taylor Knox is an eternal disappointment. But consider this: how fucking shocked would you be to see Chris Brown or Vince de La Pena take down Parko at Chopes? Don’t lie – your eyeballs would started bleeding. I rest my case. The fact that Knox is still here, still competing, and sometimes winning, is an amazing achievement. The last few years, Taylor has turned into a bit of a veteran big game player. Kinda like Robert Horry back in the day. Too bad surfing isn’t a team sport – but in a way it is, as Taylor came off the bench for Team Rip Curl, took out Parko, and cleared Fanning’s path to the basket. TK does his best surfing against the surfers he respects the most. Think Taylor’s losing effort at Trestles last year against Slater, or his winning, super-heat against Parko in R1 at J-Bay. He’s still relevant.
Tahiti Result: 5 Previous Result: 9 ASP Rating: 8
Incidentally, Tom Whitaker is another big game player. Foolish pundits expressed shock when Whits took down Fanning in R3. More discerning observers might have remembered Slater’s loss to Whitaker in dredging, shifty Mundaka barrels last year, or Slater’s loss to Whitaker at Bells the year before that. Funny, really – that hat at Bells helped open up Fanning’s shot at his first world title. Now, Whitaker has blocked Fanning’s path to the title instead. Although he kept cool versus Fanning, Whits panicked against Aritz motherfuckin’ Aranburu. Tommy tried to launch into a Jordy Smith upside-down flip thing, instead of sticking to his strengths. The result: a deep and painful aranburuing. Regardless, Whits has tip-toed his way back to the VIP room following a shocking 2008 campaign. Sneaky bastard.
Tahiti Result: 3 Previous Result: 33 ASP Rating: 19
This is some