The Panda, Defay win big
Dynamic display of power
A 10-year-old World Qualifying Series (WQS) journeyman who finally qualified for this year’s WSL World Tour, William Cordosa, aka The Panda, stomped his mark big time to win his first WCT (world championship tour) event at the famous Balinese reef break of Uluwatu.
It was a dynamic display of power over progression surfing styles, where the beefy Brazilian weighing 95kg managed to repel a late charge from Australia’s great white hope, Julian Wilson of Coolum Beach.
At 32 years, the Kungfu Panda not only nailed his first WCT win, he hammered the opposition with unrelenting backhand power gouges, sending fire hydrant streams of water off the back of each turn to extinguish any signs of opposition.
It just goes to show if you believe in yourself and hang in with sheer guts and determination, dream goals can happen.
Young Australian world title aspirants should take note: Cordoso had narrowly lost to wildcard Mikey Wright the previous week at Keramas in a nail-biting quarter final, where both traditional powerhouses duked it out on their forehand.
But at Ulu’s,with their backs to the wall, Cardoso turned the tables against Wright in their semi-final clash.
Ulu, once a goofyfooter’s dream, suited the backhanders who were scoring higher by going more vertical and critical in the pocket.
Wilson almost had a come from behind win in the dying seconds but nothing was going to deny the Brazilian with a chorus of South American fans fired up and cheering on from the many veranda bar decks delicately built into the cliffs of Uluwatu.
Despite the Brazilians holding second, third, fourth and fifth on the rankings, Wilson has retaken the number one yellow jersey heading into the next event at Jbay, South Africa, in one month’s time. At the halfway mark of the 2018 World Tour, it’s Wilson versus the Brazilians for this year’s world title.
In the women’s, Stephanie Gilmore was waveless in the semis due to abysmal positioning during the in-between tides at Ulus, while her opponent, Tatiana Weston Webb, capitalised on the racetrack section coached on by World Tour Brazilian boyfriend, Jesse Mendes.
WA’S former World Tour competitor, Jake Patterson, turned top coach for Quiksilver riders like Steph failed in his strategy to put Gilmore further up the reef and out of synch. Hopefully Jbay will put Gilmore back into contention for that seventh World Title and is trailing in second behind California’s number one Lakey Peterson who also bowed out in the semis.
As the sun set over the ocean, it was the Reunion Islands’ Johanne Defay - no stranger to riding lefthand reef breaks such as her local at Saint Leu - who held off a vastly improved Tatiana Weston Webb (Brazil) to take out her third WCT final and the first ever WSL women’s final at Ulu.
World Surf League did well to host two hugely successful events in Bali and promote their new enviro message from WSL Pure to combat marine plastic pollution. A photo of the over-development at Uluwatu I posted on Facebook has drawn much attention, raising the question of its sustainable future having once been a sacred location.
Ulu’s future as a tourist surfing destination may depend on any action local authorities take to protect it as a healthy surfing location.
❝If you believe in yourself and hang in with sheer guts and determination, dream goals can happen...
LEFTHAND SPECIALIST: Johanne Defay of the Reunion Islands wins her first-ever women’s final at Uluwatu over the weeekend.
TOP SPRAY: Brazil’s William Cardoso used his explosive backhand style to win his first ever WCT at Uluwatu CT in Bali on Saturday.
Over-crowding at Uluwatu.