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.

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