True to the predictability of wave pool surfing, not much looked different on this year's final day of competition at the Surf Ranch Pro. That is not counting the excruciating heat bearing down on the Central California Valley. And the board Filipe Toledo was riding.
For the third year in a row, Brazilian showstoppers Gabriel Medina and Filipe Toledo earned a spot in the finals. But unlike the previous two years, this year's title belonged to Filipe.
The Surf Ranch Pro presents contestants with the grueling challenge of tearing apart hundreds of perfect waves and landing airs otherwise reserved for a single occasion. Board choice becomes arguably the most critical decision.
For the first time in a competition final, Filipe chose to ride a Dark Arts constructed board. And the result speaks for itself (our humble opinion). Taking nothing away from his spectacular performance encapsulated by a final, screaming right, notching a 9.67, we believe the carbon gave him an edge.
A clean, rideable wave presents the ultimate playing field for surfing novices and pros alike. Without chop, a surfer's proverbial speed bump, faster is always better. Understanding and harnessing the board's energy under his feet, Filipe was able to maximize speed and power through vicious turns and signature airs without burning his legs into piles of lactic acid.
Many pros and spectators left the weekend with a simple observation: If Filipe Toledo needs the speed, power, and light-weight construction of a Dark Arts surfboard, maybe I do too?
The Times They are A-Changin'
It'd be amiss to exclude the feats of Sharpeye team riders Kanoa Igarashi and Tatiana Weston-Webb. Both took strong, third-place finishes riding on Dark Arts carbon.
All our love and congratulations extended to Filipe, Kanoa, Tatiana, and their teams for a stellar showing at one of the most challenging contests on tour.
Photography by: T Sherms